How Does Your Garden Grow?

The rain has avoided us again.  I’m resigned to settling into a second drought pattern, and I’m resolved to fare this one better than the last.

This year, I’ve copied the design of the water trough planter and made a wicking bed planter.  It’s doing fairly well, although I believe it’s almost time to move it to a better location.  I planted the kale, lettuce, radish and onion here.  There was a pest attack, so I didn’t get much lettuce harvest.  The kale has been a bit reserved in its growth, but I’ve added a few leaves to salads.  The onion seeds were planted a month late, so I only expect to have green onions from them.  We did enjoy several radishes in salads before I allowed them to go to seed.  Next time, I’ll set that container right outside during the end of winter with a clear plastic cover.

onion peeking out from the kale and lettuce

The leaky bucket that I set outdoors during the cold has fared well.  The lettuce has now succumbed to some pesky pest, but the carrots are thriving.  This bucket has a water reservoir and overflow, but no fill tube.

carrots thriving past the lettuce

The first leaky bucket sat too long on the porch before being placed outdoors, plus it is full of soil mix with no water reservoir.  The radishes fared well, but the carrots and parsley are still as wimpy as ever.

still wimpy radish and parsley

The big win is the holdover from last year, the water trough planter.  Strawberries have done very well, and I’ve only filled the reservoir once this spring.  I did plant a few cucumbers into the bed and only one has survived, barely.

strawberries

The new stars of the show are the tomato planters with ollas.  I fill the ollas once a week, and the planters are set next to a north side patio that gets about eight hours of sun per day.  I put two ollas in each metal container, with a basil plant and marigolds to help shade the soil once things really heat up.  So far, these are doing extremely well.

tomato containers

tomato and marigold growth

ollas and grass clippings

We use our grass clippings as mulch, so I’ve topped the containers with clippings.  The next photo is the first tomato flower.  :)

flowering tomato

The primary water conservation technique is rain water collection.  We have six rain barrels set up to collect rain water for use on the gardens.

full rain barrels

It’s been quite easy to fill a pail with water from the barrels to use for the olla and wicking bed refills each week.  Here’s what happened when I took a short break after my watering duties:

butterfly landing

A sweet little ol’ butterfly made me its landing pad!  I was trying to take some stealth photos, but this creature could care less what I did – it was settled in for a thorough inspection.

butterfly inspection

Ah, I almost forgot to show Hubby’s pick of the day:

Hubby’s garden delight

We like to give credit when it’s due, so here it is.  This little Weber grill has outdone any charcoal grill we’ve ever used (said lightly, since I haven’t used it yet).  Hubby is the grill king, and he says it’s a winner!

How does your garden grow?

Dreamin’ Girl

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Voila, Olla!

A necessary component of gardening – a necessary component of life, in fact – is preparation.

Last year, our area experienced extreme heat and draught and I was not prepared.  Experience is such a great teacher.  This year, I’m trying to plan ahead.

Already, our weather has been warmer than normal, and spring has come early.  We’re just beginning to catch up on the rain deficit, but there’s no telling what moisture we’ll see through the rest of the garden season.

One of the methods I’ve seen is the use of ollas.  Ollas are terra-cotta jugs or receptacles, buried into the gardening area aside the plants and filled with water to deliver it slowly (via the porous material) to the roots of the plants.

There are excellent options to purchase ollas, but I found them cost prohibitive.  I found this great tutorial to make them from clay pots.  I was inspired to make my own.

Homemade Olla

Materials:

  • Clay pots (two per olla)
  • Gorilla glue
  • Plumbers epoxy
  • Silicone caulk
  • Stone/ceramic plugs
  • White exterior paint

Tools:

  • Gloves
  • Caulk Gun
  • Dry cloth
  • Container of water

I dipped one clay pot top into the water container and set it on the dry cloth to dry slightly.

Gorilla glue was spread thinly over the rim of the other clay pot top.  The two pots were placed together, top to top.  This was done with each clay pot pair.

The pot pairs were weighted for an hour while the gorilla glue dried.

Once the glue was dry, the plumbers epoxy was used to adhere the stone pieces to one opening on each pot pair.  The assemblies were left to dry for 24 hours.

Using the caulk gun, I placed a seal of caulk around each stone piece, and then around each glued section.  With my finger covered by the dry cloth, I smoothed the caulk and pressed it into any remaining gaps.  The pots were set out to dry for 24 hours.

All that’s left is to paint the tops of the ollas, which I’ll do when the weather is warm.

I can’t wait to see how well these work.  I’ll keep ya posted.  :)

Dreamin’ Girl