Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Sinking in the Autumn Rain

I was overjoyed that it finally rained last night!  First thing in the morning I scurried outside to see how my garden was doing. The cowpeas were thriving, snug in their bed of pala verde mulch and some fallen corn stalks.

 One still had a flower!

The tomato plant seemed to enjoy the fresh rainwater. With a little help from some mulch to keep the ground consistently moist, the tomato had gone from orange to red overnight.

When we first started this garden we used some stinky compost (not good), but I tended the soil with used coffee grounds and tea leaves until the soil is really rich and nice now. That, and palo verde mulch, is all we use in this kitchen garden. Tryin' to keep it native - to see if we can actually grow food with only what we have at our place. 

When I first went out, I got sticky mud on my feet from trekking through our backyard basin. By late morning the ground was already hard and dry.  But the little mounds of mulch around the fig trees were holding the moisture nicely. A good reminder that we need to finish digging the basin and fill it with mulch! 

It wouldn't be morning without checking on the moringa in the catchment basin. The pala verde mulch was thinning a bit, but along with the roots of the native grass and some moringa branches with yellowing leaves that I had "chopped and dropped," it was forming a nice sponge to hold the rainwater. I noticed that the mulch also prevented erosion from the rain. 

This little guy (can you spot him?) flittered by to enjoy the sweet moringa nectar. Our moringa is great at attracting pollinators of all kinds!

I'd say that was worth celebrating! So I grabbed a branch. (They come off easily at the stem. It's a very giving tree...) Thought I'd try my hand at making some moringa tea.

I washed the leaves thoroghly.  Boiled stems and all for about a minute then strained out the leaves. (It's the water that has most of the nutrients.)  It tasted sorta like green tea. I tried to sweeten it with stevia, but it didn't really work. I liked it better plain. (Maybe it would work with a combination of white tea?)  

Later that afternoon, I was so fatigued from working on desktop activist; I needed a nap. I drank one glass of moringa tea and was replenished immediately. Even had enough energy to write this blog! 

To autumn rain, muddy feet, mulchy gardens and miracle moringa! Cheers! 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Morning Solace

Woke up to the smell of rain this morning. Or so I thought. Outside I found the ground bone dry. Still… it smelled like hope to me. And I need a little hope these days.

Lately I’m not getting up as many blogs as I would like. Too many days have gotten away from me as I got sucked into the “black void” of following the damaging acts of our government for Desktop Activist Tucson. With all that is going on in the world, it’s hard to find time or the rationale for the more joyful pursuits like blogging or writing my screenplay.

My one solace is tending our little garden and watching what we planted grow.  It gives me a chance to watch the butterflies and bees (there still are some!) pollinating our moringas, listen to the sound of birds singing and children at play.  Or, like Pooh above, just bask in the morning sun and autumn breezes. Ahh…Autumn. 

I need that. It’s been a long, hard summer.

We tried an experiment. Inspired by the rich natural soil in the alleyway (nourished by decomposing weeds and some native trees), we decided to plant a 3 Sisters Garden with drought-tolerant heritage seeds. The object was to see how our garden would fare on just our monsoon rain and some palo verde mulch to hold in the moisture.

Unlike last year, we actually got some nice monsoon showers this summer. Every morning I happily recorded the growth in our heritage garden. While the Tohono O’odham 60 Day Corn didn’t “grow as high as an elephant’s eye,” it did grow up past my knee. It even started to sprout some seeds.

Then...the rains stopped. And it got scorching hot. It was unseasonably hot and dry

 In two weeks it looked like this...

I was completely disheartened when someone or something stomped through our garden knocking down the corn. 

But amidst the bent, dried stalks, there were a few patches of green - signs of life in the desert!  The cowpea plants we got from our local seed library had survived! A friendly gardener encouraged me, “I think it’s time you watered them. They deserve it for hanging in there. They are survivors.”

So I started lugging my watering can out behind the back fence to water them. Those sun scorched, insect ravaged plants sprouted new leaves and then I spotted - the first white flower!

It was wonderful to see something growing amongst all the devastation. (OK. I’m getting a little dramatic here.) But this was just the reminder that I needed to make more of an effort to find a balance in my life - between fighting environment assaults and doing things that enrich my soul. I finally found the heart to work on my love project again. 

Grateful to be catching a little morning solace, I breathe in the autumn breeze and survey my garden. In the kitchen garden, a tomato is showing its autumn colors. As I fill the clay olla by the cherry tomato plant bees buzz overhead - a welcome sign that the tiny yellow flowers will be pollinated. Closer inspection uncovers two new tomatoes!  A glimpse of hope. 

Another benefit of working in the garden:

Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy