Sunday, May 31, 2015

Post #100 - Tomato Trials

It's been hovering around 90 degrees for days now. On the high side or the low side of 90. That is to say, the mid 80s to mid 90s. The relative humidity is around 29% so the air is quite dry. You should see when I vacuum the rug. I have to hold the metal tube to ground or I get a nasty static shock.
I'm all upset because I can't grow anything but sunflowers, potatoes, and collard greens. I grew those quite successfully because I started in March while it was still cool and we got some light rain here and there. Now I've harvested all the wonderful new potatoes and collard greens that we can eat. I have so many collards I give them to the hens.

I'm still enjoying the sunflowers.... which, by the way, are all volunteers from last year's planting. Cool, huh? (Note the hill in the background. What color is it? Brown! The annual grasses which were a luscious green a month ago are now quite dormant. Crackly. Dry. Parched.)

 Maybe some of you can help me. My tomatoes have blossom end rot for the second year in a row. My research says that BER is caused by over and under watering and calcium deficiency. That is to say, letting the soil dry out between watering is not a good thing. Hey! I water every day when they start to droop in the heat!  I also amended with bone meal last winter after the garden was finished. (The dogs liked that!) Right now I have to water by hand because we can't afford another drip system. I'm gardening in containers because the soil is heavy clay, I was impatient and we had a lot of large broken animal water troughs. But they are metal troughs so they aren't porous. Moisture really can't evaporate out, right? What am I missing?

A California Lawn

Before Weeding

After Weeding
Which one do you like better? You'd better say the one without the star thistle! (top photo for you weed challenged individuals. You know who you are.) Star thistle is the most amazing plant. It pops right out after the annual grasses die off. It's tenacious and stickery. It takes over everything and can kill your horse's livers if you're not in the know and put them on it with nothing else to eat so they ingest it.
But it makes the most delicious honey! I hate it. I love it. Sigh.

We can't really water our "lawn" without feeling super guilty so we don't. We're on a well and storage pond system. This beautiful pond will be a mud hole in late August.

Waste not want not rules here. So we just tough it out and don't water our "lawn" until the next rainy season. All you people in the Pacific Northwest and the eastern U.S. I am so jealous of your water!
Here's our new drip system for the Raywood Ash trees. They almost croaked last year and us, too, from watering in beasty heat! We took a little Honda pump and filled a 150 gallon tank that we pulled around with the Viet Nam era jeep and watered each tree by hand. That was fun because the Jeep's brakes couldn't handle the full water tank trailer and we had to leap in between watering and braking. It was a two person job! Anyway, the hand watering kept them alive but only barely. My gift was a farmer tan. Drip is da bomb! Water does not run off. Goes right to where it's needed. Very little evap. And best of all, we don't have to go out in beasty heat to keep the trees alive! (Cue the cheering crowd sound track.)

The beauty of this new system is that we can pull back the extenders to the fence line and mow or let the horses graze and they won't be stomping all over our new line.
Here's the new filter.  What? You wonder why? Because we're using pond water.  Because the durn line clogs with pond water and we're back to flobbing around in the heat trying to figure out where the blockage is. Work smarter not harder, dudes!

The filter is the blue thingy to the left of the barn door. I'm so proud of Marty and his ingenious way of circumventing the door opening where vehicles would otherwise be running over the water line time and time again smashing them into oblivion. You can't see the water line because it goes from the filter to the inside of the barn door opening and OVER the barn door to the other side. Doesn't intrude ( very much) onto the rustic barn look. So Schmart! 

Cat Rug

Now I leave you with the Cat Rug. Remember my little venture into crocheting rag rugs? Anna showed me how to make shag rag rugs. Oh, I like that. Shag Rag Rugs. Gotta trademark that. Well, guess what? The cat likes 'em, too!
My rug! Not your rug! Purrrrr!

And the Horse at the Door
My old horse Dusty 28 years young has decided he likes hanging out by our front door. I have no idea what's going on in his little horsey brain but I find it most amusing. Avon calling!


  1. Awwww. so sorry about all the dry, dry, dry, hot, hot, hot.
    I wonder about your blossom end rot: do you water your plants from above? That sometimes leaves them vulnerable...

    1. No. It just seems so impossible that my plants are drying out between watering since I water them nearly every day. I'm not exaggerating that they start to wilt. We put up a sun shade last year and I'm going to cut down the sunflowers soon (waahhh!) so I can. Love sunflowers but I can't eat them. See if the sunshade helps. Maybe the variety I'm using isn't heat tolerant (enough) because I picked a variety that said it was. Last year I didn't get many tomatoes because the heat made the plants drop their flowers. Let's see.... ultimate solution? MOVE!

  2. Maybe the heat does extract the water faster than the plants can absorb and thus dry out. Is it windy too where the plants are? Because that is worse than just heat.
    Over here it is windy... sheesh... Gusts and gales up to storm power. And rain... rain... rain..... We are having very copious amounts of it. But like I said, the wind is the most notable and abnormal thing this spring. Maybe the jetstream changed course??

    1. It's windy sometimes. Oh boy recently we had a day of wind and it was like razor blades. The leading edge of plants were just shredded. But since then it's just heat. Right now we're having a "cool" spell where it's only in the 80s. I wonder? Maybe the metal cans heat up and the water evaporates faster because of that. hmmmm. I'm not what they call a black thumb. I generally have good vegetable gardens. My garden near San Francisco was really nice even though we had the fog. I'm stumped by this environment.