Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bloomin' Tuesday

Click the Title above to locate other Bloomin' Tuesday gardens.

I love Bloomin' Tuesdays...I find myself hoping for 'this' or 'that' to be in bloom so I can share it with everyone.

Yesterday, I received a little help in the garden pruning the trees. The blooms are mostly gone and it is growing season so the Palo Verde and Palo Brea were masterfully pruned.

I must admit, I get a physiological response to pruning. And, I know that when a plant is properly pruned the pruning contributes to the overall health and beauty of the plant, but I still feel like I should wait and see what is does next... I guess that isn't to say that plants left to there own devises are not beautiful, but they do tend to be in a perpetual stage of potential...and help is a good thing...which reminds me that I am the branches that are masterfully pruned.

Here is what is blooming today in my AZ garden.

Above, Larkspur ( Consolida ambigua) and Perry's Penstumum(Penstemon parryi)

Above, Desert Senna (Senna covesil)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Veggie Garden Update

The vegetable garden is doing very well this year.

The artichoke and garlic section is thriving. The garlics are forming flower tops...I read I should cut off the flowers to keep the energy in the bulbs so I get nice big bulbs. http://ag.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/archive/growinggarlic.html

The peppers are producing. I'll wait until the weekend to pick the few we currently have and use them in something wonderful.

WOW!!! Look at that tomato plant...

You remember it, the bug ate it down to sticks and then it just started to grow non-stop and it is loaded with tomatoes!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bloomin' Tuesday

Click the Title above to locate other Bloomin' Tuesday gardens.

One of the reasons I love spending time in the garden, is that it is always changing, evolving into the next and over time the garden comes into its own. Just when I feel, wow, this is beautiful the garden makes an adjustment and something new catches my attention.

Over the first few years here in Phoenix, I have spent a good amount of time waiting and watching as plants that I am not familiar with catch my attention and wow me to the core.

Today in my AZ garden the Blue Palo Verde (Cercidium floridum), Arizona's state tree, is in bloom along with the Palo Brea and the Creosote Bush.

The picture above is the Blue Palo Verde, meaing green stick. Notice the trunk and branches are green. They are used for photothinsis as during low water seasons the small leafs and thin branches are dropped to conserve water.

Ah, my Palo Brea...I thought something might be wrong with this beautiful tree however, the display of spring flowers are showing no sign of struggle. The mass of pink flowers is Mexican Primrose (Oenothera speciosa), and the bush to the left forefront is a Creosote Bush. If you attend any of the desert garden walks, there is always a wealth of information communicated regarding this native and useful bush. Most notably is its fragrance, crush a few leafs in the palm of your hand or wait for a shower and it smells like a desert rain. And, when rain becomes a luxury to smell and feel the Creosote is prized companion in the garden.

Monday, April 20, 2009

So many plants, so little land...

I believe almost all gardeners soon run out of space to plant. So, what is a gardener to do when she can not bear to part with any of her beloved plants to make way for new and there are so many more to adore?

Put them in containers!

Over the weekend, I attended Cherie Czaplicki "Container Gardening" class at the Maricopa Extension http://cals.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/general/hort.htm and learned a lot. The fabulous cascading plant is a Myoporum parvifolium 'Prostratum' used a ground cover here in Phoenix. Cherie has had her Myoporum in this pot for 4 years with a little pruning effort she said it looks this great all year long.

Success with Container Gardening

What do I need for successful container Gardening?

  1. A container – consider size and material.
  2. Growing Medium – consider making your own mix.
  3. Plants – consider annuals, perennials, grasses and bulbs. Exposure – consider amount of sun and/or shade.

The container…

  • When choosing a container, choose a nice size 12” or larger.
  • Use the rule of thumb, drain hole(s) should be about the size of your thumb and preferably on the lower side.
  • Clay pots provide excellent movement of moisture and air through the walls of the pot and act as “mini swamp coolers.” In addition, both moisture and air are needed for a healthy root system thus healthy plant.

The Growing Medium…

All-purpose Mix:

  • One-third high quality commercial potting soil
  • One-third pumice (pumice is porous and weighty and will aid in moisture control and help to keep soil molecules from clumping into a mud mess)
  • One-third shredded sphagnum peat moss or sifted home-made compost

Succulent and Cacti Mix:

  • Two to three part pumice
  • One part potting mix

Light weight mix – ideal for hanging baskets

  • One-third vermiculite
  • One-third perlite
  • One-third shredded peat moss or sifted compost.

Putting it all together…

  • Place window screen over drain holes in container.
  • Fill with growing medium mix.
  • Most container gardens include trailing plants, tall spiky plants and mounding plants.
  • Tip: to encourage trailing plants to trail, tip root ball a bit onto its side and be sure potting medium will cover adequately.
  • Place plants as much in the center as possible. Avoid planting against the sides of container.
  • You may consider a mulch of some type to top off your container.

After class, I headed straight for the nursery to pick up pumice and Happy Frog, then straight home to repot all my plants!!! What a wonderful day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bloomin' Tuesday

Click the Title above to locate other Bloomin' Tuesday gardens.

This is my first "Bloomin' Tuesday" post.

I found the Bloomin Tuesday group when visiting the Water When Dry blog. I was looking for a little desert garden help. http://waterwhendry.blogspot.com/

After my enjoyable and inspirational virtual walks through the other Bloomin' Tuesday gardens, I wanted to invite each of you to join me in my AZ garden.

Remember to visit my MI garden this summer by clicking the link on right "In the Garden at the Lake."

Here is what is in bloom today in my AZ garden...

Purple Prickly Pear Cactus - Opuntia violacea var. santa-rita. I love the purple flesh color of the cactus and the lemon yellow color bloom.

There are a couple of other verities of Prickly Pear that have a greener flesh with bright blooms. The Beaver Tail Prickly Pear that has a fuchsia bloom and one variety has the most vibrant orange bloom. I must add those to the garden.

The paddles of this cactus are used in Mexican cooking and have the consistency of Okra. The fruit produced by the bloom I hear makes a beautiful jelly. My Prickly Pear needs to get a bit larger to produce enough fruit for jelly.

Gaillardia grandiflora 'Arizona Sun' is blooming very interestingly this season!!!

Chocolate anyone? Chocolate Daisy Berlandiera lyrata - smells like chocolate.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Compost Bin Envy

After the last post, I strongly thought about dedicating an area of the yard to composting. I love the smell of earthy compost and the results of compost in the garden were pleasantly surprising.

Originally, I learned that the native desert plants do not need compost. Thus, I didn't give composting a thought.

However, after attending the http://ag.arizona.edu/extension/ 8th Annual Real Garden for Real People Garden Tour and seeing/hearing about all the benefits of composting in the desert, my love for the dark earthy humus resulting from composting had me searching out compost bins and clearing out a space in the yard.

The city of Phoenix sells recycled garbage cans for $5. The cans have been cut and drilled to form the perfect bin. http://www.phoenix.gov/GARBAGE/trshadd.html

The area I chose to place my bins was already collecting yard waste.

A rough fit test. Eleanor felt the bins would fit perfectly.

And, in no time, I had cleared out the area and filled my first bin according to the composting guidelines found by following this link. ftp://phoenix.gov/pub/payf/compostflyer.pdf

Stout loves to relax and take in the final results of yard work.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Little Composted Mulch Does Your Vege Garden Good

Over the last few weeks I have noticed that the top two inches of soil in the vegetable garden quickly dries out and heats up and it isn't even hot yet. To help regulate the soil moisture and soil temperature I applied about an inch to two inches of composted mulch throughout the garden paying particular attention to root areas around individual plants. The plants are doing very well. I think this tomato grow about a foot within a week after mulching.

Look how big the tomatoes are getting...

The pepper plants are growing quite nicely and some of the flowers have beared fruit.

A few posts back, I commented on my garlic being ready in March...I have been corrected. I understand the garlic should be ready in May. Also, I have read that the sign that garlic is ready to harvest is in the green tops. When the green tops have turned brown then the garlic is ready.

How to store the garlic - Do not store garlic in the soil it will dry out. Do not store garlic in the refrigerator there is too much moisture. A nice presentation for storage is to braid the garlic. Both soft and hard neck garlic can be braided. http://www.ecst.csuchico.edu/~atman/Misc/braiding-garlic/index.html

I have added a couple of globe artichoke to the garlic garden. Since then, I have seen how large the artichoke plants will get!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm Having So Much Fun in the Garden

Temperatures are lovely. It is cool in the morning and in the evening and during the hours of 11:00 am - 2:00 pm the sun shines bright and it is very warm. Time for sunscreen and plenty of water.

While I am typically working in the garden during the morning and into the afternoon, I took these pictures while out observing the garden at cocktail time. Now there is something to celebrate!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What is happening to my Palo Brea?

We have a beautiful Palo Brea that is about 4 years old. This winter I noticed black spots by spring the black spots were ozing sap.

I have made several calls one to DBG plant hotline, one to the Maricopa Extension and several to local tree experts per recommendation of DBG and Maricopa Extension and internet searches.

I found out that what is occuring is very normal. The sap begins to run in the spring when the tree is ready to leaf and flower. The wood peckers love to peck at the tree and the ants come for the sap and the wood peckers come back for the ants.

Or, hybridization can cause an issue that shows up in the bark and the tree dies a slow death. Unfortnatily you will not know if your tree has this defficiancy until years into its growth.

Best practice - keep the tree healthy, water deep (3 feet) once a month during the hot summer and not at all during the winter, practice good pruning during summer months when the tree can heal properly.

Time will tell.

See side panel for recommended reading - Pruning, Planting & Care by Eric Johnson