The Winter/Spring Garden

I recently relocated the original raised bed that I built to a new location in the yard, straight back from the backdoor of the house and just to the left of the sheds. This is now the third time I’ve relocated it, and hopefully it’ll be the last. While I was at it I also rebuilt the wicking bed feature – with any luck it won’t spring a leak this time.

Since I relocated the bed I figured it was about time to start using it again, so I went ahead and seeded delicious things. You can see the full list of what I planted in the “what I planted section” of this post. Pictures below, with more to come once the seeds sprout.

Garden, Suit Up!

Deidre and I have been watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix lately, so when I was planting some flowers around the yard I was picturing Barney telling my yard to “suit up.” So in honor of that delightfully offensive tv character, I present to you a quick gallery of my garden, suited up.

Hardware stores are bad for my wallet, good-ish for my garden.

Deidre and I took a trip to Lowe’s this past Saturday to pick up a few things for the house (and a project we’ve been working on which I’m sure Deidre will be happy to show off at some point on her blog). Naturally while we were there I had to spend some time in the garden center ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘aah-ing’ at all the plants. Of course I ended up picking some stuff up. A whole bunch of flowers (photo gallery to come later this week) and then a few veggies to add to the old veggie garden.

So I planted a few of the cabbage and broccoli in one of my raised beds (and some in what I like to call zone 2d) and the onions I planted around my freshly planted peach trees (zone 2b -you know- if you’re interested).

Thanks hardware store for making me buy your crap.

Four new fruit trees

My hot mess of a yard is happy to announce the addition of four large sticks in the ground. Please say hello to four new fruit trees: a plum and three peaches.

It’s been a couple of years since I planted any bare-root trees; in the past I purchased trees through the Valley Permaculture Alliance fruit tree program, but it’s been inactive the past few years. So this year I found a similar program that’s sponsored by the Urban Farm. I was able to order and pick up my four trees for around $130 or so if I remember correctly. Not too shabby, considering when I first purchased my house I paid something like $700 for two trees from the evil-nursery-that-shall-not-be-named, both of which were dead within a year.

The sticks in the ground are as follows: Weeping Santa Rosa Plum (Foreground), Desert Gold Peach (Background, left), Tropic Snow White Peach (Background, middle), Mid-Pride Peach (Background, right)

By the way, check out the section called “what I planted” (if you’re looking at this blog from a computer it’s probably in the left sidebar, otherwise it’s below this post content) for a new addition to Dead in the Desert. I’m starting a plant database for everything I plant (and track) moving forward. The first four additions are the trees. You can click on the links in the “what I planted” section to see more information about said plants.

I’m very excited to have these new trees in the ground and I can’t wait to see them start blooming as we head into spring over the next month. Expect a gallery of beautiful peach and plum blooms!

Yippee! A Seed Starting Kit!

Ok, quick question: what sounds better… seeding system or seed starting kit? Eh, I digress. Either way I now have a way to start my seeds indoors in a controlled environment. I don’t know why but every time I plant seeds outside I only have about a 50% success rate at germination. So I keep trying. Meanwhile I’m wasting seeds. I’m persistent, but sometimes I swear I’m not much of a green thumb at all.

I picked up this seeding system from a few weeks ago and it finally showed up in the mail. It’s nothing amazing, but I’d imagine it gets the job done. It comes with a lid as well, to keep things nice and humid. The cool thing is those dirt ‘plugs’ fit very nicely in the styrofoam section and when you fill the green part halfway with water the styrofoam floats, so it is supposed to keep the seeds moist, but never too wet. Low tech, but ingenious. I can dig.

Now then, anyone care to play a game? Look at the picture below (click on it for a larger view) and guess what seeds are ‘planted’ in the seeding system. Before you look below the picture for the answers skip down to the comments section and tell me what you think. If anyone plays along I’m curious to see if they can guess some/all of them right.

Top down view of seeds I just planted in my seed starting kit

As you can see above there are 10 little slots for seeds. I numbered them myself so I could keep easier track of what seeds I planted where. I hope you made your guess already, because I’m about to reveal what seeds are hanging out in my seed starting kit.


  • In numbers 1, 6 and 7: Sweet Corn, “Early & Often Hybrid”
  • In numbers 2 and 3: “Mammoth” Sunflower
  • In numbers 4, 5 and 10: “Blue Lake” Pole Bean
  • In numbers 8 and 9: “Burpee’s Fordhook” Zucchini (summer squash) and Spaghetti Squash (winter variety)

I’m interested to see if I’ll be able to achieve a 100% germination rate now that I’ve started things off in a controlled environment. I’m assuming that I will, but oftentimes when it comes to plants and gardening I never know what to expect. Wish me luck!

The Start of a New Garden

My wife calls me a dirt nerd. That’s a nerd I’d never really considered I might be. I’ve always been a huge tech nerd (and absolutely still am) but there’s nothing quite like digging around outside and watching plants grow from just a tiny seed to something else entirely: a fruit or veggie plant, bush, vine or tree. I guess dirt nerd is actually an appropriate title. Maybe just nerd.

I picked up gardening as a hobby a few years ago when I moved into my current house. I started out pretty slowly, learning a little at a time, but unfortunately have struggled to retain certain pieces of information that could be useful. I tried (unsuccessfully) to keep track of planting dates, and monitor progress by keeping a garden journal, but I never managed to do it consistently, let alone in one easy to access place. I’ve been itching to start another blog after having started and run Debit versus Credit for the past few years so this is my solution to both ‘problems.’ I’ll be monitoring my garden through regular posts and will also write about other random stuff that’s interesting to me (e.g. gadgets, technology & green living).

To kick things off, here’s a quick post on what I’ve been up to this spring in the garden. First, a few pictures (if you want to get a closer look you can click on them for the HD version).

My new raised garden bed

That’s my new garden box. I went all out this time around.

This is my old garden box, in front of the new one. Don’t let the picture fool you, the old one is quite a bit smaller then the new raised garden bed.

My old raised garden bed, next to the new one

Both garden beds are made from redwood, which is used often in decks because it’s slow to rot, at least when compared to other woods. The smaller one (which is also the older one) is 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. The newer box is 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. They are both approximately 18 inches tall.

You’ll notice that I built a sitting bench all the way around the top of the new garden bed. I built it using the same 2×6’s that I used to build the rest of the box, so effectively that reduces the “useable” width from 4 feet to a little over 3 feet and the useable length from 8 feet to a little over 7 feet.

Did you notice the PVC pipe along the edge of the new garden bed? That’s to be used for shade and/or plastic (to act as a sort of greenhouse) in extreme weather. Being in the desert I get plenty of that. I’ll tell you more about my raised garden bed design later. For now, back to the plants.

Some of the plants in my new raised garden bed

For reference I’ve been subscribing to the knowledge of Dave Owens, otherwise known here in Phoenix as “The Garden Guy,” through his book, Extreme Gardening (that there is an amazon affiliate link). I’ve been using it primarily for information on companion planting and also when to plant different things here in the low desert.

You can see planted there in the top row (starting from the left): sweet pepper, salsa pepper (spicy), marigolds (haven’t sprouted yet), Early Girl tomato, Rose tomato, rosemary (again hasn’t sprouted) and in the area just to the right of the picture, Blue Lake pole beans.

In the second row we have Nasturtium (seed), Swiss Chard, Onion (seed), Basil, Basil (again), Calendula, and just off the screen pole beans again.

In the bottom row you can see Muskmelon in the far left followed by Lavender, Spinach (kind of wilty), pickling cucumber, nothing (yet — carrots soon), and off the screen to the right is a vining cucumber.

Dwarf Peach Tree with Strawberries

Here you can see my dwarf peach tree starting to bloom and next to it a large strawberry plant. I’ve never had much luck with strawberries here in the desert, but I’m hoping that the more established plant, that should be shaded by the peach tree in the afternoons, will make it through the summer.

What do you think about my new garden? It’s absolutely still a work in progress, but is really coming along I think. Stay tuned for more…