HOT weather veggies for the high desert

My own experiences aren’t very useful as almost everything I grew last year was transplanted way LATE.  I started the seedlings and then had no place to put them until we built the raised beds.

One exception are TOMATOES, been growing those for years.

I’ve tried some seeds advertised as hot weather tomatoes, but consistently found that cherry tomatoes did best.  And that’s fine by me because I LIKE them.  Had tomatoes all through summer AFTER we put up wind and shade cloth — the “tomato cage” was totally wrapped. 

They might not have gotten as much light as they would have liked, but got much more fruit than when they got blown around all day and they survived dust devils very well.

Still have a Sweet Millenium in the greenhouse and plan on taking some cuttings for this years plants.

Unfortunately, the wooden sticks we used to ID most plants didn’t last as long as the plants.  A neighbor had given me some seedlings and I think her Jet Stars also did ok — will ask HER about it as she’s good at taking notes.

Cucumbers

Didn’t have any last year, just saw a recommendation at the Vegas group for Armenian Cukes.

I’ll add to this list and if you have some tips, please also post them below or post at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AZhighdesertliving/

Getting ready for fruit and nut tree ordering

We’re definitely going to plant some fruit and nut trees this spring.  Just got the order form from the  College of Southern Nevada Desert Garden Center in partnership with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and Dave Wilson Nursery:

Winter/Spring 2010 Community Fruit Tree Order Form

They also have the Wonderful pomegrantes, although not on the order form.  

I’m currently trying to research what to buy and where to plant and I even started a newsgroup for NW Arizona gardening etc.:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AZhighdesertliving/

It’s great to meet others with similar interests in person, trade seeds and cuttings, help each other and have FUN! 

Despite our remote location we’ve managed to arrange to meet people when we were going to town and we plan on a trip to Ash Fork  when it warms up again.

Thanksgiving bio char, cow pies and plastic pipe

We had a late huge lunch and since it was one of the warmer days, decided to go for a drive.  Had to get rid of a dead mouse anyway and to not just waste fuel, we took a few buckets and shovel to bring some cow pies back for the garden.

Along the way to the corral, we saw this fire pit and we got a full bucket of bio char.

At the corral we interrupted the cows’ Thanksgiving snack:

Little Andy (the puppy) bucks like a bull when he sees a cow, he’s hilarious.  Got to take a video of him next time.

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Pics: garden update

We’ve been so busy this summer and constantly behind schedule, I kept taking pictures and never got around to posting them.

We now have the tomato garden, a raised ENCLOSED bed on the north side of the garage, a raised bed on the north end of the property and a stucco wire fenced area with cacti, willows and other non food plants and a big stucco fenced area with cacti and various non-food plants that keep getting eaten despite the fence, the small fenced area with the corn that died, but grew millet or sorghum, the fenced area with the grapes and herbs and of course the little greenhouse addition.

After we lost one plant per night to some unidentified creature with very sharp teeth, we decided to completely enclose the bed with hardware cloth and aluminum bug screen on the top:

We still have to buy some hardware to close the two “windows” in the front, right now we tie and staple them shut. We haven’t had any damage to the plants since we finished a couple weeks ago. Also still need at 10 ft board to attach the top screen securely to the back.

I’m VERY happy with this setup, although I have a tough time reaching all the way back. We got the blocks from a neighbor who ended up not building a wall and it’s convenient to be able to pick up blocks whenever we need more.

We’ll also buy plastic sheeting and we already have straw to try to prolong the growing season. It got down to 40 last week and since this bed is on the north side, it gets little sun.

Hopefully we’ll get around to doing whatever it takes to get some more of the veggies before they freeze.

click for larger image
click for larger image

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Mojave Green snakes or why to always wear gloves and boots when working in the desert

We’ve been doing a lot of cleaning up already, but there’s still more to do.  And I rarely wear gloves or boots …

We already had two mojave green rattlesnakes this year and last week we found two more, although one wasn’t that green and maybe it was a diamondback.  They got comfortable in an old drainhole behind the house and we just decided to fill it in.   It’s right next to the bird feeder and it was a nice shady hole.

We’d been walking over the board several times a day and the dogs always chase squirrels at the feeder, so we’re lucky nobody got hurt. 

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crotalus_scutulatus

Venom

Rattlesnake venoms are complex cocktails of enzymes and other proteins that vary greatly in composition and effects, not only between species, but also between geographic populations within the same species. C. scutulatus is widely regarded as producing one of the most toxic snake venoms in the New World, based on LD50 studies in laboratory mice.[12] Their potent venom is the result of a presynaptic neurotoxin composed of two distinct peptide subunits.[

We hate to have to kill any animals, but “safety first!”

Fortunately both snakes were sleeping hard when Jose first lifted the board to fill in the hole:

 

 

 

A few more pics:

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The puppy

Yesterday evening I picked up the puppy. 

Louie took him out of the pen and let him run around for a while with his mom Lucy and he got acquainted with Butch.   Lucy had always kept Butch away from the pen, so this was their first meeting.

On the way home, the puppy sat on my lap and after a couple miles he moved on the seat, leaning against me and he didn’t puke.  Very good!

I had made up a little bed for him:

He just stayed there. 

As it was getting dark, I carried him outside.  He learned how to go in and out of the house and he followed Butch around: Continue Reading

Attack of the leaf-cutting bees

A few days ago I went to check on the grapes, as I usually do after I get up.  I go for a walk to check on all the food plants, always thrilled when they’re all still there.

That day I was shocked when I looked at the grapes.  Something ate huge parts of the leaves!

At first I thought it might be the “ferocious brown bugs” and I checked the next night several times.  Didn’t see a single bug.

So the next afternoon I’m looking at the grapes again and tons bees or wasps were buzzing around. 

I quickly searched the web and it didn’t take long till I found several sites about the leaf-cutting bees.  This one is funny:

BUG OF THE MONTH: August 1996: Leaf-Cutter Bees

I always like late spring and summer, because as soon as my roses start looking good, I can be pretty sure the leaf-cutter bees are not far behind. …

… Next time you see round or oval holes in your rose leaves, notice if they are regular and neat in outline (rather than ragged, like beetle damage is). If so, don’t be dismayed. Just wait quietly and you may be rewarded by seeing first-hand the efficient, elegant work of the leaf-cutter bee.

I took the advice, went back outside and waited quietly.  They are PICKY and don’t just take any leaf.  They buzz around until they find the perfect material for their nest.  Finally a bee landed on a leaf and started cutting.  Absolutely fascinating!

Efficient and elegant, just as promised.

I did some more reading and the only defense is to cover the plants.  Well, the grapes are growing rapidly and the bees don’t touch new leaves.  So I just hope they’ll soon have enough building materials for their nests.

And in the meantime, I’ll admire their elegance.

Saved the lizard with the jaws of life

I hate when I see a lizard caught in the hardware cloth.   It usually happens about once a year.  Last year I found a dead lizard in a fence and in previous years I saved a few.

A few weeks ago (4/20) I checked to see what Butch was so excited about and there was another stuck lizard.

At first I hoped he’d get out on his own if I just keep Butch away.  I brought the rock so he’d get more leverage instead of just hanging in the fence.

 

After a couple hours or so I finally decided to get some pliers.  I was worried about how to cut the wire without hurting him since he totally filled the entire opening, but with some electronics wire cutters it actually went very smooth. 

My other worry was that he’d try to get out before I was done and hurt himself. Those cut wires are deadly, or at minimum very painful. 

Fortunately, he didn’t move until I was done cutting all around him and bending the ends away from him.

And then he took off like a rocket.

Hopefully lives to eat the strawberries 🙂

Last frost in late March?

A few days ago I visited neighbors who told me that it froze a couple nights earlier.  I didn’t even notice.

Today I inspected the grapes and yup, a number of leaves were brown and dead, definitely frozen.  It’s not a problem because there’s lots of new growth.  But what timing, just a few days after I pruned it froze.  Mid April it’s supposed to be safe with no more freezes. 

The first corn sprouted in the addition.   The larger grape cuttings are outside, but many smaller cuttings are in cake and strawberry plastic containers in the addition.   I’ll be happy if just 20% grow.

Hope to get to seeding some corn outside within the next few days.  I’m planning on 3 or 4 sisters plantings as described here:

http://trado.info/three-sisters-corn-beans-and-squash