Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring Update

With temperatures ten degrees above normal here in the Valley of the Sun, I guess we can say that Spring has arrived! This has caused a mad rush to harvest the last of my lettuce, beets and spinach before they turn bitter. In the meantime, my tomatoes, squash and peppers were patiently waiting for space to open up in the garden beds. I did buy a few nursery tomatoes, they were about six inches taller than my home grown heirloom transplants! I just want to be assured that I will have enough tomatoes to make a few bottles of summer salsa. After all of the activity, I can finally sit down and bring you up to date on what has been happening in our spring garden. Every time I walk past our peach tree I spot a clump of peaches that I missed. Peaches need to be thinned so that your fruit is four to six inches apart. This can take quite a bit of time. This is one good reason to keep your backyard orchard trees small and manageble. According to Dave Wilson Nursery, you should be able to prune, thin and pick your fruit while standing on a low ladder.
We have two apple trees growing against our
pool fence, an Anna and a Fuji. They were trained as espaliers (vespa, lee, yay) or two dimensional trees. You simply prune everything that doesn't grow flat. In the spring we thin the fruit and keep the branches nice and short with regular trimming. These lovely trees are loaded with apples and will provide us with organic applesauce in a few weeks.
Here are the raised bed boxes that we built for a new gardener. It's much easier to build them at home and deliver them ready-made. The 4x4 and 4x8 ft are nice sizes to start with. You can reach into the boxes from all sides and they will fit nicely in most backyards. They are big enough to provide a family with some great tasting tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and squash for the summer. Plus, you can easily add more boxes as needed, just keep that in mind when you are spacing them in your yard.
I love sunflowers! They are like happy faces in in your garden. They are also good for some added shade in the heat of the summer. You can plant sunflowers up to July 15th. There are some fantastic varieties available in the seed catalogs. Here, are two that we are planting this spring.
As the weather warmed up, the girls really started crankin out the eggs. The blue-green eggs are from our Araucana or Ameraucanas, also called the "Easter Egg Chicken." We also keep Barred Rocks and Buff and Blue Cochins. These breeds are considered dual purpose and are extremely docile and hardy, their eggs are different shades of brown. We love the sounds that chickens make, we are lucky that our neighbors don't mind them either. We sell our eggs to the "locals" for five dollars a dozen.

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