Category Archives: Garden

November? November!

Whoa whoa whoa everyone, please tell me it is NOT already November. October slipped through my fingers so quickly and I feel like I barely had time to relish in my favorite month of the year! Who am I kidding, though… it has been a terrific past few weeks. So terrific in fact, that I have barely had time to sit down and update this space!

Lately I have been…

Going to the AZ State Fair

Reconnecting with dear old friends from high school at Hanny’s

Watching the garden grow big —

Carrots –

Kale –

Buttercup Squash –

Sunflowers –

And the broccoli, spinach, pumpkin, radishes, tomatoes, etc., etc., etc. are all doing fabulously as well!

The baby chicks are so big now that we have been able to put them in the large run with the adult chickens. They are chirping along as happily as ever and starting to get rather fat!

In even more exciting news, we had a group of three lovely cross-country cyclists stay with us around Halloween. Em and Nick hail from San Francisco, and Alex, a friend they met up with on the road, is originally from Austin, TX. Em and Nick are currently in the process of filming a documentary about cycling fatalities and are en route to Orlando, FL. Alex, on the other hand, has been on the road for the last six months biking all around the perimeter of the continental US. You can read more about their fascinating journey on their blog. They also have a pretty sweet map on the website so you can see where they’re off to.

While they were here, we did some hiking

Hung out by the pool
(it was a pretty warm day, even by fall’s standards)

Partied it up at the Crescent Ballroom for Halloween

and Alex managed to snag himself a pretty sweet tat from Golden Rule

I guess he liked Phoenix okay!

It was really amazing to spend so much time with people who are so convicted about what they do, and so hardcore that they are literally biking every mile from coast to coast. Even Blaise has done some serious biking in his life (more at his blog, guys, I am not equipped to tell these stories!), and after our visitors left, I was starting to feel pretty left out. Why was I so scared of just getting on a bike?

So… my delightful beau struck it out of the park once more…

By fixing me up my very own little bike!

My bike has a little basket and lights for when I bike around at night. My very concerned parents kindly bought my an Adeline Adeline nutcase helmet and guess what?!

I’ve been biking to work every day. I have probably already saved $30-$40 in gas this week already! Hooray!

Dear Em, Nick, and Alex: Thank You for inspiring me to get on a bike!

 

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Coming Up Roses

Well… I suppose we don’t have any roses at the moment, but here’s what’s coming up over here:

Radish

Broccoli

Spinach

Carrots

Buttercup Squash

and let’s not forget the sunflowers!

Also growing but not pictured at the moment are onions, kale, garlic, and several other varieties of squash (pumpkin and yellow straightneck!)

Last but certainly (!!!) not least:

(although kind of hard to see, two of the chicks are under the lemon tree and the grown up brood is staring at them from their run)

The Welsummer says hello! She is very, very loud…

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Little Bits

A bit of what’s going on around here:

The little ones are growing up so fast. I have to remember to snap a few shots every now and then because even I can’t tell from day to day, each pic reminds me that they’ve already gotten huge compared to how they used to be.

Sunflowers peeking up

New tomatoes

And because I’ve been blathering on and on about how cute the babies are, I’ve totally forgotten about the other, still awesome adult chickens.

Hey Pete!

and finally,

We also rearranged the house! Yesterday we took most of the day to do a ton of cleaning and moving. The place feels so much more open and airy!

Life is good! Hopefully I’ll get around to writing a more substantive post soon, but I’m in a rush this morning so be on the lookout in the near future!

 

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Sunflowers

I have begun to find that the busier I am, and the more productive, the better I seem to feel. Whether I’m planting seeds, tilling the garden beds, feeding the chickens bananas out of my hand, or even doing laundry or dishes, I begin to feel the stress of everyday life start to wash away and a sense of usefulness and purpose begin to take its place. It is so hard to maintain perspective during the days and weeks that feel work-centric. I feel like a hamster in a wheel, really. But this week has started showing me that there is so much more to life than just work and making money.

I enjoy the sense of stewardship I have begun to develop in this place. I can pick up little responsibilities here and there, and I feel like I belong. This is home, finally. Although I still feel compelled toward the future, driven by my deeply ingrained goal-driven nature, I feel settled for the time being. No more spinning off in random directions. That is how I feel today, anyway.

Today we let the little chicks run around the yard for a good long time. They are getting so adventurous! Me being the overprotective (and slightly paranoid) mama that I am, I got a little anxious after a while and Blaise agreed to put them in a big outdoor cage. They could still scratch around in the dirt and feel the sun and the air outside, but they had much less room to roam. This made me feel a little more secure, although I’m sure the chicks did not appreciate this helicopter-parent-esque move on my part.

We also planted a great deal of sunflower seeds today. Blaise had a bunch of seeds left over from his last crop of sunflowers, so we soaked those in water for a day, drained and rinsed them, and buried them in several strategic places around the yard.

These will be the typical giant yellow sunflowers. Y’know, the ones that shoot up to impossible heights and grow flowers so heavy that after a time they begin to droop. I can’t wait to see them!

On the other hand, these smaller, dark seeds will become Dwarf Red sunflowers. They will still be tall, but much shorter than the giant yellow ones. We also planted more of these than any other.

Here is a very small part of the left hand side of our walkway. In the foremost plot we placed two rows of dwarf red sunflowers, and in the bed closer to the car we will put in some carrots.

Once again, I am starting to feel grateful for the way my life is turning out day by day. Not to be goopy or anything, but Blaise is a pretty wonderful partner and boyfriend. I couldn’t be more lucky to have him in my life! I feel closer to my family than ever, I feel stronger, more enthusiastic, and filled with optimism about the future. This is good. This is very good.

For now, I will content myself with a little beverage concocted by dear Blaise himself. Perhaps I’ll even open up a book! Some good music is playing and I feel… happy.

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Seedlings (almost!)

Yesterday we started the process of germinating a few seeds. Not every seed can go directly into the ground, so it’s important to sprout them inside before you throw them in the soil.

To work with a few of the seeds we already had on hand (khulrabi, pumpkin, eggplant, fennel, and a few others), we cut coffee filters into quarters and dampened them with a spray bottle.

We then folded the coffee filters in half, then half again, and tucked the seeds inside, carefully folding the filter back together to lock the seeds loosely in its dampness.

Next we placed the seeds into little baggies to help keep in the moisture. We did not seal the bags up so that air can reach the seeds. We’ll have to spray a tiny bit of water into the bags every now and then to keep them from drying out.

 

Some seeds we were able to do a direct plant into some soil. We had a bunch of tiny pots left over from the mass succulent purchases this summer, so we filled those with potting soil and carefully laid the seeds in them. Each seed needs to be planted at a different depth, so we referred to the seed packets for this information.

We labeled each pot so we won’t get confused as to which pot has which plant in it. Above we have sweet pepper, basil, coriander, and okra. Oh boy!

 

We put the pots onto a cookie sheet so we can spread water across the bottom for the roots to soak up. For now we are okay to water them lightly with the spray bottle on top of the soil, but once they sprout, they’ll need to be watered this way.

I am very excited for all of this garden business! We are also ordering a few more seeds from burpee.com, including varieties of tomato, radish, carrot, parsnip, arugula, spinach, kale, onion, and broccoli. We’re also on a hunt for some herbs, but I’d like to find them already sprouted at a nursery. I’m not sure which nursery around here will carry all the herbs I want… I guess I’ll have to do some exploring!

In other news, the baby chicks are doing excellently! Every day they get a little more clever, a little stronger, and a little more adventurous. I can’t believe that in about six months they’ll be laying eggs! They are so, so tiny right now, and still so very sweet.

 

 

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A Transformation

Oh dear, where does the time go? I don’t have a great reason as to why I have not posted in quite some time other than being merely undisciplined and slightly lazy. Lots of things have been happening over here, however, and life seems to have been taking me on quite the roller coaster lately. More on that later, but needless to say, the times they are a-changing!

A thousand hallelujahs! The weather is cooling down! I can’t tell you what a relief this is. After five years away from the Phoenix heat, it’s been very curious to remember (and relive) what 115 degrees feels like. Now, all you naysayers listen up: yes it’s a dry heat most of the time, but 115 is still very, very hot! And we do get a fair amount of humidity towards the end of the season, as a matter of fact. While it may not compare to the sweltering deep south, or somewhere in Texas, when it’s 110 with a fair amount of humidity, it’s still pretty wretched.

Not only do the cooling temperatures mean that we are all much more comfortable in our own skins these days, it also means that we have little to no excuses for finally going outside and doing some work in the garden. A lot of the work had to do with clearing out the debris that had settled there over the long summer.

Dead sunflowers from the last round.

Lots and lots of little raked up piles that needed to be moved

We tilled the soil and…

A great big dirt-y canvas for our forthcoming garden!
(for those who are curious: the trees [trunks] you can see in the shot are sissou, pomegranite, mesquite, and over to the left, palm [of course]).

Blaise really wanted to find some kind of shrubby plant of some kind to plant, one that the chickens wouldn’t be compelled to munch on. Chickens are pretty non-discriminatory when it comes to yummy plants. This presents a challenge to maintaining a nice garden / yard.

The guys at Whitfill nursery (which is EXCELLENT, guys – go there) recommended this particular little plant. It’s called an emu bush, and the man helping us thought that it might fit the bill because rabbits don’t like it. We tossed a clipping out to the chickens and they didn’t seem to give it much attention, so maybe it’s just what was needed!

We also nabbed a few sprouted plants from Whitfill, and also later from Home Depot. While I feel that it is much more satisfying to plant seeds that you have sprouted yourself (or at least, I imagine it is more satisfying – I haven’t gardened in so very long!), sometimes it’s nice just to throw a healthy plant in the ground and say “look! We have some stuff growing already!”

We nabbed peppermint, tarragon, basil, and rosemary so that we could cook with them, and also an asparagus plant. Asparagus is apparently very difficult to grow in Phoenix, but we’ll give it a shot. We’ve been consulting the Maricopa County Planting Guide to help us pick out seeds for the rest of the garden. But more on that later as we actually get to work on it (hopefully today or tomorrow). I’m so very excited!

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