Monday, March 31, 2008

They all Came Back

I had a little time between weather situations to go check out my perennial border and see what came back. The Shasta daisies, salvia, Whirling Butterfly guara, French hollyhocks, ice plant, bog salvia are all showing back up. That is a picture from last summer, but I can look forward to more blooms in the next few weeks. Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.
Did anybody else catch the gardening skit on Two and a Half Men? I thought I was going to fall over laughing.
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mother Nature is Messing with Me

Remember a few days ago when I mowed around the grape hyacinths? What I didn't tell you was that I did not finish the job. We have a little strip of grass on each side of the house and a triangle on one side of the driveway. I didn't mow those down. The neglected areas in addition to the clumps of flowers in the part I did mow make for a supremely embarrassing lawn. Teenagers have been coming by every day offering to mow my yard for pay. This is especially humiliating as I have a gardening service sign on my truck. Bad gardener, very very bad. It's kind of like the cobbler's children have no shoes. I am so busy with my customers' flower beds and volunteer work that my yard stays in a constant state of neglect. When everything is in bloom it is s pretty mess. However, right now it is just a mess.

Today I intend to at least take care of the grass/weed situation. I have a reel push mower and an electric mower. The weeds are too tall to use the push mower so I have to use the electric contraption. About an hour ago I pulled out the extension cords and set up the mower. Big fat raindrops fell on my head. Even I know not to use and electric lawnmower in the rain. I put everything under the porch and came back inside to wait. After just a few big fat raindrops it is all clear again and not too wet to mow. I went back outside and set it all up again. Big fat rain drops fell on my head. I put it all back on the porch and came back inside. No more raindrops. COME ON!! I go back outside. Baby Monkey gets stung by a wasp. Come back inside and doctor him up. Go back outside set up the lawnmower and start mowing around the grape hyacinths. Then KERBLAAM - Big lightening bolt and rumbling thunder. Run back inside and say a prayer of thanks for not being struck dead by lightening. Look outside. No way. Absolutely NO FREAKING WAY -SUNSHINE!!! I'm not falling for it this time. We will just have to be the redneck lawn of the month until the clouds are completely gone.

On a brighter note, I had my most successful sourdough bread results since I was gifted/cursed with the bag of starter. It seems the trick is to leave it in a proofing oven a very long time. Apparently, you cannot rush sourdough bread or my dad.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Good Eatin

The time of year has come again when we can eat out of the garden almost daily. Today I had asparagus and radishes. I harvested onions yesterday and will be making a fennel and onion salad to marinate in the fridge over night. The Swiss chard is huge and we need to start harvesting it again. I still have a little cabbage left for slaw and maybe cabbage rolls. I am not sure if the monkeys will eat cabbage rolls. I have mustard and spinach that are ready to eat. The snow peas are still little, but with a bit more warm weather, they will take off. the lettuce is tiny, but needs to be thinned. We will make salads out of the thinned out tiny plants.

We grow cool weather vegetables all winter and rotate out to warm season plants around the first of May. In about four weeks the tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, okra, beans, and cucumbers will go in. In the meantime the onions and garlic will all be pulled, cleaned, and let to dry out before I store them. I still need to start basil.

Fennel and onion salad.
Two medium sized onions sliced in thin rings
1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together, store in a covered container and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Serve cold.
We have to eat the fennel now before the black swallowtail butterflies show up. Their babies eat our fennel and dill. I will post pictures when they show up.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth Hour

I just signed us up for Earth Hour. Tomorrow night at 8:o0 I will turn off all our lights, power down this addiction box, and go outside. We may have candles or better yet the monkeys can play with their wind-up flashlights. I will attempt to guilt my neighbors into participating. I may offer beer.
I am really trying to teach my children to take care of our little piece of earth. They are already professional composters and will retrieve banana peels out of your trashcan and give you "The Look." They know the location of the recycling center. They don't throw out paper. We have had to explain to Middle Monkey that it is okay to cut down invasive, nonnative trees. He gave his Opa a lecture about how bad it was to cut down a tree. Opa was amused.
Anyway, should you feel inclined and want to have fun in the dark, sign up for Earth Hour. No Meme, I do not want a report on how you spent the time. I wonder if I am the only one in small town Texas participating in this global event?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How A Girl Mows the Lawn

My lawn is just beginning to grow. Mostly it is just winter weeds at this time of year. We only have a couple of tiny areas of lawn. I have converted everything I can into flower beds and gardens. Manly Man has managed to hang on to this little bit of grass. At this time of year there are many clumps of grape hyacinth growing and blooming amongst the grass and weeds. They are such a pretty color (hyacinths not the weeds).
I had to mow. We were beginning to look like the red neck yard of the month. Did I mow the little blue flowers down? No, I mowed around them. So here I am mowing in a drunken weaving path. I am sure it looked crazy to the neighbors. After about ten minutes of carefully avoiding the flowers, I look up and see Manly Man and neighbor J staring at me. Manly Man yells, "That is just wrong." He wanted me to mow the flowers down. Instead of doing that, I began to mow faster and more erratically. Then I mowed off into the ditch. The lawn has a bad haircut, but grape hyacinths are safe for another week.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How To Garden on An Historic Site.

This is more a "How in the world and I going to garden on an historic site," rather than instructions on how to do so. I guess you can all learn along with me.

I was asked to help with the landscaping of our county's old Poor Farm. This is a MG project to be done along with several others including rainwater harvesting systems and landscaping around other county buildings.

The farm was established in 1883 to house and provide medical care to the county's paupers. An individual was assigned to the farm after being declared a pauper and were to stay there until they could support themselves or died. Able bodied persons were required to work. Apparently, a few "lazy" people were given train tickets out of Kaufman County and the great State of Texas. A court order was required in order to leave the farm. During 1900 the farm was used as an epidemic camp during a small pox outbreak. Later it was used to showcase new farming technologies.

As we walked around today, I saw a hodgepodge of buildings, equipment, and overgrown fence rows. The old jail, 1960's era I believe, is being used for storage. This building gave me the creepy crawlies. I am not sure what structural problems exist in each of the buildings. Water is the first order of business. We found a spigot, but it is not working. The door to one of the buildings had to be kicked hard in order for us to get in. We found a rusted wrench and a rusted ring of some kind.

My challenge will be to find Earthkind designated plants that might have been available in 1883. A square foot garden is being planned for a fenced in "yard." The goal is to turn this into a museum.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I've Been Tagged.

Thanks to Weed Wackin Wenches - Curmudgeon and Wing Nut -I am now about to bore you with ten things about myself.

1). I am afraid of my electric sewing machine, electric can openers, electric pencil sharpeners, and motherhood. I have a hand cranked sewing machine and a manual can opener. I am just going to have to deal with the panic attacks and get these monkeys raised.

2). I am eight years older than my Manly Man. Go Debbi!

3). I can still do the splits, right and left leg. Might explain how I bagged Manly Man.

4). I am the oldest of seven children. No we are not Catholic. Try going through high school with a constantly pregnant mother - Good times.

5). I don't get my children's jokes. In my defense, the monkeys are only funny when they aren't trying to be funny.

6). I bake bread and recently started growing my own sour dough starter. Now I am sort of gardening in the refrigerator. Manly man and the monkeys are getting worried.

7). I get paid to garden. It seems kind of wrong to love my job this much.

8). I hide chocolate all over the house. Really, it is hidden everywhere. If something happens to me y'all need to come over here and help find all of it.

9.) I can't sing. Out of meanness, I call my sisters and sing happy birthday to their answering machines.

10). I love to pants the monkeys. It's fun and they keep coming back.

Okay, I tag Joy at GardenJoy4Me, Sherry at Sherrys Zoo and Garden, Kurt at All Kurt all the Time, Jack at Jackamunga, and Matt&Jen at Our First Garden. Please tell us ten things about yourself and don't make a voodoo doll in my image to punish me because I tagged you.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Going Camping and Gardening

Abby fresh out of the pond. You have no idea the strength of her aroma.
Look what Baby Monkey drew for me with his Easter basket chalk. He made me a flower.
We spent Friday night, Saturday, and Saturday night camping. Believe it or not this was a gardening opportunity. The land we camp on belongs to a good friend and adopted Uncle to the monkeys. Hi, Wayne, congratulations you are an honorary Monkeys' Uncle.
Anyway, the place has a very nice pavilion with a kitchen and bathroom. The area is screened in and has ceiling fans - My kind of camping. Recently, Uncle W. had flower beds made along one side of the building. Guess what I took camping - Compost of course. I also brought along a Wave petunia, Hyacinth bean seeds, purple Castor bean seeds, and two French hollyhocks. This should be a pretty border in a couple of months. They need a anchor plant for one corner. I am thinking a double purple Rose of Sharon.
The monkeys had a great time. A lot of the the cousin monkeys showed up. There was fishing, BB gun target practice, four wheeler riding, canoe paddling, and general running around in the country. There was a tractor parade (I missed the picture, drat). They brought me a dead turtle. Why do boys bring home dead things? We celebrated Middle Monkey's birthday. His actual birthday is the day after Christmas. We usually have a small party on his actual birthday and then let him pick something other type of larger party later in the year. Uncle W. wanted to have it at his place this year. Very nice of him.
It was a great weekend and we are all exhausted.
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Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter Y'all

Here are Lucy and Starr enjoying the first day of Spring and getting ready for the big day.
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Family Just Got Bigger

This may sound odd, but I know that a family member, who has not been in contact with me very often in my real life, reads this blog about once a week. I think it is an uncle, but I cannot be sure. I wish the mystery person felt okay about commenting.

On that note, I met a long lost cousin today and it was great. We reminisced and had a wonderful visit. I remembered her only as a little blond haired blue eyed girl. I recall wanting her to be at my Mawmaw's house when I went to visit. One time we got in major trouble for going to a creek and finding a snake. We have been out of contact for decades. She grew into a lovely woman and I am glad I overcame my nervousness to reconnect with her today. Families are strange creatures and ours is right up there in the weirdness rankings. I had to remind myself that we were the children when it all fell apart. It is wonderful to let go of the last generation's rancor. It felt like building a bridge back into a part of my family.

Very happy to see you S. Feel free to comment L + mystery uncle.

Thanks you sister#2 for making it all possible. Thank you sister#3 for your support. Thanks to Jack and Eman for your adorable cuteness and ice breaking abilities.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Need Help Identifiying This Daffodil

Back in December, I bought four bags of daffodil bulbs from our MG group. I know I bought Texas Star, Geranium, Earlicheer, and something with the word giant in it. These bloomed yesterday. The blooms are pretty big. They fill the palm of my hand. They also smell nice with a very light pretty scent. I know they are not Earlicheer (which smells bad)or geranium (it is white and light orange). So is it Texas Star or the giant whatever. The picture I found of Texas Star looked a little lighter than this, but that could just be the exposure. If you have a guess or actually know what this is I would appreciate any input.

Above are my pitiful tomatoes. They have been stuck in a window sill for weeks. I didn't trust that the temperature in the greenhouse would stay above 40. I added more potting mix and put them in the shade on the deck. I should be ashamed of myself and turn in my MG badge. The varieties are Early Girl and Better Boy hybrids along with Cherokee Purple, Yellow Pear, San Marzano, Green Zebra, and some sort of cherry which are self-polinating heirlooms.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Earliest Post Ever

I am up at midnight and will be up until 3:00 am. We have rain water half way up the front yard and it is at J's granny's front door. Somebody needs to come over here and build an arc or at least bring a row boat that can hold one chunky woman, three boys, two cats, two rabbits, and a german shepherd. Maybe we could go to Canada or Oklahoma? Meme is on high ground, but I am afraid that chrishanda might have a problem with that.

The Only Thing That Can Keep Me Out of the Garden.

This is sister #2's baby monkey Eman. Eman is amazing he was borne weeks early and weighed over eight pounds. He is 19 months old and plays the wii. I watched him and his brothers K-dur and Leeman today. We had fun.

See, isn't he talented?

Get a load of that backhand.
Earlier I watched Meme's monkeys at her house. Jakjac likes to read. We had to do a lot of sister support around here. It is great to have such a large family and actually be friends with them.
I will get back to garden blogging tomorrow. Yesterday and today were all about family.
Thanks to everyone who visited from Blotanical. I know my kid pictures have to bore you.
Here is something different. Sister #2 sent out a meme that you send to friends and they answer questions about you. Here is what I discovered that my friends and family think of me.
1. They are split on whether or not I rebel or follow rules. "Rules, what rules, nobody told me about any rules."
2. They do not know how old I am. I can still do the splits at "44"
3. My manly man does not know what color my eyes are. Apparently, he has been looking elsewhere for the last twelve years.
4. They would leave me on a desert island with: A bag of compost, one book, gardening tools, and a few beers. Obviously, I would need a euphoria inducing plant that I could grow plenty of - Hello, or maybe just grapes or hops and barley. For all of you who went THERE, no I do not grow weed. We have been over this. I am not breakin the law, at least any gardening law. But apparently I have caught the attention of CCACC. Y'all may have to hide me in your attic.
Two of the monkey's uncles actually left me on a dirt island in the middle of rock quarry one time. I got a sun burn. Thanks alot Wilburt and Guyburt.
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Aunt Debbi Gives You A Lecture.

I am going to be out again today clan raising a bunch of our offspring.

I read a really good post on Poor Richard's Almanac this morning. Check it out. I truly believe that it is essential that we all know where our food comes from. If you are going to eat meat, and I do, respect the animal that it came from. Learn about soil. Learn how we are all connected. Conserve water. Make compost.


I feel better.

Have a Nice Day

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bunch of Monkeys Playing Baseball

Is it just me, or does it look there is an extra arm in there?
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Slaughter of the Exploding Cabbage

It exploded so I had to make sauerkraut= cabbage, sea salt, water.
There was cabbage left over so we (middle monkey and I) made coleslaw= cabbage, celery, carrot, lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, a little salt, celery seed. Very Very good.

They have no idea what is coming.
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March GBBD

More gazing balls

Grape hyacinth

Will someone help me bale the parsley please?

Earlicheer this flower stinks.
Carol at May Dreams Garden generously hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.
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Friday, March 14, 2008

It Started Out All Sunshine and Kitty Cats

The day started out with my girls being sweet. It was a beautiful morning. I was going to work as an actual gardener again. Birds were singing.

Then we transplanted huge Lantana. Here is my wonderful new helper. She is not afraid of Lantana or falling or her backside. I got a sunburn.

Then I snuck over to the Monkey's Uncle's house to get rid of the evidence/lantana prunings. I got stuck and therefore got caught.

Here are two monkeys and the Monkeys' Uncle chaining his big truck to my little truck. Monkeys and Monkeys' Uncle are very very useful for this crazy woman. Read the previous post to find out what happened next.
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Then The Cabbage Exploded

If you are coming here from Blotanical read this post first. I had to do this backwards because I could only post four pictures at a time.
Then the Monkey's Uncle's really big truck got stuck too. Now we had to call one of the Monkey's Uncle's old high school buddies to pull us both out. We got out okay, but sil#1 is going to be royally ticked off when she sees her lawn.
When I finally made it home, I went out to the garden to get some good garden mojo. No good gardening mojo was available. Instead, I found that one of my cabbages had exploded. Ever had one of those days? I am going to drink a beer.
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The Votes Are In

The polls is closed. It turns out that of those who voted, 52% would like to scorch their weeds with laser beams shooting from their eyes. Weather control came in 2nd with 21%. Plant resurrection received 17% of the vote. Finally garden tool wolverine made a miserable showing at 8%. Apparently, only two of my readers/victims want sharp tools popping out of their hands. I want to thank everyone who participated in this silliness. This is about as close to politics as you will ever see me get.

Now for a link and a nod.

I would like to say a few words about Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings . She was one of the first garden bloggers who commented on my blog. She also encouraged me to join Blotanical, which has been a blast. She posted about rose pruning yesterday. The article is very very well done. She gave very clear instructions on rose pruning and posted pictures to illustrate. She knows her stuff. Please go over and give her a visit.

Gardening Super Power

There are seven hours left to pick you gardening super power. There are four choices. My personal favorite is weather control. The second choice is garden tool wolverine. Just picture it, you need a trowel and one pops out of your fingers. We would never lose our pruners again. The third option is plant reanimation. With this ability, all of your dead, wilted, dried out plants spring back to luscious life. The final power is laser eyeball weed kill. This is the favorite so far. Apparently, the ability to scorch wayward plants with a glance is appealing to some of us. Anyway, ignore my bad sentence structure and vote for your gardening super power.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Quick...Look... Two More Roses Bloomed

The Mutabilis bloomed. I know it is pitiful and spider infested but IT BLOOMED. This is a cool rose bush. The flowers actually change colors as the blooms age.
Here is a horrible picture of Maggie. This rose smells nice. Kind of peppery. My photography skills are not improving. I need lessons.
Just a reminder. Only one more day to vote for your gardening super power.
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My Favorite Sister.

Check out my new header. Sister #3 made it for me. She gave me very good instructions on how to install it. Instead of following the instructions I pasted it all over the place, gave up, then finally went back and followed the good instructions - MAGIC. Isn't it pretty? This is the nicest thing a sister has ever done for me in a blogging situation.

Let me tell you about her. She is beautiful. She is a great mom to Jack, the happiest seven month old baby in our family. She teaches English to high school punks. She never corrects my spelling , grammar, or punctuation on this blog. I know it is bugging her, but she never says a word. I can sometimes feel her cringing (I am pretty sure the colon was not there in my version of the header, oops). Obviously, she is very creative and knows her way around a computer better than I do. She is a gardener. In her backyard she has grown a butterfly garden. She taught me how to do this and now we have butterfly attracting plants also. Her husband is my monkeys' favorite toy. She is learning to sew. She knows all the best books to read. She can make our dad be quiet.

Sometimes I sneak over to her town and visit her baby while she is working. I am going to give her more plants and probably a can of worms.

Love you Buddin Anne

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Patio Container Composting

This is how I used to compost when I lived in an apartment. I am putting this together for sister #2. She cannot have a compost pile because of her home owners' association. She really doesn't have enough yard waste and other raw material to create a big enough pile. Her last compost pile was pitiful.
First gather three, three gallon black plastic plant containers. Place about four inches of shredded, wet paper in the bottom of the first container. Add a pound or two of composting worms and compost. To this add your vegetable peels and waste, fruit peels and waste, egg shells, coffee grounds, paper coffee filters, and tea bags. Place the second container inside of the first without pressing down. We don't want to squash the worms. The second container acts as a lid. When the first container is two-thirds full begin filling the second container using the third container as a lid. When the second container is two -thirds full begin filling the third container. The worms will move up through the drain holes into the higher container, just like they do in the commercial worm composting bins. Keep the whole thing damp, but not soaking wet. By the time the third container is full, the contents of the first container should be compost and worm castings. I place the whole thing in a pot saucer. This will catch any liquid that comes through. The liquid is compost tea and can be used to water and feed your plants. Keep this in the shade. It will get too hot for the worms if it is in the sun.

Shredded paper wet to about the consistency of a wrung out sponge.
Red wriggler composting worms and worm castings.
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

First Rose of 2008

Here is my first rose bloom of 2008. The rose is Martha Gonzales. It will be covered with these blooms in a few weeks. The folage has a bronze cast. One of my favorite roses.
Is there a first rose bloom competition?
Did I win?
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Container Gardening Q&A

I have a speaking engagement tomorrow at something called the Clover Club in Kaufman. I am supposed to answer questions on container gardening. I know I should address potting mix, drainage, fertilizer, appropriate size of container to plant material, maybe how to design a fancy pot.

I like to use an inexpensive potting soil mixed with good compost at a ratio of 2/3 potting mix and 1/3 compost. To this I add a little bone meal and cotton seed meal. If the container is large, I will fill the bottom of it with cedar mulch. This keeps the container a little lighter.

I feel like the most important part of a container is the hole in the bottom of it. However, here in Texas in the summer, containers dry out fast. During the hot months the saucer under the container is important as it will hold some water to help the container stay moist.

I like to fertilize my containers once a week with a diluted liquid fertilizer. I used fish emulsion. It stinks, but it works.

Container size is important for practical as well as aesthetic reasons. If the scale of the pot is off, the arrangement will be off. If a plant, for instance a grass, has a large root system the container needs to be larger. Tall plants need a heavier container or the can be easily blown over.

Finally, the fancy pot. Pick three to five types of plants; one that trials, one that is mounding and full, and one that is tall. For this time of year, I have nasturtium, trailing snap dragons, and a sweet myrtle. The sweet myrtle is in the middle, the snap dragon in a circle around the myrtle, and the nasturtium at the edge to trail over the side of the pot. I would take a picture, but the nasturtium is tiny. It will be prime in about three weeks.

Oh I saw something cute the other day. Someone had taken old paint cans and drilled holes in the bottom for drainage. They potted them up, hung them on a hook by the handle - instant hanging basket.

Can you think of anything else I should add?

Monday, March 10, 2008


I woke up way to early again and started lurking around blotanical and found this. How cool is a blog dedicated to tomatoes. Love it.

You still have a few days to pick your gardening super power. Go to the top right corner for the poll. For some reason I became confused before and typed left a few times. I do know my right from my left. Guess which side of my brain I use?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

More information on Rainwater Harvesting.

I received a couple of inquiries about the rainwater harvesting set up and the large container. First let me thank Joy for the link and sending some of you here. Click here, to visit her.

N's rainwater harvesting set up is very low tech. They simply catch the water in buckets under the drip line of a gardening shed. We dip our watering cans in and take the water to the greenhouse. The large tank is a recycled tank that held some sort of food product, maybe oil. It could be attached to a gutter down spout. N's husband simply uses a sump pump to syphon the water from the buckets into the large tank. I am sure this is more important in the summer as a means of mosquito control. We have not used the large tank at all this winter. There is a hose attached to the large tank. From there, the water is gravity fed through the hose to our plants. There is not much water pressure, but we don't need no stinking water pressure(sorry, the silly had to come out somewhere). Because it is opaque, I have not seen any algae in it so far. If it were clear plastic, it would need to be painted to avoid algae growth.

If you want a more sophisticated system, they are out there for sale. These set ups have a first catch tube to keep the main tank clean, use guttering to collect the water, and often have electric pumps to allow for drip irrigation or soaker hose use. There is also an equation that lets you know how much water you can collect per area of roof and inches of rain. I don't like to do math, but from what I have seen it is always A LARGE AMOUNT OF WATER.

The bucket system works great as do a couple of rain barrels. Hope this helps. If you need more information, I can find it.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Squirrel Booty

This is what happens when I go to the greenhouse and leave Manly Man in charge of the Monkeys. They play with my camera and take bad pictures of a squirrel's package. Posted by Picasa

Redneck Rainwater Harvesting

Here is Miss N's rainwater harvesting set up. We just dip our watering cans into the buckets and tote them to the greenhouse.
Here is the big tank. We have not had to use it this winter. It is gravity fed.
Don't forget to pick your super power right over there on the left. Posted by Picasa