Saturday, December 15, 2012


3 years ago, I had to have the artichoke plant at Lowe's Garden Center. It cost me $15.00 and I hoped it would grow in Arizona. I planted it and it grew. The artichokes grow to be about the size of my fist...small (but the ones you buy in the grocery stores are patented and you cannot buy those!). But my first plant gave us between 60 and 80 artichokes the first year! And many of them went to waste or to seed. The plant eventually 'died'. The next fall, I had HUNDREDS of seedlings I thought were squash. They turned out to be artichoke seedlings. I transplanted a few and they grew. I left the others to fend for themselves in a yard area that was not getting watered anymore. The original plant began growing again! So again, we had artichokes, this time from several different plants. So I dug them up after they were done. I was done with artichokes. They take up a lot of room and I just don't think for as small as they are, they are so worth all the work. But here came some more!
There are 3 of them in this photo. They get watered because of the raised garden they are growing next to. So here we go again.

And then, the garden area that does not get watered anymore?
Artichoke plants are pretty drought resistant. They do grow well in Arizona. And after your harvests, the ones you do not pick do flower and make very pretty flowers!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sprouted Swiss Chard and Kale

An update on the newest raised garden. Red Swiss Chard in the front, Kale in the middle and White Swiss Chard in the back. Looking GREAT!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sprouts...December 1, 2012

Last Saturday, I put White Swiss Chard, Red Swiss Chard and Kale seeds in cups of water to 'pre-soak' for 24 hours. On Sunday, I put them in the ground. And each day I watched and watered. I was beginning to wonder two things...1) Did I drown the seeds? I don't know if you can drown seeds, but I was a little concerned, and 2) Is the orange plastic fencing I put over them to keep the birds from getting the seeds keeping them from sprouting someway? (Too little light, maybe reflecting the heat off, keeping the ground beneath is too cool.) So today, I watered and saw nothing. I moved on to another part of the yard to water some existing plants. Then I came back for a closer inspection:

This is the Kale. I planted tons of it. I put only one seed every 1-2 inches. About 6 rows each about 3 feet long. It's funny how such a simple thing can be so amazing and fun!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Protecting seeds from the birds...

Have you ever seen this stuff as a road barricade material? It's used to keep people from falling in holes or going the wrong way? I saw this wad of used plastic fencing on a street corner after a parade. I watched it for a week. It was there for the garbage men to pick up, I was sure. So one day, I pulled up to it, got out of my car, shoved in the back of my SUV and off I went. I spend a lot of money on seeds and organic soils. This is Good Garden Junk. Useful for something, I thought.

Today, I got my newest planter box filled with soil and was ready to plant. Seeds were soaked and ready. Last time I planted, the birds ate all but about 20 seeds. I must have planted over 200 seeds and this is all I got:
White and Red Swiss Chard

So, today I planted green onions and some beets and swiss chard in the existing planter box:
and I covered the seeded area with the orange fencing, hoping to keep the birds out. And then I went on to the new planter box. I planted White Swiss Chard, Kale and Red Swiss Chard, and the orange fencing is triple layered. If something does not grow there, then nothing will!

In two weeks I will plant more beets. We love fresh beets. This will keep the crops coming!

And keep watching, because the chickens are coming!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sweet Potatoes, Part 2

So, I posted in August about planting the sweet potato slips, and now it is just about time to harvest. Last weekend I dug around to see what I could find, and I did find a sweet potato that was about 6 inches long, about 1 inch in diameter. From what I have read, once it gets cold and the leaves begin to die, then you harvest. They need to fatten up some first! I don't think they will be ready for Thanksgiving. I will post pictures when it is time to harvest!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sweet Potatoes

I am trying something new. I have never done this before. I bought a box of sweet potatoes and Costco and some of them sprouted. So I got online and researched growing sweet potatoes. Seems they grow great in Arizona. So, I increased my efforts and wound up with over 15 "slips". I planted them and VIOLA! Now, they have been in the soil for about 12 weeks. I have stopped fertilizing (the nitrogen in fertilizer helps plants grow green lush leaves, and at this point, I want tubers under the ground to grow, so you stop the fertilizer to encourage potato growth), and am now just waiting and wondering what is growing down underneath...???

Fall 2012 Garden

A friend who owns lots of heavy equipment called a few weeks ago and told me that a neighbor who had a pile of cow manure in front of his house had moved out and left it. He would deliver it to me if I wanted it. I said sure, put it on the tarp I put out back...thinking I could drag it eventually into my garden area.

Little did I know how much there was! So, the garden area below now has 6 wheel barrows full of manure mixed in it. I have planted peas, gold and red beets, swiss chard, kale and spinach in it. I'll keep you posted.

Sunflowers Galore!

I will grow sunflowers again. They really brightened my days. I had over 40 plants. They were all over 12 feet tall. I have lots of seeds and will be growing them again, and again, and again...
This summer's crop was mostly sunflowers. Tons of them. Mammoth ones.

Bigger than my hand. 

Some of them more than 16 feet tall.

And fun and beautiful.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Burpee Spinach "Giant 157 Hybrid" Seeds are the bomb!

I love that Burpee has put an ad on my page! Let me tell you why! I grow most of my veggies from seed and I ordered seeds from several different sources at different times. I grew some spinach for the first time when I first began my garden 3 years ago and it was some of the most amazing spinach I had ever had! I grew to be huge, the leaves were at least 12" stem to tip. The leaves were thick. And when you steam it, it comes out strong, yet tender, and creamy. I even leave some of the woody looking stems on, because they are not tough. The problem? I threw the seed packet away that first year after I planted all the seeds. I had no idea what they were. I went to my favorite nursery and looked at seeds. I told them what I was looking for and he was discouraging...telling me "Hybrid" seeds were not normally consistent, so even if I found them, the spinach may not be the same. So I scoured every seed provider plus some, looking for these seeds again! I could not remember, so I ordered at least 12 varieties of seeds until finally one day...I ordered Burpee "Giant 157 Hybrid" seeds and VIOLA! That was it! There they were. So now, I have my favorite spinach growing again and it is as yummy as I remember! Thank you, Burpee!
Burpee Giant 157 Hybrid

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I have no idea what I am doing wrong, but I cannot get lettuce seeds to even sprout! I have planted twice, and not one sprout. Maybe there is a bug or the birds are eating the seeds, but I have never had the problem where not one of the 100% of the seeds I sowed did not sprout! I planted 6 varieties. This is getting really frustrating because lettuces should be easy and some of the things I grow are more difficult...I should be able to grow lettuce! Argghhhh...

I know I have caterpillars. I saw an odd mass scooting across the ground yesterday, it was a black and orange looking beetle carrying a small (1" long) caterpillar. This is going to mean trouble for my tomatoes! I have found  that any kind of cayenne pepper, chili powder, red pepper will keep the caterpillars from eating the leaves on my peas, but the tomatoes will be a bigger challenge. I will be working on a cayenne/red pepper "soup" that I can spray with a squirt bottle to try to deter them...and maybe spend the night in the garden so when I HEAR them chomping, I can find them and destroy them...

Friday, February 24, 2012

So how does the garden grow?

So, how does the garden grow? Well, I am harvesting spinach right now.  The asparagus looks like it needs to mature one more year. The peas are finally getting too big for what ever it is that kept eating the new leaves and is finally growing tall and the sunflowers have sprouted. (I am using Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder and Red Pepper to keep these pests away at an alarming rate. It works, I just hope the peas aren't too hot to eat!) I have kale, beets and swiss chard growing, planted some tomatoes. The lettuce never did sprout, so I have re-seeded. The artichokes are about 6' tall now...and will soon have itty bitty artichokes appearing, I am sure. And tomorrow, in go the squash seeds. Oh my gosh! Last year we lived on squash...good thing we love it!

But here is the exciting part today! My mother bought me a "pitch fork" today for my mulch/compost. But I have been toying with a worm bed. So tonight, on Friday night, I took the fork out to the garden and turned some soil in my garden with it. What I found was the soil is rather "foamy". And 2 red worms. So I did it again, and found a few more worms. I moved to another part of the garden about 5' away and found 6-8 more worms...all sizes. I gathered them all into a bowl. I dug over by the tomatoes...more worms! There are worms in every part of my garden! This is GOOD!

I have an old kitchen sink out in the back, which I am going to pull up to the garden area and dig a hole to sink it down into the soil (worms like it cool). I am going to put my worms in and cover them with dirt and kitchen scraps. I am going to let those little wiggly creatures make some of the best compost/fertilizer for my garden EVER!

What a good Friday night! I can go to sleep dreaming of my new worm bed and rich soil and veggies!

And who story I read about "worm farming", the guy made $150,000 in the first year selling his farmed worms!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Veggie Gardening 2011

I just want to re-cap what and how I did last year, using an 'organic' gardening outline...meaning, I used no chemicals or artificial fertilizers at all. I did use fertilizer, bone meal, and blood meal, all certified organic. I was able to give away pounds and pounds of tomatoes and squash. Some of the things I didn't give away, didn't get used. There was plenty. And I vow never to pay $1.29/lb for summer squashes again in my life! 

Turnips and greens

Beets and turnips (I never took many pics of the beets, but they actually turned out to be one of my favorite things to grow and eat!)


Yellow Crookneck Squash


More Kohlrabi



Swiss Chard


Lots of Swiss Chard

A garden gone awry. Tomatoes, Asparagus, Artichokes, Cantaloupes.

Squash and Tomatoes

More squash

Some of the garden


Artichoke, Kohlrabi and squash

Tomatoes, Squashes, Eggplant
This was my Pineapple Tomato. It was delicious. Oh, and Squash!

More squash, tomato and eggplant

Artichokes...we get around 60-80 artichokes off one plant each season.
 This season, I am growing spinach and lettuces, kale, Swiss chard and beets, sweet peas and chinese snow peas, bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes, summer squashes, broccolini and of course the artichokes and far. I don't usually grow broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi or broccolini because I have too many bad experiences with aphids. One year I will try them with some lady bugs, I guess. Right now I am going through cayenne pepper like mad because something out there loves my peas as they sprout, but they hate the cayenne! (I sure hope my peas don't taste too hot when I finally get to eat some!) I am going to start another garden for my salsa garden, which will have jalapenos, tomatoes and other peppers. I have some sunflowers in the ground too...I love the color and it brightens things up, catches people's attention.