Composting Lessons: Be wary of the seed

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Well, now I know why they tell you not to put anything with seeds into the compost.

We laid down some of our homemade compost in with our fresh dirt for our two new raised beds back in March. For over a month, we’ve had fast-growing, gargantuan rogue plants popping up everywhere before a single seed we had planted breached the surface. And I mean everywhere! Both beds were constantly coughing up these succulent, determined little shoots.

While I am all for upholding the old adage of “live and let live,” not knowing what this alien, uninvited greenery could be made my partner and me leery. We’ve left this one grouping (pictured above) to continue to grow, but pulled every other one (at least 30 in count) for fear they would choke out the seedlings. And we still have no idea what these mystery plants could possibly be. I can’t remember anything we’ve eaten with seeds that were THAT much in number. All I know is that there is more compost where that came from… so there’s plenty more of these rogue food seeds ready to sprout when we build more beds next year and lay down another layer of compost.

Maybe come May or June, this plant’s fruit will solve our mystery. And maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised. Or maybe not!

But until then, a word of warning to you: When making a compost, be sure to avoid putting anything with a seed. Because goodness knows what will sprout in your garden!

Desert gardening: Miracles do happen!

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As I had mentioned in an earlier post, my partner and I have taken to gardening out here in Arizona. It took eight days and a night for these little beauties to emerge. *chokes back verklempt sigh of pride.*  They began reaching for the sky right after a substantial rainfall this past weekend, that is actually our first for 2014. So far, according to our garden map, we’ve got spinach, thyme, and rosemary racing out of the growing gate this spring.

I’m not surprised at their appearance, though; it’s just the keeping them alive and happy that has been a challenge in my experience.

Although the weather is beautiful and springlike in the desert, our concern lies in the hotter, summer scorching days to come. Currently, we are hand watering by hose (and rain!). But during the triple-digit temperature days, it is almost impossible to go without irrigation, which we’ve yet to set up. But what we have done to help combat the coming sunny onslaught is:

A) Set up the boxes where the sun only passes over it in the morning and early afternoon. Since that side of the yard is always so choked with weeds, we decided to listen to the plants. They tell us it’s a good place.

B) We have bought some thick sun screening that we can drape over the plants beds, which cut down the sun’s intensity by 30-40 percent, and a few degrees. It’s amazing what that little relief can do for any living thing out here.

C) We plan to water only at night. It’s basically useless to do it during the day, because it would evaporate too quickly for the dirt to get a good soak. Plus any watering when the sun is out could burn leaves, and hurt the plant.

And that’s our plan! Keep posted, as we learn together what works – and what doesn’t.