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Okay, correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it just October 1st a few days ago?  It’s hard to believe that November is already here.  You know what that means….Christmas is on its way πŸ™‚


Last month was a busy one in the garden.  While there are not as many tasks to be done in November, there are still a few things to do.

Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)


Continue planting cold-tolerant trees, shrubs and perennials.  Avoid planting frost-tender plants such as Lantana, Bougainvillea and Yellow Bells right now, since young plants are more likely to be damaged or even killed by a frost.

Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii)

Shrubs like Globe Mallow, Chaparral Sage and Mexican Honeysuckle are great choices for the garden.

Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia mexicana)

Mexican Honeysuckle is one of my favorites because it thrives in light shade, is frost-tolerant AND flowers all year.

Snapdragon Penstemon (Penstemon palmeri)

Perennials are a great way to add color to the landscape and Penstemons are some of my favorites.  Parry’s and Firecracker Penstemons are seen in many beautiful landscapes, but there is another that I love.  Snapdragon Penstemon is not often seen, but is truly stunning.  It grows up to 4 ft. tall, blooms in spring and its flowers are fragrant.

It’s not always easy to find, but is well worth the effort.

‘Regal Mist’ (Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’)
You may have seen this colorful ornamental grass blooming this fall.  ‘Regal Mist’ is a lovely green, ornamental grass in spring and summer.  However, once the cooler temperatures of fall arrive, it undergoes a magical transformation.  Burgundy plumes begin to appear, turning this grass into a show-stopper.

‘Regal Mist’ in winter.
Once winter arrives, the burgundy plumes fade to an attractive wheat color.

There is not much pruning to be done right now.  You can prune Mesquite trees, but stay away from pruning Palo Verde trees, which are best pruned after flowering in the summer.

Avoid pruning frost-tender plants and summer-flowering shrubs this month.  


There is still time to sow wildflower seed for a beautiful spring display.

Herbs are easy to grow and most will thrive throughout the winter.  The one exception is basil, which will die once temperatures dip below freezing.

So harvest your basil now, before the first frost arrives.  You can dry it and put it into spice jars or freeze it into ice cubes.


Thin vegetable seedlings.  This is easiest to do using scissors and snipping them off at the soil line  so that you don’t disturb the roots of the seedlings remaining behind to grow.

Check your seed packet to determine how far apart the seedlings should be.


There are still many vegetables that can be planted in November.  Leafy greens like bok choy, lettuce, kale, mustard greens and Swiss chard can still be planted throughout November.  Carrots and radishes can also be added to the garden.  I have been harvesting radishes and leafy greens, one month after planting.


I am so happy to be able to make salads from my own garden again instead of relying on bagged leaf lettuce.


If you haven’t done so yet, this is the last month to plant garlic in your garden.  It is so easy to grow and I simply grab a few heads of garlic from grocery store to plant.

Broccoli and cauliflower transplants can still be added to the garden this month.  Onions, peas and turnips can also be planted in November.  

If you haven’t already done so, go ahead and adjust your irrigation schedule so that you are watering less frequently then you did in the summer months.  More plants die from over-watering then under-watering, even in the desert Southwest.

Well, I think that I have given you enough to keep busy this month in your garden.  Next month, there will be a much shorter list, leaving you much more time for Christmas shopping πŸ™‚

**What is on your garden ‘to-do list’ this month?

October is my favorite month of the year in the garden.  Summer is over and when I walk outdoors, I am greeted with delightful temperatures in the 80’s.  I even had to wear a light sweater the other night when out walking the dogs with my husband πŸ™‚


Planting shrubs in the parking lot of our church along with the boy scouts a few years ago.
This is a very busy month in the garden because the end of summer signals the beginning of planting season.  October is the best time to add plants to your landscape because they have three seasons to grow roots, which will help them handle the stress of next summer.

When digging a hole for your plants, the hole can make a huge difference in how successful your plants will be.  Make the hole 3 times wider then the rootball.  Because roots grow mostly sideways, they will have an easier time growing through recently dug soil then hard-packed soil.  The depth of the hole should be NO deeper then the rootball.  When plants are planted too deeply, they can suffocate or become waterlogged.

So, what types of plants can you add now?  Concentrate on trees, shrubs and perennials that are not frost tender.

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatoni), blooms in late winter and into spring in my zone 9a garden.

Some of my favorite plants in my garden are those that bloom in fall, winter or spring.

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana), blooms in spring and fall.

Pink Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii ‘Pink’), blooms fall, winter and spring and prefers partial shade.

Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine), is my FAVORITE shrub.  I starts blooming in January and lasts until April when there is not much else going on in my garden.
When shopping for arid-adapted plants for your landscape, be aware that most of them aren’t too impressive looking when seen at the nursery.

Angelita Daisy in the nursery.

Arid-adapted plants don’t really start concentrating on their top growth UNTIL they have grown a good amount of roots.

Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis, formerly Hymenoxys acaulis)
As you can see, there is a pretty significant difference after these Angelita Daisies have been in the ground for a couple of years.

Scarlet Flax

Do you like wildflowers?  For a beautiful spring display, October is the time to spread wildflower seed.  Growing your own wildflowers is easy to do, but there are a few important guidelines to follow.  You can read more about how to start your own wildflowers from seed here.


If you enjoy growing vegetables, then it is time to get started planting cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, leaf lettuce and radishes – just to name a few.


I amend my soil with 3 inches compost, 2 inches composted steer manure, blood meal and bone meal (following the directions on the package on how much to apply).  Lightly cultivate, mixing your new amendments into the soil.

Our little puppy, Penny, is growing up!
*Beware of 4-month old puppies when adding manure, blood or bone meal to your garden.  It is absolutely irresistible to them and dogs of all ages πŸ˜‰

Radish seedlings.

As your seedlings come up, there will be too many growing too close together, so you will need to thin them once they have 2 – 3 
mature leaves (not the small seed leaves).


The easiest way to thin excess seedlings is to simply cut them off with scissors.  Pulling them out can injure the roots of the remaining plants.

Lettuce seedlings that were thinned.


Don’t throw out your leaf lettuce and radish greens that you have thinned out.  Use them to garnish you salad – they are delicious!


Check out your local county extension office’s website for information on when and what to plant in your area this month.  For the greater Phoenix area, here is a wonderful vegetable planting calendar



Do you have a favorite agave growing in your landscape?  Some agave produce volunteers (also called offsets or pups).  October is a great time to propagate succulents like agave or cacti.  


I have a favorite Parry’s Agave in my garden and it occasionally produces a little baby, which I take and replant elsewhere in my garden or give to a friend.  It is easy to transplant the baby agave and you can see how I do it, here.



As temperatures begin to cool, plants do not need as much water as they do in summer.  Adjust your irrigation schedule so that you are water less frequently.


The length of time that you water, should remain the same.  Trees should be watered to a depth of 3 feet, shrubs to 2 feet and perennials to 1 foot.  For watering guidelines and schedules, click here.


I love container gardening.  It is an easy way to change up the look of your landscape seasonally and year to year.

Container with geraniums, yellow Euryops daisies, fern leaf lavender and blue lobelia.



Switch out your warm-season container plantings for cool-season favorites.  Alyssum, geraniums, lobelia, pansies, petunias, snapdragons and violas are just a few colorful plants that can be added to your containers in October.


Add 6 inches of new potting mix (I like to use a planting mix, which is a little different then potting soil and avoids problems with wet soil) to each container before planting to replenish the old soil.


After adding your new plants, then sprinkle a slow-release fertilizer around the base of each plant, which will slowly release nutrients for about 3 months.


In addition to your traditional flowering containers, how about changing up your containers?

My granddaughter, Lily, is handling her watering duties very seriously.  I just think her little painted toenails are so cute!


 We planted this container filled with herbs and gave it to my oldest daughter for her birthday.  Chives, parsley, rosemary and thyme will handle our winters just fine and fresh herbs are just a few steps away from her kitchen.


My newest addiction is growing vegetables and flowers together in containers.

Petunias grow among parsley, garlic and leaf lettuce in front of my vegetable garden.

I have almost more fun growing vegetables in containers then I do in my vegetable gardens.


There are many types of vegetable that do well in containers, including leaf lettuce and garlic.  For more ideas of how to grow vegetables and flowers together, click here.


**I also made a video about growing a summer vegetable and flower container.  You can view it here.


Well, I think that I have given you a fair amount of task to do in your garden.  


What type of gardening tasks are you doing in your garden this month?  I would really love to hear about it.


I will post another “To-Do” List next month!

This past weekend, the entire family was able to gather together at Double S Farms.

As I mentioned before, my brother-in-law was in town for final interviews for a new job.  Although he was busy with meetings, we were all able to meet for Saturday breakfast on the farm.

I baked my Irish soda bread for the occasion and the kids couldn’t wait to eat eggs and sausage.

It was also time to check up on the new baby chicks and their new chicken coop….

Their new coop has three levels and the girls really seem to like it.
One of the kids discovered an egg, from one of the older chickens…
The kids spent much of their time running around and wrestling in the shade of the apple trees…
 My mother showed me the progress of her fall vegetable garden…


We have already enjoyed salad made from her romaine lettuce…
We visited with my twin nephews…
Dean, being held by my brother, is recovering well from his surgery, where he had a lobe of his lung removed.
My visiting sister, took her turn holding Danny.
 
Soda pop tried to find someone to throw her ball for her.
The ‘senior’ chickens, Effie, Ramona and Lucy, did their best to stay out of everyone’s way.
Indoors, my nephew, Oliver, showed off his ‘zombie’ makeup and did his best to scare us, but then he reassured us that it was really him behind the make-up.
Lastly, my daughter, Gracie, spent time with her Uncle Scott…
I love them time that we all spend together and we received great news yesterday – my brother-in-law was hired as the new children’s pastor of a local church.  So they will be moving here next month.
I will be so blessed to not only have my mother, brother and youngest sister living nearby, but also my other younger sister πŸ™‚
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Baby countdown is down to 7 days…..

I think my kids are ready to go back to school tomorrow after 2 1/2 weeks of being on fall break.

How do I know this?  Well, my two youngest daughters, Ruthie and Gracie, just asked me if there were any jobs that I needed them to do.


So after, I picked up my jaw from the floor, I told them that the patio needed to be swept and then thanked them for being so thoughtful.

A few minutes later, I saw them sweeping the patio.  Then I saw the hose come out as they sprayed the patio.  BUT, they didn’t stop there.  As I watched them, Ruthie started to squirt dish soap on the patio and then proceeded to scrub the patio using the broom.

I just didn’t have the heart to tell her that she didn’t need to use soap.  She was working so hard and looked like she was actually enjoying herself as she walked through all the soap suds.  

And now, I probably have the cleanest patio in the entire neighborhood πŸ˜‰


Earlier this morning, I went outside to see how my vegetable garden was faring.  As I examined my plants, I paid special attention to many of my vegetable seedlings.


I planted Cauliflower for the first time this fall.  We will see how it does.  I must admit that I am being a bit selfish about including it in my garden since I am the only one in our family who likes cauliflower.  But, since I’m the one who takes care of the garden, I think I’m entitled, don’t you?



My lettuce seedlings are a bit late in getting started this fall.  The reason being that I didn’t learn my lesson last fall, when birds ate my new seedlings, which is what happened again this year.  So this is my second attempt this fall.

I am proud to say that I did find a solution to birds eating my lettuce seedlings that didn’t involve netting.  But I warn you, it isn’t particularly pretty looking…


I decided to use burlap.  I didn’t put the burlap directly on the ground since the plants would grow through it and be caught.  So, I put two of my plastic patio chairs in the garden and draped the burlap over them and the garden fence.  My goal was to shield the seedlings from the bird’s view and so far, I have been successful.


No, this aren’t grass seedlings.  They are my green onions.  

You know what?  There is just something about seedlings that I find so attractive.  I think it is a combination of the bright green of youth and their tiny shapes.  What do you think?


Another first in the garden this fall is shallots.  I haven’t heard much from people in our area growing them, so I am anxious to see how they do.  

Now, I didn’t order any fancy shallots from a mail-order nursery.  I simply went to my local grocery store and bought a bunch.  I planted each bulb with the pointed end upward and covered them with 2″ of soil.

I can’t wait to see how they do when I harvest them this spring.


This little garlic sprout looked much better yesterday then it does today.  The torn leaves are courtesy of the newest member of our family, Max, who hasn’t learned that a fence means “keep out”.  We are working his obedience….


The carrots are doing beautifully and I will soon thin them.  The easiest way to do this is to simply snip off the unwanted seedlings at soil level.  If you pull them out, you risk disturbing the surrounding seedlings.


I planted Nasturtiums throughout my vegetable garden because they make great companion plants because they repel damaging insects and attract insects that will eat Scale (which I have problems every year).


Corn silk is beginning to appear on my fall corn.

This last seedling is not one that I planted or planned on growing this fall.  

But, it showed up on its own and I decided that I will give it a chance….


Yes, it is a tomato plant.  To be precise, it is a ‘San Marzano’ tomato plant that came up from seed.  Its parent plant produce a ton of tomatoes for me last spring and some of the tomatoes fell to the ground, and so here is the result.

I’m not sure how it will do.  Tomatoes are susceptible to frost, which we do get here and on every vegetable gardening guide for our area, tomatoes are never listed as being started in the fall.

But, I am cautiously optimistic.  With shade protection in the summer and frost protection in the winter, a tomato plant can live for years UNLESS a severe frost occurs (like last year).

So, I will baby this little tomato plant (and the 3 others that also came up) and provide protection from frost this winter.

I will let you know how they do.  If they survive, I will have a huge head start on growing tomatoes next spring πŸ™‚

How about you?  
Have you planted any vegetables this fall?

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.

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.

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

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.

Decisions, decisions….

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 πŸ™‚

 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.



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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 πŸ™‚
 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.

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….

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

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So, how about you?  
Do you have any strategies for dealing with the summer heat when you garden?
 

Believe it or not, it is time to plant certain kinds of vegetables right now.  

Yes, I realize that it is August and it is hot and the last thing you probably want to do is have to plant seeds out in your vegetable garden.  


But, just keep telling yourself that by working a little bit now, you will reap the rewards of fresh vegetables in just a few months when the temperatures are cooler.

So what seeds can you plant now?  Here are some of my favorites….

Sweet Corn…
Yes, we can grow two crops of corn here in the desert – once in spring and in the fall.  Aren’t we lucky?
 
Cucumbers…
Mine are still going strong from the spring.  Mostly due to the shade cloth.  I am still getting cucumbers.  It is amazing what a difference shade cloth makes πŸ™‚
Leaf Lettuce…
I think this is my favorite vegetable.  I love going out in the garden with scissors and clipping our dinner salad.
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There are also other vegetables that you can plant now from seed and they include:
Basil (okay, this is a herb, but I do grow it in my vegetable garden)
 Cabbage
Celery
Green Snap Beans
Head Lettuce
and 
Summer Squash

It’s important to remember to start these from seed when planting this time of year.  However, if you prefer using transplants, you will need to wait until fall to plant.
So, do you have any plans for planting vegetables soon?
I would love to hear what you will be growing πŸ™‚