Jet lagged in Saudi Arabia

Dear Everyone,
Another jet lag early morning. 3am is feels good at 3 am but as the day goes on life begins to feel as thick as molasses until one finally just stops. At 5 am the variety and large number of birds are waking and singing so vigorously like the day was the first day of the planet. It must be nesting season as the doves are incessantly following each other around, the sparrows are investigating nests under the eves of the houses, and the bulbils are gathering. There was rain about 2 weeks ago and the dust of centuries is settled and now crunches under our feet. There are no delicate tracings to view in the dust each morning from the nights surreptitious wanderings. With the rain have come thousands of dragonflies hovering and zooming low and high over the plots of the farm and neighboring fields. Their numbers are noticeable from a distance and resemble flocks of fairies. How quickly they must have emerged with the 2 days of rain. Where were they all in their larval state? What body of water is there?

I harvested some mei qing pac choi and chard from the garden today and was pulling off the old leaves when i noticed lots of brown specks on the bottoms of the leaves. They turned out all to be aphid mummies where a parasitoid wasp had injected an egg, that hatched and ate the aphid from the inside out, emerging as an adult. We look a picture and were able to enlarge it on the computer so we could clearly see the hole in the dried aphid. What a surprise in the midst of the desert. Were they always there or had all the alyssum we planted boosted their numbers? Around the alyssum were a fair amount of syrphid flies and flies, but few bees. the bees were mostly on the broccoli flowers, something we observed last year. All I’m sure flying low from the squadrons of dragonflies hovering around. Perhaps that’s why we saw such few bees flying from the wild colony in the Zizyphus tree. In the zizyphus tree I found what looked like a lacewing egg on the top of

Rainbow of veggies

the leaf- not the bottom which is usual here.
The farm is slowly coming alive, but the balance is so easily disturbed here with pressures of heat and little humidity besides few natural enemies and large amounts of virus and pests ever present in host plants.

We brought the Prince some of the cosmic vegetables- purple broccoli, romanesco broccoli, magenta chard, redbor kale. He and everyone was clearly boggled by the chartreuse spirals of the romanesco broccoli and had to touch them and wonder what are on earth they are.

The farm is a happy place at the moment with all getting along and just minor discontents. The fellows still argue with us about everything. We shake our heads.

We had a huge late lunch courtesy of the Prince at our favorite Lebanese restaurant followed by a whole plate of delicious date deserts and can hardly move.

The days are about 78 degrees and the nights about 50. You can feel the heat beginning to build in the soil and rocks and reflected everywhere. The inevitable is waiting. If one closed ones eyes and equated the variety and number of bird songs, one would never know you were surrounded by thousands and thousands of miles of completely inhospitable country.

I organized all the seeds today and had a closer look at the greenhouses where there are glorious tomatoes and some very weak, and patches of disease here and there. There are no tags anywhere left to show what varieties are thriving and others weak so it is hard to tell what to recommend for future use. Going forward is a slow process here.

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