Watering day at the Cliffhouse…

Down on the plateau at the foot of the mesa there’s a horse that needs feeding…

…and a garden that needs watering.

Yeah, that’s pretty much what an unusually successful desert garden looks like. Everything is grown in buckets of imported soil, and don’t ask me how he keeps the rodents away. Maybe they just don’t like peppers and squash.

Up at the house, this is how much water I expended on the courtyard plants…

…and it’s October and the plants didn’t even need that much watering. In high summer this is a chore.

The “Cliffhouse” may not literally be on the edge of a cliff, but the greenhouse and planting house don’t miss it by much. Sorry about the sun angle…

Getting down the slope to water the greenhouse is a little bit harrowing for the one-legged old man.

The boys need petting and playing with – at this point in their people’s absence they’re more interested in that than in food. But just before leaving they get their cookie…

…and they rush off to previously-agreed-upon neutral corners to nosh while I take my leave.

And while I was typing that I got a text that the Monday morning water run has been moved up half an hour, so I must take off again.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Watering day at the Cliffhouse…

  1. Phssthpok says:


    They keep horses…that make horse poo.

    And they import soil for gardening….

  2. Zelda says:

    Makes you wonder, what do they do with the horse poo? Joel has other neighbors who keep horses. What do they do with their horse poo? Joel has always written about the failure of gardens and fruit trees and the poor soil. But after over a decade of available horse poo – and chicken poo -, why is the soil still poor? An above ground compost pile doesn’t seem practical, it’s too dry, but there are other compost methods like sheet composting, trench composting, compost tumblers. Growing in galvanized watering tubs with small holes in the bottom for drainage would be a lovely place for sheet composting and protect crops from rodents. There’s a product called shade cloth that cuts down sun by a specified percentage. http://www.nativeseeds.org sells seeds for crops native to or that will grow in the southwest, with very little water, many of them ancient crops.

  3. gojuplyr says:

    Not that simple. Need a soil analysis to determine why soil is “poor.” If it has excessive nitrogen, poo – of any kind – will make it worse. It takes a blend of nutrients and vegetative matter to make a soil good for crops of human designed plants.

  4. I’ve had more that acceptable results with common garden plants using nothing more that composted horse manure and 20-30% perlite as a media. The only time I mixed that with local dirt was when putting in the trees – ’cause you kinda’ have to then.

    However your neighbors get something out of the ground there – good on them! I notice from the picture that their patch doesn’t look like a luxurious stretch of greenery – that may turn out to their advantage with the local wildlife. If it stands out too much it can be a magnet to deer and other creatures. I see this a lot with my fruit trees in the early spring when the deer are waiting for the grasses to come back out. The only thing they don’t have any interest in is the Osage Orange with it’s 3/4″ spikes. It’s not a fruit or nut tree – but I’ve got a couple stands for the wood and it’s hedgerow potential.

  5. gojuplyr says:

    Osage Orange is highly sought after for handmade bows.

  6. Yes, I’ve heard that about it. It’ll be a few years before there’s anything to harvest. They’re both about 10′ tall and are configured like a large shrub – been in the ground about 5 years.

    Most of what I grow is somewhat planned and intended – but the Osage Orange was just a fluke. Someone came home with a couple unusual looking fruit from a tree they didn’t recognise – figured I’d find it interesting. I looked it up and thought it would be nice to have a couple plants that had such useful wood. I split the fruit into 1/2s and planted them in containers. They sprouted in a cluster and I never bothered to thin them down – figured that they’d probably propagate that way in the wild on occasion. When I put them in the ground a couple years later I specifically put them where I didn’t anticipate any vehicle traffic as I’ve heard the thorns are tough enough to pierce a tire. The smaller animals like them as predators don’t want to follow them into those thorns.

    I don’t see many in this area but I was under the impression they were common in the Midwest plains. I’d read they were introduced as a soil stabiliser after the dust bowl years.

To the stake with the heretic!