Friday, February 25, 2011

The Last Friday of February

This last week I noticed that some of the Willows around town are greening up, which got me wondering when did that happen last year. So, archives here I come. Humm, posted that the willows were budding on the 27th of Feb, so, a week earlier than last year. BUT, it wasn't 11f over night then either, BRRRRR. The weathermen have been saying it was supposed to snow, which it did, 1/4 inch here, much more all around (12 inch in Walla Walla and Spokane).

The dew pond is great at catching rain but hasn't caught much dew yet, it's been too darn cold. Caught 4.5 gallons of rain two days after I built the pond but nothing since. Thinking that it needs to be above freezing at night for it to work correctly.

Rain water in the dew pond.

In an earlier post (end of January)I talked about using terra cotta pots as watering sources. Having no luck finding an inexpensive source of pots I glued two 8 inch planting pots together using Gorilla Glue (which is great stuff). The hole in lower pot is plugged with a stone glued in place. On any made after this, I think, a piece of paper with some GG should suffice to plug the hole. For those who haven't used GG, as it drys, it foams filling gaps.

Handmade Ola for Pitcher Irrigation

Listened to a podcast on Sustainable World Radio Podcasts with Doug Weatherbee about healthy soil. I recommend it. It's 1 1/2 hours in 2 parts. There is also another podcast with the author of the best selling book Gaia's Garden, Toby Hemenway.

Garden On.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dewings ?

I have been reading about dew ponds the last few days. Dew ponds are ponds that have no external water source, receiving they supply of water from condensation of atmospheric moisture. They work on the principle that dew collects on surfaces that are cooler than the dew point. This evening after work I built a small test pond out of a pile of wood chips and a salvaged tarp. The wood chips were spread out in to a dish shape 6 feet or so in diameter. The tarp was then spread over the dish and weighted down with several large stones. The idea is to insulate the tarp from the heat of the earth allowing the tarp to cool off by radiation. Then in the wee hours of the morning the dew can collect. Will let it be for a few days to see what it collects, then add a layer of small (1.5 inch) stones for more mass. Traditionally dew ponds are made using straw as insulation and clay/chalk as the pond surface.

Wood chip pond  dish

Finished test  dewpond

After I did the dew pond I moved 20 wheel borrow loads of chips from the the pile to the other side of the yard. I'm spreading them about 4 inches deep over the front yard in preparation for planting some berry shrubs on order. Getting 5 each of Blue Elderberry, American Cranberry and Golden Current, also 5 Shrubpea. The Shrubpea has edible pods and fixes Nitrogen just like peas and beans. Also ordered some horseradish, strawberries, onion sets (red and yellow) and raspberries. Need to plan where to plant every thing then get the soil prepared, just hope the weather co-operates.

Garden On.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Fungi, those many formed things that pop up in so of the strangest places, usually in the lawn where you didn't really want them... but don't panic. They are a normal part of the ecology to the soil, in fact they are a prime member of the soil life web. What we call mushrooms are in fact the fruits of fungi. Fungi form strands that can be inches to many yards long, a single fungi can cover thousands of square feet. They can form near, on or even in plants.

The roles of fungi in the garden are many fold. They are the prime decomposers of lignin and cellulose of woody materials. They release acids that break down minerals making them available in the soil. They remove minerals from the organic matter and mineral particles in the soil and transport it to plant roots. They also store Calcium and phosphorus. They bind soil particles and small aggregates into larger aggregates improving soil structure, draining and habitat.

Some Fungi form symbiotic relations with plants that benefit both plant and the fungi. The fungi supplies the plant with resources that the plant can't access (water and minerals), in return the plant supplies simple sugars, complex carbohydrates and proteins. Basically fungi form extended root systems for the plants that they associate with, provide habitat for bacteria and protect the plant from pathogens, pollutants and herbivores.

[rant] Another reason to NOT use glyphosate based herbicides is the it kills fungi not just plants. It's like using a nuclear bomb to kill a mouse in your house, sure it kills the mouse but also the dog, cat and you.[/rant]

Garden On.