The low desert areas have two planting seasons for most plants, including vegetable: fall and Spring. Fall is a wonderful time to be planting trees and shrubs that are not frost tender. The soil is still warm, the temperature has mitigated to tolerable and it’s just downright pleasant to be outside. One can consider the seasons somewhat reversed here. Back East, people can hardly wait for winter to be over so they can go out to the nursery or shop on-line for their bulb and Hostas in the spring and get their hands in the dirt. In Phoenix and surrounds, we count the weeks for summer to be over and fall to arrive for exactly the same reason, plus it means our tap water won’t be hot! [Read more…]
Across central Arizona, at higher elevations (4000’ or higher), are found stands of Emory oaks (Quercus emoryi). Near Superior there is a swath of these oaks that extends from Oak Flat to Globe. They are tall trees – up to 50’ – with a dark fissured bark. The leaves are leathery, often with a few pointy “teeth” along their margins.
The acorns that these trees produce are small – about an inch long and less than a half inch wide. Acorns contain tannins, but some more so than others. In the case of the Emory oak, the acorns are fairly sweet and require little, if any, leaching. For thousands of years, people in this part of the country have collected and eaten Emory oak acorns. You can still see Apache and Tohono O’odham women out collecting these savory nuts this time of year. [Read more…]
Even with all of the rain we received late last week, the moisture near the surface of the soil is rapidly drying out, but it’s still soft enough to go after those tough weeds like the pernicious grasses with thick fibrous roots that have been growing dangerously close that golden barrel, or the palo verde and mesquite seedlings from last year that are all but impossible to remove unless the ground is saturated—even then, they’re buggers to pull out.
I have great method for tackling these woody weeds while you still can, but first, I need to set it up with a story.
It is not widely known, but back in the olden days, when Arboretum staff wore togas of animal skins rather than monogrammed shirts in a plethora of trendy colors, none of the plants on the grounds were formally mapped. [Read more…]
Ingredients and utensils for curing olives with lye:
- A few pounds of fresh-picked green olives.
- A small bottle of 100% pure lye (sodium hydroxide).
- A quart of white vinegar.
- Two containers of plain non-iodized salt.
- Herbs and spices. (optional)
- A couple of 2-gallon-sized plastic food containers with lids.
- A plastic gallon-sized pitcher for measuring water.
- Plastic measuring spoons and plastic stirring utensil. (Never use metal containers or spoons when dealing with lye. Lye reacts to metal, especially aluminum, and is dangerous and potentially poisonous!)
- A few small squares (12”) of clean cloth.
For years I have lived in the vicinity of olive trees and yet have never cured olives. It seemed to be a complex, time-consuming affair and I didn’t personally know anyone who cured them. [Read more…]