Tip Toe Through the Tulips

In these trying times, we need to appreciate nature and gardens. Being in my garden helps ground me, always has, but this year in particular I need to feel the earth under my feet. It is one of the few things that keeps me sane right now.

Last fall I went bonkers ordering so many tulips online and I thought what have I done? So much work planting them all (65 in all I believe). Well, now they are blooming and I am so loving their beauty plus they will come back every year.

To keep my cat from digging in the dirt around the tulips, Elodie suggested I put rocks around them. Works like a charm. No more tramping on them, digging around them and breaking them.
Not all gardening is food for the belly. Some of it is food for our souls. Something we all need right now.

Grow flowers in your veggie garden!

Last year I had an edible flower class out here on the mini-farm. The garden looked so beautiful. I normally grow flowers to attract pollinators and beneficial bugs but had the bonus of edible flowers as well. I liked mixing them within some of the crops. Nice to remember how beautiful it was considering the garden is sleeping now. Here are some photos from it.

2014 garden-then and now

long shot of garden

Roasting sunflower seeds

sunflower seedhead

I recently did a post on sunflowers with some great pictures. I grow sunflowers for attracting beneficial insects, feeding birds and because they are beautiful. But there is something else you can do with them—you can roast the seeds from the heads after the flowers fade and EAT THEM!  The biggest sunflowers like Titan, Kong, Giant Gray Stripe and Mammoth which produce big seeds are best. Cut the heads off when the plants are starting to fade and the sunflowers plant yellows. Then let the heads finish drying till they are brown and dry but move them inside as the birds will start to eat the seeds if they find the heads. The smallest flower heads I leave out around the garden for the birds to get the seeds.

sunflower seedhead closeup

After the big flower heads are dried, rub off the front of the flower head to reveal the tightly packed sunflower seeds. Using your thumb, start to rub from the edges and the seeds will release and continue till you get most of them. I do this outside as it is a bit messy with dried parts everywhere. I just sit at my outside patio table to do this. Clean out the dried flower parts from all your seeds before the next step.

Now you’re ready to salt and roast your seeds. The following recipe is provided by the National Sunflower Association—sunflowernsa.com:

Cover unshelled sunflower seeds with salted water, using 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salt per 2 quarts of water. Soak seeds in the salt solution overnight. The next morning, drain off the water and pat the seeds dry to remove excess moisture. (You can also roast the seeds unsalted — simply skip the soaking process.)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the sunflower seeds evenly on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. The seeds often develop a small crack down the center as they roast. Taste after each stirring to see if the seeds are completely roasted. After roasting, remove seeds from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Store the seeds in an airtight container for future snacking. YUM!!

Sunflowers in the fall

sunflowers sunset

I love sunflowers. Every year I plant many varieties because they are so beautiful in the garden. An added bonus is that many bees both native and honeybees love them too. Being a beekeeper I want to help my bees by planting bee friendly plants. Bees like both nectar and pollen from sunflowers so they are a great flower to plant for honeybees and native bees. Individual sunflowers rarely self-pollinate but depend on the bee to help them. In fact bees are the major pollinators of sunflowers. The bees get covered in pollen when they visit a sunflower and then visit other sunflowers pollinating them. Here are some pictures from the garden of my sunflowers. They are particularly beautiful in the fall.


I love my zinnias!

I love my zinnias in my vegetable garden. They are so beautiful and I love the new streaked varieties. They are a double zinnia and are so interesting to look at and the pollinators like them. I know if I was a bee, I would visit them!

They are also an edible flower-check out this article on eating them and recipes at: arcadiafarms.net

Peredovik Black Oil Sunflower Seed – food for the birds!

peredovik-sunflower heads

Close up of Peredovik sunflower heads-after the flower petals fall exposing the seeds


Peredovik Black Oil Sunflower in bloom

Today I planted my Peredovik Black Oil Sunflower Seed from Russia. They are the black oil sunflower seeds that the birds love to eat and this is the variety that is in your bird seed mix that you buy in the store. They are particularly good because they are high in natural fat giving the birds energy. This makes them the best choice of sunflower for feeding birds although the birds love all varieties of sunflower seeds.

I got mine for 2016 from Southern Seed Exchange and can’t wait for them to come up. Just plant like any other sunflower seed mixed in your garden with other flowers. They have multiple heads on each stalk. They won’t be as tall as some of the giant sunflowers usually reaching 4-5 feet tall but it’s nice to know I’m helping the birds. After they flower, I leave the heads on and it’s fun to watch the birds eat them right off the plant in the fall. I leave them well into winter where the wild birds will continue to get the seeds out of the heads.

Flowers in the vegetable garden


What are flowers doing in my vegetable garden? Lots of things! They attract beneficial insects that eat the bad bugs, they attract pollinators for pollinating my vegetables, they can repel insects and nematodes, they can be great companions to some plants by growing them near vegetables and best of all they add beauty to a garden and bring me joy! Tuck them in around vegetables. So the next time someone pooh-pooh growing flowers in a vegetable garden give them the low-down on why they should add them.

Below are some annual flowers that will add much more than just beauty in your garden. So don’t forget to plant flowers this year!

zinnias-attracts butterflies (particularly Monarch butterflies)

calendula-repels aphids and other ‘bad’ insects

marigolds-repels bad insects/nematodes

sunflowers-attracts bees/pollen and nectar

nasturtiums-repels aphids, squash bugs, and striped pumpkin beetles

alyssum-attracts pollinators/pollen and nectar

borage-attracts bees/pollen and nectar. Edible, cucumber flavored flowers. Attractive to over 100 beneficial insects.

golden marguerite-attracts five kinds of beneficials—ladybugs, lacewings, flower flies, tachinid flies and mini-wasps.

Queen Anne’s Lace-attracts beneficial wasps (no not the kind that sting us) that eat the bad bugs

fennel-nectar-attracts beneficial wasps that eat the bad bugs

cosmos-attracts pollinators/pollen and nectar

dill-attracts beneficial insects plus pollen and nectar

bachelor button-attracts pollinators/pollen and nectar

Sunflowers and Flowers In The Vegetable Garden

Titan sunflower at dawn

The sunflowers are in full swing right now in the garden. In the entry way are ‘Titan’ sunflowers. I call them the guardian angels of the garden. They can get huge (up to 24 inches) although mine did not this year as they were planted late (like middle of June). Still beautiful.

Hopi sunflowers

Inside the entry are some other sunflowers-Hopi sunflowers, and Chianti sunflowers. We also have wild sunflowers that grow here in NM, they just haven’t found my garden yet.

Tip Top nasturtiums

I love the green and white dappled foliage of these Tip Top nasturtiums against the other greens in the garden.

Borage is a bee plant

Borage is a companion plant to strawberries and the bees love them too. I’ve never seen the strawberry plant so lush and the bees are crazy for them!

Scarlet Runner Bean

Scarlet Runner beans are a vining pole bean and produce a beautiful orange flower. Here a bumblebee is visiting some flowers.

Entrance to the garden

Scarlet Runner beans compete with the Rattlesnake beans for the arbor.


The zinnias look great mixed in with ornamental corn, tip top nasturtiums and cosmos.


The cosmos next to the silver leafed squash are in full bloom now.

All the flowers have added to create a beautiful entrance and attract beneficial insects as a bonus. I even saw some hummingbirds this year in the garden which I haven’t seen before. If you didn’t plant flowers in your veggie garden this year, you should perhaps consider them for next year. They add so much beauty and I love hearing the bees in the garden doing their thing.

My Garden Kicks Ass!

I think this is my best garden ever even though I don’t have a lot of produce yet-but it’s all coming! It’s gotten so lush with just a couple of days of rain. I don’t mean to brag but I must-it’s really hard to grow a garden like this in the high desert. I fight the pests and have problems too just like you but diligence and hard work has really help. Hope you enjoy these photos.

This is the same angle from the corner of the garden I’ve photographed  since the beginning of this year.  Wow what a difference 2.5 months makes.

55 tomatoes planted May 15th!

Here is the same corner in  the beginning of the season back on May 15, 2011

Here the view is looking towards the entry from inside. Zucchini, flowers, scarlet runner beans, rattlesnake beans tomatoes, corn, asparagus, sunflowers, rhubarb all stuffed in the entry!

These Emerite pole beans are hiding the teepee now.

Corn, asparagus, flowers, rhubarb and sunflower coming along.

Baby cucumbers- these are Boothsby Blonde variety. They will make great bread and butter pickles.

Caleb, my apprentice, gave me a gourd seed that someone had given him but he didn’t know what type it was, so I call it-Caleb’s mystery gourd. Notice the purslane in the left corner. I’m going to try some this year so I left it in..

Flower bed to the right of the entry-zinnias, cosmos nasturtiums, pole beans and sunflowers. I can only imagine this when they all bloom.

My one lone cosmos flower yet but what a beauty-Magenta cosmos flower

Here is Caleb’s baby mystery gourd-wonder what kind it’ll be. Kind of looks like a pear right now.

The tomatoes have really shot up-about 5 feet tall now. Now the Long Gourd tower in the background doesn’t look as tall.

Best tasting zucchini ever-Costata Romanesco

Pepperoncinis’ with eggplants behind them

The Long Gourd is stretching towards the top of that 10′ trellis tower I built! Never thought I’d see that!

Scarlet Runner bean flower-beautiful!

Here’s  one of Caleb’s bees doing it’s thing with the pumpkin flower.

Finally the Shishito peppers are kicking in.

View from the inside looking out towards the gate. The Rattlesnake pole beans are producing and growing over the arbor now. Way in the background inside the corral is the pumpkin patch.

Finally a baby ‘Greenie’ pumpkin-about 5 inches in circumference right now-small but I’ll take it!

Put my cell phone on top of the giant pumpkin today to give it some perspective. It put on 11.5 lbs yesterday— went from 56.5 lbs to 70 lbs.  Hope the squirrel doesn’t get it. Been hiding all the pumpkins under row cover and burlap to discourage the squirrel.

Today’s small harvest-slow but steady!

Edible Flowers List for 2011


titan sunflowers

There are many flowers that are edible and beautiful either in regular garden or vegetable garden. I like to put all kinds of flowers in the veggie garden—some pollinators, attractors, and edible. I like the entrance to the veggie garden beautiful.  Following is the list of edible flowers that will be planted or are already on the property:




Lavender (in existing different area)

Marigold-Lemon Gem

Nasturtiums-Alaska Tip Top



Roses (in different existing area)

Black Oil Seed sunflower (for the birds!)

Titan Sunflowers

Grow Black Oil Sunflower Seeds For Your Wild Birds

I just came back from the bird store where I got some black oil sunflower seeds for my wild birds when I thought why not grow my own for next year? My favorite sunflower up to now has been the Titan sunflower which is a striped seed and is not a black oil seed.  Black oil seeds compared to striped sunflower seeds have a higher oil content and are meatier for birds. They are also easier for small birds to crack open. I already cut off the sunflower heads from sunflowers for birds so why not give them what is really good for them. One variety of black oil sunflower seed that I found is Peredovik Black Oil Sunflower Seed from Russia. In 2016 you can get it at  Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. You can also just plant the black oil seed you get in your birdseed. I read that the sunflowers grow from 3-6 feet tall. So this year I’m going to add them in with my other sunflowers that I grow for a treat for the wild birds.

Hmm, now I wonder if I can grow that real expensive finch seed, Nyger? I’ll have to look into that! It is super expensive but I don’t know if it will grow here. I’ll get back to you on that one..

2014 update: Try to grow some from your birdseed mix but if yours don’t grow from your birdseed, go to the site above to buy some that will germinate. This is the most current seed company to buy from.

2011 Seed Catalogs

2011 Seed Catalogs

Now’s a great time to look at all those new seed catalogs we’ve been receiving. I’ve gotten a few new ones (for me) as well. I am now going over them and deciding which seeds I can’t live without! So many choices! I’m only adding a few new tomatoes as I par down the list from the past 2 years. That and I am not going to grow as many as last year because I need to rotate them to new areas. I’m planning on growing more flowers down in the main garden as well. For more information on all my favorite seed catalogs, go to my catalog page at the top of the blog (also on the right sidebar)

two new seed catalogs for me for 2011

I also got 2 new seed catalogs-One’s called ‘bbbseed’, which features heirloom vegetables and wildflower seeds. It’s veggie section is little but what interested me in the catalog is it comes out of the Denver area and seems to be a good resource for wildflowers for our areas.  You can order a catalog at www.bbbseed.com. The other catalog is John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds. It looks interesting with it’s larger veggie and flower section. You can order one from www.kichengardenseeds.

Christmas Cactus blooming!

Closeup of a Christmas Cactus Flower-Jan 2011

I have a Christmas cactus which isn’t exactly a vegetable (what’s it doing here) and isn’t exactly a cactus. It is a Zygo-cactus that looks more like a succulent. With care it can bloom around this time of year. I noticed my flower buds in early December and it was blooming by Christmas. I got to admit, I’ve never had much luck in getting them to bloom so I did some research this year (after it bloomed)  It is amazing it bloomed at all this year considering I did almost everything wrong.

Christmas Cactus plant-Jan 2011

There is actually 3 hybrids of this cacti-Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter Cactus so maybe you don’t have the Christmas type if you didn’t get it to bloom around that time. It is native from Central and South America and is a member in the Zygo-cactus family (that’s not Zydeco-it won’t dance). They are tropical cacti and have different care requirements than the standard cacti. So here is what you should do and what I did..

1. Your suppose to keep them in a cool room starting around Sept-Oct, in indirect light and where the temperature is around 50°. I had it in my main great room, in indirect light but in a part of the room where it was right by the floor heater. I have to admit temperatures were certainly much higher as I’m not going to be in that cold of a room! Around Thanksgiving I noticed the leaves burning from the heaters so I moved it further away.

2. They also say to keep it in total darkness at night. That didn’t happen either as their are big windows that let the moonlight in and there are many sleepless nights where I go out into the great room (meaning lights on).

3. We’re suppose to water less when you want them to bloom which I always do anyways. Less meaning I really let it dried out between waterings but not to the point of wilting.

4. Christmas cactus require 50-60 % humidity. Good luck on that one in high desert. I coulda put a pan of water by it but like I said put it by the heater instead. Opps..

5. It likes to be pot bound-no problem there.

Fertilome Geranium, Hanging Basket & Pansy fertilizer

6. The best fertilizer is 0-10-10 but they say no higher than 10 on the nitrogen which would be a 10-10-10 fertilizer. I blew it there too. I started giving it a 20-20-20 around the beginning of November  which I have never done before. Suppose to fertilize around 3 times (that sounds about right)  But the plant  By December 15th or so it started getting little flower buds! It seem to really liked it. The fertilizer was  ‘Fertilome Geranium, Hanging Basket & Pansy’, all purpose fertilizer -20-20-20 (non organic-only in house)

So here’s what I got right (and evidently it was enough): the indirect light, didn’t overwater, let it be pot bound, and did give it some fertilizer (although the wrong ratio). It is still flowering beautifully. Evidently it’s not as picky as they say. Good thing plants are so forgiving at times..