Posts Tagged ‘arizona desert’

I went for a hike last weekend to see what the desert is currently producing.  There are no pods yet on the mesquite,  and no wildflowers yet.  However, I did see several Ocotillo plants in full bloom.

aprilhikeSolar 002

Above: Blooming Ocotillo plant.

According to Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest by Charles W. Kane the bark and flower can be used to dislodge phlegm, sedate a cough, provide relief to hemorrhoids, encourage circulation for prostatitis and simulate menses. Being a real man, I had no idea what “simulate menses” meant, and had to google it.  I discovered it means “the monthly flow of blood and cellular debris from the uterus.”  Why anyone would want to simulate this is beyond me. 

I have been using myself as a guinea pig for all the medicines I have been gathering.  Luckily I don’t (currently) have hemorrhoids or an enlarged prostatitis.  I would also expect it would be difficult to find a woman who is willing to volunteer to drink plant bark in order to, you know, simulate the return of Miss Scarlett.  But I am going to collect some of the flowers and bark anyway.

As a coincidence (I am reluctant to call it a sign) the Ocotillo plant I photographed above was right beside the petroglyph photographed below.  I have long wondered if the central character in this panel represents a woman going through her monthly cycle. 

aprilhikeSolar 003

Update:  This link shows how to make Homemade Sanitary Pads.

Advertisements

Before leaving for 9 days I asked my neighbor to water my garden once while I was gone. I can tell from the exact position where I left the hose that he did not. Despite that everything (except the gopher attacked agave) looks good. In fact, I am glad the garden did not get any grid-fed water for a week. The plants look healthier than when I left, which leads me to think I was over-watering, which is bad for two reasons, 1: Overwatering is bad and 2: Overwatering will be near impossible when the grid falls.  By then I should have an idea of how to grow with the least water possible.
The plants I am growing all have been specifically selected because they are Southwest friendly, meaning they don’t need a lot of water (for example, like celery would.) I have planted bush beans, pole beans, winter squash, summer squash, tomatillos, and habanero peppers.The return of seeds and/or seedlings producing actual plants though seems very low. The first batch of seeds went into the ground on Feb 22. I then planted another round three weeks later, thinking I don’t want all the veggies to come in at once.
I seem to be getting about 2 plants for every 10 or so seeds planted. I am not sure why the low yield.

gunsandgardens 030

Above: From Front to Back, tomatillo, bush beans, summer squash, more bush beans, and winter squash. About 12 sees planted to each row, but each row is only producing 2 to 3 plants each, but those plants look strong.

gunsandgardens 031

Above: I have had no luck with the Habanero peppers, not even a single weed, much less an actual wanted plant has grown in the elevated garden. The elevated garden was made from a discarded baby bed I found in the alleyway. I think my mix of manure, compost, and soil in the backyard has too much of the backyard soil.

marchToolsSunTrees 022

Above: On a positive note, the Blue Palo Verde I planted a week and have ago seems to have survivied the shock of transplanting.

A while back I declared a truce with the gophers.  They, however, did not see my white flag.  Last week, they went at one of the two agave plants I have in the backyard. 

gunsandgardens 039

Upon my return (I was gone for a week) I found one of the agaves dug out from underneath.  The agave is now in 6 parts.  The roots have been thoroughly gnawed.  I assume the plant is going to die, but the nice thing about agaves is they are like Abe Vigoda and take a while to die.  I have replanted the different parts to see if I can salvage any of the plant.  The stems that aren’t going to make it I am using by rubbing on my skin, giving me a nice glow.  (Sidenote: The agave nectar is a thousand times better for my dry skin that the expensive lotion I have been buying from the store.)   

I think the gophers attacked the plant’s roots because the agave was weak from overwatering.  I had recently pruned the mesquite tree behind it and also planted a brittlebush beside it.  Both activities involve a couple of deep watering.  I think the water caused root rot on the agave and the gophers saw a weakness.  This is the first time the gophers have committed a frontal attack on one of the plants in the yard.

FebRandom 027

Above:  A recent shot taken of the hedgehog.

The hedgehog cactus I ate about a month ago seems to be doing fine.  However, several people have told me the cactus I ate had yellow needles not because it was the wrong cactus, but because I ate one covered in coyote pee.

While I was trimming the mesquite trees this weekend I was stung by a bee. I have always been nervous about bees since I was stung as child and swelled up like Charlie Sheen’s head.   Also, once in Oaxacca I ate a bunch of grasshoppers and woke up that night covered in hives, and sweating bullets. I figure if you are allergic to one type of insects, you should best avoid the whole bunch. But I did not swell after this bee sting, I did flick versus slap the bee at first hint of sting, which helped (thank you survivorman). 

I debated using creosote to clean my wound. I decided against this as I wanted to see what happened with just the bee sting.  I did, however, use creosote for another purpose.  After prepping soil and getting seeds in the ground for tomatillos, squash, bush beans and the pole beans, the backyard had a lot of insects flying around.  My guess is the liked the manure.  So I started a smoky little fire with paper, cardboard, and creosote to run them off.  It worked amazingly well and smelled kind of nice too.

garden with dave Jan 2011 015

I been studying desert trees because The Arizona Desert Botanical Garden is going to have their spring sale on March 18 and 19th, and I want to know what I should get to add to the backyard.

The Velvet Mesquite is the best type of mesquite tree to plant.

Pick the bean (or pod) from June through early August.  There is a tight window because you want the bean to be dry (it should come off the tree easily) but before the monsoons hit.

Milling is a process to pulverize the bean into a protein rick powder similar to flour.   The husks is where the flavor is and the protein is in the hard seed.  Milling is done in fall.  It takes that long for the moisture to get out of the pods.  Store in a manner that the Bruchid beetles inside the pods can hatch and escape.  The Bruchid beetle is harmless.

Desert Harvesters is a great site about harvesting food from Desert trees.

I have succesully turned Brittlebush and Creosote into medicine.

I have yet to actually try either of the medicines yet. I am a little scarred they might kill me.

solaerstill1fire1herb1 013

I cut a large hole in the top of two thin rectangular boxes and dried the leaves and stems in the boxes.

solaerstill1fire1herb1 008
Creosote on top and Brittlebush below.

solaerstill1fire1herb1 014
I put a paper towel between herbs and cardboard because I am not sure if cardboard would hurt the herbs. Is there some kind of weird die in cardboard?

solaerstill1fire1herb1 017

Brittlebush after dried.

after crunching

After crunching the plants up in my hands there was a lot less of each. I had not gathered nearly as much as I thought I had.

solaerstill1fire1herb1 030

Creosote is being stored in the old tuna can and Brittlebush is being stored in the clay pot.