Do you have citrus trees? If you live in zone 9 or higher, chances that you or your neighbor has a citrus tree or two growing in their backyard.
1. Citrus Natural Air Fresheners
Do you have citrus trees? If you live in zone 9 or higher, chances that you or your neighbor has a citrus tree or two growing in their backyard.
I love peaches. Every year, I look forward to May when the peaches on my tree are ripe and ready. While May might seem a little early for peaches, in the low desert garden, this is when they are ready for being harvested.
I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!
Have you ever noticed that spring has a way of surprising you in the garden? That is indeed the thought that I had earlier this week as I walked through my front landscape.
After spending a week visiting my daughter in cold, wintery Michigan, I was anxious to return home and see what effects that a week of warm temperatures had done – I wasn’t disappointed.
I want to take you on a tour of my spring garden. Are you ready?
Penstemons play a large part in late winter and spring interest in the desert landscape, and I look forward to their flowering spikes.
One of the most dramatic blooms that grace my front garden are those of my Echinopsis hybrid cactuses. I have a variety of different types, each with their flower color. This year, ‘Ember’ was the first one to flower and there are several more buds on it.
Moving to the backyard, the gray-blue foliage of the shrubby germander is transformed by the electric blue shade of the flowers. This smaller shrub began blooming in the middle of winter and will through spring.
This unique shrub was a purchase that I made several years ago at the Desert Botanical Garden‘s spring plant sale. If you are looking for unusual plants that aren’t often found at your local nursery, this is the place to go. This is a lush green, tropical shrub that is related to the more common Baja Fairy Duster. However, it only flowers in spring and has sizeable red puff-ball flowers. It does best in east-facing exposures.
I am trialing a new self-watering hanging container that was sent to me free of charge by H20 Labor Saver for my honest review. I must say that I am very impressed. Growing plants in hanging containers is difficult in the desert garden as they dry out very quickly. But, this is a self-watering container, which has a reservoir that you fill, allowing me to have to water it much less often.
In the container, I have Million Bells growing, which are like miniature petunias. They are cool-season annuals that grow fall, winter, and spring in the desert garden.
Not all of my plants are flowering. My yellow bells shrubs have been pruned back severely, which I do every year, and are now growing again. This type of severe pruning keeps them lush and compact, and they will grow up to 6-feet tall within a few months.
This past fall, my daughters took over the vegetable garden. I must admit that it was fun to watch them decide what to grow and guide them in learning how to grow vegetables. They are already enjoying the fruits of their labor and onions will soon be ready to be harvested.
My Meyer lemon tree hasn’t performed very well for me and has produced very little fruit in the four years since I planted it. I realized that it wasn’t getting enough water, so I corrected that problem, and it is covered in blossoms – I am so excited!
Moving to the side garden, chocolate flower adds delicious fragrance at the entry to my cut flower garden. It does well in full sun and flowers off and on throughout the warm season.
In the cut flower garden, my roses are growing back from their severe winter pruning. Although the roses aren’t in bloom yet, my California native verbena is. This is a plant that I bought at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden – I don’t remember the exact name, but it does great in my garden.
I have some fruit trees growing in the side garden including peaches! I can just imagine how delicious these will taste in May once they are ripe!
While the peaches are already forming, my apple trees are a few weeks behind and are still flowering. It surprises people that you can grow apple trees in the desert garden and they will ripen in June – apple pie, anyone?
I hope that you have enjoyed this tour of my spring garden. All of these plants are bringing me joy.
*What is growing in your garden this spring that brings you joy?
Do you have a plant that DOESN’T bring you joy?
I do. There is one particular that has been bothering me for a while and I finally did something about it as I explain in the video below:
While there may be some sadness when removing a healthy plant, I confess that I didn’t feel that this time. The frustration that I feel each year with its under-performance in my garden that I was ready for it to go.
Although it doesn’t show in this photo, there was a healthy root system on this tiny orange tree.
I sat and watched them plant my new tree. They did a great job!
I will keep you updated as to how it does. It will be hard to wait for two years for new fruit, but it will be worth it!
What plants do you have that no longer bring you joy?
Today’s post is written by guest blogger, Emily, who writes about sustainable gardening.
Getting to landscape your own yard is exciting, and it can prove to be really fun! You can decorate your yard with the plants you love in whatever way you want them to look. There’s no end to all the ways that plants can bring life and beauty to your backyard, but what types of plants you have to choose from can be narrowed down because of where you live.
Even beginner gardeners know that plants are affected by the amount of sunlight and kinds of temperatures they deal with on a regular basis. Some plants do better in warmer climates than others. If you live in the southwest, you know that hot, dry weather is something your plants are going to have to be prepared for. Check out some of the best trees you can pick from for your yard that will thrive in the rising temperatures of the southwest.
Your Best Options
This tree list is for those who want to look through a list of potential trees without having to do a bunch of research and get disappointed when they find out that the tree they like won’t work in their yard. Extreme heat doesn’t mean that you’re limited to only a few kinds of trees. You can have large, beautiful trees that have thick foliage and provide lots of shade. You can also have fruit trees if you’re interested in growing your own food. Read on to see which trees might fit with what you’re looking for.
Give It Time
Whatever tree you choose will need time to grow to its full maturity. This will be a different length of time depending on what kind of tree you decide to go with. Always talk with local gardeners to make sure you know what you’re getting into. On the other hand, you should also be prepared to make some mistakes! You’ll learn how best to care for your tree with time, so don’t feel like you have to know everything about your type of tree before you plant.
Jump Right Into It
The more you research, the more you may feel overwhelmed. This is normal for beginner gardeners, but learning how to grow your own tree really isn’t that difficult. It’s just a new way of gardening! And don’t think you’re alone. Ask around in your community to see if there are any gardening groups you can join, and if not, you can look online too. There are people ready to help guide you with your gardening passions so you can grow the trees of your dreams, no matter which kind you settle on.
Emily is an avid gardener. She writes in the sustainability field and loves getting to try new composting methods to grow food with less waste. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.
**For more tree profiles that will add beauty to your desert garden, click here for earlier posts where I share some of my favorites.
While most of the garden is asleep in winter, citrus trees are filled with sweet, tart fruit ready for picking.
One of the best things about having a garden in the desert southwest is our ability to grow citrus of all kinds. Lemon trees are a popular fruit tree and I am often asked what type of lemon do I recommend.
There are different types of lemons but the one that is my favorite isn’t a ‘true’ lemon tree at all. It’s a Meyer lemon, which is a cross between an orange tree and a lemon tree.
The result is a fruit that tastes sweeter than your typical lemon and has a lovely thin, smooth skin. Meyer lemons are suitable for use in the same ways that other lemons are, but you can use them in additional ways as well due to their sweeter nature.
I recently shared the reasons why you should plant a Meyer lemon tree in one of my latest articles for Houzz.
Have you ever grown a Meyer lemon tree?
Vacations are a time that I love to spend with my family doing things that we don’t normally have time for with the busyness of school and work that predominates throughout much of the year. This summer, we spent a couple of weeks in Michigan visiting my oldest daughter and her family. In planning our trip, we list what we want to do and number one on the list for our summer adventures was going to a farm and picking our own strawberries and cherries.
So, on a sunny Tuesday morning, we headed out along a back country road and visited Kiteley Farm ready to pick strawberries.
I must admit that I have never picked strawberries, other than in my own garden, and couldn’t wait to experience to harvest them myself. Initially, my 15-year-old son couldn’t figure out why we were going to pick them when it was easier to buy them in the supermarket. But, I told him to just wait and see – I promised him that he would change his mind afterward.
We were given instructions on where the strawberry fields were located and grabbed our boxes, ready to fill them up with sweet, delicious strawberries.
The entry to the farm is flanked by blue bachelor’s button and the orange flowers of honeysuckle.
The strawberry field was very large and we all got started, hunting underneath the leaves for glimpses of bright red fruit.
It’s no surprise that the strawberries that you buy at the store are often large and not particularly sweet, which aids in transporting them to the store without getting bruised. However, berries at pick-your-own farms are smaller and incredibly sweet.
My granddaughter Lily got right into picking strawberries.
The edge of the field was shaded by tall trees and we discovered that the berries were larger in this part of the field.
The key to finding the best berries is to look at the lowest berry which is usually the ripest.
After about an hour, we had 11 pounds of strawberries. Not bad for amateur strawberry pickers.
Next, it was time to pick cherries. Michigan has a large percentage of the cherry growing market and because cherries don’t grow in my neck of the woods, I always take advantage of being able to pick them whenever I visit in July.
There are several farms where you can go and pick your own cherries and all you have to pay for is the fruit you pick.
The trees were heavily laden with bright red cherries, which were easier to pick than strawberries as we didn’t have to bend over.
Lily was just as good at picking cherries as she was with strawberries.
At the end of a busy morning, we had plenty of fruit and I was excited to take them back and make sweet things with them.
For me, the best part of that morning was when my son said, “That was so fun. We need to do it again next year.”
Don’t they look delicious? And perfect for…
*You don’t have to grow fruit (or vegetables) in your own garden to be able to enjoy the experience of picking your own produce. No matter where you live, there is likely a farm nearby where you can experience the fun of picking your own!
The arrival of summer in the desert fills with days where the thermometer surpasses the century mark and trees are heavily laden with apples. People are often surprised to find that apple trees can be grown in our arid climate, but they do surprisingly well. I have two apple trees in my garden, which is the center of our annual apple day where we gather together to harvest, bake, and play games.
The participants range from 2-years old, all the way to 19 and are made up of my kids, niece, nephews, in-laws, and my grandson, Eric. Each year, they all come over for a day filled with summer fun.
Picking apples are first on the agenda, and the kids pick delicious apples within reach of their arm’s reach.
The younger kids are excited to spot Aesop, our desert tortoise munching on grass, and take a moment to pet him.
One of my nephews is a little nervous to pet Aesop, so he observes him from a couple of feet away.
Half a bushel of apples is more than enough for two pies, with plenty left over for the kids to munch on while we bake.
Out comes my handy apple peeler, which makes peeling and slicing apples a cinch. In addition to peeling them, it cores each and cuts them into a spiral.
(Affiliate Link) Johnny Apple Peeler by VICTORIO VKP1010, Cast Iron, Suction Base
The kids line up to take a turn turning the handle for each apple and sneak ribbons of apple peel to eat.
Homemade apple crust is the way to go and I use Paula Deen’s recipe for Perfect Pie Crust. It is a little sweet and uses a combination of vegetable shortening and butter.
The filling consists of brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice.
Oh, and butter…
The trickiest part is gently laying the top crust on top of the pie without it breaking.
At this point, the kids wanted to know how long it would take to bake.
Onto our second pie, which was a Dutch apple pie, so only one crust was needed.
My niece helped sprinkle the streusel topping. I always make extra streusel topping because I love it so much.
Pies are now in the oven, and it’s time to play our favorite board game, ‘Ticket to Ride’ and see who can complete their train routes across the U.S.
(Affiliate Link) Ticket To Ride
Finally, the timer dings and warm apple pie leaves the oven, making our mouths water with their delicious fragrance.
Every year, I am pleasantly surprised at how much the kids in both my immediate and extended family, look forward to this day of pie baking. For a few hours, I have the privilege of interacting with them without the distractions of phones, television, and video games while teaching them how to bake as well as where fruit comes from (a tree versus the grocery store).
I hope to continue this tradition for years to come. *Do you have any traditions that you enjoy with your family that revolves around baking?
Springtime in the garden is my favorite time of year.
Cool-season flowers are still in bloom while summer-bloomers are getting started. The garden is awash in colorful flowers, vegetables, young fruit AND a few bugs and suckers.
I have two areas in my backyard where I grow edible plants. Today, I invite you to take a tour of the largest edible garden, which is located along the side of my house.
Apple trees – April 2014
At the back of the garden, are two apple trees that I planted last year.
They have grown so quickly. This is what they looked like last year…
Newly planted apple trees – February 2013
What a difference!
I’ll admit that this area looks rather barren. There used to be flowering shrubs up along the wall, which we took out in order to plant edible plants.
Usually, you have to wait a few years before you apple trees will produce fruit, so I was very surprised to see small apples forming.
This is what they look like now. The apples will ripen in June and I am all ready to make homemade applesauce, which tastes so much better then store-bought.
I wrote a post about how to make applesauce, which you can view here.
Against the wall, behind the apple trees, are a row of blackberry bushes.
One of my favorite childhood memories are those of the blackberry bushes we had growing in our backyard in Southern California. We would try to pick all we could before our dog would eat them.
Blackberry bushes are surprisingly easy to grow and there are thornless varieties available. Unfortunately, some of my blackberry bushes are not thornless;-)
They are covered with flowers and small fruit. BUT, I also saw something else on my berries…
Orange/black bugs covered a few of my berries.
I hadn’t seen this type of bug before, so I got to work on researching what these were. Turns out they are the juvenile form of stink bugs – not good.
Evidently, they are fairly resistant to organic pesticides. You can pick them off and squish them.
The chives, garlic, parsley, thyme and sage are doing very well in my herb container. However, the purple petunia is beginning to fade due to warming temperatures. So, I will pull it out soon.
I don’t add flowers to my herb container during the summer. I usually let my herbs flower, like my basil and sage.
At the same time we planted our apple trees, I also added two peach trees. I was surprised that this tree produced 19 small peaches just months after we planted it last year – that is not normal. I used them along with peaches from my mother’s trees to make peach jam.
This year, the same tree has decided to put it energy into growing just 2 peaches – which is normal. They are huge! I love to look out my kitchen window and see the fruit slowly ripening.
While admiring the peaches on my tree, I noticed something that did NOT make me happy…
Can you see what the problem is? SUCKERS! And I don’t mean the sweet candy that your grandma used to give you.
Fruit trees are grafted onto rootstock and occasionally, the rootstock decides to send up its own branches. They are called ‘suckers’ because the ‘suck’ up the nutrients that would otherwise got to your fruit tree.
To learn how to recognize and get rid of suckers, click here.
Underneath my apple and peach trees, I have garlic growing. Garlic is a very helpful plant. In this case, it helps to repel borers, which are beetles that lay eggs on the bark. After the eggs hatch, the larvae bore their way into the trunk of the tree, often killing it.
Small fruit is beginning to form on my orange tree. Like other fruit trees, it can take a few years before producing substantial amounts of fruit.
Our orange tree has been in the ground for 2 years and we got three oranges last winter. I was so excited that I wrote an entire post about it.
Looking toward the vegetable garden, my artichoke plant is busy. It has 9 small artichokes growing.
I have a confession to make…
I don’t like eating artichokes.
But, the plant itself is very attractive and is often grown as an ornamental because it is a perennial and lives for more then 1 year.
I do have plans for these artichokes though.
– I will cook a few for my husband, who loves them.
– I will dry a few for fall arrangements.
– And, I will allow some to bloom – the flowers are gorgeous!
The purple violas in my rusty, old watering can will soon fade as the heat rises.
I do not plant anything in it during the summer months because it is too hot. The soil temperature in small containers, literally ‘cooks’ the roots of plants. Stick with planting larger pots for the summer and let your smaller containers take a break.
At the beginning of this post, I showed you a picture of my edible, side garden from the opposite side, near the wall.
This is the other view, looking in. Toward the left side, are two ‘Summertime Blue’ Eremophila shrubs.
Can you guess the last time that they were pruned?
3 years ago!
I love these shrubs and their bright-green foliage and purple flowers.
Bell-shaped, lavender flowers appear spring through summer. This is a great ‘fuss-free’ shrub for the garden. It is hardy to 15 degrees and thrives in full sun. A definite must for the southwest garden.
For more information about ‘Summertime Blue’, click here.
Well, that is what is happening in one area of my garden.
I invite you to come back next time, when I will show you my other edible garden, which is in full flower. *I will also share with you the rest of our adventure when we hosted three young girls for the weekend from the Ugandan Orphan’s Choir.