Debbie Ann

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since Jan 23, 2021
10 year heirloom, organic gardener....still a newbie....still have lots to learn.... and now we have climate change... so, need to learn all over again.
Sedona Az Zone 8b
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Recent posts by Debbie Ann

Hi. I hope I don't upset any of you but I would like to make a comment about heirloom vegetables. Please be kind to me. I have no idea what a landrace is. But I'm pretty old and I can remember what 'real' vegetables tasted like. Back in the day they tasted really good. No one had to 'force me' to eat my vegetables when I was a kid.

Heirloom seeds were the things that mostly... a lady brought with her in a covered wagon  across the country centuries ago. “People would come from all over the county to ask Missus Taylor for her zucchini seed because they were so good.” And they really were so damned sweet! She collected them and coveted them because the vegetables tasted awesome and her family would actually eat them and remain healthy. They were something special.

Not like the hybrid stuff they sell in the stores today that all seem to taste like cardboard. Over the decades I've read a lot and listened to lots of interviews about the newest, greatest hybrid varieties. Their origins are not a secret. They are specifically bred (and I'm not talking GMO here) to give better yields, bigger fruits, be more resistant to diseases, easier to transport, longer shelf life, etc. etc. etc.  And in the case of a lot of the seedlings you can buy at your local nursery today they are even bred to specifically be exactly 8  inches tall at 6 weeks old because that is the height of the shelves in their trucks and they want uniform sizes to pack in as much as possible. I'm not kidding. God's honest truth.

Hybrids are bred to be the best, super, duper plants.... but they are not bred TO TASTE GOOD! Yes, that trait is on the list but only in last place. I grow heirlooms because they taste so damned good! Like in the olden days when I was a kid. Yes, they can be susceptible to more issues and they usually have very little shelf life but....THEY TASTE REALLY, REALLY GOOD! Most of them are so damned sweet and my tomatoes taste like candy!

Someone mentioned inbreeding. If you are only using seed year after year, decade after decade from your small yard then you would have inbreeding. If you are sharing seeds with others all over the county, all over the country, all over the planet there is no inbreeding. Just great vegies. Some end up in Alaska and adapt to cold temperatures. Some go to Algeria and learn to grow under very different conditions. The important thing is that they still all need to, must TASTE REALLY GREAT. That's why we grow heirloom vegies. Just saying......

Thank you for reading my post.
2 days ago
No worries. I planted my first asparagus bed 8 years ago in full sun (100*+ in the summer)  and my plants were troopers but they obviously struggled in the heat and sun so I just created a new bed this winter. I placed it near some trees so they will only get 6-7 hours of morning sun and can relax in the dappling shade all afternoon. I planted out 2 dozen 1 year old crowns about 6 weeks ago. This picture is what the ferns look like today. They are thin and wispy. They will grow bigger, to about 4 feet but they will still be thin and wispy and won't put down a lot of shade.  I should be able to harvest a little bit of asparagus next year and then a full harvest the following year. I never thought about planting strawberries with them. That sounds like a good idea.  Happy gardening.
3 weeks ago
Hi Mike,
How is it going? I saw your post last week and thought this might be something or it might be nothing. It is too early to tell. So I have been watching this thread. Is it better or is it worse? Can you post some new pictures? What's happening?
Inquiring minds want to know.....
I'm afraid I don't have an easy answer to your question. When I first bought my property I had patches of 2 different kinds of 'weed trees' around my yard. It might help you to first identify the tree (you can send a picture to your local extension agent and ask for advice)  and then google "how to eradicate (your tree) in your specific area.

In my case I had the Siberian Elm tree which is moderately invasive. And I had one that looked just like your trees in winter. It was the horribly invasive Chinese Tree of Heaven. When I googled 'how to kill it in Arizona I quickly found the website of our local forestry management office which has been battling this tree. It has been wiping out thousands of acres of our native vegetation for years now. And Roundup won't kill it.  

Turns out it's super invasive because (A) it sends out tens of thousands of winged seeds every summer. (B) It sends out runners 20-30 feet long and pops up everywhere. And (C) The runner roots put out a chemical that is seriously toxic to other vegetation. I had to do the same thing that the forest service has been doing, dig up the roots. Luckily, it doesn't have huge tap roots, mostly the runners which were only a foot or so deep so ... it took quite a bit of time and labor but wasn't so very hard to do and it was so worth it.

I hope you find an easier answer. I will definitely be watching this thread for one.
2 months ago
How I got rid of earwigs....10 years ago I moved to Sedona and began creating a huge organic garden in my backyard. No one in my neighborhood had a garden here so I was suddenly creating a a giant smorgasbord of tasty food in high desert country where the bugs had been on a starvation diet for decades. The 2nd year I had an explosion of earwigs. As soon as my peas and beans and carrots began to sprout the earwigs devoured them. I planted out my squashes and cucumbers and brassicas and the next morning at the crack of dawn I ran out to the garden only to find piles of earwigs on everything. Not a single plant survived! By sun up the earwigs would be gone, hiding in the mulch from the hot sun. I tried a hundred different suggestions that failed, including D.E. which washed away as soon as I watered.

This is what I did.... Only one trap worked well. Bury a large soup can in the dirt up to the rim near your plants, or near where your plants used to be. Pour in 1 inch of cheap vegetable oil and add a few drops of oil from a can of tuna fish (packed in oil) to each can. Just a couple of drops is necessary. They love the smell of tuna. Each morning the cans would be loaded with dead earwigs. Dump out the crud and start again. I probably had about 50 cans going that summer and caught 20-40 each day in each trap.

I had about 50 tomato plants which were about the only things the earwigs didn't bother. But I realized the bugs would spend the day cooling off under the mulch around the tomatoes. So, (O.K. This is kind of gross so prepare yourselves) As I walked down the rows watering the tomatoes with my hose the earwigs would all quickly come running out because they didn't want to drown. I had the hose in one hand and a heavy glove on the other and I squished every bug I saw. I was killing probably 12-30 bugs per plant per day for 3-4 months.

By the end of the summer I figured that I had most likely killed about 35,000 earwigs! Yes, I said 35,000! Luckily, they only procreate once a year. I have hardly seen an earwig since then. Maybe one or two a year. A few of my friends have tried this and it worked for them too. If they come back I will start using the traps early.

Unfortunately the next year I had an explosion of pill bugs which were way harder to control. They procreate constantly. I wrote about my solution to them in another thread. Happy hunting.
3 months ago
Hi Trish,
Moved to my high desert piece of heaven 10 years ago. Nothing but pine and juniper trees, bare ground and scrub oak. Oh, and I shouldn't forget the rock. My acre is/was 95% rock and 5% pulverized rock. No organic matter whatsoever. Been creating paradise ever since. Lots and lots of small gardens and beds up the little hills and down the tiny gullies. Gotta follow the water. On a budget too. I grow organic vegies year round. Have a summer season and a fall/winter season. Don't have spring. 100+ degrees all summer and 30-50 degrees all winter.
My free mulch is leaves. They are the brown stuff for my compost and make great mulch for flowers.
Don't have any deciduous trees so I put a post on Craigslist every November in the Free section and the Farm and Garden section and ask for donations. I specify that they are for organic vegies and I cannot pick up any that have been sprayed with chemicals and I can't take them if you have a dog or cat that uses the yard for their bathroom. I usually get between 50 and 200 bags a year. So I always have a couple of big piles to draw from all year long.
Leaves are good stuff. If I pull a crop and I'm not going to use that bed for another 6 months I dig in a bunch of leaves. There is usually a little bit of fertilizer left in the bed to help them break down. I just water it occasionally and turn the bed a couple of times and the worms show up and the dirt looks better every year. Hope this helps.
4 months ago
Hi Mark,
Yep, it's an iris. We have them all over the Verde Valley. Only bloom for 4-6 weeks in March/April but the deer in my front yard eat all the blooms within the first week. Come in purple, white and yellow mostly. Then they're just green/ brown the next 11 months of the year. They spread and multiply like crazy here if they get a little bit of water. If the clump of iris gets too thick they don't bloom so much so every few years I thin them out and replant the extras somewhere else. 8 years ago I took the extras (about 50) and planted just 1-2 each all around my front yard. Within 3 years they turned into hundreds. Welcome to the Valley.
4 months ago
Thank you for the great suggestions! And I just ordered my loeberricher carrots. You are awesome!
What's invisible and smells like carrots? ......Bunny farts. Best wishes everyone.
Hi, Been gardening for 10 years now, still a beginner. All heirloom because they taste so much better! I have been growing 4 colors each year. Purple, yellow, orange and red. Mostly because they look so darned pretty mixed together on my plate. Reminds me of a bowl of Trix cereal but so much healthier! I've been growing Purple Dragon for 8 years because they grow so super sweet in my dirt. And Atomic Red are really pretty and taste good. Tried several orange but haven't found anything really special yet. 8 years ago I planted yellow 'Lobbericher carrots'. They were just as good and sweet as the Purple Dragon.

Each year I sow a little bit more of one of them so I can leave about a dozen in the ground till next year and collect the seeds. My seed easily lasts for 4 years in my fridge. It's too bad that I never got the chance to save some of the Lobbericher because I haven't been able to find it since then. I've tried other yellows but they aren't as good.

Didn't get any carrots last summer or beans for that matter. I saw them all coming up. I love when that happens. Like Christmas day and my birthday wrapped into one. A few days later they were gone. I sowed some more and the same thing happened. Finally realized that I had a lot more grasshoppers in my yard, more than usual. They didn't bother any of the other seedlings enough to cause much trouble but they didn't leave me any carrots or beans and then they moved on by the start of summer.

This spring I'll watch for them. I have a lot of old screen material. I used to work at a hardware store where they re-screened windows and screen doors. They tossed the old ones in the trash and I pulled lots of them out of the dumpster. If the grasshoppers return I'll try gently laying the screen materials over the beds. They should be light enough not to inhibit the seedlings. That might keep the grasshoppers out till they move on but still let in light and water.

Why was the snowman looking through a bag of carrots?    He was picking his nose! Best wishes.
10 years ago I moved to Sedona, Az and began turning my 1 acre plot into  an heirloom, organic garden with dozens of beds. The 2nd year I was attacked by earwigs that ate everything in sight. Took me all summer to get them under control but it was doable. I noticed tons of pill bugs but they weren't bothering my crops that year so I ignored them. BIG MISTAKE! The next year I had a Super Explosion of pill bugs. They ate almost everything (except my tomato plants and carrots). I'd plant out seedlings and the next morning they would be gone! I would just find piles of pill bugs! And I couldn't stop them. Millions of them! Some have suggested that my garden must be out of balance. Yes, it was! I was amending my soil and trying to garden in high desert country, providing food where there had only been cactus and scrub oak before! The bugs found heaven and began procreating like crazy!!

I tried every suggestion I found online. Most of them like D.E. And Neem oil were useless. Some were slightly effective.... Place grapefruit rinds or cardboard down, lift them up in the morning and step on the bugs, sink a soup can down into the dirt and fill it half way with beer then dump out the dead bugs, sprinkle coffee grounds around the plants. I couldn't possibly drink that much coffee, the cardboard didn't attract enough of them, I really don't like grapefruit all that much and the beer worked great but would have cost me a fortune! I really had millions! And nothing here seems to like to eat them.

It took me 4 years to finally get them under control but here's what I did. I learned to practice really good garden hygiene all the time, even now that I don't see too many, because they come back quickly.

1. I took away all the mulch they live under. It's 100+ degrees here all summer and I would love to mulch, but I can't because they quickly come right back. I plant things together so they can shade each other.
2. When I pull my plants at the end of the season I remove every scrap of the plants and roots and even the weeds and leave the soil bare. Nothing to eat, nowhere to hide.
3. I moved my compost pit as far away from my beds as possible.
4. I don't bring my compost up to beds until it is 110%  finished, till it looks and smells like great dirt and has no bugs in it.
5. I found one organic insecticide that works, Spinosad. It's not cheap but a quart makes 16 gallons. I spray my seedlings and a few inches of the dirt around them the minute I plant them and then every 3-5 days for the first 2 weeks or so. Then they have a good chance of surviving. Then I watch over them like a hawk and spray whenever necessary.
6. The minute I see my peas or beans coming up I spray those beds with Spinosad too, same as the others. Spinosad is made by several companies. You can find it at any garden center/hardware store.  Sluggo Plus contains Spinosad but is not as effective. I would need to use a lot of it.
7. I always trim off the leaves from the base of every plant when they get big enough so that I can clearly see every stem and watch for trouble. Spray when necessary.
8. Plants in the squash family are their favorite. I thin the leaves on these too so that I can see the stem and once they start to grow well I place something under the vines to keep them off the dirt as much as possible. I use rocks or sticks or pieces of wood, whatever I've got.
9. Similar to cardboard I make traps out of old 1-2-3 gallon pots. I place some rocks and  and a little dirt in them (2-3 pounds seems to be the weight they prefer) and place 1-2 right next to the crops they love. As I water my plants each morning I lift the pots, step on all the bugs under them and spray them with water to keep the soil moist.

4 months ago