Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Our well water is poisoned

This row was planted 2 weeks ago and should be green with new plant life.

4/7/10 Wednesday
I worked till way after dark yesterday but still didn’t get all the plants we bought in the ground. That was my goal but I don’t always set reasonable goals. I’ll finish that up today for sure. Meantime I’m paying the price in this beat up old body for the work I did but that’s the way it always is. I could have gotten all the plants in if I’d compromised on my methodology and taken some shortcuts but any job worth doing is worth doing right.

I finished up making the T-frames and digging the post holes to put them in. First each row had to be properly prepared with compost and the pre plant mix of gypsum, Epsom salts, and Borax. That mix is comes from the Mittlieder system that I’m incorporating in much of what we grow this year.

After that I buried the drip line in the row. After seeing how the wind tears the drip line off each row and how there is so much of a mineral buildup when I lay the line on top I decided this will be better.

It’s becoming apparent that our well water has degraded to the point that it’s just poisoning the earth. This is a serious blow but not an unexpected one. We’ve observed that the plants just survive, not thrive, when watered from the well. There has always been a dramatic difference in the plants every time it rains. So right now we’ve got 80% of the rows we planted that show no life at all, and the ones that did manage to sprout some seeds did so only sporadically. That’s disappointing to put it mildly, all that work on all those rows was a total waste of time and seed. Each row reveals a white cap now from the mineral deposits left by the water.

This area should be teaming with life from sixteen different varieties of vegetables that were planted. Only some squashes and melons were able to germinate in this water and they are not too healthy looking.

So what can I do about it? Water is the key to life out here and we have plenty of it but it’s all so hard and full of chlorides that it’s poisonous and prevents seeds from germinating. We will have to buy our plants already started from local nurseries, and that greatly adds to the expense. But even then the water isn’t good though at least the plants have a chance because they are already started. We have hundreds of dollars worth of seeds we bought for this season that I fear will go to waste. However I do have some rain water we caught in barrels set under the roofs that I can use to start seeds with. Our long term plans involve setting up a rainwater capture system that will catch and store all the runoff from our house and garage and also digging a tank to catch the torrential rains at the far end of the farm, where it all drains to. The plans also include installing a filtration and treatment system to clean the well water up and make it safe to use. We also want to drill another well with the hope the water will be better.
I had scavenged a bunch of five gallon buckets along with some plant pots and cut the bottoms out of them. Then I cut these slots so they can go on top of the drip lines. None of the Sudan I planted to act as a wind break around All of the garden plots seems to have made it so the wind is unimpeded as it destructively tears through these areas. Consequently I am using these buckets to protect the plants. Otherwise they would be torn to shreds by the wind and blowing sand. Unfortunately I don't have enough buckets. The winds blew many of them away despite them being stacked out of the way.

All of this, like everything else, requires money. We keep hoping our PVX stock hits $8.00 a share, at which point we plan on selling half of it. It’s been toying with that value, coming within three cents of it, and has steadily risen in value. As soon as we sell it, and for that matter sell the truck and trailer too, we will have the cash needed to do some of this. It won’t be enough to do everything but every little bit helps. Meantime I’ve got a garden that looks like a desert waste land. But I won’t quit. This is just another obstacle to overcome. I have a dream, and through hard work and perseverance, along with God’s grace, I’ll see it become reality.

Last night's sunset.


Anonymous said...

You're doing in wrong.

Whoever came up with the Mittlieder system obviously did not live in West Texas. DO NOT add epsom salts, gypsum or borax to our soils. This just adds more sodium, calcium and magnesium which are already present in our soils and water. Also, you should not plant on the raised beds. Plant on flat ground, or plant in the "valleys" between the ridges. The ridges dry out quickly and leave salts behind (as evidenced by your pictures).'s too soon to plant squash and melons! Predicted low for tonight is 34. The seeds will germinate and grow much better when the soil temps increase a week or two. Squash and melons do just fine in our heat.

You're trying, and that will get you places eventually. Don't feel bad...I made some silly gardening mistakes based on bad information in the past. We can grow things out here very well if you take advantage of our positives and limit the negatives. Check out or
for some good local advice.


sjprice75 said...

Is your water well contaminated?

Bob said...

Jason, It seems that when it comes to gardening there are as many different views as there is in politics. I'm a city guy who's learning best I can. Mittlieder is well researched and taught in developing countries around the world to help them feed themselves. It can get confusing for me.
Sjprice75-don't know if the well is contaminated. Will test it again. Chloride levels are through the roof and thats a main problem.