Sombreuil Climbing Rose 1850

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!