Monday, May 30, 2011

The Las Cruces Report: Late May

When I lived back in New Hampshire, we always put our gardens in on Memorial Day weekend. Oh, we could try to trick Mother Nature by getting plants in the ground before that, but they really wouldn't start to grow until the end of May when the ground warmed up.

Other memories about growing things in the East--we aspired to have corn that was "knee high by the Fourth" (of July); the first haying was done in between rainstorms, also in July, and we always wished for fresh tomatoes from the garden for summer picnics, but didn't really start harvesting them until late July and early August.

Oh, my, things are so different out here in southern New Mexico. First of all, the corn:

 Here is Beez, kindly supplying the knees next to a flourishing field of corn. You can see that it's good and high, and here we are still in the month of May.

Dry soil in the orchard

However, any crop that is flourishing here is doing so because of irrigation. Because the irrigation district is very short of water due to lack of snowmelt, farmers who usually get three to four acre feet per season for their fields are getting 3 acre inches this year. That means that in order to irrigate, they have to pump water from ground wells. This is what the soil looks like in our neighboring pecan orchards. The trees still get flooded, but the water comes from the aquifer, not from the mountains, and the soil dries out a lot in between due to lack of rainfall. We haven't had rain for months now, but there is some rain in the forecast for the week, so keep your fingers crossed for us.

A couple of other notes: The first cutting of alfalfa was done well over a month ago now. That always amazes me. There are probably three more cuttings to come. And our tomato plants are all starting to take off, growth-wise, and are in bud. I'll let you know when we pick the first tomatoes. 


becky said...

Hi Clair.
I like your new header & seeing the green in the desert- I can only imagine how green it would be had you actually got some rain! it was 85 & WINDY here yesterday, and while out on a hike- the trees a'swaying, I swear they just looked so parched to me. Bring on the summer monsoons! I can see how parched your ground is. The farmers here & in the Espanola valley are having the same problem. ( i do what I can to save water- I never wash my car!)

TheCunningRunt said...

Here in Massachusetts we've had our first cutting of hay, some weeks earlier than usual. Housemate Holly is getting the garden in a bit each weekend; the 'maters are budding like mad and the asparagus is producing almost (but not quite) more than we can eat. At this rate, barring droughts or floods, we could be in for a good garden year!

Keeping my everythings crossed for rain down your way.

Sylvia K said...

Considering how chilly and rainy it still is here in Seattle, I'm amazed that as many flowers and trees are blooming and have been for several weeks now. Quite different from my childhood days in west Texas!! Hope you've had a great weekend, Clair!


Deb from WhatsInMyAttic said...

Love the new header photo! Amazing the difference in growing season...the means used to make it happen...all over the country! We have baby squash leaves peeking out of the ground, but we got a late start. I put tomatoes in pots this time, but chose a couple of heirloom varieties I've never grown. We'll see! Keep me posted on your tomatoes...although I'm sure we'll be months behind you!