Monthly Archives: September 2010

Seeds are coming UP!

WOW…  a little earth, a little water, and some sunshine, and MAGIC!

We have sprouts in the garden beds already.  No matter how many times I am witness to this process, it amazes me in its wonder.

Seeds are in!

This was the weekend we planted the beds. As I mentioned before, all our seeds are organic and/or heirloom varieties purchased from Botanical Interests.  I was going to tell you a lovely story about the artist who illustrates each of the varieties of seeds…  But, of the seeds we purchased for our garden, almost all of the packets noted a different artist.  Now I think that is pretty cool!

It’s still pretty warm here, 105+ degrees as the day time high!  Yes, we are ready for the heat to end…  At this time of year, I try to remind myself that it’s no different than being in snow country in the spring, when it warms up a bit and then you get hit with another snow storm.  But, I digress…

Here’s our garden plan.  We planted quite a few different vegetables and a few herbs, some of which I have never grown before.  We planted the Fava beans along the back concrete block wall with all of the other seeds planted in the front of this bed.  In the very front of the bed (east side), there is one row of Marigolds to deter pests.

Garden Plan

We planted Nasturtiums in the very front (east side) of this planter.  I love Nasturtiums!  The locations for each seed was based on the companion planting guidelines I could find.  Fingers are crossed X X

Let the watering begin!

Fresh food options

For those of you who may not have the space, time or inclination to grow your own garden, Local Harvest provides information about where to “find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.”  Please support Local Harvest by visiting their website and shopping from their catalog.

Water, water in the barrel

My last post about the shower water to the barrel ended with the hose at the eaves of the house. We have threaded the hose through the ficus tree to reach the barrel top.  As a side note, we placed the barrel under the tree, in between the tree and the block wall to shade it as much as possible.

Hose to the barrel

Now, every time we pull the shower head diverter, the water travels to the barrel instead of down the drain.  Big woo hoo for sustainability!  The barrel is also placed up on a stand so the water can flow via gravity to the planter beds.

Water barrel

At the bottom of the barrel, we installed a spigot with a T-connection.  The larger drip irrigation hose is connected to each side of the T with an in-line shut-off valve.

Barrel to drip irrigation

As soon as the micro-pipe is connected, the collected water can be used to water the two planter beds.  With this, the construction and infrastructure is in place to support our success in this grand experiment

It worked!

2 showers down and no leaks!!!  Even though we didn’t have the barrel hooked up this morning, we ran the cool water out the hose until the water warmed up.  The ficus tree was very happy!

Today, we constructed a platform for the water barrel so the water will be gravity fed to the planters.  Next, microtubing for drip irrigation…

Water, hmmm…

Now, we have been mulling the whole idea of water for quite some time now – long before we started the garden process.  How do you capture gray water without having to do major remodeling to retrofit the plumbing?  Still haven’t figured that one out…

BUT – we did come up with a way to capture the cool water coming out of the shower head as we wait for the warm water to arrive.  Our showers and hot water tank couldn’t be farther away from each other in this house, and it can take a long time for the heated water to arrive at the shower.  SO, we installed diverters at the shower heads, the kind that diverts the water to a hand-held shower nozzle.  But, instead of the hand-held nozzle, we connected a garden hose to the diverter that then goes out the window, along the eaves of the house to a 55-gallon blue barrel to collect all that delicious potable water!

Shower head 1

Shower head 2

I know, it’s not real aesthetically pleasing…  But, if it works, then we can figure out how to make it look beautiful (which may still mean major remodeling…).

With the hose running out the window, we needed to stop any of our air conditioned air from going out, and definitely needed to keep the hot outside air from coming in!  Noodles are the answer!  You know the kind that are for swimming pools – bright colored, floating, foam noodles.  We even had two lying around the house to use to retrieve the dogs’ tennis balls out from under the couch, purple and lime green.

Noodle in the window

Hose hole in noodle

We cut a piece of the purple noodle the height of the window, cut a little hole at the bottom for the hose to fit through, and then squeezed the window closed as tight as possible, holding it shut with a dowel.  We figure it probably has a better R-value than the window.

On the outside, this is what it looks like…

Outside Bathroom 1

Outside bathroom 2

We ran the hose along the eaves to reach the 55-gallon barrel near the planters.

Along the eaves

We used electric conduit clips to hold the hose in place.

Electric conduit clips

At the end of the eaves

Next, we tackle the hose to water barrel to drip irrigation!

TaDa!

Here’s the final raised garden beds with oiled top rails for places to sit!  I am so pleased with how they turned out!

Finished planter beds

Beauty in the details…

After we filled the beds with compost, we added 2×6 redwood top rails for a place to sit while planting, weeding, or just admiring the growth.  We used dowels to connect the rail to the 4×4 framework below.  Roxy had to be in the center of the action!

Sitting bench

Here’s the end dowel connecting the two top rail pieces together.  Sheer beauty!

End dowel

Compost Arrives!

We decided the easiest way to move the compost from the trailer in the driveway up and into the beds was by using a wheel barrow, walking it up a ramp, and then dumping it into the raised bed.  This saved us from having to shovel twice!

Ramp to dump compost

Towards the end of shoveling, we counted that it took 40 shovels of compost to fill one wheel barrow.  I would have loved to do the math (or maybe not)… to figure out how many wheel barrows we hauled, but we didn’t count the number of wheel barrow loads.  Ahhh, it’s probably better not knowing!

Trailer 1/3 unloaded!

One of us would shovel and the other took the hoe and spread the compost out evenly in the bed.  The compost was hot and moist and emitted a lot of steamy heat while we were moving it.

Planter bed filled with compost

But the beauty in the end was amazing!  And it was definitely time to go inside, cool off and take a shower

Compost is Luscious!

The word on the street is the compost from Singh’s Farm is the BEST.  So, that’s where we headed.  Standing in the middle of Singh’s Farm, you have no idea you are in the middle of the desert and it’s 113 degrees outside!  There are native trees planted throughout the entire farm, creating a wonderful microclimate of cool humid goodness.

Entrance to Singh's Farm

Main walk at Singh's Farm

Working Farm

Plants for sale at Singh's

Mr. Singh accepts food waste from Whole Foods plus plant trimmings from local landscapers.  He turns it into three different grades of wonderful, fertile, luscious smelling compost.  Yes, compost smells luscious!

Singh's compost by the bag or truckload

Medium grade compost

Fine grade compost

We ended up purchasing 2 loads of medium and 1/2 load of fine grade compost.  It filled the trailer!  Although we had the entire load cover with tarps and tied down well, we still drove home slowly so we didn’t lose any of our precious load.