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!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 25, 2009) The Squirrels Invade

Originally Posted at InsightAnalytical

~~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…

Surveying the food situation...

Surveying the food situation...

Enjoying the free grub…

Wallowing in the food dish...

Wallowing in the food dish...

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!

Peaches waiting for squirrel visitors...

Peaches waiting for squirrel visitors...

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!!

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 18, 2009) Glorious Organ Mountains; Apricots; Quail on the Wall; Sneaky Slick the Min Pin

Originally Posted at  InsightAnalytical

~~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 Mountain 4/16/09 Looking Like a Painting...
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...
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:
Sneaky Slick
Sneaky Slick

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!

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!