The Hole is Halfway Done
This little critter was showing off for me this week. It’s a Harris’ antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus harrisii), standing on the tarp over the dirt pile in the backyard. It stood there for quite a while and let me get several pictures before running off.
The identifying features are the white eyeliner and the tiny white stripe down the side. This is not a chipmunk! Heh, folks are vehement about this around here: that there are NO chipmunks in Arizona. OOHKAAAY. They don’t have the full black-and-white mask that a chipmunk has and they have longer tails, which they use as shade umbrellas. If they hibernated at all this year it was only for a few days, since it hasn’t really been very cold. They’re scampering around all over the yard this week.
I too have been scampering around the yard, enjoying the sunshine. Here’s the progress report from the dig.
This is the new bed after the dirt was chipped out for the next layer of dirt removal. And next, the “after” picture. Along the sides you can almost see the horizontal slabby nature of the soil here. it’s why the local plants have wide shallow roots: because breaking through those plates of soil is tough. It’s also why I want to make the beds at least two feet deep: to give the vegetable plants a little more comfortable room for their roots.
The hole is now almost a foot deep, so it’s about halfway done. The big rock at the top of the picture will probably stay, since it seems to go a ways under the edge there. On the other hand, the rock at the bottom left will probably come out, and there’s another big one slowly appearing in the lower left corner that will almost certainly go as well.
The tarp is doing a good job of keeping the dirt pile loose and dry.
I collected the rocks from this layer to see how many there really were. These are all at least an inch across in two dimensions (i.e., bigger than the gravel I’m moving to the driveway) and I laid them out, one rock deep, and it made a pile about 5′ long and 2′ across (see the yardstick) which is one-fourth of the surface area of the bed as I dig it out.
January started out cold and dreary, and we got 1.5″ more rain than normal, but then it got nicer, and at the moment, it’s sunny and 83°F. Okay, that’s not normal either but it’s good for digging anyway.
The winter garden was a dud, mostly from my own inattention. The tomatoes died in the second frost, and I hadn’t planted anything in December. While the new hole was drying out from the rains, I cleared out the tomato plants and turned the soil and added some sulphur.
The sulphur is to adjust the alkaline level of the soil here. I didn’t add any last year, and maybe that’s why the garden wasn’t much of a success this year. Oh, I did have one onion:
And that’s a “second-use” onion, meaning I bought an onion at the grocery store, ate it, and then planted the bottom to make a new onion. And that onion was part of a dinner this week. 😊
After I turned & sulphur-ed the garden bed this week, I checked the soil temperature and it was 60°F. Again, that seems a little high for early February, but what the heck? I got adventurous & planted corn, lettuce, spinach, peas and sunflowers, and covered them over with bird netting because I’m also seeing those guys scampering around the yard this week. You folks may be shivering, but HA! It’s spring here. 😄