Acequia Down But Not Out

First off a follow-up topic sparked by a helpful comment left last week from my sister, Linda, with a link to recipes featuring squash blossoms. The author mentioned that there are separate male and female flowers.

As observant as I like to think I am, I had never noticed this. You can bet I made careful inspection of my plants though and there they were, DISTINCTLY different flowers. The clue I noticed is that the females have baby squash at their base, as you can see in the lower left corner of this photo. There’s an example of a male flower just above it in the upper left. I think they’re equally edible but why pick a potential zucchini?

Taken Sunday, this is an acequia ditch on the property where I live in Talpa, not the main ditch but one of the secondary ditches that leads water down to the orchard. This flow is being allowed to branch off towards the trees. The owner was quietly moving the water around by himself. He had a 6-hour window of access to the main ditch that day, from 6 AM until noon. He had already watered the big alfalfa field on the other side of the property and said he would, after all, take a 2nd cutting of it in a couple of weeks. He ventured it would not be as many bales as the first one, but it would be worth his while.

This is a tool used for spreading water. You can see that its top is resting over some rocks to give it height. Those small channels you see in the upper right likely send water over to trees nearby. The owner offered the opinion that the water is continuing to run thanks to rainfall in nearby mountain areas that feed the Rio Chiquito, the source of our particular main ditch. My observations of my own garden support the idea, too, that the more frequent cloud cover and higher humidity levels are giving my plants a respite from earlier conditions with the higher temperatures, very low humidity and the clear skies that allow for more solar radiation. Of course, my garden LOVES the little monsoon showers, however brief and infrequent.

I liked the perspective of this photo taken while standing under a wide-spreading apple tree. The fruit report is pretty much “pears,” and that’s it. You can see a few small apples here and there. No apricots. I asked him about plums and he said there were a few up by his house. He may not want to share them. The lovely little wild plums were all killed in the late frost that did all the damage.

This photo shows the progress on the “Three Sisters” area (corn, squash, beans) that’s growing in the front garden. I took a chance planting those climbing green beans because we do have rabbits in the area, but they took no notice of them when they were seedlings so the risk paid off.

You can see that one of the bean plants is starting to twine up a stick tipi I erected just in case there was some issue between the beans and the corn not growing in sync. I thinned out a couple of the corn plants a couple of days ago but all-in-all the plants look happy. To the right are the two zucchini plants I grew from seed. And yes, if you read the blog last week, I did pick my first zucchini and it was yummy eating. I have been enjoying peas now for weeks but are winding down.

Here come the morning glories!


Monsoon Season

Took this photo mid-day today–my favorites, hollyhocks, next to my favorite Taos cafe/restaurant, El Gamal. Note the monsoon type clouds in the sky. The intermittent clouds provide times of shade or at least filtered sun during the days and this is a great relief now with highs flirting around 90 degrees. A little late afternoon rain can really drop the temperatures and raise the spirits of everyone. I can’t report that we’ve had near the actual amount of rain we need, but it does feel like a blessing when it comes. The smell of moist earth is like an elixir.

My zucchini squash has started blooming but I loved seeing this abundance of squash blossoms at the farm market yesterday. Since we are in the world of the “Three Sisters” here (squash, corn and beans) I know these flowers are integrated into local cooking traditions. I can’t think of that many foods where we eat the flower of the plant, other than those we can add to summer salads.

You are looking at my first zucchini squash to reach edible size. Well, I’ll give it a couple more days. I like the sensation of visually moving into the inner sanctum of a garden plant like this. The large leaves of the zucchini plant usually cover this view. As any gardener knows zucchinis are one of the most expansive and giving of all the food plants. It’s truly one of those “plant the seed and stand back” awesome miracles.

Now my tomatoes are a different story. I have just begun to construct a cage for them that grows upward as they reach higher, to give support to the precious fruits. Last summer in this same location I believe the “cage” reached the height of my shoulders. I admit it developed a gradual lean, a little to the south, but it held up to the end. I’m using what material I have on hand, sticks (and garden twine).

Last summer I planted Heavenly Blue Morning Glories in the place where this year I planted my peas. They were spectacular, with amazing flowers I photographed all summer. This year they are growing on a tipi of sticks I built in the flower bed closest to the front porch–a welcoming public situation. They are eagerly climbing up now as fast as they can, fully committed to their destiny of beauty.

Root vegetables are starting to appear in the market, beets, potatoes, onions, and everyone’s favorite, carrots. These beauties were grown by Isidro Rodrigues on his farm in Chamita, down near Espanola. I was asking his permission to take the photo for my blog when I began to realize he speaks only Spanish. Fortunately his next door neighbor at the market was a fellow farmer and friend from the same area and he was happy to translate. I will send a link to this blog to his friend today. He said he would show it to Isidro on his computer.

Ever vigilant for an opportunity to photograph seeds for the art I will create for the Seed3 show this fall, spied this mandala in the garden at the Hanuman Temple last Sunday. I have some similar images from last summer, but none with quite the perfection of this one.

And on the topic of seeds, some of you loyal readers will recall the early spring photos of a perennial Wild Blue Flax that showed up around my house. For the most part those plants are in the seeding stage now.

Whatever stage plants are in these days I’m sure they, like us humans, are enjoying the monsoon’s moisture and shade, and the occasional rain.