Review of the garden effort through early 2009:
The first effort in 2007 was somewhat successful and again in 2008 we had a very modest success. However, I need to be clear, I will never make gardener of the year. All of what happened over the last two years has helped prepare me for this year so it was, at best, a learning experience.
The points I learned about what to do with the garden, how to do it and most important, what not to do were spread over a broad spectrum.
· I did learn, mostly be accident, how important it is to prepare the beds with good soil. Several people told me how to do it after I had done it. Since it turned out I was more right then wrong, I felt good about my efforts.
· I learned that planting vegetables that do not like the Texas heat is a waste of time and money. Even if I watered them regularly, which I did not, I got poor results.
· I learned that if the bugs are going to get you and you do not want to use a pesticide, you are in trouble. I do not want to use any pesticides and only want to use organic products to fertilize. Therefore, we lost almost all of the broad leaf plants to bugs last year.
· I learned that if I do some intensive research I can find plants that like the heat and are disease resistant. That is the focus of this years garden. I will only purchase organic seeds and will only plant those vegetables that are going to produce in the heat of Texas. I am also planting early and late crops. That is lettuce, several varieties, spinach, cabbage, Swiss chard, and others that like the cold.
· I learned that much of the information in seed catalogues is from growers in the north and does not work well in the heat of the south.
· I read several articles in Mother Earth News that were very helpful. I found where to purchase seeds and some good ideas on how to control pests that like to eat my plants.
· I found that the electric fence was a good thing to use for keeping “critters” out of the garden. As it is solar powered, I have no maintenance or power costs.
· Because of what happened with much of the garden last year, the new location for the garden has more shade for some of the earth boxes and pots. The part of the garden that is in the sun will have plants that can tolerate the heat or that produce early in the season.
· I have increased the number of earth boxes and collected pots from the neighbors to increase the size of my pot garden. This year the pots will have all of the spice plants because I found that they can be very prolific and take over one of the beds.
I will also build an automatic watering system that does a better job of keeping things moist. This will incorporate the Arduino microcontroller I have used in the renewable energy projects to both sense moisture in the soil and will control pumps that will distribute the water evenly in the garden. The control project will use solar panels for power.
Herb & Barbara our interests and family
We have now added 3 additional 55 gallon rain water collection drums. We originally had two 75 gallon drums so our total now is 315 gallons. The blue, food grade, barrels were purchased on Craig’s List for $15.00 each. I added the drain valve at the base and the filler pip on the top.
The drain valve required a 13/16 hole and then I simply cut the threads into the plastic using just the fitting.
The filler was a six inch to four inch PVC reducer and a bit of screening material that is held in place with stainless steel compression clamp.
To cut the hole I use my drumel tool and a cutter drill bit. (available from Home Depot).