Friday, July 06, 2007

Garden update

I've just uploaded a bunch of garden pics to my flickr account. I'm very happy with the garden this year -- it's not perfect, but I'm actually managing to keep up with the weeding, despite a a really nasty case of poison ivy last month that had me ultimately taking Prednizone (which kicks butt on the rash, I have to say).

I lost a tree to fire blight over the winter, so there's a bit of a hole in the garden where that goes. I also got a late start putting in the veggies this year, so am only now getting beans and a few cherry tomatoes, and haven't gotten any cucumbers yet.

Other problems: we have bunnies. Oh, do we have bunnies. I see them even in broad daylight. I wound up putting frames and bird netting over my blueberry/strawberry bed to keep them from getting all the berries after I went out to pick the first ripe strawberries of the season and found that the bunnies had taken one bite out of every ripe berry. Very wasteful critters. I have half-built a netting cage over the tomato bed because I've had birds eat my tomatoes in past years for their water content, but am hoping that a bird bath might mitigate that problem. If not, I'll finish netting over the tomato bed.

I'm considering putting another bed or two beside the garage and planting more strawberries/blueberries. We've been getting a steady trickle of berries since early June, and it's lovely.

We also got four bowls full of currants from the currant bed (which you can see behind the air conditioner, above). I've frozen most of them to be used later -- maybe with some quinces, once those are ripe, since I may actually get a few this year. I took a small bowl down to visit my sis and made compote for our pancakes, which was yummy.


Now that's a kitchen garden!

In late June we visited my sis and her husband down in Charlottesville. Part of the enticement to get K. to come along was a trip to Monticello (with its period furniture). I'd been there before, but not in summer, so it was a real treat to see the kitchen garden.

The layout is pretty simple; the garden has rows of different vegetables, broken up so that there aren't large blocks of plants that disease or insects can sweep through.

The employees at Monticello get to take home the produce from the garden. Pretty neat!

Rain barrel project

So, my friends will know I'm frugal (ok, cheap) to a fault. I hate paying a big water bill; and I especially hate knowing that I have to pay a sewer tax on water that goes on my garden, not the sewer, even though the tax probably takes that into account.

I've been looking into making my own rain barrels, since (being cheap) I hate to pay the price for a new one from a catalog, and I don't mind doing a little bit of work.

Wikipedia has several links on how to make your own rain barrels. Next problem: find some barrels. A friend found a place selling them for $15 apiece (ok, I know I could probably have gotten them for $5 if I'd gone to the Baltimore Pepsi plant or something) and picked up three of them for me. I'll keep two and give one to my Mom for her garden, since she's a pretty enthusiastic gardener and is also on a limited budget.

I'm contemplating trying to save water from my washing machine to use on the garden; but one problem with that, from what I've read, is that you can have problems with e coli if you use laundry water on your vegetables. So if I do capture water from the laundry, I should either a) only save water from loads that have no underwear in them; or b) only use that water on the flower beds, and use rainwater on the vegetables.

I'm putting a shopping list together for the fittings. Next step: plumbing the barrels.