Gardening

Residents Visitors and Invaders

The natural world is a wild place.  Many of us do not notice how wild, because we have built our habitats to keep ourselves safe and comfortable, insulating our lives from its wild elements.  I’m happy to report that in our 36 years gardening in Tucson’s suburbs in the Sonoran desert, I’ve never seen a rattlesnake, bobcat or Gila Monster in my garden.  Jim has run into all these creatures while working, and takes their presence for granted.  He says that they are like the mountains that surround our city; they are there everyday, yet we rarely see or notice them.

This photograph was taken at Tohono Chul Park, a world class botanical garden, situated right in the middle of our city.  The mission of the park is to ” enrich peoples lives by connecting them with the wonders of nature, art and culture in the Sonoran Desert region and inspiring wise stewardship of the natural world.” They seek to accomplish their goal through lectures, exhibits, bird watching tours, and acres of desert gardens.  They succeeded in their mission the day I visited recently with out-of-town guests.  I was stricken with awe of the desert I live in, but rarely see.

Standing in  the desert, I feel less like a resident and more like a visitor; it  feels wild and somehow unfamiliar and uncomfortable.  Alone in this environment, I would wonder: Where do I rest?  Where do I find a drink?  How do I get cool or warm?  What do I eat? The creatures living here have answers to all these questions, making THEM the residents, while reminding me that I am a visitor on Earth.  There is room for me to make a home and plant a garden, but only for a time.

This reminder encourages me to continue to strive to care for the space I take up in the larger environment, not just the space I call my own.  In my garden, a rattlesnake would be an invader, a danger to people and pets; but out in the desert-scape it is I who invades; I am the trampler.  I must tread with respect. I want to know that I leave the world a better place for my grandchildren and their grandchildren. 

One of the simple ways I can do this is to cherish my surroundings and teach my grand children to do the same.   I can also reduce the negative effect I have here by recycling trash, making compost and re-purposing old items in a way that makes them newly useful.

This past year Jim and I have made about four, thirty-two-gallon-sized bins of compost out of our kitchen waste and some of our yard waste.  We have also recycled all of our plastic bags, our office paper, plastic containers, glass and aluminum containers, cardboard boxes and anything else that our trash service will take and re-use.  We even wrapped our Christmas presents in Sunday comics.  This practice took such little effort on our part, it almost doesn’t deserve mention, but it is a start.  

I had fun re-purposing a few old things into needed items that have become indispensable.  I found the idea for my glove holder on Pinterest.  I used an old sign that previously directed visitors to my parents’ sold cabin, turned it backwards, glued a few clothespins, and walla… my gloves stay handy and dry.  I still haven’t decided what to paint on the sign, but I’m thinking of something like: All Hands On Deck.


After we laid a new wood floor in our office, we were left with a pallet which I re-purposed to hold old tools that Jim has retired from landscape service and donated to our garden.  I’m thinking of painting the slats with different colors of leftover paint to make it pretty.

As owners of a landscape company, we always have a pile of neatly stacked plastic pots, until the pile gets as tall as the fence, then Jim takes them back to the nursery to be re used.

  And that’s all we ever did with them, until I found an idea on Pinterest of covering plastic pots with burlap to make them more attractive to be used to grow vegetables. This idea was right up my alley. The tomato stakes are re-purposed Yucca stalks.

Photo Courtesy of Reid Park Zoo / Tucson

Another way we found to reduce the litter we add to the desert was to donate a trailer load of African Sumac tree branches, that would have gone to the landfill, to be used as browse for our  zoo elephants,  giving them something to do as they strip and eat the leaves and bark.

The zookeeper joked that the huge pile of branches would keep the elephants busy for a few minutes, reminding me, again,  how small we are.

A few of our next projects are: adding a rainwater harvesting system, and learning how to use natural pest control products.

In the meantime, we will continue to respect the Earth we inhabit as residents and visitors, while we limit our impact as invaders.  These small steps on their own are not much, but multiplied by a million people over a hundred years!  That’s something to talk about.  Click here to attend the Fishtail Cottage Garden Party #11  
 
 

 

 

 

 

Pick a Pepper, Beck

After a few months of Arizona sunshine and daily water, our veggies are ready to eat.  For the past several mornings Jim has been treating us to his special scrambled egg concoctions, and…well…every day has been different.Yesterday’s entree was my favorite, so far. ( I say, so far because today’s breakfast is still in production.)

Yesterday we had leftover steak, peperonchini, chopped garlic and shredded mozzarella cheese melted on top. ( MMMM, yummy smells coming my way!)  Today’s fare is — mmmade (chewing) with our fresh Anaheim peppers — just picked! 

The eggs are almost as fresh as the peppers, by the way…our hens made them yesterday.

After a brief protest, Jim is now a fan of our 8 hens.  I’ll bet you can guess why?                                                                                                                     He even has a favorite hen.  Her name is Poor Little Matilda; “Poor,” because Jim felt sorry for her when she was “welcomed”  picked on, by the flock.

That’s Jim for ya —  always looking out for the underchick!

I’m calling this morning’s scrumptious recipe:

Jim and Matilda’s Fresh Anaheim Pepper Eggs: 

4.75 Fresh eggs (he spilled a little)

1 Medium Anaheim pepper, chopped (Jim used 1/2 green 1/2 ripe for color)

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

Some leftover steak, chopped

A few slices of golden, Greek peperoncini (optional) Jim likes spicy.

A sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese

Sea salt and fresh pepper

As you can clearly see, 3.75 of the eggs ended up on Jim’s plate. (That’s okay, Jim you’ve got a busy day ahead.)

For me, the best part of this morning’s breakfast was that all I needed to do was pick a pepper, clean-up and compost the eggshells.

{For more interesting stories about growing things to eat,  visit here:  http://deborahjeansdandelionhouse.blogspot.com/2012/06/farmgirl-friday-blog-hop-62.html }

A New Cast of Characters

When our backyard weather station registered 101, I knew I would have to say goodbye to some of my favorite garden characters.

The happy face pansies, sweet alyssum and snapdragons that have brightened the garden stage with color since last October, will take their last bow in a few weeks.  Our leading actor –winter lawn — will stagger under the pressure of steamy temperatures and fall into the orchestra pit; and our heat-hardy (but not as lush) old faithful Tifgreen lawn will re-emerge to take his place.

These impending goodbyes had me feeling gloomy. I was lamenting to a friend who quickly reminded me to take a look at what is entering the theater next. So, out into our garden I went with my camera to greet the new cast.

Here is what I found waiting for me in the green room this morning.

Our red, tree-form Oleanders are only 3 years old but they are starting to create a “curtain” to camouflage our neighbor’s shed. And our white Oleander hedges are practically shouting at me to notice their showy headdresses.

Star Jasmine  greeted me at the gate, filling the air outside with her enchantingly sweet and mellow perfume.

And our Primroses were presenting delightful impromptu out at the street, like a choir of pastel clowns.

You can almost hear the Yellow Bells ringing.

Nandina is content to wear a delicate corsage this season.  Her full costume design will be ready when her blossoms change to red-orange berries, an outfit that she will share on stage next fall.

Lovely Lady Lavender cheers through all four seasons.

Lysoloma’s pom poms are soft as baby chicks… though the mess they create on stage is considerable. I think Jim would rather not clean up after them. But Lysoloma (Feather Bush) provides summer shade from stage left to stage right.

Everyone has a favorite actor. This season, mine is Cape Plumbago. He is like a cool drink on a hot day.

Characters with minor roles sometimes surprise us with their talents. Like this Ruellia, or Desert Petunia.

And the spicy Cilanrto, performs the salsa dance, then quickly bolts for his role as Coriander seed.

Lastly, this morning, I was greeted by a charming Bottle Brush tree, grooming for his audition. Isn’t he handsome with his spiky do?

It looks to me that this year’s spring-summer production will be a blockbuster!

 

If you liked this story, you might also like to read about other people’s gardens here:

http://deborahjeansdandelionhouse.blogspot.com/2011/03/farmgirl-friday-blog-hop.html

And here:

http://fishtailcottage.blogspot.com/2012/05/cottage-garden-party-2012-1.html

Step into Our Garden; Peek into Our Lives

Step into our garden.

There are places to relax, enjoy company, grow beautiful flowers, vegetables, herbs, trees and grass.

In our garden everything slows to the pace of a dove building her nest…

… chickens lay eggs for breakfast

…and little feet run through sprinklers.

Our garden is a home for school and for weddings, pets, grilling steak, and reading novels.

This is our garden, the fruit of our passion, our art and our business.

  

  Welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Spaces in New Places

I’ve been seeking ways to add edibles to our landscape.  Last year we added a pot garden to an unused space at the back of our patio where we grew herbs, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, spinach and peppers.  Jim linked the pots into our garden drip irrigation line to help with the watering chore, because in the summer our pots need a timely, daily drink.

This week I decided to use several fifteen gallon pots that were leftover from planting trees for clients to expand our growing space.  But I don’t like ugly black pots on the patio.  So I let my frugal wheels turn in their typical Better-Homes-and-Gardens-kind of-fashion, with a Mother Earth twist.

Put a shovel, dirt and some green in front of me and I can easily make something  pretty; fabric? – not so easy.  But I faced the task with stubborn, frugal courage. Armed with a staple gun, scissors and string, I was able to dress my pots in coarse and thrifty burlap gowns. It was a daunting and painful task, bending over my workspace in the hot sun, wrestling with my vase-shaped dress-forms.  I have a few puncture wounds to prove my courageous tangle with pot-dressing.

In the end, however, it was worth the effort and the pain.

I have expanded our ability to produce herbs and veggies in a space that was previously underdeveloped.  This year, we are growing three varieties of tomato:  Early Girl, Sweet 100, and Cherry.  We are growing three kinds of pepper: Jalapeño, Anaheim, and Golden California Wonder. I am trying Sugar Ann Snap Peas, using dried yucca stalks for support.  We also have a crop of lettuce, reddish, spinach, garlic, and Swiss chard, as well as several kinds of herbs: mint, rosemary, lemon balm, basil, cilantro, parsley and chive.

A few pots still host flowers, like our lush, red geranium, because flowers sprinkle the landscape with color.  And the marigolds I tucked in with our veggies also help to ward off bugs.

Living behind a 30 foot span of tall, white Oleanders, we have a flock of healthy hens who add to our landscape and our food-scape in several ways.  Yesterday, while planting my new “burlappy” pots, I let some of them out to play with me.  The chickens benefit from the new pot garden, too.  I use herbs in their nest boxes and feed them clippings and spent flowers. And, pretty girls that they are, they like to pose for the camera.

I am looking forward to the crops that our new pot garden will produce.  And in the meantime, I am enjoying the beautiful array of shapes and colors that decorate our patio.  I hope you consider squeezing a pot or two, or more, into your corner of the world.

Happy Growing!

 

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STEP,SNAP,GROW, ENJOY

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few highlights of what my word of the year: STEP, and my project of the year: 365 photos have produced.

…interesting photos

… eggs to share with others

…making art and onions from stuff I used to throw away

…enjoying my oldest hobby

…developing our Facebook page

…combining new enterprises with the tried and true

…viewing life from the eyes of a 3yr old

…looking at things in new ways through the lens of a camera

…remembering to give credit to God for the MANY and varied blessings in my life

…boring and/or delighting my peeps with photos of  eggs

…sneaking pics of Jim

…learning about some of the “old ways”

… like, making bone broth and preserving herbs

…decorating the chicken’s house

…catching rainbows with  grandchildren, while making fond memories.

Last evening I told Jim that I don’t deserve to be having so much FUN…

It’s true, I don’t deserve anything —  every perfect gift that comes to me from God is a blessing …not a reward.

What a JOY life is when  taking steps with God, enjoying his creation…

… and playing with his children!

-Becky

 

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Jim’s Landscape Service, LLC is a locally owned and operated business offering residential and commercial landscape maintenance services, irrigation service, lawn and plant services, storm damage repairs, and landscape lighting. The mission of Jim’s Landscape Service, LLC is to provide quality landscape services to the Tucson community with excellence, integrity, and respect. We provide commercial and residential landscape services for homeowners, real estate and investment property landscape maintenance, winter home property maintenance and homeowners association community property maintenance. Jim’s Landscape Service, LLC serves the Northwest Tucson, Marana, and Oro Valley areas