[From 4 May 2016] Cheap! To truly appreciate tiny farming, you have to embrace the humble tools that make it all possible, like these cheap ($6) plastic lawn sprinklers that work with the well pump’s low pressure (maybe 20% of normal urban tap psi), where better quality models are too well-built (heavy) to move. On the hunt for more replacements, I picked up a couple of versions at a second stop, after a failed attempt in the sprawling garden center of a giant hardware store, where they’d stopped carrying the cheap stuff. Overhead irrigation is inefficient at any scale, what with evaporation and water being blown off target, but at this small scale, it’s still an effective time-saver for watering in newly seeded beds…
Rainwater upgrade: We only turned over this rain barrel yesterday, set bottom up for winter to keep empty in order to avoid frozen water expansion cracking the plastic, and it rained overnight. A little rain, a fair-sized collection area (roof with eavestrough), the law of gravity, and presto, the first seedling water of the season from just outside the door, a lot handier than having to haul it over in 50 lb jugs from the well pump in the barn, a bit of a hike away. Modern conveniences!
[From 2-Jul-2012] End of the line: what it looks like when your well bottoms out and the water stops flowing. Just like a power failure… We’ve been watching the level in the dug well we’re using, and the refresh rate is pretty dismal. Today, while watering in newly seeded beds, the water finally stopped. After last fall’s failed well drilling, figuring out short and longer term water solution is big here now. The water will come back eventually in this well, but the water table drops as the winter reserves go, and at this point, the well won’t refill high enough or quickly enough to be useful even for seedlings. Water barrels filled from the house well and distributed by watering can is a possible labor-intensive emergency measure. And of course, there is always…rain.
No luck with the dug well—at this point, the standing level has dropped around 10 ft. since spring, and the replenish rate is barely a foot in 24 hours—so it’s on to other water sources and delivery methods. As with most things on this tiny farm, the ultimate fallback tends to be something really labor-intensive. (Hahahahaha. I have to laugh.) In this case: WATER BARRELS. In a thankfully typical seek-and-ye-shall-find situation, there is a supplier of used barrels just down the road. Who’d have thought! These are standard 55 gallon, available in steel or plastic, and only about $10 a pop, with optional lids for a couple bucks more. Of course, they’re food-grade, which means, coated on the inside and used only for food, with those weathered white labels telling the story: pickles, perhaps. Strategically located around newly seeded beds, the barrels are filled from the house well (via the former dead well pipe) and then, 2-gallon watering cans do the final job. We still need rain as things grow, but this will work for germination and seedlings. Whatever it takes!
The last-plantings-of-the-season fun continues as we watch the weather and hope these crops get a jump before cool temperatures and weaker sun start to seriously slow things down. More sun is the main thing, right now, and that’s been going well. Our last beds of spinach, lettuce, radish and Asian greens, direct seeded a week ago, got well-rained in the day after seeding, and they’re all coming up now. Still, it’s been fairly windy and dry since, so we decided to hand water them, to help ’em all along. Here, Tracy uses the RedHead water breaker to gently lay down a little flood (behind her that’s broccoli, exploded: tiny broccoli flowers from unharvested heads that we take to market as a free edible flower salad garnish). In this section, 100′ x 5 rows of lettuce mix, and the same of Bloomsdale spinach… Grow, little plants, grow! :)