Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Planning Your Spring Garden



With spring only a few weeks away I am excited about getting the first seeds and starts planted. Thoughts of tasty heirloom tomatoes, garden fresh spring greens, cucumbers, basil, a wide assortment of sweet and spicy peppers, and a colorful array of flowers will keep your spirits high through the challenges of spring. Designing new and sustainable, low maintenance garden features will help make your yard come to life. Adding on to my edible garden with new fruit varieties, vegetable starts bought from local sources, planting herbs to use in our kitchen, and seeing the perennial flowers come back year after year are some of the pleasures of spring for me.
When it comes to flowers, there are gorgeous varieties that are suited for all types of tough conditions such as cold winters, drought, very hot temperatures, and poor soils.

Having pollinator friendly varieties planted to attract the butterflies, bees, and birds will help your garden grow healthy. Yarrow, salvia, agastache, lavender, penstemon, echinacea, and helianthus are some beautiful varieties that will fill your garden with a profusion of colors and fragrances. Transforming your lawn into an eye catching colorful carpet can save you water and many hours of maintenance. Thymus “pink chintz” is a very low grower that can handle dry conditions and is very attractive with its early spring blooms. Veronica Turkish Speedwell is also a low growing groundcover that blooms later in the spring. These attractive spreading plant types will form a mini meadow and can be accented around the edges with some lofty native plants in the ground or in tall colorful ceramic planters. A “hardscape” of large rocks, a bench with a shade arbor above it, or possibly a dry creek bed made of small rounded river run rock can also make an attractive point of interest. Check out one of my favorite sites, highcountrygardens.com for these inspiring and sustainable water wise garden plants and many more.


When looking for a new garden spot in your yard, consider the full sun or partial shade conditions that the area will get, how many hours of direct sunlight will be on which part of the garden, and if fences, buildings, or trees will shade the area. A maximum of 8 hours of sunlight is perfect for most plants. Morning sun or partial shade works well for lettuces and most flowers. Tomatoes, peppers, basil, and corn need full sun. Peas can grow on a fence or trellis with southern exposure. Most plant nurseries buy from suppliers that state the plants’ soil and sun needs on their identification stake. You can also look online for a garden plant hardiness zone guide.
If you want your gardens to flower all spring and summer, I recommend that you keep going to your local garden nursery throughout the six month growing season and choose from recent arrivals that are just starting to bloom.
In your vegetable garden and for your fruit trees, March and April are good months to amend your soil with as much organic matter as possible. If you have a compost pile, use the this to top dress your veggie beds or rows with three or four inches of compost or well-rotted manure that you will then dig in 3-4 inches to stimulate the beneficial microbes already alive in the soil. I have had good luck starting beans, peas, snow peas, eggplant, spinach, chard, cabbage, and other hardy vegetables from starts or seed early in the spring. Between now and the end of March tomatoes, peppers, and lettuces can be planted in a greenhouse, a small hot frame, under GCI row cover which is a lightweight cover that shields the plants from frost,cold, wind, and insects.
There is a huge selection of drought tolerant flowers to choose from at highcountrygardens.com.
For simply gorgeous and exotic flowering plants, you’ll be smart to visit Annie’s Annuals and Perennials at anniesannuals.com.
The amazing Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds company has the most complete and beautifully photographed seed catalog found anywhere. Visit rareseeds.com for a real treat.



Veggie Herb Saute
Total prep time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
¼ pound fresh green beans
¾ cup fresh sugar snap peas
1 tablespoon fresh olive oil
¾ cup julienned zucchini
¾ cup julienned summer squash
¾ teaspoon each: minced fresh rosemary, sage, basil, thyme
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese
Directions
 In a small skillet over medium heat cook beans and peas in oil
 Add zucchini, squash, herbs, and pepper flakes
 Cook and stir 3-5 minutes until the veggies are crisp and tender
 Sprinkle with cheese before serving


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Our Experience Leads To Your Success





For 26 years, DripWorks has been the right partner for gardeners of all types because of our focus, experience, and passion. Always supplying the highest quality drip irrigation supplies and great technical support, the mutual loyalty between us and our customers is what makes our business great.
Support is often necessary to set up an efficient drip irrigation system that will save water while ensuring that the garden grows to its fullest. Dripworks.com and our annual catalog are very carefully laid out to address every gardener’s needs and make buying the right products as easy as possible.

                                      

Founded in 1991 in the basement of one of the three original owner’s home, and now with two distribution points from commercial settings in northern California, DripWorks has had a few mottos that we have stood by. First there was “We make it Simple” and “Your Best Source” that carried DripWorks through the 1990’s, finally for the last 15 years “Quality Drip Irrigation Supplies" has been the line that says it all.
There weren’t many people buying online in 1992. We spent 90% of our marketing budget on advertising in gardening and farming magazines. We would set up booths at expos, shows, and fairs to give out catalogs to potential customers who showed interest.

                                     

Through the 1990s we grew to the point where right after launching DripWorks website in 1998, the opportunity surfaced to buy a few flat acres in Willits and build 15,000 feet of office and warehouse space. The next year the internet (remember the “bubble”) and DripWorks took off.
Through the second decade we filled every inch of our buildings, hiring customer service representatives to answer phones, enlarging the scope of the marketing department, and carefully stocking the warehouse. Today more than half of the orders come from DripWorks website www.dripworks.com. It is easy to navigate, place orders, and is full of great resources about all of the products necessary to set up a system. Here are some of the resources available on our website.

• Live Chat allows customers to communicate directly with customer service representatives from the website without the need for calling in and speaking to someone over the phone. The chat interface allows the customer to type out their questions and for a Customer Service Representative to type back an answer to their question. It is available for people who have questions about drip irrigation, need recommendations about specific products, or for people who are having challenges setting up their system.

• How to Videos show drip emitters and sprayers in action, and they show just how simple it is to put together various starter kits. There are customer testimonials, hands on tutorials, demos on how to use some of their tools, large and small liner installation videos, and action videos from some of the product manufacturers.

• The Drip Planning Guide is a downloadable guide that explains to you the basics of drip irrigation. It’s an understandable “must” for all novices. It will also show you how to plan and set up a garden or farm layout.

• The Gallery of Plans is a compendium of plans showing line drawings of many different possible drip irrigation setups. Products are listed by name and part number, prices, and even providing an order total that makes the purchasing process very easy.


DripWorks has a long history of providing the highest quality, longest lasting products to customers all over the United States and beyond. They will help you to grow a thriving garden while saving time, water, and money.


 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Bees Need Our Help



For every three bites of food you take, one was pollinated by honey bees. Last winter, beekeepers reported losing over 40% of their hives. Bees are more than just the “canaries in the coal mine”, warning us of a frightening threat to our food. Bees are a critical link to the future of our food production.

You may have heard that pests, disease, and climate change are the main causes of the bee die off. A growing body of evidence points to one of the world’s most popular class of pesticides neonicotinoids. These “neonics” are designed to kill pest, but they don’t distinguish between harmful insects and beneficial ones, like bees. Neonics are used on over 140 commercial crops! As a result the bees that are needed to pollinate organic crops are on the brink of extinction.

Bees are responsible for pollinating many of the crops making up our food supply. Today multinational companies have come up with a plan to do away with the need for a pollinator by having farmers buy new GMO seed every year from these large companies. The touted advantages of using GMO seed: 1. guaranteeing identical herbicide resistant crops year after year, 2. reduce crop damage from weeds, pest, and insects by using this herbicide resistant seed, 3. increased yields on the same acreage. These claims are debatable.

This increased application rate of herbicides has affected the ability of the honey bees to survive. Without honey bees organic gardeners and farmers are seeing decreasing yields from their heirloom seed crops. Here are some ideas of what you can do to help the plight of the honey bees.

1. Plant any of the flowers below in your garden using organic starts or heirloom seed to provide a good food source and a safe haven for bees. Plant at least three different types of flowers to ensure blooms through as many seasons as possible.
• Summer time: cosmos, echinacea, and snapdragons
• Spring time: Crocus, hyancinth, and calendula are great for providing the bees with great blooms to  feast on.
• Fall time: asters, zinnias, and goldenrod are late bloomers.

2. Use alternative pest control methods like landscaping with certain plants to attract beneficial insects.
• Basil will help repel thrips, flies, and mosquitos
• Artemisia repels most insects and even some small animals
• Garlic when planted near roses will help repel aphids
• Marigolds are the most known plant for repelling insects

3. Use natural organic pest control products.

4. Read the labels on products (herbicides and pesticides) and steer clear of ones containing neonicotinoids.

5. Tell your friends and fellow gardeners about the importance of bees and what they can plant to help them.

If you appreciate organic food products, steer clear of processed foods, and buy ingredients that are clearly labeled “USDA Certified Organic”, or buy from a local grower that doesn’t use herbicides.
Grow as much food as you can without the use of chemicals and your efforts to keep you and your family healthy will pay off. You don’t have to use chemicals in your garden to control weeds. It is an ongoing process however that can be done successfully by hand weeding, hoeing, and then applying a thick layer of organic mulch (seed free hay, grass clippings, or leaves work well) will help you avoid using any kind of chemical weed control product. Larger plants such as tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, chard, and kale will shade weeds once they are 6-8 weeks old. Happy Gardening!

Monday, November 7, 2016

5 Great Veggies to grow in the winter



Don’t let your garden stand empty this winter. With a little help, most of us can grow the vegetables mentioned below. In the northernmost states, a greenhouse, a high tunnel, a row cover or a small hot frame might be needed. Most southern areas of the US are well suited for growing winter crops outdoors if a thick layer of mulch (hay, dry leaves, straw, compost, or grass clippings) or a row cover is used. There are advantages of planting at this time of the year: less weeds, fewer insects, very little irrigation needed, and most of all, fresh vegetables.


Onions
 Late fall or early winter are prime time to plant onions as long as the ground has not become solid yet. Winter onions are hardy enough to grow in a variety of conditions, but they prefer to soak in full sun. Onions do best in loose, well-drained soil. Mix some organic matter to the soil. Plant each set a few inches deep, and gently pack the soil around the set. Plant each set 4-6 inches apart. Cover your sets with a heavy layer of mulch. Water the onions three of four times the first two weeks and weed regularly if necessary.


Garlic
Garlic is best planted from the first day of autumn through November and is ready for harvest by the end of June. Ensure that your planting area is in full sun and the soil is well drained. Garlic does best in well amended soil using compost and manure. Clay soil is not good. All you need to get is some fresh garlic from a local nursery or there are many good sources online.  Plant only the large cloves from each head. The cloves should be planted 6-8 inched apart for best results. Cover them with mulch. Water them deeply once a week the first few months.  
             
Kale
Choose a kale variety that bests suits your growing climate. Most kale varieties are ready to harvest in 45-75 days. An area of full sun is best to grow kale. When planting kale for a winter crop, I always get kale starts from a nursery. It’s too late to start kale from seed. Dig a hole 12” deep and wide and add fresh compost. Keep the soil around your plants moist for the first month and add some fertilizer each month to produce a fast growing, healthy, and sweet tasting crop. Pick off any discolored or withered leaves when they appear. You can start harvesting the leaves once the plant is a few feet tall to use in stir fry dishes, omelets, or to add with other fruits or veggies for smoothies. 

Asparagus
Do you love asparagus and have plenty of space in your garden for a permanent bed of asparagus, now is a good time to start. It takes a few years to establish, but the reward will be getting about 25 tender spears from each plant for a lifetime (25 years) of harvests. Sometimes, asparagus is planted in rows by digging a 1’ deep and 1’ wide row as long as your space allows. Fill it with good soil and compost. Asparagus is available a nurseries at this time of year in bunches of 25 and should come with planting instructions.

Pak Choi
Also called Bok Choy, is a mild flavored oriental vegetable, can be eaten raw but is usually stir fried or steamed and served with soy sauce. It can be grown in partial shade in warm regions or in full sun in northern zones. It can be planted in early autumn or late winter for a spring harvest. Buy starts from a nursery for planting in October to get a harvest before the first hard frost. A fairly rich soil or just soil from last summer’s garden would be fine. Use a row cover for late fall harvest.
Remember, some thick mulch or row cover will “baby” your late fall plantings. Give them good south exposure and plant in an area away from the strong north winds. The fresh veggies in late autumn and early winter will be a nice addition to your meals.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

6 Tips to Winterize Your System

The time to put most gardens to bed is drawing closer as the days get shorter and the temperature drops. As we savor our garden’s bounty by canning, drying, freezing, and eating the wonderful fruits and vegetables, we must keep in mind that an unexpected frost might be on its way.


In most parts of the country there is a real concern about freezing and frost damage to a drip system during winter. There are two areas of concern: the beginning of the system (timer, valves, and filter) and low spots in the system where water may settle.
  1. Battery timers, filters, and regulators should be brought indoors with the batteries removed from the timers.
  2. When the battery timer is removed from the faucet and system, use the HPLUG to plug the beginning of the mainline tubing or use a plastic bag over the opening. Do not leave the lines open.
  3. After the main water supply is shut off, open all manual valves and set automatic valves to manual open. Remove all end fittings, drain any water, and then loosely replace the ends.
  4. In flat areas elevate the mainline to make sure all water drains out of the fittings.
  5. For low spots in the mainline tubing, either use a flush valve or insert a basic emitter at the lowest point.
  6. Another practice is to blow compressed air through the lines after opening the end cap.
To protect your late summer garden and extend your growing season, a protective lightweight row cover material such as Agribon protects early and late season crops from both wind and frost. It can be placed over your veggies and weighted down with wood or metal stakes. Heavyweight galvanized loop hoops are available to help support the row cover fabric.


Cody is an employee and used the produce which we grow for employees to make this tasty salsa.
Here is one of his salsa recipes to spice up your harvest. The tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers are from the Dripworks demonstration garden.


For a chance of all year gardening Dripworks offers hoop houses and Solexx greenhouses. Check them out at Dripworks.com.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The World's Pure Food Fair

                                                   
The National Heirloom Expo                                   
September 6, 7, & 8
Santa Rosa, California
  • 4000 Varieties
  • 75 Speakers
  • 300 Vendors
  • 3 Fun Days
  • Demo Gardens
  • Seed Swaps


Dripworks is a proud sponsor of the 6th annual “World’s Fair” of the heirloom seed industry.  The Heirloom Expo is taking place at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds in northern California Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday September 6th, 7th, and 8th.  You’ll be able to walk the aisles along with home growers, farmers, school groups, and others like you seeing and tasting over 4,000 varieties of fruits and vegetables. What will be showcased is the diversity of plants that our planet has to offer, and the incredible farmers that grow them.

Amazing Speakers!


Over 75 nationally and internationally acclaimed on-topic speakers will talk about the secrets and the challenges of sustainable farming practices. Some of the people who will educate everyone include Jeffery Smith, Dr William Woys Weaver, Kate Frey, Vani Hari, Jere Gettle, Sara Patterson, John Jeavons, Dr. Vandana Shiva, and 70 other world renowned speakers who will concurrently be in three separate buildings for all three days.

The Mission is to reconnect us to our food heritage. What is needed is getting people with a passion for gardening and growing food educated on how to grow quality organic food.  The food industry and all of its major players are rightfully concerned with their bottom line. GMO food seed has been developed to raise the productivity of crops, to enable plants to be shipped long distances more easily, and to help provide the world with enough food to stave off hunger. All of these claims are coming under question by the general public and many in the scientific community. The National Heirloom Expo examines these issues thoroughly.

Enjoy the many garden based companies showing off their cutting edge, quality products. You’ll find many colorful,  trend setting businesses from all over the United States that offer quality tools and information, books, plants, and products that will compliment your gardening skills. A large variety of delicious food is also available. You’ll have the opportunity to broaden your awareness of what you can grow with heirloom seeds. Stop by the Dripworks booth.


 




Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Save on Water, Money and Time - How To Transform Your Sprinkler System to Drip Today


As water becomes more precious and our lives get busier, it’s becoming increasingly important to have an efficient irrigation system. Many gardeners and growers are converting their sprinkler systems to drip irrigation because it is more precise, efficient, and easier to maintain. In fact, drip systems are known to use up to 70% less water than the sprinkler systems we’re all used to dealing with. Drip systems are also incredibly diverse in their ability to water any terrain, from gardens around your home to hillsides, vineyards, orchards, or row crops.

Beyond the initial investment, converting your water-guzzling sprinklers into a drip irrigation system is a no-brainer. Your plants will be healthier. Weeds will be fewer. And your water bills will be lower. The amount of money saved will pay you back for the expense of buying a starter drip kit the first season. Follow this step-by-step guide to attain the most seamless means for trading up. You’ll end up saving time, water, and money.

Outline Your Plan of Attack


The first step to converting your sprinkler setup into a drip system is to take an audit of your current layout and space. Where is your main water source? What’s your system’s water pressure? How many sprinklers do you have and how are they laid out? As soon as you have a clear grasp on what your plan looks like, you can grab all of the parts you’ll need in an easy to assemble kit. The best way to do this is to purchase one of our pre-made kits.

Get the Pressure Regulation and Filtration Right

The recommended working pressure of drip irrigation systems is often lower than your actual water pressure. If this is so, you will need a pressure regulator to control (reduce) incoming water pressure. Install the regulator near the start of your system, ideally right after your control valve or faucet.

Drip emitters have small orifices and pathways that can clog. To prevent this from occurring, you should install a filter. If the water is relatively clean (e.g. city water or a clean well) you can simply install a screen washer or tee filter on each riser. If you are dealing with something more like a live body of water (pond, river, or creek) or runoff you will want to install a larger heavy duty filter on the main supply line.

Install Your Drip System

Turn Off Your Water Supply

As many gardeners have learned the hard way, it’s a best practice to start each project by turning your irrigation system off at the main valve of your water supply. Neglecting to do so may cause flooding and a little something we like to call #IrrigationFail.

Drip Line

It’s possible to install the mainline of your drip irrigation system either underground or above ground, although it’s more difficult to spot leaks if tubing is below ground. We recommend mulching over the tubing, because it looks better, lasts longer, prevents people from tripping, protects the tubing from environmental hazards, and increases the overall lifespan of your system. You will probably find covering the mainline to be aesthetically pleasing too.

Cap Off Old Sprinklers

After your drip irrigation system is installed, seal off unneeded sprinkler heads with a threaded cap.

Update Your Watering Practices

Congratulations. Your drip irrigation system is almost complete. Now it’s time to start reaping the rewards. Go ahead and update that watering schedule to take into account the fact that your plants will sip water much more effectively than before.



Use a bluetooth timer like the one explained in the video above to increase efficiency and water your new system automatically.


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