QUESTION: What exposure in your yard is the best place to plant a vegetable garden?
ANSWER: Generally speaking, the best place to plant a garden is on the east side of your lot or wall. A southern exposure would be doable, but the western side should only be considered for a winter garden. The western side of your yard, in the summertime, is the hottest place, of course, and your plants might shrivel and die there. But you can consider the western side in the winter.
Among the vegetables to plant in fall in the Arizona desert are: bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, garlic, kale, lettuce, onions, peas and radishes. They do all have different times for harvest so check the seed packets.
Q: I recently bought a house that was built in 2012. When I moved in, I noticed a strange smell. It was particularly bad in the attic. It was a chemical-like smell. Is it due to the spray foam insulation that was used there or is it something wrong with the air conditioner?
A: After all those years since the house was built, the foam should not be off-gassing to produce that smell in the house. First, replace the air filters and turn the fan in your AC system on continuously for a while. See if there’s an improvement. It’s possible the odor could be due to some new carpeting that had been installed recently. But in the end I think you might have to call an AC specialist because my hunch is that it’s due to the AC system.
Q: I have a 1958 concrete block home. I replaced the old windows in the house with new vinyl windows last year, and after that, I noticed cracks running from the windows up and down the block mortar lines in the front and back of the house. So now, I’m wondering if I have some kind of foundation problem that could be causing the cracks.
A: I don’t think you have anything to worry about if the lines are just running up and down the mortar line. But if you want to be sure, you may want to call a foundation specialist.
Q: I have a friend who uses coffee grounds and gypsum in his garden. He really believes in adding gypsum into the soil. Is that good for your plants?
A: If needed, gypsum is useful as a soil amendment. Coffee grounds are awesome for plants, but be careful about how much you put on the area because they’re very acidic.
Q: How do you grow onions? I’ve tried with green onions and haven’t been very successful.
A: You need to plant them in the fall on about Oct. 15 if you want to grow them from seed. To start with, put the seeds in a mason jar and mix them with sand. Then poke holes in the cover of the jar and use the jar as your seeder. Once they sprout up, you may need to thin them out a bit. You can eat the sprouts that you have to pull out as green onions. If you want big onions to grow from your seeds, you need to leave the onions in the ground until the spring.