As we head into the last month of 2013, I figured I better record some of the larger projects I undertook this year but didn’t manage to write about. I know they’re no longer newsy, but I find that I frequently refer to my own blog to jog my memory about when I did certain projects, so it’s important to get them up here even if they’re month’s late.
First up, the ironic hydrant installation. Backstory: for the first year I gardened here, I carried 5 gallon buckets of water, one in each hand, to water the vegetable garden. Then I wised up and ran a few hundred feet of garden hose from the spigot on the well house. It lay across the field and driveway all summer, in all its crappy artificial green glory, and made not only an eyesore but a pretty annoying mowing obstacle.
Of course, each of these summers saw record high temperatures, summer droughts, and even some pretty serious storms that killed the power for sometimes up to a full week. I did my best to keep the garden watered, but finally told myself my plants had better grow some deep roots and fend for themselves. I threw on a thick layer of straw mulch and walked away.
Come spring 2013, I decided it was time to get some proper water out to the vegetable garden. So I called a nice guy and we set a date for him to come install a water line and frost-free hydrant. And then it started raining. And didn’t stop all spring. Which was great for my young garden, but we kept having to push back our installation date because it was raining too much to open the deep trench that was required to house the water line. And so, with these flooded conditions it was June 25 until it was dry enough to install the hydrant.
But the crew arrived that morning and within a few hours had opened a deep trench all the way from the wellhouse, where all my plumbing is located, to the garden.
They installed a new water line coming through the foundation of the wellhouse basement and ran pipe in the trench…
...and out to a new hydrant right next to the vegetable garden. I chose to not put the hydrant within the garden so I could use it to fill the chicken waterers without going in the garden. The photos above give you a good sense of the native red Virginia clay that I’m working with as I build my gardens, and is a good illustration of why I get so excited when I can eventually turn this into black, crumbly, worm-filled soil!
And now I have an awesome water source right where I need it. That I used to water the garden exactly twice this year, as the rain continued and kept things so happy that supplemental water was totally unnecessary. You can see in that photo how far along the garden was on June 25, without any extra water at all.
I know there are bound to be more summer droughts, but I sure was laughing that the year I chose to install the water line is the year I didn’t end up needing it! Oh well. Every little bit of infrastructure I add to this property improves it and takes me a step further along the path of carving a working homestead out of a field.