Improve Soil Conditions

I’ve been trying for all the years I’ve been at this address, (17), to get dandelions to grow. After ordering seeds and an online friend sending me some of hers, they are finally starting to show up here and there. I leave them completely alone in hope that they will proliferate all over the place to help improve soil conditions wherever they will grow and for a forage food for me and all the pollinators that love them too, once they do.

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cool, shady area – one little dandy trying to grow

I can’t imagine anyone not loving dandelions.

When did humans start thinking that they know more than Mother Nature — pulling and spraying and killing everything that gets in the way of how they want things to be?

Years ago, when I was in California, I had a back yard filled with dandelions. I was brainwashed to think they shouldn’t be there. It’s amazing how manipulated a human can be. I spent time meditating while I pulled the flowers off of as many stems as I could, thinking I could thwart them, and, eventually, I did. Before long, I had almost no dandelions. Saddest part of it all was that all those nutritious flowers went into the bin for fear they’d dry and their seeds would blow up through the wind if I left them lying there on the ground to finish dying. I guess I can be happy I left the roots in the ground.

Getting out of diapers isn’t always easy.

I also learned, the hard way, how better to prune and also that it isn’t always a good idea to do it at all, period.

This little Anna Apple tree came home and lost an arm right away, just being juggled around while finding her final place. Turned out to be kind of a good thing in that it made her easier to place because the side that broke off allowed for her to go very close to the sidewalk in the narrow back yard.

It’s been here many years now and just last year it became clear that some pruning was in order because her limbs were hanging to the ground.

She got a really good hair cut and has come back beautifully will lots of apples this year.

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We just barely get enough “chill days” for this variety to grow here. That is one of the few benefits to living here — we are higher up than some other Arizona places. I’m a little jealous of Tucson as they can grow citrus and avocados — but that is the only reason to be jealous of Tucson.

It’s starting to warm up enough to feel almost hot during the mid afternoon parts of the day. Today I put a tarp on the cattle panels that form an arch over the sidewalk that leads from the gate to the house. I put a piece of wire fencing between the two arches so the tarp could go over the whole thing.

You can see a corner of it in this image:

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Lately mustard weeds were lopped and left to cover bare ground wherever they were growing but only as they appeared to be drying out and were through with the value they were to the bees — the earliest nectar available here for them. The roots were left to feed the livestock in the soil — bugs and microbes.

Right after they finished, the Aloe Vera all flowered and the bees just love them, as do hummingbirds which are starting to show up also.

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The purple table set came over from the corner plot of this compound as it is being cleaned up to reconfigure Buster’s pond, (girl turtle). It is now placed just so to shade a patch of romaine lettuce that sprouted from some saved seeds I broadcast everywhere hoping they would find a place they liked.

As a followup of the post just before this one, here is the prickly pear starting to flower. Sure hope I get to know how prickly pears taste.

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Happy gardening!

Prickly Pears Galore

Very soon after I took over this property, I noticed a little prickly pear cactus growing out of the hollow of one of the footer blocks of the fence in the yard I refer to as the #SouthFortyTriangleLot — it’s shaped like a wedge and it is on the far side of the property away from the main house.

That was in 2003.

Can’t remember exactly when I noticed it growing but I watched it and watched it as it grew. It seemed to grow very slowly for very many of it’s early years There might even have been a time or two that I thought it had died. Suddenly it found its footing and just took off until that fateful day it collapsed because of its own weight.

It could be two years now that it got so big it toppled. The biggest hunk of it just fell to the ground. Eventually, I was able to separate all the pieces and went about laying them all over in various assorted places around the property, wherever they made sense to be growing — some inside the fence and some outside. I don’t think any of them didn’t take. I have Mickey Mouse-looking prickly pear plants all over now with their new paddles growing from the pieces that sent roots into the dry desert sand just like they were supposed to.

The mummy plant took off again like a race horse as soon as the big chunk fell off and she is now even bigger than she was before — it happened in what seemed like no time. I was just amazed.

All through the years, she has never, never produced a pear. Look at her now!!! Mama Mia, prickly pears galore!! Some new paddles again this spring too.

Is that how prickly pear cacti have babies — topple and root on the ground?

The strings in the above image are the anchors for the tarp that goes over Buster’s, (the girl turtle), pond.

Permies.com has a great forum “Prickly Pear are the Perfect Permaculture Plant for Parched Places” describing some of their many benefits: “The mighty prickly pear. Great for vegetable, fruit, dyes, living predator fences, erosion control, medicine and drought insurance. Talk about stacking functions!”

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One of mummy’s offspring behind the pomegranate tree already has quite a few new paddles growing. All that was done was the broken off and healed paddles were laid on the dirt with the side with signs of roots growing from the areole to the dirt.

All these years now trying so hard to grow food. It is NOT easy in a desert. I’m thrilled to have all this propagation of prickly pear. I understand the paddles make something very good to eat and, of course, the pears are very loved. Here is a group in my area teaching all about it: Desert Harvesters.

I’m ever more conscious of how important growing food is and am stepping up my efforts, not that I haven’t always been trying. I am just now not giving myself any leeway to get the slightest bit lazy.

Just at the beginning of the coming spring, I took all my saved seeds and broadcast them all over just to see what might like to grow where. It’s a lot of fun watching. I also planted a lot of the little trees that have been several years in a nursing condition — under shade in pots. They started telling me they wanted their roots in the ground, so I obeyed. They are my dictators and I love them telling me what to do. They are the only ones who are able to get away with it.

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Plums for me and the birds

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Pomegranates for me and the bugs and flowers on the pyracantha for the bees

As some things are fading away, like the beloved #ScraggleTree, new things are getting started. All the little trees went in wherever they fit and I will see how things go. I hope they all survive and I just have lots of pockets of shade that things might just like to grow under.

Try, try, try. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. It’s all so much great fun.

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Weeds thrown over the fence from the parkway to bury somewhere — trench compost style

Happy growing everyone.