Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Around The Garden Mid-April

Dear Folks,

Some of the flowers are fading and some are just getting into all of their glory.  (Don't miss our newest "guest" in the gardens "Bob" - near the bottom of this post.)

With a couple of exceptions our gardens are all edible.  The main exception for me is a flower which is not edible but is so stunning I have several different color variations.  My dad started this back in the 80s when he gave me my first Amaryllis bulb, a blushing pink, which has produced pups multiple times and I have distributed them through out the gardens.

Several years ago, I was at the Sun City Farmers Market with my friends and spotted this drop-dead gorgeous amaryllis and just had to have it.  Not only does it bloom every year now, it gave me seeds 3 years ago, which I am growing and will distribute around the gardens also (according to the experts it will take 5+ years for the bulb to get big enough to produce a flower and I'm hoping for something as spectacular as this).

Off topic, sort of - a great opportunity to listen to Lisa Steele "Fresh Eggs Daily" chicken whisperer (my title for her) talks Chickens In the Garden, with Grep Peterson over a Urban Farm.

Some time in the future, I'm pretty sure we will have (again) chickens and maybe ducks for their wonderful eggs and personalities.

Many of us grew up with honeysuckle flowers and the joy of licking the nectar from their little filament.

I put together a bowl of fresh berries for a dinner we made with friends last week and I sprinkled the honeysuckle and pineapple guava blossoms over the top - yum!
Fresh and edible flowers like these two are a perfect garnish and taste addition to fruits.

If you like a little zip in your fruit salads, try nasturtium flowers and some of the herbs are blooming like lemon thyme.

Another old fashioned edible flower favorite are daylilies.  NOTE: the stunning star gazers and similar are NOT edible.

Daylilies, if you have not grown them, literally bloom for 1 day and then make way for the next flower(s) to open up over the following days.  They are lovely petals to nibble on, you can make a yogurt or cheese dip and stuff them, or just sprinkle the petals on salads.

I have an Aravaipa* Avocado Tree planted last October and it is doing great.  A month or two later I bought some avocados and decided to see if I could get the seeds to root.  About a month ago one of them had roots, finally, so I planted it in the same general area as my under-story, coffee/mango/avocado trees.  Yesterday I spotted a nice healthy stem/trunk.  It is protected by one of my chicken wire hats.  I pinched the tip back to encourage it to branch.  We shall see. [*Called the Aravaipa Avocado for the Aravaipa Canyon in Arizona where the mother tree was discovered, this species is said to be temperature tolerant from 14 to 120 degrees. ]

The caper plants are flowering, and I am soooo looking forward to berries in a month or two to harvest and ferment (pickle).  Along with my friend Jacq Davis at Epic Yard Farm, I believe waiting for the berries and passing on just picking the unopened flower buds is the more productive way to make use of this great plant.  [Read up on how Suzanne Vilardi and figured out how to grow caper plants in our Arizona desert and harvest the seed to grow new plants.]

One of the visitors this time of year is the Giant Swallow Tail Butterfly.  Citrus tree leaves are the host for this beautiful butterfly and the curiously interesting caterpillars start emerging and chewing on some leaves before cocooning into butterflies again.  Many people, even desert plant experts, consider these pests (they are pollinators in the butterfly stage along with bees and hummingbirds) and we do not view them as pests.  If you enjoy butterflies you should understand their need for host plants.  I would encourage you to embrace the idea of "hosting" the egg and caterpillar stage of these magnificent butterflies.

While not a frequent visitor to our gardens, they are quite shy, the Cardinals show up a couple of times a year, and Deane managed to snap a picture (through the kitchen window) of this handsome male eating seed on the berm where we "host" the various birds.  We also have a couple of feeders but a lot of these guests prefer the openness of the berm.

And now for our newest guest "Bob" - a Male Bobwhite Quail!  Named for their very distinctive call, he showed up last week and has been around morning and evening.  We have both gotten quite a lot of joy watching him.  He is not particularly skitterish and Deane has enjoyed the "first light" wake up call in the mornings to get him up and closing our windows down before the sun heats up.  [When we can during the year we open the house up to pull all the fresh night coolness in.]  The only other time we had a Bobwhite visit us was a quick stop over on our gate about 7.or 8 years ago and that distinctive call allowed me to see and get a photo of him or her (don't remember who visited us).

I hope you enjoyed a peak at our gardens.  Share this blog with your friends and family.

If you missed the May planting / sowing information here is the link.

My desert planting calendars and books are available for purchase in the sidebar.

Have a great time in your gardens!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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