The rose in our French Garden in full bloom

What a nice surprise!
This rose has been rather neglected since our French WWOOFer Yael planted it a couple years ago when she built this little garden with stuff we had laying around.
I’ll make an effort to take pictures of some of the other pants in bloom.  We didn’t have enough rain for lots of wild flowers, but the cacti, desert marigold and a few others are flowering.

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)”

Garden pics: veggies, berries, flowers …

Despite massive gopher damage, it’s actually looking really good in our gardens.
We have more peppers than expected, several Anaheim peppers, jalapenos, Black Hungarian and one plant with lots of flowers, but no peppers yet. So the hot peppers did ok, but we didn’t get a discount propecia rx single bell pepper.
We’ve finally been harvesting zucchini!
At least some of the tomatillos set fruit and we have a few more melons coming. Most of the melons got killed by the gophers and some of the fruit was scorched by the sun. Looks like we have several cantelopes and I saw one water melon.

Marvel of Peru (we think) in a garden bed with tomatoes

We planted many different varieties of tomatoes, but between faded labels and not being able to get to the labels we’re not sure what they are.
Two plants in our lower garden have been producing LOTS of cherry tomatoes and the upper garden beds also have some plants with nice cherries. We have a couple of yellow pear or grape plants and I don’t particularly care for the taste of those.
Planted two Al Kuffas with the grapes very late and just started harvesting those more acidic about 1.5 – to 2″ tomatoes.
In the greenhouse we’ve been getting some 2″ Crimson Sprinters and also lots of cherry tomatoes. And have a yellow pear that’s very tasty, but is not producing very much.
It’s been too cold for okra to do much, but the eggplants are still producing and as I recently posted, the Armenian cucumbers are doing fantastic.
Here are some pictures from the gardens:
Continue reading “Garden pics: veggies, berries, flowers …”

Striata d'Italia zucchini

We just harvested another zucchini:

Got the seeds at Baker Creek.
Unfortunately, all the plants from our first planting along the fence and in the three sisters bed got eaten by critters (we relocated a number of packrats and squirrels) and it was really late by the time we got the 2nd round planted.  So we're just starting to harvest and we're very glad only a few leaves froze in the beds when it got down to 28 degrees a few nights ago. Continue reading “Striata d'Italia zucchini”

Growing bamboo or reeds in the high desert

I've been reading a lot about the benefits of bamboo in permaculture books:
It grows fast, provides a wind break, privacy screen and wildlife habitat.  You can eat it and you can use the stalks for mulch, plant stakes, etc.
It is supposed to be SPREADING — extra points!  We want it to spread.
Now I hear people say to NEVER EVER plant bamboo because it is invasive and what a horrible plant it is.
We got some reeds from a friend and planted them last fall. One was a few feet tall and the other was just a piece of root, here is a picture:4/10 planting update — I mistakenly called it bamboo.
It did grow a little this summer, but we barely had rain and it got about 5 gallons a week of kitchen water (the new trees got 10 gallons).  I'll post some new pics ASAP.
I've seen big reed stands grown at an elevation of about 3500 ft and really like them (probably watered with graywater), don't know how hardy it is, but it seems to do well here.
I don't really know the difference between bamboo and reeds, although I'm aware that the bamboo can have much larger stalks.  What else is different?
I still think reeds or bamboo are an excellent wind break in our area and cannot possibly be compared to “native” plants like desert willows that take quite a few years to get to 6 ft, take a LOT of room (as wide as they are high), can't be eaten and not much you can do with them.  Of course they have their place!   I've seen MANY properties around here with willows planted along the fence and it's as boring as any other plant.
We're looking for DIVERSITY, not a row of any plant along our about 900 ft of fence (an acre)
Our gardens need to be sheltered from wind ASAP.  We already use a 25 ft bamboo fence (Home Depot), but that's supposed to be temporary, to be replaced with something growing.

If you have any “invasive” spreading bamboo or reeds — please contact us and we might be able to dig it up if you are in the Kingman area.

Cattail uses and recipes

Found this interesting page on how to harvest cattails and recipes:

Cattails (Typha species)
The cattail is one of the most important and common wild foods, with a variety of uses at different times of the year. Whatever you call it, a stand of cattails is as close as you'll get to finding a wild supermarket.

One of the new shoots broke off yesterday during transplanting and it really does taste good.  I think we'll expand our garden cattail pond or have several.  They'll make a nice fence, provide shade and a wind break and grow really fast.

The new veggie cattail bee pond

Is there a word for tiny ponds, like pondlet?

I got to work right away yesterday and built the little cattail pond.  The hardest part was moving a bunch of sheet rock and backer board so I could get to the bentonite in the garage.

Here you can see how the bentonite clay shrank over night where it dried.   The pic was taken a little after noon and it's been partially cloudy today and not very windy.  Once there are more cattails in the water, we'll have less evaporation, but the plants will use more water.   The 5 g bucket was almost dry after a few days without refills.

I saw ONE bee.  Continue reading “The new veggie cattail bee pond”

Attracting bees with cattails to pollinate your veggies

We got some cattails from a friend a few weeks ago and they are supposed to filter our gray water.   However, we haven't gotten around to waterproofing yet and the cattails have been sitting in a bucket by the house.  We noticed the MANY bees in the bucket and I've been waiting to add water until dusk, after the bees have left.
The peppers, melons and squash in our garden beds are finally flowering, but how are they going to get pollinated?
Since our beds are caged to prevent mice and squirrels from eating everything, the insects can't get in.  We used mosquito screen for most cages since that's what we had.   We often take the covers off the beds, but by the time we get up it's hot and the insects are gone.
Incredibly, it took me until this morning to realize that we should move the cattails into the garden.

We decided to move the bucket during the day when all the bees are there so that they'll move WITH the bucket.  That did NOT work out as planned and they're still swarming where the bucket used to be. Continue reading “Attracting bees with cattails to pollinate your veggies”