The kiddos are coming home from school over-exposed to sun. We’re taking safety measures – and we are all about the outdoor time, but why this spring? . . . It has not been raining – teachers are taking advantage and good for them!
In the last two-and-a-half weeks, we’ve received two fairly quick, but much-valued downpours and some golf-ball sized hail. The ASPI garden, 5 miles south of our house, has received no rain (or hail).
Although springs are generally wetter, falls are drier – rain has always been rather unpredictable in the long term. There are records of ancient droughts – and floods. However, the data seems to predict even larger swings in amounts of precipitation in the future.
At ASPI, one good thing at least has come from this uncharacteristically dry spring – a chance to patch our cistern. We have a large cement cistern that collects water from the roof to provide the garden and high tunnel with water. Now that it is dry, we are going to climb into, patch, and paint the interior. Hopefully, it will soon fill with water again and, along with our solar water pump, again provide free water for irrigation. You can find plans and notes for cistern construction in one of our tech papers at: http://www.appalachia-spi.org/diy-projects.html
We also have a rain barrel for the eave not connected to the cistern. These two have the capacity to provide all of our irrigation water for the garden; for free -through most lengths of drought – without lowering the water table or pulling from sources of drinking water. That’s good for the Earth, good for the public, and good for our budget.
The eastern quarter of the garden is mainly well-established natives and perennials. This section looks good. We have not watered it once. We weeded and mulched one time and the herbs can be harvested, the bramble berries are flowering, the strawberries are ripening. Many perennials and especially, native plants are very hardy through all kinds of unpredictable weather. As we are working on maintaining and managing our gardens, ASPI is working toward planting more edible perennials.
We are also mulching. Everything. A particularly persistent weedy section of lawn and garden is getting a makeover: first a layer of cardboard, then serious mulching. We’re hilling up a few spots for winter squash and melons, which will spread over the mulch. We’ll consider eggshells and diatomaceous earth for the slugs this might tempt. And next year – more perennials!
Each of our participants received 5 donated asparagus crowns and strawberries this year – and we have our volunteer perennial herbs potted up to distribute at the next meeting. Less water, less work, more food! We’d love to hear about your successes with lesser-known edible perennials!