Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

December Planting Tips

Dear Folks,

My chocolate flowers (Berlandiera Lyrata) have a lovely cocoa scent along with these happy little yellow daisy flowers. The dried seed heads, used by Native Americans, added flavoring to sausage like foods.

My Mexican Oregano is blooming. One of three Oreganos I grow (Syrian aka Zatar, and Greek Oregano) has the loveliest little white flowers and a wonderful aroma and flavor.

My Sugar Peas are growing along nicely.  Different heights, planted in succession, which I will keep doing.  Love my sugar peas!   If you have not started planting yours, begin now, and sow more every 2-3 weeks for a continuous harvest through spring.

Not an edible but one I am so pleased to see coloring up!  Poinsettia beginning to turn red on the brackets!  I got this and a white one as small 4 inch plants last Christmas time and transplanted into the garden where they get shade in the afternoon.  I chose the right spot, as they need shade beginning in the fall to produce the color. I think the white one is beginning to do the same thing only not as showy yet.  Yippee!  Just fun for the holiday.



PLANTING:

Anise
Asparagus
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Cabbage
Caraway
Carrots
Cauliflower
Chamomile
Chervil
Cilantro
Dill
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit, Bare Root
Fruit Trees
Greens
Kohlrabi
Lavender
Lettuce
Marjoram
Mustard
Myrtle
Onions, Green
Oregano, Greek
Ornamental Cabbage/Kale (Brassica Oleracea)
Parsley
Peppers (seed)
Primrose (Primula Vulgaris)
Radishes
Sage
Savory
Spinach
Strawberry
Thyme
Turnips
Watermelon (by seed December 15 and after)

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:

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

GARDEN TIPS for December
    Holiday time can be stressful. Your edible garden can be an oasis from stress.  With citrus fruit ripening like yellow and orange ornaments, pansies blooming, and dill waving in the breeze, winter is only a state of mind here in the Desert Southwest.
    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 (except for trees unless you receive 1 inch or more).  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.  Ironite is not a fertilizer so it will not burn plants -- apply to the drip line (edge) of tree canopy.

Watering Guide:
As the temperatures rise or decrease, a guide (this is only a guide! make use of your moisture meter to check moisture content of soil) For mature gardens would be:
    70s water every 5-6 days for all but trees
    80s water every 4-5 days for all but trees
    90s water every 3-4 days for all but trees
    100s water every 2-3 days for all but trees

Garden Design tip - if you are considering laying out a new garden, use Ironite to 'draw' the garden layout on the soil, easy and safe.

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

PRUNING:

Prune citrus and deciduous fruit trees in December, or no later than early January before flowering starts.

Occasionally our crazy peach trees drive Deane nuts because they still have leaves on them when they start to flower in late December or early January.

The idea with pruning deciduous trees is to get it done before the 'sap starts running' in the warming spring weather.  Because we do not usually have extended cold spells some of the stone fruit trees may not actually go into full dormancy.

The commercial growers like Schnepf Farms have simply adopted the practice of prunning their peach etc. trees after December 15th. This ensures that flower buds will not be pruned off later on.

There is always the challenge of a cold spell coming in January or February while the stone fruit trees are coming into bloom, which in other areas of the country might mean the severe limiting of fruit production.  Here we have not generally found that a short cold period has killed off the flower bloom/fruit production.

If you feel you are in a colder area, you can cover the blooming peaches, apricots, plums and apples with cloth covers if you can reach high enough to make it worth the effort.

FRUIT TREE PESTS

Peach tree borers are a problem here in the valley as the special hybrid stone fruit trees are more vulnerable to borers because the pests are not killed off as readily as in very cold areas of the country.

Winter 'dormancy' of the trees is the time to consider treating the trees to an oil spray to discourage the darn pests

Generally called "dormant oil" or "horticulture oil" this is a heavy oil based control which is designed to smother the pests, and therefore can't be applied to the active growing parts of any plants.  It is sprayed on the trunks of stone fruit (not evergreen like citrus) from the soil-base line up.  Make sure you read the instructions carefully.

If peach and other stone fruit trees are new to you and your garden, look for swelling on the buds/edges of each branch which indicates the tree is going into active growth and DO NOT use the spray on those areas.

START your spring seeds in a greenhouse or VERY sunny window around December 1-15th.  This will give plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil a jump-start for planting out on February 1st (with frost protection like the poor man's cloche show here).  I like to use the jiffy pellets which reduces transplant shock.  They just go straight into the ground.

I hope you have a wonderful time in the garden and the kitchen with your bounty.          

You can find my calendars to give you all the monthly planting information at your finger tips on my sidebar here on the blog.


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Rose and Celery

Dear Folks,

I have a beautiful Wild Rose that I just love and it flowers several times a year for me.  This wild form is not frilly or filled with multiple petals - just a simple 6 petal open face with a lovely fragrance.

While rose petals are edible I do not often use them, I just admire them on the plant.  Occasionally I will bring an unopened bud in to enjoy on the kitchen table.

*** Planting Tips For December ***

I will be posting my monthly Planting Tips and more about mid-November.  I am leaving shortly to stay with a relative who is having surgery.  I won't be available while I am away from my computer, so I will answer questions when I return.

Celery -- a couple of weeks ago I posted about my favorite habit - kitchen trash recycling - where I take a 2 inch root cut from the bottom of a celery bunch and transplant out into the garden.

I also have sprinkled celery seeds starting about 4 weeks ago and repeated 2 weeks ago.  I am happy to show the seeds sprouting - yum - I use a lot of celery for low-cal crunch and fiber in my salads and soups.

You may wish to like my facebook page.  My blog posts are added to my FB page.  However, I also add other fun and helpful posts and links on the my facebook page when I find facebook links I think my readers will like.

Have a great day in the garden and kitchen with your bounty.



-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Thursday, November 01, 2018

Garden & Kitchen - Amazing Greens and Fruits and "Fruits".

Dear Folks,

The other day I harvested the most amazing mix of greens and some veggies.  More on that below.

First I was so pleased to find new Barbados Cherries (aka Acerola Malpighia emarginata) on my tree and I got to them before the birds.  The lovely thing about these high Vitamin C and antioxidant fruits is they continue to ripen when you pull them off the tree, so if I think the birds are going to swoop in, I can beat them to them :-)  The tree flowers and fruits multiple times through the year, but these cherries are the biggest I've seen in many months.  The tree must like the weather we have been having.

We refer to the swollen calyx of the Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) as "fruit" because that is how it is used.  This tangy cranberry flavored fruit is outstanding for its Vitamin C and other antioxidant properties. It is a stunning plant in the garden and LOVES our summer heat.  While most folks grow the bush for its "fruit" I use the leaves through the summer as part of my summer "lettuce" aka greens mix for salads and on sandwiches.  I also shred the leaves along with other greens for soups.

***Don't Forget My Free Seed Share This Saturday***

Free Seed Share
Saturday, November 3, 2018
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Mesa Urban Garden (MUG)
212 East 1st Avenue (NE corner of Hibbert and 1st Avenue)
Mesa, AZ  85210
602-370-4459

I was sitting at the kitchen table looking out the window (aka "Garden TV" because we just enjoy watching the goings on while having a meal), when I spotted "red" near the top of the cherry tree.  Grabbing the binoculars we keep handy, I saw cherries!!.  So I went out to harvest. 

As I mentioned above, it is important to keep one step ahead of the birds!

While touring the garden, I took a really close look at our Roselle and the "fruits" are HUGE.  I have not been harvesting, and plan on sharing some of the branches this Saturday (first come, first served).  Many folks may have enjoyed tea with something called "Hibiscus" or "Red Hibiscus" and THIS is the "fruit" used.

If you have a nice sized spot in your garden (the bush can get 6+ feet wide), in full sun, I would encourage you to grow this wonderful edible.

I harvested a wonderful mix of greens and two different sweet peppers the other day.

Sweet potato and nasturtium leaves, celery, I'itoi onion tops, purple and sweet basil, roselle leaves, mesclum mix of romaine, arugula, red sails, Paradicsom and Lipstick sweet peppers.  I like the color mix of yellow and green.

I sowed a small area with a mix of lettuces and got that bunch of mixed colors and textures (lower left of picture) - LOVE it!  I add more seeds to keep the mix growing along, while treating the growing greens as cut-and-come-again. The bit of celery - below the nasturtium leaves is from the recycled celery roots which are growing nicely.

I am trying to perfect my egg poaching skill. Still in training!  I read about a new way of poaching and I just need to tweak it a bit and then I can tell you what worked. But this meal was great tasting if not quite as pretty as I was hoping.

I took the peppers and finely diced with some celery and carrots.  I tossed with a bit of one of my lime dressings, sprinkled some of the dressing over the avocado slices.  I shredded my lovely greens mix and used as a bed for everything.  As I noted it was delicious!

I hope you enjoyed this visit to my garden and how I use some of our bounty.

You can have my monthly planting plus more tips at YOUR finger tips with my wall calendar.

Click here to see - there is a preview available (click on "preview" below the picture).

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Have a best day in your garden and kitchen,


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Free Seed Share Coming Up - and Garden and Kitchen Fun

Dear Folks,

My Free Seed Share is this coming Saturday, November 3rd, 1 pm at Mesa Urban Garden.

Free Seed Share
Saturday, November 3, 2018
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Mesa Urban Garden (MUG)
212 East 1st Avenue (NE corner of Hibbert and 1st Avenue)
Mesa, AZ  85210
602-370-4459

I hope to see you there!

My Elephant Garlic is finally sprouting.  I was looking for it sooner as the regular garlic began sprouting just days after I planted them.  But these are coming along nicely now too.

More eggplant fruiting!  I love both the Casper and the Listarda, but I think I am beginning to favor the Listarda more - the color, the flavor, few seeds and it can get quite a bit larger than the Casper without over-aging* too soon.   Leaving on the plants until sometime next week.  Not quite sure what I am going to do with them - maybe more "bacon"!

*Over-aging means the fruit starts to turn bitter.

I thought you might like to see a collage of my garden critters.  Daisy Mae the Flying Pig, Annabelle the Goat and Beauregard the Rooster.



In my last blog post I shared the Sweet Potatoes "Molokai" I harvested.  They are in my water heater shed where they can cure and be available for when I need them.  Two were HUGE, so I decided to make a couple of different side dishes with one of them.  I actually still have a piece of this one and will think about how to use (maybe sweet potato "Bacon"?), but I have to say I really liked the way these two sides turned out.  Usually I leave skin on all potatoes when I cook them, even when mashing.  However, with sweet potatoes this size then can be 'woody' and the skin tough so I peel them.

I harvested my I'itoi onions, which have a shallot like flavored bulb and mild onion top.  I used my mandolin to cut a section of the Molokai into slices.  Because the Molokai is more dense at this size, I zapped the slices in the microwave for 2 minutes and cooled them. cleaned and cut the I'itoi into sections.  I melted about a teaspoon each of butter, avocado oil and uncured bacon fat.  I added about a teaspoon of my dried thyme, coarse salt and cracked black pepper and tossed the potato and onion to coat.  I pre-heated my toaster oven to 350, stacked the potato and onion horizontally and baked for about 60 minutes.  Topped each serving with some shredded Parmesan cheese. Yum.  I was trying for a "pretty" presentation with this side.  It "sort of" worked out.

Who does not love some form of potatoes and onions!

I also had to do something similar with more of the Molokai.  I had a lovely bag of organic baby potatoes from the store and a red onion. 

I preheated the toaster oven to 325.

I cut the Molokai into pieces and again zapped in the microwave for 2 minutes.

I cut the regular potatoes into pieces and placed in water to keep from browning. Cut about 1/3 of the onion into chunks (saving the peels in my freezer "stock" bucket).

I melted a mix of butter and uncured bacon fat (about 1 1/2 tablespoons total)  Added the drained potatoes, Molokai and onion and tossed to coat.  I find tossing the veggies IN the pot I melted the fat in did a much better job coating than trying to pour over and stir while in the pan.

Poured into my pan, sprinkled about 2 tablespoons of my crushed dried celery leaves and 1 teaspoon of my dried thyme and roasted for 70 minutes, approximately.  I stirred the mix once about half way through.  Topped with Parmesan Cheese and served.  We LOVED this one.  I think I will do this one more often and alternate the red onion with my wonderful I'itoi onions.  I really like the contrast of colors of the regular potato, the Molokai and the red onion.  The flavor marriage was outstanding.

FYI - I use my toaster oven regularly rather than turn on the big oven, since it is usually just the two of us.

It also fits right into the idea of growing your own and harvesting as needed.

We should have lovely weather for the Free Seed Share this coming Saturday.  I hope to see you there.

Meanwhile, you can find my books and calendars for sale at Amazon or my publisher's site.

Have a Great time in your garden and kitchen!

--Catherine, The Herb Lady

My Calendar and Book Links

Wall Calendar
Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1387385798/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

Publisher Direct
http://www.lulu.com/shop/catherine-crowley/edible-landscaping-a-month-by-month-calendar-desert-southwest-usda-zone-9b/paperback/product-23433329.html


Beginner's Southwest Gardening Book
Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/141164039X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Publisher Direct
http://www.lulu.com/shop/catherine-crowley/edible-landscaping-in-the-desert-southwest-wheelbarrow-to-plate/paperback/product-176297.html





-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Around The Garden, Post Rains, What is New and Sprouting!

Dear Folks,

Our gardens responded so well to the extra rain (that last storm brought us 2+ inches) and we benefited economically as we were able to turn off most of the auto watering for at least 3 weeks - win/win!

Shown are the celery roots I replanted - I love "recycling" celery bottoms to grow MORE celery for use.  As I write this post I put the smaller ones in yesterday, and the larger ones in 14 days ago. With the right conditions celery roots just "want" to grow!  I soak for 1-3 days and look for the center to begin regrowing and then plant level with the surrounding soil or just a tad lower.

My Sweet Basil Patch is huge and time for a bit of pruning to keep the leaves growing larger. I always leave a portion in flower for the bees and beneficial insects and I am hoping for some additional harvesting before the soil cools which impacts the flavor of the herb.  When I prune I cut and drop and the seeds will emerge later or next spring.

Speaking of seeds . . .

My next FREE SEED SHARE is November 3rd!
Saturday, November 3, 2018
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Mesa Urban Garden (MUG)
212 E 1st Ave (NE Corner of Hibbert and 1st Avenue)
Mesa, AZ 85210

602-370-4459

I hope to see you there!

My Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is ready to harvest the "fruit" (the calyx of the flower) and still putting out flowers.  If you come to the Free Seed Share, you may be able to take home a branch. I plan on cutting some the morning of the event and will give out first-come-first-serve.  I can answer your questions on what to do with them too!  Few plants are as stunning and totally usable as this wonderful edible - which, by the way, LOVES our summer heat. Think about it - to get this beautiful at this point it had to be growing all-summer-long!

A couple of other beautiful flowers in the garden right now are my eggplant, which hopefully means more fruit to harvest before the cold comes in (although the weather -wonks are indicating a milder but wetter (HURRAH) winter).


My Society Garlic is blooming so prettily in its happy spot.  It is sometimes hard for me to catch the lovely lavender color, this picture is not bad.  I have the variegated variety with stripped leaves.

My Dark Opal Basil in another area of the garden is really dark purple right now.  I keep basil varieties separated so the seeds will stay true.  Basil loves to mix and the results can be rather grand or disappointing.

My garlic is UP!  I planted 15 days ago and they are coming along nicely.  This is the "regular" type of garlic.  I have another bed of Elephant Garlic which has not shown themselves yet. 


I am digging out the main sweet potato bed and it had some monsters in it.  The big ones are still quite usable they just take longer to 1) cut and 2) cook.  This is the purple Molikai variety.  I want to swap out this big bed for something else - have not decided yet but meanwhile I am storing this in our water heater shed which will help cure them for long-term storage and I can use as needed.


I also have a couple of plants of sweet peppers, "Lipstick" variety and they are all coming along nicely now that the weather cooled off a bit.  Peppers grow very well here, but tend to produce less in the intense mid-summer heat.  They also like a bit of afternoon shade. This plant is an example of some interesting facts about it.  Location - it is in full sun most of the year and is on a once a week watering. It shares space with Greek Oregano which keeps the soil surface cooler during the summer.  It is about 18 months old!


I have a lettuce patch - an area I decided to try out so I could have access to it and a place to grow a nice continuing mix of leaf greens.  I am treating this as cut-and-come-again, snipping off the tops when I need them and adding a few more seeds every couple of weeks to help keep it going nicely for the next 6 or so months.

My wonderful I'itoi onions are in need of harvesting and separating - which is a joy for me to do.  I get to use of the shallot-like bulbs and green tops and I transplant some to increase the bed.  I have basically stopped growing other onions because this variety is just so great both as a bulb and green top.

A couple of new to the garden:

"Beauregard" is the latest addition of garden art.

After a friend gifted us with a Flying Pig, which I named Daisy Mae and I found it so appropriate to a garden in the desert that so many believe can not be enjoyed (when "Pigs Fly"), we were then gifted with a goat (Annabelle) and then we just had to find a chicken.  We looked for several months and a family member suggested this delightful rooster.  It took me a couple of days looking at him to have him "name" himself - he just looks southern-grand.

The other new to the garden is not actually IN the garden yet.

I had an opportunity to purchase some Land Race wild apple seeds from Baker Creek (I just discovered they are no longer available - so they must have run out of the seeds*see my note below) this past spring and after some fits and starts two sprouted!!  Here is one of them.  I just transplanted to a 6 inch pots the other day.  So far so good.  I am not sure where I am going to put them or even if I should put them in the ground (they are not grafted and our soil can be dangerous to non-disease resistant roots).  "Land Race" essentially means survival of the fittest and these pioneer age apples could be anything from a crab apple to a well know heritage variety.  Kind of fun to learn as they grow.

NOTE:  In the Mission Valley of Montana, there is an incredible diversity of naturalized apples. Apples in this area range from bright orange to subtle pinks in riotousstripes of colors, and the flavor is outstanding. The apples here surreptitiously sprouted from seeds deposited by pioneers of the 1800s.

One last critter in the garden - a Gopher Snake.  Spotted in the front yard we relocated to the back yard.  They are beneficial to gardens also.  While we really do encourage live and let live, we have had a surprise problem with gophers a year ago, so this helper can control the population.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of our gardens.

Don't forget my calendar and books for gifts or if you are in need of helpful information.

Have a best day in the garden!



-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

November Planting / Sowing Tips and a Fall Soup.

Greens and Herbs Harvest
Dear Folks,

November planting and sowing is very similar to October, only later and that is an important point when you choose vegetables for their maturity date.  It is VERY important to get long maturity veggies like head cabbage and similar in the ground or sown asap so they have the full cool weather months to grow to harvest size and use.  If these edibles are sown or transplanted later than best time, then you have them growing into the warming times which can stilt the growth or cause them to blast into flower before you get to harvest 
them.

FREE SEED SHARE coming up November 3rd - details below,  click on this link to read on facebook.


Garlic cloves going in!

If it is still October when you read this get YOUR GARLIC cloves planted by October 31st for the same reason as the head vegetables -- they need ALL of the winter chill to develop beautiful heads in the late spring.  Pictured planting on October 8th- I usually try for October 1st.

Successive sow all of your green leafy edibles along with cilantro, dill, chervil and parsley for a continuous harvest all winter and well into spring.

Don't forget to successive sow sugar peas!


Now that we have had some really nice rain this week, and cooler than normal temperatures, I am seriously hoping my belief and those of the weather folks will come true - a stronger El Nino and more rain and snow pack in the mountains this winter.  AND while many folks including myself, don't enjoy real cold, a cooler-than-last-year winter will be good for the gardens, pushing back pest bugs and energizing many of the plants.

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


Seed Share and Q&A With Catherine, The Herb Lady at Mesa Urban Garden

Saturday, November 3, 2018
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Mesa Urban Garden (MUG)

212 E 1st Ave (NE Corner of Hibbert and 1st Avenue)
Mesa, AZ 85210
(602) 370-4459

QUESTION and ANSWERS  Catherine will answer your questions on transition gardening with edibles and sowing in the cool garden.

When to sow
What is successive sowing and why
Maturity dates - what do they mean and why is it important

SEED SHARE -- FREE -- Pick up some seeds to get growing or expand your garden.



I had some organic celery and cut the roots off, let it sit in water for a couple of days to get re-growing and planted them.  Why compost, or worse toss, when they will re-grow and give you harvesting later on!

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.


Nasturtiums!  Are yours starting to come up or have you planted seeds yet?  What, no nasturtiums?  These great edible plants should be in your gardens for their taste and benefits to your plants as they help keep pests at bay.

"The Essential Herbal" blog is a great site.  Their newsletter today is all about recipes using nasturtiumsGive a look.   One of my favorite recipes is making "Dolma" stuffed leaves which usually is grape leaves but the nasturtiums are great as a substitute.  Check out my recipe here, and get your nasturtiums growing!  (Sow the seeds covered, they germinate in the dark.)

Two great soups to use your garden bounty.

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.


While this soup is not pureed - it is an option as shown in the following, similar soup recipe.

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.

 
Green Harvest Soup - a pureed soup
Another soup version  February 2009

I adapted this from a recipe I saw in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  Since I am not overly fond of cooked spinach (in reality after I developed this recipe - I discovered I'm slightly allergic to spinach and beets), I chose a sweet potato over a regular potato (as called for in the original recipe) to sweeten the soup — worked beautifully and the arugula adds just a nice amount of nutty bite.

Green Harvest Soup
1 large shallot, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons - 1 tablespoon dried Herbes de Provence or Italian herb blend
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 cups de-fatted chicken stock - homemade is best - can substitute vegetable
1 large sweet potato, cleaned, peel left on, chopped
1 package (approx 4 cups) mixed greens or baby spinach, rinsed well and dried - set aside 1 cup, torn into bite size pieces
1 cup arugula, torn into bite size pieces
Parmesan cheese curls
edible flowers for garnish (I used pansies, calendula petals and sweet alyssum)
baguette slices
salt to taste

In a heavy pot, melt butter and olive, add shallot, onion and dried herbs and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add the stock and sweet potato, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook covered until the sweet potato is tender, about 10 minutes.  Begin adding all the greens (except for the reserved 1 cup) a little at a time until incorporated and wilted.  Remove from heat and let sit to cool for about 5 minutes.

I used an immersion (stick) blender, but you can use a regular blender or food processor to puree the soup. Careful! Don't burn yourself - I do love my immersion blender - once you get the hang of it you are not dirtying another container (blender)*.

Taste the pureed soup for salt - you should not need to add any or only a very little.

Ladle into soup bowls, top with a bit of reserved greens and arugula, edible flowers and cheese curls, and serve with baguette slices.

There are so many healthy benefits to these foods, it is almost a sin to not serve it whenever they are available from your local growers.


I hope you try one of these soups.  If you do let me know and also how you may have changed it up to be "your" harvest/herb soup.

. . .

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Have a great day in the garden and kitchen with your bounty.
 



-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Sugar Peas, If You Please!

Picture taken October 9, 2018
Dear Folks,

I am readying my monthly planting post for gardening in November (with two great harvest soup recipes), but I wanted to get this information to you ASAP.

Get your sugar peas in NOW and then successive sow every 2-3 weeks for a continuous harvest into late spring.  Each plant will continue to pump out pods for months as long as you keep them picked regularly.

I love Sugar Peas!!

In fact I love them so much I wrote a block post several years ago (link below) in my Ode To Sugar Peas.

Harvested Last March, pods, peas, shells for dinner.
From tender skinny pods all the way through to harvest green shelled peas (I even use the shelled pods for slivering in salads or cooking as an added vegetable) to saving the dried brown seeds for cooking or sowing later, everything about this vegetable is just wonderful.

So, I have been growing them for quite a few years, successive sowing every 2-3 weeks (more going in today) following the old 1 pea per 4-6 inches in sowing and then I found this wonderful youtube channel a couple of years ago and - bingo - I realized I had been denying myself a true bounty of peas to harvest.

First, the video is on growing English (spring) peas, but the technique is the same for Sugar "Snap" Peas.

Second, while the video highlights a genius method planting LONG rows, it is the seed spacing I want you to pay attention to.

Third, I did this last year and had a huge and continuous crop of sugar peas through March/April, far more in the same of garden area, than in prior years.

TIP:  Soak your pea seeds for a couple of hours - but no more than 8 - to speed up germination.

I hope you find the video and ideas helpful.

Huws Nursery (UK)

My Blog Post "Ode to Sugar Peas"

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-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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