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June 20 in the garden

 

carrot_flowersfuture carrots

carrotslast year’s carrots

rhubarb_artichokes_0some of the last of the rhubarb

harvest_june20_0typical picks these days

berries_cherries_0blueberries and cherries!

harvest_june20_3one of the first full fava pods

Today was the first day I felt that well of excitement that comes with the anticipation of days of full, real garden harvests. The fruiting plants all had quite a growth spurt last week and I’m seeing a lot of tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers forming.

So far this spring we’ve been eating plenty of rocket (one of my favorites and luckily it’s doing so well this year!), arugula (which is starting to bolt pretty quickly now), lettuces, kale and cilantro. The past week or so we’ve been enjoying artichokes, and are just now starting to be able to crunch away freely on sugar snap peas.The fava beans are filling out, and I think it won’t be long now til I’ll be able to start really picking. We discovered our love for favas last year and couldn’t get enough of them.

The crows have been helping themselves to the cherries this year, but they’ve been nice enough to let us get to at least a few handfuls. And the first few blueberry clusters are ripening.

Today I planted more seeds, filling in every nook and cranny of space that was left – parsnips, carrots, beans, spinach, more cilantro, more zucchini. I don’t think it’s too late (or in some cases not too early either I hope).

Still dealing with aphids on some of my kale plants. Strangely, it’s the only plant that seems to be a target. After pulling last year’s kale plants I thought I might have a fresh start, aphid-free.

The eggplant leaves have been getting chewed by flea beetles. This is the first time I’ve ever dealt with flea beetles. They’ve been few enough that it’s been manageable, and luckily their only interest has been the eggplant. Picky eaters, these bugs are. And the basil has had something chewing it’s leaves, but no matter how much I inspected, I never seemed to find anything – until one night last week I found a bunch of earwigs on the plants! To my surprise, it turns out they feed on many types of plants. Those creepers of the night.

I’d love to know what’s happening in your garden, if anyone wants to share.

 

 

 

keeping in touch

 

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These days I sit down to blog, and I’m simultaneously flooded with things I’d like to write about, and stumped at what to say at all. Most simply though, I feel I’d like to start recording my seasonal observations again. Every now and then I find myself wondering about something from a past year – like, “when were the cherries ready last year? It seems so early.” … “what did the tomatoes look like at this time last year?” … “when was our first baby deer sighting last June?” … “It hasn’t rained in weeks. Last June I think I was dealing with drowned cucumber plants from all the heavy rainfall.”  I used to record all kinds of observations, and have found that I really appreciate the reference as time passes. And on a greater scale, there is no doubt we’re experiencing worldwide climatic changes and I think it’s import to be actively aware and a part of what’s happening around us.

Every once in a while I go through a tough spot where I feel so sad by what’s happening in the world. So much war and human sickness. Sickness of consciousness. Disconnection from, and loss of love for life. The world can seem so broken and people can seem so shut down, disconnected, out of touch. Yesterday I was driving home from the post office, and “where is the love” started playing, and the tears just started pouring! I was a little surprised at myself, but when my sensitivities are turned up, it is easy to look anywhere and see an unnecessary, human-inflicted hardship on the land, the animals and on each other.

On a sweeter note (and possibly what stirred some of this up), in stark contrast to the complicated world we are in, last week we witnessed a new little life enter this world – a  perfectly uncomplicated birth of a baby fawn right in our yard. It felt like time stopped for that day in this bubble of safe space, and every creature around seemed to sync with this event. I’ll try to share more of it soon. It was, and has been – as we see glimpses of these 2 settle into the world together, been truly amazing.

kind

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A few more hours this evening and then it’s  time to put the week’s work aside for a bit, and slide into an easier pace. I’m looking forward to upping my guitar practice with a new app Steven found, tinkering in my garden and meeting up with some old friends. And if this crazy (!) wind calms down, we’ve got campfire cooking on our list. It’s been so summery and beautiful (and windy) out.

Also, I’ve been thinking about deliberate acts of random kindness, and how I could make them more a part of my life. Have you done any that stood out lately? This world is sure needing more gentle kindness.

 

ritual

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Every morning, upon rising, I prepare our morning cups of coffee. It’s a task I have always done for us, and love to do. There is a consistency and sureness in this daily ritual that I appreciate so much. Sometimes I am already looking forward to the following morning before the day has even ended. It’s our time to gently wake up together, and emerge into the day. And of course, enjoy the magic that is espresso.

Fun little fact: We first laid eyes on each other at a cafe, where I was the barista. I have been his coffee girl ever since :)

 

 

 

 

 

catchment_2014_0a

My most viewed, most pinned, most popular post on this blog is one that I wrote about our rainwater catchment system, which Steven created and installed back in March 2012. That post still receives daily hits, so clearly the interest in rainwater collection is very alive. I have often been asked to see more details, particularly how the water is accessed, so I thought it was time I filled in some blanks. If you missed the original post you can read it here.

Our catchment system, currently:

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When the tank was first installed, we had trouble coming up with the right tank fittings to complete our vision, so for a while we accessed the water straight from the bottom of the tank, through a rubber fitting attached to a short section of hose. Steven has since buried a line out to a more convenient location at the front end of this little side-of-the-garage space. (Also, the container is now fully enclosed, for UV protection).

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The line runs down the length of the side yard, from the tank at the back of the garage, along the garage wall (under the nursery pots). It takes a turn in the front, near the white pot, and runs parallel to the glass partition pictured above.

catchment_2014_3The line then comes up to where you see the spigot, concealed between the cedar pickets (for reference, you can see the very end of the frame of the glass partition in the photo above). All above ground pipe is insulated with readily available pipe insulation, and held on with zip ties.

The cedar section in front of the concrete block wall will eventually have a small sink on it, and behind the (removable) panel of pickets, is storage for a hose and a place for a drain. This little side yard is a fun project in progress. Another post for another day maybe…

catchment_2014_4

And a few closer details:

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After the water is diverted at the Clean Rain Ultra, it enters the top of the tank. Coming up with the right fittings for this project was a little tricky, which I mentioned above, as the tank input and output openings are not sized to cooperate with most standard plumbing parts.

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The cedar panel that surrounds the outcoming line is left unfastened for easy access to the tank’s shut-off valve. Because the catchment system is gravity feed, low pressure fittings can be used, such as the rubber one used here, with stainless pipe clamps. That rubber fitting compresses onto a PVC reducer. The reducer is threaded to fit common 3/4″ PVC pipe fittings. On the other side of the rubber fitting, it compresses directly to the tank outlet.

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Steven also added a cleanout for the underground line, which a pressurized garden hose can be hooked to in case a clog ever needs to be blown out. The cleanout can also be used with a non pressurized hose, in case we ever need to fully drain the tank. Additionally, it’s helpful to be able to drain lines during periods of freezing temperatures.

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We’ve been really happy with the Clean Rain Ultra, which I talked about in the original post. It’s been easy to maintain, simply needing an occasional clean-out of the screen, and it does it’s job keeping the tank free of debris and diverting the water.

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The rubber hose attached to the spigot is just a section of washing machine line. It makes it really easy to fill watering cans.

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We use our catchment water constantly, and appreciate having such an abundant resource. Easy access and ease of use allows us to take full advantage of our investment. I feel inspired every time I get water from this tap!

If anyone has questions, feel free to ask and we’ll try to answer. I always appreciate seeing such enthusiasm for self sufficiency and creative solutions to real needs.

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In response to a question in the comments below, the following drawing shows the connections to the top of the tank. You can click the photo to enlarge.

catchment_2014_drawingPart of what made this set of parts tricky to come up with, is PVC and ABS are not traditionally made to interact.

No glue was used, and hasn’t been needed. We wanted to maintain the ability to take it apart if need be. Also, PVC doesn’t hold up well to UV, so insulation is recommended (as well as from freezing). Some people also paint their PVC to protect from UV.

In the photos above, which show the top of the tank, the second ABS fitting is visible. The first ABS fitting and section of pipe is below the level of the cedar top.

The opening at the top of our tank came covered with a large threaded cap. This cap has a smaller threaded cap within it to allow for inspection of the tank contents. The larger caps with inspection cap are available online, if yours didn’t come with one. We left the larger cap on the tank, and threaded the ABS fitting into the inspection hole.

 

snapshots

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beetles

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It really feels like summer’s come early here. Not sure if I should be thrilled or concerned. I guess I am both. The weather patterns are all over the place, around the world.

1 – Signs of a warmer season. I live for this season of less.

2 – Planting a little bit, all the time.

3 – Mates. They were running across the drive like this.

4 – Packing the basket, bound for the lake.

5 – Blueberries are filling in.

6 – Camouflaged in red in a riot of color. Sweetest and hardest working guy I know ♥

I hope you’ve had a great weekend! We spent as much time as possible outside, gardening, working in the yard, eating meals, observing the changes around us. There is so much activity with the birds now raising their young and the deer getting ready for the arrival of baby fawns. There is new life emerging on every level! There is a little deer that’s been hanging close by the past few days. I often find it tucked in a corner near the garden, and it seems to feel comfortable near me while I work. We are thinking it may be recently orphaned. We saw an all day battle between a crow and a mother robin. The crow hunted and killed one of her babies, and then stalked the nest all day. Mamas are fierce though and the defense was ongoing and intense. My life can feel so easy when I see the raw reality of the life of an animal, where it is all about survival.

respite

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We are just coming out of a few days the likes of which we rarely experience here, ever – even in the height of summer. The temp topped out at 92 on April 30 and hovered in the 80s much of the time for the 2 days surrounding. To me, this is bodily bliss. I sometimes wonder if I should be living in Central America, or Hawaii, or somewhere this is more the norm. To wake up, throw on a linen sundress – the same linen sundress as the day before, slide into some sandals,  top my head with a sun hat and go…. such ease and simplicity. So light and lovely. Time slows down and life becomes gentler, even if all the details of the day remain the same.

The heat started to break this afternoon, and tonight the air and sky have shifted. The garden might be a little confused. The tomatoes, basil and squash went bonkers!

I feel so satisfied, and so ready for summer.

 

 

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