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Month: June, 2012

DSC01193

DSC01193

I have some zennias growing in a 3-4 gallon pot. The olla is a 1/3 gallon. It will be interesting to see what kind of root mass I get around this olla. I’ll dump out the potting soil after frost and see what I have. This container if filled with 100% potting soil so it does not hold water very well. The olla ought to help!

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DSC01192

This is the first harvest from my garden on Wednesday morning, 6/27. I reached down to pull some weeds out of the onion patch and came up with the weeds…and an onion! Oops! Some of the onions have gone to seed but they have not fallen over yet so I guess I’ll leave them alone and be more careful pulling weeds next time. Those are sweet banana peppers that came off of 2 plants that couln’t be 10 inches tall. That’s the earliest pepper picking I’ve ever had. The Plainview Area Farmers Market starts on July 14( I think!) so maybe I should be happy. I never have a crop ready when the market starts since I’m tied up with school and my garden is slow to develop because it’s a caliche rock pile that delays plant maturity. I sure do like my new raised bed. I have pinto beans blooming and all 7 peppers are also blooming. Sometime in the next week I need to trellis the cucumbers.

Even more rain and another shrinkage lesson.

   Since we had the big rain, 2.5 inches a few weeks ago, we’ve had two more rain showers of .6″ and .5″ so things are really green at my garden, especially the weeds!

   I mentioned shrinkage while making the ollas a few weeks ago. In the photo below we see shrinkage in its natural place…a drying mud puddle. Notice how the edges of the soil surface bend upwards at the cracks, like a potato chip. This occurs because the top surface of the soil dries out sooner and faster than the soil that is 1/2″-1″ below the surface. The upper surface begins to shrink while drying and the lower area remains moist and does not shrink. So, the upper surface ends up having fewer square inches in its surface area while the lower part remains ‘full size’. To compensate for the differences in the surface areas of the top and bottom, the soil curls up. Imagine if you took a sponge and dampened one side of a piece of cardboard and let it dry. It will curl toward the side that was wetted and dried. Kitchen sponges tend to do the same thing; they curl toward the side that dried first and fast.

 

 

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DSC01191

Mud puddle drying after the rain. The hammer is for scale.

More Rain on the Prairie!

   We had more rain last night, before I could finish mulching the okra! I don’t know how much since I hit the road back to town when it started to sprinkle.

   I wanted to mention that I don’t plow the garden anymore, nor do I hoe every square foot to control weeds. In the photo below, you have to look close to see the okra. In the foreground you can just make out the rows amid the mulch. In the background you can see where I used the ‘Cool Hand Luke’ yo-yo to cut the weeds down. I want all the roots I can get to hold the soil! It’s a good thing I don’t plow since the rain fell pretty hard last night and also the week before when the playa was filled up, partially. The mulch will help prevent wind and water erosion and slowly build soil.

   Perhaps I can run out late this evening and get back on the mulching. I don’t want to lose that moisture!

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DSC01182

We had 2.5 inches of rain lately and another .15″ last night so I better get the okra mulched! I’ll end up covering the PVC manifold to keep the UV rays off of it. Once the okra is a bit bigger I’ll thin it to one plant every 10″ or so. Right now it has a plant every 1/2″! I always plant some for the rabbits, some for the hail, and just a little for me! I used up all the mulch on site so it’s back to the landfill stock pile this afternoon for another load.

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DSC01183

Hale County Agri Life Extension Service is offering, for the first time, a Master Gardener’s class. They’ve asked me to do a demonstration for them in a few weeks so I’m making some one-pint sized ollas for each student to experiment with. These should be good for containers in the 2-3 gallon range or a 14″ diameter space in the flower bed. 8 down, 12 to go!

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DSC01181

Here’s how the new raised planting bed is coming along. I have not filled the ollas in about 9 days when the rains started. The water level is about 2″ down from the top of the neck so the rain has filled the soil profile. When the soil begins to dry, I anticipate the ollas will begin to ‘release’ their water.
Those are pinto beans in between the pepper cages. I may have to thin them out! The other stock tank that I wanted to make a raised bed out of can be seen at the lower left; more on that topic below.

Rain on the Prairie

   We finally had a playa filling rain! It’s been since October of 2010 that the playa has had any water in it. This is a perfect example of a wetland in the South Plains of Texas. If you recall one of the first posts on the blog, there was a photo of the Conservation Easement Boundary sign. This is what we will be preserving through the Wetland Reserve Program that is administered by Natural Resources Conservation Service or NRCS. It is a perpetual easement that will prevent the playa and associated basin from being destroyed by activities such as plowing it up for cropland, using it as a wastewater lagoon for the dairy industry that has moved into our area, or impacting it from natural gas exploration or wind farms.

  

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DSC01173

Looking to the South East from the same position as when I started the blog.