Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Garden

I've mentioned our garden in a couple of previous posts and now I'd like the opportunity to share a little bit about it. When we moved in to this house last June, my husband stated quite clearly that he wanted at least half of our 10,000 square foot back yard to be garden space and a mini orchard. I smiled and nodded. My husband usually comes up with elaborate schemes, but rarely does he follow through. Besides,we live in the West Valley of the Phoenix Metro area. DESERT. Our backyard "soil" is caliche, a clay/concrete like mix where even weeds have a hard time taking hold. The temps here in the summer are upwards of 110 degrees every day and to water something enough to keep it alive would make our water bills atrocious, right?

Hubby assured me that we would could fix all of those problems and reminded me that gardening would make a positive impact on our environment, our health and our family. To tell you the truth, I really did want a garden but wasn't really in the mood to figure out how to go about it in this "garden challenged" area of the country. And so, the research began. Lots of books (I told you Amazon loves us!) 

To fix our soil issues, my husband constructed raised beds in which we mixed organic compost, steer manure and the native soil. This gave the plants good soil in which to grow and made it easer for us to do the hard work of gardening. He rigged up a drip line so we don't have to spend hours standing around with a hose. The system is more efficient than hand watering and can be set to automatically do the deed if we aren't around. The timer also allows us to water late at night or early in the morning while we're still asleep...perfect for our sweltering summers where watering during the daylight hours steals your water due to instant evaporation. We have yet to have a need for shade but the time is fast approaching. We drew out a contraption made of PVC pipe and shade cloth that we can erect to protect our more delicate plants during the summer. A trip to the hardware store is in short order...

Our garden has been one of the most wonderful experiences. We spend our weekends and evenings in the backyard, weeding, watering, tasting and playing. Our children helped plant almost everything and I love to see them pull a radish or carrot out of the ground and eat it. They don't even wipe off the dirt anymore. My daughter nearly annihilated my mint plant by sneaking leaves to chew while she dug in the dirt. Nothing is more rewarding than eating a huge green salad that you grew. Even better, watching your KIDS eat the salad because you grew it. My daughter is now in the habit of asking if we're having "store vegetables" or "garden vegetables." Love it!

This being our first year, we planted everything we wanted and hoped for the best. To our great suprise and delight, things are going pretty well. Some things are doing better than others and we'll take that into consideration for the next round of plantings. Here are some pics so you can see for yourself:

  Fuzzy Baby Apricots
   Yellow Crookneck Squash Blossom


     Whole Lotta Lemons

      Pretty Purple Flower Whose Name I Don't Know


  1. You can make awesome jam with those apricots when they completely ripen!!!

  2. I'm soo impressed Steph!! I wanna come play in your garden!!

  3. This is so cool! What all did you plant? Did you grow everything from seeds?

  4. wow good on you for having a go in adverse conditions, you might find that you create a cooler micro-climate in your backyard with all that green growing going on. We have to use shadecloth over our entire garden to stop it drying out too much over hot summers and dry winters (sub tropical).