Fly Away Robin, Fly…Toward Spring! UPDATE 1X (new pic)

~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Update  March 15, 2010

Robins faked me out….after being gone for several days….they were all back this morning hanging out!  This time I counted about 16…and got a pic of a large group frolicking in the bath!  I have no idea where they went off to…they must be floating around the area rather than sitting in my yard all day!  Still wondering why they are still here–unless the weather is cool enough for them and they also think further north isn’t so great yet!

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Things have been very busy here, what with my trying to learn how to invest in the stock market with some new efforts at self-education and Slick’s bout with the vet-dentist and 10 days of tracking multiple meds.  He finished everything and his follow-up on Friday gave him the all clear, but he will have to have his teeth cleaned every year from now on.

When I came up for air on Friday, I noticed something curious.  A small flock of robins, about 12 in all that had been hanging around my yard, were suddenly gone.

Here in southern New Mexico, robins usually have come through the city lower down in the valley by the end of January, which is much more lush and a bit warmer. In past years we’ve seen a few up here (we’re maybe 1,000 higher in elevation) but most stay down lower and all pass through the area within a few days as they continue heading north.  We have had a couple up here that have overwintered in the arroyo over the last few years, but this year was not one of them.

So, it was quite surprising to see the robins appear in late February (instead of  January) and stay…and stay…and stay in the arroyo and my backyard!

A Robin Indulges...

At times about 6 robins at a time were crowded into the birdbath partying all at once!

This character was simply adorble…

Now it may not be such a big deal to most people up north, but down here this is a big deal for me.  Coming from New Jersey, I was used to seeing robins all the time but it’s so exciting to see them hanging out in my yard, which they never have done before.  But this is an El Niño year, so odd things happen!

So heads up, they’re heading your way up to all of you way up north!

Another odd sight I haven’t seen that often is this:  the peach blossoms open (way to early as usual in February), and snow on the Organ Mountains at the same time:

Peaches and Snow...

Meanwhile, this is the first spring that I’m using the porch that we enclosed last summer.  It’s doing exactly what I wanted it to do, housing all my plants in preparation for planting.  I buy “doubles” of plants and split them to get 2 for the price of one!  Several varieties of tomatoes, including a new one for me called “Solar Fire” which supposedly can take the heat, Ichiban eggplant, and basil which I still have to split, are all waiting patiently for things to get a bit warmer.   Now, I just have see if I can get pimiento peppers, my favorite for growing in these parts.

Waiting...

The geraniums started blooming well over a month ago and continue to look wonderful as we wait for official spring on March 20!

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.