Planting taters and ordered fire wood

April 9, 2019

I started the potatoes in the 18 gallon party buckets. I went with a red potato and I’m going to try growing a blue potato rather than the Yukon potato, I originally planned.  I used a 1/1 mix of soil and compost to start the taters and made up a tall garbage can of the soil mix to add to the buckets as the taters grow this summer. I figure I planted about pound of each of “dried” seed potatoes in four of the 18 gallon buckets. I’m not looking too store the potatoes long term but it would be nice to have small potatoes in the fall, for making stews and soups to freeze/can for hearty winter meals.

Yesterday April the 8th I got all of the warm plant seeds started in the Jiffy starter kit.  So I’m only about a week late on my “starts” original date.  There are a lot of seeds I want to get in the raised bed with the protective frost cloth but it has been raining so much this week that the planting is a little late being early. Other than all the rain, the temps are staying temperate both day and night.   We have a bit of gusting wind coming through on the 10th of April but so far my frost cloth is staying place and shows no sign of stress or tearing.  If it is dry on the 10th I’ll start some of those “Cole” and cool weather crops.  I got a few strawberry plants to replace the bed that got over run with weeds.  My fault, as I did not give that bed the attention it needed.  I know strawberries can and will grow in that bed so I’ll clean out all the bad stuff and add good soil along with new strawberry plants.

Tucker did his part and got about 1/3 of the last raised bed digging up of the base soil from last year.  This bed will be for the hot loving plants so I have not added new soil since I want to add another 2×4 for height along with a trellis for climbing plants.  I’m not sure if it will last but Tucker does not dig in the taller beds as much and with the frost cloth over the bed he just is not interested in digging in that beds this spring.  Right now all of the ground in the backyard is good for digging so he is happy digging in the easy/muddy spots in the backyard.  I may not have to build a garden fence this year if the frost cloth keeps Tucker out of the raised beds.

I called in the order of  two cords of Douglas fir to be delivered around mid May.  I’m have about 1/4 of a cord of Doug fir left over from last season so I’ll be turning that wood into kindling.  I have a bit of work to do getting all the wood racks ready for the wood delivery.  About July I will get a delivery of two cords of poplar.  I’m not sure why many people don’t like poplar to burn.  I understand it is not a long burning hardwood but when it is dry it makes a fast, hot fire that does not leave a lot of ash like elm or locust.  Now I havn’t tried to split the poplar for kindling.  Doug fir is easy to split into kindling so that is not an issue for me.  Another plus for me is poplar is a lot cheaper per cord than Doug fir.

I’d like to buy another 2 cords of doug fir in early fall to start building a stockpile of wood but we will have to see how much money I can come up with in the fall and if the wood will be available to buy.  Around August I’ll get the stove cleaned and hopefully by September both Mom and I will be set for an “average” winter firewood season.

The Climate is always changing and there is talk we maybe facing a “Solar Minimum” or a cooling of the earth because the sun is putting out a little less heat to the earth.  I keep expecting -20 degree F. winter temps but weather is such a complex system these cool/snowy winters could be the new normal.  I can’t control the weather but I can take steps to mitigate/adapt to even small climate changes and minimize the impact on myself.

I don’t mind warmer winters and I have the tools to deal with additional snowfall. If the growing season gets shorter I have several items in place to help mitigate late/early frosts and I’m building a greenhouse this fall to help supply veggies mostly year round. If winters get colder I have added insulation, new windows along with the wood stove and fire wood so I can stay warm.

This whole prepping/self reliance is always a work in progress.  Quite often “my reach exceeds my grasp” but I’m always building on my basics and then a bit more.   I have learned from others to build my soil, rotate crops, how and when to prune or when to start plants both indoors and out.

Last but not least both Home depot and Lowes has wood mulch on sale till the 16th/17th of April.  I prefer the Scott’s earth grow mulch but if you like the Lowes brand buy up now while it is on sale for $2.00 a bag.  I don’t care for the Vigaro mulch as it full of large chunks and does not spread well or cover as much area as the earth gro mulch.




Darn, shucks and other “colorful metaphors” ….

April 4, 2019

The thin walled pvc pipes hoops just cracked when I tried to install them into the garden bed.  I have a heat gun, so I’ll try heating up the next pipes as I bend them to see if I can get a hoop shape out of the 3/4 inch pvc pipe. The garden bed with the thick walled pvc pipe isn’t a true arc/hoop but the pipes have been very stable and are maintaining the sort of rounded A-frame shape. Any hoo I draped the frost cloth over the first bed to see how it holds up to the rain and breezy conditions.  I added soil and compost/steer manure into two of the beds for a couple of tests.  1.  I wonder if I can feel a difference in warmth between the two garden beds in side by side testing and 2. I wonder if the frost cloth will keep Tucker the peke out of a garden bed full of FRESH DIRT to dig.  Tucker is in his Spring time dirt digging mode and he even started digging in one of the compost piles!

I’m thinking of building the greenhouse in another are of my yard as one of my  cherry trees is putting on some buds.  The other cherry tree is dead and must be cut down for safety reasons so I may put the greenhouse were the dead cherry tree is once the tree is cut down.  The greenhouse will be shaded in the summer but once the leaves fall it will get a lot of southern sunlight in fall, winter and spring.  Another advantage of moving the placement of the green house is I’ll have easy access to power from my shop.  That means I could run a small heater in the green house during the winter.  If I can save the the budding cherry tree I will do my best to get it healthy even if I don’t get fruit from the tree.  Cause cherry blossoms are very pretty and a small well pruned tree in that area of the yard would be good for plants that like fewer hours of hot sun.

It seems as my block is getting some irrigation water a bit early.  I noticed a few people’s places and my own irrigation spigot had flowing water.  I hate going onto other people’s property without permission but I don’t mind asking them if know they have water running/being wasted.  I turned off a couple spigot’s that were left on and no one had running water to overflow their property.  Little observations and just talking to neighbors about stuff helps people to bond without coming off as a scold/ busybody, as you are trying to be helpful. So I hope….

If the temps look good I’ll start sowing cole crops.  I need to get the snow peas in the garden bed and I’ll plant some lettuce, Broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower under the frost cloth so the can put on growth in cool weather.  These plant usually bolt on me when I use transplants in late May or early June.  I’m taking a chance planting with a hard frost potential.  But if I plant these plants in June they will bolt.

I bought some seed potatoes for red and Yukon types of potatoes.  I’m going back to the big bucket container method for growing taters.  Idaho is known for big russet taters but smaller taters like red potatoes and taters for stews and preserving don’t get a lot of love.

I still need an occasional wood fire this spring and that means having good kindling and fire starters.  I’m building a big kindling box for next winter.  How I envision the box does not fit with the actuality of the box.  I’ll have to make a few adjustments and that is okay as I’m still learning.   If I guessed the average use of kindling in winter this box should hold about a 4-6 weeks of kindling for me.  Not perfect as winter heating season lasts at least 4-5 months.  It is a start of getting ahead before I need kindling.