Connecting Greater Phoenix gardeners with information that helps put xeriscape principles into action.

Watering a Veggie Garden: EASY

Drip Irrigation on a Veggie GardenSo, we were hand watering our veggie garden…but only when we remembered, found energy, got back, or simply lost the will to procrastinate any longer.

Actually, I probably had some fanciful notion that I’d build out the irrigation system for our veggies when I converted our turf to desert landscape and installed a drip system over our whole yard.  But I might as well have waited for Hansel and Gretel to drop by.

Anyway, with another blazing Phoenix summer heading our way, we picked up one of those drip irrigation kits and a timer and went to work.  Now, my husband had installed a system before and I’d had a brush with some PVC glue…ie, we’re novices.  But once we’d rounded up all the pieces, it took us about 2 hours to lay it all out and another hour to punch in the drip emitters.  Easy!

The key is to plan it out on paper and make a list of all the pieces you need (the kit doesn’t provide everything) before you start cutting anything.  We also got a timer/controller that hooks up to the hose bib.  That took about 5 minutes to install.

So all in all…4 hours start to finish (plus the trips to the hardware store) for the cost of a couple of good hoses and nozzles.  And watering the soil is much better for the plants, too…helps keep pests and molds away.



Beat the Heat: The Arboretum at Flagstaff

The Arboretum at FlagstaffAugust, the dead of summer in Phoenix, is about the time I start talking gibberish.  Let’s move to Alaska, become polar explorers and fish fresh Coho out of a flesh-numbing creek, I mutter.  I say it’s gibberish because I left Minnesota 15 years ago after a particularly hellish winter where, on one special day, my car became encased in ice.  It was like a tiny ice cube Christmas ornament with a car inside…only this was actual size.

Now, after 15 summers in Phoenix, I have the same disorder but in reverse:  I now have to flee the heat.  And so it was that we packed up the car on a Saturday morning and set out for Flagstaff–2-1/2 hours away and 30 degrees cooler.

I try to visit gardens wherever we travel, so we hit up The Arboretum at Flagstaff.  It’s right off of I-40, some four miles down a mostly unpaved road, but it feels like you’re a million miles away.  It’s quiet…peaceful…rustic.

Called “America’s Mountain Garden,” the Arboretum boasts one of the largest collections of high-country wildflowers as well as forested trails and mountain meadows to explore.  There are guided walks, wildlife program and stuff for the kids to do.  And a gift shop for shoppers.

We only had an hour-and-a-half to poke around, but we’ll definitely go back.  Stop in, if you get a chance…if only just for the change in pace!


Phoenix Gardening: What’s in a Weed?

Weeds are a matter of perception.  That’s completely contrary to what I learned as a kid but, as I get older, I find that this is more and more true.

Take Lantana, for example.  A hearty grower in Phoenix, Lantana is considered a noxious weed in Hawaii.  The same goes for Bermudagrass:  it grows well here (too well, I’d argue, which puts it into the weed category for me) but is a noxious weed in California.   But there are plenty of Phoenicians who cannot live without their Bermudagrass.  So…is it a weed?  You decide.

I have a plant that comes up with my wildflowers in the spring.  I’ve also seen it in the desert around Lake Pleasant.  My neighbor tells me it’s a weed.  But the foliage is interesting, it blooms these little yellow balls, it always smells like the desert after a good rain (similar to Creosote) and it fills in the empty spots in my wildflower bed.   So I water it.

But I’m still trying to identify it.  I found this book, Weeds of the West, and it lists some 350 weeds with some very good descriptions and pictures.  I might argue with some of their weed choices (Sunflowers…really?).  But then again…weeds are all a matter of perception!


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