Archive for Home & Garden

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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QOTN Rescue Now Has Flower Buds

QOTN Flower BudsThe Queen of the Night cactus (peniocereus greggii) cutting we rescued from up on the hill several years ago is showing a couple of flower buds. This cactus was brought down after a palo verde branch collapsed in a wind and rain storm back then. Damsel put it in a pot and has nurtured it in the courtyard with weekly waterings since that time.

A couple of years ago, the cutting sprouted a new branch which is where the new flower buds are located. That branch and the main stalk have both shown little buds over the past couple of years that never amounted to much. Now, it seems, we have a good thing going. Click on the image to enlarge.

This will be, if all goes well, the first year that these beautiful flowers will bloom in the courtyard. Having them that close is to our great advantage since when they bloom at night we won’t have to go out into the dark (it is very dark here at night) to see, smell and photograph the flowers.

We have summertime plans to get in the RV and head to Colorado and whatever sightseeing we can do along the way, but that might have to be postponed until we see our little courtyard flowers blooming. It’s a good thing we don’t have too many constraints on our ability to flex our plans as we see fit these days.

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Pride of Barbados Flowers Now Opening

Pride of Barbados

It’s one of my favorite days of the year when the Pride of Barbados (a.k.a. Red Bird of Paradise) flowers start to open in our courtyard. The flowers are a little late in opening this year, probably due to climate change a cooler than normal spring. The daytime temperatures are now regularly in the high 90’s to low 100’s and the flower buds on all three of my red bird shrubs in the courtyard are ready to go.

More about these flowering shrubs from Wikipedia:

Caesalpinia pulcherrima is a species of flowering plant in the pea family.

It is a shrub growing to 3 m tall. In climates with few to no frosts, this plant will grow larger and is semievergreen. Grown in climates with light to moderate freezing, plant will die back to the ground depending on cold, but will rebound in mid- to late spring. This species is more sensitive to cold than others. The leaves are bipinnate, 20–40 cm long, bearing three to 10 pairs of pinnae, each with six to 10 pairs of leaflets 15–25 mm long and 10–15 mm broad. The flowers are borne in racemes up to 20 cm long, each flower with five yellow, orange, or red petals. The fruit is a pod 6–12 cm long.

Caesalpina pulcherrima is the national flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, and is depicted on the upper left and right corners of the Queen Elizabeth II’s personal Barbadian flag. Claire Waight Keller included pride of Barbados to represent the country in Meghan Markle’s wedding veil, which included the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Cherry Red Cactus Flowers

cherry-collage.jpg

Last October, Damsel and I separated the individual stalks from our Cherry Red (Trichocereus Grandiflorus) cactus and planted them in various pots with the hope that they would survive and produce more of the wonderful hot pink flowers that the original produced. Well, we are pleased and amazed that nearly every one of the pups and the mother all have flowers or flower pods this weekend.

Judging from the number of immature flower buds, we should be enjoying Cherry Red flowers for days to come, if not weeks. This cactus (even though we may have overpaid a bit for it) has been a joy in that it reliably produces the attractive flowers each spring. Click on the image to enlarge.

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