Friday, December 2, 2016

Cut back the Asparagus

Many notes I have read suggest that we cut back Asparagus in late November, early December. Apparently, some fallow time makes the plants grow better in the spring.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New Strawberry Plants and an Alien

Found this huge grub while digging strawberry holes. Internet seems to identify him as a June Bug Larvae
Bare root strawberry plants are in!  I went to the store intending to purchase one 5 pack, but then I saw they were only $2.29, and I thought, hmm, I really need six... so I'll just pick up two packs.  I planted the five chandlers in the strawberry patch over by the asparagus, and the seascape in the far strawberry patch.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


On this pretty Sunday, I thought I'd take some time to clean up my blackberry bed. It seems I never think of this poor forgotten shrub until I want some fruit from it. So I decided to weed out its bed, add some coffee grounds to lower the pH (I think this bed is very low on iron for some reason), and add some 3 month fertilizer. I figure that will be a good start to get it through the winter months. And then maybe this spring I can finally get some fruit!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Up close and personal

Today's fun backyard photo.

Thinning seedlings

Thinning seedlings is always hard for me. I kill so many plants that I have a hard time weeding out those that actually are alive. Unfortuantely, come harvest, I always regret that I didn't thin more.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Today's fun photo

Another great photo from Dave from our backyard. 

Fall is a beautiful time in the yard. The back porch is swamped by my twelve foot Esperanza.  It practically crawls with bugs, butterflies and bees.  We saw this amazing beauty on it today.  It must be at least 2 inches, maybe two and a half. By far, the biggest bee I have ever seen.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fall Honey Extraction

Last year, our one hive did not have enough surplus to extract any honey. This spring we put in two additional hives, and they were started much earlier than last year's. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Today's fun photo from our backyard

Another great photo from Dave from our backyard. 

Today's fun picture from our backyard is a red-shouldered hawk! We have had two mating pairs of these beauties in the neighborhood for the past year or so. One of the females likes to sit in a chinaberry tree just on the other side of the fence from my yard. I heard her calling this afternoon, mounted the longest lens I have (sadly, only 200mm) and went out for some photos. The backlighting was a bear, but I like this one reasonably well.
Now to get a photo of the bird in the air...they are strikingly beautiful.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

White Mist Flowers and Monarchs!

The White Mist Flowers are in full bloom, and apparently they are a big favorite with our visiting monarchs.  We counted 12 monarchs on one shrub at one point.  I have always loved the white fall flower on this hardy plant, but now I have an even better reason to love it!

Some new plants

Two weeks ago, I planted a bunch of fall plants.  I was at a big store, and they had 12 packs of broccoli, cabbage and lettuce.  I didn't really want twelve, but the price was right.  Unfortunately, the seedlings were so small, that they didn't fare very well.  Cabbage worms ate most of the leaves on my cabbage and broccoli, and something, probably a rabbit, munched away all but two of my lettuce seedlings.

So I decided to pick up some new plants to supplement my previous plantings. You can see in the picture below how much bigger and healthier the new plants are then the two week old plants I previously put in the ground

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October Plantings

I spent this morning putting in the last of my fall garden plants. I feel like the garden is now ready for autumn!  I have newly planted Radish, Carrot and Beet seeds. I have some broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants growing (though they have been attacked by caterpillars and may need to be repurchased and planted.)I also planted four Brussel Sprout plants - something I have never tried before. I have a whole pile of strawberry plants still growing from last year.  I have some lettuce plants as well as some seeds from last year. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My new fave tool

Having recently dug up the sweet potatoes, I decided that I finally needed a garden fork.  I went to Home Depot and purchased a $35 tool. Bu then one of the outer tines bent the very first time I used it.

So, after returning the broken fork, I decided to go to Natural Gardener, and picked out this one.  It cost more, but it is way more solid.

What I love most about it, is how, when I dig into the ground with it to prepare the soil for new plants, it pulls up all the sedge, without breaking off at the root. I am hoping that I might actually get on top of my sedge problem with this new tool!!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Starting the winter garden

I haven't been gardening much.  With the hot winter, I kind of just let it all go. There wasn;'t much living anyway.

But as the temperatures dip below the hundreds, all of a sudden the soil calls again :o) 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sweet potatoes

I harvested sweet potatoes today!  For the first time ever!  Woot!

I planted these babies back on May 15th.  The schedule says they should be ready to harvest on September 15th... but in my mind, I thought I was supposed to harvest them on August 15th. (That's why I keep a journal.  Maybe I should look at it before pulling up plants!)

Anyway, I got a decent number of potatoes - probably about a dozen.  They are somewhat smallish. If I grow them again in the future, I think I will wait another month before harvesting them.

I then set them in the garage for ten days to "cure" and I am now storing them in the fridge. I can't wait to try them!!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Lots of August Rain

The fire bush is a-fire :o)
We have been very busy recently, so I haven't gotten a chance to upload any photos.  Bu there are a few photos from some plants around the house.  Everything is so well watered and in-bloom.  Much different than our regular August!

My skyflower is doing great, both the one out front and on the porch!

Even the Obedient Plant, which always looks sad, it brightening its new far corner!

Last Christmas, I received this plant from a neighbor, who had a bunch of leftover cuttings.  It was literally just a piece of a branch.  My neighbor said to "stick it in the ground and water it"  He said it was not cold-tolerant, so it needed to remain potted.  Somewhat hesitantly, I stuck it into one of my existing pots.  And their it remained for many months.  This spring, I saw some new growth on it.  And today, it had this gorgeous flower.  The flower only lasted a few hours, but while it did, it was amazing!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Fall Tomatoes

It must be the masochist in me, but I have decided to try my hand (once again) with fall tomatoes.

Now honestly, I can barely grow tomatoes in the spring.  My tenderly cared six bushes have produced an equal number of tomatoes (yes, only six!)  I water them diligently, put down fertilizer each week, but sadly, I get nothing in return.

So, failing that, why not try and grow some in the torturous months of July and August?  When rain doesn't fall from the sky for over sixty days and the sun scorches everything.

Sounds like a good idea to me.  Really!

And with the 25% off sale at the Natural Gardener, I am only out $5.  

Well, $5 and a whole lot of hours of watering these things to get them to limp through the end of July and all of August, and let's not forget those first two months of September.  September, the start of school and fall.  Really, the temperatures should drop out of the 100s by then, right?  Yeah, I know better than that.  We'll see 100s through mid-September.

And I've done this before, right?  I know that come October, I will start to see some tiny little green tomatoes appear, and my heart will soar.  I will know that it was all worth it.  I will watch them slowly grow.  But as the temperatures drop, growth rates also slow... and slow.  The calendar flips to November, and I know it is a race against the clock.  Is that a little red I see?  With warning of the first frost, I will pick those green tomatoes, place them in a brown bag, and hope for the best.  I'll start looking for fried green tomato recipes.

Ah well, it is all in fun.

This summer, I purchased four different varieties.  My primary picking process was to pick those that matured quickly.  

Early Girl - Matures 50 days after planting.  September 12th I should be enjoying my first fruits.

Sunsugar - 62 days after planting.  End of September

Super Fantastic - 70 days.  Hmm, I must have picked the wrong one.  I had tried to pick ones 60 days and under.  Bummer!  If these produce anything is will by early October.

Red Grapes - 75 days to harvest.  Okay, seriously, Natural Gardener had much different dates, or else there plants were poorly marked.  If I get these established and going, the best I can hope for is Mid October. Oh - wait a minute, the tag on the plant says it matures in 57 days.  But the internet says 75... who to believe???  Only time will tell ;o)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

July Garden Update

Despite all the spring rain, this has not been my garden's greatest year.  I think I started everything just a little too late. I have only picked half a dozen tomatoes or so, with some of my six plants not producing any :o(. My beets and garlic never developed, and most of my carrots died. I just spent the last few days weeding and mulching the bed in preparation for the hot summer ahead.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Anthophora urbana

I heard this guy (ok girl) buzzing around on the porch. She was larger in size, and had an awkward way of sort of bumbling around that made me realize she certainly wasn't one of our bees.  Plus, she had a very loud buzzing, more like a fly then a bee.

She moved so quickly, that I am shocked I even was able to capture her with my phone.  

I quick search online identified her (actually, it might be a him) as a Anthophora urbana, a large digging bee, or maybe an Amegilla.  I'm not exactly sure.  But pretty cool!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Garden Visitor

After a nice bout of rain last night, the morning was cool and wet.  A perfect time to get in the garden and do some serious weeding.

Harvesting Onions and Planting Sweet Potatoes

Harvested today:  29 onions!

Monday, May 9, 2016

May Garden Update

This has not been my most successful garden this year :o( Maybe it is the excess of rain, I don't know, but I haven't gotten much. I guess every garden has good years and off years. As always, my goal is to learn from this year so next year is better, right?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April Showers bring.. April Flowers :o)

This garden obviously has a lot of growing in to do, but for year two, I am loving the riot of colors!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Bright flowers on a dark day

The Arizona Sun Blankets that I picked up on clearance last year (and killed all but two of), are looking so incredibly pretty this spring!!

The rain is a comin'!

With a 90% chance of rain in the forecast, and some of it heavy, this overcast Saturday seemed like a great day to do some of the transplanting I have been meaning to do for weeks.


Almost everything that I planted last week has sprouted!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Garden

We have had a crazy busy couple of weeks, so I am just now planting my spring garden -- about three weeks too late.  We'll see how it does.

Also, this year I have a whole lot of winter garden plants still in the ground.  My cilantro has all flowered, and I am letting the bees enjoy them until they go to seed.  This way - I'll have my huge bed again next year.  I also have in lots of potatoes, onions, strawberries, garlic, lettuce, radishes, sugar peas and beets. Which doesn't leave a lot of room for spring vegetables.  So i sort of randomly placed them where ever I could find room.  We'll see how that works!

High Growing Organic Seed - National Pickling Cucumber
Days to Germinate:  7-10 days (4/13 - 4/16)

I planted a slew of cucumbers seeds along the back fence.

Botanical Interests - Black Beauty Zucchini
Days to Germinate:  5-10 days

I have not had any luck with zucchini the last two years.  The squash vine borer gets them before I even get fruit :o(  but somehow, I just can't resist planting some.  I planted two piles near the back portion (by the house wall).  

Black Beauty Plant
Days to Maturity - 75 days

I always like to have one eggplant in the garden.  It never seems to do well until the fall - largely because in past years it gets shaded by the tomatoes.  I planted it smack in the middle of the garden, so we'll see.

Tam Mild Jalapeno
I planted two small jalapeno plants - sort of in between the garlic and the basil.

I planted two cantaloupe mounds right near the cilantro.  My hope is that by the time they start to grow, I will have pulled up the cilantro, so it will have room

Honeydew - Sweet Delight
Botanical Interests - Sweet Delight
Days to Germinate - 5-10 days

I only planted one honeydew.  I just couldn't find room for another. I will probably go out and try to find another spot for one more.  I can plant them through June.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Penstemon Foxglove

When we first moved into the house, Dave threw a bunch of seeds outside the fence.  

Another year

Three years ago, I took a picture of my back porch garden on April 4th.  The following year, I went in early April, as I often do, to look at what I had from a year ago, and lo and behold, I had taken a picture on the same day the previous year. 

I now like to take photos on April 4th every year, so I can compare the growth. It is fun to compare the differences.

A Pretty April Day

A beautiful day in early April.  The grass is green, the roses are in bloom, and everything is beautiful!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

A small harvest

I went out to the garden and harvested a small amount today.  The snap peas (or were they snow peas, I just can't remember), have started to really produce. They are an odd yellow, white color and not the dark green I was expecting.  Not sure if that is the variety, or something missing in the soil?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Mealy Blue Sage SallyFun Blue

I was hosting a coffee and wanted some purple plants to decorate the tables.  I was hoping for some of the purple verbena (or now I learn - lantana), that has been blooming everywhere.  But none of the plants at Natural Gardener were in bloom (that probably should have been my clue that these were *not* the plants I have seen in bloom all around town)

But they had some pretty looking Meally Blue Sage (SallyFun Blue).  So I picked up two plants... solely because they matched the tablecloth I was using.

With a forecast of 50% rain over the next two days, I decided to take a break from the Spring Break prep and regular house prep to get these plants in the ground.

I also planted the three small purple verbena that I picked up - even though they were not in bloom.

And I planted the Basil plant I had picked up a few weeks ago.

A sure wat to ensure we don't get any rain :o)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Cherry and Mountain Laurels are abuzz!

Literally, you can hear the buzz coming from the Cherry laurels from several feet away.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I know it is too early.  I know that tomatoes should not go in the ground until after the first week of March.  I know that there are two nights of 40 degrees forecast for the next two nights.  But the weather has been so beautiful and warm, and there is no freeze...

So, I planted five tomatoes today.  
Early Girl

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Garden Goodies

This has been a good couple of weeks for garden goodies! I harvested Broccoli and Asparagus, the last of the carrots from last year, and I have snow peas and strawberries that look like they are almost ready to pick!

An early Spring

The Veronica Georgia blue that I planted last year is doing great.  I really like this plant. It was a little hard to keep alive during the hot dry summer, but in the cool spring, it really shines. Because it has such a small flower, this plant would do better in a mass planting.  I may purchase four or five small plants again this year to fill out the area.

Lettuce seedlings!

When I out down the seedlings a week or so ago, I read that lettuce seedlings germinated fairly quickly, like in 2 to 4 days.  I diligently watered the seeds twice a day for about a week, but nothing showed.  I figured the seeds were old and I am no expert at sowing seeds.  So with a shrug, I chocked it up to an inexpensive experiment (hey the seeds were free as I harvested them from plants two years ago.

Today, I was out watering the garden; I wasn't even really looking at the lettuce.  I had kind go forgotten they were there - when I looked down and saw a whole bunch of teeny tiny green heads!  Woot!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Prepared Blackberries for Spring

My calendar said that I should put down some fertilizer when buds begin to swell.  Well, no buds have started to swell yet, but with the beautiful 89 degree days, they could any day now.  So, I pulled up all the weeds in the bed and out down some long acting fertilizer.  Now, if only that small chance of rain this weekend would pan out!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pruning roses on Valentine's Day

Another beautiful day, I decided to get out and prune the roses today.  I started with the two in the side bed.  I have learned that pruning them creates a much prettier, bushier shrub - even though it always makes me nervous to cut them back!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Fingerling Potatoes

I planted my fingerling potatoes today.  I have already planted my red potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes, because I had already divided them before I realized it was technically too early to plant potatoes.  Hopefully they won't get killed by a late freeze!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fingerling Potatoes, Dragon Carrots and Lettuce leftovers

It was another gorgeous day today - so I felt compelled to do something in the garden :o)

I went to NG and bought two bags of compost - but wound up only using one - to supplement the soil for the Fingerling Potatoes I hope to plant on Sunday.  At first I was going to put them in the back garden bed, but that bed is almost completely in the shade these days, so I decided to find space in the regular garden.  I mixed in the compost and watered the soil, so the space should be all ready for my potatoes in two days.

I also decided to use up some seeds I had in the fridge.  I had three bags of seeds from my lettuce plants two years ago (2014).  I doubt they will produce anything, but it was either put them in the ground or throw them out. Since they are two years old, I went ahead and added a bunch of seeds to each spot. I have three different bags of seeds, so I made three different holes for the seeds.  We'll see.

Along the same vein, Kyle purchased some "Dragon" carrots last year.  He got them too late to get in the ground, so I saved them for this year.  Now, on the packet, it actually says "Germination is slow and uneven, so be patient." Not words of encouragement for me.  So I just poured the whole seed packed down on small row of soil.  We'll wait and see what happens :o)

The sedd packet says:  You can sow carrot seeds as soon as the soil in your garden can be worked in the spring (about 3-4 weeks before the last frost). Seeds need consistent moisture until they emerge. Germination on carrot seed is slow and uneven. The light seed can be blown away by the wind or washed away when you water the beds. Sow the seeds less than an inch apart and thin them to 2-4 inches after they grow to a few inches. Roots will mature in 90 days.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Blooms on the Snow Pea

When watering the snow peas this morning, I found two blooms on the snow peas!  Fingers crossed that peas will be coming soon!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Early February Garden Update

On this pretty day, I just realized how great my garden looks. So I thought I'd give a quick garden update :o)

Winter cleaning a garden bed

Another absolutely gorgeous day.  The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the bees are buzzing!

Every since last year, I have been perplexed about what to do with my south-most porch bed.  The Esperanza gets so huge, the Obedient plant and St John's Wort takes over, and nothing else seems to grow.  Okay, that is not really true:  The lantana are small and pretty, and the salvia does pretty well.  The fire bush looks pretty during the summer.  But this bed lacks shape.  As you can see from the photo above, during the winter, it is a big brown mess.  And during the summer, it really doesn't look much better.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Two of my five asparagus crowns have come up!  I, of course, was hoping for more of them, but given my experience, half is doing pretty good ;o)

I also have one of my old asparagus crowns coming up.  I haven't been watering these, because I know they need to go fallow over the winter.  But this guy is really near to the new crowns, and probably received some of their water.  

I wonder if I should start watering the old ones now?
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