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I don’t think I’m going to regret harvesting the last of the basil and parsley today.
Phoenix is COLD!!!! Like, ridiculously cold even if I am a big baby about the cold now.
I don’t know what my garden will look like come morning, so I’m glad I heard the freeze warning on the radio on my way home from work. Now on to bigger decisions – pesto? Caprese salad?
This just in: My yellow pear tomatoes are starting to ripen! Yay!
They’re not really growing upside down or sideways – it’s just that the plants have gotten so big that some of the branches are beginning to fall over and out of their cages.
The beefsteak tomatoes and the cherry ones should be following suit in the coming weeks. As you might imagine, I’m terribly excited about these recent developments.
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:
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:
And more of these little guys:
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:
(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:
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:
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.
Another experimental planting is strawberries! I love, love, love strawberries!
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.
Today, photos of plants that don’t know that it’s December.
Starting with the flower bulbs in my back door containers:
The Zauschneria ‘California Fuchsia’ is also trying to come back to life:
The parsley and oregano seem to have no idea it’s almost Christmas:
These Irises are clearly confused:
So are these Larkspurs:
What’s the deal with all this greenery in mid-December? Silly plants!
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:
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:
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 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:
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:
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:
Can you see him between the two pots? Here’s a closer look:
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.
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:
When I got home from Santa Fe on Friday evening, there was only caterpillar poop left:
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.
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:
That’s the week’s plant news. I’ll be back tomorrow, I hope to see you back here.
Because I’m a neatfreak…
This crap had to go on a recent warm afternoon.
Most of it, anyway. The Gaillardia still had an awful lot of green for a plant that was supposedly zapped by the frost:
Most of the flowers were frost-bitten but surprisingly there were lots of new flower buds. Apparently the Blanket Flowers aren’t ready for dormancy.
There were other surprises, too.
Like the sickly parsley plants I found once I cleared out the basil:
It’s hard to believe they could hold on in the shadow of the monster basil. But they did.
So did these succulents I found when I cleared out the Portulaca:
Surprise! I did not expect to find those.
Cleaning out garden clutter is always a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
Come spring, I’ll be glad I got the hard work out of the way.
What about you? Have you cleaned up your garden yet, or are you going to wait until spring?
I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here.