A Tortoise, Flowers and Soil Testing

Squirt - 3 years (2)

There is still only one tortoise out of hibernation. Without comparing his markings to the other guy, it’s hard to say but I’m fairly certain based on his measurements that this is the one we thought might not make it out. He was hardly out last year and hardly ate but seems to be growing and doing well now.

Since his last measurements in July of last year he has gained a half inch in shell length and a quarter inch in width, as well as 1.5 ounces in weight (a total of 4 inches long and 2.75 inches wide (shell measurements only) and 6.5 ounces in weight). And I’m feeling pretty certain he’s a male based on the increased size of his gular horn. Let’s just hope the second tortoise is also a male or we’ll have to find a home for one of them to prevent babies.

New flowers for our pollinators

We went to the nursery yesterday for our garden work this weekend. I picked up a soil test (more on that below), some praying mantis because I can’t resist and some flowers to bring in pollinators. For the tortoise habitat we purchased two desert evening primrose plants, one verbana, one dichondra and four…er, pansies? Posies? I can’t ever remember their names and they aren’t labeled. But the tortoises eat them and they’re pretty.

For the front yard, we purchased four Snapdragons, one Spring Yellow Flash (dimorphoteca), one Paris Daisy, two Rich Orange Lantanas, one Boston Ivy, one mystery plant (do you know it’s name?),and one Artichoke! :D We’re very excited for the artichoke.

I have the following seeds soaking and ready to be planted: nasturtiums, runner beans, pole beans, bush beans, popcorn, and black-eyed peas. I’m not sure that all of these needed to be soaked but what the heck.

pH test

I’m really wishing I had remember to test the soil last fall. My pH is a bit higher than I wish it was but I’m told that it’s nearly impossible to get it much lower for any significant amount of time because of our alkaline water. In all 4 places I tested, the Potash (K) is sufficient to surplus. The Phosphorus (P) is “adequate to sufficient” which means I’ll need to amend it some. The Nitrogen (N) is totally depleted! How the heck did that happen with all the sheet mulching we did?

So because I didn’t test this last fall I don’t have the time to plant a cover crop to fix the nitrogen, which means before we can plant this weekend I’m heading to get some alfalfa meal (for nitrogen) and a bit of bone meal (for phosphorus) to amend my soils. :( I’ll be sure to do my soil tests far in advance next time.

ETA: Check this out! Vegetables taking place of grass on the White House lawn!! Don’t forget to click the layout. And someone needs to get Michelle some proper gardening attire, no?

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