Saturday, October 17, 2009


I love adding red bell peppers to most any savory dish I make. Roasting them just makes them more heavenly. This recipe is easy and always a hit--I've even sent this home with friends and they tell me they've eaten it for breakfast! Enjoy.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

1 ½ cups roasted red peppers
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded white Vermont Cheddar cheese
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ cup minced leeks or green onions, white part and a bit of green
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
Crushed oregano

To roast red peppers--roast them over a flame or under the broiler until charred black. Then put peppers into a brown paper bag, close the top, and leave them alone until completely cooled. Then remove the peppers and peel off the charred skin and you are left with gorgeous roasted peppers.

Chop roasted red peppers and place in a mixing bowl with any leftover juices. Add Cheddar and Vermont Cheddar cheeses, mayonnaise, hot sauce, leeks or green onions, pepper and paprika. Season with oregano, basil, and thyme. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Serve with toasted pita bread triangles or plain water crackers. Also good in sandwiches.

From Capital Celebrations – Junior League of Washington

Photo courtesy of Jill Green


Friday, October 9, 2009

Planting time for Blackberries is coming soon!

Did you even realize that blackeberries grow here in Maricopa County? They grow prolifically! The varieties that grow best here are: Rosborough, Womack and Brison. Rosborough are the heaviest producer according to the County Extension Service. Baker's Nursery in Phoenix even has thorneless berries.

They need to be planted in well drained soil and the planting times are beginning in January through March. You can get them in bare-root in January while they last. Water them well when first planted, every 3-6 days the first 2 months. Once established they can be watered every 1-2 weeks depending on the temperature.

Fertilize about 1 month after planting then again in June/July. In succeeding years apply it in March and then in late July. Use a 13-13-13 or 10-10-10, within 2-3 foot circle around the base of the cane. They need to be pruned regularly since the canes that give fruit on year die off but by then new canes have spread so you will have a constant harvest after the first year.

Birds are really the only pest you have to deal with and netting takes care of them during the fruiting season.

For more information on blackberries check with the Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Service. You can down load instructions from your computer.

I have one bush on a trellis and one growing over an arch in the garden. I get many berries for about 1 1/2 months starting in late April and into May. I love to make jam or just freeze them on a cookie sheet then bag them up to use in desserts or frozen fruit smoothies.

Blackberries are a fun new crop to consider growing in your gardens.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October Groundwork

October finally brings the subtle change in weather we have been waiting for. For gardeners in the low desert this is our "second spring". Our warm days accelerate the sprouting of our newly sown seeds, and the cool night air gives seeds and gardener a pleasant break. This is the prime season to plant a long list of cool-weather vegetables, flowers and herbs. We have seven whole months of mostly mild weather. This gives root systems plenty of time to become established before our summer heat returns.

October to-do list
  • Continue to sow cool weather vegetables every 2 to 4 weeks for a continuous supply of vegetables through next spring.

  • Sow cool-season herbs and edible flowers. The list includes: chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, anise, chamomile and lemon balm. Flowers include: nasturtium, pansies, calendula, marigolds, johnny jump-ups, scented geranium, snapdragon, stock and hollyhock.

  • Prepare bulb garden beds, sow seeds of sweet peas, and broadcast wild flower seeds.

  • Plant now or design and plan your backyard garden for a future location that might include: asparagus, raspberry, blackberry, grape and strawberries. Trellised vines can be trained over a fence, arbor or wall to create "green rooms" in your garden.