Garden, Plant, Cook!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

FREE Seed Share, Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dear Folks,

My last FREE Seed Share at Mesa Urban Garden is this coming Saturday at Mesa Urban Garden (MUG).

Mesa Urban Garden
Saturday, February 25, 2017, 1:30 p.m.
212 East 1st Avenue (NEC Hibbert and 1st Avenue)
Mesa, Arizona 85201

I will be answering your questions on growing edibles in the desert.

You NEED to get your seeds in for spring/summer plants before the March temperatures gallop into the 90s.  Tomatoes particularly benefit and reward you with as early a planting as you can.

This will be MY LAST Free Seed Share until Fall.

. . .

UPDATE on my Poll

I asked for your votes on preferred digital access to my workshop "Growing & Using Herbs".

This is a 3 day workshop I have given in the past which covered, in 7-9 hours, all you need to know to grow culinary herbs successfully in the Desert Southwest and USDA Zone 9b and above.  Included is information on 48 herbs, pairing, companion planing, theme gardens and more.

81% of you favored a PDF manual with a slide show (PDF form).

I want to say a BIG thank you to all who took the time to vote.

I will be working on refining the workshop and let you know when it will be available for purchase.

In the meantime, come on out Saturday and Get Your Growing On!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Friday, February 17, 2017

My Publisher's Discount - Good Through February 20th

Dear Folks,

My publisher is offering a 20% discount off all PRINT books and calendars - does not apply to PDFs.

Enter code at checkout.  Case sensitive

GLOFEB20

My Publisher


Pictured is my Recipe book, containing over 150 recipes featuring herbs to flavor your meals and reduce salt and fat.

While this discount does not apply to PDFs the cookbook is available as a PDF.

Vegan and vegetarian as well as omnivore, delicious and healthy meal ideas.

Two recipes using Epazote from the book.

You can check out more of the recipes through the google books link here.



-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Where There's A Will, There's A Way! My Tools Can Help Your Success & A Banana Flower!.

Taken February 13, 2017
Dear Folks,

Success happens, sometimes, when we stand back and let it happen.

My Red Sales Lettuce sometimes picks its own spots.   As do my Alpine Strawberries.  They both tend to pop up - reseeding - in seemingly unlikely spots AND at times one might find less than best time.  Nature's like that.  But a little effort makes all of these "offerings" more likely when your gardens are hospitable to a thrown seed germinating in its landing spot.

However, mostly we need plants to do their best when we choose to plant or sow them.

Because we can garden year round, half of the success in our desert gardens and USDA Zone 9b and above is about planting at the best time for the varieties.  Our beloved edibles generally fall into whether they like their feet warm or cool.

It is fun to "push the envelope" for trying new things, seeing if you can start or extend the season beyond the "best" range.  But over all most of us need the plants to thrive and not merely survive.

I offer two tools for you depending on your current needs.

My new ebook Herb Planting and Pairing Chart is a simple table with optimal planting times on 48 culinary herbs.  Included in the ebook (PDF) are suggestions for pairing herbs and spices with various foods:   fruits, vegetables and meats.

$5 - click here to order - there is a preview available.

My month-by-month wall calendar shows what vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers to plant each month with gardening tips and maintenance helpful information.

$19.95 - click here to order - there is also a preview available

. . .

Around the garden.  Just spotted yesterday, we have a new banana flower!!!  I am particularly delighted because this time the flower is coming out at an optimal time (remember what I said about Nature) as the bud to ripe fruit takes about 4 months. In the past the flowers have come out just near the end of summer meaning the fruit would be ripening when we have our first frosts - not so good.  We have an early bunch of "hands" that are ripening right now on another plant -- each banana "tree" puts out 1 bunch, then begins to die back and/or put out baby banana plant "pups".  This would make 3 bunches recently!!



Have a great time in the garden and kitchen!!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Love Your Garden! Planting Tips for March

Dear Folks,

Spend some of Valentine's Day contemplating your garden!

Spring in the low desert can last a mere two weeks or so where we watch the day time temperatures zoom from a balmy 75-85 range to high 90s during March.  [Pictured - use chicken wire 'hats' to protect young seedlings or seeded areas from birds and other critters.]

Get your tomatoes in ASAP to ensure a nice fruit production and harvest before the hot summer nights (not day) temperatures keep the pollen from setting fruit.  (They start setting fruit again in September when those night temps drop back down below 80.)  [Pictured cardboard tube "collars" sunk 2 inches down to protect seedlings from slugs, snails and sowbugs.]

March PLANTING:
   
Artichoke, Jerusalem
Artichoke, Globe
Basil, Plant or seed
Bay, Greek aka Sweet
Bean, Lima
Beans, Snap
Beans, Soy (March 15th)
Bee Balm
Beets
Cantaloupe
Carrots
Catnip, Plant or Seed
Chives, Garlic, Plant or seed
Chives, Onion, Plant or seed
Corn       
Cucumbers
Eggplant
English Daisy
Epazote, Plant or seed
Hollyhock
Jicama
Lavender
Lemon Grass
Lemon Balm
Lemon Verbena
Marigolds including ,Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii), Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii)
Marjoram
Melons, Winter
Melons, Musk
Mints
Myrtle  
Okra
Onions, Green
Oregano, Mexican
Oregano, Greek
Peppers
Perilla, Plant or Seed
Portulaca
Pumpkin
Radishes
Rosemary
Safflower
Sage
Savory
Scented Geraniums
Squash, Winter
Stevia
Summer Squash
Sunflower
Sweet Alyssum
Tarragon, Mexican
Tarragon, French
Thyme
Tomatillo
Tomatoes
Watermelon

GARDEN TIPS for March
    If you are just now thinking about planting, see Flower Mulching technique. And run, do not walk, to purchase a water meter from your favorite garden nursery.  The gallop into high heat can occur this month with such rapidity that we can go 70 to 95 in 30 days. (In a rare occurrence, we hit a 100 one year on March 29th.)
    Get a jump on spring with weed cleanup.  Some pests breed on the winter weeds and can launch an incredible attack (a type of gnat can assume locus swarm proportions), which may cover everything light or white in color, plants, flowers, buildings, even clothes drying on the line.
    Perennial herbs will be starting to flower by end of March / beginning of April.  If you use thyme, marjoram, oregano or any of the trailing herbs as ground covers, enjoy the blooms, then give them a hair cut.  Remember the flowers are edible!
    HAIL!!!  Is a possibility in spring as the soil warms, and weather highs and lows bring alternating warm and cool air mass.  If you add winds to the mix HAIL is a strong possibility.  Keep your frost protection covers/poor man’s cloches handy.
    The pest bugs like our mild weather too with aphids a particular pest.  SAFE Soap Spray for aphids: 1 tsp each vegetable oil and Dawn to 1 quart of water.  Spray every 5 days at sunset at least 3 times.  DO NOT MISS a follow up spraying - spraying once will not take care of the aphid problem.  The 1st gets the active adults, the 2nd one picks up the just hatched and missed ones and 3rd one gets the stragglers.

Purchase moisture meter and learn the various evaporation / water use characteristics of your garden.  I consider these one of the desert gardener's BEST tools.  Instant read.

FLOWER MULCHING TECHNIQUE
    Some years ago I tripped across this idea when I wanted to grow a lot of basil fast, and I was planting late into the heat (late spring, early summer).
    First, what is going on that a special technique needs to be used?
    As the spring and summer day time temperatures climb into the high 90s and 100s, the surface of ANYTHING heats up and stays hot -- remember burning your feet on the pool surrounds?  By July and August the surface afternoon mean temperature of soil, the sides of pots, asphalt and concrete can be as high as 180 degrees F!  That includes the top 3-4 inches of soil.  Without a protective canopy or surround the soil heats up to root killing levels.
    So back to the basil.  It was June and as I say I wanted a lot of basil fast, and so I planted about 8 young starter basil plants out of 3-4 inch containers, planting them about 6 inches apart.  As I watched them over the course of a couple of weeks, the outer plants one by one died off.  But the 1 or 2 plants in the center not only lasted, they thrived.
    So what was going on?  The outer plantings shaded the sides of the center plants, but still allowed the very necessary direct sunlight from above to feed (photosynthesis) the center plants.  The outer plants leaves, while canopying the soil around the center plants also keep the soil surface cooler and moister until the center plants grew big enough to be their own canopies.
    My "Flower Mulching" technique was born.  Not wanting to sacrifice primary edibles, I turned to seasonal edible flowers to provide the initial protection.
    THE TECHNIQUE:  Imagine a 12 inch diameter circle.  Place your primary herb, vegetable or fruit plant in the middle and using 3-5 flowers from a six pack or 3-5 4 inch flowers plant very close to the primary plant staying within the imaginary 12 inches.  You can also plant the flowers first and then the primary plant, or you can use existing plantings to perform the same service.  Many of the flowers will survive to be used in salads etc. (which is why I choose seasonal edible flowers).  If the flower plants were not grown organically or without chemicals, wait 90 days before harvesting the flowers for food use.

 Have a fun month in the garden!


Share this post with your friends!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Catch Sun, Catch Water -- Same Thing!! And a New Herb Chart eBook.

Dear Folks,

Geoff Lawton, just shared in an email a great article on catching rain run off on your property.  Yes, Your Property!

Here is is a simple question in a simple context -- if we use solar panels to catch the sun's energy for use when we need it, why not catch the rain which falls on our property for use later when we need it?

[Picture:  The perspective is a little difficult to see, but some Greek Oregano is climbing the berm on part of our property.]

Our property is almost entirely bermed to where it could hold up to 3 inches of standing water, before overflowing to the driveway and away from the property.  As a result the recent rains we have had meant we stopped most watering over enough weeks that our water usage meant we skipped watering 3 weeks out of 4.

"Just as we discovered in California that sunlight falling on every rooftop can be harnessed to generate energy, right at the place it is used, we can capture the water that falls on those same landscapes for use where it’s needed. "

Read the article here

Introducing My Newest eBook!

Herb Planting and Food Pairing Chart for Desert Southwest & USDA Zone 9b+

I am Catherine, The Herb Lady and as such folks ask me about herbs, although my expertise now encompasses all edibles in the desert garden (if I ate it I wanted to see if I could grow it here :-)

Over my 30+ years of growing and using every herb I could try in my gardens, I have compiled a lot of information about growing those various herbs here.  Much of this information I have used in lectures over many years.

I decided it was time to put it into a simple planting time chart, with some additional notes if I have the extra information.  I also decided a food pairing list would also be helpful.

So without a lot of bells and whistles (I wanted to keep it simple and straightforward)  my ebook (PDF) is now available through my publisher for purchase and download.  $5 USD. 48 herbs are covered for your growing success.  This quick reference chart is in alphabetic order.

The cover is a compilation of some of the many herbs I have grown. The interior is in table form for the planting information.  The herb / food pairing is in list form.

Click here to order.  There is a preview of the first several pages.

I hope you find this handy reference helpful.  PDFs are viewable on all devices which have the adobe reader.

Have a great time in the garden and kitchen!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Perfect Sun-Tea Day Today, In the Garden, Free Seed Share Coming Up.

Dear Folks,

Today was the perfect day for sun-tea.

To 7 bags of organic green tea I added from the garden:

Dried Roselle; fig leaves and some Stevia.

In the sun for about 6 hours.  Love using our Arizona sun to create delicious things.

The color turned out so lovely and the taste is great!

FYI when you make sun-tea NEVER put sugar, honey or other sweetener (except Stevia) in while it is "cooking" in the sun.  There is a possibility of mold or bacteria forming with sugar type additions.  Add extra sweetness after you bring it inside and refrigerate the tea.

The beautiful stock is in full bloom now.  This edible flower is a member of the broccoli family.  The flower's scent is wonderful and very strong and the taste is mildly 'broccoli'.

These reseed every year in the garden.

I enjoy "recycling kitchen waste" into food.  I had to get some celery (organic) recently.  This is the now planted root base after 9 days.

You still have time to vote in my poll (upper right side bar) on what media form you would prefer my Herb Workshop to be.

I appreciate your taking the time to vote. Thank you.


Coming Up!

February 25, 2017 -- 1:30 p.m.
My FREE Seed Share and Q&A at Mesa Urban Garden
The garden is on the NEC or 1st Avenue & Hibbert in downtown Mesa.

Read more here.

With the lovely weather we are having, do not put your frost protection away just yet.  There is still the possibility of some frost and even hail as the soils warm and the various weather patterns bring in moisture, cool air and wind.

Have a great time in your garden!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Garden's Promise of Things To Come!

Dear Folks,

The garden is waking more and I look at our Florida Prince Peach blossoms as the promise of fruit later this spring!  This tree has been a true survivor - planted in 1997 - 20 years later!!  She has had some major issues and some aggressive pruning has re-energized her, still going strong.

The peaches will be forming later on which means thinning.  Always a tough job.  Watch my thinning video to help you understand the process.


There is still time to take my poll on my workshop.  I really want to know your preferences.  Poll closes February 14th.

Did you know you can pickle the baby peaches?  Check out my post on thinning and then pickling the baby peaches.  It is important to get them small - the proper time for thinning - before the pit starts to form.  I would consider lacto-fermenting them as an option to the pickling recipe I share in that post.

The peach-faced love bird is sitting on our Saturn (doughnut) Peach tree which has the first tips of buds just showing.  This tree is ripe about a month after the Florida Prince.

More promise of things to come.  My cinder block bed.  On the left is the potato section.  On the right I have a line up of tomatoes alternating with basils.  While I have recommended, and generally follow, letting the tomato plants sprawl rather than stake or cage them, this year I decided to try a "forest" of tomato and basil plants snugged together.  As they grow I will provide some support for the tomatoes, in addition to the basil plants themselves.  We will see how it "grows."

Pictured is my Pruden's Tomato in its cage - to keep the birds from digging and exploring while the plants get going stronger and bigger.  I started all of these plants in my green house in early to mid December, so they are nice and strong for transplanting now.  I will cover if we have some last minute frosts before the temps move more into the 70s-80s ranges.

BTW there are some nature's markers of when we have had last frosts (damaging kind) in the valley.  When you see consistent ant activity, and when Mesquite go into flower we are usually done with frost danger.

And speaking of fruit, I developed a Jam Bread (quick bread/cake) recipe a while back to take advantage of my canned preserves whether peach, apricot, cranberry or marmalade.

Most of the wonderful nut and fruit "breads" use some form of liquid plus fruit, so I thought why not just use homemade jams/preserves?  The liquid and fruit are already there plus sugar.  (I do add a bit more sugar to these recipes when making the bread, but go with your own taste preferences.)

I am VERY fond of those 5 minute (give or take) cake mug/bowl recipes for the microwave.  They suit us well since most of the time I am only cooking/baking for 2.  So I decided to adjust my original recipe down to a bowl in the microwave.  I think it turned out well. I cooked for 3 minutes, but the next time I will try for 2.5 minutes.  It tasted great but dried out a bit too much for our tastes -- of course real organic butter makes everything taste better -- but a more moist result is what I would like the next time.


My Jam Bread Cake in Microwave

1 egg
dash each (1/8 tsp) salt and baking powder
6 level tablespoons of AP flour
1 teaspoon oil
6 tablespoons of jam
1 tablespoon of sugar
4 tablespoons of chopped nuts

Beat egg.  Add salt and baking powder.  Add oil (use bit of oil to grease bowl).  Beat in flour.  Add jam and nuts and mix well.

Microwave until puffed - about 3 minutes.  Check at about 2.5 minutes. Toothpick should come out clean.


Click here for my original loaf version of the Jam Bread.


I hope you have a wonderful week in the garden and the kitchen with your bounty!
 
 
-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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