Friday, March 18, 2016

My New Mesa Garden

Russian Desert Tortoise, Tana, below our newly planted red hibiscus

We moved in August of 2015, so we said goodbye to our growing plants at our old Mesa house and have begun to make our new land more beautiful with new life and the future plans of more gardens, both flowers, desert and vegetable/fruits. 
When we moved in, we had the following plants in the backyard; 2 African Sumac trees (removed Oct 2015), 1 Eucalyptus tree (trimmed Nov 2015), small cactus (removed Aug 2015) and a dark pink bougainvillea bush.
And in the front yard; honeysuckle bush, 2 lantana (orange and yellow), 2 aloe vera patches (1 removed), 2 sick sage bushes (trimmed back and recovering), 3 oleandar bushes (1 dead removed and 1 sick) and 1 beautiful evergreen bush near the front door that I haven't identified yet.

Our first addition to our backyard at the beginning of February was a retaining wall to maximize the usability of the land and correct the water flow of the yard. It was a big job and had to be done before any other plans could move forward. 
On February 13th 2016 we planted a 5 year-old Tarocco blood orange tree (purchased from Greenfield Citrus Nursery for $85) in a location where it will receive much of the rain water flow and will create a nice privacy screen many years from now. I wish it could just grow up faster!!! 

Tarocco Blood Orange Tree planting
 Since my garden space wasn't ready yet, my first vegetable planted was a roma tomato plant in a topsy-turvey planter given to us for Christmas. It has probably tripled in size since I planted it on Feb 15th 2016.

In the front yard, I added some low-water plants (1 gallon size, white lantana, morning glory, red yucca, agave, purple fountain grass, muhly grass, a 15 gal Chitalpa tree and a 15 gal Leatherleaf Acacia that I plan to prune into a small tree over many years).

agave, white lantana, morning glory and purple fountain grass

muhly grass, white lantana and red yucca
15 gal Pink Dawn Chitalpa Tree from Tree Land Nursery, planted March 11, 2016
15 gal Leatherleaf Acacia Tree from Treeland Nursery, planted March 11 2016
In the backyard, over the past several weeks, I have transplanted the following plants; 2 green hop bushes for privacy screening, sturts cassia bush for screening, red hibiscus bush, ruellia, white rain lilly grass, ice plant, 2 jojoba and elephant food cuttings.

2 green hop bushes
sturts cassia (senna)
hardy iceplant in bloom
red hibiscus
I also planted the seeds of poppies, zinnias and snapdragons in a large flower bed on February 19th after mixing in some aged horse manure into the native soil. They are growing slowly but steadily.
I planted nasturtium and alyssum (carpet of snow) seeds in various areas around for our tortoises. The tortoises have eaten each nasturtium leaf that has sprouted, so I'll have to cover them or plant again in a pot or garden box to let them get started. They devoured 5 purple heart cuttings I planted a few weeks back as well.

As for my vegetable garden, I decided to try something new and build garden boxes instead of planting at ground level like I have in the past. The benefits for me are to keep my kids (and their friends) from trampling newly planted seeds, to keep my tortoises out, to avoid needing to till into the current soil and amend it as well as to define my garden space.
My husband and I worked together to make two 3'x6' garden beds from 12 cedar picket fence boards and some scrap 2x4's. I painted them and we placed them in the higher tier of our yard where they get full sun. Since I got a late start for the Spring season and the weather has been very warm, I decided to just sew some carrots, green onion (both from seed and from store-purchased onion roots) and basil. My kids also planted marigolds and carrots in their own garden boxes made from hollow-centered cement blocks. 

The 2nd garden box is currently being used as my compost pile with a mixture of aged horse manure, wood and leaves from a landscaper's chipper, kitchen scraps including egg shells, a small amount of wood ashes and native soil. 
I'm excited to expand the garden space with more raised garden beds in future seasons as well as some in-ground garden space for large growers like corn. I also hope to get a permanent composting solution for our yard.

I am learning patience as I wait for all my little plants to grow and for my yard to be more beautiful and producing. I will try to record what I learn now that I am back into my Mesa Gardening again! 

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