Monday, January 25, 2010

Earth-Friendly Garden Quiz-January Question #3 - Herbs

Here's the answer to Question #2 - What are some ways to reduce mosquitoes in the garden?

The green gardeners's first mosquito-reduction mission is to eliminate all unintentional reservoirs of standing water.  Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stll water.  Neglected birdbaths, crumpled plastic tarps, and rain-filled flowerpots ate common sources.

If you have a garden pond, try stocking it with mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) which eat mosquito larvae; or float a thin film of mineral oil on the pond to suffocate the larvae (just be sure it won't do the same to your fish).

Once the adult mosquitoes are airborne, bats are a great natural control.  One bat can catch hundreds of mosquitoes per hour.  Adding a bat box to your yard can attract these flying aces.

Finally fill your yard with mosquito-repelling plants which include basil, eucalyptus, citrosa geraniums, lavender, mint rosemary, sage and thyme.

Answer taken from the Sierra Club, Earth Friendly Garden Knowledge Cards.

Question #3

True or False and WHY
Herbs are great in an organic garden, but some are best grown in containers.

Remember to make your comment below. Best of luck !

The Garden Goddess

Friday, January 15, 2010

Earth-Friendly Garden Quiz-January Question #2 -Mosquitoes

Earth-Friendly Garden Quiz-January Question #2

Last weeks question: The common housefly is probably the world's most common pest.  But not all flies are detrimental. Which of the following are good for the garden? a. crane fly, b. robber fly, c. syrphid fly, d. tachnid fly, e. all of the above?

The answer: All are good! Crane flies-sometimes called mosquito hawks-look like giant mosquitoes, but they don't bite people.  The adults usually feed on nectar, although some species eat other insedts.  The larvae eat decaying plant matter.

Robber flies swoop down and grab flying insects out of the air. Their long legs have spurs that immobilize the prey, which can include just about anything-even bees. As larvae, they live in rotting wood or in the ground, eating insect eggs and larvae.

Syrphid flies, also called hover flies, look like bees and hover over flowers.  As adults they eat plant nectar, making them perfect pollinators.  As larvae, they eat aphids, mealybugs, and other garden pests.  To attract the adult, plant daisies, marigolds, and sunflowers.

Tachnid flies are large gray flies that lay eggs on cutworms, caterpillars, or the eggs (or larvae) of harlequin bugs, Japenese beetles, and other common garden pets, which their larvae then eat!

Answer courtesy of the Sierra Club Earth-Friendly Garden Knowledege Cards

Only one person answered last weeks question correctly.  You still have a chance to win a book on sustainablity.  The person who is first to answer the most question WINS!

Question 2.

What are some ways to reduce mosquitoes in the garden?

Hint: NO pesticides!

Just make you comment below for a chance to be a winner!

Happy Digging!
The Garden Goddess

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Today's Harvest-broccoli, grapefruit and paper whites

Today's Harvest-broccoli, grapefruit and paper whites

I took this picture just minutes ago with my Blackberry phone, sent it to my self in an email from the phone, clicked on Blog in Picasa and now I am writing about it to you - too cool!

My Broccoli is growing quickly with all this warm weather we have had. Looks like my neighbor's (one is a gret chef) will get one of these tonight - maybe I could give him both of them and he could whip up something really yummy!!

The paperwhites are blooming all over the garden and this one now sits on my desk wherw I can smell its' heavenly scent while I wrok.

And the grapefruits are ready to eat. The crop is a little smaller this year - both less fruit and smaller fruit. Could be due to the 3.5 inches of rain we got ALL year in 2009? City water just isn't the same as rain water!

What are you eating form your edible yard?

Happy Nibbling!
The Garden Goddess
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Pruning Deciduous Fruit Trees

In Phoenix, AZ it is time to prune deciduous fruit trees. Yes, these are apple trees - one year old apple trees which I planted as bare root trees last January. They actually bore fruit last year, a fluke I am sure, so I am not expecting any this year. These small trees are still developing their roots, so I am trimming them back to allow more energy to go the developing strong, healthy roots.

They are now about 4 feet high. I cut the lead branch about one foot on each tree. I also want to keep them to about 8 - 10 feet high at maturity so I can easily harvest the apples without needing a really tall ladder.

Here's an easy tip to use when pruning. Keep about three branch nodes on each branch. Run your hand along the branch and you will feel bumps, which are the nodes. Feel for the nodes on the underside of the branch and cut about 1/4 inch about the third one from the trunk for NEW trees.

If your deciduous fruit tree is more mature, prune out crossing branches, any branch in the way of the house, a pathway, power line or deadwood. But be carfeul not to create any large openings in the canopy that will let in too much sunlight. The summer sun will scorch the bark!
Here's a few more trees you can prune this time of year (courteousy of Integrity Tree Service).

Prune deciduous trees and shrubs such as mulberry, pecan, elm, ash, desert willow, chaste, pomegranate, peach, plum and other stone fruits.
Lightly prune vigorous evergreens such as sumacs, eucalyptus and mesquites if they are heavy and need maintenance to keep them safe until their normal spring or summer pruning.

Prune olive trees before they are sprayed to give your applicator better coverage.
Phoenicians, enjoy the beautiful weather!
Happy Pruning,
The Garden Goddess

Friday, January 8, 2010

Garden Party - Make an Edible Container Garden

Garden Party - Make an Edible Container Garden

Learn how to create a container garden with all edibles plants – herbs, lettuce, swiss chard and flowers!. Plus learn how to create the best potting soil using all organic materials. Soil and plants provided. You supply the pot/container. Added bonus – a tour of my gardens and an overview of how they were created.

(Container at left has swiss chard, stock, pansy - all edible!

When: Saturday, January 16th. 2010

Time: 1 – 3 PM

Where: Home of the Garden Goddess – 12th Street and McDowell, Phoenix, AZ

Cost $30

Please RSVP HERE– You will get exact address when you do!

Can't attend - host one at YOUR home and you getthe class and supplies for free - just ask me how!

Doreen Pollack - Garden Consultations and water-wise gardening


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Earth Friendly Garden Quiz - December Winner

The answer to last week’s question: What are nematodes, and do you want them in your garden? is: Nematodes are tiny roundworms sometimes called eelworms. Traditionally considered the bane of a gardener’s existence, many nematode species are indeed detrimental, sucking sap from your plants or attacking them at the roots. But other species are beneficial. Some encourage your compost to ripen, while other control Japanese beetles, cutworms, fleas and other pests.

The pest-controlling nematodes are parasites. They enter the host insect and release bacteria that eventually kill it. If they do their job well, eventually no more hosts will remain, and the nematodes themselves will then dies off.

Control detrimental nematodes by planting resistant cultivars of your crops, rotating crops, and planting African marigolds between successive crops-the marigold roots are toxic to nematodes.

(Thanks again to The Earth-Friendly Garden Knowledge Cards for the Sierra Club for this information.)

And the winner is…….

Congratulations to Judy who was the first one each week to answer the question accurately! Donna was a close second. Judy will receive a pocket garden journal and a Chelsea Green Publishing book on water with lots of tips on how to conserve water including in the garden.

Now on to the January contest. Remember the rules to win are you must be the first person each week to answer the question accurately and be correct each week. All contest answers are courtesy of the Sierra Club’s – The Earth-Friendly Garden Knowledge Cards.

Question One-The common housefly is probably the world’s most common pest. But not all flies are detrimental. Which of the following are good for the garden?

a. crane Flies
b. robber flies
c. syrphid flies
d. tachnid flies
e. all of the above

Good luck!

The Garden Goddess

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years’ Day Harvest and Planting

New Years’ Day Harvest and Planting

Among the many things I have to be thankful for and appreciate is the beautiful winter weather in Phoenix. After a very leisurely morning, watching the Rose Parade and admiring all of the beautiful floats made out of ALL plant material, chatting with family in Chicago and catching up with my roomie, I finally wandered outside about 11:30am.

I was greeted by the robins egg blue, cloudless sky and warm sun shine and the 65 degree temps. A perfect day for planting! My flower and veggie greens purchase earlier in the week were safely tucked under some bushes to protect them from cooler evening temps, but now it was the day to plant!

I set a goal of using mostly edibles plants and flower for my winter containers. I can’t resist the elegance of a tall red geranium – doubtful the flower petals are edible. But the rest of the flowers are edible: violas, stock, pansies, Johnny Jump-ups and of course nasturtiums. I also added some greens (different lettuces and swiss chards) to the containers near the guesthouse so my winter visitors could enjoy fresh salads.

I also added some more vegetables to the garden beds. My spinach never germinated so I transplanted several plants and I sowed the beet seeds Diane gave me last month. As I was planting I noticed I needed to do a little more thinning of the radishes and lettuces already in the ground. My New Year’s dinner tonight will have a wonderful fresh from the garden salad with lettuce, radishes, green peppers (YES, 8 green peppers still in the plant that was planted in March) and nectarines from Rhonda’s garden. I think I will top it with a few flowers just to add a bit of panache’.

My winter gardens were planted October 11 and it is great to be eating from them less than 60 days later. Now I just need some different ways to use the harvest! Cooking more - or not cooking but creating wonderful food in creative ways is one of my New Year's Resolutions!

Happy New Year to you all!

The Garden Goddess


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