Sombreuil Climbing Rose 1850

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!