Winter Garden 2015
Rumor has it, Southern Arizona has two gardening seasons: the winter season when we grow root crops (potatoes, carrots, etc.) and the leafy vegetables that burn easily (such as lettuce, spinach & peas), and then the summer season, when we grow tomatoes, beans, peppers & cucurbits (cucumbers, gourds & melons). In my ever-futile attempt to learn how to follow instructions, I planted lettuce, peas, potatoes and carrots in late October.
And then I waited. And waited.
The winter monsoon started. During the winter monsoon, the clouds close in and there is drizzle for about two days per week. At least, this is my impression of the winter monsoon these days. When the total yearly rainfall is around 13.5″, it’s hard to feel like it’s adding up when the weekly value is somewhere between trace and 0.05″. Months went by. The lettuce was barely sprouted; the peas were leggy and pale from lack of adequate light.
Aside: the local jackrabbit just sprinted across the yard and then back again. I haven’t see it in months, and am so happy it’s still hanging around here.
It did ultimately add up to something, all that drizzle. In fact, as of two weeks ago, we were about a half-inch above normal here, at about 3.88″ YTD, and it rained another quarter-inch or so last weekend. I really have to break down and buy a rain gauge and start keeping records. It’s getting really frustrating trying to get year-to-date information out of the internets. The NWS wants to tell me all about the weather at the Tucson airport — 30 miles away and 1000 feet lower altitude. Add heat effects from all that runway pavement, and the weather over there is quite a bit different from here.
Anyway, about the winter garden: in the case of the pea plants, only one survived, and it only produced one (One) pod with three (Count ’em, Three!) peas, before it gave up the ghost. But after months and months (October to January) of waiting, the carrots, lettuce and potatoes finally sprouted and were looking good!
So there you see carrots along the bottom, a lettuce in the center-left, and potatoes on the right. Looking toward the summer, I’ve already planted tomato seedlings, caged along the left. There are also a couple of volunteer sunflowers off the top of the picture, doing a nice job of collecting aphids and caterpillars, too.
One mistake I made: after the freeze and last year’s tomatoes were reduced to a black puddle, I was removing the remnants and broke off the bell pepper plant, thinking that it was probably similarly damaged. Ooh, but it wasn’t, and the stick that was left was green under the bark. So I did not pull it out, and was hoping that it might survive. For a while there, it looked like it just might…
Alas, it was not to be. That little leaf fell off, and there are no traces of green left on that stick now. I’ll have to buy another pepper plant this year.
That lettuce you see there has bolted, after providing quite a few leaves for sandwiches over the last month, and now it’s all gone. There’s another lettuce (the big shadow at the upper left in the picture), which is ready to go, but I have to be quick, since it’s now getting hot and sunny. After that, I’ll have to buy lettuce until later this year.