Monday, May 18, 2015

Doing the Rain Dance

Do you know the Rain Dance? Two steps forward, one step back. Except for the parts where it is one step forward, two steps back.

This weird spring weather is making it hard to accomplish anything and is actually undoing many of our accomplishments:  Our heavy clay soil is too wet to weed or plant in - and weeds are having a hey day.  This morning, the strong winds had blown 6 panels off the greenhouse, which knocked over the electric fence, which allowed the cows in to trample the soft ground where grass was finally just beginning to grow.  The sudden hot humid temps of the weekend caused the cement floors and newly laid tile to puddle up with condensation, so wet we could not seal or grout the newly laid tile in the commercial kitchen. Today is suddenly extraordinarily cold, and I hear we have frost warnings tonight so our tomatoes, eggplants and basil will have to be covered.  But yesterday evening ended with a lovely double rainbow-- hopefully a promise of better weather to come.

We (especially Rog)  worked so hard on the commercial kitchen all weekend, but I will focus on non-kitchen projects this post.
There is an unsightly mound of dirt and brush in the woods as a byproduct of the  septic system installation, so I am slowly transforming it into a 30-foot long fairy garden. It is still sparse, but should look magical when the ground covers, wildflowers and ferns start growing.
Gnomes and fairies and thrift store treasures are tucked in.
Unearthed a sweet, grumpy toad while digging by the barn. I relocated him to the pollinator garden, which seemed safer with all the construction going on at the barn.
Yellow magnolia has another blossom.  It is a giant flower for such a tiny tree.
I found this darling garden bicycle sculpture at a thrift store - perfect for  my cow-riding-a-bike sculpture plan for Petal Fest!  I hope I can find time to do this!
Yesterday, Chris and his assistant Ruth delivered the new green wall structure for the aquaponic system.  We have set it up temporarily inside the barn using hydroponic nutrients until we can hook it up to the pond (a good thing since it might frost tonight!) There are eight towers, which we have planted with  everbearing strawberries, nasturtiums and basil. I hope to purchase a second tower later this summer and we will use them to grow all winter in the heated greenhouse.
Ruth setting a tower of strawberries into the frame.
The plants are facing the window, of course, so I took a shot from outside, looking in at the towers. Right now they are seedlings, but  in a few weeks it will create a dense green wall. The frame is on a base with wheels so we can move it fairly easily.
Chris also delivered 15 pounds of tilapia for the pond, approximately 60  small fish.
The tilapia seem to be settling in well and getting along with the goldfish and koi.  However, for tilapia the water has to be above 45 degrees and the temperature outside  has plummeted today.  This morning, the water temperature was down to 50 degrees, so we covered the pond with a pool blanket to help hold the  heat in. There should be enough thermal mass to retain the heat for another day until it warms up again.
Since the garden is so soggy and plumbers are working in the kitchen, WWOOFers Mae and Kelly were assigned chicken-coop cleaning this morning. (It is the kind of physical labor that will warm you up on a cold, windy day.)  They figured out how to outwit the guardian of the coop, Lucy the Goose, and now the chickens can enjoy clean, fresh bedding.
Fingers crossed for the weather to give us a break so we can make some decent headway!


Marcia said...

Enjoy reading your updates. Bicycle is a treasure.

Annie Gaddis said...

For heavy clay, don't ever toss out a tree limb or log, get a splitter and a chipper. Toss everything in there, then what comes out goes into the clay. Mix with bags of Gypsum and Vermiculite, weeds, lawn clippings, bails of straw, hair from your brush (dog and cat too!) and anything else that is organic. Add some rock dust (like Azomite) bone and blood meal. Wait a year before planting though or most will die (because the ground will heat up too much and fight for the nutrients). Make sure you've got a 4-bucket compost tea system in a corner of your patio or barn, for when you DO get that garden planted. I only have 2-acres, but am alone, 6 miles out of town with no friends or neighbors to count on for help. You are SO lucky to have a hubby and wwoofers to help. Closest ones to me are in Nashville 100-miles away :-(. Love your posts and pix! You can see mine at my FB page (see Miriam Anne Gaddis).

Linda said...

Wonderful post and your photos are beautiful...what a gorgeous rainbow!