Sunflowers in the Valley of the Sun – Part 1

There is no doubt about it, gardening in the Sonoran Desert during the summer is a challenge. It is similar to other areas of the country which have on season, mainly winter, that is not too hospitable to a wide assortment of plants that would be otherwise easy to grow in spring, summer and into the fall.

Unlike those areas where winter prevents almost all outside gardening, there are some plants and varieties that can tolerate our summers given the appropriate environment; and therein lies the rub!

As I travel the highways and byways of the desert regions of the southwest, I notice that there is one variety of wild sunflower that seems to survive the summer most years and even thrive when there are ample showers. Keeping that in mind, and not being able to nail down the exact variety (my bad), I decided to try a package of mixed sunflower seeds to see what it would yield in my desert garden. This was to be my gardening experiment for the summer of 2018.

Package of Sunflower Seeds

I always check the back of the package to see the “Packed for” date. Obviously the fresher the seeds, the better so I always make sure they are the current year’s seeds. I also like the fact that these seeds are organic and are not treated with chemicals. Our bees are struggling enough as it is.

Notice organic and sell-by date

An inexpensive turkey baster is used in this process to control the flow of water. It is good for delicate seedlings and at times when I need to wet a plant with a controlled, low flow of water.

Turkey baster for gentle watering

To keep everything corraled on the counter, I work inside a container lid. The lip of the lid keeps the water and other debris under control.

Coffee lid container for working

Of course we could plant the seeds directly in the ground, but I considered several factors:

  • We have numerous desert critters that would love to take a bite out of a luscious sprout.
  • There is no guarantee that every seed in a package will be viable.
  • I have limited time and space so I want to make sure any seed has the best start possible.

Considering the above, I decided to pre-sprout the seeds. Here are the three seeds I selected. [NOTE: One cannot tell from the seeds which sunflower will be “born” from any specific seed. This is a mix so it is a random choice.]

Three sunflower seeds-mixed varieties

My process for pre-sprouting the seeds is to wet a piece of paper towel to the point where it is uniformally wet, but not soaked.

Wet paper towel

Once the towel has been wet, the seeds are then placed at intervals on the sheet leaving ample space between, but not too much. I like to make a compact packet.

Seeds on wet towel

After the seeds have been carefully placed, the towel is folded over them so they are enveloped in the moist towel. This will be a good environment for sprouting.

Towel folded over seeds

The towel is folded into an envelope-type form to provide the best chance of staying moist.

Towel folded into envelope/packet

I always make a label just in case I want to keep track of sprouting times, time from sprout to flower, etc., but I didn’t use that information for tracking in this instance.

Sunflower seed label

Once this process is complete, probably less than thirty minutes, the seeds are placed inside a plastic bag, label and all and set aside. I check them every day to …

    – make sure the seeds remain uniformally damp, but not soaking

    – see if they have sprouted (because at that point further action is needed)

Packet in baggie with label

To be continued…

 

Read more gardening posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com



PL8ATUDES – August 7, 2018



Plate-A-Tude

We continue our series of personalized (vanity) license plates in Arizona. To maintain individual privacy, we try to show as little information about particular cars as possible as long as we can reveal the license plate.

NOTE – License plate photos may have been archived for quite some time. The years indicated on the registration stickers DO NOT necessarily reflect the current status of any given plate!

We hope you enjoy these PL8ATUDES!

****************************************

I’m a

DZINER

Specializing in


HMEDECR

!

 

JBRish.com originally published this post< See previous PL8ATUDES HERE

**********

 

All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


PL8ATUDES – July 6, 2018



Plate-A-Tude

We continue our series of personalized (vanity) license plates in Arizona. To maintain individual privacy, we try to show as little information about particular cars as possible as long as we can reveal the license plate.

NOTE – License plate photos may have been archived for quite some time. The years indicated on the registration stickers DO NOT necessarily reflect the current status of any given plate!

We hope you enjoy these PL8ATUDES!

****************************************

He wasn’t just a

CRMUJN

He was also a
SLI FOX

!

 

JBRish.com originally published this post< See previous PL8ATUDES HERE

**********

 

All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


Mum is the Word in the Desert Garden

Prior to moving to the Valley of the Sun, north of Phoenix, Arizona, we lived in northwestern New Jersey; Hunterdon County. We normally gardened from May through October and there were times when we started seeds indoor in early April. We could stretch our gardening into the fall and early winter by including Chrysanthemums.

Mums were part of the Halloween-Thanksgiving trimmings in our area. We usually had them placed on our front steps often with thin netting over them to keep the deer from nibbling. There were years when we were able to winter over a mum or two, but much of the time our efforts fell short or the variety we purchased was not as hardy as we thought.



We were surprised to find that mums are available for purchase in our area of Arizona during the same season as in the northeast. It was only natural then that we began to fold some of them into our Halloween-Thanksgiving floral displays.

Because our experience with Chrysanthemums was anchored in the northeast, we figured that once the real hot weather of sustained ninety to one-hundred and above came along, that these familiar plants would wither and die.

Imagine our surprise to find that they, given enough shade and water, fight off the heat to usher forth extended blooms during the late spring and summer and into the following fall. To give these plants the best chance possible for surviving in this less than hospitable climate, we have a routine we follow in the early spring.

This is the mum we selected for what we call revitalizing.



As readers can see, the green leaves make up only about one-half to two-thirds of the plant and there are a lot of brown, dead leaves and stems.



What we normally do if it is warm and the sun is in full flare is bring the plant into the shade of one of the garage bays and work there. We move the plant into the garage and remove the rock mulch that we use in almost every planter.



Once the rock mulch is removed, much of the dead parts of the plant are trimmed.



After the initial trimming, we begin to excavate the root ball.



NOTE – Notice that we work mostly on a drop cloth to catch errant dirt, stones and debris. The old dirt is offloaded to a cement mixing bin to dry and save for use in a future rejuvenated mix.

Once the root ball is excavated, it is examined to make sure the roots are white and in good condition and there are no grubs hiding. Then I gently remove more of the dead, hard stems and any dead roots.

NOTE – Be careful to leave most of the rootball intact as the plant will need to recover even from a mild root trimming and tickling.



Here is a closer look:



There are some stems so low to the base of the root ball that they have to be cut away with a scissors or garden shear which reduces the chance of disturbing too much of the root ball.



I make one final inspection of the root ball and very gently loosen some of the compacted roots so they are able to spread when they grow anew.



On the left is the old pot with the remaining old dirt. In the upper middle area of the picture is the new, smaller pot that is lighter in color. The new plant will spend much of the summer in this pot, but may need to be transplanted in to a larger pot later.



Enough new planting mix is placed in the pot to take up approximately one third. This is the bottom third of the planter.



To encourage downward root growth, I place a small amount of fertilizer in the bottom of the pot (notice the green dots in the ovals- BELOW) and then mix them into the top part of the bottom mix. The green dots are hard to discern in this photo and may be confused with gravel which is used in the planting mix. The arrows show the gravel which is much less uniform in shape.



The new planter is placed inside a bin to catch any stray dirt. Dirt is added to the correct depth to bring the crown of the plant to about three-quarters of an inch below the rim of the pot. I usually create a cone in the center and put the newly trimmed rootball in the center. The dirt is then filled in around the rootball as shown above.



Here is the plant with the dirt filled in and new, different fertilizer added (see the Vigoro in the background).



After the planting is complete, water is gently added. I use my hand to break the flow and spread the water around the rootball of the plant. Once the plant has been watered so that water runs freely through the bottom of the pot, I gently press the dirt down to remove any potential air pockets.

NOTE – Don’t press down too hard which may compact the roots; just gently.



Now it is time to move the plant to its place in the courtyard. We picked an area that will receive mostly shade with a bit of sun during the day. This will protect the mum from the blazing heat. Notice that a two gallon per-hour emitter (red) has been anchored to the side of the plant.



Another emitter is added to the other side of the plant to provide even coverage when watered.



We place the rock mulch on top of the plant, which also helps to hold the emitters in place and give one final watering. A protective cover is placed over the pot for a couple of days to provide bit of shade. The Dollar Store or Target sells laundry baskets, crates, etc. that serve this purpose. Sometimes we need to drill more holes depending on the configuration.

NOTE – We often put a weight on top of the “covers” to keep them from blowing off in the wind.



The plant is carefully checked over the next couple of days and after that, the basket or crate used to shield the sun is removed. The plant then needs time to grow and in a few months this is how it looks.



You can see it here (BELOW) on the left. As the summer progresses, the snail vine will grow to cover the sun trellis and offer enough shade to provide an appropriate environment for the plant during the hottest summer days.



You may also note two other mums on the right that we transplanted in the same fashion .



We have followed this procedure for a couple of years now and it has served us well. I wouldn’t have guessed that we would be able to winter-over or perhaps more appropriately, summer-over the mums in our Sonoran Desert environment.

 

Read more gardening posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com



PL8ATUDES – May 31 2018



Plate-A-Tude

We continue our series of personalized (vanity) license plates in Arizona. To maintain individual privacy, we try to show as little information about particular cars as possible as long as we can reveal the license plate.

NOTE – License plate photos may have been archived for quite some time. The years indicated on the registration stickers DO NOT necessarily reflect the current status of any given plate!

We hope you enjoy these PL8ATUDES!

 

****************************************

 

BRIDES

Are Always Somebody’s
DRM GRL

!

 

JBRish.com originally published this post< See previous PL8ATUDES HERE

**********

 

All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


Pickleball: Pecos Park Grand Opening

There was some pickleball excitement in the Valley of the Sun last weekend. Pecos Park in Ahwatukee, AZ was celebrating the official grand opening of their pickleball complex.



The city and citizen planning group has done a wonderful job in laying out sixteen beautiful courts built to specifications allowing for USAPA sanctioned tournaments.


Ramadas are going to be constructed to enhance the experience for onlookers and those waiting to play. There are benches along the side of the courts with room for many more folding chairs.


The lights are very modern and I believe they are LED, but I am not certain. I arrived early to help set up for the big event.



As the crowd began to gather, the pickle twins took to the podium to help bring a celebratory aire to the day.


Everyone was having fun. One round robin tournament player had bunny ears on his hat as he enjoyed the competition. Other guests expressed their enthusiasm in their own particular style.


Seats wer filling up fast. The first two rows were reserved for USAPA Pickleball Ambassadores including yours truly.



The round robin tournament used the new ONIX outdoor pickleball which is visibly stamped USAPA APPROVED!



The ceremony praised the hard work of everyone involved. I am going to do my best to provide correct names for most of the people in the photos. If I have made an error, please let me know in the comment section below and I will revise ASAP.

Esther Avila, Deputy Director at City of Phoenix, Parks and Recreation began with opening remarks.



Councilman Sal DiCiccio, City of Phoenix Councilman for District 6


Justin Maloof – Executive Director – United States Pickleball



Jack Thomas, President of the USAPA



Perhaps the one person most responsible for the vision and custodianship of this new facility was Steve Manolis, Regional Ambassador for Education, USA Pickleball Association, Southwest Region.



Councilman, Sal DiCiccio hits the first official serve to start the play at the new courts.



If you live near Pecos Park, I think you will be pleased to join the pickleball fun!


7010 S 48th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85048

 

More Pickleball Videos and Information

To See additional Pickleball Videos & Information Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)

Check out Additional Pickleball Information and Videos! (for all players including average to more experienced players)


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com



PL8ATUDES – April 9, 2018



Plate-A-Tude

We continue our series of personalized (vanity) license plates in Arizona. To maintain individual privacy, we try to show as little information about particular cars as possible as long as we can reveal the license plate.

NOTE – License plate photos may have been archived for quite some time. The years indicated on the registration stickers DO NOT necessarily reflect the current status of any given plate!

We hope you enjoy these PL8ATUDES!

****************************************


I am a

FLAGWAVR

When it comes to saying THANK YOU,
GEEIJOE

for keeping us safe!

 

JBRish.com originally published this post< See previous PL8ATUDES HERE

**********

 

All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


Birds of Arizona: Glendale Recharge Ponds – Pt. 1

We had heard about the Glendale Recharge Ponds and the variety of birds they attract. As hikers and explorers, we decided we would head out that way to see what birds we could find. We started our jaunt early to have the best chance at seeing the most birds and while we thought it might be a bit tricky to find, the directions were actually quite good (see Part 2 for directions).

Right away we saw the discharge for which the ponds were named.


water being reclaimed

The facility is located west of and in a direct line with the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals football team.


University of Phoenix Stadium

Along the access road leading to the ponds and along the sides of the waterways, there was a variety of farms and stables.


Small farms and ranches abut the ponds


Very quickly we noticed something very, very annoying – – flies. Loads and loads of flies. Perhaps gnats would be more accurate! This might be very good for the birds, but not so pleasant for us.


Gnats were abundant and annoying

Can you see all those light brown specs in the picture above? Those are some of the flies that were flitting around as soon as we left the confines of our car. Let me circle (in red) a couple for you.


Gnats circled for reference
Only five were circled, but there were hundreds upon hundreds!

We traveled for about an hour to get to our destination so we were not be deterred. A move perhaps we would later regret.

Only a few short steps along the pathways we saw what I identified as a Cattle Egret. If you look closely on the neck you can see flies on the bird. Other gnats are also clearly visible on the bird.


Gnats on the Egret

We hadn’t planned on most of the wildlife to be so far away. As we walked, the waterbirds swam to the far side of the large pond to seek safety and therefore escape our gaze. While I had three cameras with me, the only camera that was useful was the Canon SX50 HS with a large zoom lens.


As we walked, most birds fled
Those specks in the distance are numerous waterbirds

A more intrepid pair of birds, Black-necked Stilts, weren’t as quick to run away. They were busy searching the shallow depths for food. These are very interesting birds not only because of their somewhat whimsical black and white coloration…


Black-necked Stilts looking for food

but because of their long legs! Now we know how they got their name!


Long legs of the Black-necked Stilts

Lurking farther down the path and around the bend was an alert and somewhat wary Great Blue Heron.


A wary Great Blue Heron keeping an eye on us

In several locations there were warnings about no fishing! I have since learned that people do fish there even with the signs posted.


No Fishing sign

There were many, many Coots in the ponds, but also in the group were several other water birds. The male Northern Shoveler Duck was quite handsome.


Northern Shoveler Duck among the Coots

A Killdeer looked on with interest probably wondering what we were doing out-and-about with all these bugs in the air.


Watchfull Killdeer

To read the other JBRish posts about our Killdeer visitors:

Birds of Arizona – Killdeer ( Charadrius vociferus )

Killdeer Eggs in Our Yard; Oh My!

Killdeer’s Empty Nest in our Front Yard

For more information about the Killdeer’s rearing process, you can read The Precocious Killdeer.

Unfortunately, wherever people go, there are bound to be traces that they were there. Whether intentional or not, we found a floating flip-flop and this football.


Floating lost football left behind at the ponds

Overall, however, there wasn’t too much debris. We continued to walk a while longer to complete the circuit around the one large pond nearest our car. We were becoming a bit uncomfortable trying to “chase down” the birds with all the bugs buzzing around.

Read Birds of Arizona: Glendale Recharge Ponds – Pt. 2

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


PL8ATUDES – March 27, 2018



Plate-A-Tude

We continue our series of personalized (vanity) license plates in Arizona. To maintain individual privacy, we try to show as little information about particular cars as possible as long as we can reveal the license plate.

NOTE – License plate photos may have been archived for quite some time. The years indicated on the registration stickers DO NOT necessarily reflect the current status of any given plate!

We hope you enjoy these PL8ATUDES!

****************************************


It’s

GR8LIVN

When you do your best, but don’t have to be

PERFCT

!

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
See previous PL8ATUDES HERE

**********

 

All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


Spring 2018 – What’s Growing in the Arizona Desert?

We have arrived at our spring planting season in the Phoenix, Arizona area even when other areas of the nation continue to be cold and perhaps stormy. I had an opportunity to visit the demonstration garden at the Maricopa County Extension Center which is maintained primarily by the Master Gardeners.

There were some interesting plants in full bloom and I wanted to share two of them with you. When I select a plant to grow, it is generally one that has impressive flowers. This can be small, numerous flowers or large, showy flower that are less in number.

I also like to have the flower-to-leaf ratio to be appropriate. I don’t want the leaves to overpower the flowers. The one exception to this would be a plant that has pretty or show leaves. One plant that comes to mind in this category is Milk Thistle. We have lots of critters in our neighborhood and they like many of the plants we enjoy so I need to be very selective.

Then there are some plants that people in our region select because they are unique.

One quite “different” plant at the demonstration garden is Lion’s Tail or Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus) – One look and it will be obvious how this flower received its name.

Lion's Tail or Wild Dagga

Here is a close up of the flower…

Lion's Tail or Wild Dagga - closeup

Lion’s Tail is reportedly a fast growing, drought tolerant plant!

You can read more about this unique plant in The San Francisco Gate article HERE. — scroll down.

Another unique and interesting plant is the Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos lablab or Lablab purpurea). This plant is grown as much for its purple seed pod as the plentiful light and dark pink flowers. If you have a place in your garden for a vine, this might be a very good choice.

Hyacinth Bean

Naturally if this is grown in our area, it must be heat tolerant, but the amazing thing is how well the vine tends to do even with the hight temperatures as long as it is given ample water.

Hyacinth Bean closeup

You can find more information about Hyacinth Bean HERE and HERE.

 

Read more gardening posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com