Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Page from the Past

Late Winter Seduction

The daytime temps have been getting into the 50's and even mid 60's (*F) and one night it was even over freezing (barely, but over freezing none the less). The sun has been bright, the sky clear, the winds calm. Little by little, a minute or so a day, the sun is rising earlier and setting later. And so, even though I am probably a few weeks too early, I was seduced into starting seeds this past week. 20 little basil plants are up and under lights - waiting on 20 more basils to germinate. 24 tiny tomato seeds also sown - sweet baby girl, yellow pear, red pear - cherry tomatoes who will hopefully set fruit even when the days are near tripple digits. Alaskan Fancy to see if we can get a headstart on the tomato season when it's still cool outside. Roma just because. And for the "experimental tomato for the season", I've sown some "Tomato Vera" - a hollow pepper shaped tomato - for stuffing. I'm hoping it is as prolific as they say.

Still, it is early to be planting, so I will hold off for another week and start more tomatoes and basils and also the other herbs, such as lemon balm, monarda and sweet marjoram.

It's been a pretty wet winter and, to make it even nicer, the snow has spread itself out across the season, so the trees are well watered and hardy weeds are already sprouting. Still, while that is excellent for the trees, it doesn't do much for the summer vegetable garden. So a few summers back, my husband drug water out to the garden area. Here you see some of the PVC pipe that is burried under the sand. It extends about 200 ft to my little garden area. Without it, there would be no garden.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Spring-Like Today

It was a lovely Spring-like day today - in the mid 50's (*F), sunny with just a few wisps of clouds, and barely a gentle breeze. The kind of day that makes you believe that Winter will eventually be over. But - I must remind myself, that it is only the beginning of February, and last year Jack Frost and Lady Snow hung around until May!

Took advantage of the lovely weather to spend some time outside with my few, precious trees. The pines and the fruit trees all got a deep water (15 gallons each or more) early enough in the day that they were well drained of surface water before night fall and the return of freezing temperatures. I will take care of the trees in the back yard tomorrow morning, since the weather looks like it will be similar.

Don't know what type of fly/wasp this is a picture of, but they absolutely love sunflowers. Their bright green eyes and body glisten in the sunshine. They must come from at least 600 feet away to visit my sunflowers. I wonder if the sunflower scent carries on the breeze a mile or two to the lake, beconning these sparkly beauties? If I have 50 blooms or 100 blooms next year, will they be covered in shimmery green? But these are not the only pollinators to visit the sunflowers. Giant Hawk Moths, also known as Humming Bird Moths, also visit. But they visit at dusk and during the night, and so far, I have not caught any with my camera. But I will stalk them more diligently this Spring, and perhaps have a trophy photo to post to this site.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Morning Glories : Desparately Waiting for Spring

Is it time to plant seeds yet!? The hills are all dappled with patches of white melting snow and baren, tan sand and little islands of dry sage. The wild winds overturned semi-truck trailers this week, plastered all fashion of trash and tumble weed skelletons against the chain-link fences, and announced in no uncertain terms that Winter Was Here To Stay For a While.
Haven't actually gotten any morning glories to grow to the point of flowering, yet. First, the seeds have a hard time germinating in our dry desert environment. Then those that do germinate have a difficult time shedding their seed coats with out help - again, due to the dryness. Finally, those that make it to their first true set of leaves get mowed down by hungry ground squirls. This year I am going to try starting them indoors in large, biodegradable pots (12 " or more in diameter). Since they don't like their roots disturbed, I'll plant them out, pot and all, when the night time temps are reliably over 40*F. Maybe I'll get lucky. I love morning glories - I've about a dozen types of morning glory seeds just ready to cover some chain link fencing!