Garden, Plant, Cook!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

November Planting Tips

Dear Folks,

This is a bit later than usual because I am sure, like many of you, are trying to figure out 1) the weather going forward vis-a-vis the garden, and 2) how to "do" Thanksgiving without undue stress.

[Mums blooming and they took their time opening up because of the up/down.  Start off red and wind up red and gold.]

A BIG challenge to something that should be a comforting routine.

The weather is 'perhaps' going into what would be normal temperature ranges for the next 2 weeks.  With that said, pay attention to overnight temperature projects.  If the forecast is 40 or so - get your frost protection covers ready to protect tender plants such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  Lettuces and the root vegetables do not "usually" need protection, however I have seen Kale bitten by frost after a particularly cold night.

"Spotted" a Spotted Towhee for the first time in the garden.  We saw a 'streak' a few days earlier and could only see the black head and thought it was one of the grey striped black birds.  Then s/he bounced around more.  The movement before we got a good look at it was definitely Towhee, but the blackbird detail did not fit.  Then we were able to get a good ID on it as it moved closer to the house.

There was a common Towhee in the garden that we watched with sadness.  It was blind in one eye and the other eye was not good either.  It seemed to find the seed okay, but we knew it would not fare will.  Did not see it after that.


One more critter.  I have propensity for spotting an insect when I am inches from it!  This praying mantis was no different, like close enough to get bitten. No problem here so I went and got the camera. :)

There is a collage of this gorgeous Moulin Rouge Sunflower further down this post. 

Okay. Now, to the Gardening for November.

Somewhat the same as October. Continue to successive sow root vegetables, loose leaf type greens and herbs like cilantro, dill, and chervil.

November PLANTING:

Anise
Asparagus
Bay, Greek (Sweet)
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cabbage, Ornamental
Caraway
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chamomile
Chard
Chervil
Cilantro
Dill
Endive (and Chicory)
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit Trees
Garlic (only as green garlic)
Greens
Horseradish
Kale, Ornamental
Kale
Kohlrabi
Lavender
Lemon Verbena
Lettuce
Marjoram
Mints
Mustard
Myrtle
Onions, Green
Onions
Oregano, Greek
Oregano, Mexican
Parsley
Parsnip
Peas
Radishes
Rosemary
Sage
Savory
Spinach
Tarragon, Mexican
Tarragon, French
Thyme
Turnips

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:

Calendula
Carnation (Dianthus)
Chamomile
Cornflower (Bachelor Buttons)
English Daisy
Hollyhock
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Johnny-Jump Up
Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Nasturtiums
Pansies
Primrose
Scented Geraniums
Shungiku Chrysanthemum
Snapdragons
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet Alyssum
Sweet William (Dianthus)
Violet

GARDEN TIPS for November
    First frost date average is around November 17th.
    Frost in the Valley at the 1100 or lower elevations is usually limited to ‘soft frost’ where simple cloth sheets or paper placed over sensitive plants (or moving potted plants beneath patios or trees) is sufficient to protect them.  Never use plastic covers as the plastic transmits the cold to the plant tips.
    For every 1000 feet over 1100 in elevation the first frost day is moved forward 10 days.  The possibility of hard (killing) frosts starts to occur, although at 2000 feet or lower this is still a rare occurrence.
    Frost pockets in the Valley can surprise gardeners.  As a matter of practice, if the weather forecasters predict an overnight temperature of 40 F, I prepare for frost by protecting my sensitive plants with cloth or paper covers This is because heat retention by buildings and walls dissipates by early morning (4 or 4:30 a.m. to dawn the temperature can drop 8 degrees plus or minus).
    Frost danger continues until about mid-February.
    Cool weather annuals and biennials can be sown every 2-4 weeks (beginning in August) through the end of November for a continuous crop through next spring.
    November through January can be a ‘rainy’ season for the desert. You can usually hold off on regular watering if you have received a half inch or more of rain within 2 days of normal watering days.  Make good use of your water meter to determine soil moisture. 
    If rains are heavy this month, in addition to foregoing some water days, you may need to put down Ironite or green sand to compensate for mineral bonding (which makes iron unavailable to the plants) due to both the excess water and the cold soil.

FROST DAMAGE
The best way to think of frost damage on your edibles is the damaged plant material is now a partial protective cover to the underlying growth.

As mentioned in prior notes, frost damage in the lower desert gardens is usually limited to 'soft' frost which is controlled by simply putting cloth or paper covers over the plants at night, or if containers, moving them under evergreen trees or onto the patio.

IF, however we get hard or killing frosts, of extended periods or days, die-back will occur even on protected plants.  The reason is the radiant heat retained by structures and even the soil dissipates completely, leaving the plants exposed to too-cold air.

Whether the frost damage is from soft or hard frosts if the plant is still alive DO-NOT-REMOVE-THE-DAMAGE.  Doing so risks damaging the growth still alive under the top die-back.  I don't remove even dead plants until spring.  I have found basil seedlings coming up under a large dead basil plant killed off by a hard frost.

Obviously we like our gardens to look pretty most of the time, but selectively resisting the urge to pull something a little bedraggled gives you, the gardener, access to earlier production of the warm weather plants because of their larger root systems.

Herb Soup
From the book : “101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady” - by Catherine Crowley

    A wonderful blend of herbs, lettuces, croutons and cheese. The beauty of this soup, besides its fabulous flavor, is the ability to vary the herbs, lettuces, croutons and cheeses for different flavors. I developed this recipe from Provencal soups.

1    shallot, finely chopped
2    tablespoons butter, unsalted
4    cups mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used Thai basil, cilantro, parsley, see note below*)
1    package spring lettuce mix (or your own grown greens)
1    teaspoon coarse salt
1/8    teaspoon black pepper
6    cups boiling water (can use broth - but try the water the first time)
6    cups croutons (any stale bread diced will work too - some day-old nice artisinal breads would be great for this)
3/4    cups Parmesan cheese

    Set aside 1/2 cup each of herbs and lettuces for garnish. Divide croutons and cheese into 6 soup bowls.
    Saute shallot in butter for 1 minute. Add herbs, salt, and lettuces all at once and cook—stirring for 5 minutes. Add boiling water, cover and simmer for 15 minutes—stirring occasionally. Ladle greens and broth into soup bowls. Add garnish of herbs and lettuces to each bowl. Serve and enjoy. Serves 6.
    *Traditional recipes call for sorrel and chervil or any combination you like - the Thai Basil has a tarragon aspect to it which mimic the chervil with a kick and cilantro's citrus back-note mimic the sorrel.

 

Here is the collage of my Moulin Rouge Sunflower. The seeds are not always easy to come by and as this is a hybrid the seeds from these flowers would likely not give the stunning color.

The left image is before the sun gets on it and the right is when the sun is starting to back-light the flower. The pictures were taken 5 days apart and you can see the flower opened more and the tips just starting to get a bit of a gold caste to them.  That is continuing through today (November 22nd) with more of the flowers on the planting starting to open.

I hope you have a wonderful, safe and comforting Thanksgiving.

Be kind, be patient, take care of yourself and each other.

Catherine

If you need some gifts for gardening friends in Arizona or USDA 9b my books are available through the links on my website.

 

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Thursday, November 05, 2020

Blue and Red from the Garden, a bit of white.

Dear Folks,

I posted on FB a day or 2 ago. "I don't know if I am alone in my perception of what is going to go for the next 48 hours, but I decided a ping-pong facts fest is not what would bring me any satisfaction."

SO, I decided to occupy myself with garden and cooking. (I made a squash, apple, onion, saute last night. Oh was that good!)

The blue and white Blue Butterfly Flower harvest the other day was one of the biggest I've had, now drying in the frig. The plant is frost sensitive so I think it knows we may be dropping temps in the next couple of days.  When we had the cool nights a week or so ago, it produced almost no flowers. Here is the link to the November planting where I also wrote about this amazing antioxidant flower.

On to the red. Time to harvest my Roselle (hibiscus sabdariffa).  This high antioxidant "fruit" is the swollen calyx of the flower.  I got my seeds in late, but the hot summer (it LOVES the heat as long as it has enough water) pushed maturity to the normal times.

Harvesting has to be done by hand (in my opinion) because of the very tiny, tiny fly with burrows really tiny holes in the "petals" and can damage the interior.  The other problem is potential for mold. So the whole fruit must be opened and inspected.  I am showing the juice on the scissors from cutting the fruit off.  I use them so I don't damage the other buds near by.


If you look at the picture at the top of this collage, you can see the dimple of where the insect bored in.  The next picture shows the mold I need to watch out for. Sometimes the whole fruit is damaged, sometimes just a few petals.  The whole "seed head" has to be removed.  Later on I will let many of these completely dry on the plant and havest the seed for re-sowing next late spring.

The last picture shows all the discard, bad petals and the immature seed heads.  It amount to about 40-45% of the harvested fruit.


Finally the real harvest.

The petals are rinsed and ready set out to dry in the sun. It will take several days as our temps are going down. I bring the trays in every night to keep the petals from re-absorbing moisture.

The whole harvest from cut to on the trays took about an hour.  Time well spent. Once completely dried I will store them for teas and baking.  I love using this tangy cranberry flavored fruit for making sweet nut and fruit quick breads (aka cake).  Later on if I have room in the freezer, I will harvest more fresh and freeze them.  I lay foods like this on a tray in the freezer to individually freeze, so I can put it in ziplock or container and just pour out what I want to use without them freezing together.

BTW the petals will stain you hands red, but the red rinses off with soap and water.

Both the Blue Butterfly Flower and the Roselle impart gorgeous color to beverages and food (yes they can be used to color food), BUT the Blue Butterfly Flower color is impacted by acid.  So one of the fun things that people do when they make the beautiful blue tea is to squeeze a bit of lemon or lime into it and watch it change to pink or purple!!!!!

One of the things I am going to try, when I have some of both dried, is to combine them and see if I get a different color. :)  Since they are so good for you with all the antioxidants it will be a fun experiment and won't be wasted whatever color it becomes.

Be kind, be patient and be nice to yourselves and each other,

- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

November Planting Tips and a new-to-me flower I am over the top on.

Dear Folks,

Not of lot of exciting or good stuff to discuss, except for this flower -- Blue Butterfly.  See at the bottom, after this month's sowing/planting tips. This are so blue it is tempting to dismiss them as artificial.

November PLANTING:

Do yourselves a favor and harvest tender herbs --before first frost -- typically November 17th, but who knows this year!! Along with other greens to make the "Herb Soup" recipe at the end of the planting tips.  You will love it!

Anise
Asparagus
Bay, Greek (Sweet)
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cabbage, Ornamental
Caraway
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chamomile
Chard
Chervil
Cilantro
Dill
Endive (and Chicory)
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit Trees
Garlic (only as green garlic)
Greens
Horseradish
Kale, Ornamental
Kale
Kohlrabi
Lavender
Lemon Verbena
Lettuce
Marjoram
Mints
Mustard
Myrtle
Onions, Green
Onions
Oregano, Greek
Oregano, Mexican
Parsley
Parsnip
Peas
Radishes
Rosemary
Sage
Savory
Spinach
Tarragon, Mexican
Tarragon, French
Thyme
Turnips

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:

Calendula
Carnation (Dianthus)
Chamomile
Cornflower (Bachelor Buttons)
English Daisy
Hollyhock
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Johnny-Jump Up
Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Nasturtiums
Pansies
Primrose
Scented Geraniums
Shungiku Chrysanthemum
Snapdragons
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet Alyssum
Sweet William (Dianthus)
Violet

GARDEN TIPS for November
    First frost date average is around November 17th.
    Frost in the Valley at the 1100 or lower elevations is usually limited to ‘soft frost’ where simple cloth sheets or paper placed over sensitive plants (or moving potted plants beneath patios or trees) is sufficient to protect them.  Never use plastic covers as the plastic transmits the cold to the plant tips.
    For every 1000 feet over 1100 in elevation the first frost day is moved forward 10 days.  The possibility of hard (killing) frosts starts to occur, although at 2000 feet or lower this is still a rare occurrence.
    Frost pockets in the Valley can surprise gardeners.  As a matter of practice, if the weather forecasters predict an overnight temperature of 40 F, I prepare for frost by protecting my sensitive plants with cloth or paper covers This is because heat retention by buildings and walls dissipates by early morning (4 or 4:30 a.m. to dawn the temperature can drop 8 degrees plus or minus).
    Frost danger continues until about mid-February.
    Cool weather annuals and biennials can be sown every 2-4 weeks (beginning in August) through the end of November for a continuous crop through next spring.
    November through January can be a ‘rainy’ season for the desert. You can usually hold off on regular watering if you have received a half inch or more of rain within 2 days of normal watering days.  Make good use of your water meter to determine soil moisture. 
    If rains are heavy this month, in addition to foregoing some water days, you may need to put down Ironite or green sand to compensate for mineral bonding (which makes iron unavailable to the plants) due to both the excess water and the cold soil.

FROST DAMAGE
The best way to think of frost damage on your edibles is the damaged plant material is now a partial protective cover to the underlying growth.

As mentioned in prior notes, frost damage in the lower desert gardens is usually limited to 'soft' frost which is controlled by simply putting cloth or paper covers over the plants at night, or if containers, moving them under evergreen trees or onto the patio.

IF, however we get hard or killing frosts, of extended periods or days, die-back will occur even on protected plants.  The reason is the radiant heat retained by structures and even the soil dissipates completely, leaving the plants exposed to too-cold air.

Whether the frost damage is from soft or hard frosts if the plant is still alive DO-NOT-REMOVE-THE-DAMAGE.  Doing so risks damaging the growth still alive under the top die-back.  I don't remove even dead plants until spring.  I have found basil seedlings coming up under a large dead basil plant killed off by a hard frost.

Obviously we like our gardens to look pretty most of the time, but selectively resisting the urge to pull something a little bedraggled gives you, the gardener, access to earlier production of the warm weather plants because of their larger root systems.

Herb Soup
From the book : “101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady” - by Catherine Crowley

    A wonderful blend of herbs, lettuces, croutons and cheese. The beauty of this soup, besides its fabulous flavor, is the ability to vary the herbs, lettuces, croutons and cheeses for different flavors. I developed this recipe from Provencal soups.

1    shallot, finely chopped
2    tablespoons butter, unsalted
4    cups mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used Thai basil, cilantro, parsley, see note below*)
1    package spring lettuce mix
1    teaspoon coarse salt
1/8    teaspoon black pepper
6    cups boiling water (can use broth - but try the water the first time)
6    cups croutons (any stale bread diced will work too - some day-old nice artisinal breads would be great for this)
3/4    cups Parmesan cheese

    Set aside 1/2 cup each of herbs and lettuces for garnish. Divide croutons and cheese into 6 soup bowls.
    Saute shallot in butter for 1 minute. Add herbs, salt, and lettuces all at once and cook—stirring for 5 minutes. Add boiling water, cover and simmer for 15 minutes—stirring occasionally. Ladle greens and broth into soup bowls. Add garnish of herbs and lettuces to each bowl. Serve and enjoy. Serves 6.
    *Traditional recipes call for sorrel and chervil or any combination you like - the Thai Basil has a tarragon aspect to it which mimic the chervil with a kick and cilantro's citrus back-note mimic the sorrel.

Blue Butterfly flower/vine

Amazing blue color!

The flowers, leaves, young shoots and tender pods are all edible and commonly consumed, and the leaves can also be used as a green colorant.  "It also contains Delphinidin an anthocyanidin, a primary plant pigment, and also an antioxidant.  Delphinidin gives blue hues to flowers in the genera Viola and Delphinium. It also gives the blue-red color of the grape that produces Cabernet Sauvignon, and can be found in cranberries and Concord grapes as well as pomegranates, and bilberries." -- wikipedia

It is a member of the legume, Fabaceae family, with the unusual name of Clitoria ternatea.

It is subtropical, so wait until last frost to sow. I would recommend direct sowing in the ground rather than pots first.  Direct sown seeds do not germinate with the high percentage of pot-sown, but the ones that do are usually quite a bit stronger and healthier.

I direct sowed the seeds March 21, 2020 and it started to sprout on March 31st.  I started harvesting the flowers on September 23rd and the plant is still pushing out flowers each morning.  I realized too, I need to leave some flowers on to produce seeds! :)  The vine is in a mix shade and sun location, with dappled sun and afternoon sun..  I have a friend who is growing in the sun.

This plant is native to

equatorial Asia, including locations in South Asia and Southeast Asia but has also been introduced to Africa, Australia and the Americas.

Butterfly Pea Vine Seeds Names: Rich Royal Blue, Clitoria ternatea, Bunga telang -- Uses:  Edible/Tea and Decorative, Butterfly Garden/Host Plant

Fun Fact:  "The flowers have more recently been used in a color-changing gin Blue in the bottle, it turns pink when mixed with a carbonated mixer such as tonic water due to the change in pH. As organic colours are not permanent, this type of gin is recommended to be stored in a dark place to maintain the effect." - wikipedia

Go to Youtube and search for blue butterfly flower and up comes a host of drink, tea and even cocktail ideas.  Anything like lemon or lime will turn the blue color pink or purple.  I am providing some steep liquid for a family member to make blue ice cubes for folks to add to lemonade.  I suggested she slip a cube into someones ligh beer in a glass :)

1 to 1.5 teaspoons per cup to make tea.  Steep at least 5 minutes or longer for a darker color.

In the collage, I started the steep, took a picture at 5 minutes and again at 10 minutes.  The color was not deeper.  I used 5 fresh flowers as a baseline to see what kind of color I could get.  I will be using dried flowers for the ice cube event.

If you are looking for a fun, beautiful and unique flower to grow, give this a try. 


Be nice to yourselves and each other, be kind and patient (sometimes hard to do with everything going on), share what you have, and don't forget to garden!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

 

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Friday, September 25, 2020

Celery, in the desert garden. Yes please! And Nature Helps.

Dear Folks,

This summer.  In some ways there are no words to fully describe all of the things that were different, troubling, and in one case a surprise, a good one.

Two of my wild apple trees grown from seed (germinated December 2018) appear to have succumbed to the intense and prolonged heat. Other plants as well. I will write up some of that in another post.The picture is of my celery bed (aka greens bed - more on that below) taken September 10th.  I little crinkly around the edges on some of them. 


However, by harvesting from the center area, I can get these lovely additions to salad etc., while the outer stalks and leaves of the plants shelter the interior growing area.

AND, that is the key to why my celery has been growing lushly since mid-winter (sown and re-seed volunteers last fall).


Here is the greens, herbs and celery bed in March.  I outlined (forgive my awful drawing skills) the celery in some ,so you can easily see them among the various lettuces and herbs. I treat this bed as a cut and come again, harvesting what I need as I need it.  Sometimes I just go out with my scissors and cut 2 inches or so off the top straight across the bed. Sometimes I just go out and cut what stalks and leaves of celery I need.

By June most of the lettuce type greens had blasted or died back.  The celery then took over the bed (top picture).

I have long written about density of planting/sowing for the warm/hot weather.  The density shields the soil surface from direct sun, minimizes evaporation, keeping the root area cooler. The density also creates a shield to the "sides" of the interior plants.

Because the celery began to take over the greens bed in earnest in late spring/early summer, I let it.  The reward was an amazing bed of celery that was about 4 feet wide and 2.5 feed deep.

I have been growing celery for a number of years, letting it self-sow and adding some seeds here and there. Up until this year I usually only had harvestable celery until about late May.

I intentionally sow celery and other greens Sept/Oct.  Usually the self-sown plants are showing up about this time (late September).


Now it was time to do some clearing out so I can sow the new greens bed.

I removed all of the celery plants except for a row towards the front of the bed.  I composted or cut and dropped in another bed nearby.  I do dry some of my celery, but this is too much.

I placed the pruners so you could see the size of the plants and the roots.  I do need to do some experimenting with using celery root in recipes.

This was September 12.  I leveled the bed readying for the seeds.

Normally I scatter the seeds, but this sowing time I decided I wanted a more colorful array of the greens so I decided

to sow in rows.  As the season(s) go forward I may add more in between.   This picture was taken September 15.


On September 23rd the bed looked like this. You can see parts of the row of celery in the front there (bottom of the picture).

So, some helpful information.  I actually have a couple of areas where the celery flourishes.  This one is north of a couple of trees, which keeps the plants early growing time more in the shade with some morning sun and a bit of filtered western sun.

Once the sun moves to summer south, there is more direct sun.  As this bed is the largest, the density was the most helpful.  Go back up and look at the opening picture.  You can see the crispy leaves are on the outside for the most part and that is point about density. Think of it as the plant being its own "nurse" plant protecting the inter growth from the heat intensity.

By keeping the plants generally pruned back, not letting the flowers and seed heads form, they continue to push out new growth.

I hope you give celery a place in your garden, so you too, can enjoy an almost constant access to this flavorful addition to many, many dishes.

Have a best day.

Be patient, be kind to yourself and each other, and share,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

 

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

October Planting and Sowing Tips - September 22nd First "Official" day of Fall

Dear Folks,

I love finding critters in my garden.  I always seem to come on them quickly - almost on my nose!  I was inspecting my Avocado Tree and noticed an off formation.  Bingo, nice Praying Mantis.

I cleared out much of my celery bed.  I am going to share a celery specific post  next, so watch for it.  If you love celery and live here in the valley this should be a must read for you.


Anyway, while getting ready  to clear the bed, I notice a volunteer Red Romaine seedling.  Some of the celery story will be about volunteer seedlings from prior seasons.  Because I keep this "greens" bed dense and well seeded, the plants throw a lot of seed at the end.


We have a lot of birds and I still have a bunch of sunflowers attracting many birds.  The Lessor Goldfinch is a frequent visitor and was lucky enough to get a picture of one of the males eating a seed.  They also "harvest" tiny bugs which live in the sunflower heads.

First Day Of FALL!

I am sure, like me, most of you will be happy to see the heat go AWAY!  In normal years I enjoy the summer and it takes all summer long to look forward to fall.  This year with the "quagmire" of life created by covid 19, some health issues in my family and the "ennui" that seems to have settled on me, I am hoping the cooler temps, and less wildfires and smoke, will bring a literal breath of fresh air.

We should have been seeing more 90s days in the last week or so but the Smoke is keeping the heat in longer.

I have started seeding in things like root vegetables and the greens bed I mentioned above.  Sowing a seed or seeds always brings me such hope and satisfaction.

October brings major sowing and perennial planting options.  Get your cool weather herbs and root vegetables started now along with the greens and plan on re-sowing repeatedly every 2-4 weeks depending on how much you like your choices.

Fruit trees are planted best in October to maximize root development during the cool months.

Plant your Garlic in October - I try for about Oct 1st but if you get the cloves planted by Oct 31 you will have enough cold soil to give the plants enough time to form good heads in spring.

Jump into your garden and feel revitalized and renewed!

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day.  You don't need to be a vegan or vegetarian to appreciate all the wonderful options from your gardens. Plant something new and find new recipes for old favorites.

 October PLANTING:

Spring!!! in the Desert - Heavy planting possibilities:

Anise
Bay, Greek (Sweet)
Beans, Fava
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage            
Cabbage, Ornamental
Caraway
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chard
Chervil
Chrysanthemum, Shungiku
Cilantro
Dill
Endive (and Chicory)
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit Trees
Garlic
Greens
Kale, Ornamental
Kale
Kohlrabi
Lavender
Lemon Grass
Lemon Verbena
Lettuce (arugula, leaf lettuce etc.)
Marjoram
Mints
Mustard
Myrtle
Onions, Green
Onions
Oregano, Greek
Oregano, Mexican
Parsley
Parsnip
Peas, English and Sugar/Snap
Potato seeds (not seed potatoes - use seeds) ("seed potatoes" or cut pieces of potato should be planted Nov 1-Jan 1)
Radishes
Rosemary
Sage
Savory
Spinach
Tarragon, Mexican
Tarragon, French
Thyme
Turnips

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:

Calendula
Carnation (Dianthus)
Cornflower (Bachelor Buttons)
English Daisy
Evening Primrose (Oenothera Berlandieri)
Hollyhock
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Johnny-Jump Up
Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Nasturtiums
Pansies
Primrose
Scented Geraniums
Shungiku Chrysanthemum
Snapdragons
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet William (Dianthus)
Sweet Alyssum
Violet
           

GARDEN TIPS for October
"Spring in the Desert" - we call fall our spring because this is when we do most of 'heavy' garden work, trees, shrubs and cool weather edibles all go in now.
    The beginning of primary perennial planting season is now through February.
    Cool weather annuals and biennials can be sown every 2-4 weeks (beginning in August) through end of February for a continuous crop through next spring.
    Garlic: Plant garlic cloves no later than October 31st to ensure full maturity of garlic heads in the spring.  Plant extra if you want ‘green garlic’ (used like scallions) through the cool months. The ‘green garlic’ can be harvested when the clove below the soil swells slightly.
    This is the beginning of bare-root planting season. Asparagus, raspberry, blackberry, grape, and strawberries may start showing up in your favorite garden nursery.
    If you have ever-bearing berry vines, cut them down to the ground after the fruit is finished. (This is easier than trying to keep track of which are the oldest canes — commercial growers use this practice.)
   
Aphids are a major problem with cabbage family - forestall infestations. Add a fingertip of Dawn to 1 quart of water. Shake, pour 1/4 cup down center of each plant once a week

Make and use a safe soap spray on aphids on other plants (the aphids like our cool nights too!).  1 teaspoon each of dawn and vegetable oil to 1 quart of water.  Spray every 5 days for a minimum of 3 repeats to keep them under control.  Neem spray is a good alternative.

Find links to my books and calendars on the side bar.

Enjoy your garden, be kind, be patient with one another, and share.  Keep all first line and first responders in your hearts.

 

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady If you enjoyed this post, please share and subscribe below by entering your email, to get all my posts!

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Friday, August 28, 2020

National More Herbs, Less Salt Day - August 29th

Dear Folks,

If you are not starting with herbs and spices to season your food BEFORE reaching for the salt shaker, let me give you something to 'chew' on!

Celery!

That is an inside joke and just a point about how our bodies and taste buds respond to food.

Celery like other edible plants (carrots, beets, spinach, chard) contain some sodium.  Which means adding celery to foods kicks up the taste of the food.

But many herbs so enhance the flavor of food that many people won't miss the salt.

One of my favorite "sub-the-salt-with-herbs" example is a baked potato.  Who does not appreciate a good baked or boiled potato with butter and salt.

But if you want a change and a surprise in how good something tastes without salt, you will need rosemary (dried or fresh minced), fresh lemon or lime juice, and potatoes. That's it.

Bake, boil or grill the potatoes.  When done, break or cut open squeeze a bit of lemon juice on them, and sprinkle with the rosemary.  Dive in and enjoy.

Many times when I cook meat, I rub with rosemary, thyme, or syrian oregano, or a combination, cracked black pepper, and that is it.  Most of the time even my guy does not reach for the salt shaker.

I hope this gives you some ideas on ways to season food with herbs before reaching for the salt.

Enjoy experimenting with herbs first!!

Have a best day, stay safe, be kind and patient.  Many people are more stressed than ever.


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

September Planting/Sowing Tips - Non-Soon Challenges

Dear Folks,

Well we have had / are having another Non-Soon and the added super plant (and people) stressing record highs in 110s etc.

No other way to describe it as just hot and dry and withering.

My poor limequat pictured above is just stressed, with folded leaves.  My hope for it there is new growth, but not a lot. So fingers crosses.

When you get to the list of what to plant/sow in September, keep in mind the temps.  Sow initially, you can do that starting now as long as you keep the sown area moistened each night until you see growth.

Hold off on transplant until the temps fall into the low 90s and be sure to harden off transplant before setting them out.

Some better news is I spotted a juvenile Assassin Bug on my Pigeon Pea and got a reasonably good portrait.

We still have the wild sunflowers growing and the bees enjoying them.

I caught this one with the sun just starting to get to it.

Speaking of sunflowers, I added the petals to this mix of summer greens and herbs (celery, Sweet and Dark opal basil, sweet potato and Egyptian spinach leaves) for a salad.

See below planting for more food ideas.  



 
Time to start getting your fall garden in shape.

However, this has been another Non-Soon, with record breaking highs, and only a tiny bit of summer rain.  Normally we can see mid-to-low 90s by mid-September, but I fear we won't be out of this heat that soon.

DON'T touch the tomato plants which are still doing well even if not producing.  You can give them a bit of a hair cut over several days starting the end of August/early September to remove sun damage and you will get a fall crop of fruit.  The plants will start setting fruit as soon as our night time temps fall below 80 -- usually around the end of August -- but this year those cooler nights may be delayed  Typically our 90+ days run from May 29 to September 29th. We can have the occasional 100 degree day even into October, so monitor the moisture needs of your gardens using the moisture meter.

September PLANTING:

Anise
Beans (bush and pole beans in first week in September at latest)
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cabbage, Ornamental
Caraway
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chard 
Chervil
Cilantro
Cucumbers
Dill
Endive (and Chicory)
Fennel, Leaf
Onions, Green
Greens
Kale, Ornamental Cabbage
Kale
Kohlrabi
Leeks
Lettuce (leaf lettuce, arugula, mustard greens etc.)
Mustard
Parsley
Peas
Radishes
Spinach
Turnips

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:

Calendula
Cornflower (Bachelor Buttons)
Marigold, Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Marigold, Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii)
Nasturtium
Scented Geraniums
Snapdragons
Sweet Alyssum
Sweet William (Dianthus)


We have a food access problem which is and was highlighted because of the Corvid 19 impact.  Finding ways to grow and raise more of your own food - enough to use and share - it more important than ever.
  
'Grow it if we can': Aquaponics pioneer reimagines food in victory gardens, 'edible landscapes'


If you have not read or seen Dr. George Brooks work on Aquaponics in the valley, please read the article.  It will bring a whole other level of food options to you and your gardens.  Before you think we do not have the water (considering our drought), aquaponics reuses water in one of the most intense ways.

Click here.

GARDEN TIPS for September
Prepare soil for perennial planting -- edibles need superior draining soil, work in compost or well-rotted manure -- NEVER use fresh manure unless the garden will sit for 6-12 months before planting.  If your soil is already healthy, you can add a light dressing of compost or well-rotted manure.
Cool weather annuals and biennials can be sown every 2-4 weeks (beginning in August) through end of December or January for a continuous crop through next spring.
Make good use of your water meter during this temperature transitional month.
Fertilize fruit trees now -- use Labor Day as the Target date --  (early September and again at Valentines Day and Memorial Day).
For tomato plants which made it through the summer, over several days (do not do it all at once) give them a 1/3 - 1/2 hair cut and receive a fall crop of tomatoes through first frost.
BERRY VINES - OCTOBER 1st: cut all canes, old and new, to ground after fruiting - commercial growers use this method.

Order your garlic and potato "starts" (heads and seed potatoes) for planting later on.  They can be stored in cool dry conditions until planting time.  October 1st for planting garlic - December 1-January 1st for potatoes.


Meal Ideas:

I got a really nice - just one (I got the seeds in late) - spaghetti squash and could not wait to cook it.  I cut in half, seeded it and reserved the seeds for drying (for sowing next time).  I also collected some celery, basil and I'itoli onions to make a celery pesto (recipe idea sent to me by my sis-n-law) with pistachios. Tossed some of the squash with the pesto. I also froze about a cup of the squash for later use - I got about 4 cups total. 

The other food idea is a "Cream Biscuit".  This is a Southern favorite and I got to use some of my mixed herbs to see how an herbed biscuit would turn out - the answer is great.  What you see in the picture is One of the herbed ones left on the pan and the other 4 plain.  These are so delicious.

These are the first biscuits I could actually make well - I am not a great baker.  Initially, I actually did not work the dough enough, fearing the old 'don't overwork the dough' adage.

My Cream Biscuit
1 1/2 cups of well-chilled heavy cream (hold out 1/4 cup)
2 cups of all-purpose flour
3 (yes 3) teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt.


Optional: Dried or chopped fresh herbs

Preheat oven to 475 and position the oven rack in the middle.  Spray your pan.

Sift all the dried ingredients together (flour, baking powder, salt) then stir in herbs and cream.  Work quickly but do not overwork the dough.  I found I NEED the additional 1/4 cup of cream to make the dough hold together better.  Gently pat dough into 6 rounds slightly flattened.  Bake for 12 minutes but watch - may need 1 minute or so more, you are looking for the tops to just color and the bottoms to lightly brown.

Remove and cool on a rack.


These are awesome for strawberry shortcake!!

I hope you are enjoying your gardens and creating from the bounty.

Be safe, be kind and be patient.


You can my books and calendars for sale on the sidebar here - at Amazon, or direct from my publisher, or go to my website:  herbs2u.net



-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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