Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Brace yourself, this is gonna get a little technical.  I’ll do my best to make this as simple as possible.  Braced?  OK.

As far as I can tell, gardens follow a simple equation:

Dirt x Seeds x Sun x Water  = Tasty Vegetables

There might be an exponent in there, or maybe a factorial.  Dunno. What am I, a scientist?… Oh wait.  In my first garden post, we talked a bit about the dirt and seeds. Sun? Well, there isn’t much I can do about that.  Mother nature is going to do her own thing, whether I like it or not (case in point).  That just leaves water.  Unless you’re growing a cactus garden, or live in the Pacific Northwest, your plants are gonna get thirsty.  I like lemonade, but they’ll probably be happiest with plain ol’ water. Now there are few things better than standing in my garden with a hose, watering little sprouts, but I’m a busy girl. And my garden shouldn’t suffer for it.  So I want an automated watering setup to do the heavy lifting.

Now in the California foothills, we have a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Drought.  Even though water falls from the sky, there isn’t enough to go around.  I’ll do my part and water the veggies with a drip system.
  • Rocks.  The reason we needed raised beds was because there is about 3″ of dirt on top of solid rock.  Burying irrigation pipe sounds like a lot of work.
  • Weeds.  They grow everywhere around here.  So whatever watering system we use, it has to be mobile so that the lawnmower can get around the beds and keep ’em under control.

The solution?  Easy disconnect hoses connected to drip watering lines in each bed.  How is it set up?

Sprinkler Valve -> 8-Way Splitter -> Quick Disconnect Hose – > PVC Splitter -> Two Drip Lines Per Bed

Complicated?  I’ll say.

This is the 8-Way splitter made from a 2-Way splitter and two 4-Way splitters.  The main line from the faucet comes in the top, and one line goes to each bed.

Each bed has a PVC splitter that grabs on to the edging blocks, holding it in place.  The outside has a quick disconnect fitting so that the hoses can be connected and disconnected easily.

Now soaker hose is nice, but it doesn’t last long in the sun.  All you need is a few pinholes and it’s spraying water everywhere.  Individual drip watering lines to each plant are also a hassle since they never seem to stay put.  This year, we’re trying something called “drip tape“.  It’s 5/8″ diameter black plastic tubing with 1/2GPH drippers integrated into the tube every foot.  Run two of these lines down an 18” wide bed, and you’re set.  No fuss, no muss.

Here’s what the full thing looks like.  I warned you it was gonna get a little technical.  Maybe I should have just stuck with a hose.

 

Last time we saw our garden, it was in pretty sad shape.  The freak April snow storm really showed the difference between cold-hardy vegetables, and warm-weather vegetables. I’ll never again forget the old gardening advice: “Better to plant late than early.”  So, how are things doing?

I love asparagus – steamed, sauteed, or stir-fried, it’s all fine with me, but we’ve never grown it before, so this year is an experiment.  Our local hardware store sells asparagus crowns 6 for $3.00, so we bought a bag and set them to growing.

This is what one of the crowns looks like before planting.

And three weeks later, we have the teeny-tinyiest little asparagus sprout.  Looks delicious, doesn’t it?  The asparagus crowns are only 1 year old at this point, and harvesting them now would stunt their growth, so we’ll have to wait to harvest them next year.  Hopefully this asparagus bed takes off, and we’re eating vitamin-laden asparagus sprouts for years to come.

Our spring snap peas are just spreading their leaves and stretching their little tendrils in the sun.  Last year we used tomato cages to support our peas, and found that the plants quickly outgrew even the 3′ tall cages, so this year we came prepared.  Using some 8′ foot tall t-posts set 2′ into the ground,  and a 4’x6′ section of welded-wire fencing forms a support structure that even the most ambitious pea plants will have a tough time outgrowing.

We had 5 tomato plants in this bed – two Better Boys, two Early Girls, and one Celebrity.  The frost put an end to 4 of them, with only the Better Boy at the far end *barely* surviving.  All of its leaves fell off, but it still shows signs of life.  Tiny little leaves are sprouting from the stem, and I didn’t have the heart to pull it out.  The rest of the ill-fated tomatoes were replaced, as you can see above.  We’ve now got a Roma, a Beefsteak, an Early Girl, and a Celebrity back in action and ready to grow.

Our winter crop of Swiss Chard, Rhubarb Chard, and Cauliflower is still going strong with this rainy weather, but we had to get the tomatoes going.  What did we do?  Make them snuggle in close and share the bed, at least until the tomatoes get bigger.  You can also see the beginnings of our drip watering system which should save time and money by taking care of the watering for us.  More on that once it is finished!

And finally the squashes – Zucchini, Cantaloupe, Yellow Squash, Watermelon, and Cucumber.  All of these were started from seeds and seem to be doing well.  The ground cover is keeping weeding to a minimum, and will help keep the veggies from rotting if they hit the ground.

All in all, the garden survived its snow-day pretty much intact.  Some tomatoes and peppers were lost, but the ones that survived are tougher for it.  Who knows, maybe we can cross breed our remaining tomatoes, and then people in Alaska will have the chance to enjoy fresh tomatoes in the middle of winter.  I’m not ruling it out!

I was thisclose to titling this post “Heard it through the Grapevine,” but I just couldn’t allow myself to wallow in such a tempting cliche like that.  At least not without reference to the California Raisins.  Which I will also not do.  I won’t even talk about how just typing that made my thoughts jump to a raisin-drawn sleigh in a certain claymation Christmas special.  Why am I saying this?

No, seriously.  That wasn’t a lead in to the actual point of this post, because to be honest, there is no point to this post, that I can remember, and there’s definitely no reason for bringing up the California Raisins.

I think I’m too delerious to realize I probably shouldn’t be writing things that other human eyes will actually read once the wee morning hours creep up on me.  Except I just did realize it, so I guess you’re safe.

Grapes!

I knew I was going somewhere with that whole raisin thing.  Except that grapes come before raisins, and I’m afraid it’s a physiologically irreversible process.  I’m not very good with math, which is fine because there are no numbers here.  So, it’s a good thing I learned a thing or two in chemistry:

Grapes——->Raisins

Now, did you notice there is only a single-headed arrow?  That’s how you know that raisins can be made from grapes, but, try as you might, you will never turn a raisin into a grape.  Even if you soak them.  Trust me, I already fought the chemistry on this and lost.

Finally coming out of hibernation.  These little sprigs don’t look like much now, but they’ll be spewing juicy grape bundles in no time.  Fortunately, the frosty temps that pummeled the peppers and tomatoes last week didn’t seem to hold these guys back too much.

Like…almost enough of them that you can’t pick enough to keep them from reaching raisin-status….

And they are growing in California…

But who’s counting? 😀  I mean, I already told you I wouldn’t bring up California Raisins or claymation Christmas specials.  And especially not songs called “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”

I’m not that kind of person.

Mother nature sure has a way of raining snowing on a little sprout’s parade.

Let’s focus on the positives here, though.  Many of the little guys pulled through just fine, even deriving greater strength from the chill.  Maybe not.  But they are troopers.

Case in point: Cauliflower.

Now, to be real, these guys are technically part of the winter crop, so I expect this to happen.  Actually, I didn’t expect this. I mean, I knew they’d survive, but I didn’t bank on so much all-up-in-your-face flourishing!

These little spring croppers did just fine too: carrots, radishes, mesclun, and spinach:

Lookin’ good little radish sprouts!  Being all snuggled together must have created a safe-from-snow zone!

Just a baby!  Didn’t keep me from savoring his mild flavor…these puppies pack quite the spicy punch when full-grown, as most of you know!

Little Zuke!  Ya, he looks all sweet & innocent now, but wait til he’s spitting out 10lb melon-sized, gourd-shaped zucchinis & laughing when you can’t muster yet another zucchini-involved breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, beverage….squash spritzer with your zucchini pancakes, anyone?  It’s for real.  Accept it.  Love it.

I’m enjoying him while he’s still got leaves smaller than an elephant’s ear.

Unfortunately, the peppers, tomatoes, and bean sprouts didn’t fare as well. For whatever reason, I guess they weren’t expecting a heavy dose of chill and a light dusting of snow. In California. In April. I know, they should have seen that one coming.  I was too devastated to take any pics of the fallen sprouts initially, so now that I’ve had a chance to process and let all of the steps of grief run their course (almost), I’ll document the tragedy.   Prepare yourselves…

Sad tomatoes

Poor Peppers…

Maybe there’s still hope!

Garden Update #2

Happy Monday!

Don’t worry, I’m not one of those obnoxious people who pop out of bed early Monday morning, ecstatic about the start of a new work, or in my case, school week.  Not to be overly pessimistic or anything, but one man’s beginning is another’s end {to the weekend}…just sayyyin’….  I just sincerely hope you are having a happy Monday, whatever that means for you!  It’s the small things in life, like, say…you needed 1 fewer cup of coffee to leave the house this morning without throwing your keys across the room yelling, “I need a mental health day!” first.  Or, the sun is finally shining in all its glory, giving you just a little more pep in your step this afternoon.  Whatever it is that floats your boat, I hope it’s going on today!

Enough about Mondays, I’m back with another garden update, however brief it might be.  I spent a lot of time in my last post talking about the set-up and the diagrams and whatnot and really wanted to focus on that rather than adding even more length with tons of photos.  That being said, what good is a garden diagram if it’s not put into action.  So, here are some new action shots!

The little pepper plant above belongs to this little pepper bed

Small spinach sprouts

Baby Bean sprouts, all in a row

So that’s what radishes look like!

There are also some zucchini and yellow squash sprouts coming up that I didn’t snap a photo of, but we’re still waiting on the melons and cucumbers!  No signs yet, but we have hope…:D

Enjoy your day!  Seriously, enjoy it!

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »