February 1, 2010: A Bug's Eye View of the Winter Garden






January 31, 2010: Garden Blogger's Death Day



Yes, there has been death and destruction in Granny's Arizona mini-garden this month. Like Erin, I have experienced winter tomato failure.

Those sturdy little Patio tomatoes that looked like this.....


And produced fruit like this.....



Now look like this........



And to add insult to injury, I danced with glee at the heartiness of my plants and rejoiced in "Ha-ha, I'm a better gardener than you" when my friend Esther's tomato plants froze and died. Well, hers came back up from the roots, and are now lovely, sturdy, blossoming plants, while mine are wimpy and dead/dying.


January 27, 2010: That Didn't Take Long!

I'm back. It only took two days of having to drive to the library for an internet connection, before I'd had enough of that! The administrator of the system across the street, at the RV park, was off at college today, but his stepfather figured out how to get my mac number entered into their system.....so I'm good to go!

But I really don't have anything to blog about today :-) I'll just go catch up with all your blogs!

January 27, 2010: Thanks to All of You!



Thanks to all of you for the wonderful birthday wishes. You made my day!

January 26, 2010: No WIFI, Hot Onions and Happy Birthday to Me

Here I thought all would be well with the WIFI connections down here at last. Wrong. I should have known "unlimited access for only $10 a month" was too good to be true. Unlimited has turned into daily emails from the administrator, who is spending all his time monitoring individual bandwidth use, admonishing me for excess usage. I actually downloaded Windows Defender and its updates yesterday! I basically told him where he could put his internet access, and now I'm back to using the library facilities. Sorry, but I'm not going to limit my downloads to the hours of 12:30 a.m to 5:30 a.m., as he is requesting. I happen to like to sleep at night. If I can catch the RV Park manager across the street, I'll see if I can purchase WIFI from them. If not, I'll be back to Tuesdays and Wednesdays for another month.

The salad from last night's harvest was delicious, as usual, but those onions were HOT!! They are red onions, from sets. I would assume they would be nice and mild in the green onion stage, but no...they were really HOT!

I'm seventy-one years old today. That's older than dirt.

January 25, 2010: Monday Harvest

Well, it isn't harvested yet. It will be, as soon as I finish this post, and then it will be made into another wonderful dinner salad. In the meantime, I thought I'd update you on how the Arizona mini-garden is growing.







Lots of baby lettuce and green onions to make a dinner salad. I'll add some orange segments and walnuts, and toss it with a raspberry vinaigrette.

Elsewhere in the little garden I have....


Carrots that will never mature in time for us to eat, but the green tops should grow large enough to be fed to the pet rabbit.


A pot of cilantro, that can be transported to WA and be transplanted into the home garden.


Spinach....and carrots that are even smaller than the other ones.


Here is where I thought I had a bare spot in the garden, where birds had eaten the spinach. I planted more spinach, only to find out I planted it over the beets. Oh well, the beets won't be large enough by the time we leave, so I'll just use the tender greens in salads. The radishes need to be pulled out, as they don't look like they will ever form any decent roots. I pulled three edible ones, which will be the last of the Arizona garden radishes.

Please visit our Monday Harvest hostess, Daphne, at Daphne's Dandelions.


January 23, 2010: Granny and the Border Patrol



The words "Go shop and have a good time" are echoed by Brian Levin, Public Affairs Liaison for US Customs and Border Protection, that shopping in (Mexican) border towns is still being encouraged. "I can reassure people that we will not deny entry to a US citizen," he said. We will accept photo I.D. and a birth certificate if they don't have a passport."....2010 Winter Visitor Guide published by the White Sheet www.whitesheetonline.net


When my friend, Marge, called to ask if I'd like to accompany her to Mexico for her dental appointment, I jumped at the offer. In fact, I asked her to make an appointment for me too, as I had recently broken off a big chunk of molar while biting down on a piece of hard candy, and was beginning to suffer from occasional toothaches.

We left Bouse at 6:30 yesterday morning, arriving in Mexico in plenty of time for our 9:00 a.m. appointments. Before entering, I double checked to make sure there would be no problem re-entering the country with no passport, only my driver's license and birth certificate. The man in the information booth assured me that either (passport or license/birth certificate) was acceptable.

It was a bit disconcerting to see three soldiers, masked, dressed in camouflage and armed with big rifles, at the entrance to Mexico. I'd expect that in Tijuana or even Nogales, but never in this quiet little town of Los Algadonis!

Arriving at the dentist promptly at nine, the receptionist apologized for her error, and said the dentist wouldn't arrive until ten. We spent the next hour wandering the streets and alleys, as usual being assaulted from all sides by zealous merchants, who delighted in laughing at this old lady when I told them "Do not touch". I really dislike having strangers grabbing at my arms to try to sell me something. We bought a few things from the pharmacy, then made our way back to the dentist's office. I was the first one to be called in. I was impressed at the cleanliness of my surroundings, and with the young female dentist, who spoke excellent English, with no trace of accent. Actually, most of the medical/dental/optical practitioners are from the US, and travel across the border daily to do their business. This office was equipped with the latest in dental technology...the x-rays were immediately viewable on the computer screen right in front of me. After viewing the "damage", I was given the options of root canal, insertion of a metal post and capping the tooth......or pulling it. Since the tooth was way in the back, and it wouldn't interfere that much with chewing, I opted for pulling. Seventy dollars, including x-rays, vs $500.

Marge went in next, but came right back out. The dentist wouldn't pull her tooth, as she said it was a healthy one, but would do a root canal. Marge decided to wait on hers.

A friend of Marge's had accompanied us, and had gone shopping while we were at the dentist's. Not knowing Marge was going to be in for such a short time, she was in no hurry to return to us. Marge and I stood on the street corner watching for her for nearly an hour before she finally returned.

We headed for the border, where Marge and Venita went right through with their passports. As I approached, I said "I checked before I came in, and they said my birth certificate and license were good for re-entry, I hope they are." Well, they weren't. I was severely admonished, and told it didn't make any difference what "they" had said, a passport was necessary. When asked why I didn't have one, I informed him I hadn't planned on breaking a tooth, which was the only reason I had for crossing the border. He took all the information from my driver's license, refused to even glance at my birth certificate, saying it was useless, gave me a notice of non-compliance and let me through. Thank heavens, I wasn't held and interrogated!

By then we were starving! I hadn't eaten anything since dinner the night before, and had only one cup of coffee upon arising. We decided to check out the new Indian casino nearby, where we got $10 in free play for applying for their players' club card, and the most excellent lunch buffet for only $6.95 with said card. I had to stick to soft foods after my extraction. That was no problem at this buffet. They had all kinds of vegetables, mashed or baked potatoes, baked fish, the best meat loaf I've ever eaten, fruit salads, Jello salads and soft fruits, and a delightful dessert bar with a delicious Boston Cream Pie that was plenty soft for my sore jaw. Marge and Venita got to enjoy Beef Burgundy, Roast Pork with Plum Sauce, assorted hors d'oeuvres.....just a multitude of delicious dishes from which to choose! I definitely want to visit again, when I'm able to eat everything in sight!

After we left the casino (a few dollars lighter than when entering), we spent the remaining daylight hours following Venita around Yuma while she shopped two different shoe stores, Best Buy, Target and Joanne's Fabrics. When, around 6:00 p.m., she wanted to go shopping at Wal-Mart, we said "ENOUGH!". My jaw was throbbing, we were exhausted, and it was beginning to rain. We just wanted to get home!

So we made it back safely, spotted three wild burros on the way, I didn't get stuck in Mexico for life (but I can't do it again without the proper documents), and my tooth will ache no more.

Adios, amigos.

January 21, 2010: Arizona Sunshine

It never sometimes can really rain in Arizona!




video



A small wash runs through our yard.


The large Bouse Wash, usually bone dry, runs like a river through the town.


Sometimes the sun peeks through, rewarding us with a double rainbow.


Most winters are quite dry, but when we do get rain, the desert comes alive! These photos were taken at the same location, during (1) a normal year and (2) a rainy year. My yard, like the photo on the left, is natural desert and normally brown. The rain we are getting this week will make the weeds and grasses grow just like the photo on the right. That means the weeds will dry through the summer, and greet me with a big mess of work to do next winter, with hoe and rake. That's no easy chore to clear over a half acre of ground!


Of course, it makes it all worth it just to see the desert in bloom.

January 18, 2010: Harvest Monday's Dinner

I had my heart set on freshly baked yeast rolls and homemade soup to go with the salad fixing's I'd picked this morning. It almost didn't happen! As I gathered my ingredients for the rolls, I couldn't find the jar of yeast. It always resides in the refrigerator, but I cleaned that out and didn't find the yeast. I found a few other things I'd lost.....like the small container of yogurt that had rolled behind the meat keeper. It had an expiration date of mumble.mumble.mumble. Nevermind. Well, at least the refrigerator got cleaned.

Next I looked in the pantry. I had this vague memory of removing the yeast from the fridge some time back, needing the room on that door shelf for something else. So the pantry would have been the logical spot to place the yeast jar. Not that I'm always thinking logically. I do, on occasion, have a senior moment. Or two. The pantry shelves got cleaned, top to bottom. No yeast.

The tall cupboard, where I keep small appliances, cookbooks, plastic storage containers and a loaf of bread? Not likely, but that was the next place I looked. Cleaned it out from top to bottom. No yeast.

The drawer and cupboard in the microwave cart. No yeast.

The dish cupboard. No yeast.

The pots and pans cupboard. No yeast.

The coffee, beverages and booze cupboard. No yeast.

I had almost given up and decided I'd have to use that tube of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, the one I'd been saving for wienie wraps, when I decided to take one more look in the pantry. Not that I thought I'd missed anything the first time around, but....maybe I did. Looking at the contents of the shelves, I thought to myself, "Doesn't that box of powdered milk look taller than normal?" I reached back and lifted the box......off of the jar of yeast that had somehow found a spot beneath it.



Soooo...the rolls got made, just in time for dinner. A pan of plain ones for the evening meal, and a pan of cinnamon rolls for tomorrow's breakfast. These are about the unhealthiest rolls one can make, lots of white flour, sugar and artery clogging butter, but they are oh, so good! If you'd care to partake of this sinful deliciousness, here is the recipe I use.

Food Processor Dinner Rolls
Servings: 16 rolls

1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
........
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. softened butter
1 egg
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. powdered milk
1 tsp. salt
........
1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)



Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Set aside until bubbly.

Combine remaining ingredients, except melted butter, in work bowl of food processor. Add yeast mixture. Process until well mixed, about one minute. Check dough and add extra flour if the dough is too sticky (you want it to be very soft and just slightly sticky). Process one minute; let it rest for five minutes, then process one more minute.

Scrape dough into a well greased bowl, turn to smooth and grease the surface (it helps to grease your hands to form it into a ball). Cover lightly with a clean cotton towel, and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down; cover with towel and let the dough rest for five minutes.

Grease two 8" cake pans. Divide dough into 16 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place 8 in each pan (one in center, seven around the outside). Brush with melted butter and cover with a lightweight cotton tea towel.

Let rise until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush tops with remaining butter.

NOTE: I usually make one pan of dinner rolls and roll out the other half of the dough, spread with butter, sugar and cinnamon, roll it up and cut it into 8 slices. Place in the round cake pan, bake as above. Make a glaze of powdered sugar, vanilla, butter and a bit of milk and drizzle over the rolls while they are still warm.

********

I had wanted to make a pot of chicken tortilla soup to go with the fresh dinner rolls, but Mr. H decided to open a can of chicken noodle soup for his lunch, so I thought chicken soup twice in one day might be overkill. Instead, I made a pot of chili. I won't repeat my favorite chili recipe, as I have given it elsewhere in my blog, so I'll just point you to the post....Crockpot Chili

As it happened, I didn't make my favorite chili recipe. As much as I love it, I didn't have time after spending half the day looking for the yeast. Instead, I opened up a couple of cans of some yucky store bought brand and doctored it up with a bit of my home canned salsa and some cheese. Hey, a girl has to do what a girl has to do. It wasn't the star of the meal, anyway. The star of the meal was..... TA-DA!

THE SALAD.

That lettuce I picked this morning. To die for. I've been growing the Red Romaine in a pot all winter, just so the pet rabbit would have fresh, healthy greens. It was beginning to taste a bit bitter anyway, so I didn't really feel like we were missing much. After picking enough Red Sails to go with the green and red Romaines, I decided the rabbit could eat pellets, and we would have our first fresh, 100% garden grown, salad of the winter. I used half the lettuce with a couple of green onions and a few radishes, tossed it with a light vinaigrette, and topped it with sliced garden fresh tomatoes. It didn't take long for the two of us to wolf down that entire bowl full, then grab the greens from the refrigerator and finish them off! I think the rabbit will have to make do with store bought greens from now on. We didn't even notice the Red Romaine being bitter at all.



January 18, 2010: Harvest Monday

It's Harvest Monday!

Today I actually began picking some of the lettuce from the Arizona mini-garden, to supplement the Red Romaine that is growing in a container. There are leaves of Red Sails and a bit of Parris Island Romaine to accompany the last of the green onions (another crop is nearly ready), a few radishes and three little vine ripe tomatoes for tonight's dinner salad. The lettuce was lovely and crisp this morning, enjoying the all too rare rain that is falling today.



A rainy day, lovely fresh picked salad fixings.......I think that just begs for a loaf of home made bread and a pot of soup for dinner, don't you?

January 13, 2010: My 2010 Friendship Garden

Yesterday it felt like Christmas all over again! Not only did my seed order arrive, but I also got a nice package from Dan of Urban Veggie Garden Blog. With seeds from Dan, Daphne, EG, Kelly and Stefaneener, 2010 will truly be the year of my Friendship Garden. I will sow the seeds they have given me, and each harvest will remind me of the wonderful friendships we have formed here among our fellow garden bloggers.


Almost my entire 2010 garden. I still have to pick up a packet of Provider bush beans, and look for some really bolt resistant lettuce, such as Burpee's Looseleaf Heatwave.


I have Kentucky Blue pole beans, saved from my 2009 garden. These might not grow true, as they are a cross between Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake, but if they turn out to be either one of those varieties, I'll not be disappointed. I also saved a lot of Royal Burgundy bush beans. I liked the flavor of these, and they were easy to pick, as the purple pods showed up well in all the green foliage. Well worth planting again.


How generous is Dan? He shares with so many of us, and I am very appreciative of all the seeds he sends. I didn't think I'd ever get any Sungold tomatoes, but Dan came through!


Kelly is another generous person! Notice both she and Dan are contributing to my tomato passion ;-)


I'll be growing both dry and green beans from Daphne! Aren't those cranberry beans just gorgeous? The pole beans are Fortex, another variety I have been wanting to try.


Hometown Seeds contributed to my garden this year. They sent more than I could use, so I've passed a few on to others. Notice they sent a lot of flower seeds that I'll be incorporating into the garden.


I didn't have to put in a very big order at Ed Hume Seeds this year, thanks to having quite a few seeds left over from last year's garden, and the generosity of others.


2010 Vegetable Garden Seeds
(* = old seed, will probably replace this year)

Basil - Italian Large Leaf......Ed Hume Seeds (2009)
Basil - Mrs. Burns Lemon...... Seed Saver's Exchange (2009) - Kelly
Beans, Bush - Contender...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Beans, Bush - Dragon Tongue...... Seed Saver's Exchange (2009) - Dan
Beans, Bush - Royal Burgundy...... self saved (2009) - my garden
Beans, Pole - Fortex...... Johnny's Selected Seeds (2009) - Daphne
Beans, Pole - Kentucky Blue...... self saved (2009) - my garden
Beans, Pole - Trail of Tears...... self saved (2009) - Daphne
Beans, Pole - Cranberry...... self saved (2009) - Daphne
Beets - Bull's Blood...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Beets - Red Ace Hybrid...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Broccoli - Calabrese*...... Leftover (2008) - Wintersown.org
Broccoli - De Cicco*...... Leftover (2008) - EG
Broccoli - Waltham...... Hometown Seeds (2010)
Cabbage - Golden Acre*...... Leftover (2008) - Ed Hume Seeds
Cabbage - Red Acre...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Carrot - Ingot Hybrid...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Carrot - Red Core Chantenay (Organic)...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Carrot - Short 'n Sweet (Chantenay)...... Leftover (2009) - Burpee
Cilantro...... Stefaneener
Cilantro - Slow Bolt...... Hometown Seeds (2010)
Cucumber - Double Yield...... self saved (2009) - Dan
Cucumber - Spacemaster*...... Leftover (2008) - Ed Hume Seeds
Dill...... self saved (2009) - my garden
Lettuce - Buttercrunch Bibb...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Lettuce - Gourmet Mix...... Hometown Seeds (2010)
Lettuce - Little Gem Romaine...... Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (2009) - Dan
Lettuce - Parris Island Romaine......Leftover (2009) - Ed Hume Seeds
Lettuce - Red Romaine......Leftover (2009) - Ohio Heirloom Seeds
Lettuce - Red Sails...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Melon - Petit Gris......self saved (2009) - my garden
Parsley - Moss Curled......Leftover (2009) - American Seed
Peas, Shelling - Little Marvel (Bush)...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Peas, Snap - Sugar Lace...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Peppers - California Wonder 300 TMR......Leftover (2009) - Ferry Morse
Peppers - Golden Calwonder......Leftover (2009) - Ohio Heirloom Seeds
Peppers - Hungarian Wax......self saved (2009) - market
Peppers - Mini Yellow Bell...... Seed Saver's Exchange (2009) - Kelly
Peppers - Quadrato Rosso D'Asti...... Leftover (2009) - Ohio Heirloom Seeds
Peppers, Early Jalapeno......Leftover (2009) - Ohio Heirloom Seeds
Radish - Champion...... Leftover (2009) - Ed Hume Seeds
Radish - Cherry Belle...... Leftover (2009) - Ed Hume Seeds
Radish - Sparkler...... Leftover (2009) - Ed Hume Seeds
Spinach - Melody Hybrid...... Leftover (2009) - Burpee
Spinach - Tyee (F1)...... Ed Hume Seeds (2010)
Tomato - Homestead...... Wintersown Org; SASE (2009)
Tomato - Velvet Red ......self saved (2009) - Dan
Tomato - Black Cherry...... Wintersown Org; SASE (2009)
Tomato - Cherry Roma...... Seed Saver's Exchange (2009) - Kelly
Tomato - Sungold F1...... (unknown) (2009) - Dan
Tomato - Sudduth's Str. Brandywine...... Tomato Fest (2009) - Dan
Tomato - Amish Paste...... Seed Saver's Exchange (2009) - Kelly
Tomato - Cherokee Purple...... self saved (2009) - Dan
Tomato - Kellogg's Breakfast...... self saved (2009) - my garden

Seed sources:

Dan - Urban Veggie Garden Blog
Daphne - Daphne's Dandelions
EG - Our Engineered Garden
Kelly - How My Garden Grows
Stefaneener - Sicilian Sisters Grow Some Food

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Burpee
Ed Hume Seeds
Ferry Morse
Hometown Seeds
Johnny's Selected Seeds
Ohio Heirloom Seeds
Seed Savers Exchange
Tomato Fest
WinterSown Org; SASE

January 11, 2010: Harvest Monday

It's Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions! Do join in, even if you have just a tiny harvest like mine.




I'm still getting red Romaine, onions and radishes. I also picked two tomatoes this week, and have three more ripening.

My potted tomato plants look really bad, I don't think they will survive much longer. Each day, I pick off leaves that are crisp and dry. The soil is moist, but not too moist, I use a moisture meter to check on it. I gave them liquid fertilizer this week, but there has been no improvement. It's not affecting the fruit, so I'll just harvest tomatoes as long as they continue to ripen.

January 10, 2010: Disclaimer

I need to clear up what may be a misconception by some of you about yesterday's post, The Value of the Garden. The value of each crop was based on the chart on Erin's blog, Like Math?, not on the actual cash values of similar crops in my area. By using the same monetary values, we can compare the "worth" of our harvests. For instance, during my growing season, I can buy onions at my local farm market for 69-cents per pound, freshly dug potatoes for 59-cents per pound, vine ripened tomatoes for $1.69, etc., etc. On the other hand, during the winter months I'd have to pay $3 and up for one red bell pepper. With such a variance in local pricing, the only way to make a comparison is if we all use the same pricing chart. That's why the "value" of my garden seems so high. In actuality, with local pricing, it would would certainly be lower.



January 9, 2010: The Value of the Garden

Erin, over at Garden Now - Think Later, did a post about the value of our home grown veggies, and requested we enter our numbers for comparison. I happened to keep a spreadsheet on what my harvests weighed last year, so it was a simple job to calculate the monetary value of my 2009 garden. I did make a big error in my comment to her, when I entered the numbers from an incomplete chart. I noticed the error when the total weight was more than 200 pounds below my actual total for the year! So, here are my actual totals.......(*click on photos to enlarge)






Of course, there were expenses. Since my daughter bought my garden seeds for my Christmas present, my out of pocket cost remained quite small for the year. I'm afraid I wasn't very good about keeping track of it after the initial expenditures in the spring, but I don't remember spending much more during the season.



Value of my 2009 home grown veggies: $3,200.41
Less expenses: $231.10
Net value: $2969.31


January 8, 2010: Garden Plans: In the Beginning; The Main Garden

Here is the completed plan for the main garden....east north and kennel gardens all connected. Click on the photo to enlarge.




2010 main garden. One square = one foot.

I've already changed my mind about the "zucchini tower" in the north garden. I've decided the small west garden (not shown)would be a perfect spot for two zucchini plants. It's in an area that isn't drenched by the lawn sprinklers, right next to a faucet where drip tubing can be attached. Maybe I can finally grow zucchini that isn't plagued with powdery mildew.

I still have the 12'x12' area behind the garden shed. I think I'll reserve that for leftover tomato plants...knowing me, I'll have more than a few of those! Tomatoes (in buckets) will also be placed around the main garden, and secured to the fence posts, as well as next to the garden shed and the patio. I'll probably have about 10 tomato plants in buckets, plus the four indeterminates in the north garden and the cherry tomato next to the kennel garden. Fifteen plants sounds like a reasonable number.

January 7, 2010: Garden Plans: In the Beginning; Part IV



The Kennel Garden

I've told the story of the kennel garden before, but for those who may not have heard about it, here I go once more. Annie and Otto are our two dachshunds. We bought them as ten week old puppies on April 5, 2008, and proceeded from there to make a puppy safe area in our back yard. Our neighbor's fence, hidden from view by a row of tall arborvitae and our garden shed, was falling down. There were too many open spots where curious little pups could escape and be in danger. We felt the best solution was to enclose half our patio with wire fencing to make a play area, and buy a very large chain link kennel that would sit on the lawn next to the patio. We attached the two structures so the pups could easily go from patio to kennel. To make a long story short, those pups would not go in that kennel. It was as though unseen monsters lurked in that structure, and just the thought of going in there sent them into shivering fits. So I donned a long sleeved jacket, with jeans tucked into the tops of socks, and put a shower cap on my head. Armed with the staple gun and a roll of poultry wire, I crawled into that narrow, dirty area between fence and arborvitae, and stapled the chicken wire to the neighbor's rickety fence. It was a nasty job, but somebody had to do it. *grin*

With the fence puppy-proofed, the "kids" had free reign of the back yard, but the kennel was a pain in the backside to mow in and around, as well as being a useless structure, so I decided to move it to the back corner of the yard and incorporate it into the vegetable garden. I removed one side of the chain link to open it to the east garden, and part of another side to open it to the north garden, leaving the rest to use as trellising for climbing plants. The gate can be closed to keep the pups out of the gardens (the north and east gardens are fenced), but to allow me easy access.


The kennel garden 2009

I must admit, the 2009 kennel garden was less than successful. I planted tall peas against the chain link on the east side and pole beans along the west side. I was hoping the beans would provide a bit of shade to keep the peas cool enough to crop for a longer period, but birds decapitated the pea vines and I didn't get more than a handful or two of peas from them. Neither the peas nor the beans wanted to attach themselves to the chain link, so it was a constant battle to keep them climbing up rather than sprawling. I put a bucket, with a determinate tomato, inside the kennel, but it was too cool and shady, I never got a single ripe tomato from it (thank heavens, I had too many tomatoes as it was!).

So what am I going to do differently this year? Well, I'm still planting the pole beans on the west side, but I'll attach some heavy garden twine to the structure to give the vines something to climb. And I'll plant the peas on the east side again, but use a short, bushy variety and protect that area with bird netting. The area between the kennel and the neighboring fence is pretty much unusable, and contains a large arborvitae and an old yellow rose bush, so I think I'll move the old composter back there, where it's handy to the garden. That frees up another planting area where it now sits, behind the garden shed. A cherry tomato will be planted next to a corner post. It's a nice, sunny spot and the tomato can be tied up to the post.



2010 Kennel Garden Plan (click to enlarge)

January 6, 2010: Garden Plans: In the Beginning; Part III

*Click on photos to enlarge.

The shed garden: Last year, the area on the east side of the garden shed proved to be an excellent place for pots and buckets.


Shed garden 2009

This year I'll keep it almost the same, but plant my cherry tomatoes in the buckets, one or two on each end, and put potted jalapenos in the center. This is an area that is very receptive to a drip irrigation system, being near a water source and not drenched by lawn sprinklers. Last year, the only hot jalapenos I harvested grew here, in a pot. The jalapenos that were in the main garden turned out to be sweeter than the sweet bells, due to the fertile soil and plentiful water. A single strip of drip tubing across the pepper pots in this garden should provide all the water these plants need, and larger emitters can be directed to the tomatoes.

The tomatoes did well in their buckets last year but, unlike the tomatoes around the patio (see photo below), they were not secured to anything. Shortly after the above photo was taken, a windstorm and the weight of the plants caused them to topple over. Even the roots, growing through the large holes in the buckets, couldn't hold them upright. They didn't survive the uprooting. This year I'll secure them by pushing one end of an 8' 1x2 into the the soil, then screwing the other end to the eaves of the shed.


These tomatoes, grown in buckets, were anchored to the eaves of the patio. There were no problems with wind or the weight of the plants, and the 8' secured stakes were also handy for tying up the vines.


Plan for 2010

January 5, 2010: Garden Plans; In the Beginning, Part II

The north garden plan (click on photo to enlarge).



The north garden already has beds filled with strawberries and raspberries.

The indeterminate tomato bed held tomatoes last year, but it's really the only place I have where I can grow these tall varieties. I feel the next best thing to rotating them into another area, would be to grow them in large buckets of "new" potting soil. That also raises them far enough above ground level to plant something on each side of them. I had planned to plant carrots and onions there, but today I'm leaning more toward bush peas. The pea vines would be pulled early enough that the tomato vines, if they should become too unruly, could overtake that space. Last year I had seven tomato plants in the 4'x8'bed, and they were way too crowded. This year I'll only plant four. Hopefully that will be one each of Kellogg's Breakfast, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple and Market Miracle. All other tomatoes will be grown in (nearly bottomless) buckets, placed in other locations.

The circular squash bed will be devoted to butternut squash. Last year I also grew yellow crookneck and zucchini there, but both suffered from powdery mildew. The butternut stayed green and productive, even though the sprinklers watered it overhead.

The "zucchini tower" is a maybe. Last year I had my tipsy pots, supported by a fencepost, filled with flowers in that spot. For this year, I'm considering two large tipsy pots, each with one zucchini plant. These pots have drip tubing for water, and the lawn sprinklers don't soak them, so maybe they could escape the mildew problem.

The round (brown) barrels will hold the dried beans. They are up against a 6' high fence, to which I can attach something for them to climb, and also are not hit by the lawn sprinklers. Last year, I had melons, nasturtiums and two new blueberry bushes planted there. The melons did fine, but grew over one side of my strawberry bed. The blueberry plants, which didn't look terribly healthy to begin with, died. The nasturtiums grew huge and (to me) rather useless.

The northwest corner of the garden will have sunflowers, maybe the beautiful blue morning glory on the fence behind them, and a mixture of annuals in the front. I have seeds of snapdragons and zinnias as a possibility, or maybe wild flowers.

January 4, 2010: Happy 101 Blog Award


Kelli, from Animal Friendly Eating blog, has honored me with the Happy 101 Award! Thank you, Kelli!

Here are the rules: List 10 things that make you happy. Try to do at least one of them today, and tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day. For those 10 bloggers who get the award, you must link back to my blog.

10 things that make me happy:
  • the first ripe tomato (carrot, squash, pea, bean, etc.) of the season
  • neatly lined up jars of home canned food on my shelves
  • grandson Kevin helping in the garden/kitchen
  • cute pictures of granddaughter Alicyn, I miss her so
  • granddaughter Alicia's phone calls when I'm in AZ, and her overnight visits when I'm home
  • my dogs, Annie & Otto
  • playing Hand & Foot (cards) every Tuesday night through the winter
  • Mr. H, when he's in a good mood
  • strawberry jam
  • blogging and reading all the wonderful blogs out there, and corresponding with my gardening, blogging friends

    Blogs I nominate: This isn't going to be easy. I find some people don't like these awards, and some people absolutely hate them! More than once I've been publicly chastised on someone's blog for sending along an award, even though I always tell them to please ignore if it's not welcomed. Those occasions have made me a bit gun shy. Myself? I am honored to know someone appreciates me or my blog enough to send me an award! I thank you.
I don't think the following people will chop my head off for awarding them the Happy 101 ;-)
However, don't feel obligated to accept!

Thomas, from A Growing Tradition
Gloria, from A Healthy Gardener
Daphne, from Daphne's Dandelions
Just Jenn, from Gamine's Garden
Erin, from Garden Now, Think Later
Kate, from Gardening Without Skills
Rachel, from GrafixMuse's Garden Spot
Kelly, from How My Garden Grows
Judy, from Judy's Square Foot Garden Blog
Liisa, from Liisa's Garden Journey
EG, from Our Engineered Garden
Shawn Ann, from Shawn Ann's Garden
Stefaneener, from Sicilian Sisters Grow Some Food
Ribbit, from The Corner Yard
KitsapFG, from The Modern "Victory Garden" Blog
Dan, from Urban Veggie Garden Blog

"That's more than ten" you say? I'm feeling generous! Heck, I'd have named a few more, but I don't know how they feel about "awards".

January 4, 2010: Garden Plans; In the Beginning

I'm getting caught up in the spring fever that seems to be going around these days. So many of you are snowbound, and it's a great time to dream about your 2010 garden and to begin the fun of planning what to plant and where. Even though I have my tiny winter Arizona garden to tend, I still daydream about my main season Washington garden.

The Washington garden has two main sections, the east garden and the north garden. Included in these gardens, where they intersect, is what I call the kennel garden. It is, as its name implies, the former (but never used) dog kennel. It's approximately 8'x13', and provides me with chain link to use for climbing plants, as well as a place to string clothesline for summer clothes drying.

This past week, I've been planning my east garden. Of course, I'm sure I'll be changing my mind, but here is the first draft. As usual, click the photo to enlarge.




I've grouped the beets and spinach into one bed, as I am determined to foil those pesky leaf miners this year. Those are my two susceptible crops, so I'll use a row cover on them.

The lettuce is in a separate bed, as a shade structure of lattice will be used over them as the weather warms. Will the weather ever warm? Brrr, even here in AZ!

Besides the east garden, the kennel garden and the north garden, I also have some smaller areas in the back yard where I grow vegetables. There's the 3'x14' strip on the east side of the garden shed, a 12'x12' area behind the shed, a 4'x12' strip next to the west fence, and a few spots for pots and ground covers around the patio. All these are still in the 2010 planning stage, and I'll post them as they are finished.

I think I've solved the mystery of the kale seedlings growing in a pot in my AZ mini-garden. It's not kale, it's cilantro. Stefaneener sent me the seeds last fall, and one of us mis-labeled them. I'm sure it was me, thinking kale is big so it should have big seeds.

I'll not post a Monday Harvest today. I did have a small harvest this week, a few radishes, a handful of lettuce, an onion or two and one very small tomato, but to publish a photo would be redundant. I could use the same photo week after week!

Looking back at my notes on the Arizona mini-garden, I now see why the spinach is growing well in one section, but not at all in another. The good spinach is from a new packet of seed, the bad is from 2008 seed. There comes a point when it just makes sense to throw old seed away and begin anew.