Drips, Frit’s & Fruits — a mélange of garden musings

Gulf Fritillary in greenhouse
Gulf Fritillary in greenhouse
Gulf Fritillary butterfly in the greenhouse. I am grateful it held still long enough to get this photo!

I confess I tried to lure you in with a recent photo of a Gulf Fritillary butterfly in the header pic. They really are darting about in the greenhouse and garden now and thus have a perfectly earned place here in the garden blog. However, my main garden focus these last couple of weeks has been on something much less appealing to the eye, and I didn’t think you’d want to see that first, so I cheated. 😉 THIS is what I’ve been staring at:

Drip Irrigation System
Dig irrigation system
A simple drip system — easy to hook up to an outdoor spigot.

The drip irrigation system may not be a scenic part of the garden, but it is essential to the garden here, especially during this year’s drought. This system keeps all the veggies, fruit trees, berries and habitat plants like buddleias (and the fritillaries fave: passionflower vine) alive, apparently with a water efficiency of 90% or more. Each tree or veggie gets sustained by little drops of water which are programmed to occur on certain days and times according to their needs. The water droplets are absorbed into the soil slowly and do not run off over the surface, like hand watering often does.

Having a drip irrigation system requires upkeep though. Certain lines can stop working and require troubleshooting. Sometimes a rodent nibbles a hole in a drip line and that creates a leak. It’s a quick fix but frequent checking is needed to spot leaks early. The filter needs periodic cleaning to remove any debris. Our control box above was very old–possibly well over a decade, and we were having various issues, so it was replaced this week. Plus, as the garden evolved over the decades, the drip lines grew disorganized, and have now been given some much needed refurbishment.

The Dig irrigation shown to the right is a simple version that hooks up easily to an outdoor spigot. You can’t do multiple settings with this one, so it’s best if your plants have similar watering needs.

Gulf Fritillary butterfly on marigold
The Gulf Fritillary butterflies have emerged. Many years ago, they found the passionflower vine in the old greenhouse and keep breeding every year. This one seems to enjoy a marigold grown as companion plant to the tomatoes & peppers.

Like so much else in the gardening world, some parts of drip systems are becoming scarce right now. Considering that the pandemic saw an increase of about 17-20 million new gardeners in the U.S. alone, it isn’t surprising. Apparently, our local nursery saw their last order of 10,000 one-gallon emitters fly off the shelves in three days!

I’m all for more gardeners! Gardens are not just beautiful, some provide food and wildlife habitat and benefits to the environment — gardens have also shown how important they can be to mental health. And being able to share the gift of extras is an untarnished joy and one that can bond neighbors and help build a resilient community.

Elsewhere in the Garden

While we’ve been so engrossed with drought-related care, the veggie garden has quietly erupted and now looks more like a wild forest than anything domestic and planned. The “weeds” are taking over the paths. Happily though, this year the weeds are lovely self-seeders: chamomiles and pink breadseed poppies, calendula and California poppies, parsley and verbena bonariensis. There is also a perennial sweet pea that returns every year with enthusiasm. I must have planted it long ago and forgotten?

As usual, the birds haven’t left us many ripe mulberries, but there are a few strawberries for nibbling. The veggies are coming along fine–the zucchini hasn’t flowered yet but looks like it might soon. Some of the spinach and lettuce is about ready for harvest and the very tardy snow peas are finally ready.

The pineapple guavas seem to have off years in terms of number of blooms. This appears to be an ON year. The petals are edible, as are the fruits of course. I usually just eat the fruits by cutting them in half and scooping out with a small spoon. But if there are any leftover from exuberant snacking or fruit salads, they make a delicious summer drink, say, blended with ice and freshly juiced pomegranate, with a dash of agave syrup and lime, (…and perhaps a splash of 100% pure blue agave tequila?) 😉

The Old Barn and Elderberries
While toiling over the drip system, I looked up and had a happy moment of appreciation for the aged beauty of the old, falling down barn and some zealous elderberry and albizzia. We can’t afford to rebuild the barn and a new one would never have this patina anyway.

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8 thoughts on “Drips, Frit’s & Fruits — a mélange of garden musings

  1. Writing to you in the midst of a thunderstorm here in the mid-west, wishing I could send some rain your way! That drink looks devine! I imagine I’m sipping on one while wandering through your beautiful flowers. Gardening is a labor of love and it is obvious how much you love yours! I so enjoy all the pictures!

  2. Hi! I wish you could send some rain too! I have happy memories of midwest thunderstorms from my youth. Oh how sweet the image of sipping the drink and wandering thru the garden! I wish I was doing that right now! It feels like the drought and garden and household tasks are keeping me on a constant treadmill lately! Will make a plan for a day off. 🌞🍹⛱ I enjoy your blog so much!!

  3. Your drip system is the way to go but it is still a lot of work when you think of the maintenance. I am conscious that even when watering with a watering can that a lot of water gets wasted. I love my self-seeders too, the garden would not be the same without them and I often transplant them to different parts of the garden to fill in the gaps. Amelia

    1. Hi Amelia! Yes the drip system is a lot of work at times. Normally we do a little hand watering because we live in a high water table area and have normal rainfall and it’s not such a critical situation. But with only about 11 inches this year, we’re doing our absolute best to keep plants alive on the five acres while being as efficient as we can.

      I always look forward to reading your blog!

  4. Love the photo of the guava bloom! It reminds me of many of the plants we can’t grew easily in the Midwest.

    1. Ditto—I enjoy seeing the plants people can grow in other regions! You can do so many moist-heat-loving flowers there in the summer! Thanks for writing! -lisa

  5. Am always impressed by your efforts to save water. You make a convincing case for the drip irrigation system. Glorious Guava flowers and delicious sounding drink, and those butterflies are beautiful. What a lovely garden you have.

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