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I am almost ashamed to admit this to you, but if you have been reading my blog for any length of time  – you know that I am far from perfect.  So here it is…..until a few weeks ago, I had never visited our local farmer’s market.

So, what’s the big deal about it?  Well, for a plant lady who loves growing her own vegetables and supporting local vendors, a farmer’s market should be an event that is attended frequently.

It actually took my mother coming over to take me and my two youngest kids, Gracie and Kai, with a promise of lunch afterward that  got me out of the house on a Saturday morning.

Once we started walking around, all I could think of is why on earth I hadn’t started going sooner.  There was so much to look at and admire.

Don’t these look delicious? 
You know what?  I like to see what others grow in their vegetable gardens and am often inspired to try some of them in my own.
I just love how wonderful my vegetables taste when I pick them from my garden.  Well, if you don’t grow your own, support local farmers who have their produce available.  
Isn’t it amazing how many different kinds of honey that are available?
My favorite is honey made from bees that pollinate orange blossoms 🙂
How about buying some fresh baked bread to go with your honey?
Ask any of my friends or family members and you will soon discover that my favorite food in the whole world is….bread.  Add some real butter and it is pure heaven.
One of the best things about going  places with grandma is that she likes to buy treats for her grandkids.
This day, Gracie and Kai were treated to chocolate ice cream.
Many vendors sold harvested vegetables, flowers, tomato plants and the little boy on the left was selling little offshoots of Aloe vera for $1.  I dare anyone to pass him by without buying one 😉
Besides bread, I also love pasta.  Here were many different varieties that created their own sauce when cooked.  My mother bought some.
As we continued to walk through the market, my son noticed this sign.  He pulled out what was left of his allowance and begged to go in.  So I stayed with him while Gracie went on with my mother.
The petting zoo had goats, rabbits, chickens and…
piglets, which were hard to catch.
A Southwest farmer’s market isn’t complete without a variety of salsa.  I didn’t buy any since I like to make my own, but it did look delicious.


I loved this little stand which had a variety of simple bouquets.


I love how you can find unusual products.  My son, who loves candy, was dying to buy this candy flavored popcorn, but he didn’t have enough allowance with him.


I love the large variety of food that is available.  Believe it or not, I passed it up because I knew we were going out to lunch afterward.  But I must admit that I did help the kids finish their ice cream 😉


Since I am really getting into growing my own tomatoes at home, I was very interested in seeing the different varieties available here.

As you can see, we had a great time and met some very nice people who were selling their goods.

You know what?  A farmer’s market is a great place to find gifts. 
How about some regional honey or spicy salsa?

You could buy a pretty little bouquet for that special someone.

Hungry for dinner?  Fresh baked bread or flavored pasta may be just what you need.

I did buy something that day.  It was a $1 packet of hollyhock seeds, which I plan on  planting in my garden this fall.

So what are you waiting for?  There is sure to be a farmer’s market close to you.  Bring your kids along with you.  It can be quite an educational experience for them.

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For those of you who live in the east valley of the Phoenix metro area, information on the local farmer’s market can be found here.

Today, I visited our local big box store to buy some summer annuals for my containers.  Each time I visit, I mentally prepare myself ahead of time because I usually get frustrated at the fact that they frequently sell the wrong plants for the wrong time of year.  I have posted about this before, which you can read here if you like.

In the meantime, I thought I would give you a pop-quiz.  I know, I know….no one likes pop quizzes.  In high school, those words would create a sinking feeling in my stomach every time.  But I promise, I will give you the answers and I am an easy grader 😉
 
The following are flowers that were offered for sale today.   Some are summer annuals for our area and some are winter annuals, which will soon die from the coming summer heat.  Are you ready for the quiz?  There are two possible answers for each question – summer or winter flower. 
 Petunias
Winter or Summer Annual?
  
Celosia
 Winter or Summer Flowers?
 
Vinca
Winter or Summer?
 
Lobelia
Winter or Summer Annual?
 
 
Verbena
Winter or Summer Flowers?
 
Alyssum
Winter or Summer?
 
 
Impatiens
Winter or Summer Annual?
 
Red Salvia
Winter or Summer?
 
Begonia
Winter or Summer Flower?
 
Portulaca
Winter or Summer Annual?
 
I told you I would give you the answers, so here they are:
 
Petunias – Winter
Celosia – Summer
Vinca – Summer
Lobelia – Winter
Verbena – Summer
Alyssum – Winter
Impatiens – Winter
Red Salvia – Summer
Begonia – Winter
Portulaca – Summer
 
How did you do?  It is not easy to tell looking at the flowers which one will do well in summer and which ones do best in winter. 
 
I do go to big box stores and buy plants because they are usually inexpensive.  BUT, I DO NOT rely on their advice or the fact that if they are carrying certain plants, that they are appropriate to plant at that time of year.  Shopping at big box store nurseries only works if you do your research ahead of time.  Just because they have a plant on display does not mean that it will survive for long in your garden.
For example, the big box store had winter and summer annual flowers displayed right next to each other (above).  There was no way to know that the one on the right would survive the summer and that the one on the left would soon be dead from the summer heat.
 
If you are uncertain about what plants to purchase, then I recommend doing your own research OR going to a local nursery, where you may pay a little more, but you can receive expert advice on the right type of plant to plant the right time of year.
 
I ended up buying two Radiation lantana for my front containers.  Lantana are great summer flowers and I then transplant them into my garden in the fall.
 
**Butterfly update – the caterpillars are still within their chrysalis.  I am hoping they emerge early next week.  I have had to bring them indoors the past two nights because the temperatures have dropped below 55 degrees.  I will keep you updated 🙂
 
I hope you all have a great weekend!