Starting A Garden- Starting a garden is easy. There are a few things you need to watch for. First there is how much day light you have. For veggies to do good they need about 5 hours minimum of sun light. A good way to tell is put a flower pot or even a stick stuck into the ground will work. Now pretend it is a plant and watch how much sun it gets. 

Ok now we need to "work the soil". This is pretty easy. I like using a small pitchfork looking spade/digger to fluff the soil and add in my amendments. The amendments are as simple as kitchen scraps or lawn clippings. Make sure they are smaller pieces, the smaller the piece the quicker they will break down and help the soil. NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, CHEESE, FAT, MEAT you get the hint. However egg shells are a good source of calcium for the soil. Let this set for about 2 weeks before you plant to get it all going good.

Re-fluff the soil before planting your plants, keep them watered and before you know it you will be able to harvest your first "crops". Whoot Whoot!!

Planting in Arizona is not that different than anywhere else. The only major difference, other than the longer growing season, is you need to water a bit more in the summer and maybe provide a bit of shade. For the most part this is no big deal. Feel free to email me a picture of your back yard and I will help you in planning your garden.

People have asked me why do I give so few seeds. It is easy, when you are starting your own garden for the first time, less is more. You don't want to be overwhelmed with massive amounts of plants to tend to. No, instead do a little at a time and grow from there. I not only am giving you the starter seeds, but the knowledge on how to keep them going. Give it a try, I dare you to be successful. Happy Planting.

 BB- Bush Bean- Also know as a Green Bean. These plants will stand on their own. They are great producers when they get going. Watch for frost, this will kill back the plant.  Plant 1 1/2" deep and 1-2" apart. Harvest when pods are young and tender, before the seeds inside fully develop. Pick pods frequently to keep plants productive. Kids love eating these straight off the plant... delish!! To harvest your own seeds, this is so simple... Ready... Leave a pod or two on the plant until it is dry. Once dry pick it off and let dry for about another week or so until it is hard.. Whalahh.. you have saved your own seeds. Easy huh. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

 BK- Bok Choi:

Bok Choi is a delicious Asian vegetable that is like a cross between spinach and cabbage. You more than likely received this in a seed pod form. I like to do this since each one is it's own individual package and shows you how many seeds actually come in one pod when it goes to seed. To grow this plant, simply sow the seeds about 2" apart and about 1/4" deep. Keep the soil moist and let it grow. The best times to plant this is October/November or end of February to April. Once the summer hits they will bolt and go to seed, which isn't a bad thing. To harvest seeds. The plant will do like Swiss Chard and Lettuce, the plant will elongate and a stalk will shoot up from the center and then flowers will form and shortly after you will notice pods forming. When the pods start to dry out, you know they are done. Snip them off the plant and place in a paper bag (to allow for air circulation) and allow to dry completely. There you have it. Seeds for next season. Happy Planting.

CA- Carrots- Carrots grow in most any garden, regardless of the type of soil. The key is to choose the best variety that is best for your soil. I use Little Fingers (I have clay soil) they grow around 3" long... also great for container growing. Plant 1/4" deep and 1/2" apart. Pull when roots are about 2-3" long...I feel around the base of the carrot to judge how big the carrot is. To harvest your own seeds, This is kinda fun. When you see the leaves of your carrots starting to lace out, next you will notice a bunch of leaves growing from the center. This will become your flower. It is quite the beautiful flower, white and flat on the top, almost like fennel (another must grow plant). When the flowers are done and dry up, you will notice that they then turn into plump little pods, these are your seeds. Carefully snip off your flowers and dry them before breaking off your seed pods.

CF-Cauliflower-This is a superb home-grown vegetable, not to be compared with the strong flavored supermarket variety. This is an early variety that produces tightly packed heads just right for a light steaming, pickling or eat raw.

Plant the seed depth ¼ inch. 18 inches apart. Sprouts in 7 to 14 days. Matures and 65 days.

So directly in the garden and early spring or late summer for fall/winter harvest. For transplant, start indoors or four weeks before setting out. Like cabbage, cauliflower grows best in rich soil with plenty of moisture.

Very cold tolerant. Days to harvest are from setting out transplants. 

CC- Cilantro/Coriander - This is an annual herb that with little effort will self seed and come back year after year. I know mine has. Plant about 1/4" deep and space them about 6" apart.  I use it all the time  in my cooking. It adds a great freshness that will liven up a dish. Use the leaves fresh or dried this is the Cilantro part of the plant. You can even use the seeds which is known as Coriander. Slightly toast them before use and you will add a depth to your dish that is yet another wonderful addition. I like to use the leaves in my salsas and salads. The seeds go great in salsas, guacamole to hummus and more. Give it a try, what do you have to lose. To save the seeds, Like the carrots (very much like the carrots) the leave will begin to turn lacy and beautiful flowers will form... all over. The petals will fall off, the seed pods will plump up and soon, they will look like the seeds I gave to you. Tahh Dahhh... New seeds for you to give to friends, neighbors.. share the wealth.

C-Cucumber- Cucumber plants produce like there is no tomorrow when the weather will allow. Each packet contains 2 seeds. I would plant the seeds 6" apart and cover with soil, lightly tamp the soil then keep it moist. When you see flowers start opening, harvest is just around the corner. The more you harvest it seems the more it produces. Just keep it watered and safe from any frost. Frost will kill this quickly.  Harvest can begin in as little as 55 days. Happy planting.

DL-Dill-Annual herb. An easy to grow herb. Green or dried seed clusters are used primarily for making and dill pickles. Fresh young leaves are used for flavoring salads, soups, meats and fish. The plant is highly aromatic and bears a large, yellow flower heads. You can even use the seeds in your cooking. it is a great addition to your pickles as well.

7 to 14 days to germinate. Planting to order inch. Thank you9 inches apart. Plant height and 26 to 36 inches.

To save the seeds, see Carrots.. Same thing Beautiful flowers.

Harvest leaves just as the flowers open. To preserve leaves, and dry them slowly in 100°F.

For seeds, hanging clusters in a warm, dry place with tray beneath to catch the seeds.

 DP-derF Peppers. Not just anyone can acquire these little gems. They are most like Serrano Chili Peppers however, these are from a special strain that a friend of mine... lets call him Fred...grew. The plant produced so many peppers that he could not use them all. Then one day he looked on the plant and there were peppers drying on the plant, so he picked the peppers and gave them to me so I may share with you. So when planting know that the seeds you got were from a plant that produces... lots.... enjoy.

  Plant them where they will get morning-afternoon sun and late afternoon shade so when the summer hits, they will not burn up from too much heat. Plant them in well fertilized soil with manure or compost. Plant them with corn or sun flowers to also help with keeping in the shade.

Feb-Mar and then in July are best times to plant transplants. So if you got seeds from me recently, chances are now is a good time to start them inside to move out when ready.

LA-Lavender-  This is such a beautiful flower and is so soothing. Pick some and place in your flower arrangements and enjoy the beauty both indoor and out.

Compact plans with a crisp Lavender aroma are ideal for borders and pots, it flowers the first year from seed.

Gently press the seed into soil barely cover, keep moist, seedlings will emerge in 14 to 28 days. This plant will self seed, no problem.

 LL= Loose Leaf Lettuce-Loose Leaf Lettuce is called that cause it grows loosely so you can grow and clip and keep the plants growing as you keep clipping and eating... get it.. LOVE THESE. Plant in small groupings, the younger plants are tender and tasty. Cool weather crop, protect against the frost, 1/4" deep, 1/2" apart, harvest when you are hungry. Keep these watered and give space. Enjoy. Be warned, when it heats up out here these little gems will "bolt" which means turn bitter and set seed. While I do enjoy this and they are beautiful, eating is not a good thing... Summer is not a good idea for lettuce.

To save the seeds, when the temperatures start going up, the lettuce will do what is called Bolting. The plant will grow taller, It will form a stalk then the flowers will appear. These flowers are beautiful and will attract many beneficial insects to your garden. The flowers will then change from one type of flower to another, watch out, these flowers will blow away in the first wind but you have to wait to harvest them when the part of the flower that meets the stalk is nice and plump. Snip them off and let them dry. Once dry they are ready to be planted in the Fall garden. Happy Planting.

 LU - Luffah. I went to one of my favorite places to look at new plants that were on hand at Tropica Mango in Apache Junction. I remembered seeing on their FB page that he had Luffah's and I was curious. So I asked Alex if he happened to have a few seeds. He picked up a Luffah and smacked the side of it... about 6-8 seeds fell out the bottom. He said, here ya go. So excited little me went home and planted 2 of them. One on each side of a Stevia plant I had growing by my back porch. I knew I would remember to water it there. And I did. Next thing I knew  they started growing. One plant was eaten by a bird, who didn't even finish it, frustrated. The other grew quite large and produced at least 4 dozen luffah's for me, each containing an amazing amount of seeds. With this information, I have decided that I will grow 1 luffah plant each year so my back porch will have ample shade for the summer. Not to mention the beautiful hibiscus type yellow flowers that it makes, and it make a lot of them. West side of my house, early morning/afternoon sun, late afternoon/evening shade. Happy Planting and don't forget to share your seeds.

Above are some sticks that I planted just 3 months ago. And look how beautiful... one fig and three mullberries... soo excited. I can show you how. Just ask.  

Companion planting

Companion planting is very important in gardening. It allows you to use your space more efficiently and allows you to conserve water by allowing the lower lying plants to help shade the soil for the taller plants that help give the smaller plants some shade.. It's great. You have to try it if not just for one season. Some call it French Intensive.  Whatever you call it... just try it. This is a wonderful site I found that gives all kinds of great information on what goes where and why.


MM-Mystery Melon- Melons are one of the best things you will ever pick out of your garden, but be warned, once you smell them.. they may be over-ripe. Pick them right when you see the skin changing from a green to pinkish hue, depending on the variety. Plant them with lots of space between them, 2" should be enough. For the average family 2 maybe 3 plants are all you will need, any more and you will be feeding your neighbors, co-workers and any stranger that will talk to you. Give them good soil with lots of drainage. I like giving them a trellis to grow up on so to save space on the ground and to help view any beauties in the making. I would leave maybe 4 melons on the plant at a time and pick any small or deformed melons that may start growing so to give the 4 good ones a great chance of success. These are called Mystery Melons due to I save seeds, and well.. the labels came off but I have the seeds, they are sweet melons and they are good melons. Just can not tell you the variety. But who doesn't love a good Mystery? 

UPDATE!- OK, So it seems that some of these melons are baby cantaloupe and Honey Dews... mmmm sooo good..  nothing like picking your own home grown fruits...

OK - Okra:
Okra is a wonderful plant to have in our summer months. Start them in a slightly shaded area and keep moist. Once they start growing a bit bigger you can put them in full sun with afternoon shade so not to fry them in the summer months. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, watering in the morning usually is good enough except in the really hot times (over 110) then I like to water in the morning and in the evening. These plants will grow quickly and the more you harvest the more it will produce. Use okra in your soups, stews or make a jambalaya. We like to pickle them so to preserve them for later use. If you find you really don't need any more okra and your friends have had their fill as well, keep picking them and throw them into the composter. Once you stop picking them the plant will stop producing. To save the seeds: Simply keep a few pods (2 is all you really need for any home garden) on the plant and allow to continue to grow. You will know they are ready when the pod starts to turn brown and the seams start to split. If you don't pick them early enough they WILL split open and all your seeds... well lets just say ... will self plant.
ON - Onions:
Onions are a great addition to any garden. I grew these from past plants I grew. One of the most common way to grow onions is using the root end after using the whole onion in a recipe placing it in a small hole about 2" deep and watering it. Soon you will see some greens popping up and later in the year a flower will show up. This is where my seeds started from years ago. The seeds I have given you, sprinkle them in a small row, tamp down and water in. That's it. Simple right? Onions are the best. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how to use them. Fore more ideas see the SG section below.

PK -Pumpkin:

Thick, sweet flesh is perfect for processing, canning and baking. Fruits are globe shaped and grow 6 to 8 pounds. Will keep for several months in a cool, dry area.Be warned these plans will take over if not kept in control.

Plant in full sun and rich soil for best growth. Start outside about two weeks after last frost. For transplants, start indoors about two weeks before last frost. Feed monthly with side dressing up compost or vegetable food.

Harvest-for best shaped pumpkins, set fruit upright while young so flat spot will develop on the bottom harvest in late summer or fall when skin is bright orange.

S/G=Scallions/Green Onions -  These are bunching onions. They do not bulb out like a yellow onion will do. Use the white (under ground) or the green parts of this wonderful veggie. (Tips on continuous growth to come later). Plant in full sun, some shade ok. 1/2" deep and 1/2" between each seed is best. Frost will kill these back to the ground. Harvest Scallions when they are 6-8" tall. I use the greens for a while in my salads and harvest the whites when needed.

SH-Squash- Squash likes growing on mounds. I have 6 seeds per packet, 3 mounds with 2 seeds or 2 mounds with 3 seeds each. Either way give them lots of room. One plant per 3 feet minimum. Or they are great as container plants.. just make sure they are big containers. Good soil, drain well, water daily in AZ deserts. Frost kills these dead. Again, FROST KILLS!! I'm just sayin'.. Squash beetles are the pest that thrives on these plants. They are easy to get rid of. Simply get a jar with soapy water in it, a few drops of dish soap will do, and I use the lid to wrangle the little buggers into the jar and.. done... you can also look for their eggs under the leaves of the plants they usually are in groupings and have a neat reddish hue to them. I tear off the portion of leaf where the eggs are found and in the trash they go. Not in the compost or they will make their way back.

SW- Swiss Chard:
This is one of my favorites to grow in my garden. They grow big and are sweet actually. I like to do the continual harvest on these, meaning... As the plant grows I take the older outer leaves and use those, only clipping back the plant by maybe half. By leaving the center to continue to grow, you will extend out your harvest time by a month or so. To plant, take the seed and put it in a hole about 1/2" down and water it in. Keep the soil moist and soon you will have big beautiful bright shiny green leaves with a colorful stalk (which is also edible and delicious). To save seeds: Once the plant is ready, it will start to grow upwards and the leaves will become bitter. Stop eating them, you will not like the flavor anymore. The top will have shoots form and on those shoots small flowers form and then the seeds on all the branches it just formed... I think this is one of the most beautiful plants when they start to bolt. When the plant starts to dry out a bit, you know no more energy will go into producing seeds. Pull the plant and I like to take a large paper bag and snip off the branches into it so when they dry and fall off, they fall into the bag.

TM-Tomatoes- Tomatoes are a different creature all on their own. When growing and being transplanted, you nip off some of the bottom branches and lay the plant deep in a hole because the more little white hairs make contact with soil, the more roots grow and the plant is much healthier and produces a vast amount of fruit. 

These do great out here and yes they do need shade in the summer months, but with the use of corn and sunflowers you can make quite the shaded area for them and have a fantastic growing season. We like growing some marigolds, basil, garlic and pea's under them too.

Last week (12-21-13) we decided to thin some of the lettuce we had growing in the covered bed since so many seeds had sprouted. I carefully pulled the heads out, snipped off all the leaves to about 1" above soil line. I then fluffed the soil of another bed and started planting the now trimmed "roots". I also replanted 2 Beets and one Watermelon Radish. I look forward to seeing what happens next when the plants get the space they need as well as starting over from "roots". More pictures to follow.
I had to thin my carrots as well today, December 21, 2013... The seedlings were very impressive, so again, carefully I relocated them to a different part of the bed, still protected under the cover I built for them... I look forward to seeing great things from them... well.. I do have to remember, they are just carrots...

Update: when it came time to picking the carrots. I noticed that when transplanting if you don't keep the roots straight, the carrot will grow in funny patterns/directions. Just saying.. Now you know how to make the "hugging" carrots. I would love to see your garden pictures.


Onions are great. Who doesn't love a good onion?? Ok there was a time where I really didn't care for the things. But as one of the easiest things to grow from my fridge, how can I hate them?

I had an onion that was partially used in a baggie in the fridge. When I went to use it I noticed it had thick white roots at the bottom and there was a green stem forming from the other end. So I took it outside to the garden and planted it. I figure what is the worst that will happen. It grew. It grew into another bulb (which amazed me) but a second amazement happened when a flower started to grow. Those are amazing. You must try it just once if nothing else. Beautiful and is an onion... who would have thought...

Onions grow great with Beets, Cabbage family, Chamomile, leeks, lettuce, roses. Strawberries and Tomatoes.

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 I found this great site that has information on different BUGS/PESTS in the garden. Pests and organic remedies. Take a look.


COMPANION PLANTING - Most plants do best when planted with companions.

Basil-plant with tomatoes. Plant improves growth and flavor. Repels flies and mosquitoes. Do not use near Rue.

Bay leaf-place leaves and container of beans and grains this will deter weevils and moths.

Bee balm-plant with tomatoes it improves flavor and growth.

Borage-plant would wash, strawberries and tomatoes it will deter worms.

Caraway-good to loosen compact soil.

Catnip-deters flea beetles.

Chamomile-improves flavor of cabbage and onions.

Chervil-companion to radishes it will improve growth and flavor.

Chives-improves growth and flavor of carrots.

Dill-improves growth and all of cabbage. Do not use near carrots.

Garlic-plant near roses to repel aphids.

Gopher purge-deters gophers and moles.

Horseradish-companion plant in potato patch to keep away potato bugs.

Marjoram-improves flavor of all vegetables.

Mint-deters white cabbage moths and improves the health of cabbage and tomatoes.

Rosemary-companion plant to cabbage, beans, carrots and stage. Deters cabbage moths bean beetles and carrot flies.

Rue-deters Japanese beetle in roses and raspberries.

Sage-companion plant with rosemary, cabbage and carrots to deter cabbage moths, beetles and carrot flies. Do not plant near cucumbers.

Summer savory-plant with beans and onions to improve growth of flavor. Discourages cabbage moths.

Tansy-plant with fruit trees and raspberries. Deters of flying insects, Japanese beetles, stripped cucumber beetles, squash bugs and ants.

Thyme-deters cabbage worms.

Wormwood-keeps animals out of the garden when planted as a border.