Archive for Gardening

The Green Goddess Nursery is the place for outdoor living spaces

egg supplies

The Green Goddess Nursery sells plenty of supplies for the Big Green Egg in North Phoenix, AZ (Photo By: Christina Thompson 2012).

One of the great places to shop for desert and greenhouse plants is The Green Goddess Nursery located in North Phoenix, Arizona.  Its location is on Bell Road between 40th Street and Tatum Boulevard.  They are open seven days a week, Monday-Friday 7am-5pm and 8am-5pm, Saturdays and Sundays.  This is a strictly local business, which provides great customer service and helps customers design the best outdoor living space for their homes.  They also provide customers with the option to follow them on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.  They also have a company blog and they offer coupons to their patrons and new comers on their website.  One product they offer to outdoor cooking and kitchen enthusiasts is the Big Green Egg, an oven, a smoker, and a grill all in one.  “Grilling Prickly Pear cactus is one preparation for it,” says Green Goddess Nursery Manager, Aaron Grimm.

mini egg

This Mini Green Egg is available for purchase at The Green Goddess Nursery and great for small spaces in Phoenix (Photo By: Christina Thompson 2012).

This place has something for everyone in the North Phoenix and Scottsdale location.  Shop and buy local, as always.



These Prickly Pear cactus are available, along with many other cacti at The Green Goddess Nursery in North Phoenix, AZ (Photo By: Christina Thompson 2012).

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Hydroponic gardens are great for foodies and chefs alike


Hydroponically grown basil at AZ Growing store in Scottsdale, Arizona (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).


This small hydroponic system is a great beginner kit for people wanting to try hydroponic gardening available through AZ Growing (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Many people in this world are turning to hydroponic gardens to grow their fruits, vegetables, and herbs.  In a recent article published in Maximum Yield Magazine, author Dr. Lynette Morgan says, “Fortunately, flavor in fruits and vegetables is something that can be manipulated to various degrees by the grower—and in hydroponics we have far greater control over growth factors than we do with outdoor crops—so there’s no reason for our homegrown flavors not to be fantastic…” Restaurant owner, Homaro Cantu, recently made an aeroponics(a type of hydroponic gardening) garden in the basement of one of his restaurants because he realized the value of taste that comes from growing hydroponically.


High yielding cherry tomato plants being grown indoors with lights and hydroponics at AZ Growing in Scottsdale, Arizona (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Chefs are not the only ones talking about hydroponics.  A cast of hydroponic garden hobbyists created a podcast called “Heavy T’s Grow Show”, where listeners can call and ask questions, listen to interviews, and receive prizes just for calling in.  With the influx of people turning to hydroponics, especially in more arid desert regions like Phoenix, Arizona, it must be an easy way to grow plants, right?  Aaron Heimes of AZ Growing located in Scottsdale, Arizona says, “You need to pick up a book.  The book that I read and helped me get started is How-to Hydroponicsby Keith Roberto.”  Reading about hydroponics and the do-it-yourself techniques will teach anyone how to make their food taste better.


Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate (LECA) being used for a hydroponic growing medium at the AZ Growing store (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

hydroponic system

Hydroponic systems can also be very intricate like this one at the AZ Growing store (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).


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The Sustainable Garden Chef

Many chefs are turning into farmers as well.  They are growing crops sustainably on rooftops, gardens, and in rooms themselves.  One restaurateur and chef, Homaro Cantu, is pioneering a new farming technique for chefs, aeroponic farming.   Another chef transplanted here from Kenya, Chef Kabui, is also taking his knowledge of farming and environment to his house land and catering business.  The Chef’s Garden is a company that is producing great organic vegetables for chef’s to grow in their gardens for their restaurants.  All these people are helping to evolve the revolution of the “Sustainable Chef/Restaurant.”


Chef Margaret plants lettuce on her balcony in Cincinnati, Ohio, to prepare for a busy summer of private chef parties on Mar. 29, 2012 (photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).


Red Leaf Lettuce in the hands of Chef Margaret being properly planted on Mar. 26, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio (photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).


The tasty lettuce being clipped out of the Cincinnat, Ohio apartment garden by Chef Margaret and being put right into a healthy salad for a party on Mar. 29, 2012 (photo by Christina Thompson 2012).


Chef Margaret adding Parmesan cheese to a salad created from her garden on Mar. 29, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio (photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).


Italian salad being put on a table for a party by Chef Margaret on Mar. 29, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio (photo by: Christina Thompson 2012).

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Chia Pets have become a health food phenomenon

Chia Pet Kitten

This is a Chia Pet Kitten that can be purchased at many stores as a novelty Christmas gift (Courtesy of 2012).

At first glance at the headline, it probably looks like a joke or just another fad put out by the health food industry to make us laugh.  There was an article published on a local news site that told the truth…Chia seeds really are good for you!  This boggles the mind because so many people have received the Chia Pet as a gag gift since it’s inception in 1977.

Chia (Salvia hispanica), has been harvested (for the seeds) by the Aztecs and is still being grown and collected today by the people of Mexico and Guatemala.  The seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for our natural metabolism.  When the seeds are grown on the Chia Pet, they grow into micro greens and are a good substitution for alfalfa sprouts on sandwiches.

These are the Chia Seeds that are harvested for consumption in a bulk bin at Whole Foods (photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

There are other benefits that come along with the chia seeds.  Do you suffer from Diverticulitis?  Well, chia seeds are a good source of fiber to help prevent it.  Need energy?  Chia seeds are your answer for beneficial proteins that provide a healthy boost of energy all day.

There are recipesout there for people to cook or bake using the seeds as substitution for less butter and oil, adding moisture to baked goods in a healthier way.  Another source to add the seeds to your diet would be to drink Mamma Chia drinks. Mamma Chia’s motto is, “Seed your Soul.”   The drink boasts it has 2000 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids, 644 mg of Omega-6 fatty acids, 230 mg of Omega-9 fatty acids, 10 g of fiber, 33 mg of Calcium, and 4 g of protein per serving (1bottle).  Who would have guessed that a bunch of chia seeds would supply that much nutrition?

Mamma Chia Drink

These are just two of the flavors of Mamma Chia drinks available at Whole Foods stores (photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Chia seeds are not just a fad; they are healthy for us to eat.  More and more grocery stores are starting to carry the seeds in bulk or in bags.  It is still an expensive purchase, but well worth the nutritional value.  Since chia seeds are also being grown as micro greens, it wouldn’t be surprising to find them amongst other micro greens at local farmer’s markets.

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Growing & eating your own harvest


Red Leaf Romaine Lettuce growing in the hoop house at Gorman Farm (photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Many people find it easier to go to the store than to grow their own “crops.”   Classes are being offered at extension offices of universities across the country.  Many of the classes relate to allocating garden space to growing organic fruits and vegetables.  Instructors are using books and their own knowledge to help people create sustainable harvests from home.  In Cincinnati, Gorman Farm recently offered a class on “Four-Season Harvesting.”

What is “Four-Season Harvesting”?

The idea of “Four-Season Harvesting” is allowing people to cultivate fruits and vegetables year-round from their home gardens so they do not to rely solely on the grocery store.  John Hemmerle, garden manager at Gorman Heritage Farm said, “Cold hearty veggies taste better when it’s colder.” With this method, people will now have a better understanding of what pesticides are in their food because they will be the ones growing it.  Phil Erdeljohn, a young male participant, said, “My grandma used to spray the tomato plants with soapy water to get rid of the bugs off the plants.”

Butter Lettuce

A head of butter lettuce that is ready to be harvested from the hoop house at Gorman Farm (photo by Christina Thompson 2012)

How do fruits and vegetables survive the winter months?

“Protection:  moisture and wind will destroy your plants, not the cold,” said Hemmerle.  So, what is the best remedy?  In a book called Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman, he writes: “…I suggest two (4-foot by 8-foot) cold frames per family…I will make a strong suggestion with respect to layout.  Your cropping area, whatever shape, should be easily divisible.  I want to encourage the small succession plantings that characterize a four-season garden.  They are the best way to maintain a continual supply of vegetables.”  Hemmerle, “I suggest hoop houses and row cloth for protection.”  With the “solar winter”(6 weeks before and after the Winter Solstice), the plants will go dormant and not grow, but they will remain green and harvestable.

Planting raised beds with cold frames or using row cloth to cover small crops seems like the most economical idea for people with small homes and little land.  Apartment dwellers could make a fully enclosed cold frame and have vegetables year-round as well. Erdelrjohn said, “I cannot wait to have my own home because I want to be able to use what I learned in the class to have my own organic and sustainable garden.”

One of the raised beds growing in the hoop house at Gorman Farm (photo by Christina Thompson 2012)

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