State o' the Garden & Orchard, 2013

Where to begin? It's another season of slow progress, due to shoulder issues that continued to haunt from last year. Second surgery completed in late March, and hopefully this is the last one needed.

Fresh compost & new bed for for fig. Geese say, "MINE".
One tremendous help for both my arm and our little farm: the new-to-us truck, affectionately nick-named "The Beast". It has a big bed, and with a couple of trips were able to haul in enough bulk compost to add several inches to all the orchard trees and the veggie beds.  Saved a goodly amount of money with the bulk purchase as well, and look, Ma: no plastic bags!

Although Spring was not kind to the orchard (a warm Winter and a cold Spring), the fruit trees that were able put out a crop have been doing so nicely. The apricots have come and gone, with 99.9% getting snagged (again!) by the local wildlife because I was too drugged out during recovery to remember to protect the bottom 2/3'rds of the trees. Ah well! The pears, figs and apples are fruiting, and so is one of the plums. The two oldest plums are not, however, so we're now suspecting a mixup at the nursery - these have to be accidental ornamentals. Was thinking of cutting them down & replacing, but a friend suggested pruning back and grafting with non-ornamental plum cuttings. Still thinking about that option.

Figs abundant.
Spouse put in two more raised beds, but instead of creating beds that are angled on the bottom to follow the line of the rocky hillside, he dug out & leveled spots for his 4'x4' forms. He says he won't be doing that again, ahem. We now have a dedicated strawberry bed, and the rest of the beds have combinations of tomatoes, herbs, peppers, onions, white- and (soon to be planted) sweet potatoes. We tried to grow a late crop of Spring lettuces and spinach, but the seedlings were fried in an early heat wave.

"Devil's Claw", a volunteer. Rumored to be a good tomato
hornworm trap. If so, then welcome, little buddy!
This year we're going to experiment with red shade cloth, 30%, for some of the veg beds during the hottest part of Summer. In theory, red shade cloth is supposed to allow more of the light spectrum while also protecting from harshest light of the day, and some folks swear that their tomato yields increase with red shade cloth and/or red mulch. For the shade structure itself, we looped a cattle panel over each of the three upper beds. The panels are a bit too long, look a little Dr. Seuss-y, but it'll work until we decide to do something more sophisticated. I'd like to cut them down a bit, then sew a fitted greenhouse cover for each Winter greens & other foods.

Tiny barrel cactus in full bloom. Beauty. 
Speaking of greenhouses, if we can get around to renting the equipment to level an area, we hope to construct a greenhouse using corrugated panels, like this one. Although the panels don't run the "correct" way, this particular design uses its materials efficiently with very little waste. May need to modify slightly for a solar-powered exhaust fan, as even in Winter the solar gain on our southwest facing hillside can be significant. Oh, and we need the bigger, taller greenhouse because I purchased an additional seven citrus (lemons, limes & satsumas) to go with our current few. They were on sale, and the ones we already had were lonely and needed buddies. That's what I told Spouse, anyways.

Of Mice and Various Snakes and new Duck Feed Station

As mentioned in the previous post, our region is experiencing a near-Biblical plague of mice. "It's due to all the moisture we had...