Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

February Planting/Sowing Tips.

Dear Folks,

My harvest 1 day in early January.  I am showing this to make a point.  Those peppers are from plants which have been growing ALL year long.  If you get your pepper plants going in February (with some frost protection) you get a crop in late spring, early summer - they may take a rest in the summer heat and start producing again in the fall and winter.  They like afternoon shade AND even though we had a freeze and they are freeze-sensitive, these plants are under tree canopy for protection.

The other goodies are sugar pea pods and the gorgeous blooms of Magnolia Sugar Snap Peas, mixed greens (sown in September and I've been harvesting since late October as cut and come again) and of course our citrus.

The point is, you will harvest what you sow or transplant.  Simple :-)

The Herb of the Year for 2019 is Anise hyssop, Agastache Foeniculum, a lovely and fragrant herb which will grow in our desert gardens in the cooler time of the year.  Read more on this herb here.

Be Frost Aware!
Have your frost protection covers handy through at least the middle of March.  Not just because of frost but because of the possibility of hail as the seasons transition.  I like my poor man's cloches for seedlings and young transplants.

For a variety of reasons I chose not to put up my greenhouse this year, and opted for a smaller version.  It is working nicely.  I chose this particular garden table because of the slats allowing some air circulation to avoid issues of too much condensation or worse, mold.

If you want to do something like this, you can keep the greenhouse up until sometime in March to boost your seedling growth.  Plan on something to raise the tub up with air space for circulation.

FEBRUARY PLANTING:

VEGETABLES, FRUITS & HERBS TO PLANT

Artichoke; Asparagus; Basil; Bay; Bean, Lima; Beets; Bok Choy; Cantaloupe; Carrots; Chard; Citrus Scented Marigold (Tagetes Nelsonii); Collards; Corn; Cucumbers; Epazote; Fruit Trees; Jerusalem Artichoke; Lavender; Lettuce & Greens; Marigold; Marjoram; Melon, Musk Melon; Melon, Winter; Mint; Mustard; Onion, Sets; Onions, Green; Oregano; Peas; Peppers; Potatoes; Purslane; Radishes; Sage; Savory; Spinach; Squash, Summer; Strawberry; Thyme; Tomatoes; Turnips; Watermelon

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:

Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma); English Daisy ; Hollyhock; Jasmine Sambac (Arabian); Pansies; Primrose; Purslane; Safflower; Scented Geraniums; Snapdragons; Sunflower; Sweet Alyssum; Tangerine Scented Marigold (Tagetes Lemonii)

Frost/Freeze:  Average last frost day is approximately February 15th, however frost and hail has been seen as late as the second week in March.  It is best to have your frost covers handy.

GARDEN TIPS for February

February is the transition time for the garden from Winter to Spring sowing, transplanting and harvesting.

There is still time to get a last batch of carrots, sugarpeas, lettuces and similar in the ground. Choosing short maturity varieties, particularly of the root veggies, will give you more harvesting success as the weather jumps to heat in a couple of months.

February is also the time to start your warm season plants like tomatoes, basil and peppers, to name a few.  But they may need some initial frost protection.  Keep in mind that they may actually stop growing if there is a cold day or several, which chills the soil.  Then they resume when the soil heats back up (an interesting phenomenon I finally caught on to several years ago).

The weird weather of the last couple of years in February/March with high temps followed by overnight chill/freeze (Global Weirding as Karis over at the Valley Permaculture Alliance put it so well), makes for some required diligence in the garden in February and March.  It pays to remain more mindful of what the weather will be rather than just sow and try to grow.

February is the end of the primary perennial best planting time in the valley (October - February).  What this means is that to ensure the best success for your perennials like rosemary, oregano and fruit trees, it is best to have them in the ground before the end of February and the beginning of our temperature increases.

New to-the-valley residents can be surprised by the common spring joke of "when is spring here?" and the answer is "do you remember that period in early March when it was about 78-83 or so degrees for about 2 weeks? - that was it!"

This of course is due to the sudden rise of temperatures from balmy mid 70s in late February / early March to the 90s by April 1st (or higher - we have had the rare 100+ degree days in late March or early April).

The plants just can't take the stress of dealing with putting down roots while the temperatures soar into the 90+ range in just a few short weeks.

Fertilize fruit trees now -- Use Valentine's day as the target -- (and again in late May (Memorial Day) and early September (Labor Day).
    Pecan trees need zinc sulfate, applied at the rate of 1 pound per trunk inch width.


ABOUT FROST
    The last frost date averages around February 15th, although we have had frost as late as March 1st or 2nd (usually the result of a late winter storm with hail).
    Frost in the Valley at the 1100 or lower elevations is usually limited to ‘soft frost’ where simple sheets or paper placed over sensitive plants (or moving potted plants beneath patios or trees) is sufficient to protect them. Hard/Killing frosts are rare particularly in February/March.
    For every 1000 feet over 1100 in elevation the last frost day is moved back 10 days and the possibility of hard (killing) frosts starts to occur.  At 2000 feet or lower, this is still a rare occurrence.
    Getting your edible seedlings in the ground as early as possible provides longer-produce seasons - especially with plants like tomatoes.
    Use homemade 'cloche' covers to protect seedlings -- cut the bottom of gallon milk containers or 2 liter soda bottles - clean very well to avoid mold -- place over plants each night until frost danger is past, remove during the day, or if you need to be gone for several days remove the cap to allow excess heat and humidity to escape.
    How do you know if we are finished with frost?  There are some examples in nature, but you still need to be prepared to cover sensitive plants through the 2nd week in March.
        a. Ant activity in the garden indicates the soil has warmed up sufficiently for them to start gathering food again.
        b. If the mesquite trees have started to bud out, it is unlikely to frost after that
        c. Be aware that a warm storm can contain some hail through March.

HAIL
    Here in the Valley we can have Hail on an expected basis in Spring, early Summer and Fall.
    The perfect conditions for Hail are warm OR WARMING soil, cool air mass coming in AND wind.

    February and March have the perfect combination of warming soil and a cool system moving in.  If you add wind you will generally get hail.
    So, while actual frost may not happen keep your frost protection covers and jugs handy in the event of hail to safeguard your new seedlings and transplants.


My Apple Tree Seedlings Update.

I had posted I purchased some "landrace" wild Montana apple tree seeds and they sprouted in October 2018.  Then in December I discovered a green apple (purchased) had sprouted seeds when I opened - so, I sowed them too!

Fast forward and I needed to transplant into bigger pots.

The two landrace apples are at the top of the collage.  The green apple volunteers (2 sprouted, weeks apart) are in the bottom two pictures one close up and the other showing its "pot-mate" a citrus tree.  (The plant peeking out in the middle of the collage is a mint in a nearby pot, "wanting" to make friends with the apple tree pot - I said no!)

Here is hoping they all do well with the transplant.  One of the green apple root balls broke apart when I transplanted it.  The two landrace apples had incredible roots formed.  I got them transplanted just in time - a head of any potential root binding.

FREE Seed Share, February 7th, Mesa Public Library.

 

Two Recipes to share - one using my caper berries and another using mixed greens.

I was musing a couple of weeks ago about an appetizer (really a whole meal!) I used to get at the old Fish Market Restaurant on Camelback. The recipe is simple:  Brie cubes softened in oil of choice and spread on the toast (in the picture for our tasting comparison I had olive oil and avocado oil -- we did not find any difference in taste)  Cured salmon (smoked and brined), sourdough bread, red onion and my Caper Berries whole and sliced.  AWESOME!  Totally indulgent and can't have this too often but oh my - what a fun meal.  Oranges from our trees to round it off.

A fun recipe shared by Lisa Steele over at Fresh Eggs Daily from her blogging bud Framed Cooks.

Bacon and Egg Drop Soup!

I did write about this on facebook.  I love egg drop soup but do not think of nearly enough.

This was wonderful.  I asked my meat and potatoes guy if I could change it up next time, add something?  He had the cutest response - "this is a wedding gown soup, not a blue jeans soup" and more flavor like spinach (which is what the recipe originally calls for) would take away the "delicate" flavor and texture.   My wonderful guy!

I used mixed greens because I am slightly allergic to spinach, beets and chard.

Here is the original recipe and I will give you the ingredients below - easily adjusted for number of servings.

Fresh Egg and Bacon Soup (Framed Cooks)
6 slices bacon, chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten well
Salt and pepper


I hope you have a wonderful time in the garden and kitchen!

You can find my gardening help book and calendar and cookbooks on Amazon.


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Happy New Year! Around the Garden & Kitchen.

Dear Folks,

Let me say I'm starting off this post by saying my life has been challenged for the last several months.

BUT, I harvested peanuts!!! earlier in December -- then let them dry in the shade.  More on the peanuts later in the blog and more about me -- but let me share this positive cartoon from last year - it fits this year too!

No matter what is going on in my life, when I can turn to sowing or planting something, harvesting even a few things from the garden, and creating something new and fun in the kitchen, I feel better. I will bet you do to if you can grow and nurture something.

So - SOW!

I have had close loved ones challenged with injuries the last 3-4 months and I help out - I have been able to act as a caregiver to family off and on for many years.  I am reminded of one of the songs from the Muppet Christmas Carol - "with a grateful heart" and I thought of that the other day, while realizing I am stressed!!, But I am one of the most healthy ones of my aging family and have a grateful heart that I can help, but it can be a challenge.

Then, right before Christmas I came down with a cold and them my dear guy did too and he tends to be sicker - so we have been muddling through two colds and a dear one dealing with restricted arm movement.

So my general healthy-foods focus goes out the window when I am stressed.  I decided to remedy it with a good-for-us-breakfast "cookie" -- flourless, high fiber, high protein and quick to make.  You can make this as sweet as you like and there are so many ways to make this you can choose the easiest one for you.

Basic two ingredients are equal amounts of fruit puree/mash and oatmeal - I prefer old fashioned oats.

Then make a decision on whether you would like a lot of texture by leaving ALL of the oats whole, or a mix of ground and whole (some internet recipes grind ALL of the oats -- we like some texture) - the ground helps bind the cookies together better.  You may recognize this basic idea from "banana - oatmeal" recipes found on the internet and in fact I was musing about how to make something better for us (without a lot of time and effort) when I remember my cousin telling me about the banana/oat cookie a year or two ago.

So follow my logic here.  ANY fruit puree will work.  How sweet the fruit is or is not, means you may want to add more sweetener of choice - or not.  It also means you could use a pureed whole fruit jam or preserve, which will UP the sugar content.  It is a choice.


Then to make it high protein and more high fiber, ground nuts or seeds which combine with the grain (oats) to form a complete protein.

More fiber comes from an optional addition of ground flax seed.

And more good-for-you antioxidants come from dried cranberries or cherries or dried fruit of choice.  (My next batch I will chop the dried fruit a bit to bring the size down closer to the rest of the ingredients.)

My Fruit/Oatmeal Flourless Breakfast/Snack Cookies

Can be doubled - the basic mix of fruit and oatmeal should be equal, but all other ingredients are flexible in quantity.

1 cup mashed fruit
1 cup oats
dash of salt
1/2 cup nuts or seeds ground
1 heaping tablespoon flax seed (I prefer Golden as it has less bitter qualities)
1/4-1/2 cup of dried fruit like cranberries or cherries
Optional - 1 tablespoon+ of complimentary jam

Grind flax seed with about 2 - 3 tablespoons of oats -leave rest of oats whole (you can grind up to half of oats and still have both binding and texture)
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil sprayed with baking spray
Heat oven to 350.

Mash fruit along with optional jam.  Add dash of salt and stir.  Add oats and mix well, then add nuts and dried fruit, fold in well.  Let the mixture sit for 5-15 minutes while the oven heats to allow the oats to absorb the moisture.

Drop with scoop or tablespoon on parchment lined tray and flatten slightly.
Bake for 9-12 minutes.


Peanuts! 

I decided last April to try growing peanuts.  I purchased an Heirloom "Tennessee Red" from Baker Creek - they reminded me of the peanuts we used to get when I was a kid. Now a days you can find many different varieties to grow.

They LOVE the heat.

I sowed 12 shelled peanuts on April 24th and by May 9th, the seedlings looked like this.  Peanuts have a unique growing habit.  The plant grows up and then when it flowers the flower head dips down and buries itself into the soil and this is the future source of the "ground nuts" which grow at the roots much like sunchokes. 
Flowers were showing up by the end of May.


On December 11th,  almost 8 months after sowing I harvested the peanuts.  I had been waiting for the plants to die back.  I then fixed up a chicken wire basket in the shade of one of my citrus trees to aid in the shells completely drying to the stage shown in my opening picture.  I did not count the number of whole shells I harvested but I think the ratio is probably close to 1 seed = 3 whole shells.  Not bad for a trial run.  I am saving all but 1 for re-sowing next April and probably in a larger area.  This was a fun trial and observation of a unique plant.

I have been drying my herbs for years and decided it was time to have a stock pile of dried flower petals to adorn whatever trips my fancy.  Working at the moment with pink rose petals from my native wild rose and nasturtium flowers.  As my garden grows through the seasons here in Arizona I will continue to harvest and add to my supply.
 
For baking or any dessert or creative recipes, flower petal garnish is something easy to create - it just takes a bit of planning, catching the edible flowers in your garden at the right time for harvesting and drying in the refrigerator to maintain color.

I lay out on paper towels on stacked trays on the sde shelf in the refrigerator. - Takes from 3-7 days depending on how big the petals are. 

Another plant is potatoes.  My New Year's Day tradition is to plant potatoes.  I am working on re-arranging my large cinder block bed and large pots and decided to clear the cinder block bed of the enormous sweet potato patch I let take over - and believe you me - they take over.  Mostly to the good as I get to harvest their leaves for 3/4 of a year for salads etc. and then get the roots in the fall and winter, but I needed to re-think what and where.  So I relegated sweet potatoes to 2 large pots and just planted the Irish potatoes in the pot I had the peanuts in.

I may start another pot of 'taters, but I still have to transplant my wild Apple Tree and Volunteer apple seedlings, e.g., trying to rethink location, location.

Because I am using only a large pot I decided on a different strategy this time.  I buried the outer ring of spuds 4 inches deep, and the inner ring I left on the surface, as I traditionally do, and covered over with 3 inches of leaves.  I will add to the leaf mulch as the plants grow up and the mulch compresses to always ensure the growing potatoes are not exposed to sunlight (toxic element found in the green areas of the skin and flesh and CANNOT be cooked out).

Challenges aside, I LOVE living in Arizona.  I love the heat and do not "do" cold well, but this is offset by the gorgeous facts of living here in the Valley of the Sun.

Our stunning sunrise on December 21, 2018 the shortest day of the year.  Now we can "spring forward" into longer days, planning on getting the heat-loving plants ready for transplanting and continuing to, still, sow sugar peas, left lettuces and radishes.

Make the New Year, your Year - plant something new to you or a method, location you have not tried.  I know I talk about "best" time and variety to grow, however you may find "pushing the envelope" leads you to new found plant, location or method success - just for you!

Have a great day,



-- 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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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Last Minute Cookie Idea

Dear Folks,

I have been challenged by time and creativity - I've been helping out with two loved ones with injured arms and I NEEDED to get more cookies made for an exchange.

Sooooo - I remember a good friend turning a basic brownie batter into cookies and voila! I decided my Jam Bread recipe would be perfect for this AND I had all the ingredients on hand.

If you have a favorite quick bread/fruit bread recipe you can make the cookies too.

I used some of my homemade fig and apricot jams (mixed) for this and I threw in some chopped up Roselle Petals and Pumpkin Seeds for a Christmasy look.

I love the way they turned out and I did not have to change the batter recipe at all - win/win/YUM!

Just used scoop - they "dome" and do not spread, so you can put as many as you want on the cookie sheet

Oven 350, parchment lined cookie sheet, bake for 15 minutes, cool on tray for 5 minutes and then move to cooling rack.

My Jam Bread Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar (may need less or more depending on sweetness of jams)
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups jam
1 cup chopped walnuts  (or nut / seed of choice)
Optional: Chopped fruit

Pre-heat oven to 350
Prepare cookie sheet(s) lined with parchment paper
Have cooling racks handy

In one bowl sift flour salt and baking powder.

In another bowl whip eggs to frothy, add sugar and oil and mix very well. Add jam and mix well.

Mix in flour until batter is well mixed, stir in nuts and optional fruit.

Using scoop or two spoons place mounds on sheets (can be close together batter does not spread).

Bake 15 minutes.  Cool on trays for 5 minutes then move to cooling racks.
 



Wishing you a Wonderful, Safe and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, December 10, 2018

January Planting Tips, In the Garden and A New "Visitor".

Dear Folks,

My Sugar Peas - variety Magnolia Blossom - are coming along nicely. I tucked more seed in around this area for continuous production.  With so many flowers coming on, I expect pods soon - Yum!

From the beautiful to the simple -Purslane volunteering - they do that - in a pot containing an apple tree seedling (more on that below).  I am showing you this edible along with my I'itoi Onions and Roselle leaves for a really fun reason.

Our wonderful food writer at the Arizona Republic, Dominic Armato, created a food challenge, featuring local foods, and one segment in particular sung to me as I grow most of what Chef Kraus (known for his crepes and now this great salad) chose to use in his salad (and YOU can grow these too!)-- I'itoi Onions, Roselle Leaves, Purslane, Arugula, and small tomatoes
Read the article here.      And watch the video here.

My I'itoi onions which I need to separate and re-plant for bigger bulbs.  You will see Chef Kraus in the article and video use hese "shallot" like onions raw, fried and charred.  I have decided to grow only this onion variety (plus garlic chives and garlic), because of their versatility.

Roselle leaves are tangy cranberry flavored much like the "fruit" and are wonderful additions to salads and more all through the summer when traditional lettuces/greens are not happy with the heat. 

We had rare fog yesterday morning (December 8th) which presented a challenge for our typical laundry day as we hang our clothes outside - love the fresh aroma of outside garden air.

That challenge aside, our Johnny Jump-up Lawn is coming along and enjoyed the FOG - the insert shows what it will look like later this coming Spring. 


My Apple tree seedlings are now joined by a new sprout - middle pot.  The larger ones I'm written about before - I was able to get Wild Montana Landrace apple seeds and will be transplanting to larger pots soon.  The middle one is either a Golden Delicious or one of the Green Apple varieties.  I had some apples in the frig crisper and forgot about them.  When I cut open one I discovered most of the seeds were sprouting!!! - Well, never one to let a unique volunteer seed go to waste, I soaked over night and spread in a pot on November 2nd and literally 30 days later this one popped up.  Fun stuff.

One last thing before I get to what to plant/sow in January - yes I know you are deep into your Holidays doings, but you can look forward to breathing a sigh of satisfaction and relief with the major holidays behind you and get your hands dirty again - because we desert gardeners can do that - right away.  My New Year's Day tradition is to plant potatoes if I do no other gardening that day.  Find a fun garden tradition for you and your family to start the New Year off to a good food start :-)


Okay - I've been sharing about critter visitors to our gardens off and on.  Recently it was apparent we have a falcon or hawk giving our doves etc. fits.  Finally one landed, as casual as you please, and we were able to catch 1 or 2 good pictures.  I have ID'd this beautiful predator as an Immature Cooper's Hawk - I do not know if it is female or male.  The picture with "Bouregard" our art rooster, almost seems like the hawk is wondering what it is.


JANUARY PLANTING:

SEED Selection:  Where possible choose short maturity (75 days or less) for maximum production.  Plant short rows in succession of veggies like carrots ( 2 feet at a time) to provide continuous harvest potential (can you really use 12 feet of carrots all at once?).  Also, start seeds like tomato, basil, eggplant and peppers  indoors under lights or in a greenhouse to set out February 1st (with frost protection)

Anise
Asparagus
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Cabbage
Caraway
Carrots
Cauliflower
Chamomile
Chervil
Cilantro
Dill
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit, Bare Root
Fruit Trees
Garlic, Green (planting cloves for use as scallions through spring - they will NOT produce heads)
Greens (lettuce, kale, arugula, spinach etc.) 
Kohlrabi
Lavender
Lettuce
Marjoram
Mustard
Myrtle
Onions, Green
Oregano, Greek
Ornamental Cabbage/Kale (Brassica Oleracea)
Parsley
Peppers (seed)
Potatoes
Radishes
Sage
Savory
Shungiku Chrysanthemum
Spinach
Strawberry
Thyme
Turnips
Watermelon

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:

Carnation (Dianthus)
English Daisy
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Nasturtiums
Pansies
Primrose
Scented Geraniums (with protection)
Snapdragons
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet William (Dianthus)
Sweet Alyssum

GARDEN TIPS for January
As we are nearing the end of the primary perennial planting season, I like to celebrate the start of the new year by planting at least one new plant on January 1st.
Celebrate New Year's Day by planting potatoes. (I like the purple ones because they are unusual and have more anti-oxidants.)
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.
Prune citrus and deciduous fruit trees no later than early January before flowering starts.  Shrub trees such as pineapple guava which bloom in late spring, need to be pruned later -- in April approximately.

WHY Edible Flowers? To attract pollinators to your fruit, herbs and veggies year round and to use as safe garnishes and additions to your dining table.

FROST damage:  Do not prune until danger of frost is over - the damaged plant protects the lower growth.

FROST/FREEZE NOTE: Have protective covers ready anytime the overnight forecast is 40 or lower.

FORCING BRANCHES

One of the delights of spring is the peach and apricot bloom time - clouds of light to dark pink flowers cover the ends of the tree branches with the bees busily doing their work.

Just as the tree's flower buds are starting open you can select a few branches to 'force' into bloom inside for a lovely arrangement.  I emphasize 'a few' because you will loose that potential fruit.

Select a branch and clip off 12-18 inches - arrange in a vase of room temperature water or slightly warmer, after re-cutting the branches under water.  You will be treated to a spring display as one another the flower buds are 'forced' to open in the warmth of your home.  Change or freshen the water each day - if you need to, re-cut the branch, under water, every several days to keep the moisture flowing up to the buds.

At the end of the display, add to the compost pile, or dry and use as kindling for the grill or fire pit.


Have a safe and peaceful Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Find my Calendar for all your monthly planting tips and books at Amazon.

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Monday, December 03, 2018

Around The Garden - And a HUGE radish!

Dear Folks,

I was away with a relative following their surgery and found these big radishes when I got to harvesting the other day.  Part of the root broke when I harvested it so I could tell they were still nice and crisp. What to do?  Roast!  See my use of them in one of my "Made Over" soups using fried chicken, below.

One of the very few non-edible plants I have are Poinsettias - red and white, which I purchased as seedlings last holiday season and transplanted into the garden his past spring.  They need some "dark" or shade to color according to my prior readings and I found the right spot for them.  This collage shows 23 days of coloring (top to bottom) and I could not be more pleased. This red is on track to be gorgeous by Christmas!

I also have a white and it is coloring very nicely.  The white is harder to capture with the camera, but it is showy in the garden.

One of the delights for me, as I love the holidays and growing citrus, is the citrus trees "decorating" the garden with ripening fruit.

One of our Navel oranges is coming along nicely.

We recently purchased a Mandarin Tangerine and I have chosen not to remove the fruit, just can't resist the possibility of enjoying one or more of these ripening fruits.  There is new growth on the branches and we are monitoring the tree to ensure it remains stable.

Our Limequat blooms and fruits multiple times of the year and right now is no exception.  If you look closely you can see a baby fruit on the left of the photo.

I took several of these photos, including the bottom Red Poinsettia, after our rain the other day.

More color in the form of Magnolia Blossom Sugar Pea flowers.  I LOVE sugar peas and grow them every year.  They are all delicious, but I am choosing to grow more of this variety just because of the stunning flower.  We can eat the flowers, but then I would miss out on the sugar pea pods which won't be far behind now that the plants are blooming.  I need to get more seed sown to continue being able to harvest as long as possible into the warm spring.

Nasturtiums are starting to bloom too.  I am thinking about drying various of the flower petals of edibles, in the refrigerator to keep the color better, and use them as a garnish for meals later on.  I will update as I have something to show you later on.

Fall in the garden is an amusing time, because there is fall, as in the temperatures dropping, the day light hours shortening, "some" leaves coloring and falling . . . and then there is FALL!!!! in our garden which generally occurs after a first winter storm/rain and the next morning the heretofore clear ground, is covered in leaves.  FALL!

Roasted Radish

Although I love to eat the skin of radishes, in the case of those big ones, it was too knarly to enjoy.  So I peeled most of the skin off, diced them, tossed them with a tiny bit of mixed and melted uncured bacon fat, avocado oil and butter, seasoned with salt and some of my dried dill and roasted at 400 degrees (stirring half way through) for about 40 minutes.  Nice, sweet, slightly spicy crunch.

Next - soup.

Made Over Fried Chicken Soup

Made over is an old fashioned term and I like to use it - it means using left overs and I was in the mood for soup yesterday, so far one of the coolest days this season.

I had homemade broth, some left over fried chicken (including breading), fresh harvested salad greens from the garden, broken linguine pasta and the roasted radishes.

Bring the broth to boil, cook the pasta, add the chicken to heat through, shred the greens and divide into soup bowls, ladle in the soup and top with the roasted radishes.  So many flavors and textures in this warming and satisfying soup.  Give it a try!

I hope you have a lovely week in the garden and kitchen with your bounty!

You can still purchase one of my books or calendar for in time for gifting.  Click here for my publisher site, OR here for Amazon.


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Time to get Frost Covers Ready - Artic Express Coming Soon Near You.

Dear Folks,

Friday will bring some rain to the Valley and then dropping temperatures, over the weekend and into next week, down into highs of 50s and low 60s with overnight temperatures dipping into 30s and 40s depending on where you live in the Valley.  The map shows projected below normal temperature forecasts into the following weekend.

This cooling and some rain is arriving from Alaska via the Pacific Northwest.

Whenever the overnight forecasts indicate 40 or lower, freeze, even light short term (soft) freeze is possible.  Any heat retention from the day dissipates by dawn, dropping as much as 8 degrees +/- from late night into predawn hours.

Any frost tender plants need overnight protection.

Frost protection consists of blankets, sheets, newspaper, cardboard boxes or sheets, or similar.  Plastic should NEVER be used if it will touch the plants as it transmits the cold directly to the plant you are trying to protect.

Folks have even used lawn chairs positioned over the tender plant.

At this point this weather pattern does not look like it will bring killing (hard) freeze, as the ground is still warm, but will begin its winter cooling trends.

Best to have your frost protection handy.

Meanwhile, here are my planting and sowing tips for December


. . .

A fun entertaining idea - fold your napkins like Christmas Trees!!


I hope you enjoy your garden and its bounty.

Have a best day, be kind, be safe and have fun,


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Friday, November 23, 2018

My Gardening Calendar and Garden and Cookbooks Make Great Gifts!

Dear Folks,

I am making turkey stock as I type - our family get together yesterday was fun and satisfying and I hope yours was lovely too.

My gardening calendar and beginner's gardening book are great gifts for the desert southwest and USDA Zone 9b and above gardeners.

You can follow the links below to individual books or the calendar at my publisher's site.

The Amazon link is to my author's page showing all of my books and the current and prior calendars

After you check out the links, enjoy one of my favorite "flash mob" youtube videos - just fun and you can see the happy smiles of those folks - dealing with holiday travel times.

My Perpetual Gardening Calendar has month-by-month planting and sowing tips, seasonal maintenance and some recipes to inspire you.

Edible Landscaping a Month-By-Month Calendar Desert Southwest & USDA Zone 9b

My beginner's guide to gardening in the Desert Southwest has edible alternative planting suggestions to ornamental plant types, month-by-month planting and maintenance tips and a few recipes to get you started.

Edible Landscaping in the Desert Southwest: Wheelbarrow to Plate


My Amazon Author's page lists all of my publications.

Denver Airport 2011 - a Flash Mob entertained travelers with a fun retro dance routine.

. . .

After getting your early shopping done, hop out into your garden and get more of your sowing and growing on.  My December Planting Tips are here.

Are you growing edible flowers, whether dedicated plants or herbs with flowers?   Why not try drying petals in the refrigerator (on paper towels - loose not clustered) to create the ultimate flower garnish for your meals.  Start with however many flower petals you have, at one end of your towel and add to, as the flowers reach perfect bloom.  When all are completely dried store in glass or plastic containers in the dark.

Have a great weekend!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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