Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I am very pleased with the soil (Sandy Loam) that we just purchased at Pioneer Sand. The truck load cost us $27 (It is by weight). I am so excited to start planting, but I want to wait a few days since the temperature has been getting down in the 30's still at night.

We also put some new soil around our citrus trees and around some of the rose bushes in the front yard. I fed the rose bushes today with Scotts Rose food granules.

And, some good news! My peas did not completely die in the latest freeze as I had thought! There is new green life and beautiful sweet pea flowers. There is still hope for more sweet peas before summer!

Monday, February 21, 2011


A friend just told me about a soil mixture called SANDY LOAM. It is 33% screened fill dirt, 33% mulch, 33% manure. Sandy Loam is a great medium for vegetable gardens and other applications that utilize the warmth and micro nutrients of manure.
It is available at Pioneer Sand Company near Gilbert Rd and Guadalupe Rd in Gilbert, AZ. They fill up a truck for $30.

I am excited about this soil mixture since it is cheaper than buying bags of gardening soil and much less effort than getting the dirt, mulch and manure mixed together on my own.
I plan on using this soil and hopefully getting it very soon so my spring garden can get growing!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Growing Potatoes

I have a great interest in growing my own potatoes. I love potatoes because they can be a meal nearly all alone and they can be made into a variety of foods. I would really like to find out if potatoes can be grown in Mesa, Arizona.

I get a newsletter from Mike McGroarty, a fellow gardener, and the most recent one gave a lot of good information about growing and harvesting potatoes. He's in Ohio I believe, so I am interested to see if this information can also be used here, with our shorter growing season.
I want to have this information when I have an opportunity to give it a try, so I am putting it here on the blog for future implementation.

How to Grow Potatoes
Potatoes are really easy to grow, but unlike most other vegetables you don't start with seeds or a starter plant. Instead, you start with a potato! Most garden centers and farm stores sell seed potatoes which are nothing more than potatoes that have already started to sprout. These sprouts are known as eyes. If your seed potatoes have more than one eye (sprout) you can cut the potato into pieces with one or two eyes per piece. Cut them apart at least one day prior to planting. That will allow the potato to dry which will reduce the chance of disease or insect damage when you do plant them.

Plant your seed potatoes two to three inches deep in good rich soil. Your rows of potatoes should be 3 feet apart, and the plants in the row about one foot apart. Some people claim that if you toss a handful of pine needles into the hole with each seed potato that will prevent scab which is a blemish on the finished potatoes.

Don't start planting until the soil warms a bit. It takes warm soil for the potatoes to start growing, and if the seed potatoes sit in the cold damp ground for too long before they grow they could rot. Once planted you should see new potatoes plants in three weeks for sure.

Once your potato plants are about a foot tall take your garden hoe and pull about 6" of soil up around the plants. This is known as "hilling your potatoes" and it ensures that the new potatoes growing underground are not exposed to any sunlight. It makes for a much tastier potato.

The potato plants will produce a bloom; once the plants have bloomed you can start sneaking a few potatoes for dinner. Once the tops have died back in the fall it's time to start digging and harvesting all of your potatoes. Just dig around the plants with a pitch fork, loosen the soil and sift through it with your fingers to find your plentiful crop of potatoes.

Allow the potatoes to dry out the direct sunlight, then once dry store them in a cool dry place and enjoy!
-Mike McGroarty

Friday, February 11, 2011

My February Goals

The Spring planting season is about to begin in Mesa, AZ! Mid February is the prime time to start planting for the Spring season, after all danger of frost.
Speaking of frost, the recent frost killed my sweet pea vines. They had beautiful white flowers and the peas were just barely starting to come. I had eaten one delicious pod of peas before it all froze.

My goals for this month:
1) Enhance my soil
2) Plant corn
3) Plant tomatoes

Because I know that getting my soil just right is going to take a lot of effort and time, I plan to only plant corn and tomatoes this season. That way, I can focus on those 3 goals and perfect my gardening a little at a time.

Here is an article I just read in my efforts to learn about perfectly balanced gardening soil.

The lettuce and cabbage plants seem to be doing great and growing big. I fertilized them a few days ago and hope to start seeing some heads of cabbage soon.

Romaine and Iceberg Lettuce

 I recently learned that it is important to fertilize cabbage (and many vegetable plants) right before they begin to produce. Nitrogen is a specific ingredient that is important for the cabbage to produce good heads.
This is the fertilizer that I have been using in the garden and for the citrus trees.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Carrots and Cilantro

It's rewarding to have some things in my garden grow the way they should! I love going out and cutting off some cilantro or lettuce when I need it. The carrots are ok, but not as flavorful or dark orange as they should be. I will be revamping my soil before this upcoming Spring planting season and that should improve the quality dramatically. GOOD QUALITY SOIL = A GREAT PRODUCTIVE GARDEN, that is one major thing I have learned in the last year.

Dirty carrots