Garden Erector Set Takes Shape

Finally got a look at the lake after the cold snap and lots of pumping by the fern growers. Can’t believe how far they pulled it down, maybe 2′ in the last two weeks. The lake surface area is approximately 60 acres, so that would be 120 acre-feet of water pumped out or evaporated in that period. For those who have been on the dock, the area under the new addition is mostly high and dry. So unless the winter turns out to be wetter than usual, we could be seeing the lowest levels since we’ve lived here by March or April. The only silver lining to that is I’ll be able to install a few wave boards under the dock to help eliminate shoreline erosion in the future. Couldn’t do that when we did the original job because the water was a few feet deep there.
Bought all the bits and pieces for my PVC erector set project and started cutting pipe. I want to have it all or mostly all done by the next cold spell – starting to look like the day after Christmas. The pic shows a few structures I’ve built and placed in the garden for measurement purposes – just randomly placed for now to test the concept so don’t pay much attention to actual placements. I want to be sure I can do all I want with 24”, 30” and 60” pieces. These are all nice multiples in a 10′ pipe section. When I laid out the rows, I wasn’t particularly fussy about row width so each row is different. In the future I’ll try to standardize with the frost supports in mind. I draped one of the smaller pieces of frost cloth over a set of supports to verify what spacing I’ll need to keep the cloth elevated without drooping down onto the covered plant. Wherever the cloth touches a plant, there’s a risk of leaf burn so that’s something to avoid. With this design I’ll be able to put smaller pieces of cloth over particularly sensitive plants/rows and then a top blanket covering the whole garden. Right now the forecast gives me at least the next 7 days which should be plenty of time to complete the job. Nancy repaired the two large cover cloths so we’re good to go on that front. I will be surprised if we experience another stretch like this last one which set all kinds of records. I heard on the tube that in 2010, so far, Orlando has experienced 14 hard freezes. That means we’ve probably had half again as many. There were 7 such events in 2009 and 0 in 2005. Nice trend. Supports my new Ice Age theory.

I now have lots of empty space in the garden where the tomatoes, peppers, and squash resided up until about 10 days ago. I’ve planted 4 dozen onion plants, half a dozen cabbages, beet seeds, loads of lettuce plants and cauliflowers in the last few days so it’s approaching maybe the halfway point again. Over the next couple of weeks I should get quite a few more items going, peaking at about 75% capacity. I won’t go to 100% by design because I want to have room for early spring starts. I always like to start some things way too early just in case the weather is more favorable than expected. The worst that can happen is that the early stuff doesn’t make it but the upside is nice – tomatoes in April or May. I might also give a try at using some of the frost cloth full time over a few things even after the frost danger has past to see if I can hold off the bugs longer. Usually the bugs can’t bother a full grown plant but can be devastating on young stuff. Always something new to try and now that the soil is well balanced, I can turn my attention to these finer details.

The pumpkin flag has been replaced by Santa so we’re seasonally correct.

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