Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rain and rain and more rain

It's been raining here. It's been a nice gentle slow soaking rain on and off for the last week. It's rained just enough to keep me from working on the backyard firepit patio. The garden and watering system needed some attention anyway. The hosta bed still needs a apring cleanup and the wild tree sprouts along the fence line need to be cut. So there's still plenty to do even when the ground is wet.

The rain barrel you see in the picture is a 40 gallon barrel that has been integrated into the watering system by running a hose from this barrel to the main tank. I did the math and the 12 x 24 foot roof area that runs into this barrel as the potential of 180 gallons of water from a one inch rain. Yikes!! This last rain raised the main tank water level by 5 inches. I figure that was the equivilent of 85 gallons of water. That was just a little drizzly rain that didn't really amount to anything. I may have to re think the design of this rain water catching system. It's potential is much larger than I first thought.

Here's the back side of the firepit patio project. Because of the afore mentioned rain, the progress here has been slow. Hopefully by summer's end, marshmallows will be toasting over the fire. I've been planning to do this for a couple years now and finally it's under construction.

I have been reading a book by Jerry Baker called "Majic Grass". It's all bout growing lush grass with all different concoctions. He has wake up tonic that contains bone meal, gypsum, lime, and Epsom salts. Then there's the turf builder with baby shampoo, cola, ammonia, and instant tea. My favorite is the snack tonic given to the grass every three weeks and contains dish soap and beer. Oh yeah and then every three weeks, its a dose of ammonia, corn syrup, liquid lawn food, and a can of beer. Then if the lawn can stand up in it's drunken stupor, it will be mowed. By the end of the summer I would guess the lawn will be signed up for Alcoholics Anonymous. This picture is a picture of all the stuff needed to get started with the Jerry Baker lawn care system. I'm just doing a test to see if it really works or old Jerry is just trying to sell a book. I'll let you know how it all works out.

Even though the yard was wet I managed to get the cucumber support up. The cucumbers won't be planted for another couple weeks. I suppose I could start them inside like last year and transplant them outside when the weather breaks. You really can't see the support too well but the leaning 2x2s in the center of this structure has wire fencing on it to allow the cucumbers to climb up the support. Last year the cukes hit the eight foot top of the structure. I'm planting more cucumbers this year with the aspirations of canning dill pickles for my grandson.

So as the dreary unseen sun slowly sets, one more preparation step has been accomplished toward the planting of the urban ranch backyard bio intentive vertical growing experimental garden beds. It was a good day today.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Just When You Think Spring Has Sprung

When you least expect it and you think that Spring has settled in, the morning brings this. It was glorious and spectacular. I like these last wet sloppy Spring snows. They bring the last burst of wonderful nitrogen to kick start the growing season. It lasted only a day and by two days later it was gone with only sweet memories until next year.

I've been getting the main water supply tank ready for the automatic watering system for the garden beds. Last year when I built it as you remember there was a big hole in the side of this tank. After much work with covering the hole with metal and sealing it with silicone and a rubber patch on the inside, it worked well for the season but there was some leakage around the patch. This year I have once again covered the patch on the outside with silicone and then covered the entire patch and the bottom seam of the tank with outside wall water sealant. Rains have fallen since this work and so far all the leakage seems to have been eliminated.

I plan on taking a picture every week from this same angle to have a record of the progress in the garden this year. Here you can see the main tank is once again in it's final resting place. One of the secondary supply tanks is in place. The other one is being worked on as it wasn't used last year. Each secondary tank holds about 30 useable gallons of water and will supply two garden beds. At the far end which is a little hard to see, there are concrete blocks (what would I do without concrete blocks) to hold the final distribution tanks made from PCV pipe to water the actual plants. More about that at a later time.

It really isn't visible but the first bed is planted with onions, radishes, and lettuce. I'll have to cover that bed with some kind of netting soon or the cute little bunnies will decide it's lunch buffet time and strip the patch to the ground. Love those bunnies but sorry there is no free lunch at my garden.

I've been working on the trellis during the wet yard days. I've actually installed a low pressure drip system for the front yard trellis. The main line has been completed and you can see the black tube running across the top of the trellis. Last year I planted pole beans to climb the trellis and cover the structure with vines. This idea was a bust as beans love sun and this trellis is in full shade. This year my strategy has changed. I will plant shade plants in containers up and down both sides in containers and across the top. Hopefully with the drip watering system and the shade plants in place the look of the trellis will be a little better than the withering half dead anemic pole bean look of last year.

You can see that the tulips and daffodils are displaying their spring announcing blooms and the weather is slowly creeping up to normal temperatures.

Here is the beginning stage of the much anticipated round backyard patio with a firepit. It will take most of the summer and hopefully by September I and friends will be sitting around the fire toasting marshmallows over the fire on a cool summer evening. Well, that's the plan anyway but those that know me there's always tomorrow and there's always time to take a coffee break on the front poor man's patio.

Well, that's it for today. Keep your powder dry and your knives sharp and I'll be back again to let you know what's up on the Urban Ranch.