April 21, 2016

A last gasp

This Spring we have lived for 12 years at the WD. The landscape is maturing. What used to be a bare, razed plot of dirt is now an attempt at bringing the desert back and I am happy with the result. Trees are getting big, bushes provide lots of protection for small animals and birds, and plants bloom happily without a lot of fussing on my part.

I planted primarily native plants in the yard because I wanted to blend into the landscape and also because I did not feel like fighting Mom every step of the way. I love gardening, but weeding is not a passion and neither is being a slave to the watering hose.

So there are some cacti and agaves in the yard, but it is not a plot of just gravel and prickly plants. Cacti now bloom in Spring and some of the agaves do too.

Thing is, when an agave blooms it dies. People call them "century plants" thinking that they live that long but in truth it is only about 10 years. So now every year we have an agave or two that send up their magnificent blooming stalk and then die because they use all living energy to send up that stalk. One consolation is that they have usually set off a "pup" (offspring) from the roots, so the plant does live on in a way.

One of this year's bloomers is by the horse barn, next to late Buggs' stall and under the Arizona walnut. Growth of the stalk is measured in inches a day and judging by the size of it, the bloom will be magnificent. Stay tuned.

April 20, 2016

I am so excited

And I just can't hide it (Pointer Sisters)! Today most of the plants that I started in the cold frame went into the ground. That is most of the tomatoes, cantaloupes, basil and dill. There are still 2 tomatoes that are on the small side, the 4 peppers and 2 eggplants, also a bit young, but they will be planted at the very first part of May.

It is so exciting to see the garden in its beginning with all those possibilities of great produce and of thriving plants. So far I am encouraged by what has been growing there for a couple of weeks already: beets, carrots, green onions, broccoli raab and various lettuce varieties. Did additional sowings and also planted cucumbers, zucchini and green beans.

Dan made new defenses: hardware cloth cages to replace the ones with chickenwire that the mice just walked through and with those, in concert with the cages donated by my friend Phil, I think we stand a chance against rodentia. If the insects that bring infections from the desert stay off the plants, we will have it made.

This morning, before sun or bird up, a flock of birds flew overhead making unfamiliar calls that got the horses all excited but it was too dark to see them clearly. As I was planting they came overhead again and circled the WD about a dozen times. They finally landed on the roof and have been there for a number of hours. They are Western Willets! Shore birds! They may have been blown off course but according to sources, they are occasionally sighted here. I think they are very tired and are getting reenergized to travel on. Wish I had a pool to offer.

April 17, 2016

Back to normal

After a couple of interesting weeks (isn't "interesting" the euphemism you use for "scary"?), we are back to our usual hike out the back gate this morning.

Emma has been sick. Once with not being able to keep any food down either end, and a week later with an apparent allergic reaction. Both events were on a weekend so several trips were made to the highly qualified emergency vet clinic in Tucson. They have yet to determine the cause for all this mayhem but many tests have been run that have all come back negative. As with humans, when in doubt run a test. In retrospect Dan and I suspect a rattlesnake vaccination that may have not sat well with Emma's immune system.

It is wonderful to have our happy, always hungry, dog back and with The SisTas visiting, we had a great walk. Many plants in the desert are blooming and, with the mesquites having leafed out, it is green everywhere and hard to believe that we live in a desert.

Here are some of the bloomers.

Ocotillo, still in bud but barely
Black dalea
Arizona orange
Hedgehog cactus
Life is good!