The Old is Gone


No, I haven’t been binge drinking.  These are the wine bottle ollas that are done for the season.  I’ll clean them up and put them away for next spring.

Ever get into one of those kicks where you just start asking yourself why you’re hanging on to some old dying plants that aren’t going to produce and are just sucking up nutrients and space?

I had one of those this weekend and this morning.

So the last of the squash vines came out.


and the tomatillos…


We’re down to just the peppers (bell, jalepeno, and New Mexico), the watermelon of course (which are LOVING their unhindered environment), and the sweet potatoes who have laid claim to an entire corner of the garden and are trying to escape up the wall.  The tired, dead looking tomato plant in the picture used to be part of a tomato jungle, but as you can see the sweet potatoes have made their claim to the whole area.  For a first time experiment, they’re looking pretty good!


On the surface anyway, we’ll see what the tubers look like in another month or two.

All that demo has me in the mood for… some planting.  I think I need to work out my seed block recipe and get going on that tonight.  🙂

Always something to do in the garden.

This entry was posted in Arizona Garden, Desert King Watermelon, peppers, sqash, Starting Seeds, tomatillos, wine bottle ollas. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The Old is Gone

  1. We are growing sweet potatoes for the second time, and they are doing great. We enjoyed a huge harvest the first time, cured them, and they lasted well into the winter. It was a wonderful treat to enjoy them when the snow was flying. Yours look like they are doing great.

  2. It always feels good to clear the ground ready for new planting.
    I learned something from this post today. I thought Ollas was some sort of Arizona wine. Until I googled it. I’m going to try using ollas in the allotment to take me through the heat of summer.

    • A real olla is an unglazed terracotta pot that is burried in the ground and actually wicks water out into the soil around it. I’m planning on getting some for my new raised beds for spring time. My “wine bottle ollas” are a cheap substitute with a similar wicking principle, but not nearly as large or efficient.

  3. Tania says:

    Your sweet potatoes certainly love that spot. I have some of these planted and waiting for the weather to warm up a bit more for them to take off again. The cold and the frosts over winter have slowed them down. Like Jean, I was unsure what ollas was. Well now I know, very interesting and thanks for sharing…this idea might help my garden get through the hot summer heat. I have five wicking beds and the rest are not,…I regret not making them all wicking now because it was a struggle to get my veggies though summer. And I paid the price with a very high ($1200) water bill!

    • Oh WOW! I feel nauseous just reading that. $1200… OUCH! My parents built two wicking beds, but I think they are still mainly watering from the top. Of course our water bills aren’t anything close to $1200. Your blog says you have 2.5 acres, how many grow beds do you have?

      • Tania says:

        We have 18 garden beds. Four big wicking beds and two smaller wicking beds, the rest are raised beds. We also have 13 fruit trees. We are going to cut back on the fruit trees now as we cant afford to have them. There are some pictures of the garden in this post if you want to have a look. You can click on pictures to enlarge them 🙂 I will do an updated post soon

        We live on 2.5 acres in what I call the desert. Sandy soil that saltbush grows in. Give the soil water and things will grow.

        Our government is ripping people off with exorbitant water and electricity charges. They are taking our basic rights away. Why shouldn’t I be able to grow a garden? We received another $500 water bill yesterday for three months. So for the last 9 months we have paid a total of $2500 for water! That’s a lot of veggies from the supermarket. We live in an area where there aren’t many farmers markets, only held once a month and there is not a lot to choose from, so that is why I grow my own. I was hoping to keep going with my veggie garden but I am feeling so disappointed at the moment.

        We mulch and pull shade over in the extreme heat. We have rain water in storage but if we used that, it would all be gone in a month. We don’t know when the next decent rain will come to refill the tanks.

        Well I have to get my thinking cap on now and try to come up with ideas, one of the reasons I started following your blog, I need all the help I can get 🙂

        Sorry for the long reply…

      • WOW! That’s just crazy! I’m sure you’ve already looked into a well. Wow. The ollas (the real ones not my wine bottles), would be a really good solution. They supposedly cut water by at least half. There are a couple of places that sell them on the internet. They are usually around $30 for a 1.5 gallon olla + shipping. If you could find a local potter it might be a better deal. They are made of terracotta and there are some good YOUTube videos on turning them. I joke about being on the surface of the sun, but from the pictures you might be on Mars! Hahaha… sorry, I couldn’t help myself. It really is amazing that you’ve been able to grow so much. Our soil is the opposite, we have clay instead of sand. God bless! I’ll keep reading your blog to see how it goes. Any way to lobby a politician or board to get the water rates reduced? Gray water reclamation? Prayers for rain?

      • Tania says:

        I want to say thank you, you have been very helpful…Our greywater goes out on to our fruit trees via a french drain. Great suggestion about the politicians as there is an election here in a few weeks. And I will keep praying 🙂

        After following your advice, I have been doing more investigating into Olla’s and I think I might give these cheaper methods a try. Olla’s can be made from unglazed terracotta pots and a bit of glue/silicone. Also plastic bottles with tiny holes punched in and buried in the soil. So I am a little excited right now. I am going shopping today to see what I can find. I so hope this works…

        In case you don’t know about these tips, here are a couple of links 🙂

  4. Wow those water bills are exhorbitant. Our government is bringing in water charges for the first time soon. I expect they will start low then gradually go up. Luckily we have a lot of rain in Galway. We are putting in water butts for rain water. Three so far but will probably put in a few more – they fill in no time though when we had a couple of weeks of sunshine (we call it a heatwave here as it is so rare) the butts were empty pretty quick. I hope you all find a way to continue growing your vegetables it’s terrible to have to give up due to water charges. Best of luck – Grace

  5. I am gradually getting to this point with my garden. Another month and the beans are going down!

  6. Hi Keith. I STILL have the dead carcass of an old zucchini plant from last season. I’m not very good at pulling out the dead and the dying!
    Reading about everyone’s issues with water makes me feel really blessed. We live in what was once a swamp, so the soil holds on to any water that comes it’s way like a sponge, and then we have a bore and a large rainwater tank, so the water is free (for now – I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to charge at some point). We had the worst drought for 70 years last summer and I was still only watering my tomatoes once a week. The down side is in winter it kind of reverts back to swamp and we live in a soggy boggy muddy mess – well normally. This winter is unseasonably dry and I’ve had to get the hose out.
    Your sweet potatoes look really amazing.
    Cheers Sarah : o )

    • Thanks, Sarah. I think we are technically in a drought, but ours has been around for… several years, I want to say 9, but… not sure. We still get some rain here and there, but never enough to get us up to our appropriate level of rainfall.

  7. Caleb says:

    I have an interesting problem. This year my peppers are all lush leaves with no peppers. (Never had this problem before; it may be because we only had one real hot spell, and I did get a few peppers then, when the plants were still small.)

    Up north here in New Hampshire we only have a month to go until first frost. I’m running out of time. Do you know any trick I can use to stimulate flowering?

    • Good question. I’m no pepper plant expert, but I like this guy’s methods.

      He focuses on pruning to get the plant to look and produce how you want. Seems like a good method.

      If you got peppers when it was warmer (ideal temps for most peppers are a constant 70-85 F) then it doesn’t sound like an NPK kind of issue. Can you throw a plastic and PVC tent over them to try and increase the temperature? If your night time temps are dipping too low you might be able to do what we do in the winter and throw Christmas lights at the base of them (not the LED kind). If you are still to low on temp, try both the tent and the lights.

  8. deana says:

    The clippings he is cutting off can you put those in dirt and start them into new plants?

    • deana says:

      sorry was referring to the pepper plants.

    • I’m not sure that you can do that with pepper plants. You can with tomato, or any other plant that will root out from its stem (tomatillos and sweet potatoes as well), but I’m not sure about peppers. Good question.

      • deana says:

        was just wondering sense he really did not say what he was doing with all the stems he was cutting off. I will have to remember that for the sweet potatoes, and tomatos.

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