When it rains in the desert it’s like an alarm going off, and then suddenly everything happens all at once. Billions of eggs are laid, billions of seeds germinate, the daytime air is one long buzz and the night is filled with creaks and croaks and hoots. And those baby critters all arrive hungry!
Hurricane Odile just sent me my first squall, so there won’t be any garden action for a couple of days. In the meantime, let me show you what’s been going on out there.
So here you see wax beans at the lower right, green beans in the middle, a pepper plant at the very bottom, three caged tomatoes at the left, then sunflowers and cucumbers just outside the tomato cages.
July was not a big month for flowers this year, but I suspect that’s normal since July starts with intense light and heat and then proceeds directly to lightning, rain and high winds alternating with intense light and heat. Baby plants that pop up at the first sign of moisture are regularly beaten down and/or washed away every three days or so.
Vines do a little better, because they have some other plant to hold on to. In the shelter of the mesquites grows this little gem: Slender Janusia.
It doesn’t take long for the summer monsoon weather to get to me. It’s hot, it’s muggy, and a million weeds have taken over the front yard. It’s the “muggy” part that I hate most; I really prefer early June, when it’s hotter but the humidity is almost non-existent.
Out the back windows, where last month I saw a river of rainwater sluicing through the yard, there are now tall grasses — like an instant prairie. Where did all that come from? The white-tailed bucks have moved on, and now I have a single doe who grazes through the yard once or twice a day. I haven’t seen any javalinas for months, but the other ruminants are having a fine feast. Cottontails that, earlier this year, managed to squeeze themselves under the garden fence won’t fit through anymore, and that’s a fine thing. They hadn’t managed to get through the hardware cloth around the garden bed, and the buried chicken wire prevented them going under it (although they tried), so that much was a success.
Here’s a hare that would never have fit in or under the fence:
The summer monsoon started on schedule the first week of July, and it’s been a pretty good monsoon this year. The NWS has my neighborhood marked at 4.88″ of rain over the last two months, and although it’s slowing down some, there may be a couple more storms before it’s finished.
Between showers, the sage bushes put on another good show.
Many, if not most, inland cities grew up around some kind of water feature — a lake, a river, maybe a spring or even an ancient well. And in many of those cities, especially in the north, the local water feature freezes up in winter, temporarily disrupting water-bourne transport but providing some ice-related entertainments too. Then after the winter has passed, the city might have a nice local celebration when the ice finally breaks up for the season.
Here in Southern Arizona, our local water features work differently, in that we don’t generally keep water in them.