I have started bedding things down for a long, fiercely hot summer. Tuesday is supposed to reach 102. I am always so nervous when the first triple-digit day hits, and this year, with our unseasonably cool May, I am even more so. It is a refiner’s fire indeed—culling the weakest plants, trees and animals too…always heart-stopping.
I got the last of the sweet potatoes planted, and reserved just a couple of cuttings to fill in gaps if we lose some. I stuck the three potatoes in as well as they had several sprouts each that were too small to root. I need to mark them so I can see if there is a difference between those and the cuttings at harvest time. That bed and the pepper/eggplant bed each got a thick layer of straw mulch on them. The sweet potatoes already look better.
After deciding that we must have slugs eating our cabbages and sprinkling coffee grounds around the plants to deter them, it turns out that we actually have little green cabbage worms. Research required.
We harvested two varieties of beets. They kept wilting, stopped recovering well from their wilts and a couple sent up seed stalks. Overall, the harvest was disappointing. It appears that the soaker hose has a dry spot (how?!) and it was right there, hence the wilting and stress… We have since used the previously unused end of the hose in a nearby bed to fill in the gap for future plantings. We expect a nice little row of weeds to crop up in the path beneath it. Oh well. Next year we will be more sane in our soaker hose layout.
Speaking of, I have tried now three different types of soaker hoses: the rubbery water weeper ones, the sewn fabric ones and now the green “sprinkler if you flip it up, soaker if you turn it down” ones. I like these last ones the most—having a visible hole in the hose every few inches is straightforward and the 5-year warranty inspires confidence. We shall see how they do over time.
In other watering news, Isaiah got the orchard on drip irrigation this week! He made some mistakes along the way, he learned a lot and a friend of ours was so impressed with his work that she’s going to hire him to fix a broken section of her system. Both boys are relieved that orchard-watering went from a 45-minute job to a 5-minute job. I look forward to a similar reduction in the total garden-watering time. Seven watering zones at 15-minutes each is a lot of hooking and unhooking and back-and-forth trips to the garden.
I finally replaced the broken outdoor blinds on the front porch house. I bought three new ones last year, but never managed to get up on a ladder to do the hanging. The two I bought later have magnetic breakaway cords to comply with safety requirements. The instructions warned that care must be taken while raising the blinds to avoid deploying the new feature. Mine broke away twice while I was very gently lowering them. I can’t imagine them standing up to a raising of any sort, or even a stiff wind in a partly raised position, for that matter. Sigh. They used to be a reasonably good product. As I am planning to build my own from shade cloth, I suppose it doesn’t matter much.
Encouraged by his successes in the orchard Isaiah is now concocting his own plans to build the ultimate misting system for our front porch. I told the kids about living in the Phoenix valley and walking past restaurants that had outdoor seating and going suddenly from searing heat and sun to the foggy Scottish moors—this is really what I want on our deck. Perhaps if we had enough mist, it would turn our masonry house into a huge evaporative cooler…
We are attempting to un-free-range Rudy’s flock. I patched a hole in the fence and suspended a tarp over a section of broken netting. I am tired of droppings everywhere, hidden caches found full of eggs or uncertain date ( and the rotten egg surprises that follow) and I suspect that they are eating some of our very pricey fly predators. Lately, some of them have been laying in the cats’ “house”, much to the cats’ chagrin. The one thing I will miss is Jordan coming in every day to tell us that the cats laid another egg.
And we have a Golden Comet broody! Golden Comets are not supposed to go broody, of course. Also, she wants a nice, neat little nest just outside both of our enclosures and gets rather irked when we try to move her. Chickens.
We lost two chicks this week. One died of unknown causes—he was going down when I went out to check on them early in the week and never recovered—and the other appears to have pasted up. It is rotten that we missed it as it is fairly easily remedied. Overall, we have had much less pasting up than last year and we have protected them very well from predators thus far. Some day we’ll be fantastic at this. We are still working on keeping them well watered. They are always thirstier than I think they will be at this age and size.
I need to get out and get the goats more shade. Again, I am nervous about this upcoming week.