Partial Success

I spent the better part of Friday evening and Saturday morning harvesting.  Leeks and onions were first.  The leeks turned out okay.  The usable portion was small because I had not blanched the stocks, but… next year.  The onions were small, but diced up were pretty good, both the small bulbs and the greens.

Partial success.

I spent a good amount of time trying to dig up every root and blade of grass that had infiltrated bed 2.  I promise you that every bit of bermuda in my small yard is somehow connected to bed 2.  It was terrible.  I did find a couple of bright lights in there to keep me going.  Several of these guys were visible as I was clawing my way through the bed.


It may seem funny, but these just aren’t that common in my yard.  Unfortunately.  But as the soil gets better and better I’m hoping they’ll be regulars.  :)

As I pulled back some of the other greens I got a pretty good view of my Oriole Orange Chard in all of it’s glowing glory.


I cleaned, chopped, and bagged about as much chard as we are going to be able to take down any time soon and gave the rest to the chickens.  They had a pretty good day Saturday.

I got the garden area mapped out and began building my trellis system for the pole beans.  When I originally bought these from greenhousemegastore, I thought I was ordering 6 foot canes.  Turns out I order 60 inch canes.  Just a little bit of difference there.  In any case the canes were too thin to hammer them into even the relatively soft garden soil, so I used this medal pole, almost like rebar, but hollow, and drove that into the ground, pulled it up and put in the canes.


It worked pretty good and the trellises went up pretty quick.  Secured them with some garden twine and bada bing… all done.


Planted all of the pole beans and a section of bush beans, and by then… I was done.  My helpers had started to desert me.

So I didn’t…

- finish planting the melons

- move and install two new 4×4 beds and plant them out

- finish planting out bed #2.

So… still lots to do, but a partial success.  Definitely need to finish this week.

Easter celebrations were amazing.  Great time with all of the family.  Took my boys down to the park to try and fly their kites but the wind did not cooperate.  Four very tired kids though running the length of a football field several times.  Partial success there.

We had eight services at Mission Community Church, with overflow for some of those.  Pastor Lee Strobel laid out the Case for Easter.  If you’ve never heard him, you should really go watch the lesson.  Former atheist that through historic research concludes, hey this whole thing is actually TRUE!  Great lesson.

All in all a great weekend.  Total success.  :)

 Posted to the Homestead Barn Hop.


Posted in beans, chard, Mission Community Church, spring garden, trellis | 6 Comments

I am the king

The king of over planning that is.  I will find 15 minutes of possible free time and I will try and cram at least two hours of work into that time.  Not that I ever GET the two hours of work done… but it is ON THE LIST.

Lists.  I love them.  It’s almost as if the task is complete JUST because I wrote it down.

Keep that in mind when I tell you what’s planned for this weekend.  Granted my weekends are normally busy.  Sundays aren’t a day for gardening; they are a day for worship, so my Sundays are busy without any gardening involved.  That being said, as I’m sure you know, this is also Easter weekend.  That’s kind of a big deal.  Granted we actually celebrate Jesus’ resurrection EVERY week, because when something is the MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN ALL OF HISTORY, you gotta talk about it.  It IS the GOSPEL.  Jesus is the Son of God.  He came to earth, and according to God’s plan was beaten, mocked, and crucified, put in a tomb, and on the first day of the week, rose from the dead victorious.  A game CHANGER!  A LIFE changer!  A UNIVERSE CHANGER!

That’s a big deal.

So, yah, this weekend will be busy with church activities and family celebrations on Saturday and Sunday.  But Saturday morning… before all of the awesome craziness ensues… this is what I need to get done:

-          Complete the planting of 2/3 of the main garden, and one 4×8 bed.

-          Move, assemble, fill, and plant two more 4×4 beds.

At the end of the morning on Saturday, I hope to have everything planted except the (stupid) corn.  (Sorry, still a little bitter from last year)

That means between now and then.  In the limited time available.  I need to stake out the main garden (kinda all over the place right now).  Create 30 feet of pole bean trellises.  Plant nine types of melons, four types of beans, two types of squash, tomatillos, cucumbers, and eggplant.

Yah… like I said… the king… of… over(bad)… planning.

Quick tour:

half of the sunchokes with a dill plant hiding in there too.

sun chokes and a dill plant hiding


little chokes

little chokes 3


no, I mean, LITTLE chokes

little chokes



cherry toms


chamomile and a free plug for J. Lohr.

chamomile 2


Celery!  It’s not huge, but… it’s coming out… tomorrow.




Have a blessed weekend!

Posted in Arizona Garden, artichoke, celery, chamomile, dill, spring garden | 1 Comment

I’m Scrambling

I’m not talking about eggs.  Unfortunately, because that would be good about now.

The temps are going up and my spring garden is less than half planted.

Yah… bad move.

I’m working on it though.  Last night I got bed 1 planted out with ollas.

bed 1 planted out

One more 4×8 raised bed to go, but I’ve been waiting on the onions.  I’m not sure why since in my mind they are a bust.  Their position in the winter garden put them without sun for too long.  The untended grass has been choking them.  All bad things.  Technically I could let them go for another month and hope that they fattened up, BUT… isn’t there always a but… I really need the space for summer stuff, particularly beans and squash.  Ugh…

onions and grass

Yah, looking at the picture, those are pretty bad.  Bermuda grass has to be the worst weed ever!  I’ve been pretty good at keeping it in check in the other three beds, but this one… not so much.  It’s kind of tough to pull among the onions.

Once the summer garden is all in I need to complete the beds that I talked about last fall.  The ones that were vertical on the back wall.  That would be a perfect spot for the onions… and maybe some garlic… leeks… man, it’s a slippery slope.  It would definitely be easier to keep the grass out.

What I really need is someone with a good chunk of open land that gets full sun during the winter, and then I can just plant a huge winter garden and split it with them.  THAT would be awesome.  I buy the seeds, amendments, and do the work.  They supply the land and water and we both get a great harvest.

Okay, less dream, more work.

Here are a couple of pictures around the garden.

main garden row

Part of the main garden.  Leeks are good, but I need to do better at blanching the stalks next year.  Lesson learned.  The spinach in the middle are either bolting or just dying.  The chickens have been enjoying these.  The collards and chard are in the back and going CRAZY.

OTT melon vine

The Old Time Tennessee vines are coming along.  A LONG way to go, but coming along…

container peppers and toms

I have two non-fruit trees in the back yard that are big and give some good shade.  I put the peppers and tomatoes that are in containers underneath them.  All are doing quite well, they get some full sun, but lots of filtered light.

clipping in a beer bottle

Just on a whim I took one of my longer tomato prunings and put it in a beer bottle with some water.  It’s been a couple of days now and is starting to develop some roots off of the stem.  I’m going to see how this goes.


Loving the basil.  I love how it looks, I love how it tastes.  Love the basil.

chokes in a bowl

Another choke picture.  They are smaller, considering these were the side chokes, but there is just something about the look of them in this metal bowl.  I don’t know.  I just like the look.

In any case.  So much to do.  Fortunately I got a little break this week and the temps dipped.  Last week we ALMOST hit 100 and that’s a whole lot of NO BUENO.  I would really love to see a mild summer after the scorcher we had last year… but I probably shouldn’t hold my breath.

BTW, my dream of edible front yard landscaping did not die with the rabbit buffet on the first artichoke plant.  Actually, they didn’t even kill the plant, although they gave it their best shot.  It has rebounded and seems to be a little too big for them now.  Yeah!  :)

front yard choke 2

Posted in Arizona Garden, artichoke, basil, collards, Dripping Springs Ollas, grass, Old Time Tennessee Melons, ollas, onions, peppers, square foot gardening, swiss chard, tomatoes, vertical garden | 13 Comments

Some Particulars on the Wine Bottle Ollas

I’m not sure if I made up that name or not, wine bottle olla, or if it’s even a real “thing”… it’s just what I call them.  I’ve been collecting and using them now for a couple of years.  It’s a really simple concept, you take an empty wine bottle, fill it up and jam it in the ground, but there are some things that I’ve found that make the whole thing work better.

First, the color.  Fortunately we drink more red wine around here, which comes in the darker colored bottles.  The darker color cuts the amount of sunlight that hits the water and so you don’t get algae in the bottle.  I have not had an issue with algae in any of my darker bottles.  Clear bottles or even lighter colored bottles on the other hand, tend to get algae in them pretty quickly.

Avoid clear, go for dark.  Brown or green is fine.

short and fat is better

The second one has to do more with a preference due to my method for filling the bottles.  I’ll gather four bottles at a time, take them over to a 5 gallon bucket that is full and constantly being filled (slowly) by the hose.  I’ll force all four bottle down at once into the bucket.  This seems to be the fastest way to fill the bottles and so the quickest way to complete my morning chores and get to work.  I’ve found that the taller wine bottles make this tough.  Shorter, fatter, wine bottles make this much easier.  I’ve also found that the shorter, fatter, bottles are more stable and less likely to tip over and push up the dirt around your plants.

Favor short over tall.

bucket filling

To start the whole process I water everything.  This moistens the soil which means the water won’t be running out of your bottles as soon as you turn them over.  The whole idea is that the bottles will help maintain moist soil.  This also helps if the bottles have any kind of lip to them.  The lip has more of a chance of grabbing the soil if the soil is dry and making a mess of the hole.  After the ground is wet, I simply pull the empties out, fill them, then put them back into the same holes.  I’m not really concerned if the same bottle goes into the same spot every time, unless it’s some odd shaped/sized bottle to begin with, but I use the same hole and don’t create new ones.

wine bottle hole

If I’m putting a bottle in for the first time I space the bottle away from the plant a reasonable distance.  The smaller the plant the closer I put the bottle, mainly because the roots of the plant will be closer and so you have less chance of damaging the roots.  If you jam a bottle into the ground close to a large plant you have more chance of damaging roots.  Damaged roots are bad, let’s not go there, buddy.

I place the bottle at a slight angle, so that the opening of the bottle is pointed at the roots of the plant.  Too much angle and the ground may not hold the bottle up.  Too vertical and for whatever reason the water may just end up staying in the bottle.  You get a slight better flow if you angle the bottle.

Good bottle angle and distance

When you first put the bottle in you should see a couple of bubbles.  If you have nothing else to do then you can sit there and watch the bottle for a few minutes and you’ll notice the occasional bubble.  Bubbles (air) come in, water goes out.

That’s about it!  Now if you live in a place where you get… rain, this is probably a slight waste of time.  :)  But if you live somewhere like AZ where you get less than 10 inches of rain a year and the humidity level can drop into the single digits,  it just might come in handy.

Posted in the Homestead Barn Hop.

Posted in Arizona Garden, wine bottle ollas | 11 Comments

A Question About the Purple and Green Beauties

The garden is still in transition.

The cilantro has bolted and made some very nice little flowers.


The tomatoes of all variety are growing… and are very hard to focus on with a phone.


But I have a question for you and it revolves around this guy right here.


Actually, it revolves around all of his little siblings that are growing on my big beautiful artichoke plant.  I understand that each main stalk will produce a large bud and some smaller buds.  My question is, do you normally trim off the smaller buds to try and increase the size of the larger ones?  I have a ton forming right now, but they are getting smaller, and smaller, and…

I don’t mind a smaller artichoke, but it seems counter productive to be eating chokes the size of rose buds.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Posted in artichoke, cilantro, tomatoes | 14 Comments