Monday was yet another nice day, which was nice. Got to admit, when the weather is good it really is lovely here but when it’s bad, well I wonder what on earth we did moving here. As for the new vegetable plot, I enjoy a challenge but this is a bit more of a challenge than I expected. Still once the basics are done, it won’t be so hard.
I mentioned sheep on Sunday and got a lovely email from Sue at gardenfarming. She’d just finished running a bespoke course on pig keeping, her goats are kidding (I think that’s the right term for giving birth) and is pretty busy but took the time to tell me that ewes can be very defensive of their lambs and that they probably see the cat as a potential threat, like a fox. She sums up their stare beautifully as “Go on punk, make my day!”
We were outside and the cat jumped on the wall to look at the sheep. A stare-off took place. There’s a phrase to describe futility, ‘out stare a cat’, well I can tell you that sheep can indeed out stare a cat.
Val was putting a couple of small pieris into pots to grow on for eventual planting out when the pretty garden is sorted and I was moving my blueberries from their 8″ pots into 42cm (16″) tubs.
Blueberries are basically an acid bog plant so they like ericaceous compost and to be kept damp. If you’ve an acid, wet soil, like a bog, then plant direct into the ground but otherwise, you’ll find they do best in pots. It’s important that the pot is quite large in relation to the plant so it holds a good reservoir of water. Adding water retaining crystals to the compost is a good idea as well.
A friend of mine grows lovely blueberries in an old bath tub sunk into the ground. The only drainage is the plug-hole and he tops it up from the water butt when it shows the slightest sign of drying out. Using tap water, you can make the soil less acid, hence only using rain water for ericaceous plants if at all possible.
When we had the cow shed renovated and re-roofed, guttering was fitted. There’s posh! On one side it goes into the drain and on the other it just goes into the water butt, there being no drain near.
Now this is fine except when the butt is full. If I just let it overflow it will soak into ground by the shed wall and that defeats the object of having the walls pointed outside and tanked inside to stop the damp.
Eventually I want to have 3 butts linked together and raise them so I can get a watering can under the tap. This means building a support about 18″ high under the butts. A smallish water butt some 2 feet (60cm) in diameter about 3 feet (90cm) high holds around 200 litres of water. That weighs 200Kg (31 stone) so not something I care to knock up from a bit of scrap wood.
There is another option, which may be better. Rather than build a support under the butts and raise them, I could leave them at ground level and use a submersible pump to get the water out.
I’d have to buy a pump but it would mean I could get water from a hosepipe to the plot rather than carrying cans. I’d also have to run electricity to the pump. I quite fancied a solar powered pump but once you get beyond something to run a little fountain in a garden pond the price gets prohibitive, I mean hundreds of pounds!
My temporary solution is to raise my blue barrel water butt about 8″ on a large stone and use the tap connected to a hosepipe to drain excess water to the land drain’s soakaway.