Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Watch this Important Documentary on Seed! Available for a Short time.

Dear Folks,

No discussion of food can be complete without the talking about seed. [Pictured is my saved Egyptian Spinach, Garlic Chive and Roselle seed.)

This new documentary "SEED: The Untold Story" is so important I hope you will consider watching and sharing.

They who control the seed, control all of our food!

The streaming video is available free until May 1, 2017.

 Watch here.

So what can we gardeners do?

We can grow natural and heirloom varieties and SAVE THE SEED, by allowing some of the healthiest plants to mature to fully ripe seed. [Pictured:  Drying tomato seed for storage.]

Not only are we doing our small part in saving edible plant seeds, we are also creating our own regional adaptation.  That wonderful and natural phenomenon where the subsequent generations of plants in our gardens become more adapted to not only the climate in our region, but also our own gardens.

Once your seeds are fully dried, store as you would any spice, coffee or tea - cool, dry, dark.  Personally I prefer paper envelopes but glass or plastic containers work too.  Just remember they must be completely dried before you store.

SHARE the seed with others.  I host free seed sharing events at Mesa Urban Garden, but now both Mesa and Phoenix libraries have seed banks where you can check out some seed and then when you harvest you can return newly harvested seed back to the bank.  All FREE!

A lesser know fact about the "modern" farming of hybrids and GMOs is the loss of nutrient density in these foods where quantity became the focus over quality.  If you have to eat 2.5 to 3.5 times the amount of a food to get the same nutrient density as was available 50-70+ years ago, what really has been achieved???? (Source: Study of USDA Direct Farm Reports from Farmers over a 40 years period.)
Share this important video with family and friends, even those who do not garden.  It is important that everyone understand the challenges and risks to our food production systems.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, April 17, 2017

May Planting/Sowing Tips

Dear Folks,

As we move into the warmer months, what to plant and sow options begin to decrease.

Planting/Transplanting is more of a challenge for the plants as they have to deal with rising air temperatures while trying to get their roots established.

[Be sure to read my note (end of post) on how weeds identify soil and nutrients below.]

A story illustration many years ago - I believe it was Sunset Magazine - compared two transplanted shrubs. One planted in October and one planted around April 1st.   By July both shrubs looked about the same.  But by the end of the summer, the one planted the prior October was thriving and 3 times the initial size while the April planted one was struggling to survive.

What happened?  The October transplant, while not doing a lot of above the ground growth, was setting down good healthy roots.  The April planted shrub was struggling with increasing air and surface soil temperatures while trying to get those shallower roots going.

If you choose to transplant now, particularly with shrubs and trees, create the two berm system.  In my photo from my short video, I show you where the first and second berms should be:   1st one about 12 inches away from the trunk of the plant;  2nd one about 3 feet out.  Mulch between the berms and that is where you deep water the plants.  This method keeps water from sitting at the base of the trunk, keeps pest bugs and diseases from getting to the plant; and encourages the roots to go deep and spread. With shrubs and trees all the feeder roots will eventually be out at the drip line (the edge of the canopy - width - of the plant).

With other types of transplants:  vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers, mulch this time of year is a great thing but, again, do not let the mulch touch the base of the plants.

MAY PLANTING:  Artichoke, Jerusalem; Beans, Soy; Cantaloupe; Caper plants; Cucumbers; Eggplant; Fig Trees; Fruit Trees (With Care); Melons, Musk; Okra; Peanuts; Peppers, Sweet; Peppers, Chilies; Potato, Sweet; Purslane; Squash, Summer; Squash, Winter; Tomatillo

SEED IN:  Basil, Chive (Garlic or Onion), Epazote, Perilla, or Catnip-- making use of the canopy of flowering or vegetable plants.

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:  Impatients Wallarana; Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii); Portulaca; Scented Geraniums; Sunflower Roselle/Jamaica Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

NOTE: Give a hair cut to low growing herbs like thyme, marjoram and oregano after they finish blooming.

--Temperatures will remain above 90 from Approx May 29 to September 29th.

--Potatoes - while harvesting, save some for replanting next Jan 1st - store in cardboard (like cardboard egg cartons) in your crisper/frig away from other veggies.

--Fertilize Fruit Trees Memorial Day.

--Tomatoes will stop setting fruit when night time temps go above 80 and stay there. Do Not Pull the plant - they will set fruit again beginning in September.

--DO NOT prune sun damage - the damage continues to protect the underlying growth.  Wait until fall to begin pruning off sun damage when the day time temps drop back below 100 consistantly.


Edible flowers blooming right now that go well with all the berries ripening are honeysuckle and pineapple guava.  Sprinkle over or toss with a mixed berry salad/dessert. 

The petals on the pineapple guava are like eating a piece of candy.  Delicious!!  The nectar from both flowers adds to fruit.

ALWAYS know your and your family's allergic issues when eating flowers which may have pollen in them.

Weeds!  Fascinating barometers of soil conditions and nutrients.

Geoffl Lawton's weekly newsletter this week included a great article on the Permaculture Institute site on what the weeds in our yards tell us about the soil.  I encourage you to read the entire article and click on the internal links.  Common mallow loves barren areas.   Why?  It's huge tap root can reach down below the compaction seeking moisture.  Many of us have seen an explosion of Pineapple Weed (one of the false chamomiles) this spring in both the desert and areas of our gardens.  Why? Hard pan from both the rain run off and baking sun are ideal conditions for this weed.

Under the section "Nutrient Porfile" is a 42 page article on weeds, pests and diseases and the role of various weeds (including eating them).

Have a great time in your garden! 

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

You can purchase my gardening calendars (when to plant/sow) and books from the side bar here on the blog.

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