Our 2021 garden: defensive strategies

While going through the old kitchen garden this morning, I was seeing more of our beets, slowly being nibbled away. We’d added stinky soap, cat fur, hot chili flakes, and a motion sensor light. The only thing they seem to be doing is spreading out the damage, as the various things get avoided.

So today, we tried something else.

Since there’s no point keeping the mosquito netting wall up to keep the deer away from the lettuces that the groundhog decimated, it was taken down. The sheet was then torn in half, lengthwise, to be used as floating row covers.

One half was used to cover the L shaped beet bed. The other half was cut into two pieces, with one covering the beets by the retaining wall, and the other covering the carrot bed. The edges are weighted down with bricks and whatever rocks we could find that had some weight to them.

It won’t stop a determined critter, but it might be enough to convince it to not bother, and move on to easier pickings.

My only concern about that is, “easy pickings” would be the poppies and the couple of sunflowers growing next to them. They’re too tall to cover with anything, without damaging them, but not too tall for a critter to reach.

That done, we moved on to the cucamelons and gourds.

For this, we rigged a chicken wire “cage. The top is laced to the chain link fence with twine, above the cucamelons. Over the gourds, it’s just tacked in place at the end, so that a gap can be make for the plants to grow through. The ends were cut and folded in to close them off, and the bottoms are tacked down with tent pegs.

Again, this is not going to stop a determined critters. But it is better than nothing.

As I write this, it was past 9pm, and we are still at 30C/86F, with the humidex at 33C/91F. Tomorrow’s forecasted high is 34C/93F, with the humidex at 38C/100F. Hot, though not quite as hot as the previous heat wave. The girls have been diligent about the evening watering, though I think we’re going to have to keep it to just one watering a day, after something concerning happened last night.

The sweet corn and sunflower beds have been the most difficult to properly water, so we have started to use a sprinkler, turned on for about an hour before the rest of the watering is done. It reaches almost all of the corn and sunflower beds, leaving only a row and a bit at each end that need to be watered manually. Yesterday, as one daughter headed out to switch the hose from the sprinkler to the spray nozzle, my other daughter started to use the front hose to water the old kitchen garden.

This is something we have done before without issue, but this time, all pressure was lost. My younger daughter went into the basement to check the pump, and found it making that grinding noise we have managed to avoid for quite a while now, and the presser was down to zero. By the time she called me over to look, the pressure was back up to 30psi, which is where it should be, but the taps to outside were shut off, anyhow. After the pump shut itself off again, we turned the taps back on, and the girls continued watering, but with just using the back tap.

Now, when we first noticed the pump making that noise and we would lose all water pressure, it was quite a concern. There was a possibility that the foot valve was leaking. We had two plumbers look at the pump, and one even crawled into the well shaft, and my brother even bought a new pump to replace this one, which is about 20 years old. The problem is, the system is so old, neither plumber was willing to chance doing the work, because the risk of something breaking in the well and losing our water completely was too high. At the very least, we’d have to hire someone to find parts for a system that’s almost 50 years old and are in different sizes than modern wells, break the well cap to access the well and replace the parts, or dig a new well.

Digging a new well was the recommended course of action.

None of this is an option for us, so basically, we’re being really careful. The main thing is that problems would start when water was being used faster than the pump could refill the pressure tank. As long as we don’t do things like run the bath as full pressure, or use multiple sinks at once, etc., we can keep it from happening. We know we’re on borrowed time, though.

The hoses do not use a lot of water at once, and even with both taps being used, we never had issues with the pressure before. So why did it happen last night?

I can think of only one thing.

The water table is dropping.

I don’t remember this even happening before, but I can’t think of anything else. It’s not like someone decided to take a shower or something at the same time – and we’ve even the shower get used by someone not knowing the hose was in use, with no loss of pressure.

So for now, we’re going to stick to watering just once a day.

Hopefully, it will be enough.

This is when we could really use more mulch! In the future, when we build our permanent garden beds, a drip irrigation system is also very much in the plans.

The Re-Farmer

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