Friday, July 22, 2011

Sprouts 2011

So we did do a garden again this year, despite the lack of blogging about it thus far. But posting it all now is more fun, because you can see the development over the months all at once, right? (Click here & here to see my gardening adventure last year.)

For me, gardening is an area of my life that is all freestyle - I am lucky to have my own personal gardening guru, my friend Jenny, who is in the midst of blogging her Bountiful and Bountifail gardening series right now, and who gives me detailed, well-researched responses and action plans to all my gardening questions, even though she knows I will only do about 1/4 of what she recommends. Emailing Jenny is generally the extent of my research. I bought my seeds from her seed lady at the Farmer's Market this year (Westwind Seeds - when you live in Southern Arizona, you have to make sure you have breeds that are designed for our climate) and then Jenny also gave me a bunch of seeds she had leftover from her garden. I tried to follow Jenny's instructions to sprout my seeds indoors in a warm, damp area, I really did - we had egg cartons on our master bathroom counter and a couple of pots in our stairwell for weeks (although later Jenny pointed out that I was supposed to do that for a couple months - I had totally missed that in the instructions, even though it was there in black and white when I went back and reread). Somehow I still found myself dumping the egg carton, sans any sprouts, into an empty area of the garden come late March and shrugging my shoulders. I'm still not sure exactly what's growing in that little plot (it's front and center) - I remember some eggplant, some sugar baby watermelons and maybe some squash in the mix I think. But I kind of like it this way. It's all a surprise!

Some things that I do know are growing are our mint and parsley plants that survived from last year. Other than those plants and one tomato plant, everything else in the main garden plot is grown from seed. We did a lot of tomato seeds, some persian melon seeds (recommended by the seed lady) and some basil seeds. We also got some parsley and cilantro transplants that we potted, but the cilantro didn't live very long, and when you see the latest parsley picture, well, it's not in the prime of life anymore either (although neither is the one from last year, so I'm hoping the parsley's sad appearance is weather/heat-related and not accidental plant-slaughter.) We did a bell pepper plant in a pot again this year, also from seeds (instead of a transplant like last year) and right now there are 9 or 10 bell peppers growing on it! Can't wait for them to get bigger so we can eat them.

BB loves to help us water in the mornings, and is getting better about not just pointing the spray at the empty soil but at the actual plants. He tells me "BB's turn, BB's turn." Yesterday he dropped the hose on the ground spraying straight up and I had set it to stay on so that he just has to point it, and we both got soaked by the spray. I was annoyed for a second and then I realized how perfect it was and I laughed (and peeled our soaked clothes off in the privacy of our kitchen). Usually BB just ends up a little damp because he loves to stick his hands in the spray when I'm watering. I tell him when we're eating tomatoes that we grew from seeds and watered in our own garden (we are finally starting to get a lot of tomatoes at once). I hope he keeps these memories.


This is after things had started sprouting a little bit - the front left is the parsley from last year, and the front right is the mint from last year. The back left big plant is our tomato transplant, and all the sprouts around it are tomato seed sprouts. I think the back right sprouts are what I thought were the persian melons...

The parsley and cilantro plants in their heyday


Tomatoes from our transplant, ready to go in our salad


Seeds sprouted, everything looking lush but not overgrown

The potted plant is the bell pepper plants that finally sprouted and grew (it took a while)

The flat-leaf parsley, still looking good

A basil plant I bought at Trader Joe's before my basil seeds sprouted, and then planted. It looked awesome for a while, but now it is getting really dried out. I think I wasn't supposed to let it flower like that.


Our garden, looking overgrown, but this is actually after we put up the trellis, weeded, and thinned out some mint

Our cherry tomato plants on the trellis

Our bell pepper plants, with tons of peppers - the red one was the first. Hoping a few other also turn red!

My sad parsley plant - I have vague memories of someone telling me not to let your herbs stalk, and I have to assume this is what they meant? Still hoping it's just too hot for parsley, not that I did something wrong.

What I thought was a persian melon until I saw this post - guess I will have to just cut it open and see!

Another squash I found growing the other day - the squash vine has spread out amongst the mint (which is almost weed-like!)

Cherry tomatoes ripening on the counter, yum.

Mint leaves drying in the oven - J requested some dried mint leaves to make tea, so today (spurred by a burst of manic energy - and yes, I am definitely wondering if this is an indication of impending labor?) I tried two different drying techniques, as well as read that we can just use the fresh mint directly for tea. I also started making some mint syrup that Jenny had mentioned, which I hope to put in lemonade, iced tea, or maybe even coffee. Jenny puts it in her water, which sounds so refreshing in this heat! I'm really hoping the syrup comes out because I've gotta find a use for all of this mint!

So that's the tour of this year's garden!


  1. How fun! Good job! Ok now the comments/answers to your musings...
    1. HOLY COW that's a lot of mint. I thought mine was getting out of control. Go buy a bag of lemons so you can't make a ton of syrup and freeze it!
    2. Yeah, you never want to let your basil (or any herb) flower. It thinks it's done with it's purpose in life (to reseed) and dies. If there's any green left, trim back to that, give it lots of water for a few days and maybe a little miracle grow.
    3. That looks like the shape of a butternut squash, but it's pretty long so it could be the spaghetti squash.
    4. That actually looks like a melon to me. It's got more cracks in the rind. Mine was super shiny and smooth. You also can tell by the flowers on the plant. Were they smaller yellow star shaped (ish) or big yellow squash blossoms like on your unidentified squash?
    5. Sadly, it's bc the of stalk, called bolting. Once parsley bolts there's pretty much nothing (I've found) that you can do. You can try trimming it way back, like with the basil. Parsely does very well all year long, actually. Hot. Cold. It doesnt seem to care. Cilantro, FYI, is even harder to keep from bolting.
    6. And the cilantro hates being transplanted. It's better to plant from seed. Every time I've transplanted cilantro, it died. It took me several seasons before I learned this.
    7. Whether the bell peps turn red or not is up to you! Every type of pepper starts off green and then changes to yellow, then orange then red or purple, etc, the longer it stays on the stalk. So unless one looks like it's getting sickly and needs
    to be picked in order to save, then leave them alone. But they are pretty tasty
    green too.

  2. I have had bad luck with parsley and cilantro, except for my plants that have seeded themselves from previous plants that have died. In Ohio, you can't stop these plants from growing, but here, they just seem to do what they want, at least in my experience! Maybe I'll try actually purchasing seeds (instead of plants) like you and Jenny suggest.

  3. I went out and destalked my parsley and de-flowered (that sounds inappropriate) my basil and mint, and they all look so much better now!