Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spring is Tentatively Here

The Desert Mallow is tentatively blooming. Most of the buds are still tightly furled, but a few brave buds have burst open in all their orange glory. This is a wild flower here in Northern Nevada, although this one has decided to become a permanent resident of my herb bed. I thought they re-seeded every year, but, apparently, given water and food, they can become a perennial. I wish they smelled as pretty as their little one inch blooms look, but, alas, they pretty much stink. But the bugs love them, and when the winds are calm, bees, flies, and wasps of all kinds flock to these flowers in droves. If there are any volunteers this year, I should plant them where I would like to grow squash. So far, to get any fruit set, I've had to hand pollinate both zukes and yellow squash.Hand pollinating can be relaxing and enjoyable, but sometimes, I'd just rather have Mother Nature take care of it.

This second photo depicts some of the still tightly curled Desert Mallow buds. In a few more weeks, there could be hundreds of bright orange flowers - but for the moment, there are less than a dozen of them.

Other plants that are growing and even blooming, in spite of a long, cold, dreary spring include my upright rosemary and the tough as nails bearded irises. Herbs are also doing well - especially the oregano, its cousin, sweet marjoram, and the lemon balm. The lemon balm enjoys this weather so much that many seeds from last year have germinated and are working on their first and second set of leaves.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wishing for the Weather to Settle

Although the apple trees survived our extra brutal winter this year, only the two Fuji's bloomed with any vigor. The Gala had less than one dozen flowers. Since the Gala is the cross-pollinator for the Fuji's, and visa versa, there chances are pretty slim that we will have apples this year. Add to the fact that they bloomed during a cold, windy week at the beginning of May when the bees were still sleepy means the chances are really about none. Inspection of the trees confirm this. At least the three young trees seem to have survived the winter. The old tree of unknown parentage that my husband saved from the house-builder's bulldozer, however, does not look like it will survive this brutal spring season. I continue to water her as if she were going to live - but if not, then this summer she will become something else. I recently saw a book on wooden buttons. Maybe some of her branches will be reincarnated that way. And her gnarled trunk might warm our house as firewood. And, of course, I have my photos of her. But for now, I encourage her with water, food and words.

Still, as the matron apple tree appears to decline, there are young, fresh plants just beginning their journey. Seven sunflowers in Bed 2 are up and about with large leaves patiently waiting for the hot summer sun. 15 more are barely out of the ground on the west side of the garden - planted under chicken wire, and hidden by dried weeds to thwart the hungry birds. They are planted on the west side, because, invariably, a sunflower will face the morning sun when it prepares to set seed.

Other Garden Status

  • Peas - over 30 of them, ranging from just sprouted to 4 inches tall
  • Spinach - var. "Matador" - 39, some with their first set of true leaves
  • "New Toy" Day Lilies - 3 sets, barely out of the ground and only a few inches high - hoping their bright pink blooms will add color to the garden all season long
  • Rosemary - continues to bloom
  • Lemon Balm - self seeded babies are launching their first true leaves
  • Bearded Irises - Deep maroon tips peak out of lengthening scapes
  • Garlic - waits for the summer heat to spur them to bulk up their bulbs
  • Hens - Acquiring 8-12 eggs a day

Enjoying the blessings of the season - in spite of snow last week and the chance of freezing night temperatures still in the forecast.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Henhouse News

The boys build me a nest box for Mother's Day. I thought it would be too open and that the hens wouldn't use it, but that has not been the case. "Old Biddy," the largest of the Maran hens, lays her single egg every day on top of the nest box. She's always laid her eggs on hard surfaces, so I suppose that is not too surprising.

These eggs were an acumulation of leftovers - some are several days old. They became snacks for the dogs along with about a dozen more "old" eggs. The people are way more spoiled - we eat only "same day" eggs. Sometimes they are less than an hour old.

I can't believe that "Hungry Jack" is now several years old. This is a photo from two weeks ago where he is watching over his bathing beauties. He very rarely partakes in the dust baths himself, but he likes to strut around the flock when the ladies are bathing.

On a sad note, one of my Silver Laced Wyandotes has passed away. It looks like she died in the night on her roost. There appears to be no sign of foul play. She was a little over two years old. My son took her out and burried her.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring Is Here!

It's been a long, cold, bitter winter here in the high desert, but warm temps and rain instead of snow, announce that Spring is finally here!

Small Miracles!

The rosemary pictured above, is not supposed to be winter hardy around here. Especially in an unusually cold winter where we received temperatures as low as negative ten! Other amazing survivors include 3 out of 4 apple trees, the nectarine and the cherry. Oregano, sweet marjoram, lemon balm and earded irises didn't bat an eye - and the irises are now budding. Hens (and rooster) also survived unscathed and are now ramping up egg production. Yes, the miracle of Spring is here!

New In the Ground!
  • "Matador" spinach is in the ground and sprouting
  • Peas are 2 - 3 inches tall
  • 6 Silver Thyme plants are in the herb bed
  • Sunflowers are sprouting (and with them, this year's the battle with the birds and chipmonks)
  • Two tomato plants are in the ground - still pretty chancy for this time of year