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Up in the low 100's over this weekend. That always kind of changes things.

I am spending a lot of time hanging around here and rearranging the watering. So far so good, but boy does it dry out fast, even in partial shade, even with mulch.

I've been getting in some nice pattipan squash, and have bell peppers and tomatoes starting to fruit out. I've got the bell peppers in a fair piece of shade and well watered and they are doing just fine. I plan to string up the shadecloth very soon over the major tomato patch, even though I have it mulched and the soil well amended. Desert gardening has its own unusual requirements.

A few of the tomatoes are coming down with something that is either a nutrient deficiency or some kind of wilt...if it's wilt, nothing I can do about it other than plant something in the same spot that isn't susceptible. Part of my heirloom tomato project is about experimenting with disease susceptibility, so that's okay, in a way. It's all data that I want to collect and share with other growers. What's interesting is that I had purple calabashes (and crosses) there for the last few years, and I got none of that, and since wilts hang in the soil for a long time, that is something of a datum. I'm going to figure out what's wrong with them; people here will help. The leaves are discoloring from the bottom up, yellowing out. But we'll talk about that when I have photos.

I couldn't get any purple calabash seed this year (this is a very old Mexican tomato variety; tomatoes are originally from Mexico). They look different from your standard tomato hybrid; the flowers, the growth pattern, the look of the leaves. I'll try to get some photos of the different varieties I've been growing to try to show some of that soon.

So I've been wondering whether it's possible to look to the older, odder heirloom varieties for disease-resistance. Well, I know it's done all the time, when there is a crop crisis. So it makes sense to pay attention to such things pre-emptively. I'm not the only person thinking about this; I think over a third of the seeds listed in the Seed Savers Exchange yearbook are tomatoes varieties.

I have them in different plots in the yard and I still have some in pots to put in different plots, after I get some other stuff harvested. Wilt diseases live in the soil for a long time. I have different varieties in different plots. I'm trying to work with different vectors thusly.

I plan on doing another garden photodiary for June, with more detail, soon.

The tap water from our city wells is still failing to deposit any kind of calcium salt patina on the soil surface, which is fascinating considering that we have had no precipitation since last September other than the several inches of snow in the bad freeze in I think early February.

The El Nino heavy rains in the mountains the year previous must have bumped up the aquifers enormously...thinking about the scope of all of that is fascinating.

We are still not on water restrictions, and we are starting to get tentative thunderstorm predictions. No action there yet locally.

Watching the weather in adjacent parts of the country, though, I'd settle for one bad hailstorm and no tornadoes. People here don't do basements.

Originally posted to Southwestern USA Gardeners on Sun May 29, 2011 at 12:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Seed Sharers and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hi Miep Great diary. (8+ / 0-)

    I'm starting my garden this weekend, which may seem way late from your view, but the season starts later here in Mass.

    But, I'm still late.

    I tried posting a distilled verion of our poem here a few mintues ago, and wrote a long interpretation, but, it bonked out, when I tried posting it.  Let me try again.

    I added desert imagery, and more explicitely tied you comments of feeling like you had to get our to Carlsbad, to why you were proud of the vultures for resisting the ignorant tower owners.

    Getting in Touch With My Inner Vultures

    Changing from year to year,
    I ride a bike route every day
    across a desert to a radio tower

    Great flocks of turkey vultures
    perch on this tower,
    in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

    We make Christmas cards
    out of pictures of us--
    me and great flocks of vultures
    hanging out on the red and white
    painted radio tower,
    like so many scavenging decorations.

    Years back, owners set up a big speaker
    on the radio tower,
    transmitting huge offensive
    booming noises,
    to drive the vultures away.

    Just as they tried to drive
    me away, with unfriendly
    ostracism, cold rejection,
    And boredom.

    Every few minutes,
    A really irritating
    huge BOOM!!!

    Boom, boom, boom.

    Owners don’t know
    vultures can not be driven away
    by loud irritating booming.

    Booming booms boom.

    Vultures rise up.
    Vultures fly out.
    Vulture circle around.
    And, vultures, soar back
    to perch again.
    For months.
    I watch
    Interesting turkey vultures.

    And for months,
    interested turkey vultures
    watch me.

    What are they thinking?
    About me watching them?
    What am I thinking
    As I watch them?

    Over time, I became a  turkey vulture,
    and the turkey vultures became me.
    Turkey vultures circle around me
    And I circle around turkey vultures.

    Circles, circling circles.

    After a while
    we vultures
    stopped flying up
    and circling
    upon the boom.

    We imagine how people
    in the nearby neighborhood
    must have felt!

    And we laugh.
    Proud vultures
    perching on the radio tower
    ignoring the boom.

    I was proud of them.
    And, they were proud of me.
    Now, I am a proud vulture too!

    And we laughed
    at the people
    who "owned" the radio tower
    who thought they could drive us away
    from our tower sanctuary.

    They gave up.
    They stopped the boom.
    And walk away.

    We vultures still perch here.
    Laughing like its Christmas time.

    I need to go check them out.
    To return home to my vulture family
    My buzzards leave here every year,
    after celebrating
    my birthday before winter
    and they come back in the spring
    like the swallows of Capistrano,
    So we can celebrate
    around Saint Patrick's Day.

    I watch this.
    I write down numbers for them.
    The numbers are changing,
    But that's not good enough.
    Sure, writing down the numbers is just bullshit
    compared to real world love faith & stuff.

    We are what we are, we humans,
    And we are vultures
    and we should continue to work with the angles
    we are given, by the world
    .
    We should continue to work with our angle vultures
    And the angle vultures will continue to work with us.

    We can measure,
    we can  be in awe of experience.
    We can lie naked under the stars,
    in our desert worlds.
    We can try to work
    with humans even madder than we
    And vultures happier than we.

    We can say kind helpful things.
    We can learn, learn, learn.
    We can work together.
    We can make this desert we live in,
    our huge round ball of rock,
    only what it already was,
    with us dancing across the top
    of a happier, more loving place.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:21:13 AM PDT

    •  I like this but I think I liked the slightly (8+ / 0-)

      rougher version you last wrote better.

      It's easy to write stuff to death. That's why I never rewrite anything directly, I just rework themes.

      But that's just me. This is a smoother version. Some people might like it a lot better.

      I just finished reading an abridged version of "On Human Bondage," and the preface by Maugham noted with impressive humility that he had no problem with his work being abridged, that he did not consider it more than an attempt to tell a story, and that abridging did not at all necessarily damage a work of fiction.

      Wise man.

  •  You have no idea of how crazy I'm going to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miep, asterkitty, ruleoflaw

    make you with endless small changes to this.  I forget to add a bicycling to the desert connector that got lost in this last "refinement."   I'm sort of a crazy perfectionist.

    Getting in Touch With My Inner Vultures

    Changing from year to year,
    I ride a bike route every day
    across a desert to a radio tower

    Great flocks of turkey vultures
    perch on this tower,
    in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

    We make Christmas cards
    out of pictures of us--
    me and great flocks of vultures
    hanging out on the red and white
    painted radio tower,
    like so many scavenging decorations.

    Years back, owners set up a big speaker
    on the radio tower,
    transmitting huge offensive
    booming noises,
    to drive the vultures away.

    Just as they tried to drive
    me away, with unfriendly
    ostracism, cold rejection,
    And boredom.

    Every few minutes,
    A really irritating
    huge BOOM!!!

    Boom, boom, boom.

    Owners don’t know
    vultures can not be driven away
    by loud irritating booming.

    Booming booms boom.

    Vultures rise up.
    Vultures fly out.
    Vulture circle around.
    And, vultures, soar back
    to perch again.

    For months.
    I watch
    Interesting turkey vultures.

    And for months,
    interested turkey vultures
    watch me.

    What are they thinking?
    About me watching them?
    What am I thinking
    As I watch them?

    Over time, I became a  turkey vulture,
    and the turkey vultures became me.
    Turkey vultures circle around me
    And I circle around turkey vultures.

    Circles, circling circles.

    After a while
    we vultures
    stopped flying up
    and circling
    upon the boom.

    We imagine how people
    in the nearby neighborhood
    must have felt!

    And we laugh.
    Proud vultures
    perching on the radio tower
    ignoring the boom.

    I was proud of them.
    And, they were proud of me.
    Now, I am a proud vulture too!

    And we laugh
    at the people
    who "own" the radio tower
    who thought they could drive us away
    from our tower sanctuary.

    They give up.
    stop the booming
    and walk away.

    We vultures still perch here.
    Laughing like its Christmas time.

    My buzzards left here every year,
    after celebrating
    my birthday before winter
    and they came back in the spring
    like the swallows of Capistrano,
    So we could celebrate
    around Saint Patrick's Day.

    I need to find my bicycle,
    and trek across the desert
    to return home to my vulture family.

    I search to watch them again.
    To write down numbers for them.

    The numbers are changing,
    But that's not good enough.
    Sure, writing down the numbers is just bullshit
    compared to real world love faith & stuff.

    We are what we are, we humans,
    And we are vultures
    and we should continue to work with the angles
    we are given, by the world
    .
    We should continue to work with our angle vultures
    And the angle vultures will continue to work with us.

    We can measure,
    we can  be in awe of experience.
    We can lie naked under the stars,
    in our desert worlds.
    We can try to work
    with humans even madder than we
    And vultures happier than we.

    We can say kind helpful things.
    We can learn, learn, learn.

    We can work together.
    We can make this desert we live in,
    our huge round ball of rock,
    only what it already was,
    with us dancing across the top
    of a happier, more loving place.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 02:33:20 AM PDT

    •  There is stuff about this version (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, asterkitty, ruleoflaw

      that I like better. I think I mostly have trouble with the ending, at this point.

      I like the angle vulture motif a lot, btw.

      The last three paragraphs don't add much, for me at least, though. Too obvious.

      But that's just me. I think all the rest of it is really top notch, though. I can see it holding just fine ending after the last angle vulture line.

      You've done a really good job here. Knowing artists as well as I do, I'm glad comments are forever! lol!

      •  lol Did you every dream You would get such (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miep, asterkitty

        mileage out of one essay?

        Hey, I found some Purple Calabash Tomatoe pix for you.

        I jumped you tip jar so folks would realize that this is a garden discussion and not about vultures.

        But, now I'm intriqued by the famous Mexicon Purple Calabash Buzzards and their legendary exploits raiding desert gardens.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:27:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  lol! (4+ / 0-)

          Why am I still awake?

          I was thinking that a poem about vultures that has absolutely nothing about death in it is somehow wrong. But at the same time, a poem about vultures that is so happy about vultures is really great art, so I don't want to be pushy about this at all.

          But maybe a tiny little piquant death thing at the end?

          Really, I don't know. You've frankly pwned this poem, which is fine, this is no end of fun. I don't have a lot of fun. I owe you.

          I also don't personally care at all whether people think my essays are about gardening or about buzzards. That's what making up fake groups is about :-)

          You keep this shit up, HoundDog, I'll start a buzzard group yet!

          •  Just for you Miep I agree about your cut down. (7+ / 0-)

            But, now that I've found a great pix of these two buzzards dancing of this rock.

            I agree also that losing the death stuff for unfortunate.  This version sort of became like a Disney verion, whereas your more profound original resonated Edgar Allen Poe.

            But, I should have gone to bed about 10 hours ago.

            Turkey Vultures on Tower Pictures, Images and Photos

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:51:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hey Miep.... (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ybruti, asterkitty, indres, Miep, HoundDog

              Love your diaries.

              When i lived in Arizona, i planted part of my garden on the east side of a mature palo verde , so the shade in the afternoon protected the garden from the worst of the sun.

              I also plant heirloom varieties exclusively.
              The Italian varieties of tomatoes, like Principe Borghese and Peacevine did very well- the birds enjoyed these very much-...the larger varieties- Brandywine and
              German Johnson- not so well.

              Eliot Coleman has a rotation schedule which should resolve most problems with the soil...

              potatoes-> corn->brassica family->peas with green manure like alfalfa->tomato/pepper->beans->
              roots-carrot~beet~onion->squash->

              He also undersows a green manure crop after the end of the growing season for each- sweet clover, vetch, oats after tomatoes.

              I didn't try the undersown plants but all of them do return a good bit of nitrogen to the soil.

              A great tip is to spread alfalfa pellet horse chow, the plain stuff or the kind with molasses- doesn't matter- for nitrogen .
              Get a huge bag at the feed store for 20 bucks- the same thing in the garden supply store will cost you 100.

              I love the challenge of gardening in harsh environments- finding rattlesnakes under the zucchini  certainly makes the desert a challenge.

              Gardening in the desert, in particular, makes you focus very acutely in the moment.

              A good place for all of us to find ourselves.

              •  Yes, one must work around shade (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                flowerfarmer

                If I had any advice to give a gardener coming to this part of the world and buying property, I'd suggest just that...find a place with built-in shade.

                I used to hate ailanthus (Tree of Heaven), and they really are invasive. However, some of the invaders on the western edge of my double lot,  that I failed to uproot ten years ago, are now doing a nice job shading the western part of my double lot, and in a few years, will be shading my west-facing windows on the eastern part, in the late afternoon.

                There is much to be said for crop rotation, but the wilts I'm concerned about can stay in the soil for many years, and also tomatoes kind of like to be planted in the same place year after year. Our worst problem here with wilt-resistant varieties tends to be curlytop virus, which does not stay in the soil, but is carried by the beet leafhopper. So I'm playing a number of different fields here with my experimenting with these varieties.

                One thing I don't do is a winter legume crop in any of my patches, but I'm not working with a lot of land. I do compost and mulch everything I can.

                In the winter I like to grow spinach, beets. I never see any leguminous weeds around here in the winter, so I haven't been encouraged to work with such cover crops. It gets fairly cold here in the winter for awhile.

                •  Solanaceae (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Miep

                  do need to be moved every year.
                  Six or seven years between planting in the same spot is the commonly accepted schedule.

                  Maybe installing a rolling or at least easily movable shade cloth structure would help in this regard.

                  Despite the crop loss sometimes, isn't it great fun to try to solve those tricky problems of insect and virus attacks.

                  Clover, as a cover crop, would probably grow for you.
                  And the bees like it so much.

                  I love the challenge- try to think like a virus.

                  'Extreme Gardening- How to Grow Organic in the Hostile Desert' by David Owen is a goldmine for a small price.
                  http://www.amazon.com/...

            •  Awesome pix (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HoundDog

              fwiw, I've never collaborated on a writing project with anyone before. You're not only a good writer, but a good collaborator. That is pretty special.

  •  Beg Your Pardon, But - - - (10+ / 0-)
    This Afternoon: Snow. High near 33. Breezy, with a east southeast wind between 18 and 23 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches possible.

    Tonight: Snow. Low around 24. Breezy, with a southeast wind between 14 and 22 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 5 to 9 inches possible.

    Memorial Day: Snow showers likely. Some thunder is also possible. Cloudy, with a high near 34. Windy, with a southwest wind 16 to 19 mph becoming west between 31 and 34 mph. Winds could gust as high as 48 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

    Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming
    Snow on my truck in town this morning.

  •  Low 100s? Here, in MT, it is cold, wet and... (6+ / 0-)

    a winter storm warning is in effect until Monday at midnight for elevations over 5500 feet (our humble little town is set at 4800). So I've postponed putting in the garden for a few more days and instead will consider cold frame plans. When I lived in cool coastal climates, heirloom tomatoes...i don't remember which ones... worked well in rotation to thwart disease. They were also (sometimes ) beautifully patterned and (always) delicious. Anyway, I envy your heat... for now...and ability to grow tomatoes, so difficult here with our short growing season. Keep us posted. Thanks !

  •  Hi Miep. (5+ / 0-)

    Is the wilt in the tomatoes just in the leaves? Are they still green.

    When I lived in Albuquerque, our landlord gave us the strip along the south wall for a garden. I grew tomatoes, of course (with basil and marigolds — they're a team). On the really hot days, with the sun bouncing off the the wall and focusing the heat, my tomato leaves would all wilt and I would panic... until I understood that is the tomato plant's way of preserving moisture during the hot hours. At sunset, when I would go out to water, I would find all the leaves had come back to their former good looking selves, even before they got a drop to drink.

    curious portal - to a world of paintings, lyric-poems, art writing, and graphic and web design

    by asterkitty on Sun May 29, 2011 at 11:04:39 AM PDT

    •  Hi, asterkitty (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      asterkitty

      I'm going to post photos of the affected leaves in my next gardening diary.

      My tomato plants indeed do wilt daily until I water them even more...over 100 a lot of things wilt...I gotta get that shade cloth up, but it's going to cool off a bit over the next several days. Good time to get that done.

      The leaves I'm talking about are becoming discolored. I'm not seeing a lot in the way of spotting but I'm going to have to look at it very carefully and post photos here and ask for help, so I can add to the data about how different heirloom varieties are affected by different disease under different conditions, assuming this is a disease and not a nutritional disorder.

      I'm guessing it's a disease, but also I tend to often let diseases run their course (like I let insect infestations run their course) because that way one can discover, sometimes serendipitously, conditions that may avert grave outcomes.

      I love gardening, and I like to cook and eat, but I'm still a scientist at heart.

      Oh, and also, in desert hot conditions, you absolutely have to keep even moisture on the roots, or else you get a calcium imbalance (even in a limestone based soil like this one) and then you get blossom end rot. Happens every time. Gotta do everything you can to keep moisture even.

  •  Got the first of my 40 tomato plants out (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnnygunn, indres, flowerfarmer, Miep

    This morning just as a cold, driving rain hit my foothills valley here in the Northern Rockies. It doesn't look like it will frost in the long term ten day forecast, but a high of 45 degrees F for Memorial Day is still too dang cold.

    Bring on the anvil of summer!

    That's Countdown for the 2,082nd day since Mission Accomplished. You thought that would change? Are the troops home yet? Keith Olbermann January 20, 2009

    by Ed in Montana on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:19:35 PM PDT

    •  Oh, that's bold of you (0+ / 0-)

      Do you cloche them?

      I've found five gallon buckets will keep frost-sensitive plants alive for several days when temps drop several degrees below freezing. Also you can put rocks on top of them so they won't blow over.

      You don't want the anvil; the anvil is a pain in the ass. I'm mostly worried that it will get worse than usual. Right now it's manageable. 115oF is not manageable.

  •  I think NYC will have a legendarily good season (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miep

    For the last few years, we've had awful gardening seasons -- generally cold wet springs followed instantly by blazing hot summers with little rain.

    About seven years ago we had a legendarily good growing season with hot sunny weather interspersed by lots of rain.

    This year looks like that.  We had a lot of snow and the ground had a lot of moisture.  For the first time in a long time, we had a long moderately warm spring with moderate rain.  Everything I've put in is doing well so far -- tomatoes, squash, cukes, herbs.

    I realize that the past is not a prediction of the future, but so far the weather has been pretty ideal.

    •  Hope so (0+ / 0-)

      Somebody has to win the weather lottery.

      I'm not complaining at all so far. The history of this place can get violent, though. Twenty minutes of quarter-sized hail can really do a number on stuff, though temps over 110 for more than a day or so are even harder to deal with.

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