Sombreuil Climbing Rose 1850

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tribute to a Grower's Best Friends

February 8, 2011
Seen during the marathon rose pruning day... a Lady Bug in the lavender
among my favorite residents.   Usually I have to buy them at the nursery but this one just dropped in on it's own acord.  Perhaps a refuge from the neighbors?  The winged adults don't stay for long but if they have laid eggs and there is food for them, their babies stay around for a bit.   Their larvae eat the never welcome aphids.

Here Toadie, Toadie!  There's a cool dark home with an open door for you.

This bee skep replica is intended to contain a hose or encourage toads to make their home here.  When the summer monsoons come we have toads that hybernate in the soil come up and tease our dogs.  But we welcome them and their voracious appetite for non-beneficial insects.  Another reason we don't use anything that poisons insects because it may poison the toads and all on up the food chain.

Bees!  Yes Bees!  They are my constant companions in the gardens.  I love having them around.  It is confirmation that my gardens are healthy.  If the bees aren't here to polinate we don't have our fruits, flowers and veggies.  Bees deserve our respect and protection.  This means planting varied bloomers, something for every season here in our low desert.  It also means taking care when eliminating pests not to use means that eliminate the bees as well.  For us we only use hoses, beneficial insects and biodegradable organics.
This little bee skep hangs near a hummingbird feeder.  Who knows, even a hummer might decide to take up housekeeping.  "It could happen."  Hummers, as they dance from bloom to bloom, collecting nectar, also pollinate for us.  We welcome hummers daily with added food for times when blooms are less common.  Your hummingbird feeders do not need added red dye.  They do need to be changed frequently in warm weather to avoid bacterial growth that could harm these sweet tiny birds.

And this skep sits next to one of our prolific kumquat trees.  If you don't have a kumquat yet I highly recommend them.  Their small size means anyone can grow them.  We keep them by the kitchen door so that every time we go in or out we pop a bite size snack in the pie hole.  Kumquats are eaten whole, skin and all!  They can be a bit tart but are sweet as well.

Simply Roasted Summer Veggie Lasagna

Summer squash, pepper and eggplant abundance in your garden got you down Bunky? Missed another squash when you were out picking and now it is no longer a "baby" veggie but a baby whale. Well here are two ways I deal.

Serves 6-12 as side - main


1 Golden Squash ~12"  (several small also do)

1 Zucchini Squash~12"  (several small also do)

1 Egg plant ~12"  (several small do)

1 Onion medium or large epending on your taste

1 Red Pepper

Fresh Basil leaves - a large bunch

6 shallots

Tomato ~10 or so medium to large

Garlic - 6-12 medium cloves

Olive Oil



Mushrooms especially portabella and crimini

Cheese - your choice I like a hard cheese like Asiago or Parmasean if the cheese is going on the top.  Otherwise some ricotta or Mozerella is nice in the layers.

Herbs of choice oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage, chervil, tarragon; mix to create about a tablespoon of dried herbs

All ingredients are approximate! And no you didn't miss an ingredient.  There are no noodles in this lasagna.  The veggies are layered as a pasta would be. The point of this recipe is to use the bounty that you have in a most tasty and easy way. The roasted tomatoes, and peppers really come through without too much else to interfere. Use the herbs you like but no need to be heavy handed with them.  Basil is in season with these vegetables so I especially like to use large basil leaves ~6 on top of each of about 3-4 layers of the vegetables.

Slice squashes lengthwise about ~1/4-1/2" thick

Slice tomatoes ~1/4" thick

Slice onion and shallots thinly

Slice peppers ~1/4", don't worry about removing ribs or seeds

Mushrooms leave whole for meaty texture, slice for less meatiness

Peel garlic, no need to chop, the roasting sweeten the garlic

Pull basil leaves off of the stem

A heavy 13" x 8" casserole pan works well for this quantity of veggies.

Begin layering with olive oil drizzled on the bottom.  Marinara sauce can be substituted.  The purpose is simply to prevent the bottom from sticking.  Then the onion layer, then each vegetable one at a time into a casserole, ending with a layer of tomatoes over garlic, drizzled again with olive oil. Salt, pepper and a bit of herbs on each layer.  Don't worry if your pan is very full, you need to build it up over the top; the veggies shrink down to about 1/2 the original bulk.  The photo shows the lasagne at it's half way point ~45 minutes of baking.  Note the zucchinis are sliced lengthwise.  Even the pepper are simply cut at the rib.

Since it is summer do not preheat oven, just set it for 400-450 degrees after the prep is finished. This recipe can also be baked on the grill if you don't want to heat the house. Another alternative is to bake it at night.

When oven reaches temperature slide the veggie laden pan in for 45 minutes. At the appointed time take the pan out of the oven and press everything down with a spatula. This presses juices, not flavor, out of the water filled veggies. This will allow the juices to evaporate more quickly which allows the flavor to concentrate.

Slide the pan back into the oven for about more 45 minutes. Timing will depend on the quantity of veggies and the amount of water in them (the fresher, the more water) and the heat of your oven. After the second 45 minute round I turned my oven off; there were still some juices on the bottom of the pan. I left the pan in the oven to finish roasting the veggies as the oven cooled.

Serve these veggies hot from the oven, room temp or chilled...it's all good! If served hot and you want to up the heft add some shredded cheese, room temp ricotta, pine nuts or pistachios. If serving chilled consider a drizzle of balsamic vinegar but it is out of this world without.

Bake this with basil leaves scattered about mid levels.  If you still have fresh sweet corn strip some cobs and added those sweet kernels.

Because the point was to use up some excess garden bounty I made enough to freeze. Can't wait to pull this out in November and have it with pumpkin muffins.

A rustic bread with herbed butter, crisp salad with a light vinaigrette and chilled white wine sangria are not necessary with this meal but certainly could make it even more supreme.

Here's to the hardy folks who have a summer veggie garden in the desert! And those who make use of their bounty.  Happy summer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

O Happy Day

Whew!  The Spring rush is over.  Roses have rebloomed while I am waiting for the next flush of peaches, the plums will be ready any moment.  Of course the tomatoes, corn, and squashes are giving to us daily.  Enjoying sharing and cooking with friends.  While back in the house I am ready to blog and I have so many photos and news to share.  But first things first...A one week trip to Paris!  Yeah, I said that, err wrote that!

O Happy Day! Such a charming website!  Jordan is a party planer and letter press printer based in San Fransisco, (my favorite city) though she has moved to Paris (one of my favorite cities) for a year with her 2 children and husband.  She is looking for a reader to receive her gift of a week trip to Paris!  To get to go there you need to go here

While you are there check out her blog... PEONIES are (in May)  in bloom in Paris!  How many times have I heard that my roses look like peonies, which I love almost as much as my roses.  Just look http://ohhappyday.com/2011/05/peony-season-in-paris/   Have you ever?!  So gorge!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Winter/Spring Harvest


+ This

= a Delish Dish!

Our oranges and cilantro made it through the frosts.  Wish I had a lime tree old enough to produce.  Anyone want to trade oranges, clementines for limes?  The over wintered cilantro is really growing with our warm days.  I thought I'd share a favorite recipe while this fresh abundance lasts. 


2 Cups plain low fat Yogurt
2 Medium Shallots, finely chopped
3+ Medium Garlic cloves, minced (garlic lovers feel free to add more)
1/4 Cup freshly squeezed  Orange Juice
             frozen pineapple orange juice concentrate may be substituted
2+ Tablespoons freshly squeezed Lime Juice
2 teaspoons Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Salt

After thoroughly combining the above ingredients set aside some marinade to use as sauce after the meat is grilled.  Marinate meat (chicken, fish, pork) for 1 hour to overnight before grilling, allowing meat to get to room temperature before putting on the heat source.

For garnish:  2 oranges and 2 limes, sliced plus 1 bunch cilantro

BTW if you have not grown or tasted Cilantro Delfino I highly recommend it (not pictured above).  It looks airy like dill but has a supreme cilantro flavor AND it is heat tolerant!  It not only has bigger (not bolder) flavor but is easier to work with and eat due to it's leaf size and shape.  I've only found it in seed.  If you prefer transplants and not having to start your own then start asking your nurseries to carry it.  They and the growers can respond to requests when enough of us chirp.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

First Friday Flea Market and more

A fabulously busy two weeks here at Tre Soli.  All of the roses have been pruned and fed.  Two new rose beds with irrigation built and planted.  Four new veggie/ herb beds built and irrigated.  Six more fruit trees espaliered.   Daffodils blooming.  Peaches and Apples bloomed and leafing.  Plums, cherries, apricots and figs budding.  Corn, herbs and tomatoes planted.  And drum roll please...Gophers caught!  Oh boy goody!! So this is such a busy time that the blog languishes but I have posts in the works with photos so stay tuned. 

In the mean time I hope to see you Friday at the Willows for their monthly First Friday Flea Market. 
The weather will be perfect.  I have met such wonderful artists and craft women at these affairs.  And of course Bev and the girls always have the dearest lovelies for sale in the shop.

Since the roses are just leafing out I will not have any of the girls with me at the First Friday Flea Market. They don't like to come out in public without full regalia. Instead I will be squeezing fresh tangerine/orange juice. Liquid Gold we call it at our breakfast table. Additionally I'll be cutting cilantro, dill, chard and perhaps some daffodils. If you purchase the juice and cilantro I'll give you my favorite grilling marinade recipe that uses both of those ingredients.

And isn't it the perfect time of year for us to grill outside and enjoy the evenings.  The best of both worlds, warm enough to be outside yet cool enough for a fire later in the evening!  Don't gloat too much to your friends and rellies back home.

See you Friday?!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fresh Dug Roses for You...sold

All of the freshly dug roses have new homes.  We like to grow a variety of other fruits, flowers, veggies as you may have noticed so...when I was at Baker' Nursery the other day, to pick up the new roses, I strolled the hot house with all of the tomatoes.  They have quite a wide variety if you are in the market.  I picked up 3 "Black Prince" starts.  I love those dark tomatoes.  It should do well in our cool late winter and maybe get a jump on some of the heat lovers.  We'll see.  At Berridge Nursery I found "Black Cherry" cherry tomatoes.  Can't wait to try them!

I haven't checked out Harper's tomato stock, if you have let me know.  Don't Forget!  Another couple of cold nights could still happen.  Depending on your microclimate temperatures could still get as low as 30 and lower.  Toss your frost covers on the frost tenders, be sure all are well watered, add Christmas tree lights (and don't forget to turn them on!) to those too large to cover.  Remember to resist the urge to prune the damaged foliage for about another month.  Your tomatoes should say in a protect place until the night temperatures reach 50.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Why hasn't it been invented yet?!  Here's a treat that may stimulate your olfactory memory.

Now Close your eyes, lean in closer and breathe lightly.... 

Or just scroll down...

Now that's heaven scent!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


February 8, 2011
Spring can only be 4-6 weeks away when we give the girls the spa treatment. 

A few of the girls, behind the lavender and fruit trees, before pruning on February 7th

First they get a hair cut, like going from braids to a pixie cut! 

Next we take care of their feet by bathing them in chicken poo, sea kelp, banana peels and other organic fertilizers.  To strengthen their legs Epsom salts are added.  Finally their cocktail receives a dash of sugar - to attract bugs, the healthy microbiotic type.

We dug a few to make room for new.  Moondance, Queen Mary II, Tamora, Abbaye de Cluny and others are now potted and ready for you to plant.  They should go in the ground asap.  Let me know if you want to give them a home in the next few days.

And Here is this years Freshman Class of Roses.  All members of the David Austin family.  They can't wait to get into the new beds we built for them.

But now it's on to the citrus.  For a Valentine treat they receive a long deep drink of water with a chaser of organic citrus food and another long deep drink.

Monday, February 7, 2011

This gardener's worst enemy...

...THE GOPHER.  They eat the roses!  They eat the artichokes!  They eat the Jasmine!  It goes on and on.  For twenty years we've battled them.  Hoses, vibrators, traps, even chewing gum.  They really are just like in the cartoons!  If you see a plant waving in the wind, yet look around and see there is no wind, you know it is a gopher!  If you see a plant going down into the ground before your eyes, you know it is a gopher!

Fortunately we do have other allies in this war - ferrel cats as well as the family cats and dogs.  Ugly as those gophers are I breathe a sigh of relief when some four legged family member brings me a headless gopher or sometimes the head of a gopher.  Cats are rewarded with bits of salmon when they turn in their gopher. 
Here are a few shots of Nala a resident skitty kitty doing her thing guarding the garden from above.  Must have been a guardian angel in a past life.
When preparing for any job one must prepare one's tools.  Nala sharpens her claws while keeping a steady eye on her prey - a gopher we hope!

Keeping her eyes on her prey, tail swishing, Nala begins to crouch down from her guard tower.

Darn I missed the photo of her crouched at this hole.  Another hole.  Another day.  Nothing for Nala this time.  In the meantime Nala decides she's earned a nice roll in the dirt. 

Interesting she chose to roll right where I had fallen into a gopher run earlier in the month. Do you suppose she is creating an olfactory camouflage?! 
 "Ahh! It's good to be a guard cat!"

1 + 1 = Veggie Garden Success


Thursday, February 3, 2011

KIDS! Come To The Table!

"It's Soup!"  When the weather gets cold the cooks get cookin'.  Lentil soup is one of the ultimates for me.  A simple meal of a nutritious pot of soup can be ready in under an hour.  It is so bright, cold and refreshing outside today that I decided to add some color to my usual lentil soup.  While I didn't grow my lentils I did add my carrots, celery and onions after sweating them in some Italian "Communiti di Mondo X" olive oil.  To the 16 oz of lentils, and 8 cups of stock, broth or water add about a tablespoon of cumin as well as a pinch of salt and pepper to the pot.  When the lentils were soft it was all topped with more lovelies from my gardens... red and yellow chard and the last of the tomatoes.  No need for a recipe.  Plenty to serve or freeze.  Don't you love coming in from outside to smell dinner cooking?!  If you are the cook, take a quick break outside and then come back inside to fully enjoy what you're lovingly preparing.

Nothing goes better with soup on a cold day than warm fresh baked bread.  This loaf baked on Monday was from an old family recipe. 

Well maybe not old.  And maybe only passed from a cousin, Brian, to my Aunt Nan to me.  But it is a busy (or lazy) bread lovers dream...No Knead Basic Bread I call it.  The gorgeous crust is due in part to the two tablespoons of olive oil and the flax seed meal.  It is so wonderful toasted, perfect crunch to the crust.  Nice holes for filling with bruschetta made from your own tomatoes or home made jam from your own orchard.  Grind you own almond butter, available at many grocery stores these days, and you'll never go back to jarred nut butters.  And of course it's just slurpy good with butter alone.  Double toasted with herbed chevre...ummm!  Now for those who don't toast it tears and dips just fine into olive oil with a bit of balsamic vinegar or pepper added to the oil.  The recipe will be posted in the Recipe Archive.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wind Chill? In The Valley of the Sun?!

Yes, Virginia!  There is wind chill and it can happen...even here.  Those aren't gophers making the gardens tremble today.  THAT is W-I-N-D!  Fortunately nothing like my family in the Midwest is experiencing.  For instance on my patio the thermometer reads 34 degrees.  My fields and gardens are not as protected so it is usually 5-10 cooler (or warmer in the summer)  At http://www.weather.com/ it says that my zip code is currently showing 38 degrees and "it feels like"  30 degrees due to winds of 14-21mph.  So I am guessing that "it feels like" close to 25 degrees here in the gardens at Tre Soli.  For weather information the pilots use http://www.noaa.gov/   Each of these two sites has it's assets.  I use them both when I want a compete picture of what the weather is and has been as well as educated guesses on what it will be.  Try them both why don't you.  What are the micro climates like where you are growing?

If you are having trouble finding enough things to keep your frost cover on in the wind try rocks, bricks or even bags of fertilizer, and containers of water can work too.  Just be sure things are heavy enough not to be tossed in the wind.  Your local hardware store, that carries gardening supplies, may also have U-pins that you can insert into the frost cover and push in to the ground.  Be sure your frost cover does not touch the foliage, which means that your cover will billow, that's actually looks kind of cool!  There needs to be room for the air to circulate so let it billow.

Stay warm!

Colors In My Winter Garden

Mother Nature has a way with designing the colors in a season.  I love the purples and burgandy with the deep greens and lime greens.  Who knew they went together so beautifully?!  Wouldn't they be great in a paisley fabric?


                                                                                                             Grafitti Broccoli

Mustard, Arugula, Snapdragons sprouting

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Don't worry Dorothy it is not to late to get it done tonight.    You and Toto can still head out and thank Auntie Em the winds seem to have died down a bit.  Only protect frost tender plants; frost tolerant plants may break their dormancy if they are covered.  Do use Christmas tree lights and mulch.  Do water soil tonite and tomorrow morning.  Do uncover when temperatures reach 50 degrees.  Do not use plastic or waste money on chemicals claiming to prevent frost damage.  Do not prune damaged plants until new growth emerges later in the Spring.  For explanations on these tips and more of the best information go to http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1002.pdf

Time to Feed Your Morning Sunshine

As a child of the 60's one of my favorite plays was "Hair!" When I go out to my citrus trees I find myself singing (in my head of course) "Good Morning Star Shine" Really! Whoever called fresh squeezed juice "sunshine in a glass" hit it right on.

Now look more deeply into these trees. The fruit that is further back and in the shade in the best of the best fruit.  

And this is part of why you should not prune your citrus "trees". They are really just giant shrubs and they need to protect themselves from our sun in order to live a long and healthy life. Unless you have an unhealthy or dead branch try to take your pruning urges out on something else.

Now is the time to begin giving your citrus their 1st of 3 feedings for the year.  The old saying is to feed your citrus on Valentine's Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day..."remember to labor at feeding and your citrus will love you"...Though I do have knowledge of citrus trees 20-30 years old that have never been fed by their owners and still provide delicious fruit, they must have amazing soil.  My fruit was ok when I didn't feed but once I started fertilizing they became addicting... DElicious...juicy...sweet... tangy.

If you have lemons or limes, use only organic fertilizers and no herbicides or pesticides, and would like to trade for grapefruit, oranges or clementines let me know!  Maybe we could trade? 
I love sharing my bounty.

For the best information on growing citrus in The Valley head to the Maricopa County Extension.  There you'll find a wealth of science based knowledge to assist you in environmentally responsible gardening and landscape in the low desert.  This link will take you specifically to printable publications about citrus. http://cals.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/pubs.htm#Citrus
Happy 30+ years to my citrus trees!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stay Tuned for A Little Tour of the OTFM

If you haven't been to the Scottsdale Old Town Farmers Market (OTFM) you just may enjoy a Saturday morning there.  This is our off season for roses so we are not usually there selling.  But we do love to go eat and shop. The girls and their friends would like to take you on a tour of the OTFM.  We'll do this by featuring some of our favorite vendors on our website.   In the meantime to whet your appetite for the tour before next Saturday here is a link to the market website. 
And yes, thank you for noticing.  Those are our pomegranates and roses in the photos.

Veggie Tales from the Giant Salad Bowl

OK...it's a horse trough. But I think that Giant Salad Bowl is more appetizing.

Some of last years Giant Salad Bowl residents jumped ship and volunteered around the garden.  Chard and parsley seem to be especially adept at this.  It certainly tells me who doesn't need a raised bed to grow well here!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2010 Tour de Coops

As some of you have heard me say "I'm not built for speed."  And here is the proof...photos from two months ago...The day of the Phoenix Tour de (chicken)Coops I volunteered at a coop as part of my Master Gardener commitment to educate the public.  As a former hen keeper, and still a hen lover, I looked forward to seeing what was new in the world of hens and their pens.  I was stationed at a home in Tempe where two graduate students and a "significant other" were rearing a few hens who had just entered their age of laying.  It was delightful to see the interest in growing your own food, in this case... eggs.  By the time I was free to tour I only made it to six coops. And not until the 5th and 6th coops did it occur to me to use my camera!  So here is a bit of my tour.

Charming Coop decorated for the holidays.  The owner's spouse said it changes with each holiday.  Notice the little iron chairs in the lower right.  For when the ladies are having tea?

The back side of the Charming Coop was built for practicality when cleaning and gathering yet keeps the  residents safe and dry. 

When they aren't busy redecorating the Charming Coop there is a favorite place to sit and enjoy watching the hens play


Watching the poms grow and the paint dry.  Life is good when you can unwind as this family does.

And now welcome to a Village Coop.

Village Coop... because it took a village to design and construct this coop.  Definitely the most advanced design of the few coops I saw.  Many hands shared the costs and purchased the materials and spent the time assembling the coop.  And many hands will enjoy caring for the hens who will lay the eggs that the many hands will enjoy.

Note the "Dutch Door" for added ventilation.  This coop is on a North / South axis between a home and a perimeter wall.  The nesting boxes are raised and on the back wall.

These hens have a perch (on the right) in addition to the floor and the nests when they are in the coop.  See how the food and water are hung for the ceiling to keep the containers clean and therefore reduced the chances of diseases.  The silver dome toward the front is the heat lamp; especially nice in the winter and for younger hens.  Those these girls are healthy, heat is often the Rx for sick fish and birds.

As I recall our tour guide, aka resident hen wrangler,said that the intention is to eventually have 20-24 hens share these accommodations.  Hhmm I wondered if they had enough nesting boxes.  "Oh yes!" I was told.  "A lot of them like to lay their eggs together in the same box at the same time."  Well I remember we had 6 hens and two nests so I guess that does work out fine, when all are willing to share.  But when they don't isn't that what "pecking order" is for?  Notice the light at the bottom of of the boxes?  And what appears to be 2 rather large eggs?

How swell is this set up?!  This photo shows the back side (South) of the Village Coop.  Easy egg gathering and nest box cleaning!  The eggs are dummies for the benefit of the touring visitors.  Some people do put dummy eggs in the nesting boxes as the hens are nearing laying age.

This coop appeared to be the safest I'd seen to keep.  A veritable Fort Knox for the hens.  Neither rain nor sun, nor coyote, raccoon, bobcat nor dog shall keeps these hens from delivering their eggs.  Can't wait to go again next year and see many more coops. 

Every time I hear the lovely low clucking of hens I find it almost irresistible not to try again.  Is their soothing purring enough to get me over the fear of loosing them to coyotes?  Stay tuned.  Who knows.  Marans with their chocolate brown eggs seem to be calling my name.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Yippee!  My favorite snack is honored today!  Did you grow up with cookies, cakes, and sodas as snacks?  Not us but don't feel sorry for us...we had popcorn!  A couple of times every week!  Buttered and salted.  Usually orange juice or water was the only drink allowed with it.  None of us were overweight, plenty of fiber I guess.  During my first soujourn over seas I only missed two things - popcorn and peanut butter, in that order.  My next soujourn I took them with me! 

All of our popcorn was made in an Atom Pop popcorn popper.  It's unique design, an inverted funnel, allowed you to put the oil and corn in the popper, place on the burner and just relax.  The seeds slide down the sides and back to the oil and heat.  No shaking.  No burning.  No hovering.  No old maids, unless you put too many kernels in the popper or have really old bad corn..  It came with it's own little measuring cup, in that same funnel shape. 

A few years ago I began to feel guilty for being the child who loved her buttered popcorn so much that she took advantage of her parents brief swearing off of popcorn and adopted the popper for herself.  So in between batches of fluffy buttered popcorn, I did what any responsible sibling would do.  I took a rubbing off of the bottom of the 50-60 year old pan and searched the web for more poppers.  I was delighted to find some brothers in Kansas still manufacturing these wonders of the snack world. 

After speaking with one of the brothers, he directed me to a  hardware store in a nearby town that was selling the poppers.  A delightful older lady took my order and sent my 16 poppers post haste.  I then shipped them to my siblings, children, nieces and nephews for Christmas gifts.   I wanted everyone to enjoy a bit of family history.  And now I don't feel so guilty.  If you too would like to enjoy the ease and perfection of a 50's popper you can now buy these poppers directly from the manufacturers at http://www.atompoppopper.com/

In the 70's I had a friend who rented a farm house where popcorn and sweet corn were grown in alternating years.  The farmer welcomed us to pick whatever we could eat.  We would sit around a potbelly stove in the Fall (really I'm not 100 years old) and shuck those kernels off with our thumbs to store for the next year.  Remember we only had that free popcorn come around every other year so we were like squirrels storing our nuts for the winter! But my thumbs hurt so bad that I don't miss that shucking. 

If you think popcorn sounds good may I recommend the best place to buy your corn is from http://www.amishcountrypopcorn.com/  Sorry Orville and Paul but they've got you both beat.  They do have the hulless variety so you don't have to pull hulls out of your gums.  Our family favorites are the Baby White and Lady Finger  hulless.  They have an amazing number of other varieties so take some time to look around.

Now I really must run and put the corn on and celebrate National Popcorn Day!

We're Baack!

Originally posted in November:

It's been a long hot summer with lots to do while the girls were taking their summer siesta. So much to do that the blog kept riding in the back seat. Today we went to the Willows for their First, First Friday Flea Market of the season. Here's a link to their blog announcing it http://thewillowshomeandgarden.blogspot.com//
What a beautiful group of women I met there. Happened into some very neat and meaningful Christmas gifts. Yes, I said Christmas gifts, and they are not for me. She who refuses to shop before Thanksgiving and only non-mass produced. Well at least I stuck to one of my guns.  My favorite fabric artist was Terry Parvan.  Her work moved me to tears, several times.  She even does custom work and does it perfectly!  For a look at her work go to http://www.winifredstreet.com/  Better yet find out where you can see her work!

The Other Darling of the American Garden...Tomatoes

Rose! Tomatoes! And Citrus! Oh my! Didn't I tell you "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" The only better time is when we are picking and eating these amazing plants.

As if rose planting season wasn't enough to make my winter then try this...Maya is holding a Tomato Festival again this year. Last year I worked at it but this year I will be a shopper! If you love eating dinner in your garden then you'll want to make it to Maya's Farm http://www.mayasfarm.com/ to see the amazing selection of heirloom and organic tomato plants that will be for sale.

Additionally there will be three classes...Seed Saving, Trouble Shooting and Companion Planting. Each class is $10 but if you want to attend all three it is only $25. My family's favorite breakfast place is the Morning Glory Cafe right next to Maya's Farm. It would make a great start to your day to stop in there before the festival. Being citrus season they should have fresh squeezed orange juice to compliment your breakfast. Those of you without citrus trees will especially enjoy the sunshine in a glass. On the other hand there are amazing sandwiches and baked goodies for lunch on the East end of the property at The Farm Kitchen. But then... for those still lingering under the pecan trees by dinner time, Quiessence Restaurant is just behind the Morning Glory Cafe. Hhmm, so many delicious options, such a little person, how to choose?!

Happy tomato hunting!

Tomato Fest 2011
Date: Saturday, February 05, 2011 from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM (MT)
Location: Maya's Farm at the Farm at South Mountain
6106 S. 32nd Street
Phoenix, AZ 85042

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Don't you just love going out on chilly winter mornings and picking your chilled juice from trees in your own yard?! Mmmm! "Sunshine in a glass" Slurp, slurp. What you don't have a tree? Then get ye to the Greenfield Citrus Nursery http://www.greenfieldcitrus.com/ for the best opportunity to learn about which trees to plant in your landscape.

Did you just say you have no landscape? You live in an apartment? No problem try a kumquat, sweet and tart little gems that are entirely edible, even the peel!

If it is shade you crave, citrus do not loose their leaves so you can always count on them for a cool spot to rest in your hammock and sip your homemade lemonade. And have you seen the varigated pink lemon tree? Yes it's true pink lemonade does grow on trees!

Oh I could go on and on. I love my tangelos and oranges as much as my roses. And I can literally gorge on them.

So have I convinced you to join my fellow master gardeners and me from 8:30-12 this Saturday morning, January 22. You'll learn a lot and get to select from the finest citrus in the Valley of the Sun.

 Have you ever wondered when to plant something, say tomatoes?  The seed packet says after chance of frost, but... when is that.  Where you grew up that was after Mother's Day and you're just not sure that is correct for the desert.  Or you've planted the tomatoes and they are not quite ready to pick but you are leaving for the summer.  Or you forgot to plant them and a garden store has tomato transplants, do you dare give it a try even though it is December?  For more information on this and many other topics about gardening food, flowers, trees, and shrubs just click on the following link.  http://extension.arizona.edu/maricopamg You'll even find a handy calendar for planting as well as harvesting that is specific to the Valley of the Sun.  If you crave a green thumb and are a transplant from more Northern climates you'll be amazed at your success after using this calender.  Here's to a bountiful season!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Whew! Such a year we've had! Oldest son's wedding in Northern Italy was the highlight.  Below was our view across the valley from the ceremony at a lavender ladden castle .

My apologies to those who've asked if my blog is dead. I love doing it but I also love my family, pets, friends,gardens, markets, other job, health, bicycle, cooking classes... You get the idea. So many things to learn so little time to do it all. So please be patient while I learn to upload photos and links and get back in the saddle again.

Hey did you notice... I did get my Twitter added to my blog?! For quickie bits of info you can go to twitter@azgardenfresh.com Progress!

So why is it the most wonderful time of the year? Because while most are wrapped up in their snuggie things, after shoveling snow, drooling and dreaming over their garden wish books we are planting our bare root roses! Yes!! Head to Bakers Nursery, http://www.bakernurseryaz.com/ if you are craving the luscious fragrant David Austin Roses. They just finished potting their bare root roses and have a great selection. How would you like to be able to pick this bouquet from your garden?
Or maybe you'd like topick a bouquet like this?

The narissus are scenting my garden. There are colorful lettuces in the salad bowl, broccoli and sweet potatoes in the soup pot, and chives in the butter on the fresh baked bread. Life is so good at Tre Soli.

See ya later!