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Quote of the Day: Kate Morton

August 26th, 2019

“The sun shone just as brilliantly as if Adeline had put in an order with the Lord. The extra lilies arrived and Davies raided the garden for more exotic species with which to gild the arrangements. The nocturnal shower that had kept Adeline awake and anxious had succeeded only in adding sparkle to the garden, so that each leaf looked to have been polished specially…”

by Kate Morton in The Forgotten Garden

A few weeks ago I found this book at my local thrift store and have been thoroughly enjoying it. Though not specifically about gardening/gardens, there’s a lot in there about a specific garden. I read this passage after a day and night of rain.

Taking photos in the morning after a rain is one of my favorite things. The garden is always fresh, the colors somehow more vibrant. I don’t know if the plants are somehow greener because of the fresh soaking or if the water on the leaves makes them appear more saturated. Oddly enough, I have tons of photos of the day after rain in the garden but failed to label them as such so I couldn’t find a lot (not to self, new label in photo software).

What do you like about rain in the garden?

Rain, Sweet Rain

September 2nd, 2014

A smell of rain came on streaks of coolness through the hot wind.

“Oh, maybe it will get to us, Ma! Maybe it will!” Laura said. Inside themselves they were all saying, “Please, please, please!”

The wind blew cooler. slowly, slowly, the cloud shadow grew larger. Now the cloud spread wide in the sky. Suddenly a shadow rushed across the flat land and up the knoll, and fast after it came the marching rain. It came up the knoll like millions of tiny trampling feet, and rain poured down on the house and on Ma and Mary and Laura and Carrie.

…Just before sunset the rain went away. Down across Plum reek and away across the prairie to the east it went, leaving only a few sparkling drops falling in the sunshine. Then the cloud turned purple and red and curled gold edges against the clear sky. The sun sank and the starts came out. The air was cool and the earth was damp and grateful.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (On the Banks of Plum Creek)

rainy days 2
It’s been dry here, for quite a while. Thankfully the weather has been cooler, but things were starting to get a little too dry in the garden. This summer our rain has come in big amounts, very quickly. We have had 5 inches overnight on several occasions. The result is that a lot runs off and not much soaks in.
I’ve had to water my newly planted shrubs quite often and I frequently find myself lugging watering cans around making sure potted plants are watered and prize plants have the water they need.
Last night we had a glorious soaking rain, it was perfect. Not too hard, not too soft, just right. I was worried with the hot days we’ve been having and a long trip on the horizon. Thankfully this rain will keep things in shape until I return, I can now travel without worry of trying to explain which plants might need a long drink while I am away.

How has the rainfall been in your garden this summer?

Surveying the Land

March 14th, 2013

During the 6 months we’ve been living here, I’ve been keeping a close watch on the garden.  The way the sun moves across the sky and the shadows it casts on the various part of the garden is something I watch.  Also of interest to me, is where the wind blows strongest and the snow drifts.   Of most importance though, is how the snow melts and the water runs.
surveying the garden 1
surveying the garden 2
Where the snow melts first is important, because it’s a good place to plant things like hellebores, snowdrops and crocuses.  They can take the cold and won’t mind at all if a heavy frost blankets them after a thaw.  They’ll be able to bloom beautifully without worry about a blanket of snow.  These spots would not be good places to plant things those things that might be lured into budding out early, only to be frozen out when the frosty air blows again
surveying the garden 3
At this time, I’m particularly interested in the snow melt and how it moves across the land.  How quickly the soil dries out is important because I want to know where I can plant my first sowing of cold hardy greens for early spring salads.  I’ve also taken particular notice of the areas in the garden where the water collects, while some plants enjoy wet feet, many do not.   There are a few areas that will be in need of a little excavating in order to allow the water to drain more freely, or perhaps a few small seasonal ponds will be installed to encourage toads and frogs to multiply in the garden.
surveying the garden 4
Yesterday I spent a half hour out walking about looking at the edible spaces in the garden.  Now that the snow is gone it won’t be long until I can start sowing spinach and onion seeds.  Depending on the weather, I might be able to plant some spinach seeds next week.

Do you have any trouble spots in your garden?  

Friday Favorite: The Big Berkey

June 8th, 2012

For a few years now we’ve been using a Big Berkey Water Filter for all of our drinking/cooking water. It’s one of those workhorses in the house that you don’t notice, but you’re so glad it’s there. It’s my Friday Favorite because I got my water test report from our water supplier yesterday.

This filter is great because it filters just about everything out of the water, heavy metals, VOC’s, radon, etc. They are very similar to the filters we used in Colombia growing up to filter our collected rain water for drinking.

In our Big Berkey we use the Black Berkey filtering elements and they remove or reduce the following:
Pathogenic Bacteria and Cysts (E. Coli, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Raoltella Terrigena) – Reduced to > 99.9999%
Viruses (MS2 – Fr Coliphage) – Reduced to > 99.999%
Parasites – Reduced to > 99.9999%
Harmful or unwanted chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides
Chlorine – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
Organic solvents
THM’s (Trihalomethanes – Bromodichloromethane, Bromoform, Chloroform, Dibromochloromethane) – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
MTBE’s (Methyl tert-Butyl Ehter) – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
Other VOC’s – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
Radiologicals: Radon 222, Removed to Below Detectable Limits
Nitrates & Nitrites
Heavy metals – Up to 95%
Foul tastes and odor

Our water here is drawn from very shallow sources, and thus there are a lot of contaminates in it. Most of them are reduced to “levels below that which would harm a healthy person” but that doesn’t give me much consolation. Some of them are quite high and above the limit listed as “safe”. I’d rather filter my water so I’m not drinking all these baddies! Since our water also contains arsenic and fluoride we use the additional Fluoride/Arsenic filters in addition to the Black filters. I really don’t want to take any chances with the arsenic.

One of the things I love about the Berkey is that it’s a gravity filter. I fill the top chamber and it filters down into the bottom. It will store about a gallon of water in the bottom reservoir. We also keep a gallon pitcher of filtered water on the counter. That way, whenever I need a lot of water for making soup or pasta I’ve got it ready.

We love our Berkey so much and the great water it provides us that it always travels with us when we hit the open road. There’s nothing better than having good, tasteless, odorless water wherever you are!

Even if you have great water, keeping a good filter in the house for emergencies is a good idea, it can be a small camping type one or a gravity feed one like the Berkey. If there’s ever a natural disaster or a water main break that disrupts or contaminates your water supply you can use it to filter water to drink. I like knowing that it doesn’t matter what happens, I can put the water from my rain barrels or from the lake through my Berkey and have safe drinking water.

Do you have well water or city water? Do you keep a water filter for emergencies?

Saying Ahhhhh…..

June 2nd, 2012

Yesterday it drizzled sweet refreshing rain on the gardens of Chiot’s Run all day long. It had been three weeks since our last rain, my rain barrels coughed and sputtered last week and I was forced to use the sprinkler for the past week since temperatures were in the high 80’s and 90’s.

Here in Ohio we never seem to have a perfect spring, it’s either too cold and wet or too hot and dry. This spring is tending towards hot and dry, not great for all the brassicas in the garden. Looks like I’ll be getting some button heads on some of the broccoli because of the heat.

It’s funny how keenly aware of when and how much water fell the last time it rained. I have to laugh when I talk to someone who doesn’t garden and they complain about how much rain we’ve had this spring, when I know it’s been one of those really dry years.

Do you find yourself noticing different things as a gardener than other people do when it comes to the weather?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.