SW Idaho built a good winter snow pack this last winter but I get a bit nervous when the Spring stays dry. April is supposed to be a wet month so it was nice to see the clouds move in yesterday and drop a little bit of rain. The official amount of rain was .04 of an inch and the 50 gallon rain barrel is about 1/3 filled starting from bone dry. I’m amazed at how much water a person can collect just by using a rain barrel and the large surface area of a roof.
The large cistern did not collect much rain as I had hoped but I’m still adjusting how the water flows into from the gutter to the cistern. We have more rain forecast this week so the latest adjustments should start adding more water to the big cistern. Next week’s payday will go towards getting some PVC pipe for a gravity fed, drip irrigation for the raised beds and the new 3 sisters garden spots. I have worked a little bit with PVC but setting up a drip irrigation system will be totally new to me. I still have city irrigation water/ water cans as a backup so the garden should get plenty of water this summer. I really don’t want to carry water around by hand if I can avoid it as it is hard work!
One thing to be aware of using rain barrels is stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. One thing I do is add burlap to cover the top of the barrels but you could use window screen material or add a small amount of olive or vegetable oil to the water barrel to keep the mosquitoes from laying eggs and breeding. While the Zika virus is in the news, limiting Mosquito breeding areas around your home just makes good sense as the bites are very annoying.
This spring we are seeing new birds stop by and grab a quick meal around the chicken pen in the backyard. The little sparrows and finches just love all of the grape vine area along with the flowering quince, holly and lilac trees for safety. It seems that the both the smaller birds and chickens really like to dust them selves in the areas where I have cut wood and there is sawdust along with the areas where the wood mulch has broken down. I wonder if the “pine oil” helps them get rid of mites, compared to just a dust bath? So far we have added a couple of ring doves on a regular basis and a male Bob white quail stopped by today.
While many complain about the city critters coming in and eating garden plants. I enjoy the seeing the birds and even squirrels stopping by to grab a snack. Now if I can lure a few of the ducks away from the creek I will have another “potential” food source growing in my yard.
I started the layout of borders for the backyard fountain/bird bath circle in the backyard. This circle area will be filled with mulch and have at least 24 inch wide pathways for my garden cart and myself. Laying out path/walk ways of the food forest recommend at least an 18 inch wide path for moving stuff via wheelbarrow.
In my experience with my disability I recommend a 24-30 inch wide path works better with a garden wagon and neither Mom or myself feel like we have to be extra careful using the first path to avoid tripping or falling down. A big bonus on filling in the pathways with mulch has been filling in all low spots, holes and places that can twist an ankle. Plus the mulch pathways cushion old and arthritic joints much better than a hard surface path.
If you can afford it, I think the mulch bed pathways are a better answer than installing concrete sidewalks. Yes the paths must be re-mulched every couple of years but all of water soaks into the ground and helps reduce the overall water required for a lawn/garden/food forest and the mulch breaks down it adds to your soil. Mulch gives and cushions falls much better than concrete or stone paver type paths. A couple of down sides to a wood mulch path. I don’t think a person in a wheel chair could navigate the paths well compared to a wood or concrete walkway. I have no idea if I can shovel snow off the path or if I want to for moving wood from my wood pile to the wood stove. I’m thinking I need to buy a small toboggan or sled for hauling wood in winter.
While I don’t like to dwell on my disability it is a fact of my life. We have an ageing population here in the USA and dealing with these issues are coming up a lot for families. Creating a few pathways full of mulch will help oldsters and kids by making a few softer surfaces while we are out playing/working in the yard. The soil gets built up, there is less storm water run off and people are not so fearful of falls by kids and grandparents.
This is a win/win for mulch in my opinion. It’s probably just a matter of scale and time to build up really crappy soil that has been abused. It is simple that does not mean it is easy.