Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (May 16, 2009) Cactus in Bloom! Gorgeous!rtw

~~By NM-GRL (IA)

Temperatures are heating up…we went into the 90’s then it cooled and today I caught a sign saying 95.  So…summer is on its way!

Which means the desert plants are starting to come into full flower.  Before I moved here I didn’t realize how wonderful cactus plants could be when they bloomed!

But before I get to some pictures from my house, I have to report on the squirrels. One is particularly bold, heading onto our back porch a mere couple of feet from my back door!  The same guy, I think, was caught on my little “couch” (actually a storage unit) picking up corn that had spilled from the containers I use to fill the feeders.  Today, I caught one at the side of the yard and I’m betting he’ll be at the pomegranate, which is not starting to form flower buds. (Last year, a squirrel nibbled on those.)  The squirrel contingent has devoured petunias and I bought a few more hanging containers for portulacas and cardinal creeper vines, whose red flowers are also a tasty treat. Meanwhile, in the veggie garden, a squirrel has nipped at the sweet potato plants!!!  And, I found a big, unripe peach half eaten!

This is getting nasty!  I’m seriously thinking of getting an electrified fence around the vegetables at this point!

This weekend I should start bagging the grapes, which are now the size of peas…the work never ends!!

At least the cactus flowers aren’t being eaten!!!!  So enjoy!  These pics were taken over the the course of a few days, so they are in chronological order…

First, we have a few from 5/8:

Here is a cholla. I picked up a small section and planted this myself a few years ago and now it’s HUGE!

Cholla budding...

Cholla budding...

A bee wallows in the yellow flower on this cactus:

Bee in pollen...

Bee in pollen...

Another version of a yellow flower, but with a splash of red!

Red and yellow flowers in full glory...

Red and yellow flowers in full glory...

A couple of days later I took this picture with the cholla bursting into bloom:

Cholla blooming...

Cholla blooming...

Cactus Flowers

Cactus Flowers

The next day on 5/11:

A cactus pad full of flowers...

A cactus pad full of flowers...

Finally, a shot of the ocotillo now leafed out and the cholla:

2009_0512CactusOther0057

Except for the ocotillo which we had planted by a nursery, all the cactus have grown from a single pad that I stuck in the ground.  Needless to say, I’m extremely please with the results!!

P.S.–that long “stick” on the left is the base that hold up my longwire antenna that brings in my shortwave radio signals!

FINALLY! Wind Is Gone and the Temperatures Are UP! GARDENING UPDATE!

~~By NM-Girl (IA)

Well, I’ve been slaving away in the garden every moment I have over the last few days. A couple of days ago, it happened. You could tell.

The winds died down and instead of the cool weather, we started feeling warm. Warm enough to make the car hot during the time I was in the store shopping.  Warm enough to make some of the plants look a little wilted midday.  It’s all about the sun–today it’s overcast, but for the last few days the sun has been stronger.  I’m already tanning if I go out for just a few minutes without my sun gear.

I have a big hat with a flap which covers my neck and an array of long-sleeved shirts that I use when I walk the dogs and go to the mailbox.  No matter how hot it gets–and it gets HOT–I still put those things on.  I’m sure people think I’m nuts.

Saturday I planted the new Belle of Georgia peach. Even with a pre-existing hole (after I pulled out the old tree), it was still a huge job as I enlarged the whole and mixed in a lot more compost and root stimulator.

On Sunday I planted a lot of the pots and sweet potato slips.  Yesterday, I moved around a lot of extra stones which I was getting out of the way while preparing the spot for the new chocolate flower.  In the morning, this perennial does smell like chocolate. I killed one a couple of years ago in the wrong spot, so I’m trying again. I’m going to wait to see if rains tonight or tomorrow before digging so I can take advantage if any moisture helps soften up the  hard concrete-like sandy “soil.”

So, here are some pics of where things are now in the garden!

The honeysuckle is blooming now…

Blooming honeysuckle...

Blooming honeysuckle...

The cactus is sprouting…

Cactus awakening...

Cactus awakening...

The mockingbird surveys the scene below:

2009_0421gardenfinallyspring0024

Here’s a view across the covered patio looking toward the vegetable beds:

2009_0421gardenfinallyspring0030From the opposite direction to the other side of the yard:

2009_0421gardenfinallyspring0031The far corner of the yard where the white-tailed doves and rock squirrels eat cracked corn…a vitex tree starting to leaf out by corner…

2009_0421gardenfinallyspring0032Lots of fruit is growing now…and the squirrel was spotted in the yard…more next time!!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 11, 2009) Carnage in the Garden; Blossoms; Harvesting Water; Empty Clouds; Spoiled Squirrels

Originally Posted at InsightAnalytical

~~By NM-GRL (IA)

This has been such a windy week that it’s been hard getting plants into pots, but by yesterday I had planted petunias, dianthus and a couple of peppers I had split off and saved for their pots on the patio.

In the raised beds, there has been absolute carnage as the little crickets are out in full force and the pill bugs have been nipping at lettuce and chard. In fact, I was horrified today to see some very nice chard seedlings GONE!!!

Over at our sister site Open Range Ramblings, we’ve been focused on fruit. Here’s a bit more…

Apricot blossom

Apricot blossom

So far, that blossom is the only one on the tree. In case you’re wondering what that odd thing in the background is, it’s my new “rain barrel”. What rain we get comes mostly in the form of huge downpours during the monsoon season during the summer. So, I’m hoping “harvest” about 50 gallons of water this summer.

Yesterday was rather cloudy but no rain! This is typical of this area…you really think there’s a chance…but nothing materializes most of the time. However, the sky does do some interesting things…the light here is always fascinating.

No rain after all...

No rain after all...

The squirrels are out, but I don’t see them too often. I’m thinking there’s some day care going on for little squirrels. The squirrels have been knawing at a cactus I planted last year, so I put water out for them near the wall. Nearly every day I toss the vegetable scraps over the wall for them to feast on. They must be fairly happy because this is the first year I haven’t found a huge hole being dug in the raised beds.

Obviously, my rock squirrels are pampered, in the hopes that they don’t have to rely on marauding through my garden TOO much. Chicago Correspondent Leslie sent this along awhile ago, and it describes the kind of life my squirrels receive:

 ...at the spa

...at the spa

Even though they need constant pampering, I have to admit the little ones are adorable, so I’ll be looking out to their debut and will hopefully be able to catch a few shots!

Have a great week outside!