Overall plant growth this year is mostly mediocre, not surprising given the poor soil we inherited and our sparse use of even strictly organic soil amendments. And that's OK: we want to show what can and cannot be done with minimal investments. We do have some promising successes. Our tomatoes are healthy and have reasonably good fruit set; our beans are strong and full of bloom; and except for deer damage, most of our other crops are on par with the norm for our region though our investments are meager. Our methods work.
On Tuesday morning there was still no water available, so I used four of the jugs Rick had brought from home to water the seeds in. I refilled those and three more of my own, thinking I would need them to do a better job that afternoon, but when I got there, the generator and pump were running and there was good pressure to our hose! So everything but the garlic got a really welcome drink of water from the on-site well. Friends from SEEDS are doing their best to keep us informed on when we can expect water to be available.
The water issue, though, remains critical to our success in fulfilling the main objective of our garden: to demonstrate and teach methods of home food production that involve no power equipment, minimal initial investment of both time and money, little ongoing maintenance (e.g., weeding), and inexpensive, strictly organic care of the soil and the plants it supports. Success in that endeavor, unfortunately, in our region with its sandy soils and sporadic rainfall, presumes the availability of a reliable water supply beyond that of direct rainfall. Most homes have at least one such supply readily available: either an external "hose bib" offering full-time well or municipal water on demand; a sloped roof large enough to fill barrels, cisterns, etc., with sufficient rain water; or both. At our Barns Garden, we have neither. Thus, regardless of other advantages our site may have, it falls short of our goal of offering a gardening environment representative of that available to the typical home gardener. Being truly representative, providing a realistic model of the successes and failures, resources and deficiencies, that home gardeners may anticipate, is the essence of our main mission as volunteers at this site.