What up With That – July 26th 2012 edition

Sorry to have missed a week – time just flew by me. Without further ado –

What has been –

The garden received a good bit of rain during the period when July did it’s best to pretend it was May. It was pretty convincing – the temperatures were in the low 90’s and it rained at least some every day for a few days running, something like five inches over two weeks total. The tomatoes were fooled and started producing again with gusto, the newly planted okra think they have been planted in paradise, the watermelons thrived (with one exception – read on) and the ollas were temporarily unnecessary.

We made a good harvest –

Ben made a couple of new Ollas (Oh, yeah!). Please note that they are smaller than the last Ollas that required volcanic craters for placement. We are still men, we just learned from our mistake-

He used Gorilla glue to bind the terra cotta together. And a bag o’ mulch for a clamp –

He came back the next day and coated the joint with silicone caulk, then I came the day after, tested them for water tightness (not second guessing Ben – it was his on his recommendation) and then plunked them in the ground.

They are surrounded by some new tomato plants. All lil’ tomatoes – cherries, yellow pear shaped, some others that escape me. They are insurance against the summer annihilation of the current tomato plants.

Fill ’em up!

Alas, the garden is not perfect. Ben noted that the watermelon leaves by the gate looked different that the rest of the plants. He was right on, after consultation with Steven, we made a diagnosis of Aphids.

Yuck, bugs!

On Steven’s advice, I treated the plant with Neem Oil. It is (the packaging claims) an organic everything-icide. I mixed in some seaweed because I figured, why not? I’ll tell you why not, that mixture smelled worse than the porta-potty line at ACL fest. I think I killed the Aphids by melting their smell receptors up to the level of the brain stem. Of course I chose to do this on a day the family came out to the garden with me. They were not pleased.

What is yet to be –

I have invited a group of men from the church out this Saturday for a major weeding / mulching event. I titled the email “Whip In”, went on and on about the pints and fun afterward and put the gardening part in small print; so hopefully a big group of the morons, sorry – volunteers, will show up.

Also – Ben, Seth, Annie and Michele continue to rock as the summer garden team.

To-Do –

  • The big three – weed, harvest and pray
  • weed some more
  • mulch
  • fertilize
  • Pray some more – for the those the garden feeds, those that work in the garden – this brings me to a thought I had earlier. I was working in the garden and was struck by God’s Grace – that we get to serve Him here! What an opportunity – Thanks be to God!


What Up With That – July 11th 2011

What has been –

Rain! From the sky, just like people talk about happening and you see in the movies. As of this morning, the garden has received about and inch and a half of rain since this Sunday. We are thankful.

We have, in spite of our recent good fortune, begun to make peace with the fact that it is hot and dry here. After our acceptance of this fact, the logical next step is to try to figure out how to continue to grow good things even though we are in a rough spot. Lots of Christian allegories in that. I don’t want to beat you over the head with the obvious, but I’ll give you a moment to run with them if you wish.

We already are pretty water savvy, using drip irrigation and all. But apparently there is a new technique in arid climate irrigation. And by new, I mean hundreds of years old. (Oh No, I accidentally wandered into one of my pet peeves – there are many people that love the “ways of ye olden times”. These proponents of the ancients can be heard extolling the wisdom and knowledge of days gone, “they sure knew more about how to live back then, when things were simpler”. Spare me. They thought the earth was flat, life expectancy was like 20 years and I understand those 20 years were rough. But in this exception, and I know there are many others, they had a good idea going that we have forgotten for too long)  The concept – Ollas!

The name Olla is originally from the latin for pot. (Thank you to five years of latin? No. Thank you to wikipedia.) The idea is that terracotta wicks moisture. If you bury an otherwise water-tight, non-glazed terracotta vessel in the soil, it will slowly “leak” water into said soil. It does this at a rate that the plants can use well and without evaporation. Amazing! It gets better – the correct pronunciation (at least in this garden) is “Oh-yaa”! You have to say it like you are 50% Castillian and 50% Norwegian and 100% very excited.

There are purpose made ollas on the market. But they aren’t super available and are less fun than making your own. We bought four pots, two little saucers (to cover the bottom drain holes) and one little tube of silicone caulk.  We (Ben) put them together like so –

Olla, with Ben high stepping in the back ground

Because we are men, we made them too big. Then we paid for our mistake by having to dig too-big holes –

Seth “Detroit” Henry earning his keep. You can’t see it here, but his shirt had his nickname on the front. Glad to see him buying in.

We plunked those ollas in the ground, surrounded them by various peppers and basil, put the mulch on top and then filled them up with water.

the rock on top is more than aesthetic, it is to stop evaporation.

Instant Generalized Awesomeness! (It’s a core  value)

Our harvest –

Not too shabby. With me, back in tennis shoes.

What is yet to be –

Michele Rifee is coming out again this week. And again this week, we thank her for giving of her time.

To-Do –

  • No watering! Not even the new ollas. Relax, they will get their turn.
  • The three constants – harvest, weed and pray!

What Up With That – July 3rd 2012

What has been –

Detroit Henry came out to help Saturday and we made quick work of the garden chores. In a stroke of genius, Ben Marsh “slept in” and didn’t quite make it to the garden, but was up and awake in time to join us at the Whip-In (the post garden lunch spot of choice).

We harvested a watermelon! After much examination, percussion and debate, the largest and eldest specimen was harvested.

Yes, with my foot. It’s starting to become kind of a running gag. Like on the muppet show. Right?

Here it is cut at the MLF commisary –

I know, it’s blurry. I was very excited about how awesome it was during the photo shoot.

It taste good, too. Don’t judge me! I had to try it, how else would I know if we had harvested at the proper time. Please, no one respond with “you could thump it …”

We also ripped up the cucumbers. I was sorry to see it done. I asked Seth to do it, because I couldn’t bring myself to it. But they react to summer like I do, get bitter and become a waste of good garden space.

The harvest was meager. Annie Crawford came out Thursday and I suspect she harvested a ton of tomatoes then because there weren’t many ripe ones on the plants, but tons of green ones, so I don’t think they are winding down to the minimal harvest we got just yet.

Slim Pickings

We also received just under half an inch of rain on Sunday. It isn’t much, but we are thankful. Or at least trying to be thankful.

What is yet to be –

Michele Riffee will be out sometime today. Thanks again for all the garden love Michele, Annie, Ben and Seth!

To-Do –

  • harvest tomatoes and any watermelons that fit these requirements – 1) bigger than the rest  2) sound like drums when thumped 3) have the first leaf above the watermelon drying or dead. I know, those are some pretty subjective recommendations. Apparently objectivity and watermelon harvest are not related in any way.
  • run the drip – remember – on low, about 1/6 to 1/5 of a turn of the spigot nob
  • weed, if at all possible

One additional thing – I am thinking of volunteering to ride along with MLF while they hand the produce out to see what people like, who we serve and try to wrap my head around what we are doing. Anyone who would like to join me is welcome. I haven’t scheduled that yet, so I’m open.