Saturday, May 31, 2008

Can't wait!

The summer harvesting season is almost upon us. I have been eating one or two peas here and there for the last few weeks, but now the pease are blooming in earnest and hopefully we'll have enough for some stir fry soon - assuming I don't eat them all while watering the garden or pulling weeds!

Came home from business travel to find the first of the strawberries blushing red. I was wondering when to get my bird netting... I think the answer is now!

Here's a little view of the south side of the garden looking East.

  • 32 sunflowers growing so far
  • 4 Royal Purple bush beans breaking ground
  • Peas blooming - continuing to eat a few here and there
  • First strawberries ripening up
  • Bearded Irises still blooming like crazy
  • Tomatoes have survived hail and transplanting
  • Garlic scapes doing their thing
  • Harvested some lemon balm to freshen up my garbage disposal
  • Oregano going crazy
  • Basils outside looking good (hopefully they'll go crazy once the warm weather gets here)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Survived the Hail

I was so bummed over the shredded irises that I decided to post some pre-hail photos of them to cheer me up. Luckily, the plants themselves are doing fine. And it looks like the buds that will bloom in a few days are also fine.Bearded Iris Grouping
Don't know the name of this one, but it is a lovely blue color. It could be "blueberry", but I may never know as all the ID tags went bye-bye when the dogs started pulling them out last year. Thank goodness for fencing (and thank God for a husband and son who like to build fences!!!)!

Among the plants that were not phased by the rain, hail and cold were the peas. Moments after taking this photo, I ate this one! Crunchy, sweet, yum!

Surprisingly, nearly everything did OK with the hail. Probably because, even though it hailed three days in a row, the hail actually only lasted 5 or 10 minutes each time and was promptly melted by reasonably warm rain. In fact, the trees are looking possitively lush with all this water they've been getting. Much better than I can do with a hose.

  • Five tomatoes in the ground

    • Tomato Vera (hollow, "pepper-like", tomato)
    • Classic Roma
    • Red Pear cherry
    • Mexico Midget cherry
    • Steak Sandwich

  • A dozen or so more tomato babies inside under lights
  • Sugar Snap Peas starting to bloom - and the first few peas already eated off of the vine
  • Basils

    • All Mrs. Burns Lemon Basil that were in the ground died during the hail
    • 2 Purple Ruffles planted - both survived hail
    • Mammoth Basil survives
    • 2 Genovese Basils survive

  • Other Herbs

    • 3 clumps of Lemon Balm - the small ones that were burried under tomato trash have caught up with the one that was cared for - all looking vigorous
    • Rosemary sitting around not doing anything - not looking poorly, but not growing - just hanging out and waiting for warm weather, I suspect
    • Oregano loves this weather
    • Sweet Marjoram loves the weather, too

  • Strawberries - some are as big as my thumbnail
  • About 10% of the garlic have scapes
  • Sunflowers looking healthy and vigorous - sowed more the other day, but they aren't up yet.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hail at the end of MAY!

Sadness is ... a lovely blue bearded iris shredded by hail - 3 days in a row. Where did the Desert go?! It's supposed to be getting into the 90's by now! Well, at least the basil and tomatoes survived, and the iris plants are all fine - just the flowers look sad. I'm glad I took lots of photos before the storms!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Royal Gala Apple Tree

Apple trees apparently like living here. I have several, both in the orchard and in the back yard. This one actually bloomed this year. Even if I never get fruit from them due to our climate, they are robust and green, and I am totally enjoying them. The bugs and the birds are enjoying them, too. In addition to this Royal Gala, I also have a Grand Gala and a September Wonder Fujii in the orchard - along with my unknown "Rescue" apple tree.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Garden is starting to take off!

I am certainly paying for staying out at sunset to take photos of the garden - the biting bugs had a field day feasting upon me!
Tiny strawberries are popping up everywhere. Several dozen so far - most smaller than my pinky fingernail. But still, they are strawberries, and they promise all sorts of sweet delights!I have both June bearing and ever bearing strawberry plants, but, alas, due to poor planning and poor labeling, I have no idea which are which. I am assuming the ones going crazy with the flowers right now are the June bearing, being that it is almost June...
The first peas are now blooming, so hopefully we will also soon be crunching on the first sweet, tender sugar snap peas. They don't last long when spring goes from 25 at night and days in the 50's to days in the 90's - inside of a week. Even the vines that have not attained full size should start going crazy trying to make peas before they die of heat exhaustion.
Probably I should have put more tomatoes in the ground last week, but with being sick and preparing to cross the mountains, I just didn't have it in me. I was, of course, quite pleased to find that the one tomato plant that I did put out survived fine and greened up well. So I am thinking that setting out tomatoes is going to be high on the list of things to do this week.

And, of course, the Oregano is trying to grow everywhere! I think I am actually glad that some of my transplants died while I was gone - as the ones that survived are doing almost too well. I guess I will be drying Oregano for winter use this year! All this from two scrawny little seedlings that almost didn't survive last summer.
Some accomplishments today:
  • Deep watered established trees and all the non-tree plants (did not water the not-yet-established trees as it was very windy today - and I was concerned that with 50MPH winds, that watering them would loosen them up and let them be toppled over)
  • Enjoyed the bearded irises
  • Transplanted 1 tomato and 5 basil plants
  • Planted a pack of Royal Burgundy bush beans
  • Pulled some weeds - they are making a nice mulch around my rescue apple tree
  • Pulled a few dozen porcupine quills out of one of my dogs, Max - he wasn't pleased, but he's much happier now.

Still haven't decided what to do with the black widdow who is living in one of my apple trees. I know where she is, so I am careful, but I am concerned for my grand daughter. I have an afinity for anything that gobbles up bugs in the garden, though, and her web is full of (nicely dead) bugs. Maybe I can relocate her to the far corners of the property? For the moment, though, I am letting her be...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Came home to find...

The scapes were barely reaching for the sun and the buds just beginning to fill out when I left my little plot of sand to spend the weekend in California. What a lovely site to return to. Bearded Irises are among my favorite flowers. They are heat and drought resistant, can take sub-freezing winters and have silky, delicate looking flowers in a rainbow of colors.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Trek Over the Sierra Nevadas

Traveled over the mountains to see my daughter graduate Magna Cum Laude from the university this weekend. On the way home, took some photos in the mountains.
I've always been fascinated by tree bark (and lichen, but that's a topic for another day). In the days before digital cameras and photo shop, one never knew if the photos would turn out to be anything useful. They are often taken under challenging lighting conditions and at the edges of a lens' capabilities. After the cost of film and the cost of developing, you were often left with over exposed tones of grey. But here we are, in the digital age, and with some color balancing and some cropping, here we are with some acceptable photos of pine tree bark after all. I like these two photos - it's almost as if I can feel the roughness of the surface.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The "To Do" List

Seems like no matter the good intentions, after months of planning and waiting for the weather, once agreeable weather actually shows up, it is all a race to get everything done for Spring Planting - and invariably, many things just never get done.

Current List of Things to Do:
  • Build a little alter in the garden area
  • Feed the backyard trees
  • Feed the front fence trees
  • Continue the loosing battle against tumbleweed
  • Clean up potting table
  • Cut back all the yellow "ferny" weeds (and use as mulch)
  • Sow more sunflower seeds
  • Prep the main pole bean area
    • Add dirt/compost to the sand
    • Put up a trellis or string
  • Pot up more toms and basil
  • Start more seeds
    • Toms
    • Peppers
    • Basils
    • Herbs
  • Buy/Order
    • Hybrid Poplars
    • Lavender plant

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Productive Weekend

Of course, there's always more to do, but I did at least accomplish something. Actually, my husband and my son accomplished a huge amount of work - for Mother's Day and for my Birthday (in December!) and for all holidays requiring presents for the next several years - they are building me an awesome chicken run and chicken coop!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bearded Iris and the general state of the garden

It's such a delight to have my garden area all fenced in this year. Jack Rabbit depredations are non-existant and the dogs have not pulled out and/or rearranged my bearded irises! As a result, most of the irises had enough stable time in the same spot that they decided to actually put out buds. Of course, they were at one time nicely arranged to provide a rainbow, but now I have no idea what color is where.

Other things going on in the garden...

  • Cutting back "ferney" weeds for mulch
  • Falling further and further behind on weeding out tumbleweed seedlings
  • Strawberries are blooming prolificlly
  • Desert Mallow is waking up, although there are no flower buds yet
  • Garlic is even taller now that we've had a few warm days in a row
  • Peas in Veg. Beds 1 and 2 and around the tree are all doing well.
  • Work has begun in ernest on the chicken run and chicken pen
  • Placed my 2008 seed order with Territorial Seeds.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Strawberry Blossoms

I could wish for acres and acres of strawberries, but, alas, I know I could never care for that many strawberry plants - and the mice and birds would probably get most of them. So one raised bed for a few treats is all I have. But the flowers are pretty and hopefully we will get a small but sweet harvest sometime in June.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Some actual garden plants

In re-reading my blog here, I realize it looks like all that is growing in the garden are wild plants and/or weeds. But such is not really the case.

Strawberries are blooming... not the best photo, but you get the idea.

Lemon balm is looking much better now that there hasn't been a hard frost for a few weeks. There's still one little frost burnt area, but the leaves are now full sized and much healthier looking. It seems to like the shade it gets from hiding behind a bearded iris. (You can see greek oregano creaping in from the right. If I'm not careful, oregano will need to be added to the "weeds" list!)

Sunflowers are also doing nicely. I sowed some "Mammoth" and some "sunseed" a few weeks ago (well before the last hard frost) and they are up. This is one of the "Mammoth" ones along the North fence. Hopefully, the main sowing will happen over the course of the next few weeks. So far, there are 23 up out of the ground. I hope to have a hundred or so - with the blooms spread out across the summer. Wouldn't that be a site along the North 70 something feet of my garden fence?

I don't have time to post more photos today, but the garlic and sugar snap peas are also doing well. I'm concerned that the peas came up a bit late, though, and will be ready to flower in the scortching days at the end of June, or even during July!

More photos of the still unnamed...

Don't know the names of these little beauties that are currently inhabiting my garden area.. None, so far, exhibit the nasty prickliness of the tumbleweed, so they are still welcomed.

One of the things I have observed about the desert flora is that most of them have very tiny flowers. Meaning, of course, they have very tiny seeds. It amazes me that a whole plant can come from such a tiny package. Anyway, here are more photos of my weeds from Sunday. If anyone knows their names, I'd be delighted if you would inform me!

On this last one, I have now seen them in white, yellow and purple. I don't know if they just come in a variety of colors or if something in the sand changes them. The flowers themselves, are quite tiny.

They aren't weeds if...

They have a name, right? If they have names, then they become - wild flowers!

Of all the desert flowers that show up after a good rain and a bit of sunshine, the Desert Primrose is one of my favorites. It doesn't stay long and it only shows up on wet years, but perhaps its rarity is part of its charm. I have tried watering where I know they have been in previous years to see if I can fake them into thinking it is a "wet" year, but so far, I haven't had luck. This year, being moderately wet, seems to be becoming a good year for them. I'm going to try and water some and see if they will stay around longer. Some photos of the Desert Primrose...

On the other hand, even though I know that the following is a tumble weed seedling, it doesn't at all mean that it is welcomed in the garden! Native plant, perhaps, but it is prolific, loves to germinate in disturbed sand, and seems to be particularly robust this year. So, even though I admire its tenacity, I am on a mission to erradicate it from at least my garden area. (With nearly 5 acres of sand to my name, I am not going to attempt to totally eradicate it from my life, but I can wish!)