New Year's SNOW in the Joshua Tree desert! (pictures)

We haven’t had any significant snow since 2008 and it was a real treat to get about 4 – 5 inches of snow on New Year’s Eve.    It snowed all day and at least until about 1 am when we were driving home from a party.

Here you can see our adobe oven and hoophouse, but you can’t see the cliffs at all:


The cliffs on New Year’s Day:

Our horno


Looking SE towards Diamond Bar road (the road to Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk)

Below are lots more pictures (click on the pictures for larger images) of the high desert and plants in beautiful snow:: Continue reading “New Year's SNOW in the Joshua Tree desert! (pictures)”

Our $140 winter seed order from High Mowing

I decided to order from High Mowing because they are 100% organic and they also offer bulk seeds, by the ounce or even pound. Since they sell to pros, germination rates should be high. I still order from companies catering to home gardeners and/or offering rare seeds (herbs, natives, medicinals), but I wanted to make sure we have high quality seeds and LOTS of seeds to give away to our friends, neighbors and gardening club members. Continue reading “Our $140 winter seed order from High Mowing”

Hoophouse in June

I’m finally getting around to posting the pics taken in June.   I made a HUGE mistake allowing the catnip and Chichiquelite huckleberries to self seed in the hoophouse.  TWICE we’ve cleared all the catnip out and we’ll have to be vigilant.  We transplanted many catnips, Chichiquelite and Sweet Annies along the fences in the lower garden and hopefully they will establish there.
We still have tomatoes in tiny seedling pots because we have no room to plant and what we did plant, was way too late.
So here are a few pictures from mid June and I’ll try to post some current pics soon.

I didn’t expect the hot pink hollyhock to come back this year. It’s a MAGNET for spider mites and it is interfering with the blackberries. We grew the pomegranates from seed and they have yet to bear fruit and maybe never will. So we’re propagating from cuttings now.  Calendula and 4 O’ Clock at the border and a field of catnip in the back.  We transplanted lots of catnip into the outside gardens.  On 8/14/14 we planted lots of lettuce seedlings and we also have some tomatoes growing in this area.

Got this boysenberry in spring at Desert Sage in Kingman and it almost died because we took so long to plant it. It’s making a strong comeback now.

Chichiquelite (huckleberries) — a little bland, but good for smoothies. Self seeds profusely.

Volunteer dill, unfortunately long gone by now, but new volunteers are sprouting.

Can’t remember the name of this flower surrounded by Chichiquelite berries. It made it through the winter with temps down to 4 F.

German chamomile crowded by Chichiquelite.

Outside you can see the 220 gallon water tank for gravity watering. We used to also have pressurized water from the house, but the rats ate the poly pipe. We’ll have to fix that because it really helps with pest control to spray the plants down.

A volunteer ladybug. We had quite a few in spring

Ladybug larva

Marvel of Peru (4 O’Clock) — we transplanted a couple of smaller ones into the gardens and one really took off. Basil in front of it.

Our little pond in the hoophouse with lilies and some water canna. We used to have a few goldfish, but when a WWOOFer was assigned to watering she forgot the pond.

Volunteer tomatoes, 4 different kinds and not very productive

Peace vine tomatoes — one of my favorites. We just had a great tomato / Armenian cucumber salad, but they didn’t set much fruit when it was so hot in July. We’re hoping for a nice fall crop.

Chinese apricot grown from seed. I tried more seeds, but none sprouted. Recently got a new batch of seeds and put them in the fridge for a few weeks, so maybe that’ll help. We’ll also try to propagate from cuttings as they grow very well here.

Last fall I buried several yellow Armenian cucumbers and I expected many volunteers, but only got one. By now we had a couple of cukes and I pollinated two flowers this morning. Our current white fly infestation isn’t helping.

We got Willow cuttings form our friend Anna in Golden Valley a couple years ago. We stuck them into gallon pots and this one grew so well, it grew right into the ground and will never be moved again.

We bought 60 mimosas, Arizona cypress and black locusts at the Las Vegas State Nursery before Arbor Day. We gave some away at our gardening club meeting and several black locusts are in the upper garden and mimosas in the lower garden. Most of these trees are for Jose’s lot and we’ll plant them in fall after the fencing is done.  On the shelf in the back are strawberries and they are now happy in our raised beds.  On the left is our propagation area for cuttings from various trees and bushes.

A WWOOFer must have planted the sun flower seeds. In addition to the Chichiquelites we also had many volunteer Sweet Annies. We transplanted them along the fences in the lower garden and hope they’ll flower and reseed there.

Bought this pomegranate from Toni in Golden Valley in 2009 or 2010 and it flowered in his pot. After a year or so we planted it in the upper garden and this is the first time it flowered again. We had almost given up on it. I suppose finally watering it regularly helped. Unfortunately some critter ate most of the pomegranates.

A chaste tree in the lower garden in full bloom.

We got the plastic for the hoophouse in October 2011 and it is rated for 4 years.  We were rather skeptical with our high winds, but almost 3 years later it is still holding up quite well.
We plan to move the entire hoophouse to the adjacent area down the hill when the plastic goes bad.  Some of the hoops will just be turned 180 degrees.  While it is as cold inside as outside on cold winter nights, everything grows so much better than outside because it’s not nearly as windy and of course it’s much warmer during the day.
I made a mistake ordering 70% shade cloth last year, but we’ll eventually use that shade cloth for areas where we’re not growing plants, such as our patio, outdoor kitchen, etc. Most likely we’ll go with white plastic covering plus 30% shade cloth next time.
Since we have well established willows, pomegranates, bird of paradise, apricot trees, blackberries and many other perennials to shelter tender annuals, we hope that the hoophouse will turn into a productive garden in a year or so when the plastic wears out.
I’ll try to post some current pics of the hoophouse and gardens soon.  We finally cleared out ALL catnips, Chichiquelite and Sweet Annie and will try to eradicate the white flies that invade every summer by spraying a little neem oil, cayenne pepper and Dr Bronner’s peppermint soap. And maybe we’ll order some more ladybugs.  In spring we got praying mantis eggs, but we have yet to see any praying mantis.
Currently we’re growing many greens and basils with tomatoes and we are hoping for a bountiful fall tomatoe and Armenian cucumber harvest.

Bug ID?

These beetles were a bit larger than ladybugs and congregated on a pomegranate branch in our hoophouse.
6-14-14--black-beetleI put a little bucket under the branch and they easily fell into it and then I just threw them out.   The next day I found another cluster and the largest beetle had a red dot on the back.
Here’s a page with lots of beetle pictures, but I can’t really tell what they are, wish I’d gotten a better picture.

Greenhouse and hoophouse update

We’ve been SO busy and I just finally posted an update with some pics of the greenhouse salad and berries at the High Desert Gardening Club site:
Next gardening club meeting on 2/1/12 at our hoophouse and gardening update
We’ve been screening the rocks out of the native dirt in the new hoophouse in 4′ x 7′ or so sections.   We hit caliche about a foot or so down and sprinkle just a little sulfur (nothing else) on the caliche and then spread a 1″ or so layer of needles with some wood chips and leaves.  And then we mix our garden soil similar to what we used in the lower garden last spring:

  • 2 five gallon buckets of native dirt
  • 1 large (7 gallon?) bucket of acidic organic mulch
  • 1 large bucket of horse and/or cow manure
  • 1 large bucket of wood chips

We’ll see how that does.   So far everything we planted grows quite well.  Night temps have been down to the low twenties occasionally, but I don’t think we’ve seen teens since December.
I was very surprised to see the purple broccoli the other day since I didn’t know we had any.  In this pic it looks like purple cauliflower, but it’s on a stalk.  I suppose we’ll find out when we eat it, probably soon [update: it’s cauliflower] This is a transplant from our raised bed where it got too large:

1/24/12: purple cauliflower in the hoophouse

I didn’t think we’d get much out of this transplant and this is a nice surprise.  Hopefully we’ll get lots of broccoli and cauliflower from the new seedlings.

We had also transplanted some cabbage from the raised beds to the hoophouse and planted lettuce and kale seedlings.  We already harvested several Munchener beer radishes and have about 40 sqft or more ready to plant more winter veggie seedlings and salads over the next few days.