February 26, 2010: Garden Destruction, Day 1

Sunday we will be heading back home, so it's time to begin the destruction of the little Arizona salad garden. Since I won't be trying to transplant the carrots, beets and spinach, they can all be pulled today and refrigerated to be used as food for Cookie.

Here we go!

What a shame these couldn't stay in the ground another month.

That's a lot of carrots for a 1'x2' area. These were planted by gluing the seeds on strips of toilet tissue. Germination was pretty darned close to 100%.

Thumbnail sized beet roots, but gorgeous greens.

Only a handful of baby spinach, but that was my fault. I kind of did an "oops" on that side of the garden bed. Don't ever let me handle a hoe, I'm dangerous with it.

A big basket of bunny food!

The pot must be emptied. I'll not try to save these plants, we or the rabbit will eat this batch of lettuce tonight.

Sorry, bunny, I'm eating all the baby spinach. This will be a lovely salad for my dinner tonight!

Somebody wanted a photo of my poor tomato plant. Don't say I didn't warn you! It continues to live and produce (there are still four tomatoes on it), but I don't know how. I won't be here for Garden Blogger's Death Day, but this would be my contribution.

To be continued tomorrow.....

February 22, 2010: Harvest Monday

I could show you photos of basket after basket of lettuce that was harvested this week, but I'll spare you the repetition. Instead, I'll show you the one tiny tomato that I picked. The plant is still producing, but it is a pitiful thing to behold. It has only six more days to live, so it has served its purpose.

Next Saturday I will be pulling everything from the little Arizona salad garden, in preparation for our trip home. I'm planning on leaving the roots on the lettuce plants, putting them all in a damp pillowcase, then into a cooler for the trip. If I'm lucky, they might survive, and can be transplanted into containers as soon as we arrive home. If not, Cookie will have fresh dinners for as long as the greens last. I'll save all the tiny carrots, beets and spinach plants for him to eat, and I'll pull and bundle the onions, as I know they can be replanted in the big garden in Washington. I'll try to take individual plants of the pansies and alyssum, blossoms, roots and dirt, and put them into plastic bags. I don't know if they will live, but it's worth a try. Only the cilantro and rosemary will remain in their pots, hopefully we can still find room for them.

Of course, I'll have to take pictures of the garden destruction and get them posted before we leave (very, very early on the morning of the 28th.). After that, I'll be MIA for a few days. We won't be home until March 2, then there will be all the unpacking and putting things away, hugging and visiting with the kids and grandkids, calling the cable company to schedule the internet service connection.....the entire week will be wildly busy.

Daphne's Dandelions hosts Harvest Monday.

February 21, 2010: Seed Inventory to Date

I've updated my seed inventory spreadsheet and, thanks to Dan for his help, I actually published it through Google Docs. It still isn't quite complete, as I have seeds sitting in my Washington PO box, and still must purchase seed potatoes and onion plants. The following are just seeds for the veggie garden, I've not yet done a spreadsheet on my flower seeds.

I'm way overextended in the tomato seed department again this year, but if they all grow, maybe I'll just put a table in the driveway with a donation can, and maybe make enough for new seeds for next year. I'm up in the air on whether I really want to do it, but think I might give it a try.

Some of my seeds are getting old (marked with *), and I didn't do anything special to preserve them. I now know a cardboard shoe box isn't the best way to keep them, so from now on they will go into moisture proof containers in the freezer. I'm not expecting great germination from the 2008 seeds.

Notice that you can scroll to the right for columns for seed year and my 2010 costs.

February 20, 2010: Loony Over Lunar; Part II

I received a comment on my previous post, Loony Over Lunar, that was just too hilarious not to share.

I asked my readers "So what do you think? Is planting lunar a bit loony or not?" The following answer was given....

I used to go to school with a boy called Edwin Strange. The irony was that he was really strange indeed. He used to spend his break times in a cupboard - not always the same one, but he felt a need to hide in small dark places.

When we left school he worked in a butcher's shop. He got the sack after he was found making love to an ox liver. He spent the next 20 years in various institutions, and at one time believed he had perfected a way to power the whole of Europe using teaspoons.

He also set out to prove that dogs were robots used by the Catholic Church to spy on sinners. He believed that the earth was a meat and potato pie, being carried on the back of a giant caterpillar, and that the sun and moon were salt and pepper pots.

I mention Edwin for one reason. Last time I saw him, he was sat alone, laughing hysterically. I asked him what was so funny, and he told me he'd read that some people believed in planting stuff accordng to phases of the moon.

That's all I have to say!

The Idiot Gardener

February 18, 2010: Loony Over Lunar

It looks as though a few of us garden bloggers have decided to try planting according to moon phases this year. Back on February 3, I wrote of my desire to try this method of planting, and showed the perfect, plastic covered monthly planner I'd purchased at Dollar Tree. Of course, I used a Sharpie pen to mark my planting dates, then messed it up and wished I had purchased more than one planner. Well, I stewed and stewed over it (yes, I am a bit OCD about my garden planning), so of course I couldn't just let it go. I drove that 100 mile round trip back to Dollar Tree on a chance they would still have at least one planner left of the three that were there earlier. As luck would have it, they had an entire new case of them on the shelf! And this time they were only 50-cents apiece, so I purchased three.....one for the house, one for the garden shed and one as a backup, just in case I mess up again. This time I was smarter and used pencil. The cover I made isn't pretty with graphics, like the first one I made, but it is an updated planting guide, complete with named varieties of the veggie seeds, which will be a handy at-hand reference when I get ready to plant.

I filled in the calendars in the planner according to the Farmer's Almanac Gardening Calendar. I went a bit farther by marking a L (leafy) or an R (root) in the corner of each calendar day, which gave me a bit more leeway on which days to plant, and barren days were X-ed out. I then consulted my planting schedule, which had been carefully planned earlier this winter, and changed those dates to correspond with the lunar guide. There were dates that had to be changed by as much as a week or two to correspond with the Leaf or Root days.

After I finished the paper calendar, I entered all the information into my Works Calendar, so I'll have a reminder for each planting session. It remains to be seen if I can stick to such a strict planting schedule, or if I just throw the moon to the wind and revert back to my old way of planting, which is whenever I'm in the mood to do it.

A sample of my Farmer's Almanac Planting Guide (incomplete, I actually have it done through the first week of June). Most things will be planted a bit late, as I won't be back home in Washington until March 2nd. That means the earliest lunar planting date for starting my leafy veggies will be the 15th and 16th.

March 2010

1st-2nd. A Most Barren Period, Best For Killing Plant Pests Or Doing Chores Around The Farm.

3rd-4th. Favorable Days For Planting Root Crops. Fine For Sowing Hay, Fodder Crops, And Grains. Plant Flowers.

5th-6th. Excellent Time For Planting Root Crops That Can Be Planted Now, And For Starting Seedbeds.

7th-9th. Poor Planting Days.

10th-12th. Any Root Crops That Can Be Planted Now Will Do Well.

13th-14th. A Barren Period, Best Suited For Killing Pests. Do Plowing And Cultivating

15th-16th. Good Days For Planting Above Ground Crops. Fine For Vine Crops. Set Strawberry Plants.
Broccoli (start seedlings) Cabbage (start seedlings) Eggplant (start seedlings) Parsley (start seedlings) Peppers (start seedlings) Lettuce (start seedlings) Set Strawberry Plants

17th-18th. Cultivate And Spray, Do General Farm Work, But No Planting.

19th-20th. Favorable For Planting Crops Bearing Yield Above The Ground.
Basil (start seedlings) Dill (start seedlings)

21st-23rd. Seeds Planted Now Tend To Rot In Ground.

24th-25th. Best Planting Days For Above Ground Crops, Especially Peas, Beans, Cucumbers, And Squash Where Climate Permits. Plant Seedbeds And Flower Gardens.
Lettuce (1st. planting) Peas (1st. planting) Spinach (1st. planting) Tomatoes (start seedlings) Marigolds (start seedlings)

26th-29th. A Most Barren Period, Best For Killing Plant Pests Or Doing Chores Around The Farm.

30th-31st. Favorable Days For Planting Root, Fine For Sowing Hay, Fodder Crops, And Grains. Plant Flowers.

So what do you think? Is planting lunar a bit loony or not?

February 15, 2010: There's a Cookie in My Garden!

Cookie is my (former) house rabbit. I say former, as he has become un-housebroken in his old age. He has been confined to his cage for the past few months and can no longer run loose in the house. The average life span of a Netherlands Dwarf rabbit is about 5-7 years, and our Cookie is quite geriatric at 8 1/2 years old. He seems to be happy living in his cage now. I take him out to exercise, and he heads right back into the cage....I guess it's his security blanket and rocking chair, the comforts he needs in his old age. He still has a voracious appetite, and has never had a single day of illness, so he might be good for years to come! I think I once read that the longest living ND on record was just over 11 years old.

The winter garden belongs to Cookie. He lets us have a few salads from it, but it's mainly for him. I've decided, since we'll be leaving this garden in less than two weeks, I'll just let him graze in it and enjoy the freshest greens a bunny could ever dream of.

Cookie in the lettuce patch.

Cookie in the carrot patch.

Cookie in the beet patch.

Monday Harvest

Cookie and his Monday Harvest

Then there's the same old, same old, for us....

Just two of several harvests from the salad garden this week. We consumed these, but I picked fresh greens for Cookie each evening.

If you had a harvest this week, show it off at Daphne's Dandelions!

February 14, 2010: When Is February 13 Like July 4?

When is February 13th, like the Fourth of July? When it's The Annual Lake Havasu City WinterBlast!

My friend Esther and I drove into Lake Havasu City this afternoon (Saturday), to secure a good viewing spot for the Western Pyrotechnics Convention and Fireworks Show. This annual event is worth the drive, and attracts thousands of people each year. Cars are bumper to bumper vying for the best parking spots, motor homes pull in days in advance and set up housekeeping in the vicinity.

The pre-show begins at dusk, and the main fireworks start at 8:00 p.m. The show gets over around nine, but it takes nearly an hour of crawling at a snail's pace in traffic to get back out onto the highway.

February 13, 2010: Sunshine Award

Thank you to HippieMom, at The Raw Journal, for sending me this Sunshine award! I'm supposed to pass this on to twelve bloggers who bring me sunshine, but I'm going to break the rules a bit and just send it on to all the East Coast bloggers who are wishing for some sunshine to melt their snow. Consider it a bit of Arizona sunshine that I'm sending your way to make your spring gardens ready to plant. Feel free to pass this ray of sunshine on to your favorite bloggers!

February 9, 2010: Granny's Beautiful Buns

No, not those buns!

Several people were asking how to form the hot dog buns in today's earlier post. I use a bread recipe that has 3 cups of flour (you can use white flour, bread flour, whole wheat flour or a combination of any of the three). For today's buns, I made a double recipe of dough, using Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour.

Make the dough, let it rise (covered) once, then punch it down. Cover it with a clean towel or inverted bowl and let it rest for five minutes. For the 8 large hot dog buns, I used the entire recipe, and cut the dough into 8 pieces. I formed each piece into a 6" long roll, and placed them in a lightly greased 9"x11" pan...four across the narrow side and two deep. I pressed them down with my fingers so they were slightly flattened. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter while they are still hot. Remove from pan and cool on rack so bottoms don't get soggy. Granny doesn't like soggy bottoms!

For eight hamburger buns, I grease two 9" square pans, proceed as above but form the 8 pieces of dough into round balls. Put four in each pan, flatten slightly with your fingers, then cover, rise and bake as above.

Or you can make four burger buns and four big cinnamon rolls, as I did. Just roll out half the dough to about 8"x12", spread with softened butter or margarine, sprinkle quite a bit of sugar on top, then a generous amount of cinnamon. Roll up from the long side, quite tightly. Cut into four pieces for big rolls, place in the greased 9" square pan, flatten slightly with fingers, let rise and bake as above. While they are still warm, mix up a bit of powdered sugar, a dash of vanilla and enough milk to make a thin icing, spread over the warm rolls.

Plain dinner rolls? Follow the burger bun directions, but cut into 16 pieces, roll into balls and place in the two 9" pans.

February 9, 2010: Give Us This Day.....

When I woke up this morning, I thought it was going to be a lovely, warm, sunny day. I had my coffee, then tossed a load of clothes in the washer, and hung them out on the clothesline to dry. Just as I got the last item hung, the clouds covered the sun, and a chilly wind began to blow. So much for my warm, sunny day!

It was, however, a perfect day for bread baking.......

No, I'm not mooning you *grin*. Two batches of bread dough have been mixed up in the food processor, and are rising.

Fresh out of the oven, the cinnamon rolls have been drizzled with a vanilla glaze.

Eight big hot dog buns, four hamburger buns and four giant cinnamon rolls are cooling.

Believe me, there's nothing better than home made hot dog and hamburger buns. Two of these burger buns were eaten tonight, with grilled ground sirloin, fresh picked lettuce and home made pickle relish. The recipe for the buns can be found on my blog, November 29, 2008: Just Biding My Time.

February 8, 2010: Harvest Monday

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions

*click photos to enlarge*

Yesterday I picked a basket of lettuce leaves from the pots in the garden. Notice the tiny carrot at the front. That was my "test" carrot, checking for size. It has a perfect little root, but I'm quite sure they won't grow to an edible size before we leave. The salad, of baby spinach, green and red Romaines and Red Sails lettuces, just screamed for a loaf of freshly baked French bread to go with the leftover grilled London Broil from the night before. The thinly sliced beef and a pot of au jus made for some really good French Dip sandwiches on Superbowl Sunday. The fresh salad was tossed with an oil/vinegar/sugar sweet and sour dressing.

The longer days and lots of rain have made the lettuce in the mini-garden spring to life! Everything is growing well now.....well, not the spinach, which is still very slow. I only have nineteen more days here in Arizona. On the 27th of February, I'll pull everything out, wash and spin it dry, then store it in a damp cotton pillow case in the ice chest for the trip home. I may just leave the roots on some of the lettuce plants, and see if they might be transplanted into containers once I get home. If not, we and the rabbit will have a lot of fresh salads.

It will be such a shame to pull the carrots. The roots are forming now, and just perfect. You can see the one I pulled to "test" in the harvest photo above. I really don't think 19 days will be enough time to grow them to an edible size, but the rabbit will enjoy them in his salads, anyway.

This lettuce bed is still unharvested, but I'll begin cutting a few leaves this week.

The two larger pots of lettuce have been our only source of fresh cut greens so far, and were the ones picked for this week's harvest. The spinach and onion boxes are bottomless, just used to give more depth to the compost and soil. The pots will (hopefully) go north at the end of the month. Mr. H is already complaining of the shortage of room in the back of the pickup.

The carrots are just lovely. They have grown so well from their toilet tissue seed mats, showing perfectly formed little roots and extremely good germination. The beets have finally started growing, and are looking quite good! I've picked a few of their leaves to use in our salads. The spinach is only growing in spots, where it was accidentally planted atop the beets. I'm thinking this might have been last year's seed, as germination of a new packet of seeds, in the box (photo above this one), was excellent and had to be thinned out a bit.

February 5, 2010: In My Wildest Dreams!

Run, don't walk, to Tatyana's blog, My Secret Garden. There you will see the garden of my dreams! I even have a white pickup truck I could plant. After all, I did use it as a plant harden-off-er last spring!

February 4, 2010: At My Disposal

My daughter, Amy, manages a large mobile home community. Look what the owners bought last week!

They have several dead sycamore trees on the property, and it was less expensive for them to buy the machinery for tree removal than to hire someone to remove all the trees. Bryan, my son-in-law, will be operating this big rig. Now, it's not the lift that will benefit me directly, it will be the trees he cuts down. They are also purchasing a large commercial chipper! Guess who can have all the wood chips she wants for her garden paths. Moi!

Besides getting free wood chips, we have decided to stay in Washington next winter. If our Arizona property doesn't sell, we will have to come back down...but not until January! That means I'll be home when the leaves fall this year. Which means I'll have all the chopped leaves I need for my garden! I've also found a source for free llama poo, which is supposed to be great garden fertilizer. A layer of leaves and poo in the fall, turned under in early spring, should make a wonderful 2011 garden! I've heard llama poo is terribly stinky though, so I may end up buying composted horse manure. My dogs, Annie and Otto, just love to bring stinky stuff inside through their doggy door.

It makes Annie smile just to think of rolling in that lovely, stinky poo.

February 3, 2010: Bang for the Buck

Yesterday we went to Blythe, California to do our grocery shopping and have a nice lunch. I needed to pick up some envelopes so I could send for my SASE Tomato Seeds from WinterSown Org. Yes, I actually ordered more tomato seeds. I'm a glutton for punishment, but I really want to try some dwarf indeterminate varieties in containers this year. That way, if we don't happen to sell our AZ place, I think I can easily start new plants for the winter garden by rooting some cuttings.

I went into the local dollar store, and not only found the long envelopes, but also spotted a plastic covered daily planner that looked like it would be really handy for garden schedules and notes. I wish now I'd bought two, one for practice and one for real!

Having nothing else to do with my life these days, I decided to read up on planting by the moon. My grandmother, who was the best gardener in my world, always planted according to the phases of the moon. Although I'd never paid much mind to the practice, I figured "why not?" I mean, it sure can't hurt, can it? Actually, I had just read May Dreams Gardens, and Carol referred to her blog about "By the Light of the Silvery Moon". There she stated "According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac for 2010, I should plant the onions and radishes and other root crops between the full moon and the new moon. This will be between March 1 – 14 this year or after March 29th. I should then plant the peas, lettuce, and spinach sometime between the new moon and the full moon, between March 15 – 29th."

Armed with this information and my new daily planner, I found an excellent moon phase calendar website, and began plotting my seed planting schedule. Then, to be doubly sure to have the best garden ever, I also noted the best days for planting according to Ed Hume Seeds "Moonbook".

On the planner's calendar, I entered "R" (for root crops) on all dates between full and new moons, and "L" (for leafy crops) on dates between new and full moons. I then entered "P" (for planting days) according to the dates given in Moonbook.

*click photo to enlarge*
Here is why I wish I'd purchased two books. I "practiced" on this one, using an ink pen. I really need to give it a bit more studying. I'm sure I didn't get all my veggies listed, and I need to peruse the time line further. The "P" dates just didn't quite fall on the days I want to "P"! I may have to ignore the Moonbook dates and just go by the moon phase.

*click photo to enlarge*
I printed out my garden plan and inserted the pages inside the plastic cover. That way I'll have my entire garden reference right at my fingertips, in a waterproof/dirt proof cover.

I feel as though I got a lot of bang for my buck at the dollar store!