Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (February 28, 2009) (The Garden Waking Up!) (Pic Heavy)

~~By InsightAnalytical–GRL

The movies I watched over the last couple of days just seemed to hit too close to home.  On Thursday night, Retroplex aired “1984, ” which was filmed around the actual locations and time of year that was described in George Orwell’s novel.  Richard Burton, who died in 1984, was chilling in the finals sequences as he tortured the man who “thought” and was caught.  It was terrifying in light of what’s been going on lately.  Then last night, TCM showed “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” followed by “All the King’s Men.”  Later, it was “The Manchurian Candidate.”   What a way to spend a Friday night!

Host Robert Osborne had a tidbit following “Mr. Smith” that I hadn’t heard before.  Apparently, it was this movie that inspired Ronald Reagan to began thinking about his interest in politics.  And we know how THAT turned out…As I recall, he had one of the most corrupt administrations in recent memory, with something like 100 officials, including Attorney General Edwin Meese, either hauled into court or somehow involved in legal proceedings/investigations.  Apparently, the inspiration of Jefferson Smith didn’t stick…

Anyway, I got out to the garden for a brief time today. The garden is my place of sanity and it’s waking up!  Here are some pics from yesterday (2/27) with some details of what’s going on.  I may do some more “Saturday Sanity” posts as the gardening year unfolds!

The plants are beginning to arrive and Thursday at Lowe’s I chatted with a guy who was looking over the tomatoes and he and I agree  that we are champing at the bit to start digging!  I bought some metal poles that I will use to support the two new grape vines that I will begin to train this year.  You have to plant a bit early here because by May it’s hot, so plants have to get a good start. That means protecting them from the winds and the sharp temperature drops from warm days to cold nights that sometimes occur. It’s that sort of thing that made my apricot tree lose all it’s blossoms last year (it’s second spring) which meant I had no apricots at all.  I have a peach tree in a warm corner which is already blooming and being pollinated, but it’s way too early, as usual.  By contrast, another peach on the sheltered side of the house is just beginning to have its buds swelling.  Talk about “micro climates’…

Here is the peach in bloom with the grapes I need to prune this weekend in the foreground:

Peach Tree & "Flame" Grape

Peach Tree & "Flame" Grape

The fig, which I finally got into the ground after several years in a large planter,  is starting to show a bit of green:

Fig Greening Up!

Fig Greening Up!

My pomegranate is budding out and so is the apricot.  I hope the birdhouse attracts a resident!

Apricot and Bird House

Apricot and Bird House

I have a mysterious visitor to the garden lately.  I think it’s some sort of thrasher, but the beak is VERY long and curved and sometimes crosses over. The “regular” thrashers have long, strong beaks, but nothing like this. My desert book doesn’t show this guy, so I’ll have to do more research.  This is a very bold bird and I can get fairly close to it!

Mystery Bird

Mystery Bird

Here’s the last of the mustard and what’s left of the winter lettuce that I’ll pick soon:

First Raised Bed

First Raised Bed

This is my second raised bed with the arugula going to seed. That’s a few clumps of swiss chard that overwintered just beyond my shadow:

The Other Raised Bed

The Other Raised Bed

I bought a couple of tomato plants and artichokes at Lowes.  I was so surprised to see the artichokes that I grabbed them. I didn’t have much luck with them in New Jersey, so we’ll have to see how they do here. It’s all about keeping them shaded, from what I’ve read.  As for the tomatoes–I plant them in the beds as well as in containers on the patio. I do the same with eggplant and things like basil and peppers. It’s my “insurance garden” just in case something happens and the veggies fry in the main beds.

Tomatoes & Artichokes

Tomatoes & Artichokes

Out in the border the purple stock is flowering, the sedum “Autumn Joy” in pots is on its way, and the Texas Ranger sage is looking good. I grew the sedum in the ground in Jersey and it got HUGE, but here in my yard I moved it to pots and it’s doing better than in the ground. That’s my composter to the left of the white fence:

Purple Stock & Sedum

Purple Stock & Sedum

There are some amazing things going outside the garden.  Near the street by my neighbor’s driveway, there’s a tire tread where he’s backed out onto the ground…and guess what has popped up there?  A little parade of flowers, with one already blooming:

Wildflowers in the Tire Tread

Wildflowers in the Tire Tread

There are buds on my little cacti, too.  March is also the month when you can take a pad from a cactus, let it dry a bit so a callous forms on the exposed end, and then stick it into the ground for a new cactus plant!

Hope you enjoyed the little tour! I have lots of work to do, so I better get to bed and get some rest!  Tomorrow I need to prune the grapes and fertilize the grass (all two feet of it!), the fruit trees and the border plants.

16 Responses

  1. It is 20 degrees and it’s snowing, lightly here today. How I envy you your garden. We have a bunch of things started in the basement but that’s just not the same.

    We are going to “raise” our “raised beds a bit higher this spring. The backs just aren’t what they used to be nor is anything else.

    We too do a lot of container gardening. I have one large container that was here when we moved in the house that I think was the tub from an old washing machine and it’s huge! We used a scrap of the vinyl lattice from our back porch project and voila we have a large container that matchs! We fill it with tomatoe plants and they produce all summer long and into the fall.

    Every year I try to plant a couple of “odd” plants just for the fun of it. This year I sent for “lemon” Tomatoe seeds and “Easter Egg” radish seeds. Can’t wait to see how they turn out. Both plants look like their name but taste like ordinary vegetables.Will send pictures if they grow.

    • Yes, do sent those pics!! I planted Easter Egg radishes a long time ago…and the yellow Lemon tomatoes as well. Which reminds me, I have to a yellow tomato again last year. I planted “Lemon Boy” which produced very well here and is less acidic..

      My raised beds are really high…about 30″, but with the gravel, I stand up a little higher over them. I still have trouble when I really have to bend for awhile at “90 degrees) at the waist, but at least I don’t have to kneel, which is a killer for my back!

      I used to start plants inside but just don’t have the room. I just about get my indoor plants situated. We’re in the desert but I really have only one real SUNNY window!! That’s where the basil, oregano etc are growing along with other plants…

  2. GRL,

    Thanks for the garden pix – it was a nice respite from the blanket of white I’m looking at today. *sigh* Seems we just can’t shake the stuff this year. It was in the 50s yesterday, and this morning it’s 27 F and snowing.

    As far as the movies go – I haven’t seen 1984 in ages, but it pretty much says it all. Orwell was right on the money, but his date was off by 25 years or so…

  3. Love the wildflowers in the tyre tread insight!!!

  4. Enjoyed the pics, IA. You and Marge with your gardening make me long for my home and the wonderful hours I used to spend in the garden. I don’t have anyplace to garden here, and am chomping at the bit until I am able to move.

    This has been a strange winter in this corner of Maryland. It has been very cold, but no snow to speak of. Just one day only, and that was only about 2 inches. It was so cold, though, that it stuck around on the grassy ares for a long time.

    Keep the pictures coming. I like to see the progress of others’ plants, even if I don’t have any of my own. That bird is a new one on me. I used to have lots of bird feeders with lots of traffic of different species, but I’ve never seen one with a bill like that. Interesting.

  5. I also enjoyed the pictures. Spring will not come here for a while yet, so it is encouraging to me that there are parts of the world not currently blanketed by snow. In fact, I sometimes turn on golf with no sound just to watch the nice weather!
    I will be interested to hear what you find out about that bird. How big would you say he is?

    • Emjaybee….the bird is about the same size or maybe a bit larger than a robin. Thrashers are related to catbirds and mockingbirds….I actually had a few robins in the yard about a week ago. They fly north, but stop here in late January-February. We’ve had a couple of pairs overwinter in a big tree in the arroyo the last few years. Downtown, at a lower elevation, I think they stay longer during the summer.

      I’m looking at the thrasher site and I’m going to search on the “Crissal” thrasher…I think that may be the guy. He’s new here!!
      I’m thinking it’s time to put the hummingbird feeder out, too, since they will be traveling up from the south right about now!

  6. I just love your pics – more please!

    IA – could you please email me your phone number?

  7. Grail ….(I’m only set to nest for 3 comments)… those pics are better than what I found, but this guy’s beak is so much longer!! It crosses at the end, it’s so long! And he’s really HEFTY….I’m thinking he’s a crissal, but if he is, he’s HUGE and that beak is really out of the norm…

  8. Yeah, I noticed his beak is longer, but he’s pretty close otherwise. The overall shape and coloring are dead on, and the beak might be an abnormality on this individual bird. I think overall when you compare him to the pictures in my link he meets the criteria. In fact, the extra long beak may be why he’s so hefty – he can get more food with it.

    • It’s the first time I’ve ever seen this type of bird in nearly 10 years here. We have thrashers, but this one is really unique!

  9. When I returned home this weekend, I found my apricot tree in bloom. Too early! I hope we do not have a late freeze. Your peach tree blooming seems early to me.

    • Hi, ea!

      Yes, the peach is way too early and is every year. It’s a really warm corner. I’m planning to pull it out and put something else there, perhaps a fig, which I can keep smaller and cover if I need to more easily!

  10. The thrasher seems to have moved on…haven’t seen him the last days…

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