Garden Party: Still Water

Apple tree front, scrub oak back.

Apple tree front, scrub oak back.

Oddly, all that grief with the drip system made me want to try something more ambitious: a hose-less drip system. One, I would like to know exactly how much water I am giving to the peppers, and two, I would rather not have a hose running across the driveway to be abused by passing car tires. The plan would make use of a sad little apple tree that has mysteriously survived despite being overwhelmed by a sun-greedy scrub oak. I would hang a container of water on the tree and have gravity propel the water through cleverly arranged hoses to its proper destination.

The plan never came to fruition. The tree, upon closer inspection, seemed unlikely to be able to hold up more than a couple soda cans full of water. Then I realized that there is a perfectly good faucet in a stall at the back of the barn that would work for a drip system without the hose being run over every day. I went out and got a new drip timer, a fancy one with multiple settings and a digital readout. Then I realized I would have to work with the big hoses to set up a new system. I have not done that before. Valves and joints and things like that seemed daunting.

Before I even unwrapped my new timer, I figured out that I had already been giving the tomatoes, bell peppers and pumpkin too much water. They don’t even need to be watered every day. The fact that all the vegetable plants in this spot have a lack of thirst in common is entirely coincidental. I knew about the tomatoes but I cannot claim to have planned this marvelously water-efficient patch.

The water problem was pointed out to me by the replacement bell pepper I bought with the lemon cucumber mate at the two for one sale.  The bell pepper was very dry when I got it, and the leaves were more yellow than those of the plants I had been caring for over the last month. My plants were all bushy and dark green, though they had nothing that looked remotely like a bloom or a baby pepper. Within a week I had a big fat baby pepper growing on the new, “neglected” plant, while “my” pepper plants still had nothing to show for my efforts.

“Neglected” plant on the left, one of “my” plants on the right.

With so little water called for in this part of the garden, I have decided not to bother putting in a drip system, hoseless or otherwise.

The tomatoes seems to be doing fine despite my over-watering. The Early Girl has surpassed the Boys, in height and production.

Early Girl on the right.

Early Girl on the right.

I feel very impatient now. I am incapable of purchasing produce, as it always goes to waste in the fridge. Vegetables keep so much better on the vine and I expect to have many red and yellow tomatoes to pick in a couple of weeks. In the mean time, I will weather the vitamin deficiency as best I can.

pumpkin0611

That soft-looking cover is actually rat-proofing. NOTHING is getting in there from above.

The pumpkin project has been challenging. The one that I transplanted from the cow pasture has survived but just. I suspect this was related to my helpful flooding. After being left alone for a day in the hot sun, it seems to have bounced back. As for its companion seed, I waited ten days for it to sprout and saw nothing. I must assume it was taken by a roving turkey. I replaced it yesterday and took measures against further seed theft.

In the main garden, I have been less lucky in my water planning. The way I set up the drip nozzles, the big thirsty squash plants and cucumbers were not getting enough, and the row seeds were in danger of drowning if I set the timer for more than an hour. So I did the next best thing and added a second drip valve to each thirsty plant. I am not sure this is enough, and I suspect that with so many hoses on one line, some may not be getting the gallon promised by the 1 gph nozzles. Still, the zucchini plants look happy and we have already had some small ones to eat:

Main zucchini bed.

Black Beauty zucchini bed.

The cow pasture transplants and the straggler Black Beauty are coming along pretty well but have not produced anything edible yet. The good news, if you are one to worry about runts, is that the straggler has caught up to its bedfellows:

Zucchini overflow.

Zucchini overflow.

The cucumbers… ah, the cucumbers. First, I think I may be confused as to what “burps” are on a cucumber. I was assuming that a burpless cucumber is one without any ridges or bumps on it. Here is what is growing on the burpless cucumber plants:

At least something is growing.

At least something is growing.

Maybe I am too picky. It is, after all, an elongated green thing that resembles a cucumber, so I am not too disappointed. But I misspoke when I said that these bumpy cucumbers are growing on these plants. They are only growing on one of the plants, and not the one you would expect:

The little squirt on the left has two cucumbers for us. The big sprawler on the right has nothing for us.

The little squirt on the left has two cucumbers for us. The big sprawler on the right has nothing for us.

The little plant is putting its energy into cucumbers, while the big plant is just growing leaves and vines. Go figure.

The behavior of the “burpless” cucumbers is nothing compared to this:

Ahem.

Ahem.

Unless that cucumber is going to get as big as a watermelon, I do not think it will end up looking like the round yellow thing on the label. Perhaps it spent too much time planted next to the burpless cucumbers… or maybe someone mixed up the tags. Sigh. Now what will the plucky little companion do?

The last little issue from this week has to do with the peas. More than half seem to be doing pretty well, but almost half have died off. I cannot figure out why.

There should be a little pea plant crawling up each of those uprights.

There should be a little pea plant crawling up each of those uprights.

To make matters worse, according to this old Sunset gardening book my mother referred me to, you are not supposed to water peas after planting, until they sprout. So if I put new seeds in where the old ones died off, how do I avoid watering them? And will all the peas die since they were all watered daily after planting, well before they sprouted? Maybe I have enough surviving pea plants to satisfy my crunchy green snack craving?

Maybe I will just poke a few more seeds in there. To have half of the trellis empty will not only be displeasing to the eye, but it might also pull the trellis over.

Here are a few more pictures from this week just to record progress:

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