Garden journal…

I’m so happy with my garden right now. What a difference a few months and 20 degrees make! The searing, endless 110+ days are over, which both I and my garden barely survived. Right now, in the Phoenix area, it is sadly, frustratingly, energy-sappingly hotter than it should be — by a good 15 – 20 degrees. Highs have been in the high 90s. But, I think it’s good for the garden, and at least it’s not 115. 🙂

I’m still composting in my two giant bins. I would have a batch ready to till into the soil, but my well-meaning husband dumped a bunch of yard trimmings into both bins (I had one bin “stewing” and was almost ready and the other bin for new material), so now, neither bin is ready. I’ll have to buy some composted manure to add to the garden when it’s time to pull out the crops which are just about done for the season.

  • Tomatillos (“Mt. Pima” variety): I have four giant bushes, a good 4+ feet tall each, supported by tomato cages. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of tomatillos on them, and they’re slowly ripening. However… those dumb things are marble-sized. I bought the seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH, which is a fabulous organization, and I support them wholeheartedly. However, I need to ask better questions before I purchase seeds from them in the future. I wasn’t aware that I was getting the world’s smallest tomatillos; the seed/product description really didn’t mention their teeny-tiny size. I’m still looking forward to making some tomatillo salsa; it’ll just be like making jam, where you have to harvest and clean hundreds of berries for one small jar. The tomatillos are also so large that they’re shading the garden in a greatly unwelcome way. The days are getting shorter, and all the veggies need as much sunshine as they can get; the tomatillos are hogging the sun. I’m getting a bit impatient with the plants, and am considering yanking them out, just to give everything else more sun….
  • Tomatoes (“Punta Banda” variety): I have finally controlled the winged aphids that were sapping the life out of my tomato plants. I finely grate about 2 tsp Fels-Naptha soap, dissolve the shreds in water inside a 64 oz sprayer, and spray the tomato plants every 2-4 days. In the interim, I just pinch those nearly microscopic suckers. I now have a good 100+ tomatoes growing on my 11 main plants. Again, these were from Native Seeds/SEARCH, and the tomatoes are only about golfball sized. Still. I’m happy to have an abundance of tomatoes, even if they’re smaller than I prefer. None are ripe yet, but many of them will be in another week or two. I also have about eight other smaller plants, that have come up volunteer, very likely from not being fully composted. The largest of the volunteer tomatoes are just now starting to blossom; I’m excited to find out what kind they are!!
  • Green beans (“Yoeme Purple String” variety): These, too, are from Native Seeds/SEARCH. After not bearing any fruit and me barely able to keep them alive in the searing summer heat, they’re now growing wonderfully; I harvest about half a pound every three days from the four bamboo stake teepees I constructed. I think next time, I will choose a different variety; these become too fibrous too quickly… But, still, the beans are good for stewing in soups and Crockpot stuff, and eaten fresh & raw when very young. I’m happy with them.
  • Zucchini-ish whatever-it-is. I purchased some seeds touted as Mexican Grey Squash, which is by far my favorite summer squash — think 7-8″ chubby, light green-grey colored zucchini, firm and sweet with tender skin and NONE of zucchini’s bitterness. The plants were dying on the vine in the midst of summer; perhaps it was too hot for them, too. They’re now producing nicely in fairly compact plants. However, they’re NOT Mexican Grey Squash. I contacted the small seed supplier, and suggested that the seeds had been cross-pollinated before they were harvested, as the squash and the plants themselves are quite confused: darker green than MGS, with skinny necks like a crookneck squash.  The supplier got really, really, really defensive, bordering on nasty.  So, I’m not linking to them.  In spite of their questionable background, the squash is tasty. I can’t decide if I will plant these again or not. Unfortuntately, I burned the growth end (or whatever it’s called) of one of the plants with some natural, homemade (and completely ineffective) bug-killer, so only one of my plants are producing.
  • Hopi Pumpkin. This GIGANTIC, HUGE vine spread out a good 10′ x 10′ and produced a grand total of three squash. Only one of them are even full-sized. We’ve eaten one. Another, I accidentally harvested when trimming back the vine, and the third and largest remains on the vine. The vine is just about dead and I’m going to need to harvest it, too. I’m waiting as long as I can, because I have winter squash coming out my ears from the CSA I participated in. I’m definitely going to grow winter squash again, but not that variety. Butternut, most likely.
  • Chile Negro. These slow-growing plants are finally producing, too. I have about 15 chiles growing on my five plants, none ripe enough to harvest yet. I’m planning on picking these green, too. I think. After I sample them, I’ll decide if I’m going to grow them again.
  • Newer crops: I also have Red Chard growing, which is beautiful and tasty. It kind of got off to a slow and bug-eaten start, but they’re doing nicely now. We’re going to eat some tomorrow night. 🙂 The first harvest of carrots (“Dragon” variety) should be in mid-November. Green onion, bulb onions, and broccoli are also sprouting, but nowhere near ready yet.

Overall, I feel like I’m finally past the frustrating first stages of “I HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN AND NOTHING IS GROWING RIGHT!!” and am now able to put to use what I’ve discovered about organic desert gardening, and I look forward to an ever more-fruitful garden.


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on October 24, 2011, in Desert Gardening, Life in the Desert, Loving Nature!, Organic Gardening. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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