Monday, April 27, 2015

tomato endeavor 2015

drought continues to plague california  and our local irrigation district is now requiring 25% mandatory reduction in water use (compared to 2013 usage).

if you recall last year they were looking for 30% voluntary reduction.  steps i took last year was to reduce turf watering - the lawn took a beating, but survived.  front landscape plants made it ok (for the most part) - although i lost 3 or my flowering plums to borers - but the maples are doing fine.  i reduced my orchard watering regime by 30% and i had no vegetable garden.  we used 2014 as the year to line the garden beds with gopher wire.

2015 rolls in, the drought continues.  how do i sync that with the need for fresh home grown tomatoes and maintain a 25% reduction in water usage?

well, only 4 tomatoes helps, and a few tweaks of the irrigation, the addition of coir and a thick mat of alfalfa is my hope to make watering the tomatoes a once or twice a week endeavor.

i have further reduced my orchard watering schedule.  prior to the drought, my trees were getting roughly 48 gallons of water per tree per, per week.  last year, i reduced it to 32 gallons of water per tree, per week.  this year i am reducing it to 10 gallons of water per tree, per week.  thats a pretty substantial drop.  last years change had no noticeable impact, so i am hoping this further reduction is met with similar results.  in el dorado county, water is gold, if i can keep some of that gold in my pocket - yay,  for me.

my goal for my garden beds from the start was organic and the use of omri certified products if i needed to add anything.  looking for something to improve water retention in the beds led me to coir - the outer husk of coconuts.  suggested by Farmer Fred (, i found coir at the Front Yard Nursery and it was omri certified.  coir absorbs 9 times it weight in water, so the hope is it will help hold the water over a longer period than the soil in the bed - thus reducing my water needs.

to add even more protection, i have added a layer of alfalfa around the tomato, this should reduce evaporation and working with the coir - make water needs significantly less.  like i said, my goal is to water twice a week - once a week is a stretch goal.  in the center of the alfalfa chips (circled in red) is one of this years tomatoes.  and those end of the season alfalfa chips will shred nicely right into the compost pile.

come mid august, we will see.....

Friday, September 5, 2014

as usual, the phantom blogger makes a quick run thru and calls it a season.....  well really, its just that i get focused elsewhere and as i get older i realize time is what i am truly short of.

however, blah, blah, blah..... i can say that my fishing days are down too, so this blog isnt the only thing thats not getting proper attention.  the upside?  my oldest son is nearing completion of his eagle scout rank and i did get this project done this summer:

drum roll please.....  i lined all of my raised beds (12 of them) with a heavy metal fabric to keep out gophers and moles.

many of you may know that california is in a severe drought.  my county issued a voluntary 30% reduction in water usage, in hopes that mandatory controls can be avoided.  i have 12 raised beds and the soil is the nice fluffy kind one can buy in bulk.  it doesnt hold water like a clay soil will and as a result i use quite a bit of water for my vegetables.

i did not want to lose my turf, my nice front yard maples or 50 or so fruit trees.  so i made the supreme sacrifice and decided to forgo the 2014 vegetable garden and take advantage of the fallow year and line the beds to keep out the gophers.

i did cut back on water to the fruit trees by abut 25%, followed the mandated turf watering days and had an audit by the irrigation district - based upon the water meter, i exceeded the 30% by a wide margin.  although the lawn took a beating, its at least not brown.  i also discovered that my fruit trees are doing fine on 25% less water, so i can save there going forward, might even be able to reduce there more.

believe me, my 16 year old son did not appreciate being tapped for the dig-out-the-dirt task, but he survived.

as you can see, i overlapped the metal fabric and stitched it together with wire and also provided a tack strip up under the keister boards which locked in the wire to the beds.  and as of 9/5, i have one bed left to complete (out of 12) and plan to have #12 completed on 9/6.  my hope is there is not a hole large enough to let in a critter to munch on my vege's - i can tell you, however, if they do find thier way in, they can have what they want, they earned it......

as for my gardening in 2015 - if the drought is still on, and chances are it will be, i do plan on planting 4 tomato plants:  sun gold, cherokee purple, black zebra and super fantastic.  this will cover my bare necessities and leave the other beds fallow.  this may be the future of my vegetable gardening, at least until mother nature decides to send us the water we need.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

flavor supremes start to show

pluots - specifically - flavor supreme is now being harvested in the back-forty.

an interspecific - engineered by zaiger.  no its not gmo.  this guy actually used mother natures way of cross pollination to get a plum/apricot

it is a green skinned, purple centered fruit.  very juicy, no tartness - but also not overly sweet.

balanced is an apt description.

 this is the first year we got these.  the tree has a good loading of them, so we should see more of these over the next few weeks.

Friday, June 14, 2013

#2 and #3

this year just might be a good year for fruit in my orchard.  pictured to your right are the second and third nectarines i picked.

#1 was eaten the other day - with no thought of taking a picture to show you.

plums, apricots, apriums, pluots, pears and apples are all on tap too.  cherries, however, are a bust. 

as i am a disciple of the ed laivo backyard orchard culture method of pruning, and i do cut them back pretty hard every year - it has been a long haul to get into fruit production.  i will give the cherries a couple more years.  if no production - they will be pulled and other tree varieties be planted.

Friday, June 7, 2013

1 month into it

well - post #2 for 2013 is in the books.  i just doubled last years production.  how's that for setting a low bar?

all is well in the garden - no failures.  tomatoes are finally seeing some sets.  we have had quite a range of weather over the last month - from 37 degree morning temps to 105 this weekend; the fact that all is well, is indeed a miracle.

this years menu is a bit more limited than in previous years.  only ten tomato plants.

yep - thats right only ten.  and that is from the guy who planted 41 plants 4 years ago.  i also did away with beans, radish, corn, melons.  its not that i didnt enjoy them, but rarely got to the garden to pick them when ready.

so this year i decided to be a better judge of what i could do, save some water and effort and hopefully still have a good year.

here she is 1 month into the growing season.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

well, well, well - he decides to show up

yup - i have been a bad blogger....  bad, bad, bad.

but what really gets me going on this blog is when the new growing season starts.  and start, it has.

all of the beds have been planted and seven yards of bark has been spread in the walking areas around the beds.  the 2012/2013 winter was a dry one for us in northern california - so my reduction to only 10 tomatoes is a good thing.  over all things are looking up for the garden, i seem to have a pretty good population of ladybugs and their larvae roaming around.

some of last years challenges were cukes and squash which were being devoured by sowbugs/pillbugs as they seedlings emerged from the soil.  i am preemptively spreading OMRI certified iron phosphate and hopefully that will solve the problem.

so heres essentially day one for the 2013 garden.  i do have hopes of keeping things updated here. 

heres hoping you have a green year too!

Monday, April 30, 2012

and it starts now....

early saturday morning saw me out in the garden, roto-tilling the beds.  2 bags of chicken poo per bed  and 10 minutes with the mantis tiller and these beds are ready to grow.  11 of the 12 beds were raked smooth and ready for planting.

the twelfth was a little too close to the bee hives and the ladies werent in the proper disposition to allow me at the bed to finish it up. ah - another task for an early morning visit to the garden this week.

picture #1 - garden in flight, weeds piled up, beds roto-tilled but in disarray.

picture #2 - ready for seeds.

tomatoes go in - starting tonight.