Monday, December 18, 2017

A Neighborhood Garden Tour

Last Saturday, we gathered to see 4 gardens around our neighborhood. Each garden and gardener had many helpful things to teach us. I have done my best to summarize the tour and the highlights of each unique garden and you can view the summary HERE

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Garden Discussion Documents

I'm catching up on getting our Gardeners Meeting Notes on here for availability.

Gardening Meeting #3 
Top Crops, Companion Planting and Pest Control

Companion Planting
A brief overview of plants that benefit from being planted near each other in the garden; taken from Carrots love Tomatoes & Roses love Garlic by Louise Riotte

Top Crops #2
Details on these crops: cabbage,
broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peas, beans.

Common Garden Pests and what to do! 

Gardening Meeting #4
Cold Weather Protection for our plants

November's a good month in the Vegetable Garden

My garden is growing beautifully. I've harvested 2 zucchini squashes and my son hasn't been patient with the carrots, so we have pulled a few small (and delicious) purple, yellow and orange carrots too. Cabbage, brocolli and kale plants have needed extra care with removing caterpillars regularly, mostly about 1 month ago, it has become less of a problem now with only an occasional caterpillar. I have been fertilizing about every two weeks with Miracle Grow and the soil structure seems to be improving with the straw mulching and other organic materials decomposing. The weather has been perfect and I deep water every 2-3 days. The garden gets nearly all-day sun.

What's growing: green cabbage, purple cabbage, brocolli, leeks, kale, lettuce varieties, garlic, green onions, basil, cilantro, snap peas, cucumber (volunteer), petunias, marigolds, nasturtium, zucchini, green beans (stunted growth), purple, yellow and orange carrots.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gardening Group Meeting #2

We held our second gardening group meeting this past Saturday!

You can view a summary of what we covered HERE.

We detailed several popular crops and you can view the information on planting, nutritional needs, pollinating and watering of tomatoes, green onions, garlic, lettuce, kale, spinach, herbs and zucchini HERE.

And in case you need our desert planting calendar again, you can view that HERE.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I get excited when...

Two little yellow birds come hang out in my yard, singing in my Eucalyptus tree or pecking seeds from my basil plant. 

A rainbow colors up the sky and when a hummingbird enjoys my Texas Olive blossoms as much as I do!

Gardening Group Meeting #1 Notes

Click HERE to view our Gardening Group Meeting Notes and Resource from August 5th Meeting!

August & A New Gardening Group

vincas, sweet potato vines from Shirlee (garden group)
I decided it was time to gather some neighborhood gardeners together as I had in my last home, so we met together the first Saturday in August and discussed many topics about getting our Fall gardens started. We range from brand new gardeners to long-time gardeners, with much knowledge to share with each other. We will meet about once a month. I'm excited about it! 

This past week, I planted microgreen lettuce variety, lettuce, spinach, more carrots (my previous seeds didn't sprout), more corn around my pumpkin plants, cilantro and green beans and zucchini around the existing corn and at the base of a trellis.

Pumpkin plants, corn, cucumbers, basil, 2 tomato plants and bell pepper plant are still alive and well.
I also purchased steer manure ($1.50/bag at Walmart) and some organic soil bags ($3/bag) and mixed those into my existing soil to give them a boost in nitrogen and to improve overall soil texture and nutrients. I also purchased a bag of peat moss that I used to cover my newly planted seeds to help retain moisture.

Soil, manure and peat moss to improve my soil, purchased at Walmart

I take a quick photo with my phone when I plant seeds so I can refer back if I no longer have the seed packet later.

Many lettuce and spinach seeds in the tortoise-food garden and in our raised beds

Corn seeds I planted this week and my planting record


Papaya Tree (started volunteer in my compost)


Pumpkin plants

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Time to Plant Again!

What has survived the summer in my garden? 1 Yellow bell pepper, Armenian cucumber vines (pictured above on trellis), 1 tomato plant (in a large pot, it's a patio variety) and of course my trusty basil and rosemary. Some of my plants (tomato plants, strawberries, cantaloupe) just missed me too much while I was on a few vacations and didn't make it through those weeks of deathly-hot weather in June and July.
Next summer, I would like to be more prepared to deep soak (myoporum) and provide shade for the types of plants that struggled/died.

It's August and I am trying to stay on top of the planting calendar for this season! I planted pumpkins (for Halloween carving) and corn (from my farmer friend, Pete) and rainbow carrots these past weeks and they are sprouting. Which also means the birds are excited to steal my recently-sprouted seeds and so they have been covered with netting to protect them. Some birds are just smart and still get some nibbles, so I have replanted areas of the corn twice. My sister also gave me 2 pumpkin starts that she had planted about a week before mine so I planted those as well. My kids hope we'll get a few pumpkins in time for carving!

Yesterday, I gave my garden some Miracle Grow plant food (granules mixed into my watering can). I've tried doing strictly organic in the past, but I want more growth and more success, so I'm trying this out to see if it's successful for our short seasons when time is so valuable.

I've invited some other gardeners in my area to gather at my home this Saturday to begin a gardening group. I hope to learn a lot from their various experience and add more success to my garden beds!

A view toward the east in my backyard.

The tortoises' garden (weeds, dichondra, purple heart, hibiscus, aloe, ruellia. A mostly-shady NW corner of my yard under our HUGE eucalyptus tree.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Chitalpa Tree

I'd like to highlight my Chitalpa tree and give my opinion on this variety.
This is my single-trunk "Pink Dawn" Chitalpa Tree, planted in March 2016 (so just over a year ago). It was purchased at Treeland Nursery in Mesa, AZ for about $50 (15 gallon size).

Here's how it looked the day I planted it (March 11, 2016), next to my 6 year-old (at the time) daughter.
Basically a large twig with about a 1 inch diameter trunk. 

Here is the tag that came on the tree. 

And a better photo of it a few days/weeks after planting.

Over the past year, I have needed to brace it a few times with tree stakes because our winds seem to always be blowing to the east and the tree started looking lop-sided, and still does, especially when it has no leaves in the winter time. I have watered it on a newly planted, desert adapted watering schedule, once every 1-3 weeks depending on the season/temperatures. It's growth rate has been incredible and it has proved to be very strong in high winds even without staking. It was barren for several months in the winter, losing it's leaves after most deciduous trees I observed and growing them again it seemed almost overnight in March. The flowers took the show in April and I love staring out my windows and front door at it's beauty.  

Overall, I am so happy with my choice to plant this tree in my front yard. I am excited to watch it grow larger (20-25 feet tall). I sometimes wish I could have found the multi-trunk variety, but sometimes I see them around town and they look more sprawly with less dense canopies, so I usually end up just loving the one I have. 
The Chitalpa is a cross between the Desert Willow and Catalpa trees. I planted a multi-trunk Desert Willow in my yard this past fall and even though it's tiny now, I know that the two will look great together with their similar blossoms, which are both pale pink. 
Slightly off-centered trunk

I love this tree and am happy about it's flowering, size and low water needs once it is established in my yard. 

In the Edible Garden - May 2017

My four garden beds are mostly occupied with tomato plants, but I have one bed dedicated to cantaloupe melons and several other crops going on currently; trellised Armenian cucumbers, multi-colored carrots, bell pepper (no fruit yet), pole green beans, luffa squash, zucchini squash, green onions (always), basil (always) and garlic (I've harvested several small bulbs). Strawberries are still growing in a pot near my porch where they get morning sun only. 

Armenian Cucumber

Armenian cucumber

Cantaloupe melon (aka muskmelon)

Cantaloupe Melon (aka muskmelon)

Rosemary (finally growing well with partial shade)

Basil from seeding mother plant

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Gusty Spring

I've been really enjoying my growing plants this Spring. It has been really windy the past few days and the weather was a little cooler, which encouraged me to be outdoors trimming and giving other attention to my plants. Here are some photos of our backyard taken a few weeks back. The yard looks so different from when we moved in August of 2015. And I have plenty of dreams for it to look better in the next years, but I'm also practicing patience. It is so rewarding seeing plants grow into what I imagined when in the planning stages. I love how the view out my home windows improves with each season.

Tarocco Blood Orange Tree, planted Feb 2016

Improving view from my kitchen window

2 new hibiscus plants

Young volunteer basil plant I moved from another garden bed.

Flowering Green Onion

Armenian cucumber plants climbing, I supported them with some twisty ties. Compost behind.

Tiny cucumber forming

Luffa Squash seedling. First I soaked the luffa seeds 24 hours with no sprouting. Then I rubbed new seeds with fine sand paper and they sprouted! They required protection from birds.

Pole Green Beans. We'll see if they can share their trellis with the luffa squash plants. I'm anticipating them running out of space.

Yellow Bell Pepper plant, clustered blossoms in the center top of the small plant.

Patio tomato plant growing well in a large pot. I've been more diligent this season with fertilizing my garden, about every 2-3 weeks.

Cantaloupe (muskmelon) plants growing slowly

My beautiful Chaste Tree, growing fast, tripled original size since planting 1 year ago.

Chaste Tree blooms, bees are enjoying them.

Front yard, Young Desert Willow's first blooms this month. Planted Fall 2016, (Free SRP Shade Tree)

Desert Willow

Front yard, Chitalpa Tree, ruffly blooms. Trying to know how to prune this oddly-growing tree. It is growing toward the east side, so is lopsided. May need some staking to straiten it up.

Front yard, First time enjoying blooms (and new bright-green growth) on my wax leaf privet. When we moved in it was in bad health with overspray of herbicides (all the plants in the front yard were really bad looking, almost unrecognizable.)

Wax Leaf Privet