Monday, April 20, 2009

How many rain barrels does one garden need?

How about 7 - holding 300 gallons of water. Does that sound like enough? We'll see.

I added two more rain barrels to my collection yesterday. The boys and I went for a romp through the Allegheny river flood plain hoping to identify another barrel or two, and we had much fun and success. As an ancillary benefit - I learned about the history of this area (from my sons) which evidently includes a ghost train and thousands of hoofed aliens. Every piece of litter we passed along the way (and there was plenty) was an artifact which helped us reconstruct the truth.

We found the mother load of rain barrels along plum creek, a small tributary feeding into the Allegheny. Altogether we found 6 barrels of various shapes and sizes and took two of them home. We took home one nice looking grey 60 gallon barrel. The only thing missing was a lid for this nice little barrel. But I liked it enough to add it to our collection. I fashioned a lid out of the plastic bottom to a pot. I didn't drill a spigot hole in this one because without a lid - it will be perfect for dunking the watering can, which fills it much faster. The other rain barrel I saved was a small 30 gallon clear one called the "cube". It has very thick walls and a handle on top. I think it was used for ice in it's past life. I drilled the spigot hole right at the very bottom of the barrel and set it up on blocks burried behind the privite along the stairs leading up to the house. This barrel and another 35 gallon one will water my roma tomatoes and corn in the two lower wall gardens. With my two new barrels in operation - I reorganized. I now have a 120 gallon double stack right beside the sun garden. Right on cue - not twenty minutes after completing and reorganizing my barrels - it started to rain.

My mom came to visit yesterday, and I showed her around the garden. We had asparagus for dinner, which was delicious. There isn't much left to harvest at this point, but we'll do the best we can. I think I can squeeze another meal of asparagus and at least three salads out of our current crop during her visit. The harvest isn't so important. What I really need the compost pile to do well during her visit. This blog and my mom's Ellensburg friends have turned my compost pile into the stuff of internet legend. I need that pile to heat up and turn to the finest peat by the time she leaves or else my reputation will be ruined. I plan to secretly bring compost into the house in the morning before my mom's arrival. One yard in the dryer and another in the oven should get the pile sufficiently heated up. I hope my wife won't mind.

3 more small harvests (asparagus- twice, lettuce, spinach, radishes, beat leaves, shallot leaves, onion leaves) since the last harvest update. Estimated total 2009 harvest now sits at 3 pounds.

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