Most gardening books say that artichokes cannot be grown in the low desert of the southwestern United States.
As summer air temperatures routinely surpass 110 degrees, the hot soil can rise to around 150.
Being a curious person, I tried transplanting one specimen anyway, from a 3” pot, into one of my rows at the onset of fall. It grew miraculously fast! Then the hot summer came and it died. I removed it from my garden—a failed experiment. Continue reading Artichoke — Survival Techniques→
As cool, moist fall air banishes the hot, dry summer, my Arizona garden breathes a sigh of relief—and so do I. I’m busy at work, but my time in the garden is pleasant now.
Although my rows look empty from a distance, a close inspection reveals a bounty of tiny seedlings. My main fall crop is broccoli, accompanied by staggered plantings of beets, cabbage, lettuce, turnips, and other semi-frost-resistant veggies.
I planted the first row and four days later sowed another with the same mixture of seeds. Today, several weeks following the initial sowing, I stand between the rows with the startling realization that the seedlings planted most recently are at the same level of development and hardier than the earlier ones.
Rocker 7 Farm Patch in Buckeye (Fall Festival & farmers’ market)
I have a vendor table (selling & signing Baskets for Butterflies) from 9am-6pm. Stop by and talk to me about gardening.
I’m teaching a class at noon (Heirloom Gardening). I’m bringing a Tohono O’odham Multiplier Onion to display. This endangered onion was brought to Arizona by Father Kino in the 1600s. Learn more about this rare but tough little plant–and why you should grow it.
Oct 10/11 (Sat/Sun): 19601 W. Broadway Rd. (Buckeye)
Warm spring breezes waft through my Arizona garden, telling my vegetables that a change of season lies ahead.
The broccoli sown last fall begins its reproductive cycle. Nature tells it to lift upwards to the sky, flower, and set seed. Many plants turn bitter when this process begins and must be pulled out of the garden. Broccoli, however, retains its flavor better than some veggies, such as lettuce.
The heirloom varieties I grow produce one small central head. After removing the crown, I leave the plant in the garden to produce small offshoots (two – three inches wide). Production continues until the weather becomes too hot.
I use a colander and a sharp knife each morning to harvest offshoots. If any stems have begun to flower, I snip them off and give them to the chickens or compost them. Trimming the plants each day keeps the crop in production, extending the harvest. I gather more produce from the offshoots than from cutting the central heads.
No, it’s not a tree at all! Just a lettuce plant reproducing.
My grandmother would have said the little guy was “going to seed.” As the plant matured, an ancient process encoded in its DNA caused the stem to elongate and push skyward. Flower buds formed on the top and will soon burst open. This process also caused the leaves to taste bitter.
I don’t harvest the best plants in the garden, but leave them alone to produce seed for next year.
This is another picture taken by my friend, Bonnie Wright, during her last visit. (Bonnie Wright’s Photography)
My editor (and daughter), Tiffany, has donated two copies of my book to Metro Tech High School in Phoenix. We plan to distribute many more books to schools across the valley along with my offer to speak to young people about heirloom gardening, homesteading, or self-publishing.
I would be equally thrilled for anyone else to purchase a copy or two and make this same donation to their local school. My offer to speak is open to any school in Maricopa County.