Category Archives: Food we grow

Giant melon and wonderful dinners

The other day we were cleaning up in the orchard, cutting back and taking out plants that were killed off by the hail.  Lost one of my Armenian cucumber plants and had to harvest damaged veggies.

One of my helpers was pulling on a melon vine, it didn’t move and he went to investigate. Wedged behind the growbags and the fence he discovered our biggest melon of this season:

Moon and Stars Melon
Red Moon and Stars Watermelon

Everybody got to hold it and we thought it was around 30 – 35 lbs.  My scale stops at 10 lbs.

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Various squash and Armenian cucumbers for sale

All that rain last week really made everything grow like crazy!

We’ve been eating the occasional Armenian cucumber and Black Beauty and Yellow Crookneck squash, but the last few days I got to harvest way more than we can eat:

8-10-16-squash-Armenian-cucumbers

This is the first time we actually get to harvest Ronde De Nice summer squash.  I’ve tried for years, but apparently the seedlings never made it and I’ve mostly harvested Black Beauty zucchini.

Ronde De Nice Reviews and recipes at Baker Creek.

Right now I’m getting the light green Armenian Cucumbers.   I had ordered seeds for the DARK green striped variety this year, but apparently also planted some of last year’s seeds.  I prefer the dark green variety because it looks more like a cucumber and it is smooth — easier to clean and/or peel.  I think they taste the same and it’s just a visual thing.

7-31-13--Armenian-cucumbers
Cut the Armenian cucumbers in half and EASILY remove ALL SEEDS with a spoon in a second or two.

Armenian cucumbers are actually MELONS, so people who can’t eat cukes might well be able to eat these guys.

I don’t grow “real” cucumbers anymore because they’d get bitter and I got so tired of tasting, spitting, peeling, … repeat …

I haven’t had many tomatoes yet.  Some plants died from sudden death syndrome and one actually died after a tomato worm attack. That’s never happened before, but I’ve been so busy, missed a day of checking for worms and the plant was so leafless, it died.

I still have 3 or 4 peace vine tomato plants going and I’ve eaten a few tomatoes as they got ripe while watering.  Am hoping for a lot more tomatoes in fall when it cools off.

Southern Giant Curled Mustard

I just started eating it and it is HOT!   Let me know if you’d like some.

LIMITED supply for sale.

If you’re local and you’d like to buy squash or Armenian cucumbers, please contact me.  I’m in Meadview at the Collectors Corner Sundays 1 – 4 pm and if you’re in LMC or Unit 6 or 7 we could meet up out here or you could come by.

We do not use any herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers.  Everything is organically grown in OMRI listed / native soil.

Zucchini / squash are $1.50 ea or 4 for $5
Armenian cucumbers are $2.50 each.
Southern Giant Curled Mustard is free with purchase, just let me know if you want some.

Please call me at 564-2642 or email christine@highdesertdirt.com.

The first Armenian cucumber

FINALLY!

It didn’t even see it growing since the plants aren’t staked (yet) and all of a sudden there it was:

2016-7-21-first-Armenian-cucumber

A friend just asked me what Armenian cucumbers look like and I put the letter sized catalog next to it for size reference.  It’s not one of the heavier cukes we’ve grown (12 or 15 pounders), but I decided to pick it because I wanted the cucumber salad so bad and I was worried about some critter getting it first.  It was so GOOD!

Last year we had the other kind of Armenian cucumbers, light green without stripes and I think they taste the same, but I just like the look of the dark green striped cukes better.

This one was so young, I didn’t even peel it or cut it lengthwise in half to de-seed.  I’m hoping for many more!

I don’t grow regular cucumbers anymore because they got bitter and it was such a hassle always having to taste test.  Armenian cucumbers are actually melons and don’t get bitter.

Wakimoto Farms corn is genetically modified

I was planning an outing to the Wakimoto Farms for the High Desert Gardening Club and had called earlier to confirm the hours posted at the website, but forgot to ask the million dollar question:

Is the corn GMO?

So I just called back and unfortunately was advised that the corn is genetically modified and that that’s what they’ve been growing for 25 years.  BUMMER!

The lady hung up when I asked why they don’t grow non GMO corn.

Obviously, we won’t be visiting the Wakimoto Farms.

I didn’t get to ask the lady at Wakimoto whether their alfalfa is also genetically modified.

LKH Farms (Kingman Farms, former Rhoades on Stockton Hill) alfalfa is supposed to be non GMO (that could well be a lie as I’m finding out that the people of Kingman are extremely gullible), but it’s sprayed with pesticides and/or herbicides, so I can’t use it for mulch.

Maybe I’ll order some corn seed from Native Seeds / SEARCH:

http://shop.nativeseeds.org/pages/seeds

With corn and also onions day-length requirements can be important:

Mountain Pima Yellow

Dulcillo del noroeste, a folkrace from western Chihuahua, Mexico at 5000′. Grow with summer rains in the low desert due to day-length requirements. Ears are 6 inches long with yellow kernels. Approx. 50 seeds (10 g).

High Mowing Seeds also has quite a few varieties of organic corn, both open pollinated and hybrids:

http://highmowingseeds.com/_search.php?page=1&q=corn

I’ve been very happy with the High Mowing seeds and there’s no minimum order for FREE shipping.
If you have any recommendations for late corn that does well in our area, please let me know!

In 16 years living in Mohave county I have never found non GMO corn cobs in any Kingman store and I haven’t had any corn on the cob in many years.

Since I don’t want to wait for the corn I might grow, I checked on stores in Vegas / Henderson:

I called Trader Joe’s in Henderson and they have some non GMO corn cobs left today, will get several cases tomorrow and the next day and they’ll even set some aside for you when you call so you don’t make the 2 hour trip for nothing.

Next I called Sprouts at and the produce guy told me that there’s no such thing as non GMO corn. I’ve read that all corn has been contaminated and that’s why Bob’s Red Mill would not advertise their corn products as GMO free — a few years ago.   But as I just looked for that info, Bob’s Red Mill CHANGED their approach:

Our Sourced Non-GMO Pledge

Sweet corn was not nearly as contaminated as corn flour, but Monsanto is hard at work:

http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/sweetcorn/

I don’t know why Sprouts won’t at least make an effort to source corn that’s non GMO.

It’s so important that we vote with our wallets — the only votes that count!

Every day I receive numerous emails about the DARK Act and evil companies like WHOLE FOODS (notice I did not call them — will NOT shop there again!) supporting Monsanto in its effort to preempt state law just as the Vermont labeling law goes into effect.  Our corrupt legislators (McCain and Flake in AZ) vote for death and disease because they’re bought and paid for by the industry and they have no morals whatsoever.  Even in our “pristine” Meadview aquifer — no industry or farming EVER — we have traces of glyphosate in our drinking water, probably because ignorant residents use Roundup on weeds.

I’ll be damned if I knowingly buy toxic food and pay Wakimoto Farms or anyone else to destroy the planet.

Shame on Wakimoto Farms!

Emailed to wakimotofarm1@gmail.com:

Request for comments regarding my post about Wakimoto GMO corn

Hi,

I’ll greatly appreciate your comments for publication at
http://highdesertpermaculture.org/blog/2016/06/30/wakimoto-farms-corn-is-genetically-modified/  — preferably AFTER you read the studies linked at the end of my post.

Sincerely,

Christine Baker

I also requested comments from Sprouts at https://sprouts.service-now.com/contact_us.do and will update here with any comments from Wakimoto or Sprouts.

FYI, if you don’t think that glyphosate kills, please read the studies.

UPDATE 11/20/16:  The Wakimoto GMO corn was sold at the Kingman Farmers Market on 11/19/16.

Shame on the Kingman Farmers Market! 

I just found out that the Kingman Farmers Market management DELIBERATELY decided to allow the sale of GMO corn because they don’t have a source of non GMO corn.

The kicker:  They did not even disclose to the customers that the corn is GMO!

I truly regret that I have supported and promoted the Kingman Farmers Market and quite likely some of my readers even bought and ate that GMO corn.  I am so sorry!

And I promise that I will do whatever I can to get GMOs out of the Kingman Farmers Market.

How to plant fruit trees

In our new orchard we followed the traditional advice to dig DEEP and LARGE holes.  Just as we spent MEGA BUCKS  (about $100/hole) getting these holes dug and buying Kellogg Amend by the pallet (for a 50/50 mix), I find that the latest recommendations are to dig a SHALLOW wide hole and NOT to amend the native dirt with compost.

So we have 12 giant compost amended tree holes in the orchard and about as many outside.   3 trees will be in an area that was once amended about a foot deep for a garden, but the rest of the trees outside the orchard will be in native dirt.

Here’s an OLD Dave Wilson video on fruit tree planting:

As ALWAYS, read the COMMENTS!

One person lost a tree after cutting it down to knee height as recommended in the video.

Also, the Kellogg Topper wouldn’t have been their first choice for mulch, but it’s what they had.

Interestingly, they put the mulch right up against the trunk and I’ve heard at least a thousand times not to do that as it can cause the tree to rot.  What gives?

There are numerous Dave Wilson videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClShqpLDCJ-Q97zk3tsYZAw and of course thousands of related videos on YouTube.

We’re currently building “frames” around the tree holes in the orchard and we will add about a foot of our dirt / Amend mix.  When you fill deep holes, trees can settle significantly as they get larger and heavier.   We’ll probably plant the trees even higher because I wouldn’t mind keeping the raised beds around the trees. We’ll be growing all sorts of companion plants such as comfrey, lupines, yellow bird of paradise and herbs and it’ll be our summer veggie garden until the trees provide too much shade.

When we get ready to plant we’ll stick the trees in a bucket with water and some kelp and when we plant it we’ll sprinkle myccorhizae granules on the wet roots and into the planting hole where the roots will likely touch it.

If the bareroot trees have any branches, we’ll plant so that the least dense side faces south.

We amend with rock dust, gypsum, manganese, epsom salt, iron, zinc, micro minerals, humic acid, nitrogen fixing microbes and soft rock phosphate.   I was so excited when I saw that Arbico near Tucson sells 50 lbs bags of soft rock phosphate for $18.45.   I thought I’d get 10 bags as it’s so expensive to ship.  Good thing I called to see how many they have in stock, found out that it’s drop shipped from Arkansas.  So I ordered two bags and it costs $21.76 per bag to ship UPS.

It’ll be very interesting to see which planting method works better — big deep holes with 50/50 native dirt and Amend or shallow holes with native dirt.

With regards to amendments, they work when your soil is deficient of whatever it is you’re adding.

That’s why it’s best to see what your neighbors are doing and how it works for them when you plant in native soil.

We’ve paid for several soil tests and while I don’t think that the money was wasted, they’re not so helpful in our high pH calcareous soil.

In case you’re wondering why we are planting bare root trees, I’ve heard that they’ll do better than potted trees.  Everything we propagate is grown in 50% native dirt so the plants don’t have so much transplant shock.  I also really don’t care for the fertilizer granules we usually find in purchased plants no matter where we buy them.

Tomorrow I’ll pick up another load of mulberry cuttings for mulch.  We could use another 1

WHERE to plant the fruit trees?

I posted our 25 fruit and nut trees along with their descriptions and they are scheduled to arrive next week.

In my experience, most problems are caused by either WEATHER or CRITTERS.

We hope to eventually cover the entire orchard, but several trees will be planted outside.  Most likely the cherry, peach, nectarine and plum trees will be in the orchard.  The apple and apricot trees on the north side of the property and the nut trees east of the orchard.

While our Fuji apple blooms and sets fruit every year, we have yet to get a single apple.

It blooms, the wind blows, it freezes, the wind blows, and blows, we see a few little apples …. and then they’re gone.   This year the Arizona reeds north of the Fuji should be tall enough to protect it from the wind and hopefully will also keep it a little warmer.

I’d like to put the most vulnerable trees in the middle of the orchard and have more hardy varieties along the outside.

Since the direction of the wind changes from predominantly north to south sometime in spring, it would be so helpful to know WHEN the trees will bloom.  One of our cherries:

Royal Rainier Cherry – Semi-dwarf

Large, yellow cherry with slightly more red blush than Rainier. Excellent flavor, taste test winner. Ripens early, about 3-5 days ahead of Rainier. Pollenizer required: Lapins for low chill areas and in other areas, any sweet cherry. Moderate chill requirement, 500 hours estimated. Available on Colt.

What exactly does “ripens early” mean?  Since I don’t have a Rainier “about 3-5 days ahead of Rainier” means nothing to me.

Of course I realize that it depends on the weather when trees bloom, so you can’t predict when fruit trees “wake up”.  Last spring was so mild, our grapes were flowering by late April when we had another hard frost and they promptly froze.

While I also want to know when the fruit ripens, it’s just as important to know when trees flower.

Sure wish I could have ordered more like the Flora Gold Apricot:

… More consistently productive than many other apricots due to being less susceptible to dropping flowers in areas with considerable difference in spring day and nighttime temperatures.

Should have ordered a few months ago, before they were 80% sold out.

I’m also concerned with location for the trees requiring pollinators.  If a tree flowers while the wind still blows from the north, the pollinator should be north of the tree to be pollinated.

Some trees are “interfruitful.”

But then again, maybe I shouldn’t put all the peaches in the same area because peach specific pests and diseases would be less likely to spread.

Have to make these decisions before the trees arrive next week.

Updated list of trees still available to add to our fruit tree order

I just went through my spreadsheet with the listing of trees I considered ordering a week ago and updated availability. They’re going fast!

I did not add any trees to my list with:

  • Rootstock I didn’t care for such as Citation (not drought tolerant)
  • Low chill hours (bloom to early, frost damage, I ordered one persimmons and it might not do well here)
  • Dwarfs and miniatures
  • Multi grafts
  • Apples (quite a few still available)

I did NOT order any trees NOT grown on rootstock and as we looking for cuttings for propagating from local trees with quality fruit such as figs, jujube, mulberries, olives, pomegranates, …

Our order is posted at http://highdesertpermaculture.org/blog/2016/02/02/our-bay-laurel-bareroot-fruit-nut-tree-order/

To check for CURRENT availability please check at https://baylaurelnursery.com — at least 80% sold out already!

We get a 20% discount and save 15% on shipping.

We can add to our order until they ship it around mid February and I should have all add-on orders by eve of Thu 2/11.  Since they’re selling out fast, sooner is better!

UPDATED listing of Bay Laurel Nursery fruit trees available as of 2/3/16 AM:

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Our Bay Laurel Nursery bareroot fruit and nut tree order

I meant to post sooner, but due to ordering problems (described below), a snowstorm, a day without internet service and our co-op pickup, I got seriously delayed.

So here are the 25 fruit and nut trees we ordered and hopefully they will be shipped around 2/15/16.

High Desert Gardening Club members, friends and neighbors can add to our order to get a 20% discount off trees and shipping is about $6 per tree: Continue Reading

What’s that squash?

Our biggest squash ever:

9-30-15-squash

It split open sometime today and I brought it inside. I tried to weigh it, but it’s over 11 lbs, the max for our scale.

I looked around the web for id, is it a Hubbard squash?

In case you’re wondering why I don’t know what I’m growing:

I had inoculated a wide variety of seeds prior to planting, including many melon and squash seeds, because I decided to use up all our pre 2013 seeds and we had LOTS.  I had each variety in a little plastic cup with a label and I stuck the cups into a planting tray.  A few days later I accidentally knocked the tray off the shelf and all the seeds ended up on the dirt floor.  I scraped up the big squash and melon seeds and planted them in the tree holes for our new orchard (we didn’t get done on time for bare root trees).  And apparently we’ve never grown this squash successfully before, as I’ve never seen this type of squash.

Despite the rather late planting in mid July we got quite a few melons and squash.  The spaghetti squash are the best producers, but we also got 3 of these and the other two are much smaller and odd shaped.

Today we looked at a slideshow of the new garden / orchard at our gardening club meeting and I’ll try to figure out how to best get the pics online without spending half a day.  We’ve had so much going on lately with hosting WWOOFers and major cleanup / reorganization, but I’ve literally taken thousands of pictures this year and it will take a while to review and post at least some of them.

And I seriously hope that today was our last triple digit day for the year, it’s supposed to cool down.  Can’t wait for fall!

10/17/15 update:  I’m pretty sure it’s a hubbard squash.   We weight the 2 halves and each was over 11 lbs.   Several neighbors got a good sized chunk and we make delicious squash soup.   Found that we had two plants (both died by now) and we got two small squash, nothing compared to this one.   We’ll definitely grow it again, but I don’t know why the others were so much smaller.