Well Woes

There is nothing worse then not having water. When you have a well you never know what kind of issues could come up that stops the water flowing to your house or garden.

Over winter the water cut off 3 times. The first time was 18 hours, second was only overnight and the last time we didn’t have it for 8 hours. The well company came out each time and couldn’t find the issue but got it working again. This time they pulled up more well parts to try and resolve the issue permanently. This time they found it. A 45 year old check valve was the culprit.

Luckily this happened before we started planting! There was a lot of digging that disrupted the garden, bringing up clay and sand, and covering some of the good soil we had been building. Disappointing but the area is one we were still working on soil improvement anyway.

The well problem also gave us a chance to add something that will be a game changer for us. A hydrant running directly from the well is now placed inside the garden. No more dragging hoses or watering odd spots by hand. We can also rinse the vegetables in the garden leaving the good soil the vegetables carry behind rather than dragging extra dirt to our processing area.

Bad news but good timing! We are very happy with the end result. Hopefully we won’t be showering when the water goes out again! Getting shampoo out of your hair without water is not fun!

You can see the digging disaster on the farm’s YouTube Channel:

Xeriscaping for Water Preservation

Xeriscape
I love having a perennial garden in my front yard. It’s welcoming for visitors, a great way to attract bees for pollination and fresh cut flowers at the dinner table reminds me of why I live on a farm. It’s just beautiful!

Water is such a valuable resource, especially on a farm. Historically I found perennial gardens not only use a lot of water, they also require a lot of money, time and attention. That’s changed over time. The first thing we’ve done since we moved in is remove lawn which is a water sucking, fertilizer using, high maintenance nuisance. Expanding the perennial bed a little at a time into the lawn and filling in the bed with more drought tolerant plants is the objective.

Since we are spending a lot of money on chickens, bees and vegetables right now, there is no money for new ornamental plants. I’ve looked around the property for perennials that have weathered the recent years of neglect and divided them, moving them into the new planting spaces we are creating. It’s been very successful. There were a few plants I really wanted to add that were no where on the property.  I bought packets of Blanket Flower (picture to the right) Blanket Floweand Pineapple Sage seeds and grew a few transplants while I was growing the vegetable transplants. Cost effective and you get a lot of them this way.

Weed MulchI plant the divisions fairly close together so they reduce the sun’s exposure to the soil. I pull weeds before they start seeding and lay them down back to dry out on the soil for free organic mulch as seen to the left. Since we get a lot of grass, it makes a fantastic mulch.Cat Mint Seedlings

Some plants also drop seeds to expand the plantings. One of my favorites, Cat Mint is famous for finding seedlings at the base of the plant shown above. I just dig up the seedlings and plant them in new spots to start up a new plant. Cat Mint is a wonderful plant that grows fast in almost any condition, smells minty and has nice purple flowers that really attract bees.

Here are some other plants that are very forgiving with lack of water or care.
IrisLillyDaisiesLambs EarsPeoniesBlack Eye Susan
Iris                    Lillies            Daisies        Lambs Ears      Peonies     Black Eyed Susan

DianthusechinaceaIMG_0198YarrowPin CushionWild RoseBee Balm
Dianthus          Echinacea  Penstemon  Yarrow      Pincushion  Roses       Bee Balm

Herbs are also great as most are drought tolerant.
Rosemary
Thyme
Oregano
Sage
Lavendar
Lemon Grass

Drip irrigation or soaker hoses reduce water evaporation and will get the water right to the roots of the plant. They need only 5-15 minutes a day in the summer. They can thrive without extra watering the rest of the year. We are seriously considering a small pathway of artificial lawn through a large garden be. They technology on fake grass has come a long way! It would also keep the weeds more at bay than a walkway of rocks.

Next steps…..we will build a large patio in the backyard to eliminate the lawn and grow a perennial bed on the outer edge, surrounded by existing lilac bushes.

This is our dream to a virtually water free yard.

Our Conservation Plan

Land

Owning acreage in a world of limited resources should make everyone feel responsible. Being a good steward to the earth will allow your children to enjoy the essentials of life. Fresh air, clean water and natural food whether it comes from plants or animals. We put together a Conservation Plan to show our commitment to the ecology and wildlife on our property.

First, we will establish a more natural environment by removing lawns and invasive plants and replace with xeriscape natives. We are leaving about 30% of the land for wildlife only. We’ve seen animals ranging from birds, squirrels, rabbits and deer to raccoon,skunks, fox and coyotes. We have an abundance of garter snakes and a variety of tiny brown frogs that I’ve never seen before.

Water preservation is important. Every drop counts.Crops will be watered with drip irrigation and mulched with dried grasses and pine needles from the property to hold the moisture in. No chemical herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers will be used. The animals will be raised naturally using all natural and organic feed.

We want the farm to be naturally sustainable to be able to deliver good tasting and nutritious food to customers.