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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Max Comes To The Rescue

Last Thursday Mimi and I looked at each other and realized it was time to make a dash for it. We have one week until bonus bucks redemption time, one of our busiest times right at the end of spring. We had planned to attempt to have the crafts market on Saturday the 18th. Our son, Max had planned to host a crafts market every third Saturday starting back in March. We mistakingly thought that July might be our first safe shot at going through with it until the Covid began spiking upward again.

We had 30 vendors ready to show some of Mississippi's finest arts and crafts. Max had a bluesman coming to celebrate Mississippi's musical heritage and food to celebrate the state’s culinary heritage. We are excited about this community event and look forward to it happening soon. For now we need to unplan this one until it becomes safe again.

So yeah, time to dash toward our favorite quickie getaway, the Ozarks, where Mimi's mom lives. We love to go up there right when it gets stinking hot around here. They are about three weeks behind us weather and garden wise. Her mom, Hilda Robinson, lives on 30 hardwood covered acres at about 2,000 feet above sea level so it feels great up there, complete with an outdoor kitchen, covered grill shed and an outhouse Joe said he built to keep me out of the house. Every stone in the huge patio was picked and loaded and placed by them. The wood used to build the structures was harvested from their property and hewed to perfection. You can imagine the love that goes into this place we are lucky enough to visit as often as we can.

Over the years Hilda and Joe would visit us and get plants and advice from the worlds best pot designer, Mimi. Twenty years ago Joe went home with 14 Kimberly Queen ferns - you know the one sold by the millions at every Kroger and fruit stand in the state. He overwintered these ferns meticulously for 20 years, pulling them out on a wagon designed just for them on every sunny day above 40° and pushing the wagon into a heated area on the cold nights. They're now in 30 gallon pots and are absolutely spectacular.

I, like most people, always thought of Kimberlys as disposable. I would just get another next year for 15 bucks and let it roll until winter.

These ferns are specimens many people use for weddings and special occasions. Hilda and Mimi have added colorful pots filled with Mimi's favorite container friendly plants. If you've seen Mimi's work you can just imagine what 42 pots look like in this setting complete with the waterfall and running river right down the side of their patio.

To have this kind of setting it takes diligence, which there is no shortage of in the Robinson family. Hilda spends about two hours most days keeping plants watered and tended to.

When Max heard his grandmother say how much time it takes to simply water the pots, not to mention the huge zinnia garden, butterfly garden, and vegetable garden, he leaned in towards me and said she needed a drip irrigation system right now. Max grabbed a pen and started making a list of supplies it would take to get all 42 pots soaked automatically. He had recently installed the system for a couple of clients of ours, so it was fresh on his mind. Twenty minutes later he told me to grab my wallet and we were bee lining it to the local hardware store. They had a great selection, thank goodness.

We got spigots to work with so we would have plenty of pressure. We could water 21 pots from each spigot. First we wrapped Teflon tape around the threads of the spigot to prevent leaks. Next we screwed on the battery-operated irrigation timer. With the timer we can set how frequently and the duration the water will run. The funny pipe slips on next. This is a very flexible pipe which can curve and hug tightly to the edge of the patio with stakes to hold it in place. We capped them off at the end.

Max bought a hole punch designed specifically for this. The hole punches into the funny pipe and the spaghetti tubes slip tightly over the plastic piece made for that purpose. Max measured the spaghetti tubes to go from the funny pipe to the pot and up the pot with plenty of spare tubing in case Hilda wants to move the pots around. At the end of each spaghetti tube he put a stake with a water emitter connected to it into the center of each pot, including the 20-year-old ferns. I was amazed at how quickly his plan came together, we were done in no time.

Max yelled out a count down (kinda like Chevy Chase in that Christmas movie) and turned one of the spigots on for 10 minutes while we adjusted the sprinkler heads. On smaller pots we tightened the emitters to release less water, for the larger pots, we loosened for more water. Water was dripping from the bottom of the pots in 10 minutes. The timer shut off after 10 minutes and the other was set to come on next. We adjusted all 21 of those pots emitters and that was it.

For $250 and three or four hours of our time Hilda is done holding the hose all summer. The most impressive part of all this is how closely Max figured his supplies. We had two feet of funny pipe leftover and nothing else. That is some good figuring there, I've always prided myself with being able to get pretty close to figuring supplies but the baton has been handed to Max for that one.

Hilda had tears in her eyes as she and Mimi began to realize what this would mean for her. Pots full of plants can be a lot like pets, you can't just go out of town for a couple days without some consideration of how they will survive in your absence in the middle of summer. Hilda hugged Max and made his favorite Boston cream pie to show not only how thrilled she was to have this new system and freedom but also that her grandson is so capable with anything to do with agriculture. I guess he learned from the best (Mimi).

As I watched the process I realized that more people need to know that putting a drip irrigation system is affordable, easy to piece together, and a game changer. If you think you would like to try installing the system on your patio pots, go to your favorite garden center to get the guidance you will need. We want your pots full of color to be perfect year round. It can be more pleasurable on those hot days to wake up with pots already dripping wet while you sip your coffee.

On the way home from the Ozarks, I read some words on a sign that surely everyone has seen. But it hit me as the perfect thing for all that's going on in our country and in our world right now. “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” That brought a lot of peace to my mind and makes things seem a little more simple.


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