Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's OUT! Finally, a plastic free yard....I think.

 Another two hours of backbreaking work this afternoon and the last of the plastic sheeting is out. I hope. With my luck I'll find more when I tackle the other half of the back yard next year. But at least it's all out in the areas where I planned this year's landscaping for the Slow the Flow Grant. And this last 30' by 30' tarp, below, was the worst. It had a thick layer of landscape cloth over it with up to one inch roots all through it, and another six inches of compacted soil on top of all that. Needless to say I've already taken some Tylenol anticipating the pain I'm going to wake up with tomorrow.

I started its removal in June, but my four-year-old has decided she no longer wants to help Mommy with landscaping projects, no matter how much I promise she can play in the mud. So our work-time during my two-year-old's nap has come to a stand still and my Slow the Flow landscape project hasn't progressed much since June (hence the lack of blog posts). I'm lucky if I get a few minutes of weeding here and there, or moving a plant around until I'm happy with its location. But today, thanks to my wonderful husband who distracted the kids for two hours, I finally finished this, and it was worth it. It's done and now I can plan the fun part of planting! Of course my four-year-old was perfectly happy to sit on the tarp while I took a picture of it. Figures.

 And she's also perfectly happy to eat her way through our veggie garden. Especially the beans she's in front of in this photo, which I thought I'd throw in as an 'after' shot for something pretty to look at. Where she's standing was a yew shrub a year ago, now it's pole beans, sunflowers, nasturtiums and my tomato and carrot patch. We've noticed the cabbage white butterflies are really enjoying the nasturtiums and the swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds are loving those sunflowers.

 Here's a shot of that sunflower patch from the other side, the hummingbirds love those red cardinal flowers by the kitchen window so much I went out and bought more. Almost every time I look out the window there's a hummingbird feeding. And the best part about the cardinal flowers is, even though they can grow right in the water, they are amazingly drought tolerant. I never water them and they're always beautiful!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Total water ban? $2,000 of new plants? No problem!

Last week the Town of Ipswich enacted a total ban on outside watering due to a malfunction at one of their pumping stations. A neighbor of mine came over to ask how I was faring, he was concerned that I wouldn't be able to care for everything especially after the money I've put into the new plants. I simply replied, "Hasn't affected me one bit." And here's why:

I have two 50 gallon rain barrels attached to my two most productive downspouts. The first one is tucked in next to my vegetable and herb beds by the side door. It's the same color as the house, so it camouflages nicely, I think.

The second one is on the other end of the house by the shade garden. This one overflows into a pipe that runs under the path and into a t-shape perforated pipe under the three ostrich ferns in the middle of the island shade garden below. So when it really pours instead of overflowing onto our foundation it gives an extra soak to the plants that love that.

drought tolerant monarch waystation
All the full sun plants are drought tolerant so once they get a week of supplemental watering after planting they're all set for a week of no rain. The monarch waystation to the right hasn't been watered in weeks, it's pretty happy, we have at least six baby monarch caterpillars munching away and dozens of eggs waiting to hatch.

The shade plants that do need a bit of extra water do fine with a little bit from the rain barrels. And if those run low I stick a bucket under our shower and let that fill up while the water warms up and when I'm not rinsing soap and shampoo. I can usually get another 2 to 3 gallons that way. I know it sounds like a bit of work, but 2 or 3 gallons waters all my planters and my three compact sweet pepper bushes that droop when it's hot and dry.

I do all these practices even when we don't have a water ban. The minute it was lifted I heard the tell tale sounds of sprinklers shifting back and forth around the neighborhood. My garden looks just as green and lush as everyone's and I haven't touched a hose. It's not hard, just takes some planning and thinking and a little bit of help from Mother Nature to fill up the rain barrels every once in a while.