#4HugelBed

It’s been such a lousy growing season for me this year. Still unsure of why so many things failed. My suspicion is that the straw mulch must have had herbicide residue. That, and the fact that so many of the things that have been done to establish permaculture features haven’t had long enough to develop to be what they will become in time.

It started like this

It started like this

Though, I have to say that the first year of the #1HugelkulturBed, it was planted and had fairly good success; especially with beets and chard.

At any rate, the thought now is to devote much of ongoing efforts to developing soil to be healthier and able to retain more of the limited water that arrives in this hot, hot desert. Hopefully over-watering won’t be quite such an issue; it may have been part of the trouble too.

So, time for another Hugelkultur element in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot next to the Plum tree. A #SquashPit (see embedded video at the end for a how-to) was ‘planted’ there at the beginning of the growing season and when I dug up to it for the new trench, it was full of worms. The squash pit is just in front of where the yellow watering wand is stuck in the blocks to mark it.

Pyracantha trimmings from a recent culling in the #ParkwayProject

Pyracantha trimmings from a recent culling in the #ParkwayProject

First thing was to dig a trench. Second thing was to use the Pyracantha debris in the bottom of the trench as it is very prickery and not fun to deal with on the surface layers later on.

Pyracantha debris before being lopped down

Pyracantha debris before being lopped down

All of the pyracantha debris lopped down

All of the Pyracantha debris lopped down

Part of why a trench is dug is to give you the dirt you need for adding over the wood and other materials. A Hugelkultur structure can be built from the ground up if you have other dirt to use. More dirt would have been nice, but it will settle in time and there are all of those wire rounds with composting material that can be used to fill in some of the holes. This is all that the Pyracantha debris, that was sitting on the sticks, amounted to after it was lopped down. It was put in the trench first. It was still somewhat ‘green’ so will add some nitrogen for breaking down the other wood.

Next the sticks were added.

Putting the sticks in the trench

Putting the sticks in the trench

The littler ones are useful for filling in gaps.

All of the sticks are in

All of the sticks are in

Green things

Green things

Watermelon, pumpkin, and tomato vines that were pulled to make the trench were added atop the sticks. More nitrogen to activate things.

Stuff from out front that was waiting for this build

Stuff from out front that was waiting for this build

The stuff from the front yard that was just sitting in the #TriangleRaisedBed waiting for this build was brought over to add over the sticks before covering with the trench dirt.

More debris to build up the nitrogen elements

More debris added over the sticks

A little bit closer view

A little bit closer view

All available dirt added over the debris

All available dirt added over the debris

It’s taller than it looks in this image. This was after using all of the trench dirt. More dirt would have been better. I think the things decomposing in the wire rounds will make a nice topping in the not to distant future.

A little perspective for height

A little perspective for height

It got watered in to help the dirt settle some and to start activating things.

Little Red-Haired Girl sniffin for grubs

Little Red-Haired Girl sniffin for grubs

Both of the doggies love when dirt gets dug so they can hunt for grubs, which were many.

Brown Noser

Little Brown Noser

This big critter came to give its approval and see if there were any bugs to spare

This big critter came to give its approval and see if there were any bugs to spare

blue/black waspy flying thing

Blue/black waspy flying thing

And this critter was burying itself in the straw until I disturbed it to try to take an image. It flew off and came back to burrow into this mulch; looking for a place to lay some eggs I presume.

Voila! Another Hugelkultur element at First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy

Voila! Another Hugelkultur element at First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy

#4HugelBed is complete for now. Hopefully this will act as a water sink next to the Plum tree and be another place with lots of nutrition (eventually) for planting. Hugelkultur building is a great way to keep wonderful resources out of landfills and be better utilized (here) for an eventual, hopeful food forest.

Every day something.

The moral of this story is:

“Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again.”

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Failing At Quitting

The difference between failure and quitting is in the commitment. Failing is hard, takes a lot of work, yields a lot of experience and insight and while not fun, leaves you a better person. Quitting on the other hand just means that you don’t have what it takes to follow anything through. ~ January 22, 2012 by

#RaisedBed in the #NorthFacingFrontYard

#RaisedBed in the #NorthFacingFrontYard

This growing season has been quite a disappointment. Aside from good yields on the apricot and plum trees, nothing much has been produced.

The tomatoes were large and tasty, but very few. I quit eating night shades doing an elimination strategy trying to identify the culprit in migraine headaches; so the tomatoes went to my neighbor and a friend. I did eat a few and we all agreed that they were delicious and that store-bought varieties taste like cardboard and are therefore pretty much a waste of money comparatively speaking.

Over the several years that have been devoted to being very serious about growing my own food, I have used many techniques to try to improve soil and water retention and have been planting things that are perennial and offer layers toward what I hope will someday be a ‘food forest’ of sorts; as much as a desert can become a food forest.

Popcorn

Popcorn

The goal, of course is to produce the things I want to eat. Popcorn is a favorite snack. It was looking so hopeful, compared to the sweet corn that succumbed to worms early on. Alas, it failed as well. It didn’t quit, mind you, it failed. It did it’s best and I applaud it. It didn’t have all the support it needed and I take full responsibility for that. This little ear may have made it, but the one next to it was infected so highly unlikely. I felt badly for pulling it after opening it, it looked so clean and nice.

Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, broccoli were all planted in Fall last year and over-wintered. They all bolted at the first sign of heat.

Asparagus went along nicely, taking up so much space for such little yields. The one that I did harvest, I waited just a smidgen too long and it was tough. This growing food is a VERY tricky thing.

So many other things, chives, cilantro, carrots, onions, garlic…nothing viable. Watermelon and cantaloupe are still struggling on; not sure what will amount to anything.

I did get a few beets that were good, not as good as last year’s.

Sweet potatoes are still vining away and may produce a yield. #WaitAndSee.

The difference seems to be the straw. Straw was put everywhere as a ground cover over newspaper and cardboard. I’m afraid that the straw may have had herbicide residue and that may be what had caused so much trouble. It’s just hard to know. I asked the local feed if he could get that information before I used it, but he says that he uses a broker and it comes from many sources. Seems the only possible way is to secure a local organic farmer. I haven’t been able to do that yet.

The other thing might be to get a chipper/shredder so that all of the arbor debris generated on site here could be worked down to wood chips/arbor mulch. That will take at least $700. and it’s not in the budget at present.

So, we march on.

#3Hugelbed in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot

#3Hugelbed in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot

The #3Hugelbed seemed a good place to start Fall clean-up now as it had nothing left producing aside from the cantaloupe along the East foot of it, which got left in place.

When it was built, it had a thick layer of straw put over the wood before adding back the hole soil over top. There were lots of vacant spots in the stick layer so when I went to walk over it, it sunk in a lot. There was just one tomato vine still green but with no flowers, so it got taken over to the new #TriangleRaisedBed to decompose along with some purslane that was dried out on it too. It will get chopped down and spread around.

#TriangleRaisedBed

#TriangleRaisedBed

Baby Tarantula

Baby Tarantula

When my foot sunk down into the debris, I yanked it back as quickly as possible because I imagined all kinds of teaming life under there. Sure enough, out came a baby tarantula from a den it had dug. It got put back into an opening in the debris while I went about raking all of the dirt and such up from the side and onto the top to consolidate and pack it all in better. I sure hope it finds it’s way out again; they’re good bugs that eat bad bugs.

#3Hugelbed reconfigured

#3Hugelbed reconfigured

Watered in and some sticks over top

Watered in and some sticks over top

The soil on it now has much more organic matter in it that has gone through Summer. Raking it around helped it all to mingle. Then it was watered in. The sticks were some from my neighbor’s trimmings that are just there to act as a little mulch, keeping the Sun from scorching any life there now, which is abundant.

L - R: Kale, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts.

L – R: Kale, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts.

While waiting for spaces to direct sow some cool weather crops to try the over-winter strategy again, some have been sown in trays. The #3Hugelbed may get planted.

Gardening morale booster

Gardening morale booster

As hard as it is now for Little Red-Haired Girl to walk, she insists on being near me. Often I carry her out, but this time she came through the doggy door on her own. Bless her little heart; she stayed the whole time.

MickeyMouser

MickeyMouser

MickeyMouser, lollygagging around inside as usual. Oh, he’d be out if he could.

So the moral of this story is: Quitting isn’t an option if one wants A Simple Life of Abundance and Peace but failing is inevitable.

 

The Color Green

Envy
1.desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else).
Greenvy
1. same as above but limited to the quality of green. (coined word)

Especially for Bridget…and those who are struggling with restoring fertility to soil…here’s a little secret…and what I have done and continue to do to restore health to the soil…I pee in a bucket and mix it 10:1 with rainwater…it is marvellous liquid fertiliser and helps to get good bacteria developing in the soil.

Many of you may know of Colette’s wonderful success over the course of 12 years, restoring a depleted 3 acres in the West of Ireland. She’s a phenomenon. The above excerpt is from a blog post she recently published that you can go directly to by clicking the link within the quote.

The climate of Ireland is mild, moist and changeable with abundant rainfall and a lack of temperature extremes. Ireland’s climate is defined as a temperate oceanic climate, or Cfb on the Köppen climate classification system, a classification it shares with most of northwest Europe.[1][2] The country receives generally warm summers and mild winters. It is considerably warmer than other areas on its latitude, because it lies in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, and as a result is warmed by the North Atlantic Current all year.

For this desert dweller however…

Climate of Benson, AZ  Similar to other desert plains areas of Arizona, Benson receives little rainfall and is relatively hot. Some snow occasionally falls in the winter.

If you click on the link above you will see a chart with all of the details.

Suffice it to say, we have extremes. We are NOT temperate.

The pee thing works no matter. The color green thing…not so much.

Coming 13 years ago from Southern California, which is considered a desert by some and certainly has desert areas, I had more optimism than I do today for having a green oasis. That doesn’t mean it can’t be lush. There are lots of desert plants that love the heat and abundance can be created. It’s a learning curve.

International Wildlife Museum  4800 W Gates Pass Road Tucson, AZ 85745 (520) 629-0100

International Wildlife Museum 4800 W Gates Pass Road Tucson, AZ 85745 (520) 629-0100

  • Desert dwellers humbly accept the inherent constraints of the desert. As I’ve noted, a Pulitzer Prize-winning western writer once quipped that newcomers to the desert must learn to “get over the color green.” Because many of us recognize that water scarcity is a norm, not an aberration, the water-saving strategies of desert plants can inspire us to innovatively make the wisest use of the resources that are available.~ Gary Nabhan – Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land pg. 44
Evergreen Juniper, "Spearmint"

Evergreen Juniper, “Spearmint”

This Juniper is drought tolerant and grows in almost any soil.

Perennials

Perennials

Rosemary

Rosemary

Mexican Petunia

Mexican Petunia

Mexican Petunia grows easily from stalks pulled out from existing plants with some of the root intact. These all came from a client and are already sending up new plants from the underground rhizome system. The flowers last only a day, fall off and new ones appear the next day, all Summer long. The plant has to be cut to the ground in Fall, but comes bouncing back in Spring. Pollen seeking critters love them.

Propagation

Propagation

Another value to perennials is that most can be propagated. This saves in many ways; financially and environmentally.

 One of the most pleasurable might be the cooking series at the Desert Botanical Garden, one of only a few botanical gardens in the nation accredited by the American Association of Museums. The Garden features five thematic trails and displays the world’s finest collection of arid-land plants, along with fantastic Dale Chihuly glass sculptures. While there, visitors can take part in hands-on cooking classes and demonstrations, such as The Edible Desert –Healthy Gems from the Southwest class I took with Chef Denise Clayton.

Climate is changing even in ‘temperate’ zones, whether you subscribe to man-made or natural happenings. It behooves us all to use permaculture principals to mitigate a bleak and diversity-lacking future.

In “Why Some Like It Hot,” award-winning natural historian Gary Paul Nabhan offers a view of genes, diets, ethnicity, and place that will forever change the way readers understand human health and cultural diversity.

In "Why Some Like It Hot," award-winning natural historian Gary Paul Nabhan offers a view of genes, diets, ethnicity, and place that will forever change the way readers understand human health and cultural diversity. 1-55963-466-9

I can’t seem to help but be a little ‘greenvious’ of Colette’s wonderfully lush habitat. At the same time, I embrace the challenges and am constantly encouraged by the new things to be learned for creating a diverse, sustainable, lush environment; even in this extreme weather patch of the world.

The moral of this story is: Plant, plant, plant and then plant some more. It’s good for everyone and everything.

Gary Paul Nabhan Quote

The Circle Game

Perhaps it’s because I’ve hit 62 and am ‘retiring’ that the mental dwelling on time has somewhat overtaken me. I watched the movie Touching The Void lately; as a matter of fact, I watched it several times. I don’t have a television connection, so rent movies from the library or purchase them from thrifts. The other movie watched, during this same time, that had a similar effect was The Martian, with Matt Damon. Both were epics of survival and the resilience of the human spirit, not to mention the astounding risk some people are willing to take to see just how close they can get to feeling ‘really alive’ and/or to actualize their potential.

So now that I can access my Social Security earnings and relieve my struggle with finances somewhat, my time is freed up and it is hitting me hard, the things I haven’t done that I have always thought I wanted to.

“So, Sarah”, I said to myself, “what is it that you really want to do? Go to Mars? Climb a 20,000+ foot mountain to the summit and walk on the ridge?”

People have been posting their ‘bucket lists’ lately. I don’t envy. I’m not racing with anyone. I usually don’t want the things most other people do. I just want not to have wasted my time. I especially want to feel that I have exercised the full potential of my brain. This is why so long ago I exited the ‘slave labor market’. That is a pure waste of time if you aren’t in a profession you adore. I worked as an Interior Designer and actually did adore the work. What I despised was working for companies that were perpetually trying to find a way to keep ever more of the earnings generated and had no conscience of the distress on their employees that those tactics took. NONE WHATSOEVER. They were never happy with any performance, always demanding and taking more, more, more. Also, it was becoming ever more clear to me what a negative impact on the state of the world the fashions industries have. I was miserable in my complicity. How could I complain if I couldn’t do anything better myself.

Early in my career, I went from a clerical position to a sales position and doubled my income. I was ecstatic. The managers were constantly asking me what was wrong that I wasn’t performing like so and so. There was no peace. No sense of abundance at any level. It gradually stole my soul and by the time I was at my peak, I was completely disillusioned. My body was quitting to behave in a way that I could survive in that environment. I was having headaches all the time, I was lethargic, I was angry. Not unlike the mountaineer, I wanted out of that environment and into a safe place.

Those two movies really had a profound effect on me. I’m sure I come nowhere close to feeling the feelings they might have; nonetheless, I did get the gist. I felt the same kind of trapped the mountaineer did when he found himself in the crevasse. If I stayed in one place, I would surely die; maybe not literally like he would have, but certainly spiritually. I would have felt like I had wasted my life.

All of the possibilities of any positive effects there might be in staying put were exhausted. There were none. To go even farther down in the crevasse was an unknown risk and might have made things worse for him. Taking the risk was the only decision left for the mountain climber with the broken leg because there was no way he could climb up. Leaving the relative security of a job was a great unknown, but it was the only decision left for me to make. And I’m so glad that I did.

To me, there is nothing more fulfilling than to be with nature. Nothing more spiritual or evident of life. I think the mountaineers and the Martian felt the same way. They felt small and vulnerable and it was clear just how much the environments they were in had to be cooperated with and not fought against.

Popcorn

Popcorn

In trying to figure out just what it is that I think I have always wanted to do, it’s become clear that patience is required at this stage of having been let out of the cage, so to speak. I’ve been puttering around doing just what I want to do in a day. I’ve been refusing to take on client work and feeling a little guilty that I’m not being more productive. Indoctrination. Years of being pressured to perform.

It’s so wonderful to be free to commune with things that really matter.

Things that really matter

Things that really matter

Things that really matter

Things that really matter

Friends

Friends

Both of the #WildGirlDoggies were out with me this day inspecting things. They traipsed all over the #SouthFortyTriangle lot and kept looking for a sign that I was heading back because, after all, it was dinner time. As soon as the sign they were looking for presented itself, they headed off together, dancing and doing the dinner wiggle, side by side.

Most of #CompostIsland moved

Most of #CompostIsland moved

Gertie came back to make sure I was really coming. Little Red-Haired Girl didn’t want to loose her advantage.

LRHG is in front of the only compost bin left on #CompostIsland now; the main one with kitchen scraps that needs to be in the shade. That day, the other bins got redone/moved over to #ContainerGarden. Still some cardboard and debris to be utilized so it appears messy yet. Mess is a constant struggle.

Fig Tree

Fig Tree

This season of growing has produced very little from annuals. There was good production on the apricot and plum. The pomegranate is still going and has fruit on it that hasn’t cracked, so there may just be some to eat yet. Fingers crossed, knock on wood. The #LittleAnnaApple struggles every year. This year had the most and biggest so far. Most dropped off before completion. The fig tree is full of little fruit currently. I pulled off all the ones it started the season with thinking it still needed time to get established. This is its first year in the ground. It just wants to produce, so I’m letting it have its way.

Pomegranate tree

Pomegranate tree

Crook-neck Squash

Crook-neck Squash

This crook-neck squash plant is the only one of several to thrive.

Watermelon, believe it or not.

Watermelon, believe it or not.

This watermelon is round, not sure why as I did not plant a round variety.

Infant watermelon

Infant watermelon

Watermelon volunteered in #CompostCorner at the beginning of the season. Many were given away to a friend. Many were transplanted and they are all over #TheCompound in various stages of development.

Mystery volunteer vining plant in #CompostCorner now seems clearly to be pumpkin.

Mystery volunteer vining plant in #CompostCorner now seems clearly to be pumpkin.

Things that really matter

Things that really matter

The other half of the things that really matter

The other half of the things that really matter

Things that really matter are living things.

Even though it is yet unclear as to which of ‘the things I’ve always thought I wanted to do’ are actually going to make it onto the bucket list, it is just nice to know that there is now the time and  better financial support to even give it the thought it requires.

Tick tock.

One thing is perfectly clear. Growing food is an essential activity for this girl’s future. It’s pretty scary thinking of not doing it. So glad there are a few years of practice to build on. Lots to learn. There is time to learn it now.

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

~ Joni Mitchel, Circle Game

The moral of this story is: Take the risk. Live in the moment. Try to relax. Don’t give up. Be grateful for what you do have.

Every Day Something

Each morning that I go out to inspect the #Compound with the #WildGirls, I think there won’t be anything new to post for others to see. I’m always wrong.

Always something new under the Sun

Always something new under the Sun

The morning Sun right over the #ScragglyTree looking from the #SouthFortyTriangleLot.

Looking East in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot

Looking East in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot

The corn hasn’t done well over here. This is sweet corn, popcorn is doing very well in the #NorthFacingFrontYard.

Just one leaf has this at this point

Just one leaf has this at this point

Several of the sweet corn have succumb to worms. I’ve never grown corn before. Can’t know what it needs without trying.

Pretty purple popcorn silks

Pretty purple popcorn silks

Eating a vegan diet, I’m always on the hunt for a fun snack food. Popcorn is one of my favorites. The purchased organic popcorn hasn’t been puffing up very well and bagged is expensive, so why not try to grow my own?

Migraines have been challenging my eating too. Have been trying elimination techniques to try to identify the culprit(s). So far, sweet potatoes are a delightful sustenance food with no ill effects. I simply bake them cut in big pieces and then salt, pepper and cinnamon them and mash a little to eat. The #Wildgirl/doggies get some in their mush as well. Little Red-Haired Girl has been an ‘eater’ from the start. Now that she is old and has issues, we do small meals all along the day. She’s real happy about that. Sweet potatoes make a good filler that isn’t gonna make her fat.

Brussels sprouts are a staple food here too, but haven’t mastered growing them yet either.

Sweet potatoes are a staple

Sweet potatoes are a staple

Lots of sweet potato slips this year. They were plugged in wherever there was a vacant spot with soil that seemed good. These are in the front yard along the fence between my neighbor and I. They are getting more morning Sun now that he took all of the greenery out from his side. The spade-shaped leaf variety hasn’t set as well as the other. Last year it was all that was planted and did grow lots of vines at the end of the raised bed. Small taters harvested were not all good. Soil was still rather compacted.

More sweet potatoes near the defunct strawberry patch

More sweet potatoes near the defunct strawberry patch

#NorthFencePlot sweet potatoes advancing at a steady clip now

#NorthFencePlot sweet potatoes advancing at a steady clip now

Hopefully there will be some good sweet potatoes this year.

I finally felt like I’d gotten the covered carport far along enough to spend some time on the #ContainerGarden area just outside of it.

Finally got to work on the #ContainerGarden

Finally got to work on the #ContainerGarden

I’ve been collecting 5 gal. buckets that I use to haul groceries home when I forget to take my reusable bags with me. Plastic pollution is a serious concern so great efforts are made to avoid it. The 5gal. buckets can be used for a very long time. I use them for so many things. The hope is to plant them for here as well as other vessels already on premise. Wire rounds will be here too.

The first thing was to lay newspaper/cardboard/mulch to abate weeds/Bermuda grass and improve the soil building under the containers for a future planting bed here.

All of the bagged “Composted Mulch” on hand was used here. We’re at the mercy of Walmart in Benson as it has taken over everything else. They stop bringing in amendment material at this time; so, unless one wants to drive 35-50 miles to a nearby town with sophistication, this is all we get.

Newspaper/Cardboard/Mulch

Newspaper/Cardboard/Mulch

The sticks were brought over here to free up the main thoroughfare were another bed may be developed. The lizards are having so much fun running in and out of them that I didn’t want to bury them for a Hugelkultur now.

Wire fence rounds with composting materials

Wire fence rounds with composting materials

#CompostIsland is being cleaned up. Materials have been accumulating.  These two rounds were brought over and built up with some of those materials.

Materials for soil building

Materials for soil building

Lots of egg cartons had built up. I quit eating even eggs and now only boil two each morning as part of the “small meals all day” feeding routine for the #Wildgirl doggies.

They all got put in the bin on right, first the grass then the cartons, watered and smashed down then a bag of “Organic Compost” over top. The left bin used up cardboard and more egg cartons.

These will eventually have enough depth to plant. Every Day Something.

#LizardHostel "All you can eat, bug breakfast buffet"

#LizardHostel “All you can eat, bug breakfast buffet”

#LizardHostel got moved over to the left some and will eventually be moved farther left to where the cardboard is now to make a berm/HugelkulturBed for this downward sloping area.

#Lizard Hostel "Free bunk for eating bad bugs"

#Lizard Hostel “Free bunk for eating bad bugs”

It was a great, cool, rainy week with lost of productive activity and no Migraine.

My neighbor caught me at the bank last week and asked if I wanted his windows from the remodeling he’s doing. The last ones were wood framed and the glass fell out so I wasn’t in a hurry to retrieve them; not sure I wanted them. He saved them until he found me in the front yard this week. Turns out they are metal frames and solid as rocks. He got three big juicy tomatoes for his trouble. He was happy.

Metal framed windows

Metal framed windows

Some kind of cold frame in the making.

He also had some branches and leaves from his greenery extraction that I let him wheelbarrow over to the #ParkwayProject to lay until the leaves get brittle enough to come off and then do something else with the sticks.

Yard debris from my neighbor

Yard debris from my neighbor

Of course that made me want to work on the #ParkwayProject.

Ongoing weed management

Ongoing weed management

I have been letting weeds have there way some, but this Bermuda grass is out of control. It would be wonderful to eventually newspaper/cardboard/mulch the entire #ParkwayProject, but I got started on the chaste tree area and worked until the clouds broke. I would have stayed and gotten drenched had camera not been in tow. Don’t know if it has been the Bermuda grass or me not watering this poor chaste tree; it’s showing some suffering. I will change my ways. I’m using a trusty, dusty, rusty hand grass clipping tool so am doing this in little bursts. This will get a mulch treatment as soon as all the grass gets clipped.

Monsoon Season; thunder, lightening and rain, oh boy!

Monsoon Season; thunder, lightening and rain, oh boy!

Lots of projects accomplished this week. Yesterday was sidetracked. Had been working on some sewing for a client so I wouldn’t have to think about it today; but, a friend had an emotional upheaval and we spent a great deal of time talking and then ran out to run a few of our errands and treat ourselves to a migraine inducing menu. I had KFC coleslaw and some potato wedges. She had Del Taco. It was a fun get away and I got the paint for the living room two green walls.

When I was outside sales as a designer in clients homes, I carried a Frazee paint sample box. It is still very useful for picking colors. ACE matched it to a T as they had the formula in their computer. The color I chose is not on the wall. It was in my purse for the match. I think I’m going to love it.

An ant's life

An ant’s life

So, the moral of this story is: “Work like an ant.”

Amazing to me that each and every tiny grain in this pile was brought to the edge of the hole and off loaded by one little ant, sometimes carrying many times her own weight. One by one, the colony gets a home. I can’t bring myself to disturb them. #FirstDoNoHarm.

Most ant colonies need far more females than males for the basic reason that females do all the work…Unless you dig into an ant colony, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see a male ant except on one special hot, humid day in early summer, after the spring rains have passed. That’s when all the male ants come out and use their wings in a glorious one-day orgy of free love. In some countries where all ants mate on the same day, this is known as “Flying Ant Day,” and is a subject of national interest and even a sort of festival.

Day by day, week by week, year by year a home gets built and food gets grown.

It’s an amazing life. I savor every minute.

For a simple life of abundance and peace.

 

 

If At First

There are so many lush, wonderful gardens being posted online that are producing enviable harvests, not to mention their beauty alone. Sometimes it’s discouraging to realize what meager pittance is coming out of this desert dweller’s attempt to live a sustainable existence, trying to provide my own food in this extreme heat with so little rain. It’s a little heart breaking to watch the plants struggle so to endure.

I’m not too hard on myself, because its clear that it will get better and better with time and that practice makes perfect. If all one does is fantasize what might be, it will be nothing. So it becomes in the doing.

Much has been learned. Studying what others do is great help. Realizing that there have been very successful, sustainable growing ventures right near where I live is all of the encouragement I need.

This is probably the 5th time this book has been mentioned on this blog and the Facebook page related; but the further I get into it, the more it becomes clear that it is a book for everyone, not just desert dwellers: Growing Food in a Hotter Drier Land, Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty by Gary Paul Nabhan

It is about sustainability and leaving as little of a footprint as is possible.

Last night, I was reading to where it started mentioning Principles and Premises and got into conventional irrigation technologies, including laser-leveling fields, installing center pivot or automated drip technologies and that farmers are often exhausted and broke by that time and unable to further tweak their system for even greater water use.

That is why ecologist David Bainbridge suggests that we must look beyond drip irrigation to various other means of micro-irrigation that do not demand such high maintenance and periodic technological replacement costs.

I have been wasting so much water trying to figure things out. Of course everything has been being done all along to establish the compound in such a way that water is maximized, i.e., Hugelkultur, raised beds, mulch, cover crops, chop and drop, rain water harvesting, layering, nurse planting. This book is a wonderful tool to get steered onto an even better path.

  • buried pitcher irrigation
  • wick irrigation
  • porous capsule irrigation
  • deep pipe irrigation
  • perforated drainpipe irrigation
  • porous hose irrigation

are named as a few of the strategies and it’s exciting to think of how much better things will get.

The book gives a list of rules of thumb to keep in mind when directing water to the root zones of plants; timing planting and harvesting with respect to timing of rains, putting plants that require the same water needs together, watering when temps are lowest for the least evaporation, not leaving surface areas bare, directing water flow less broadly, just to name a few.

I think that part of the problem this year may have been the straw. It may have had herbicide residue that is effecting the growth habits. This is why it is so important to need as few external inputs as possible.

Tons of new growth every year

Tons of new growth every year

The big #Toughnut tree in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot grows and grows each year, producing lots of fodder for arbor mulch. It might just be a good investment to purchase a chipper/shredder now.

It’s branches extend out every year and offer long, droopy limbs to trim for shredding. Up to now, they have been lopped and used as Hugelkultur material. Doves love to make their nests in the lower branches. This tree is so ‘messy’ it has lots of criss-crossed limbs that make good anchors for their wimpy seeming builds.

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Aside from ground cover, which can be many things; mulch, clover, rocks, there needs to be layers in a desert garden, any garden that wants to be sustainable the permaculture way. And you can scarcely have too much material for building Hugelkultur or chipping/shredding for mulch.

I took my camera to run errands yesterday because I had seen a tree in the Walmart parking lot and wanted to try to identify it. It was wispy and airy and not too big. After inspecting it carefully and taking shots, I went through the garden entrance, as per usual, and there was one sitting in a big 41.031 qt. pot, actually several. They wanted $56 each. Funny that I hadn’t noticed them before.

chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow

chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow

That allowed for it’s identification. The trees planted on their grounds were dripping with pods. I looked for some laying on the ground but soon discovered that they open and drop seeds first; so I pulled a few dried pods, that hadn’t opened, off of the tree itself to see if I might try to get some seedlings going.

Pods of the chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow

Pods of the chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow

There was another tree I thought interesting, but have no idea what it is?

Anyone know what this tree is?

Anyone know what this tree is?

Need to identify this tree

Here’s a close-up. Need to identify this tree.

Ravine planted for erosion control

Ravine planted for erosion control

When Walmart came to Benson, I guess 9 years ago now, it planted out the surrounding properties. This area was planted for erosion control. It’s a deep ravine. It looks like a park to me and I wonder why they don’t set up the surrounds for just that.

Desert Willow

Desert Willow

Blue Skies and Wide Open Spaces, Arizona

Blue Skies and Wide Open Spaces, Arizona

Needless to say, there is lots of beauty and diversity in the desert and I look forward to continually finding new and better ways to increase the productivity, sustainability and beauty of my little clip of heaven.

Beautiful desert diversity

Beautiful desert diversity

And no shortness of purples, which suits me just fine.

This would look nice in the #ParkwayProject

This would look nice in the #ParkwayProject

Butterfly center

Butterfly center

Beautiful butterfly seems to love this plant

Beautiful blue butterfly seems to love this plant

So, the moral of this story is: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And look to nature for advice.

Pine cones and Desert Willow pods

Pine cones and Desert Willow pods

And, of course, plant, plant, plant!

Happy planting.

Desert Willow:

Named for its resemblance to willows, this popular ornamental tree is actually related to catalpa trees, Yellowbells (Tecoma stans), and Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans). Its exotic-looking blooms, rapid growth, drought tolerance, and ease of maintenance have made it a sought-after plant within its range, which in nature is from south-central Texas south to Nuevo Leon and Zacatecas in Mexico and west all the way to southern California and Baja California. Adapted to desert washes, it does best with just enough water to keep it blooming and healthily green through the warm months. Many cultivars have been selected, with varying flower colors, leaf sizes, and amounts of seed pods.

The Moral of the Story

For twenty years I lived in the second story apartment you can see through the middle of the building in the left image. Far upper left in the pool shot. Relative happiness. It was really just a nest.

The front was crammed with potted plants and I ran a hose from the kitchen faucet to water.

The pool was wonderful.

I had a stray kitty come in one night while I was on the floor cutting fabric, making a bridesmaid’s dress for a friend. She was there with me. The only thing I had to feed her was a can of bean and bacon soup. She ate it. She continued to come back for years. “No Pets Allowed”, so I tried to get her to be quiet when she meowed all the way up the stairs each night following me in. The landlord turned a blind eye. She just came to eat and sleep and went out again in the morning. Pinky. She had a deformed mouth so her little pink tongue showed against her black fur.

I finally bought a big house almost four time the space and spent six years there sorting myself out and accumulating stuff. It had a big yard and I did a lot of practicing on growing things. The new owners took all that out and all of the previous 20+ year of hedge growth, trees and things and put in lawn. By the time I had grown completely discontent with California, I had two dogs and two cats and they all came with me to Arizona. Little Red-Haired Girl is the only one still of that tribe.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

And a lot of stuff came with me too. Years and years of stuff and then I went on to try to start a business here and acquired ever more stuff, stuff, stuff.

Stuff is anxiety provoking. It robs peace and I am all for a simple life of abundance and peace. Now that I know better.

Having been a neurotic accumulator (aka: a hoarder, albeit with a purpose) for so long, it has been a process. It is so cathartic to finally be getting rid of it all. There’s lots more to go, but great progress has been made. I’m glad to say that the more one practices letting go, the easier and easier it becomes. It becomes less important to imagine an income from ‘things’ than to imagine the freedom from it, from the anxiety it all creates.

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The most resent riddance has been books. I still have books, but all of the ones that were just taking up space for nothing are going, going, going to the Library/Friends of the Library or friends who want any of them. Some of the ones left will go too. A whole life’s history of work, worry, study and thought. Time to be in the now. Good riddance.

So the moral of the story is that all that really matters is living, breathing things; plants, animals and other people. Revisiting some of those books, I was reminded of the many stages of life and the tools required to get through some of them. I have always turned to books. It seems like there is an answer in there somewhere; but after revisiting some of them, I realized that most of the answers come in the living. Break up with a boy, fall apart, study psychology (another book or two or ten) to try to understand things…time heals all wounds and in continuing to live, the problems get solved. What helps you get through things the best? Focusing on things outside of yourself, living things; plant, animals and other people is what does.

My favorite quote is a static feature at the bottom of every post.

That book I kept. It’s full of wisdom. I was 14 when it was published, so it is still relevant to the era of my youth and young adulthood in its nuance.

Plants.

Animals.

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“Why are you on the other side of the fence, Mom?”

And other people.

That’s it. Simple as that. Living things.

For a Simple Life of Abundance and Peace

For a Simple Life of Abundance and Peace

Practice Makes Perfect

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Cooling things down a bit

A bundle of synthetic rope found its way to the surface of hoarded stuff. It was stretchy, so made a much better lace from fence to fence because it could be pulled and made taut. The jute string was droopy and a total nuisance to try to navigate under. This puts it much higher. The string was installed to be able to drape things over to create some light shade over certain plants that are really affected by the heat.

All of the mesh that had been wrapped around the plums came off to harvest them and was used here for a very light sunscreen; trying to cool things down a bit.

Yesterday was hot but that didn’t stop Little Red-Haired Girl from sunbathing.

Late afternoon transpiration occuring

Late afternoon transpiration occurring

It rained for several days, so I have been trying to see how long things can go between waterings. They could probably go longer; but when things start looking like they are really transpiring, the hose comes out.

It was about 6:30pm when the hose finally came out this day.

First walk of the day

First walk of the day

It really seems to work better to water in the evening. It takes things a lot longer to show transpiration the next morning.

Front Yard Farmacy

Front Yard Farmacy

Soil building is a slow process. So is adding layers to create micro-climates. Micro-climates are essential in this desert heat and scorching Sun.

This year the focus was on planting as many sweet potatoes as possible since they are such a staple in my diet. Most of what is happening to date is practicing. Through the years, I have been saving seeds, so I started with sowing them in paper pots before spring to see what would germinate. Sweet potato slips have been growing on potatoes in water since long before spring, some still growing.

Sunflowers, tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe were mostly it from seeds in pots. The sunflower transplants did okay, especially the biggest one that was transplanted to the #3HugelBed in the #SFTL. The ones doing the best overall were direct sown in spring.

Cucumbers are a fail, not sure why.

Cantaloupe are all doing well, but got off to a slow start.

Two varieties of tomatoes were germinated in pots. Black Krim from saved seeds are not doing well for the most part. The Brandywine are all doing very well. Trouble is that night shades are suspect in migraine headaches that are crippling me on a regular basis, so have been eliminated to see if they are the culprit. Need homes for tomatoes now.

Practice makes perfect. All the while the soil is developing to be healthier, whatever doesn’t produce a harvest will be more biomass for building it even further.

Beets, popcorn, sweet corn were all sown directly and mostly doing well. Watermelon all over are transplants from many that volunteered in the back yard in #CompostCorner where kitchen scraps get thrown from time to time. Flowers all over for the birds, bees and good bugs.

Squash and pumpkin are growing in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot. Potatoes under the straw in the front on the #1HugelkulturBed the ‘Ruth Stout Method‘. They are another night shade, but fun to see if they can be grown. So far, so good.

Blueberry bush in a container

Blueberry bush in a container

Taking the advice of one blogger, I planted the blueberry bush in a container and have moved it to here where it gets a little more Sun, but not too much. It may need a feeding. It seems to be suffering from chlorosis; leaves yellowing but veins remain green. Chlorosis can be watering issues, too much, leaching nutrients out; or something as simple as not enough sunlight. It has been getting mostly dappled light. Now it will get more.

Causes and Complicating Factors

The factors leading to iron chlorosis are complex and not fully understood. A number of chemical reactions govern iron availability and contribute to the complexity of iron chemistry in soils.

Many environmental factors also create or contribute to iron deficiency. These factors need to be evaluated and alleviated to the extent possible. In many situations, attention to watering and soil conditions will satisfactorily correct minor iron chlorosis problems.

Most of the container plants were moved from the patio area and placed in the pathway where it isn’t easy to plant other, in-ground things. The herbs were all moved over to the sitting area near the street on the East-most corner. The vintage table set was turned around so all sides can be accessed and will now be slated for painting. Some of the chairs have already been. Pavers will be added to extend the patio to the fence.  The table has a very nice piece of glass, but it stays covered to keep it from ruin as the set is valuable. A better top needs to be made. This is an old hollow core door, falling apart; but at least it isn’t such a worry to sit things on it.

Turquoise sky

Turquoise sky

The view to the street from the East-most corner.

The hibiscus recently rescued from the Walmart nursery perked right up and has now been planted in the #1HugelkulturBed near the tree stump and almost centered between the arch panels. There was a potato under the straw there, so its placement fell short of perfection.

More soil building, clover under the Apricot tree also lets me know when the ground gets too dry. It grew right up through the wood mulch and seems to love the shade. I’ll let it flower, if it will, for the bees and reseeding and then chop and drop it for more nutrition. All containers are kept on their sides so if a lizard finds its way in it can find its way back out. They have a tendency to fall into things.

Bird on a bowl

Bird on a bowl

Water features are all over for the creatures coming and going. Wherever it is a deep vessel, there is something added to allow the lizards a means of escape.

First Do No Harm you know.

Here’s a good little video of Ruth Stout taking you through her method.

Thanks for stopping. Come back soon.

Shades of Green

Visitors often choose for us to sit here

Visitors often choose for us to sit here in the cool and shade of the evening.

Something was continually grating at my aesthetic sensibilities whenever I saw this area in images. It finally dawned on me that I didn’t like the étagère that was sitting there. It was too much busyness, so it was moved. The table glass broke a few weeks back in a gust of wind that knocked a heavy bottomed gold fake tree over, shattering it. Hope to find a piece in a thrift or make a mosaic round with all of the bits and pieces of stuff kicking around.

I like the metal shelf much better over in the container section of the East pathway.

Etagere moved to the container area of the East pathway offering some shade to cucumbers struggling in that fence spot.

Shelf offers some shade to cucumbers struggling in that fence spot.

The cage with the floor tile topper in the #1HugelkulturBed has a newly installed watermelon seedling from the ones that volunteered in the back yard #CompostCorner. Another one was planted this side of the camera, out of view. Watermelon City here. The crawling vines are another good shading strategy for the ground while it continues to develop into better soil.

This bed had artichokes that grew all through winter, finishing up in spring and flowering now. I ate only one. It was tough as I haven’t learned the artichoke system yet. The bed also had chard and beets finishing and going to seed. I wasn’t sure what to do with the bed this year; but as I accrued potatoes that started sprouting, I used the Ruth Stout method of planting and just lifted the straw, laid them on the dirt and covered them back up. #WaitAndSee if it works.

Most of you would have known, but I have never grown potatoes before and the images seen online just hadn’t stuck in my mind. I kept wondering what this was that came poking up through the straw; weed, something from last year? It looked substantial. Suddenly it struck that there was a brick near it. Bricks had been placed as markers wherever a potato went in under the straw. Lo and behold, it is, it is a potato plant! There are two coming through so far.

Planting Potatoes

Planting potatoes the Stout way may be the easiest garden chore you’ll ever do. Gather a bin full of sprouted potatoes, including those with long stems attached. If you want to go with a more conservative approach, get certified seed potatoes from a garden center or catalog. Toss the potato pieces on top of the mulch, keeping them about a foot apart. There is no planting here; a second layer of about 4 inches of mulch on top of the potatoes covers them and allows the green plants to sprout. A third layer of mulch covers the stems and growing tubers after the plants get to about 12 inches tall.

Simple as that. Now for my local feed to finally get in some straw bales so that it can be continually added as the plant grows.

The temperatures here in the Southeaster desert of Arizona have been over 110° at times lately. Scorching. Trying to find ways to ease the burden of this much heat and Sun on things, Little Red-Haired Girl got clipped with scissors and then buzzed with an electric razor, not very well, but she loves it. She knows something about getting a dose of Sun. Smack in the hottest zone she lays and pants until she’s had enough. She has a fur coat, not hair. Thick, thick and long, long. So, every summer I do this and it grows back quickly. We do it in stages. She snarls when she’s had enough and we come back later to clean things up. She doesn’t have a clue to her lopsidedness. I love to see her little pink body strutting around #TheCompound. She’s inside most of the time.

It isn’t always pretty but some things are just necessary. The last post, I explained what I did here. This shows that it is effective. The main thing is to cool things down some so that too much transpiration doesn’t stress the plants to death and to lighten the need for irrigation.

It is officially Monsoon season. There were projections of rain for days but none until yesterday and that, very light. Anticipating rain, I had neglected to water in the mornings and then forced to later. Turns out, it is working better to water early evening, 6-7pm. Because of cloud covers floating in and out all day, it has been cooler and not needing watered as much.

Speaking of water-melon, there was still a batch of seedlings needing homes. They had been nursing under the big tree in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot and weren’t progressing much. As soon as they are put in the ground though, they take off well. I found homes for four more. Two in/near the #1HugelkultureBed and two over #StevieWeeviesPlot, a memorial bed I created with her paw prints in cement block next to it. She was my beloved Heeler/Beagle mix.

Stevie Weevie rolling in the grass. She was the best ball doggie ever

Stevie Weevie rolling in the grass. She was the best ball doggie ever

I wrote a blog post, Her Wonderful Life, (it’s a tearjerker for me still), right after she died and couldn’t bring myself to write anymore there, so left that blog as a memorial to her. She was 14. I had had her since she was about six months old, wandering in to where I worked as a stray puppy.

More #ItIsntAlwaysPretty going on. Lots to clean up in the #SouthFacingBackYard. Still need replacement glass for the frames of #TheCatastrophe scenario where the Quonset pieces fell through that bedroom window before they left the premises. Lazy me. I have gotten the frames straightened but need to go to a neighboring city to get glass replaced. Meanwhile I’ve rigged things up so rain doesn’t enter and cats can’t escape. The glue needs to be heated out of the frames before new glass can be installed. I recently purchased a heat gun. The girl at ACE recommended a chemical to use in lieu of the gun. The trick is to find a long enough span of time to take the window frames out while the kitties are in the studio and get to that “big” city nearby with clean frames.

It’ll happen. I’d really like to build a glass-bottle enclosure around the bedroom as a patio and replace the window with doors. Gotta have dreams.

The Little Anna Apple Tree, dwarf, has struggled for years. It’s very tempting to take it out, but can’t bring myself to that conclusion. Last year the apples were much smaller and got sunburned. This year they were much bigger and more of them, but they are falling off before ripe. Readings recommend providing some shade for heat stress reduction. I purchased a canopy from a friend who was moving things for $15/ retail $85 awhile back. I would hate to have paid full price. It was useless. Bent like paper. I tossed the frame and have tied the tarp to anything it reaches to make afternoon shade for the little tree. What a difference some shade makes. So much cooler there. You can see Stevie Weevie’s paw print pavers next to her memorial planting plot behind it.

In an ongoing attempt to minimize things that have to be thought about, cleaned or cared for, a collection of ceramic animal and figure vases and green glass were lined up on the evacuated top book shelf in my bedroom to decide whether they need to leave the premises. I took pictures so that I can eventually list them on Etsy. Shades of Green. For many years, I entertained myself by going through thrifts and collectible stores hunting for values to someday start a shop. Now days, everyone is minimizing, downsizing and the trend is to tiny house living. Not the market for selling “stuff”. They may just have to stay. The books will likely be donated to our local “Friends of the Library”.

It feels so good to get rid of stuff.

Now that I will have the time to focus on creative sewing and gardening full time, (details in last post), I want all other distractions eliminated.

Shades of Green

Shades of Green

So though there aren’t the shades of green one can see at the wonderful gardens of Bealtaine Cottage Ireland, we’re working hard to install as many greens as possible, layer and shade them appropriately so that they might survive the ravages of the heat and Sun here in this desert in this Southeastern corner of Arizona. It’s brutal.

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty - Nabhan, Gary Paul, PH.D., and McKibben, Bill (Foreword by)

This book just arrived. Can’t wait to dig in to it. Pun intended.

It looks wonderful.

Black Krim tomatoes, rather dwarfed

Black Krim tomatoes, rather dwarfed

Tom-a-to, to-mat-o, po-ta-to, po-tat-o…let’s call the whole thing off.

Nope, nope. We mustn’t give up. Try, try again.

Happy gardening.

More of my Beloved Stevie.

Like a Kid Again

Mammoth Sunflower

Mammoth Sunflower

Yesterday I turned 62.

As early as was allowed, Social Security Benefits were applied for. They hold back a month and then there was the issue of my late-in-the-month birth date. Checks start rolling in August. Existing funds have been being used with great frugality to stretch to then as odd jobs have been relinquished in anticipation of this event. It’s like giving notice at a job you hate, it’s nearly impossible to work out your notice. I didn’t bother.

The goal is to finally start doing creative sewing. No longer being dependent on the hodgepodge of little jobs that have been sustaining me for years now, sewing/alterations/housekeeping/shopping/errands/taxi service/yard work/etc., they have been quit earlier than they might should have been so that I could focus on organizing my studio for maximum efficiency for this anticipated creativity.

Always working with the bird in the hand, I say that I live defensively; but I actually plan quite a bit. At least in my head. This has been planned for a long, long time. It always seems that the time will never come and then suddenly, there it is. I’m so excited and so very happy to finally be feeling this kind of freedom.

My lovely little niece sent me a private message on Facebook to say, “Happy Birthday Aunt Sarah! I hope your day is absolutely wonderful!!” To which I replied, “Thank you sweetie. I’m living my dream, so most days are great. Love you.”

I feel like a kid again. Free to be.

I don’t have a lot of close friends, being quite the loner. The ones I have are cherished greatly. Fitting the characteristics of an introvert, I love interacting with people, but it exhausts me. Where an extrovert is energized by it, I need time to recover. My inner life is rich and the outer life has been fitted to me like a glove. I made all the alterations myself.

So, for my birthday, I did what I love to do, I worked in the garden and puttered around in my simple life of peace and abundance. I couldn’t have been happier.

It has been so scorching hot, 110° one day. Probably hotter, but I don’t check often, just now and then and to post sometimes. I don’t suffer as much as I think some of the plants do. Yes, it’s uncomfortable at times. Most of the time I just don’t think about it. The most discomfort is for the plants and animals.

Working on strategies to increase water retention and soil fertility for a long time now, things just haven’t evolved enough to matter much. Yet.

Squash and melons seems to be able to tolerate it the best.

Suddenly, in leisure mode, an idea came for a way to create some shade to hopefully cool down the soil surface temps and keep the plantings from transpiring  quite so much. 4′ stakes were pounded in where they would benefit hose movement as well as to allow for jute string to be strung crisscross for hanging something to shade. Some bags of mulch had just been emptied, so were made into fringe to drape over the string.

That was just too much fussiness and aesthetics are important too.

Another idea emerged. The strings were removed and restrung to run from the back fence to the front fence and then a seed catalog was taken apart and cut to make a more attractive fringe and then draped over the string and secured with tiny clothespins from a crafting stash dating to the early 90’s.

Much better. It is about to rain, so we’ll see how the slick paper survives. We’re officially in Monsoon season now.

Corn in the #SquashPit area doing well. Another artichoke flower opened. Something new for the bees. They are crazy for it. Its fun to watch them crawl in. It’s also fun to see what becomes of what might have been food.

#RaisedBed in the #NorthFacingFrontYard

#RaisedBed in the #NorthFacingFrontYard

The straw was pulled back for two new rows. Beet seeds were sown in the one close to the nasturtiums and also to fill in on the row already growing where some went missing. The next row will be sown with beets in a week or two so a succession will occur, hopefully. Chives are barely visible in the last row. Planted too late it seems, but mostly for their benefits as a companion plant. Popcorn on the right side of the cinder blocks. I tried transplanting one since they are so close together. Not successful.

Corn needs plenty of space for two reasons — it is a heavy feeder, and it is primarily pollinated by wind. As grains of pollen are shed by the tassels that grow from the plants’ tops, they must find their way to the delicate strands of silk that emerge from newly formed ears. To make sure silks are nicely showered with pollen, grow corn in blocks of short rows rather than in a long, single row. In a small garden, 15 plants set 1 foot apart can be grown in a 3 x 5-foot bed.

I guess I should have grown at least another row of corn there. Is it too late?

Well, Summer is here. Can’t remember it being this hot, this early. So timely that information about this book crossed my path lately, “Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land. Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty” and it has been ordered. Hopefully it will shed some new and encouraging light.

Continuing to simplify and de-clutter my life, I pulled down all of the books from shelves I built in my bedroom to let go of most of them. It was impossible not to read through some of them just to see if I was sure they should go. Some took no thought at all, i.e., design/drapery books. I have no desire or intention to revisit that way of making a living.

“Our society is much divided. There are fewer and fewer things that people agree about. The furor of the sixties has died down, but the conflicts that caused it persist. The bitterness has merely been diluted with despair. The war is over, but peace has hardly reached epidemic proportions. Our economic structure is crumbling. Cities are going bankrupt. We are exhausting our physical resources while our human ones lie fallow. The quality of all our services- transportation, communication, health, education, and so on- deteriorates, while their costs increase. Some people can’t afford to heat their homes because we all want to ride expensive vehicles on crowded roads at high speeds, killing one another and polluting the atmosphere. During the years that we tried heroically to annihilate the Vietnamese population and destroy its countryside, we slaughtered half a million Americans and did massive damage to our own landscape just driving around. Intent seems to have nothing to do with it. ” The Pursuit of Loneliness-American Culture at the Breaking Point ~ Philip Slater, revised edition, 1976

This book I kept. I only post this excerpt to bring light to the fact that “the more things change, the more they remain the same”.

I firmly believe that “All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden” ~ Geoff Lawton

I think we try too hard to make it difficult.

Let’s all simplify. Shall we?

Me at age 9 with my one friend and my  babysitter.

I still love anything gingham, especially red.