Pepper Palooza

I had to harvest all of the peppers in the greenhouse due to a major aphid infestation that was affecting the pepper plants but nothing else. I picked a whole bucketful of gorgeous peppers—lots of Anaheim green chiles, poblanos, bell peppers, and gypsy hybrids. These were far and away the largest nicest peppers I have ever grown—and from only 4 plants! I pulled out the plants and disposed of them. I had been spraying the plants and using sticky traps to control the aphids, but nothing was working. I gave up and removed the plants in hopes that the rest of the greenhouse will not be affected.


Verde River Ambassador

IMG_1375Today I embarked on a new life adventure. I was hired by the Town of Clarkdale as one of their Verde River Ambassadors, a part-time position that should be a lot of fun.

We patrol and monitor the town’s 3 mile long Verde River @ Clarkdale Park providing education about the river corridor’s ecology and wildlife, monitor and assist the 4 commercial kayaking company’s launches, and generally keep the 2 kayak launch areas clean and appealing to visitors.

I received my final training today and will be turned loose on my own in the next few days. Once again my life has taken an interesting and somewhat unexpected route.

Death Valley Superbloom 2016

Every ten years or so, something a little magical happens in Death Valley. You know the area as the hottest, and driest place in North America, but this spring, the rains caused an explosion of wild flowers.

My step-daughter, Cara, ventured out to the Nevada/California side of Death Valley along highway 190 to see this process in action. Here are some of her photos.

Growth in the Greenhouse 2016

January 19 – Planted potatoes in pots in the greenhouse as an experiment—4 pots of Burbank Russet and 4 pots of Yukon Gem. I had been pre-sprouting them in paper bags in the house since early December. I saved some of the seed potatoes for planting outside later.

January 20, 21 – Sam sprayed the orchard trees with dormant oil. I released another load of ladybugs into the greenhouse.

January 22 – Sam and I moved the small English walnut tree to a new location at the orchard. We put it near the smaller jujube where a small apple used to be because there is more room there and water to the spot. I sprayed the fruit trees at the house with dormant oil.

January 25 – I trimmed all of the lower leaves off of the Brussels sprouts plants in the greenhouse to encourage growth of the sprouts themselves.

February 6 – I planted a new crop of lettuce seeds in a Speedling flat in the greenhouse.

December: Greenhouse Photos

December 5 – Transplanted spinach seedlings into greenhouse bed. Put more seed potatoes (Organic Yukon Gem) into paper bag with bananas to pre­sprout.

December 16 – Today Sam transplanted his lettuce seedlings into the south bed. The broccoli is starting to get heads.

December 17 – Sam and I harvested 2 large grocery bags full of Swiss chard and salad greens to donate to the Verde Valley Senior Center in Cottonwood. The Senior Center serves daily meals Monday through Friday as well as Meals on Wheels. They are always seeking food donations and were very grateful for our fresh produce, particularly now, as the Holidays are extremely busy for them. We plan to continue donating to them when we have extra vegetables.

November: Greenhouse Progress

November 2­ The lettuce seeds in the Speedling Flat are germinating already! Many are coming up.

November 4­ Today I harvested all of the remaining quinces at the orchard. Most of them were huge!

November 7 – I tilled the outdoor garden today and also tilled the main planting bed in the greenhouse again to mix in the manure.

November 8 – I planted yellow and red onion sets today in the outdoor garden—7 rows total.

November 22—Began harvesting lettuce, kale, and spicy greens from the greenhouse.

November 23—Transplanted the lettuce seedlings from the Speedling flat into the garden bed in the greenhouse.

November 24,25 – Planted in the outdoor bed: one pound of Purple Glazer garlic and 3 pounds of California Late White garlic. Put the seed potatoes in paper bags with apples and bananas to pre-sprout. Varieties are Burbank Russet Organic and Organic Rose Finn Fingerling.

Ripening Melons, Pumpkins and Summer Squash

Melons, pumpkins, and winter squash have a particularly difficult time ripening in Flagstaff due to the short growing season.
Here is a tip to help them out: Melons especially, but also squash and pumpkins could ripen two weeks sooner if they are able to ripen off of the ground. This can be accomplished by placing a used can (coffee or soup can, for example) upside down into the soil right beside the fruit in question. Sink the can until about 2 inches of it is sticking up out of the ground. Punch a few holes in the top for drainage. Carefully lift the melon or pumpkin and place it on top of the can. Ready-made platforms are available from Gardener’s Supply and work very well also.

Pumpkin and platform 9-1-15
Give this a try. You will be surprised at how much faster these fruit will ripen.

Pumpkin on platform 9-1-15

Note: photos of pumpkin platforms are from Wes and Susan Lockwood’s garden in Flagstaff, AZ.

Stomping Onions

Stomping onions Sept 8People often complain that their onions never get very big in Flagstaff. In general, larger onions are usually obtained when growing onions from seeds rather than sets. Here is an old “trick” that will help you get bigger onions from planting sets in a short season area.

When planting the bulbs, place them shallowly in the soil, just barely under the soil surface and space them at least three inches apart. As the plants grow, gradually pull the soil back from the bulbs so that by August, at least 2/3 of the bulb is above ground. It looks odd, but do it. In a long growing season the tops of the onions will eventually fall over and die back, and this is when the bulbs really start to enlarge. In a short season area such as Flagstaff there isn’t enough time for this to happen, so you must help them out.

Still stomping Sept 8Around September 1st ( I remember because it is Coconino County Fair time) go out into the garden and literally walk all over your onion plants and stomp them down. Do not cut the tops off, just leave the mashed mess as is. (Your shoes will smell of onions.) Now the bulbs will enlarge quickly and be ready to harvest around Halloween.

You will be amazed at how this little “trick” (who some think is an “old wives tale”) will help you grow beautiful large onions.

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