Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Lots of clouds, very little rain for the north valley. The big grey bears blessed everyone but us I think.

Friday/ Saturday
The fence! Thanks to the neighbor and his workmen, the fence and two gates fence in the front have been moved for off-street parking! It looks so different. Had to dismantle Matthew's garden somewhat, since the gate now swings an arc into it. G dug out all the garden brick -- apparently the soil and chip level has risen nearly a foot since she put it in. There were three courses of the nice fat wall blocks; you could only see one. Our morning Saturday was spent helping get odd things for the fence guys. Emptied the crusher fines out of the truck. G moved most of the compost pile around back.
*Kate's birthday party. Met the woman, Gail, who put up the Rainbow pet sitting ads. She lives in south valley and has over 100 chickens!! She sells eggs at the Los Ranchitos farmers market on Saturdays. Her partner works in Ortega. Would be fun to ask where, and doing what.

Sunday:
Planted 2 of my pots of
cat mint in the front with G's rangy peppermint. Transplanted my 2 silver brocades out of the ex-tomato buckets where I stuck them willy-nilly last fall, and into two big tall green vases. I said I'd really like 'one of those things with the pink flowers.' Between us, G and I played twenty questions. "Desert Primrose" She bought us a gallon-sized one at Alameda Nursery when she went for pepper plants last week. So we planted that. Busted the soil to plant my bucket of Mexican hat (from seeds next to the tennis courts). Then arranged some other plants around it so it wouldn't look lonely. G dug a hole but decided it was too hot to put in a small bit of sage in the Choke cherry bed.
Cow manure: G went down the street with the yellow wheelbarrow and brought back cow chips. She is getting serious about her composting and is gathering the various piles she'll need to create a layered, 'hot' compost.
Weeded along the back of the garden; jumped the fence again to lop off the elm that's valiently trying to make a comeback from the attack made on it a year ago to put in the neighbor's big block fence. 9 lives. Weeded along the south side of the garden too. The
coriopsis opened a bright yellow eye. The grapes look gorgeous & have tons of tiny fruit. (?!) The blackberry canes are full of green berries and the bees are all over the next round of blossoms.
Ash in the trash. G put it into the yellow wheelbarrow while she was making her beds for the sunflowers last week. We needed the vehicle, so she loaded it into bags in the bin out front. The final resting place for the pig weed pile from -- could it be -- summer before last? Don't say we hurry mother nature.
Sunchokes for the dinner table - bin two. After transplanting the silver brocade (snitched as a start from around the fountain at UNM), hauled the tub around back, cut the bottom out of it. Mixed existing soil with commercial and compost, but too hot and too late to plant.
*Enormous grey and black moth. We took photos of it. Will post later.



Monday:
An Arch. Took the gate off the garden and made it a silly little arch out of ditch willow and bailing wire. G hung one of her Japanese prayer bells in the center. It's very rustic and charming. [Update 6/9/09 Finally snapped a shot of it. We still like it very much.]

Eating things. Snapped one of the bulbs off the huge, spendid dramatic Egyptian ('Walking') onions. It's a hot bugger, very pungent and a tad tough; I sauteed it and combined it with some of the swiss chard G harvested last week. Two great huge bags of it, since they seemed to be bolting and we read online somewhere that you could chop them off at ~3" and then be ready to harvest some more!
Veggies and herbs: G moved the green basil babies Teresa gave us out from under the red bud because we concluded they just weren't going to get enough sun there... put them into the garden. Five plants. They look tiny but very happy. So far G has put in 4 eggplant, 5 tomatoes (TJohansen), and 2 squash (TJohansen). Outside the garden in a new bed are onions and peppers, amaranth seed and corn seed. The peas--are very cute, but probably has been too hot for them. Put in sugar snaps and traditional--only one variety sprouted, but alas, I didn't mark them so I don't know which.
Transplanted a couple of
volunteer snap dragons from one of my many Fruit Ave pots into the red bud bed. Finally did something about my poor donkey tails. Mary's neighbor ( name. ergh.) gave me the starts for those when AE and I lived on that naked plot in Rio Rancho. I also stuck a tall spike of cholla in with them (looked out of place). The water and cold this past winter busted their vessel, a shallow wide terra cotta bowl clean in half. So they haven't been holding water and looked singed and desperate. Hacked off 2 chunks, put one in the xeric onion bed, the other down under the lady banks. Then chopped out the cholla and planted it in its own pot. Got the remaining clumps a new bowl. Water still poured through it, so I put a saucer under it.
G put in the sage.
I forked out some sunchoke bulbs and we finished populating the now buried blue ex-tomato tubs.
And put tw0 of my holleyhocks along the wall (plants from seed in the beds outside Bookworks and Flying Star. A pale yellow). They may be youngsters, and not bloom until next year.
*G's pink bargain table rose is absolutely covered in blooms. It's gorgeous!
*Spotted a hummingbird at the feeder.
*G heard a huge ruckus and watched unhappily as a pigeon, undeterred by five or six angry adults, made off with a baby robin dangling from its beak. We were disturbed. And it confirmed G's scathing opinion of the big birds ("flying rats").

Goals: put up trellises and lady banks/ honeysuckle along the west wall for sound and sight barrier. Create a bed along the west wall, re-doing and greatly expanding Matthew's garden.

I would like: Irises. Sage and variegated sage. And to try garlic.

* * *
Last Thursday at noon -
Marge Piercy! (Add text and photos... maybe move it down an entry or two.) Now reading her Memoir, Sleeping with Cats.

"Remembering," she writes, "is like one of those old-fashioned black-and-white-tile floors: wherever I stand or sit, the tiles converge upon me. So our pasts always seem to lead us directly to our present choices. We turn and make a pattern of the chaos of our lives so that we belong exactly where we are."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Last Week of May - Memorial Day






RAIN! It might rain!!
Sunchokes: we are measuring (well, not me, Gloria). 18" Tuesday, 19" Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Third week of May

Still Hot - But high 80s instead of 90s. Winds have been mild though, except for a the odd storm overnight.

Weeds - Silver leaf nightshade exploding up everywhere. Along the ditch across the street they are already 10" high and blossoming in their comely way.

Don't have time to finish the post, but here are a few of our cast of characters:















Monday, May 11, 2009

2nd Week of May

Hot - near record highs for May (everyone muttering that it feels like June). 90s. G. got tough and plowed her way through the annual Unveiling of the Swamp Cooler. (We think we were driven to this nearly three weeks before we usually get desperate....) HOT. According to Herb, this is the second year of drought in a row for Florida. The state is one big tinderbox as is New Mexico. Both of us often under the angry red flag alerts. [We traded fire stories...]


Darwin - The Power of Place.
Read a little before bed 2 nights in a row. I think I was dragging my feet because I was dreading the inevitable conclusion of a biography: his death. So I went ahead and read the last few pages. It was oddly sweet and soothing. Some family upset about where he was going to be buried. They had planned on a quiet cemetery near their estate; the rest of the country insisted he be put to rest in Westminster Abbey. The final pages are not nearly as emotionally difficult as the passages dealing with the deaths of his children. I suppose because he lived a long and wildly successful life, and suffered a great deal from an array of plaguing illnesses.

Through the 1870s, his books more talked about than read; he in danger of being a novelty. Images being worked out in the popular press, in order to explain and convey the new world of science (the world of the lab vs. the university lecture hall).

1872 He publishes 'Expressions'; his goal-to link facial expressions in animals and humans. Was very surprised at the people he collaborated with to produce the book... artists, lots of photographers, and several heads of insane asylums. His work was more akin to what I think of as anthropology and social psychology than biology. ((Take notes)).

Survey of all the imagery in the comic magazines: Darwin as ape. The tree of life with a monkey hanging from it. Browne argues that overall, they helped ease the shock of this idea. And that it appealed to the project of poking fun at self-important scientists & professors.

"Nature"
*The robin's nest near Woodward Hall: I only see 2 sets of beaks, but they are much bigger and their coordination much better. That I can tell, they have not been making much racket. And of course, they are considerably bigger. Must make it hard to "sit" on the nest, though it has been so warm, I can't imagine that's necessary (attempting the reverse? keeping them cool?)
*Swallows: Under the eaves on the north side of Ortega there are at least two fully re-built nests. I felt badly; the grounds or physical plant crews took down every last scrap of those hard fought nests from last season. I wondered if the birds would come back, or find a more welcoming place. But there they are; like a busy airport slash bus station. I watched one for a few moments. It almost looked as if the bird was swishing mud around in its throat; chewing tobacco just before a big fat expressive spit. South side of the building not nearly as popular. At another spot, two birds were raising a ruckus... don't know if it was territorial squabbling or mating dances. Unbelievable, but they appear to hold onto the sheer wall somehow--between spreading their tail into a flat, wide fork and grabbing who knows what with their tiny sharp claws.

The YARD:
All the trees in town have leafed out. Verdant!

*Blackberry canes are full of buds; a few early flowers open early but the bulk of it to come.

*G's little rose near the west fall is battling aphids, but has a handful of buds. One of them cracked just a bit--like a lipstick case partially opened. Neither of us remember what color it was... it came from the bargain table at the end of the season. There were 2; the other one didn't make it. We picked from the ratty gallon-sized choices, selecting for fragrance. Could be hot pink. **Look up the vocabulary for plant parts!

*Raised bed-very disappointing so far. Out of all those seeds, almost nothing has sprouted. Currently underwhelming: the clump of leeks G bought, my slender bit of blue flax (whose blossoms only open during the day when I'm not there to enjoy them) and 2 handsome tomato plants from Teresa Johansen's flock. I believe G had put in spinach, lettuce, beets and carrots? Only thing she can figure is that the straw mulch might have been too deep.

*Peas in the tub - maybe too hot for the sugar snaps? I planted half regular and half sugar snaps. Regulars came up like a charm. Sugar snaps - absolutely none.

*Petunias and geraniums and my miracle gerber daisy are all up and out--resplendent. The underwhelming dwarf red dahlias are up, both the potted ones and the blubs I tossed into the ground next to the tiger lily. Probably won't get quite enough sun there...

*Prickly pear cactus is going to bloom this year! Don't think it's ever done that. Maybe the move scared it /stressed it out. grin.

WEED WATCH:
*What is that dandelion relative I've been battling this spring?! Lovely bronze puffs of seed. Small happly yellow flower. Pale white tap root.
*The foxtails are drying out in the heat and have been starting to disperse. (I jumped the fence Saturday morning & grabbed up a huge pile from the messy back alley of the neighbor's yard. Next year I just need to do that earlier.)
*Silver Leaf Nightshade starting to pop up everywhere. Tend to have 2 sets of leaves by the time I spot them. sigh. Wish I had a vague count.
*Bind weed on the move.
*Wild sunflowers and globe mallow are up.
*Domestic sunflower mix is up; probably ready to be transplanted.


TO DO:
Move the thread grass.
Walking onions - divide? Eventually move the second batch up to the top of the bed? duh.
Sunchokes. Asparagus. Swiss chard (Read about them -- what do we do?!)
Browallia. Torenia. ?! Read about the new shade flowers we got from Alameda.
Sow Amaranth in the back. Get the onion starts in.
Weed the 2 sunchokes out of the flower pot.
Dig in the 2 blue bins and plant sunchokes to eat in them (at the back).
Weed the mint from the outside of the garden.
Aphids bugging the rose bush & awful on the yarrow in the front bed.
Move the compost pile? (pretty ratty looking).

*

Monday, May 4, 2009

1st Week of May

3 piles of brush to Soilutions before noon!
Rain Saturday afternoon.

Everything is blooming.
The Lady Banks opened some of her first blooms Saturday, ditto the blackberry canes and the first blossoms from my Snow in Summer. Gloria's over-wintered red-orange geranium unfurled a vermillion floret. Just one, so she looks like she's winking. My leggy red snapdragons (the dwarfs are still in process). The third bloom on my hedgehog cactus. The cat mint in the Choke Cherry bed spread out & popped its pale purples. The blossoms are now visible on all the yarrow. G has a few blossoms on her new batch of strawberries. Very sweet. And elm seedlings: legion.

The wild sunflowers have sprouted. Am finding them everywhere, willy nilly. And the "greys" -- so tough (Silver-leafed Nightshade) are starting to pop up. Still finding tiny patches of foxtail, with full seed heads, but not dry; I think we're catching them before they can disperse. Though there are fields of it across the street near the ditch and down the block, and the trashy alley of a close neighbor--through the back fence.

Backyard Farming Workshop - Sunday 9-11:30.
Libros - Sunday 1-3:30.

Friday afternoon: Saavers for shorts (1 nice, one for hiking), black t & gardening top. Watched Paycheck (sci fi).