Mom weeded the Alley and Mouse problems

May 9, 2017

Mom got out this weekend and got the alley way weeds pulled up around the sunchokes and the sedum plants.  That was a huge job even though she says she did not do all that much work.  I have been working on the alley way  trying to improve the soil and kill out the weeds in the last year by using a killing mulch of walnut leaves and adding wood ash from the wood stove and wood mulch. We have broad leaf weeds but I have yet to find a goat head/puncture vine in the area!  I was told you had to use a powerful weed killer on goatheads but just improving the soil a little bit and adding in some good ground cover plants seems to have eliminated that nasty weed in less than a year.  This week I will be adding so more wood mulch for broad leaf weed control and I will  add a few more sedum plants as ground cover to continue choking out all those weeds.  This is not the fastest method for killing weeds but it is very effective, cheap and you don’t kill your soil or the other plants you want to keep growing.

Last winter was tough and we had an influx of mice.  Having the chickens here sort of attracted the mice and with the harsh winter they came in the house.  Once the mice are in your house you have to catch them or  call in an Exterminator.  We are going try and  get rid of mice ourselves.  Mom got half the kitchen cupboards cleaned up with a bleach mixture and we are laying out a lot of sticky traps in the house.  More traps means you can catch more mice and cleaning up with bleach mix seems to disrupt the scent trails mice lay down.   Putting all food products in heavy plastic, glass or metal containers helps eliminate food sources for the mice.  Getting your prep up on shelves, organized and rotated will also help you keep the rodents under control as you will notice the problem quickly and can be proactive with your anti-vermin measures.  I dropped the ball on this part of my preps.  Building some good shelves in my prep area rather than just making due is a high priority this summer.  My carpentry skills are still in the beginner stage but I now feel confident I can build some basic items with out screwing up to badly and wasting lumber.

Last but not least I think you should store some construction materials if possible. You should have a good set up of basic tools and practice building some basic item around the house.  Battery powered tools from a basic drills, saws and more are relatively inexpensive and give you many more options for you to Do It Yourself.  Youtube has tons of instructional vids.  Home Depot and Lowes have classes for basic DIY classes you can take for free.  I have taken a few of the classes and for a couple of hours of time investment you can get a big payoff in knowledge.  The skills an knowledge you acquire can never be taken from you and no matter if you are a prepper or not, having those basic tools and the skill to use them will save you money after your initial investment.

Finished up the wood rack

May 6, 2017


It is a very basic wood rack/rick.  It consists of four pressure treated 2x4s and one pressure treated 4×4 cut to 18 inches that forms the base that keeps the wood off the concrete and hopefully above any water, ice and snow in winter.  Two of the bottom 2x4s make the base and then the up rights are cut to 4 foot length. Once the rack is filled you have what I have read is a “face” cord of cut fire wood.  A true cord of wood is 4 ft. high, 4 ft. deep and 8 feet long. So if you are buying fire wood by the Cord make sure you know the difference in the measurements.  These racks are very simple to put together with just a few 3 inch deck screws and my total cost per rack is about $30.00 total.  I get the pressure treated 2×4 for about $5.50 each, the pressure treated 4×4 costs just under $10.00 for an 8 ft. board that I get 5ft length for other projects like my raised beds and the deck screws  I buy a pound or so and use them for other projects. Add a tarp and you have your covered fire wood rack.  I space the rack at 18 inches as that is the length of wood my wood stove takes so if a chunk of wood extends past the edge of the rack I know I need to cut that chunk of wood down to size.

I prefer building my racks rather than using a Metal/store bought framing because of cost and even the metal corner post/framing add a lot of cost at $20.00 a set.  Using this system you can add more cross braces or even top it off with a “roof” and still save money.  I’m using tarps right now as I need to tear down and replace the cover over the wood pile area.  This last winter was tough as we got a lot of snow, rain and minor flooding and my wood got wet which made starting a fire problematical at best and darn near impossible at worst.  So getting prepared ahead of time on firewood storage this summer is a high priority! I would also recommend you get a mix of woods like a fast, hot burning pine or fir along with a long burning hardwood.  Just a suggestion if you can get a mix of woods.

I got all of the 4x4s cut to size for the raised garden beds and finally got both sides of the cedar boards treated.  The weather has been damp this weekend so the drying process was delayed.  Now all I have to do is build the beds, rake back the mulch, dig up the weeds, roto-till the dirt, add the soil and mix it all up.  A bit of work but SW Idaho has some sunny days next week so I can space out the process over several days.  After I start getting the plants in the ground I can add the new drip/soaker hose watering system and use some straw to mulch around the plants.  One of my biggest mistakes last year was planting to close and not having a good watering system set up. Of course planting during the hottest week in June  in 100+ degree weather was not exactly a sign of great intelligence.

Overall I’m on schedule this year for the garden and the wood pile. Of course Murphy’s law will make it’s presence known, but so far I’m on schedule and have about of week of time to play with for that demon Murphy.

Murphy’s Law “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong at least convenient moment.”



Yard and Garden updates

May 4, 2017

Cedar Boards for the raised 3 sisters garden.

I am working on raised beds for the 3 Sisters Garden of Corn, Beans and Squash.  Last year I put the sisters in my large garden bed and they did not do very well as I think they received to much water when I was watering the other plants.  This year the sister’s beds are going to be completely separate and have three different 3 ft. x 3 ft raised beds on the south side of the house.  My hope is the corn will cast a bit of shade as some the stalks can grow 12 feet tall and the plants will get only the water they need and not get over watered.   I should have realized different plants need different amounts of water!

If you are curious this is the new garden …backyard layout

I have added two 2 ft. x 4 ft. beds for broccoli and cauliflower with a couple of bunches of celery in each bed. Celery is one of those plants that seems to be a good companion to almost every plant. Plus, home grown celery is to store bought celery that home grown tomatoes is to a store bought tomato.  Celery in the garden is easy to use as you just cut off what you need and at the end of the season you cut off all the stalks, give them a quick blanch and then dehydrate them for all those dishes in the fall.

I put all of the brussel sprouts, cabbages and most of the leaf lettuce in the front yard edible beds.  I planted a lot of lettuce this year as the prices have really gone up a lot and I like having lots of green salads and sandwiches for quick and light lunches in the summer.  Going with earlier plantings of lettuce in several different  beds I hope to avoid the lettuce “bolting” in hot weather.


Newly mulched beds



In the front yard we added a lot of flowers and cleaned up the front yard garden beds.  I got some of the old dead roses dug out and added some new roses.  The biggest of my  problems with my Rose beds was I had no idea what I was doing when I moved into the house and the roses were too close and became overgrown because of neglect.  As you can see in the top pic I have cut back the old roses that are still somewhat healthy, dug out the dead roses and while it is bit tough to see I added new roses with plenty of space between them to grow.  It does not look all that impressive so far but the new roses are  starting to put on new growth and  the mulch is has made a big dent stopping the weed growth. Mom was also a huge help on cutting back the grape vines that got very over grown  when not cut back each year.

Last but not least the Alley way beds now seem to be cleared of puncture vines though I still have some broad leaf weeds and a bit of “cheatgrass” to eliminate.  Using the black walnut leaves as a killer much has worked out great and adding the wood ash from the fire place, seems? to be helping the poor clay/alkali soil in the alley.  My little sedum plant from last year have come back and look darn good once you find them in the taller weeds.  The sunchokes are filling and while it may not look all that impressive I’m darn pleased with the progress made on those beds.  Adding more mulch, soil amendments and good plants like the sedum and sunchokes should start choking out the unwanted weeds.

I’m back!

May 2, 2017

It has been a bit difficult the last 12 months but I am trying.  Lots of stuff to catch up with all of you.  I am not dead nor have I given up I just got lazy and my juggling skills were just a bit lacking for life and posting.   Sorry, I really dropped the ball and I don’t think ignoring my Blog was the best answer!  If we are lucky, we live and learn.  Just some quick updates .  Mom is still living with me as housing prices are a tad high and she is waiting for “DAD” to get her off the Mortgage contract.  Yeah it’s a long story but this is a quick update so “No Drama”  is allowed.

The garden is looking awesome and I managed to start plants this year.  Celery seeds are small rascals and you should be careful how you start them.  Mom says we will need tweezers just to separate the plants.  Never let a person with poor tactile skills start your pots for celery or any other small seeds!   Over all Mom and I are doing darn good.  Mom is enrolled in a Master gardeners class and I added a few more raised beds.  I started a 3 sisters garden last year and it failed.  This year I have new beds in the making for the 3 sisters garden.  I’m also trying out a new drip irrigation system.  Early days on trying a new system but the theory looks sound. We got a new dog and he is young and a terrier.  He has been great as he makes Mom giggle with his antics.

I added 2 new raised beds in the backyard and went hardcore adding edible beds in the front yard beds.  Early days for the “Cole” crops but so far so good!  Pics of the dog and pics of the garden.

Mom calls him Jackson and he is devoted to her.  He is a very sweet little terrier and not yappy.

Jackson the terrier.

I’m building new firewood racks and loading up on fire wood.  This last winter was brutal.  So I’m looking at buying a couple of garbage cans and filling the with sand and salt for next winter.   I thought I was prepared for winter I was wrong!


Sort of a short post to say I am back but I should have more3 pics and plans for what I am trying to do in the future.