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Posts tagged Spring Gardening

March Flowers to Plant in High Desert Gardens

Spring Garden Planting

Pansies

Spring Pansies

The high desert has seen gorgeous spring days already in February and the first few days of March. Like we always read on many packets of flower seeds, “Sow…after danger of heavy frost.” Victor Valley’s weather report indicates that by tomorrow, temperatures are going to dip down into the low 30’s – heavy frost kind of weather to consider (although frost can happen in April, too) when planting flower seeds.

Pansies may be the answer to your March flower garden. You can find them at nurseries and even WalMart right now. But you have to decide if you want to plant pansies now or wait a little longer to plant spring and summer flowers that can endure the desert heat. Pansies do best with temperatures between 40 degrees at night and 60 degrees during the day. Hesperia only had about five days last month that didn’t go over 60 degrees during the day and fifteen days that were in the 70’s. If you do plant pansies, they can add vivid color to your garden through the spring.

Bulbs and Flowers to Plant in March

Plant flowering bulbs such as dahlias and gladiolas.

summer flower bulbs

Gladiolas (photo from morguefile.com)

Choose from drought-tolerant marigolds and zinnias when beginning your spring gardening. Both are colorful, although zinnias provide a wider variety of colors than marigolds including pink and white.

marigolds

Marigolds (photo from morguefile.com)

Marigolds are believed to have pest-controlling benefits for vegetable gardens. That could be true if you plant them in abundance, but they may not keep out the neon-green tomato hornworm.

Learn how to use the right amount of irrigation to encourage a deeper root system, and you’ll enhance the beauty of zinnias. Zinnias can grow up to 3 feet tall or more and attract birds and butterflies.

zinnias

Zinnias Attract Butterflies (photo from morguefile.com)

Natural and Drought-Tolerant Plants Good for High Desert Gardens

Natural and Drought-Tolerant Plants

It’s time to plan your spring planting. Lavender and rosemary are two evergreens that can grow well in the high desert. See the eHow article, Rosemary Plant in the High Desert, for more information on planting rosemary in your garden.

evergreens

Rosemary photo from http://www.morguefile.com/archive/#/?q=rosemary&sort=pop&photo_lib=morgueFile

There are several websites with helpful information on organic and/or drought-tolerant plants for high desert gardens. I’ve listed four below to get you started:

  1. Going Organic Magazine – In the article, Winter Organic Gardening in The Desert, Maureen Gilmer gives insight on how to plant with drought-tolerant landscaping. If you are wondering which vegetable crops can be sown or planted in February, this article will be helpful.
  2. Moana Nursery – This website offers Local High Desert Tips on things you can do between February 16 through February 29 for your spring garden.
  3. Garden Solutions for the High Desert – Read Blogger Marnie Brennan’s blog post on Seed Starting for Spring Planting 2016 for help on seed planting.
  4. Mohave Desert Nursery – Learn about natural and drought-tolerant plants that grow well in the high desert.

Organic Salsa Garden

Plant an organic salsa garden – tomatoes, green onions, carrots, and peppers. Green onions and carrots grew in my garden through the winter months. Both go great in a homemade salsa recipe. The last green onions I pulled up out of the garden were so long I had to double them to store them in the frig.

Green onions and tiny carrot

What recipes do you put green onions in? Share your recipe in the comment section for this blog post.

Rain visited Victor Valley’s high desert this week, the best natural watering for a garden. It’s time to dig up the garden weeds and prepare for spring planting.

Gardening takes work, but it’s a good way to exercise and to enjoy natural Vitamin D.

Got gardening tips to share? Let us hear your spring planting plans.

Thank You for Visiting High Desert Blogging

Lovely Spring Gift Ideas For High Desert Gardeners

Prickly Pear as a Source of Food

Prickly Pear as a Source of Food

Gift Ideas We Love

Do you really want to receive a dozen roses that will only last a week? Why not ask for a cactus that blooms for you each year? Just go to your nursery and pick out the prettiest. And as for color, you’ll find a good variety.

Many of the varieties offer different shapes and heights, while others bloom in hues of white to cream to yellow, pink to red to rose. All of them are easy to water, drought-tolerant, and easy to grow in typical desert temperatures. Prickly Pear is native to the Southwest, easy to transplant and grow while providing sweet fruits to make jelly. The new pads or leaves (before they grow spines) can be cut and boiled or fried like green chilies. They have a mild taste and are also worth pickling.

Animals use their broad trunks and leaves for hiding from predators or getting out of the summer heat. Ernie, my cat, loves to sit in the shade and dream of being a lion — I’m sure that’s what he’s thinking.

Another feature of cactus that I enjoy is their slow growing nature. You can plant them in a 10″ pot and it will be years before you’ll need to transplant them into a half whiskey barrel or directly into your yard. Many of them can grow for decades, often dropping “babies” or allowing their arms to be cut and replanted for the new generation of cacti. I have a night blooming cereus that is over 40-years-old and has been inside all of its life.

 

Cream Yellow bud from Hedgehog cactus
Cream Yellow bud from Hedgehog cactus

“Christmas cactus”, known for blooming in winter with bright red or fuchsia colored pointy blooms, can be more temperamental because they are a tropical cactus. They don’t like their roots too wet or too dry. A trick for forcing their blooms is to place them in a closet for a month prior to the holidays. Once out of the dark, they want to herald in the New Year. Healthy and happy plants will blossom all year.

Those combination cactus sampler dishes, that nurseries often place near their check out stands, are a really smart way to try some cactus plantings. Each dish holds a selection of tiny cuttings. The photo above is of a Hedgehog type of cactus you’ll find in some platter gardens. Some selections don’t live very long; others grow and bloom and last for years.

If you’re not sure which ones to try, try all of them. They take little water and often produce a few flowers or even double in size during their first year.

Some cactus plants for sale at nurseries are not really cactus at all but are succulents with spiky skins. Their interiors are mushy pulp and don’t have the fortitude to make it through a dry, hot desert summer. You can try growing them in a portable pot or inside near a window. Be careful of direct sunlight scorching them through the double- and triple- panes of your windows. I tried that and more succulents and aloe vera plants succumbed to being bleached to death by the sun. It doesn’t take long to broil them in the intense heat.

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink

My favorite tropical/ desert species is called the Carrion Plant. It grows large, slim, columnar arms  on thin stems that look more like sipping straws. It produces flowers only once a year. The bud is a large yellow pod with purple lines and polka dots but covered in hair. In a few days, the pod bursts open into a giant yellow and purple star with the most horrific odor you’ve ever smelled. This rancid perfume is designed to attract insects — especially the fly that helps propagate its pollen. It smells like dead, rotting meat — hence the name “Carrion” plant. It only takes one visit to a Carrion Plant to instill that smell into the sensory part of your brain. Whew!

So there are some of my favorite cacti and plants that make a good gift and have the longevity to last more than a few days or weeks. Once you have cacti in your garden, you’ll have a fragrant  friend for life.

Rusty LaGrange

Spring Garden Perennials

 

Spring Garden

Purple Iris

What are you growing in your spring garden? Do you plant a little at a time, or do you buy everything at once and plant a huge garden?

Iris bulbs are good to plant because they multiply. When my husband and I purchased our High Desert fixer upper, there was a huge patch of irises. Since then I’ve planted them in different garden spots, and they amaze me. They grow wherever they are planted.

If you are tempted like me to buy everything I see at garden nurseries, you know how difficult it is to go flower shopping and only buy one or two. Frugal gardening takes a little effort, but it can be done if you plan your garden carefully.

The ideal way to plan a garden frugally is to shop for perennials and plants that grow well in the zone you live in. A few perennials I’ve been able to grow are:

  • Irises
  • Snapdragons
  • Lemon Balm
  • Pansies
  • Lavender

The iris bulbs have been placed in three different garden areas in the yard, and every spring they produce gorgeous flowers.

Purple Iris

Purple Iris from My Spring Garden

Cuttings from my lemon balm are proving to be successful, too. I took three small pieces and planted them in another pot, and they are growing steadily.

Lemon Balm Herb

Lemon Balm Herb Mint

Lemon Balm

New Tiny Lemon Balm Herb 

Purple Pansies before Spring

Early March Pansies

Snapdragons are usually planted as annuals, but I’ve had success with them as perennials. They can be grown as perennials in zones 8 and above. Deadheading spent blooms will help new blooms to form. I’ve planted pink, light and dark red, and yellow, but the brighter red and yellow ones planted together look absolutely beautiful.

Snapdragons

High Desert Snapdragons

Snapdragons

Yellow Snapdragons

Lemon Balm Herb

Lemon Balm Herb Mint

Beginning Spring Lavender Flowers

Pre-Spring Lavender

Growing in my kitchen herb garden are rosemary, lavender, and a mint in the ground. The first plants I purchased this month are a basil herb and a tomato plant. It’s a start.

Now tell me about your herbs and flowers and which ones are growing well since spring began.

A Memorial Day Week in the Desert

What might one do on a Memorial Day weekend at a desert cabin? I looked up events in the high desert and didn’t see much going on. Owning a cabin in the desert, however, can present plenty to do for someone who loves gardening. The long weekend started off Friday afternoon with important errands. Then the fun began.

Visitors

Saturday morning I made coffee for the hubby and me then opened the French door curtains and was greeted by a visiting family of a cat and her kittens. I hadn’t even cooked breakfast yet. They were hungry like us, so I made myself busy preparing a meal.

 

Kittens

Visitors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast

I made omelets and iced coffee drinks for us and freshly cooked sweet potatoes for the kittens. It was a hit – at least with the kittens. Mama Cat snubbed her nose at it after a few bites, or maybe she was testing the food to see if it was safe for her little ones.

The omelets and frothy iced coffee made the perfect kick of energy for starting off the day.

coffee

Iced Coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Herbs

The holiday week continued with one of my favorite things to do – herb gardening. I like to keep a garden of perennial herbs handy for cooking in the kitchen. Last year I planted a perennial herb that I thought surely wasn’t going to make it. However, it’s taking off quickly this spring and growing as fast as my weeds are. One thing puzzled me, though. I couldn’t find the tag with the information on which herb it is. I took a picture and showed it to a friend. She said it looked like a Lovage herb and told me to see if the leaves smell like celery. Sure enough, it’s a Lovage herb. It smells just like celery.

Perennials

Lovage Perennial Herb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other herbs, fruits, and vegetables planted included strawberries, stevia, lavender and garlic given to me by Pattie over at pattycakespantry.com. The garlic is planted with the green roots sticking up out of the ground. Oh my, it is taking off really fast. I had never planted garlic before, so I’m excited about how fast it’s growing. There are more vegetables already planted earlier in the spring. Come back for another visit to catch up on the vegetables and flowers.

Have you planted a kitchen herb garden? Which herbs have you been successful with?

Join me over at Fishtail Cottage’s blog garden party.

Drought Tolerant Plants for High Desert Gardens

Lavender

Lavender 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lavender has made my recent weed-digging worthwhile. It’s received very little watering yet looks vibrant and healthy.

Lavender is grown in fields of southern France and as perennia shrubs and garden landscaping in North America. This aromatic herb also grows well in the high desert’s heat and drought. Grow it in an herb garden, make lavender crafts, or look for lavener lotions and bath and shower gels like my favorite lavender scent, Savannah Gardens, from Crabtree & Evelyn. They used to carry several products in this scent. One I liked was a sachet drawer liner.

Read the blog post, Scents: Do You Have a Favorite?, by Susan on betweennapsontheporche.net. Susan mentions how scents affect our moods. For instance, lavender is “soothing and relaxing; helps to relieve stress, depression, anxiety, and nervous disorders.” Geranium, jasmine, rose, and sandalwood are relaxing. Plant these in your garden, or find their scents in candles to enjoy in your home.

It’s no wonder that I love gardening. We garden for reasons of scent, childhood memories, comfort, crafts, food and more. Furthermore, tending to the garden gives us a workout. That’s better than going to the gym in my opinion.

Evergreen Fire Retardant Groundcover and Hedges

If you’re looking for an evergreen groundcover to use in your high desert landscaping, try the evergreen Dwarf Coyotebrush or Coyotebrush. This evergreen groundcover or hedge has dioecious white/cream flowers from summer to fall. It attracts songbirds and butterflies and is thornless.

California Fuchsia is another good hedge to plant that grows large and that hummingbirds love. The Fuchsia can be planted in the ground or pots and is drought tolerant. It flowers from mid-spring to winter.

Drought tolerant Fuchsia

Fuchsia Plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn sage is another aromatic evergreen that attracts songbirds and butterflies. Its red flowers bloom from mid-summer to mid-autumn.

The Copper Shine Coprosma, better known as the Mirror Plant, makes a beautiful glossy hedge. It’s wind, sun, and frost resistant and can be planted in full sun or semi shade.

Getting Rid of Weeds for Spring Gardening – High Desert Arid Zones

Spring planting in the garden

Spring has arrived!

Spring has officially arrived, and so have the weeds! The last good rain that the High Desert had made the weeds grow a foot higher it seemed. Pulling weeds is no fun though it does give one a good work out.

Planting is made easier when the weeds have already been pulled. When Spring arrives, gardeners get anxious to add favorite flowers, herbs, and vegetables in the garden. However, getting rid of the weeds is a must lest they take over the garden.

Hula hoe-ing is much easier when the weeds are small. If they aren’t taken care of then and a rain comes, you may need more than a hula hoe. Weed Eater trimmers can be a great help as well. George C. Ballas, Sr. in Houston, Texas came up with an excellent idea when he invented the Weed Eater trimmer. He got the idea from the spinning nylon bristles used at an automatic car wash.

Once the weeding is done, you can place newspaper (black ink) or plastic down as a covering to keep out the weeds when putting new flowers, fruits and vegetables, and shrubs in your garden and landscaping. Wet the newspaper first. I’ve read that the paper keeps the weeds away better than the plastic does.

Dorothy Stainbrook, on the other hand, hates black plastic and pulls it up from every bed she finds it in. She has a small farm and specializes in heirloom tomatoes and blueberries.

A Southern California gardener who always plants strawberries said he always uses plastic to cover the ground, and small critters and ants stay away from the strawberries.

Hula-hoeing may be impossible in tight spots like near rocks.  Sometimes you just have to pull the weeds with your hands. Wear gloves that foxtails won’t go through.

Killing the weeds can also be done with other simple ways that are chemical-free. Try boiling water, vinegar, or  cornmeal.

What other solutions have you tried in ridding your lawn of weeds?

Flowers to Plant as Spring Nears in the High Desert

High Desert Snapdragons

Pansies and snapdragons make pretty garden flowers even when it snows like it has this evening in the High Desert. How can one resist planting such garden beauty displayed by these vibrantly colored flowers? READ MORE »

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