Garden cleanup, a few more sales items picked up

August 18, 2022

Mom stopped by to give me a hand with some garden cleanup. The 2 of us worked about 90 minutes before the it started getting into the low 90’s with no breeze.  We got about half of the garden cleaned up and I noticed a couple of areas were not getting enough water so I added another sprinkler to cover those plant beds. We pulled out a lot of weeds and some crops that had gone to seed and I’m impressed the the soil in most of the beds is loose, a rich black color even after all the heat we have had the last six weeks. I gave Mom a few grape vines to use around her squash to see if that will help with the squash bug.  Mom also grabbed a few irises and tulips to add to her yard.

Next I have to get after the tomato and pepper beds and the three sister mounds.  I have a good stock pile of mulch along with landscape cloth and plastic sheeting to lay over the weeds.  So the plan of attack is to work my way through to the three sisters mound clearing out weeds and laying out cloth and mulch as I go.  I have been buying four bags of wood mulch the few paychecks and now I have enough on hand to put down a thick layer of mulch in the garden.

My compost pile is breaking down though it needs to be turned over but I know that it can make good compost/soil if I keep working it.  It wood be really nice next spring to use my own compost and not have to buy any from the local stores.

I picked up some pork chops from Albertsons for .99 per pound. My freezers are just about maxed out with meat I bought on sale or from local suppliers.  The next project is adding in frozen veggies either from the garden or local food stands. I had coupons for both Fred Meyer and Albertsons for the Lysol Multi-Surface cleaner that also sanitizes.  I really like this cleaner as you can buy a big bottle and it still sanitizes when diluted. when multiple stores put the same item on sale with coupons that often means they are getting rid of the larger sized product inventory so the can sell smaller bottles at the same or higher prices or they are discontinuing the product.  If yo like a multi-tasking cleaning product to refill your spray bottles I’d recommend stocking up at a low price.

I tried out a spray bottle Lysol bathroom cleaner. It foamed and it did a worse job cleaning the tub than the regular multi-surface cleaner from Lysol.  Don’t waste your money on this product.

I finished up the chocolate shopping and I should have plenty of fun size candy bars for myself and the trick or treaters for at least a couple of years. Again I noticed that many stores have chocolate on sale at the same time but not at holiday time.  I’m seeing packages shrink and prices going up/ then the item goes on sale.  Perhaps I’m wrong and we will see great sales on candy in October and if that happens I say good and you can buy and store more chocolate.  I’m not telling anyone to pay full price or clean out the candy section of a store.  If you see  a good sale take advantage of it and stock up now so you have it on hand.  If the price drops in the future you can always buy more.

I bought four more cans of coffee that was on sale.  Though the sale prices are going up.  I’m seeing coffee prices going up in several stores and the sales prices are not as good as they were even 3-6 months ago.  Coffee like chocolate can’t be grown on an industrial scale in the USA so basic ingredient must be imported and lots of costs are added to importation. I don’t drink tea but I assume that tea drinkers are seeing the same rise in cost in stores.

Be aware of rising costs but don’t freak out and panic.  Six-12 months ago you could not buy Gatorade in a store. The cost is higher for Gatorade bottles but I bought a lot of Gatorade powder for under $2.00 that makes 5 gallons. I got a good price on a store brand tissue paper and stocked up even though I always stock up.  You won’t get the price on sales that happen back in 2017. You have to dollar cost average your shopping cart and buy some things at higher prices even though you have stored item that cost less in the past because nothing last forever when you use it.  Buy now at the best price you can get and if the price goes down you buy more, if the price goes up you don’t buy because you have your backups.

I think it is possible we will see a stock market crash this fall or perhaps next spring.  It does not matter to me as I’m not in the market but many people are and they will get hurt in crash.  How not to get hurt in the market is don’t be in the market.  I’m not a financial guru all I can say is are your potential gains greater than your potential losses?  I’m biased I see the stock market entwined with the TBTF banks, the Federal reserve and DC government and I don’t trust any of them.

Humming bird! and a little more shopping done

August 17, 2022

The first? hummingbird stopped by and got a drink at the new feeding station by the patio. That little guy stopping by for a drink made all of the work worthwhile.  Hummingbirds are such amazing creatures. They are so small and delicate looking yet they travel thousands of miles migrating twice a year. I think Idaho has a couple of species of hummingbirds that overwinter if the have a good food supply so I’m hoping I can attract some of those this year.

The large birdfeeder is in the rock garden and soon the birds will stop by when they find the feeders are full again.  Water is huge for wild critters and I hope the new fountains will help attract some wildlife now that the solar fountains keep the water moving and don’t create a mosquito breeding ground of stagnant water. I have window screen cloth over the tops of my rain barrels so that keeps the bugs from breeding.

Got a little more shopping for items to stock up on before stuff is gone. I got two more of the large 3 cubic foot bags of garden soil for topping off beds next spring. I got these bags from Bi-Mart this spring for the raised beds and the soil seems to work about the same as the Kellogs soil I bought at Home depot before Home Depot started selling smaller bags at higher prices.  If your local stores still have garden stuff in stock you might find some good sales as stores clear out the summer inventory items for fall/holidays sales.

I got a good buy on some sirloin steaks at Albertsons for $3.47 per pound so I got a couple of 3.5 pound packages. Beef prices are relatively low right now as herds are going to market early because of high feed costs and dry conditions are drying out pastures.  I have see prices for a chuck roast go over $7.00 a pound when not on sale. Next spring and summer we will see a price rise on beef products.

I have a new vice of buying tater tots and curly fries since I got the new air fryer.  I can make fries from potatoes but I hve not found a good way to make tater tots at home.  I like using the air fryer as I don’t have a lot of oil sitting in a fryer getting old for only a few uses.  I bought a few spray cans of Coconut oil for adding a little more crispy to the air fried tots. I’m not hearing a lot of local people freaking out about a potato shortage in Idaho.  I think this might be more about Commercial food operations and not about the basic spud sold in stores.  This was in the news early January of this year so it is an ongoing problem not just a new thing.  If you are like me and want a special potato item like tater tots you might want to store a few bags before the price goes up.

Hershey’s has stated they don’t know if they can supply candy bars for Halloween.  I think that is a big deal as I’m sure Hershey’s has all kinds of deals with cocoa suppliers around the world.  So if they can’t get cocoa there is probably a shortage for other companies getting cocoa. I have noticed the Dollar Stores are selling the candy bar paks are getting smaller from 8 “funsize” down to 5 bars and now all dollar store prices are now $1.25. I’m seeing grocery stores having sales on candy bars before Halloween. Is it to get rid of the older stock and replace it with smaller packaging?

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and I don’t get many trick or treaters but I like having a few candy bars around if I want to have a bit of chocolate.  I’m seeing a lot of fun size bags in grocery stores and even full size candy bars going on sale so it might be wise to stock up now and not wait for the traditional sale time for Halloween.

Coffee is going up in price and you need to take advantage of sales to stock up. I know ground coffee has about a 2 year shelf life but if you use a can of coffee per month you could store over 24 cans and rotate and not drink old coffee. I’m adding more coffee to my storage as I remember coffee hitting $12.00 a can around 2011/2012 and my storage helped reduce the cost over all.  Inflation is bad enough but anything that must be ship from overseas will cost more.

Inflation is culmative and always build upon itself exponentially. Inflation in June was 9.1% according to the US government and 8.5% in July.  That 8.5% growth of inflation was on top of the 9.1% that happen in June so your pay check that stayed stead lost almost 20% buying power over just 2 months. Just because the inflation rate did not beat the prior months rise in cost does not mean inflation dropped to 0%.

Lets say you have a savings account tied directly to the inflation rate. In June you got 9.1% interest on that savings account. In July you only got 8.5% interest on that savings account. No one would say you earn 0%  interest in July.  Sorry, nobody but a politician. 401 k’s lose and the stock brokers and TBTF banks win. A few folks get wins as you need a few winners to keep the grift going in any scam.  Don’t invest in the stock market invest in your self!

Rock garden installed, solar fountain started and Smokey the cat passed over the rainbow bridge.

August 14, 2022

Busy week here at Casa de Chaos. Smokey the cat passed away peacefully this week. While I’m sad this was no surprise. I’m glad she had extra time as I thought I would lose her several times in the last 12 months. She really perked up after starting the new cat food. Wandering around the house and getting underfoot as cats love to do to their humans.  She is out at the new Rock garden with the bird feeder and bird bath so plenty of critters to watch in the backyard.

The rock garden basics are finished up. I put down a layer of landscape cloth then added some light colored river rock for the base of the garden. I’m keeping the bird feeders and bird bath in this garden as it is fun to watch the birds and squirrels from the patio. Hopefully the landscape clothe will prevent the birdseed from sprouting as both the birds and squirrels are messy eaters. I added a few large chunks of petrified tree rocks to the rock garden along with some smaller rocks I collected because I like the look of the rock.  Nothing fancy just some small chunks of quartz and dark colored river rocks.  Southern Idaho has lots of agate and pyrites so I’d like to find some of types of rocks to the garden.

I moved the hummingbird feeder closer to the patio and have a good view out my bedroom window if the little birds stop by for a drink on the way south for winter.  I’m having a heck of a time finding a place for the humming bird feeders in my backyard that the little guys want to use. Hopefully with the winter migration the hummingbirds will come in for an energy drink to power them on their way.

I set up a small tub and the solar fountain on the old elm stump in the front yard. This is a smaller tub that holds 15 gallons of water but I’m adding a bit of rock trying to get the solar fountain to work optimally as a decoration. This is also the most sunny spot I have for the solar fountain which works great in full sun but if a shadow falls on it, forget about it. I’m adding a few river rocks to keep the floating fountain from moving around the tub and keep it centered so it does not splash all of the water outside of the tub. I guess anyone making a water feature has to do a lot of tweaking to get it “just right” for themselves.  I still have the larger 24 gallon tub I’d like to use for another water feature but I have not figured out the where or the how yet.

I gave a few irises to a neighbor whose daughter wanted some irises.  It is so nice to share plants with others that they get for free and I was cleaning up so it was a win/win for everyone. Mom says she wants a few irises so I’ll get to give at least 2 people flowers that will bloom in the spring.  Well not exactly free for Mom as she has set up a day this week to help me get my garden back under some control.  We are going to try adding some grape leaf mulch to her squash beds to test if the grape leaves suppress squash bugs, since all of my squash seem to stay bug free since I have grown them next to my grape vines.  I have not read that squash and grapes can be companion plants but it might be that no one ever considered testing them out together.

I finally got my large chest freezer defrosted and reorganized and it went much faster than I had anticipated. I had a couple of coolers on stand by for the frozen food, a bucket of hat water and plastic pastry cutter/scrapper to chip off any stuck on ice/frost. Last but not least the wet/dry vac to suck up any water from the melt/defrost process. The process took about 60-90 minutes including rotating frozen food in the plastic milk crates I used in the freezer for easy access.  I removed the blocks of ice for backup protection as I’m now using reusable camping Ice blocks for camp coolers so that freed up some space.

Chest freezer are more power efficient but it is harder to rotate items if they get buried in the bottom of the freezer. Now my big freezer is about 5 cubic ft. so it is about medium size compared to most freezers. I would recommend you get baskets or plastic crates to hold your food in a chest freezer as they are easy to remove and you can separate/rotate foods easily so what you are looking for is easy to find.

I know it is tough right now.  I try my best and I always seem to be behind on something, though I’m getting ahead on other things.  I suppose it is human nature to focus on the things that go wrong rather than the things that go right as back in the day things that go wrong could get you dead. That is why it is important to focus on the positives and the things that go right and fix the things that go wrong without beating yourself up. It is a learning process and the tuition cost is things screwing up and you doing better next time.

Measure your performance against yourself.  That does not mean you don’t learn from others it means you measure what you have done against yourself and not what other people do. Reality is some people have more resources and some people have less and it seldom comes down to money.  But if you are making big bucks in NYC and have only a picture window or balcony apartment you are not going grow a lot of food or have generator, gas cans or store a lot of food.  I make less than 20 grand a year and I know I have stored more food, fuel and have more than these folks will ever on hand despite the fact they make 5-6 times the amount of income.  Some people will have more or less of almost everything and it does not work to be envious of others.  You make the best of what you got and it is that simple. That does not mean you can’t learn from other people.

Four large paper bags of Irises and a small bag of tulip bulbs

August 7, 2022

The two big beds of Irises are all cleaned out and ready for planting.  One of the beds was so overgrown I had to use the pick axe to dig out some of the iris rhizomes.  Once I filled the last bag with cleaned up irises I tossed the big chunks away since none of my neighbors wanted any Irises.  There are two small beds of irises by the fence that are left to clean out. I am going to replant these purple irises in the house beds and add a few of the white and yellow irises as a contrasting color.  I’m sure there will be a few volunteer iris plants that I missed in the house beds but next years flowers should be happy and healthier now that they have more room to grow.

I left some of the tulip bulbs in the ground though it is to early now (October) to plant the bulbs. Some of the bulbs were damaged or I just missed some of them hiding in the dirt. The bulbs I did leave in the beds I pulled toward the front so I know where to transplant the other irises.  The left over bulbs I saved I will share with Mom when she picks up the irises she wants for her yard.

Just to give an idea of how much clean up was needed o0n these two beds… I filled two large garbage bins and a 42 gallon construction grade garbage bag.  Lesson learned:  Don’t be afraid to get out the pick axe to get beds cleaned up when a shovel or garden fork is a struggle to use.  You save both time and energy!

Now is the time to get your lawn prepped for next year with getting down some weed and weed and reseeding grass and getting those beds ready for bulbs even those garlic bulbs that need to be planted in the fall. For my area 6b I think October is the time to plant for spring bulbs.  Your Zone might be different but sooner or later it will be that time of year for your yard and garden.

We are still getting some hot days but it is much different than what it was back in July.  While I complained about the weather this summer it was much better than last year with the early Summer heat and a lot more smoke from wildfires.  I wish it was better for other folks around the USA.

It has not been all bad here in Idaho as we got a lot of rain in May /June and that helped with the drought. SE Idaho is catching the edges of the Monsoon out of the SW USA and that is helping fill the Snake river and the reservoirs we use for irrigation. A wet fall and winter would probably kill the drought.  So on average we are doing better than expected for the year.

Huzzah! Firewood is stacked. Cleaning up the irises and front lawn.

August 4, 2022

Firewood is all stacked under the carport and covered with a tarp in the areas exposed to rain/snow. While I did not like having the firewood sit in a pile so long before getting stacked, the firewood did a lot of drying/seasoning in the summer heat.  The new garden cart did a great job even though it holds less volume of wood. Its small size, lighter weight and greater mobility seemed to work better for me than the large metal garden cart. I raked up the alley area where the wood pile was and sprayed the morning glory with some vinegar to kill the growth back. So the alley garden is a bit brown but at least most of the weeds are under control.  Bad thing in the alley way is some really bad patches of thistle and puncture vine are growing on my neighbors land and I don’t want to call city code enforcement about the weeds.  But I have worked so hard to stop the weeds in my area I don’t want them to spread.  I’m trying to convince the neighbors that talk to me to go with 30 % vinegar rather than a Roundup type of weed killer that kills the soil as well as the weeds.  It is taking some time to convince them. 

This is the time to clean up those Iris flower beds and I have to say it has been many years since I cleaned/thinned those beds out and they are a lot more work than I anticipated. So far I have dug up one Iris bed that was not that big and have two paper grocery bags full of cleaned and trimmed iris rhizomes at least 30 + tulip bulbs that have been waiting for a chance to grow in that mass of irises and another 3 beds of irises to clean up.  I’m not just cleaning up the iris beds. I’m also cleaning out some weeds and a vine that while pretty is also not good as it wraps around other plants and drags them down.  Some good news is I am finding a lot of tulip bulbs that seem to have been dormant and not growing because the irises grew so thick.  I have another section of irises to clean out that is about the same size and I’m guessing I’ll find more tulip bulbs in that bed like the other bed. I’m pilling out all of the Irises from these beds to clean out all weeds, get tulip bulbs and clean up up the iris rhizomes for new healthy growth for next spring and summer. Mom wants some of the irises for her yard and is very interested in adding more tulips if I have any bulbs leftover from my bed cleanup.  There is just something about seeing those tulips in early spring that lets you know Spring is happening now or at least in a few weeks. 

I got the front yard kiddie pool planter cleaned out and it was a mass of weeds and volunteer trees and other less than optimal plants. I’m not sure if I want to do a raised bed or build the soil back up and reuse the kiddie pool as a planter.  I got half of the lawn mowed and tried to start raking up the damaged areas of the lawn but the heat got to me and I had to give up for the day.  I got everything mowed and weed wacked on that half of the yard and I think if I remove the dead thatch and get some bug killer in the bad areas I can start adding soil, compost and grass seed better suited for this climate I can repair the lawn without digging it all up.  All of the things that you do to the soil to for adding sod is almost the same thing you should do before you plant grass seed, results may very depending on the time frame. 

It is all to easy to focus on one area and forget other areas of life.  If one thing does not work think of backups.  My green beans did nothing and I’m not sure my corn will do much better.  That is okay the local garden stand has great green beans and corn on the cob for a great price and I can freeze some as soon as I clean out my freezer space. If you have been prepping for awhile I suspect your food needs are in good shape for a few weeks or few months. 

How will you stay warm, cooking that food as eating anything cold out of a can sounds unpleasant. Igloo jugs will store hot water for 24 hours and warm water up to 48 hours. If your water heater loses power you could heat water every time you want it or you could buy a couple of igloo and store heated/hot water for up to 48 hours. 

Here in SW Idaho we have about 4 weeks of of hot weather and then Fall hits in September.  Winter is coming and staying warm will be critical. 


Feels like the heat wave is starting to break a little early

July 31, 2022

It is still bloody hot but I can feel a difference in the weather. I got a late start moving the wood today and worked under direct sun for a couple of loads and while hot, I could feel a change in the air. I’m seeing a little haze in the air from the forest fires but nothing like the smoke we got last year that was so thick you could almost chew it.  As for the would pile stack another couple hours of work and it should be finished. It was tough not to try and power through and get the last of the wood pile stacked despite the weather. I’m just starting to feel like my normal self again and the last thing I want to do is knock myself down again by overworking.

Backyard lawn area is looking better after just a couple of days of TLC. No grass seed sprouting yet but that sphagnum peat moss does a great job of retaining water/moisture on the grass seed. I would recommend adding that peat moss if you live in a dry area and sprinkle some on the grass lawn to reduce water usage. Sphagnum peat moss won’t change your soils PH but it will help retain water while it is on the soil and as it moves into the soil it will help loosen the soil so it is not as dense.  I added this peat moss to my raised bed garden soil this summer and it was much more fluffy and less hard when planting.  I bought one large cube of the peat moss and I’m just starting to run out after using it in all of my garden and on a small portion of my lawn. I hope to buy another couple of the cubes this fall for my front lawn and for next years garden.

Now is the time to get those soil amendments as things start going on sale to clean out the inventories of summer stuff. It has been strange seeing what people bought in stores this summer. Early on people were buying starting plants like crazy but I did not see mulch, soil and things like that sell out like last year. Now I’m seeing people buying hardware like fencing, decorative/landscaping plants. Perhaps people are not just growing gardens but want to make yards a more pleasant living space.  Of course fencing can be huge for making a garden space more productive.

One couple was getting fencing and was looking at the plastic step in poles for electric fencing. I told them go for the steel t-post as I had used both and the wife exclaimed the t-posts were cheaper than the plastic posts. The husband said he wanted to protect an area from his pets and I explained I had tried using the plastic posts and unless he was going to buy an electric fence t-post and a metal fence fabric or welded fence would work much better.  I am biased, I hate chicken wire. I understand it is cheap and effective for fencing off areas but I hate it with a passion. I’d rather spend more money to not deal with chicken wire.

All of the critters are doing great and my old cat Smokey is exploring more of the house again.  The Purina UTI dry cat food has been working out great. It is also getting expensive. August cash flow is looking rough with paying off the credit card for the vet bill, getting the chimney cleaned and getting veggies to preserve at the local fruit strand.

I think now is the time to invest your money in what I call sure bets. You know you will need to eat in the future so buy and store food while it is relatively cheap. You know you will need heat and energy this winter so store fuel and a way to make heat/energy. This is about what works best for you. A winter in SW Idaho is a lot different in many other states or regions. Any temp below 60 degrees F. you have the potential of developing hypothermia if you don’t have proper clothing or your clothing gets wet or you can’t get warmed.  Cold kills more people in the world than heat.

I know it sucks buying stuff at a higher cost because of government stupidity, it is your butt that will get frozen and not some DC politician if the electricity goes away.  This a great time to start pricing a Buddy heater and other hunting and camping gear. Get a battery powered fan and rechargeable batteries.  I could heat a 1200 sq.ft. house with a Mr. Buddy heater and a fan for about a week with a standard 20 pound propane tank when the High temp was 18-20 degree F. Now any rolling blackout is just that and you should have some power at times but in the worse case scenario you can store four 20 pound propane tanks and heat your home up to a month of power outages for about $200.00 todays cost for a refilled propane tank.

I know most people in the USA don’t have a fire place or wood stove. Even if they have a stove the chimney has not been cleaned and they don’t have wood to burn. If you want to get a wood stove  for heat/cooking I recommend you buy wood first and all the tools needed for a wood stove.  If you buy split wood you will need kindling and smaller sized to start a fire. That means axes, hatchets and  small chainsaws at best.  I have a great woo supplier now with very consistent sized chunks of wood but I’m still dealing with wood that would not fit in my woodstove from less reputable wood suppliers.

A cord of wood seems to have a lot of definitions but a true cord of wood is stacked wood that is 128 sq.ft. The math does not change from the traditional stack of 4 ft. x 4ft. by 8 ft. or if the stack is 12 ft. x1.5 ft by 6 ft.  it is still about 128 sq.ft to make a cord of wood. A face cord is 4 ft. x 8ft. by 1.5 ft. That is not a problem if you don’t pay for a full cord of wood and get a discount.  Not hard all you need is a tape measure and a calculator for the 3 dimensions. I doubt you can call out someone before you stack the wood unless they are very blatant shorting you. But you can let people know not to use them as a firewood supplier.

Moving wood with the garden cart and 100+ degree heat

July 28, 2022

Using the garden cart to move the firewood was 2-3 times more effective than carrying the wood by hand. While the wood I am picking up and stacking is in the sun, Once I start stacking wood I’m working in the shade.  I work in the morning stacking the wood while taking breaks in the house to drink water and cool down.  About 11:00 am the sun is just to hot to keep working moving the firewood even with the cart and stacking wood in the shade.  I got another bag full of the starter wood stacked on the porch. I’m almost as excited about having that size wood stacked on the porch as I am about getting the firewood stack finished.  A few more days and I’ll have all of the wood stacked ready for winter.

Things I like about the new garden cart:

  1. Smaller size makes it easier to maneuver compared to the old cart.
  2. The rounded carry bin portion of the cart does not catch on gate openings like the old metal cart.
  3. This cart does not try and run up on my ankles nor have as many metal pieces that try and scratch me up compared to the old cart.

Downsides of the new cart:

  1. Less capacity though I don’t know as that is a downside for me as smaller loads are easier for me to move.
  2. Plastic bin holds all debris while the old cart had holes for dirt to fall to the ground. The dump feature makes it easy to dump debris but that my be an issue for some people.

Started fixing up the backyard lawn area. This was the area I tried growing sod that did not work so I improved the soil and got a local fescue mix grass seed and planted it last fall and the grass grew well during the wet spring/early summer.  I sort of neglected the area when I had my flare and the high heat did not help this grass area. Overall the grass area did okay despite the neglect on my part but it was time to give the area a bit of TLC.

I cleaned up the area with a good raking with a garden rake so I scratch up the dirt for the grass seed and then added the grass seed adding extra in the bare patches in the lawn.  I wet down the grass seed in the lawn and added some of the Sphagnum Peat moss on top of the seed to hold in moisture and protect the seed.  Last but not least gave the lawn a good watering to help settle the grass seed into the dirt.

Adding the good watering perked up the grass area so that soil was a bit thirsty. This also a bit of test of how to start recovery of my front lawn from this heat wave that has made it a bit of a disaster.  I think the lawn needs some amendments, bug killer and overseeding with the grass seed I use in the backyard that handles a heat wave better than the grass currently in the front yard.

Took a day off the 25th but back to work

July 26, 2022

Three days of moving wood by hand kicked my butt so I took a day off moving wood and did the basic cleaning around the house.  Things like cleaning bathrooms, laundry that sort of thing. Taking a day off or changing up my routine is helping me to bounce back to my normal level of work even in the 100 degree plus heat we have this week.  Good news it looks like the heat wave will break next Monday the first of August and the temps will start dropping into the 90 degree range for daytime highs.

Stacked some more wood and got the second row complete and started on the third row. It is nice to see the progress of moving that pile of dumped wood become neat stacks of firewood. I found a lot more of the smaller start your fire wood sticks and added them to the porch stack of wood.  I’ very confident I will have enough of this size wood to start fires all winter long. I’m using a canvas fire wood bag to haul this wood to the front porch. If you have a wood stove and need to move wood get one of these bags.  I bought my bag at the local Fred Meyer/Kroger for $15.00 and it is worth the price. I noticed that several stores are starting to put woodstove items up on the shelves so keep an eye out for bargains on any items on your firewood wish list. If you can schedule your chimney sweep in August or September at the latest. You want your fireplace safe and ready to go before you need it this winter.

After the sun got high enough to be uncomfortable I went into the shop and put together the new garden cart. This is one of those small Gorilla Carts with the dump feature and a 600 pound weight limit.  The instructions were less than clear at a couple of points but it did have nice pictures that helped me figure out a couple of my screw ups. Overall the cart was very easy to put together with a couple of socket wrenches, a Philips screw driver and and a rubber mallet.

First impressions of the wagon:  It is much lighter than my other wagon that was all metal. The wagon is shorter and easier to maneuver and it seems that the overall manufacturing is of a higher quality compared to the last wagon. Sometimes smaller is better for some tools and I think this wagon will work better for me in the long run compared to the old large garden cart.  I have a city lot under 6990 sq. ft. or about .17 of an acre with a 1200 sq. ft. home. I have a small space to work in and use smaller tools to get the job done. A riding lawn mower for me would be impractical even with my disability because my yard is so small.  Storage of the wagon in the shop is already easier compared to the old wagon so for me that is a plus.

I have not tested the cart for moving heavy loads but I still have firewood to move and I’m looking at building a rock garden that should challenge the cart’s weight load and moving ability. If you can’t move your cart under load then how much weight it can hold is irrelevant. My imprecision so far is this is a  homeowner with less than a quarter acre doing mostly basic landscaping and gardening tasks moving a few bags of dirt, rock or mulch.  If you have a 1/2 acre or more, use a riding mower for your lawn or a tractor of some sort I don’t think this is the wagon for you based on it’s size.

Next will be the hauling test of a couple of landscaping projects and finishing up the firewood stack.

Stolen wagon, stacking wood and more yard cleanup

July 24, 2022

Yep my wagon got stolen and that was a bit of a bummer.  I had the wagon under the carport where I’m stacking my wood and I guess someone decided they had to have that wagon.  I think I bought that wagon 8-10 years ago for about $60.00 and the only cost I put into the wagon was a couple of new tires, so I did get my money’s worth of use. I hope whoever stole my wagon gets four flat tires and other broken parts that make using that wagon a pain.

I bought a new wagon at the local bi-mart and it was on sale for $89.00! This new cart hauls about the same amount of stuff and it has a dump feature that should be a big help when moving around dirt, mulch and rock for landscaping.  I’m not happy about losing my old cart but having a new cart with this dump feature should work better for jobs around the house.

Since I had lost my wagon I have been stacking the wood carried by hand the last couple of days.  The wood stacking is going better than I had anticipated. I have just about finished another row of wood that  is about a cord, and started on the third row that should finish up the three cords of wood I ordered for the year.  I’m really pleased with how this years wood stack is coming along.  I have access to all of the older seasoned wood and a place to cut and split the bigger chunks into wood stove size.  All of this years fire wood is accessible and I can cover the wood not under the carport with a tarp this fall once the wet weather begins again.  Having the firewood sit in the alley during the summer was not my choice but it seems to have made a big difference in how much this year’s fire wood has dried in the hot sun.

This year I made a special effort to save out all of the smaller chunks of wood that are of smaller sizes and stacking them on the front porch rather than stacking them in the woodpile.  I think it is possible that I may have enough of this sized wood to last the entire heating season.  If not I will have enough after I start cutting kindling once the weather cools enough to start cutting kindling for the kindling boxes. My goal is to have all of my firewood ready to go for the entire fire season from kindling to regular sized firewood chunks without having to split wood in the winter.  I don’t know if I’ll make that goal but every thing I get done this fall will help me this winter.

Its not really yard cleanup except in the broadest sense of adding in better landscaping but I splurge on a small 20 gallon tank to make a small water feature with one of the solar fountains. I got a few bags of rock and I want to build a small rock garden in the back yard. It is hard to get the jobs done now as the garden and stacking the wood are the priorities but I want to make more use of all of my yard but not add any day to day costs to my bills.  Plus I like the idea of many different spaces in the yard for different plants. With inflation hitting hard having a space at home that is a sanctuary is important. While doing garden work and stacking wood is important creating a space for beauty for no other reason than it is beautiful is important too.

Lawn is looking better and some garden cleanup.

July 20, 2022

The front lawn is starting to green up a little but it still needs some extra TLC.  I’m going to do another bug treatment and rake the areas where the old grass has basically died and start adding the grass seed mix I used in the backyard lawn.  That grass mix has done much better in the heat compared to the front yard lawn.  I will start adding some new soil, amendments  and extra compost as I can afford the stuff and really get proactive adding improvements in Aug/Sept. to start replacing the old grass with new grass seed that handles the hot weather.

I have the other half of flower beds in the front yard to get cleaned up and under control but I still need to take things slow building up my stamina and try and get some work done in the backyard lawn and garden.

I trimmed back some of the runaway grape vines in the back yard.  My squash plants are growing like crazy and no squash bugs seen so far.  I wonder if my grape vines growing close to my squash is what keeps the squash bugs away.  Almost everyone I talk to in the valley has a terrible time with squash bugs, but I never see bug. I am one of the few people that have a lot of grape vines that grow along side my squash.  Maybe the grape vines are a positive companion plant for squash?  I have not done anything special growing my squash compared to other people other than planting them close to the grapes that grow on my fence.

My local Grocery Outlet store had more of the large reusable Ice paks for $1.49 each so I picked up another six to add to the freezers. I have used these paks in a Styrofoam cooler I get my milk deliveries and after 12 hours the paks are still frozen solid. Though the overnight temps are cooler 72 degree average temp rather than 90 degree +.  I think I’ll pull my Ice blocks from the freezers to free up more space for frozen veggies and use the ice paks as backup.  I love green beans a corn on the cob and I much prefer freezing those items rather than canning them so having some freezer space for those veggies is a must for me.

Hopefully you have been doing your prepping and have nearly full freezers and gardens and shelves full of food.  Now is the time to start thinking about ways to preserve your harvest or add more ways to store foods.

I have a basement that stays about 62-68 degrees F. year round. That is not cool enough for a root cellar but I used a Big Styrofoam cooler with an extra layer of thermal barrier and some straw and stored my squash that stayed good until Apr/May. This year I want to add a few more of these styrofoam containers for storing root crops and maybe some fruits like apples.

Think about drying fruits, veggies and herbs.  You can store onions by hanging them in panty hose just tie a knot between each onion and hang up the panty hose in a cool dry space. Buy cheap pantyhose at the local dollar store.  My Air fryer has a section in “cookbook” for dehydrating veggies meats and fruits. Most foodsavers have an attachment for sucking the air out of wide mouth canning jars so you can preserve dried foods longer in jars by removing the air. This attachment is about $7.00-10.00. This attachment works great for keeping crackers fresh and not tasting old and stale.

How are your canning supplies looking for the harvest season. Ascorbic acid, pickling spice, vinegar, paraffin wax, lids jars, seals on pressure canners. Does your pressure canner need a test to make sure the pressure gauge is reading correctly?  Most county ag dept. have a place to have your canner tested.

Don’t wait to the last minute to get those supplies you need to preserve your food.

Last but not least drink mixes:  During and at the end of Covid Gatorade and some powder drink mixes was almost impossible to find in stores.  Perhaps because folks use the drinks during colds or thought they needed it for the coof but for whatever reason those drink mixes were impossible to find.  I’m finding those drink mixes are back on the shelves and some are very cheap right now.

I can buy bags of the original Gatorade powder mix bags that make 5 gallons for $1.99 per bag at the local Grocery Outlet stores. Country Time lemonade, Tang and Koolaid drink mixes that just need water have been on sale at the local Albertsons and Fred Meyer Stores.  I’m now seeing different flavors of gatorade drink mix flavors back in stores but the price is about $4.50 for a package that makes 2 gallons. That seems a little high until you compare the the price to buying a pack of gatorade bottles that contains about 96 oz. or less than a gallon that cost about $5.00. I’m sure you have stored up water for an emergency but there is no reason you have to drink just plain water if you can afford to add some flavor and electrolytes for hot summer weather or dealing with a cold/flu.  Plus the powder versions of these drinks take up much less space than the bottles/cases.