Posts

 Yesterday, I spent the morning on the family farm pruning apple trees.

It was a nice break from a very busy week of landscape consulting and I was looking forward to spending time with my mother, who resides on Double S Farms with my youngest sister and her family.


 The sun was rising up in the sky and the day promised warm temperatures in the upper 70’s with our unseasonably warm winter.

Now at this point, you may be noticing that the trees were already in flower and that we were getting to pruning them a bit late in the season.  Ideally fruit trees are pruned just before the buds begin to open.

But, even though we were pruning them late, it won’t make a huge difference and will improve the size and quality of our apple crop.


 You’ll notice that the apple trees are located behind a wire fence.  Well, there is a good reason for that…


 And their names are Sodapop and Johnny.

Soda is the daughter of our dog Missy, who passed away last year at the age of 13.

Johnny is a 3-legged doberman rescue dog who is so friendly and exuberant.

You see, the dogs love to eat the apples from the trees.  Especially Soda who does her best to reach them up high.  
You can read about Soda’s previous exploits here.

 The problem is that the seeds of apples contain small amounts of cyanide and if dogs consume too many, they can have problems.  So the fence is up, much to the dismay of Soda and Johnny.


Pruning trees is one of my favorite things to do and although as a certified arborist, I talk to my clients a lot about trees, I don’t prune their trees.  Instead I give them advice on how to prune them theirselves or refer them to a certified arborist company who does it for them.  So, my tree pruning is primarily focused on my own and my family’s.  

Armed with a pair of loppers, hand pruners and a pruning saw, I took a moment before beginning to smell the sweet fragrance of the apple blossoms.


In the midst of our pruning, my granddaughter, Lily, showed up.  She proved to be a good helper and moved the small branches into a pile.

We focused on cleaning out the interior branches, which are hard to get pick apples from.  In addition, we also pruned off some of the taller branches so that come apple-picking time, we could more easily reach them.  Once we finished, we had pruned away a quarter of the tree, which will allow it to focus its resources on growing the remaining flowers, which will turn into apples.
For info on how we have pruned fruit trees in the past, click here.


My mother took a few of the cut branches and brought them inside and put them in a vase where they will offer beauty and fragrance indoors for a few days.


Now it was time to turn our attention to the vegetable gardens.  My mother has two large, raised beds where she grows a variety of delicious vegetables.  

Lily wanted to feed the chickens some lettuce from the garden.


The resident chickens of Double S Farms, love lettuce.


Next, great-grandma needed Lily’s help to pick a cabbage from the garden.  It was huge!  I only wish that I liked cabbage.

I asked my mother how she uses it and she told me that she uses it in soups, but blends it ahead of time so no one knows that it is in there.


Lily wondered if the chickens would like cabbage and it turned out that they liked it better than the lettuce.


Before leaving the gardens, Lily had to pick a flower.  Like many little girls, she loves flowers and carries them around smelling their fragrance.

The white petunias belong to Finley, my nephew, who gets a small plot in the vegetable gardens to plant what he likes.

As we got ready to leave, I noticed a beautiful, little bouquet made up of petunias on the kitchen table.  Who knew that petunias could make such a sweet bouquet?

Visits to the family farm are always refreshing and it was great to enjoy a morning out in the sunshine gardening.

Have you ever paused to think about the events of the previous month?


I seldom do, but the other day I was going through my recent photos and was surprised at how busy the past month of September was.  

Here are a few snapshots from September…

My daughter, Rachele, graduated from her Navy Seabee School and was able to come home for 2 weeks after being gone for 5 months.

The newest addition to our family, Penny is continuing to learn what is okay to chew and what is NOT okay to chew on.
I did quite a few different gardening projects for my contributions to the Birds & Blooms blog

Freezing mint into ice cubes.
Starting lettuce seeds indoors using recycled plastic containers.

Many of the events this month, were celebrations…

My friend and I gave a baby shower to the youth pastor and his wife at our church.  I made the cupcakes and she made the cookies.
My nephews, Dean & Danny, turned 3-years-old and the party was held at our house.

I made some new discoveries while doing landscape consults…

I love this Adenium that a client of mine had.  This plant is native to Africa, but she obtained this plant from a nursery in Tucson.  I think I may have to get one for my patio.
I was asked to consult on the landscape of a fellow blogger, Diana Elizabeth, who is a fabulous photographer by the way.  I loved this unusual combination of Mexican Honeysuckle, Pink ‘Katie’ Ruellia and Liriope along her front walk.
After spending some quality time at home with her dad, fixing her 1970 VW Bug, my daughter left for combat school in Mississippi.  Soon she will be permanently stationed in Southern California.

While my son, Kai, playing football in the backyard isn’t an unusual event – it was extra special this month because he has finally recovered from his hip surgery in early June and has ditched his wheelchair and walker.
I made my first television appearance, showcasing fuss-free plants for fall.  I was nervous, but in the end, I enjoyed it.
Last Saturday, I was asked by Wendy, the ‘Cupcake Queen’ if ‘AZ Plant Lady’ would make an appearance at our local cupcake shop.  So, I showed up with my husband and granddaughter in tow and we all enjoyed the delicious sampling of Gigi’s delicious cupcakes.


The month of September ended with a visit to our local nursery to buy some vegetable transplants for my edible gardens.  My granddaughter, Lily wasn’t too excited about the vegetables.  Instead, she wanted to stop and smell every flower she saw 🙂



Well, that is September in a nutshell.  This month promises to be a busy month in the garden.  Did you know that October is the best time of year to add most ornamental trees and shrubs to your garden?


So, get up and go outside where the weather is finally cooling down and start planting.

About this time of the year, I am busy helping my vegetable gardens transition into summer.  


That means pulling any remaining leaf lettuce.  Yes, it hurts to know that I now have to buy lettuce until next fall when I can grow it again.


Even though not all of my lettuce had bolted, none of it was edible.  Once the temperatures get up to 90 degrees, the lettuce turns bitter.



For the past 4 months, I have been harvesting a few carrots every few nights to include in salads or soups.

Now that it is getting hotter and some of the carrots are beginning to flower, it was time to harvest the rest of the remaining carrots.

I didn’t use the carrots that had flowered, since they had become woody inside.

You know, one of the things that I like about gardening is how unpredictable it can be.  The two carrots, above, were growing just 1 ft. away from each other.  

The garlic was already harvested and I concentrated on pulling out cool-season annuals that were serving as companion plants.


I love my crocs!
These nasturtiums were still blooming, so I will leave them until they begin to fade.


A quick check of my warm-season vegetables showed that my zucchini plant has its first fruit (yes, zucchini is technically a ‘fruit’).

You really have to check carefully for zucchini because they can be hard to spot.

I will have to get my mother’s famous zucchini bread recipe.


Tomatoes are hanging from the vine and will soon be turning red.

In my side garden, I have two new peach trees growing.


This one has 18 peaches on it.

I planted this peach tree in January.  Now, normally, you would want to ‘thin’ fruit so that there is only one fruit every 6 inches – this creates larger fruit.  But, I was so happy to see so much fruit on my new tree, that I just left them.

Since I won’t have enough to make peach jam, this year, I will use them to make peach vinegar.

I don’t just have peaches growing in my side garden…


My blackberry bush has ripe blackberries!

Originally, I hadn’t planned on growing blackberries in my garden, but my mother had an extra blackberry plant that she gave me last year, so I planted one.

I decided to go ahead and add more this year and planted 5 more bushes.

I only have the original blackberry bush covered in fruit because blackberries form on 1-year old growth.


My family wants me to use some of our blackberries to serve over ice cream.  

I was thinking of using them for making blackberry vinegar, which I’ll use to make salad dressing.

What do you think?  Ice cream topping or fruit-flavored vinegar?
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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


The newest vegetable bed is also home to…


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.


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…


Picking peaches and making jam!

How about you?
What is growing in your garden this spring?

Will you grow something different this year?

All three of these items played a part in how I spent my Saturday.  As I mentioned in previous posts, I spent Saturday over at Double S Farms which was one of the stops featured in the second annual Tour de Coops, which is a tour of chicken coops along with some vegetable gardens.

Okay, for the first item on my list – blue booties.  As you drove up to Double S Farms, you were greeted by the following sign…..

All visitors had to put on blue booties and clean their hands before entering.  This was because it is easy to accidentally carry diseases from one farm to the other.

As you can see, there were quite a few booties ready for visitors to put on.

There were so many visitors that day.  Well over 100 people came throughout the day.  Most were considering raising chickens and asked my sister, Chicken Farmer, many questions.

Some visitors already had chickens but were interested in seeing how others raised theirs.  I was so impressed about how much my sister knew about raising chickens in such a short amount of time.  It was just this past February that her chicks arrived in the mail.

**The pine cones were left there by some little visitors.

I don’t think that the chickens were too excited about all of the extra attention though.

 

Flo took longer than usual to lay her egg because people kept looking in at her.

The other chickens came up to visit us on the patio where we were sitting.



Lucy was looking around for some crumbs to eat while Effie was interested in the camera on the table…..

Both Lucy and Effie are ‘Easter-Eggers’ which means that they lay light blue eggs.  Flo lays brown eggs.  Effie was not looking her best that day because she was molting.

As the day went on, the second item in my list came into play – Hot Wheels.  While my sister and brother-in-law were kept busy answering questions about raising chickens, I had fun playing with my nephews.  

Little Farmer absolutely LOVES playing with his Hot Wheels cars.  He carries some of them around in a plastic toolbox.  He was kind enough to lend me some so that I could play with both him and Littlest Farmer…..

**By the way….a great Christmas gift for the little boy on your list would be an inexpensive plastic toolbox with some Hot Wheels inside 🙂

**Note to self…..do not leave your knitting out around a darling two-old…..they like to pull out your knitting needles 😉

I had a great time playing with the boys but I did have the chance to answer some questions about the vegetable garden….

 

The garden is covered in bird netting to help keep the chickens out – they love vegetables.  The garden is full of all different types of lettuce right now.

**Notice Little Farmer is holding a piece of wood he found on the ground?  Why is it that boys love to find bits of wood and carry them around?  It doesn’t really matter what the reason is, I was just wondering 🙂

Among the lettuce and young broccoli plants were Marigolds which drew quite a bit of attention from the visitors.  I explained that the flowers were not planted for looks, but actually help to keep harmful insects away from the vegetables.

So far, we were all having a great day, except for Soda….



She was not allowed outside to visit.  I’m sure she would have loved to and was thinking that she could persuade some of the visitors to throw her a ball.

 Some smaller people came over to visit the chickens as well along with their parents…..



My mother, Pastor Farmer, had fun showing these boys the chickens inside of the coop.  The boys were dying to collect some eggs and so she sent them each home with an egg.

The boys also spent a little time playing with my nephews…..



You know what?  There is just something so cute about a little boy in a cowboy hat and blue booties.

 Some of the neighbors were also interested in what was going on….





The chickens were a bit shy at times being the center of attention, choosing to hide behind the Texas Sage shrubs…..

 
 
I had a wonderful time on Saturday and after I left, I spent some time finishing decorating my house for Christmas.  Which leads me to the last item:
Have you finished decorating your house for Christmas?
 
 
The chickens have…..
I hope you all have a wonderful week and hopefully you have finished your decorating for the holidays 🙂

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had a great time with my in-laws, my brother and sister-in-law and my two new nephews.  All in all, we had 18 people at our house.  

I may have mentioned before that I am a planner.  Whenever possible love to prepare ahead of time, so I had all the tables set the day before Thanksgiving. 

I only use my grandmother’s china once a year at Thanksgiving.  Every time I use them, I get caught up in my memories of her.  The kids created place cards using turkeys they made out of their handprints.
I like to collect things, (just like my mother).  For example, I have a collection of refrigerator magnets from destinations around the world.  I also have a dish collection…..my grandmother’s china, my Irish pottery, my Polish pottery and a newer set from Holland.  My dish collection actually quite useful at Thanksgiving because I have three tables to set.
 Our dining room table is laid out with my Nicholas Mosse Irish Pottery.  I collected the pieces of this beautiful pottery during two separate visits to Ireland when I was fortunate enough to visit the factory.  I have also bought some pieces online as well. 

The silverware on this table was given to me by my mother-in-law, which makes it extra special to me.  I plan to give it to my future daughter-in-law someday, which is a long ways a way since Kai is only 8 years old.

Okay, no one likes to be seated at the kid’s table, right?  But, I decided to use a little psychology (it has been a very long time since I took it in college).  Last year, we received a gift of a small set of dishes from Holland from some friends who live there.  The plates are ringed with little pictures of Dutch houses.
Well, I thought they would work out great for the kid’s table and I told Gracie and Kai that only the people who sit at the kid’s table get to use the special dishes.  I also put out two candlesticks with two led candle lights and told the kids that there table was the only one with candles.  Well, they were just so excited about it and had to show everyone their special table.


My oldest daughter, Brittney, asked if she could co-host Thanksgiving with me.  Well, of course I loved the idea because she is a great cook and I can always use more help in the kitchen.


Besides cooking, our morning was filled with watching the Thanksgiving Parade then football.  Perusing the Black Friday ads and holding babies also filled our time 🙂
It is amazing at how quickly my brother has become a pro at handling babies.  We all love any opportunity to hold the babies.
My son-in-law and daughter started planning their early morning shopping for the next day while the turkey was cooking.


Our turkey cooked more quickly then expected so we played a little catch-up while my father-in-law sliced up the turkey.   My husband quickly made his delicious mashed potatoes.


My sister-in-law, Marisue, made sure the potatoes tasted just right.
Doesn’t she look fantastic just after giving birth to twins 9 weeks ago?  I still haven’t lost all the weight from being pregnant 19 years ago  😉
Our Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful, especially because so many family members brought their special side dishes.  I really like this newer tradition of ours so I can focus on making the turkey and mashed potatoes and stay relatively sane throughout the day.
Well, after a day full of delicious, high caloric food, I usually try to make myself feel better by preparing lighter fare over the next couple of days.  And so salad was definitely on our dinner menu for the next day.
Do your kids like salad?  It is not a favorite of my children.  Sure they like it better then cooked squash and some other vegetables, but if they had a choice, they probably would not eat it.  So whenever they ask what we are having for dinner, they try to mask their disappointment when I say “salad”.  Now I don’t just serve lettuce….I add chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, croutons and shredded cheese to the salad as well.
Each time I am preparing salad, the kids almost always ask if they can drown it in ranch dressing.  I usually say no and make my homemade vinagrette the same way that my grandmother used to make it with a combination of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, vegetable oil, sugar and salt.
Well, my kids have recently become very excited about eating salad.  What caused this turnaround you may ask?  Well, ever since we planted lettuce seeds this past September, the kids have eagerly waited to see the lettuce leaves grow larger and larger.  To be honest, it was funny to have my kids wait impatiently for our lettuce to grow large enough to make a salad with.
Well, the day finally came and I ventured out into the garden to cut some lettuce…..
Now Tobey is not allowed in the vegetable garden which is why we have fence around it.  He seems to think that when I open the fence that it is an invitation to come inside.  I chased him right out 🙂


There is just something so rewarding about cutting your own lettuce and spinach green from your own garden instead of buying it in a bag at the grocery store, which is what I usually do.


The salad was delicious and the kids asked for seconds.  Can you believe that?  I was happy that the lettuce was not bitter, which can happen if you do not irrigate properly.  So, our first experience with growing lettuce has been a success so far.

****I do hope you are enjoying this long holiday weekend with your family and friends****

As for me, today I will be busy decorating our house for Christmas.  Did I mention that I also have a collection of Christmas tree decorations from places I have visited over the years?  I know, I know – I am addicted to collecting, but I only have 4 different types of collections….so far 😉

One of the many things that I love about living in the desert southwest, is the ability to grow vegetables 12 months of the year.  Now I have mentioned before that I grew vegetables during college as part of required classwork out in a field owned by the school.  I have instructed clients how to grow vegetables and have planted vegetable gardens for others.  But I had never grown vegetables in my own garden.  I had not experienced the excitement and wonder of checking the garden each day to see my plants growing bit by bit, see the flowers form and leaves grow and culminate in vegetables ready for harvesting.  I did not know how much better vegetables taste when they are from your own garden. 

And so, I had not experienced any of this…..sad isn’t it?

Well, early last spring we decided to plant a vegetable garden.  The kids were so excited, but I must admit that I was even more so.  My husband, always supportive of my gardening endeavors, was not quite as excited as I was, but was more then willing to do a lot of the grunt work.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, any woman whose husband shovels manure for his wife, is blessed!
I won’t go into more detail about our spring/summer garden because I have written about it before and I don’t want to bore those of you who have already read it 😉  But for those of you who have not seen it,  you can read about our early adventures in the vegetable garden here.
Once September came, I was eager to plant winter vegetables.  Visions of broccoli, carrots, lettuce and cauliflower filled my head.   Before we planted our seeds, we added additional bagged compost and aged steer manure -both available at our local big box store.
Then it was time for planting.  Now a common problem for many gardeners, including me, is that my eyes are bigger then my gardening space.  So, I had to cut my list of desired vegetables to the following: broccoli, spinach, carrots, romaine lettuce, garlic, basil and bunching onions.
My daughter Ruthie and I planted the seeds and then eagerly waited to see tiny green leaves break through the surface.  They did within a few days and then the unexpected happened….birds got to them.  So we began again and spread bird netting on the top, which thankfully worked.
My tiny vegetable plants were growing beautifully, but they faced another hurdle.  I was leaving for two weeks on vacation and my 18 year old daughter was staying at home and therefore responsible to take care of my garden, including watering my vegetables.  Now those of you who are gardeners understand my trepidation.  House-sitters are not always super reliable when it comes to caring for your garden.  Couple that with the fact that my daughter has not shown any inclination towards gardening….at least not yet.  Between college, church and her job, she has little spare time.  I was worried that she my not take her watering responsibilities seriously.  I might have mentioned to her ahead of time that you can always tell if a vegetable garden has been watered correctly by the taste of the lettuce.  If the leaves are bitter, then there were periods of dryness.  I think that maybe made the difference, because when we returned from our vacation, my garden was absolutely thriving.
I was so thankful for how wonderfully my daughter cared for my garden.  The one thing in the garden that really surprised me was how tall my tomato plants had grown….they were over 4 ft. tall.
I had planted Marigolds throughout the garden to help ward off any undesirable bugs and so far they are working – doesn’t my lettuce look beautiful?.  I also planted some Nasturtiums for the same reason as well.  I am fast becoming a firm believer in companion planting.
I love carrots and will thin them soon once they grow a little larger.
I do not like cooked spinach.  But I love putting baby spinach leaves in my salads.  It is hard to not to grab some and eat them when I am out in the garden…..I just know that I will succumb to temptation soon 🙂
My broccoli is coming up too.  They may be too close, but I will wait and see for sure before I pull any out.

My basil is growing in front of my tomato plants.  Whenever I look at the two together, it makes me want to go and make marinara sauce.

In front of my lettuce is bunching onions (scallions) and the taller one is garlic.  Did you know that you plant garlic from garlic cloves?  You can even plant cloves or garlic you buy at the grocery store.  My kids thought that was so cool.
As hard as I try to have straight, neat rows of vegetables, I always fail.  But, that is really not the point is it?  Vegetables respond to fertile soil, sun and water….not whether or not they are perfectly straight 🙂
It may seem like the rows are too close together….I did follow the instructions of the seed packets, but I can always pull something out if it gets too close.  I would rather fit all I can in my vegetable garden then have large bare spots which contribute nothing to my table.
**I am somewhat proud to say that everything in my vegetable garden, with the exception of the tomatoes, marigolds and the garlic, were all grown from seed.**  I personally have nothing against buying transplants at the nursery and growing them, but your options of picking out certain varieties of vegetables is limited and it does cost more.  I recommend growing vegetables from seed and if some do not, then by all means….buy the transplants 🙂
*************************
Today, we are celebrating my daughter Gracie’s 9th birthday.  She wanted to have her party at our local pizza restaurant where she and her friends can enjoy all of the games.  I love the fact that I don’t have to have a sparkling clean house (I seldom do), I don’t have to prepare the food or clean-up afterward.  I did make the cake, which is something I do love to do.  

Happy 9th Birthday Gracie!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I am what many people would call a “planner”.  I absolutely love to plan things ahead of time…..trips, schedules, and my garden.  As the month of August begins to wane, it is time to start planning my fall vegetable garden.

As a child, I would enjoy sitting down with my dad’s newest Burpee catalog, looking at the newest vegetable and flower seed offerings.  Now times have changed and instead of looking through a paper catalog, I was looking at a ‘virtual’ online catalog of numerous seed company sites.  One that I especially like is Botanical Interests.   They offer high-quality flower and vegetable seed at reasonable prices.  Even if you do not purchase seeds from them, they offer extremely helpful growing tips for each type of seed that they sell.  I have seen them for sale at some local nurseries and they are also available online as well.

Okay, back to my planning.  I have cleaned out much of my vegetable garden, which leaves a tomato plant (which weathered the summer heat very well under shade cloth), a pumpkin plant that is growing mostly outside of the garden and a few basil plants.  The landscape designer in me loves nothing better than a mostly blank palette 🙂  Tuesday evening, found me at Double S Farms having our weekly dinner with family and my mother (Pastor Farmer) brought out a wooden chest full of seeds.  She had more than she needed and offered to let me have some.  *I am often blessed by the generosity of the residents (my mother, sister, and her family) of Double S Farms.

 

Needless to say, I was in heaven.  The different seeds were stored in tiny plastic bags and then placed inside of little Gerber baby food containers.  I opened the broccoli container and was so happy to find 4 different types of varieties to choose from.
I filled up my share of Ziploc bags with all different types of seeds.  Have you heard the phrase “My eyes were bigger than my stomach?”  Well, in this case, I believe that my eyes were bigger than my vegetable garden.  I know that I do not have room to grow everything that I would like, but I have some definite favorites that I will plant.
The time to plant many vegetables and flowers begins in September in the lower deserts and I hope to find room to plant the following…..
Broccoli
Garlic
Scallions
Carrots
Lettuce
I am not sure that I have room for the following, but they can also be planted in September in our area:
Beets
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Celery
Eggplant
Peas
&
Radishes
I have also decided to plant some companion plants to help attract beneficial insects and deter damaging insects to my vegetable garden.
 Bachelor’s Button / Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
I plan on planting Bachelor’s Button, Nasturtiums and Marigolds.  Each of these flowers can be directly sown by seed.
Bachelor’s Button can be planted September through November from seed and attracts many different pollinators to my garden.

Nasturtium is a powerhouse in the vegetable garden.  They repel damaging insects such as aphids, whiteflies as well as some beetles.  Another benefit is that insects that eat scale are also attracted by nasturtiums.  *A lesser-known benefit is that both the flowers and leaves of nasturtium are edible.  The leaves taste great with mixed salad greens and the flowers make a pretty garnish.

Marigolds are well known for their ability to repel damaging insects in the garden such as aphids, whiteflies, crickets and grasshoppers.  French Marigolds (Tagetes patula), also help to repel nematodes in the soil.  The bright flowers of all Marigolds attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Here are a few other great companion plants you may consider growing in and around your vegetable garden….

Alyssum (attracts pollinators, beneficial insects)
Basil (attracts pollinators, repels damaging insects)
Chives (repels damaging insects)
Coriander (attracts pollinators, repels damaging insects, attracts beneficial insects)
Lavender (attracts butterflies & bees, repels damaging insects)
Petunias (repels aphids)
Rosemary (flowers attract pollinators, repels damaging insects)
Thyme (attracts beneficial insects while repelling damaging insects)

I plan on preparing the soil in my raised vegetable garden by adding a mixture of compost and aged steer manure.  *If you are like me and do not compost (I really should), or have cows in your backyard (I really don’t want any), you can buy both at your local big box store or local nursery.  I apply compost and manure twice a year – in in late summer and late winter.

Other types of manure that are recommended for vegetable gardens are chicken and horse.  Just make sure that they are aged and not fresh – fresh manure will burn your plants.

Nothing says “I love you” quite like a man who shovels manure for his wife’s vegetable garden.
I am so blessed 🙂 

**Many professional and amateur vegetable gardeners have their own special garden soil recipe and they all have great results using different ratios and types of compost, manure and other amendments.  What this really means to the backyard gardener is that there is no one ‘right’ recipe.  Rather, there are many.  The one overriding ingredient is compost.  Even if compost is all you use for your garden soil, you will grow great vegetables.


I tend to go organic when I work in my vegetable garden in terms of fertilizer, but I have been known to apply a slow-release synthetic fertilizer in the past.  If you decide to use a slow-release synthetic fertilizer, the labeling will tell you how long the fertilizer should last once applied.  However, in our warm climate, it will not last that long….cut the length of time in half to determine how long it will really last.  

 Big box stores are now carrying a wide variety of organic fertilizers.  I saw an organic fertilizer blend there just the other day that combined both bone meal, blood meal, micro-organisms as well as myccorhizae, which would work just great in my garden.  *Mycorrhizae is a fungus that forms an extremely beneficial symbiotic relationship with plants via their roots.


And so, this weekend will find me adding my semi-annual application of compost/manure and organic fertilizer to my vegetable garden and allowing it to rest for a week or so before planting my seeds, which will actually help the soil. 


I can almost taste my fresh grown vegetables…..


For more information about vegetable gardening including what and when to plant, you can check out this link.