Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Three Sisters

Zach and I finished up the irrigation leaks and planted our corn. We made 3 rows of 10 mounds each. Every other mound had 4 corn seeds, planted in a north south cross, 6 inches apart. So we planted 4 seeds x 5 mounds x 3 rows = 60 corn seeds. We also planted sunflowers on the north side, in six mounds. Hopefully we can see some progress and our project works out. The weather changed noticeable yesterday. Monsoon is here.

Also, just because I love it, here's a better picture of Jaws

And I forgot to mention I repotted our portulacaria afra (elephants food, or elephants bush)
These black planters didn't have good drainage, so I opened them up and put the portulacarias back in them, and moved them out into the sun.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Jaws and the Garden

I found a great spot out front to plant my agave gentryi "jaws". He's such a great shade of green.

This variety looks like a monster, I'm interested in what it will look like in a few years.

I also worked Saturday and Sunday getting the back garden ready. It's framed, set for watering. Tonight's the night to plant the corn and sunflowers. Zach really helped out a lot, both in the morning digging and framing, and in the evening with moral support and measuring out the distances for the 3 rows, plus 1 row for sunflowers.

Friday, June 26, 2015


While the front yard is all native, drought resistant, water wise, desert adapted, the back is lush tropical or garden area, that probably wastes water. But I do love it.

A 4x4 raised bed, with 2 tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, kale, cucumber, watermelon, and jalapeno. Along the wall is a grape trellis for table grape, Thompson seedless, and another variety.

....and a pool. Ok, so the back isn't water wise. But I have a beautiful variegated agave attenuata.

It maybe a little sunburned, but it's an absolute gorgeous species. I'd like to get the green variety too.

I also have an agave bracteosa back here. In the back by the pool I want the spineless toothless varieties, and I think these 2 are the only common varieties.

I can't believe how heart tolerant cana lilies are.

The hibiscus....not so much. I've been nursing this one for 6 months.

Here is my agave pup section, and cactus, euphorbia, dracaena draco starting area. Plus some sweet peppers, bell peppers, bean starts, squash starts, lemon grass, kale, some bok choy that bolted and I'm growing for seed. A Mexican lime tree in a container.

The herb and flower garden. Chocolate mint, tomato, zucchini, onion, chives, red onion, garlic chives, oregano, sweet basil and purple basil. A pot with parsley, sage, and thyme (German and lemon). Can you tell what's missing? After planting this I had to add rosemary.

This is my most exciting project going in this coming week. A "three sisters" garden; corn, beans, squash. I ordered native seeds that have been grown here in the low desert for centuries. I ordered sweet corn, Maricopa. Once the corn is 4" I'll plant tepary beans and rattlesnake beans to climb the corn. And I'll plant a yellow flesh watermelon, dipper gourds, and a winter squash. I'm looking forward to reporting more. This is the week the native peoples planted their 2nd crops, timed for the monsoon rains. All the seeds are native to this area, all used by the Tohono O'Odham.

Desert Rose, Adenium obesum. Purchased at the Phoenix Botanical Garden.

Pomegranate wonderful, the edible kind. Apparently the other pomegranate planted here are ornamental.

Banana, unknown variety. Moon Valley nursery said it's an edible variety. I know Whitfil has dwarf Cavendish (which is the variety of banana we all eat everyday and *little known fact here* the single item Walmart sells the most quantity of)

Black mission fig, struggling with the heat and sun.

The other garden, full of pumpkin, squash, and watermelon. Celery, broccoli, cauliflower, kale. The broccoli and cauliflower are growing and are green, but no produce, and I don't expect it, but they haven't bolted yet either. The filtered sunlight under the sissou tree may help. Notice the white pumpkin.

Curious as to how long he'll last and what he'll eventually look like.

Compost, 90 gallons, and about ready to use on the corn garden. On the right is the only grapefruit I enjoy eating.

Potting table, recycled from Jeff's room, it's falling apart and bowed.

Finally, this is where Lori and I take our coffee every morning. Peaceful.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Narrow strip on east side

On the east side of the driveway was a strip of empty space. Both my neighbor and I had nothing growing there. Thinking back, this is what sparked all this redecoration in the front. In front of a ghastly electric box and cable box was a space where things once grew before we lived here. The drip system works and has 2 emitters in front of the box. However my neighbor said the cable company will chop anything down that is in their way if they need access to the box. At first I planted a palm I had volunteering in a large pot from our old house (and it was sentimental because it came from the palm of our lovely neighbors Jessica and Robert). I thought it was a pygmy palm. Turns out it was a pineapple palm. I had to take it out and, this was before I knew any better, I threw it away. I know, I know. Horrible.

My other favorite, a. victoriae-reginae. This one has some great coloring too.

Behind the cable box is this strip. I planted an a. titanota 'rancho tambor' plus the pups in the foreground under shade cloth now. They have really struggled, I don't know if they'll make it. I bought the shade cloth specifically for the titanota. After a day it already greened up a bit. Along the back strip I planted perryi pups and kissho kan pups in alternation. I think I've lost 2 of them.

The other a. macrocantha went across the driveway by the house. There's also, unpictured, an a. murpheyi pup that may not make it

New agaves planted.

I finally decided on a good spot for the a. bovicornuta. Centered on the window, where it can be a specimen piece.

My cow's horn, a. bovicornuta. Notice the slight variegation.

Here's a picture with most of the view of the front. On the lower level, a. murphyi, the golden barrels, a. colorata, a. macrocantha, a. guingola, and lantana. The deer grass muhlenbergia capillaris 'Lenca' Regal Mist is peeking out behind the rock wall.

It was interesting to read that the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum discourages any grasses except Muhlenbergia.

A. colorata views. I love the leaf impression patterning of this species.

My current favorite agave, a. guingola "creme brulee". I hope it gets specimen sized, however for now it's under shade cloth.

My yard guy Todd had another house he does that had an a. macrocantha with pups galore. So we grabbed 2 a few weeks ago and planted them (left photo). On the right is a picture of the a. murpheyi. I don't think it's a beautiful species, but it was important to the Hohokam people as a food source. So for historical and heritage reasons I wanted to plant it.

Now on to the upper level of the front yard.

There are 2 a. parryi truncata 'artichoke' by the window, a. bovicornuta in the middle of the window, Mexican honeysuckle, a. lophantha 'fatal attraction' on the right by the small rock and landscape light. The bottom right agave is a. potatorum 'verschaffeltii'

A better view of the a. potatorum 'verschaffeltii' on the left, and a. potatorum 'lucky crown' or 'kissho kan' bottom right.

Potted are a. lophantha 'quadricolor' left and 'blue glow' agave hybrid of a. attenuata and a. ocahui on the right.

This little fighter is a desert milkweed. Hopefully it fills out.

A. desmettiana.

Now all I need is to squeeze my a. gentryi 'jaws' somewhere in the front, not a pot.


I planted the rescued golden barrel in a prefect spot. He'll be so happy there!  I planted another to keep him company, taking them to the traditional number of 3.
Of course I had to goof something up doing a good deed. I inadvertently stepped on the smallest golden barrel and did some damage, and that one was already having problems with sunburn, I think. But I believe he's a survivor, and I paid my penance sacrifice with a bit of blood.

Here he is, safe and sound.

The overall view of the location, before planting the 3rd barrel for company.

The little guy with my clumsy foot damage.

The back side (south west exposure). I think it's sunburn, but the nursery worker where I bought it said it was a fungal infection. It looks a lot better now since I put those leaves as sun block. The leaves are from the Mexican honeysuckle, justicia spicigera.


For the last few weeks I've been noticing a nice sized golden barrel in the road island that had been uprooted and knocked over. Every day I drive by, I hope some maintenance worker will have replanted it. I saw it in the morning and thought, "city, you've had your chance. I'm saving this beauty now." Last night after a late meeting I stopped down the road, grabbed my shopping bags, a towel, some rubber baseball bases and went off to rescue. I took one horrible quality picture.
Super heavy, and the spines went right through everything. So I wrapped it best I could, and carried it by it's roots. I'll plant it tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

First post

Inspired by agaves, and 2 blogs out of southern California, A Growing Obsession and Piece of Eden, I wanted to replicate what they do, but focused on here in the Valley of the Sun. The only blog from here I'm aware of, admittedly I'm hardly aware at all, is a great blog AZ Plant Lady.
So, without further ado....this morning after an appointment is Phoenix I stopped by a nursery I haven't been to, but have been meaning to get to, Whitfill Nursery. They had some real treasures I took home with me, an agave gentryi "Jaws", an a. colorata, and my favorite an a. bovicornuta with some striation, light multi-coloring. They had some great selections. In fact, leaving there I thought to myself, "I should start a blog along the lines of the ones I read for Arizona desert plants. So for now the photos are weak, the formatting is rough. But over time, like a plant, it'll look better!
Heading back across town on Glendale I stopped at another new nursery, Desert Gardens Nursery. They had some great specimens, and a few beautiful a. guingola "creme brulee" in 7 gallon pots. As I wandered the agave section I noticed about 10 one gallon pots with pup creme brulees. I asked if he'd be willing to sell, and I picked up a pup for 1/10 of the price of the adult. Very productive day!
A. gentryi "jaws".

A. colorata, with a pup.

A. bovicornuta, notice the 2 colors on the back leaf.

A. Guingola, I'm pretty excited I was able to get this so small so I can watch it grow through the years.