Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Transforming Hours

While I enjoy gardening on the weekends, one of my favorite things to do with the late afternoon until sunset hours is work on our garden.  It's the time when I can play some music and get some small projects done that give me more free time on the weekend - even if I spend all that gardening too!

I love this time of the year because the temperatures are cool enough to still wear pants, and the bugs still haven't multiplied to the point where being out at that time is physically dangerous.  And, on an evening like tonight, the combination of the low clouds and sunset lead to a sky full of ever-changing colors.  Add a half-moon, and it's sublime.

This evening, I had a project to complete over by the fire pit.  We decided to use a Lowe's gift card to pick up some Clematis plants, and we decided to put them in front of metal trellis's that have been standing bare for 2 years.  In order to do this, I had to find the nearby irrigation pipe, and run 2gph drips out to them.  Still a bit concerned about how much is enough with these plants. 

While working, I was listening to Widespread Panic - a show from earlier this spring in Washington DC.  Wilson and Sunshine were hanging out with me, but so was this gray cat on the nearby 6-foot fence.  He was just chillin and hanging on top of the fence.  I swear he was listening to the music.

I think part of the magic for me is just having a few hours to think about dirt, and the sky, and water, and cats - just about anything other than what fills my work day.  It's my time to give my brain a chance to rejuvenate and get back to normal.  I can feel the difference between days when I just work into the evening - it completely changes my mood.

I think my focus for the summer is to try to do this as often as possible.

Farmer's Market on Harmony 5/16/10: A Jammin' Good Time

After finding out that our friend Sue was no longer doing the Farmer's Market, and that she wasn't growing seedlings this year, we headed there without expectations.  It was a beautiful Sunday morning so far with temperatures in the 60s, and we got there just after noon.  If we found something good, great.  If not, we were heading to Harmony Gardens and Ft. Collins Nursery anyways.  We weren't going home empty handed that day.

It had a different feel than the one on Drake did the week before because the vendors were arranged in a circle vs. a long row over on Drake.  In the center there were two booths that were intriguing - one had two guys jamming on guitar, and the other had baby goats, with the requisite little girls oohing and ahhing over them.

As we entered the arena, the guys were playing "Trouble", which is one of our favorite songs played by Widespread Panic.   But, as we moved along, a few songs later they broke into "Cortez the Killer" by Neil Young (also covered by Panic).  These guys sure knew how to make going to the Farmer's Market feel like it was the coolest spot in town.

We picked up tomatoes and peppers from 3 different vendors, and then we found a Pineapple Sage that Deb has been trying to find for several years.  We had one back in our old garden on Doubletree, and she has this recipe she has been wanting to make for a while now.

We made a short video of our adventure - this isn't exactly something we do often.  OK, ever.  But, it was fun to have a video camera to capture the moment of finding our plant's for this year's garden.

Overall, we thought it was a good farmer's market.  Lots of vendors who had food, and many of the farmer's who were selling seedlings were saying they planned to be back with veggies once they come in.  I am sure we will be back a few times this year.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Weak Farmer's Market and Wet Heavy Snow

It's been an exciting 10 days since my last update.  Plenty of things to talk about, but a few lows to go with the highs.

We attended the Farmer's Market on Drake on May 8, and we ended up leaving with nothing because our friend Sue wasn't there, and we didn't see a whole lot of good plants.  Plus, we were on our way to Denver to meet some friends to go to the zoo and were a little concerned about leaving them in the Element.  It turned out for the better anyways, as we ended up finding much better plants the next weekend.

The main story for the past week and a half has been the weather.  On May 12, we got a snowstorm that dumped 6-12" of heavy snow all over our area in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado.  Many trees suffered broken branches, and there were power outages too.  But, we did very well with our plants protected in the wallowaters.
Even with deep heavy snow on May 12, our garden was protected by 36 Wallowaters
At this time of the year, things like the rock path hold more heat, so the snow melts more quickly.
The Chives already had their Wallowaters removed, but they handle snow like this pretty well.
Here, however, we had a problem.  Our beautiful early beans are buried in this box.  

The tomatoes did well in this first storm.  The Roma's, which were planted as early as March 29 (see the planting log) had just barely started coming out of the tops of them.  While the snow piled up on top, it actually created a roof over the plants, protecting them from the colder temperatures above.  The heat radiating from the water kept the plants inside toasty.

The peppers did well, but because they took up less of the interior space, they did look a little chilled - no problems, just a bit more towards the crisp end of the spectrum.  And, of course, all the herbs (Thyme - three kinds - , Rosemary, and Tarragon) were still thriving in their wallowaters.

The snows all melted by Friday the 14th of May.  The moisture was definitely beneficial to the garden and surrounding landscaping.  But, as the sun came out over the weekend, we discovered that the beans had taken a bad hit.  All of the new leaves had dried and shriveled, and you could see some sprouts that were stopped in mid-sprout.  It was sad and ugly.  That's what we get for pushing the edge on our planting early.
We do have some ideas on how to protect them once there is the new Straight/Velcro version of the Wallowater next season.  We are still waiting for prototypes, but we think they will be very useful when you need to plant in rows, versus small circular areas.

I made a short video tour of the garden the morning after the snow, giving you my first impression and inspection of the garden. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Farmer's Market: Our source for organically grown seedlings

We are heading to the Fort Collins Farmer's Market today to pick up seedings for our garden.  It's the best place in our town to find growers who have organic tomatoes, peppers, and many other plants.  Sue Oberle of Oberle Botanical is our favorite, and she always has the best variety of hard-to-find heirloom varieties.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Planted "Smart Pickle" Cucumbers

We got out into the garden after working today, and planted some Smart Pickle Cucumbers from Seeds of Change.  We have two trellis areas for Cucumbers, and we didn't hold back at all.

We made a video of the planting, and our technique for getting them to sprout.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fixing Leaks in Older Wall O' Waters

Wall O' Waters can last 7-10 seasons when they are used and stored properly. But, over time, as they spend more time in the sun they become brittle, and sometimes one or more of the tubes in the Wallwater can spring a leak.

Fortunately, there is a Repair Kits for the Wallowater. They come in 6-packs (trust me, when you are digging up your old wallowaters, 6 isn't necessarily going to be enough. We currently have 36 wallowaters standing in our garden, and about half are older. Of those, at least 10 needed Repair Kits in order to remain standing - and I think I just went through like 24 individual Repair Kits to get this year's garden going.

We haven't been doing this long enough if we can outlast the 7-10 year timeframe, but I can tell you that it was no problem to revive even our oldest wallowater that needed 4 Repair Kits.