On Saturday, my daughter and I were out in our garden, milling around, checking stuff out, they way we often do, when we saw our dog Chester over at the base of the apple tree. He was barking and acting funny. I thought maybe he treed something. Maybe the neighbor’s cat, maybe even a groundhog. For a second I was full of dread that maybe he had treed a raccoon in the middle of the day.
Upon further inspection we found that he hadn’t treed anything at all, but instead he was just alerting us to the presence of a strange visitor—some kind of carrier pigeon, taking a break from its journey from who-knows-where to who-knows-where. So of course I ran to get the camera. My daughter decided his name was Morry.
Our garden is looking pretty good these days. Raised beds, deep straw mulch, and trellises have made such a difference in the amount of work I have to do out there. In the past, this time of the year was make-or-break time. One false move, one slight hesitation, and the garden would be completely over run by weeds, crippled by under-watering, or overgrown by runaway cucumbers of squash plants. But this year, everything seems to be under control. The deep mulch takes care of the weeds; the raised beds with drip hoses and mechanical timer take care of my watering problems; and that trellis gives the cucumbers something constructive to do with their time.
We made our first jar of pickles yesterday. We’ve blanched and frozen 11 family-sized servings of beans. I planted potatoes in straw mulch which makes it really easy to just reach in a grab a few when you need them without disturbing the whole plant or digging up the soil. And the zucchinis are basically relentless. But what my family waits all year for are the tomatoes. Any day now.
The bean teepee is also a big hit at our house. It provides nice shady place to escape the summer sun. And as an added bonus, volunteer pumpkins are making their way to the top.
A couple of months ago I got a call from someone wondering if they could send me a solar powered rain barrel pump. And my immediate response was: Yep, send it on over. I was so excited. It hit all the right buttons. Renewable energy. Water conservation. Free. The fact that I didn’t have a rain barrel to test it in never entered my mind. All I knew was that soon I’d be pumping water with the power of the sun.
But after the solar pump was delivered to my house, it sat for a while. One thing led to another, and I never got around to setting up a rain barrel or the solar pump. The arrival of our newborn baby sort of shuffled my list of priorities. But finally this past weekend, I made it happen.
I found a 55-gallon plastic drum to use as my rain barrel. I removed the old aluminum downspout and replaced it with a length of 4 inch flexible tubing, which I fed right into the top of the barrel.
The RainPerfect solar powered rain barrel pump system was incredibly easy to install. It literally took me five minutes. It’s smart system—the solar panel charges a battery; the battery powers the pump. Pretty simple. Pretty cool.
Stay tuned for more about this awesome product. I haven’t really put it to the test yet. But early indications seem promising.
Those stupid deer had to go and prove me wrong. For a while now, when people ask me if I have trouble with the deer eating my crops, I say no, they generally leave my garden alone. I have a fence, a dog, and some wind chimes. Plus there is enough other good stuff nearby (4 acres of alfalfa, 4 acres of feed corn, etc.) that a deer shouldn’t have to pilfer from my humble little organic garden. Maybe the deer appreciate that my corn doesn’t have that chemical aftertaste that the feed corn has.
Anyway, I went out to the garden Saturday morning to find most of my newly forming ears of corn neatly nibbled down to the stalk. Stupid deer. It’s my own dumb fault because my corn patch wasn’t fenced in. But it is now. I spent all day Sunday doing reconstructive surgery on my fence. I had to relocate one of my compost piles, to open up a path to the newly fenced in area. My next step is to mulch all the new inside territory with straw.
Otherwise my garden is doing very well. The bean teepee is growing according to plan. My peas are almost finished. I took out half of theme and will be planting another tomato or tow and some delicata squash on the trellis. I’m definitely a convert to vertical gardening.
We’ve been eating tons of zucchini. I’ve been harvesting onions and garlic as we need them. My lettuce still looks good. The basil and parsley look and taste great too. My self-seeding calendula look amazing. And the volunteer cilantro looks good too. My pop-corn is well on its way, and I decided to plant some more sweet corn in the bed where my turnips were.
And the corn that the deer ate seems to be recovering OK. It’s starting to grow silk. I think I might get some good corn this year after all.