Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Saving The Natives!

Time to rant about the weather again!  While the astronomer in me likes to see blue sky every day, like the song says "If you want the things you love, you must have showers" (Pennies From Heaven, 1936).  Tucson, while you expect to be dry since it is smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, is still woefully short of its normal dose of rainfall.  Through May we normally have just over 3" of rain for the year, but so far we've had a single rainstorm, split between the first and second of March for a total of .6"!  Before that, you have to go back to the week before Christmas when we had .2"... So it has been dry - a dry heat, like they say, since our highs our spiking well over 100F lately, though we've not broken 110 yet.  I'm still amazed at the extremes here - growing up in the Midwest, the outer surface of an icy drink was always wet from condensation.  The other night at the 10pm weather, the temp was still 88F, and the dewpoint (the temperature you would get condensation) was -2F for a relative humidity of 3%!  That is just astounding to me...

Anyway, if you have trees or plants of any kind, even the native plants that would normally live in the area, they need monitoring and regular watering. Case in point are a couple prickly pears I planted about 5 years ago in the front yard.  I'd not been paying much attention the last couple weeks and they were looking pretty ratty, even though it sported a bloom a week or so ago.  The picture at left shows the before image from 3 days ago - just shrunken incredibly.  At left it is shown today after a couple sessions with the hose dripping on it.  The pictures were taken within a few minutes of each other to compare Saturday's view to today (Tuesday) for matching lighting.  It plumped right up and looks a lot happier!

Here is a close-up of one of the pads taken before and after.  I'm glad it recovered.  Though it is not doing well this year with the lack of rain, this plant was started from a single pad about 5 years ago.  The plant I cut it from was quite incredible - each pad of the plant was like a plate of flowers, with buds and blooms covering the edge and popping out of the center of the pads too.  I think it needs a lot more rain for that much activity.  When it is this dry they nearly go into suspended animation without much new growth to save energy.  Once the Summer rains start in a month or so, it is amazing how fast they will respond!  I can't imagine trying to keep a green lawn in conditions like these!

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