Sunday, October 25, 2009

Botany of Desire on PBS

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, is a book about human desires and how that is reflected in what we grow.  How our craving for sweetness ends up as supersweet apples and our desire for beauty in our lives spur the creation of thousands of different tulips.  The book was quite a sensation when it was printed and now it has been made in a program for television.  It airs this week on PBS, Wednesday October 28, 8pm.  If you can't watch it, you should read the book. 

It's nearly Halloween.....

It's nearly Halloween and I still have tomatoes, peppers and basil growing.  When I first started gardening, by this time, we had usually had a hard frost and all things like the tomatoes, peppers and basil were long gone.  This year, like last year, the frost has come late.  Last year I didn't have a hard frost until mid-November.  Unfortunately because of the shortened days and cooler temperatures things like tomatoes and peppers don't ripen quickly but just two days ago I picked another tasty batch.  The weatherman says it is going to cool down in the next few days with Wednesday night getting to 27°F.  End of the basil, peppers and tomatoes for sure.  I'll likely cut some more basil for drying and pesto and pick the peppers but I'm not much of a green tomato person so lots of tomatoes will end up in the trash pile.  It's the fate of most gardeners here because tomatoes seem to be most prolific in the fall instead of the summer.  The hot weather really limits them.  On the plus side my garlic is up along with lettuce, eating peas and the sweet peas.  The garden goes on!

Master Gardener Picnic

Each year the Master Gardeners recognize those volunteers who have reached certain benchmarks in their service.  This is a great time for everyone to sit down and have some fun too!  Go to the flickr link to see more pictures.

Service awards went to: 

4000 hours—Mary Barnes

2000 hours—Jeanette Teets

1500 hours—Richard Wise

1000 hours—Evelyn Becker, Elinor Benes, Bob Burke, Kathy MacCauley, Herdis MacLellan, Eunice Rickleffs

500 hours—Cynthia Cartier-Roberts, Angella Mazella, Sherry Morton, Janet Schieber, Sue Smith, Tom Watkins, Anna Wilson, Carlon Woodson

250 hours—Lesley Alward, John Doyle, Jay Fleishman, Kay Gaffney, Lynn Hazlewood, Connie Loving, Janey Mansoldo, Douglas McMillan, Cathy Michener, Faith Roelofs, Cheri Romley, Terry Stewart, Joan Tyler.

150 hours—Debbie Allen, Bev Bostram, Judy Cowan, Ken Earls, Bobbie Jo Gooslin, Michele Herrick, Betty Loos, Jane McGraw, Scotty Miller, Steve Moody, Jean Norris, Jean O'Laughlin, Jackie Rizzo, Paul Schnur, Ginny Shugars, Mary Smith, Linda Sunstad, Karen Wagley

October Gardening Seminar

Oct 27th Gardening Seminar

Our next “open to the public” gardening seminar is next Tuesday, Oct 27th, 6pm – 8pm, at the Public Safety Building in Cottonwood.  The topic is “Planning Your Vegetable Garden”.  It will be presented by Cynthia Cartier-Roberts and Cathy Michener.  Please invite family and friends.  If you are a Master Gardener you may also report this as Continuing Education time.  

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gardening Events and Activities

There are a variety of gardening and just interesting activities going on.  

Fire and Climate Change Talks
The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension will host two distinguished speakers from the University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree Ring Research on the evening of October 29, 2009. Dr. Malcolm Hughes will present “Our Changing Climate” and Dr. Tom Swetnam will present “Fire in the Changing West”. 

The presentations will begin at 
6:30 pm on October 29, 2009 at the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Boardroom (on the first floor) at 1015 Fair Street in Prescott. There is no fee to attend and seating is first come, first served. For questions, please contact Edessa Carr,, 445-6590 ext 227.

Seed Saving
October 18

Rejoin a 10,000 year old ritual! Save seeds selected for the qualities you want. It is easy and necessary. A seed saving workshop is being held in Cornville, Sunday, October 18th from noon until 5pm presented by Bill McDorman from Seeds Trust. The $50 donation includes a tour of the permaculture inspired property, workshop, Bill’s Seed Saving booklet and dinner., (928) 300.7989. Scholarships available. 

Urban Farm Fruit Tree Open House, Phoenix

Saturday October 24th at the Urban Farm for our annual Fruit Tree Open House. Sat from 8:30 to 12:30 and see over 70 fruit trees growing at the Urban Farm, Phoenix. For more info or to RSVP go to:

We also have the following classes scheduled for the rest of the season

22-Oct; Thurs; 6:30 - 8:00 PM at Tempe Madcap Theater,

730 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281

24-Oct; Sat; 8:30 AM - 12:00 NOON - Open House/Tour/Fruit Tree Discussion at the Urban Farm; 6750 N 13th Place, Phoenix 85014

3-Nov; Tues; 6:30 - 8:00 PM at REI,

1405 W. Southern Ave., Tempe 85282

For a list of all our classes:


This seems like the right time to talk about pumpkins.  It’s not time to plant them of course, but between Halloween and Thanksgiving, pumpkins reach the zenith of their popularity.  Pumpkins are hardly anyone’s favorite vegetable but maybe they should be.  There aren’t too many vegetables that are used in home decorating and a wide range of delicious foods.  While the pumpkin you buy for a jack-o-lantern isn't the best eating one you can use the seeds and create delicious snacks.    If you want to read more about pumpkins go to the Master Gardener newsletter and look for the November 09 issue which will be available after the first of the month.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

All squash seeds are edible even if the squash itself isn’t any good.  Some pumpkin varieties have better seeds than others but the taste of all is delicious.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Remove all the stringy fibers from the seeds then wash the seeds well.  Blot off excess water.  Spread the seeds on a baking pan.  Toss with vegetable oil and salt (optional).  Roast in the oven until lightly colored, 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the seed.  Stir occasionally.  Cool.  Best used soon after roasting.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bird Feeding Basics

Now is a good time to watch birds.  Many birds are migrating and might stop at your house looking for something to eat.  So keep the feeders going but keep in mind good bird feeding manners.  

Keep your feeders clean.  Use soap and water or a 10% bleach solution.  This helps prevent disease from spreading.

Keep the feeding area clean.  Hulls and uneaten feed can accumulate under feeders and attract rodents and other pests.  If you are plagued with mammal problems try removing the feeders at night when raccoons, deer and opossums are more likely to raid them—bears, too, in more wild areas.

Use fresh seed.  Do not feed moldy seed.

You should probably be wearing rubber gloves when cleaning feeders and birdbaths.

Birdbaths need weekly cleaning and refilling.  This prevents the spread of disease and keeps misquitoes from gaining a new breeding ground.  Wash with soap and water or a 10% bleach solution.  Rinse!!!

Feeders mounted on windows may increase the number of birds flying into the window.  The problem is worse in the spring when birds are defending all comers from their territories.  Limit the use of a window feeder at that time.