Cleaned up the other flower bed.

March 31, 2019

This bed was much  more overgrow than the bed I cleaned up a couple of weeks ago.   I have one of those volunteer trees that I just can’t seem to kill off.  The holly/oregon grape bushes meet in that corner are very overgrown  so I started getting those bushes trimmed back.  The worse part about this flower bed is that many of the plants have stickers or thorns.  Clean up usually means a bit of my blood is mixed in with dirt.

I started off trimming the roses down to about 16-18 inches then cleaning up any of the “runners” along the fence line.  While the roses did look very messy most of this job was fairly easy until I got into the BAD corner where the shrubs meet the volunteer tree.  I used the long handled loppers on the holly to clear out a work area for the little chainsaw to cut back the tree.  I have to say this sort of job is were the little Black & Decker 20 volt chain saw shines!  I have dreaded this job, but the work went very well and I only got a couple scratches.  My compost pile will not break down this amount of yard debris.  I filled two large garbage cans and two construction grade bags of all the debris. The solar lights look great though one light is shaded until I cut back the holly.  These are new solar lights but I can say they last from 8 pm till 6 am and still look darn good.

The weather forecast is for a bit of rain and it will be another 2 weeks before irrigation water will flow to us homeowners.  I’m not sure how much heavy work I want to do in the rain but this is the week to get those starter plants growing.  Plants like tomatoes, peppers, tomitillos that like the heat and transplant well. I still need to clean up the grape vines.  I have a little wiggle room as grape vines don’t put on a lot of leaves/growth in early spring.  This will be start plants week indoors and in the garden beds.  I don’t have irrigation water so I’ll depend  on the rain for a couple of weeks.  The next 10 day forecast  looks good for above freezing/frost so I”l start sowing root and cole crops.  The raised beds are not a greenhouse but I think it is a good test of the frost protection cloth.  Plus I want to start the cole crops early, as they have always “bolted” if I planted them in May.

An update on Mom’s wood rack:  I built it a little too wide to fit her fire wood width.  Not a problem I have a 2 x4 that will fit the in the base and support off the ground all sizes of cut firewood.

Daffodils! Solar lights and fudge

March 29, 2019

It is so nice to see that little splash of color from the the daffodils.  Those happy little flowers and seeing robins let me know Spring has sprung.  Not to say there won’t be more frosts or cold weather but I do tend to be an optimist. The order of Bakercreek seeds have arrived and I’m trying out a small cabbage and some greens.  Mom got a lot of different items like Milkweed for planting small section of her pasture with drought/heat tolerant grasses.

We are looking for a cheap irrigation solution but even some “cheap” solutions cost a grand or more money.  Right now I’m giving Mom my 250 gallon water tank and we are thinking of buying a small water/trash pump to pump water from the irrigation ditch to water a section of the pasture.  The idea is we can use the small pump to fill the tank and run a “rainbird” type sprinkler once a week when Mom gets water.  Then use the tank and some sort of drip system from the tank to water the garden during the week.  A 250 gallon tanks sounds like a lot of water but if you have watered a garden or used one of those tanks for your water supply you know that 250 gallons can get used up very quickly watering a garden.  Heck, most Hot tubs hold about 150-200+ gallons of water.

I’m very excited my solar pathway lights arrived.  They are not all that fancy but I really like the look of the crackled glass globes.  My older lights died because a bit of neglect, getting kicked around/abused and not being placed to get the best sunlight for solar charging.  Now I got a case of of the solar lights to put around my flower beds.  I think the globes will get better sunlight to charge the batteries but are far enough into the yard to discourage any random theft.  I bought a couple of dollar store lights to test the flower bed area for solar energy and I was a little surprised by how long those cheap little dollar store lights lasted 4+ hours charging on mostly rainy/cloudy days.

Oh and the fudge…  A few years ago I tried out a small Carnation kit for making fudge.  The kit had all the ingredients you need, with very easy to follow instructions to make a 1.5 pound batch of great tasting fudge.  Then the kit disappeared from stores.  I considered the kit a good buy at $2.50 because you got 12 oz. of chocolate chips around 12 oz. of marshmallows/sugars and a small can of sweeten condensed milk.  Now my local Grocery outlet has that kit for sale for only $1.50!  I bought 8 boxes of the kit but Mom says she want’s 2 boxes for her stash.  This fudge kit won’t store forever but it will make this year’s Holiday season a little bit sweeter.

Speaking of good buys Albertson’s has  hamburger70/30 on sale for $1.79 per pound sold in chubs.  I prefer to buy freshly ground but with all the flooding this spring in the midwest I think it is best to stock up now at a low price rather than see higher food costs this Summer and Fall.  My garden should take care of most of my veggie needs but I can’t grow wheat for bread or rice or enough beans to supply a healthy diet. If you have animals that you use commercial feed/grains you might want to start adding an extra bag or two during your shopping trips even if you didn’t get caught in the flooding areas.  The price of grain will likely start going up, as the midwest Spring planting will probably suck this year!

Yes, I know that “get prepared” horse is dead.  Not much to be gained from beating that dead horse again.




I cut the wood for Mom’s garden bed

March 25, 2019

Actually it is a small bed  of 2 x 6 x 40 inches long and 30 inches wide.  For raised bed gardens I’d say build the beds as long as you want but keeping the width under 36 inches in width makes those beds easier to plant and weed. I bought a small 2 x 6 x 8 foot board and cut a left over 2 x 6 into 2.5 foot lengths to get Mom another raised bed.

I have very poor soil in my area and the soil in SW Idaho needs a lot of work/augmentation to produce crops.  But add those augments and water the soil will produce a great garden!  My raised beds don’t have a bottom layer so when I till I mix all the hard dirt in with the additional soil I add to my raised beds.

If you are looking to add Hoops to your garden beds via PVC pipes get the thin walled pipes for the hoops.  Using the thick pipe is do able.  It is a less than optimal solution.  I spend money trying out stuff so you don’t have to repeat my mistakes.  Actually I will still screw up and post it on my blog.  I’m not all that noble as my garden growing is for me a good thing,  but the more people I convince to get self-reliant are less people that need the basics.  Self-Interest pure and simple.

The Midwest is getting hit hard with flooding and that is the USA’s bread basket, so you may want to stock up on meat and grains now before the cost of food goes up.   I stored up a lot of grains but that does not mean I want to work grinding wheat.  If I can buy 50 pounds of flour under $15.00 for baking bread loaves for a year. Yep, I’ll buy a bag of flour.

Last but not least. I think storing a bit of poplar wood is a good thing.  Here in the west it is considered a “cheap” wood and poplar does burn sort of hot and fast.  That is not always a bad thing in a wood fire if your house is well insulated and has good windows.

Picked up up some thin walled 3/4 in PVC!

March 23, 2019

The PVC I got at Lowe’s with thin walls and lots of flexibility must have been what the gals at Trinity gardens was refer to when they referred to PVC pipe for the hoops.  I did manage to bend the thick walled PVC pipe into the 1.5 inch PVC pipe uprights but it was a bit of work.  The first bed doesn’t have PVC pipe hoops.  Actually the pipe shape resembles a soft angle A-frame/triangle.   I’ll get more of a tent look for the first garden bed rather than a hoop look once I drape the garden cloth.   I doubt the plants will mind.

Getting my garden beds ready and helping Mom build her garden beds is my priority.  The greenhouse build is getting moved back to fall because of getting the basic garden beds ready for this growing season is the priority.  Building the greenhouse requires a lot of prep work for the foundation I did not budget for this spring.  I have a lot of projects I want to get done, on the lawn and garden and I have to prioritize about what is needed and when…

At this time, I don’t need a greenhouse.  I need to start big  plants indoors and make sure my garden beds are ready for planting seeds/”cole crops”  and/or starter plants that will be protected from frosts by the hoops and frost cloth. Help Mom get her raised bed garden started and pick out plants for her but not overlap growing the same plants.

There is so much I want to do in my yard and in my garden and I just can’t physically do it all because of my disability.  Right now I’m working a day on of work and a day off of physical work I want to get done.  It is sort of painful but by about May the most of the hard physical work should be done and maintaining the garden is what is left of the physical  work.  Weeding is tedious but it isn’t all that physically challenging.

I’m staring to go crazy and looking rebuild my Front porch railings and there are angled/miter cuts of wood.  Actually the railing wood is rotting and falling apart so it needs to be replaced.  I have a pattern for the basic wood cuts for the railing.  So replacing the railing should be simple if not easy.  Angles/miter cuts plus using some tool to round the corners.  I do need to add a few hand planers to my tool box but I really need to learn how to use my router.  At the very worse, my screw ups will become kindling for my wood stove.

Building stuff

March 21, 2019

I used the “free” lumber to build Mom’s small fire wood rack.  The rack is only 30 inches tall by 40 inches long but it should fit on front porch nicely without overwhelming that small space.  I wanted the rack to be a taller but the leftover lumber lengths made 30 inches the max. height.  I added a couple of 2 x 4’s across the top of the rack so Mom could add some boards or plywood to use as a table/work area over the fire wood holding section.  I have to say this is the best fire wood rack I have built.  I did a much better job on measuring, testing the fit of my cut lumber before I screwed all the pieces together to make the rack.  I used some leftover Fire wood brackets I had on hand to build this wood rack.  If I was building from scratch I would have just bought some 4 x 4 lumber and used that as the corner posts.  I don’t think those metal brackets are cost effective at $20.00 when you can buy two 4 x 4 x 8 ft. length and make couple of strong wood racks for the same cost.

I added the additional 2 x 4′ s to my garden beds. This will give me about a 10 inch deep garden bed that is 10 feet long and about 2.5 feet wide.  I did not use any pressure treated lumber or treat the lumber in any way.  I have had no wood rot but eventually that wood will have to be replaced.  According to the gals at the Trinity garden they have used this method of non-treated lumber for 7-10 years without replacing the raised bed lumber.  Eventually unprotected lumber will rot when in contact with soil and water so I’ll watch for rot and perhaps in another 10 years I’ll replace the lumber around my garden beds or do something completely different gardening.

Tools:  OMG I love the impact drill!   I have been watching a lot of DIY Youtube vids and found a vid that made sense to me about how to use a drill and impact drill together when building stuff.  Now this is working with dimensional lumber that is at tops drilling into a 4 x 4 inch chunk of wood.  Using the Impact driver on screws is incredibly easy and you don’t strip out screw heads.  After using the drill to make/start the holes and using the impact drill to drive the screws in is an epiphany for me!  Yes, drilling out space for screws can be an extra step on projects.  I hated that step but if you use an impact driver to drive the screw after drilling first it is actually easier, faster and you don’t split as much lumber.

Tucker the peke has almost “tilled/dug up” one garden bed.  Now if I keep him from digging up around plants!  I’m doing a few test and see if the hoops/frost cloth can keep Tucker out of the garden beds. I have plans for a temp. garden fence made of cedar and lumber but if the frost cloth keeps Tucker from digging up plants.  I will be a cheap win for me.

I got the bird baths up on bricks and leveled them out so the water does not leak.  I used a simple 12 x 12 inch paver to level out the bird baths.  Not a big deal nor decorative  but those pavers are very functional to help keep the birdbath/water clean.  This winter and into early spring the bird baths full of clean water probably attracted at least as many critters as the bird feeders.  One little squirrel spent a lot of time at the bird bath getting a drink of water.  I know some people don’t care for squirrels but I have to say using a hook that holds my bird feeders has seem to defeated the squirrels getting into the bird feeders.  Of course the squirrels eat the grains the birds leave on the ground from the birds messy feeding.  I also have healthy walnut trees. I have to cut down and prune back most of my trees and the squirrels won’t like that but the will adapt as they always have in the past.

Good news with addition of “free lumber” from my neighbor I only need to buy one  2 x 4 x 10 foot board to finish off the garden beds.  Every  once in while thing work out good. Oh, you do a lot of work to make that opportunity happen but it is so awesome when it happens.  Trust me a lot of great people work for nothing but getting the work done, cause the work needs done.  When serendipity hits it can seem almost magical!

I need to buy more PVC pipes for the rest of the hoop house garden beds, another 2 x 4 x 10 foot will finish up the raised beds. I have more gardening plans for the future and once I get the basics done I’ll post up some pics. Good golly bending schedule 40 PVC pipe for Hoop gardens is not easy! It is doable and the pipes have not cracked so far today,

Bought stuff, given stuff….

March 19, 2019

I drove out to Mom’s place and did a little computer work/education.  Nothing much just adjust a few Outlook setting for Mom’s email.  Mom wanted some pallets moved and replaced for her new wood pile.  Gosh, she got some awesome pallets made with a 4×4 wood base and the boards attached with bolts!  While Mom move some wood around I chopped a few chunks of the fir and pine she needed split to fit her stove.  The axe I cleaned up and sharpened did much better than I expected splitting that seasoned wood. I think that my cleanup and sharpening up the axe helped a lot but Mom’s axe is about 1/2 pound heavier and splits wood better than my lighter weight axe.  I did not expect to see that much difference is splitting wood between a 3.25 pound axe and a 3.75 pound axe.  That extra 1/2 pound made splitting wood much easier for me.

I did some shopping as the local market had a case lot sale. I only wanted a couple of items like some tuna in oil but I got some non advertised saving like 18 count large eggs for only .99 cents!  I got another 2 liters of Shasta Ginger Ale and a package of sausage.

I went to Home depot for some lumber to get the garden beds up to 10 inches deep.  The soil is deeper, as I sunk my beds a little bit when I tilled last year, but 10 +  inches of depth is good start for a raised bed focusing on root crops I want to grow.  I was correct the Kellog’s soil in 3 cu. sq. ft. is not available at Home depot any more and only the smaller bags and more expensive soils/dirt are in the garden department.  This is great motivation to get my composting bins squared away so I can replenish my garden soil.

I want deeper garden beds that are better at supporting root systems of plants and make it easier to roll my garden cart along the beds to make weeding a bit easier.  Building 18-24 inch tall beds sounds great until you start adding all the soil costs to fill that bed or how you will “till” or breakup the soil every growing season.  Trust me even with powered tillers, digging/tilling soil over 20 inches deep is a challenge.  Keep the dirt in your beds around 12 inches deep, if you want taller raised beds (18-24 inches) add rock or drainage materials as the extra depth of soil won’t make your garden plants grow better.  Gosh Jamie there are radishes or parsnips or whatever plant that has a root system that goes almost 10-12 inches deep roots.   Are you planting that plant?  Sure My garden beds are open at the bottom and I till the soil to mix everything up.  Will that plant restrict it’s growth when it finds bad soil?  I don’t know,  but I plant stuff in my garden I think has a good chance to grow in my climate.  I know this will shock people, but I have never tried to grow pineapples or coffee in SW Idaho!  Some crops can/fail without proper preparations.

Tucker the peke has been digging like crazy in the garden beds. I’m going to try setting up the PVC hoops and frost protective fabric in hope that it keeps Tucker from digging that garden bed.

Oh great news I have a neighbor trying to cleanup and get rid of stuff they can’t use.  The just in stalled a Cedar fence and a lot of leftover bits of lumber and the offered it to me.  Score! My gosh, I hate cutting up good 2 x 4 x 8’s to make saw horses and I’m given a gift of wood for Mom’s wood rack  make saw horses and preserve my 8 foot 2 x 4 ‘s being cut up for my garden beds. It was all free, I did have to move the lumber across the alley  (LOL) .  But it was all free.  Honestly if you can’t find a way to use 2 x 4 x 24-48 inch lumber you are lacking in creativity!

Last but not least… I really love the look of the crackled glass globes for solar lighting.  I managed to salvage a couple of the old glass globe solar lights. Trust me the glass globes will not survive falling on concrete.  Those solar lights make me happy.  There is nothing wrong with doing random acts of kindness or creating senseless beauty.

I think that is about all  for myself, though I’ll be doing a bit of work on the garden beds and starting cole/root crops and some greens in the garden beds.

I cleaned 1/2 0f the front yard and my house.

March 17, 2019

The front yard flower bed was a mess of leaves and old growth stuff that needed a good clean up.  I added mulch a couple of years ago that broke down and the soil has taken on a much darker brown color and is rich with good insect life along with some not so nice insects.  I cleaned up the beds of leaves and trimmed the old rose bushes to about 12-16 inch height.  The dead Iris plant leaves are cleared out and the new Iris plants have been growing since the last week in February.  A little bit of wet snow does not seem to faze Iris plants at all.  I still need to cut back some old rose bush “trunks” but overall I think the flower bed is ready for a few new flowers, some additional compost/manure and a fresh layer of mulch.  I raked up the front lawn and got a good bit of leaf and tree limbs but that side of yard looks clean.  I manage to fill a 33 gallon Construction grade garbage bag full of the cuttings, leaves and dried grass.

The back yard grass area is looking very sad!  Just a few tufts of grass and a lot of not very high quality dirt. I’m going to add good soil and grass seed and wait for rain or at least wait until April for irrigation water.  I add a bit of good dirt but the sod component needs lots of water to set roots in the soil.  I’ll add good soil mix and good grass seed and water the yard and hope for the best.

I sort of cleaned my house this weekend. I vacuumed the carpets, washed the dishes, cleaned out the fridge, swept and moped the kitchen floor.  I’m about knackered because I’m disabled I don’t have a lot of strength or stamina.  There is a lot I want to do, but I just can’t do because of physical limits.  We all have are limits be it physical or mental.  My advice is to get moving and learning.  What seems to work for me is do about 30-45 minutes of work then read or watch a you tube vid for about 15-20 minutes.  Or work inside doing basic cleanup.  The job that needs doing isn’t going away because you are disabled.

Power/ energy enables us that are disabled or elderly to stay at home and live independently.  I’m not spending my 30% VA disability on yachts or cars.  Actually I have a 40% disability and I’m paying back the US Army for the 10% disability lump sum payment after 13 years of service.  I’m literally paying the US Army $130.00 + per month  VA disability because I got disabled serving in the US Army.  Good news I’ll will have paid back the US Army my disability in 2027, for getting disabled, by doing my job in the US Army.   America!  What a country!

People wonder why I don’t recommend the military as a career.  Fight Tricare for medical service and then fight the VA for medical service.  Most VA’s medical providers are great the administration is awful.