The Garden and the Cost of Small Things

Sweet spot in our back yard.  My aunt and my  mom planted lots of lavender and it was blooming just as I arrived here – smelling amazing!  The bee activity was fervent.  Don’t you want to sit in that chair?

The back yard is mostly shade but there are a few sunny spots and this is one of them.  The peach tree needs to be put in the ground.  It has a bunch of little peaches on it but I’m not sure they will ripen.  It has survived many years in this barrel.  My mom says they meant to have the bottom of the barrel popped out so it could root in the ground but think s that didn’t happen.  Its diminutive size supports her theory.

This is how much water is wasted while the shower is warming up.  I used it to water the dwarf peach tree.  It took little effort to catch it in this pot and then take it outside to use in the garden.

I’ve been looking at water bills and comparing our water bills in McMinnville to the ones here and am appalled to discover that we were using 20,000+ gallons of water a month up in Oregon (a fluctuation between 11,000 to 28,000 at the highest).  We had a running toilet we couldn’t fix which may have accounted for part of it and also a leaky outdoor faucet we didn’t catch for many months.  Still – while I wouldn’t call us particularly wasteful water users – I’m shocked.  My mother’s water bill for June is outrageously high but the usage is much lower than our Oregon usage was at about 8,000 gallons.  This all has me thinking about how I use water and how I waste it.

The bottom of the lemon tree’s barrel WAS removed and it shows.  It has grown from a fairly small tree to pretty big.  It has a lot of small green lemons on it so in trimming it I left those limbs alone.  

Clearly the job is not done.  Fine tuning will be required.

Trimming the tree will hopefully encourage the tree to fill in those bare spots.  Once the lemons have matured on those lower branches I will trim those up too.  Next is to give it more water and some natural fertilizer.  My mom thinks it’s in too shady a spot but over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen it getting quite a bit of sun so hopefully that’s not an issue.

I’m pretty stressed out about paying off old bills and the IRS and the ORS but I’m trying to keep calm about it knowing that we’ll do it, we’ll manage.  Our situation and our prospects have both improved quite a bit and we just have to get on payment plans and budget and we’ll meet our responsibilities.

We still have a whole truckload of things in Oregon and I’m starting to feel the pinch.  We need our couch and my dressers (that are really dining room furniture) and there are so many things there that I am trying not to replace before we have a chance to bring them down – like a bunch of trash cans.  You don’t think it’s that big of a deal to replace stuff like that and if you only need to buy a few replacement things, that’s true.  But living is expensive, in case anyone hasn’t noticed, and the little things add up super fast.  Things like kitty scoopers, trash cans, mattress pads, toilet scrubbers, laundry baskets, pet bowls, bottle brushes, etc.  The price of each of those individual items is fairly insignificant on its own but when you add them up you’re suddenly spending a couple hundred dollars just on basic crap.  Useful, but really basic.  And then there’s the furniture itself – we have tables up in Oregon that we really need here.  The couch and dressers and side tables and book shelves… to replace all of that – even with thrift store finds – would cost us a few hundred dollars.  So it is cost effective for Philip to go back and get all those things.  But it’s still money we barely have.

Today is Saturday and that means it’s cleaning day.  We’re going back to our old schedule.  The house is cleaned every Saturday.  Philip and Max will clean the upstairs because it is their space, not mine.  I will clean the downstairs.  So it’s time to take a shower and get going!

2 thoughts on “The Garden and the Cost of Small Things

  1. Amanda

    Lavender in bloom is such a wonderful gift. I look forward to it every year. I cut some just today to bring inside. The bees don’t bother me – I always thought was because I don’t eat meat that bugs don’t bite, but maybe it’s because I don’t eat sugary things either. Who knows? I have more clover in my yard than grass and I was sitting in the front yard on Wednesday in a lawn chair with my daughter and some friends. I was watching the bees go from clover to clover and enjoying every minute. Everyone else was afraid they’d get bit and said they hated bees. If they only knew we would have few plants, veggies, and fruit without them.

    I was completely surprised at the difference between McMinnville water usage and “home”. I guess because we work 40 hours a week each away from home it isn’t that much the high end is 700 – 800 units. We don’t have a dishwasher (well, I do hand wash them) and it’s just me and the hubby who live here. But, with the rainfall I really think I don’t water the garden so much as other places. I never ever water the yard – waste of resources in my opinion. Now I have to find out how many gallons are in a unit!

    Does the lemon tree get at least 6 hours of sun a day? And, if it is in the oak barrel it probably could use some fresh compost every year. I’m not implying you aren’t doing that, just a suggestion because potted plants need to have their soil replenished every year or so. You probably know as much or more than I do about gardening. I add egg shells and banana peals to name a few things every few weeks to my outdoor potted plants and tomatoes. They love me for it.

    I am so glad I got your blog information before you left, my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

    - amanda

  2. angelina Post author

    You’re a vegetarian?! You were always one of my favorite checkers (such a great smile) but I wish I had chatted with you a long time ago – we have quite a bit in common. I love cutting lavender to bring inside. Sitting and watching the bees in your yard with your daughter and friends sounds like a great way to spend time. I get bit by bugs sometimes but I’m not afraid of them. Especially not the bees – if I do get stung I don’t get upset. They’re so important to us, as you mentioned.

    I’m shocked by our water use in Mac too!! The running toilet and the leaky faucet are certainly part of the issue. I wish we’d managed to fix the running toilet – I read that a running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day. That’s a lot of waste! We didn’t water our yard a lot either. The beauty of Oregon weather is that it rains so much most of the year that you really only have to water for two months. Here in California it’s so much drier that you have to use a lot more water in general for gardens. However – using drip or soaker hoses and heavy mulching can certainly cut way down on it. A lot of people plant drought resistant plants or do xeriscaping. I like to grow a lot of edible things which tend to require more water. Fruit trees need lots of watering to establish them in dry climates but once established they don’t need anything.

    If I’d been living here the last several years I would definitely have been giving the potted plants fresh compost every year but my mom and aunt had tenants in this house and landscapers who just did the bare minimum. I’m surprised how well the lemon tree has done with so little care (it got huge). I’m not sure if it gets a full six hours. I’ll have to pay more attention to it at different times of the day.

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