Yellopig Is Free

Or, Recreating A Life From Scratch

Archive for the tag “gardening”

The Digging Continues

Winter is over! Yes, the temperatures have been in the 80s several times already, but there was a brief (2-day) cool spell last week that I counted as “wintry” weather. That’s all over now, and all the mesquites have sprouted leaves, and that means they think we’re done with cold nights. And none too soon for me!

The old garden bed has sprouted too, with corn and peas and lettuce, and even some carrots I think, leftover seeds that didn’t grow last year. It looks like the spinach & sunflowers didn’t make it — old seeds, I think. I need to get more. The netting is preventing the birds from eating everything as soon as I plant it, so that’s working just right. I didn’t have room for potatoes, since they don’t seem to like growing in the same spot two years in a row, so that’s just more incentive to get this hole dug quicker.

And work is progressing there:

20160316-134419.jpg

Yes, I still haven’t cut & capped that irrigation pipe. That would require going into town and buying caps, and that hasn’t really risen to the top of my agenda yet. Maybe next weekend.

Meanwhile, the big rock emerging in the north end of the hole has now shown itself to be at least twice as big as it appeared last time:

20160316-134558.jpg

Shown here again with the sandal for size comparison.

20160316-134727.jpg

No idea how that dirty foot keeps showing up in the pictures! Anyway, last time, the triangular bit on the front face and the ridge at the top of the rock was all that was showing. It’s definitely a bit of a whale. I still need to uncover more of it before I start planning its removal.

And here’s the growing dirt pile:

20160316-134941.jpg

It only rained once in February, and once so far this month (that cold spell), so we’re just a bit more than an inch above normal YTD. Rain really is magical for the vegetable plants: they accept the water I give them from the well, but when it rains they really look happy. Maybe an extra inch of rain over a three-month period isn’t such a bad thing.

Advertisements

Quick Update on Hole #2

Now that the summer monsoon is “over”, the level of precipitation has dropped back to merely 50% above normal. It kept raining through September, and by my gauge, we ended the month at 4.6″ which doesn’t sound like much to my Florida friends, but is actually 3.2″ above normal for the month. During the rest of the month, there wasn’t a day when the hole was dried out enough to work on, so I spent that time pruning the bushes & trees around the house. There always seems to be pruning to be done, so that was a good use of that time.

Once the hole finally dried out, I had to work fast to get the third layer of dirt out of the hole before more soakings.

20151013-162911.jpg

Read more…

Hole #2: Breaking Ground

I do learn, slowly. Here’s the first lesson I learned when digging the first garden bed: water is my friend. Well, sort of. While digging the first bed, I noticed how much easier it was to chip out the dirt after it had rained. So I began watering the hole at the end of a day of digging, hoping to soften it up for the next day. Unfortunately, by the time I figured that out, some parts of the hole were much deeper than other parts, so the water would all run into those spots, and I ended up with deep soft spots alternating with hard mounds where the water just ran off.

And I really don’t know why it took me so long to buy a caliche bar either. “Caliche bar” is the local, modern name for a tool that is only a tool in the most basic sense of that word. An alternate name for this tool is “digging stick”, and I’m pretty sure the design of the tool hasn’t changed much in about twelve thousand years. The modern digging stick is a 6′ iron pole that has a square blade on one end for chipping and a sort of flattened knob on the other end for tamping. It weighs somewhere between 10 and 800 pounds. (It becomes heavier as you use it: ✨Magic!✨) The idea is that you pick it up vertically, then let it fall, blade end down (and hopefully with some directional control), and it embeds itself a tiny way into the dirt. You then repeat that several thousand times, or until your arms fall off. Next: go inside and have a nice cold drink. Or three. Take a shower. Read a book. Or three. Have dinner. Watch several hours of TV. Go to bed.

I’m kidding: I don’t have TV.

Read more…

Hole #2: The Adventure Begins

I have more critter pictures, but I didn’t want to bore you with them while there is exciting news in excavations around the yard!

Truth: I was getting bored. The digging and sifting of dirt from the tree moat is almost finished. I walked around the stone maze about a hundred times, rearranged it and walked it some more.

20150815-123153.jpgHere’s a fun thing I did last month: the Netroots Nation conference was in Phoenix this year, so I went to that. There were so many interesting seminars & speeches & and stuff to see. Rep. Raúl Grijalva was on our trivia contest team! I skipped the Sheriff Joe Arpaio protest march, but I saw several progressive senators & representatives speak, and went to Bernie Sanders’ evening rally too. It was all pretty neat! 😀

Read more…

Garden Update & Root Harvest, June 2015

So the spring garden is coming along nicely. We have new tomato plants:

20150605-155250.jpg

Read more…

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.

Read more…

First Year in the Garden

According to my (spotty) records, I planted the first vegetables in the garden on 23 February last year. So it’s time to assess.

That day I planted a row of lettuce, a row of spinach & three potatoes. All but one of the lettuce plants and all of the spinach became bird food. Darn! Two of the potato plants were also lost. But the third one did eventually give me a dozen potatoes, and they were the best-tasting potatoes I’ve had in years!

Read more…

‘Tis the Season

20141225-123724.jpg

Desert mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum) growing on a Chilean mesquite tree in my front yard. I took this picture only 2 days ago. When I showed it to a plant-nerd friend, he said it was weird, because it’s completely off-cycle. Like by six months!

Read more…

Garden Update — August/September 2014

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.

20140916-153256.jpg

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.

Read more…

June Wildflowers, Plus Some Roots!

At the end of May (it almost counts as June), I caught a nice angle on the Arizona State Flower growing in the neighbor’s yard:

20140807-144336.jpg
Read more…

Post Navigation