Saturday, July 31, 2010

Garden planning

Even though it's so darn hot outside, we still have lots going on! We have been working to bring in wonderful new things, which is giving me a much needed energy boost and inspiration which is harder to find in the dog days of summer.

I find this a great time of year to begin thinking and planning for those areas of my yard that I haven't started yet or need to improve on (we all have them!). As the cool months approach I want to have projects ready to go! My next project is to start in on my front yard which hasn't been touched, save one maple tree, since we moved in last May. Our back and side yards have seen a lot of attention, but the front yard needs some major help!

The plan is to pull up all the flowerbed edging and rock mulch, lift more than half of the sod out, and plant it up! This spot gets the intense afternoon and evening sun, so I will be sticking with sun lovers like lavender, evergreens, grasses, boxwoods, and the like. This area will be a lot less maintenance then the back and side yards for two reasons... #1. I won't have to work out there a lot when the sun is raging down  and #2. I prefer to work in the privacy of my back yard!

We get asked a lot whether or not you can plant during these hot summer and autumn months. I believe it is a common misconception that you can't. It really is a great time to plant- you just have to make sure to keep it moist! Just think that those plants are better off in the ground, rather than in thin black plastic pots!

I just wanted to let you in on our next sale...since you, too, might be planning for your own projects...

Let's all think 'autumn' together... maybe that will bring some cooler temps! :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Water Drippers

What do gardeners do in the dead of winter? We dream of new projects...thoughts of horticultural prosperity.

My idea came one January evening this past winter. Susan immediately perked up when I told her I had an idea (likely getting primed to defend our acreage from another of my endeavours). She listened, with that knowing smile on her face, as I explained that I would like to move all our garden vine crops down to the orchard. The orchard consists of an assortment of fruit trees on about 1/4 acre. The ground slopes slightly, but at the top there is a level area about 8' wide, 300' long before the slope begins. Perfect. A place to accomodate pumpkins, squash, melons, cucumbers, etc. Susan retreated back to her book after I shared my idea, but spoke out from behind it's pages, "If you really want to grow crops down there, then have at it!" I bet she was hoping that I would forget all about my new found idea come spring, but I didn't.

Spring, having finally arrived, enabled me to conquer this area. I used a gas powered weed-eater to knock down all of the old vegetation. About every 6 feet, I knocked everything down to bare soil in a 4' square. Seeds were then planted in the middle of every square and hot caps followed (to create their own mini-greenhouse). Susan, watching from the top of the hill in one of her perennial gardens, asked me how I was going to water the new garden. 'Simple', I said, 'I will just drag a hose down and water them by hand.' Susan's idea outweighed mine though- a simple line of drip hose- much easier and less time-consuming.

Great idea, so, off to the local supply store I went. I told the clerk, Mr. Pipe, we shall call him, that I needed several hundred feet of tubing which had pre-drilled holes in it. "Oh you mean the black stuff", he said. Sounded good to me. Of course, after I got the pipe home, layed it out perfectly over the newly planted seeds, hooked it up to the hose and turned it on, nothing happened....nothing. Upon closer examination, I realized there were no holes in the tubing... it was solid walled. Back to town I go. When I re-explained myself to Mr. Pipe, he exclaimed, "Oh, you want the brown pipe, not the black one. The brown pipe has holes in it." this point it was hard to tell who was more confused or at fault: Mr. Pipe, or yours truly. Mr Pipe's next suggestion was that I buy 1/4" tubing. I could attach this 1/4" tubing to my already there solid walled black pipe and run them to the seeds, with emitters attached to the ends. Okay. I bought the parts I needed to poke into the existing black pipe, and ran the 1/4" tubing to the seeds. The emitters were hooked in next, then the moment of truth...

I walked the line to admire the drippers as they gently soaked the newly planted seeds. Everything looked great until I realized about half the drippers stopped dripping. I replaced as many emitters as I had parts for, then BACK into town (the third time if you are counting), to visit Mr. Pipe. When I explained the problem, he informed me that when you punch into the main tube, small flakes of plastic can float around inside the tube until they get lodged in the emitters. He further mentioned that I should open the main tube at each end and flush it out. With new emitters and a newly flushed out main tube, our new irrigation system seems to work. As the season wears on, I periodically change plugged drippers.

It seems to me that it wouold have been much easier to water this new garden by hand. Or simply to have started with the right type of drip hose to begin with...the brown one!