In my last post I talked a bit about how we’re extending our gardening season with row covers and cold frames. I thought I would expand on that a little, and paint a picture about what kind of work is involved when you’re completely off-grid. Since last time I updated, we’ve planted SO MUCH more in the garden. We now, currently, have sprouted: 3 types of radishes, 2 types of kale, arugula, carrots, mustard greens, mache (a salad green), snap peas, and purple kohlrabi. Waiting to see sprouts: onions, more carrots, lavender, and bok choy. Indoors, in cups, we have: asparagus (a few sprouts so far), various types of spicy and sweet peppers, and tomatoes. I also have cilantro and thyme in containers in the greenhouse.
So here’s our daily routine (assuming the weather is nice, no storms or crazy wind in the forecast):
Up early to uncover all the crops that have row covers or cold frames.
Move peppers and tomatoes from the house into the greenhouse for the day.
Asparagus gets covered in row cover and set out on the porch.
Everybody gets watered.
If there is some weather in the forecast for the day, rain or strong wind, we’ll keep the crops mostly covered except for the strongest sprouts. Indoor sprouts will just stay inside the house that day. But, if the weather is just bright and sunny, we’ll water again in the late afternoon, cover everyone back up, move sprout babies back indoors, and get ready for the next day.
Now, what about watering? We have no running water. Our system consists of two cisterns: a 130 gallon that sits in the back of the truck, and a 325 gallon that sits atop a platform by the garden. Lucky for us, we live in an area where lots of people have to haul their water, so the city has two fill-up stations where you can connect a hose, put money in an account, and fill your cisterns yourself. It costs all of a dollar for 128 gallons. I put $10 in our water account last Summer, and we just had to put more money in it this week. Granted, we don’t use the cisterns over the Winter, but still. We just use them for the garden.
Anyway, so we fill our little cistern, haul it home, park up the hill and connect a hose to it. The little cistern gravity-feeds into the big cistern over the course of a couple of hours. A couple of hauls a week is what we’ve been doing so far this season. Then, to water the garden, we attach a hose to the big cistern, and there’s enough pressure to gravity-water the entire garden. No power, no running water. And yet, we have a huge growing garden! We’re also putting a lot of effort into our rainwater collection systems, which will also save on water costs.
In other news, we finished putting the deer fence up around the garden, complete with a big gate that R built himself. Now that the main part of the fence is up, we can put work into reinforcing it here and there. R also laid chicken wire along the outside of the fence and tied fishing line at about chest height all the way around, about 3 or 4 feet from the garden fence. If deer walk into something they can’t see, it spooks them enough to not try to jump it. We also have a theory that chicken wire is not pleasant for them to walk on, which will keep them from coming near the fence at all. So far, no deer break-ins to the garden.
We have been very busy and by the end of most days we are pretty beat. If the weather is nice we’ll have a bonfire and a glass of wine and enjoy our little piece of paradise. Today is rainy and windy and cold outside, so all the sprouts are covered and the indoor babies are staying indoors today. Funny how the only time I find to blog is when the weather is nasty! If it was nice out I’d be outside working right now! It is nice to take a break every once in awhile.