Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

What did I plant there? - June Garden Tips

Dear Folks,

If all the people who get help from my work and writings could see me in the garden, they might wonder how I manage to actually get the information out :-)   After a friend gave me an ornament with "Trowel & Error" as the name on the representative potting stand, I adopted it as my motif.

Case in point is that while I constantly experiment in the garden on where and how best to grow something -- I am not real good at marking what I planted.

While thinning out the epozote, I finally remembered the leeks I planted - in February!  I had actually started them as seed a month or so before and then transplanted the little darlings into the epozote bed.  As soon as the warm spring air warmed the soil the leeks took off but so did the epozote (which can top 4 feet if I let it), obscuring the growing leeks.  Don't they look great!

If you look closely at the one at the top you will see the baby bulbs - which I removed and transplanted back in the garden.  With the warming weather, they may not make it, but I know where they like it when I plant next fall -- the actual proper time to put the seeds in.

Think of leeks as a scallion on hormones --  they make a great addition to soups, stews and the grill.  As tender as scallions, if you are going to use them within a week or two, harvest them, otherwise leave them in the ground for another couple of weeks, they store better there (or in a bucket of sand stored at refrigerator temperatures).

We grilled Memorial day and I tossed a halved and cleaned leek (they really do get a lot of debris and grit between the growing leaves) on the grill with squash and onion (from the Mesa Friday Farmers Market - my squash is just getting started - I planted late - come to think of it I didn't mark that either) for our side dish.  I like Queen Creek Olive Mill's blood orange EV olive oil for grilling or roasting vegetables.

Speaking of Farmers Markets (of course you are supporting your local farmers, right!), for you East Valley-ites, there is a new farmers market - at a farm - in the far east valley.

Superstition Farms is a working dairy - family owned for generations.  They have gradually increased their family-farm-friendly experiences and have now added a weekly Thursday afternoon/evening indoor farmers market.

This brand new, cool, indoor farmers market takes place on an actual farm every Thursday from 4:30 to 7:30 with the Grand Opening Thursday, June 2nd. Superstition Farm is conveniently located off the 202 and Elliot at 3440 South Hawes Road, Mesa AZ 85212.

Superstition Farm is a fun and educational working dairy farm run by the Stechnij Family, now raising its third generation on the farm. The farm offers tours to school groups, scout groups, and the general public. The farm also provides a dairy CSA, horse riding lessons, a petting zoo, Wednesday night Chicken Dinners, Moosters Mootique, a milk bar, as well as a tie-in to a great local ice cream shop, Udder Delights. The family believes in helping to create a strong sense of community.

Did you see the Summer 2011 issue of Edible Phoenix?  Too many great articles to list here, go check them out, find them at your local farmers market information tables or subscribe and support them and the local farmers and ranchers they support.

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About the farm in YOUR backyard -- as we head into the warm summer months, check your watering cycles, use that water meter to make sure you are giving the plants enough but not too much.  If you are seeding in anything the stop soil does need to be misted each night until you see growth, then you can back off the misting to encourage deep root growth.

June through August in the Desert Southwest is the equivalent of winter in North Dakota — you maintain what you have planted, taking special care of young or sensitive plants. With the exception of August when the heavy pre-fall seed planting begins, it is a good idea to hold off on any major transplanting until the fall when the temperatures (below 90 daytime) drop back to prime planting weather.

Our Flower Mulching technique can be used to protect young plants by canopying the soil around them, placing the flowering plants very close to the base of the young plants.

Heavy watering requirements may result in yellowing of leaves due to iron deficiency, especially of fruit trees (Chlorosis).  Apply Ironite before next watering to correct - or a more natural option is "Green Sand."

JUNE PLANTING:  Cantaloupe, Corn (for fall harvest), Cucumber, Armenian ; Eggplant, Gourds, Luffa Gourd, Melons, Musk; Okra, Peas, Black Eyed; Peppers, Chiles, Portulaca (Moss Rose), Potato, Sweet; Purslane (Portulaca X Hybrida), Sunflower.

Luffa gourds are great to grow - BUT be aware of the size of a happy plant - 30 feet of vine - they make a good arbor cover, the young squash (yes all gourds are squash family members) can be eaten like zucchini and the vine produces lovely, large yellow flowers.  Deane was photographing them when I grew them a couple of years ago and the bees love them - so much so that a carpenter bee arrived at the same flower as a honey bee drinking and the carpenter kicked the honey bee off the flower!

Sweet potatoes are fun to grow - they grow the opposite season of regular potatoes and the young leaves are edible - you get a 'two-fer!  (Sweet potatoes are NOT from the solano family.)  Make sure you give them room - another large vine plant.

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Finally, Thanks to all of you who took the time to answer my survey question (upper side bar here on the blog)  The survey is now closed but I will leave the results up for a few days.  In looking at the results, I am going to put together a "program" of some sort and get the information out to you - my probable time frame is early fall, when the weather is more conducive to being outside.  I am leaning towards a tour/sampling/Q&A combination based on how many folks wanted both "dinner/class" and a tour.  Numbers of invitees will be kept very small for each event to allow concentrated attention and enough time for all to enjoy.  I will keep you posted.

If you need help with gardening and cooking - I'm always happy to answer questions.  For quick resources, consider my books available in both print and e-book/download form.  Publisher site.

Have a wonderful day!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady