Way back in Ye Olde Days, houses had no indoor plumbing, and so water for drinking, washing, and whatnot would need to be carried to the house, by hand, in buckets. Because of this, my pioneering ancestors situated the house close to a wetland sort of area on the property. They built a spring house over a natural spring there and hauled water from it for many years. The foundation is still there.

Garden Irrigation - 2

We have been having a long stretch of dry weather recently, and I had a mind to water the garden. Not wanting to overtax the house’s water supply (a different spring), I hatched a scheme to pump water out of the old spring house foundations and keep my tomatoes happily irrigated.

This presented some challenges. In the years since the spring house has been actively used, it had filled in with a nice deep layer of soggy, heavy muck. There was no remedy but a shovel and a sore back.


The next challenge was the pump. The spring has a really slow refresh rate. My transfer pump would suck the whole spring house dry in a few minutes and then continue to run, overheat, and burn up. No good. So, I found one of those solar powered pumps people use to make a cutesy waterfall in their Koi ponds or whatever, and set that up to slowly fill a 55 gallon drum.

Solar powered swamp water. #garden #irrigationsystem #solar #crazyideas

A post shared by Adam Killian (@agrariananachronist) on

I was then able to use my high powered transfer pump to launch the water up the hill to the garden sprinkler 150 feet away.


It worked! Hooray! So, that was awesome, and I put 50-100 gallons on the garden every day for a week! The tomatoes were so happy!

Now that I had gone to all the work of building an irrigation system for the garden, we got rain. So much rain.

The cellar flooded, the dirt floor melted into mud, and the sump basin and its pump floated out of the ground and went on swashbuckling adventures sailing all around the basement.


The good news is that the garden seems to have put all this water to good use.

Pumpkins in the sweet corn

ce n’est pas une blog


Hello blog people.

Much has transpired since I last kept up this blog, but I think it might do me some good to try to write here again.  The venerable old WordPress blog with its clunky RSS feed now feels like a throwback to a bygone era when life was simple, men were honest,  and children respected their elders ;  a time before tweets and “fake news” and all the noise and gibberish of social media.

So, I’m reinstating the blog, but things are going to be different.  Since the last time we spoke at any length, I moved to a farm in the country, and got a new job (twice).  I’ve been busy.

I don’t ride bicycles as much as a used to.   I now get my retro-grouch, human-powered-contraption, tweed-ride jollies in ways more appropriate to my new, rural context.

1919 Planet Jr. #4 seed drill

I used this contraption — a 99 year old seed planter to plant a “four sisters” style garden, except I threw in a few extra sisters.  I have popcorn, sweetcorn, and mammoth sunflowers performing the bean pole function with Kentucky Wonder pole beans set to climb up their stalks.  I interspersed three varieties of pumpkins (two pie, one jack) to vine all over the place and shade out the weeds.

The Seven (?) sisters garden

Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean under a Mammoth Sunflower

I planted this garden really late.  I am crossing my fingers that we don’t get an early frost.  If the seed packets can be believed, we should have jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, and enough popcorn for a winter’s worth of movie nights.

I’ll let you know.