Friday, April 18, 2014

Cactus Flowers

It's always summer somewhere... 

When you live as high up in the mountains as I do... 
searching out summer can be a full time job.
Because our winters last for 6 long months. 
Therefore this wildflower lover schedules warm weather escapes as often as possible. And, when we go, we take our girls. As in the horsie girls ~ because horses are the perfect transportation for hunting down elusive, and sometimes rare, wildflowers.

Two weeks ago, we were trotting through the back country near Sedona, Arizona. On the Caballos del Sol annual benefit trail ride. I do declare our horses were as delighted with the summer weather as we were! And, what a wonderful treat to see these cacti in full bloom!

* The Prickly Pear Cactus wows us with stunning blossoms in pink, yellow and orange... though I've never been fortunate enough to find an orange one in bloom. This plant is gorgeous AND practical: Prickly Pear paddles make a delightful syrup for pancakes!

** SURPRISE! They're happy to grow where you live, too. Copuntia compressa 'Pink' is a hardy, easy-growing Prickly Pear that does well in growing zones 4-9.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ April, 2014

BEHOLD! The first blossoms of 2014!
 At long last... a sunny warm weekend dedicated to playing in the mud.

With the weather finally cooperating, I donned those much missed, and very tattered, garden gloves to clean up the first of the beds. 2 down, 10 to go. The bulbs are beating me to it, this year. Blooming without the usual TLC from me.

Grecian Windflower (the whities are heirlooms)
Peeking out from beneath the debris were these fancy little Windflowers.

Peter Pan Heirloom Crocus
Pretty white Crocus trying hard to steal the show.

Rip Van Winkle Heirloom Daffodil
Sparse bulbs in the 'danger' zone. This back area is where the horses play, but they don't like the taste of these heirloom bulbs. It's a second 'footprint' in a raised bed that houses vegetables later in the season.

I was up early, traipsing around with the camera, shivering on a 30 degree morning, feeling extra proud of this band of bright bloomers.

We've had an unusually dry winter.

An alternately too hot, then too cold, spring.

Though it seems to bother me a whole lot more than it bothers the flowers!

It's as if they have little wrist watches attached to their roots. No matter the weather, they're always happy to put on a pretty show.

Pay a visit to Carol @ May Dreams Gardens to meet more flower lovers participating in this monthly meme. 

Happy Bloom Day, Everyone! I'll sign off with a mystery flower. A mystery to me, that is. I can't remember her name. Perhaps you know?

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Nifty Little Loopholes and Veggie Garden Dreams

I've got Vegetable Gardening on the brain.

"Why haven't you been blogging?" So asketh nearly everyone who telephones me.

Because ADD is getting the better of me? Well, sort of. I post something every day to Instagram and in my mind that means I'm blogging. Even though I'm not.

But, there's another reason. A bigger reason! An infinitely more exciting reason!

Call it the calm before the storm (I plan to do a whole lotta blogging once planting season begins.) Because this gardening season will be a grandiose attempt at defeating Jeannie.

Jeannie is the gal who bet me a hefty sum of money (20 bucks!) that I am not capable of growing ALL of the vegetables that I plan to eat for the ENTIRE summer.

She's convinced I shall fail. I'm pretty positive I'm gonna win. Wanna know why? I don't like vegetables. I could happily go a whole summer without eating them.

Loopholes. Gotta love 'em!

All kidding aside, I am planning to grow an astonishing amount of vegetables this summer. (That top photo is legit and I'm growing them all! From seed!) Because now I wanna see if I can do it. Want to join me? Here's some things I've learned along the way...

Tips & Tricks:

Time your garden differently.
* The heartache of a Memorial Day frost is pretty much guaranteed at altitudes of 6,000 feet or higher. Nurseries advise April/May planting for vegetables and that's why we feel left out.

Plant later.
* Plant veggies in the soil on June 15th, or raised beds on June 1st - cover on an exceptionally cold night. The very best time to plant your veggies is the day after I do. (I'm pretty convinced that Mother Nature is lurking behind me, no matter what day I decide to plant, scheduling a late season freeze in my honor.)

Raised Beds & Containers can improve your odds.
Soil in raised beds warms faster and stays warmer during our cool nights. This is particularly important for tomatoes as they need to stay above 50 degrees in order to produce great fruit.

Quick-Growing Heirloom Veggies that do well in mountain gardens:
  • Bountiful Bush Bean - this easy-growing small vine bean reaches maturity in about 50 days. (Heirloom)
  • Bull Nose Sweet Bell Pepper - a crisp, crunchy bell pepper bursting with delicious, earthy flavor. Matures in about 60 days. (Heirloom)
  • Red Cored Chantenay Carrots - a sweet, tender variety, ready to harvest in 70 short days. (Heirloom)
  • Four Seasons Head Lettuce - as beautiful as it is delicious, with colorful, reddish brown leaves. Matures in 45-55 days. (Heirloom)
  • Brandywine Tomato - this yummy Amish heirloom has a neat habit of producing tomatoes that mature at different times, on the same vine, throughout the season. Matures in 80 days. (Heirloom)
  • Cocozelle Bush Zucchini - has a fresh, nutty flavor that is particularly delicious when roasted on the grill. Matures in 55 days. (Heirloom)
Boring but Helpful:
  • When shopping for seeds, look for vegetables that mature in 70 - 80 days. (You might be surprised how many options you see!)
  • Check the 'days to maturity' on the seed packet or planting guide. Harvest days are measured from transplant time. Allow an extra 10-15 days, if planting outdoors, by seed.
  • Heirlooms are available in most vegetable varieties, not just tomatoes. These goodies are easier to grow and infinitely more flavorful than grocery store 'fresh' produce.

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      Sunday, April 13, 2014

      Heavenly Blues...

      And, she said it couldn't be done... She, being my good friend, Hazel, who was the original inspiration for growing Heavenly Blue Morning Glories. I love them so much, that I now grow them indoors, as well.

      Saturday, April 12, 2014

      Bath Time for Bonehead

      This is Bad Dog. He's been 86'd from every dog groomer in town. So, now this messy chore is up to me..

      Friday, April 11, 2014


      Nope. Not eyeballs. Do you know what they are?

      Hints: Fresh and canned fruit, popular in China, growing pretty dang popular over here, too. Give me your best guess!

      Thursday, April 10, 2014

      Wednesday, April 09, 2014

      Baby Roses

      Did you know that most of the miniature roses sold at the local supermarkets are born in Colorado and can handle life, outdoors, in our zone 5 gardens. I grow them indoors and out, with great luck in both places...

      Tuesday, April 08, 2014


      Charming solar dragonflies. Once the weather warms up, they shall decorate the garden pathways...

      Sunday, April 06, 2014

      Freesia Bulbs

      Do you grow Freesia indoors? They are soooo easy. And, fragrant. Quickly chasing away the winter blahs...

      Friday, April 04, 2014

      Baked Eggs

      I make this at least once a week, so it's high time I share the recipe! 2 eggs, salsa + your favorite kind of cheese. Bake for 10 minutes @ 350. A fast, easy and super tasty, high protein breakfast.