I just love Mondays….

But, I must admit that my love for Mondays is rather new.  I didn’t always enjoy sitting in traffic, headed for my office in downtown Phoenix, where I worked as a landscape designer.  (I did enjoy my beautiful office that overlooked the city from the 14th floor).

Fast forward to 5 years later, and I find Mondays refreshing.  For one, the kids are back in school after a hectic weekend, trying to get their projects finished on time.  I also love that Monday is a fresh start.  I rarely have time to garden on the weekends, so Mondays is a wonderful time to step outside and see what is flowering, smell the subtle fragrance of my desert trees and most importantly – see what has developed in my vegetable garden.

Fall vegetable garden

Two weeks ago, I planted my fall vegetable garden – on a Monday.  It all started with a visit to our local Home Depot, where I picked up bagged compost, aged steer manure, bone meal and blood meal.

Earlier, we had ripped out what was left of our summer vegetable garden, leaving only our basil and oregano plants behind.  Since I had removed the shade cloth from the garden, I put in two plastic chairs to protect the basil and oregano from the sun.

We added a 3 inch layer of compost and 3 inches of aged steer manure.  Then I sprinkled both blood and bone meal on top.  We then lightly raked the layers together and then waited a week before planting our vegetable seeds.

Fall vegetable garden

Fall vegetable garden

We placed stepping stones through the middle so that we will have easy access to our vegetables.

Fall vegetable garden

I buy my seeds from different sources.  I have Burpee, some from Botanical Interesta, but I usually buy mine at the local Big Box store.

We decided to plant cucumbers, carrots, green onions, spinach, leaf lettuce and cauliflower.

I let each of the kids pick out what kind of seed they wanted to plant.

Fall vegetable garden

Decisions, decisions….

Planting Vegetable Seed

Planting Vegetable Seed

Gracie loves carrots, so that is what she picked to plant.

My son, Kai, planted the green onions and my daughter, Ruthie, planted the lettuce.

I finished up planting the rest of the seeds, using my top secret vegetable garden tool. 

I will share my special tool with you soon 🙂

Fall vegetable garden

Fall vegetable garden

 I had planted the sweet corn a few weeks ago, since they need to be in the ground by the end of August for best results.

So, do you know what you will be doing today?

I will be stepping out in to my vegetable garden, seeing what seedlings have started to sprout.

Stay tuned for how to plant garlic and learn about my ‘secret’ gardening tool.

********************

I hope you all had a great weekend and are off to a good start for the week.

**THERE ARE 2 DAYS LEFT TO ENTER YOUR MONTHLY GARDEN BOUQUET FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER.**

Please email me a photo of your bouquet, or leave me a link to your blog post with you bouquet in the comments section of this post.  I will then feature your bouquet and a link back to your blog.

I hope you decide to take the time to send me your bouquet.  I do enjoy seeing the beautiful flowers from your garden 🙂

Time To Plant Vegetables Already?

I must confess that I have avoided going out into my garden.

Now, I love my garden and spending time outside tending my plants.  But, not when we have had record-breaking heat.  I normally don’t have a problem with the summer heat and I don’t like to complain about it.

It’s not so much the heat itself, but when it is coupled with bright sunlight, it can be hard to bear if you are working out in the garden for an extended length of time.

So, I have been waiting impatiently for the temps to get back down to normal so that I can get out and get my vegetable garden ready for fall planting.  It is almost too late for me to plant my fall sweet corn.

Well, since the weather was not going to cooperate and I refused to be overcome by the heat, I had to take matters into my own hands.

I asked my husband to hang a light outdoors by the garden so that we could work out there at night.

Gardening at Night

My daughter, Ruthie, loves to work in the vegetable garden and was helping us to rip out some of the old summer vegetable plants that had stopped producing.

Believe it or not, gardening at night is not all that hard as long as you have some light source.  We made quick work of cleaning out the vegetable garden, adding compost, manure, blood meal and bone meal.

Now it was still hot outside, but the sun was down, which really makes a big difference.

As we were working in the garden, we had a little visitor who came out to see what we were doing….

Gardening at Night

Gardening at Night, He was actually hanging upside down, but I like how he looks ‘right side up’.

This praying mantis was fascinated by what we were doing.  I was very happy to see him because he helps to eat the harmful insects that would normally bother my vegetables.

He was soon joined by his friend or maybe it was his wife?

Gardening at Night

Gardening at Night

We were soon finished with our work and I could hardly wait to see the fruits of our labor in the morning….

vegetable garden

I just love a blank canvas to add plants to, don’t you?

The step stones provide easy access for me to step out into the garden to harvest vegetables without crushing them with my feet.

(Once I took out the step stones, thinking I wanted the extra space for vegetables, but I had an awful time getting into and out of the garden without stepping on vegetables.)

We did leave the basil plant in the back, oregano on the side and a single cucumber plant, which will continue to produce once the temperatures cool down (I’m not sure it will ever cool down again).

I have wonderful plans for my vegetable garden….

I can hardly wait to harvest fresh corn, carrots, green snap beans, garlic, green onions, leaf lettuce and spinach.

vegetable garden

You may wonder why I have a fence around the garden.  Well, the reason is that I have a little dog named Tobey that would love nothing better then to get inside and dig around in all the wonderful smelling compost and aged steer manure.

Now, I was bound and determined to get one thing planted in the garden, even if it was hot outside and I would probably start to sweat 😉

corn seeds

I got my corn seeds planted!

It only took me about 15 minutes to plant 3 rows of corn.

(It is important to plant corn in more then one row, which helps with pollination and helps all of the corn kernels to develop).

As you can see, I didn’t bring out any fancy tools to plant them.  I only needed a ruler to make sure that I planted them 1 ft.

apart and I borrowed a spoon from my kitchen.

Thankfully, I can wait until later this month to plant some of my other seeds when the weather is cooler.

Some people may think I am crazy to work in the garden at night and there are some things that you do have to have daylight for.  But I have pruned my shrubs at night to avoid the excess heat of the day.

I wouldn’t advise doing any gardening tasks that require any detail work, such as planting vegetable seeds.

But, you never know….if it doesn’t cool off on time, I may be planting seeds at night with a flashlight 😉

******************

So, how about you?

Do you have any strategies for dealing with the summer heat when you garden?

Vegetable Garden Gone Crazy…

I would like to introduce you to “Mr. Compost”, a resident of “The Refuge”, (and my brother-in-law).  He will be our guest blogger today.  As you can see from his name, he knows a thing or two about composting.

guest blogger

Mr. Compost turning his composter.

You may have seen those “Turn Your Gold Into Cash” commercials on TV and if you had a lot of extra gold lying around your house, it would be appealing.  However, you have something even better that you are probably throwing away that can be turned into “gold” for your soil; kitchen scraps.

Kitchen Scraps

Kitchen Scraps include apple cores, coffee grounds, egg shells, garden clippings, oranges and peels, bread and grass. The smaller the pieces, the easier it is for the bacteria to break them down.

guest blogger

Fruity Girl and Daisy Mom add kitchen waste to the composter.

That’s right, instead of throwing away your vegetable scraps, you can create a place to compost those scraps and turn them into soil enhancers.

Black Gold
Black Gold

“Black Gold”

There are many websites about composting that you can visit to get you started on the composting process, but you can get in the habit of putting those scraps into a separate container so you can eventually put them back into your soil and enhance your garden.

Refuge resident

Refuge resident, Fruity Girl

Get your whole family involved and have fun!

*Okay, if you have been inspired, (and who hasn’t?) by Mr. Compost to start composting yourself, there is great information on how to get started here.

Many communities offer free workshops and compost bins to residents.  Check out your local waste management department’s website to see if they are offered in your area.  The majority of cities in the Phoenix metro area offer classes and compost bins).

**For additional information, please visit GippsLandGardener and read another post about composting.

Flowering Annuals

Each year, around the end of August, I walk into the plant section of our local home improvement store just to look at the colorful, flowering annuals

While I may be sorely tempted,  I don’t buy any; I just like to look.

BUT, I know that I am in trouble when the majority of the nursery shelves is covered in a sea of winter annuals – I feel like a kid in a candy store.  The vibrant colors and scents are almost intoxicating – to me anyway.

In the past, when I managed landscapes on golf courses, I would come to the store in our work truck and load countless flats of annuals for planting around the golf courses and the other buildings.  I loved planning ahead of time what I would plant and the color combinations that I would use.

Flowering Annuals

  Petunias, bacopa, and alyssum

In the low desert, winter annuals typically show up in the nurseries around late August, and it is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of fall being just around the corner along with the promise of cooler weather.  So before you know it, you buy a bunch of flowers and run home and plant them.  The problem is, is that it is often still too hot for them to survive.

Flowering Annuals

  Red geraniums with bacopa

For years, I would tear out the summer annuals around the golf courses and plant winter flowers in late September, usually with good results.  Of course, I would have to be vigilant and replace a few plants that would fall victim to the warm September temperatures, but overall they did fine.  

That is until one year when we had higher than usual temperatures in early October.  The flowers kept dying despite my best efforts.  Each day on my way to work, I would have to stop by the nursery to buy replacement plants.  This got kind of old after 2 – 3 weeks and I would have to go from store to store to find the same kind of flowers that I needed.

Flowering Annuals

 Blue Petunias 

So, I learned my lesson – no matter what, we would not plant winter annuals until late October.  I mean, it was silly to pull out the summer annuals in September when they still looked great.  I think people want to get a jump start on winter flowers because it makes us feel like the weather is cooler when it isn’t.  So unless you want to make extra visits to your local nursery, WAIT until mid-October.

Now, since I no longer manage landscape areas, I am only responsible for my annual pots.  Last year I planted hot pink geraniums with alyssum, and they did very well.  In the past, I have tried the following combinations with good results:

– Yellow Snapdragons with Blue (Deep Purple) 

– Petunias and White Alyssum

– Red Geraniums with White Alyssum

– Hot Pink Geraniums with Lobelia

– Yellow Pansies with Lobelia 

– Light Blue Pansies and Alyssum

– White Snapdragons with Pink Petunias and Lobelia 

Snapdragon

 Snapdragon

PLANTING:For containers (pots), I use a planting/potting mix, which is specially formulated for containers – not potting soil, which can become soggy.  

If you are planting annuals in the ground, then I add compost or potting soil to the existing soil at a ratio of about 1 part compost to 1 part existing soil.  

If you do not have a compost pile at home, you can buy bagged compost at your local nursery.  Add slow-release fertilizer, following directions on the label.  Plant your winter annuals, making sure that they have enough space between them to grow.

CARE:  Water twice a day.  I usually water in the morning and maybe late in the afternoon as the plants are becoming established (about two weeks).  You can then water once a day or every 2 – 3 days, depending on the weather.  

In a managed landscape setting, I would also fertilize weekly with a liquid fertilizer to promote maximum blooming.  At home, I usually fertilize every other week.

Viola

 Viola

Now that we are in the second half of October, I am ready for planting winter annuals in my garden.  I have been thinking about planting violas.  I have not planted them since I was a little girl and I did notice some beautiful ones at the nursery back in August.  Those violas are probably dead from the heat of late August.  

Hopefully, they will have some new ones in now that it is really time to plant!

A Children’s Flower Garden in a Kiddie Swimming Pool