Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sunflowers! Companions, Nutrition, Sustainable, Fun!

 Dear Folks,

I love sunflowers!

From the wild ones which crop up beside highways and country roads, and even our garden, to the colorful hybrids including the dainty lemon yellow, through the multicolor ranging through oranges and burgundy to the mammoth huge varieties, they all have delighted me for years.

Sunflowers have also been occasional companions for the traditional Native American's three-sisters companion planting, as a 'fourth-sister'.

I've written a long article with a chart on various combinations of the three sisters (also known as a Monsoon Garden) sustainable gardening/farming practice at my newsletter site.

Click here to go to the PDF file.   You can also go to the newsletter site by clicking here.  The three sisters article is under "files".

Here is a brief summary.  The original threes sisters are corn, beans, and squash.  In arid areas where both food and water were precious commodities, the practice of growing 3 complimentary plants (and nutrients) together maximized water use and made caring for the plants easier.   The fact that corn and beans together makes a complete protein and squash provided additional vitamins, minerals and fiber all worked to give the people a very healthy diet.  The soil also benefited because while corn is a heavy feeder, beans put nitrogen back into the soil and the squash covering the ground minimized evaporation and weeds.

Sunflowers as I now know are more edible than previously thought, are a fun option to plant along with sugar peas - one of my favorite 'never-makes-it-into-the-house' garden buffet snacks - and cucumbers.

Read the article for more information and tips.

I'm ready to start sauteeing the large sunflower discs/heads for a fun time in the kitchen!

If you can view video on your computer, you must check out this how to video on braising sunflower heads:

A note for Mac enthusiasts and iPad owners!!!  My "Edible Landscaping in the Desert Southwest: Wheelbarrow to Plate" is now available through the iBookstore app.

Around The Garden.
I just harvested all of my garlic and it is drying now.  I will have some for sale at the farmers market tomorrow.  We cut one of the banana fruit clusters to hang and finish ripening.  I am giving sugarcane a try, and the first sections are starting to sprout.

Bananas, lemon grass, and sugarcane (and palm trees) all a kind grass -- really big grass, so they do need regular watering to maintain them.

DID YOU KNOW fact...the California Fan Palm tree (aka Arizona Fan Palm, Desert Fan Palm, Cotton Fan Palm), Washingtonia filifera is the only native palm tree in the desert USA?  The fruit can be eaten raw, cooked or ground into flour as the Native Americans did.  The tree can live 80 to 250 years!!!

Keep that in the back of your mind when someone tells you palm trees are not native to Arizona.

See more information on this Arizona Native at wikipedia - click here.

July Gardening 
Fall planting season begins July 15th for all seeds of fall edibles.  Get your garden plans together for this heavy sowing time from July 15 through August 15th.  Why???  If you consider that you want pumpkins for instance you need to count backwards from Halloween or Thanksgiving 90 to 120 days.

Have a great weekend, stay hydrated, and support your local businesses and farmers markets,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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