HOT weather veggies for the high desert

My own experiences aren’t very useful as almost everything I grew last year was transplanted way LATE.  I started the seedlings and then had no place to put them until we built the raised beds.

One exception are TOMATOES, been growing those for years.

I’ve tried some seeds advertised as hot weather tomatoes, but consistently found that cherry tomatoes did best.  And that’s fine by me because I LIKE them.  Had tomatoes all through summer AFTER we put up wind and shade cloth — the “tomato cage” was totally wrapped. 

They might not have gotten as much light as they would have liked, but got much more fruit than when they got blown around all day and they survived dust devils very well.

Still have a Sweet Millenium in the greenhouse and plan on taking some cuttings for this years plants.

Unfortunately, the wooden sticks we used to ID most plants didn’t last as long as the plants.  A neighbor had given me some seedlings and I think her Jet Stars also did ok — will ask HER about it as she’s good at taking notes.


Didn’t have any last year, just saw a recommendation at the Vegas group for Armenian Cukes.

I’ll add to this list and if you have some tips, please also post them below or post at

Getting ready for fruit and nut tree ordering

We’re definitely going to plant some fruit and nut trees this spring.  Just got the order form from the  College of Southern Nevada Desert Garden Center in partnership with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and Dave Wilson Nursery:

Winter/Spring 2010 Community Fruit Tree Order Form

They also have the Wonderful pomegrantes, although not on the order form.  

I’m currently trying to research what to buy and where to plant and I even started a newsgroup for NW Arizona gardening etc.:

It’s great to meet others with similar interests in person, trade seeds and cuttings, help each other and have FUN! 

Despite our remote location we’ve managed to arrange to meet people when we were going to town and we plan on a trip to Ash Fork  when it warms up again.

Pics: garden update

We’ve been so busy this summer and constantly behind schedule, I kept taking pictures and never got around to posting them.

We now have the tomato garden, a raised ENCLOSED bed on the north side of the garage, a raised bed on the north end of the property and a stucco wire fenced area with cacti, willows and other non food plants and a big stucco fenced area with cacti and various non-food plants that keep getting eaten despite the fence, the small fenced area with the corn that died, but grew millet or sorghum, the fenced area with the grapes and herbs and of course the little greenhouse addition.

After we lost one plant per night to some unidentified creature with very sharp teeth, we decided to completely enclose the bed with hardware cloth and aluminum bug screen on the top:

We still have to buy some hardware to close the two “windows” in the front, right now we tie and staple them shut. We haven’t had any damage to the plants since we finished a couple weeks ago. Also still need at 10 ft board to attach the top screen securely to the back.

I’m VERY happy with this setup, although I have a tough time reaching all the way back. We got the blocks from a neighbor who ended up not building a wall and it’s convenient to be able to pick up blocks whenever we need more.

We’ll also buy plastic sheeting and we already have straw to try to prolong the growing season. It got down to 40 last week and since this bed is on the north side, it gets little sun.

Hopefully we’ll get around to doing whatever it takes to get some more of the veggies before they freeze.

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Last frost in late March?

A few days ago I visited neighbors who told me that it froze a couple nights earlier.  I didn’t even notice.

Today I inspected the grapes and yup, a number of leaves were brown and dead, definitely frozen.  It’s not a problem because there’s lots of new growth.  But what timing, just a few days after I pruned it froze.  Mid April it’s supposed to be safe with no more freezes. 

The first corn sprouted in the addition.   The larger grape cuttings are outside, but many smaller cuttings are in cake and strawberry plastic containers in the addition.   I’ll be happy if just 20% grow.

Hope to get to seeding some corn outside within the next few days.  I’m planning on 3 or 4 sisters plantings as described here:

Baking bread without an oven and staying warm

The horno is too big to fire up just for me and solar baking works only when the sun shines. 

Since it got so cold all of sudden (32 degrees at 4 am last night), cooking is the most efficient way to stay warm at night.   I don’t have an oven, just brought the bbq back in the kitchen.  It has a burner and that’s what I’ve been using to cook for the last year since I moved into my unfinished house.

So I just searched the web for stove top baking and I found articles on flat bread and steaming bread in coffee cans inside a big pot.

I’ll have to try that.  Have to find some coffee cans since I don’t buy coffee in cans.

I’m dying for some authentic German farmers’ bread and actually got the starter sourdough in the fridge, that’s working out pretty good.  But it never looks or tastes like the German bread.   Lately it got cloudy or so windy, my aliminum foil covered posterboard solar cooker wants to fly away.  I’ll build a more permanent solar cooker once the addition is done on the south side.

In the meantime, I’ll try the flat bread:

I just built a large desk for the bedroom by the window with the view of the cliffs.  But it’s cold at night, in the NE corner.  I’m going to create a work area in the kitchen.  It’s on the South side and surrounded by garage and living area.  It’s a LOT warmer in here and since I use a notebook, I can easily move around.  I put up a light with two LED bulbs and that’s perfect for computing.

This is pretty cool, a huge improvement since last winter, when the kitchen was part of the garage until I finally built a wall to at least make it a little warmer.  And now “almost” all the living area is sheetrocked and insulated.

Green revolutions in Cuba and Venezuela


October 14, 2007 When most people hear the word “revolution” about either Cuba or Venezuela, images of the Cuban revolution of the 1950s with Fidel Castro at the forefront, or of Hugo Chavez giving a scathing speech attacking U.S. imperialism are brought to mind. However, both countries are today experiencing a revolution in the way their people eat.

After the Soviet Union dropped Cuba like a hot potato, the island country found itself without finances. At that time, Cuba imported much of its food, so it had to change its methods to feed its citizens. The Independent daily newspaper of Great Britain ran a story on August 8, 2006, titled, “The Good Life in Havana: Cuba’s Green Revolution.” According to the article:

Twenty years ago, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro’s small island faced a food crisis. Today, its networks of small urban farmers is thriving, an organic success story that is feeding the nation …

… Mr. Salcines and his small urban farm at Alamar, an eastern suburb of the capital, Havana, are at the center of a social transformation that may turn out to be as important as anything else that has been achieved during Castro’s 47 years in power.

Spurred into action by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disastrous impact on its subsidized economy, the government of Cuba was forced to take radical steps to feed its people. The solution it chose — essentially unprecedented both within the developed and underdeveloped world — was to establish a self-sustaining system of agriculture that by necessity was essentially organic.

Laura Enriquez, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has written extensively on the subject of Latin American agriculture, said, “What happened in Cuba was remarkable. It was remarkable that they decided to prioritize food production. Other countries in the region took the neo-liberal option and exported ‘what they were good at’ and imported food. The Cubans went for food security and part of that was prioritizing small farmers.”

Today, there are more than 7,000 plots occupying more than 81,000 acres on which organic food is farmed in Cuba. Many of these are located in urban areas as well as rural venues. In Havana, there are more than 200 gardens, some in small spaces between tower block estates, that supply the city’s population with more than 90% of their fruit and vegetables. The farmers are obligated to farm a certain amount of products for the Cuban government. The surplus then belongs to the farmers who sell it for profit, which is divided among them.

This method of producing food has supplied work for thousands of Cubans. Their employment is not dependent upon the whims of international finance.

Currently, the Cuban system of organic farming and distribution, is being implemented in Caracas, Venezuela.

April M. Howard wrote an article called “Feeding Ourselves: Organic Urban Gardens in Caracas, Venezuela” that appeared on on August 10, 2006. According to Howard:

In the middle of the modern, concrete city of Caracas, Venezuela, Norali Venezuela is standing in a garden dressed in jeans and work boots. She is the director of the Organoponico Boliver, the first urban organic garden to show its green face in the heart of the city of Caracas …

… To Venezuelans, the garden represents a shift in the ways that Venezuelans get their food. “People are waking up,” she (Venezuela) told the press. We’ve been dependent on McDonald’s and Wendy’s for so long. Now people are learning to eat what we can produce ourselves” …

… The Oganoponicos are inspired by similar projects that sprung up in Cuba after the fall of the Soviet bloc, this means that Venezuelans would buy and consume food grown in Venezuela, as opposed to the current situation in which, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Venezuela imports about 80 percent of the food that it consumes.

Currently, Cuba is entirely independent from the outside world for its food needs. Venezuela is moving toward a similar autonomy.

There could be a monkey wrench in the future for Cuba’s astute program, however. Lately, with Fidel Castro recuperating from an operation, much speculation has been spoken about Cuba’s future. The U.S. government (Republicans and Democrats alike) are speaking about bringing “freedom” to the Cuban people.

If such an unfortunate occurrence comes forth, we have Iraq to look at as an example of some of the “freedoms” brought about by U.S. interference. In Iraq, Paul Bremer, the U.S. viceroy who set up the regulations for a “free” Iraq, posted 100 edicts before he left his post: edicts that can not be broken by successive Iraqi governments. Edict #81 forbids Iraqi farmers from using seeds of their previous crops, a farming method had been in existence for 5,000 years in Iraq. Iraqi farmers now must purchase genetically-modified seeds from Monsanto for their crops. This is a rule that is tightly regulated. Inspectors frequently visit farmers in Iraq to ensure acquiescence. If a farmer uses his own seeds, he is heavily fined.

How can this happen? It’s quite simple. Monsanto takes a seed of a crop, copies it and manufactures the seeds. Once the seed is copied, Monsanto then acquires a patent for the seed design. In other words, any natural seeds with the same patented design become illegal to use.

If Cuba is “freed” by the U.S., there will be an immediate end to Cuban farmers using their own seeds. Then, Cubans will no longer be able to purchase readily-available organic foods at a low price.

In reading about the Cuban and Venezuelan programs, the merit of self-sufficiency and economics play a major factor. However, one point is missing from most of the reports: the health component.

If more than 90% of Cubans, and a growing number of Venezuelans, eat a diet consisting of organic foods, they will become much healthier than the people of industrialized societies whose diets consist mostly of processed, artificial, sugar-laden foods that are slowly poisoning them to death.

Obesity and diabetes are at all-time highs in the U.S. More than 50% of the population are considered overweight. Currently, there are 21 million U.S. citizens who suffer from diabetes. Health experts predict that within 10 years, that figure will be a staggering 45 million. This is an easy prediction because experts follow the degradation of the U.S. diet and can accurately predict the results for a 10-year period.

Before I wrote this article, I performed a little research on diabetes in the U.S. and Cuba. In Cuba, there are about 300,000 people with diabetes. The country has an active educational program on diabetes that begins with school kids.

The Cuban rate of diabetes is about 1/7 of that in the U.S. Of the top at-risk populations for diabetes in the U.S., Cuban-Americans come in at third place, a very high-risk figure.

One does not have to be Einstein to figure out why Cuban-Americans are at such a high risk for diabetes. Their gene pools are similar to those on the island 90 miles off the coast of Florida, so it is not genetic. They are at risk because they have succumbed to the U.S. diet of fast food and junk food.

Possibly, opponents of U.S. imperialism and hegemony should consider patience as a countering force for standing up to Uncle Sam. Within a couple of decades, the U.S. citizenry just may eat itself to death.

Obviously, there’s some propaganda in this article, but there’s also a lot of truth.  Only an idiot would think that it’s better to eat the processed crap we consume in the US than organic unprocessed food.  I know too many people with diabetes, cancer, autism, asthma …

I’ve been quite impressed with the increasing availability of organic foods even at the Kingman Safeway.  But it’s expensive and not nearly as fresh as when you get to harvest from your own garden.  Especially when you tend to leave the store bought food laying around for days or weeks and most of it goes to the rabbits.

And it’s not only what we eat, it’s GROWING food that keeps you healthy.  Picking up a shovel to move some dirt, planting, weeding, harvesting, it’s GOOD for you!  Not to mention the satisfaction of knowing that your food is fresh and having tomatoes that taste like tomatoes.

I really hope I’ll be able to grow a few veggies this winter.

EPA approves highly toxic pesticide methyl iodide to replace methyl bromide

Today I heard the Living on Earth report about the EPAs approval of methyl iodide.

New Pesticide, Old Problems

… The chemical also injures the nervous system and he says developing brains of children and fetuses could be especially vulnerable. Fifty-three scientists, including six Nobel laureates, joined Schettler in the letter, calling EPA’s approval of such a hazardous chemical ‘astonishing.’ They say they are—quote—’perplexed EPA would even consider methyl iodide for agricultural use.’ EPA’s Gulliford says he took those points into consideration.

Gulliford abruptly ended the interview when questions turned to EPA’s recent hire of an executive from the company that will make and sell methyl iodide: Arysta LifeScience. Shortly after the agency turned down the chemical last year, EPA hired Elin Miller as a regional leader. Miller had been CEO of Arysta’s North American operations. A year after her hire, EPA reversed its decision and approved methyl iodide. Miller declined to be interviewed. Arysta also decided not to comment. An Arysta press release says the company will begin sales of methyl iodide soon, in a blend of chemicals named Midas. …

Last week I watched all 16 parts of Len Horowitz’s new video:

In Lies We Trust Part 1 of 16

I really hadn’t planned on watching it all, but couldn’t stop.  It’s just amazing how corrupt everything is.

Really need to get going on my little addition for heating and winter growing, right after I’m done with the horno.  It’s coming along and the more I use adobe, the better I like it.