1/28/23 – Seed exchange and meeting at the library (approx. 13 people in attendance)

The seed library stand at the library is full of great seeds! Make sure to stop by and check it out.


September 2022 garden updates

June 2022 garden updates

12/4/21 – Seed and start exchange at the library (approx. 12 people in attendance)

We had a very nice seed group gathering outdoors at the library and exchanged seeds, plant starts, and advice.

Thanks much to Kim Goodwin for putting this together and bringing so many nicely organized seed packets. Thanks also to Erinn Enriquez, Ray Mendez, Craig McEwan, and Helen Snyder for their donations. There is lots of new seed in the cabinet at the library, including many flowers, herbs, lettuce, beans, squash, melons, corn, and more, so check that out.

We’re hoping to do the next meeting at the Davidson’s to see their aquaponic system.


6/19/21 – Seed meeting at the home of Ray and Joy Mendez (14 people in attendance)

We had a lovely meeting at the Mendez home in the forest above Portal.  Ray gave us a tour of his vegetable and flower gardens, and we discussed various gardening issues, including rainwater catchment.

5/15/21 – Seed meeting on Zoom (no recording available)

3/13/21 – Seed meeting on Zoom

pictures of Ray’s garden

pictures of Kim’s garden

3/6/21 (at the library) – We had an outdoor, socially-distanced seed exchange. Several people contributed and took seed packets.

4/27/19 (22 people in attendance; at the library)

  • There were several new people so we started with introductions that included what folks are growing now.
  • Several folks brought starts to exchange. Thank you!
  • There was discussion of the ample winter rains and changing weather and what effect that might have on growing.
  • Al brought up an issue with putting in new asparagus crowns that had some kind of disease that wiped out all his other asparagus; Jersey Giant are especially susceptible. Craig suggested planting from local seed. (Note that it does take three years for new plants to produce.)
  • The FOCC plant sale will be on May 25 at the Visitors Center. Al and Barbara will both be selling plants to benefit FOCC.
  • Karen has short lengths of PVC suitable for low hoops if anyone wants it.
  • Ruth Plenty has manure available. You haul. Call first. Her phone 520-558-1950.

3/10/18 (9 people in attendance; at the library)

  • We talked about spring garden plans and successes and challenges from last year.
  • We also talked about various local food options, including Azure Standard (local buying co-op), the new Ecoasis store/cafe in Bisbee (local produce, eggs, milk, prepared food, espresso and juice bar; in Tintown on the left about halfway between the traffic circle and Safeway), and the farmers market.
  • Maurine brought sweet potato slips to share.
  • Folks were encouraging of more meetings, including ones to share about what we’re all doing, which is motivating to us all!
    spring fava beans

4/15/17 – Gardening workshop at Keith Thomson’s house

3/25/17 (20 people in attendance; at the library)

  • It’s spring, and everyone is excited about starting the season! We had great attendance and several new people at the meeting.
  • We started with introductions and what we’re all growing, as well as challenges and suggestions.
  • Seeds were shared, as well as starts, produce, and seed catalogs. (Also, just a reminder that there is a “Microgreens” kit available for checkout at the library.)
  • There is an interest in food security as a topic.
  • Helen shared her Kuroda carrots, seeds available at Ace.
  • A new source for seeds, Pumpkin Nook, was mentioned. (See here for a list of seed sources.)
  • We discussed the farmers market.
    • Same location and hours as last year, Fridays 10am-noon
    • Will ask vendors not to sell before 10am
    • Vendors can bring by produce for consignment sales and can come after 10am (which might be a good way to stretch out sales)
    • Will start Fri., April 21
    • Encourage sales of homegrown produce and homemade crafts or other foods (not flea market-type used or new merchandise)
    • Hoping for several new vendors
    • We are very happy with all the community support for this!

10/14/16 (8 people in attendance; at the library)

  • We reviewed the success of the farmers market this year and talked about plans for next year.
  • We also talked about how everyone’s gardens went this year, various pest issues, and winter crops.

4/29/16 meeting (12 people in attendance; at the library)

  • We had a nice lunch meeting and talked about what everyone is planting and what challenges we are having.
  • We talked a lot about mice/rats, as well as bees. It was shared that cotton rats are common here and burrow. One suggestion was to put up owl boxes and perches. Helen shared this picture:
    “This is the remaining floor of a Barn Owl nest box (about 16 inches square) at La Buena Vida’s first farm, on S Painted Pony Rd. The owls fledged young for a number of years in the three boxes they put up, and that solid brown cake on the platform is the remains of many many rodents and a few rabbits. The walls and roof fell off and that cake was so firm it stayed put. It gives you an idea of how many rodents a pair of owls can do away with in a season.”

11/7/15 meeting (6 people in attendance; at the library)

  • Pizza lunch; catch up on how everyone’s gardens were this year
  • Big year for pests, especially mice

6/27/15 meeting (5 people in attendance; at the library)

  • Karen shared some items from the seed library forum in Tucson, including locally grown vs. commercial donations of seed, how to do germination testing (damp paper towels in an unsealed plastic bag – pics below), and seed library legislative efforts
  • We also talked about various garden invaders (insects, mammals), the current state of everyone’s gardens, compost, pollinators, and more


This info is from Native Seeds/SEARCH:

slide1 slide2 slide3

4/29/15 meeting (12 people in attendance; at the Schurians)

  • This was a hands-on fruit tree pruning session with Bill Cook from the county extension office. We always learn so much from Bill!

2/7/14 meeting (14 people in attendance; at Portal Library)

  • We started the meeting with a welcome to two new people and a discussion of what everyone’s been doing in their garden.
  • We talked about cover crops. Rye, hairy vetch, and clover were recommended. (Karen has successfully used white clover as a cover crop, but Barbara said it is invasive and prone to spreading.)
  • Someone asked about growing rhubarb here. Al said he’s grown it successfully, but that it needs shade.
  • Various methods of keeping animals away were discussed, including fencing, electrical gadgets, and water.
  • Good things to start now: greens, parsley, peas, radishes
  • The tractor supply store in Douglas carries seeds from Seeds of Change.
  • Karen talked about her new project of growing microgreens, which are fast growing (2 weeks) and especially nutritious.
  • Someone suggested that plastic bags with holes in them is a good way to store greens.
  • The book “Eating on the Wild Side” was recommended. (This is available through our library and on Amazon.)
  • Buzz reported that his three-sisters project was not successful for several reasons. We also talked about smut on corn and whether it is edible or poisonous. (Here are a few things I found online on this: NBC News, Wikipedia)
  • We talked about possible future meeting topics (beekeeping, Bill Cook, and a possible field trip to the Native Seed seed farm in Patagonia) and possibly holding meetings on Fridays instead of Saturdays.)
  • Various plants were shared. Thanks to everyone who brought something!

11/8/14 meeting (10 people in attendance; at Portal Library)

  • We started this meeting with a quick update on what everyone’s still growing and harvesting.
    • Lots of weird stuff is going on because of late rains.
    • Karen’s basil and broccoli resprouted and came back after being trimmed at soil level.
    • Apples were good this year. Gravenstein was noted as a good variety.
  • At this meeting, we talked about canning and had examples of three kinds of canners:
    • Water bath
    • Steam
    • Pressure – must be used for veggies, meats, and fish (anything but fruit which can be canned at lower temps) to prevent botulism.
  • We talked about altitude considerations. Adjust cook time as suggested in recipes.
  • Karen did some research on botulism. It can’t be smelled or tasted so beware! Happens most often when non-fruits are not pressure canned properly. Relatively low incidence.
    • There is a question about new varieties of tomatoes which are low acid. To be safe, add vinegar or pressure can.
  • Paula talked about adding sassafras to applesauce.
  • She also mentioned recent success with banana jam.
  • We talked about options for canning fruit with low or no sugar.
  • For keeping pickles crisp, picking lime was recommended; pickling salt may be too salty even with multiple rinses
  • Sweet leaf can be grown as a sweetener like stevia
  • Onions
    • Choose short day varieties
    • Al has grown around his tomatoes; good for water usage and to repel bugs.
  • Paste tomatoes – San Marzano – grown successfully here from seed

8/30/14 meeting (13 people in attendance; at Portal Library)

    • At this meeting we tested our soil for pH and various nutrients. Testing procedures were complicated by the fact that we had two different kinds of test kits, which had different procedures.
    • I did some testing on my own soil, comparing my improved garden soil with regular soil from the same area. Surprisingly, the results were nearly identical:
      • pH: about 7 (Generally, soil pH should be between 5.5 and 7, depending what you’re growing.)
      • Nitrogen: low (This really surprised me since I have added compost and organic fertilizer to this soil, as well as growing legumes there. Oh well, guess I need to do more!)
      • Phosphorus: medium +
      • Potassium: medium

soil test 7/27/14 meeting (8 people in attendance; at Portal Library)

      • We talked about what is growing well for everyone right now and what challenges we’re having.
      • Maurine brought apricot pits. She suggested planting peach and apricot pits in the ground about this time of year.
      • Helen talking about planting cilantro seeds and pouring boiling water over them upon planing. This works for carrots too. More info here.
      • It’s a good time to start planting fall crops like carrots.
      • We talked about bees and how to encourage them. One idea is bee boards. Karen has also had luck attracting bees and butterflies with a hedgerow. There are seeds for various flowers in the library.
      • Helen has grown North Stein dent corn and used it to make corn meal. She left some seed in the library.
      • Helen also brought some confection squash starts. They are a winter squash that should cure for at least 3 weeks and then is good for long term storage.
      • We talked about a seed library group that is doing online classes, webinars, and videos. (We are on their list of “sister libraries!”) Would we want to watch some of these together? Suggestion was that Karen preview materials and then send out links ahead of meeting for discussion at the meeting.
      • There was also a brief conversation about interest in a place to buy local produce on a regular basis and about what is going on with the Rodeo farmers market.
      • Possible topics for the next meeting: canning, mushrooms, soil and soil testing (have everyone bring in a handful of typical soil so we can compare)
      • Karen shared info about this tree nursery in Douglas which was recommended by a friend of hers. external image 14866412003_864cc63a23_o.jpg

4/12/14 meeting (12 people in attendance; at Portal Library) with Bill Cook

      • We had a start exchange with plants provided by Maurine, Buzz and Bobby, Karen, and Bill Cook. Bill also brought several new types of seeds which are now in the library. Thank you!
      • This meting was a presentation by Bill Cook from the County Extension office, present. We really appreciate Bill coming to share his knowledge with us. Here are the notes from his presentation. Some resources he suggested are also at the bottom of these notes.
      • Starting new plans is critical to the plant’s long term success.
      • Bill suggested Happy Frog soil (available from Curtis Nursery in Safford) and Milorganite fertilizer (which is not water soluble). [Note from Karen: Milorganite is “bio-based” but is not organic in the USDA sense of the word and is not approved to be used in organic certified growing. This seems like deceptive advertising to me. If you are considering using this product, you might want to read up on it.] He also said that there are coconut chips available from the old Eurofresh people. (Contact Karen or Dinah for more info.)
      • For starting tomatoes, Bill uses plug trans with bottom heat (74 degrees). He puts a humidity dome on top, just until they germinate.
      • For plants that grow faster like melons and cukes, seed in a larger pot.
      • Luffas need to be started early in a deep pot (at least 6 inches). When transplanting, warm the soil with black plastic.
      • If you use peat pots, make sure to tear out the bottom and tear off the top rim before planting.
      • Good sources for plastic pots are Growers Solution and Tennessee Farm Supply.
      • Regarding timing, slower growing chiles should be started in Dec., tomatoes in mid- to late-Feb., faster peppers in late Jan.
      • Water starts with warmish water. You can also put reflectors behind starts so they get more sunlight.
      • Before being transplanted to the garden, starts should be hardened (put outside to toughen up) for about 4 days.
      • When planting tomatoes, bury most of the stem and just leave a few leaves sticking up. This will increase roots and make for a stronger plant.
      • Soil temperature is very important in deciding when to transplant. (See handout below.)
      • Recommended tomato varieties:
        • Early Girl
        • Small purple roma (curly top resistant)
        • Big Boy (determinate – all come ripe at once)
        • Yellow pear
        • Cherokee purple
        • Celebrity or Ace 55
        • For heirlooms, look for ones that come from similar areas to ours (hot, similar elevation)
          • Mortgage Lifters
      • Companion plants
        • Devils claw attracts and kills aphids
        • Plant corn around melons to protect them
        • Cucumber beetles don’t like beans, so plant a few among cukes and melons
      • Squash bugs – Try to avoid their favorites (Big Max pumpkins, kabocha squash). These varieties are less bothered/more resistant: Chinese white pumpkins, spaghetti squash, hubbard squash, acorn squash). One remedy for squash bugs is to collect them with a dustbuster. Another is to collect them, make a slurry of them in a blender and then spread them on affected plants. This results in squashbug viruses being spread.
      • If you use drip irrigation, let it run for two consecutive cycles periodically (monthly or so) to prevent mineral deposit build up at a fixed level. Ag grade gypsum (pelletized, Soil Buster) also helps with this.
      • Bill shared the following handouts:
      • He also brought an Organic Method Gardening DVD from Elfrieda which will be available in the library.

3/1/14 meeting (14 people in attendance; at Portal Library)

      • We began by talking about what to plant when in our area.
        • Wait until monsoons for beans and corn.
        • Plant squash in two waves – one after last frost (May 15?) and one later.
        • Sweet potatoes – start planting after last frost, finish planting by June 5.
        • Boulders or big buckets of water (thermal mass) can be set by plants that are in danger of a late freeze.
        • Above 96 degrees, tomatoes won’t fruit. Many people had a problem with that last year.
        • Green ladybug-like bugs are bad!
        • Tomato hornworms glow in the dark with a UV light.
      • Craig did a presentation grafting fruit trees.
        • Trees from seed have inferior fruit and can take up to 10 years to bear fruit. By grafting mature scion, the time to fruit can be reduced to a couple years.
        • Root stock determines the ultimate tree size (dwarf, semi-dwarf, semi-standard, standard).
        • Harvest scion in autumn after the leaves drop; here can be done in the spring. (More info on this in last meeting’s notes)
        • Cut and refrigerate scion (so they don’t leaf out).
        • Graft before they leaf out (about now, late winter/early spring).
        • Sterilize tools.
        • Cut root stock to about 3″.
        • Craig demonstrated a cleft graft.
        • cleft
          • Slice through the middle of root stock (about 1″).
          • Cut scion so it has 1-3 buds (cut off top).
          • Cut a wedge on scion to to into root stock.
          • Make sure you can’t see any white when you put it in.
          • Don’t touch open cuts with your fingers.
          • Want one side of cambium layer to match cleft.
          • Tap with masking tape (acceptable substitute for grafting tape here).
          • Press cleft tight when taping to seal out air.
          • Seal open spots (e..g top and tape line) with grafting wax, or here, white glue will work.
          • In late summer, cut making tape to avoid girdling, but be careful not to cut bark and not to cut where graft is.

1/11/14 meeting (20 people in attendance; at Portal Library)

      • Maurine and Bobby brought cookies, and Maurine also brought kiwano fruit to share.
      • We had a guest speaker, Bill Cook from the County Extension office, present. Bill was fantastic. Here are the notes from his presentation. Some resources he suggested are also at the bottom of these notes. mtg2
      • Grafting
        • Root stocks is as important as top stock. This determines the size of the tree as well.
        • Bill is interested in grafting from elderly heirloom fruit trees if anyone has any they’d like to trade.
        • In the old times, trees were bred for things like insect resistance, frost resistance, vigor, taste, etc. Today, stocks are bred for commercial concerns like easy transport.
        • Scion is the smooth, shiny new growth that is used for grafting.
        • Good root stock for apples – MM111
        • Can graft multiple top stocks to one tree (apple, pear, citrus, combination of stone fruit)
      • Site selection
        • Important to consider micro-climates
        • Best is well-drained, sandy loam, north-facing slope ideally (warms at a slower rate, which slows down blossoming; early blossoming is a danger here because of late frost)
        • water – watch for dissolved solids
        • soil – might do a soil test; we tend to have hi pH here; can be treated with compost, sulfur (dispersed, only in winter) or ag grade gypsum
      • Recommended nurseries
      • Varieties
        • Best luck will be with late varieties because they bloom later
        • Variety selection also depends on what you’re going to do with the fruit (canning, etc.) Some varieties, like Manchurian apricots, don’t come ripe all at once. Others like Blenheim do come ripe at once.
        • Apples
          • Golden delicious – most adaptable and universal pollinator
          • Red delicious
          • For warmer areas, Fuji and Gala
          • For higher cooler areas, Granny Smith (later variety)
        • Pears
          • Beurre d’Anjou
          • Bartlett – can be susceptible to fire blight
        • Peach
          • Late Alberta
        • Plums
          • Stanley plums – frost hardy
        • Other less traditional fruits
          • Bush cherries – easy to grow (regular cherries bloom too early for here)
            • Nanking
            • Hansens’ sand cherry
          • Jujube – grows well here; doesn’t blossom until June
            • from China; lots of pectin, used in canning
            • Lang (bigger)
            • Li (pollinator)
          • Pomegranates
          • Figs – may need to insulate trunk in first few winters
            • Mission
            • Texas everbearing
            • White Kadota
      • Feeding and care of trees
        • Need to feed trees
        • Compost is best
          • Sierra Vista has a municipal compost program – $15/cubic yard
          • If you use manure, it needs to be aged
          • If you overfeed fruit trees, they might overproduce foliage instead of fruit (like tomatoes)
          • Lower pH also increases nutrient availability
      • Pruning
      • mtg1
        • (Bill gave a detailed demonstration, which I can’t really replicate here.)
        • See “Pruning Fruit Trees”
        • “more art than science”
        • Essential to have sharp tools (sharpen until they make a scissor sound) and use bypass not clevis
        • Use a file to sharpen on one side
        • Also useful: pole chopper, pruning blades
        • Preferred brands – Fisher, Corona; get professional quality
        • If trees have any disease, dip clippers in a sterilizing solution of 1 part Clorox and 9 parts water after every cut – “dip and clip”
        • For apples and most others, prune when dormant (winter).
        • When pruning, need to consider where fruit will grow (different on different types of trees)
          • Cultivate trees so fruit grows away from the limbs (to protect fruit from damage). Also want to balance the limbs.
          • For applies and pears, scion will only make leaves. Fruit buds will be on 2nd year and older growth. The spurs (claw like older sections) are on even older growth and will yield best fruit.
          • Cutting off all the scion will stunt trees.
          • For peaches, fruit is only on the scion (opposite of apples). Still need to prune because if scion is too long (2-3 feet), fruit will be too heavy and will break branches. Generally, prune 2/3 of scion back to about 1/3 of length. Prune after last hard frost.
          • For apricots, best fruit is on 2-3 year old growth. Spurs are on 2 year old scion. Thin these less than others. Take out cross limbs to allow sun in.
          • For peaches and apricots, cultivate new sprouts near older limbs that will be taken out soon.
          • Plums – prune similar to apricots.
          • For jujube, prune to shape rather than to optimize fruit buds
          • Figs and pomegranate – cuttings will root in potting soil; use something like Rootone
        • Thin fruit when you have clusters to 1-2 fruits to maximize fruit size. Thin before they are golf-ball sized and cut and leave the stems on tree.
      • Pollination
        • Pollination is better with multiple trees, even if they’re self pollinating.
      • Pests
        • Cutter bees – Let them be. They’re not around for long and more beneficial than harmful. (They won’t kill trees.)
        • Can cover young trees with floating row cover.
        • Hi yield dormant oil (make sure it is paraffinic – 97% – don’t get petroleum based) – apply with hose end sprayer for aphids, spider mites, etc. – can be used at a low strength for small chile plants also – drench quickly until plant is dripping
      • Organic potting soil recommendation – Happy Frog
      • Resources from Bill

11/2/13 meeting (12 people in attendance; at Portal Library)

      • Several people brought goodies to share. Thank you to Al for sourdough bread and dried tomatoes and apples, Dinah and Barbara for pumpkin bread, and the Schurians for sorghum syrup samples. Karen brought a few canned goods, and Craig showed us his peanuts.
      • We began talking about sorghum harvesting and milling.
      • Karen shared her good experiences with steam juicers. They’re especially great for prickly pears which can be steamed whole with the stickers and all. Here’s one new. You can get them for under $40 on eBay. Karen is happy to loan hers out to try.
      • Dinah showed us some of her grubs which destroyed the roots of most of her plants. Various possible solutions were discussed.
      • Al let us sample dried tomatoes (3 days in the sun) and apples (3 days in his truck bed, then freeze in case there are any bugs).
      • We talked about drying sweet potatoes, and Maurine shared that she dries pumpkin puree, grinds it, and uses 2 tablespoons of powder with 1 cup of water as a substitute for oil in baking recipes.
      • We also talked about sourdough and talked about garden plans for fall and winter. (Here’s a sourdough website I love: http://www.sourdoughhome.com/
      • We’d like to have our next meeting in early January and talk about fruit and nut trees. Karen will talk to the Cochise County Extension Agent about coming, and Craig will try to arrange another guest. Stay tuned for a date!

9/14/13 meeting (10 people in attendance; at the native plants garden at the ranger station)

      • Thanks to the ranger station for hosting, and thanks to everyone who’s made the native plants garden possible. It is beautiful and educational.
      • Al brought a variety of plant starts to share. Both Al and Greg brought several publications about native plants which will be put in the seed library collection at the library.
      • Al and Greg shared some information about native plants.
        • A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona is a recommended book. (available at research station and museum)
        • Many native seeds need to be in the freezer over the winter before planting (like some fruits and nuts). Some also need to be scarified (the outside layer scraped).
        • Planting native grasses is difficult because harvester ants and rodents eat the seeds. In one study, 100% of seeds planted were eaten. Non-native grasses don’t have this problem because the seeds are much smaller.
        • Invasive, non-native grasses such as Lehman’s love grass and Johnson grass were brought here during the Dust Bowl.
        • Mesquite has many benefits to native plant and animal populations. Mesquites are native to riparian areas here.
      • Greg gave some background on the native garden and acknowledged the hard work of Reed Peters, Barbara Miller, and others in getting it started. Here is a list from Barbara of all the plants at the garden.
        • The garden only has plants native to this area.
        • The garden has many plants attractive to pollinators (insects, butterflies).
        • There is a layer of hardpan under the garden that has been challenging. Most plants made it through the first winter though.
      • There was some discussion of ways to repel herbivores. Pepper sprays with capsaicin can be effective.
      • The meeting concluded with a walk through the garden and a sampling of Al’s delicious pickled vegetables.
      • Our next meeting will be about preserving the bounty of our gardens — canning, pickling (including kimchi), freezing, and more.

greg_and_al.jpg zauschneria.jpg desert honeysuckle.jpg butterfly.jpg On 9/7/13, the seed library made a presentation at Heritage Days that was well received. Here are the slides.


8/10/13 meeting (11 people in attendance; at Buzz and Bobby Schurian’s house)

      • Thanks to Buzz and Bobby for hosting!
      • We discussed the upcoming seed library presentation at Heritage Days which will be 9:45am on Sat., Sept. 7. If anyone has suggestions or wants to co-present, let Karen know.
      • Q: How do you tell when corn is ready to harvest? A: Pull back the tassel and press a kernel. If it gives off milk, it’s ready. Also, if the tassel is dry, it might be past time.
      • Q: When do you harvest Jerusalem artichokes? A: After the first freeze.
      • Q: When are lettuce seeds are germinated in a cooler (see notes from 3/30 meeting), when are they ready to plant? A: As soon as they germinate, they can be planted outside. Also, while they’re in the cooler, seeds on a paper towel should be kept in a plastic bag to keep from drying out.
      • Now is a good time to plant winter crops like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and Chinese greens.
      • Some kinds of onions tend not to grow well here because our summer days are relatively short. Varieties that grow well include: Texas super sweet, Texas grano, yellow Valencia, and candy. Seeds available from Dixondale Farms. Maurine said that she’s had better luck growing from seed than from sets.
      • Planting tip: When the moon is waxing (going from new to full), plant above ground plants. When the moon is waning (going from full to new), plant below ground plants. More info here.
      • We had a nice tour of Buzz and Bobby’s garden, which was most impressive!
      • For our next meeting, we’d like to focus on native plants. Karen to coordinate with Dirk, Al, Craig, Barbara, and possibly Greg Magee.

garden_tour1.jpg garden_tour2.jpg\ 6/29/13 meeting (11 people in attendance; at Barbara Miller’s house)

      • We had a lovely tour of Barbara’s impressive flower and vegetable garden. Lots of veggies growing big here! short video here
      • Dripworks is a good site from which to buy irrigation supplies.
      • It was recommended that after salvia bloom, you cut off the top 1/3 and then they’ll bloom again.
      • There was discussion of hydroponics as a way to grow. (I think that U of A’s WaterWise program is doing a workshop on this in August if anyone is interested.)
      • Jeanne Williams brought lots of Gaillardia seeds to share. (They’ll be put in the library collection as soon as they dry out.)

6/1/13 meeting (4 people in attendance; at Karen and Brad’s house)

      • Maurine Joens donated several plant starts to the group, including sweet potatoes, which we had much discussion about. These grow great in our area. Thanks, Maurine!
      • We toured Karen and Brad’s garden beds and talked about covering beds and irrigation.
      • Here are the highlights of our irrigation system:
        • We love drip irritation with timers for automatic watering. (Otherwise, Karen occasionally forgets to water and things die.)
        • We generally run one dripper to each tomato plant…


        • For other things, like lettuce, beans, etc., we use sprinklers. Here is a new sprinkler that we really like. It has a big reach. We’ve only needed about 3 in a 5′ x 18′ bed.

        sprinkler2.jpg sprinkler.jpg

      • We use Claber timers, which we also like. timer.jpg
      • We ate bread and scape pesto. Yum!
      • Speaking of scapes (from garlic)….We’ve had a good garlic harvest. We sprinkled one bed of garlic daily starting in mid May. When we harvested garlic this year that bed had bulbs twice to three times as large as the other bed that we water once a week. Food for thought.

5/4/13 meeting (10 people in attendance)

      • We began with an exchange of plant starts. We were very appreciative to have onion sets shared by Clarence Hooker. Other plants that were brought included tomatoes (many varieties), sweet potatoes, chickweed, basil, eggplants, primrose, and peppers.
      • We talked about soil, mulch and composting.
        • Barbara Miller’s tips are shared here.
        • pH of soil is important (and may be affected by type of materials added); slightly acidic (6.8) is desirable, but this varies by plant.
        • Soil testing is worth doing.
        • Several people reported using shredded clippings and leaves sometimes with manure.
        • We talked about rock dust and green sand as additives. There was also a discussion of “wicking beds,” the process of burying things like sap tree yucca.
        • It was suggested that composting in pits is more efficient and requires much less water.
        • People have mulched successfully with pecan leaves.
      • Other miscellaneous items
        • Jeanne Williams donated several books to the seed library, including ones on composting and dying with weeds.
        • There was a discussion about good companion plants, such as spinach or asparagus with strawberries.
        • Planting onions from seed: plant in Feb./March, ready in late summer/fall
        • A new seed resource from Maurine: Seedaholic.com
        • Link for Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture (BASA) from Karen; they do workshops on bokashi, farm tours, and other educational programs
        • Jackie has Sacaton grass and Siberian Elm if anyone would like any (will have four o’clocks in Aug.)
      • Suggestions for future meetings included wild edibles and berries
      • It was suggested that future meetings include something on cooking and eating.
      • The next meeting will be about irrigation and will be at Karen and Brad’s house on _ (TBD)

3/30/13 meeting__ (10 people in attendance)

      • There were several new people in attendance so we did introductions and talked about our gardens and interests.
      • We shared information about growing greens.
        • This is a good time to plant spring greens. Fall greens can be planted in late September for growing over winter.
        • It’s hard to seed save arugula because the seeds are so small.
        • Karen had samples of row cover (there are some extras at the library if anyone would like to try this) and said that growing greens under that (and nothing else) had been successful. (Here are some commercial sources for row cover, with the brand names Remay and Agribon: Johnny’s, Southern Exposure, Amazon. If you have other good sources, email them to us to post.)
        • Maurine described a technique for germinating seeds in an ice chest. Spinach, for example, likes to be germinated in cold temperatures. Put the seeds in a cold ice chest for a couple days. Then put between damp towels until the seeds germinate and plant. This is a good way to germinate lettuce in July when it is too hot otherwise. This can be done with warm temperature germinators too. Controlling the temperature makes sure seeds germinate when you want them to and saves seeds as well.
        • Some specific plants and varieties mentioned included chickweed, bronze-tipped lettuce, giant noble spinach
      • The suggestion was made to get the seed library on Howard’s Portal web site.
      • Future group topics of interest are trees, wild things you can eat, and greenhouse construction.
      • Regarding the start sale/exchange, the library isn’t doing a book sale on Earth Day; however, there is the community garage sale in Rodeo on April 20. Several people were interested in buying starts from the greenhouse in San Simon (Clarence Hooker). Karen will contact him to see if he wants to do a table at the Rodeo garage sale.
      • The next meeting will be a start exchange, and we’ll also talk about mulch, compost, and soil preparation.

2/23/13 meeting (14 people in attendance)

      • Everyone shared their crop plans for the upcoming year. We talked about planting techniques, what grows well, differences in local conditions, etc.
      • To reiterate, our group is interested in both edible plants and non-edible (especially native or native-friendly) species.
      • We got a donation of a nice seed cabinet from Jackie Lewis. This will be cleaned and set up in the library for our next meeting.
      • Lots of new seeds were brought in, including: chili peppers (several kinds), yellow-fleshed watermelons, red amaranth, Georgia collards, black Texas sorghum, white Sonoran wheat, broom com sorghum, Rocky Ford green muskmelon, California Buckeye cow peas, Simpson lettuce, Bisbee Red cow peas, Nantes carrots, honeydew, red moon and stars watermelon, purple top white globe turnip, yellow moon and stars watermelon, Asian yard long beans, fava beans, and barrel cactus.
      • There was interest in doing a plant start exchange (or sale). We talked about having one both in March and April.
      • Our next meeting will about growing greens. We will publicize to the broader community.
      • Future meeting topics should include native plants and irrigation

1/26/13 meeting (10 people in attendance) The following topics were discussed:

      • Introductions and everyone’s interests
      • How to contribute and organize seeds It was decided that initially we would not charge any fees, but ask that people try to contribute roughly what they put in. People need to be a member of the seed library to participate, but anyone can become a member for free. For those who don’t have seeds to contribute, an optional collection jar will be available. If this doesn’t work out, we’ll reevaluate.Please make sure to write in the in the binder what seeds you contribute or take out!* Also, several ideas for a more permanent storage unit were discussed. Karen will talk to Kathleen.
      • Educational ideas It was brought up that meetings could be organized around educational topics. Everyone liked this idea. Future topics could include: garden plan for upcoming year, a start exchange, growing tips and experiences (perhaps with a different person leading each session), irrigation, composting, native plants, etc.We also talked about possibly meeting at different participants’ gardens in the future.
      • Lots of ideas about seed saving and growing were exchanged.
      • It was suggested that we might arrange trades of various supplies, etc. For example, someone might be looking for small start containers, and someone else might have extras available. This page has been set up for this purpose.
      • Next meeting – The group wanted to meet again next month. The agenda will be exchanging information about our crop plans for this year.
      • Seed exchange – Seeds were contributed to the library box and some were exchanged. Here is a current inventory. (* We are redoing the form for the check-out process.)

Thank you to everyone who attended! This was a great start to our seed library.


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