Monday, June 27, 2016

Adding more blueberries.

I like blueberries.  I think I have 10 blueberry bushes around the house, but I never seem to have enough of them.  I have several varieties, so they produce at different times.  I get berries for a longer period of time, but not a lot of them at any one time. 

Anyway, I got on craigslist and found someone selling blueberry plants for $4.  I thought that was a steal so I agreed to buy 5.

Before I got the plants I had to prepare the area.
I started by removing the lousy clay soil that I have.  I did this by digging a long trench.

I filled the bottom of the trench with rotting wood.

Then I covered the rotting wood with rabbit manure and garden soil.  Then I lightly spread some of the clay soil that I removed on top.

I planted 3 plants in this area and put down cypress mulch to help retain water.

I had two Irripans so I put them on two of the plants.  They'll help with water and reduce weeds that would compete with the small blueberry plants.

The plant in the center did not get an Irripan.  Finally, I'll be able to directly compare the results of a plants with Irripans to one without.

The other two plants went in the beds by my patio.  It'll probably be 2-3 years before these plants start producing.  They're all the same variety, so at least they'll produce at the same time.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Keep debris out of rain barrels -- Take #2

I've had problems with keeping debris and pollen out of my rain barrels.  The regular window screen is sufficient for keeping out leaves and larger debris, but the grit from the roof and seeds and whatever else comes off of the trees is small and gets through.  To mitigate this I tried to use mosquito netting.  That made things better, but it was not 100% successful.
Over time the netting has faded, gotten kind of brittle, and torn.
This particular barrel gets a lot of debris.  It accumulates over the drain holes and dries there.  That makes it harder for the water to get in during the next rain.
So what is my new solution?  I found pond filter material on Amazon.  I don't know anything about ponds, but I guess this stuff is some kind of filter for them.  I ordered some in with the hope that it might work for rain barrels.
The role is 6 feet long and 16 inches wide.
 I started by tracing the lid of the barrel onto the filter material.
The lids are 16" around which makes this material the perfect size.
I used scissors to cut out the material and then I placed on the top of the barrel.
I screwed on the retaining ring which held the pond filter material in place perfectly.
I pressure washed these barrels in the spring after I thought the pollen was done, but there's still pollen in several of them.  I'm going to have to pressure wash them again the next time they are empty.  Anyway, I'm really hoping that this pond filter material will keep more of the pollen out.

I took the picture below after it rained.  This barrel has both the pond filter and the mosquito netting.  It appears to have worked well.  The debris isn't clogging the drain holes.
I didn't use mosquito netting on this barrel.  A lot of the debris worked its way down into the filter.  I don't know how easy that's going to be to clean.  I'm hoping that I can just hose it out from the other side.  That's a project for another day.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I relocated one of my rain barrels.

Long ago I put a rain barrel near my chicken coop so they'd have water.  I came to the conclusion that it wasn't necessary.  The main reason being that I no longer have any chickens.  The other reason was that it was easy to just connect the long line of drip irrigation tubing from the house directly to the chicken waterer and not have the extra barrel sitting there. 

It made much more sense to move that barrel to the front of my house to increase the capacity of the drip irrigation system for my raised bed gardens.
Putting it in place was pretty simple.  I stacked 4x8x16" concrete blocks just like I had for the other barrels.  I attached the new barrel to the old barrels using an old garden hose with female adapters on both ends.  This additional capacity should let me get a few more days of irrigation before falling back to using house water.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Garden Update -- June 2016

It's June already.  Time for an update.
Everything is really taking off.
Tomatoes and lettuce. 
More tomatoes.  I've had to tie up quite a few of them already.
Tomatoes of various sizes.  Kale in the middle of the bed, and cucumbers at the back.
This kale is out of control.  The tomatoes are doing well.
The tomatillos are big and out of control.  The peppers, lettuce and tomatoes are coming along.
I managed to pick all of the spinach that was in this bed.  The peppers here are already producing (see below).
This spinach has bolted.  I think I might let it go to seed.
I picked this much spinach on at least two occasions.
Sweet peppers!  They're early this year.  I think it was September before I got any last year.
Jalapeno peppers.
I didn't spend a lot of time planning the layout of the garden this year.  We mostly eat peppers and tomatoes, so those were the seeds that I started.  I have tomatoes of all different sizes.  To make things more interesting I dumped all of my various tomato seeds into one packet.  I'm not even sure what types of tomatoes that I'm going to get.  I just know that I'm going to have a lot of them!