Gnome’s Heirloom Garden enters a new year with some surprises!

Harvested with stemsBeing a brand-new website, I expected the readership of GHG to be almost exclusively local. What a wonderful surprise this morning when I receive the 2014 site summary from documenting the countries of origin for the site’s audience.

That’s 48 countries in all!
Most visitors came from The United States. Brazil & Italy were not far behind.

Wow! Thank you all for joining my family (and Gnome) in our humble Arizona garden. Of course, the real star is our rare onion friend, the Tohono O’odham I’itoi. It is he who drew the most visitors-and that’s exactly how it should be.

Read more about Tohono O’odham I’itoi multiplying onions.

Paperback Released!

Can a garden gnome really come to life to help me?
Can a garden gnome really come to life to help me?

Baskets for Butterflies

(Kindle format available, too.)


I finished formatting the inside text and cover layout of my paperback book last month. Then I ordered a sample copy, called a ‘proof,’ which gave me a chance to view the product in physical form before approving it.

My feet paced the floor, waiting for that treasure to arrive in the mail. When the package finally came, it felt heavy in my hands. I was afraid to open it. This was the first time I had formatted a book. Continue reading Paperback Released!

Artichoke under magic treeDo artichokes grow in Arizona?

Some gardening books say these particular plants don’t like the southwest desert. Maybe that’s why, in spite of being an avid vegetable gardener, I’ve never tried to grow them before. This one-year-old specimen represents my first artichoke experiment—the little guy thrives! Continue reading

The self-publishing journey




I’m a do-it-yourself sort of person. Living on rural property has taught me to enjoy tackling unfamiliar projects. I was a quick study when it came to learning drip irrigation, running fences, gardening, and animal management. So, when the ‘paperback’ version of Baskets for Butterflies became ready to format for publication, it never occurred to me not to design the cover and arrange the internal pieces myself.

What fun is a task if I let other people do it for me? Continue reading The self-publishing journey

Metro Tech Fall Festival and Plant Sale

Metro Tech Fair 2014
Metro Tech Fair 2014

The lady in the picture with me is my editor (my older daughter, Tiffany). She and I had a wonderful time at the Fall Festival at Metro Tech High School  Saturday.

This event is sponsored cooperatively by the school and the Maricopa County Master Gardeners. Tiffany and I have been attending together for a number of years because this is a great place to buy unusual plants. This year, for example, I purchased a Yellow Tropical Milkweed as an addition to my monarch garden. Continue reading Metro Tech Fall Festival and Plant Sale

ANNOUNCING! Baskets for Butterflies in Kindle edition!

Can a garden gnome really come to life to help me?
Can a garden gnome really come to life to help me?

Buy Baskets for Butterflies,
Kindle edition ($3.99)

(Paperback coming in several weeks.)

And I have a wonderful surprise! My book is a contestant for a local literary award called ONEBOOKAZ. Winners will be revealed in March.

Coordinated by the Arizona State Library, the goals of ONEBOOKAZ is to “celebrate literature, foster a sense of community, support Arizona authors, and enhance digital literacy skills.” They do this by selecting one book in each age category and encouraging readers across the state to read the same book at the same time. Baskets for Butterflies competes in the ‘adult’ category along with some other great literature. Please cross your fingers because winning this award could educate Arizonans about heirloom seeds—to help keep these treasures from slipping into the ‘Darkness’ that my little garden gnome and I both fear. (

I want to thank Ken Johnson ( who did so much more than program electronic files. He worked like the dickens to meet a tight submission deadline for ONEBOOKAZ. He acted as mentor, educating me regarding self-publishing activities, including the marketing complexities of ‘keywords.’ (Thank you.)

I also want to thank the wonderful person who provided my first review. As an author, the most meaningful encouragement I can receive is to hear that someone ‘got what I was trying to say.’ As you folks read the book, please remember to leave a review. (Thank you.)

This is so exciting!

Can a garden gnome really come to life to help me?
Can a garden gnome really come to life to help me?

Baskets for Butterflies is ready to take flight!

Ohmygosh! I can’t believe my book is almost ready for publication!

Here’s the latest update:

Written—complete. Readers can share four months of my crazy life on an Arizona heritage farm with dairy goats, turkeys, chickens, and a few mishaps. My organic garden struggles in the extreme Arizona heat. Thank goodness, my seeds are heirlooms from the ancient Native Americans. Unfortunately, many of these priceless treasures near extinction! I wish a mentor were here to help—and then mystical forces conjure just the gnome I need. Who knew that the little guy needed me, too? To me, the art of garden lore and storytelling is as endangered as the seeds I grow. Continue reading

The Storm before the Storm

Flood following creek west“A cloud is coming—fill the bathtub!”

When we moved to the country, our lifestyle changed. On September 5, a rainstorm approached my home near Buckeye, Arizona. When my husband, Jimmy, saw the cloud, he filled the bathtub. This was a routine monsoon-related activity that my friends in the city didn’t understand. Continue reading The Storm before the Storm

What is a Tohono O’odham I’itoi multiplying onion?

Tohono O'odham multiplying onion becoming dormant So many heirloom vegetables stand near a dangerous precipice, ready to drop into the darkness of extinction. In my book, Baskets for Butterflies, the story of this rare onion illustrates the importance of saving heirloom plants.

Read more about this bulb on a new Tohono O’odham I’itoi Garden page.

Please share this new website with friends who would like to know more about saving heirloom vegetables.

. . . is a real place.

Donna_1My husband and I own a small homestead in Buckeye, Arizona. We raise heritage turkeys, chickens, and dairy goats.
My passion is growing heirloom (antique) vegetables in an organic garden, but I struggle in the summer when the temperature of the sand rises to 145 degrees. Many of my seeds are borrowed from the ancient ancestors of the local Native Americans, who planted them generation after generation, until the treasures became acclimated to the hot, dry, alkaline conditions of the low desert.
What will I do if these seeds become extinct?

I need a mentor,
so I make a wish under a
magical mesquite tree.

Is a gnome living in my garden?
You’ll have to decide for yourself.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for my first book, Baskets for Butterflies. Laugh at my funny mistakes and discover how a garden gnome teaches me environmentally-friendly methods for saving endangered seeds.

This new website is under construction.

Exciting features appear regularly.
Posts reflect current activities on the farm or in the garden. The pages: garden, goats, and poultry illustrate the characters in my upcoming book, BASKETS FOR BUTTERFLIES. As this website develops, I’ll add narrative to the farm and garden pages to accompany pictures already published.
Please let me know what you think about the website, book, and pictures.
Thanks for visiting.
Donna Hamill

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