What did you do in the garden today?

YourRabbitGirl

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Picked and ate some juicy rhubarb, scuffed up some weed seedlings out of the wood chips, fashioned a new garden gate out of an old section of picket fence.

It frosted heavy here last night and supposed to do it all again tonight, but nothing looks the worse for wear out there. The lettuce and other greens seem to love this cold weather, of course.
Made a little coop. added 8 chicks in my small garden. they are very loud and lively. and I bet they will be very lively chickens after 3 to 4 months.
 

Hinotori

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You can make a lattice roof for over the plants if it's too much sun. Then they get dappled sunlight so they do better. Only works well over small areas. I'm not sure if a floating row cover would help for too much sun. I think it should and they cover large areas. Just leave the sides up some and plenty of light comes though they fabric.

Leaves, hay, straw, pretty much a thick layer of anything helps. More organic material in the soil, the better it holds water too.

We helped dump and 8 inch layer of horse manure on Mom's garden one year to revitalize it. We tilled it in good but that was a lot. It didn't need watering nearly as often and produced a huge amount.

Mom had a dozen zucchini plants that were 5 feet tall that year. She really got tired of squash even with all the freezing. Dad complained that they ate zucchini every day for over 6 months. She cant bend now to plant in the ground so she's been planter enabled as she can sit and get to them. Now she wants all my chicken litter but I need it too!
 

Daisy

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Your zucchini story reminds me of the first lot I grew! It was nearly all I ate for the first 6 months here too.

I have a couple of plants covered with little shadecloth and wire contraptions but there are just too many plants here to do them all. I dont have much in the way of veg growing right now, but even the natives are struggling.

There are horses up the road and I am sure they wouldnt mind offloading some of their manure off to my garden, but I am a while off being organised enough to get some, or perhaps, stalling for an excuse to get a mini pony :p
 

wyoDreamer

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Can you collect rainwater runoff from your roof to help with the watering? I know it is illegal in some areas.
I had a rain barrel set up in Wyoming (17" annual precipitation) and used it to water my flower bed. I set up a system of micro tubing (1/4" tubing for irrigation systems) to the base of each plant and hooked it up to the rain barrel. I had installed a faucet on the barrel so I could turn the water on/off for irrigating.
 

Lazy Gardener

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When we build the new coop this spring, I intend to install a gutter on each of the roof sections. These will feed rain barrels, which will then be used to water the garden and fill waterers for the flock, as well as swim basins for the ducks.
 

Britesea

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I found this article on Survival Mama. You might be interested in these ideas for gardening in hot weather and drought conditions:

Drought Gardening

I have lived in many countries over the years, and have always had a vegetable garden. Not just for saving money, as many of the countries I have lived in have had what we considered dirt cheap food, but for the better quality. Nothing compares to the taste of veggies fresh from the garden.

During the past several years, severe drought has hit a number of states here in America. Gardens are blackened and burnt, with food only coming in, grudgingly, thanks to heavy watering every other day. Watching this happen immediately took me back to two of the hardest places I have ever tried to raise food.

Kenya and Botswana. Both places have no rain at all for months and months at a time, and then an entire year’s worth of rain in about 6 weeks. The temperatures, especially in Kenya, make even Texas heatwaves look like a refrigerator. Water sources are unreliable, even in the towns. Yet both places are stuffed with families that grow not only enough to feed themselves, but enough to sell from their personal gardens, not from farms.

So how do they manage that?

They use the following technique, which involves three separate components, all of which are easily made by anyone with the ability to use a shovel, hammer or a trowel.

Raised beds
When we rented our home in Botswana, in the yard behind the house was a series of concrete troughs, roughly 4 feet wide, 2 feet deep, and 15 feet long, running north to south. Concrete base, concrete sides, they looked like fish pools. In the corner of the yard was a pile of soil. Red, dry and fairly lifeless. Those concrete troughs were the raised beds, designed to keep every drop of water you added to the soil from disappearing into the parched earth.

You would fill them with soil during the rainy season and plant your seeds. Drainage holes about 16 inches below the top of the beds would prevent the seeds damping off, and ensure a goodly amount of water for the initial growing. One improvement we made was to use each trough in turn as a deposit for any vegetable waste – a three inch layer of chopped vegetable waste or cow manure in the bottom of the trough would rapidly compost down and improve the soil immensely. At the end of the dry season, when you had harvested the crops, you would shovel out the soil and let the sun sterilize them for the next crop.

Shade netting
Every 3 feet in the troughs was a hole, just the right size to hold a ¾ inch PVC pipe. Most people used branches, but the PVC pipe was more stable and used by anyone who could afford it. Horizontal pipes across the top turned the uprights into a frame, to which you would attach the shade netting, a fine mesh nylon weave. You have seen it before, if you have seen a stone building being renovated – it costs about $30 for 100 yards of 5 foot wide and cuts down the light to the beds by about 40%, according to my very old light meter.

One length of the netting is tied to the top of the frame, and one length on the Eastern and Western side which could be raised or lowered, depending on the day. Our drying evening winds invariably came from the West, so lowering the side flap and tying it down until sunset prevented a lot of wind drying of plants. Then raising it again and tying down the Eastern side, just before bed, prevented the plants being scorched by sunrise.

Thread watering
Watering plants is the biggest problem during a drought. For some plants, the watering can came into play, but for others, like bean vines, pea vines, tomatoes, zucchinis, pumpkins and squashes, we used a technique called thread watering.

Along the top of the shade netting frames for these beds ran three PVC pipes, capped at one end, and attached to a gallon lidded bucket at the other. Each pipe had holes drilled in them – very small holes, less than a millimeter across. At each hole location, you would tie a coarse thread – about 6 lb. test fishing line size, and run the thread down to the base of the plant, pegging it into the soil with a 6” nail. Fill up each bucket every night, and the single gallon of water would irrigate the whole row for 24 hours with minimal losses. The lids did dual duty of preventing evaporation and preventing mosquitoes breeding.

You may want to try it, you may not. But I thought it would be interesting for those who are in the drought to see how people who are always in a drought feed themselves.
 

Hinotori

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I waded (not joking) out to the garden and thought about more raised beds. I'm sick of the river that's been over us. I have garden stuff to do.
 

Britesea

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Living on the dry side of the Cascades, I'm always interested in ways to garden with less water. This is High Desert, mitigated by the presence of a couple of shallow lakes and the Klamath River. But the local Indians seem to feel we white folk shouldn't get ANY water, and there's constant friction here.
 

Hinotori

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In Hermiston they put down drip lines, then rows of plastic. After they have a machine that punches holes and plants the watermelon seedlings. It's cut down severely on water usage. The irrigation circles usually spray water down on the crops like potatoes now. That type of sprayer looses much less to evaporation compared to the big oscillating ones that were common when I was a kid.
 

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