How did your cool season veggie gardens fare this past winter?
If you're pulling out the last of your cabbages and carrots to make way for the warm season varieties, then why not celebrate with a little end-of-cool-season Asian chicken salad?
Salads are a great way to use up things in the garden that you don't have a bunch of at the end of a season. You may be left with one head of cabbage and maybe a couple of broccoli florets that are still edible. Keep in mind that greens that have produced a flower stalk are past their prime and may not be palatable anymore. Almost anythings goes with this salad so load the harvest basket with any of these that are still standing:
Red or Green Cabbage
Lettuce (head or leaf)
Peas (with pods)
For the Chicken:
Start with about 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs in a gallon ziplock bag.
Add to that 1/4 cup of soy sauce.
2 tablespoons of seasoned rice vinegar
1 clove of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of honey
Zip up the bag and shake it to evenly coat the chicken.
Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the chicken and sauce in an oiled baking dish and bake for 20 min.
Once chicken has cooled, cut it into bite sized pieces.
For the Salad:
You'll want to chop about 5 cups of mixed greens (cabbages, lettuces and bok choi, etc.).
Grate your carrots into the greens until you're happy with the orange to green ratio in the salad (approx 2-3 small to medium carrots)
Add a handful of chopped broccoli florets, or more if you'd like.
2-3 chopped scallions with white and green parts included.
Add a cup or so of whole pea pods.
One handful of chopped cilantro with stems included.
(other add-ins could include cooked spaghetti, chopped almonds, crispy won tons, or segmented mandarin oranges)
Toss the chicken pieces with the salad and dress with Annie's Naturals Shitake Sesame Dressing.
*This will make 2 large dinner sized portions, (with some leftovers for tomorrow's lunch) or 4 side salad portions.
Spring is such a beautiful time here in our desert.
If you're looking to drastically reduce your water consumption in the landscape, you won't be disappointed by planting some Mojave Desert Natives.
These tough plants can be used for both a subtle layered addition to other drought tolerant non-natives, or a carefully placed show stopper of their own.
The greatest part about adding natives is that they require little to no additions to the soil. These plants actually prefer our alkaline and nutritionally poor soil as well as little water once established.
Make sure they are planted in a well draining, sandy soil and be careful not to over water.
It's truly amazing what these plants do to survive.
Globe Mallow Louis Hamilton Globe Mallow
You'll notice that a lot of Mojave natives have light or even silvery foliage. This is not only one of the keys to their survival, but it adds a great contrast when used with darker foliage in your landscape. Adding depth and interest to your design can also be water smart!
Plenty of the natives produce brightly colored flowers during the spring and some again in the fall. Though the bloom season is short, it is well worth it! They attract pollinators! This is crucial if you're also planning a vegetable garden or planting fruit trees. Consider this low maintenance way of inviting in our bee friends.
Gets the best selection of our newly arrived vegetable and herb transplants!
A great way to grow salad
You've planned, pruned and prepped and now you're ready to get your spring vegetable garden in the ground. Or in a raised bed. Or in multiple pots. Wherever it's going to be, make sure that you're armed with some burlap or insulating fabric and be ready on a day's notice to cover up your latest additions in the event that we get a sudden drop in temperatures over the next month.
Ok now that the technical stuff is covered...
We have lots of new varieties to get excited about this spring as well as your regularly scheduled program of favorites.
Have a hankering for hot peppers?
Check out our latest in the heirlooms. We have the varieties to turn up the heat.
The Shishito is a traditional Japanese pepper that's on the milder side. The three inch long size makes it great for tempura.
The Fish Pepper is so named for it's use in spicy seafood dishes on the East coast in the 1940's.
The bonus is in the beautiful white and green foliage. Ornamental and edible all in one!
The Padron Pepper originated in Northern Spain and it's small, but don't underestimate it. This pepper will keep you guessing if you're going to get a hot one. Served traditionally tapas style; sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.
If it's tomatoes you're after, you won't want to miss these new heirloom grape varieties.
Grape tomatoes are so easy and rewarding to grow. The small fruit ripens faster than the larger fruited varieties and makes for great snacks in the garden.
Fruit Punch Cherry Tomato is real treat with it's sweet, true tomato flavor.
Tiny Tim Cherry Tomato is the perfect container tomato plant as it grows to about 12 inches tall, and bushy so there's no staking required.
Some of the earliest signs of spring prompt questions to our sales associates in the nursery "where can I get one of those Japanese Cherry Blossom trees that you see blooming all over town?" While you can grow cherry trees here in the Vegas Valley, people are more likely to be seeing the blossoms of other ornamental and fruiting trees.
The beautiful blooms of peaches, apples, plums and nectarines all have similar characteristics.
The clusters of white to dark pink flowers that don the otherwise bare branches in the spring, are the promise of the sweet fruit to come in the summer.
Most people are surprised to hear that we can grow fruit trees here in the desert. The varieties that are available at our stores have been carefully selected for their ability to thrive here in the Mojave.
If you're willing to put in a little time for regularly scheduled maintenance then you'll soon be eating fresh fruit right from your very own trees.
The hard part will be to decide what to plant!
We always say plant what you like to eat because you're going to eventually end up with a lot of it.
It's hard to resist spending the day outdoors when the weather is as nice as it has been this past week. Even if you've never touched a spade to the earth you find yourself with the urge to plant some flowers.
It's perfect weather to add some spring colors to your pots and refresh those tired flower beds with some new additions.
If you're starting from scratch, planting in pots are an easy way to add some color to your space while not making a huge commitment. Your best bet for location is a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Or an area that has a slatted wood or shade cloth patio covering for diffusing sunlight.
Cineraria and Geraniums
When choosing a pot make sure that there's a hole in the bottom for water to drain out. Always use a potting soil versus a planting mix. Potting soils are specifically formulated for containers and will assist in your flower growing success.
When refreshing flower beds, it's important to remove any old flowers, weeds, or grasses from the growing area. Leaving old growth in the bed to decay will only attract
unpleasant smells and unwanted pests.
Till up the ground and mix in some fresh planting mix and mulch to the top 6 inches of soil.
Phlox Intensia Cabernet
You can get creative with different waves of colors and contrasting mixes in your beds. With all the eye catching options available in the spring you can let your inner designer run wild.
Here's a fun way to spend Valentine's Day for the whole family!
A three tiered planter that can be used as a seasonal or holiday show piece.
Think of all the possibilities!
Here we've planted cyclamen in the traditional V-day colors. These flowers will withstand the possible cooler weather that we can still get in February.
Here's what you'll need:
1 16" standard clay pot
1 8" standard clay pot
1 6" standard clay pot
1 bag (1 cubic foot size) potting soil
paint (we used tempera) and foam brush
clay pot sealer (spray on or brush to seal the pot)
roughly 14-16 4" size flowers of your choice (cyclamen seen here)
mountain moss to fill in gaps and for aesthetics
You'll want to start by painting your pots and then sealing them with the clay pot sealer. Set them aside to dry according to the sealer directions. You can really get creative with your paint.
We chose to only paint the rim of the pots white so that we would have a neutral base to decorate for future holidays.
Next you'll want to fill your largest pot with soil all the way up to about 4" from the bottom of the rim.
Lightly tamp down the soil to form a base for your second pot. Continue to fill the other two pots the same way. Then you'll stack the medium size on top of the large and the smallest on the very top.
We chose to fill the pots all the way with soil and place them one on top of the other so that when we water the top pot, the excess water will drain from the bottom of the top pot all the way
through the other two pots.
Now it's time to place your plants! Carefully pull the plants from the 4" containers and place them into the soil.
You can space out the plants as close or as far apart as you'd like. We wanted a more full, almost "bushy" planter, so we kept them very close together. We alternated between white and red cyclamen on the bottom tier, and then alternated red and pink on the second tier. We saved the most beautiful pink cyclamen to be placed in the top pot. Lastly we filled in any gaps where the soil was showing with a little mountain moss to set off the whole project.
Make sure you water thoroughly when finished and enjoy!
If giving roses for Valentine's day isn't your style, check out some of our other plant-able gifts!
Bright red Anemone would be a bold centerpiece in a thoughtful potted arrangement.
Pink Chinese Jasmine Heart Topiary
This vining Jasmine's light pink fragrant flowers are intoxicating! It would be a beautiful addition to a backyard entertaining or dining area. Make a candle-lit dinner even more romantic with this
The Purple Shamrock, also known as the "love plant", is delicate with sweet purple heart shaped leaves and gets the prettiest little lavender flowers. This is perfect for that special someone that tends to forget to show their plants some love as they can take a couple missed watering sessions. Makes an excellent houseplant!
Stop by your neighborhood Star Nursery for more Valentine's Day gift ideas!
Ahhh roses. The quintessential Valentine's day flower. Have you been giving the same cut roses to your sweetheart year after year? Are you ready to change things up a bit? Sure, long stemmed cut roses are beautiful in a vase, but they don't last very long and by the time they've reached the end they're in a pretty sad state.
Consider giving a rose that keeps on giving year after year.
Roses do extremely well in our desert landscape and once they are established they can be quite drought tolerant. They look beautiful intermingled with everything from evergreens to desert natives.
They're also an excellent addition to a container or balcony garden.
Sweetest mini roses
Mini roses are too cute to pass up and are an excellent answer to a small space.
With so many varieties in color, height, fragrance and shape, you're bound to find something to impress even the most particular connoisseur.
If your better half is already tending to a rose garden of their own, try adding to their collection of already patent or non-patent roses. What could be sweeter than gifting that coveted color that your special someone has been longing for? An assortment of tools, gloves, or flower producing fertilizers would round off a total gift package.
Studies have repeatedly shown that gardening is healthy for us in numerous ways.
It gets us a little exercise, keeps our air clean and it gives us the ability to nurture something, which helps keep our minds sharp and adds to a deeper sense of purpose and well being.
These things are important whether you're 8 years old or 80 years young. So we got together with the Nevada Adult Day Healthcare Centers and two eager Girl Scout troops and their families to spend some time and do some intergenerational planting together.
We had a blast making recycled newspaper planters to house some flowers for everyone to take home. The scouts and the seniors worked side by side rolling and taping and getting their hands dirty.
The NADHC has an amazing staff that is always on the forefront of creativity when it comes to making crafts out of recycled materials. Their centers are bright and cheery with lots of artwork on the walls and tables made by the seniors themselves.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the planting and
thank you to NADHC for always being an inspiration!