Tag Archives: Fall Garden

Extend the Harvest with Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar Snap PeasI’m in the garden this morning picking
Sugar Snap Peas.

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So many tender sweet morsels cover each vine. I love peas!

When I order seeds for my fall garden, these guys always make the list. The plants produce prolifically throughout the mild Arizona winter but stop when the weather becomes too warm. Continue reading Extend the Harvest with Sugar Snap Peas

Asparagus and the New Year

Asparagus yellow and dormant
Asparagus yellow and dormant

I start each New Year by cutting down my asparagus plants.

These perennial vegetables may live for 15 years or more. The yellow stems show they’ve gone dormant for the winter. Now I can remove existing dead foliage in preparation for new, tasty shoots to emerge in spring. This is also the time to establish a new asparagus bed or expand an existing one.

The delicate, lacy foliage of this plant presents a false impression that the beauties are tender and require a lot of loving care to survive, especially in the hot, dry desert summer. In fact, these hardy guys love the searing sunshine, even during the hottest part of the year. Once triple-digit temperatures arrive in my Arizona garden, asparagus is one of the few crops that can withstand the extreme conditions.   Continue reading Asparagus and the New Year

How to improve the germination of seeds

broccoli seedlings
broccoli seedlings

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.

How can this be true? The seeds planted first should be farther along, right? Continue reading How to improve the germination of seeds

Join me at these events!

Donna Hamill, authorLook for me and my book, Baskets for Butterflies,
at these garden events.

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 10/11 (Sat/Sun):
Rocker 7 Farm Patch (Fall Festival & farmers’ market
19601 W. Broadway Rd.  (Buckeye)
I have a vendor table (selling & signing books) from 9am-6pm
I’m teaching a class at noon (Heirloom Gardening/also selling & signing Baskets for Butterflies)

Oct 17 (Sat)
Metro Tech Fall Festival and Plant Sale
1900 W. Thomas Rd. (Phoenix)
I have a vendor table (selling & signing books) from 8am-1pm

Oct 18 (Sun)
Rocker 7 Farm Patch (Fall Festival & farmers’ market)
19601 W. Broadway Rd. (Buckeye)
I’m teaching a class at noon (Heirloom Gardening/also selling & signing Baskets for Butterflies)

Oct 24/25 (Sat/Sun)
Rocker 7 Farm Patch (Fall Festival & farmers’ market)
19601 W. Broadway Rd. (Buckeye)
I’m teaching a class at noon (The Fall Garden/also selling & signing Baskets for Butterflies)

Oct 31/Nov 1 (Sat/Sun)
Rocker 7 Farm Patch (Fall Festival & farmers’ market)
19601 W. Broadway Rd. (Buckeye)
I’m teaching a class at noon (Seed Saving/also selling & signing Baskets for Butterflies)

Nov 7/8 (Sat/Sun)
Rocker 7 Farm Patch (Fall Festival & farmers’ market)
19601 W. Broadway Rd. (Buckeye)
I’m teaching a class at noon (Garden Mistakes/also selling & signing Baskets for Butterflies)

I hope to see you there!

Me and My Shovel

Me and My ShovelThis is me, preparing the garden for the fall crop. I don’t own a tiller.

Oh, I purchased the contraption once—under the mistaken impression that every good gardener should have one. It was expensive . . . hard to start . . . at the repair shop more often than not. It was loud, heavy, and whipped up the soil like my KitchenAid mixer with cream.

It’s not good for the garden bed to be disturbed that way. Continue reading Me and My Shovel

Extend the Broccoli Season

Broccoli offshootsWarm 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.

Lettuce Tree?

26 lettuce tree-1-LNo, 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)

Belligerent Turnip

Boule d'Or TurnipThis Boule d’Or Turnip is often called a “Golden Ball.” The arid Arizona climate and sandy soil encouraged this odd fellow to reach deep into the earth rather than form the traditional ball. The root of this little guy also grabbed his neighbor and strangled him to death! It’s survival of the fittest out there in the garden! Continue reading Belligerent Turnip

Last Year’s Broccoli

Broccoli-2nd Year productionI harvested the first of the season’s broccoli…but it was on last year’s plant.

The row of broccoli I planted this fall in my Arizona garden isn’t producing yet. This tough guy, however, survived from last year, through constant triple-digit summer temperatures, to leaf out and produce for the second season. Continue reading Last Year’s Broccoli