Summertime

and the living is easy. Catfish jumping and the Kale is high.

Kale, cabbage, broccoli that is
I had purposely drained this pond almost down to this level, back when every next rain was washing over the top of the dam, now with the heat I wonder if the drain was a good idea, the water looks pretty bad as a stagnant pond, and I might rather have the high water, TWT

The grapes aren’t quite at the point of shielding the glass enough or cooling the air enough, so I put up the sheet again this year to keep the sun out of the greenhouse, maybe next year with a better trellis and more growth of the vines.

At the back of the pond, all of this was under water, and water that had soaked into this “bank” is now coming back out as a steady trickle into the pond, but water levels are still receding
The octagon has been accumulating trash, but I started to put new boards on the little deck there for better access, and maybe as I progress with that job I’ll also get some of the mess out of there

All in all, it’s a little drier weather wise, but the middle pond is almost overflowing, clean water, cool in the heat, and swimming there is like a dream come true. no car journeys or preparation, just go down and jump in, I saw a painted turtle there today.

The extreme heat is a bit sudden after so many beautiful mild days, but inside the basement level is quite cool, and I expect with the added protection from the sun over the greenhouse glass it will stay cool through the summer, especially with temps that drop into the 60s at night allowing the house to open and any accumulated heat to dissipate. I had hoped to have the earth tube installed by now, but it wouldn’t start to work well until the top can be sealed from the outside air, so it is still a project to be done, but since the house already works pretty well, it isn’t critical.

As would be expected, most of the fruit trees and bushes have grown and appear to have better yields, and so far this year I’ve added about three blueberry bushes, a Japanese plum tree, an apple tree, and a grape vine, so with little steps I really can see things moving to better yields.

March picture updates

The garden always seems to be in a state of redesign. This new keyhole bed will be an experiment in heavy cardboard mulch with several inches of pine needles on top. It is about 1/3 completed here
These young Koi are getting used to coming to me for food.
this solar panel is proving an easy way to power the filter pump for the Koi/ Plans are to add three more panels mounted on the wall just over the glass where the panels will get good winter sun without being in the way.
dumping a pot of tumeric roots. these were separated and put into about 8 separate pots.
The supervisor, quick look busy
excavating what I can from the upper pond area. When the pond is allowed to fill most of the area in the frame will be under water at least part of the year
The middle dam is above the projected water level already, but recent excavation here is turning up too much sedimentary rock to be useful to continue to build the freeboard here. I did go ahead and seed the back slope with clover, but as the different areas come under control, one of the later jobs will be to plant willows or bamboo and find better clay to finish the construction.
last years bananas filled this area with lush green above the roof level, but this year the plants get moved to an area where they will not interfere with the productivity of an area so close to the front door. There are already grapes started here, and in a year or two a trellis will equally shade the windows while allowing other bushes to grow underneath. As big as these plants were, I will be using the backhoe to dig up the roots and transplant them.
The middle pond is fed from surface run off and has an underground flow coming in from the bottom giving it the turquoise color
The back area of the pond is currently being made ready for development, but will probably have to wait till after the rains have stopped and things are a bit drier. For now I have turned off the drain to the middle pond and it is filling. from this point through the summer I will be alternately sending any extra water either to the goldfish pond below when it needs it, or to the contour pond across the driveway.

Seasons Change

No, I’m not talking about Spring to Summer, but wet to dry, or in this case wet to moist. It’s June, and there’s still some water falling occasionally, but evaporation has caught up with precipitation and left many of the plants getting thirsty.

I’ve started to water plants, and plan to start pumping water from the middle pond up to the lower greenhouse. This will leave the thousand gallon cistern (almost full) to be a backup for when the pond gets too low to pump.  I do expect to have plenty of water for the garden and new plantings right through till fall, but keeping the lower goldfish pond full may become a challenge.

Water is no longer overflowing naturally from the middle pond, so the fish pond is already 8 inches low. Last year was a fiasco of loose connections and haphazard attempts to fill the fish pond so this year one of the goals will be to make sure water goes directly to the fish pond from the middle pond when/if it becomes necessary to fill it a bit.

Water here is always a crap shoot, too much/ too little and no way to know in advance what the next season will bring. It is always possible we could get a good strong soaking rain that refills everything, but likely for the next couple months we will be lucky if it waters the plants occasionally.

I also have 4 new trees to plant, dwarf Granny Smith apple, Kiefer Pear, and two different pecans. I know where the pear can go, and have plans for the apple, but the pecans will need considerable space on the north side,  of zone 1 and accessibility there is difficult. Cleaning out a path for the backhoe I discovered one of the locations already has hickory tees growing which I intend to leave there, so the next step is thought and observation locating an alternate space that will accommodate these massive trees.

Oh well, it keeps me busy.

Remember, if you’re not having fun, you’ve got the design wrong.

New, Used Backhoe

Finally a morning where things are a bit quieter, no deeds to do or promises I have to keep. So of course I was out on the backhoe. started going around exhausting a tube of grease on the fittings, and I think I know why the new tube isn’t quite working yet, but I went ahead and did a bit of work anyway, starting it up and pulling a few small stumps, testing the power,  and generally getting some preliminary work done on the high dam. The clean up stage always takes the most time, saving topsoil, sorting out bigger rocks, etc etc.

Then as a change of pace I went to the lower green house where the figs are complaining about the more intense sunlight outside (leaves turning white), but figs are whiners anyway, drama queens that drop their leaves at the slightest change. I gave them a big drink of water, and told them to suck it up and make me some figs.

most of them are going to stay outside once I have the new mini climate set up for them. With a pond in front, and heat retaining wall behind them they should enjoy their new location.

I noticed there are lots of raspberries on the vines I planted two years ago, of course I may be away when they actually ripen.

I put some walmart goldfish in the lotus pond last night, they were dying in their tank at walmart, so if they survive it will be a miracle, but at least they will die free.

I’m also going around putting in tomatoes and peppers and have plans for multiple varieties of squash and cucumbers. I’m also close to having the potato beds ready for planting.

Just another day in paradise.

Planting and more

Anyone following these posts understands there are more jobs here than any one person could hope to do. This can lead to a condition of inaction, uncertain of what to do next. But there is a way out of this frustration, and it amounts to simply chosing something and doing it until it’s not fun anymore.

I went out looking for backhoes earlier in the week and after looking at an older one that needed repair just to move it,  I finally decided that rentals will beat out buying a machine that will consume time just in repairs. Whatever the economics of money may be, the economics of my time require that I not get involved in the mechanics of the machines. It’s enough to operate them without having to repair them as well.

The other thing that became apparent is the idea that the bigger machines are going to be difficult to maneuver in many of the tight spaces, and as the ponds get finished off, more and more the jobs will be digging holes for plants, loading a pickup with gravel or mulch, and simple grading which can easily be done with a smaller machine.

But right now the task in front of me is planting. I found some tarot- colacasia- yesterday and it now has a home in the shallow end of the garden pond. I also bought four packs of tomatoes and herbs, and this morning set out about 10 plants, with some distraction from cutting grass and using the clippings to mulch the strawberries which seem to be making a recovery after all the weeds and neglect they suffered last year.

Last week I put in about 24 plants, two different types of lettuce and three types of kale. I also am adding mulch to the potato beds I started last year, with the anticipation that I’ll cut the trees nearby and keep a watering system handy. With more light, nutrient, and regular water, those beds will be a nice addition to the pond area.

In a week or so it will be time to put in my favorite crop- peppers- and I’m certainly looking forward to being better organized for the harvest. I don’t know if I’ll get the solar dehydrator going this year, but it’s good to remember how much of last years crop got neglected for want of an efficient processing system.

The biggest news is I bought a nice used pickup truck. Doesn’t need any repairs, will haul material easily, and strong enough to pull my trailers around. There have been so many times I have had to put projects on hold, trying to borrow a truck or get help doing simple chores. The boat for instance is now mobile again, not a permanent fixture because I have no easy way to haul it.

I’ve also contracted a man to bring some gravel and stone for the driveways, all getting ready to make the place more accessible to students and visitors. So I guess after thinking about all the steps moving forward in so many areas, all of which just happened (after lots of serious consideration) I guess things are not as difficult as they might seem.

Somehow there is an element of timing, and not wasting time worrying about things that aren’t ready to be done allows me to do the things that are front and center and anxious to move to completion. Maybe that’s part of the Permaculture lesson, picking the battles you can win and not worry about those that need to wait.