Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, September 16, 2016

October Planting Tips

Dear Folks:

Planting at the optimal or best time for each variety increases your success rate and bounty.  My Roselle  (Hibiscus sabdariffa), also known as Flor de Jamaica is sown in the spring (mid-April when the soil has warmed) to give the plants the benefit of all of the warm weather to grow.  Pictured are the beginning flower buds and the plants are about 4.5 feet tall now.  I should have a great harvest of the gorgeous cranberry colored and flavored calyx in late October/November. By the way, while waiting for the flowers, the delicious leaves can be used in salads or pickled.

I know the seasons are starting to change now - it was a low of 65 yesterday morning and right now I am drinking my first hot cup of morning coffee in 3 months (I switch to iced coffee when the weather heats up).

So, thyme for my monthly planting tips.

Remember you can have all my tips in one location with my 2017 Month-By-Month planting calendar.  Now in 3 versions to suit your needs.


Spring!!! in the Desert - Heavy planting/sowing possibilities:

Bay, Greek (Sweet)
Beans, Fava
Bok Choy
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage, Ornamental
Chrysanthemum, Shungiku
Endive (and Chicory)
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit Trees
Kale, Ornamental
Lemon Grass
Lemon Verbena
Lettuce (arugula, leaf lettuce etc.)
Onions, Green
Oregano, Greek
Oregano, Mexican
Potato seeds (not seed potatoes - use seeds) ("seed potatoes" or cut pieces of potato should be planted Nov 1-Jan 1)
Tarragon, Mexican
Tarragon, French


Carnation (Dianthus)
Cornflower (Bachelor Buttons)
English Daisy
Evening Primrose (Oenothera Berlandieri)
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Johnny-Jump Up
Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Scented Geraniums
Shungiku Chrysanthemum
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet William (Dianthus)
Sweet Alyssum

GARDEN TIPS for October
"Spring in the Desert" - we call fall our spring because this is when we do most of 'heavy' garden work, trees, shrubs and cool weather edibles all go in now.
    The beginning of primary perennial planting season is now through February.
    Cool weather annuals and biennials can be sown every 2-4 weeks (beginning in August) through end of November for a continuous crop through next spring.
    Garlic: Plant garlic cloves no later than October 31st to ensure full maturity of garlic heads in the spring.  Plant extra if you want ‘green garlic’ (used like scallions) through the cool months. The ‘green garlic’ can be harvested when the clove below the soil swells slightly.
    This is the beginning of bare-root planting season. Asparagus, raspberry, blackberry, grape, and strawberries may start showing up in your favorite garden nursery.
    If you have ever-bearing berry vines, cut them down to the ground after the fruit is finished. (This is easier than trying to keep track of which are the oldest canes — commercial growers use this practice.)
Aphids are a major problem with cabbage family - forestall infestations. Add a fingertip of Dawn to 1 quart of water. Shake, pour 1/4 cup down center of each plant once a week

Make and use a safe soap spray on aphids on other plants (the aphids like our cool nights too!).  1 teaspoon each of dawn and vegetable oil to 1 quart of water.  Spray every 5 days for a minimum of 3 repeats to keep them under control.  Neem spray is a good alternative.

FREE Seed Share - September 30th

FREE Lecture - October 1st

Have a great time in the fall garden!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady


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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Podcast Interview and Video on Wicking Bottles

Dear Folks,

I was recently interviewed by Greg Peterson of Urban Farm on the subject of herbs - of course :-) and specifically about growing them in the desert garden (and USDA Zone 9B and above) plus more.

I hope you enjoy this podcast and check out Greg's other informative podcasts and more ways to get your growing on!

I mentioned Suzanne Vilardi in the interview.  Suzanne's is one of the premier growers of edible seedlings in the valley.  Check out her website and find her wonderful transplants here.

I am pleased to share a podcast interview. Greg Peterson of Urban Farm


Yesterday I finally posted a short youtube video on using a poor man's version of the wicking bottle to stabilize a new transplant.  Wicking bottles can also be used while vacationing to ensure your beloved house plant does well while you are gone. [Pictured first is right after I transplanted, watered and then inserted the filled water bottle in the ground.]

The IMPORTANT component of a wicking bottle success is that you MUST water the area or pot well before inserting the wicking bottle. [Pictured is the plant and bottle now empty 24 hours later.]

The bottle watered slowly over 24 hours.  This bed will be watered on Thursday on its normal 7 day cycle.  I may give the plant another interim watering around Sunday or Monday before next Thursday's watering if needed (if we do not get rain).  I will monitor the plant to make sure it is stabilizing properly, and then allow it to go with only the 7 day watering cycle to ensure deep roots.  The cage is to keep the critters off until the plant grows bigger.

Here is the link to the video.

In the podcast my 2017 Wall Calendar is mentioned.  Here is the link to the 3 versions available now.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady If you enjoyed this post, subscribe in the upper side bar link, to get all my posts! Disclaimer: Clicking on links on this blog may earn me a small commission if you purchase something. Your price does not change.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bean Dip and Starting "Limecello"

Dear Folks,

Lunch!  Some foods belie their taste with a plain look.  Bean dips tend to fall into that category, but oh are they tasty when mixed with good things from the garden.  Fresh Basil, Dried Mexican Oregano and a squeeze of one of my Limequats.

Bean / Artichoke Heart Dip

1 can of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinse
8 (apprx) marinated artichoke hearts
several tablespoons of marinade liquid
small handful of fresh Basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican Oregano
couple of turns of cracked black pepper
barest pinch of salt
1 limequat juiced

Put all in a food processor, ad marinade as needed to process to the consistency you want.

Serve with chips and fruit on the side.


I have been wanting to make the popular and traditional Italian Liqueur Lemoncello for a while but with my limequats and just had not gotten around to it.  Then a relative gifted me with some Mexican/Key limes and I knew it was time.

The traditional recipe calls for using only the zest of lemons, pour either Everclear or homemade moonshine over the peels.  Steeping for 40 days, mixing up a simple sugar syrup, adding, mixing and then steeping for another 40 days. Then strain, bottle up and enjoy with family and friends.

I just started the 40 days, but with the whole fruit and using a good quality vodka.

Should be wonderful somewhere around Christmas :-)

My "Limecello" Recipe

4 cups quartered small limes like Mexican or Key or Limequats
2 cups (approx - to cover) good vodka (about 2/3rds of 750 ml bottle)
Put into a dark cupboard away from light.

When the limes have steeped

Bring to boil and dissolve sugar in water.:
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar.

Cool, add to lime liquid, stir well, cap and return to the cupboard for another 40 days.  Strain, and bottle up.

The dark cupboard is to keep the color bright in the finished product.

Coming Up!

New podcast with Greg Peterson of the Urban Farm.  Greg invited me on as a guest to discuss, what else - Herbs!

Watch for the links

Free Seed Share
September 30, 2016, 9 a.m. - Noon
Mesa Farmers Market

Lecture at Mesa Urban Garden
October 1, 2016, 4:30 p.m.
Fall - "Planting Like It Is Spring" in the Desert Garden!

Have a wonderful time in the garden and kitchen!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady


If you enjoyed this post, subscribe in the upper side bar link, to get all my posts!

Disclaimer: Clicking on links on this blog may earn me a small commission if you purchase something. Your price does not change.