November 30, 2009: Mini-Garden Update

I've been a bit remiss in my blogging recently, as there really isn't a lot going on right now in my gardening world and my internet connection has been all but non-existent this past week.

The little salad garden is growing, albeit very slowly. The carrots are up, and germination looks to be very good. Some of the spinach has emerged, as have a couple of the twenty-five onions, and enough lettuce seedlings survived the (probable) bird attack that I will have plenty to transplant into the bare spots. I also have some lettuce seedlings growing in vermiculite, so hopefully I can replant the containers that have passed their prime.

My two Patio tomatoes suffered a lot of leaf miner damage, which I first misdiagnosed as bruised and damaged leaves from being mishandled in Lowe's nursery. It became apparent the damage was from leaf miners when I spotted the squiggles from their tunneling, so, scissors in hand, they were soon inspected and all damaged leaves removed to a sealed plastic bag. The larger of the two plants now has 13 tomatoes on it, the smaller one has a lot of blossoms. I have taken to tickling the opened blossoms with my electric toothbrush each day, in hopes of increasing their chances of pollination. Mr. H is still patiently moving the pots out in the mornings and back in at night. When, oh when, will he be rewarded with a ripe tomato?

About a week ago, I was contacted by Chelsea, of Hometown Seeds, with a request for a link to their website to be added to my sidebar. I've never ordered any seeds from them, but I looked over the website and it seems to be a nice family-type business that is just starting up, so I said I'd be happy to help them out. Today in the mail I received a "thank you" from Chelsea, and a sample of some of their seeds. I also found the link wasn't working, so I fixed it. I hope.

Variety pack from Hometown Seeds

I was happy to see Shasta Daisy seeds among the collection. Before I had my main vegetable garden along the east fence, I had Shasta daisies and summer phlox, and they were so pretty! Unfortunately, my neighbor had Bermuda grass, which overtook the flower garden so badly I finally removed all the plants. Now the neighbor has a small garden area along the fence, where she keeps the Bermuda grass under control, so I'd like to reintroduce that strip of land to the daisies and phlox.

My flower garden of the past.

November 25, 2009: Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Myspace Graphics

Mr. H and I will be having a quiet Thanksgiving celebration at home, with only the two dogs in attendance. I'm roasting a big turkey to serve with dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, Waldorf salad, crescent rolls and a (store bought!) pumpkin pie. Can you believe I left all my home grown pumpkin puree in the freezer up in Washington? I won't have to cook for a week, we'll have so many leftovers! I'm sure the pups will help, as they love turkey, green beans and sweet potatoes. Annie and I are just going to ignore the calories consumed this week.

I have covered my little AZ salad garden with netting, to keep out birds. It looks as though that was the culprit that was eating the seedlings, so I've replanted the spinach and started some lettuce seedlings in pots to transplant later. I didn't look at my planting guide, relying on memory instead, and dug up the beets thinking that was where I'd planted spinach! Now I have tiny beets sprouting up between the newly planted spinach rows.....that box is going to be a real mess if everything comes up! I can see the carrots today, 16 days after planting the seeds. The first red onion, from sets planted ten days ago, has also sprouted. The two Patio tomato plants are thriving, putting out new growth, new baby tomatoes and more blossoms. They are residing on the south side of the house, in the hot sun, during the day, and Mr. H packs them in each night before the temperature drops below 50F.

Patio tomatoes

Pansies and alyssum in November

Happy Thanksgiving from Granny, Mr. H, Annie and Otto

November 21, 2009: Pay it Forward

This morning I selected the three Pay it Forward recipients using an ultra-modern scientific method.....

And the winners are.....


Would Maureen, Ribbit and Sue please send their mailing addresses to

Each of you will receive a little gift package from me, and you will be required to Pay it Forward to three others.

And don't hold your breath, girls. I haven't even begun shopping yet!

November 21, 2009: Blog Award!

Thank you to Kalena Michele at Amira for passing on the Best Blog Award to Annie's Kitchen Garden.

Of course, all these awards come with stipulations which are sometimes difficult to fulfill. This particular award requires me to pick 15 blogs I have recently discovered. I'm afraid I'm so busy reading all of my old favorites and, as you've probably noticed, the garden blogs have slowed considerably for the winter, so I don't have 15 recent ones from which to chose! But thank you again, Kalena Michele. I'll display my award with pride, and pass it on to the two most recent blogs to which I've subscribed.

Gloria Bonde at A Healthy Gardener : Gloria lives in Hot Springs, South Dakota, and she's as enthusiastic as I am when it comes to growing those tomatoes!

The blogger to whom this second award was given finds these awards offensive, so I have removed her blog link from this post. I'm sorry she feels like this, I happen to be very grateful that my readers enjoy my blog enough to reward me with a bit of praise now and then, but I understand many other bloggers don't feel this way.

Gloria and (removed), I honor you with this award. Feel free to accept it or not, and don't feel as though you must adhere to the following guidelines if you would rather not.

Post the award on your blog (including the above picture) along with the name of the person who passed it on to you and link to their blog. Choose 15 blogs which you have recently discovered and you think are great and pass it on to them. Don't forget to leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

November 20, 2009: A Special Day and A Very Special Gift - Pay it Forward

Today is a special day for me. I'm publishing my 300th post! If I'd known my blog was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of it. *grin*

Yesterday I received a very special gift from Thomas at A Growing Tradition. Since I've never been to New England, Thomas sent a bit of New England to me!

On the brown bag, which is printed with replicas of old advertisements, are chocolate covered Cape Cod Cranberries, A little jug of pure Vermont maple syrup, a bag of Hutchinson's Maple Caramel Corn from New Hampshire, A box of Boston Tea Party English Breakfast Tea, and a potholder imprinted with a recipe for real Boston Baked Beans.

Oh, but that's not all! There was one thing in the package that was so very special, it deserved very special treatment, so I got out the recipe for one of my favorite breads and went to work. Well, it's not really work when I make bread in the food processor!

Dakota Bread
Yield: 1 loaf

1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 egg
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup honey....this was very special honey from Stefaneener
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats

Sprinkle yeast in warm water; stir to dissolve.

Combine remaining ingredients in work bowl of food processor. Add yeast. Process until dough forms a ball, check for moisture, adding a bit more flour or water if needed. Process for about 15 seconds, then let rest for 5 minutes. Process for 60 seconds or until dough feels smooth and elastic (mine was slightly soft and almost sticky, perfect when greased by the bowl).

Place dough in a greased bowl, turn to grease all surfaces; cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Punch down dough. Shape into one loaf. Place into a greased loaf pan. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Hot from the oven...

Mr. H gets both of the heels while they are still warm. I get a nice, thick slice to toast. Have you guessed where I'm going with this?

Hmmmm, what is that in the jar? must be Thomas' Meyer Lemon Marmalade!

Oh, he's good. Really good. It's perfectly jelled, not too thick, not too thin.

The flavor is heavenly. Sweet, a slight lemon tang, just the tiniest hint of the bitter that makes it marmalade. It's hard to believe this is the first time Thomas has made jam or jelly!

The last bite was as good as the first.

I ended the evening with a cup of hot Boston Tea Party tea, and another reading of Thomas' heart warming blog entry for Wednesday, November 18, 2009, "On Family - Honest Scrap Award". If you haven't yet read it, please do, but be ready to cry. It's a good kind of cry, though.

When I accepted Thomas' offer of a gift, I promised to pay it forward. If you would like to receive a goody bag from Granny, leave a comment on this post to let me know. On Saturday I'll randomly chose by putting your names in a hat and drawing out three. I was going to pick the first three emails sent to me, but I felt there was too much advantage for the eastern time zoners and/or insomniacs ;-)

November 19, 2009: Have You Done Anything Dumb Today?

Have you done anything really dumb today? I have.

I bought a set of three frying pans the other day and, as I always do with new pans, I used hot water and soap to clean the insides, rinsed, dried and put them away.

I was frying chicken in the largest pan tonight, when I noticed some odd flaking stuff around the burner. I reached under the pan with the fork to pull a piece of whatever it was out.


One really should remove the label before one uses the pan. How did I miss it?

My little DustBuster took care of the mess on the stove, but remnants of label are probably forever burned into the bottom of the pan. No amount of scrubbing would remove it.

In other news today, my spinach seedlings have gone the way of the lettuce seedlings. Here yesterday, gone this morning. Oh well, I still have radishes. So far.

November 18, 2009: Where Oh Where?

Where have my lettuce seedlings gone? They were there yesterday! Although they were growing very slowly, the germination was close to 100%. Today three of the four varieties are almost completely gone. I got down on my hands and knees (no easy feat for this old lady's body) and examined the plot, looking for signs of damping off, but I found nothing. Nothing. No limp little seedlings anywhere, just empty spaces. I haven't seen any birds in the garden bed, although we do have a few hanging around in the nearby trees. I don't know if lizards eat greens or not.

This one variety (look very closely, they are teeny-tiny) will certainly give me enough transplants to fill in the rest of the garden...that is if they don't disappear too! There is a bare spot or two, even in this wide row planting, that wasn't there yesterday.

Although the radishes are growing as expected, the lettuce is very, very slow. I think it might be wise to start some seeds inside, for transplanting at a later date.

November 16, 2009: Oh Dear, is it Monday Already?

*Each week Daphne's Dandelions hosts Monday Harvest. Be sure to visit her blog to see who is harvesting what this week!*


I have nothing to show.

That doesn't mean I didn't have a harvest. It just means I set the pots of lettuce right next to the rabbit's cage, and we've been picking his dinner and feeding him each night, rather than picking the greens and keeping them refrigerated. He does seem to like these ultra-fresh greens even better. I'm actually not growing enough to keep him satisfied yet, and we had to make a trip to the grocery store for some red leaf lettuce to supplement the home grown.

Elsewhere in the mini-garden, the tomato plants are still alive. The tomato-less one still has no blossoms, but the larger plant is blooming and setting fruit just fine.

When the tomato plants go outside, they are on the south side of the building. I have to watch the temperature here, as it can get very hot, very fast. A few minutes after I took this photo, the temperature had gone up to over 91F. It's sheltered from the north wind and gets sun all day long. On warmer days, I'll be moving them around the corner where it doesn't get quite so hot.

While it was 88.7 on the south side of the house, it was only 60.1 on the east side. Quite a difference!

Yesterday I placed the two plastic containers in their spots in the garden, and mixed equal parts of compost and native soil with vermiculite and a bit of slow release fertilizer, then filled the small box. I wanted to use just compost and vermiculite, but I'm already into quite an expense in purchasing it by the bag, so I'm going to see how well things grow with the mixture. If it works, I'll save quite a few $$ next winter.

I planted red onion sets in the small, bottomless container, it held 25 sets. I'll pull every other one to use as green onions, and see how big the others will grow in the time we have here in AZ. The small pot holds green onions from the grocery store, it's how I keep mine from going slimy in the refrigerator. These have been potted for about two weeks, the original tops have died back and all new green growth is now showing. The seed mats have been made for the larger plastic box which, when filled, will hold Short 'n Sweet carrots and Melody spinach.

Look closely! The spinach I planted just a week ago is showing!

Poor wheelbarrow....I think Mr. H has some fixin' to do.

There's quite a drop off on this narrow strip next to the walkway.

The entire area is backfilled with sand, probably from a nearby wash. Once it's been wet and then dries, it's like long as nobody disturbs it by walking on it. Over the years, it has become quite unstable. I've tried to talk Mr. H into a retaining wall back here, but to no avail. The rock retaining walls around the rest f the property are holding up well where I reinforced and rebuilt them using concrete, but I'm afraid the old body is wearing out...I've built my last rock wall. I have a bunch of African daisy seeds that I may sow on the bank between the garden and the alley. I'm thinking I might lay down some of that plastic fencing, then scatter the seeds and sift a bit of sand/compost over them. That might possibly be enough to keep people from walking there, and the roots might eventually hold the soil.

November 15, 2009: Adventures of an Incompetent Arizona Semi-Gardener

The night time temperatures are dropping into the forties now, so Mr. H and I are bringing the tomato plants indoors for the night. I just scooted everything else aside on the room divider, between kitchen and living room, and set them up there right under the lights. They should stay nice and toasty there. This morning, when we took them back outside, we put them in the sunny south side, out of the brrrrr cold north wind we're having today.

Toasty tomato plants.

This morning I gathered together a bunch of stuff for my next attack on this Arizona garden. It's not easy going from a 400 or so square foot garden in southeastern Washington to a 17 square foot garden in midwest Arizona! I must have MORE!!!

OK, so it's not a lot more....a plastic tote, a plastic box, a bag of compost, some vermiculite, carrot and spinach seeds and red onion sets. That just about takes care of the winter garden.

The plastic boxes will fit well between the two raised garden beds. I'll make them nearly bottomless. OK, I'll admit it...the bottom broke out of the tote when I turned the hole saw over to Mr. H. I had 5 perfect holes in it, then he took over. Why do men think they have to push really hard when drilling holes, instead of letting the drill do the job? So, no biggy, the containers will be partially buried, and will have excellent drainage with no bottoms!


November 14, 2009: O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree

Today we drove to Blythe, CA, looking for a Meyer Lemon tree. It's all Thomas' fault. He just had to blog about how to Grow Your Own Citrus, Meyer Lemons. There were a few other things I wanted to pick up at Blythe's Ace Hardware, so I can't blame the entire trip on Thomas. The lemon tree, however, was all that was on Mr. H's mind. I've told the sad tale here before, but it bears repeating.

When we first bought this old place, in the spring of 2004, it had a very pretty oleander hedge, three palo verde trees and two mesquite trees that had been mercilessly mutilated by a former owner, and the lovely palm tree out front. That's the extent of it, as all the rest of the property is natural desert. Well, my next door neighbor decided to replace a small lemon tree on her property with a grapefruit tree, so she dug out the lemon tree and tossed it into the brush pile to be taken to the land fill. I happened to see it there, and rescued the poor thing. It had begun to wilt a bit, but I got it into a bucket of water, then found the perfect spot for it in the front (soon to be) cactus bed. That was in April, and we stayed here until the end of June, painting and renovating to make the place livable and comfortable for the following winter. When we left, I paid a neighbor man to keep everything watered. He did a really good job on the oleanders and the palm tree, and he over watered all the cacti, but the poor little lemon tree didn't survive the summer. Neither did the $75 worth of cacti I had purchased and planted....he drowned the poor things.

The first lemon tree, rescued from the brush pile.

Early in October of 2005, we drove down from Washington to spend the winter. When we arrived, there was a brand new little Meyer lemon tree planted in the garden, a gift from another neighbor. We babied that little tree all winter, and when we left in the spring it had some lovely scented blossoms on it. Again, we hired the neighbor to do our watering, and stressed the necessity to keep the lemon tree watered....and to go very lightly on the water for the second batch of cacti that were thriving when we left. Again, when we arrived in the fall of 2006, most of the cacti and the Meyer lemon had expired. I cannot find a photo of it, I think I was to upset to take a picture.

Undaunted (or can one be just slightly daunted?), I decided to give it just one more try. This time, I fired my water boy, put in underground irrigation lines with bubblers and drip lines, and purchased a timer that could be set for two zones...cactus and oleanders/trees! When we left for Washington, the end of March 2007, the lemon tree looked like this (click to enlarge).....

Add ImageLemon tree #3, March 2007

The cacti flourished, the oleanders were prettier than ever, the palm tree grew bigger and stronger. But the lemon tree died.

Lemon tree #3 October 2007.

It still had some greenish stem, so I bought some good (expen$ive) potting mix and moved it into a large pot. This is what it looked like on November 14th.

Not one to easily give up, by February of 2008, I had moved it to a sunnier spot on the south side of the mobile home.

By the end of March, I gave up on the lemon tree. All I had left was an empty pot, with a funny little frog on a stick poking out of it.

Want to see my pretty ficus (Indian Laurel) tree?

Pretty ficus, October 2007

Not so pretty ficus, October 2009.

Back to our trip to Blythe for the Meyer lemon, we weren't successful in finding what we wanted. I guess we are looking for a dwarf Meyer lemon. The ones we found were 5-6 feet tall, and we want one that can live in a pot and travel back and forth, from AZ to WA, each year. No way could we transport a 6-foot tall tree! And you know what? With our luck at growing trees down here, maybe it's just as well we didn't find one.

November 13, 2009: Pots

I didn't have any luck finding pots or containers at the yard sales today. I didn't buy anything at all.

As to another type of pot, baby Alicyn got a new one, and she knew exactly how to use it...

Alicyn's Deluxe Foot Bath!
(Excuse the poor photo, her Mom took it with her cell phone.)

November 12, 2009: Yard Sales

Tomorrow and Saturday our little town will be celebrating Founder's Day, with arts and crafts at the Community Center and a town wide yard sale. Now, I'm not one for yard sales....except in this little town. Especially when my former next door neighbor is selling. She has remarried and moved to Kingman, AZ, and her son now lives in her old home. Every winter she brings all the stuff she no longer uses, and puts them in the yard sale at her old residence. My other neighbors join in so they all sell from one yard.

Last year I scored big on large pots and saucers for my container garden, so I noticed they were setting up this afternoon and walked over to see if I could find more usable containers for planting. There were none, but my previous neighbor was in her usual good form....her table looks more like an upscale department store display than a yard sale! Of course, I pre-purchased a few things.

1. Two rose colored, oversized new bath towels. I'm trying to get the pups to sleep on the floor next to my bed instead of IN my bed. I made them a big soft pillow, and these towels will be the washable cover...and the rose color looks nice with my rose and green quilt. Cost: $1 for both.

2. New, nonstick cupcake pan. Cost: $1

2. One new and one lightly used 9" x 13" nonstick cake pans. Cost: $2 for both.

3. New (never ever used) Whirly Pop popcorn popper. Cost: $8

4. Two cut glass salad or punch bowls. These bowls are gorgeous, shine like diamonds, and are so heavy I could hardly lift both of them together (the picture doesn't do them justice)! I'm thinking they must be leaded glass (I know nothing about cut or leaded glass). Cost: $5 for the large one and $3 for the smaller one.

I think I made quite a haul for $20! I wonder what I'll find tomorrow.......