New (circa last year) Rain Barrel set up

17 04 2012

I’ve decided to start getting excited by the tiny things in my life; especially the tiny things that I have NO idea how to complete yet do so anyways.

I’ve wanted to be collecting rain water to use in the gardens and beds.  And I’ve been doing that but the big storms and the deluge they bring have been making things sloppy under the deck, and, potentially then, in the ol’ basement.  I used to have both rain barrels up on the deck but that ended up being relatively lame and when they flooded, guess where it went?  Well, you’ll recall the smurf skating rink?  Well, smurf beaches surround the house under the deck in the summer. 

Not being content with that, I moved one barrel over so it was right next to the garden (it hasn’t been given it’s permanent home yet).  It’s nice and convinient for watering everything!   Right between the fruit bed (Haskap berries in the ground and strawberries to be planted this year).  Lovely!   This picture was from last fall.  You can see a bit of green hose going under the mulch there?  More on that later!

The other barrel has been placed on a perch next to the side deck.  The perch has a slight angle away from the deck so if it overflows, it’s going straight away from the house..  I did the guttering as well.  I’m not expert but there are no significant leaks so I’ll consider it a success for now.

Now, I want to point out that this rain barrel has 2 hoses out the bottom there.  The grey hose runs along the deck and drains out right by the black pot by the stairs.  The green hose runs under the deck, along the house and then over to the garden rain barrel (you see it run under the mulch in the first picture).  The rain barrel by the garden is LOWER than the one beside the house on purpose.  As the water drains from this barrel to the garden barrel, the garden barrel would be the first to overflow as the top is lower.  This keeps water from getting under the deck.  If a storm gets so violent and heavy water just gushes in, the little arm going into this barrel can be turned about so that the water just shoots all over the grass

Attaching guttering was a huge pain in the rump because I did it with no help, didn’t really know what I was doing, and got mixed up.  In fact, as I sit here and type this, I realize where I made my biggest mistakes and kinda wish I could just as easily start over.  Instead, I’ll wait to see how it manages a big rainstorm and go from there.

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Fool or Optimist?

17 04 2012

Well, I took some time and planted some things in the garden last week….just in time for another snow dump and cold weather snap; onions, spinach and leeks.

I am certainly aware that I have planted these things early.  It speaks to the diversity of needs within the vegetable table kingdom.  Spinach actually NEEDS to have cold soil to germinate and grow well.  If you feel like wasting some garden space, try planting spinach in the middle of summer just to test how well it goes.  I recall in my reading that plants would grow slowly and bolt almost right away.  For those who are unaware, “bolting” happens in lettuce when it sends up a central stalk with flowers/seed heads.  Once lettuce bolts, the leaves become bitter and WAY less delicious.  You will always want to harvest leaf vegetables before they bolt.

Back to planting.  Last year we got a nice little dump of snow (several inches) after I put the spinach in the ground and everything still came up like gangbusters.  Last year, that cold weather only lasted 2 or 3 days and the snow was melted in that time.  This year, there’s not as much snow but it’s going to be cold for a solid week I think.  They’re calling for pleasant midteen temperatures for the coming weekend and I CAN’T wait to get back there and do a bit more work.

Directions around onion sets indicate they don’t mind a wee bit of cold  (the package itself said to plant in March (??) or April).  So, I figured I’d take a chance.  It’s a pretty crowded spot and I still have some extra sets if those die off.

The biggest concern is for the leaks I put in.  I had some leeks in my window inside and they were doing pretty darn good.  So the sucker in me thought, “Hey, let’s take a chance”.  So out they went.  I made a nice little trench, planting them at the bottom.  As they grow, the trench will slowly fill up with dirt as the season progresses (this lengthens the white bit of the leek).  Of course, we’ve had more than a few frosty nights and a snow fall over the last 3 days; right on time with my days off.  Luckily, being that they’re on the bottom of a trench, I sat one of my haybales directly on TOP of the hole in the hopes that they would be okay.  As well, over night, I put a plastic 1L bottle of hot water underneath the haybale in the trench which acts to keep the space down there a touch warmer over the night.

When I looked at the leek today (first time since the cold), they were still green.  The leaves were lookin’ a very spindly and not yet strong.  This happens when you grow leek as transplants in a warm, windless (though sunny) location in a house.  Looking at the picture, you can hardly see the leek (they are thinner than the straw bits).  Hopefully today’s quick and tiny douse of sunshine will help a touch.  It looks like the temperature and weather are going down hill again for the rest of this week with nice weather this weekend.  Whew!

Currently, lettuce, squash and melon plants are being started in pots in the window with a few bits of lettuce getting started.