Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Fast growing plants are generally fun to watch (although the amount of water they require is not so fun...).  Luckily, Colorado's desert west is not under restrictions this year.  Even in official drought years, our city has never had to resort to any kind of watering restrictions.  Though there is water available, I live in the part of the city that does not have access to "irrigation" water, so the water comes from the tap.  I have noticed a lot of people's yards go completely neglected since the beginning of recession.  Our area was slow to feel the impact at the beginning, but likewise slow to feel the recovery the media keeps talking about. ^^;  Personally, I'm ready to switch to artificial grass for the front yard.  I've never been a big lawn enthusiast (Hate to sound sexist or to overgeneralize, but that seems like a guy thing.), so I would have no problem having more water to use on flowers and edibles by not having live lawn.

This photo was taken on July 20th.  Just about all of the sunflowers along the fence have reached the 4-foot-tall top railing of the fence.  Now that they're getting drip irrigation throughout the day, they're growing fast.

The first sunflower along the fence to bloom was a red one.  We planted a mixed row of 5 different packets of sunflower seeds at the end of May.  Felt so behind our neighbors when we started seeing sunflowers blooming in June.

A lemon yellow one beginning to unfurl on July 20th.

The same one, fully open on July 23rd.  8 inches across.  Bees seem to love sunflowers.

I measured the tallest sunflower this morning and it is now at 6 feet.  2 feet above the top railing of the fence.  And officially taller than I am. LOL   It looked kind of sparse when I thinned them out, but now they seem almost crowded again.  Some of the varieties (the red ones and the lemon yellows shown above) have lots of buds setting, so we will be seeing a lot more flowers.  The mammoth sunflowers still show no sign of buds.  The leaves keep getting bigger and stems are growing thicker every day. :D  I hope they get large this year.  I've only had moderate success with those mammoth ones as our soil below 6 inches or so is stubborn clay - extremely poor gardening soil.

German Queen tomato (heirloom variety) is doing well alone in the backyard far away from the garden boxes.  It is getting drip irrigation as an extended part of the sunflower fence.  This plant is now over 4 feet tall.  The protection of the chicken wire fence material is 4 feet tall here.

Looked closer at the plant and found these fruits growing. :D  I can't wait to get fresh tomatoes from the garden!!  I love making sandwiches with fresh, just-off-the-vine, sun-warmed tomatoes, lettuce, cukes, and mayo.  None of my family members understand why this is such a big deal for me, but they're simply missing out on something truly special.  Well, that's my humble opinion. :D

Meet my new fairy in the garden.  This is Fiona.  I didn't name her.  She came named by the manufacturer.  I found her on eBay and just had to have her.  Here, she's lying in front of the fever few clusters.  (I like moving her around...)

And this is Ilana.  She's sitting on the frame of the garden box.  She's surrounded by alyssum, pansies, and chocolate mint here.  I see her accidentally fallen off the edge in the morning a lot.  No doubt the works of the kitties... ^^;  Anyhow, there are several more in the series, and I hope to add more to the collection.

Just to the right of Ilana in the garden box is this pink monarda.  At first we saw purple blooms, but they're done blooming, and now we're seeing this light pink flowers from the same cluster of plants.  I'd like to divide them later in the season and plant them elsewhere in the garden, too.  These guys have really taken off this year and they're 4 feet tall...  I think it's taller than the label said they were going to be.

I think this tomato is called Goliath, and it was supposed to be a good container/patio tomato.  This one is in the summer veggies box with broccoli and eggplant.  The fruits are finally getting bigger.  Although with 100+ degrees heat now, I've noticed a sudden decrease in flowers.  Getting too hot, maybe?

Also small in stature is my Indigo Rose tomato.  My daughter asked me, "Are these grapes? What is up with this?"  LOL  Yes, the fruits on this tomato plant are about the color of the concord grapes!  Once ripe, they begin to get the tomato red color on the bottom of the fruits, but they look prettier with purple/green combo.  Fruits are cherry tomato size.

We've begun free ranging the three young pullets two days ago.  The little girls are almost 12 weeks old and fully feathered in, so we thought we'd supervise and see how things go. First day, we let them out about 30 minutes before dusk and they've successfully put themselves back in the coop.  Second day, we let them out about an hour before dusk.  We're gradually extending the amount of time.  The first day, we saw some hostility from the older ladies, as expected.  Fiona challenged Mocha (the largest of the three younguns), and they went into a brief chest-bumping match - nothing too excessive.  Fiona's neck feathers were all ruffled.  I didn't know she could do that. :D  She seemed to be satisfied with the results and didn't bother the younguns afterwards.  At least, they don't mingle closely enough (They are in two distinct groups out there, occupying different areas of the backyard.), so there's no pecking or constant harassing going on.  I think they're off to a good start.  At least, as good as we can reasonably expect from them.  ^_^

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Late Update

I take pics and then intend to sit and write up a post so many times before it actually happens. T_T  Something, usually an e-mail from someone or a call, distracts me, and before I know it, days go by.  I have to get better at keeping my garden and chicken journal up to date.

We're now seeing triple digit daily highs.  Now, this is just plain uncomfortable at this point.  I can only stand to work outside early in the morning (or if I feel so inclined, after sunset).  Morning hours between 6 and 8 are very nice, especially before 7 when the temperature is still in the mid 60s.  Once the sun comes up though, the dry air of the desert west heats up fast and sun is scorching hot.  My skin hurts when I don't get myself into shade.  No fun, and I've got plenty of pigments in my skin and don't usually burn, but tan really easily...

I actually managed to get some nice pics of the 4th of July fireworks for the first time. :D  (I did get a lot of duds, too... ^^;  )

Pretty much all the spring veggies in the one SFG has gone to bolt.  Onion flowers are cool to look at... but they reek.  The pretty blue daisy flowers belong to some of the greens that were in the salad mix. :D  These plants are taller than I am now.  Ridiculous. LOL

Still getting visits from many different kinds of bees.  We see huge bumblebees out in the old part of the backyard where these wild larkspur plants are growing.  They love the purple flowers.

English lavender in the Bees and Butterflies box is doing well.  In fact, pretty much everything in that box is doing wonderfully. ^_^

Still demure in stature, the Indigo Rose tomato has a lot of fruits on the vine.  A few of the ones that set early in the season have started changing the bottom color from green to red.

This Fever few clump was transplanted from north of the house to a summer veggies/herbs box last year.  It was tiny and had a hard time getting going after transplant, but it's doing a lot better this year.  I love the scent of this plant.  This year, we have a much larger clump of it come back in the northern shaded area of the house where the soil is dry and poor.

Getting there slowly... :D

Chickens at 7 weeks.  Mostly feathered in and looking very much like pullets now.  Still chirps like chicks, but every now and then, they make 'chicken' sounds.  The sound vocabulary is expanding.  Still haven't learned to stay out of the water bowl, though. XD

"German Queen" heirloom tomato on June 24th.

Same plant on July 1st.  This tomato is growing fast and doing well in the barren lot that has not been used for many seasons.  The soil was amended with some organic garden soil and compost, with handful of bone meal and blood meal, and a doze of Sea Magic.  I don't use chemical fertilizer on our food stuff.

Forgot to insert this when I was talking about the Bees and Butterfly Garden Box!  This bee balm clump is in there.  Somehow got so tall this year ... like 4.5 feet.  Looking a little out of control, but I love the scent of the leaves.

Chickens at 8 weeks (Pic taken on July 1st).  Clockwise from top left: Vanilla, Mocha, and Sage.  Sage is still the smallest, but she's the head bird of these three.  The two older chickens come by often and take sand bath right next to their run.  I think they've gotten used to the idea of 'more chickens'... finally.  I'm still not taking chances and won't be releasing them out until they're fully 16 weeks old.  We're more than halfway there since they just turned 9 weeks old on the 6th of July.  Vanilla is a wheaton Easter Egger.  I don't know what Mocha's feathers are called, but she's black, gold, and brown.  Very pretty.  And Sage is a classic Barred Plymouth Rock with black & white wavy stripes appearance.  She is till the most curious and the sweetest!  These are special birds.

The sunflower fence on the south end of the backyard.  These guys got such a late start in the season, but they seem to be doing OK.  I'm using some tumble weeds for mulch.  This area has tumble weed infestation of gigantic magnitude on some properties - you'll see Christmas tree size tumble weeds on a regular basis.  :(
I'm actually allergic to the pollen of tumble weed flowers, so I pluck or cut them down whenever I see them.

Not a good comparison shot at all! LOL  *mega fail*  This was taken on July 1st.  The tallest sunflower measured 37 inches.  This is a mixed planting of at least 5 different varieties of sunflowers.  Some were Russian Mammoth seeds, so I'm hoping to see some giants... eventually.   ^_^