Repair jobs and my Baker Creek seeds arrived early!

March 27, 2021

A couple of weeks ago my neighbor cut down several of my trees and limbs using my Ryobi pole saw and the pole saw quit working.  I guessed it was because the saw ran out of oil.  Not mad at my neighbor as Ryobi pole saws tend to leak oil and I did not supply any oil while he was cutting the limbs.  I went on Youtube and found the repair for the pole saw was probably a blown fuse that protects the motor if the oil gets low.  Only problem is the fuse is deep in the “pole” wiring of the saw. I found a website https://www.ereplacementparts.com that had a replacement pole for the saw and it only cost about $10.00.  I finally got to work on fixing the part but there were a couple of issues,  #1 The wires were Blue and Brown rather than Black and red like the original pole wiring. I put the blue wire on the Red terminal and the brown wire on black then did a power test and I guessed correctly and the motor ran great.  #2 problem was lining the new pole to the old base and that took a couple of tries and the pole does not fit perfectly but the pole saw runs and all it cost was $10.00 and a couple of hours of effort/learning because I have never repaired a pole saw. 

I would recommend checking out https://www.ereplacementparts.com if you have power tools you want to repair or if you buy used/trashed power tools.  You might find the replacement parts are low cost and save a lot of money compared to paying full price for a new tool.  Tearing apart a tool might seem a little daunting to some people but if the tool is already broken and unable to function.  You don’t have anything to lose and you might learn something about how the tool works before you just chuck it in the trash and pay full price for a new tool. 

I repaired a lamp Mom bought at a local thrift store that would flicker intermittently when turned on.  I bought a new switch/lightbulb holder and replaced the old flickering light base.  Very easy fix and all it cost for the new base was $6.70 to replace the old base and about 20-30 minutes of hooking the wires up and screwing the lamp back together. I bought a new topper to secure the lampshade to the lamp “harp” that is what the wire support for the lamp shade is named in the hardware store.  It is very rewarding to me to repair something especially at a low cost and you get the item you want working.  Mom has about $20.00 total cost into a lamp that she really likes and fits the décor of the room. 

I think there are opportunities to learn to repair some of your broken stuff.  For example I build PC’s and while I may not be up to soldering in capacitors. I can pluck and chuck memory sticks, hard drives and assorted cards and CPUs as well as replace fans, power supplies with some competence. Building a PC is simple but that does not mean it easy or you won’t make mistakes.  You will make mistakes, goodness knows I have made plenty, but that is how you learn.  You can’t let the fear of failure stop you or you will never try to do anything because trying something new and failure go hand in hand with learning. 

The seeds from Baker Creek arrived early and I have to set up another seed starter box. I got the mini-bell peppers, some different varieties of Bok Choy substitute as I have not had much luck growing any type of Bok Choy.  I think it gets to hot to fast for seeding Bok Choy plants.  Now that I think about it I should start any Bok Choy indoors at the same time as I start my cabbages.  I have some different corn to plant this year.  I have had good luck planting a early sweet corn, I’m trying a corn that supposed to be a sweet corn early and a dent/popcorn later in the season.  While I can’t grow enough corn for flour I’d like to grow enough dent corn to grind for flour and use some of the corn as bird feed. 

Inflation is happening in the USA but there also seems some scare-mongering that some how because the Suez canal is blocked The Americas can’t make tissue paper.  The USA does not import much Tissue paper and what little we import comes from Canada.  I’d like lower timber prices and it would be possible if the USA and Canada opened up logging on federal lands.  Now if you drink Coffee or tea I would stock up at today’s relatively low prices.  The Suez canal blockage will hit Europe hard at first but we in the Americas will feel it in rising prices for what we consider basic goods.  No the Suez canal won’t be shut down for months.  I’m guessing about another 2-3 weeks at the worse as corporations and government will  move heaven and earth to keep ships moving. 

I’m not freaking out about stockpiling random products the Powers That Be are freaking out about stockpiling.  I’m more concerned about having coffee on hand rather than toilet paper.  Three months ago coffee was cheap and had trouble finding a buyer.  Now coffee is black gold, but it isn’t in the USA because S. America grows coffee and the Suez canal does not affect that shipping.   I won’t say I’m expert at Geography how does the Suez Canal shutting down affect the Americas other than oil the Joe Biden wants to import from the Middle East, rather than support energy production in the USA. 

I believe this shall pass,  but I will stock up on TP and coffee not because I think their is a shortage of products.  Because I think other people will think there will be shortage.  There is no shortage of gasoline it cost another $1.00 per gallon to buy.  More expensive does not always mean there is a shortage of product to buy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biden wants to import from the Middle East


Started the broccoli, tomatoes, peppers and celery seeds

March 24, 2021

Wow the whole gardening thing has become REAL in my mind with starting the tomatoes and peppers and not just the cole crops of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages. I’m waiting seeds shipping from Baker Creek that will arrive around the end of March. This late start is my fault as I ordered the seeds in mid March and I should have ordered earlier in February or even January. I don’t think it will be to late to start those Baker Creek seeds as most are summer growing plants as long as the starter plants are ready to plant in May the garden is good to grow!

I have started what seeds I have on hand along with starting the broccoli seeds I have started the Sun globe cherry tomato, a heirloom beef steak tomato along with the meaty Roma tomato that is a sauce and canning favorite. I thought I had some Bell pepper seeds on hand but all I had on hand was a “Spanish Variety” of sweet pepper. I have the mini-bell peppers and a Japan Heirloom pepper that has the flavor of a jalapeño without any heat coming from Baker Creek. I have to go shopping so I’ll pick up a sweet pepper seed packet

I started some of the Utah tall celery seeds and I have had good luck using “Victoria” celery from nursery starting plants. In fact the Victoria celery seems to handle cold/frosty temps of October/early November better than the Utah tall celery. But remember it was a mild winter last year in this area. Over all I would say the Utah tall celery grows better in hot summer heat (95-100 F.) and the Victoria grows better in cooler temps and can handle mild frost and come back from 28-32 degrees F. and keep growing. The difference between home grown celery to store bought celery is comparable to the difference of store bought tomatoes and home grown tomatoes.

My Peas have grown faster and stronger than I had ever expected and all of those plants have all been moved to larger pots. I thought about planting the peas early but we had a small hail storm a couple of days ago and I doubt those plants would have survived even in the somewhat protected area I have planned for their garden bed. I’m not sure if my cabbage starts are getting “leggy” as I have never started cabbage seeds indoors. The stems are green and about 2-3 inches long and I have no idea how cabbage seeds grow when you start seeds indoors. My Cauliflower seeds have not done as well for germination and I’m using seed packets that are supposed to be for 2021. A couple of pots planted but the germination rate was not good. I have added a few more seeds to the failed pots in hopes I just had a few bad seeds.

I have read that one of the big mistakes that gardeners make is not labeling starting plants properly of keeping a log/diary of what plants do well and those plants that don’t do well. I am guilty of that as well and not keeping good records about what works and does not work year to year for my garden/yard.

Last fall I prepped a section of my yard and planted grass seed. I have grass coming up this spring but it is a little patchy in spots. My biggest problem with planting grass seed is I don’t have irrigation water in the in October when the grass needs moisture and Mama Nature does not respond to my request for rain. I recommend you plant your grass seed in the fall and fill in the bare patches during the spring before you have to put down and weed preventer. I would not add any Lawn Greening chemical until you repair your lawn from bugs and fill those bares spots. The great thing about good compost as you can add it at any time and water it in and it feeds the roots of the grass and not just the top of the plants.

Deep roots is the thing you want for all your landscaping. Trees with deep roots don’t get bent or uprooted via the wind. Building soil not only in your garden but in your yard, will help those trees, plants and shrubs put down more deep roots the better off you will be in the long run.

I think Inflation and self- rationing will be coming to the USA for grains like Rice, beans, cooking oils and grains like happened around 2011-2012. It’s not shortage in the USA, but in places like China, Africa and even Australia and more people are bidding on the same commodities on the global markets. Every business that wants the highest profit will sell to the highest bidder. I don’t blame anyone for selling to the highest bidder. While we can’t be the highest bidder we plebes can be first buying the products we need daily. While Covid struck the supply chain hard you can stockup on the basics and find sales.

It is bizarre, as I consider myself as a bit of armature historian. Yet the 1970’s stagflation, 1980’s 20% interest rates set by Federal reserve are treat as ancient history. I lived being at the bottom of the Reagan economic recovery. While I am a Trump supporter I really don’t understand Biden/democrat supporters. Colleges and Universities are bringing back segregation. Enacting racial hiring policies that exclude some races and the elites are good with this practice?

I don’t have to support any racist corporation like Amazon that blacklist authors. I have no kids in school but my taxes support teachers that don’t teach kids in person or in a classroom in my city. What can’t go on won’t. People here go into store without a mask and no one says BOO to them. I’m good with that as I’m in “Vulnerable” category to Covid as I have I have a compromised immune system. I protected myself regardless of the Government edicts of safety for people.

Private companies have right to set a policy about who enters the store. I’m okay with that policy. I think it is stupid and not well enforced at the local level but they can set any policy they want for the store. You can choose to use the store or go elsewhere base on what you will tolerate.


Puttering around the wood pile and the first robin of Spring has arrived

March 17, 2021

I am using fewer chunks of fire wood but I’m making one or two fires a day so I’m using more kindling.  I almost made it through the wood heating season with the pre-cut kindling even with helping Mom with a few boxes this winter.  I’m certain if I completely fill my big outdoor kindling box I can go an entire heating season without cutting kindling in next winter.  While cutting kindling is not hard work it sure was nice to grab an arm full of kindling to fill up the little indoor kindling box or fill a box of kindling for Mom without having to always cut it up when it was cold or snowy outside. 

For the firewood used this season, I guesstimate about two cords but it was a very mild winter for the Treasure valley.  I need to move some of the wood around to make room for two replacement cords for next season.  I have plenty of wood that will have seasoned 2 years which should make next years fires burn even better!  I learned my lesson and started splitting some of the bigger chunks of firewood for a better fire management, and I want to cut some of the older chunks of wood down to fireplace size with the new built sawbuck. I have about  a cord of very dry and seasoned hardwoods but need to be cut to fit in the wood stove. Once that wood is cut up I should have about six cords of seasoned firewood with a good mix of soft and hard woods!   

The hardest thing about using the woodstove for me has been building up a quality of seasoned fire wood.  It usually costs a  good bit of money to get your firewood and it takes time for the firewood to dry and season.  I try and get my firewood in April and burn it in the winter but that isn’t enough time for even softwoods like pine or fir to season and hardwoods take even longer to dry and season properly.  What worked for me is to to start buying about 3 chords of wood in the Spring. I usually need about 2 cords of wood so I’d slowly build up a cord of wood “leftover” that had a year to dry and season.  One good thing about Treasure Valley weather is the low humidity even in winter so the fire wood keeps drying rather than sucking up moisture that is in the air.  I have a couple of different areas where I can store wood that makes it much easier to rotate between different wood piles based on how long they have had time to season. 

If you are new to heating your home with a woodstove there will be some big start up costs getting and cutting wood.  Starting and tending the fire requires more effort compared to just turning up the thermostat if you feel a bit cold.  I find that the wood heat feels much warmer than electric heat. There is something about watching a fire burn, smelling wood smoke that seems to touch me emotionally.  Even the smell while I am stacking or splitting wood is almost like aroma therapy. Once you get past the initial “hump” of learning how to use your wood stove for a couple of winters things do get easier from balancing the cost of wood compared to very low electric bills in winter. Knowing you and not the power company or the government controls the temperature in your home in the winter is priceless . Spend the money and get a good wood stove, safely installed and buy or get the best wood you can afford and get enough so your firewood can season/dry for a year or more.  There is learning curve and none of these thing will happen overnight but I think it worth the effort, even though there are times it feels a bit tedious. 

Gardening season is fast approaching for my area. I’m in the 6A growing zone somewhat similar to the Ozark area though we have a lot less humidity compared to those mountains.  This area at the end of the day is High desert and irrigation water is what makes this desert bloom!  Our last frost date is May 8-12 but I have seen it snow here as late as May 18 so starting plants early is a gamble at best and a fools game at worst. This is the reason I’m so thrilled with the success of the snow and Alaska peas in the little starter boxes.  My hope this year is I won’t have to buy any starter plants from the local stores as I will have plenty of starting plants of my own.  I started cleaning up the 3 sisters garden beds and it looks like my planting in those beds was done incorrectly.  Not a big surprise as most 3 sister gardens are not done via a raised bed but I found a youtube vid that gave dimensions  for a 4 foot sloping mound that works with the dimensions of my 4 foot x 4 foot raised bed.  I cleared back more grape vines, leftover morning glory and the old plant material in 2 of the 3 beds before I ran out of space in my garbage bins.  It’s going to take some time to get rid of the old garden and tree debris but I have about a few more weeks of planning/prepping before I have to start putting any plants in the ground. 

Homedepot.com is offering 4 gallons of 30% vinegar for $75.00 free shipping to your home. If you want an awesome safe to use weed killer this vinegar is the best I have found for my yard.  It also seems to stop some dogs from digging in places that  holes are not wanted like around fence lines. Using a high acid vinegar might be a problem if you have acidic soil but around here the soil is very alkaline so adding a little bit of vinegar is not a problem. Do you need to clean off ward water stains from your home or clean your windows?  This vinegar will clean that up and this is a weed killer that won’t kill your soil like Roundup. I find spraying this 30 % vinegar stops most weeds from sprouting up trough my wood mulched or the rocks in my graveled driveway.  I won’t say it is cheap at about $20.00 per gallon but what is the cost of a gallon of Round up that kills your soil and you have to reapply yearly.  At least with the vinegar you can add new plants that compete and start to eliminate weeds. 

I set up another bird feeding pole mostly for Humming birds, though it had a suet basket and a hook for adding a little bird feeder and a small bin for water.  The robin was getting a good drink but did not seem interested in the bird food or suet. I moved a small bird feeder to the new pole as some birds are bullies about what birdss get access to the bird food.  I have lots of bushes and plants that provide cover for the little birds.  My “holly” shrubs are always full of birds singing.  While I don’t always have a neat yard it is always full of life.

Life on this earth is not mundane. There is tons of beauty that happens in nature around us daily if we just take a minute and see the world as it is daily. It is Glorious if not always neat and clean.   Life is simple getting the stuff you need for life is where thing get complicated because you have to deal with people that don’t like simple

 


Started the cabbage and cauliflower seeds

March 12, 2021

I’m very happy with the new starting plant boxes, Black gold potting soil and the lighting setup in the front room with the 2 windows + the small full spectrum lamp.  The peas have grown so fast they have to be transplanted into larger pots and into a box with a taller dome height.   The peas did not get “leggy” and have grown up straight, tall and have a rich green color in the leaves and stem.  I’m learning about starting plants from seeds and I have read you want at least a “tripole” set of leaves on plant starts before you transplant.  Well these peas have 2 sets of “tripole” leaves and the plants are hitting the very tall dome I set over the plants.  Honestly the peas grew much faster and stronger than I had anticipated so I will transplant the peas into larger pots and into a less intensive growing environment.   I need about another 2 weeks for the outside temps to warm up before I plant the peas in their bed. 

I started the cabbages both green and purple along with the cauliflower seeds in the same starter box. The “Forgiving”  peas gave me me a chance to adjust the heating pads and how much water was needed in the starter boxes.  I added a temp. gauge in the box and the temps got into the mid 80’s F. until I added a small cloth pad to reduce the temp to about 78-79 degrees F. That seems to be a good temp. for starting plants. I run the heat pads and lamps about 12 hours per day and the plants get sun from 2 windows that face mostly north.  If you use a plant heating pad you might want to use a towel or old blanket to mitigate the heat as many plant heating pads don’t have a temp. adjustment dial. 

I started plants originally for only myself and what I thought what Mom might want in our gardens but now I’m expanding the starter plants to see what is possible for me to grow.  We do have a few people in the neighborhood that grow gardens and I’m sure the would love to have a “free” starting plant for their garden.  Especially if it is a plant they never considered growing like Celery was for my garden.  I had an internet friend that got into gardening and starting lots of plants.  More plants than he could ever put in his garden and he set up a table of FREE starter plants in styrofoam/peat cups his yard for people to just grab a plant and try growing a garden.  That idea really appeals to me as it helps people that want to try out gardening, but it it is still small scale that people can use pots, containers or a garden bed.  I might add a little donation coin jar that might pay me a little bit back for soil, seed and my time.  

I got stared on some front yard cleanup .  Nothing huge just cutting some roses and the “holly” hedge plants back enough so I can get at the volunteer tree that is a major pain in the butt to keep under control.  I have some limitations about how much yard debris I’m allowed for trash pick up.  With my neighbor cutting down some of my trees and the branches my trash bins can get very full very fast.  I’m not complaining because that tree trimming would have cost several hundred dollars.  So adjusting the debris I add to the trash bins is part of saving money and not whining when life throws you a curve ball. I’m overjoyed the trees were trimmed back.  Getting rid of the debris from the trees/shrubs getting trimmed back is a bit more of a challenge. 

It is a little early for my region but I have added humming bird feeders to the new bird feeding pole I installed.  According to the bird experts most humming birds return to my area around the end of March.  The weather has been so wacky I figured I’ll add the hummingbird nectar a little early and bring the feeders inside if it might freeze overnight.  I try to fill a small bird bath with water as well as keep pet water feeder full of fresh water.  Fresh water seems to to be the thing to attract critters.  Of course it might not be the critters you want to attract, but even kitty cats need a drink of water from time to time. 

The $1400.00 semi payoff for electing Biden should be hitting folks soon.  I recommend investing in things that have a pay off/help you survive.  I have no idea about your financial situation but I’m going to buy a bit of silver, buy a bit of lumber to build a foundation for my greenhouse and add to my cash on hand for an Emergency.  I have been prepping for a decade and what I consider a good investment might be very different to your idea of investment.  I would say you should invest in real tangible things you need to survive.  Perhaps replacing an old PC, CRT TV or even furniture might be a good investment of your money.  I have all those things and while I could upgrade those items.  I don’t need to upgrade as all items are fully functional and adequate to my needs.  

You know what you need for your life better than anyone.  Once you strip away the propaganda/consumerism most people really don’t need to chase the “rabbit” of moving up in income.  While I don’t begrudge Nancy Pelosi’s $20,000 freezers full of $14.00-20.00  a pint ice cream.  It sure as hell does not say she is one of the common folk!  What is scary someone thought her doing this on twitter was a good look. 

The elites are are over educated idiots living in a bubble.  Even when they try to appeal to the “Serfs” they fail because they don’t see us as anything but serfs/tax donkeys to pay for their latest schemes. 


New phones, starting seeds and trimming trees and bushes

March 7, 2021

Mom’s old cell phone was starting to die and I found out that Verizon will be discontinuing support for older 3 G cell phones probably by the end this year so Mom and I agreed to upgrade and get newer “smart”  phones and move to the newer (more expensive) cell phone plans. We did get a good deal on a couple refurbed Samsung Galaxy type cell phones via newegg.com.  One phone was under $40.00 and the other phone cost just over $73.00 but we own these phones outright.  No payment fee tacked onto the phone bill buying the phone through Verizon’s payment plans.  If you are looking for a newer but low cost cell phone I would recommend newegg.com for unlocked refurb phones that will work with what ever cell phone provider network you prefer.  Shop for a cell phone because you can easily spend several hundred or even a thousand dollar + for a new cell phone depending on the features you get/want. 

We decided to stick with Verizon for a few reasons. We will still get free in-network calling, we keep our phone numbers, we don’t have to pay an activation fee going to a new company or get locked into any 1-2 year contracts. We will be moving into the 5Gb data pre-paid plan by April but our costs per month have gone up about $7.00 each per month until the Verizon loyalty program kicks in at month 3 and month 9 and if rates stay the same. We will save about $3.00 a month on our cell phone costs. 

Of course we are both having to learn how to use a smart phone but we have the manuals and Mom and I will get together next week and finish setting up the phones settings to work for us. I like my (new) phone but learning to swipe rather than tap a button or screen is not intuitive to me and while Mom’s old phone had a touch screen she is having some problems getting comfortable with the new phone. 

I’m a bit of a geek/nerd. I hate having to upgrade my stuff because companies stop supporting tried and proven tech.  I understand that faster speeds, less network slow downs are possible as newer 4-5 G networks are built but all I want is a cell phone that can take and make voice calls and I don’t need all the bells and whistles I get from a smart phone for “FREE” .I have to pay more each month to be on a cell network that offers more FREE stuff, I don’t use, but at a higher cost per month.   RANT OFF! 

I started the peas in my new seed starting boxes and I have 100% germination on the Sweet peas and the Alaska peas in less than 5 days. The heating pads really seem to make a difference as I have never had a 100% germination rate with my old set up. I have added a small mat between the starter box and the heat pad as the temp. has bounced up into the high 80’s F. with the starting seeds box. I have two windows that get northern light and a small  LED full spectrum plant light on my new set up.

I used last years bag of Miracle grow potting soil but bought a small bag of “Black Gold potting soil. I have to say I’m liking the black gold potting soil better than the Miracle grow soil  as it feels better to the touch.  I think the Miracle Grow has a bit more woody matter compare to the Black gold.  That might  not be an issue using larger pots but for small starter plants I prefer Black gold potting soil.   This very exciting for me as I’ll start some of last years cauliflower and cabbage seeds on the 7th or 8th of March following the planting guide for my climate. I have a taller starting box that is set up for larger pots that should work for transplants from the smaller starting pots until all of the outdoor garden beds are prepared and the weather will support the plants.  I really want a succession garden to take advantage of the weather locally.

My COLE crops have never done well  and I think the reason is I never get them started early enough and then the plants tend to bolt in the heat of summer, rather than grow in the cooler and wetter spring or fall. I need to add in some more lighting but the heating pads are working great and I’m happy with the cheaper starting beds I bought via Home Depot.  I’m not shopping Amazon any more and it has made shopping a bit more of a challenge but I  like that I’m supporting more local and USA based companies even if it takes longer or the costs are a bit higher I usually get a better, longer lasting product compared to cheap China crap made to “NOT TO LAST”. 

If you have neighbors and you have trees/ shrubs or plants in generally you will probably have some issues even if it is a neighbor quietly seething that the branches of your tree are shading, dropping leaves or whatever else Mama Nature does to screw up our plans. I was watching a neighbor standing on a very unstable platform braced by his disabled wife while he trimmed some tree branches.  I could not take it and offered my Ryobi pole saw and a fresh battery so he could trim the tree limbs without me worrying about him falling.   He offered to cut some tree limbs on my property to return the favor of using the tool.  OMG the  neighbor went full on lumber jack and cut down literal trees and  did not clean up  just a few over hanging limbs.   I filled up two large garbage bins, a construction grade trash bag and I have started making branch piles I can wrap a small wood bundle in twine so the garbage men can haul it away. 

I just cut off some dead branches off my lilacs and some growth that was encroaching on my neighbors on the north side of my house,  I can sort of understand my neighbor that did so much work trimming my trees once he felt I gave him permission, as his home, yard and stuff is affected by my stuff.  I’d be happy to clean up my neighbor’s fence line if I had permission to enter their property to to clean up.  I have told my neighbors they can clean up tree branches that are annoying/dangerous and I’ll even help with tools but I can’t always do the work. Perhaps I’m odd, but Private property right is Supreme in my mind and I’m not allowed on anyone’s property without an invitation.  

I want to attract Humming birds.  So I set up another pole bird feeder with a little bird bath and I might add another small feeder.  I have to say using these poles seem to work well as the squirrels can’t get into the bird feeders easily but they do snack on the seed on the ground.  I don’t mind squirrels as they are entertaining and the ultimate survivalists’ I do like using pole feeders is that the squirrels don’t get an easy meal. It’s good for them to work for a meal and it fun to watch.  I don’t have a wide variety of birds in the back yard. Mostly sparrows, a couple of doves and I think they are called thatchers though I’m not sure that is the correct term.  Dark eyed Juncos are predominate. I want to set up a few bird houses and see what bird show up.  No I don’t think my cats threaten the extinction of any bird species in my backyard. My three cats have caught exactly one bird this year.  The birds that feed in my yard don’t take chances with any potential predator.  My cat caught one young bird in a year.  I can’t even count all the birds that stop by my feeders but I guess 50-100 + . Many things kill birds but house cat or even feral cats might only catch a bird a week to help check the bird population.  House cats are not causing  any bird populations to go extinct. Windmills and humans are a different story,.