Vegetables: Not Without Water

This time of year, the day starts early and ends late. It starts and ends outdoors.

These are the HHH days, where heat, haze and humidity spawn afternoon showers–if we’re lucky. If we’re not, the garden takes an extra hour of attention at least every other day to keep it watered.

No less than for us humans, there is no vegetable life without water. it provides a water skeleton that supports the plant (or not: you’ll know when plants wilt they are dehydrated.) Plants use water like we use blood to get goodies in and badies out, to plump up fruits and make more sun-gathering leaf surface. The water footprint of our garden is huge!

The Water Footprint of Food

For these thousands of gallons needed in a summer of vegetable gardening, we generally have enough–or almost enough–rain. In dry years, we are fortunate to have the creek as a source, only fifty feet away from our very limited very fenced garden.

Caveat: the creek can dry up–like it did to the very bedrock–in 2002. Without the creek, it’s game over for the gardenr. This season has started out dry and I’m concerned the creek will last until the garden has produced.

Our small rectangle is confined to the bit of level land locked between the county road, the hillside, the parking spot and the septic field. That doesn’t leave us much garden, but it seems big enough when everything has to be watered by hand.

Ann, never one to shun avoidable hard work or find any merit in efficiency, would fetch water, bucket at a time, from the creek. Brawny as she is, you can imagine how many gallons she carries per load.  A full watering takes at least 30 gallons. That’s a lot of fetching.

I, OTOH, will generally find a way to avoid wasting  time and effort, so years ago, I set up this little pump system. The short green length of garden hose is my supply. It draws water from a deep-enough pool created by a temporary dam of rocks across Goose Creek.

The little pump and lawn-and-garden battery do the work. A battery charge will pull a hundred gallons or more. The mason jar is used to prime the system by pouring water down the intake before connecting the pump clips to the battery. The bucket covers it all to keep it dry. Not exactly rocket science.

What I have not done but have discussed with myself is finding a larger reservoir for higher-capacity storage than the filled 35 gallon garbage can that sits on the level of the garden. I’m just not sure how HIGH my little pump will lift. A 300 gallon farm tank up on the hill would gravity-feed a soaker hose system.

Or maybe we’ll get rain.

Frozen Peas: Thousands Die Young

I have been feeling the pain these past few well-below-freezing April mornings knowing what our local vegetable farmers are suffering at the hand of winter that won’t give it up.

Thousands of tender sets and sprouts in long rows, the results of hours of back-bending work and tedium, lay limp and lifeless in the cold soil this morning–AGAIN.

Native plants have evolved in place and are more-or-less adapted to late frosts and freezes. Our food crops, OTOH, are bred for color or firmness of fruit or shipping tolerance or shelf life and their genes are more likely tropical by history. They don’t do winter.

IMG_1236troutLily300So this just to say that the native trout lilies are abundant and holding up well this very cool spring, and will be just fine as a species, even if a few get zapped. Their emergence and bloom range is wide. Riverstone’s peas all emerge at once, at get zapped by a freak freeze all on the same dark still morning.

Our farming practices are in many ways “un-natural” forcing upon the soil and seed a human mandate not programmed into the ordered being of the wild thing; we are resentful of events that are inconvenient truths and facts of life on and in the ground. Fortunes are lost in the gamble, yet we must eat and farmers must take those risks–for us, and for their livelihood. It is not an easy life.

The other reason to add this post this morning (even though I told myself I’d have too much to do otherwise and would go post-less) is that WordPress 3.9 is fresh out this morning, and I just had to try the drag and drop feature that will so streamline the workflow. So I give you a bonus image of our early blooming lily–from years past.

We have yet to see the first bloom. The margins of the Blue Ridge Parkway are thick with Trout Lily (or Yellow Dog Tooth Violet or Adder’s Tongue) in places where the Skunk Cabbage is well up and going strong. Images of that soon to come.

BTW, just learned Trout Lily LEAVES are edible, will have to explore that menu item! The edible bulbs are way too hard to dig up, and harm the population; a few leaves, not so much.

Enhanced by Zemanta