Posts Tagged ‘drip watering’

Burying the very available crab shell and coffee grounds to spice up the soil is the first thing.  Warre hive is on the left and Bee Beard carved log hive on the right.  I’m in good company.

Potatoes…should we harvest now or leave them in to grow more?  If I leave them in, the voles might eat them…I better take them out.  Then I can plant buckwheat in both beds.

Red Pontiacs – Three at once

A mole tunnel…the moles dig the tunnels, the voles follow the tunnels to the potatoes. More than a few potatoes had been chewed on, so it was good idea to get them out of the ground.

Some of the potatoes harvested from this first potato bed. We could have left them in to grow more, but the voles would have taken a big bite out of our harvest. This way we can grow buckwheat in both beds for the bees in September.

We’ve been fairly successful in the “no tilling” method for a few years.  We think it’s important to use less manufactured energy and more physical energy.  Is spading  ‘as good as’ using a  tiller?  Probably not, but it’s important to be able to grow food without using fossil fuel for the possible time when we don’t have any.

We have dug in crab shell, kitchen scraps (no meat), comfrey leaves, and coffee grounds to enhance the soil. Now we’re planting the buckwheat seed.

The drip irrigation grid and the deer netting are in place.

Why do we need deer netting? Because of her…and all her offspring!

According to this article by the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute “…buckwheat crop seems to improve soil tilth, and is reported to make phosphorous more available as a soil nutrient, possible through root-associated mycorrhizae. Buckwheat flowers profusely, making it popular with bee keepers and an attractive crop in the landscape.”

Sept. 9, 2012...about 5 weeks after planting, buckwheat is looking good.  Bees are on the blossoms already.

Sept. 9, 2012…about 5 weeks after planting, buckwheat is looking good. Bees have been working the blossoms for a couple of weeks already.

Sept. 9, 2012...Honeybees attending to the buckwheat blossoms.

Sept. 9, 2012…Honeybees attending to the buckwheat blossoms under the deer netting.

A fly mimicing a bee on the buckwheat blossom.

A fly mimicking a bee on the buckwheat blossom.

My wife saved me the ultimate embarrassment of thinking I found some kind of new bee. “Honey, that’s a FLY!”  “Ulp.”

Another fly, this time with a red abdomen.  My wife saved me the embarrassment of thinking I found some kind of new bee.  "Honey, that's a FLY!"

Another fly, this time with a red abdomen.

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The first raised bed planted is usually the first to be harvested, enhanced, and replanted

This raised bed was planted in late March.  It’s time to harvest the lettuce and cabbages, add soil amenities, and replant. We try to keep the use of a car to a minimum so today we’re getting the crab shell and coffee grounds using the bicycle and trailer.

Loading crab shell from Tony’s Crab Shack into bicycle trailer

We like to use whatever is naturally available.  We’ll use coffee grounds, crab shell, kitchen garbage, leaves when available (in the fall) and garden trimmings.

Scooping up coffee grounds to add to the soil

Kitchen garbage is a surprising source of nitrogen for the soil.

Fresh crab shell gets chopped up. The soft parts will decompose by the time the roots reach it. I’ll be planting this within 3 days…can’t waste any time.

I’ve tried adding fresh crab shell to the compost pile…DON’T DO IT!!!  It stinks for days.  If you bury it, you won’t smell it, and you’ll be surprised by how fast the microorganisms in the soil will break it down.  Just keep the dogs out of it.

Getting filled up

I hate pulling out the kale flowers that the bees love so much, but if I don’t, the deer will get under the netting and eat up my little transplants.  I’ll hang it upside down in the greenhouse and save the seed.

I can’t believe I actually needed the shade cloth, but the little transplants were wilting…it serves a dual purpose in preventing (I hope) the deer from investigating. The old netting got tangled in the kale and had to be cut away.

Soil enhanced, transplanted, protected from deer and ready for Prime Time…no more wimpy shade cloth needed here

We started working on this bed 5 days before we planted.  That may seem like we’re not leaving enough time for the scraps to break down, but there are 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12 cm) of soil and we figure by the time the roots get down there, it will be decomposed enough.  We’ve done it many times and it seems to work well.  The worms love it.

Tap into this web site for more info on the use of coffee grounds in the garden.

Here’s a video of digging a short trench in a raised bed and loading in the goodies…

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The tomato bed has weathered through the cold wind and rain. They’re looking good so I added the cages.

Tomatoes prove their worth and get supports
Likewise the Red Pontiacs are looking good

Potato bed gets hilled up.  These were planted April 9th and harvested August 1 to make way for buckwheat.

Greens Grow the Garden

Our supply of salad greens. Pick it, eat it 15 minutes later for lunch. I wonder what’s cooking in the Solar Oven

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Get out the Solar Oven and let’s have enchiladas for lunch.

Enchiladas for lunch.

Now that the sun has warmed up the soil enough to plant, we’ve got to hook up the Solar Roller. These panels are mounted on a 2 x 4″

Solar panels on handmade wheeled cart

cart with some old lawnmower wheels attached. Since I have many trees shading parts of the garden, this roller allows me to follow the sun. I can actually get 12 hours of sun-pumping water into the large tank in the background and then gravity flow to 1/2″ pvc placed in the raised beds. The kit came with solar panels, submersible pump, and a Dankoff control box. This control box allows the pump to kick on in low light and works so well that it’ll pump on a gray shadowless day. I’ve even seen it pump during a light rain.

Gray shadowless day, solar pump still working…thank you Mr. Dankoff, for inventing the controller that makes the pump work on a very gray day!

The tank feeds into a regular garden hose and into the water grids. The grids are drilled with 1/16” holes. Hook up the hose to the grid and plant next to the holes.

Drip water grid in tomato bed

Drip watering potatoes

Placing the plants next to a pre-drilled hole.

Ready to close the tent on the warm loving eggplant and peppers

And that’s how we spent Mother’s Day, how about you?

For more solar check out my little solar system.

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Growing tomatoes on the Oregon Coast calls for special measures. This clear 6 mil UV resistant film ‘tent’ shields the soil from the drenching rainfalls of April and May. To get ripe tomatoes by early August we must often plant in inclement weather.

Beating the late blight is the name of the game in a cool climate. We don’t use fungicides so since the mid to late 90’s we follow some strict rules…NO overhead watering, drip watering only. Trim lower branches a so no leaves touch the ground. Do not follow tomatoes with potatoes or vice-versa for at least one year (two years are better).

After gardening in the same location for over 35 years, we always add amenities to enhance the soil…cottonseed meal, kelp meal, bone meal, blood meal, dolomite, gypsum. This is in addition to trenching in deciduous leaves, crab shell, and coffee grounds in the fall.

The water grid is 1/2″ pvc with 1/8″ holes drilled in the proper spacing for tomatoes. It can be gravity fed from the tank that is powered by solar, delivering the water directly to the roots.

The tires are centered over the holes to add extra warmth into the evening.

Pinch off lower leaves, add a bit of fish meal, place in ground with lots of compost and plant deep.

Next add the hoops…these are 3/4″ pvc that fit loosely into 1 1/4″ pvc sockets. These hoops are strong and last for years (Schedule 40) Strengthen them with rope and 1×2’s.

Use a taut-line hitch to take up slack when rope stretches.

This is 6 mil, UV resistant film. 2x2x8’s are butted up to each other and 1×2’s are nailed to hold them together. Then the film is nailed to them using more 1×2’s. That forms the weight to hold the film over the hoops. If you “under roll” the film and tie it to the hoop with a slip knot it will stay up all day. At night or during a rain, we always close the tents to keep water off the leaves. Tomatoes need air circulation, so it’s important to open the tents whenever possible.Tent is closed protecting the plants from the cool night air. Since we like to eat tomatoes in the winter, we plant about 60 plants. This is the first tomato bed this season and holds 15 plants. The cages will be added later when after we’ve treated them with bleach water.  Check out the cages here…added a month later.

Preserving the tomatoes.

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It’s always fun for us to uncover the very soggy cardboard and see all the earth worms.  In years past we would rototill, but now because we trench in leaves, crab shell, coffee grounds and sometimes  kitchen garbage in the fall,  our beds are teeming with life.  We don’t want to chop up the worms with a tiller so we do a little spading to loosen the soil and push in the transplants.  Many times the ground is too wet for a tiller, but not for a shovel or fork. l

Our Red Pontiacs from last year were getting soft so we decided to use them as seed potatoes. With the raised beds we can plant earlier and cover up the beds if the weather report warns for freezing.  We can also net to keep out the deer or in this case, the cats.  Check out the progress on these beds.

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This bed has crab shell and coffee grounds. Both are waste products that I picked up last summer using my bicycle and trailer. Also buried within are autumn leaves.
Last weekend we covered the bed with a plastic tent over pvc hoops to dry out the soil.
Today a 3 hour break in the storm served as our chance to get this first bed planted.
The cabbage, collards, and lettuce were started from seed in the house under lights in late February. The soil was full of earthworms and just right to add amenities, rake smooth, hook up the water grid, and pop in the transplants. (no rototilling because we’re trying to avoid using fossil fuel in the garden)

A floating row cover will be placed over the cabbages to protect them from the cabbage moth and cabbage fly, then netting to keep out the deer, followed by the plastic film tent to protect them from the high winds and driving rain from the next set of storms. March came in like a lamb and is going out like a lion.


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