Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Greening / Bring It Home!

When you consider ‘greening' options keep in mind family activities at home. They have more benefits than saving gas money. We do not need research studies (although they exist) to show the many advantages to having family night / activity days at home.

Aside from the many garden and cooking projects families can work on together, activities can include educational tools which are also fun, particularly for the younger members of the family.


Jodi Freeman, author of several books for children, developed coloring books to teach about the native peoples of the Southwest. "My Coloring Book About The Old Ones" is both an activity book and a learning tool. Included are pages for the children to draw their own interpretations of ideas. Available in print or download click here. For those home schooling - the benefit of having the coloring book as a download is that each child can have their own copy.

Susan Lovejoys delightful book "Sunflower Houses" is a gardening-with-children treasure, sure to bring the child out in all. Click here for more info on the book.

Board and Card Games: So many of us grew up playing board and card games with friends and/or family, and it seems like while they are still enjoyed by some, maybe exploring some of the great oldies would get some easy fun back into the family home activity selection options. I see board and card games as an opportunity to teach healthy sportsman-like competition as opposed to the ‘take-no-prisoners' variety which field sports can sometimes teach. I put together some of my favorites in an Amazon sidebar link and chose those that have the free-shipping option if you spend $25 - save gas and shipping too!

Old Time Radio Programs. If you think the children and teenagers in your home might not be interested in the old shows, just consider how much time and energy they put into their MP3 and other audio players. Among the many, many options for program options are comedy (wholesome - there is a word you don't see a lot), musical, drama, detective, and holiday themes.

A super and inexpensive source is Old Time Radio Cat. With the holidays coming up, a start for you is the central holiday page for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas click here.

From there you can view the other categories in their sidebar. I am particularly fond of the old detective shows like Johnny Dollar, Nero Wolfe and Texas Rangers, but the old comedy of Fibber Maggie and Molly, Bob Hope and Jack Benny will never go out of style. If you are getting meals ready during holiday time, decorating the house, or enjoying some family time, how about a nice radio program to keep you company? As an aside many of the commercials are still in the programs — both historically interesting and occasionally de ja vue for current events.

And finally my friend Brenda Hyde has the greatest family-centered website. Everything from crafts, to recipes, to tea party, gardening and just plain family fun stuff can be found there. Check out her blog links too.

Find some new or old fashioned ways to enjoy family time at your home!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ready, Set, PLANT!

Fall in the desert is a new beginning. For us the fall is actually our "spring" — time to get all the perennials, trees and shrubs in. Time to plant cool weather veggies and herbs.

Continuing sowing seeds through the end of September. Beginning October 1 and then generally until the end of February you can transplant all perennials and plant the edible seasonal garden.

WEATHER TIP: If we have an exceptionally hot October (we did last year), wait for transplanting until the day time temps are down into the 90s.

SOW: Anise; Beans; Beets: Bok Choy; Broccoli: Brussels Sprouts: Cabbage: Calendula (Calendula Officinalis); Caraway; Carrots; Cauliflower; Celery: Chard : Chervil; Cilantro; Cornflower/bachelor Buttons (Centaurea Cyanus); Cucumbers: Dill; Endive: Fennel, Leaf; Green Onions: Greens: Kale: Kohlrabi: Leeks: Lettuce: Marigolds,; Mustard: Nasturtium; Ornamental Cabbage/Kale (Brassica Oleracea); Parsley; Peas: Radishes: Snapdragon (Antirrhinum Majus); Spinach: Sweet William Aka Pinks (Dianthus Barbatus); Turnips — all these seeds can be sown successively if you like, particularly the seasonal (annual or biennial) herbs such as dill, cilantro or parsley, every 2-4 weeks. (I generally discourage purchasing plants of these varieties, you will have better luck with seeds. — see cheap seed note below)

TRANSPLANT October 1st: Beets; Bok Choy; Broccoli; Brussels Sprouts; Cabbage; Calendula (Calendula Officinalis); Carnation (Dianthus Caryophyllus); Carrots; Cauliflower; Celery; Chard; Cornflower/bachelor Buttons (Centaurea Cyanus); Endive; English Daisy (Bellis Perennis); Evening Primrose (Oenothera Berlandieri); Fennel, Leaf; Fruit Trees; Garlic; Green Onions; Greens; Herbs, Hardy Perennials; Hollyhock (Alcea Rosea); Johnny-jump-up (Viola Tricolor); Kale; Kohlrabi; Lettuce; Marigolds; Mustard; Nasturtium (Tropaeolum Majus); Onions; Ornamental Cabbage/Kale (Brassica Oleracea); Pansies (Viola X Wittrockiana); Parsnip; Peas; Primrose (Primula Vulgaris); Radishes; Scented Geranium; Shungiku Chrysanthemum; Spinach; Stock (Matthiola Incana); Sweet William Aka Pinks (Dianthus Barbatus); Turnips; Violet (Viola Spp.)

Cheap Seeds Tip: Any culinary herb seed (spice) which has not been heat treated will germinate for you. Go to the cheap spice section of your grocer and find dill, cilantro (coriander), anise and other seeds for sowing in the garden. Unless you need a specific variety this is cheaper than packaged seeds and since they are meant for cooking they are not treated with any fungicides. Soak the seeds over night or for several days, changing the water each day and you will have quick germination of these inexpensive varieties.

My book "Edible Landscaping in the Desert Southwest: Wheelbarrow to Plate" was written for the desert gardener with a month-by-month planting guide to more successful gardening. The guide helps with the very important answer to when to plant what.

Have a great time in your fall garden!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady