Monday, October 5, 2009

Good morning!

It is beautiful here in hot, hot AZ this morning. Today is supposed to only be 71 degrees which is practically winter.

This weekend I planted seeds of: onion, broccoli, cauliflower, chinese cabbage, various lettuces, and spinach. I also planted shallots, more onions and three short rows of garlic from sets. (I have no idea what I'm going to do with all that garlic if it all grows!) Anxious to rip out the gourds so I can get my flowers planted but they are just so happy I am finding it difficult to pull the roots so they can start drying. AND I'm doing a fancy weed thing called solarizing in my asparagus patch getting ready to plant new crowns next month. Basically you just dampen your soil thoroughly so it is saturated about four inches down, cover with heavy plastic, put something on top of it and let the weeds and weed seeds bake. Solarizing certainly sounds more glamorous, though, doesn't it? I've also been reading about using corn gluten to control weeds as an effective, organic pre-emergent but haven't attempted that yet.

My compost bins are just working wonderfully and churning out wonderful dark, rich compost.

I am dreading tackling the blackberry canes. When I planted them I did not tie them up and they have gone every which way. I'm ashamed to show you how bad they look but...well, I'm definitely keeping it real by sharing this photo with you. And now I'm signing off from beautiful Arizona! Happy gardening (or dreaming of next years garden if you're up North somewhere!)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oooh, oooh, ooooh

Getting close to planting time.

Garlic! Check!
Sweet Peas! Check!
Vegetable seeds! Check!

Cool weather!


Cool weather?


My husband says it might be dropping below 100 and staying there for awhile soon!

And then I can say CHECK!

And put these little seed-people in the ground.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just a few late September garden pictures!

So you don't think I've sprayed everything with round-up or something.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Oh happy gardening day!

I just got my beautiful asparagus crowns in the mail today from Tasteful Garden! Thx Cyndie! She recommended I store them in the fridge until the proper planting time (November here) so hopefully Steve will not eat them. ha!

I did get some new peppers planted as well as a row of green beans earlier in the week.

And I wanted to share with you the picture of two tomatoes I cut back to about one foot. One made it, one did not. I can never figure that out.

And show you some cooked compost.

I have two bins cooking away now and am going to stockpile coffee grounds in the corner of the garden and turn them.

Apparently I can use them as a replacement for bone meal AND they're free AND I can get a skinny latte every time I pick them up (OK, that's just a bonus - they will actually give me the grounds without even buying coffee...I just told my husband they won't so....shhhhh.... don't tell him any differently!)

I have all the rest of my seeds ready to go but I'm holding off for another week.

Happy harvesting.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To paraphrase Bob Dylan ...

The Seeds, they are a'coming...

And, oh, I'm excited. Today I got broccoli, cauliflower, dill, beets, cilantro and something else that I'm too lazy to walk out into the kitchen to remember...

On the way are some cool sounding Sweet Peas, asparagus, some herb plants, and a garlic combo (five different garlics)

In the morning I'm gonna throw one last row of green beans in and do a small planting of some of the cool crop seeds.

I think it's still too hot for them although it is cooling down nicely at night now. I knew that for sure today when I attempted to swim and about had a heart attack. My granddaughter kept laughing at me.... "Gwamma, quit being a baby" she told me. Hmmm... I never liked that little kid anyway (just kiddin')

I'll take some pictures of the cut back tomato plants in the morning so you can see how they're taking off again.

Oh boy, I love planting!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Acid or alkaline

I get quite a few questions regarding why I use coffee grounds on my garden. Coffee grounds add nitrogen, potassium and magnesium to the soil. And they have high acidity which lowers the PH of the soil. Something very good for much of our soil here in Arizona which tends to be alkaline.

Generally I put the grounds directly on my garden in the raw form and rototill or hoe them in. We maintain a fairly regular watering schedule and we have intense heat so they decompose in our garden fairly quickly. I do put them in my compost bins as well.

If you are unsure whether your soil is acid or alkaline and you don't want to get a soil analysis done there is a pretty simple test you can try at home with baking soda and vinegar.

Get two containers. Put some vinegar in one and a mixture of 1 part water to 1 part baking soda in the other.

To do a simple check on various areas of your garden or flowers beds simply walk around and pour some vinegar or baking soda water on the soil. The liquid that makes the soil form tiny bubbles or fizz will tell you what type of soil you have.

If your soil reacts to the baking soda and water it is acidic. If it reacts to the vinegar it is alkaline. If it reacts to neither it is probably PH neutral.

And just because I haven't bored you quite enough...

The pH of soil is measured on a scale of 0-14.
A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral.
The higher pH levels, the lower the acidity and vice versa.
Soil is considered “alkaline” if it has a high pH (greater than 7.5) and “acidic” if it has a low pH (less than 6.5).

I'm gonna simplify it down just a bit more cuz I always get confused by this.

Low acid - high PH - alkaline soil
High acid - low PH - acid soil

I'm not trying to create an acid soil - I am just trying to neutralize our PH levels. Totally confused yet?

And just to relax all that low creating high and high creating low confusion let's talk about coffee grounds for a totally different application. Did you know that they make a wonderful exfoliant scrub for your skin. Just pat on, rub gently and rinse off - voila! Super smooth, baby butt skin.

I also found a tip for using coffee grounds to help get rid of cellulite. I haven't tried this particular idea yet but I plan to. Heaven knows I need to. Let me know if you try it first, though, please.

Mix 1/4 cup warm, used coffee grounds and one tablespoon of olive oil. While standing over an old towel or newspaper, apply the mixture to your problem areas. Next, wrap the areas with shrink wrap and leave on for several minutes. Unwind the wrap, brush loose grounds off your skin and then shower with warm water. For best results, it is recommended to repeat this procedure twice a week.

Hey, consider this your full service coffee ground blog!

Signing off from my PH neutral AZ garden.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I thinking walking upright might be over-rated!

OK, the alarm rang at 4:45. It was annoying, to say the least. My husband made a pot of coffee and then we started hauling all the manure, green bins, coffee grounds, etc. back to the garden.

He took off for Home Depot to rent a truck and rent the large size tiller and I stayed home and cleaned up sunflower debris, coiled up soaker hoses, put down composted manure, compost and coffee grounds.

Right when I was finishing spreading the last of it he got home.

We went as quickly as possible because the sky was pretty gray and there was a lot of lightening in the distance.

While he tilled I spread iron on our lawn and worked in the rosebeds.

Then we put a thin layer of straw over the garden and he rototilled that in again thoroughly.

Just got the last of the iron spread and the tiller loaded back in the truck and it started raining!


I'm going to get some seeds ordered this coming week and get my asparagus bed amended for the 2 year old crowns I ordered from Tasteful Garden!

AND it was in the 70's while we were working outside. Amazing! Wonderful!

We're both tired out! And neither one of us can stand upright from all the hauling and trying to get the tiller into the garden.

But it was soooo worth it.

Soon I can start planting my fall/early spring crops!

Woo hoo!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The alarm is set for 5 am...

...and Steve is heading to Home Depot to rent one of the big rototillers to get half the garden ready for fall planting.

I have six bags of composted manure on the back porch along with four big bags of coffee grounds.

I'm going to stay home and spread all that and then we'll rototill everything in as soon as Steve gets back.

I know you're wondering if we're crazy.

OK, we probably are ... but if we do it at that time of the morning...

a) we may not have to be rushed by ambulance to the hospital for heat stroke
b) we will be able to rent a tiller for sure (the guy at the Depot thinks they will rent out pretty quick with the three day weekend)
c) there is a huge chance of rain coming in tomorrow afternoon and evening and it will be wonderful to get the amendments washed in.

OK, I'm off to bed. I'll take pictures.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Late night garden thoughts

Today we got the last of the sunflowers ripped out. Some of the stalks were like small tree trunks - maybe 5 or more inches in diameter.

Had hoped to get some bags of manure tomorrow but I'm babysitting my three year old granddaughter so that may not happen.

We did get another load of coffee grounds today.

Here's all the veggies we can plant in our zone toward the middle to end of this month:


Snap Beans, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Endive, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce (Head & Leaf), Leeks, Mustard, Green Onions, Peas, Radishes, Spinach, Turnips


Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Lettuce (Head & Leaf)

The best guide for planting flowers in the low desert can be found at this link:

And here's what I need to do to my roses this month:

• Prune roses lightly and remove old or dead canes.
• Use a slow-release fertilizer.
• Water slowly to a depth of 2 feet. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings,
but don’t allow the plant to become stressed.
• Remove spent blooms

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coffee grounds, asparagus and icky bugs

It's so cool. A new coffee drivethrough opened up by our house AND no-one has been asking for their coffee grounds yet! Woo hoo! I am going tomorrow at shift change to pick up another big batch.

I usually get them at Starbucks but it's a chore cuz so many other people go there, too. You gotta be first in to grab 'em. But I should be able to fulfill my entire gardens coffee grounds needs in just a few days!

AND the beautiful, lovely, wonderful Cindy at Tasteful Garden e-mailed me today to tell me that, yes, she had some more asparagus to sell and I got my order in. Asparagus plants in less extreme climates can produce up to 20 I seem to get four to five out of a set of crowns.

And all the icky bugs are gone. Presto! No pesticides! Just a nicely patient husband willing to grab the disgusting things!

So now I can get in the garden and finish ripping everything out getting ready for a nice little session with the rototiller.

I can only 'till up about half the garden since I have many, many gourds growing and I'm going to leave them alone to see how big they get!

Happy gardening!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Beetle update

My very brave and very sweet husband has been hand-picking the beetles off the sunflowers and dropping them into a little pail with a bit of gasoline in the bottom. I read this is the best, pesticide free way of getting rid of the varmints.

He picks a few off, the rest fly around buzzing like crazy, I start screaming and waving my arms, he sighs.

And then we do it all over again.

We've been taking the huge sunflowers down to get ready to rototill (OK, OK, he's been taking them down) and I am surprised at how much sticky sap is coming out of the splits in the stems (although they really are more like small tree trunks in size)

STarted collecting coffee grounds to spread in the garden and need to go and get a few bags of manure as well.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ewww, ewwww, ewwwwww!

Acccckkk! There are japanese beatles on steroids in my garden. These things are bigger then 1/2 my thumb. Ewwwwwwwwww! Gotta research how to get rid of them. Ewwwww. I feel them crawling in my hair! ick, ick, ick!

Yup, just call me the great outdoors-woman!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hey, it's almost fall...

Do you know how I can tell? Crisp nights? .... ummmm, no. The scent of autumn in the air? ... ummm.... no. Temperatures below 100? Ummmm.... no....

I can tell because it's time to rip out my garden, haul all kinds of collected coffee grounds (Thank you Starbucks) into it, spread some manure, spread some compost, rototill the heck out of the dirt and get ready to plant spring crops.

Yes, you heard me right.

We live in a weird gardening zone. We really have two full-on gardening seasons.

So I'm heading out there now to start cutting down sunflowers, trimming back tomatoes (I cut the vines back to about 1 foot long and can generally get a September crop of them) and looking at seed catalogs.

I'll let you know later what I'm planting.

It's already pushing 100 so I need to get out there and bask in the coming autumn.


Monday, August 17, 2009

2nd Compost bin started

The first compost bin worked so well we finally made our second bin. It is a bit more of an experiment (I can never leave well enough alone) because we are trying a rolling trash bin to see if it is easier to handle. I meant to take a picture but when we moved the first compost bin the dirt under it was amazing. Almost loamy and black and rich looking. I am going to put moving that through the garden as part of my gardening schedule so that more areas of the soil can benefit from being the recipient of the run off.

My friend Mary in Florida advises that if you can't put the compost bin directly in your garden you find some method of capturing the run off to use as liquid compost as you water your garden.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cantaloupes, gourds and a sweet little three year old

Gourds and zinnias have taken over my garden. I am not planting anything right now but waiting until September to work up a big spot in the garden to plant spring crops.

But here's a quick trip out there this morning with my three year old granddaughter, Morgan.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A moment of silence please....

...something, some evil, evil thing crept into my garden under the cover of my ridiculous 13 feet high sunflowers and with malicious intent RIPPED UP ALL MY PUMPKIN SEEDLINGS!

I am ticked off!

I am enraged!

I am.... am..... furious beyond belief!

It is too late to replant them for Halloween pumpkins now.

I thought about calling the police but I don't think they'll care.

I thought about calling my homeowners insurance policy guy but I don't think they'll care.

And you may not care either.

But I had to tell someone about this before my sorrow and rage consumed me.


Dumb pumpkin hating plant destroyers.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What I picked today ! AND amazing compost

Good morning! Over 100 already and humid. Ick.

So...I wandered out to my garden this morning and here's what I picked!

...and just in case you don't think composting is worth the effort...these tomatoes were picked from two roma classica plants. One plant is right next to the compost barrel and gets all the run-off from the holes on the bottom, the other plant is about five feet away.

...and speaking of tomatoes, now is the time we get ready to cut our plants back to about 1 foot and then we scramble to keep them alive through August. The ones that survive will set another crop of fruit for harvest in September and October. Cool, eh?

I have a date with a clotheline and some sheets and then an even better date with a swimming pool.

Stay cool!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Glad to get some glads out of the heat!

I have another big round of glads to harvest ... if we leave them in the ground all summer they pretty much disintegrate so I dig mine each year in July and August. After I pull the glads I let them sit outside (out of direct sunlight) to dry for a few days.

Then I cut them 4 or 5 inches above the bulb into a brown paper bag. Accckkk! You are so observant. Yes, this is not a brown paper bag. It is a Macy's bag. Sadly because I have become so environmentally concious I only use fabric shopping bags and I have no large brown paper bags. I am going to get some when I go to the store this week and swap them. I think the Macy's bag will not work as well because it has a kind of "coating" inside that will not allow air to circulate. Please don't hate me because I am destroying trees by saying "paper" when they ask me at the store.

See these little bulblets? Last year I planted a long furrow of these and let them develop into glad bulbs which is why I have 14,607 glads to harvest this year. I will keep them but they may or may not get planted. Unless some of you have a lot of space and can plant them in your garden and want them. I'd be glad to send them to you.

And now they are hidden away in the dark closet in my laundry room in their inappropriately fine bag. They are feeling pretty spiffy at the moment.

And now, here's my garden as of yesterday, July 29th. The roses will not go dormant for some weird reason and the gourds and zinnias are taking over the backyard!

Monday, July 27, 2009


Would somebody please tell my garden that it is the end of July in Arizona and it is supposed to slow down a bit?

If you're not too busy I'd appreciate it very much.

Monday, July 20, 2009

SSSShhhh.... Here's a very steamy story for so early in the morning...

OK.... gather close. Don't let anyone overhear. This is pretty hot and I don't want any old people or children getting too shocked. Are you ready?


I think I have heatstroke. I know. Shocking, right?

I was in my garden at 6:00 am to

plant my pumpkin seeds - which I did
pull some gladiola bulbs - which I did
turn the compost bin (doesn't that sound so much better then black-plastic garbage
can with holes drilled in it?) - which I did
pick tomatoes - which I did

And now I am dying. It is only 8:20 and I am ready to call it a day and go back to bed.

Because of the heat here I don't leave my glads in the ground all year. Each July I pull them carefully from the ground, tap off all excess dirt, and leave them outside in the shade for a day or two to dry out a bit. Then I cut the leaves off about 3 - 4" inches from the bulb, pack them into brown paper sacks and put them in my laundry room closet. I think I pulled close to 60 this morning with at least that many to pull tomorrow or Wednesday. Some of them are bigger then my fist. Granted, I have a small hand, but still...impressive glad bulbs.

I didn't take pictures because of the aforementioned heat-stroke thing-y, but I will tomorrow morning!

OK, off to throw myself directly on top of the air conditioning vent.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Compost and gourds

I've been bad about showing you the compost! I have taken some out of it already and continue to add to it. The black plastic bin really bakes the materials and it seems to turn over about once a month. It is very rich looking and extremely friable.

I've been asked what my secret to growing in the desert is and it is lots and lots of compost and organic matter, mulching with straw like crazy and regular deep waterings with a soaker hose. Shade is a big factor as well and if you haven't let 1,000 sunflowers grow in your garden (this won't happen next year) you do need to use a 50% shadecloth when the heat ratchets up!

And here is what is growing on the ramada by the garden. Gourds! I got these seeds from a gourd growing friend in Taiwan who I met when I was attempting to grow a giant pumpkin several years ago.

Here's a link to my growers diary:
and here's a link to some other pictures of the pumpking growing:

My sister past away mid-March of '08 (the year my husband and I were attempting this)and I just lost my momentum with the whole project and never repeated it.

We had to leave the end of June to drive to Ohio for her burial and before we left we cut up the pumpkins to weigh them. We did have one that was a little over 300 pounds. I think they would have gotten much larger cuz the leaves were still really vibrant when we cut them up!

It was a fun and crazy experiment and just gives you an idea you can grow just about anything in the desert.

Through my growers diary is how I met the grower in Taiwan and he was so sweet in sending seeds along.

Gardeners are a bunch of "good seeds" aren't they?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Harvesting in 110 degrees

OK, it is hot here. Stinkin' hot. Really hot. Not like hot as in unpleasantly warm. Hot as is in underwear melting hot. Oops! Was that too much information? Well in any case I think you get the idea. This morning when I roused myself out of the A/C and into the garden around 8 am it was already well over a hundred and humid. We will be around 114/115 today. We are in the middle of the monsoon season which would be OK if it ever actually rained but since it refuses to be anything other then humid it's just well.... ummmm..... hot. OK, I'm probably repeating myself but here's what I picked this morning. It was difficult for me not to cut roses but around this time of year I don't pick roses at all and just let them go as dormant as they can. We maintain lots of water on them but I don't even fertilize now for several months because I don't want the plants to grow. Just want them to survive.

I did pick some green beans, too, but I left the basket on the ground for about 2.8 seconds which means my weiner dog ate them. Sigh.

And this melon? Wow! I picked three today and it was hard not to cut and eat the other two right afterwards. It was juicy and sweet and delicious!

Monday, July 6, 2009

I hang my head in shame...

...since it has been a month since I've been here last. A month. I could make up some big lie explaining my laziness but all I can say is ... well.... ummm.... a gigantic spaceship came and took me off to the planet Gardenarium where I learned many, many secrets for growing amazing gardens and which I will share with you next planting season, I promise.

In the meantime here's what happened in my garden while I was off on the spaceship.

So, as you can see things have been growing like crazy while I was on my inter-galactic journey.

And now it's time to plant pumpkins but I'm not sure if I can find my machete or not to clear a spot.

And now, to paraphrase the way they say goodbye on the planet Gardenarium...

Grow in peace little seed...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Midgets and birds

OK, I am sooo officially not a "little person" but these sunflowers make me look extremely short! I am actually 5'7"!

And...look at one of the colorful visitors from our garden. These are so fast. There is a little family of them but I wanted to show you at least one picture.

I have some compost!

It worked. It worked! OK, the sunflower stems are too woody and I won't put them in next time but it defininitely worked. I had my husband help me carry the bin right into the garden so the compost tea (that icky black stuff on the bottom) can run right into the ground by the plants.

I am going to buy another bin now that I see it actually makes compost and is sooooo simple to do!