Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fall planting contemplation..

Watermelon, cucumber, sugar pumpkins, squash.. these are all on my list for fall planting. I'm also considering leeks, lettuce, carrots, spinach, and yes.. I haven't given up on some more tomatoes.
I'm also thinking of spreading out my veggies, and what I mean by that is utilizing the eastern side of the house, and determining if I'll have more luck there.
I'm also having an issue with my cat. Now my cat is an indoor/outdoor cat. I've been successful at keeping her out of my garden via a bird net, but literally you have to circumnavigate the piles of carefully scraped together gravel/leaves/mesquite residue to reach it. I'm a bit concerned that by cultivating the eastern side I'll be inviting her to infiltrate the non-cat contaminated sections of my yard. I wish there was a beneficial usable reason for cat excrament. I know that sounds crazy, but for crying out loud how could that much "crap" for lack of a better word come out of such a small creature?
Peta will hate me for this, but thank goodness she's halfway thru her life cycle. I'm foreseeing only barn cats in my distant future. ha ha.
I also read about watering your space down, and covering it with plastic for 6 weeks to kill any pests that may hinder future growing seasons. I haven't heard about this before so I thought I'd solicit any tips about this particular method. According to what I read it will make temperatures under the plastic heat up to 140 degrees chasing off nemotodes, and killing weed seeds.
Is 6 weeks to long to put off planting for fall??

Friday, July 1, 2011

Disaster Strikes..

They say bad things come in three's, and I can't say I disagree. After threatening possible future damage to my roof from the mesquite tree in the common area, my HOA decided to approve the bid to get it trimmed. And trim they did, I have to say I think this may be the tallest mesquite tree I have ever seen in my life!

During the process of trimming said tree, my garden took quite a beating. It is now fairly pathetic looking, not to mention how it took the HOA 3 weeks to approve the bid, therefore it went from being 80 degrees outside to 113 degrees. Now it's just me, but taking a garden that is constantly in the shade, to full sun for at least 4 hours in 113 degrees seems like a surefire killer to me.

All in all, I've lost the above Zucchini, and a Squash. My tomatoes were on their way out anyway, so I'm not including those in the tally. Next year I'm taking a different strategy with the tomatoes and starting them on the east side of the house where they will get full morning sun, and shade in the afternoon. I also think it will be a better watering schedule for them as they won't be lumped in with the rest of my garden. I only got 4 tomatoes total. Very disappointing! As far as the herbs go, my garden basil never got anywhere because of the shade situation, my mint is hardy and ok, and my oregano is eeking by, literally. The bright spot in all this is my eggplant, and my survivor basil.

These two little guys have beat the odds. The one two the left is the basil that was eaten up by bugs and was looking pretty bad. I decided not to put it in my garden because of the poor shape. Who knew that this would be my master performer. I like to think of it as my "comeback kid"!! The little guy to the right is also a survivor, it sprung up when I was harvesting seeds from my other durable reliable plant.

With these two small victories, I have hope that someday soon, I will find sucess with this process. Now I need to figure out when and what to start planting for fall. I know it's hot, but I'm trying to start thinking ahead. To recap: the first challenge I faced was the transition from shade to full sun and heat; the second was the beating from the landscapers, and the third happened the very same day.
I came home from work to discover that the irrigation was on and had been for quite some time.
I immediately turned my control box to off hoping that would fix the problem. It didn't, and for the next hour I wracked my brain on what to do, searched the internet frantically for a solution, and impatiently waited until my neighbors husband got home from work so he could help me.
Needless to say, the garden got flooded, which aided to the demise of my squash, zucchini, and sent any life that might have been left in my tomatoes to the grave.
LOL.. like I said there is so much emotion in having a garden that I liken it to having children. Hopefully all will turn out ok, but you just never know.
In summation, I would like to extend a HUGE thank you to Chef Stephanie Petersen for my beautiful new porch ornament that has my blog name on it! I love it!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

HOA woes...

I'm now going to take this opportunity to bitch and moan about my HOA. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. HOA's in general are NO BUENO. While I do understand the need for a standard of keeping the yard nice in a community year round, what I do NOT understand, is that we have a semi-gated community and a "community" area that is not maintained!
What I mean by semi-gated is that our community is two communities meshed together. 70% of our for lack of a better word "circle", consists of homeowners, and the remaining 30% consists of condo owners/renters who are not included under the umbrella of our HOA. There is however another gate on the "condo" end of the 'circle' that is permanently open. Therefore the allure of our exclusive gated community instantly loses it's polish once the realization that any joe shmoe with half a brain figures out the alternative entrance.
The permanent open gate aside, the gate on our "the housing" side of the community is CONSISTENTLY broken!!!
One more thing, why, why, am I paying $420 a year, for a community area that is NOT maintained, and by maintained I mean the trees being trimmed instead of hanging ominously over the western side of my house, restricting the flourishing of my garden.
Granted I could climb up to my roof, and risk slipping on the roofing tiles and breaking something, or heaven for bid falling off and doing more damage and trim the branches myself. Instead I took the proactive route and fired off an email to "the powers that be" aka the HOA requesting a schedule of when it will be trimmed.
Here was my response: "We will have to see when they can trim the tree. Will keep you posted."
How vague, impersonal, and deeply dissatisfying!!
In conclusion, I would like to thank my HOA for revoking any sense of trust that my quarterly "donation" to your cause has given me. In addition, you suck.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One ripe mater.. and some disturbing black bugs.

Well the rapture has come and gone, and my struggling garden is still plugging along with one enormous change, I HAVE A RIPE TOMATO!!

It's beautiful isn't it?? Well I think it is. Proof in the reverbial flesh that my garden has produced. Now if I could just convince my HOA to trim the mesquite tree that hangs so delightfully over the western part of my house, perhaps my other fledging plants would explode with fertility. We'll see..

On a different note, my petunia's have developed an infestation on tiny black seedlike things.. are they bugs? I have no idea, but they are slightly sticky, and I'm wondering if they are the reason for the leaf discoloration..
Here is a before and after picture with just a week in between..

Any input is greatly appreciated..
My aero garden however has done very well. It seems hydroponics is the way to go if you want quickly growing, plants.. After my herb experiment has run it's course, I think I'll try some veggies.

I have also had to reign in my tendency to "overwater" once more.. I think once I let things "dry" out they will once again resume progress. It is soo dang hard to resist the urge.
I recently visited a friend of mine who lives about 4 miles away, and has planted the entire northern part of their yard with an abundance of corn, squash, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and the list goes on and on. It was a moment of subduing my more primitive instinct to stomp on the ground like a child lamenting the size comparison of our respective gardens. Not to mention how said garden is already producing like a bunny in heat.. grr..
Once subduing my baser insticts I reacted with enthusiam, tinged with just a touch of jealousy. It was simply beautiful. I do wish I had as much space to plant away, but alas.. until that lucky powerball ticket makes it's way into my hot little hands, I'm limited to my own 4x10 space that was lovingly filled with dirt and painsakingly planted. ha!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You'd think being on the pisces/aries cusp would stablilize my watering..

oh the watering woes..
Jay Harper from Harper's Nursery was on the show yesterday, and I took advantage of the opportunity to batter him with questions about my seedlings, and my battle with the urge to overwater.
His advice was as uncomplicated and wise as the man himself, stick your finger in the dirt, if it's damp/wet, let it dry out before attempting to drown it. In addition, if your seedlings look thirsty first thing in the morning, then water, but don't give in to the urge to water in the afternoon if your seedlings are looking droopy.
I also asked him about my poor petunias, which are still blooming, but the leaves are slowly being leached of color, and turning yellow, am I overwatering??? His answer.. (dramatic music) YES!
I knew it!!!!
So after a bit of research which is not scientific at all, in fact it basically consists of a little web surfing, this is what I found:
" An active challenge to the unknown can produce some of the most profound results as well as come crazy undeveloped hints of what could be. In order to bridge these conflicting energies, you must calm your impulse to action. “Let’s get this show on the road, whether it is ready or not.” You must take time, without apology to yourself or others, to calm your impulse and live with excitement without “jumping the gun” from restlessness to be where you can’t quite see clearly yet."

How right on is that?? So I will continue to forge ahead. When I embarked on my morning visit to my garden, I resisted the urge to water after my water meter clearly said the soil was WET! Urge suppression for the day.. success. We'll see how my will holds up after an afternoon peak.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

So far so good..

I've been getting up every morning, and hand watering my little seedlings and I must say I feel a bit like a mother hen. Here I am pecking and clucking away tending to my "chicks" and making sure they all have enough water. ok.. well not pecking exactly, but definitely hovering.
I am sad to report that I have had a few more deaths. My bell pepper is a goner, as well as my oregano, and my thyme seedlings. Why you ask?? I honestly have no idea, at best guess, you win some and lose some.
Basil seems to be holding on strong!
As far as my tomatoes go, I have two producing fruit, and the others have blooms that have shriveled up with no new maters. ;( Any advice here would be fully welcome. I have heard that if the soil is too rich, they won't produce fruit, they will just keep blooming, but with no results.

I am happy to say that at least my eggplant, squash, mint, chives, and pepper plant are happily reaching for the sky. I am crossing my fingers to make sure my parsley continues to live, but it's touch and go.

On a brighter note, I recently received an aerogarden from my younger brother, and all is well on that front. I don't have to do anything except make sure it has water, and the occasional nutrient.

 Barring any crazy bug war i should soon have a wonderful crop of fresh herbs. Speaking of wonderful crop, this is "the year" for my pomegranite tree! Check out these beauties!

And to close things out, I've taken pictures of my grapes, which I will enjoy if I can win the war on birds, my sky flower, and my petunias. I do love petunia's they continue to bob their pretty little heads hello each morning! Till next time!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Starting a garden... ok.. restarting a garden

April 15th, 2011
So you wouldn't think after a full day of work on a Friday, the thing I would feel like doing is finally after many months of procrastination get my garden together. The truth is, we featured a nursery on the show, I ended up taking home two squash zucchini plants, a beautiful plant called a sky flower, and of course a lovely Mexican Lavender.
 Inspired, with a touch of pressure as temperatures are starting to warm up was the main emotion running rampant thru me. As soon as the clock hit 5 pm I hustled back towards north phoenix, stopping at home depot where I promptly bought 6 bags of soil, two mint, and three basil to supplement the struggling seedlings I had sitting on my porch waiting out my procrastination hopefully.
    After two hours of shoveling, carrying, transplanting, and carefully crafting a "bird netting" to keep my cat from using my now delicious mulch smelling fledgling started garden I sat back with a satified feeling.

April 28, 2011
I am now nearly two weeks into my gardening adventure, and I'm plagued with doubts. Am I watering too much? Is the water getting spread evenly to all my thirsty seedlings? Why are my tomato plants drooping when my mint and basil seem to be thriving??