Friday, April 21, 2017

Mostly garden

Thursday was another day in the garden, though a rainy one. 

I worked on the hoop house, so C. could get a start on the season and plant cabbages or something in there. It’s not an actual house, it’s just a bed with rebar driven in every two feet to hold bowed lengths of irrigation pipe (the hoops) and covered with a floating row cover. The cover is lightweight polyester that allows air and rain to pass through it, but keeps out most insects and chickens, and can provide some shade and frost protection. It holds the heat a bit, and blocks wind, too. It’s a “season extender,” a buzzword among short-season gardeners.

We’ve had this line of hoops up for a few years, but C. kept messing with it and it was getting floppy. This time I actually remade it to fit our row cover. (Never occurred to me until now. Really.) I pulled off the old, wimpy piping, and replaced it with heavier stuff, and extended the hoops to the full length of the row cover, 16 feet. It took forever. I wallowed around in mud, banging in short bits of rebar, and finished in a slough of wet straw and manure. Feh.

C. sewed a channel in each end of the fabric and put drawstrings in, so the hoop house now has a sphincter north and south. It’s pretty cool. There are a few holes (the stuff is five years old and a bit fragile) but she’s taped them up. It’s held on with clips made of short bits of pipe split up the side. You unclip the fabric and flop it back over the hoops to work in there. Water is supplied by a soaker hose that runs through it and the bed beyond. At least, I hope it is. I forgot to check.

That’s one thing I’m insisting on this year. Soaker or drip hoses get laid down as stuff is planted. No waiting until the plants are up, when it becomes really tedious. It’s a simple thing, but makes a huge difference. So I’ve put my tiny foot down, and C. has been really good about it.

C. planted leaf radishes and carrots, and more taters (and laid hoses down as she did it).

We worked through the drizzle, but went in when the hail started.

Today C. crawled under the old section of the house to test the new supply line to the outdoor faucets, and I crawled under the new section to check for leaks. It looked good! So now we have water outside. I filled the big animals’ water bucket and sprayed the greenhouse and the Siberian peas and the Stanley prune-plum tree. They weren’t dry, with all this rain, but I was celebrating.

It was mostly sunny and warmish. C. took the day off from gardening and worked on the path from the house to the garden. She’s paving it with big, flat rocks from previous excavations, and bordering it with thyme and oregano from the flowerbed.

I sat in the sun and cut scrap PVC pipe for a rack for my sprouting trays that live in the shower. I’ve been sprouting barley for the big animals and rabbits (the chickens like it, too). It takes about a week to grow from soaked seed to short grass, and I just rinse the top trays a couple of times a day with cold water (it trickles down through the rest of the trays). Pretty easy way to get nutritious feed –something like four times as nutritious as the dry grain, they say. At first I had the trays next to the kitchen sink, but that was a pain. I was worried that the shower would cause mold in the feed, but it’s been great so far. I just pull the rack out when we want to take a shower. if I ever forget to close the shower door, Marty the rabbit will get in there, knock the rack over, and have a sproutfest. I don’t think it would hurt him to pig out on sprouts, but I’d hate to have to comb pointy seeds and rootlets out of angora fuzz.

We’re inside, with a warm fire against the chill. Tomorrow we go to town to help Em pack for her move to her new house. C. is a packing genius.

Seven eggs today – four of them guinea eggs.


  1. Great info about that hoop house.....I think we shall make some to go out in the Veg Plots eventually, especially after having had an unexpected frost the other night. And I am in admiration of C's effort with those rocks!

    1. Hi Vera - I think it must be the quickest, cheapest way to make a removable cover. We buy the 6-foot-wide fabric at the local garden store for 30 cents a running foot, so that one cost about $5. You can toss plastic sheeting or blankets over the hoops, too, against frost, and chicken wire against guinea fowl, who like to take a bite out of each ripe tomato.

      Isn't she a maniac? Her grandad built the stone fireplaces in the Glacier National Park lodge in Montana in the 1920s, so she comes by it honestly.

  2. Good grief, you guys work hard! All the work you do in the garden sure pays off for you down the line though!

    1. Hi Janice - It sure feels like we work hard! I try not to think about how much I could do if I were younger and more spry. That's stinkin' thinkin'!