Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Backyard - one year later

I've been pretty much sick this entire last year, so very little forward progress has been made in my yard in terms of, well, prettying it up, as it were.

However, I have been able to get out there during the rains and see where my rain flow is going for my future rain harvesting projects. I've been able to harvest seeds from plants I like in my yard or wild areas belonging to friends, and sprinkling them around my yard, either by themselves or in small clay seed balls. I've managed to learn the names or more plants in my yard, watch what they grow with and where they grow, and so I'm not altogether unhappy with the lack of progress in other areas.

The Herb Garden

East of the original herb garden

You'll notice this doesn't look like last year's picture. That's because I added more plants around here and this is east of last year's picture. Yeah, abandoning the area? That didn't happen at all. There's now more herb garden along the wall, and even up against the opposite wall, too. 

I'd like to also note the little bit of green at the lower left corner of the picture. That? That was planted almost immediately after I took the photos last year. That is rosemary plus - wait for it - lavender. Two different types lavenders, actually.

Anyone who doesn't live in the desert will not understand why this is amazing, but I will say it again for all the people who do get what a miracle this is. There are three lavender plants there, planted in native dirt, that are still alive one year later. This is the shit that inspires moments of 'it's a Christmas miracle,' because out here in the desert, lavender is not usually a happy camper. At all. I know gardeners five quadrillion times better than I am (I worked out the math. It's solid) who have to buy lavender plants every year because they always die.

But all three of my lavender this year are happy - you can even see some of the flowers on one of them if you squint hard enough. I do not know why they are alive, but they are. If I could figure out what I've done to keep these alive, I could make millions just selling the information to other gardeners. 

My south-side wall

This is the herb garden from last year. I did end up getting some more pots, but mostly it's the same old garden, but doing better this year. The marjoram is going crazy, actually - if I don't rein it in, I may just have a marjoram garden by the end of this, LOL.

Currently, I have lemon grass, burnet, variegated sage, broadleaf sage, pineapple sage, winter savory, lemon savory, cilantro, parsley, spearmint, peppermint, catmint, catnip, thyme, sorrel, echinacea, nasturtiums, greek oregano, stevia, cilantro, caraway, chervil, Roman chamomile, lavender, Mexican oregano, and lemon balm in here now. Rosemary, basil, a local wild oregano, and lemon verbena are somewhere else.

I'm hoping to put back in shiso and Thai basil, next year.

I have to water the garden a bit more, which I suspect is the mesquite's fault and the fact that not all my herbs are water-use friendly, but I'm managing, for now.

The Wall Garden

Chamomile along the south wall of weeds and agave

This has been left to go fallow for about 6 months now. The red flowers are from some aloe plants that a friend had dug up and was going to toss, but I planted a few to see if I might have any survive.  If you can see the tiny little white flowers to the left, there, those are actually chamomile. They reseeded themselves from chamomile I planted last year and let go to seed. They popped up after a heavy rain and I water them maybe once two weeks, just a little, to keep them going. I look forward to gathering up the seeds to save for next year, working toward that 'more desert hardy' seed collection of mine that I can donate a little of to the local seed libraries.

Pomegranate and Nature Garden

If you've seen some of my other pictures, you'll already know I added a zuni-style waffle garden around my pomegranate last year. It melted away during the monsoons, however, so this year, I've got a little more planted, in a sort of half-waffle garden, really. 

Most people's gardens are significantly bigger by this point in time. Mine aren't. I am still very, very slowly building up my soil with compost and added plant matter. I have to use my own mulch, which comes from plant matter in my own yard, so it's a slow build up. And I don't water nearly as frequently as many gardeners I am reading about. A number of folks in my local gardening group were watering daily, or every other day. I water every 2-4 days, depending on heat and health.

In this area, I am hoping to plant more nitrogen fixing legumes, as well, to help make the soil healthier. But like much I do, without purchased amendments, soils, or mulches, it's slow.

The Almond Garden

The overgrown path to the almond tree

Just east of the path to the almond tree

As you can see - lots of growth, not a lot of work. I'm rather happy with some of the growth, though. For example, you can't see it well, but in the second picture, underneath the tree on the left, there is actually a small netleaf hackberry tree growing that volunteered. I didn't realize how awesome these are until I read more about them, so this little guy is SO staying in my yard.

Summer Rains Garden

Woo hoo - more growth

I dug in the mini-swales (valleys) a bit more this last rainy season and there was a lot more growth, focused among the mini-swales on the left. I got a lot of Coulter's lupines this year, a huge Desert Marigold, a globe mallow that's growing bigger every year, and a few Desert bluebells, although they didn't grow as much this year. I'm going to be thinning out the grass and seeing if I can do some corn, squash, and bean experimenting here for the summer this year, if I can.

I'm going to be turning my pool into an official pond, finally, once there's no chance of rains coming up, but before the monsoon. I've got a fig tree I've ordered, and I've been trying to learn more about where the shade and sun are hitting the house, and where I can collect water, and planning with that in mind. It's going to be a fun year, I think!

No comments:

Post a Comment