Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I have never thought to plant shallots in any garden I have ever had. I think I secretly believed that they only grew in France! But I thought, seeing seed shallots in the Pleasant Valley seed catalog, (Pleasant Valley Farm & Garden Supply, that I'd give it a shot.

Wow. Shove those little buggers in the ground and (with automatic sprinklers, which, in the desert you must have - the weather will not forgive a day or two off of watering) a few months later pull them up!

These are not the largest or the most beautifully formed but they are tasty. And the bonus, besides saving $4.99 a pound, is that my husband can tolerate them in food much better than onions.

In other news:

If you are in or around (within driving distance) the Coachella Valley and you fancy getting involved in a local farm you can partake of the Sky Valley Ranch CSA (Community Support Agreement) Program just begun last week. ( We made our way on Saturday to the ranch to pick a box of vegetables, a loaf of foccacia bread and cannelloni. This is the first opportunity I have had to join a CSA program and I am happy to do it. Besides supporting local growing, which is always a good thing, we got a delicious cantelope, avocados (anyone? I can't eat them and the rest of the family won't!), the best cucumber I've ever had, some tarragon, three beefsteak tomatoes (already gone) and about a pound and a half of okra, which I've never cooked before. Another bonus of a CSA program - forced expanse of eating horizons!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Adenium being impressive this year.

To the right, last year.

What a bonus it feels like to have beautiful, easy to care for plants in such a harsh climate. Too bad these blooms don't come mid-summer to make it all seem less... bloody hot!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tiny Tidbits

This salad came entirely from the garden. Finally a little tomato progress. Lettuce last year was more than I could eat and tomatoes kaput! This year the weird weather we are having (for us here weird is cool in the 70s lows in the 60s at night at this time of year) has had an effect. Lettuce a bit beefy...

I'm not prepared to declare victory over tomato season yet however. I bought an heirloom plant and it has, one, exactly one small struggling tomato. Ugh. Where the desert tomato experts?

You know, I generally do not like to use harsh chemicals. I won't in my garden and try to buy fragrance and dye free household products, and few of them. I figure the smaller number of cleaning products I use keeps the chemical cocktail a little less potent. But a few years back my mother-in-law was visiting. There was something dirty in the kitchen that was bothering her so she bought Greased Lightening. Major double degreasing action and I don't want to know what kind of petroleum products it contains! I didn't want to just chuck it in the landfill either so I just kept it.

The other night I was scrubbing the tile floors. I made the water as hot as possible, had the scratchy pad, my relatively innocuous floor cleaner in the bucket, had the scrub brush, even got down on hands and knees... nothin'. For some reason I pulled that Greased Lightening from over the stove and sprayed it on a tile and, without any grease of the elbow sort, using the backside of a scratchy sponge, the grey sticky disappeared and I had a whole new tile floor (well, one tile) again! I hate to say it, but in an effort to maintain some honesty and integrity, I have to admit, as much as I am against it I am Greased Lightening my entire tile floor in my kitchen... Maybe I will donate to the Gulf cleanup as my penance.

Surprising Potatoes

Having never grown potatoes before this first round was a low-expectation experiment. I had some red potatoes that had gone all rooty so I chopped 'em up and stuck 'em in the ground in a spot that was doing nothing at the time and proceeded to ignore them.

These big bushy plants came up and I thought perhaps I'd have some success. Then the bugs chomped them so much that they all wilted and died. "Ah well," I thought, "it was worth a shot" so I pulled on plant on Sunday and low and behold this beautiful potato came up with the roots! I got out the pitch fork and ended up with more than 20 beautiful red potatoes! I roasted a few that night for dinner. That's a nice Sunday surprise!