I hold several white papers close to my breast as I run, so the precious sheets don’t tear in my excitement. The awkward position puts my body off balance, causing me to wobble while racing to the garden . . . a little jump over the first dry creek bed, across the soft mulched orchard, and then another hop over the second bare sandy watercourse. I wonder, not for the first time, about why I put my planting bed in the back section of acreage. Continue reading 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards→
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.
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.
This 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→
I 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→
I must have talked to about 800 children today at a fair at Garden Lakes Elementary School in Avondale. All of their faces beamed with joy at the fluffy bundles in the cage.
I told them the story, “A mother hen laid one egg each day until the nest was full. Then she just sat on them for three weeks. The weather was very cold, but she didn’t move. Finally the babies hatched! But the nights were still cold. So the hen gathered them under her feathered arms and snuggled them all night.”
Donna Hamill pictured with husband Jim and daughter Tiffany.
The awesome speaker (not pictured) was Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan.
The internationally-renown author spoke on January 12 to a group of beginning farmers about the challenges and opportunities for producers growing for local markets. The mixer was presented in association with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County, Master Farmers Program.
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→
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. (http://www.onebookaz.org)
I want to thank Ken Johnson (www.YourEbookBuilder.com) 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.)