Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Earth Friendly Garden Quiz - Final Question for December

Earth Friendly Garden Quiz - Final Question for December

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.)

One of the easiest ways to get more organic matter in your soil is to use compost - and we can all make compost at home.  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

Earth-Friendly Garden Quiz - Second Question - Soil

Earth-Friendly Garden Quiz - Second Question - Soil

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

NOW – Question Two – True or False – “Soil” is just a fancy word for dirt. Why?

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

Crazy Phoeinx, AZ Winter Storms

Crazy Phoenix, AZ Winter Storms

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.

The tree did OK in the wind, but I noticed a gap in the soil all around the base of the tree - looks like that tree got whipped around quite a bit. The photo shows just how much it moved (using the house key to give perspective).  I was amazed at how much strength both the wind had in moving the tree and the strength of the tree itself to withstand that kind of movement!

I also noticed my brocolli plants where leaning quite a bit.  They are not broken, just leaning. They have moved more upright in the two weeks since the rain. However, I will leave them as is for now. None of the other plants looked any worse for the wind.

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?

Happpy Digging,
The Garden Goddess

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Earth-Friendly Garden Quiz - First Question

Earth-Friendly Garden Quiz - First Question

I got a neat holiday gift last night that I will use for a new feature here on the blog. My friend did her shopping at the Sierra Club on-line store. The Earth-Friendly Garden Knowledge Cards (TM) is a deck of cards with a question about 'green' gardening and the answer on the other side of each card. I have had so much fun reading them and testing myself that I thought you might also enjoy playing and learning with me!

So each Wednesday I will post a question from the deck. You reply to the blog with your answer (post a comment). I will use the Sierra Club's answers as THE correct answer.

Only rule is that you must reply by Tuesday of the following week. I will post the answer in the post with the next weeks question.

The person who gets them all right for the month will win a copy of a current gardening or sustainable living book of my choosing. This means you will need to read the blog each week for the questions and answer right away! The first correct answer and the person who gets them all right for the month will be the winner.

OK ready for the first question?

True or False?

Bats should be discouraged from the garden because of their high potential for carrying rabies.

Respond with the answer and WHY!

Best of luck to you all!

The Garden Goddess

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brown Areas on Rosemary

Brown Areas on Rosemary

This question came from the Maricopa County, AZ, Master Gardener Q&A email. I thought it might be a benefit to you!

Hello Annette -- If the rest of your rosemary plant is doing well, just cut out the brown/dying leaves and stems. Rosemary is a Mediterranean plant and is highly susceptible to root rot, since Mediterranean soils tend to be loose and well-drained and our desert soils typically are not. Root rot can cause all or part of the plant to die very quickly. To ward against root rot when planting rosemary, sage, thyme and lavenders, add lots of pumice or perlite and compost or mulch to your soil and create a small mound or place the plant in an area of your landscape where water will not sit on the roots. Also, rosemary in particular tends to be a great Xeriscape plant.

Once it's established (after about a year), you can almost turn off the dripper if it's on a drip irrigation system.

Hope this helps!
Carolyn Hills
Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Member, Arizona Herb Association (

Thanks to the Master Gardeners for their endless supply of knowledge!

Happy Digging,
The Garden Goddess

Monday, December 7, 2009

Herb Potting Class at Maya's Farm

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!

Happy Digging,

The Garden Goddess
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