~~By NM-GRL (aka InsightAnalytical-GRL)
This week I planned to post some pictures of all the cactus blooms, but an unexpected visitor changed my plans! For the first time in the 10 years I’ve lived here, a roadrunner strolled onto my patio and hung out for a long time in my backyard! I’ve seen them on the wall and sometimes they’ve hopped down into the yard, but they’ve always stayed away from the house. This time was totally different…and I got to see this visitor attempting to find a meal, too!
I ran to grab my camera as soon as I saw this fellow on the patio. He (she?) then hopped up on a flower pot:
Here’s a closeup:
For a moment I thought this wild thing would take a drink from the fountain…but, it didn’t happen.
Getting bored on the patio, our friend decided to head on over to the side of the yard, toward a couple of the bird feeders I have there (I have others on the wall facing the arroyo toward the back, too):
Once at the feeders, the visitor eyed the situation and decided to stay awhile. I watched him/her lie in wait for small birds and try to fly up and catch them. He/she literally hunkered down and then “launched” in pursuit. Didn’t catch anything this time around…
Finally, I decided to try out the video function on the camera. Toro came out of the house to bark and the bird didn’t care at all. A short time later, Toro figured out that there was a big bird and he went over to bark at it directly. Without any panic at all, the roadrunner decided to take leave of the yard. Unforunately, I couldn’t figure out how to get the video over into WordPress…
~~By NM-GRL (aka InsightAnaltyical-GRL)
I’m trying out something new…posting directly to Open Range Ramblings with a link over at IA for visitors to that blog. Hopefully, folks will find their way here!
Well, this week I bought a product at Home Depot called “Critter Ridder” which is supposed to “deter” pests lik squirrels. After my local little devils munched on petunias and newly planted lettuce in pots on the patio, I got frustrated. So I bought this stuff (organic) and sprinkled it on the other side of the wall, hoping to keep my squirrel invaders at bay.
WITHIN 10 MINUTES…I was in the house and glanced out the window…and there was the ringleader on the wall and down on the ground taking a drink of water in the bowl I have there.
So much for “Critter Ridder” when it comes to squirrels!!! However, it MAY help with another problem…my two little ones, Toro and especially Tico, have be digging in the garden for some reason. Tico seems to love digging holes and sits in them. I filled in the one in the grassy area near the house and covered it with a flower pot so now he (with assistance from Toro) is digging by the wall under the plants and hanging out there. So, I may have to use the rest of the “Critter Ridder” to discourage Tico…it’s safe for dogs, so I’ll see if I’ve wasted my $15.
The Big Event of the week is the arrival of the orioles on a regular basis to my yard! I’ve been hearing them for a couple of weeks and my neighbor had them in her yard. Now, I’ve got at least two males visiting. One goes to the feeder, the other likes the grape jelly I set out. The females will start visiting soon, I hope. Last year I decided that the two types visiting were the hooded and Bullock’s orioles…
Hitting the bottle:
Out in the plant world, the mesquite trees are finally leafing out…and doing the pollen thing. I’m allergic so the last couple of days have been a bit stuffy…and the high mulberry pollen counts haven’t helped much either. Mulberry trees aren’t being planted anymore but the ones that are still around are pretty potent especially when the wind blows.
Lots of sweet smelling pollen going on here:
We’re also beginnning to see a lot of yellow cactus flowers popping out…
There is a lot more yellow in store from cactus plants. The cholla is beginning to get ready to blossom as well. I’ll be posting some pics of other flowering plants soon!
In the vegetable garden, the first banana pepper is about and inch long and I’ve already started picking basil for drying. I finally have cheescloth down over the sprouting squash, okra and chard in a last ditch effort to keep the bugs away!
~~By NM-GRL (IA)
I had a very busy week in the garden this week and posted the details here.
Today, I finally got the chocolate flower into the ground. Hopefully, I won’t drown this one…it’s tricky with desert plants because they need some moisture to get established when first planted. BUT…it’s sometimes hard to tell what is too much.
The big event of the week actually occurred yesterday. The SQUIRREL WARS have begun in earnest! After the carnage in the garden a week or so ago, when all my baby swiss chard and mesculin was munched on by bugs, I bought on the spur of the moment a 9-pack of buttercrunch lettuce. To be safe, I planted them in the patio pots, in with the tomatoes and peppers. Perfect, right? Wrong! Yesterday afternoon I caught not one, but TWO squirrels brazenly eating the lettuce!
Last spring they also ventured far into the yard. It may be that they are raising a family and need a lot of food. Since the dogs are out for most of the morning, they stay away. But their past behavior has to start coming over the wall from about 1 or 2 pm until about 4. In the morning, the white-tailed doves eat most of the cracked corn I set out in this old plastic fountain that I found in the trash, so this afternoon I put more out and guess what? The two buggers munched happily on the corn and didn’t wander onto the patio. Of course, I had put up some gerry-built chicken wire to deter them…but… Here is a shot of how they peek over the wall…
Enjoying the free grub…
Frankly, I do have a soft spot in my heart for any animal that sits in its food dish. I had gerbils that did the same thing…the enthusiasm of the act is rather endearing.
I don’t know if I can keep them from my peaches for much longer. I’ve developed a new strategy. Instead of picking up the dog poop and putting it in the garbage, I’ve been tossing it along the other side of the wall near the burrow entrance that is hidden by big rabbitbrush bushes. Why I think any squirrels would be deterred by this, I don’t know…but I figure it’s worth a try! This year I have the most peaches ever and they are already HUGE!
I still haven’t finished the new trellises for the new grapes and I have to start training the Flame grape which is already full of little bunches. And, if I had time, I would be bagging those peaches now…my luck can’t hold out!!
~~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…
The cactus is sprouting…
The mockingbird surveys the scene below:
Here’s a view across the covered patio looking toward the vegetable beds:
From the opposite direction to the other side of the yard:
The 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…
Lots of fruit is growing now…and the squirrel was spotted in the yard…more next time!!
~~By NM-GRL (IA)
It’s been a frustrating week in the garden as the winds have continued and the temperatures have dipped the last day or so. I’ve managed to put a couple of veggies and flowers into the patio pots, only to cover them up again to protect them from the weather.
Yesterday I bought a new Belle of Georgia peach to replace the one that is languishing. I’ll get that in the ground over the weekend.
A big surprise is that I found a little apricot growing. One seems to be finally showing on the flower I saw…but this one never seemed to have a flower that I ever saw, so imagine my surprise to see a an actual baby apricot!! Let’s see if anything more shows up!
Last Tuesday I took advantage of the short trip over to my chess teacher’s house and took some wonderful pictures of the Organ Mountains. These views are literally a couple of minutes from my house…I’ll share one with you now:
Organ Mountains 4/14/09 Looking Like a Painting…
New Mexico has wonderful light, which attracts a lot of artists. The changes in the skies and the light that changes from second to second are things which never cease to amaze me.
Closer to home, the quail are beginning to show up on my wall. I love these guys and their plaintive calls.
A Curious Quail…
Finally, Slick the Sneak was into all sorts of trouble yesterday. We left the house for an appointment and when we got back we found garbage all over the floor! This hasn’t happened in quite awhile. It really was close to the boys’ dinnertime, so I guess Slick was the leader of the pack in search of some grub.
This picture, which I took a couple of days ago, shows the little flash of the devil in his eyes:
Let’s hope the winds die down next week! I have to put up the new grape trellises, plant a chocolate flower and really have to decide if I should bag the peaches. So far the squirrels haven’t shown up, which is amazing. I see the papa or mama when I look over the wall and they gobble up the lettuce and other veg scraps I toss over right away. I suppose they’re busy with babies and as they grow, I’m sure they’ll be hunting for a lot more food…including peaches!
~~By NM-GRL & Kenosha Marge
Kenosha Marge sent me a couple of pictures to inspire those still in cold, un-springlike weather…First, here’s a pic of what the crabapple tree near Marge looks like now:
Next, Marge has given us a picture from last May…which is not too far off, so hold on, spring is coming!!
Meanwhile, down here in southern NM, we’ve had a couple of days of chilly wind and yesterday it actually RAINED! Sort of. Moments after I took the picture of the front walk (below), there was no evidence of rain…the sidewalk was already dry!
This is place where you can literally have sun on one side of the street and rain on the other. As for the temperatures, the wild 30 degree swings between day and overnight is what got my apricot blossoms last year and gave me no fruit. That’s the cycle we’re in now.
If you look very carefully, you’ll notice the rain splats on the sides of the raised bed…(not so clear in this small picture…but trust me, they are there!)
Sometimes I think it’s easier just to have a real cold winter with a definable spring. Our spring down here is erratic before the heat hits…
~~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…
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.
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:
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!
~~By NM-GRL (IA-GRL)
Well, yesterday about noon the winds started. So before they kicked up I went out and got some pictures of the various fruits I’m growing…
But first, here’s a picture of the garden “under wraps.” Because I knew the wind was coming, I watered the plants and then put the covers that I’ve been using overnight back on. It was easier that putting up the “windbreak” that you see draped around the edge of the raised beds. Tomorrow, the plants will be in the sun again since the winds will be gone.
As you can see, the Flame grape is already growing like crazy, complete with the beginnings of bunches of grapes!!
The first figs are about the size of a ping pong ball now…
Last but not least, the peaches…I sure hope I can get the bags on one of the days before the squirrels get to them!! (You can see the tree to the right in the corner in the garden picture above.)
This may be the most peaches I’ve seen on this tree since I’ve had it. We’ve had a very mild winter and the peaches have grown big enough to withstand the winds (so far!).
This is a standard “Ranger” peach which I’ve kept small. It grows like crazy in this warm corner.
Eventually, I want to remove it and put something in that won’t be “fooled” into an early bloom.
The tree I bought a few years ago and moved last year doesn’t seem to be waking up at all, although I was doing fine after I transplanted it last fall. I’m not quite sure if it’s just slow or dead! The buds have separated from the branches, but they dont’ seem to be doing much. This is the tree I’m hoping to have producing before I take out the Ranger.
I moved one of the artichokes today because I thought it need more sun. Besides, I may be using the space if my big plan actually swings into gear. I’ll know more on Friday…
Hope the weather is good wherever you are today…