Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, December 10, 2018

January Planting Tips, In the Garden and A New "Visitor".

Dear Folks,

My Sugar Peas - variety Magnolia Blossom - are coming along nicely. I tucked more seed in around this area for continuous production.  With so many flowers coming on, I expect pods soon - Yum!

From the beautiful to the simple -Purslane volunteering - they do that - in a pot containing an apple tree seedling (more on that below).  I am showing you this edible along with my I'itoi Onions and Roselle leaves for a really fun reason.

Our wonderful food writer at the Arizona Republic, Dominic Armato, created a food challenge, featuring local foods, and one segment in particular sung to me as I grow most of what Chef Kraus (known for his crepes and now this great salad) chose to use in his salad (and YOU can grow these too!)-- I'itoi Onions, Roselle Leaves, Purslane, Arugula, and small tomatoes
Read the article here.      And watch the video here.

My I'itoi onions which I need to separate and re-plant for bigger bulbs.  You will see Chef Kraus in the article and video use hese "shallot" like onions raw, fried and charred.  I have decided to grow only this onion variety (plus garlic chives and garlic), because of their versatility.

Roselle leaves are tangy cranberry flavored much like the "fruit" and are wonderful additions to salads and more all through the summer when traditional lettuces/greens are not happy with the heat. 

We had rare fog yesterday morning (December 8th) which presented a challenge for our typical laundry day as we hang our clothes outside - love the fresh aroma of outside garden air.

That challenge aside, our Johnny Jump-up Lawn is coming along and enjoyed the FOG - the insert shows what it will look like later this coming Spring. 

My Apple tree seedlings are now joined by a new sprout - middle pot.  The larger ones I'm written about before - I was able to get Wild Montana Landrace apple seeds and will be transplanting to larger pots soon.  The middle one is either a Golden Delicious or one of the Green Apple varieties.  I had some apples in the frig crisper and forgot about them.  When I cut open one I discovered most of the seeds were sprouting!!! - Well, never one to let a unique volunteer seed go to waste, I soaked over night and spread in a pot on November 2nd and literally 30 days later this one popped up.  Fun stuff.

One last thing before I get to what to plant/sow in January - yes I know you are deep into your Holidays doings, but you can look forward to breathing a sigh of satisfaction and relief with the major holidays behind you and get your hands dirty again - because we desert gardeners can do that - right away.  My New Year's Day tradition is to plant potatoes if I do no other gardening that day.  Find a fun garden tradition for you and your family to start the New Year off to a good food start :-)

Okay - I've been sharing about critter visitors to our gardens off and on.  Recently it was apparent we have a falcon or hawk giving our doves etc. fits.  Finally one landed, as casual as you please, and we were able to catch 1 or 2 good pictures.  I have ID'd this beautiful predator as an Immature Cooper's Hawk - I do not know if it is female or male.  The picture with "Bouregard" our art rooster, almost seems like the hawk is wondering what it is.


SEED Selection:  Where possible choose short maturity (75 days or less) for maximum production.  Plant short rows in succession of veggies like carrots ( 2 feet at a time) to provide continuous harvest potential (can you really use 12 feet of carrots all at once?).  Also, start seeds like tomato, basil, eggplant and peppers  indoors under lights or in a greenhouse to set out February 1st (with frost protection)

Bok Choy
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit, Bare Root
Fruit Trees
Garlic, Green (planting cloves for use as scallions through spring - they will NOT produce heads)
Greens (lettuce, kale, arugula, spinach etc.) 
Onions, Green
Oregano, Greek
Ornamental Cabbage/Kale (Brassica Oleracea)
Peppers (seed)
Shungiku Chrysanthemum


Carnation (Dianthus)
English Daisy
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Scented Geraniums (with protection)
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet William (Dianthus)
Sweet Alyssum

GARDEN TIPS for January
As we are nearing the end of the primary perennial planting season, I like to celebrate the start of the new year by planting at least one new plant on January 1st.
Celebrate New Year's Day by planting potatoes. (I like the purple ones because they are unusual and have more anti-oxidants.)
November through January can be a ‘rainy' season for the desert. You can usually hold off on regular watering if you have received a half inch or more of rain within 2 days of normal watering days.  Make good use of your water meter to determine soil moisture.
If rains are heavy this month, in addition to foregoing some water days, you may need to put down Ironite or green sand to compensate for mineral bonding (which makes iron unavailable to the plants) due to both the excess water and the cold soil.
Prune citrus and deciduous fruit trees no later than early January before flowering starts.  Shrub trees such as pineapple guava which bloom in late spring, need to be pruned later -- in April approximately.

WHY Edible Flowers? To attract pollinators to your fruit, herbs and veggies year round and to use as safe garnishes and additions to your dining table.

FROST damage:  Do not prune until danger of frost is over - the damaged plant protects the lower growth.

FROST/FREEZE NOTE: Have protective covers ready anytime the overnight forecast is 40 or lower.


One of the delights of spring is the peach and apricot bloom time - clouds of light to dark pink flowers cover the ends of the tree branches with the bees busily doing their work.

Just as the tree's flower buds are starting open you can select a few branches to 'force' into bloom inside for a lovely arrangement.  I emphasize 'a few' because you will loose that potential fruit.

Select a branch and clip off 12-18 inches - arrange in a vase of room temperature water or slightly warmer, after re-cutting the branches under water.  You will be treated to a spring display as one another the flower buds are 'forced' to open in the warmth of your home.  Change or freshen the water each day - if you need to, re-cut the branch, under water, every several days to keep the moisture flowing up to the buds.

At the end of the display, add to the compost pile, or dry and use as kindling for the grill or fire pit.

Have a safe and peaceful Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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