Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Here's the answer to last week's question - True or False - 'Soil ' is just a fancy word for dirt.
False. To the organic gardener, soil is a complex stew of rock, sand, silt, clay, air, water, dead organic matter, and many living things including roots, insects, bacteria, and fungi - not to mention the earthworms, reptiles, and mammals it may harbor.
The organic gardener's foremost task is to make good soil. As the saying goes, "Feed the soil; the soil will feed the plants."
A given volume of soil should be equal parts solids and space. The solid half's content should be 90% mineral - sand, silt, and clay - and 10 percent organic matter (that's 5 % of total soil volume). The space half should hold equal parts air and water.
(Answer from Sierra Club's The Earth-Friendly Garden Knowledge Cards.)
Learn more about compost in the Arizona desert.
Now for the third and final question of the month and this one will make you think a little more.
What are nematodes, and do you want them in your garden?
Remember to reply through the comments section below. Next week, I will reveal the winner who answered all three questions correctly and who was the first one with the answers.
Wishing you a happy and safe New Year celebration!
The Garden Goddess
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
First - here's the answer to last weeks question (the first question for December).
Question: True or False? Bats should be discouraged from the garden because of their high potential for carrying rabies.
Answer: False. Although many people consider them creepy, bats are the gardener’s friend. On its nightly excursion, a single bat can eat 1,000 insects, many of which might otherwise have chowed down on the garden (e.g., beetle and moths) or the gardener (mosquitoes). Bats also pollinate some fruit and nut trees.
Contrary to persistent misconception, bats are not prime carriers of rabies. Few cases of human rabies have been attributed to bat bites, and most of those occurred when the victim attempted to pick up a bat found lying on the ground.
The only flying mammals, bats reproduce slowly and are vulnerable to extinction. Although they’re found throughout the U.S., nearly half the country’s bat species are threatened or endangered.
You can attract bats to your garden by erecting a bat house. This simple structure resembles a birdhouse, except the opening is at the bottom and the inside is designed so bats can hang when they roost.
The above is from The Sierra Club Knowledge Cards – The Earth Friendly Garden
Remember you must answer here on the blog in the comments found at the bottom of the post and include WHY to be eligible for the prize. The person who responds to all questions in the month of December correctly will win a book on living more simply.
There will be ONE MORE question next week.
Wishing you all a very happy holiday!!
The Garden Goddess
Monday, December 21, 2009
I know Arizona does not get the kinds of storms the east coast just experienced. Today is the first day of winter and it is forecasted to be 70 degress. We get rain in the Phoenix area - not snow.
And we do not get 'weather' that often. In fact. this past summer during our 'monsoon' season, we got very little rain or wind. So when it rains, is cloudy or there is a 'storm' we get excited - and actually happy!
Our first true winter storm is forcasted for this week - just in time to lower the temps to chill it down for Christmas Day. A 40% chance of rain isn't much, but in our town we get hopeful. Of course it WILL rain as I just hand washed my car at home on Saturday and cleaned the office windows from the last rain.
Speaking of the last rain, we also had a lot of wind. It knocked many of the leaves off the Chaste/Vitex tree on my back yard so that I could fill up my compost barrel.
It also whipped around in my front yard garden. A week prior, I had removed the lodge pole I used to stake the palo verde tree I planted last March. Desert native tress do not need to be staked very long at all. Just long enough to establish the roots - about 6 months. The movement actually helps to strengthen the tree trunk.
So while the rest of the U.S. is dealing with snow and freezing temps, here in Phoenix we are keeping our hopes up for rain again this week.
What's the weather doing where you live and how does it affect your garden?
The Garden Goddess
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Brown Areas on Rosemary
Once it's established (after about a year), you can almost turn off the dripper if it's on a drip irrigation system.
Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Member, Arizona Herb Association (http://www.azherb.org/)
Monday, December 7, 2009
Herb Potting Class at Maya's Farm
Saturday started out pretty chilly but as the morning wore on and we got busy learning about herbs, it didn't seems so bad. Thankfully Maya put on a hot pot of coffee and I bought (and made) lemon-basil butter cookies and rosemary shortbread (herbs can be used for many kinds of food!)
The pictures above are of the containers the students created. It was really fun to see the various pots and designs.
Besides learning how to pot the herbs, we also blended our own soil mixture using Maya's biodynamic compost and organic soil. Notice the flowers in some of the pots? Johny Jump Ups (viola's) flower petals are edible, too!
Now with the winter rain a few days later, these herb pots will be off to a great start!
The Garden Goddess
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Fall Garden Chores Save Money in Long Run
This is a good time to get your garden in order. Here’s a tip that can save you money in the long run:
Keep your garden tools clean and sharp. Some plant diseases can be spread on tools.
Hose soil off of garden tools before moving to another area of the landscape. Dry them well before storing.
Sterilize pruning tools after each and every cut if there is any chance the plant is infected with a disease. Use an antibacterial spry and wipe it dry.
A dull saw is much more dangerous than sharp one. When the saw is sharp, gentle pressure is all it takes to make a clean cut. If it is dull, force is required and serious injury can occur if it slips. Sharp tools make for clean wounds which heal quickly.
Take care of your tools, they will last longer and so will you and your plants!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
After my foot injury 2 weeks ago, I started getting worried that my garden planting wasn't happening on schedule. I still had 2 small beds to amend and many things I wanted to start by seed right in those beds. But I couldn't get around the garden very well and I certainly couldn't use a shovel and get up and down off my knees very well.
I called upon the help of my gardening friends and clients. Lo and behold last Sunday morning three wonderful, generous women came to my rescue. The really cool thing about it, is they all wanted to learn how to start a garden bed by seeds.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
No picture today with this post because I don't want to gross you out - my swollen, red left foot is the reason for this note.
First - I have already been chastised by my fellow gardener friends. Seems like the guys had less sympathy and did more scolding than the woman.
Second - I feel a little foolish even sharing this with you. I mean, come-on, I am a PROFESSIONAL (aren't I?). But if I don't share this with you, there is a good chance this could happen to you!
So here goes - I stepped on a thorn! Well not your average thorn, but a one inch long Palo Verde Tree thorn that went through my Crocs and into my foot a quarter inch! OUCH! Yes, I screamed a really bad word very loud in the back yard! Then I stopped, took off the crock and saw how long the thorn was inside the shoe coming through the sole. The ball of my foot had a drop of blood on it and I thought "that's a good sign, bleeding helps to flush the germs out."
Well, I may have been OK if I would have stopped what I was doing, cleaned and disinfected the puncture site and put on a band aid and a sock. But NOOOOOOO I had to keep on gardening. I thought it was just a small pin prick and it didn't hurt tooo much.
Well, DON'T DO WHAT I DO, DO WHAT I SAY!
The next time you get cut, scratched or get stuck with a thorn, go into the house to clean and disinfect it. Put on a bandage and take a break.
Monday morning I couldn't put any pressure on that foot when I rolled out of bed! It was red and swollen. One of my toes was twice the size it was the night before. I thought that perhaps I was allergic to the Palo Verde Tree! But as the day wore on and the foot felt worse I knew something was up.
A trip to the doctor's office confirmed my fears - it was infected - with a staph infection! A pretty serious condition. I spent the last week going to the doctor every other day and getting shots (tetanus and antibiotics) and am also taking them orally. I am now taking two different antibiotics, soaking the foot several times a day and elevating it when I can.
It has definitely slowed me down. The weather is PERFECT for gardening after the hottest summer on record and I can't do it!! I hobble around on the outside of my foot just to get through the day.
So take it from me - follow the doctors advice - clean and disinfect any cuts or scratches and cover it. The garden is a dirty place!
The Garden Goddess
Down 2 Earth Gardens, LLC.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Thanks to my friend Vinnie the Gardener for solving the mystery of the missing compost. Here's what he has to say:
"Means you have 'high' bugs as I call them; all the visible critters (pill bugs, roaches, beetles). Had the same issue myself when we began renovating our garden. Started my pitchfork plugging (stab, wiggle), and kept piling on the nature. It took about three years when I noticed the 'dirt' became 'soil' in the top 4-6"inches or so. That's when I noticed more of the 'low' bugs; worms, grubs, micro-critters, mostly below the ground. Since then, all my debris clean-up goes directly onto the garden - not into the compost pile. The major green stuff (kitchen & mowing & pruning) goes into compost. All of the general plant litter gets layered in the garden (along with coffee grounds). "
WOW - I love his idea of making it easy to build the soil. Now that some of my trees are loosing their leaves (the mulberry especially) - and right by this garden, I will just layer them on the soil, almost like a mulch and let the critters in the soil munch on them. I just hope it doesn't take 3 years for me!!
Look there's one now just waiting to be eaten!! Sort of blends in with the dirt. I hope the bugs see it.
So folks - this fall do not back up your leaves and throw them away - put them on your garden! Or at the very least put them in your compost bin or even better yet - leave them where they fall and let them provide nourishment to soil below the tree!
Now that's MY kind of gardening!!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
As I was preparing the front yard garden bed, I realized the soil was lacking organic matter. It's been almost a year since I removed the bermuda and created the new garden. I added a truck load of compost to the existing soil back then and I have been adding more compost throughout the summer.
Yet when I started to dig in the garden the soil looked pretty bad, still lots of clay soil, almost as bad as when I started. So I broke one of my own rules - I dug up the garden beds.
Thank goodness for my own compost pile and Soil Secrets. I was able to amend about half of the garden with my own compost. It was kind of creepy carrying the bucket of compost and BUGS! But I know that bugs are part of the process so I just walked really fast!
Since I didn't have enough of my own compost, I added some great amendments called Soil Secrets. I recently ordered a pallet of this great stuff for my friends and clients. I am excited to see how this great product works on my gardens.
I didn't plant anything yet, just watered in the amendments and moved on to the next garden bed.
Where do you think all the compost went?
The Garden Goddess
Down 2 Earth Gardens, LLC
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Gardening can be a very solo activity - if you let it. When I spend a day in the garden pushing myself past the point of exhaustion, I do so to finish a project or task. I can loose myself in garden work. I often solve all of lifers problems in my own little head while planting and digging and just putting my hands into the soil.
Today I met with Debra who will be my Garden Caption for the next 6 months and we work together to get me and my garden ready for the 2010 Real Gardens for Real People tour sponsored and put on by the Master Gardeners.
When she asked me what she could help me with I was at a loss. I have been doing all of my own gardening for 10+ years. But after I thought about it I realized I would welcome the help with plant selection for a new garden and putting together the story board so people can see the evolution of the garden.
I am now getting used the the idea of someone helping me. I am sure it will be a very rewarding experience. It will be fun to share the ideas and the planting of these new specimans for me.
Happy Digging (and invite a friend)
The Garden Goddess
down2 Earth Gardens
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
What's New in My Garden Today
The green beans are still progressing nicely and the sunflowers have also poked their heads out of the ground (8 days after planting) but other than that it is a pretty slow day in my gardening world. I thought about pulling up the shade cover over some of the plants, but I noticed new flowers on the green pepper plant. Since it is still HOT here, I better wait and give the plants as much protection as possible. I am hoping to get a second harvest from a few of the plants.
The seeds I ordered from Botanical Interest arrived yesterday. It was like getting a Christmas gift. They have beautiful artistic water color drawings of the plants which are very pretty. Now if it would just cool down a bit more so I can plant.
I finished booking my teaching and speaking engagements for September and was very excited to see I have 10 engagements. Most of them are now on my website so check there if you would like to take a gardening class with me this month!
The Garden Goddess
Monday, August 31, 2009
I just got this question today from a former student of mine. She was removing the summer plants and noticed an Aphid infestation.
She had asked two other people, one being a plant nursery, and got 2 different answers. That's how it is with gardening. Everyone has an answer usually based on their experience.
Here's how I answered - I have a personal rule of never composting any diseased or bug infested plant - why take the risk? I compost a little more casually than the scientific or bio-dynamic version and I can never be sure if it gets hot enough to kill off the bug EGGS, the disease or bacteria.
What do you all do with bug-infested plants? I would love to hear from you!
Doreen, the Garden Goddess
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Here are some tips on proper plant placement. Be sure you know and consider:
•Spacing base on mature size
•Height and width
•Root vegetables vs. leafy vegetables
Seeds – longer germination time
• Acclimate to garden environment from beginning
• 2-3 months longer to harvest
Transplants – instant plant
• Earlier harvest
• Uniform production
Allow space for the mature plant size. Many plants, especially vegetables, need room for their ‘fruit.’ When planting from seed, read the seed packet for recommended spacing. Allow space for the mature plant size.
Now it’s just a matter of time. Protect your garden as it becomes established. Keep birds, cats and other critters away from your garden by tying ribbons to sticks and placing them around the garden. For cats, consider laying down chicken wire over the top of the soil after planting. The seeds will grow up in between the holes in the wire.
Water your new garden daily at first, keeping the soil moist until seedlings are a few inches tall. Once they are, test the soil to see how much moisture it retains and water based on need. A soil probe, pushed into the soil will help with you see how deep the water seeps..
Enjoy your harvest! The flowers will look brighter and the food taste fresher as a result of your tender loving care.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
For now I am using a blank journal someone gave to me. It has a beautiful water-color Impressionist style drawing on the cover.
On Sunday I planted Mammoth Sunflower seeds in four planting holes, 2 seeds per hole at the back of the existing sunflower sentries protecting the garden at the public sidewalk. According to the back of the seed packet, I can expect the seedlings to break ground in 7 - 21 days, a bloom in 75-90 days and a plant 7 - 12 feet tall and the bloom 1 foot across!! WOW! I will plant more of these each week until the pack is all planted and that way there will be Sunflowers all fall!!
I also planted Green Beans! Since they need something to grow on, I planted them all around the two peach trees that never leafed out - I am pretty sure they are dead. But they make an excellent nurse plant (trellis) for the green beans. I also planted some right at the walkway near the front porch where I have a bare trellis. These will take 7 - 14 days to germinate and 50 days to harvest.
With my journal I can actuall track how long it took in MY YARD for them to germinate and mature. This is useful information for when I plant the same things again next season. I will know if that location worked out, or the seeds for a specific company had a good germination rate, how they did in my soil, etc.
I am always looking for great ideas, so if you use a garden journal or format to track your garden progress, I would love to hear from you!
The Garden Goddess
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Dig the garden bed area. You can use a shovel or a rototiller. Break up the clumps of dirt into small pieces. The dirt should flow freely through your hands. There is an intense process used to do this called double–digging. It aerates the deep layers of soil and allows the roots of the plants to go deeper. For heavy clay soil it also improves the drainage as clay soil is very dense. Double-digging is the first step in creating the most productive garden bed possible.
1. Start your digging at one end of the bed and dig a trench the depth and width of the head of the shovel. (approx. 12" deep) Put that dirt in a wheelbarrow.
2. Use a pitch fork to loosen dirt in the bottom of the trench.
3. Dig a second, similar-size trench directly next to the first. Place that soil into the first trench you dug. Loosen the soil at the bottom of this second trench with the pitch fork as well.
4. Repeat this process until your entire garden bed is dug.
5. Put the dirt in the wheel barrel into the last hole.
Do not till the dirt at all when it is either bone-dry or very soggy/muddy. This will ruin the garden plot by destroying the soil structure. The soil should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Clods of the dirt should crumble in your fist, but it should not ooze-out or crumble into dust.
Use a garden rake to even out the garden bed. Place a border around the bed now if you choose. It will help to define the garden space and keep people and pets from roaming through the bed.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
1. Make sure the outdoor area is clean. Sweep away all ground debris, dust
and trash. Clean off all furniture and cushions. A layer of dust and or bird
droppings is not very inviting!
2. Eliminate all dead or dying plants. Outdoor temperatures take its toll on
anything living. Cut back or remove dead plants. Not only is this good
from a Feng Shui perspective, it removes the notion that the property is
3. Keep lawn and bushes maintained. Curb appeal is so underrated. First
impressions do matter.
4. Don’t forget about the back yard. If it has been neglected and never
landscaped, consider staging it with patio furniture and potted plants.
Stacking paving bricks, pavers and masonry blocks to give to illusion of an
outdoor room will improve even the most dreadful back yards.
5. Use color to add visual appeal and excitement. Bright colors used as
accents will draw the eye to them. Use this tactic to divert the attention
away from less desirable areas.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I have had lots of fun catching rain and reusing it in my garden, even if I just dump out a bucket into the garden. That extra water will provide deep water to plants – more so than the rain that fell in my yard. I built my own rain barrels last year and it was so much fun!
Saving, reusing and redirecting rain water has been one of the smartest thing I did. Now I plant the rain where I want it to go rather than letting it drop wherever it wants. Making your own barrel is not that complex and the parts are now easy to find right here.
If you already rain water harvest please drop me a line and tell me about your experience – I would love to see pictures too! And if you don’t, then drop me a line and maybe I can help get you started!
The Garden Goddess
Monday, August 10, 2009
But being the August 2009 Bug of the Month is no prize! The notorious SQUASH BUG is hated by all gardeners. There is nothing beneficial about it. They make my skin crawl when I see them swarming all over the vines in my squash or pumpkins plants. In fact – I will NOT be growing my own Halloween pumpkin this year – nope – just pulled those vines out this morning. They were infested with the squash bug, eggs and nymphs (again not cute sea nymphs frolicking in the water) but spidery-looking immature bugs crawling on the underside of the leaves.
And not just the leaf of the squash plant – they were on the leaf of the nearby weed and the sage plant. Other parts of the country may only have ONE cycle of these pests each year, but we have more. The mature bugs can hide in waiting for the squash plants (only sucking and eating the leaves – not the ‘fruit’).
When I pulled up the vine, I saw the nymphs crawling all over the mulch in the garden bed under where the vines were. OHHH so creepy! I grabbed the Diatomaceous Earth and sprinkled it carefully in that area. Yes, DE can also take out the good bugs too, but there were so many in a concentrated area, I just had to do something.
A Google Search revealed many different ways to deal with this pest:
Physical Removal of Squash Bugs (Extension office in MN)
1. Remove or knock off and kill nymphs and adults by dropping them into a pail of soapy water. This is particularly effective if only a few plants are affected. This can be challenging because squash bugs hide under leaves and move quickly when disturbed.
2. Crush eggs that are attached to the undersides and stems of leaves.
3. Trap squash bugs by laying out boards or pieces of newspaper. Squash bugs will congregate under the boards at night, and then can be collected and destroyed in the morning.
4. Remove plant debris around the garden during the growing season to reduce the potential harborages where squash bugs may hide. Clean up cucurbits and other plant matter around the garden in the fall to reduce the number of overwintering sites.
Organic Solutions – Guinea Hens – Mother Earth News
This one may not work too well for me as my garden is in my front yard and it is not fenced in. I do not want to be chasing Guinea Hens down 12th Street!
Companion Planting - article with several solutions including companion planting (catnip, tansy, radishes, nasturtiums, marigolds, bee balm and mint), and selecting bug resistant varieties.
So much time, energy and resources goes into growing a plant and I have had the squash bug attack several years in a row now that I am ready to leave the squash growing to others and just get mine at the Farmer’s Market!
What about you?
The Garden Goddess
Sunday, August 9, 2009
When I bought my own home in 1998 in Glendale, Arrowhead Ranch Phase 5 (I was proud of that long sub-devision name) I really had no idea how to landscape it. The front landscaping was included. I drove around similar neighborhoods and looked at plants I liked and that's what I picked for my yard. Although my house was the third on the block to be built, by the time the street was built out, we all looked the same.
Back yard was pretty much the same - lots of bouganivillea and lantana. But soon I began to experiment with different plants. Got my first Hibiscus and agave then. Added several other vines and bushes and expanded garden beds and irrigation systems, all kind of helter skelter. Some lived, many died. It was very frustrating and costly.
Several years ago I worked with someone who had a certificate in her office for a Master Gardener program. I was in awe of how easily Rhonda spoke of plants and where they should be planted and when. I wanted some of that for my self!Four years ago I had the chance to take the Master Gardener program and it changed my life. Not only did it give me more confidence in my own gardens, but I started sharing it with my friends. Soon people were offering to PAY me for my knowledge. They didn't have it and didn't want to go off the learn it themsleves. They wanted ME to come to their house and answer their
questions about specific plant problems or help them re-do or add a garden.
With the encouragement of my friends, I started my one-of-a kind Garden Consulting and Coaching business, Down 2 Earth Gardens (thanks Robert for helping me create the name).
D2EG provides advice to homeowners on how to reduce the use and dependency of outside resources in their landscape. I create low water and low human energy use designs which are creative and natural. I specialize in working closely with do-it-yourself gardeners and people just starting to use their yard for food production and respite from their busy lives.
I am now doing what I truly love - working with people and the earth. After 25 years in Banking and 10 years in Non-profits, I am doing work I LOVE!
Well now you can apply for and hopefully attend a wonderful program that could change your life as well. The 2010 Master Gardener Program Dates are out!
Jan. 12 - May 4, 2010 (Tuesdays)
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Desert Breeze Police Substation
251 N Desert Breeze Blvd
July 13 - Nov. 2, 2010 (Tuesdays)
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
U of A Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
4341 E Broadway Rd
Information regarding the class, including the application and maps, can be found at http://cals.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/mgs/mg-broch.htm
The fee is minimal compared to the knowledge and friendships you will make! I highly recommend you take the program wherever youlive! There are Cooperative Extension Offices throughout the US. Look them up in your part of the country and run, don't walk to the next class near you!
Doreen Pollack aka The Garden Goddess
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Ratoons are second crops that grow from the stumps or stubble of the first. This according to Barbara Pleasant who writes for GrowVeg.com, the company that created the wonderful gardening planning tool I use. You can also subscribe to this newsletter and get great money saving tips like this.
You can read more about Ratoons and learn how to rejuvenate your plants and get a second harvest from the same plants! So do not pull out those plants yet. Try the process Barbara suggests in her article here and let me know the results!
I love hearing from you – please write!
Doreen Pollack, The Garden Goddess
Friday, August 7, 2009
The weather has been bizarre all over the US this summer. Boston just had its wettest July on record and Phoenix it's hottest. So how does that affect your garden? I really can't answer that in a universal way. Each and every garden bed - no matter if they are in different states or in your front or back yard has its own microclimate. The soil is different, drainage is different, sun patterns differ.
What I do know is that there as several things you should always do in your garden on a regular basis to monitor and maintain them:
1. Check the moisture level of the soil. Stick your finger in it, or use a soil probe to see if the soil is moist before you water. If it has been cooler than normal and maybe even cloudier, you may not need to water – even if it is watering day!
2. Look for sick or diseased plants. Do the leaves look different – perhaps eaten up, curling up, spotted or yellowing? Look under the leaf to see what’s ‘bugging’ your plant. Remove them or treat them (responsibly – no chemicals please!)
3. Deadhead flowers (no not Jerry Garcia Deadhead) – pinch or cut off the dead blooms on annuals and perennials to encourage new blooms.
4. Lightly prune any broken branches on trees and shrubs.
5. Apply several inches of mulch to the top of your garden bed to help keep moisture in and reduce weeds (that compete for water).
6. Apply a layer of compost to the top of your garden bed, no need for fertilizer!
7. Harvest any vegetables or fruit that are ready to eat and enjoy them for the next meal!
8. Admire your garden or landscape and be proud of your creativity and hard work!
9. Share it with friends by have a summer cookout.
Just few minutes in your garden every day will help you catch a problem before it gets out of control and help you also notice all the wonderful things that are happening in nature.
Don’t forget to slow down and stop to smell the roses!
Doreen Pollack aka the Garden Goddess
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Today people are growing their own so they know how the food has been nurtured. Starting a garden might seem like a daunting task, but tackling the work over several weekends makes the work load lighter.
September marks the beginning of the fall/winter planting season here in Phoenix. Not sure what to plant? Download a free Phoenix Planting Calendar at the Phoenix Permaculture Guilds website.
I’ll be sharing a week-by-week plan each Friday that even novice gardeners can follow to get their gardens ready to plant between now and the end of August, just in time for getting those seeds into the ground.
- What kind of garden do you want. Raised beds, pots, or in-ground? Square, rectangular, spiral, key hole (u-shaped)? Each one has it's pros and cons. The available space will usually determine the shape. A spiral is good for small spaces since there is more vertical planting surface. Whatever you choose for an in-ground or above groung bed, make sure you can reach all area of the bedding area without walking on any of the soil. There are many possibilities.
- For hard ground, raised beds may be an easier option. Check out an easy way to get more garden in small spaces above ground with a concept called Square Foot Gardening.
- If you rent or live in an apartment with a sunny balcony, pots can be moved with you so consider a container garden.
- Make sure that the chosen spot has a convenient source of water and that your plants will get the light they need. Vegetables need lots of sunlight, at least six hours a day. A flower garden may need full or partial sun, or shade.
- If part of your yard is crushed granite or dirt, you may want to plant a wildflower garden to add color to an otherwise drab area. Wildflowers do well in full sun.
- Consider the full size of the plants you will grow and the amount of space they need. make the bed large enough so don’t overcrowd them when planting. Check out my blog post on August 6, 2009 for a cool garden design planning tool.
- Mark the borders of your garden using natural items like river rock, bricks, or trendy Urbanite (broken up concrete sidewalks) .
- Break ground if you like, turn the earth over, pulling out the weeds and grass and then take a break until next weekend rolls around.
If you are overwhelmed and need someone to guide you don’t forget to consult a Garden Coach like me!
Remember next Friday will be Week Two where I cover amending or building up the soil!
Doreen Pollack aka the Garden Goddess