Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

2017 Gardening Month-By-Month Wall Calendar Is Out! Early Bird Pricing!

Dear Folks,

My 2017 Month-By-Month Wall Calendar Is Finished!

All the timely/seasonal gardening info you need to be successful in the desert and USDA Zone 9b and above.  Get your herbs, fruits, vegetables and edible flower growing on!

Earl Bird Pricing is in effect Until Midnight September 14, 2016

SRP is $19.95 BUT the Early Bird Price is $15.96

Know any family in the desert southwest or deep south who needs a little help?

Whether here in our wonderful Valley of the Sun, or in the Gulf, interior or Coastal areas USDA Zone 9b or above, it is more than the air temperatures or heat, it is about daylight hours and soil temperatures.

Some of the beloved foods like peas and kale like their feet cool and are happy with short daylight hours, while tomatoes and basil love their feet warm with long daylight hours.

If you are just considering starting or extending your garden, the 2017 calendar can be used this September and forward for all the seasonal planting/sowing and maintenance information, and then all of 2017 too!

What are you waiting for?


Calendar Link

Have a best day in the garden!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady


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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

September Planting Tips, And, Sowing with "Collars" and "Hats"

Dear Folks, 
September Planting Tips

September is a heavy sowing rather than transplanting time until near the end of the month, when you can do both. However, when transplanting be sure to harden off your seedlings before putting them in the ground. Our temps do not regularly fall below 90 until around September 29th.

Prepare soil for perennial planting -- edibles need superior draining soil, work in compost or well-rotted manure -- NEVER use fresh manure unless the garden will sit for 6-12 months before planting. If your soil is already healthy, you can ad a light dressing of compost or well-rotted manure.


First picture shows 2 collars made from paper towel or bathroom tissue tubes. These collars keep the soil pests like sowbugs, snails and slugs from your new seed/seedling.

Cut a 3 inch piece and bury half in the soil, nest the seed in and lightly cover with soil and water well.

ALL seeded areas need to be kept moist by sprinkling/watering every day until you see the seed break ground, then you can cut back on watering to encourage deep roots.


I've written about chicken wire hats before. These keep the birds and other critters off you seed areas and young seedlings.  Show in the 2nd picture is a "tube" hat.

They physically discourage them, while permitting all other necessary natural activity.

After a while you can remove the hat as the birds etc. have forgotten they are there. Why? The chicken wire physically stops them but they can still see through. Unlike bird netting which is both a physical and a visual barrier, so as soon as you remove the net they think dinner is served.

I have two short videos on my youtube channel showing how to use the chicken wire hats.

Make good use of your water meter during this temperature transitional month.

Labor day is when we usually fertilize our fruit trees (again on Valentine's day and then again on Memorial Day).

We can look forward to the fall temperatures and reduced moisture. Except for the storms we don't see day time temperatures below 90 from May 29th to September 29th. Getting seed in now sets the cool weather lovers up for germination at the right time.

Give your tomatoes that survived the summer a hair cut, working over several days, trimming off damaged stems. The fruit will start to set again once the night time temps stay below 80.

Cool weather annuals and biennials can be sown every 2-4 weeks (beginning in August) through end of November or December for a continuous crop through next spring.

Some of the longer maturity vegetables need to be sown EARLY. 90-120 day maturity foods like Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Celery, Leeks, and Parsnips all need to be in the ground for 3-4 months before you can harvest them.

Berry Vines/Canes - October 1st: cut all canes, old and new, to ground after fruiting - commercial growers use this method.

Beans (bush and pole beans in first week in September at latest)
Bok Choy
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage, Ornamental
Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)
Cornflower/bachelor Buttons (Centaurea Cyanus)
Endive (and Chicory)
Fennel, Leaf
Onions, Green
Kale, Ornamental Cabbage
Lettuce (leaf lettuce, arugula, mustard greens etc.)
Marigold, Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Marigold, Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii)
Peas, English and Sugar / Snap Peas
Scented Geranium
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum Majus)
Sweet Alyssum
Sweet William Aka Pinks (Dianthus Barbatus)

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

P.S.  I had the worst time with formatting this post for some reason so I apologize for any issues. I would be happy to answer questions.


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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pre-Pesto and Who Else Loves Sunflowers.

Dear Folks,

The basil is going gang-busters in the garden and I had some left over from cutting for the farmers market.  I kept meaning to make up a batch of pre-pesto and just got side-tracked until yesterday.

So, what is pre-pesto?

Basil (or other herb) blended with oil of choice and frozen for later use.

Many, many years ago I read of a restaurant which had their own gardens and always wound up with herbs left over at the end of the day.  They started making 'pre-pesto's with either single herbs or combinations and stored them in the refrigerator for later use.  They hit on a wonderful always ready condiment which could be finished as traditional pesto -- add garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan Cheese -- OR used as an addition to any dish they were preparing.  They went further an came up with non-traditional combinations such as rosemary and walnut oil.

In the collage, I show a large batch of fresh leaves and tender stems*.  I ground them down in my small food processor with avocado oil and the result was an 8 ounce jar, topped with a thin layer of more oil to keep oxygen out.  I freeze this and because of the oil in the paste I can scoop out what I need, tamp back down in the jar and put back in the freezer.

* The tender stems and flowers can all be used.  To find the tender point, use the asparagus break method.  Bend the stem and the round point is the where you cut, keeping the tender parts and either storing the more woody stems for stock and soup making or compost.

I hope you find some fun combinations of herbs and oils for use from your garden bounty.

I LOVE SUNFLOWER!  And so do some our garden "neighbors."

Over the years we have seen the Lesser Goldfinches perform their acrobatics, the Goldfinches and sparrows, and now the Peach Faced Lovebirds!

We have seen them occasionally in the gardens, but they never stay long, until this variety of sunflower attracted them.  Probably what helped in their loving it is that it is more sturdy (except we had to prop up with boards from the rains loosening the soil around their natural shallow roots) and with larger seeds.  The variety is "Lemon Queen" and I love it.  Obviously so do this attractive visitor whom we call the "Cheepy Guy" for their parakeet type call.

Peach Faced are a non-native escapee from 30-40 years ago.  The Arizona Fish and Game studied their impact on native species and determined they pose no threat and so they have continued to live and reproduce valley wide.

Their colors, including their blue back, which you can't see in this picture, remind me of the dwarf Bird of Paradise which blooms in my front yard.  So pretty!

They often nest in palm trees.

Wikipedia on the Peach Faced Love Birds.

 In The Garden:

This week I will start putting in the first successive planting of sugar peas, carrots, beets and radishes, to get a jump start on the fall crops.  I will seed in every 2-3 weeks in 1-2 foot sections at a time, to keep the goodies coming.

I hope you have a wonderful week in your garden and kitchen,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady


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