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Seed Starting Season in Phoenix

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Seed starting season never feels quite right in Phoenix.  As I write this, we just got .40" of our first winter rain of the season and the Christmas tree just went up over the weekend.  But, it's still time to start seeds for the spring season.  In fact, it's probably even a week or two late.  When it's time to start getting ready for the fall season it'll be July and you're sure to be more concerned about the 110+ degree temps going away than about getting some squash ready to plant in September.   Nonetheless, it's time to start sorting through your seeds and thinking about what veggies seem like they'll be delicious in the late spring.  Luckily the process couldn't be easier. Equipment needed: Seeds Seed starting mix Planting containers (I use old cardboard egg cartons) Seed starting tray Nursery pots UV grow lights , or a sunny windowsill Wooden kebab skewer, or similar small poking instrument Guide to growing vegetables in the desert (I like So

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Gift Guide for the Yard and Garden

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Have someone who loves growing a flourishing garden and verdant yard?  Here's a guide to perfect gifts for them this holiday. Lawn: Electric lawn tools.  Maintain your yard without wasting time maintaining your tools.  I've been using the Ryobi One+ system for the past 3 years and will never go back.  No trips to the gas station with a fuel canister in my trunk; no mixing oil and gas for a two cycle engine; no spark plugs to deal with...just throw in a battery and go.  Why Ryobi?  The One+ system has almost 200 tools and appliances that all take the same battery, I use them for lawn care, woodworking, and cleanup, all with out multiple chargers and battery types. Garden Christmas time is also the start of the spring planting season for gardeners starting from seed, and its the perfect time to get the outdoor beds ready for transplants.  With the right shade and water, Phoenix is a great place for backyard/porch garden that can produce nearly year-round.  Nothing beats a home-gr

Transitioning to Winter Rye in Phoenix, Simplified

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  Cooper tested, Cooper approved! As with my actual annual transition to a winter lawn, this post is probably coming a little too late to be useful this year.  But since the weather this year has been unusually hot (today we expect record high temps of 89 degrees on November 16...), perhaps there's still a chance for you stragglers to benefit from my experiences. If you have a lawn of Bermuda grass, or another summer grass, and you don't want to have a winter of dead brown grass, then overseeding with rye is for you.  Tools & Materials Garden rake Seed spreader ( drop spreade r preferred, broadcast acceptable ) Shovel Wagon / wheelbarrow Lawn Mower  - I prefer electric for a small yard due to not needing any maintenance Annual rye seed Fertilizer Topper - I prefer Kellogg organic Topper, you can find it at Home Depot. A little work and you'll have a nice winter yard! Overseeding entails a few phases of preparation and work.  First is reducing the water for your Bermuda

Shade cloths, a vegetable garden lifesaver in the desert

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Oh what a difference shade makes!  The left-half of the garden only got covered an hour before the photo was taken, while the right-half has been covered for over a month and is still verdant.  Ignore the sunflower mess. Once June heat takes hold in the low desert you will see a decline in garden productivity. Some of your plants, like peas and beans, will probably be done for the season and will die off completely.  Others, like peppers, might not care much that they've been placed into an oven.  But others, like tomatoes, will stop producing yet stay alive until a second spurt of fruiting in the fall--if you give them enough water and protection from the sun. Some of you might be lucky enough to have a perfectly positioned tree that shades your crop in the summer, the rest of use have to rely on shade cloths .  They can be so effective that I have a lavender that lived through multiple 115+ degree days in the most exposed part of my yard because it's under a shade cloth.

Arlo Cameras, a constant, frustrating disappointment

Part of upgrading and customizing our house was installing a security camera at the front door.  After much researching, I chose Arlo due to the generally good reviews of their cameras, NetGear's stronger data-privacy policies, and the fact that they made a nice baby monitor camera too.  The ability to use custom activity zones for recording activity sounded great as well.  Wireless was important because I had no desire to run a wired system through the house. We started off with the Arlo Ultra camera powered by the Arlo solar panel.  The Ultra is their top-of-the-line wireless camera with 4k recording.  The solar panel just made sense due to being in Phoenix and having an over-abundance of sunshine. Installation was pretty easy--just three screws into the wall outside and the camera base was on, same for the solar panel.  Set up was also fairly easy, just following the prompts.  But quickly there were problems communicating between the camera and base station and/or app, lead

My favorite tools for household handiwork

Whether you are a renter or a home owner there are a variety of tools that will come in handy in a variety of circumstances.  Whether it's a simple hammer to hang photos or a table saw to build your own furniture, the tools I prefer to get the job done are discussed below. Avoid in Most Cases  - the little tool kits that purport to provide all you need .  Unless you are resolute that you will never use tools for anything other than hanging a picture or tightening loose screws, they offer more style than substance.

My favorite power tools for the yard

When it comes to lawn and garden maintenance it all starts with a good set of tools. When it comes to the power tools, I'm generally partial to battery powered equipment. The maintenance is practically nonexistent, they're far quieter, and since they don't run on gas they don't pollute or require trips to the gas station and fuel-oil blends. Ryobi's One+ system of 18 volt battery powered tools is the way to go--the entire line of tools use the same battery so you can power your mower, impact drill, and dust buster all with the same power source. Ryobi also makes a 40 volt line of battery powered equipment for those who need more umph, but the product line is far more limited than the 18v options.  I have three of the 4 amp batteries and they are all I need to mow, weed eat, and have juice left over for my driver when needed.

Gaia x GTFO = Discounted GPS!

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