Friday, October 19, 2012

Really, winter's coming

 It's been another long, hot summer and most of the people I know are aching for the cooler days of autumn.  Sometimes it's been hard to tell what the season is by looking at the calendar but the plants know.  A few leaves turning color.  Some plants have finished blooming while the fall bloomers are in their full glory.  The mornings in particular are cooler necessitating a scramble to find a sweater that is taken off an hour later as temperatures go up.  But you can feel it and see it, summer is ending.  I planted my garlic and shallots the other morning.  I pulled out all the tomatoes but one.  It was a terrible tomato year for me except for the cherry tomatoes.  I had tons of those.  Wish I knew what variety they are because I would never plant them again.  Prolific, yes, but with a watery weak flavor.  Even roasting them didn't help much.  Oh well, there is always next year and maybe the label will show up when I pull the plant out.  The peppers were wonderful though.  It was a pimento type and they are still going gangbusters.  Lots of lovely small red peppers.  I haven't dug up the sweet potatoes yet but looks like it will be a good crop.  Another season almost done.

This is the time of year the Master Gardeners get together for their annual recognition picnic.  It's fun, the food is terrific and it's nice to see people recognized for their hard work.   A full list of the Master Gardeners that reached milestones of service will be in the November Yavapai Gardens Newsletter.  You can find the newsletters on the Master Gardener page.  

For all of those Master Gardeners who did not pass a milestone this year, thanks also for all your hard work.  We have a terrific group of gardeners who work very hard.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Curly Top Virus & Cucumber Mosaic Virus

Curly Top Virus

Jeff Schalau, Yavapai County Cooperative Extension Agent has identified cucumber mosaic virus and curly top virus as affecting vegetables in the Verde Valley.  You can get more information by checking out this “Backyard Gardening” article.  (August 1, 2012)

Beet leafhoppers are the source of curly top virus and are common in our area.  When a plant is infected the leaves pucker and are stunted.  The leaves curl and roll upward and the main leaf petiole curves downward.  Leaves look leathery and the veins turn purple while the areas between the veins yellow. 
Cucumber Mosaic Virus

Cucumber mosaic virus can infect tomatoes also.  Aphids spread the virus.  Leaves become mottled and yellow.  New leaves become twisted and curl downward and develop a “shoestring” look.  Plants become stunted and produce only small quantities of fruit.

In both cases once the problem is identified, the plants should be removed immediately.  Do not compost the plants.  The viruses are not carried in the soil so you can replant where the disease plant was growing.  Keeping weeds down may also help prevent the disease.

Monsoon Madness 2012

Article by Angela Mazella   Photos by Steve McIntyre 

This year we got the Monsoon rain without the madness. Like clockwork the rains came at the very opening of this year’s plant sale. It kept the number of customers down (from 704 last year to 504 this year), but surprisingly didn’t hurt our bottom line. The customers came steadily through the day so we missed the usual madness. The half price part of the sale didn’t happen until almost closing. Well at least we didn’t have to water the plants or hydrate our volunteers and customers. 
        The Master Gardener Association really came through with over 1200 plants this year. And they were beautiful with a great variety. Herbs were especially plentiful. Thanks to all the plant makers! We supplemented this with 180 plants from Mountain States and most of them sold as well. 
There were some great garden accessories too. An electric lawn mower, numerous tools and wheel barrows sold well. The rain didn’t stop the tool sharpening operation. They again did a whopping $366 worth of it. 
Thanks to John Mazella and Jeff Schalau and his jazz band for the entertainment. Luckily they managed to keep dry while playing great music. 
This year the committee purchased some tables since we would not be able to access the tables provided by the county. Another step towards self sufficiency for the plant sale. Expenses totaled $1623 and gross sales exceeded last year by $200. This gave us net profits this year of $4717. Only $100 less than last year. We are amazed. Thanks to all the volunteers who made the day possible. I would like to name all 82 of you but have run out of space. It looked like they were all having a good time despite the rain. My impression from speaking to the public is that the Master Gardener Association annual Monsoon Madness plant sale has made it to the must do events in Prescott. Our reputation is so good that everyone asks us when the next sale is. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

More on Organic Farming

A few months ago I pointed you to an article about how organic farming movement has changed.  As large corporations have taken up the mantle of "organic", the movement is loosing it's meaning and the definitions are changing.  An article in the New York Times documents some of the changes.  The articles is titled "Has 'Organic' Been Oversized?"

The New York Times holds a somewhat tight rein on it's content so I'm not sure you will be able to access the article without an account, but I hope so.  It is an interesting look at corporations, farming and food.

Monsoon Madness is Back!

Saturday, July 14, Yavapai County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners are having their Monsoon Madness gardeners sale.  The sale runs from 7:30am to 1pm. This is a great opportunity to purchase plants grown by the Master Gardeners and used gardening equipment.  There will be herbs, perennials, annuals, natives and house plants available.

Along with the plant sale you can bring your pruning shears, knives, loppers and axes to be sharpened (no serrated edges).  Workshops are also scheduled on planting, watering composting, insect control and more.

Sales are cash only!

Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo Grounds
840 Rodeo Dr.
PrescottAZ 86305

Friday, April 13, 2012


 The first bright spot in my garden every year are the iris.  They grow with a minimum of care and water.  I have quite a stand of an older variety that just survives on rainwater.  Some of the newer varieties need a bit of help but reward you with some spectacular blooms.  If you are looking for a plant for a low water garden, iris are a great addition.  The Prescott Area Iris Society is having three sales this summer where you can pick up some rhizomes.  Club members will be at the sales to answer questions.  Iris are planted in the summer so the sale is in July.  Mark your calendars now!

Prescott Area Iris Society (PAIS)
Join PAIS for our annual iris rhizome sale with hundreds of Iris for sale, all colors of the rainbow. Proceeds used to purchase educational materials for library system and maintain Iris beds at Yavapai College Sculpture Garden.
For information call (928) 776-7217 or (602) 300-5791. Visit our web site at:

Carnival Song
Sharlot Hall Museum
415 N. Gurley Street, Prescott, AZ
Saturday, July 21, 2012 11:00AM to 5:00PM
Sunday, July 22, 2012 12:00PM to 4:00PM

Lavender Tea House
1097 N. James, Chino Valley, AZ
Friday July 27, 2012 10:00AM to 2:00PM

Dan’s Garden

17618 Foothill Road, Yarnell, AZ
Saturday, July 28, 2012 10:00AM to 2:00PM

Parvins Pinot

I'm gearing up for the vegetable garden.  I picked up tomatoes and peppers at Verde River Growers in Cottonwood the other day.  Beautiful plants, now I just have to take care of them enough to have beautiful tomatoes and peppers.  The garlic now growing will be ready to pick in another month or so, depending on how fast it gets hot.  I also have leeks, onions and shallots that are really coming along.  My big goof so far is that I haven't started any sweet potatoes.  It is probably too late but I am going to give it a shot as I love homegrown sweet potatoes.  Plan on putting in some melons yet, but they can wait till it warms up a bit.  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Changing Face of Organic Farming

Frost on Lamb's Ear plant
Happy New Year!  I never get too excited about New Years as a holiday.  It's just another day in my world.  I am not a football person, so I will not be sitting around.  The temperature today is supposed to be 70°F and then tomorrow it is going up to 72°F (a good reason to live in Arizona!) it might be a good time to take care of some outdoor chores.  

We are not that far away from planting.  Hard to believe, It seems that it was just a few days ago that last year's garden finally froze.  While we are waiting for spring you might want to explore some interesting news that popped up the last couple of days.  The first is about how organic farming is becoming a big corporate business and what that could mean.  It talks about organic farming in Baja California, Mexico and how farming in a arid region affects the water table and the local economy and environment.  The article is a must read if you shop at Whole Foods or any organic food aisle.

The second article is about how corn farmers are finding that rootworms have acquired immunity to Bt in gene modified corn.  Farmers have been reporting problems in four different midwestern states.  While scientists expected resistance to develop, they never expected it this fast.  Nature has a way at confounding scientists and their expectations.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yavapai County Fair

I'm running a bit late on this but it's time for the fair and you can still enter your produce and flowers.  The information is too long to include here so go to 
At the bottom of the page there is a link to the fair book with all the entry dates and rules.  The fair is being held at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley instead of the county fairgrounds this year.   The dates of the fair are September 29 to October 2.

Tim's Toyota Center
3201 N. MAIN STREET   
PHONE:  928-772-1819  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011 Highlands Garden Conference

Every four years the Yavapai County Master Gardeners organize a gardening conference.   The conference gives us a great opportunity to think out of the box.  It’s a time for us to learn new things, maybe expand our horizons, widen our world view.  This year’s conference will hopefully do all of those things.  Below is a bit of information about the speakers.  Don’t forget about the pre-conference tours.  Registration is open until October 13.  Late registration rates do apply, but it's worth it.
The keynote speakers will be selling and signing their books after their programs.

Dr. Linda Chalker  Scott has been poking holes in gardening dogma or confirming our sometimes crazy ideas for years.  Pick a subject, mulches, fertilizers, pruning, you name it she has done research to find out what really works or not, scientifically.  She has a several websites, her university website: ( and along with a number of other horticulture professors a blog:

Her topic:  Garden Myths: practices and products:  The number of garden products on the market is dizzying – which ones are good?  Which are a waste of your money?  And which cause more harm than good to your garden?  This seminar will begin with a brief overview of how to interpret marketing claims, with a particular focus on scientific credibility.  We’ll then look at three case studies of popular gardening products and determine whether they benefit your gardens – or simply someone else’s wallet.  At the end of seminar we’ll consider some simple, inexpensive, yet effective alternatives for a sustainable, healthy garden.

 Our second keynote speaker is Dr. Whitney Cransahw from Colorado State University where he is an Extension specialist.  Author of several books he brings not only years of experience but a love for the topic. He will be doing two programs, the morning keynote and a session in the afternoon.

His keynote is:  Gardening for Insects - or Not!  The types of choices gardeners make in terms of plant selection and landscaping can have major impacts on the types of insects that will be found in the yard and garden.  Some of these insects can be considered desirable because they are attractive (e.g., butterflies), have interesting habits (e.g., hummingbird moths), are important pollinators (e.g., bees) or assist in the control of pest species.  Others create problems.  This discussion with consider how to manipulate garden designs to attract - or avoid - several common insects.

Session:  Recognizing Natural Enemies of Insect Pests (Life Styles of the Swift and Vicious)  Assisting the management of all insects are various natural enemies - predators that and hunt and consume pest insects, lethal parasitoids that develop internally, and pathogens.  Although some of these are readily recognized by gardeners, such as lady beetles, others are less well known.  Furthermore, certain life stages, such as eggs or larvae, may not be well identified.  This discussion will review the most common natural enemies of garden insects, including their identification, general habits, and conservation.

Other sessions include

There's a snake in my garden! Is it dangerous? Are there more of them nearby? Everything you need to know about reptiles and amphibians of Yavapai county from an Arizona herpetologist. Learn how to distinguish between a rattlesnake and harmless impostors, what to do if you see one, and get expert tips on how to keep them out of your yard. Live rattlesnakes from Yavapai county will be on-hand to show you exactly what to look for and dispel myths surrounding our most iconic desert animal."

Drip Irrigation for the Home Gardens:  Frank Martin will be discussing the use and installation of simple drip irrigation systems for the home garden and landscape plants.  It will include information on components of the various systems, included emitters, filters, pressure regulators and the appropriate distribution system. I heard he will talk a bit about rainwater systems too!

Would you like delicious fresh eggs every day from your very own chickens?  Rachel Bess will show you how easy it is to keep laying hens in your backyard year round, even in the city!
      Chickens make great pets, efficient bug and weed eaters and excellent soil tillers, not to mention that they provide us with wonderful fresh eggs. Learn everything you want to know about how to raise chickens in your backyard. It's easy, fun and very rewarding!

And there is more! New Plant Selections from Mountain States Nursery. Integrated Pest Management by a representative from Arbico who specializes in beneficial insects. Abiotic Factors on Plants, what?  Most people don’t really knows what this is, but it’s all those things that affect plant growth that you don’t think about. Zen Mocarski from Arizona Game and Fish will be talking about Urban Wildlife Issues.  You can ask him what to do with large problem pests. Gene Twaronite will talk about Native Cold Hardy Cactus.  Since Gene is from the Prescott area he knows what works best for this area.

Register now!  Hope to see you there.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monsoon Madness 2011

Monsoon Madness 4

The fourth annual Monsoon Madness plant sale was bigger and better than ever.

Thanks to the many master gardeners who grew healthy and happy plants for the sale. We had an incredible variety of herbs, houseplants, annuals and perennials, with very little left over after the sale. The Committee even purchased about 100 plants from Mountain States to round out the xeriscape offerings. Those all sold as well. The large selection of garden pots, fencing, outdoor furniture and other miscellaneous garden art rounded out the yard sale part of Monsoon Madness.

Besides the favorite tool sharpening services we have offered in our events, this year “Garden Bites” was added. These were 15-minute presentations on transplanting, composting, perennial gardens, vermiculture, garden safety and tree diseases and pests. The talks were well attended. This rounded off the expertise we offered to the public.

Then there was the entertainment. John Mazella performed solo guitar during the early morning rush and Jeff Schalau and his wife joined their newly formed and very talented Jazz band for the rest of the sale.

Our 78 volunteer master gardeners were kept very busy answering questions about selection and planting their purchases.  We had 704 eager customers this year. 

The usual monsoon rains held off until noon so the eager left over crowd could take advantage of the half price sale. All this fun and hard work amounted to a profit of $4921 for the Association. This was part of the “better than ever” as it was $400 more than last year.  We could not have done it without the hard work and support of all of the 78 volunteer and committee members of the Yavapai Master Gardener’s Association.

To see more pictures of the sale and past events click the Flickr link to the right.