Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New water tank

Everybody is celebrating that the dry spell is over. Winter rains have arrived in Perth and given us a good downpour. Highest daily rainfall was just under 60mm on 25 June. Still, there is no reason to talk abut a wet year. March was totally dry. April and May had below  average rainfall and even the 'wet' June did not reach the average rainfall for Perth. It remained actually 4mm under the average. Here is the chart again, from http://www.watercorporation.com.au/R/rainfall.cfm:

201130.2 0.4 0 19.4 85 171.4 42           348.4

July has started well, with already 42mm in just three days. The weather has changed a few days ago, it is now quite cold and dry but sunny. Night temperatures have dropped to 3 degrees which is not unusual for the temperate climate in Perth.

The desire to catch as much rain as possible for use in summer made us buy another polyethylene water tank. We went again for 3000l again, to match the size of the first one. This one is a good one. Like the other one it came with a tap to harvest the water. The inbuilt overflow has a cover with mosquito mesh. The tank also has a filter for the big inflow area on the very top of the tank which allows it to be filled to the very top. We don't want to waste any of the 3000l, apart from the one that is below the waterline of the tap and difficult to access anyway. I can't wait to water the garden with rainwater during the coming summer. Twice the water in the tanks should last twice as long. I guess it will give us plenty to smile about all the way through summer.

Our water bill in the last half year has dropped considerably. We actually used 50,000l less water than the six months before. Surely the cause was more than just installing a rain water tank. It happened through being conscious and mindful of the use of water in our lives and through following all the water saving tips promoted by the Water Corporation. However, the water tank was the motivator, that it clear to me. It changed our attitude towards the availability, usefulness and preciousness of water.

The new tank was on special because of end of year sale. I saved the delivery fee of $65 and tied the tank to the ute with some proper straps. It was easy to handle and I unloaded it with my children. We rolled it in the garage on my boy's skateboard and there it stayed for a few days until we brought it through into the garden on the weekend.
The tank was a lot cheaper and is a lot better than the last one I bought two years ago from the same company. Both tanks don't match. They are different makes, but they at least have the same colour. Also, they do not stand next to each other anyway, and design purposes have rarely been a deciding factor for purchases in my life.

The inlet of this new tank is close to the side of the tank and it therefore can be positioned straight under the gutter's down pipe. The gutters got a good clean, amazing how much compost gathered in there. It went straight into the raised garden bed.

This time we did not need to prepare the base for the tank much, as the location already has some proper bricks that were laid evenly. The last time we used some rock samples as a base, compacted down with dirt and held in shape by garden bed shaping made out of thick plastic. It has worked well so far. Despite the overflow from the full tank running straight down the tank with a danger of eroding the base, it still looks good.

All that needs to be done now is to undo a few pop rivets, remove the downpipe and put the tank in place. It fits neatly under the gutters and will catch a part of the roof that previously ran off freely. I guess the roof inflow area is about 50m2 or about half the size as for the other tank. 1mm will bring in 50l. 60mm should do then to fill it. There is hope this winter. July has 100mm to go to last year's rainfall and 120mm to average rainfall. We have a few days grace to put it up, make sure the foundation is right as well.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lettuce in pots

Lettuce in pots - planted on 22 May 2011.
The idea of growing lettuce in pots came to me from a Bulgarian gardening friend. He gave me a pot of lettuce as a present one day, just dug it up from the garden bed. It seems to be working well. The seedlings get the best nutrients straight to their roots due to the compost contained in the small pot. Their roots can venture out through the draining holes if they need more space.

I thought about cutting out the bottom of the pot to give the plant better access to the soil outside the pot, but I did not want to go that far. I want to reuse the pots until the plastic gives up. Therefore the pots were left as they came to me.

Lettuce in pots - 3 July 2011
The lettuces have grown well in the past weeks. It has been six weeks since I planted them or at least since I took the photo above. We harvested three decent salads so far. I simply picked the outside leaves, gave them a thorough wash, included a capsicum that was ready to be picked too and we could eat the most delicious salad.

The second generation lettuce was seeded when I planted the first lot. It was ready today to be planted out and again I used old pots to give them a good start in best home made compost.

There is a variety of salads, simply seeded from a mixed lettuce seedlot, not sure whether they are heirloom varieties. The next lot would be ready to go, but I though these will do me for the next weeks and I decided to seed other plants, just not sure which ones. Will consult the plant calender and wait for the moon to change.

It has been a while since I have written the last post, my kitchen ceiling was replaced and demanded a more comprehensive paint job not only of the ceiling but of the whole kitchen. It has been completed and the place is ready for us to move in. It felt great to paint and to see the bright new colour reflect the light. The garden had to suffer, but things happened that I will write about soon, such as the arrival of a new water tank and of two transplanted fruit trees, the digging out of several root systems of a lilac tree and more. Watch this space.

Lettuces - 27 September 2011
Lettuces starting to seed
after 50 meals we ate just picking the leaves!
10 October 2011