The very dry summer of 2014 has turned into the dry fall of 2014.
It’s the desert, it’s supposed to be dry, they say.
When you’ve lived in the high desert for decades, you begin to think in terms of dry and then dry. And then even drier.
In my yard, the figs are drying up. Last year, so many figs!
It’s been a bad year for the orchard. It started out well. Plenty of apricots and the other fruit trees looked good. A good start.
Then came the winds. And more winds — winds that knock the young fruit off the trees and nothing to be done about it. As the trees get older, they’ll shelter the fruit more.
The apricot that yielded so much fruit is my oldest fruit tree, besides the nectarine. The nectarine fed the birds this year because the fruit was plentiful but very dry.
There’s only so much water I want to use in a drought. When that fails, I move on to planting new plants. More herbs.
Note to self: begin extra heavy mulching of all orchard trees and fruiting shrubs.
I’ve noticed that as the hot, dry days are turning into cool dry nights, some of the plants in my yard are having a second springtime. We haven’t had rain, but with some irrigation and the cooler nights, the seasons become confused.
The Lycium berries may come back. The bushes dropped many of their leaves in the dry summer but they are re-spouting.
It’s all terribly unpredictable. It’s always been unpredictable, so this is whatever is beyond unpredictable.
What’s going on outside of our conservatively watered small acreage?
Look what happens in the mountains when it’s dry.
Our southern California mountain forests are overcrowded with trees. We’ve been confusing unhealthy and overcrowded forests with good resource management.
And drought increases the activity of bark beetles in pine forests.
These pines. Bark beetles kill the trees and turn them into flash fuel for fires.
Above, that’s part of the forest close to my house. We go there sometimes.
It’s depressing. So many pine trees are dying. The dead fall is being cleared out. I suppose that part is good. And it’s better to look at a clear ridge and the sky than dead trees.
I miss the ridges with their trees standing like sentinels.
So farm failure and drought and bark beetles.
I’m working on restoring the greenhouse with the help of some friends. The metal frame was wonderfully constructed by farm day people. It stands, but the plastic has been completely shredded by high desert winds.
The new plans involve cement blocks, mortared with desert adobe, plastic shrink wrap (industrial size), and corrugated roofing panels. Maybe this will stand through more than a season.
Barley is next.
There’s a hopefulness in planning any kind of new garden. Maybe the desert will get it. Maybe something beautiful will happen. Maybe there will be some food.
What are you planning this winter? Or planting, if that’s your thing?