Archive for Home & Garden

Winter Cactus Flower

Winter Cactus Flower

Damsel’s so-called “Christmas Cactus” has flowers opening about a week after the holiday. From the looks of the plant, it’s showing that many more of the flowers will be opening over the next several days. Damsel took this image today when the sun was shining into the front window where the plant sits on the sill.

We didn’t post a new year message on the eve or the day, but we take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and prosperous 2020. We let the post slip in favor of just relaxing and doing the usual holiday things, football bowl games, food, you know - celebrating in our own way.

It turns out that the switch from the old laptop to the new one has a few wrinkles. I have slowly been transferring all my “stuff” to the new one, but need to stay on line here until the complete switch over. My laptop is also the print server for the household, and it would put a drag on things if it were to be down for too long.

Another project associated with the computer replacement is the overhaul of the desk/workstation in the office. It needs to be reorganized and updated to new stuff. I just finished assembling a three-level desktop shelf (something needed for a long time) that will hold the various devices and get a lot of the stuff currently on the overcrowded desk up and out of the way.

So, we’re making progress on everything while keeping the pace comfortable for ourselves as we move through it all. Again, may you all have a blessed and happy new year.

Comments off

Sometimes, Life Gives You Lemons

Dwarf Lemon Tree Harvested Lemons

Late last week, the Damsel and I picked most of the lemons from our dwarf lemon tree west of the house by the RV Drive. For a “dwarf” tree, I’d say, it has reliably produced a large number of lemons each year since we had it planted seven or eight years ago.

We normally give some of the lemons to neighbors and a couple of senior centers here in town, and use the rest of them to produce Limoncello, an Italian “digestivo” after dinner liquor. Damsel uses a recipe form an on-line website modified to use diabetic sweetener rather than sugar. We can’t tell the difference in the end.

This year, however, we have a surplus of both lemons and Limoncello, so we’re going to give most of the crop away and juice some for another couple of uses. We don’t have any trouble finding friends, neighbors and food banks locally to dispose of them for good uses.

Just for a lark, I put together the little graphic below to leverage on an old adage about life giving you lemons . . .

Make Limoncello

Click on any image above to enlarge.

Comments (2)

Queen of the Night Cactus Fruit

Queen of the Night FruitNow that the hottest days of Summer are over, we find ourselves in our so-called fifth season, “Second Spring.” This is when we get another wave of cactus flowers opening, blossoms on our rosemary shrubs and ripening fruit from summer blooms.

Last summer, several of our cactus flowers opened. Among them the Queen of the Night (peniocereus greggii) rescue cactus in our courtyard which had two flowers open. Now, those two flower stalks have become cactus fruit as shown at the right. After pollination overnight, the flowers wither and eventually fall off, leaving the flower stems which enlarge to become the cactus fruit.

More about P- Gregii from The University of Arizona - namely cultivation of the cactii:

Peniocereus greggii can be propagated from either seed or short stem cuttings. Once established this species is known to have large tuberous roots that are similar to potatoes. Generally this plant species likes to grow around or under desert ironwood, creosote bushes, and other desert shrubs that can provide shade, support and concealment. This cacti species only flowers once a year at night (usually in June or July) and for the rest of the year it appears to be dead. The following morning at sunrise, the flower dies. Unlike other cacti, P. greggii is not self-fertile and has widely separated individuals as a result. These flowers are cross-pollinated by hawk moths. P. greggi also typically has a slow growth rate, uses little water and does well in full sun, or partially shady environments. These cacti are also hardy plants, suffering damage at temperatures below 10° F.

Be sure to click on the links in the first paragraph above to see a couple of the Damsel’s excellent photos in the Cap’n Bob Image Viewer.

Comments off

Irrigation Problems - Solved

Back of the RV Drive

What a difference a couple of days make! We were bemoaning the problems we had with a busted irrigation system just a couple of days ago and today the problem is non-existent. Our landscape contractor found the time to come here and fix our woes this week instead of what we thought would be a delay of unknown length. They quickly diagnosed the problems, made the changes and this evening, all is working again.

Of course, the fixes weren’t all as simple as I make them sound in the first paragraph. They actually spent considerable time cleaning up the area behind the RV drive where our “Rosemary Farm” is growing - or maybe overgrowing. In the composite image above, you can see the after cleanup of the back area - I could look in the photo archives to find a before picture, but I’m too lazy this evening. ;)

I forget the exact number of one gallon rosemary shrubs they originally planted back there, but it was over fifty and under a hundred. Each one with a watering tube of its own from the irrigation feed line planted on the hill just above the shrubs. After the cleanup as shown, the crew installed an all new main line and “spaghetti” feeders for each shrub. This time, the feeders are short and they extended the larger diameter feed line for each group of two or three shrubs. We tested it this afternoon and it looks like everybody is getting the water they need in our arid climate.

The first thing they fixed (yesterday) was the leak shown in our previous post about the problem. They also replaced one of two electrically-controlled valves that activate the two main feeder lines according to the program set up in the controller. Both the leak and the valve malfunction contributed to the excessive water usage we have been experiencing.

We are still in the process of doing some other work with the landscapers; there is another area we want to have irrigated where we acquired a nice ocotillo after the fact. There is also some overdue rock and cactus garden maintenance they are willing to do while they are available. We should be in pretty good shape after they’re done with that and won’t need to do any of that for ourselves until after the weather cools down a bit.

Comments (4)

Irrigation Problems

Subterranean Leak

Since May or June, we have noticed an increase in water consumption on the monthly bill from the Town. At first, I thought it was because we had filled the spa for the summer, but then the increased consumption continued. In July, I found that the circuit breaker to the water system had tripped after having some of the shrubs appear to wither. I got that fixed and then the increased consumption resumed.

Yesterday, I finally contacted the landscapers that installed the irrigation system here. Together, the foreman and I discovered that a continuous water flow was occurring in an unknown location around the property. We also discovered a flow (pictured above) that ran during the active time for the irrigation to flow. Both problems, the one we can see and another somewhere stop when we cut off the main irrigation valve.

After discussing the problem with the landscaper and probable solutions, it would seem we’re in for a complete overhaul and replacement of much of the system. Chronically, in the desert, systems that use PVC tubing seem to need replacement at eight-to-ten year intervals, which is exactly how old the system is.

So, for the time being, we’re going to have to water the shrubs and trees manually since the irrigation valve is closed pending fixing things. Our landscaper has a number of other jobs ahead of us and it will be a week to a month before we can get back to normal.

For reference, the leak pictured above (the one we can see) is located between the ocotillo and the courtyard wall in front of the walkway to the courtyard gate. The irrigation lines and all are controlled from near the corner of the garage. Click on either image to enlarge.

Front Walkway

Comments off

More Summer Cactus Flowers

Summer Cactus Flowers

Several of the local cacti were in bloom today. Upper left: Argentine Giant Flower, lower Left: Cherry Red Flower with Pollinator and right: Queen of the Night Flowers at just after midnight this morning. The QOTN flowers are on a rescued cactus stalk in a pot in the courtyard.

We have been having intermittent rain and thundershowers and it was iffy as to whether we were going to be able to get any photos last night or this morning before the flowers all faded away as cactus flowers usually do. However, the weather cooperated and we got these photos this morning. Click on the collage to enlarge.

Comments off

Summer Cherry Red Cactus Flowers

Three New Flowers

One of our transplanted Cherry Red (Trichocereus Grandiflorus) cacti has three new flowers today. These are the second to bloom on our cherry reds, the first having opened in late April.

These three flowers opened today on the “mother” cactus from which we separated several “pups” last October. A couple of the pups are also showing signs of flowers coming soon. Click on the image to enlarge.

Elsewhere in the xeriscape are flowers almost ready to open: two queen of the night flowers and a couple of Argentine giant buds will likely be open soon. Pictures to come for those as well.

Comments off

« Previous entries

-->