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Who remembers The Great Chayote Growing Experiment of 2012? 2013? 2014? 2016? What about 2017? No? Don’t remember any of them?

Perhaps that’s because they all FAILED! I’ve tried to grow chayotes almost 10 times and have not once been successful. In 2017, I wrote, “I’ll never quit you, chayotes,” and then not long after, I quit them. Because all that rejection gets a person down!

But now they’re back. I saw one at the grocery store at the beginning of February and bought it on impulse. For the uninitiated, chayote is commonly called Mexican squash, and they’re loaded with vitamins and flavor. You can’t grow them from seed – they only germinate from within. My germination rate is great – they open their ugly mugs and spit out sprouts no problem. It’s after they get in the ground that I tend to lose them. Even though they should grow practically effortlessly here in the desert.

I figure we could all use a good distraction from Covid-19, so here for your viewing pleasure is a photo journey of the windowsill life of my chayote. Prepare to be mesmerized!

Please note, to get the full effect, it helps to scroll really, really fast.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Fasten your seat belts – he’s really going to get growing now!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayoteGood To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

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Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Ok, I possibly oversold that a tad.

But I’ll bet for the last 20 seconds you didn’t think about the virus once! And therein lies the power of growing experiments. Chayotes don’t give a shit about Covid-19.

I put the ugly little guy in the ground a couple of weeks ago. It’ll either be the beginning of his new happy life in my garden, or his death spiral. As with everything else, we’ll have to wait and see. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for him.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

Haha, I hadn’t noticed until recently that my neighborhood Safeway grocery store sold chayotes. So I bought three of them, not to grow them, but to eat them. The day after I brought them home, two of them looked like this:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

After seeing those burgeoning sprouts, I’m glad I didn’t eat them – they’re old. On the upside, I guess I’ll try growing chayotes again.

I’ll never quit you, chayotes!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, chayote

(About a week later.)

Over the weekend, I decided to make some changes in the garden. I needed to replace some plants that had died, and some that never matured.

Here’s the before photo of the garden:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, changes in the garden

As you can see, the tomatoes are thriving. The oregano and parsley are also doing well. But on the left side, the peppers and cucumbers aren’t as happy as they should be.

(The Zinnias at the base of the planters are starting to take off after being planted from seed.)


In between the cucumbers (far left) and the peppers are several tiny beet sprouts. They’ve remained sprouts like that for the last couple of months. Which means I planted them way too late – they prefer cooler weather.

It was time for them to be replaced by vegetables that like the heat. Like this little cutie:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, changes in the garden

And more of these little guys:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, changes in the garden

Muuuuuch better. They may be a little crowded, but I like to think of them as one big happy family, haha!

Now the garden looks like this:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, changes in the garden

(By the way, that container in front of the garden has the chayote sprouts – they are slowly growing, hanging in there.)


Growing great in the closet hanging storage units turned garden containers:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, container garden update

My, my, it’s February in Phoenix, so that must mean it’s growing season, right? I’m hoping so.

Here’s what my former hanging storage units turned container garden look like now:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, 2016 vegetable and herb garden

Tomatoes, peppers, lemon cucumbers, beets, parsley, oregano and basil. The soil at the base of the containers is for flowers, specifically, zinnias and Zauschneria (California fuchsia).

Not sure if the beets will make it or not – it may already be too warm for them. It’s going to be in the 80s all week.

The same goes for the butter lettuce and radishes I planted – I may have missed the cool season they prefer. But I’m trying anyway. I put them in the shade (pictured below) so maybe they’ll be ok.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, 2016 vegetable and herb garden

Another experimental planting is strawberries! I love, love, love strawberries!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, 2016 vegetable and herb garden

I’m not sure how they’ll do. I don’t have a tower for them like I did a few years ago, so they’re going to have to adapt to a confined space.

I planted some flowers along with all the veggies and herbs. Still looking for a decent container for the chayote squash.

I’ll install drip irrigation in the next few days so that everyone will have plenty of water.

All in all, the backyard is quietly transforming from all rocks to a desert oasis. Which is good, as I spend lots of time outside. It definitely feels good to get my hands dirty again.


Here are the week’s top plant headlines:

Dean, one of the Synadenium grantii houseplants living on the east windowsill, has completed his lifelong goal of touching the ceiling:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

The cuttings for two varieties came from mr_subjunctive (of the Plants Are the Strangest People blog) a few years ago. Both plants would’ve reached their goal sooner, but I’ve propagated them a bunch of times.

There will be a potluck celebrating Dean’s achievement this Friday at noon. For more details or to RSVP, please contact Nel the Spider plant in the living room.

In other news, the Echeveria that’s been blooming for months on my kitchen windowsill suffered a tragic accident recently:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

His handpainted clay pot was totaled when he careened off the windowsill into the kitchen sink. The cause of the accident was under investigation. The lead investigator (me) believes the accident occurred before sunrise. There are no photos from the crime scene because I had to move the plant so I could make coffee. Nothing gets investigated before I get coffee.

Later, I moved the plant to a grower’s pot. Later still, I unceremoniously sold it. Investigators don’t expect any new leads in the case.

Moving on to outdoor plants, at least one of the Chayotes is starting the growing season off strong:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

Good job, little buddy! [Insert applause.]

And finally, an update to a story we brought you last week involving two foreign caterpillars.

As you may recall, the caterpillars were first noticed in the backdoor container garden oasis, feasting on the parsley there. They arrived with no luggage and no identification, but as they were believed to be future Swallowtail butterflies, they were welcomed.

Here’s one of them, working his way down toward more leaves:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

The caterpillar was on the move. After he ate his fill, he kept going down the container. Luckily, he was easy to spot. He just moved to the grass down below the parsley:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

I really, really hoped that he’d stay right there, and I’d have a front-row view of his chrysalis stage. Here’s a wider view of where he went:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

Can you see him between the two pots? Here’s a closer look:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

It wasn’t a bad spot to become a butterfly! He climbed down on Thursday morning and settled there.

Meanwhile, the other caterpillar wasn’t done eating.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

She continued eating on Thursday, and Friday morning.

I took the following photo on Friday morning – it’s a little hard to see, but both caterpillars are in the frame, one up top and the other down in the grass:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

When I got home from Santa Fe on Friday evening, there was only caterpillar poop left:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

At first, I hoped the second caterpillar settled on the grass below, too, but it turned out, they were both long gone.

The first one must’ve just been waiting for the other to finish eating, before they set off together to find a place for their next stage. I find that astonishing. And so sweet! (I suppose it’s possible they were plucked off by birds, but I choose not to believe that.)

I looked all over for them, thinking how far could two caterpillars get anyway? I knew there was only a short time that I’d be able to find them before they blended into the scenery.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

I checked around and behind the containers, along the fence, in the cane, over by the woodpile. There’s not a ton of vegetation in the driveway so I checked all of it for good caterpillar hiding spots.

I never did find them.

I’ll stay on the lookout for new butterflies in the area. In the meantime, I have parsley stems to remind me of my visitors’ brief stay:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

That’s the week’s plant news. I’ll be back tomorrow, I hope to see you back here.

Hellooooooooooo! Welcome back to my site and thanks for being here!

Our top story today concerns the backdoor container garden oasis. It got a summer makeover!

Let’s take a look at the before shot:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

Ooh, it was a little ratty.

Most of the “mess” was the garlic and onions planted last November. I was only too happy to clean that up. Here’s part of my harvest:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

Yay – my first ever garlic harvest!

I’d planted cloves in two of my big containers in late fall, and in several smaller containers. Recently, I cleared out the garlic from the two big containers to make room for summer crops like the tomatoes, peppers and chayote squash.

I harvested 20 garlic cloves! Some were kinda small – they could’ve percolated in the soil for another month or so. But overall, wow, I feel like that’s a great score for my first foray into garlic growing. And there are more cloves “cooking” still.

Naturally, I had to make my first ever garlic braid:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

VoilĂ !


Seriously though, the garlic deserves all the credit – it grew when no one else wanted to grow, all winter long.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

I thought the onions, planted alongside their cousins, would fare equally as well over the winter. But instead, most of ’em have been flowering. Wanh, wanh, wanh.

If I’m to believe the people in some gardening forums – and I’m inclined to, as they strike me as sensible folks – starting onions from sets doesn’t work very well. Probably would’ve behooved me to visit the forums before I tried growing my onions from sets.


I suppose I’ll be collecting seeds for the next onion-growing experiment. Maybe I’ll finally get lucky with some of the seeds these (eventual) flowers (will eventually) produce:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

Here’s one planter, devoid of onions and garlic, and newly planted with peppers and chayote:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

(The oregano and parsley were already growing there.)

Oh, and the chayote:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

Ew, gross, one wasted no time rotting. The others looked great, though. Into the container they went.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

“Grow well, little buddy!”

And now, the cleaner, more summer-oriented containers:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

Muuuuuuuuch better.

Later in the day, a little better view of the second container that now holds the tomatoes:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

That’s got me fired up for the new growing season.

I’m not going to let the grasshopper invasion (and the other zillion summer bugs) in Albuquerque dampen my spirits just yet. Right now that garden is full of hope, and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I possibly can!

That’s the news from Casa Liza.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the May 2014 Garden Nonbloggers’ Bloom Day, photos of pretty flowers for you to enjoy from some of my readers who don’t have blogs of their own. Hope to see you here.

It’s safe to say that I’m a nurturer.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby vegetables!

If you know me in “real life,” or even if you only know me through this blog, it’s pretty obvious that I’m always getting excited about baby leaves and teeny tiny flower buds.

I love nurturing and growing things. And I’ve always been that way.

I’m not alone.

Anyone who’s raised a child or loved a pet feels the same way. Any gardener who’s planted something small and helped it grow to fruition feels the same way. Anyone who has grown a relationship with another person feels the same way.


We may each have different approaches, but in the end, growing is rewarding. The more we grow, the more texture we add to our human experience.


But dang, sometimes those growing experiences can take the wind right out of our sails.


I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes it takes me a day or two to recover from various experiences. This past weekend was a good example. I was too wiped yesterday to blog about anything.

Before I share what happened, let me first share some of the babies from my garden because they make me so happy!

Like the Chayote, which is growing strong:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby vegetables!

And the baby tomatoes!!!!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby vegetables!

Baby pepper:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby vegetables!

Baby strawberry:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby fruit

Baby Zinnia bud:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby vegetables!

Pretty little Thunbergia flowers:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby flowers

Newly sprung Gaillardia (Blanket Flower):

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby flowers

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Hurray for baby flowers

I love all those little guys! It’s a lot of work growing them in containers – most mornings, I go out armed with rubbing alcohol and q-tips to fry any bugs I see – but they’re coming along so well!

They are a welcome relief from “real life.”

So what happened over the weekend?

Well, regular readers know that I’m a volunteer for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. I’m on a disaster team, and have been for about seven years. (I met both Expert Dottie Correll and Expert Lewis Casey through the Red Cross, btw.)

Basically what that means is that when there is a natural disaster, we respond. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes. Here in Albuquerque, it’s almost always a house fire. Our goal is to make sure everyone has shelter, food and clothing.

More often than not, the calls come when you’re sound asleep.

Early this past Saturday morning, just before 4a.m., I got a call from Lewis, who was the captain for the disaster team. There was a home fire in the East Mountains, he wanted to know if I was available to go with him (we’re not supposed to go on calls alone). I was sleepy, but I said yes.

Was it inconvenient? Sure. Would I rather have stayed in bed? Absolutely.

But then I would’ve missed an opportunity to meet a gentleman who was humbled by how his dog alerted him to the flames and saved his life.

And I would’ve missed watching the full moon set over the mountains as the sun rose.

And I would’ve missed Lewis’s good company and leadership.

The rewards were greater than the inconvenience.

Then, on Sunday morning, after having breakfast at the Grove, I got in my car, turned on to Edith, and boom, there was a house on fire. I pulled over. People were coming out of neighboring houses, stopping their cars and getting out, everyone was calling 911. Some people tried to fight the flames -which were coming out the back of the house – with garden hoses. Neighbors were rushing to make sure the house was empty.

The fire had just started, yet already it was consuming the back half of the house.

We must’ve all been on the same wavelength, because everyone who had a car jumped back into it and moved it to the next block – there was nothing we could do except make room for the firetrucks.

A garden hose was no match for those flames, we needed the big guns.

And they got there fast, within minutes of those first 911 calls. Those rockstar firefighters were all over it.

Here’s what the house looked like shortly after they arrived:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, house fire in Albuquerque

Once the firefighters showed, I made my way to the people who lived in that house and identified myself as a volunteer with the Red Cross (I had my badge in my purse).

The house was a duplex, and the occupants were renters. One of them told me he’d only been gone 15-20 minutes at the grocery store, and came home to smoke pouring out of the house. The other tenant had been home and managed to escape safely. The fire started and spread so fast, they were lucky to be alive. Also luckily, there were no kids or pets in the home.

We watched as firefighters battled the blaze, and everyone hoped that they caught the fire early enough to spare most of the house.

And then this happened:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, house fire in Albuquerque

Something in the attic caught.

Once I saw that, I called Lewis. He was still the captain on duty, and these folks were definitely going to need assistance.

The house ended up mostly destroyed. Here’s what it looked like hours later:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, house fire in Albuquerque

I ended up being on scene for more than four hours. We helped the tenants, both financially and emotionally. We thanked the firefighters and policemen.

I thought I was going to spend the day watching the Indy 500. Instead, I watched someone’s house burn. Which sucked. And was draining. The rewards were not abundant.

I posted photos on facebook, and people started throwing the “hero” word around. I think that’s very sweet, but I’m not a hero. I didn’t risk my life like those firefighters – they’re the heroes. Those guys, along with our military heroes and other emergency personnel, swore to serve and protect. I took no such oath. I didn’t risk anything by helping others.

What I am is a nurturer. And someone who believes neighbors should help neighbors. Which makes me exactly the same as 99% of the population.

Will I take credit for volunteering my time to help others? Yes. And I’ll take credit for doing what I said I would I do. I’ll take credit for the hard work. But those things don’t make me a hero. They make me human.

I’m not trying to be modest. I’m trying to make sure we’re not setting the bar too low.

I worry, are we starved for heroes in our world? Maybe we’re so jaded by the constant beat of inane celebrity stories in our news feeds that we can’t help but lavish praise on the ordinary.

If I’m a hero for acting on a basic human instinct to help others in need, if I’m considered special for donating a little bit of my time, then aren’t we aiming low?

Call me naive, but I still believe the vast majority of us would’ve pulled over the moment they saw flames, just like me. Or reacted just the same way that folks did in Oklahoma, and in Boston.

Maybe that makes us heroes. Or maybe it just makes us decent human beings.

I dunno.

What do you think?

Can you see why I needed a break yesterday? It wasn’t the holiday weekend I intended to have, but then, it wasn’t much of a holiday for the fire victims, either.

The Great Chayote Growing Experiment Update:

Of the four new Chayotes I got at the Mexican grocery store, two have begun sprouting:

Good To Grow, Liza's plants

I find it fascinating that these squash-like vegetables self germinate. The seed has to be inside the Chayote for it to sprout. Very cool.

Maybe I’m just fascinated because they look so funky while they are sprouting, like their mouths are opening up:

Good To Grow, Liza's plants

Or maybe it’s because I know so little about them. For example, how come the other two Chayotes aren’t sprouting? Would they sprout if they were in a dark location?


Yes, my dedication to growing these ugly veggies is sorta ridiculous at this point. But if I can be successful, I’ll have vegetables that have more vitamins than a typical squash, that are sturdier than typical squash (which is great for calabacitas), and a perennial plant that’s happy in our hot climate.

And who knows, maybe I can help spark a new foodie trend. Chayote, the new arugula? That would be awesome.

If I’m not successful growing my own, maybe I can get other local farmers growing them so I don’t have to buy pesticide-laced vegetables from the grocery store.

Ok, enough ugliness. Let’s look at pretty things, like this orchid I got for my birthday:

Good To Grow, Liza's plants

And the pretty Bougainvillea, still patiently waiting to return to the great outdoors:

Good To Grow, Liza's plants

And this cute little Aeonium in the afternoon light:

Good To Grow, Liza's plants

I’ll be back tomorrow, hope to see you here.

It’s not going that well. The Chayotes were rotting, even as they were sprouting.

(For newcomers, Chayote seeds need to be inside the fruit in order to germinate. To get them to sprout, you can simply put them on a sunny windowsill. They will also sprout in the dark, like if you put them in a closet or cabinet. I haven’t tried the darkness method, but I gave some Chayotes to my friend Jen, and hers have ten-inch sprouts in her kitchen cabinet. Hers are rotting, too, but she got a lot more growth than I did.)

Good To Grow, Liza's plants, Chayote growing experiment

I decided to plant them last week, outside in a container.

Good To Grow, Liza's plants, Chayote growing experiment

It must’ve been too cold, as the sprout turned black.

Growing fail!

And so, we start again.

Good To Grow, Liza's plants, Chayote growing experiment

They may have ugly mugs, but I’m determined to grow them!

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.