Saturday, August 20, 2011
This summer is proving itself to be a real challenge in the garden. The unprecedented heat and lack of rain are an amazing contrast to last year, when we had relatively mild temperatures and ample precipitation. Even with a good deal of supplemental watering, the plants do not thrive. There just isn't any substitute for cloud juice!
I've recently added a drip irrigation system to the garden in hopes of conserving water and helping my plants out a bit. Drip irrigation allows water to be very slowly applied to the root zone, which means less waste from run off or over-watering. It also means I don't have to drag a hose from plant to plant, so it's a real time saver for me. In this picture you can see the black plastic drip lines running along the tomato bed. The burlap cloth is to provide some shade for the tender transplants while they get established. That's right folks, we have to shade our tomatoes here.
I've also installed an improved greywater system. Well, it's an improvement over what I had before, which was a flexible rubber hose, the kind used to flush out pool filters, running directly from the laundry into the yard. Now the laundry flows into a large plastic barrel, which has a garden hose on the bottom. This allows me to move the hose around as the water comes out, control the flow with a valve, and store water for a few hours before using it on the plants. I can also split it up between plants rather than all the water rushing out onto one plant, all at once. So far, so good. It holds an entire load without spilling or backing up and the hose can reach anywhere in the yard. I can even add additional hoses to reach the front yard if I want to water the shade trees. I've used another one of those old burlap coffee bags to make the barrel a little more attractive, or less unattractive anyways.
The other big change to the garden is that I significantly reduced the area taken up by the animal pen. My reason for doing this is that the animals were not using the whole area and the bedding was getting quite thin in the part closest to the house. For some reason the bedding tends to migrate and pile up towards the back of the pen. The back is also the shady area. By moving the fence towards the back, I reduced the pen to only the area that is pretty much always in the shade, which is where the animals spent all their time anyways. I redesigned the fence somewhat, using juniper posts instead of metal posts, and made it shorter but with an electrified ware along the top and bottom to keep the goats in. I want
There's hope on the horizon, though. I've recently planted a bunch of zinnias in the shade of the now dying naive sunflowers that came up along the fence. With some periodic watering, they have emerged and are beginning to grow. They're not much to look at yet, but I am hopeful for a beautiful fall blooming!