8/15/07 Vol. 4 #21

58 degrees this morning on the front porch, going to be near 100 this afternoon.  It’s a dry heat though, a desert heat.  We thought we had been clever and missed the hot week of the summer by going up to the mountains in the middle of the 100 degree days but it’s hot up there too and they don’t think they need air conditioning.  We did have a good time being off last week except we tried to do too much, as usual, and so it was over in a flash.  Back to reality and the desert of Peregrine Farm.  What we are watering looks pretty good and we picked a surprising amount of tomatoes Monday off the old planting and the new, and last, planting is just starting to turn color.  This week we are working to reclaim areas that we let slide for a bit just before and then were completely left alone during the break.  The peppers are a case in point as the crab grass in the paths, between the rows of plants, has grown into the plants.  If we don’t act now it will make picking hell for the rest of the season so we are going through and rolling the thick grass mats back and then pushing the mower down the paths to cut it back before it just flops back down into the plants.  Row by row but it is a rewarding job as we can see how much better our lives will be when is comes to picking the beautiful peppers hanging on the plants just next to our efforts.

We are beginning to mow down those crops finished for the season and those that have perished in the drought without irrigation water.  The last planting of sweet corn, which is unirrigated, is going under the mower along with plantings of Zinnias and sunflowers.  This is the beginning of the clean up for the end of the year, soon I will take soil tests and begin the process of putting the planting areas to bed for the winter.  Spreading mineral amendments and seeding winter cover crops, all assuming we get some rain to make it possible to even till the soil.  The summer cover crops are ready to be mowed down too, not as robust as they usually are because of the drought they have done amazingly well in those fields away from the effects of tree roots.  Where ever they are within 50 feet of a tree, the cover crop plants are maybe eight inches high and then they jump up to two and three feet high.  It is not the direct effect of the tree roots actually being in that soil but the fact that the trees have pulled every bit of water out of the soil near them and then by capillary action sucked all the water up towards them for another 30 feet or so.

Picture of the Week
The tree root effect 50 or more feet from the tree trunks
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