Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gardening with Spit and Bailing Wires

When I was a kid, a wee precocious brat, in Mrs White's Kindergarten, we used to play with modeling clay.

I remember the stuff was a brick red color, and always soft to work with. 

We used to roll the clay out into snakes and build all sorts of "constructions" with it.  It eventually progressed into a bunch of us building marble raceways with clay that would be balled up at the end of the play period.  The clay was never stiff enough to make long bridges with it, so we were constantly patching it to keep it in place.  

If we were lucky we'd get something stout enough to take a little ball of clay and roll down to the bottom with a lot of help.

Then it was time for story time, milk, and quiet time. 

That same kind of pasting things together to "just work for now" has been replaced.  There's a lot of engineering, in the best sense of the word, done in a property to keep things going. 

When we moved into this little house, a 2/1 with generous yard and a pool, we set to making things work better for us.  One of us got the "bright idea" to set up an irrigation line with very low flow water bubblers to water the plants needed, and only those plants.  1 gallon per hour is a lot of water for a single plant but my Orchids like it.

I am an indifferent gardener, not really enjoying visiting my pets the mosquitoes in the yard.  I'm a great food source for them, and all those bubblers create wet spots.

Since it's all on well water, there are some impurities in the water.   It has a sulfurous scent to it, and the formerly-white-now-red paint on the shed will tell you there is iron in the water.  Add a little grit that gets soaked up from time to time, and it gives me plenty of things to putter with.

I can tell it needs some putter time because one plant or another will wilt from a lack of water.  We do get 50 inches of rain, but most of that is in the six months of the wet season.  Also known as the Hurricane season, it can be a bit much.  A Sunday Afternoon can go from sun to Monsoon in an eye blink.

When I notice that the Mango tree is wilting, or I have lost a flower on an orchid, it's time to act.  A trip to the hardware store for more bubblers because I can't really be sure where they got to in the shed.  More black licorice sized tubing for the lines.  Every so often, just open up the end of the line and blow out the sand in the feeder pipes.

I'll wander slowly through the yard with the pump humming.  Rack will follow around, smiling and sniffing the air, then adding his own water to my plants. 

The process is a cycle.  I'll forget about it all now that the bubblers are mostly in place.  The fractal net of bifurcated licorice tubing along the East side of the pool feeding the many pots are now happy.  The same low flow lines are feeding my front side of the house and the Orange Tree there.  My pet palm tree that sprouted in a pot in the backyard and refused to be pulled is now almost six feet tall and moved to the island in front.  They're all watered through a spur line from the backyard to the front.  Most of these plants are established and in the ground where they belong.  The palm tree insisted on living so I gave it a home, and all the rest of the oddball plants in the yard are cuttings. 

All of those cuttings, trees, and random weeds are fed by bubblers and no more than a gallon at a time.  All on little licorice lines that don't last very long.  Just long enough to roll a ball of clay to the bottom and...

OK, Mrs. White!  It's time for the stories!  My favorite red rug to sit on once I put the clay away.

I guess times don't really change all that much.

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