April 29, 2013

Aunt Linda

My Oregon friend Linda is auntie to all our animals. We love to see her and she is welcomed with much joy by the dogs especially when she graces us with a visit. I am very fortunate that she enjoys being here to get her "fur fix" while taking care of everything and everybody when we leave to go on vacation. Linda comes here to dry out a bit from a Pacific Northwest winter and we leave to get rehydrated.

We will be off to Seattle to pick up the National Geographic Sea Bird on a photo expedition to Alaska. We have been with them in Alaska before and enjoyed it so much we decided to add Canada's Inside Passage.

For the past couple of days, Linda has been getting reacquainted with the ranch routines, but there was  time to go on a short hike this morning. The desert is greening up and a number of plants are in bloom. It was a bit warm at our rest stop, Emma thought. Aunt Linda obliged. We are off on vacation without a care.

April 21, 2013

Sunday morning

What better way to start the day than a having Dan's Special for breakfast and watching Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Belgian cycling classic?

After that work in the garden a bit in perfect weather. I don't think it gets any better.

April 17, 2013

Kind doctors make stinking wounds

This is a loose translation of a Dutch saying (zachte heelmeesters maken stinkende wonden) which means that to do something right you are better off doing it thoroughly, even if it hurts a bit. All this as an intro to fruit culling.

When my friend Phil was here to trim the fruit trees with me, he told me there would be a lot of fruit this year and to make sure that I take off a lot of it to ensure a good crop. Today was the day. At first it is difficult to pick off fruit (I love peaches and apricots) and the trees were loaded. But I understand that a tree can only support so much or it will produce lots of tiny fruit with large stones. It is a bit like Christmas shopping: buying that first present takes the most time, after that spending gets easier.

So far I have only tackled one peach tree and the apricot. The other peaches are still too small, as are the apples. In spite of taking off all this

there will still be a lot of fruit to ripen. Hopefully there will be enough to share with the birds and the insects as they will be there first.

April 15, 2013

Perennial herbs

Last week I shopped at my favorite Tucson store: Mesquite Valley Growers. I only go a couple of times a year because I could drop some serious money there. I think I missed my calling, not having gone into the horticultural business, but then I would probably have a different lifestyle and not be living here at this point in my life.

I go with a plan, or I would be all day wandering around, and the mission was herbs for the new perennial herb garden. Also got flowering plants for the patio pots this year.

After letting the plants get acclimatized for some days, I got them into the ground this morning.

The spring winds are fierce in the desert, so I protected most of them and mulched them with gravel. Hopefully this will discourage the rabbits as well until they get used to new greenery. It is not so much that they will eat the herbs because they have left those in the patio pots alone, it is more of a "hmm- something-new-how-does-it-taste-ah-yuck-that-can't-be-right-let's-try-another-branch-ah-yuck" type of thing.

April 3, 2013

Garden beginnings

It is a great time in the desert right now. Our last frost was about the middle of March and we have had lovely days (70's) with (so far) little wind. It sure gets the gardening juices flowing. I started tomatoes, peppers and cantaloupes, as well as some flowers and herbs, a couple of weeks ago and they are putting on weight in the cold frame.

The soil is already at 50 degrees so this week I got the carrots, beets, green onions, and various lettuces and greens in the ground, and the peas and broccoli raab are up. Everything heavily fortified against rodentia and the birds, including gambel's and scaled quail, but against mice primarily. The little bastards are still getting in however, and I am getting one to three mice a night in my live trap. (I know, I am a sap). Dan just made a minor adjustment to the cages this morning, hopefully eliminating the less than one centimeter gap that the mice can still get through. All will be well once the plants have some size and can stand getting a minor nibble from time to time.

The grapes are leafing out and tiny bunches of fruit are showing. The fruit trees have done their thing, or rather the bees have. Look at these apricots and there are so many of them! Of course the birds and insects, and the odd coyote, will be after them too, but I will deal with that when time comes. I hope the apricots will be ripe before the june bugs are hatched.