Sharing with: Dishing It & Digging It, Amaze Me Monday (FEATURED!), Home and Garden Thursday, Coastal Charm, Stone Cottage Adventures, Savvy Southern Style, Home Sweet Home, The Dedicated House (FEATURED!)
“We’re dyin’ here,” cry my plants. For 4 months, in this rainforest we live in, we have not had rain, and our regional district has decreed that, at level 4 (severe drought), we cannot use any district potable water outside for any reason. It’s been only 2 weeks, but it’s been enough to kill off several annuals, vegetables, and shrubs, and I’m worried about some of the big trees that we have spent a small fortune for.And, we are asked to conserve water inside, too. Bathe or shower less frequently, only flush the toilet after several “deposits”, and do less laundry. If we insist on keeping any plants alive, we must scoop up the used water from the bath and sinks, then schlep it outside to water our trees, shrubs and gardens.
“But, wait,” you might say, if you’ve followed this blog at all, “Don’t you harvest rainwater for your garden?”You’d be right. When we were building This Green House, we installed a rain-fed re-circulating waterfall that culminated in a 2000-gallon underground tank. With that water, we flush our toilets and water the garden. The building process shown here. I had no concept of how much water a summer’s worth of toilets and garden watering consumes. After a month of no rain and hot temperatures, I had to fill the cistern with potable water. Each month of no rain = fill the tank with the hose.
So, although the water in the cistern is no longer potable, I feel guilty using it to water the garden, because it comes from the outdoor tap. We schlep and we schlep, but we cannot schlep enough when we only bathe every three days.
But, some of our plants seem to be doing just fine. Neither deer nor drought destroy these hardy perennials. Here are the stars of the garden in this difficult summer:
Virginia creeper –
Wooley thyme –
Garry Oak –
Fountain grass –
St. John’s Wort –
Rugosa rosas –
Jack-o-lantern Plant (Physalis alkekengi) –
Stand up and take a bow, you wonderful plants, you!
Every garden undergoes change, of course. Particularly if our hand is not in it at all.
Plants want to grow. Especially weeds.
Decisions I made about new garden design four years ago may not suit my current goals. I shared, in this post, some lessons I’ve learned about the dangers of overplanting. And, in my zeal to plant a drought-tolerant xeriscape, have I missed some very desirable plants?
I swear that plants are tricksters. They like to keep me on my toes. A plant that does very well one year is the very one that nose-dives the next, even when I diligently practise crop rotation. Slugs have gained a foothold on my rooftop garden. The carrot fly has finally discovered my patch. Some bird has fixated on my tiny pea shoots. Edamame never did grow. But disappointments are often offset by pleasant surprises – finally, beets and basil have decided to grow, and OMG, would you look at that stevia and that wasabi!
Last year, the first year I had a greenhouse, I was so looking forward to growing perfect tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, eggplants, and peppers in this “perfect” environment. I would say the cucumbers and basil were successes, but I’m not sure, because they also did well in the open garden.
The tomatoes, in pots, were my biggest disappointment. At first, they had lots of green growth, and appeared to be happy.
But then there was a hornworm infestation, while I was away and couldn’t spot them myself. And all the tomatoes had blossom end rot, even though I used the soil mix my nurserywoman recommended. Obviously, somewhere along the line, I missed the need for calcium.
The purpose here was to start with a fresh base. I know that all the helpful bacteria and microorganisms that we were killing benefit the soil, but I was intent on getting rid of insect eggs, and there was no evidence that there had been any earthworms in there at all.
After thoroughly scrubbing out the greenhouse (and finally cleaning the windows and putting screens over the opening windows to keep out most flies), I replaced the tomato pots with planting beds, built from our scrap lumber pile. Some of the cedar boards were from a sling of used fencing from the former flower farm, now the Beer Farm. I hope that’s good karma for my tomatoes.
Also, cleaned out the bottom of the compost to add that black gold, which teamed with earthworms. Some lime, more Salish Soil, epsom salts, organic fertilizer, and perlite for aeration, and I think I’ve found a good balance. I sure hope so, because there is absolutely nothing as delicious as a fresh tomato off the vine. (Well, maybe a fresh raspberry!)
I’ll be planting some tomatoes in the planting box in the sun under the eaves, with a stone wall for a heat sink, for a controlled experiment, and even a couple in the rooftop garden, so we’ll see how that goes.Always learning, I’m sharing with:
So, it’s all over. The Botanical Garden Society’s Tour of Private Gardens (ours was one of seven gardens) on Sunday was met with perfect weather, in spite of a 60% chance of rain forecast. Five minutes after the scheduled end of the tour, a few raindrops fell. Good karma was goin’ on.
My last post tells about some of our preparation work. Today’s post attempts to give you the tour at This Green House experience in pictures.
Mary drew an amazing map for our visitors. She painted signs for our eleven points of interest. I wrote out and laminated informational signs, along with names of some of the interesting plants, mostly in the dye and medicinal gardens.
My friend brought me a big bouquet of peonies to grace the herb tea and treats table. Aren’t they gorgeous?
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Goodness, things are hoppin’ ’round here, as we prepare for the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden‘s tour of private gardens (Sunday, June 8, 11-4, tix at garden centres).
Mary, our only WWOOFer this year, came to help with final preparations ten days ago, and am I ever glad to have help. She’s a graphic artist back home in Switzerland, so we agreed that she would paint the signs
It’s astounding to me how anxious I am about presenting a beautiful and interesting garden. We’ve only been here for four years, so very few plants are mature. I’ve been working on it flat out for three months now.
We’re getting there. So far, it’s been a better-than-average growing year.
D and I have nearly finished the new greenhouse. (Well, almost 95% has been done by D – I’m just doing the stonework around the bottom.) It’s growing those tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil and cucumbers to beat the band, as long as I remember to water.
The tour theme this year is Artists and Their Gardens. I have not spent nearly enough time pimping my studio and gallery wall, let alone making art. I do plan to do little dyeing and sewing demos, though.
I’ll be back with a full garden tour when it’s all over.
Wish us luck!