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Garden Chatter

Ramblings from Jenny,
and sometimes worthwhile news of the garden!

 March 2015

Hello from the Retirette and Retiree!  (aka the Parents of the Farmer).  After Lee Allen's excellent article in the March issue of the Desert Leaf which quoted both Rebecca and Jesse, my son says 'we' should do an update.  (He said "I should..." and I said "I will."  That makes it 'we'.)  Every year the celebration of spring includes media articles of farmers' markets, and each time we have been included we would get an increase in new visitors when we were between crops (no tomatoes?!).  Thankfully this time around we are actually closed for the season, as it is so painful to see dream bubbles of tomatoes and peaches pop when the eyes register "only" a shelf of greens.  As Rebecca said, it's seasonal eating. 
 
Part of that green would include asparagus, and I am finding a few spears out there, but the old asparagus beds had been petering out in recent years (interested in origins of word usage? http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/peter-out.html).  No worries though- there are younger beds on the way.  And there are summer crops on the way too!  Jesse has seeded the transplants for peppers and tomatoes, and soon the tiny greenhouse will be crammed full of greenery.  I know he is anxious to return to his regular farm work.  He enjoys carpentry and painting about as much as I enjoy income tax paperwork, but both have been necessary evils this year as we get our ducks in order. 
 
Who is the mama duck?  Why, Rebecca of course!  Like Wayne, she feels the vision of how life can be, while Jesse and I follow along, enjoying, fussing about, becoming overwhelmed about what the moment is and how it fits with our own vision.  I think a successful life requires both the long strong reach toward goals and enjoying the more immediate maintenance as we inch toward them.  And when we duckies start a-quackin' and a-flappin- along the way we just need to center and breathe and cheerfully carry on. (Jesse may not care for this paragraph but this is how I see things, and I'm the one doing the writing (: )
 
And write on I will, as those who know me know I will.  The new border photo of apple blossoms represents another circling of the garden.  When we started out we had a few rows of espaliered apples, east of the pecans.  Turns out the apples liked neither the espalier pruning nor the texas root rot- just too many challenges!  So we took them out and expanded the annual vegetable garden instead.  Now Wayne has decided to try apples amongst the pistachios, eventually replacing the nut trees that had problems, with apple trees, but still keeping some pistachios also.  Fruit and nuts in one basket, companion planting.  So far we have 2 rows in apples and nuts, each apple tree a different variety or root stock or both.  Once we see who of the apples likes the arrangement best we'll continue throughout the orchard, and eventually have apples for sale.  Not this year though.  Thus ends the update of Our Garden.  But of course I will write on. 
 
Many thanks to Lee Allen for his emphasis on the words small and 'Family' as they relate to farm.  My cousin  inherited the 18th century version of family farm back in Connecticut, probably what most people today think of as a family farm- simple acreage (not huge sections) involving woodland, crops, and a small amount of livestock.  My great grandfather was born in that farmhouse.  His father bought that farm in the mid 1800's, and in 1964 my grandfather described his grandfather's operation as market gardening.  Today we would probably call it truck farming.  My cousin focussed more on dairy farming which requires a lot of acreage, especially in a state where there are no grazing allotments, so no doubt the cultivated area was a bit bigger than his market gardening ancestor's.  He used to come visit our little plot before Jesse took over, and I am sure we fit his category of "gentlemen farmer".  Farming was not our major means of income.  We'd have starved if it were, as the farm could not have paid the cost of irrigation!  But little by little the income increased.  Of course so did the expenses, but at least we have hovered around the break even point.  Our pride lets us boast that we have not received any grants or outside income.  We're building it up the old fashioned way.  To an agressive capitalist businessman it may not make sense, but to us it feels right.  It especially feels right not to incur debt.  And as Jesse said, we're in the right place at the right time, a small family farm.  Employees?  Heaven forbid! 
 
So please keep checking for updates, especially as June approaches, but I'll try to write each month until that time.  Oh, and for those of you who know Wayne and I, the place in NM is soon to have insulation and dry wall... at last!!!
 
  

January 28, 2014

 What a quick holiday season that was!  Bella arrived in a whirlwind of activity, and that wind is still whirling, what with playmates, school, and puppies.  Needless to say Jesse and Rebecca have hardly accomplished anything in the direction of long term goals- other than raising Bella and the 2 new puppies.  But there is always a new day, and for that we are thankful.  Their house will get started some day, but for now it's all about Bella.  (and the puppies)

 

We are opening without the sign on the highway, since we haven't a lot of choice in produce yet.  Rather than driving around with big plywood signs, today Jesse is planting spinach and turnips and whatever else he's been meaning to do in the past month when instead he was hiking with Bella and bike riding with Bella and making a swing for Bella......  Not meaning to leave Rebecca out of this picture, she's been hiking too, and organizing play time, and meeting with teachers, and cooking and doing laundry and all that fun stuff.  Life has changed around here, and it's a change for the better.  

 

 

 

2013 

December 4th~

 One of these days I'll clean this section up, but the web site and my computer are at odds this morning.  I do however want to remind you that there is a hard freeze coming on Friday night, Dec.6th.  This may likely do in the pepper plants at last.  They have been so beautiful and lasted so long this year.  We'll be sad to see them go.  Rebecca and the crew are out there harvesting today so you will be able to stock up on Sat. 

 

 

September 11th~

Fall is almost in the air.  The nights are cooling down at last.  The cole crops are in the ground, no longer transplants in containers but young plants stretching out their roots.  Lettuce has been seeded.  Carrots?  Beets?  Could be.  I only heard about the lettuce, but it's getting to be that time of year.  Jesse says he'll be checking for which pistachio trees to harvest in a couple weeks.  The crop is looking hopeful.  Any of you who have tried nuts fresh from the tree know what a treat that is.

Meanwhile, although the tomatoes have slowed down a bit, we still have plenty of food.  Today there was watermelon, kabocha, and much to my surprise I saw some arugula too.  Someone must know how to find it out there!  The harvest list is what I know you are likely to find, but you never know what else will appear, so it's always worth checking in.

August 28th~

We always love to be in the desert for monsoons, but oh the humidity!  -especially in the later part of summer when the tropical storms start brewing and we have these overcast days.  Give me 101 and sunshine any day!

So I am thinking about fall of course,  and the cole crops (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) have been started, transplants now in the shade structure awaiting fertile ground.  Fall is also the time for the root crops to be planted, but right now is still way too early to start them.  Like me, they think 90 degrees is way too hot. 

The lacinato kale, also a cole crop, has decided that the desert is not so bad in the summer so long as there is shade.  That along with swiss chard, has become close to a year round crop.  Finally we have year round greens!  If not lettuce and tomato salad, then salsa on our chard.  We will have a pause in arugula I am sorry to say.  Life got in the way of one of the plantings, and the others are just too tired to go on.


Wow, it's August...
August 10th in fact~

And we still have zucchini, lots of it!  I apologize for the appearance of running out of it today (though there was still plenty of scallop squash).  We had more back in the frige but none of us laggard volunteers (oops, not you Eric!) noticed we needed more, and Jesse was so busy at the register that he didn't even have a chance to do anything about it.  We have been so busy lately!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

This year has been a good one for summer squashes.  Jesse has made 3 plantings, the third now coming to fruit, and the first is still going strong.  He believes the winter frosts took a toll on the squash vine borers who usually do in the plants and require us to make successive plantings.

Also a good year for tomatoes.  Southern blight has met its match!  We still have cherry tomatoes a-plenty for picking as well.

And we still have Kale, unusual for so late in the summer.  It's just an all round good year.

I've just ordered a new book whose author was interviewed on The Splendid Table.  Jo Robinson has come up with all sorts of interesting and helpful information about the food we eat or should eat, and how to keep the nutrient level up.  Did you know you should defrost berries in the microwave, ie quickly, or they lose about half the phytonutrients?  I knew that cooking garlic causes it to lose nutrient value, but lo and behold we can just chop or press it and let it sit for 10 minutes and then go ahead and cook with it.  And one of my favorite discoveries from this interview, food that is made perfect in appearance with the help of pesticides has lower nutrient value because the plant has not found the need to produce the phytonutrients to protect itself from the pests.  When you see those holes in the collard greens it is your sign that nutrients abound!  The book is Eating on the Wild Side, the Missing Link to Optimum Health, by Jo Robinson.  I found it at Barnes and Noble for ~$17 for the hardback.  Good reading and eating! 


    
 

 
June 4th~

"Here come da heat!" Surely a couple of you remember Laugh-In? Or maybe Huey Lewis and the News, "The Heat Is On"? Either way or neither, we're into the hot weather and with it here comes
zucchini, both the dark green and the yellow.
Fresh zucchini like most all veggies is nothing like what you find in the store. It seems like a waste of flavor to put it into zucchini bread, until around the end of August when you wonder how many times a week you can serve zucchini with dinner.

I don't even remember that "zucchini again?" feeling. And that's what eating seasonally is all about. June is also our month to expect onions and garlic, and happily they are available and go so well with squash.
Last week someone bravely asked me "how about tomatoes" - a good joke from a long time customer. Tomatoes are always in demand and almost never ready before the end of June. And always asked for at the beginning of May. That's seasonal somewhere I'm sure, but not here. They are green and still growing on the plants though, and looking good.




May 7th~

What better time to write about food than right after dinner? The beets are small and sooooo tender- no need to peel. And those mustard greens! These are not your boil down in bacon and onion variety. They are mild enough to eat in salad. Not as sharp as arugula- just a piquant mustard taste- mmm mmm mm. On our pizza we had oyster mushrooms, and I do believe they have a bit of an oyster taste- not so earthy as, say, portabella. I'd not noticed that before... but it could have been influenced by the anchovies!

Big treat tomorrow~ Jesse is running the register! He's looking forward to asking your opinion on the crops, so take advantage~


May 3rd~

The asparagus must have picked up steam ~ last week there was a little left over for us, yay! As well as spinach, bok choi, and beets- woo hoo did we feast! Was so good I might go out there like a regular customer tomorrow...

I'm getting into oyster mushrooms on a regular basis. Nicole has let us know that, like chard, they have a bite unless you cook them a bit, so immediately after purchase I saute them on medium heat w/o butter or oil until they start to squeak. Then I store them in the frige and add them cold to salads or reheat with whatever dish I'm making. Mushrooms have been such a compliment to all the fresh veggies.

Tomatoes are in the ground! And the peppers are about to join them! Transplants for squash and eggplant and okra are lined up ready to go too. I have to admit to having bought a watermelon the other day- I just can't wait that long! But it will be July before we know it and we'll be popping cherry tomatoes like candy. Meanwhile the onions are getting larger and we'll be able to bug the gardeners for them sweet and fresh out of the ground. Garlic is not too far behind.


April 2nd~

Finally it feels like spring! Tomatoes and peppers are in flats in the greenhouse. While the peppers are still tiny, the tomatoes are anxiously awaiting slightly warmer temperatures and luxurious garden beds in which to stretch out their roots. Sounds like yoga in the plant kingdom.
The asparagus harvest is less than previous years, as the plants are aging and slowing down. Some of us can relate to that as well. We'll continue to harvest for the rest of the month though, and consider where to do the new planting for future years. Though it will continue to produce for 20 years or more, asparagus yield decreases after 12 years in terms of commercial crop amounts.

Oyster mushrooms are selling like hotcakes. It's always fun to have something new, and freshly harvested mushrooms are a rare treat.

This is the time of year for spring green(s). As the rows of various veggies are thinned, those thinnings show up in the garden building for a tender treat to add to your salads and stir fries. We had baby beet greens a couple weeks ago, but just for that one day when they were thinned. We've also had onion thinnings. Soon there should be lettuce, perhaps turnips also. These are the crops that show up like spring rain, here today, gone tomorrow. They are the rewards reaped by our regular customers (aka garden friends) who don't even read the web site to find out what we have to offer. They just come to say "Hi" and are happy to find some food as well. And we're just happy to see you!


March 23rd~

Breaking news! We now have oyster mushrooms- FRESH ones! And you can welcome Nicole at the register also. Nicole is a co-worker of Rebecca's at Miraval, another healthy being contributing to the health of Our Garden, and to your health too.


March 10th~

A warm week ahead, and that means asparagus is emerging. Must be Spring! Even though the actual first date of spring this year is March 20, we are going to open on March 23rd, for various reasons the least of which is, it is 3232013. Numerology anyone? I haven't a clue, but then I haven't a clue about a lot of things.

I have a bit of a clue about doggie rehab. You may remember Huevo in his wheel chair in 2011. Now we have Shorty being rehab-ed from a spinal injury. Send her your love please. She's progressing right along but it will be a long haul, for both of us!

March 23~
When we turned the garden over to Jesse and Rebecca and I no longer was forced to "play store", Wayne and I spent most of the season in NM. Diane told me that the garden just wasn't the same without me. Today as I came in from greeting folks at the garden I said the same back to her. It's just not the same without you dear friend. Those were the days.....

March 10th~ Many of you may know my dear friend, my "editor", my play mate, perhaps my soul sister, D. Kate Murphy. You may have met her here at the garden, or on the trails of Catalina State Park.  For some time she was somewhat of a community activist, not a pushy person but someone who could express thoughts and desires clearly, and had a great love for the community of Catalina.  Eventually she channelled that activism into the Our Catalina web site, a place for other impassioned folks to find out the issues of the area and for new-comers to discover the gems of the area.  She joined the ranks of the many who have departed for parts unknown not long ago. I cannot tell you how much I will miss being able to chat with her, though I chat with her still, always will.

I first met her after the initial Planning and Zoning meeting about High Mesa. She spoke with such passion and integrity that I had to go up to her once we all left the meeting to share my appreciation for not only her words but also her skill. A while after that she showed up at Our Garden, and we hit it off like peas in a pod. She and Kaia came in regularly when I was running the register, so all of our long timers know them both. For this reason I wanted to say something here, way back here, for you special people. Diane is with us still, floating around somewhere in the ether, and also in my heart.

Feb. 24th~

Aha! Our friendly man in the know, aka Just Ask Art, was right! Two snowstorms in February- who could want for more? Well, the folks to the east experiencing the Texas Drought for one, but we happy little snow birds are here now. No harm done to the crops in the ground, other than they are not growing very fast in this cold weather. But looking on the sunny side, snow is excellent moisture as it stays in place and sinks down in the soil. And did you notice how fast it melts when the sun is shining? Coming from CT (to which the blizzards have finally returned) I just couldn't believe my eyes the first time I experienced desert snow. You don't have to shovel the driveway.. YAY!!

Feb. 19th~

This is the season that tries men's patience, especially farmer men. An inch of snow, a week of balmy, and then WIND with more snow in the forecast. My friend Jo says that weathermen lie like rugs, but really that's only for a long range forecast as in a week away. Our favorite weatherman Art predicted we'd have more than one storm, but as for exactly when? He's not that foolish. Jesse is seasoned by these seasons though. He has already planted only the crops that can take a blast of cold weather (like beets, kale), and has left some vacant seed beds in anticipation of the need for re-planting. I believe it was the 32 degrees of May 1st 2011 that shivered his timbers.

That other worldly vegetable in the above photo is a variety of cauliflower that will definitely be on the menu in the fall. We sampled it this winter and oh! I love it! Mild, nutty, not easy to over-cook. Wayne didn't like it as much as I did, but we all know he's got strange tastes.

I was looking up something about broccoli in my Joy of Cooking a while back and happened to read that actually there is more vitamin and mineral benefit from the leaves than from the flowers which of course are what we usually eat from broccoli and cauliflower. Usually when you buy either of those here you do get leaves as well, but we'll make sure there are plenty in the future. Right now there is still a little bit of broccoli in the garden, the same plants we were picking the little tops from back in December, and I've been pinching leaves like a covey of quail.

I have to admit to buying veggies as well though. Aren't we lucky to have a fairly decent organic vegetable section at Basha's? Unlike some other unnamed places, they seem to keep the quality up, even doing a better job than stores who cater to health nuts like me. Even thought the selection is limited, I prefer that to poor quality. And it's probably thanks to us health nuts who shop there and keep the flow moving along. It's the perfect compliment to Our Garden.

Okay, in answer to John's question, no the asparagus is not yet showing. Like Jesse, it too has become accustomed to our fickle February weather. We'll let you know though, the minute we see green~~~



January 5th~

I know there are a couple folks who check out this web site just to see if I've written anything new.. I don't really have the time right now with Wayne chomping at the bit for dinner, but I do want to be sure you see the last page of this month's Desert Leaf (
http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/publication/?m=12024&l=1). Recognize the garden building? Perhaps you even remember that Saturday in October when Jesse and Rebecca were leaf-watching in Vermont, and Wayne and I were minding the store. Just what we needed, a visit from Wildflower... d'oh! But their photographer is top notch. Wayne said he was anxiously waiting for them to finish since those radishes were needed inside, as in "we've got work to do here you guys". But what a beautiful job they did, and what a beautiful restaurant they have.

And what a beautiful salad I need to make!

PS~ We've missed the Vermillion Flycatcher of late. They nested, had babies, and then disappeared after a while. But our friend Jacques has a hobby of back yard bird photography, and lo and behold Mr. Vermillion must have heard he was in town for a holiday visit.


2012

December 5th~

Attention: We will be closing on December 20th for the winter. Date to reopen will be determined by the asparagus, generally some time in March, and will be posted here on the web site.



November 27, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the broccoli- there's lots of that and some cabbage too (but not lots), and cauliflower on the horizon. And quite happily there are still tomatoes! I was expecting to see sadness out there today in my quest for perhaps one last juicy red one, but no... lots of red ones and undamaged too. I had a hard time finding one fit for a family member, aka cracked beyond sale-ability. Actually I didn't find one like that, but I did find a quail and a cactus wren and chased them both out so that qualified me to take a perfectly good ripe tomato. (-:

I keep expecting the amount of food to drop off some day, but we haven't had a frost since the middle of the month. My inner Easterner says this is very wrong, but at least the leaves are finally turning colors. And if we still have tomatoes and lettuce for Christmas dinner it might not be all that bad.




November 2nd~
Hello there~ Web person Jenny here. Sorry for the lack of info lately. The one chance I had amidst a flurry of family activity was the exact same time that my server was experiencing technical difficulties.
Meanwhile the seasons have been changing again! Nights are much cooler even though the days are still in the eighties. Perfect weather for Lettuce! But also weather that slows down the cucumbers and okra and summer squash (and I hope also the eggplant).
It's the season of nuts, and the first of those is pistachio. I'll be looking for pecans next, though they haven't started to drop out of their husks yet.
As I said, we've had a lot of unplanned family activity in the last month that probably preempted a group pistachio harvest or two. I believe Jesse is doing a couple harvests this week (11/7) with people who signed up, and that will be all for the season. If you missed out we are sorry. Meanwhile there are pistachios available both salted (some lightly, some more heavily) and unsalted. The salted ones have just been brined, no oil used.
Coming up next are the cole crops, broccoli first I expect. Kale has had "technical difficulties", but its buddy Swiss chard (not a cole crop but a beet brother aka "sweet beet" in Australia) is soon to be on the scene.



October 3rd~

OMG is all I can say. Well obviously not all, but do I ever have a better idea of just how hard Jesse and Rebecca work every day! It's simply non-stop. There is always something needing watering, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting, always unaccomplished daily goals, and I am so glad they have returned to take over the reins. Add household chores (theirs and our own) to the gardening and I was on overload. I do believe the next time they take a vacation I will try to go with them!

Meanwhile, thanks for putting up with me for those 2 Saturdays. Once upon a time I knew the routines around here, but the "kids" have been running the show for several years now and I am out of date, gladly by the way.

Sept. 19th~
Brief changes in personnel, as Jesse and Rebecca are about to take a little vacation. Wayne and I will be holding down the fort for a couple weeks... but thank heavens Wendy is back for Wednesdays!!

August 27th~
The peppers have finally changed to red and purple (not so much in that picture which is from last year), and the melons are ripe- and so far this month we've had about 3.25 inches of rain here at Our Garden, a satisfying monsoon season for sure. The clouds have been spectacular. If you've been gone and want to see what you've missed, check out Art's pictures at
http://cloud-maven.com/. Meanwhile, back on the ground, squash vine borers are voracious this year, and so we will have a squash slow down for a bit. Winter squash will be questionable for the same reason. We're used to the borers in the stems of the plants, but some of them are eating right down into the actual squash!

Recently I read an opinion on local non-organic vs organic non-local food, and it made me appreciate Jesse's efforts all the more. The writer first pointed out the amount of fuel used by someone in a pick up truck taking his produce to a farmer's market 50 miles away. Evidently 50 lbs of produce going 50 miles in a pick up uses as much fuel per pound as 50,000 lbs in a semi going 1500 miles. No notes on the gas mileage though, or the cleanliness of its combustion. He also pointed out that train is even more fuel efficient. And then he pointed out the advantage of being able to question the farmer, something I have always said is much better than a government seal of organic approval. But for him the questions he needed to ask the farmer were too complex to mess with, so he seemed to prefer the govt. seal to local-but-not-certified, that way knowing that at least he is supporting clean agriculture. I would also point out that he is often supporting large agri-business and not the small farmer with that attitude.

So here is where we can appreciate Our Garden, and similar operations like Agua Linda south of Tucson in Amado. Not only can you ask about the gardening practises, you can also get a bit of an education when there is time to chat. You can talk with the people actually doing the work, whereas at a farmer's market these days it is possible that the seller is not the person working in the field. That person is no doubt still at the farm working! The seller here may not know all about the gardening practises either, but the farm worker is not far away. And usually it is not so busy that they can not stop to chat for a bit, and fill you in on standard gardening practises, on methods of fertilizing organically, on pest control (or pests out of control!). Just ask for Jesse or Wayne and they'll be glad to take a short break... but forgive them if the timer goes off and they need to move the hose. (They can educate you on irrigation methods as well.)

You can see it all happening right here at the garden.


July 15th~
Little did I know there would be another 2" within week's time!

Meanwhile, there were a few grapes yesterday on the shelf. The netting is really pretty this year, light green, not the usual black stuff- hey, we get into that around here. It's our day to day life. Anyway, it's working too, so the amount of grapes will be increasing. The carrots are about finished after that big finale last week. But eggplant to the rescue! Ratatouille here we come. I discovered a few years back that I like eggplant best when it's been "breaded" ie dusted with flour and dipped in whatever to make the corn meal stick, and sauteed or broiled before using it in recipes, and have even used it in ratatouille that way. Unless I'm feeling lazy.

Peppers, other than red, are not too far away. The colored peppers- red, yellow, purple- take about twice as long to mature, but also are about twice as sweet as the green. And of course give you all that wonderful healthy color in your multi-colored meal.

Sorry I never mentioned the lemoney sorrel before. I had heard of sorrel but never had tried it. OMG, you know? Don't know how long that will last but felt I had to give it a line or two. It's not something you want to cook, but you can add it to a cooked dish or as yet another salad ingredient.

The new background color... these things happen when it's too hot and humid to go outside and pull weeds! Don't worry, it won't last long.

July 7th~
Hello monsoons! After that 2.4" on the July 4th, that's all I need to say about rain.

We still have lots and lots of carrots, almost unheard of at this time of year. What a colorful salad with the red amaranth and juicy purslane (unmentioned above, but I saw it in the garden). The corn is in between once again, the birds are in the peaches (and grapes), but not all are lost. Jesse had at least one flat of peaches out for sale and was going back for more when I checked in. He's soon to cover the flame seedless grapes. Seems like the more juicy fruits you grow the more the bird population grows, just a fact of life.

We're probably (which does not mean definitely) going to stay with the 2 day a week schedule, even into tomato season. Just as you need to love yourself before you can truly love another and help yourself before you can help someone else, we need to take care of our personal priorities before we can spend even more time on the garden. But that does mean a plentiful supply of the fruits of summer on those two days. The cherry tomatoes are just starting to ripen, which along with the grapes seems a bit late but I guess there isn't a plant alive that knows of the Gregorian calendar, or the Julian, or anything but the turn of seasons and length of day. More power to them. But still a guessing game for me!



June 18th~
Boy that was fast... corn! Will be small as there is a lot of damage, but still, fresh sweet corn!
June 17th
Well, hello there. Yes it's been a while but you are used to that if you've been checking in here over the years. I have a good excuse this time- oh, have I had that before also? Well then it's the same one: we've been in NM, my computer has been down, and I can't seem to communicate to the gardener-man (Jesse) how to update the web site, at least not via email and especially not when my internet access is defunct.

So, what's up in the garden:

Corn on the horizon!! Jesse's had a bit, seen a lot of worm damage (which means more for the farmer who eats the dregs of the garden ((-: ) but it's usually better than it first appears. Won't be long with these warm temps, probably within a week.

Squash has started, but we run out early. Again, won't be long with these warm temps- remember when we were soooo tired of eating zucchini?

Wayne and Jesse and Eric have been cleaning garlic and onions like crazy. Jesse made a mad dash to cover them up when that surprise rain hit Saturday afternoon, and now they are all over the place in the garden building, but I'm sure that will change by Wed. at 9am or Wendy will have something to say about it. So we are in garlic and onions for the duration of the summer.

Rebecca and Melanie experimented with sunflower sprouts, and will continue to do so I am sure. The first batch worked out pretty well, although time- consuming to harvest. Something about not wanting to have to spit out sunflower hulls while eating your salad.... makes for a lot of pre-sale cleaning. But they are quite good, and the seed came from last year's sunflowers, grown with the bell peppers.

Oh yes, and the carrots! That one surprised me. And it is why I can never make that "What's Available When" list work very well. It's almost like predicting the weather.

Can't think of anything else at the moment- just wanted to be back in touch really, in my unprofessional way of course. For anyone who is wondering, Wayne and I are still quite a way from the fire in NM, so nothing for us to worry about other than another one starting!


May 24th~
Freshly dug garlic, ah yes!!!! It is being dug as I type, and I hear there was some for sale yesterday (when I wasn't here). I can't wait to sample it tonight! Along with fresh onions, and sliced turnips on my pizza- yes indeed.

Turnip pizza, you read it here. To tell you the honest truth, I prefer the sharper turnips on pizza. The turnips we have now are sooo mild you can eat them raw (if you're not Wayne). The assumption of the family farmers is that even the larger ones are mild right now because they grew so quickly. And since they are mild you can try a trick I learned from Rev. Bob- use slices as the cracker part of hor d'oeurvres, crunchy and healthy.

May 15th~
End of asparagus! Boo hoo hoo. But I left that bright blue print for the next new crop- daikon radishes this time around. And I predict after that it will be freshly dug garlic, oh yes!

April 13th

Have you done your taxes? Come in on the 14th for some revitalizing veggies to help your brain through that last minute push. Jesse says there is a lot more than just asparagus, an abundance in fact. I've even put spinach back in the list! Haven't yet tried the mustard greens myself, but they look absolutely beautiful, and are not green either but a purply red. Jesse says they are tender, mild and just a bit peppery, but not too much. Wayne actually tried them raw and decided he would probably like them cooked. Wayne is our gauge for the less adventurous eaters, a peas and carrots kind of guy. If he likes it chances are you will too!

Seedling Dept.

In the garden, rows of corn are sprouting amongst the cow peas. The corn is a little more timid than the pea, but the first planting is looking more like corn every day. The cow peas are planted as fertilization, nitrogen fixation a specialty of many in the legume family. The nitrogen is formed by bacteria in the roots and feeds the legume plant, and then is released when the legume dies. The cow peas will be turned in once the corn is harvested and voila, the nitrogen used by the corn will be replaced by the peas.

In the shade structure, aka nursery plant area, okra are looking like little boys who grew like bean sprouts and their pants are up to their knees. They're waiting for this next cold spell to pass so they can be sunk into the earth and look like normal plants again.

In the greenhouse, tomatoes and peppers are waiting to join the okra, but not before the chance of snow has passed. Also, squash, cantelope and cucumbers have just been seeded. None of the cucurbits will go in the ground this month, but it's good to have a few early birds waiting when the soil is warm enough. The rest will be seeded directly into the ground when we are starting to complain of the heat.


March 21, 2012

If weird weather is the new norm, does that mean it is no longer weird? At least it means we are getting used to the unexpected, and even able to somewhat predict it (which makes it no longer unexpected). Rain, hail, sleet, snow was the weather journal entry for the 19th, and 3/4 inch precip for the day before- just what the wildflowers ordered! Last year the last snowflakes were recorded on April 9th, so don't put your woolies away yet. Also last year we had frost on May first. Weird is normal. We have fond memories of when weird was weird.

But, asparagus can handle this stuff. It is one of the oddball veggies whose emerging shoots are harvested. Look at the currently harvested beds right now and you'd think there was nothing growing, but those roots are busy under the soil. As the soil temperature rises the brave scouts poke their tips up, a toe in the water testing for the comfort zone. Let them get several inches tall, which they can do in a brief 24 hours with warm enough temps, and Yikes! here comes Rebecca with the knife. And now they are lunch.

But that was just the early birds, who were rationed out last week for sale. Knowing frost was on the way, Jesse cut anything else that was showing (some of which became breakfast) and the rest were safely underground for the snow, sleet, etc. Today (3/22) he cut off the dead tips of the ones who insisted on popping up anyway- spring fever, you know?- and were hit with last night's 27 degrees . As the soil continues to warm and the night time frosts diminish more scouts will emerge- not enough for this Saturday (3/24) but surely for the next!

These initial harvests are enough to feed just our family if we were to take all we wanted, but so many garden friends look forward to fresh asparagus that we all endure rationing for the first couple of weeks. It's sort of an enforced friendly gesture amongst the garden customers, most of whom would think to do it anyway and usually do. Before you know it there is so much asparagus that some of it ends up with Bruce at the Oro Valley Farmers' Market. Two months of harvest, and then we have to let it grow like a normal plant, photosynthesizing away to feed that root crown for next year's harvest.

Thank you Dr. M for reminding me that I still had February's harvest listed. I'm just having too much fun in the desert this spring.


Feb. 16th, 2012
~
Glorious weather again!  That snow came down so fast it even caught the cloud maven
(http://cloud-maven.com/by surprise.  Check his site for pictures and an explanation.  Meanwhile it was easy for me to find an old snow picture (last year? or the year before?) as this seems to happen every year.  No great damage here though.  Maybe even the latest seeds will still germinate, since it's still cool season crops.
More storms predicted too- even snow on Feb. 25th!  I was dubious about that one, especially being so long range, but now... could be.  Last year we had snow on Feb. 27th.  Once upon a time I thought February was spring around here.  Now it's more like a Connecticut spring.  Well, spring snows help those wild flowers grow. 
I have oodles of penstemon seedlings around each of my penstemons.  What a year it would have been to have scattered wildflower seed!  And that's what Wayne was thinking when he seeded along the driveway by the fence, albeit after the prime time initial burst of storms in Nov.  Being desert tough, he's only watering them once a week like it or not, but that's been enough for those in the shadier areas.  Enough also to give the rabbits a bit of green, but hopefully we'll have enough survivors to make seed for next year.

Garden? you say?  What about the garden?  As in vegetables?  Same stuff mostly.  Asparagus was trying to jump the gun, but that snow should have settled it down some.  We know there is more cold ahead and would like it to wait a bit.  Beets should start some time here, and I'm putting broccoli florets back on- not really sure why I was told to take them off actually, as we never have run out.  Must have been someone was getting nervous about supply and demand.  Cilantro should still be there too.  But it's all the same old story- if you don't see something, ask, and if it's available it will be harvested just for you.  If you're in a big hurry..... well.....  you get what is already harvested then don't you. 
Not to worry~ it will be good.
 
************

April 13th

Have you done your taxes? Come in on the 14th for some revitalizing veggies to help your brain through that last minute push. Jesse says there is a lot more than just asparagus, an abundance in fact. I've even put spinach back in the list! Haven't yet tried the mustard greens myself, but they look absolutely beautiful, and are not green either but a purply red. Jesse says they are tender, mild and just a bit peppery, but not too much. Wayne actually tried them raw and decided he would probably like them cooked. Wayne is our gauge for the less adventurous eaters, a peas and carrots kind of guy. If he likes it chances are you will too!

Seedling Dept.

In the garden, rows of corn are sprouting amongst the cow peas. The corn is a little more timid than the pea, but the first planting is looking more like corn every day. The cow peas are planted as fertilization, nitrogen fixation a specialty of many in the legume family. The nitrogen is formed by bacteria in the roots and feeds the legume plant, and then is released when the legume dies. The cow peas will be turned in once the corn is harvested and voila, the nitrogen used by the corn will be replaced by the peas.

In the shade structure, aka nursery plant area, okra are looking like little boys who grew like bean sprouts and their pants are up to their knees. They're waiting for this next cold spell to pass so they can be sunk into the earth and look like normal plants again.

In the greenhouse, tomatoes and peppers are waiting to join the okra, but not before the chance of snow has passed. Also, squash, cantelope and cucumbers have just been seeded. None of the cucurbits will go in the ground this month, but it's good to have a few early birds waiting when the soil is warm enough. The rest will be seeded directly into the ground when we are starting to complain of the heat.


March 21, 2012

If weird weather is the new norm, does that mean it is no longer weird? At least it means we are getting used to the unexpected, and even able to somewhat predict it (which makes it no longer unexpected). Rain, hail, sleet, snow was the weather journal entry for the 19th, and 3/4 inch precip for the day before- just what the wildflowers ordered! Last year the last snowflakes were recorded on April 9th, so don't put your woolies away yet. Also last year we had frost on May first. Weird is normal. We have fond memories of when weird was weird.

But, asparagus can handle this stuff. It is one of the oddball veggies whose emerging shoots are harvested. Look at the currently harvested beds right now and you'd think there was nothing growing, but those roots are busy under the soil. As the soil temperature rises the brave scouts poke their tips up, a toe in the water testing for the comfort zone. Let them get several inches tall, which they can do in a brief 24 hours with warm enough temps, and Yikes! here comes Rebecca with the knife. And now they are lunch.

But that was just the early birds, who were rationed out last week for sale. Knowing frost was on the way, Jesse cut anything else that was showing (some of which became breakfast) and the rest were safely underground for the snow, sleet, etc. Today (3/22) he cut off the dead tips of the ones who insisted on popping up anyway- spring fever, you know?- and were hit with last night's 27 degrees . As the soil continues to warm and the night time frosts diminish more scouts will emerge- not enough for this Saturday (3/24) but surely for the next!

These initial harvests are enough to feed just our family if we were to take all we wanted, but so many garden friends look forward to fresh asparagus that we all endure rationing for the first couple of weeks. It's sort of an enforced friendly gesture amongst the garden customers, most of whom would think to do it anyway and usually do. Before you know it there is so much asparagus that some of it ends up with Bruce at the Oro Valley Farmers' Market. Two months of harvest, and then we have to let it grow like a normal plant, photosynthesizing away to feed that root crown for next year's harvest.

Thank you Dr. M for reminding me that I still had February's harvest listed. I'm just having too much fun in the desert this spring.


Feb. 16th, 2012
~
Glorious weather again!  That snow came down so fast it even caught the cloud maven
(http://cloud-maven.com/by surprise.  Check his site for pictures and an explanation.  Meanwhile it was easy for me to find an old snow picture (last year? or the year before?) as this seems to happen every year.  No great damage here though.  Maybe even the latest seeds will still germinate, since it's still cool season crops.
More storms predicted too- even snow on Feb. 25th!  I was dubious about that one, especially being so long range, but now... could be.  Last year we had snow on Feb. 27th.  Once upon a time I thought February was spring around here.  Now it's more like a Connecticut spring.  Well, spring snows help those wild flowers grow. 
I have oodles of penstemon seedlings around each of my penstemons.  What a year it would have been to have scattered wildflower seed!  And that's what Wayne was thinking when he seeded along the driveway by the fence, albeit after the prime time initial burst of storms in Nov.  Being desert tough, he's only watering them once a week like it or not, but that's been enough for those in the shadier areas.  Enough also to give the rabbits a bit of green, but hopefully we'll have enough survivors to make seed for next year.

Garden? you say?  What about the garden?  As in vegetables?  Same stuff mostly.  Asparagus was trying to jump the gun, but that snow should have settled it down some.  We know there is more cold ahead and would like it to wait a bit.  Beets should start some time here, and I'm putting broccoli florets back on- not really sure why I was told to take them off actually, as we never have run out.  Must have been someone was getting nervous about supply and demand.  Cilantro should still be there too.  But it's all the same old story- if you don't see something, ask, and if it's available it will be harvested just for you.  If you're in a big hurry..... well.....  you get what is already harvested then don't you. 
Not to worry~ it will be good.
 
************

January 17th, 2012

First entry of the new year~  The garden is in a slow down time, the harvest list grows shorter, the new seed catalogs clog up the mail box- and the to do list is overwhelming!  We always intend to complete the many structural projects on our property at this time of year, but somehow the little ghosts that hide in the corners see the opportune time to come out and throw immediate necessities in our path.  Things break, people get sick.. in the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna, "there's always something".  But still each year is better than the last, so really we can't complain. 

We buried Huevo last week, the last of the original Petty German shepherd pack.  Maizy is of course still with us, but of another era.  Huev was born here 13 years ago, the second litter of Blue and Brooke.  His older brother Plomo passed on 3 years ago and it seems like yesterday.  Some pets are like that.  You make a connection that surpasses the human relationship.  Possibly it is language that gets in the way of communication.  It muddies the waters and stirs up emotions, adding static to the field, and interfering with the simple path to and from the heart.

Well, onward to the garden path.  Spinach and lettuce are slowing down, but that is just today's report, and the context involves Rebecca having a terrible cold and a broken the garbage disposal at Rebecca's rental house and a metal pipe going through an adobe wall that disintegrated when Jesse took out the disposal- an all 'round plumbing disaster.  Not a good time to ask Jesse about the garden!  Wayne says he heard Jesse talk of beets coming right up possibly next time (being this weekend), and I know I saw some carrot possibilities.  But again, this is the colder slower time of year for a few weeks more.  However I've pruned my roses and fertilized the irises and I'm feeling asparagus on the horizon.  The crops listed on the front page are the for sure ones, but don't be surprised to see a few other goodies.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Sept. 19th~
Brief changes in personnel, as Jesse and Rebecca are about to take a little vacation. Wayne and I will be holding down the fort for a couple weeks... but thank heavens Wendy is back for Wednesdays!!

August 27th~
The peppers have finally changed to red and purple (not so much in that picture which is from last year), and the melons are ripe- and so far this month we've had about 3.25 inches of rain here at Our Garden, a satisfying monsoon season for sure. The clouds have been spectacular. If you've been gone and want to see what you've missed, check out Art's pictures at
http://cloud-maven.com/. Meanwhile, back on the ground, squash vine borers are voracious this year, and so we will have a squash slow down for a bit. Winter squash will be questionable for the same reason. We're used to the borers in the stems of the plants, but some of them are eating right down into the actual squash!

Recently I read an opinion on local non-organic vs organic non-local food, and it made me appreciate Jesse's efforts all the more. The writer first pointed out the amount of fuel used by someone in a pick up truck taking his produce to a farmer's market 50 miles away. Evidently 50 lbs of produce going 50 miles in a pick up uses as much fuel per pound as 50,000 lbs in a semi going 1500 miles. No notes on the gas mileage though, or the cleanliness of its combustion. He also pointed out that train is even more fuel efficient. And then he pointed out the advantage of being able to question the farmer, something I have always said is much better than a government seal of organic approval. But for him the questions he needed to ask the farmer were too complex to mess with, so he seemed to prefer the govt. seal to local-but-not-certified, that way knowing that at least he is supporting clean agriculture. I would also point out that he is often supporting large agri-business and not the small farmer with that attitude.

So here is where we can appreciate Our Garden, and similar operations like Agua Linda south of Tucson in Amado. Not only can you ask about the gardening practises, you can also get a bit of an education when there is time to chat. You can talk with the people actually doing the work, whereas at a farmer's market these days it is possible that the seller is not the person working in the field. That person is no doubt still at the farm working! The seller here may not know all about the gardening practises either, but the farm worker is not far away. And usually it is not so busy that they can not stop to chat for a bit, and fill you in on standard gardening practises, on methods of fertilizing organically, on pest control (or pests out of control!). Just ask for Jesse or Wayne and they'll be glad to take a short break... but forgive them if the timer goes off and they need to move the hose. (They can educate you on irrigation methods as well.)

You can see it all happening right here at the garden.


July 15th~
Little did I know there would be another 2" within week's time!

Meanwhile, there were a few grapes yesterday on the shelf. The netting is really pretty this year, light green, not the usual black stuff- hey, we get into that around here. It's our day to day life. Anyway, it's working too, so the amount of grapes will be increasing. The carrots are about finished after that big finale last week. But eggplant to the rescue! Ratatouille here we come. I discovered a few years back that I like eggplant best when it's been "breaded" ie dusted with flour and dipped in whatever to make the corn meal stick, and sauteed or broiled before using it in recipes, and have even used it in ratatouille that way. Unless I'm feeling lazy.

Peppers, other than red, are not too far away. The colored peppers- red, yellow, purple- take about twice as long to mature, but also are about twice as sweet as the green. And of course give you all that wonderful healthy color in your multi-colored meal.

Sorry I never mentioned the lemoney sorrel before. I had heard of sorrel but never had tried it. OMG, you know? Don't know how long that will last but felt I had to give it a line or two. It's not something you want to cook, but you can add it to a cooked dish or as yet another salad ingredient.

The new background color... these things happen when it's too hot and humid to go outside and pull weeds! Don't worry, it won't last long.

July 7th~
Hello monsoons! After that 2.4" on the July 4th, that's all I need to say about rain.

We still have lots and lots of carrots, almost unheard of at this time of year. What a colorful salad with the red amaranth and juicy purslane (unmentioned above, but I saw it in the garden). The corn is in between once again, the birds are in the peaches (and grapes), but not all are lost. Jesse had at least one flat of peaches out for sale and was going back for more when I checked in. He's soon to cover the flame seedless grapes. Seems like the more juicy fruits you grow the more the bird population grows, just a fact of life.

We're probably (which does not mean definitely) going to stay with the 2 day a week schedule, even into tomato season. Just as you need to love yourself before you can truly love another and help yourself before you can help someone else, we need to take care of our personal priorities before we can spend even more time on the garden. But that does mean a plentiful supply of the fruits of summer on those two days. The cherry tomatoes are just starting to ripen, which along with the grapes seems a bit late but I guess there isn't a plant alive that knows of the Gregorian calendar, or the Julian, or anything but the turn of seasons and length of day. More power to them. But still a guessing game for me!



June 18th~
Boy that was fast... corn! Will be small as there is a lot of damage, but still, fresh sweet corn!
June 17th
Well, hello there. Yes it's been a while but you are used to that if you've been checking in here over the years. I have a good excuse this time- oh, have I had that before also? Well then it's the same one: we've been in NM, my computer has been down, and I can't seem to communicate to the gardener-man (Jesse) how to update the web site, at least not via email and especially not when my internet access is defunct.

So, what's up in the garden:

Corn on the horizon!! Jesse's had a bit, seen a lot of worm damage (which means more for the farmer who eats the dregs of the garden ((-: ) but it's usually better than it first appears. Won't be long with these warm temps, probably within a week.

Squash has started, but we run out early. Again, won't be long with these warm temps- remember when we were soooo tired of eating zucchini?

Wayne and Jesse and Eric have been cleaning garlic and onions like crazy. Jesse made a mad dash to cover them up when that surprise rain hit Saturday afternoon, and now they are all over the place in the garden building, but I'm sure that will change by Wed. at 9am or Wendy will have something to say about it. So we are in garlic and onions for the duration of the summer.

Rebecca and Melanie experimented with sunflower sprouts, and will continue to do so I am sure. The first batch worked out pretty well, although time- consuming to harvest. Something about not wanting to have to spit out sunflower hulls while eating your salad.... makes for a lot of pre-sale cleaning. But they are quite good, and the seed came from last year's sunflowers, grown with the bell peppers.

Oh yes, and the carrots! That one surprised me. And it is why I can never make that "What's Available When" list work very well. It's almost like predicting the weather.

Can't think of anything else at the moment- just wanted to be back in touch really, in my unprofessional way of course. For anyone who is wondering, Wayne and I are still quite a way from the fire in NM, so nothing for us to worry about other than another one starting!


May 24th~
Freshly dug garlic, ah yes!!!! It is being dug as I type, and I hear there was some for sale yesterday (when I wasn't here). I can't wait to sample it tonight! Along with fresh onions, and sliced turnips on my pizza- yes indeed.

Turnip pizza, you read it here. To tell you the honest truth, I prefer the sharper turnips on pizza. The turnips we have now are sooo mild you can eat them raw (if you're not Wayne). The assumption of the family farmers is that even the larger ones are mild right now because they grew so quickly. And since they are mild you can try a trick I learned from Rev. Bob- use slices as the cracker part of hor d'oeurvres, crunchy and healthy.

May 15th~
End of asparagus! Boo hoo hoo. But I left that bright blue print for the next new crop- daikon radishes this time around. And I predict after that it will be freshly dug garlic, oh yes!

April 13th

Have you done your taxes? Come in on the 14th for some revitalizing veggies to help your brain through that last minute push. Jesse says there is a lot more than just asparagus, an abundance in fact. I've even put spinach back in the list! Haven't yet tried the mustard greens myself, but they look absolutely beautiful, and are not green either but a purply red. Jesse says they are tender, mild and just a bit peppery, but not too much. Wayne actually tried them raw and decided he would probably like them cooked. Wayne is our gauge for the less adventurous eaters, a peas and carrots kind of guy. If he likes it chances are you will too!

Seedling Dept.

In the garden, rows of corn are sprouting amongst the cow peas. The corn is a little more timid than the pea, but the first planting is looking more like corn every day. The cow peas are planted as fertilization, nitrogen fixation a specialty of many in the legume family. The nitrogen is formed by bacteria in the roots and feeds the legume plant, and then is released when the legume dies. The cow peas will be turned in once the corn is harvested and voila, the nitrogen used by the corn will be replaced by the peas.

In the shade structure, aka nursery plant area, okra are looking like little boys who grew like bean sprouts and their pants are up to their knees. They're waiting for this next cold spell to pass so they can be sunk into the earth and look like normal plants again.

In the greenhouse, tomatoes and peppers are waiting to join the okra, but not before the chance of snow has passed. Also, squash, cantelope and cucumbers have just been seeded. None of the cucurbits will go in the ground this month, but it's good to have a few early birds waiting when the soil is warm enough. The rest will be seeded directly into the ground when we are starting to complain of the heat.



March 21, 2012

If weird weather is the new norm, does that mean it is no longer weird? At least it means we are getting used to the unexpected, and even able to somewhat predict it (which makes it no longer unexpected). Rain, hail, sleet, snow was the weather journal entry for the 19th, and 3/4 inch precip for the day before- just what the wildflowers ordered! Last year the last snowflakes were recorded on April 9th, so don't put your woolies away yet. Also last year we had frost on May first. Weird is normal. We have fond memories of when weird was weird.

But, asparagus can handle this stuff. It is one of the oddball veggies whose emerging shoots are harvested. Look at the currently harvested beds right now and you'd think there was nothing growing, but those roots are busy under the soil. As the soil temperature rises the brave scouts poke their tips up, a toe in the water testing for the comfort zone. Let them get several inches tall, which they can do in a brief 24 hours with warm enough temps, and Yikes! here comes Rebecca with the knife. And now they are lunch.

But that was just the early birds, who were rationed out last week for sale. Knowing frost was on the way, Jesse cut anything else that was showing (some of which became breakfast) and the rest were safely underground for the snow, sleet, etc. Today (3/22) he cut off the dead tips of the ones who insisted on popping up anyway- spring fever, you know?- and were hit with last night's 27 degrees . As the soil continues to warm and the night time frosts diminish more scouts will emerge- not enough for this Saturday (3/24) but surely for the next!

These initial harvests are enough to feed just our family if we were to take all we wanted, but so many garden friends look forward to fresh asparagus that we all endure rationing for the first couple of weeks. It's sort of an enforced friendly gesture amongst the garden customers, most of whom would think to do it anyway and usually do. Before you know it there is so much asparagus that some of it ends up with Bruce at the Oro Valley Farmers' Market. Two months of harvest, and then we have to let it grow like a normal plant, photosynthesizing away to feed that root crown for next year's harvest.

Thank you Dr. M for reminding me that I still had February's harvest listed. I'm just having too much fun in the desert this spring.


Feb. 16th, 2012
~
Glorious weather again!  That snow came down so fast it even caught the cloud maven (http://cloud-maven.com/by surprise.  Check his site for pictures and an explanation.  Meanwhile it was easy for me to find an old snow picture (last year? or the year before?) as this seems to happen every year.  No great damage here though.  Maybe even the latest seeds will still germinate, since it's still cool season crops.
More storms predicted too- even snow on Feb. 25th!  I was dubious about that one, especially being so long range, but now... could be.  Last year we had snow on Feb. 27th.  Once upon a time I thought February was spring around here.  Now it's more like a Connecticut spring.  Well, spring snows help those wild flowers grow. 
I have oodles of penstemon seedlings around each of my penstemons.  What a year it would have been to have scattered wildflower seed!  And that's what Wayne was thinking when he seeded along the driveway by the fence, albeit after the prime time initial burst of storms in Nov.  Being desert tough, he's only watering them once a week like it or not, but that's been enough for those in the shadier areas.  Enough also to give the rabbits a bit of green, but hopefully we'll have enough survivors to make seed for next year.

Garden? you say?  What about the garden?  As in vegetables?  Same stuff mostly.  Asparagus was trying to jump the gun, but that snow should have settled it down some.  We know there is more cold ahead and would like it to wait a bit.  Beets should start some time here, and I'm putting broccoli florets back on- not really sure why I was told to take them off actually, as we never have run out.  Must have been someone was getting nervous about supply and demand.  Cilantro should still be there too.  But it's all the same old story- if you don't see something, ask, and if it's available it will be harvested just for you.  If you're in a big hurry..... well.....  you get what is already harvested then don't you. 
Not to worry~ it will be good.
 
************

January 17th, 2012

First entry of the new year~  The garden is in a slow down time, the harvest list grows shorter, the new seed catalogs clog up the mail box- and the to do list is overwhelming!  We always intend to complete the many structural projects on our property at this time of year, but somehow the little ghosts that hide in the corners see the opportune time to come out and throw immediate necessities in our path.  Things break, people get sick.. in the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna, "there's always something".  But still each year is better than the last, so really we can't complain. 

We buried Huevo last week, the last of the original Petty German shepherd pack.  Maizy is of course still with us, but of another era.  Huev was born here 13 years ago, the second litter of Blue and Brooke.  His older brother Plomo passed on 3 years ago and it seems like yesterday.  Some pets are like that.  You make a connection that surpasses the human relationship.  Possibly it is language that gets in the way of communication.  It muddies the waters and stirs up emotions, adding static to the field, and interfering with the simple path to and from the heart.

Well, onward to the garden path.  Spinach and lettuce are slowing down, but that is just today's report, and the context involves Rebecca having a terrible cold and a broken the garbage disposal at Rebecca's rental house and a metal pipe going through an adobe wall that disintegrated when Jesse took out the disposal- an all 'round plumbing disaster.  Not a good time to ask Jesse about the garden!  Wayne says he heard Jesse talk of beets coming right up possibly next time (being this weekend), and I know I saw some carrot possibilities.  But again, this is the colder slower time of year for a few weeks more.  However I've pruned my roses and fertilized the irises and I'm feeling asparagus on the horizon.  The crops listed on the front page are the for sure ones, but don't be surprised to see a few other goodies.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 2011~

9/29~  And speaking of eating seasonally, the seasons they are a-changin'.  First the bad news: Unfortunately the seasons are not all that has changed.  We had a nasty fast-moving disease (whose name I don't remember, but it's not southern blight) go through the tomatoes.  Even those that look acceptable don't taste quite right anymore.  Jesse succeeded in overcoming the southern blight problem of previous years, and he'll succeed with this one as well, but it's too late for this year's crop.  There are still a few cherry tomatoes but that's about it in tomato land.

However, the good news, there is the later crop of zucchini and cucumbers, there are eggplants galore!, the arugula is sweet (only arugula lovers can relate to that one), the okra is actually just getting going (see today's okra flowers along edge of page) and we are entering the season of pommegranates (listed on the board today- just the beginning), Chinese cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and chard.  Jesse said the lettuce needs thinning, which  puts it only a week or so away.  The broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are looking good, but not due for another month, along with everyone's favorite, fresh garden carrots. 

So despair not.  We were ready for a change in food anyway, evidenced by the number of folks asking "what's coming up next?".  And in the meantime, there are Rebecca's beautiful bouquets of bright-colored zinnias to keep you in good cheer. 

8/31~  I received a good link from Wendy on storing tomatoes.  Best to do it with the stem end down for longevity.. not just a kitchen legend, but a tested reality! 
http://www.cooksillustrated.com/howto/detail.asp?docid=1173&Extcode=L1HN3AA00   



In the category of "Those were the days my friend.. we thought they'd never end til the frost!":  8/4~  Jesse wants me to tell you we are now loaded with tomatoes! 
Every year round about vacation time the tomatoes kick in- one of the quirks of our little business that we've yet to work out.  So if you're intending to do a big tomato dish now is the time.  Peppers have also started... salsa anyone?



7/15~ One more little blip before I'm off to NM once more.  We finally had some leftover tomatoes last Wed., so I've now added tomatoes to the harvest list.  We always wait until that point since, yes it's true, we do get people coming in just for tomatoes.  We aren't just in The Tomato Business.  That would be Eurofresh.  We are Our Garden as in your backyard garden without all the work,  and so we like to be sure to take care of the folks who visit their backyard garden on a regular basis.  So, unless you come here on a regular basis, which means you believe in eating fresh garden food of all kinds, you won't know when the tomatoes start.  Except for you Bob! 
(oddly enough we get at least one person who doesn't eat a variety of backyard vegetables but comes just to visit us.  Now that's special!)


Also I've added melons for the same reason.  They might disappear from time to time, but the tomatoes should stay steady depending on weather.  And it's a good thing I put a recent picture on the page borders- it reminded me to add eggplant!



7/11~ *Zucchini!
It's that time of year!  Mother Earth News recently had an article on zucchini recipes, and I just noticed that if you google Mother Earth News and go to their "Real Foods" section, put zucchini in the search box and you'll find 100 entries.  How much zucchini can you endure?

With recipes in mind, here is a link to a blog that includes timely recipes for our current harvest.  Also within that link is one to Tucson CSA's recipe page, a good resource for current local harvests.
http://chilechews.blogspot.com/2011/07/fresh-local-organic-produce.html   
 
7/9~  Today I'm having fond memories of that frost we had on May first....  But, on the up side I've had blackberries, watermelon, and grapes this morning, and the last time I saw Jesse he was behind a mound of sweet corn.  And the tomatoes have started.  Not so many that I'd want to list them yet, but it won't be long. 

Many thanks to the woman this morning who asked when the corn had been harvested!  Feels so good to hear Rebecca's answer "oh, about 20 minutes ago..."

I'd write more but I have a cart full of onions to clean, and there's 2 more wagons of garlic behind it in case I get bored later.




June 22~  What an invigorating week for both of the Petty families!  Jesse and Rebecca (and Maizy) took a cool vacation to southern Colorado and northern NM, and Wayne and I held down the homestead.  Oh- My- Goodness.  I truly felt my age trying to keep up with a portion of their chores.  As luck would have it, this was the week that the first corn matured as well as the first peaches.  But it's not like we haven't been in this scene before, and we managed not to let the place fall into shambles.

The time of abundance is once again upon us.  Besides the intermittent corn and peaches, we still have beets and chard.  Zucchini and scallop squash are producing, and Jesse is planting more to keep them coming all summer long.  Rebecca has been doing a great salad mix with the red amaranth, radicchio, purslane, and arugula.  (I could have a few of them wrong.... which is why there was no salad mix last week.  It's Rebecca's thing!)  We have seen the first cucumbers, but so far not enough for sale.  We even still have turnips, but not for long.  And the onions and garlic are cured.  Onions usually don't last all summer, but the garlic does.  Right now at the just cured state, it is  
absolutely fresh garlic, so good in the raw state where its nutritional benefits are at their best (
http://www.drweilblog.com/home/2010/7/31/5-reasons-to-eat-garlic.html).

When you look for what we are now harvesting, be aware that there could well be more than what I list.  Indeed, I mentioned purslane in the salad mix, didn't I, but it's not in the June harvest list.  Generally when we have an item that is in somewhat short supply I leave it off of the list.  Actually most of our regular customers never read the web site to see what we have, as they know they will find plenty to make the trip here worth their time.

later in May~

May???  I'm wearing a sweater in May??  Thirty percent chance of rain in May??  But, the plants are loving it.  Especially if it really does rain. 
We've finished with asparagus harvesting for this year.  It's time for the ferns to grow out and feed those roots.  Meanwhile we still have everything else happy as can be in this drawn out spring.  The color in the rainbow chard is magnificent, as is the red lettuce.  And today I saw head lettuce on the shelf.  We've never had head lettuce in our gardens before, but Jesse's found a variety that works for us here. 
Another new crop this season is Typhon, which is like a mild turnip green.  This one is so mild that I could sneak it into a salad and Wayne would never even notice. 
In that squash picture above, you may notice some tiny squash, so it won't be long for the warm season crops to nestle in with the salad greens. 
Good eating abounds! 

May 3rd~

Whoa!  I don't think we've ever had 32 degrees on May first!  The squash wasn't too happy about it, but they'll recover (or be replanted).  Corn wasn't thrilled either, but also not devastated.  Tomatoes under their shade cloth were not phased at all.  Whew. 

Meanwhile today, May 3rd, Jesse and Wayne put the peppers in the ground and the high temp was 90.  If we don't get another 32 all will be well.

The onions now are almost store sized, and sweet and juicy as can be.  They are fresh out of the ground so must be stored in the frige.  I snitched a garlic from the ground today but it's really too early for them.  One more month Wayne says.

Meanwhile the asparagus is still chugging along, with only a slight slow down for 32 degrees.  Luckily most of the crops we are harvesting are cool season ones.

April 9th~

Okay, now, are we done with winter?  We had a touch of snow on Saturday, but the low temp was only 31.  The temperature was in the thirties for much of the day however.  Jesse moved his transplants of squash, melons and tomatoes from the shade structure back into the green house for safe keeping, and Rebecca and her friend Jen huddled by the little Coleman camp heater out in the garden building.  Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail will stop us from offering you fresh veggies!  Jesse and Wayne had prepared for it the day before, and then Wayne was available to continue to harvest on Saturday until he ran out of dry jackets. 

We were all expecting one more frost this month, and assuming that was it, the boys will plant the squash this week.  They covered the corn in frost blankets, mostly a success.  A whirlwind must have come through at some point and picked up a couple row covers to the detriment of a row or so.  No no no, it wasn't Shorty and Cinco!  And once again we are looking at 80 degree highs, so there will be corn on the horizon in 50-60 days.

Onion thinnings are here again.  As they get a bit larger, they are quite good on the grill, as are beets, asparagus, and turnips.  Isn't it amazing how quickly it can change from wood stove weather to back yard barbeque weather!

April 2nd~

With all this warm weather at last, asparagus is being harvested daily.  We'll harvest through the month of April and then play it by ear, so don't wait too long to get your fill of the freshest asparagus around.  When the harvest weight decreases we stop to let the ferns grow and replenish the roots. 
Yes we are very kind to our asparagus!  But when you consider that it grows "wild" in places like upper New York state and in the cool northwest, it makes sense to cherish its growth in the desert.  We do find seedlings  planted by the birds, but only in irrigated gardens. 
Wayne is thinking about using asparagus as a cover crop in the pistachioes since we don't irrigate enough to get clovers established.  This would be a return to our past.  The first asparagus we grew was on the borders of the pistachio basins, taking advantage of an already irrigated area and conserving water use.  We would harvest round and round the young trees...  round and round and round 300 trees...   Asparagus harvesting is never easy work, but it's much better in a straight line!


March 30th~
Spring brings thoughts of farmers markets again.  Guess it must be the urge to get out and garden combined with street fair weather.  When farmers are isolated, rural with no close neighbors, they must go to town to sell their produce.  We started out sort of rural here in Catalina, and we had to sell our produce on the roadside at first as there were no farmers markets in Tucson at that time.  Eventually there was a tiny one downtown in a parking lot, and finally the St. Phillips Plaza Farmers Mkt.  The tiny market taught me that it was no way to sell our beautiful lettuce, all packed in an ice chest for hours.  By the time St. Phillips came along we were harvesting asparagus (round and round and round those pistachio trees) and we sold to a middle woman.  Not a big money maker but a way to supplement the income, and to raise our kids with a taste of a farming lifestyle.   

Meanwhile the "city" was growing up around us, and we soon realized we could sell our produce roadside stand style, right here, and keep it fresh.  We have since been asked to join several farmers markets, and did indeed participate at St. Phillips for a year or 2, but the difference in the quality of the produce going straight from the garden to the consumer compared with going from the garden to the ice chest to the car trip to setting up in a stand.. hours and hours of being packaged and jostled.  I guess we just have more respect for our food than that!  Once again it shows we've been spoiled.  We've had organic food fresh from the garden since well before Jesse was born.. and he's had it forever.

So we'll resist being a part of the 77 North Farmers Mkt here in Catalina.  I encourage you to go there and have a good time, see what they have to offer.  It's a wonderful atmosphere to be sure, and they do have food, sometimes things we do not have due to the season or just that we have run out.  But for your serious produce shopping come here first and let us spoil you with food directly from the garden, then go to the market for what you didn't find here.   

March 9th~
Will we, won't we, will we, won't we open up the garden soon?  Of course we will, but choosing the exact day ahead of time is like predicting the weather.  What we are waiting for is the asparagus, which yesterday finally started to send up shoots... so Jesse cut it all down.  Cut down last year's brown and dead ferns that is.  Each year we wait to cut them back until we know there will not be too many more frosts.  Usually in January there is a warm spell, the traditional January thaw, when if the soil is unshaded it will warm up enough to start the asparagus growing.  And then a frost will knock them down, and then they grow, and then a frost, ad infinitum until some time in March.  Each time those buds break open there will be that many less spears for the regular harvest.  Also it seems to us that this would be weakening the plants in the long run, especially when you consider a natural condition where no weedeater comes along to take out the dead fern cover.  In a truly natural situation the dead ferns would stand until the temps warm up and they dry out, get knocked over by animals, or just plain blow away.  So at least we don't wait that long!  We wait until about mid March and then look for the half dozen spears that Jesse ate yesterday right before he weed whacked the dry ferns down.  Today he'll build up the beds again and by the 16th there should be a big enough harvest to open once more. 





Feb. 17th~
Ah, spring again!  It is so tempting to start cleaning up in a serious manner, but a bit soon for things like the cactus.  They need to dry out some first, just as when taking a cactus/succulent cutting, the edge needs to "scab over" before placing it in soil.  Otherwise you risk bacterial infection, especially when we still have cool and moist conditions.

Yes moist... according to our favorite meteorologist we could have some moisture on the way once again.  Do we ever need it!  Check out Art's web site for an entertaining and informative weather read~ http://cloud-maven.com/

I ventured out to the garden yesterday after being away for the last week (Semi- retirement is where it's at!!) and was so happy to see recovered lettuce and renewed spinach.  We can still eat green!  And rows and rows of row covers protecting the things Jesse has been planting every warm spell he gets.  The beets and carrots are the lingerers- always slow to germinate and slow to grow.  Kind of like my mom, who was one of the slowest moving people I knew, but who lasted 90 years.  They are also the ones who last the longest, especially in cool weather when they can be stored in the ground.  That is more of a home garden thing, and it is the edge that we are on of home garden and truck garden.  We will often need to harvest and replant in order to feed all the mouths who are beckoning.

In the fast lane are more lettuce, spinach, arugula, bok choi, and I hope kale and chard.  Too early for the summer stuff, but I wasn't finished with the winter greens myself, and I'll bet you weren't either.


Feb. 6th~
Spring indeed!  But I did say "almost".  Once again the garden finds itself at the mercy of Mother Nature.  The important thing is to be able to rebound, and rebound we will in March.  We'll take advantage of the upcoming above normal 70 degree temps in the next week (d'oh!) to plant some more seeds, and be all ready with the perennial asparagus by the Ides of March.  Meanwhile it's back to the grocery store for lettuce, which only serves to remind us how lucky we are to eat so well when the garden is producing.  

Recently I heard someone on NPR lamenting that food costs may rise, and how we must find a way to provide cheap food for every man, woman and child.  Personally I was offended.  Are we not more evolved than this?  I do not believe that cheap food is an inalienable right.  It is a shame that there are hungry children to be sure, but isn't it wonderful that so many community gardens have sprung up in so many cities.  Education is what is needed, not cheap food.  A patch of earth, access to water, tools for cultivation, a greenhouse for the winter, a vegetable garden as a fitness center, but not "cheap" food.  Food should be something of great worth.  You know it is when you grow it.  Walmart is not the answer.  The answer is more community gardens to raise awareness of how much we are at the mercy of Mother Earth, how we need to take care of our environment and how we need to be thankful for this planet, and to realize the need to cooperate with each other.  These things should be the price of our food, and they are not a cheap price. 

Feb. 5th~
That was some cold snap wasn't it!  The duration of freezing or below was unprecedented here at Our Garden.  The first night we recorded 17 degrees.  If it hadn't been breezy we would have been down in the single digits.  The next night we reached 15, not quite our all time low here, but lower than we have seen it lately.  Both days the high temps were in the mid 30's.  Jesse had up to three layers of frost cloth on the plants but all he could save was the hearty spinach, a little bit of lettuce, and some of the seedlings started in that spring-like weather not so very long ago.  So on Saturday 2/5 he did a big spinach harvest and people stocked up as best they could.  As soon as the asparagus says it is time we'll open up again, probably 2 days a week, Wednesdays and Saturdays.  We expect that to be in early March, usually in the first or second week.  Once again, it is the weather that is the determining factor.  Only weathermen are brave enough to predict the weather, right?


Jan. 29

It's almost Spring!

Spring in the desert that is.  Right now we are on the lean side at the end of winter.  Our nights at this garden are still in the 30's, so plants that have wintered along are still growing slowly.  But we've had some 70 degree days, our winter window for planting more lettuce, turnips, beets, chard, etc. 

Today we had someone wondering what I meant by well-rested spinach.  Spinach is such a popular crop, and so it truly needed a rest while we were closed.  Shelley today likened herself and the other customers to a swarm of locusts ready to descend on the spinach.  Good thing Jesse has another planting on the way, and as soon as the nights warm up a few degrees it will jump into production.

Cabbage and cauliflower went quickly in the first two weeks of January, so we are ambling along now with greens and citrus, and the occassional not so beautiful but oh so tasty "leftover" cabbage, the ones that were left in the garden because they were damaged or not so pretty.  Before long there will be asparagus.  I just love those perennials that take care of themselves and come up when the time is right!  That is usually around the Ides of March (15th), sometimes sooner.  Carrots should be along by then also, and turnip greens turning into turnips, green onions, beet greens?, chard?  Each year is different so it is difficult to generalize, but whatever we have you know it is fresh from the garden.

Eat well.  Be well.  

 


tomleaves.JPG
tomato transplants
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the natural state of Kate
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and her faithful companion Kaia.
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the "other-worldly vegetable"

Archives of the previous year, 2010

Dec. 1st~

Wayne and I just came back from a beautiful backpacking weekend in the Catalinas.  There is fall color in the desert!  The ash and cottonwood trees are yellow, as is the turpentine bush.  The latter is set off by a dark emerald green foliage.  The Hopi or desert cotton has red leaves, and Brickellia does as well.  The coral beans had already lost their yellow leaves but the coral red beans in the split open pods will hold their color long after the other reds have past.  I've seen squaw bush (Rhus trilobata) with red tinged leaves in the past, but those last weekend were still green with yellow.  And the hackberry bushes were loaded with orange berries to the delight of the cardinals.  I came home with a new gardening plan!  However, I think I'll still try to weed out the desert broom snow flurries.
~~
Nov. 25th~

So that rumor was a good thing for our garden regulars who have been finding broccoli (which I don't list since there is not that much) and most recently pecans.  Our goal has been variety but we haven't had the quantity to share.  Now with fewer people at the gate it's almost like when we started out, before we started selling out of food as word spread that there was something different to do in Catalina.. though not quite a farmers market.  Now Catalina has a farmers market for those who want that festive affair, and for the more serious food shoppers there is still Our Garden (in a much more relaxed state of mind) as well as Cliff's apples and the Howards.  For us, we can spend the time growing our "infrastructure" once more, gently evolving into our vision which never was as a farmers market, but as a "road side stand"... no hay rides (-:

So, again, thanks for your support- you true believers.  We are happy with the subtle change and confident in our future.  Happy Thanksgiving!
~~

November 17th~
I heard a rumor today.  It was 3rd hand information by the time it got to me.  Jesse heard it again when he went to Cliff's for some of his excellent apples.  The rumor was that thanks to the frost we have almost nothing for sale.  Not exactly true, is it.  But if someone is listening to the rumors and not coming in or looking at the web site.....  Wayne says it's almost unavoidable whenever a large group of people are in close contact.  The first person shares what he knows ("Our Garden had a frost last night- the eggplants and squash melted!") and several people down the line it becomes the old gossip game- and "there's no more food at Our Garden".  There is food at Our Garden.. just in case you're skimming and about to start a rumor.

Rumors can be powerful destroyers, but they can also cause a business to grow.  We have used word of mouth for our advertising intentionally.  If someone recommends a place to me I will make the effort to check it out, see if it's for me too.  So it saddens me to think that our business could suffer because of word of mouth, but that's the risk you take.  Good grief- is that another rumor in the making?  We aren't suffering of course.  Our regular customers have plenty to choose from, and we have other outlets when the fair weather customers disappear, so all is well here. 

But this is just the sort of thing that previously caused me to stop writing on the web site.  So, back to generalities in the harvest list and no more Garden News on the front page.  Guess I'm more a philosopher than a business woman. 

Thanks for reading.

PS-  Try the Cliff's apples- they're great!

~~
November 11th~
Happy Veterans' Day~~  Jesse and Rebecca did damage assessment yesterday, and ended up with bags and bags of green bell peppers, unhurt by frost but there is no time left for them to ripen to red and gold unless we have some sudden severe climate change.  So, I've got my dehydrator running merrily along and once again will not buy peppers unless for a salad, if I can find them organically grown.

I've just been out to the garden, and the last of the squash is on the shelf. 
This weather is bad for zucchini-lovers, but the cooler (or cold in desert-speak) temps also foretell the beginning of broccoli, cabbage, and eventually carrots, green onions, beets, etc.  Frost takes care of warm weather pests who really need their life spans shortened from my point of view.  So, here we are in a transition time again, but there is broccoli forming on the broccoli plants and it looks so yummy!
~~

November 3rd~
Greens and Nuts
Wow what a difference freshness makes!  In this revolving door lifestyle Wayne and I have these days I am forced to sometimes buy things at the food store that I could get here in Catalina from Our Garden, most recently lettuce.  Lettuce from the food store is like filler for salad, a vehicle for salad dressing.  It's the cheap ingredient that restaurants top with "tasty" tidbits of tomatoes and buttery croutons.  But, when your lettuce is fresh from the garden you can make a salad of that alone and feel nourished, well-fed.  We've been eating from the garden for over 30 years now, and still each time lettuce reappears it surprises me with flavor and food value.

We currently have 3 varieties of lettuce: trout's back romaine, a loose leaf butter type, and I believe the third is Simpson (lighter green and ruffly).  And, now that I've been out to photograph the harvest I see there is Napa Cabbage, and 2 varieties of Kale as well.  I remember hearing that spinach made a brief appearance while I was gone, but that was just a temporary temptation, a taste of things to come.

What a surprise we had last weekend when we heard that Jesse and Rebecca were selling pistachioes.  This is major you guys!  Those trees have been in the ground for 31 years and this is the first time any nuts were actually sold.  We'd had harvests before, that we just stored and gave as Christmas presents but Jesse and Rebecca are obviously serious about making this property pay its way and the trees are no exception.  All the problems of the new used "potato peeler huskers" meant that processing started about 3 weeks later than should have been, and we know that plants wait for no man, so the harvest will be small but none-the-less exciting.  Many thanks to our dear regular garden friends who were as excited to buy pistachioes as the kids were to sell them.  And many thanks to John of McWilliams Farm in La Luz, NM for his advice on how to kajigger the potato peeler into behaving like a pistachio husker.  His parents-in-law told us about using the potato peeler years ago when they visited Our Garden, and luckily I never deleted their email.  They have a nice operation in La Luz, NM which is near Alamagordo I believe.  You can check them out at
www.mcwilliamsfarms.com
.

And speaking of plants waiting for no man, the lettuce needs to be thinned.  I do believe that plants rule the world.
~~

October 22nd~

Lettuce should make it into the line-up while W and I are gone next week, but you heard it first here.  A few lucky regulars got theirs today, and are they ever happy about it!  That's all the news.

Garden Musings~

A few days ago Rebecca was showing someone around the garden, and these appreciative people asked her what she did in her spare time.  Bright young soul that she is, she answered that she teaches art at a charter school in Oracle, she does massage work at Miraval, and she waitresses in Saddlebrooke.  That's our Becca.  She did understand that they were only kidding about spare time, seeing what a lot of work the garden entails, and let them know it was mainly Jesse working at the garden.  While it takes care of its own expenses, the garden does not yet perform like your traditional income producing job.  Lucky for us, Jesse is not your traditional income spending person.  If he weren't doing this he'd probably be living in the forest as a hunter-gatherer.  And now you see why mom and dad started Our Garden!  (Not really, but it is an added advantage to this experiment.)

The farmers market question has come up again.  Wayne is wondering why people insist on trying to have farmers markets in areas where there are no farms.  Because it's the "in" thing to do these days of course.  Because it is so green and healthy feeling.  And they often call on us because we have food and not crafts.  The darn thing is, the reason we have food is that we spend so much time growing it, and the reason we quit doing farmers markets so long ago is the fact that it takes a full day or more to harvest and wash produce, load into ice chests, load up ice chests and tables and chairs into a vehicle, organize a cash box, plan for a covering for sun or rain, set up your booth, break down your booth, come home and put everything away.  Whew!  Makes me tired just remembering it all.  It was the same way back when we sold just one crop on the side of the road.  It is exhausting!  And the hourly pay is very low, especially when you subtract the fee for selling at the farmers market.  It's a neat atmosphere but it doesn't work for us.  That's why we decided to stay home and roadside stand it.  The food is fresher since it doesn't come out of an ice chest, and we can pull weeds when business is slow.

Years ago when we had excess tomatoes and a lot fewer customers at Our Garden, Jesse and Rebecca would take whatever we had left over from Saturday down to the St. Phillips Plaza market on Sunday mornings.  They would have to leave here at 6:30 am to get set up in time.  Wayne and I would just be enjoying our morning coffee on what for us was the first day of the "weekend" since Saturday is a work day here.  And we'd just kind of shake our heads, poor kids, but they thought they were making decent money and since we had so many tomatoes left over it seemed that way until they started paying attention to hourly wage.  Now you mention farmers market to Jesse and he immediately shakes his head, no thanks, I have too much work to do.  He needs to stay home and pull weeds you see. 

We appreciate the fun of a farmers market, and maybe some day we'll be able to participate somehow, but right now we are still getting this place shaped into what we have in mind, and that takes a lot of participation right here.  It's not just weeds.  It's figuring out numerous disease and pest problems.  It's preparing beds for seeding for a crop to be harvested in 2 or 3 months.  It's turning in old crops in time for the soil microbes to work on the vegetative matter and break it down enough to make it ready for the new crops.  It's fertilizing existing crops when they are heavy feeders.  It's knowing who the heavy feeders are.  It's working out how to make this potato peeler work for husking so we can harvest pistachioes instead of explaining why we're not harvesting them. (are  your eyes glazed over yet?)  And it's working out housing for volunteer workers who will help with all that other stuff that doesn't ever end, that weeding and raking and hoeing business.  But it's what we'd rather do than load up ice chests and tables and chairs and canopies and sit in a parking lot telling the same story over and over to thousands of people.  Just feels better somehow, feels more real.
~~

October 16th~

As current as can be anyway.

Now that our temperatures are more livable, I volunteered out in the garden yesterday.  Ooooo what a workout!  Exercises different muscles than that construction work, so in the past week I've had a full body program, from shoulders down to squatters.  Our friend Phil used to laugh about his wife and I driving cross town to a yoga class, while he did his "yoga" in the garden.  Furthermore, we paid for the class while he ate from the garden.  So yesterday I was doing my seated twists while thinning and weeding lettuce, and later it was spread legs forward bend when I could squat no more while seeding onions.  Oooo-tenasana!  But after a couple of glasses of red wine (one for my heart and one for my muscles...) I didn't even need Aleve before bed, and am ready to tackle another half bed of lettuce this morning.

Was a good way to get back in touch with the garden, and what is on the way.  Besides lettuce (maybe only a week away) there's spinach on the horizon, and carrots beyond that.  Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage all looking good except toward the far north where the loopers are having a hey day.  I hear it's a good year for the loopers in Willcox as well.  What fun would it be without a few challenges?  The tomatoes are starting to slow down, but the second planting of cucumbers is now producing and I'm hoping to finally experience that cucumber juice margarita Rebecca and Shelli told me about just as the first planting came to a close in July/August.  Has there ever been a price to pay for this place we are building in NM! 

So Wayne and I have been eating greens from the food store... where's the flavor?  Lost in the back of the truck?  But still certainly better than no greens at all, since W will still not go near arugula.  Baby bok choi from Whole Foods hasn't been too bad especially when eaten on the day of purchase (you get used to it as your senses dull.....), but I sure will be glad to have it fresh again.  The lettuce thinnings from yesterday were so vibrant!!  You'll probably get some next week.

~~

September 28th~

Can you tell I was becoming bored?  I think it's been 2 or 3 years with that same yellow background, so today instead of writing I played.

Simple garden update: Kabocha squash is winding down due to popularity. Pommegranates will be available shortly, possibly next week.  Onions are almost out of here- possibly tomorrow.  Arugula is in abundance thank goodness.  Rebecca has been making arugula and basil salads (pommegranates will go nicely there).

Hard to believe there is probably only one more month of tomatoes.  They could go longer thanks to the shade cloth, but Jesse will probably not use the frost cloth this year.  He's decided to let the garden wind down to give himself more time for building projects, as he desperately needs some regular help.  The idea of housing travelling garden workers through the WWOOFers program (
http://www.wwoofusa.org/) appeals to him, so the winter goal is to provide that housing.  He'll still grow veggies- he has to eat too, but will limit the hours to give more time for construction.
~~

September 17th already!

Arugula is the news in the garden this week, and am I ever glad to have it back.  I'd have to guess that we no longer have grapes, but since I haven't asked yet I'll leave it posted.
Meanwhile, is it ever hot around here.  This is the time of year that my New England body says, eh?  Isn't it time for a frost yet?  I just went from a link on
www.ourcatalina.com 's site to our friend Art's Weather Underground page, and read the current temperature as 101.5.  "No way" I said.  "Where is your thermometer anyway Art?" and went out to check ours... sure enough, 101.5.  I guess I've become yet another part time desert dweller who stays hidden away in the heat of the day.  Imagine living with neither air conditioner nor evaporative cooler.  I almost feel guilty when I talk with Jesse mid-day by phone from NM.  Almost, but then I remember that we did what he is doing for a good 30 years, and 30 years from now he'll have a house already built for his snow bird vacations.  If Wayne and I survive the building process!

Here's a link to Art's weather page   
http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KAZCATAL2 

and I highly recommend going to
www.ourcatalina.com for the history of Catalina that Diane has begun compiling.  There you can see a picture of the very beginning of the 'town' of Catalina, and read a colorful history of the gentleman who was its founder.  And you know what, he sounds a lot like the Catalina that I know, and that many in the world of housing development have come to know (-:

And, one more item of interest for the month of September.  Judy's Spanish classes are about to begin again.  Here is a link to the flyer with all she has to offer.  Sounds like things are going well for our lady of espanol~~

http://espanolymas.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/fall-2010-schedule/
~~

August 26th~

While variety has been our claim to fame, tomatoes are what we are all about at the moment.  Jesse has been experimenting with varieties of heirlooms, and some of them are just now ripening.  So far, I like Stupice from Czechoslovakia, and Jesse like the Japanese heirloom.  There is also a large cherry type from Native Seed Search.  They said it was the best of their natives.  It's not what I would call a gourmet tomato but Jane is right, it would probably make a wonderful sun-dried tomato.  And it is interesting if you think of the evolution of tomatoes.. this is probably closer to the ancestor of today's tomatoes.

There could soon be kabocha squash.  Those curing in the breezeway I think came from plants he removed (squash vine borers), but appear to be ripe anyway.  And there are more in the garden.  It's probably worth asking him about, if only to remind him to check them (-:

Just heard a blurb about Trader Joe's on NPR.  It seems they are a bit like Our Garden.. they don't want to talk with the media either.  The media did a little story on them anyway, thanks to a YouTube musical video  ("...$2 wine that tastes like $4, your favorite things that they don't have anymore....", but just a tease and all in all positive).  We don't care for doing news items because inevitably they backfire.  Generally there is a mistake in the reporting because by the time the story comes out the garden, which is a living breathing organism full of living breathing organisms, has changed.  Kind of like Cinco, it doesn't stand still.  So we do our own media reporting right here, kind of like the Trader Joe's Flyer~~~
~~

August 19th~
How quickly things change.. one thing that doesn't change is me saying how quickly they do!  The Catalina plums are gone for this year.  We need several more trees, obviously.  But the season is still peachy.. I had some on my tamales for lunch.  Peaches, tomatoes and onions mixed with chiles can't be beat, though I am missing the arugula, amaranth and purslane.  They will return, but a bit of a wedding got in the way of the planting schedule. 

I managed to get the watermelons into the veggie line up while they are still being harvested.. whew.  And the cabbage above reminds me that these crops have been started as transplants.  I can smell the broccoli now!

Our time recently is being taken by the new farm dogs, Shorty and Cinco, and specifically Shorty whose overly inquisitive nature ended up in a nasty toad adventure.  I now know more about Bufo species, Colorado River toads, than I want to have to know, but such as it is....  She received a good dose of toxin on Sunday night and is only just today feeling at all better, but we are simply lucky she survived at all.  We've had the toad adventure with a previous dog, but it only lasted as a few hours of a very drugged state.  Shorty has had alls sorts of digestive upset, and until today hadn't eaten enough to keep a toad alive.  But this morning the heavens have smiled upon us at last, and I'll see Dr. Nunn with my cat for her rabies shot instead of my malnourished puppy for emergency treatment.  If you have summer puppies remember that the toads come out at sundown!!  My future pups will be Christmas dogs.

PS~ Wayne protests that there is no picture of Cinco by herself.  Well, she moves too fast and they are all blurry!
~~

August 4th~

Still happily floating on that July 26 posting, so I'll leave it on.
But, let me recommend a salad of red amaranth, arugula, purslane, and tomatoe and onion.  Oooo!  Add some cut up peaches~~~
~~
July 26th~
Garden Announcement

**Announcing, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Petty**

Yesterday, July 25th, Rebecca and Jesse made their formal and official committment to each other.  Am I ever one happy Mama!  The wedding was here on the property and the reception at the garden, so if you find remnants of one heck of a good party on Wednesday, you'll know the reason why.  My favorite parties are the ones that include both the kids' friends and our friends (who are usually adults who have known Jesse forever).  And of course those friends include our family.. what could be better than a family of friends and friends who are like our family.  This extra special gathering included some of Rebecca's family from Louisiana.. her mom and dad of course, and her sister Shelli who many of you met working hard in the garden last week.  And, the ceremony was presided over by our friend from the Garden, Bob, who has been working at this union for a long, long time.  We are forever grateful.

Hard to top that for garden news.


~~

July 14th~
Garden News etc.

Just a quick bit or 2 of news, mainly to announce oodles of excellent corn.. absolutely excellent!  Jesse's successive plantings merged due to our friend the weather, and we now have oodles of corn, enough to sell both here and at the 4th Ave Food Conspiracy.  So once again I want to give them another plug.  I know it's a far drive from us up here in the north, but if you have friends in Tucson who want some of Jesse's oh so good fresh produce, you can get it any day of the week at the Co-op.  The produce manager, Todd, is aiming to stock mostly local produce and has been buying anything Jesse has to offer, at a fair price, without demanding X amount, ie a minimum order size.  I guess that's kind of the opposite for a wholesale business but we are far from the average business.  And I'd say, so is the Food Conspiracy, which has been in business since Wayne and I were just young things living in Tucson and going to the UA.  That's quite some time ago, so they must be doing many things right.  Todd wants to do all he can to promote local farms, and heaven knows we need plenty of help.  Thank you Food Conspiracy!!!!
http://www.foodconspiracy.org/
~~

July 8th
Garden Muse and News


First the muse:  The more things change the more they stay the same.  I may try another blog site (with gmail perhaps?), or maybe I'll just go back to using this space and clutter things up again!  But it sounds like MS has to shut down my email in order to check out the problem and I'm not liking that idea, so the blog thing isn't fixed yet.

Then the news:  Meanwhile, things do change in the garden... do they ever!  While Wayne and I were dealing with blue tarps and rain coming through the ceiling (it's okay though) and getting a roof on our building,  Jesse and Rebecca were harvesting tomatoes and peaches and corn, oh boy.  Sure was hard to eat those Fry's Private Select campari tomatoes in NM knowing the good ones were here in the desert.  And peaches!  I could smell them over the phone! 
Grapes should be along soon if grapes there be.  Jesse found some coyote scat with peach pits and I think he said green grapes, unless that one was a bird.  The garden kittens are starting to do their job, but I'll spare the details in respect for the soft-hearted.
~~



June 23 Garden Musing
Have you ever noticed how energy can build and build and finally collapse like a quantum wave, and then life gets back to normal?  While Wayne and I were having our carpentry problems in NM last week, Jesse was having problems aplenty here.  He's been losing tomato plants to disease, this time a virus first discovered early in the 20th century in Australia and now being spread thanks to mega greenhouses that ship infected tomato transplants to big box stores who sell them to folks at a really good price... and then the disease is spread by those eensy insects called thrips that are all over the place.  What's an organic farmer to do?  He's trying a variety of things and has seen a bit of success, but this is a good year for insects.  And of course the Southern Blight is still around.  Nothing like a bit of variety in your disease cupboard.  Things like this insect spread virus let us know just how fragile our food supply actually is, and what a potentially good idea back to basic small farming with a lot of variety in plants might be.   The world was not meant to be one large corn field.

And then there are still the coyotes.  Jesse no longer has the same compassion he once held for them, and calls them Catalina Coyotes, living off cats and chickens in people's back yards instead of hunting in the desert as they once did.  Coyote is definitely a successful opportunist.  And so, he lost 3 more chickens and very sadly, Buster the cat.  As I last wrote, Buster was strong willed about being outside at night so it was probably only a matter of time, but we are all very sad to lose a special friend who had been Jesse's sister's cat for 3 years and Jesse's for 8 more. 

And then of course there was the nasty scratch he received from his turkey when trying to escort her back to the coop after the door had blown open one evening.  She didn't become coyote feast but his cut sure was infected for a while.  However, he's learned a lot about native medicines and managed to heal it with a creosote soak and a prickly pear poultice.  I'm so glad he waited until it was healing before he let us know!

But, to end on a good note, the kittens are taking to the garden and might even become sociable.  Jesse and Rebecca take them out each day where they are under the care of Aunt Luna.  One day she even caught a rabbit and brought it back to the nursery plant area to share with them.  She is such a good little huntress and hopefully will pass her skills on to her nephews and niece, who literally hang out in the trees these days.  Meanwhile their mama hangs out in the house howling, and the kids wonder will she ever go out of  heat!!

And then, Garden News:  Beets are out and squash is in, and corn is making silks.  Once again I apologize at the inaccurate listing due to my hardly ever being here.  You all know what the harvest is better than I do!

AND THEN~

Life on the Urban Farm, before msn messed up


I've finally just given up and transferred the blog archives here:

April 28

Varieties of Food Experience

I've been craving bok choi lately. I think subconsciously I am feeling the end of the season, the "want milk when there is no milk" syndrome. I can smell it and taste it and feel its goodness in my body. So when Jesse called us in NM last Saturday I asked if there was any left or was it about to be turned in. He was selling it at reduced price since it was flowering, aka bolting, a no-no in the general world of vegetables. When lettuce bolts the leaves become bitter, and the same is generally true of spinach, our standard American greens. And so we assume that bolting is bad. However what we have found, we who eat the garden leftovers, is that bolting does not seem to hurt the flavor of chard or bok choi. Even kale is okay once it starts to flower. It could be that we are now so used to a stronger flavor in greens and are not noticing the difference. We eat arugula when it is flowering also. Wayne would probably say that arugula is the root of our problem, but then he only eats lettuce and spinach.

So when I asked Jesse about bok choi, he told me about the customer who had bought her bok choi previously from a farmers market in California, complete with yellow flower stalk, and that she thought it was supposed to be that way. I think she is right.

Meanwhile that doesn't mean we'll have bok choi all summer. Eventually the old crops must be turned in both to elimnate insects and to make room for the next season's veggie. But don't let a little yellow flower scare you away. They look beautiful in salads, and remember, edible flowers are In.



April 14

Garden News for April

Another month has passed for Garden News, putting us well into asparagus. But forget about getting tired of asparagus again?!, because it will be history before you know it, probably in another 2 weeks. We harvest for approximately 2 months, but the actual time to stop cutting is determined by the plants. When the harvest begins to slow down, i.e. the quantity lessens, we cease and let the plants grow into those feathery ferns where the garden pests love to hide.

But this year we have Luna, a "gift" from Virginia (remember Virginia and her cats?). Luna follows Jesse around like a dog~ it's possible she thinks Maizy is her mother~ so when he goes out to the garden, there she is trailing after. It didn't take her long to discover the rats hiding in the asparagus when the ferns were brown this past winter. Did she ever put on weight! And is she ever a good huntress. You will probably not see her, as she is shy around people and leaves the garden as soon as the gate is opened, but when you eat your asparagus give her a little thanks too, as we have noticed that the rats had done some damage to the roots before she came along.

Warm weekend ahead, and the tomatoes are getting planted. Yay! They are still 2 months from fruition, but it will go by quickly. Jesse is trying some new cherry tomatoes as well as our old standby's, Jenny and Sweet Million, and new regular sized ones as well. I believe he is increasing the tomato area once again, as new trellises are going up.The greenhouse is totally full of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, which cycle through to the shade structure (aka plant sales area) and then as they become accustomed to a more temperate climate, out they go into garden beds. The ones who disappeared first with the early frosts, the squashes, cucs, and melons of the Cucurbit family, are the ones who are planted last. But they also produce sooner than the tomatoes and eggplant (both nightshade family, Solanaceae) and peppers (Capsicum). I guess the latter 2 groups spend some time building up their bodies, thus can take a little chill, whereas the Cucurbits are living fast and dying young.

Bok choi, pak choi, ...tat choi? Beats me! Appears "tat" is another variety of "choi", and both were looking young and succulent today (4/14). Also we had mountains of beets and a heap of kale, and new! lower! prices! with intent of moving it out of here ahead of the heat. Funny thing is, seems we sell the same amount no matter what the price..... Which is exactly the way it should be, but he had to try it again. I think where the price really makes a difference is when you are unfamiliar with a vegetable (Tat choi?), trying it for the first time.

There's probably more news for this month, but I'm out of brain power. See ya!

PS~ Be sure to try the Simpson lettuce. It is melt in your mouth excellent!


June 10

Garden News

Transition once again~ that time when all the media wants to write about farmers markets, and the Our Garden farmers are right in between crops. You want beets, or you want carrots? No lettuce: beets or carrots. No spinach: beets or carrots. No Coke only Pepsi.

But now we know to expect this, though it did catch Jesse off guard last Saturday. He had plenty to put on the shelf (beets, carrots, green onions, amaranth greens) but his mind was on Buster the cat who had been missing for 24 hours. Buster was his sister's cat, so he is rather attatched. But Buster is one of those strong-willed cats (rather like his sister) and if he doesn't want to come in, you can't make him. Turns out Buster was fine. Probably he had seen the same coyotes Jesse had seen, and heard the same animal, cat or rabbit, being caught by the coyotes that Jesse had heard, and was smart enough to hide out up high for a while.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, we've got sweet onions recently dug, and garlic in the same state. The onions are more cured than the garlic, but if you are starving for fresh onions or garlic, as I am, they are both oh so welcome. I'm about to go out and swipe some to take to NM tomorrow.

I noticed a bird cover over one of the peach trees, so it won't be long now.

The corn is starting to flower and the successive rows look fantasticly lush on a June day in the desert.

Squash is also flowering and it's a sure thing we'll run out of them when we start that harvest next week. You'll have to wait for production to increase before we'll have squash blossoms available. We need every flower possible to participate!

Jesse has a coyote cam going.. sort of a security camera, one of those wildlife cameras that is tripped by movement. He started using it by the chicken coop. One of those photos is in the garden building. More recently he set it to do a video, and last night we watched a movie of 2 coyotes running along the garden fence at 7am, right after Luna, the cat, took off. She didn't need a camera to know danger was around. With the place across the street from us vacant, and another one up the hill from that one, the coyotes have set up residence. They can rest over there with no dogs to hassle them, and come over to the farm to eat. Jesse's always respected them as wildlife that was here first, and his camera has enabled him to follow their habits and hopefully work around them.

That's all for now, as I'm off to NM again. A picture of our progress is also in the garden building. And once again I apologize if the web site update is slightly off by the time another week goes by. Once we have an internet connection over there I'll be able to update long distance, but in general it still gives an idea of what's happening. Calling our phone number is also unpredictable. It is our home phone, and sometimes Jesse can come in and get the messages, but it might be days after you call as he has his hands full just watering and weeding.

!Hasta manana!


Garden News~ 90 degrees!

Time for a garden update as we are once again getting to a seasonal change which means a change in crops on the horizon.

This will be the last week for asparagus, and not so coincidently the beginning of 90 degree temps. Oddly enough we had a light frost just 5 nights ago, the latest frost on record here. Jesse and Rebecca rounded up all the frost cloths and anything else suitable to cover veggies that had been basking in 80 degree sunshine just hours before. Not to worry, the tomato plants are safe.

We have plenty of Lettuce and Spinach for yet another several weeks, until it bolts and turns bitter. While the bok choi does not turn bitter when it bolts, it never-the-less is finished for this season. However we still have Kale in the cole crop family. Beets are just entering the small ball stage. Steamed with their greens they are such a treat! Turnips are just a little bigger, between a golf ball and a tennis ball, sold with greens or without. And we have Swiss Chard for a little more variety in the greens. And, (Almost) Always Arugula. Seems to me it was gone once upon a time, but most of the year it is here. And, fragrantly, we are starting the green onion harvest.

I bought some green onions a while back at one of those chain stores that specializes in organics and other "foodie" foods. Discovered why our green onions are so popular... they taste like something! In the past we've sold the thinnings fromour sweet onions, apologizing for their mild flavor compared to the scallions, but the chain store green onions had less flavor than the thinnings. Just another case of agribusiness not being able to reproduce the small scale garden fresh taste of food that is lovingly tended. That's a mouthful, and a tasty one too.

"Foodie" is now on the label of Euro-Fresh's Campari tomato package, as in "Foodie's Favorite". Not normally mine when we are out of tomato season.. I usually prefer Nature Sweet's grape tomatoes in the Apollo space ship container (or the Costco mega-container), until about this time of year when for some reason (weather perhaps?) they no longer have flavor. Then the Euro-Fresh Camparis kick in for a little while. Neither are good all the time. One is far from local and the other is grown in water (!?!), but at this time of year a tomato is like a candy bar to me.. taste is what matters. I used to hold out, substituting other red things in my salads, like peppers. But no more. Life is short (shorter all the time). Eat dessert first.

I mentioned crops on the horizon. The horizon is June, and crops would or should be grapes, garlic, more green onions, we hope sweet corn, and sooner than we realize, squash. Right now we are still in the forties at night, and the squash are babies in the nursery (greenhouse), but they do grow quickly. In the flip flop of 80 degree days and freezing nights I'm not sure how the corn made out and need to check with Jesse. I'll be sure to do that when he is upbeat, like after he's visited with today's cheery customers. Already today I've redone the veggie list from the one he gave me when he was mourning the light asparagus harvest and it sounded like we had nothing to show, to the one written after I'd been out to the garden and saw all this mouth-watering extravaganza of freshness. Perspective. He needs to shop a little at the chain stores to refresh his. Instead he shops at the Food Conspiracy which sells our produce and that of other local growers. Can't get much fresher unless you come to the farm.


April 28

Varieties of Food Experience

I've been craving bok choi lately. I think subconsciously I am feeling the end of the season, the "want milk when there is no milk" syndrome. I can smell it and taste it and feel its goodness in my body. So when Jesse called us in NM last Saturday I asked if there was any left or was it about to be turned in. He was selling it at reduced price since it was flowering, aka bolting, a no-no in the general world of vegetables. When lettuce bolts the leaves become bitter, and the same is generally true of spinach, our standard American greens. And so we assume that bolting is bad. However what we have found, we who eat the garden leftovers, is that bolting does not seem to hurt the flavor of chard or bok choi. Even kale is okay once it starts to flower. It could be that we are now so used to a stronger flavor in greens and are not noticing the difference. We eat arugula when it is flowering also. Wayne would probably say that arugula is the root of our problem, but then he only eats lettuce and spinach.

So when I asked Jesse about bok choi, he told me about the customer who had bought her bok choi previously from a farmers market in California, complete with yellow flower stalk, and that she thought it was supposed to be that way. I think she is right.

Meanwhile that doesn't mean we'll have bok choi all summer. Eventually the old crops must be turned in both to elimnate insects and to make room for the next season's veggie. But don't let a little yellow flower scare you away. They look beautiful in salads, and remember, edible flowers are In.


 

April 14

Garden News for April

Another month has passed for Garden News, putting us well into asparagus. But forget about getting tired of asparagus again?!, because it will be history before you know it, probably in another 2 weeks. We harvest for approximately 2 months, but the actual time to stop cutting is determined by the plants. When the harvest begins to slow down, i.e. the quantity lessens, we cease and let the plants grow into those feathery ferns where the garden pests love to hide.

But this year we have Luna, a "gift" from Virginia (remember Virginia and her cats?). Luna follows Jesse around like a dog~ it's possible she thinks Maizy is her mother~ so when he goes out to the garden, there she is trailing after. It didn't take her long to discover the rats hiding in the asparagus when the ferns were brown this past winter. Did she ever put on weight! And is she ever a good huntress. You will probably not see her, as she is shy around people and leaves the garden as soon as the gate is opened, but when you eat your asparagus give her a little thanks too, as we have noticed that the rats had done some damage to the roots before she came along.

Warm weekend ahead, and the tomatoes are getting planted. Yay! They are still 2 months from fruition, but it will go by quickly. Jesse is trying some new cherry tomatoes as well as our old standby's, Jenny and Sweet Million, and new regular sized ones as well. I believe he is increasing the tomato area once again, as new trellises are going up.The greenhouse is totally full of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, which cycle through to the shade structure (aka plant sales area) and then as they become accustomed to a more temperate climate, out they go into garden beds. The ones who disappeared first with the early frosts, the squashes, cucs, and melons of the Cucurbit family, are the ones who are planted last. But they also produce sooner than the tomatoes and eggplant (both nightshade family, Solanaceae) and peppers (Capsicum). I guess the latter 2 groups spend some time building up their bodies, thus can take a little chill, whereas the Cucurbits are living fast and dying young.

Bok choi, pak choi, ...tat choi? Beats me! Appears "tat" is another variety of "choi", and both were looking young and succulent today (4/14). Also we had mountains of beets and a heap of kale, and new! lower! prices! with intent of moving it out of here ahead of the heat. Funny thing is, seems we sell the same amount no matter what the price..... Which is exactly the way it should be, but he had to try it again. I think where the price really makes a difference is when you are unfamiliar with a vegetable (Tat choi?), trying it for the first time.

There's probably more news for this month, but I'm out of brain power. See ya!

PS~ Be sure to try the Simpson lettuce. It is melt in your mouth excellent!


April 13

what we did last weekend

Just a quick photo of what Wayne and I were up to, and proof that there is a rich for us life away from the farm as well:

Sunsets and Flowers

Many of you know that my mom died on the Ides of March this year.  It was a very quiet passing; she was a very quiet person (when she wasn't raising you know what).  She sure did leave me quite an inheritance, one of reflection on who she really was and how our relationship has contributed to who I am.  It's an inheritance that will last the rest of my life, and be passed on to Jesse as well.
Our daughter left us some years back, in the spring also, on April Fools Day.  She was a lot like her grandma in so many ways, but she wasn't afraid to show herself to the world.  She imprinted strongly on our family and we are forever thankful, though at the time you couldn't have convinced us it would be this way.  When I reflect on her cantankerous moments I get a good laugh now, just like with Mom.
Ally loved sunsets.  At the end of the day several times a week she would load up her dog and go out to the Tortolitas to watch the sunset.  Right after she died we had months of fantastic sunsets.  I could even hear her say to me, "go out and watch the sunset Mom" and sure enough, it would be an absolutely glorious sunset.  As if all those sunsets she had stored up in her body were suddenly released with her, they came over and over again, right into monsoon season.
Well, guess what.  My mom loved flowers.  Wild ones and cultivated, she had a half acre of them back east, tucked here and there.  I ate a lot of TV dinners as a kid but we sure had a colorful yard.  And here in the desert once she could no longer do the work all by herself, Jesse started gardening for her.  People driving in would comment on that beautiful yard.  Now it's gone wild as Jesse has gardening to do elsewhere, but boy what a wildflower year we are having.  As if they were all released with her. 
 Thanks Mom.  You're the best.


February 23
Henfeathers
If you should see Maizy in a henfeather necklace, it is not the latest fashion but the latest attempt to change her diet.  Many of you have probably heard of the old farmer's method of tying the dead chicken around the chicken killer's neck, and once he hears it has happened a second time Jesse might be angry enough to try it!  When she was discovered with the first hen, the three "Virginia cats" were with her enjoying the feast.  Wayne became her advocat, saying the cats put her up to it.  But this time she was all alone with a plump belly.  Rebecca says "she's supposed to protect them, not kill them."  I think they might have been almost safer with the bobcats and coyotes.  At least they recognized those 4-leggeds as dangerous animals and not part of the family.
Did you hear about the "Virginia cats" of last summer?  Our very dear neighbor, Virginia, died last summer, having achieved the age of 93.  When she first moved here she had a full house.  Along with her husband there were her Uncle John and five dogs.  Gradually they all moved on (or up?) and she survived another 2 rescued dogs.  Finally she switched to cats.  Not meaning to offend anybody, they were what I called Catholic cats.  She told me she asked them to abstain, but......  What do you do when a neighbor you love becomes one of those old women with 40 cats?  If you are in a rural location (yes, I only call Catalina rural when it suits me), you simply keep your eye on the situation.  The cats lived outside, under her house.  They did a wonderful job of rodent control.  Our front yard being unfenced, the coyotes did a wonderful job of feline control.  I don't think she ever did have 40 cats, but she might have had 20 at a time when the litters were born.  We knew she didn't have much longer for this world, and the kittens brought her so much joy. 
In her younger years she would feed the rabbits and birds.  The rabbits would head over to her door at the prescribed hour, and she'd take sliced carrots out to the feeding spot under some bushes.  Sliced carrots at the prescribed hour, I swear it's true.  She bought loaves of day old bread and the ravens would wait on her fence posts.  And of course she had the usual bird seed and hummingbird feeders.  But finally all that became too much for her, and so she invested in cat food instead of carrots. 
We were in New Mexico when she died.  Events moved quickly, almost too quickly for Jesse and Rebecca.  To their horror, Animal Control was called (simple routine for the authorities who were summoned since she died in her home) and traps were set for the cats.  Jesse recognized some of them as her favorites, ones that would follow her in her yard.  But to the authorities they were all feral cats.  Feral cats are automatically euthanized if they go to Animal Control.  So Jesse put out his own Hav-a-Heart trap, and now has the Virginia cats, Casper, Luna, and Saber.  Another three moved up the street, welcomed to another neighbor's home.  Yes they were feral, but you surely would not know that now. 
That's the story of the Virginia cats, and a glimpse into one of Earth's angels who I will remember always.  I have a lot more Virginia stories, so you will probably hear about her again.
Our Garden's "Mother Hen" (me) is realizing just what having a retired husband can mean.  Wayne's work has been seasonal and he has been self employed for as long as we have been together.  Generally he's been home when I have, so I thought we had already settled into what would be our routine for the golden years.  But oh me, oh my, these rainy days of winter have me worried!  It is like I have a 2 year old following me around the house.  Sit down to type?  Ha!  The sun has been shining so beautifully today, but now he is in that rainy day mode and "doesn't feel like working in the garden" and will "re-injure his shoulder" if he prunes our personal trees.  And he sure made a quick trip to Basha's.  I was hoping he'd do a little more shopping.  So that, Mike, is why there has been little written on these pages this winter.  I miss it more than you do.
Yesterday on NPR there was a little discussion about the Pope having a Face Book page.  Among the fine points he would need to know, they said, was that you need to post on your blog daily.  Daily?!  So this is no longer a blog, it's a journal, okay?  I've been known to go a year between journal entries.. but this one is as least monthly.
Gotta love this weather!  We are now posting the rainfall in the Garden building.  There was a total of 3+ inches in last week's series, and 0.34" overnight, more today.  Also we now have a cloud poster hanging in the building for anyone else who wants to see more than pictures in the clouds.  I keep it in the house during the week, so if it's not there out just remind me.
No lack of production from the garden, unless you are talking cole crops.  We're still having trouble with that western section, so there is a serious lack of kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.  Basha's is okay for broccoli, but I sure do miss our fresh sweet cabbage!  But the bok choi is in the middle section and doing well.
"What's coming up?" I keep hearing.  (What, you're getting tired of spinach and lettuce?)  Well, beet greens will lead into beets.  Turnips have been intermittent so I haven't listed them on the web page.  Of course I've been intermittent myself, so maybe they are there more than I think!  Which leads one to wonder why I do this web page at all.  It's because they won't let me stop~  and also I do enjoy it, but it sure was easier when I was out at the garden more.  We'll have tangeloes this coming Saturday.  Carrots and green onions will be along soon.  And in a little over a month, asparagus!
Thanks to Barb and John Stewart for finding Jesse's mobile chicken coop.  (Imagine that, realtors who can find real estate for chickens!)  Right now it is parked rather close to the driveway, so please watch for wandering leghorns on your way in.  Spring weeds will have them farther out in the orchard.
Jesse will be gone over the weekend, to another native plant workshop, but Rebecca and Maizy will be here and Wayne and I will help out.  It will be good to see you again!
Ah, January.  Once upon a time the garden was closed in January.  Now we are full of greens for winter... a healthy way to recover from holiday feasting.  Spinach seems to be the tomato of the winter crops.  We grow a dark green robust variety that has been around for a very long time.  Unlike most commercial spinach, this one is "savoyed", a spinachy way of saying crinkled.  Happily it is not as crinkled as its earlier versions were- very difficult to remove dirt from the folds back then, and still crinkled enough to make it a nuisance for agribusiness.  We just give it a few soaks however, and it is good to go. 
Add to the spinach 4 varieties of lettuce and some bok choi, and we have a pleasing accompaniment to our winter stews, casseroles, and roasts.  Turnip greens, turnips.. yes yes yes.   Carrots soon as well, but meantime the ones from the stores are passable as food.
Jesse has completed the chicken camper at last, and you may soon see it parked hither and thither as the chickens ("chooks" in Australian dialect) are moved around the property to graze.  The first location is at our end of the acreage, closest to the dogs and farthest from the (other) predators.  And their first night in that spot was last night, a windy one.  This morning we woke up on our sleeping porch to a hen clucking on the wall by our heads...   the door to the camper coop had blown open.  So it looks like we will now be adjusting to chickens in our midst. 
One of the survival characteristics of the human species is adaptation to ever changing conditions.
Speaking of predators, Jesse has quite a bobcat tale to tell.  I don't do it justice, but here is the summary~ 
This cat had already eaten one of his hens a few weeks ago.  Jesse saw her take it from about 30 feet away but didn't get too worked up about it.  We did move in to their territory afterall, and we've been coexisting for over 30 years.  But he couldn't quite sit back when the cat grabbed another hen even closer still, right by the coop.  He chased that cat all around the property.  She dropped the hen and went up a tree.  He ran back home for the camera and she was back after her meal.  He chased her all around again until finally she jumped back over the fence.  End of the story: he finished up the coop, moved it as far away as possible, and ate the hen himself.  Wish we had a video of the chase scene!
Enjoy the wintry weather while we are lucky enough to have it.  Being from the east, February always feels like spring to me here, which means summer is not too far away!

And before that!

December 11

Garden News

Baby it's cold outside!  The low 20's finally took the last of the tomatoes, so we no longer are a Christmassy red and green in the garden shed.  But are we ever green, with spinach, lettuce, bok choi and arugula.  The cole crops (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale) got a late start.  Jesse is hoping they will be ready later in January.  After eating some broccoli from the food store last night I hope so too!  It 's good to get these little reminders, both of how important timing is in the garden and of how good fresh food tastes.
This was Jesse's first year of manning the garden ship and he hit some rather rough waters in the way of blight and damaged soil.  He probably thinks it was a baptism by fire, as he didn't notice that his dad was so intent on putting him in charge until somewhere around last March. But as his eventual intent is to produce all of his own food (aside from wheat for flour), that means he will get this all together and have food for you year round as well.  If the amount of spinach being produced is any indication, I think we will all be eating well in years to come.
Garlic will be disappearing soon, so you may want to stock up a bit.  You can now store it in your frige in a container of some sort (ie plastic bag or whatever alternative you can think of).  From here on out it will dry to something quite rubbery and pathetic by summer when left on the counter.  I've started experimenting with dehydration, and that works quite well.  I used the grating part of my food processor, possibly just the regular blade would do, and then spread the garlic on the dehydrator trays.  It took the same amount of time as chopped onions and bell peppers. 
The latest on our winter schedule is that we will be closed on Dec. 23, 26, and 30, and then open again on Jan. 2nd, 9am til noon, and continue on Saturdays only until we have more food, maybe sometime around the end of February.  Jesse has a hard time disappointing people, and if you will come in for just lettuce and spinach and whatever else we find, as many have, then he will make the time once a week to accomodate.  So, good job all of you who expressed dismay that we might close for a spell! 
November 08

The Farming Community

Last summer Jesse went to an event in Tucson and communed with the city farmers, generally a good bunch of people in tune with the Earth.  But then there are the uptight activists, the people who use the word Monsanto to strike fear in the bellies of unsuspecting food eaters, and push agendas like regulation and certrification of small growers.  Could they in fact be agents, whether they know it or not, of large growers for whom certification is the only hope for survival?  I don't know if these people farm at all, but I do know they cultivate paranoia.  So I imagine Jesse will quietly move away from their fire and maintain his own little peaceful camp at the edge of society.  We really don't need that much exposure to sell our produce.
People who are freaked out about their food supply should be growing their own food or at least participating in community gardens (www.communitygardensoftucson.org).  If I lived in the city I would do a little of both.  A community garden causes people to come together joyfully to share what they know about gardening and so much more.  Tucson has several community gardens already in existance and I know it can use many more and still not negatively impact the "bigger" growers participating in farmers markets. 
The main impression I have had from our experience north of Tucson is almost alarming.  There are so many hungry people!  And not for lack of money.  People can tell the difference when they eat food fresh from the garden, food harvested the same day they take it home.  And the well-educated people we talk with are not interested in certification when they can come to the farm and visit with the farmers as well as watch them work.  They have used their brains to determine what their own priorities are with food.
In a way I can understand the activists who now appear to be challenging even the small growers they do not know.  "Are you certified?!", eyes wide open, rapid breathing, etc.  Certified by Mother Earth thank you.  (BTW, who's your community's Master Planner?  Same sort of thing.)  They don't know me except that I sell food and immediately they want a seal of approval to make it safe.  Why not get to know me instead?  Rather than trust a certrifying board of people you do not know who hire or worse, delegate the responsibility to local governments to hire, inspectors you do not know.  And what are the qualifications of the inspectors?
Ah, I am paranoid too.  Paranoid of people delegating out their personal responsibility to ensure that the food they eat is not only safe from contamination but also wholesome.  And I am saddened to realize that all this paranoia inhibits real community.
November 07

Garden News

This past week has been full of lessons, primarily a lesson in making the  best of a bad situation.  The week of our big freeze (10/28) was also the week our web site provider performed a major upgrade to their system.  Ourgardencatalina.com was supposed to be offline for just a week.  The first lesson learned was persistence since patience didn't seem to be working.  I bugged them over and over again when I could not publish anything to the website once their upgrade was completed .  I still can't, but at least they have changed the page so it doesn't look like I can anymore.  I almost cancelled the web site in my frustration.
That led to my friend Diane showing me how she could create a web site for us as a subsite of www.OurCatalina.com.  We have decided to stay with the site provider (who will not issue a refund) but move our domain next fall when the contract is up.  The address would stay the same.  Diane does web sites for small busniness here in Catalina, and for the Catalina Arts Council as well as for individual artists.  If you are a local artist needing a web site you might want to check this out (http://www.catalinaazarts.org/).
Also I have started this Blog in place of Garden News on the web site.  (and we all know that it ended up back on the web site, right here!) This way should I not get access to the site now or in the future (it just won't matter that much~~) you can still be informed as to what is going on in Our Garden.  The web site, once it returns, will be simply the  produce list, the hours, location, "what's available when", and email contact (ourgardenjenny@live.com or jenny@ourgardencatalina.com). 
Meanwhile, back at the garden!!  We still have tomatoes and a few gold rush zucchini thanks to the frost cloth and the above average temps.  Garlic, arugula, and very soon spinach.  On Wed we had the thinnings from lettuce.  We are again in a transition time, from warm season to cool season crops, so it is hard to predict what will be in the harvest.  Those in the know just come in to check it out (Wed and Sat, 9 til noon), and boy do we ever appreciate you!!!!
Right before the freezing up of the web site and subsequently the garden, I vented some frustration generated by customers who are picky eaters basically.  We all know that my husband is a picky eater, but he certainly eats garlic and he certainly understands small business and local economy, and he would at least come here to buy garlic and to see if there is anything else he might eat just to help this business stay in town.  Many people don't think past the concept of corporate businesses who have investor backing, resources to keep them going when they are actually in great debt.  We are not in great debt.  That is not the way we operate, either in business or our personal lives.  But that means we have not borrowed a large chunk of money to keep us going.  Wayne and I have invested in this business thanks to our other business, oh horrors here she goes, Desierto Weed Control.  Jesse would be trembling to have me mention it, but if you have read this far in this entry then I can assume you will keep on reading and not jump to quick and wrong assumptions yourself.  We are strictly organic here on the farm, and for the most part in our yard as well.  (Just take a look at all the weeds!  Not a big priority for us.)  If anyone wants to learn about integrated pest management that emphasizes natural means over chemical control, just ask Wayne about it.
Way back when Jesse was a toddler Wayne could see that the only way his yard care business would be able to continue supporting us and our ambitions would be to grow and require numerous employees.  Anyone who has ever been in the hiring position knows what a headache that is.  So he switched over to strictly weed control on the advice of one of his grad school professors.  We have done quite well as a small weed control business, thanks in no small part to the developments that grew at the same time, like Saddlebrooke, Sun City, places with small rock yards and "weed police".  Really at the time he would have much preferred to start Our Garden, but there was no way we could have made the land payments.  We can barely pay the taxes with the Our Garden income after 5 years in business now.  I don't think it is really our fault that a weedless yard has more value to people than the food they eat.  I can't say it is your fault either.  It is the fault of government subsidy (often of large corporations by the way), but you do generally have a choice in the matter.  We have always chosen organic over any other produce, even with our small income way back when.  Jesse and Rebecca do now.  We also choose to buy as locally as possible.  Enough said?

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This is the "archive" of Garden News and Musings, the most current posting being on the Home Page.  Will I ever get that blog to work again?  Who knows!

Contact us at ourgardencatalina@gmail.com