Tag Archives: garden

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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orache 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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basella_alba


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! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovage


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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Seeking botanical experience

Today I took someone to our beautiful Valley of the Sun to see a doctor. The Disney desert and irrigated tropical landscaping in the manufactured outdoor environment had a lot to offer today as I waited. It was sunny and calm breezy with lots of song birds! I stalked and safaried for a snapshot of a grackle and a hummingbird, but they were shy and playing hard to get. Here are some pics from the foraged retreat right next to the parking lot. I should have rallied the waiting room to join me outside! The appointment was about eyes so i thought I’d try seeing. Just waiting at the doctors office today were moments worth living.































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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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the end of march hoophouse

We built a hoop house with a raised bed next the the house at the end of last November. Meant to do it all summer long, but my sweetheart and I were just hating our jobs and putting it off. So, we finally got it up before the first snow. We quit the crappy jobs too, and have much more reasonable ones now, which is lucky.


The Thursday before xmas 2011, old friends came into town. We had planned to drive south out of the cold as is the wonder of AZ living, but we ended up just hanging out in the hoop house all day. I planted half the 8×15 foot space while my buddies knitted and schemed, all in summer clothes. Onions, garlic, parsley, red russian kale, spinach and bok choy.

Over New Year’s weekend I planted most of the rest of the space over a few days. Carrots, beets, cilantro, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel’s sprouts, swiss chard, and more garlic. Then, in the middle of January, I soaked and planted the pea seeds. Borage too! (can’t wait to candy the flowers, like I am always intending!)  A few days later I got two 55 gallon plastic barrels from a person I know who works at the pepsi bottling plant in town, to use as thermal mass. I think they had something sugary in them, so it took some rinsing. They warm up in the sun of the day and radiate heat out during cold nights.

The plants getting going:




There were moments of strife since we built the hoophouse; big winds dislodged the side and snow got in, and it sometimes makes a major thwapping sound when the winds gust. The leaves of all the plants have been solid with frost, and I imagine that its been down in 0 degrees F in there a time or two, but we’ve had no plants die at all. I’ve never tested the cruiferous and other cool-season crops to this extreme before, but they totally perform! There’s hardly been a brown or cripsy leaf edge. It survived two feet of snow. Our friend came over the swept it off because we were out of town for that storm. It was a little nerve racking to be away from all the big green guys during the true test of the pvc pipe construction.

The plants now. I tried to get the snow outside in the frame:







Now at the end of March, some of the bok choy is flowering and the spinach is getting ready to as well. We plan to save seed. The broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are just beginning to transform from just leafy into their mature and eventually delicious shapes. And, the beets are carrots have pretty substantial, if still baby, roots. We have been harvesting loads of veggies, having a huge salad or stir fry every day, and using fresh herbs in everything. I’m no longer a regular member of our local CSA that gets winter veggies from farms around the Phoenix area, because i have so much here at the house. ( they have a super storefront, that it do visit – regional asparagus and citrus!! – along with the health food store, since I love young coconuts and cashews and cacao other luxuries) The intense high desert sun has made the hoophouse a topical paradise in the day time. I spend weekend days in there with the sarong on.



ImageI’m getting ready to start tomato and peppers from seed in paper to-go coffee cups. I’ve been having friends save theirs for me. The hoophouse has proven to be my favorite way to garden in this extreme environment, so far. We’ll see how it continues to amaze as the seasons continue on. Seasons in Northern Arizona are different than what I experienced growing up in the northern plains. All winter its “winter-spring” back and forth. Then, we have “something weird with dry wind” where spring should go. Then, a hot and dry summer period, then “monsoons” that start after July 4th which feel like hot humid summer everyday until noon then heavy rains and then spring at night. Then rains continue into fall, and we do have a nice, but pretty warm fall after the rains quit. I can freeze during any of these seasons and the growing season tends to be very short. right when you are trying to get little seedlings to grow the dry winds are persisting. And we have gophers! But we made a chicken wire basket that we built the raised bend into. No one should be getting into this part of the garden from below!

I have a message with all of this sharing. If you can, figure out a way to make a hoophouse of your own. An internet search will yield better instructions than I can write, so surf on!

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