Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Greening Moon

Tonight's full moon is also a Supermoon! The moon is the closest to the Earth that it gets on its orbit, and will be 30% brighter than a usual full moon.

The full moon of May, in the local moon naming scheme I use, is called the Greening Moon, because May is supposed to be the rainiest month of the year, at least on average. Well, we haven't gotten any rain yet this month, and April was pretty dry too. There is rain in the forecast for next week, so here's hoping we get some. I'm really afraid we're going to have another summer like last summer. It's already been in the 90's most days. Today is supposed to get up to 94.

When I went out to take pictures, there was a Velociraptor standing on the woodpile! OK, not quite, but close. When I think of what Velociraptors might have been like, I think they may have been very similar to roadrunners. Roadrunners are pretty ferocious, and are known to get together in pairs or groups and kill rattlesnakes. They're actually a giant, ground-dwelling cuckoo. We have another species of cuckoo here, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, which I've been hearing lately. Their "song" (if you want to call it that) sounds to me like someone trying to start up some sort of motor (like a lawnmower or chainsaw) and having trouble getting it going. I guess European cuckoos must be the ones that sound like cuckoo clocks. Roadrunners actually sound more like cuckoo clocks than the smaller, Yellow-billed cuckoos do, though with a much deeper voice.

The roses are starting to fade, but the Esparanza is taking over for them. These are also known as Yellow Bells, but I like their Spanish name better. I'm really glad we have some in our new yard. They're a really great plant, that blooms right in the heat of summer.

The bluebonnets have gone to seed now, but we've got some other blue/purple flowers showing up other places in the yard, though not as many of them, so I hope they increase. We've got one of these purple flowers growing, which I always hear people calling just "verbena", though I know there are many species of verbenas, so I'm not sure which one this is. The ranch near our neighborhood has a huge patch of them that look like a sea of solid purple from a distance. They like heat and full sun.

Then we've got these flowers coming up in the shade of what's going to be our Sacred Grove, a nice grove of oak trees in the back with a lovely circular shady spot underneath. These are called Blue Curls, which is a very good name for them, because the flowers are on this curly inflorescence. I see these growing in the shade in lots of wooded areas around here.

I started a tray of basils a while back that need to be put in bigger pots. I have Cinnamon, Thai, Napoletano, and Ms. Burns Lemon. I also planted some Purple Ruffles basil, but it never came up, so I guess the seeds were bad. There is also some Asia Red Amaranth and Fenugreek in this try, but they aren't doing so well. I probably should have direct seeded them instead. I might try doing that with the rest of my seeds if we get a good rain.
Out in the garden, I want to show you my Squash Vine Borer Exclusion Device! This is a tip I got from my CSA farmer on how to get a crop of squash despite the dreaded Squash Vine Borers. He said I need to get floating row cover, the most lightweight kind that's for keeping out insects, and put that over the squashes until they flower. Then it has to be removed so bees can get to the squash, but by then hopefully the squash has gotten enough of a head start to give a crop before the borers kill it.

I have the row cover held up with PVC pipe bent and stuck over short pieces of rebar that are driven into the ground. I then held the cover down to the ground with rocks. In hindsight, I should have made 5 hoops instead of 3, because the cloth is sagging a lot between them. I also should have put a soaker hose under there with the end sticking out to water them. I have trying to water them through the cloth, but even though the cloth is supposed to let water through, a lot of it still beads up and runs down the side.

Underneath I have Kamo Kamo and Jarrahdale squashes planted. The first is a C. pepo and the second is a C. maxima which are the two species of squash most susceptible to borers. So we'll see if the cover helps them.

The squash coming up under the cloth looks about like that right now,but this is not a squash, but a San Juan melon. It's a type of melon I got from Native Seeds/SEARCH and is supposed to be a netted muskmelon with green flesh. I think in the future I'm going to be buying a lot more seeds from that company, since their seeds are adapted to hot, dry conditions.

I also planted a lot of Rattlesnake pole beans, which is supposed to be a heat tolerant pole bean, though last time I planted them they still didn't make it. I made bean tepees out of bamboo from the old house, tied down to railroad spikes my husband found out somewhere.

The tomatoes and peppers are coming along. They're all blooming now, though I checked, and last year at around this time, I was already getting green tomatoes. Everything is behind this year because of the move.

The only nightshade that has fruit so far are the Lemon Drop peppers. They're supposed to ripen to a bright yellow. I'm excited about these because this is the first time I've grown peppers that weren't in the Capsicum annum species. Lemon Drops are C. baccatum.

Towards the back of the garden, I have three Boothby's Blonde cucumbers that didn't get eaten by caterpillars. In the empty slots, I planted Luffa gourds, which are starting to get their first true leaves.

The garlic is starting to look run down. It should be time to dig them up in about a month, maybe less. I hope the move didn't stress them too much, and they managed to make some kind of a bulb down there.

Finally, at the back of the garden, where I still have a lot of wild plants growing, I found some more poison ivy. Here it is mixed in with another annoying native plant, which I've always heard called Beggar's Ticks. However, when I looked up Beggar's Ticks in Google, I found more than one plant that have that common name, one in the Aster family, and one in the Legume family, but that's not what these are. These are a plant in the carrot family, with feathery leaves, taproots, and umbel flowers, like most plants in that family. Those flowers then turn into these annoying, velcro-like seeds that stick to your pants, shoes, cats, etc. The seeds stuck on you look like some kind of bugs on you, hence the name.

This is the problem with common names. You can have the same common name referring to lots of different species, or one species with several common names. Does anybody know the scientific name for the carrot family beggar's ticks?

Anyway, they're very annoying, so I'm trying hard to get rid of them or at least greatly reduce their numbers. I've had socks and shoelaces completely ruined by them before, because once the seeds work their way into the fabric, they're pretty much impossible to get out.

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