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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 🙂

 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 🙂
 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 😉
 
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 😉

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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 🙂
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 🙂
 

I have been very busy in both my kitchen and garden lately.

I have been busy preparing my San Marzano tomatoes for freezing so that I can use them in marinara sauce this winter.
On the other hand, we have been eating our fresh, sweet corn as soon as we pick it.  I usually cut it from the cob and lightly steam it.
I have also been busy making peach, plum and even strawberry jam.  This past weekend, I made some applesauce which I use for making special ‘Applesauce Spice Cake’.
I will share with you how I prepare my corn, tomatoes and jams in future posts.  But right now, I am getting ready to go to the doctor with my father-in-law, my husband, his sister and my mother-in-law.
My father-in-law is suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and he has a form that is moving very quickly.  We can see changes every week.
Both my mother-in-law and father-in-law have allowed us to be very involved with his doctor visits, which is both a privilege but is also very hard at the same time.
As the ‘in-law’ I am trying to do my best to be supportive to not only my father & mother-in-law, but also to my husband and his sister.  But, I am also having to deal with my own sadness.
Many of you will understand this as I have just recently come to realize….as often as we hear of people who are suffering from diseases and even those that are terminally ill, you never comprehend how truly horrible it is and how if affects not only the one who is suffering from the disease itself, but also those around them.
Last week, my son said that he can’t remember what his ‘Papa’s’ voice sounds like.  I am preparing for the time when my son realizes that his grandfather is going to die.
My hope and prayer is that he will live until early November.  Why?  Well you see, my daughter will be having a baby!  She is having a little girl and this is not only my first grandchild, but she will also be my father-in-law’s first great-grandchild and he is so excited.
I am so thankful that throughout this time of sadness, that there are also things that bring joy to my life, including my garden and most especially a new life 🙂