BIU Backyard Gardener: Michelle Gray

Water, water, and more water

Photo from: HERE

My husband and I would never call ourselves gardners. Four tomato plants and 1 squash are typically the extent of what is put out. A few batches of salsa and some fried squash was all we hoped for.
This year, we decided to expand. We heard about this project and felt that we could learn more and put out a real garden. Our plans for salsa included growing our own garlic and onions…. ¬†we were stoked! We started a compost pile and even got a tank to gather rain water!
A lot was learned in the first session. We never thought to measure out a garden and actually draw out where we were placing things. Who knew that things needed to be planted so many inches apart? Who knew that walkways should be in place? We set off with great intentions and plans to buy some of those awesome homemade tortilla chips at the JC Farmers Market when our crops came in.
So, with gusto, the garden was tilled and plants set out. Then came the water. Our next door neighbor and the house next to them have natural springs under their houses. We were aware but never took much concern because our house is on a knoll. When we moved here, there was a willow tree where our garden is now. I recall saying that I heard an elderly patient I used to have say that willow trees love water and grow close by where it is. We never gave it much thought and then a bad storm took the tree so the whole water thing was forgotten.
The term “spring” would not be the best way to describe the water that gushed out from the house 2 doors down. A swiftly moving creek would more accurately describe it. Our drainage ditch turned into just that… a small creek….that had enough current to carry small boats down it. And our garden? A swamp. Water up to your ankles if you dared step foot in it. The plants? Almost drowned. The weeds? Oh so plentiful. Our salsa? Looking store- bought with each passing day.
We were told that years ago, when our neighbor was a kid, he would come in our neighborhood to fish. In a boat. I asked where…. “right on your street.” Then it dried up and someone built some houses. We found out the house down the hill in front of us has been abandoned for about 20 years. They had water issues as well and when their floor started falling in, they left everything and moved to town. Word is they left all their belongings and the house all intact. Lucky for us there is not any suspected springs up on our knoll.
After about 2 months, the neighbor put in $5k to fix his waterfall (that is what my kids said it sounded like, you could actually hear it). It has been repaired it for now. Our garden is puny. It has produced a couple zucchini and squash, 3 tommy toes, and 1 tomato. Most of the plants are gone. It is still a weedy mess because we couldn’t get in there to weed it and it has overgrown.

photo from: HERE

Hopefully, for our neighbors, that water is diverted. Our dreams of growing our own salsa ingredients have not been thwarted. We will try again next year with raised garden beds and we will utilize what we learned.

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