Category Archives: garden

Obsessive before-work weekend garden list

We’ll see how this goes…


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Transitions in the hoop house

Right now, I’m working on an experiment to try transplanting the more cool season plants out of the hoop house into the garden outside. Several weeks ago I did the red Russian kale and it seems to have finally adjusted and is growing more new leaves. It got totally buried in a freak snow storm, so I am quite proud of its progress. Today I transplanted the parsley outside and harvested a lot to dry. This weekend I plan to take the broccoli and Brussels sprouts out too as its getting pretty hot in the hoop house. We have it vented all day and night now.

Today I took out the cauliflower plants since I read they don’t often form side shoots once the main flower head is harvested like broccoli does. I picked the leaves off the plants and will be making them into ‘kale’ chips for our upcoming 5 day backpacking trip. We’re planning to juice the stems as well.

We harvested and ate all the beets over the last week or so. (pink number one and number two!!!) And, the carrots have been tested and seem totally ready to go as well.

The baby seedlings are growing well and some slow chile germinators are still joining in. We are ready to put some of them in the ground in the hoop house along with squashes, fennel and dill. We also have a second crop of chard coming up in the hoop house and planted malabar spinach. Yum! Now if I can only relax enough to let my friends take care of them while I’m gone!

I can’t wait to share more updates!












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Soap for safer grey water use

Did some research and found this soap that seems best for greywater use. In the high desert we just don’t have enough water to foul it all up. We have to maximize use of all of it, so we have the laundry water go outside onto the yard!




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Increased and improved germination

I am very excited to share that the use of the electric blanket under the seedling containers i talked about in a previous post (starting seeds indoors) seems to be dramatically increasing and improving germination. I started half the veggie seeds about a week before the second half. I only added the electric blanket under them when I started the second bunch. And that second bunch is sprouting much more quickly than the first bunch.


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Seeds are beginning to sprout

The seeds are starting to become seedlings! I think the habitat I made for them is to their liking!




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Starting seeds indoors

I’ve got 103 potential seedlings in these cups. 6 different cherry tomato varieties, 3 different chile types: one tepin type, and two high elevation New Mexico green chile types, a basil mix and eggplant. These are all difficult to grow in the 7,000 ft pine desert, but i have had success under the right conditions. We can see how it goes this year later in the season.


I popped a whole in the bottom of paper cups. I saved all the to-go cups I could and a devoted friend helped. She will be showered with seedlings for her loyalty!

I made a soil mix to try and match what we’ve got going on the in yard. Its rocky clay. We’ve tried to amend it with composted horse poop and our compost pile, but its still pretty rough conditions. My theory is to not make it too easy on them, so they aren’t as shocked when they go in the ground. We’ll see how that goes. I used a succulent potting mix combined with some local topsoil that was delivered for the raised bed for the hoophouse.


These clear plastic tubs were $4.5o. I used popsicle sticks so I can keep the names with the plants once they are in the garden. I’m going to see which varieties do best.








These seeds have a pretty high optimal temp for germination, about 85 degrees F for the tomatoes. They’ll grow at lower temps, but I think they just really like to be sure that they aren’t going to be screwed if they come out and its not warm enough for them to survive. I got an electric blanket on clearance  and put it under the plastic tubs to keep the seed cups warm. The blanket doesn’t get wet, so it’s safe.  I shouldn’t have to run it too long after the plants emerge, but its snowing today, so its pretty slick!



I keep the tops loosely on the plastic tubs so the warmth and moisture will stay in. Its working great.


And there they are, clean and easy, only taking up a little floor space in the bedroom. I can’t contain my excitement. Anyone who comes over, I immediately show them my ‘babies’. They’re all plant people so we all squeal with delight together.

I think that this is a reliable and streamlined approach to getting seeds going. I’ve had years of more rigged set ups and this is what my mistakes have taught me. PLUS>>> Its saves a lot of money compared to buying plants at a nursery and you’ll be able to start seeds that aren’t available there too. Please comment if you have other ideas!


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April winter storm


Seriously! I’m ready for the snow to be done! We didn’t get as much moisture as we needed this winter, so I’m thankful overall for the forest’s sake, but I was under the impression the storm was going to come tomorrow, so I’d have an extra day to get ready. But, there is really no point of being mad about things you can’t change…and its pretty beautiful outside. I have some pretty awesome indoor projects, too, so I can keep myself occupied, and tomorrow maybe a cross country ski is in store for me.


I did prepare for the snow in one way. I find that seeds of cool weather crops do even better emerging from a snow melt around here, and since April snows are not freak storms around here I’ve been able to test it a bunch of springs (or the transition times between our northern AZ seasons ‘winterpsringswinterspring’ and ‘something weird with wind’). We shall see. I planted bok choy, daikon radish, carrots, dwarf siberian kale, spinach and purple orach. I also transplanted red russian kale from the hoophouse outside several days ago. Check out the pics from that day further on down. Oh, and I planted malabar spinach in the kale’s spot in the hoophouse.


Here’s the sad pansy…it could bounce back, right…?


Here it is just a few days ago. I got a little over- excited and the warm weather!


Anyway, I had refried beans, corn grits, lacinato kale thinings and avocado for breakfast and I can face any superficial grief about the possibility of crispy brown pansies with grace and poise. I may even be able to face the merino wool sweater that accidentally made it into the dryer. If its tiny, I just can’t change it, so I’ll have to just relax.


Some kale transplants!


Arugula flowers!


Tiny lettuces coming up  in the cracks between walking stones. Thanks for reseeding yourselves!


Baby onions…seeded themselves, too!






Naking cherry bush.


Lovage! Celery taste. So strong!


More arugula.


Currant bush.


Gooseberry bush.


Obvious spring TULIP! Flashy!


Last fall I transplanted a hundred iris rhizomes from the backyard to the front yard. They are going to go off this year!


Oh, and here’s a bonus pic of the kale harvest before the transplant outside.


Hang on out there little guys! You can do it!

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Propagating impatiens from cuttings

I have a large impatiens plant growing in a pot in the kitchen. When I got it as a gift from a friend it was massive and a little leggy. I thought that it looked like a annual that I was familiar with. In high school I worked at a nursery selling plants of all kinds and designing and planting flower beds for cute old ladies, so I got to know several annual flowers, but this plant wasn’t flowering when I got it. My friend had told me that this plant has some local folklore. It’s said that houseplants all over town originated from cuttings from one plant that a local bike frame builder had at his house. Fun! Anyway, when it flowered I saw that it was impatiens! That’s how I learned that impatiens propagated well by cutting. Seems like lots of gatherers already knew that once I did a google search.

I love food gardening but flowers are a huge part of bringing in pollinators and just making the space pretty and calming to be in. I don’t know much about the annual flower production industry, but if I can skip the buying step, I imagine I can avoid some nasty fertilizer and over watering with the commercial system… Plus the trucking!!

So, I am going to grow several cutting in water to transplant outside later this spring. On the web I found lots of more complicated methods , but I know that these impatiens already root just fine in water and do fine being transferred into soil later, that’s what I am going to do.

It’s dry here so I’ll give an update later on success as they go outdoors.


Here’s the plant. I don’t have pics of the flowers but they are the classic single flower light pink.

Here’s an example of one that has been growing great in the water.

Here’s right before a make the cut

Here’s a little cutting in the jar

Here are several baby impatiens clones

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Florets are beginning to form on the broccoli! The cauliflower and brussels sprouts are getting huge, too! This is very exciting.


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