Little Daisy

Do you like daisies?

I do.

Especially one that can handle the tough conditions often present in the desert garden.

Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) thrives in full sun – even areas that receive hot, afternoon sun.  All while being drought-tolerant.

To find out more about this desert perennial and ideas on how to add it to your garden, check out my latest plant profile for Houzz.com.

 

Remodeling, decorating, and more ∨

From kitchens to the living room, window treatments add a finishing touch to any room in the house.
For small bathroom ideas, browse photos of space-saving bathroom cabinetry and clever hidden mirrored medicine cabinets.

 

 
Garden in May

Do you ever wonder what you should be doing in your garden in a particular month?

As a freelance writer, I write a few monthly gardening articles and newsletters.

So, instead of writing an entirely new blog post, here is my latest “What To Do In The Garden” article for the Southwest that I wrote for Houzz.com

(I hope you don’t think I am lazy, but I would rather not write the same thing twice 😉

Southwest Gardener’s May Checklist

Spring is my favorite time in the garden.  Is it yours?

Plants are in full bloom and my vegetable garden is filled with both cool-season and a few warm-season crops.

Today, I thought that I would take you to the ‘farm’ to see how my mother’s vegetable garden is growing.

Double S Farms

The ‘farm’ is nicknamed “Double S Farms” by the family.  It is just down the road from our house and is a favorite place for all the family to gather.

vegetable beds

My mother has two raised vegetable beds and she loves tending her vegetables.

One bed is dedicated to cool-season crops that will soon give way to warm-season vegetables.

vegetable garden

She still has lettuce growing, which she uses to make delicious salads when we all gather together for dinner on Tuesday nights.

vegetable garden

The broccoli has gone to flower, but it looks so pretty, that she keeps it in the garden.

Do you see the orange flower in the background of the photo, above?  That is a marigold, which is a great ‘companion’ plant for the vegetable garden because it helps to repel bad bugs who might eat her vegetables.

tortoise

While we spend time looking at the vegetable gardens, the neighbor’s tortoise stops briefly, to see what we are doing from the other side of the fence.

second vegetable garden

The second vegetable garden was built by the family as a surprise for my mother’s birthday over a year ago.

She has started her warm-season crops in it, including tomatoes, summer squash and gourds.

Sugar snap peas

Sugar snap peas (one of my favorite vegetables) hang from vines growing on a small trellis.

vegetable bed

The newest vegetable bed is also home to…

Spring on the Family Farm

A toad, which is helpful with insect control.

He recently moved from his previous home next to the chicken coop.  My nephew, who is a Star Wars fan, gave him a special name.

naked-neck' chicken

While the toad keeps bugs in control around the vegetable gardens – Francie, the resident ‘naked-neck’ chicken, patrols for bugs outside of the garden.

As you can see, spring has sprung at the family farm.

Soon, summer will be here which heralds another favorite activity…  

peaches

Picking peaches and making jam!

How about you?

What is growing in your garden this spring?

Will you grow something different this year?

Spring for a horticulturist, is much the same as tax season for tax professional.

With the warming temperatures, I am very busy with landscape consults.  While I enjoy meeting and helping clients with their landscape needs, it does create the problem of less time to be able to do other things that need to get done.

But, in the case of writing – I have been able to get my work done, all with the help of a very special little lady…

Spring for  horticulturist

My granddaughter, Lily, loves to sit on my lap with her cup of Cheerios while I write.

We have come great conversations (mostly one-sided).  I talk to her about what I am writing and she does point to pictures of flowers.

Maybe someday, she’ll be inspired to grow her own garden?

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

This week is a sad one for our family.  My second-oldest daughter, Rachele, is leaving for the Navy on Sunday.

Rachele, my mother, my oldest daughter (Brittney) and me visiting Las Vegas for her 21st birthday last January.

Rachele, my mother, my oldest daughter (Brittney) and me visiting Las Vegas for her 21st birthday last January.

While I am so proud of her and know that she will do very well – I am still going to miss her so much!

She will be in basic training (just outside of Chicago) for several weeks.  Then she will go to school to learn to become an equipment operator (a Navy SeaBee).

We had a ‘goodbye’ celebration for her yesterday at our house.  Over 100 people showed up.  It was so neat to see how much she means to so many different people.

This week, we are experiencing what I like to call “the last times”.  Today, it was going to a movie with the kids and Rachele.

I hope you’ll bear with me over the next couple of weeks, if I share parts of her military journey with you 🙂

Six Trees, a Boy Scout and a Horticulturist

Wouldn’t it be great to have a regional guide for things to do, places to stay and great places to eat?

The EastValleyGuide is a great resource for those who live in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe.

I was asked to write an article for them about the challenges of desert gardening and some simple tips for growing a beautiful, low-maintenance landscape.

challenges of desert gardening

I hope you’ll take a minute or two to read it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the article 🙂

I am always telling people that….

“Gardening in the Desert Isn’t Hard, It’s Just Different.”

I’d love to share with you the latest addition to my desert garden…

My Desert Garden

My Desert Garden

I am now the proud owner of two new apple trees.

It’s hard to believe that you can grow apples in the desert, but you can!

Okay, I must confess that the photo above, is NOT from my new apple trees.  It is a photo of one of my mother’s apple trees that she grows in her Arizona garden.

'Dorsett Golden' Apple Tree

‘Dorsett Golden’ Apple Tree

I realize that my apple trees are a lot smaller then my mother’s, but it is healthy and will grow beautifully in my garden.

You might have noticed that I mentioned that I bought two apple trees. You may be thinking that I planted two because I wanted a lot of apples and you would be right.

BUT, there is another reason that I planted two apple trees.

**Most apple trees cannot ‘self-pollinate’ themselves.

So, what does the term ‘self-pollinate’ mean?

Remember way back to high school biology class…

Plants need to be pollinated to produce fruit and seeds.  Some plants can self-pollinate themselves, but some plants need a little help from another plant.

The majority of apple trees need help in this area.

Thankfully, the solution is easy…

“Plant at least two different apple trees near each other.”

What this means is to select at least two different varieties of apple tree.  In my case, I planted a

‘Dorsett Golden’ apple tree

and a

‘Anna’ apple tree

These trees will pollinate each other and I will get lots of delicious apples in a few years.

My Desert Garden

My Desert Garden

Now, some apple trees can self-pollinate themselves but they will produce more fruit if there is another type of apple tree nearby.

**Both my ‘Dorsett Golden’ and ‘Anna’ apple trees are considered self-fertile, which means that they can pollinate themselves – but they won’t produce as many apples as they would if planted next to a different variety of apple tree.

Both of these varieties are great for growing in warmer climates.

Apple trees should be planted in winter, before spring.  They are available as bare root or in containers.  If you are planting in March, then buy an apple tree in a container.  Bare root fruit trees are best planted January – mid February.

Again, not my tree - it's my mother's apple tree

Again, not my tree – it’s my mother’s apple tree 😉

I do have a couple of apple blossoms on my trees.  In a few years, they will soon look like my mother’s trees.

One of the joys of gardening, is sharing it with others.

I have shared it with my kids and am now starting with my first grandchild, Lily.

Last week, we made a Valentine’s Day present for her mom and dad.

We started with a trip to the nursery…

Valentine's Day present

Valentine Day present

We bought two types of flowers for a fragrant container – Stock and Alyssum.

I already had the pot, the potting soil and slow-release fertilizer – so we were good to go.

Stock and Alyssum

Valentine Day present

When I had planned to do this with Lily – I had counted on my husband being there to take pictures of us.  But, he had to leave at the last minute to take the dog to the vet (abscessed tooth – he’s okay now).

So, I had to take the photos myself, while making sure that Lily didn’t fall off the bench – hence the picture, above, of her sitting in my lap.

She seemed pretty steady on the picnic bench, so I let her sit by herself for a few seconds for this picture…  

Lily

She did just great, but I did have to teach her not to pull the flowers off – I think that is first lesson that I have had to teach each of my kids.

When my daughter came over to pick her up later that day – Lily had a pretty container of flowers to give to her mom.

Lily is 15-months old and at a great age to start letting her accompanying me in the garden.

Next week, I think we will pull some carrots from the vegetable garden for her to take home.    

My two oldest daughters, don’t have any special interest in gardening – although I did try my best.

My 15-year old daughter, Ruthie, loves the vegetable garden.  I hope that she will continue to enjoy gardening as she grows up.

How about you?  Do you like to garden with your kids or grandkids?

December Blooms – Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day

Is there such a thing as too many vegetables in your garden?

plant small seeds

My radishes are definitely doing well. But, there are too many growing close together.

Why did this happen? Did I plant too many? When you plant small seeds, you scatter them along small furrows.  You do plant more seeds then vegetables that will grow to maturity.

The reason for this is that some seeds do not germinate.

After they sprout, and begin to grow – then you have to ‘thin’ them out. This involves removing certain seedlings so that the remaining ones are at a proper distance from each other and have plenty of room to grow.

So, how do you ‘thin’ seedlings?  

plant small seeds

Simply use a pair of scissors and cut the extra seedlings off at the base.

This works much better then pulling them out because you can disturb the roots of the seedlings that are staying.

So how far apart should your vegetable plants be from each other? Well, it depends. Look at your seed packet, which will tell you how far apart they should be.

I just thinned my radishes (the easiest vegetable to grow, by the way). My carrots aren’t quite ready yet, so I will probably thin them out in a couple of weeks.

I hope your week is off to a great start! 

A Box of Seeds and an Impatient Gardener…

I came upon a hidden garden while I was visiting a charming little town in Wales.  Actually this town, Llantwrtyd Wells, (population 700), is the smallest town in Great Britain.  I can’t pronounce the name correctly, my Gaelic is rather rusty – or I should say non-existent, but this tiny town is a special place to visit.

Hidden Garden in the Smallest Place

Our visit took place during the summer of 2003.  We were walking down the road into this little town and enjoying the beautiful scenery, above.

As we drew near the center of town, we turned a corner and there it was….

Hidden Garden in the Smallest Place

….a hidden garden, sandwiched between a nondescript shed and garage.

Hidden Garden in the Smallest Place

Now, as most of you know by now, I almost always have my camera with me, ready to take photos of truly awful landscaping that I can use as examples of what not to do.  But, I also love to take pictures of beautiful gardens and I was just entranced by this one.   The delphiniums, the roses, and the clematis were so lovely.

I have a neighbor who grows beautiful delphiniums and yes, you can grow them in the desert.I tried growing Clematis years ago and it really never flowered for me, so it probably is not too successful in our climate.

Hidden Garden in the Smallest Place

Well, back to my story….I lingered around the garden taking my pictures and reluctantly left to explore more of the town.

Llanwrtyd Wells is a wonderful place to visit and I have many good memories, but three stand out the most:

1. Meeting the butcher who was the mayor of this tiny town who wanted to know if we were enjoying our stay and if we would tell our friends to come visit.  (So if you go and visit, please tell the mayor, if you meet him, that I fulfilled my promise).

2. Going to the ‘Honesty Bookshop’ where you walk in, choose a used book and put the money for the book in the old-fashioned cash register – on the honor system.  There was no sales clerk.

3. But, by far, my favorite memory was coming upon this beautiful, hidden garden.  

The other day, my husband and I stopped by Starbucks for some coffee.  Starbucks for us is a guilty pleasure.  We don’t go there all the time.  Maybe 3 – 4 times a month.

Well, as we were waiting for our coffee to be ready, I noticed a bin filled with bags that caught my attention….

 coffee grounds

Some of you may be wondering what coffee grounds have to do with gardening.  Well they actually work in a variety of ways that benefit the soil in your garden.

Used coffee grounds:

– slowly release nitrogen into the soil

– improve the texture of both sandy and clay soils

– are loved by earthworms who ‘eat’ them and leave behind their coveted droppings

– are a source of phosphorus, potassium and micro-nutrients such as magnesium, copper and calcium

– can be used in compost piles instead of manure

So…..are you tempted to use coffee grounds in your garden?  Do not just throw them out in the garden.  You need to mix them with your existing soil.  Apply a 1/4″ layer and then rake them into your existing soil.

You can also use them in your compost pile.  Used coffee grounds are a ‘green’ compost material and shouldn’t make up more then 20% of your compost.

So, are you still wavering on whether or not to use them?  Okay, how about this fact:

Starbucks

**Starbucks gives their used coffee grounds away for free.  If you don’t often find yourself inside of a Starbucks, you can always use your own coffee grounds.

Now, maybe your local Starbucks doesn’t give away their coffee grounds. Well, you should ask.  The more people ask for them, the more likely they are to ‘bag’ their used coffee grounds and give them away.

You can always wait until the baristas are not busy and ask if you can have their used coffee grounds that they have right then.  You can even offer to take them in the plastic trash bag that they are already in.

Now, that I know that I can find used coffee grounds at my local Starbucks, I will just have to stop by more often and of course, I will have to get some coffee.

What a sacrifice….. 😉

“The Joy of Composting”