Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Rain water catchment system

In the Garden

I have the perfect set up for doing rainwater harvesting.  For some reason, there are multiple downspouts on our home and garage (probably our previous homes had this too but I just did not notice).  I have at least 4 places where I know there are downspouts that I can use to collect rainwater.  There are 3 downspouts located in the back of the home.  I consider the garden area "behind" the house so these are perfectly located.  The home/garage are situated "above" the garden area so we have gravity on our side back there.  

There is not as much slope to the front area of the home but I can still envision a way of collecting rainwater and diverting it down to an area where I want to put in a duck pond.  That is a project for next year...

Buying all these containers to catch the rainwater is going to be expensive.  I am hoping to maybe configure one system each year i.e. one downspout each year.  I remembered that we have a stock tank that we kept because it is in good condition.  We found it in a wooden box with insulation around it.
Stock tank hidden in wood box with insulation around it to keep it from freezing in the winter.

So, I started thinking that I could use this stock tank as a way to catch water for the garden until we can get a "real" catchment tank.

Here is a nice blog post about how someone else used a stock tank to catch rainwater.

I found this piece of metal in the barn and decided to use it for a "lid"
Henry help me put on a spout.
I bought a gutter diverter to put the rain water into the tank.
Then, I sat the lid on.
I then went to the Goodwill and bought a brown curtain and I draped it over the tank and secured it with bunge cords.  You don't want insects to be able to get in there so that is why I put a cloth cover over it too.
Here is the finished catchment system.

Anyway, it ain't pretty but it works!  It is a 100 gallon tank and it filled up 3 times in the spring.  I used it to water the asparagus and blueberries.  Of course, we haven't had any rain for a while so it will just sit there until the fall.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Water for the bees...


I don't think it is any secret that honeybee populations are on the decline worldwide.  Honeybees are useful pollinators and they give us honey!  Planting bee friendly flowers that bloom all spring, summer and autumn is one way to help the bees.  Another thing you can do is to put out a waterer for the bees.  All that flying around makes them thirsty!

Where I live, it gets very dry in the summer.  This little guy was trying to get a drink from our water feature that we have in front of the house.  BTW: the birds just LOVE this water feature and take baths there all the time.

Making a bee waterer is not hard at all.  Just use a very shallow pan and add marbles so that the bees have something to stand on while getting a drink...
I placed my bee waterer in my herb garden where I have herbs and flowers planted.  I see bees coming and going all day.  You will probably have to add water every day because you don't want the water too deep and it will evaporate. quickly when it's super hot. 

In this article, they floated wine corks in a bucket to make a bee waterer.  Here is another article about making a honeybee water garden...possibly a future project!

I went out back last week and looked at the old log where I saw wild honeybees last year.  I waited all spring to see if they would start flying out of there but nothing happened.  Well, it appears that a new group of bees have moved in (it could possibly be some that swarmed out of my own hive).  Anyway, the good news is that I saw honeybees flying in and out of the old log again!  Yeah!  

Then, I turned around and found a dead owl...ouch!  It really freaked me out.  Mostly just scared me because I was NOT expecting that.  I think it was one of the parent owls and not one of the babies.  

I am going to keep this blog post short because I just have like a hundred million things going on now that summer is in full gear!  I have been picking raspberries and I picked wild blackberries last Friday and made jam to take to the Farmer's Market.  Next weekend, we may go in search of huckleberries...

P.S. I should say that on July 14th, it marked 1 year since we signed the paperwork and bought our farm!  So, Happy 1st Anniversary to us!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

2018 Spring update

On the Farm

At the end of each season, I am going to write up what we have been working on...mostly it has been planting and getting the garden area ready...

The past 3 months we have planted:
25 June bearing strawberries (10 went into my raised strawberry bed and the rest went into the food forest area) and 10 ever bearing strawberries
2 Pecan trees - none of these lived
2 Walnut trees - 1 of these seems to be growing from the base the other is dead
1 Almond tree - growing good
1 Chestnut tree - did not grow
1 Sugar maple tree
2 cannon firs and 1 Concolar fir (future Christmas trees)
8 blueberries
25 asparagus crowns
2 rhubarb (also got a couple transplants from a friend)
1 lemon tree - this is in a pot that will come inside in the winter
1 European Beech tree
2 Grapevines
1 black Elderberry
1 Service Berry
1 Pussy willow
1 Pear tree - also appears dead
2 Seaberries - these are not looking too good either...

Let's just say dozen's of herbs, flowers and vegetables...most gardening places have a 1 year guarantee on their plants so I have requested new nut trees to replace the ones that did not grow.  Now for some pics...

Asparagus crowns ready to be covered up

Baby asparagus...so cute!
Then, I posted this past week on Facebook that I heard in a podcast that you can plant strawberries among your asparagus.  So, I ripped out the 10 June bearing strawberries that I had started in their own little raised bed and transplanted them among the asparagus.  I didn't really care for the little raised bed that I had made for the strawberries and I was already planning on using a pallet to plant my strawberries in next year.  Actually, I probably will start a strawberry pallet next spring too.  Can't have too many strawberries! 

I had been to a "garden center" type place this week to replace one of the honeyberries that I planted last fall.  They had some ever bearing strawberries for sale so I bought 10 to put in the other asparagus bed (I have 2-12 foot long asparagus beds).  I just planted them down the middle...

A friend of mine had delivered to us a huge pile of oak leaves last fall.  I used most of them in the food forest area.  There was still a small pile of leaves left this spring once the snow melted away.  I started cleaning up the rest of the leaves and noticed several acorns.  So, I planted them...

...and 3 oak trees grew!  I did not include these in the tally above.  I will be putting them into their own pots and make sure they are growing good.  I will probably plant this this fall.

Grapevine that I am trying to trellis along a fence.
Went to Disneyland in March over spring break and had a great time!

Mark and Henry on ride at Disneyland.
Joshua and Henry at the beach in California
Henry, Mark, Denise and Joshua outside the Cars ride at Disneyland
Right after school was out, Denise and the boys went to visit family in Kansas and we brought back some blackberry bushes...
Now, I have to tell you the story behind these blackberries.  When Henry and I were first married, we lived in North Carolina and I planted these thornless blackberry plants.  Mark was a toddler and he would walk up and just pick the berries right off the plants and eat them.  He was often covered in purple blackberry juice...so cute!  

Anyway, my mom took a few starts back with her to Kansas one time when they came to visit us in NC.  Of course, the blackberries took over her garden!  After that, we moved to Florida and then to Idaho.  So, now I am going to be getting back some of the blackberries that I had like 14 years ago!
Transplanted blackberry starting to grow!

This is why people don't grow sweet potatoes this far north...LOL.  It got down to 38 degrees and they were frosted!  It is a little hard to see in this pic but 2 of them really did not have much damage.  So, I have marked them and I am going to save sweet potatoes from these to make slips next year.  I'm sure if these would have been covered, they would have probably been okay but this happened when I was away in Kansas.  I planted them in this old tractor tire because I thought it would be hotter for them in the black tire.  The good news is that about 90% of these have made a come back and are green again.
Frosted sweet potato plants.
Lastly, I just finished planting my sunflower seedlings yesterday...the slugs are still being problematic but over all, I think there will be a good amount of flowers...
...in fact, it looks like we might have our first bloom opening today!  I took this pic this morning!
I am scheduled to be at the Farmer's Market on Saturday...hopefully, we will be getting some more flowers opening.