Monday, February 09, 2015

It's "Go Time" in the Garden

Seasons change fast here in Arizona (except for summer, which drags on foreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever). A month ago, I was showing you pictures of frosty vegis. Since then, I've frantically been trying to keep up with all the garden chores associated sudden onslaught of spring. Here's what's been going on since I last talked to you:


First and foremost, I had to plan my spring vegi garden. This took me quite a while, because I had a lot of big goals for one patch of land: 
  • Use succession planting to keep the garden going at full production from early spring throughout the end of summer.
  • Experiment with using okra to shade tomatoes throughout the whole summer, keeping the delicate little darlings going so I can get a second batch of tomatoes out of them in the fall.
  • Make the most of companion planting to help ward off destructive insects.
  • Squeeze in a lot more varieties of vegis than previous years. 
  • Add flowers to spruce the place up.
  • Work around the existing plants that I have (like gazanias and artichokes) that will keep going throughout the spring.
In other words, I was being high maintenance. (I literally lost sleep trying to figure it all out.) I'll admit that I've been putting off posting the plans, just because it will take a while to explain all those complex relationships (it's like a little garden soap opera!), but I will post them soon. 

But now that I've figured it all out, I have ordered my seeds and started the appropriate ones under grow lights in my home office. Here are the little darlings on their way now. Bless their little hearts. 

They're so cute when they're young


Meanwhile, while this was under way, we got a good deal of rain, which was lovely. Unfortunately, the weeds thought so too. Weeds popped up EVERYWHERE. I used to pay people to pull my weeds, but alas, I've decided to do it myself now. Times like these are when I have to decide how committed I am to that decision! (We can eat Ramen for dinner every night, right? It would be worth it not to weed that garden.)

Don't you hate it when guests come over uninvited? 

I am resisting my temptation to go at it all with a gas mask and a huge canister of Round Up. Instead, while the ground is still soft, I'm gently digging under the weeds so I can get the full roots and then pulling them all up, roots and all. Soon, I will douse the whole area with preemergent, a weed blocker made from 100% corn gluten. (Apparently, weed seeds are gluten intolerant.) 

Preemergent doesn't kill existing weeds, but once you weed an area, it should keep new ones from popping up for 3 months. I'm sure in May when it's 100 degrees outside and the weeds start popping up again, I'll wish that I had gone for the Round Up, but right now, it seems like a good option.


Honestly, I never remember to fertilize my fruit trees at the right time. Maybe it's why I never get fruit. (Or it could just be that they are young trees.) But I've been experimenting with a new way to get them some nutrients, considering my forgetful nature. Instead of using fertilizer, I've been planting nitrogen fixing plants like peas, mayo indigo, and desert lupine around the fruit trees. It's not any less work (in fact, its more), but I actually remember to do it because I see the plants there, reminding me to get to work. 

With the peas, I cut them down once they start flowering and plant some new ones. (Once the peas start flowering, the nitrogen starts moving out of the roots and up the plant to get ready for vegi production. If you don't cut the plant down, you loose the nitrogen-fixing benefits.) I've just gone through a cycle of cutting down the peas and planting new ones. Now I need to add some structure for the new peas to grow up so they reach the branches of the trees. Otherwise, they will turn into a tangled mess on the ground.

Ug. Bad hair day!


I'm afraid that I may have missed my opportunity for pruning some of my fruit trees and bushes. I think that the idea time to prune them is while they are still dormant, but some of them have already started sprouting new growth. Still, I think there's still a chance with my pomegranate tree, so I'll need to get on that soon.

Repairing Winter Damage

The brief flirtation we had with freezing weather did cause a leak or two in my irrigation system. Between hand watering and the rains, I've been able to avoid fixing the leaks up until now, but I can't avoid them forever. It's time to turn on the system, walk around while it's on, look for all the leaks, and get to work fixing 'em. Ah, the glamorous life! 

So how about you? What are you up to in the garden? 

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