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By: Pat Whitfield
For: Red Rock News
Date: May 13, 2011


Flowering Plants and Your Dining Table

There’s a giant prickly pear cactus in my front yard that at this time every year blesses our neighborhood with an abundant display of bright yellow flowers. Across the summer months these are transformed into deep purple prickly pears which, I in turn, transform into jelly around Labor Day. The blossoms on my pear tree are starting to form little bulbs which will ultimately become tasty fruit. My neighbor tells me that her tomato plants are starting to produce veggies. Another neighbor has been carefully tending his raised garden to protect his beans, squash, and tomatoes from foraging javelinas. And, who could forget the Sedona area’s many apple orchards? As you drive up Oak Creek Canyon, you can still see the trees at Slide Rock State Park as well as numerous sites along the way north.

Many local families are now turning to homegrown produce due to a number of factors: the current state of the economy; concerns about pesticides; a desire to grow heirloom plants; and more. This marvel from flower to vegetable or fruit blesses our lives with bounty.

The Sedona Public Library has its own bounty – nearly 180 books related to vegetable gardening. Of these, there are several that can enlighten any Sedona gardener, interested in learning about growing their own vegetables in our desert climate.

George Brookbank’s “Desert Gardening: Fruits & Vegetables: the Complete Guide”is a good place to start gathering information. “Secrets to Success with Intermountain and High Desert Gardening: Mr. Vegetable’s Gardening Tips”by Gene Klump provides additional information for the novice desert gardener. “Native Harvest: Authentic Southwestern Gardening”by Kevin Dahl focuses on a regional perspective. And “Arizona: Vegetable Gardening”rounds out the basics for our climate and zone.

For those who want to protect their produce from foraging predators, there are several enlightening tomes. Delores Wolfe’s “Growing Food in Solar Greenhouses: a Month-by-Month Guide to Raising Vegetables, Fruit, and Herbs under Glass”is filled with tips as is Incredible vegetables from self-watering containers by Edward C. Smith.

“Kitchen Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful and Functional Culinary Garden”by Cathy W. Barash offers creative ideas for enhancing your larder as does “Vegetable Gardening from Planting to Picking: the Complete Guide to Creating a Bountiful Garden” by Jane Courtier. “Fresh Food from Small spaces: the Square-inch Gardener’s Guide to Year-round Growing” by R.J. Ruppenthal provides encouragement to those whose gardening space is limited as does Graham Rice’s “The All-in-One Garden: Grow Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, and Flowers All in the Same Plot.”

For those of a more conservationist bent, “Great Garden Companions: a Companion Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-free Vegetable Garden” by Sally Jean Cunninghammakes a strong anti-insecticide case. Organic gardeners can be inspired by “The Organic Home Garden: How to Grow Fruit and Vegetables Naturally”by Patrick Lima, and Joan Gussera’s “This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader.”Another enlightening text, designed for traditionalists, is “Gardening with Heirloom Seeds: Tried-and-True Flowers, Fruits, and Vegetables for a New Generation” by Lynn Coulter. Rodale, publisher of Prevention Magazine, has published a helpful guide in “Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver: the Best and Latest Advice for Beating Pests, Disease, and Weeds, and Staying Ahead of Trouble in the Garden”by Fern M. Marshall.

Let’s not leave the children out of the experience of gardening. “Gardening Wizardry for Kids”by L. Patricia Kite is filled with good information. And, just for pleasure, there’s the charming fictional tale “How Groundhog’s Garden Grew” by Lynne Cherry.

So, if you haven’t already gathered up your seeds, bedding plants, and garden tools, it’s not too late. And think about the pleasures you will enjoy once your garden begins to yield its bounty.

Pat Whitfield
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.
Pat Whitfield is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Sedona Public Library.

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