Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Taking Note...

It's been an odd summer here at Oleo Acres, one of the cheaper spreads here in the mountains of northern Arizona. We had a slow start to summer as the garden has attested to: cold nights into mid and late June saw a very slow start to seeds and transplants, winds kept drying out the newly emerged seedlings, and now the hot, high-altitude sun takes its toll on all of us. While now we just have about a 30 F degree swing between day/night temperatures, in June we still had temps swing from 75 F in the day to in the 30s F at night. Plants need to be made of strong stuff to endure those swings. Throw in the stress of our thin air allowing for more intense rays of the sun, and some plants just don't survive.
I planted my Bush Goliath tomatoes in containers on the front deck this year. While they (I have only two plants) are still only about a foot tall, you can see above the large tomatoes they produce. Clearly, they like where they are.
I was a good Do-Bee, limiting myself to only one zucchini plant. It's doing very nicely perking right along in a matching container between the two tomato plants. Can you spot the small zucchini already forming? Watch out neighbors! I take the August 6th holiday of "Sneak Some Zucchini On Your Neighbors' Porch Night" to heart! (heeheehee...forewarned is forearmed)

Some of the raspberries are starting to form fruits. These are very young plants who, not knowing about our late frosts, decided to bloom a bit on the early side this year. I was worried that most of the blossoms had succumbed to frostbite, but apparently the plants know more about it than I do. I can't help myself from noshing my way past the strawberries first, then "checking" the raspberries to see their progress. Of course they would have more progress if someone stopped eating all the fruits.
Above is a cluster of fruits forming on our one blackberry. The blackberry was here when we bought the place back in '92 and is the only one. However, what it lacks for in company it makes up in generous amounts of huge blackberries. Some years I can get a batch of jam out of my pickings. Most years I have to freeze the berries to add to the following year's harvest to make jam. The plant live right up against the south wall of the basement. I know it loves the heat from the masonry as well as it's pretty well protected against the prevailing winds. I'm a firm believer in the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." philosophy. Clearly, the plant likes where it is. So be it.
And I decided that even a tired, old chicken feeder can't retire on a "farm-ette". I sowed it with leaf lettuce seeds that came in one of those tapes. The seeds are supposed to be evenly spaced. Apparently the company who makes the tape and me have a dichotomy of opinion as to what that spacing should be - and that all the seeds need to sprout to make it so.
One of the treats I watch for are the butterflies that visit the garden and flower boxes along the deck. I was treated to this visit by Mr. Swallowtail as he sipped the nectar from the Rocky Mountain Penstemmon we have growing up everywhere. The day before this, a lovely Mrs. Hummingbird tried out both the penstemmon and the bright red petunias. Both were welcomed treats and visitors. I hope they return.

I hope that all of you have the time and opportunity to enjoy the gardens and plants about your homes. While I don't like to be outside at all in the hot midday sun, there's nothing like having a cup of coffee with Mother Nature in the cool of the morning we have here in the mountains, taking the time to appreciate all her labors.
...I guess I just need to do it using stealth tactics I learned in the military so those darned sheep don't hear me being quiet. For some reason they believe they should be fed before my first cup of coffee. How dare they! :)

3 comments:

Tammy said...

Good job on the garden! It sounds like you have many obstacles to overcome just to get anything to produce. I love the chicken feeder lettuce bed! Great idea. Around here, I'm just now starting to gain a toehold against all the greenery. I'm tackling the tree limbs that have gotten out of hand now, and the sheep love it. I know what you mean though, about being quiet. Those darn sheep--the minute they hear my door click open in the morning(no matter how quiet I try to be) they start moaning and wailing about their starvation status. They can also hear sprout snippers a mile away!
Tammy

Sharon said...

Our garden is slow too. We have yet to have a day reach 90 degrees at our house. Our grandson's birthday party was supposed to feature water play, slip and slide, above ground pool, etc, but the kids just got too cold. Only the lettuce seems to be doing well. I love your chicken feeder lettuce container and showed it to Ian. He used a basket.

Leigh said...

What great photos!

My garden is pretty slow too. Of course part of that is because we planted so late. But even so, in our climate I expected it to catch up quickly.

I love the chicken feeder idea! Very clever.