To those not from the American Southwest, you may not be familiar with the word "Sonoran". It is in reference to the Sonoran Desert that encompasses the southern half of Arizona, the northern part of Mexico along the Arizona Border and also the majority of Baja California. The Desert is harsh but beautiful and is the only place in the world where you can find the native Saguaro Cactus. The massive "sentries of the desert" can grow 50-60 feet tall even in this harsh environment.
Over a third of the year the temperatures soar above 100 degrees (F) and the hot dry climate creates challenges to anything that doesn't have a stable water supply. We have an average of 257 clear, sunny days with an average of 12.7 inches of rain per year.
We are fortunate in the Phoenix Metropolitan area to have a series of reservoirs that collect the winter snow runoff from the surrounding mountains that enables us to have a stable year-round water supply to support the growing population.
When the early developers harnessed the water supply, they found this is a great area to grow many heat tolerant crops and the "Valley of the Sun" became a large producer of alfalfa, citrus, cotton, corn, and many vegetables. Agriculture is a $9.2 billion industry for the state.
January 21, 2012
We went out to the garden today and found a hidden cauliflower that has gone un-noticed. To our surprise it is huge! It measures 13" across the head.
It was good to find an abundance of bees in the wild snap dragons and broccoli flowers in adn around the garden.
I hope your winter gardens are going well!
January 24, 2011
192 Tomatoes today!
We have a great garden going this winter and there are a few holdovers that are making things interesting. In September 2009 I planted a Roma Grape tomato plant that did well last spring and struggled through the heat of the summer. I kept it growing and as soon as the weather broke in the fall, the blossoms covered the plant and growth took off.
It set hundreds of tomatoes and we have enjoyed them for the past month as they vine ripen.
Along with the wonderful tomatoes, we have Chard (Bright Lights), Bell Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers, Hatch Chili Peppers, hundreds of Tomatillos, Onions, Oregano, Chives, Shallots, Sage, and many varieties of flowers growing in among the plants in the garden.
The Sonoran Garden
January 1, 2011
Square Foot Gardening class in Mesa on January 4th.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Wow! It is a brand new year and it is time to get your gardens ready for spring here in the Sonoran Desert!
I am presenting an hour long class on Square Foot Gardening to a church group in Mesa Arizona on Tuesday January 4th at 7 PM. If you are interested in attending, contact me at info at sonorangarden dot com for details.
December 31, 2010
Check out the updated Planting Calendar!
The University of Arizona Extension Service recently updated the vegetable planting calendar for Maricopa County. I found out a couple of weeks ago when I went to print off another calendar and clicked the link to the left and the new calendar appeared. It uses the same link as has always been on the left side of my website so check it out under "Maricopa County Planting Calendar"!
December 31, 2010
New Garden Pictures
I have taken pictures over this year of changes to my garden and it has been fun to see things evolve.
I hope you enjoy them!
We have a flock of Peach-faced Love Birds that took over the neighborhood. They have been a treat to have around. They are so chatty and really love eating sunflower seeds straight from the jumbo sunflowers I grew in the garden this summer.
February 05, 2010
US Cooperative Extension Service Office Locator
Gardening is a lot of fun but as many of us know, a gardening book from the Arizona Desert doesn't do much for the folks in New York or the Pacific Northwest. Our conditions are dramatically different.
One terrific resource for everyone is the Cooperative Extension Service program. Through the State universities, an educational network has been established to help farmers and gardeners understand the needs of their growing conditions and how to deal with the specific challenges they face locally.
In working with others around the country, I regularly recommend finding the local Extension Service website and office and taking advantage of the wonderful resource they are. Sometimes it is hard to locate them on the web but today I found the answer.
A twitter friend Karen Russ posted a link that is the Holy Grail of the Extension Service and I want to pass it along to you. It helps you to find ANY Extension Service Office and contact information in the US and US territories.
I added the link to my www.sonorangarden.com website on the home page under HELPFUL WEBSITES for easy access.
Here is the link:
February 04, 2010
Cool Square Foot Garden online planner!
I got my Gardeners Supply catalog in the mail yesterday and started reading it this morning. They have a section on raised bed gardening that is pretty good! One thing I havent seen before (maybe you have) is a link to their online kitchen garden planner. It is really cool! The online tutorial is located at http://www.gardeners.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-Gardeners-Site/default/Link-Page?id=kgp_home and the direct link is located at http://www.gardeners.com/on/demandware. … enDesigner take a look at it. It is really simple. You start by selecting the dimensions of your garden. Then you scroll through the vegetable selection and drag and drop a particular veggie to the grid. As you drop the vegetable on a square, it shows you how many plants you should plant per square - 1,2,4,9,16. Really cool! And you can save, email and print your garden.
January 12, 2010
Tomato harvest in January!
I tried growing heirloom tomatoes last year. I ordered a good selection of seeds in January and built a growing lamp to start early so the young plants would be ready for transplant in March here in Arizona.
It was quite enjoyable and I had many plants ready for transplant when March rolled around. The plants grew well but didnt start flowering for a long time. None of my tomatoes did very well during the spring and summer of 2009.
As the weather started to cool back down, a number of my tomato plants came to life and started to flower out and set fruit. But as the weather continued to cool, the fruit stayed nice and green and I wondered if they would ever turn.
While the rest of the nation has been freezing and buried in snow over the last month, the Sonoran desert has enjoyed 65-75 degree weather (today was 76 degrees) and I noticed some color changes occurring in my tomatoes last week.
One of my Black Krim tomatoes that is ripening in January.
This is a Roma Grape that I planted in September.
I planted an Early Girl in September as well.
In July, I took a clipping from one of my Black Krims and literally stuck it in my Square Foot Garden. I didnt try to root it in water or anything. I thought "if it grows, it grows...". Even in 110 degree weather, the plant survived and grew and here are some of the tomatoes I am getting from that plant!
October 13, 2009
We attended the Square Foot Gardening Symposium in Eden Utah.
We went to Eden Utah at the end of September to attend the Square Foot Gardening Symposium where Mel Bartholomew and the SFG Foundation staff train and certify new instructors for Square Foot Gardening. It was a great event and those of us in attendance came away with a greater understanding of SFG and Mel Bartholomew. He is a wonderful person with great humanitarian aspirations and has helped people all over the world learn how to produce their own food in whatever circumstances they live in. The world is a better place because of people like him.
Eden Utah is in the mountains east of Ogden and it is beautiful up there. We were there as the leaves on the trees were turning to the fall colors - something we don't see here in the Sonoran Desert...
We came away from the Symposium with a larger vision of what we can do individually and collectively to help others gain the satisfaction of gardening and self reliance.
I am so glad I was able to spend time with Mel and get to know him and for the associations and friendships that were built with our class participants. They are awesome!
Don and Mel Bartholomew
Mel Bartholomew - author and inventor of Square Foot Gardening
Mel Bartholomew teaching at the Eden 2009 Symposium
A beautiful picture of the fall trees in Utah
September 21, 2009
September 19th Square Foot Gardening Classes a success.
About a month ago, I was asked by two church congregations if I would tell their folks about Square Foot Gardening and I had the opportunity of hosting three Square Foot Gardening classes on Saturday September 19th.
We had a great time! About 40 people attended the three classes held in my garden and many people went away with the feeling that they could do this.
September 11, 2009
In Memory of those who were courageous in the face of danger...
July 07, 2009
Back from Vacation!
Well it feels like a long time since I posted on the forum.
I spent a week cooking for my girls at girls camp, most of the next week at Scout camp with our Scout troop only to turn around and spend a week in San Diego. We returned home on Sunday night. I have to thank my wife and father in law for watering the garden in my absence!
The heat has arrived in Phoenix! We should be above 110 most of the week and nearing 115 degrees Friday and Saturday. After San Diego I wonder why I live here in the desert.
The heat has affected much of my garden and I have removed squash plants, cucumbers, and have a lot of tidying up to do in the garden. I am planning on removing most plants from the garden and get ready for fall planting in August. It will give the beds a 4-6 week rest.
Timing was bad for my corn. I ended up with about 40 ears of corn from a 4x4 square. they averaged about 5 inches long. The bad timing was most of them ripened when I was gone and I only ate 10 ears. The others were dried and hard when I returned. Good news is that it was a better crop than I grew last fall.
We found a scorpion at our house!!
Last week after a wind and rain storm, I went went outside the house and something caught my eye. I looked closer and found a scorpion with about 20 baby scorpions on it's back.
Apparently after the scorpions mate, the female kills and eats the male scorpion. Then once the babies are born, they ride on their mother's back until they get big enough to go on their own at which time they kill the mother and eat her.
We are fortunate not to have very many of these around our house. I only find about 1 a year. A friend of mine kills a few dozen a day and is stung weekly! I would move!
With 19 pounds of Cucumbers - What do you do?? Make Dill Pickles!!
2nd Adventure - Dill Pickles!
You have to check out my first attempt at pickling!
"A New Adventure - Pickling Cucumbers!"
Harvest this weekend
Also an update on my white zucchini. I harvested two zucchinis 8 feet apart and here they are:
May 29, 2009
Albino Zucchini Squash??
I have one plant of the Zucchini plants I planted this year that perplexes me. The leaves have grown in silver in color and the squash is white with a yellow tint.
If there is an explanation for this feel free to comment below.
May 26, 2009
We had an enjoyable Memorial Day and hope you did also. There have been many who have sacrificed much for the freedoms we enjoy and the standard of living we are fortunate enough to have.
For Memorial Day we had 35 family members and friends over to barbeque. The pool was full of kids and the weather was great so the front and back yards were full of activity.
Our Two labs "Jake" and "Rusty" were well behaved and blended in well with all the festivities. They haven't been a part of such a big activity in "their" back yard but they were relaxed and friendly.
They help me everyday when I am working in the garden - at least between their swims in the pool! They really enjoy the water.
The garden is producing well right now. We are enjoying Zucchini and Summer squash every day. My wife found a recipe on the Internet for Zucchini soup that she made yesterday. She added fresh green onions (from the garden), squash (from the garden), basil (from the garden), mint (from the garden) - you get the picture! It was great. I will be posting the recipe when I can get the final details from my wife.
As a snack last night I cut up a fresh tomato and fresh cucumber and everyone enjoyed them!