Sunday, November 22, 2009


It's that time of year! This year with the help from family and friends we planted tulips, sweet peas, irises, freesias and ranunculus. We soaked the sweet peas over night. The moisture from soaking helps the sweet peas germinate more rapidly and loosens the skin or shell, which covers the seed. Sometime this spring we should have a beautiful garden.

We planted nearly 100 bulbs. You have to prepare the ground before planting. Good soil makes for lovely flowers. Over the years we've been adding soil amendments to our flower bed. This year we added 11 bags of manure and our own homemade compost. The results have been terrific. The soil has never looked and felt better.

These are the tools we used. These tools work like a charm. The one on the left is called "hand bulb planter" and the one on right is called " bulb dibber". I've used both and they are equally good.

Do these hands look great or what! The soil was perfect for planting. A little dirt never hurt anyone.
Happy Gardening!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Normally I don't love pureed soups but I really liked this version. This is the quintessential Fall soup! Butternut squash and apples, plus a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg--mmmm, good.

And this soup is good for you with all those good veggies and there is just one tablespoon of butter and no cream.

I roasted the squash for 30 minutes (splitting it in two and placing it in a 350 degree toaster oven). Roasting brings out the flavor of the squash even more than cooking it directly in the soup. But either way would work.

This soup comes from Simply Recipes, a favorite cooking blog.

Butternut Squash Apple Soup


1 yellow onion, chopped

1 rib of celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 Tbsp butter

1 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped

1 tart green apple, peeled, cored, chopped

3 cups chicken broth

Pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper

Saute onion, celery, and carrot in butter. Cook for 5 minutes. Add squash, apple, and broth. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until squash is soft. Puree. Add spices to taste

Serves 4


Thursday, November 5, 2009

November Groundwork

Mild November days remind us to slow down and relish in the fact that we have survived the summer once again. Here in the low desert of Phoenix we have two growing seasons.This cool season weather is the perfect time to sow peas, root crops, leafy greens and a long list of cabbage family crops. Plant cool-season herbs and edible flowers, experiment with new tastes and textures in your Autumn dishes. One of my favorite herbs is dill. I love the delicate, feathery-like leaves or fronds. It reminds me of a fairy land, especially when the flower heads form into little yellow umbrellas and turn into seeds! Dill is easy to grow from seeds. Sow them in full sun and well-drained soil. Plant in the back of the garden bed. They can grow up to 3 feet tall. Cut fresh as needed. Fronds, flower heads and seeds are all edible. After you have had your fill, dry for later use. Spread fronds out on a paper towel and air dry, or microwave for 3 minutes. Remove thick stems and crumble. Store in an airtight container. When seedheads form, let them dry and remove seeds. Add to fish dishes, dips, soups and salads. Leave a few seedheads to dry in your garden for self-seeding.

November Checklist ~
  • Adjust watering schedule as weather cools. Water deeply so moisture will reach the root system, but less frequently as the season changes.

  • Inspect vegetables closely for insects, pests and diseases.Keep an eye out for little green caterpillars or Cabbage Loopers. This is also the time of year for aphids. Rub out or pinch out at first sign of the ash colored cluster. Also try using a soapy spray by mixing 1 tbsp. each of Dawn dish soap and vegetable oil with 1 gallon water. Spray in early morning or evening. Make sure you spray the underside of leaves. With early detection, you're more likely to manage or prevent any major damage to plants.

  • Dead-head spent blooms and harvest veggies to stimulate continued growth.

  • Continue to sow cool-weather annuals and biennials every 2 to 4 weeks through the fall for a continuous crop of vegetables through next spring.

  • Thin seedlings as they grow to prevent crowding, this gives your young plants plenty of room to grow. Use scissors to cut seedlings at ground level. Wash and toss these sprouts into your salad.

  • Be prepared for early winter frost. Average first frost date takes place around the end of November to the first week of December. We usually have 7 to 10 nights of below freezing temperatures a year. Check out the National Weather Service for more up to date information. Cover frost sensitive plants with a sheet, light blanket or frost cloth (not plastic) all the way to the ground. Frost-tender veggies include; Tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplants. Paper bags or boxes are great for low lying plants. Floating row covers are another option. If a hard freeze is forcast, try using outdoor Christmas lights under cover for extra warmth. Coldest temperatures are just before sunrise.

  • Fall brings cool weather and an abundance of free organic matter. As trees begin to drop leaves, bag and save for compost pile, mulching or adding to layered garden beds. Mow over leaves a couple of times for a ready-to-use mulch. You can never have too many bags of leaves!