Thursday, June 11, 2009

The importance of persistence.

Persistence. As humans, we need it badly. We live in a universe in flux and if we want to succeed we need to keep trying.

This is the year when I decided to jump on the re-use wagon. Mind you, I was already reusing some stuff, like my empty plastic soda bottles; but this year, I decided to do more. With that in mind, I began to collect 4 and 5 gallon buckets for my sub-irrigated containers, I scavenged for wooden pallets, and I began to think of new ways to use other stuff.
Then I ran into Peter from Wichita Rain Barrels at the Wichita Garden Show and this encounter expanded my ideas on reuse.
I originally set out to buy a rain barrel from Peter but then I decided to learn how to make one.
So I need a 55 gallon plastic barrel.

This is where the persistence comes in.

I called the local Coca-Cola bottler and they told me they only give their plastic barrels to the State of Kansas. Next I called the local Pepsi bottler; they told me to come and get one or two if they were available. I've made two trips out there (they won't tell me over the phone if they have any barrels available) to no avail. Apparently, demand for the barrels has increased dramatically. "Check with us later" the guard at the guard gate told me. And I will.

The same thing happened with the 5 gallon buckets. At first, I tried and tried and no restaurant in town would give me any buckets. I kept at it until I found a restaurant that would. Now, every two weeks or so, I go and have lunch there and come out with a few buckets in hand.

I am also trying to locate a steady supply of wooden pallets. I have gotten some here and there but I will continue to look for a place where I can get them steadily. You will be surprised how many companies pay to dispose of them.

Then there's Craiglist. I know serial killers lurk in there but there are so many cool things you can get for free!

So remember; if at first you can't get what you need for your gardening needs for free; Persist.

Over and out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A definite lack of pollinators

Where are my pollinators? I have yet to see a bee in my garden. In years past, I've had to contend with bees, wild and otherwise, wasps, yellow-jackets, bumblebees, and a number of other winged creatures that are fond of exploring the inside of a flower.
This year? Only flies and mosquitoes.

Yesterday, for the first time, I saw a wasp exploring around the lettuce and a butterfly was hovering around the blackberry bush. That's it!

One of my neighbors has a HUGE honeysuckle bush that attracts all kinds of living things but this year I haven't seen any.

So the mystery is: What's pollinating all my veggies? Is it possible that all the fruit in my plants is the result of wind pollination?

Only the Shadow knows....

Over and out.

Monday, June 8, 2009


I love Tamarind pods. They are sweet and sour and I ate them often as a boy. Tamarind trees grew large in the hot sun of the Sonoran desert. A couple of years ago, I ate some pods that I bought at the store and threw the seeds into a flower pot. Some months later, I was surprised to find baby tamarind trees growing in the pots.
I've managed to keep them alive in the hopes that they will grow in a container and maybe, just maybe, give me a pod or two. Here's one of them in a pot outside loving this 90 degree weather:

Here is a picture of my only Mini-Bell bell pepper plant. I originally grew a number of these from seed but I lost all of them except for this one. Next year I won't be so careless. This picture doesn't really show the number of peppers growing on this plant.

I have baby Brandywines! Last year, I did not stake my Brandywine plants properly and I came home one day after a storm to find them broken in half. I don't remember now if I even got to eat one Brandywine tomato last year.

Here's a picture of one of my Galina tomato plants. For some reason I have 4 of these plants. I hope the tomatoes are tasty.

My melon bed got wiped out early in the Spring during all the rain we got. I replanted Sugar Baby watermelon, both Red and Yellow and Minnesota Midget cantaloupe. They are doing ok so far. Some of them even have blooms.

I continue to have trouble growing radishes to full size. This is as big as they get for me. A lot of them never grew a bulb. I've heard several theories regarding this. I will keep on trying though because I love radishes.

I checked on my rain barrels and I have two full barrels (95 gallons). Cool.

Over and out.

2 minutes of rain

Last night a thunderstorm dropped a kazillion gallons of rain in about 2 minutes and some of it managed to get into my rain barrels (yeah baby!). Right before the deluge, we got a sprinkling of pea-sized hail which sent me like a mad man into the lightning to move some of the tomato plants under the covered porch in the back of the house.

My two dogs looked at me as if I was crazy, which I was. The puppy was scared of the thunder and lightning but my old dog Bo, has seen plenty of storms and he was more interested to see if I was running out into the yard with treats in hand.

Luckily, the hail was a dud and after the super strong gale of wind that knocked power out in parts of the city and broke many tree branches, there followed a gentle rain, the kind that soaks into the ground to the merriment of plant and gardener alike.

What kind of life do people who don't garden live? Believe you me, I am beginning to develop a deep vocabulary regarding weather much like the Inuit's many names for snow. I swear to you that my sense of smell can now detect things that only dogs were privy to before. Oh, I am no superman but hanging around plants, and bugs, and air, and sun, I am becoming part of an ancient club; a club we left a long time ago but which beckon us to come back.

By the way, the Mini Bell pepper plant is LOADED with peppers. I'm just too happy for words when I find a plant like that. It surely will be planted in my garden for years to come.

Over and out.