Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Watering - Train Your Plants, Instead of The Plants Training You!

Reading 2 inches down
Dear Folks,

That is a crazy sounding post title for this post, right?

The reality is your gardens, and I'm talking in-ground, can "learn" a watering schedule.

Why?  Because they respond to where the water is.  That seems obvious, but there is a specific point about growing edibles in the desert garden.

Reading 6 inches down
Check out the two pictures of the moisture meter reading.

BTW, I consider a moisture meter a gold tool for the desert garden, because getting beds started, different zones in the garden, with different temperatures and sun access all mean that, to some extent, one sizes does NOT fit all.  BUT the plants can learn a schedule.

I will explain why, but please first study the two pictures.

Then watch one of these two videos on seed germination.

I think the best one is the first one on facebook.  The second one is on youtube for those of you who do not go on facebook.  Still a good illustration.

Facebook Seed Germination Video.

Youtube Seed Germination Video

Okay so now you watched the videos, right!  And you took a good look at the two pictures above.

Here is what you are seeing.  A little bit of water went down a couple of inches, but no further.  THAT is the point.

I set up this big 18 inch pot and am going to plant peanuts - more on that in another post.  I slightly wet the soil last night after I got the pot positioned and this is before the sun hit the pot this morning.

Most plants are watered when the meter shows 2-3 on the dry side. Some plants like mint or bananas could be watered at the 3-4 point.

Now let's talk about what you saw in the video.  The videos did not actually show the number of days, but as they were both legumes, they germinate pretty fast.  Let's say for the sake of discussion each of them broke ground at approximately 7-9 days.

I can't tell you how many times I have answered readers questions about why their plants never sprouted after the sowing the seeds.  The typical response to my investigation questions about when, how much and when they watered, sun orientation etc. - was - "well I watered for a couple of days".

So let's go through the action of the plant.

Still from facebook video
Sown and watered for a couple of days.  This is generally enough to break the dormancy of the seed, which are designed to NOT respond to intermittent conditions, but instead "wants" to grow when the soil, temperature and water conditions are right.

So the seed begins to put roots out FIRST.  I think some folks presume the seed sends the green part up first, but no, the roots are the first to grow.

Now think about that typical answer why the seeds did not grow "watered for a couple of days".  Add that to the probable time line of a legume germination of 7-9 days (other edibles may take longer, even weeks) before breaking soil surface and you have an activity where the seed began to germinate and then the seed, roots and/or the beginning green growth hit "DRY" conditions for a day or two and then they died - under ground. That was it.  No amount of additional water will get that seed growing again.

So now let me talk about that part of You training the plants instead of the other way around.

Our gardens have several different watering systems depending on what is growing.  We have tree wells which are on a once every 7 days schedule.  We have a lot of mature beds - things like asparagus, strawberries, jasmine, tomatoes etc.  They have a schedule which changes with the temperature from once every 6 days in the winter down to every 4 days in the summer (we may augment both trees and mature gardens if we get a brutal 110+ string of days, but it is rare that the plants need the additional watering).

Of course there is the addition of rain and if we get a half inch or more 1 or 2 days near the next watering we can skip the mature garden bed (not the trees) watering cycle - one month a year or so ago in January we had so much rain we turned off all watering for about 30+ days.  Nice, but very rare.

Then I also have a series of large pots and a large cinder block bed which is on a tube type water system (not drip - different heads which spray) and that is on every 3 days now.  When we get to the 100s it will go to every 2 days.

The pots and cinder block are watered for 10 minutes.

The trees and mature gardens are watered for 2 hours, rotating through the schedule between them.

So about the training.

By deep watering, spacing out the watering, the upper soil begins to dry. The roots of plants begin to follow the retreating water down, going deeper and deeper.  Did you know tomatoes can get 18 feet of roots?

How do you know if you have watered deep enough to start the "training" process?  If you can stick an 18 inch kabob type metal skewer/rod straight down in the soil, immediately after watering, you have watered deeply enough.

Training seeds and seedlings.  I sow in our mature beds AND the tree wells depending on season and what I am wanting to grow.  I pre-soak seeds during most of the year, but not in the middle of the summer, because I want more of the temperature and soil moisture to dictate germination.

Seeds.  When I direct sow in ground, I water that spot every day - sprinkling to moisten the soil, until I see growth come out of the ground.  It can be 7 days or 30 days, or more, but I sprinkle that spot EVERY day, except when the beds water on their regular watering schedule, I skip that day.

Once those seeds come up, or if I have transplanted small seedlings, I begin to water a bit more volume but every other day.  And watch.  When they appear to be stable at the every 2 day point, I move it out to every 3 days and so on until their watering matches the watering of that garden bed.

July - watered once a week
In this manner I have "trained" eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and other types of edibles to exist in areas which are watered less frequently - including the beds on a once every 7 day cycle.  Yes, once every 7 days - in the summer.  Here is my eggplant area last year, with a sweet pepper to the side.  The first picture is in July and the second one in September.

September - watered once a week.
Note the mulch around the base of the plants.  Once the plants were established I added more mulch on top of what I used to get the seedlings going.

I had transplanted them that February, with tube collars and some mulch and began the process of getting them established and on the once every 7 day cycle.

The rain helps, but we only got the normal - low - amount of rain.  The point is they grew through the summer being watered once every 7 days.

BTW the two eggplants were Listarda and Casper.  The Listarda was the bigger of the two -  gave us a lot of fruit mid-summer almost through winter.

Some additional watering notes:

In the heat, plants may wilt during under the mid-day sun.  This is NOT the time to determine if they actually need more water.  Soft leafed plants like tomatoes wilt to reserve moisture, but if you actually used that moisture meter to check whether they need water, and you are otherwise watering appropriately, you will find the soil moist.

In the warm times, check the soil moisture in the morning.

You have the option of changing when you water depending on the the extreme time of year, e.g., water in the evening in the hot time to minimize evaporation allowing the water to really sink in;  water in the morning in the cold times to minimize mildew and mold.

Mulch around all plants but do not let the mulch touch the plants - keep 3-4 inches away so the bugs which could use the mulch as a subway tunnel to your tender seedlings, can't get there.

I hope this helps you understand how seeds germinate in our desert gardens and how you can use the water to train the plants to go deep and grow healthy.

Have a great day in the garden.


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Mulberries!! A garden "ornament" and a Discount from My Publisher

Dear Folks,

I will be taking a few days off to be with family.

In the meantime I have Mulberries!!

I am so excited.  I also discovered I have to check the trees daily to catch them ripe and before the birds find them.

This is Dwarf Morus Nigra I purchased from Baker Creek 3 years ago.  I got them into the ground in August 2015 after getting them stabilized in pots first.

This is the first year for fruit.  They are small but sooo sweet.

This may not seem like a really big deal, but it is to me.  As a child my sister (when she arrives today I am going to be able to give her some our childhood treats!) and I "discovered" a "blackberry tree" near us and the family did not mind our climbing the tree to get to the fruit.  I had no idea it was a Mulberry until the last decade or so.  Just really did not know what the plant was, only that it was a short tree (our neighborhood had HUGE trees) and it had blackberries on it.

Taking the factors together I finally figured it had to be a dwarf mulberry and found them for sale on Baker Creek.  The listing shows it as a Dwarf Everbearing. Hope so :-)

My Publisher Is Offering A Discount

If you have been thinking about purchasing one of my books or calendars for yourself or as a gift, this would be a good opportunity to save.  My calendars are applicable to the desert southwest AND USDA Zone 9b and above - because it is not just about temperature it is about day light hours too.

Expires  April 19 at 11:59 pm ET

The code is entered while you are checking out and it is case sensitive.

Use code TWENTY18

20% on all PRINT calendars and books - does not apply to PDFs or ebooks

My Publisher - click here for the page. 

Solar Fountain
Managed to catch the spout of water!

We do not have ornaments as a general rule in our garden -- the gardens ARE our ornaments, however I really enjoy certain accents like moving water and maybe eventually a fire pit.

Some years ago I was fascinated with a small solar fountain at a friend's house.  It consisted of a solar panel tethered to a small pump which was in a small black pot, but could have been in a small pond. Anyway I went looking at the time and periodically since then and those setups are available and the challenge I saw for our small patio seating area was room for that arrangement.  Our backyard is 99% garden!

Recently I want searching again because the days and evenings are so lovely to sit out now, and low and behold there is a new type of Solar Fountain - all contained in a small "disc" about 9 inches wide and bingo, I ordered one and I am delighted.  The bowl is temporary as I want to find one of those colorful patterned bowls to put it in.  The fountain has suction cups on the bottom but is designed to float, so any body of water will work.

A couple of points.  The birds will love this so you need to make sure there is always water in the bowl.  I clean it every other day (tossing the water in one of the garden beds) and you need to keep the vent underneath free of debris.  The birds are "busy" in it so I am thinking of putting a bit of a mesh over the vent to make sure nothing gets in it.  We had it stop one day and I was puzzled and then my guy just blew in the top hole put it back and it was pumping again!. E.g., the mesh I am thinking about and you may wish to also.

The unit comes with several spray heads, but I really just like the "spout".  The sun needs to be full on for continuous running but I find it kind of fun to watch it 'bubble' intermittently as the sun moves around the patio for the day.  This unit does not "hold" a charge, just so you know.

Here is a link if you want to check it out at Amazon - may be available through other sources.  Besides the size, the price was also attractive to me. Under $20 vs over $45 for the other type of set up.

I have another garden ornament to show you in a future post when I get it set up the way I want.  That will probably do for the ornaments for the time being until we figure out a fire pit arrangement.

Have a wonderful day in the garden!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Around The Garden and Roasted Vegetables - 3 Ways of Wonderful!

Dear Folks,

When the Azure Blue Sage starts to flower I know it really is spring.  It is sometimes difficult to capture the incredible blue of this lovely little flower, but this is close.  Not the tastiest of the sage, but the flower is so worth having in the garden.

Harvesting asparagus from the garden.  For some gardeners the Holly Grail is tomatoes and I can agree most of the time. However for the 6 or so weeks in the early spring when we can cut and use our asparagus straight from the garden, they are sure a close second.  At this point I am pulling about a half a dozen spears from the garden each day.  And finally roasted a bunch and froze for later use.  I've shared my soup recipe before and it is also below in this post.  I'm thinking when I harvest my potatoes later I will enjoy making the soup with not only my other veggies, like my I'itoi onions and asparagus but also my own potatoes - Yum!

One of my caper plants is in full flower bud production mode - about a month ahead of schedule as I did not prune back this year.  It is really tempting to run out and start collecting the buds at this stage (isn't the flower just drop-dead gorgeous) but I am holding out for the berries which follow.  A lot more fruit for the effort, literally as the berries are way bigger than the unopened flower bud and just as tasty - maybe more so.

My Pineapple Guava flowers are the "candy" of the garden.  The gorgeous flowers are edible and the white petals are like eating a piece of candy, really.  The fruit that follows in late fall is good (like an astringent kiwi) but we think the flowers are just so delicious, it is hard not to eat them all which would seriously impact having fruit later on.

I shucked the last of the sugar peas for use in a pasta dish.  They only need to be added to the boiling pasta in the last 1-2 minutes and they are perfect that way, although we have enjoyed the raw shucked peas in salads too.  I don't want to rush the seasons because we have so much I'm looking forward to from the garden this spring - early fall, but in truth I can't wait to harvest sugar peas again next winter.

I mentioned in prior posts on roasting my asparagus and other vegetables and it is now my current passion as each veggie is ready to harvest.  So far I have roasted our asparagus, carrots and sweet peppers and I can't wait for the next ripe veggie to add to the list.

In the picture I have roasted the tender tips on the left - you know how you bend the asparagus to find the tender vs. tough stem, but I just could not bring myself to waste all that delicious taste of the harder stems.  So, I par-boiled the diced tough end for 5 minutes, then roasted along with the tender parts and they both turned out tender, delicious and ready to use in the recipes below.

I made the recipes over a 2 or so week period, using the roasted vegetables and other ingredients for each meal.

Just flat out great tasting and good for us too!

So first the roasting.  This step is repeated in the soup recipe.  Use the roasted vegetables in the pasta primavera or salad as desired.

Roasting Garden Vegetables

Prepare a pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Rinse and dice the vegetables. Spread out on the prepared pan and sprinkle with a bit of oil of your choice.*  Toss to coat.  Season with cracked black pepper and salt.

Roast for 5 minutes.  Stir once, then roast for 5 more minutes.  Very firm vegetables, like carrots may take an additional 2-6 minutes.  You can check for tenderness with the tip of a knife.


And, they are ready to use right away - my Deane loves them just like that as a side vegetable at a meal - or incorporate into any of the recipes below.

*If you are going to be using a pot or bowl when using the roasted vegetable immediately after cooking, I like to save a step, add a bit of oil to that pot or bowl, toss the raw vegetable to coat, THEN, spread out on the cookie sheet, S&P and roast as directed.

Pasta Primavera

This is an easy recipe to make all in one pot but it requires keeping an eye on the pasta as it cooks.  The idea is to have used up ALL of the water by the end of cooking.

Pasta of choice (for this kind of recipe I like to use Orzo, but any favorite pasta will work nicely)
Water - equal to twice the amount of the pasta - EX 3/4 cup of orzo will use 1 1/2 cups of water
Roasted vegetables - I had red sweet pepper, carrots and asparagus - ratio is your choice
Shucked sugar peas
Salt
Shredded cheese

Bring water to a boil, add salt, and pasta and set the timer for the recommended time.  Watch and stir as needed - it is possible you may need to add some additional hot water.  Add sugar peas the last 1-2 minutes of cooking.  Just before the pasta is done stir in all the rest of the vegetables.  Serve, and add shredded cheese to melt on top and enjoy.

Roasted Vegetable and More Salad

The same roasted vegetables - asparagus, carrots and sweet pepper made a great salad.

I added chopped up marinated artichoke hearts
Snipped I'itoi onion tops
Juice from a couple of my limequats
Cracked black pepper and a bit of salt (the marinated artichokes have some salt in them)

The ratios are your choice.
Chop the artichoke hearts into small pieces reserving the marinade.

Add all the veggies to a bowl.  To the reserved marinade (add more if you need it), mix in the lime juice.  Taste for balance of acid to oil, and add pepper and soil to taste.
Dress the salad, don't add to much, just enough to coat all the ingredients.
Serve and enjoy.

And finally - soup!!

I am so in love with this soup, I can't wait to make it again.

I posted two versions before:  A broccoli, potato, cheese soup and an asparagus, potato, cheese soup.

Roasted Vegetable, Potato, Cheese Soup

Asparagus Soup With Cilantro & Dill
You have a choice of making this a low calorie version without the cheese and served as a light side or appetizer to the meal.

Makes two servings

2 tablespoons of avocado or olive oil (Or substitute melted uncured bacon fat for oil or a combination)
2 cups of chopped vegetable of choice
1 potato
4 ounces white American or cheddar cheese or cheese of choice (cheese is optional)
handful of I'iotoi Onion tops (or scallion tops or onion of choice)
2 cups of water
salt and cracked black pepper
limequat

Salt
Broccoli Soup with Stock Flowers & SugarPeas

Garnish of edible flowers, raw sugar pea pods chopped or snipped herbs

An immersion blender works best for this, or you can use a counter blender working in batches and return to the pot to continue cooking.

Heat oven to 450, prepare a pan with aluminum foil.

Cut vegetable.  Large dice OR cut small bunches of veggie like broccoli

Clean and cut potato into about 1 inch chunks - I leave peels on, I put them in the 2 cups of water and do not rinse as I want the extra starch

Snip onion tops
Shred or cube cheese and set aside

Snip herbs for garnish or prepare any garnish of choice and/or edible flowers.  Set aside

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium size pot.

Spread vegetable in pan, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of oil over, season with some salt and cracked black pepper, stir and roast for  5 minutes.

TIP save time -- put 1 tablespoon of the oil in the pot you will use, add the vegetable, toss to coat then spread in the prepared pan and proceed.  Does a better job of coating the veggie.  Then add the final tablespoon of oil to the same pot and proceed.

While the vegetable is roasting, heat oil, add onion to hot oil in pot, stir and reduce heat and set timer for 5 minutes.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring as needed.

When timer goes off, add water and potatoes to pot,  bring to a boil, add a bit of salt, cover and cook at a low boil.

Stir the vegetable and roast for 5 minutes more.  When the vegetable is finished add to pot, keep at a low boil, cover and cook until all are tender - about 7 minutes.

Using the emersion blender puree.  I like to leave some chunks in the soup.

Add cheese to melt, stirring into the soup to combine.

Serve with garnish.  Squeeze a bit of lime juice over each bowl.




I hope you try these recipes with your own garden goodies!

You can find my calendars and books on Amazon or my publisher's sites.

Have a wonderful time in the garden and kitchen!


My Publisher Site Page


Amazon
 


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

May Planting Tips

Dear Folks,

Time for my monthly planting and gardening information.

But first news from the garden now.

Through the end of April I will be harvesting the last of our Asparagus for eating. THEN I let the plants grow all of their "feathers" (fronds) all through the summer and winter, and we cut the plants back to the ground around December 15th or so.  The fronds feed energy bay into the roots for more production next year.

I was so pleased with the way my dense plantings of sugarpeas performed this winter, I decided on a tomato/cucumber "hedge".  Normally I allow, and recommend, my tomato plants to sprawl, which keeps them "out of" the heat high up and down nearer the moist ground.  The except is if you plant a hedge or forest of them where their combined size and associated humidity help the plants.

The zig/zag hogwire (hardware cloth) trellis was what worked so well with the sugarpeas and I am looking forward to it assisting with this tomato/cucumber hedge.  Most of these plants I grew in my greenhouse, some of the cucumber plants I sowed extra seeds in and one of the tomato plants was a volunteer.  We shall see.

I LOVE my Johnny Jump Up lawn each year, filling the space with green and then a parade of lovely little faces.  These edible flowers are just plain fun to grow, freely re-seed each year (some winding up in garden beds which is just fine with me.

My limequat keeps us in limes pretty much all year as limes and lemons tend to flower and produce fruit multiple times through out the year.

I used the lime juice to make a salad dressing and to squeeze over soups.  Gives them all that nice sparkle.

I tucked some last minute tomato and eggplant seedlings into a bed with cardboard tube collars to protect from bugs and one of our chicken wire "hats" just to visually keep the birds away.

I have been using chicken wire "hats" in different shapes and sizes for years to get young plants going well protected from the critters.  Works great.  After a while I can take the hats off and the critters, unable to get to the plants, have basically forgotten they are there.


Slivered raw asparagus, lime juice, fresh cilantro, dill and chervil finely chopped all wound up in this barley/quinoa salad I made for a friend's party.  I added other veggies too and topped with a piece of Dark Opal Basil I pinched off to make the plant bush out and some Johnny Jump Ups parading across the top of the salad.

I hope you use your edible flowers whether something like the Johnnys or others to decorate and enhance your meals.  I have floated them is soups too!




May here in the desert garden means 'hot' weather is coming for sure.  This year we had an unusually warm winter and our first official 100 degree day was April 10th.  Several days later our HIGH temperature was 25+ degrees cooler!  Global weirding as its best.

May Gardening Tips

MAY PLANTING:
Artichoke, Jerusalem
Beans, Soy
Cantaloupe
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Fig Trees
Fruit Trees (With Care)
Melons, Musk
Okra
Peppers, Sweet
Peppers, Chilies
Potato, Sweet
Squash, Summer
Squash, Winter
Tomatillo
SEED IN:  Basil, Chive (Garlic or Onion), Epazote, Egyptian Spinach (Corchorus olitorius) 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
Purslane
Roselle (sow)
Scented Geraniums
Sunflower
Zinnia

GARDEN TIPS for May
    By the end of the month harvest the rest of your potatoes, keeping the smallest ones as “seed” potatoes for next January — store in cardboard egg cartons in your crisper -- don't store near other vegetables or fruits.

Planting sweet potato, and sowing Roselle and Egyptian Spinach will give you a wonderful selection of “lettuce” leaves options all through the summer.
Bee-Aware!
    As more and more flowers open and fill the air with their perfume, all the pollinators enjoy the garden as much as you, including bees.
    Swarming is where a new queen goes looking for new digs, taking with her some of the workers (as many as 50,000).  Swarming bees are a challenge to deal with because of the Africanization of the honey bee population.
    But intelligent handling of any contact will not result in a problem for you. First, the bees are not interested in you.  They are usually filled with honey for the new trip and interested in finding a new house before the supply runs out.
    Wear white or light colored clothing while gardening.
    Do not do stupid things to bees!  That should be self-evident, but some of the reports of bee encounters makes me wonder how we have survived as a species.
    If you are near a swarm or they get near you:
    a.  Move slowly and do not make aggressive moves.
    b.  Walk slowly to a house or car and get inside until the swarm moves off.  Keep all pets, children and other people from the area.
    c.  Do not go into the pool!  If the bees have been aggravated, they--will--wait--for--you!
    d. Usually the swarm will move off within a short time.
    e.  If they do not move off, then you have to call a professional service or the fire department.  They will kill the bees.  They do not have a choice because of the danger — and you do not have a choice as a homeowner — they either have to kill the swarm or you have a hive full of dangerous 'neighbors.'

Transplanting and Sowing

This time of year we are in one of those transition times, where going from mild to hot can occur in one felled swoop of heat.

Transplanting vs sowing can be a challenge as transplanting can stress the plants.

1) Harden the plants off by placing in the sun 1 hour then moving to shade, next day in sun 2 hours, move to shade - repeat until the plants have been in the sun for 4 hours and you can transplant then with a whole less stress and shock to the plant.  If the temps are already in the 90+ range double the days for each hardening, e.g., 2 days for 1 hour, then shade, 2 days for 2 hours then shade.  Your plants will thank you by being less likely to die as soon as they are put in the gorund!

2)  Use my "flower mulching" technique for transplant in warm/hot weather.  Get a six pack of flowers at the nursery and either plant your target plant (basil for example) and surround the basil with the flowers (about 5 inches apart), OR plant all at the same time -- imagine a 12 inch circle and plant the basil in the center and 4-6 flower plants around.  Flower mulching canopies the soil and shades the sides of the basil, while allowing the basil to get all the sun it needs.

Use edible flower plants like impatiens wallerana and portulaca to provide 'mulch' around the new transplants.  You can also use Sweet Allysum another edible flower but it can be a bully if it is really happy.  The portulaca does the gardener the supreme favor of dying off completely when the cool weather comes in the fall, although it may reseed next late spring.

3) Sow seeds under existing plants, just under the edge of the plant/flower canopy.

Both the "flower mulching" and the "edge sowing" are variations of the "nurse plant" concept seen in the desert where the cactus seed settles at the base of a Mesquite tree.  Shielded from birds and other critters, the seed, is held in place, watered with the rain and grows up with the mesquite protecting it.

Consider SWEET POTATOES to be planted in late May through early July.  They need 90-120 days of warm weather to grow properly.  I've planted in huge containers and in-ground using leaf cover as I do with the Irish potatoes.  In fact I sometimes use the same bed, planting the sweets after I harvest the Irish.

In case you don't know sweet potatoes, unrelated to the Irish (Solano) family, are completely edible, tuber, leaf and vine.

The sweets can produce an amazing amount of leaf and vine cover so be prepared.  Some varieties are more bushy than others.

Seed Saving

Catching the seed from winter crops like sugar peas, lettuces, celery, parsley, radishes etc. is a way to save money AND get stronger plants the next year.  “Regional adaptation” grows plants more and more suited to your backyard and the area you live.  Remember to perfectly dry them.  I store in paper envelopes labeled with harvest date, in a cool, dry, dark place until next planting time.

Looking at head to June and July, there is little suggested planting options for June, but by mid-July be ready to start seeding (not transplanting) for the fall garden.

If that sounds counter-intuitive, think about wanting pumpkins for Halloween or Thanksgiving and count backwards 90 - 120 days.

Mid-July you can under-seed tomatoes (choose short-maturity varieties) and basil for a fall crop, if you do not have tomatoes or want more.  Tomatoes give us two crops a year (spring and fall) if planted in February.  They stop setting flowers in the middle of the summer because the nights (not the days) are too hot for the pollen to activate.

Save Wood Herb Stems

Harvesting or pruning herbs?  Save woody parts to throw on the grill coals the last 15 minutes to add herb smoke flavor to the food - or better yet do it from the inside out, use woody, soaked branches of herbs to make kabob skewers.

Have a wonderful time in the garden and kitchen!

P.S.  Thank you to all of you who watched the Free Grow Your Own Food Workshop videos.  Thank you also if you chose to sign up for the full workshop.


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Friday, April 13, 2018

If you purchas(ed) The Workshop - Challenges and Prizes Opportunities

Dear Folks,

If you decided to purchase the full Grow Your Own Food Workshop or are considering purchasing (closes tomorrow April 14th) there are some fun educational opportunities which include interactive challenges and an opportunity to win prizes, all while learning and helping others to learn too!

If you already purchased the workshop, watch for the email to explain.

If you are still mulling purchase the link is here.

The private Facebook members page for the GYOFW is an area where you can share how your journey is going, post pictures and ask questions.

Learn and grow, grow and learn and then share!

Have a great day!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Have you been watching? I have! More from the Garden

Dear Folks,

Have you been watching all of the free videos on the Grow Your Own Food Workshop links?  I have because one is never finished learning, even when considered an expert.



The Self Reliant group is kicking off the full Grow Your Own Food workshop with a challenge and prizes!

The FREE workshop has been addressing the “why” behind important gardening concepts. Then if you decide to purchase the workshop you’ll get more videos with step by step tutorials.

You can go here to purchase 


More on the workshop below.
 
The picture above is my Feverfew, which I discuss in one of my videos.  This wonderful headache remedy has reseeded in my gardens for a couple of years and I was looking for something else and viola - a young new Feverfew to grab and eat a few leaves to stop a headache in its tracks.

Around The Garden!
 
My caper is starting to put out flower buds!  I have been growing the caper plants for some years now and the ability to pick and brine my own caper berries is just plain and simple wonderful!

Speaking of capers, did you know the green immature seeds of the wonderful Nasturtium can also be brined/pickled for a Poor Man's Caper?  Pregnant or nursing women should avoid them.  I have a lot of colorful nasturtium flowering now.  This lovely red is one I did not get a picture of when I last posted about them.  Having them in the gardens all winter means a whole lot fewer pest bugs and a lot more beneficial insects plus the pollinators (including humming birds) love the flowers.

Our huge cherry tomato patch wintered over big time, with only a couple of weeks from when I was last harvesting tomatoes.  These one year old plants are pumping out soon to be ripe fruit, oh boy!
Horseradish

Mulberry ripening
Elephant Garlic Scape
Barbados Cherry Flowers
My Horseradish is coming back.  There are ripening berries on my Mulberry, and flowers on my Barbados Cherry and I have some "scapes" on my Elephant Garlic, and hoping to see the scapes soon on my regular garlic.  It would mean we did get enough chill this winter and I can harvest heads of garlic later on.

I transplanted some strawberry plants (Alpine) into my desired area the other day.  I had a major die-back of my strawberry bed last summer, with just a few plants remaining (it was a very old bed, just time for them to retire).  I took some seed heads and sprinkled them around AND the plants had also thrown seed here and there so I have been watching for young plants to put where I would like them to start filling in the bed again.  TIP:  I knew the beds were going to water the next day, so I transplanted, gave them a bit of a drink, they wilted a bit by the end of the day, and here they are a day after the watering and they are nice and perky.

RECIPE:   I can't talk about all the wonderful edibles we grow without leaving you with a recipe.  I am SO in love with my new go-to soup recipe and the really nice thing about the special method of roasting the vegetable first is:   those roasted vegetables can make not only a soup, but a salad or a pasta primavera!

Asparagus, Potato Cheese Soup
Makes about 3+ cups of soup

From the Garden I harvested fresh asparagus, I'itoi onion tops, limequat, cilantro and dill to make this delicious soup.

Cheese is really optional if you want to keep it low calorie, but the cheese adds protein.

2 tablespoons of avocado oil

2 cups of large diced asparagus (or any vegetable of your choice.  I have made broccoli soup and am going to work my way through the various vegetables as they come ripe in the garden)


1 potato
4 ounces white American cheese
handful of I'iotoi Onion tops
2 cups of water
salt and cracked black pepper
limequat

Garnish of choice (I used dill and cilantro for the asparagus soup)

An emersion blender works best for this, or you can use a counter blender working in batches and return to the pot to continue cooking..

Heat oven to 450, prepare a pan.

Cut asparagus
Clean and cut potato into about 1 inch chunks - I leave peels on, I put them in the 2 cups of water and do not rinse as I want the extra starch
Snipped onion tops
Shred or cube cheese and set aside


Snip herbs for garnish or prepare any garnish of choice, edible flowers are wonderful.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium size pot.

Spread asparagus in pan, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of oil over, season with some salt and cracked black pepper, stir and roast for  5 minutes.  TIP save time -- put 1 tablespoon of the oil in the pot you will use, add the asparagus, toss to coat then spread in the prepared pan.  Does a better job of coating the veggie.  Then add the final tablespoon of oil to the same pot and proceed.

While the asparagus is roasting add onion to hot oil in pot, stir and reduce heat and cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring as needed.

Add water and potatoes to pot bring to a boil, add a bit of salt, cover and cook at a low boil.

Stir asparagus and roast for 5 minutes more.  When the asparagus is finished add to pot, keep at a low boil, cover and cook until all are tender - about 7 minutes.

Using the emersion blender puree.  I like to leave some chunks in the soup.

Add cheese to melt, stirring into the soup to combine.

Serve with garnish.  Squeeze a bit of lime juice over each bowl.



 

NOW FOR THE workshop information.

If you have been reading my blog posts for some years you know I encourage you to begin or add to your gardens.  I appreciate all of your questions and comments. Some of you are not in the desert southwest but still take away helpful tips and even "oh I want to grow that" after seeing some of my garden pictures.
 


THE workshop is 15 gardening experts (I am one of them) speaking about one or more of their favorite and helpful how-to concepts with written manuals/materials to show you the step by steps.  These experts are from all over the country, so not just one region, but many.

Here is what people are saying:

From Carrie: “I am already HAPPY I have purchased the whole Workshop!! I can’t wait to dive deeper!!!!
Thank you so much!!!!


From Donna: [About Melissa K. Norris’ Seed Saving Presentation] Her passion can be heard in her voice and shows on her face. I loved this presentation!

Don’t miss out - the workshop closes Saturday April 14th. Come grow with us this spring and show off all your plants. Each time you do you’ll be entered to win! The grand opening is on Thursday at 1:30 PM CST in the workshop Facebook group.

Click here and don’t miss a thing and learn what is included



Catherine, The Herb Lady

P.S. Hurry, the Grow Your Own Food Workshop purchase window closes on April 14th so don’t miss out! 





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Friday, April 06, 2018

Have You Started your Free Videos Yet? Around the Garden.

Dear Folks,

The free videos on Grow Your Own Food Workshop started running April 3rd.  You can still get your free access to these and catch up watching as 2 videos are released each day.  [This is a still from my video.]

Grow Your Own Food Workshop.

We have feathered friends in the garden and I got a couple of photos of them just hanging around.

And I tried to get a nice shot of my Lemon Thyme and its beautiful flower.  Hard to get the lovely lilac color, but it is pretty and fragrant. The other leaves showing is one of my Greek Oregano patches.

One of the 4 dove varieties we have visit us in our Saturn Peach tree.  New flower buds coming out.  This variety puts out flowers before leaves and is later than our Florida Prince, which may give us about 6 peaches this year as Deane had to prune it back severely due to age.

Love the zoom on our camera.  We can get some pretty amazing shots like this one of a Woodpecker on a neighbor's palm tree, way far away.  He was just "hanging out" grooming himself - side wards!

And finally the sweet little Inca Dove is now on the nest again for a second time.  The first babies fledged and took off a couple of weeks ago and mom is back on the nest.  She chose a nice safe spot for this, and we have to stand way back to get a zoomed in close up of her so as not to disturb her.  My understanding is they can have 4-6 nestings a year and given how many of their nests are so fragile I guess they need that ratio for survival.

We do enjoy all the feather activity in the gardens.

Have a best day in garden!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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