Monday, March 23, 2009


I irrigated my garden for the first time this year on Sunday. Because of building the Ark, I woefully neglected my winter garden, not irrigating it at all. But most of the plants survived, and should grow enthusiastically now that they've been weeded and watered.

If you look carefully, you can see water spraying out of the nozzles at the top of the vertical white pipes. I built the irrigation system this way so that the nozzles would be higher than tall plants such as corn and tomatoes.

Those are red wall-o-waters in the distance, and a green one in the foreground. They contain 5 Early Girl tomatoes (my favorite -- they're early (duh), large enough for slicing, don't crack, and tend to live all season unless they die first) and 2 Large Red Cherry (a backup for if the Early Girls die). Growing tomatoes has become more of a challenge in our area -- other gardeners are having trouble too. Tomato plants now tend to die during the middle of the summer rather than lasting until frost.

The wooden boxes are coldframes. I usually plant my spring garden around March 1 (I was late this year because of the Ark), and the young plants are subject to heavy freezes until early April. I use insulating foam to protect the plants from frost, and the wooden framework holds the foam up off the plants. Also, I've built wooden frames with screening on it to keep out the birds. Birds love succulent young seedlings, and can devastate a new planting in a remarkably short time.

Here's a close-up of a coldframe containing 9 broccoli plants. When mature, the plants will completely fill the coldframe. In the background is a coldframe with anti-bird screening on top of it. The broccoli coldframe is now covered with screening as well. Traditionally, we have lots of balmy weather in March, which used to delude me into planting my broccoli early, out in the open. Then, at the end of March, we would usually have a 20 degree freeze, which would either kill the plants outright, or permanently stunt them. So I developed this coldframe system to cope with living in a frost pocket. Gardeners in more benign locations don't have to go to so much trouble.


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