2015 Summertime Harvest

The drought is really hitting us hard.

20150628_173655I’ve cut way back to watering my lawn once a week, and have been relying on using my automatic drip watering system in my gardens instead of soaking.  This has some benefits and has caused some problems.

First problem is that a drip system for a garden is different than a drip system for landscape.  Landscape seems better able to tolerate failures.  When a drip fails, it takes out quite a lot of associated vegetables.

SerranoMy next problem is that I understand soaking much better than I do the drip systems.  How much water should I be giving each plant?  Do I water at the base, or further away so that it can grow strong roots.  The ground is so dry just a foot away from the plant, is this bad?

My grapes were growing very well with regular can watering and an occasional soaking.  So much so that they shaded out my onion drums, my raised bed planter, and my potatoes.  I’ve been trying to keep the grapes pruned back, but you can almost see them grow!  I’m thinking I will let them go completely next year, and give up the porch to very low light plants.

WNectarineAnd of course, the potatoes and onions have been over-watered.  That, along with shading from the grapes, has caused some die back.  I’m trying to recover from that now, but I am thinking they may be ruined for the season.

PluotWater has become very difficult for me to judge.  In the non-shaded areas of my garden a LOT of water is required, and that is what I’m used to providing.  In these areas that are just as hot, but somewhat shaded, I have discovered that I must use less water.  My vegetables are suffering from old-fashioned watering habits, they are getting either too much, or too little.  And since I’m quite new at using drip irrigation, my learning mistakes result in the death of little food-producing plants.

Drip irrigation is something that I want to be thankful about, and curse at the same time.  The neighborhood cats dislodge or block or otherwise mess up the irrigation lines, and I don’t catch it until the plant starts to wilt.  And in this heat, a plant can go from “wilted” to “withered and dead” in just hours.  Plant transpiration happens very quickly in 110 degree weather, and the plant can suck the ground dry in hours.

Water also seems to be a problem with the backyard raised grow bed – rather too much of it.  This is a more difficult thing for me to solve.  The grow bed is essentially a raised bathtub with holes in the bottom for it to drain.  My water meter shows a healthy amount of water… at the surface.  This means that lower there is too much water.  This has caused several pepper plants to shed leaves.

Also the composition of the bedding material may be wrong.  I used “Mel’s Mix”, but I may have loaded it with too much steer manure.  Next year, I’ll leave the mix mostly alone, and just add plant organic material to it.  I may have inadvertently over-fertilized the planter.  I’ve noticed that the worms I added have disappeared – although that may be a… mechanical… problem.  In that critters may have got to them.

The peppers in the South Garden are growing like gangbusters!  Holy cow!  I’ve been canning them, but really, I can’t keep up with the canning.  I don’t yet have a good pantry to keep the cans in.  I do have a butter cellar in this house, but the hot water heater was installed down there, and I’m concerned about temperatures.  I need to log the temperature down there and see what it is going to be.

I’ve taken to cutting and preparing peppers, and stuffing them into bags for freezing.  My initial experiments in this area have indicated that the peppers taste as good or better than any supermarket frozen vegetable.  We have many cubic feet of freezer space, so this may be another route for me to use.

I’ve also started dehydrating the Serrano chili peppers in my Excalibur dehydrator.  Once they are dry, I’ll grind them up and use them for chili powder.

The White Nectarine tree has produced a full crop, which we’ve harvested.  Almost 20 Nectarines – very tasty!

I’ve also harvested the last of the Pluots.  The White Peaches didn’t really produce.  There was one or two anemic peaches.

PicoThe Lemon Grass is growing very well, so much so that it is threatening to take over the sidewalk.  I’m reading up on how to harvest, prepare and store lemongrass.  It smells wonderful and is tasty.  I’ve already used a little of it in my breakfast scramble.

And finally, a “Cat Tax”.  This is Pico, enjoying the cool summer grass in the evening.

Tags: , , , ,