It stopped raining so I moved wood around

May 20, 2019

The skies cleared and I had about 3.5 hours of dry weather this afternoon to move the wood in my wood pile.  I’m  moving the older, over sized dry wood (for my wood stove) under the carport to stack and will be cut to size, too fit my wood stove.  I moved the wood racks around to make stacking the wood for easier access and set up an area for cutting and storing kindling.  I have 2 cords of Doug fir incoming  this week so getting the wood racks prepared for incoming fire wood is important for my heating plan this winter.

I’m trying a new supplier of wood and paying as I go.  Mom says she will buy up some of the wood to mitigate my initial cost for wood.  Over all I feel okay about the wood buy, but we will see if the wood is worth the cost.

Just took delivery of the wood and the carport is darn full.  I suspect I got at least 1.5 + cords of mixed fire wood mostly cut /split and ready to burn.  Perhaps it is Karma helping me on the good side since I got screwed on wood deliveries a few years ago. I’ll need to stack the wood to see how much fire wood I have on hand.  Money is going to be a little tight getting this fire wood delivery before I planned for getting wood this year, but getting stocked up on wood this early will pay off this summer and into winter.  I’m good on money, as I can deal with taking a hit of $250.00 either good or bad easily.

Physically I’m going to be toast Tuesday, after moving the fire wood and wood racks around the yard.  I have a 2 cord wood delivery on the 22nd so I’ll be in  recovery mode the 21st.

The cole crop garden beds seem to be thriving after opening up the Agri-bon frost cloth.  It seems that this week is going to be good for cool weather crops getting a good start for growing.

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Plants are going into beds. Huzzah!

May 18, 2019

I think I suffered a bit of a CIDP flare this last week and did not get much done as I felt less than chipper, during the good outside working days last week.  I was able to run my errands and get a bit of shopping done but until today I was down, and in recovery mode.

I did get a lot of great buys via Fred Meyer’s Founder’s sale this week as  Pet-it Sirloin steaks are $2.69 per pound and 70/30 Hamburger is only $1.79 per pound.  With all the flooding in the midwest and the crazy trade war talk, Stocking up on beef/meats  is one of my missions this spring.  Getting the freezer full is high on my to do list this spring.

We got snow in the mountains around the Treasure Valley and the weather went from 85 degrees F. for a high to 55 degrees for a high in less than 24 hours.  Saturday the 18th was about the only dry day to get much work done in the garden or on the yard.  I finished mowing the front lawn about 9:15 pm while my solar lights were on.  Thankfully my electric mower is somewhat quiet and I did not disturb anyone partying on a Saturday night.  I normally would not mow so late but this is the last dry day for the next 7-10 days.  May tends to be a “wonky” weather month around here,  as I have seen 100 degree days as well as snow in the valley as late as May 18th.

I did get one of my garden beds full.  I added two types of romaine lettuce and Napa Cabbage starter plants to my “Cole crop” raised bed.  The broccoli and cauliflower plants that have been under the Agri-born frost cloth are growing very slowly and may need a little more sun though the onions seem to be to be doing well  for “scallion” type growth.  The Agri- born cloth seems to inhibit sunlight a bit more than I anticipated so I have cut the cloth in the middle to allow more mid-day sunlight to hit the crops in the raised beds.  One of my biggest problems with my past gardens is crops bolting, if the Agri-born cloth helps mitigate that issue I will be extremely happy.

I finally figured out what to grow in the former tomitillo raised bed.  I’m going with melons and flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums.  I want to play around with natural bug control and edible flowers/landscape plants.  Plus I’m growing a very  different plant/rotating the crops so that should help mitigate any bug or soil problems.  While I want to go vertical via trellis with the small melons,  this bed has the most area for plants that tend to spread out.

Great news my blue potato buckets have a few plants are starting to come up and put on some greenery.  I was about to give up on those plants but that is the best thing about using big planter buckets/pots as you can try new stuff and give the plants time to grow or fail, without affecting your main garden.  City gardeners like myself that use raised beds or containers always seem to find others that want to know how plant experiments work out.  It’s not snark when some people have great success or another person has a less successful growing of a plant.  It is about finding what worked, and did not work for each individual garden.

Last but not least I had some quail wander through my backyard and it was wonderful watching those little birds check out the backyard.  I’d love to expand my backyard into an urban wildlife habitat. Yeah, some critters are annoying, but there are many bonuses to having wild critters around to eat insects and such.  Never discount a potential protein source in your preps.


Happy Mothers Day all.

May 12, 2019

Mom has had a Fybro flare and is recovering so she did not feel like going out or doing the standard Mom’s day stuff.  She would like me to scrub her bedroom carpet this week for her Mother’s day gift. Gosh that is a simple thing to do and I might bring out the tiller and see how easy/hard it is to dig in the raised beds.

For myself I puttered inside the house and got some cleaning done.  I gave both bathrooms a good cleaning washed all the bath rugs. Washed and wiped down all the kitchen cupboards.  I’ve been ignoring the interior of the house and it needed a good wash down if not a full on Spring cleaning.  I really like using the Lysol all-purpose cleaner for wiping down the cupboards and general cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom.

I got more the starts trans-planted into larger cups/pots. Using the wood tongue depressors have worked great for popping plants out of the small 6 starter paks without destroying the paks!  I transplanted the start into Styrofoam cups and gave my neighbor some beef steak and Cherokee purple tomatoes, celery and a couple types of sweet peppers.  I kept back some of the transplants for myself and Mom, but giving away starts feels great and is the best sort of charity.  It isn’t just giving away garden vegetables, it is giving away the start of a vegetable garden.  Plus, I get to learn how to start plants from seed and transplant, not only into my garden but help others with plants in their gardens.  I think transplanting is a skill I will need once I get the greenhouse built.

Update:  The red potatoes are growing and I added another layer of dirt to those planters.  It seems the Blue potatoes are a bit of a bust for growing in tubs.  That is okay because I think next year I will plant Yukon golds rather than a blue potato. I’m still playing around with the frost cloth as a sun barrier/frost barrier and the anti-tucker dog digging in my raised garden beds.

One size fits all means that one size fits no one well.  I live in high desert so my garden plan probably is not good for someone in Alabama as we have very different climates, rainfall, humidity and temperature.  I think Kansas, Nebraska are “muggy/humid” states.  Well they are compared to SW Idaho.  But no mater where you live/garden building good soil is first and them growing plants that thrive in your area is next for building a good garden.  To give the other states some love…  There is an old joke that some one said their is no humidity in SW Idaho and another person said there is very little humidity in an oven.


Kind of lazy plus some updates

May 8, 2019

This new spring/summer has really screwed up my sleep schedule. I have been coming up about 2 hours short on for the last few nights.  That has sort of worn me down and I’m not getting all the projects done daily.  But I’m going to darken my window blinds tonight and see if the morning sunlight is waking me up early.

I got a start moving some of the older wood to it’s new spot under the carport. Organizing the wood racks for the wood delivery in a couple of weeks is one of the bigger jobs that needs to get done.  Some of last year’s wood delivery was stacked on topped of the older dry wood that I need to cut and use up this winter. Having the older seasoned wood ready to use will help make my wood pile easily accessible will give me a better idea about how much wood I need to burn during a “Normal” winter.  I need to move the wood racks a little bit so I get good rain coverage with my tarps but the wood can season naturally this summer/fall.  I got the final design of my kindling box finished and I just need to finish adding the cedar wall slats and top so the kindling can season and stay dry.  I know this is a simple box with an angled lid but it is also my first try at constructing something like this, so a few mistakes is part of my learning process.

Much like the wood racks I’m adjusting the raised bed gardens and the use of the frost cloth.  I have heard that some people cover their gardens through the summer but I’m going to open the tops of the frost cloth for natural pollinators to do their job. I just hope the little bumblebees will come in and do the hard work.  I have to say this is the first year in five years that I saw the fuzzy little bumble bees in my apple tree blossoms and among the flowers.  I hope this means that the bee population is starting to recover.  I’m also using my frost cloth as a barrier around my raised bed gardens to keep my Peke Tucker from digging in the beds and so far it seems to be working.  Tucker has his little swimming pool of dirt and a couple of places in the yard to dig. So he is happy and has not dug in the raised beds.

I used some 90 degree elbows to make pvc square over the raised garden beds. For my garden I think this set up will work best for most of the summer.  The wonderful thing about pvc pipe is you can adjust it, change configurations very cheap and easily.  One thing I noticed in myself using the frost cloth is I don’t see the garden beds daily So there is tendency in myself to assume the plants are fine and don’t need weeding.  So far my bed is okay but that sort of “out of sight, out of mind”  is something I need to avoid.

Went to my local garden store and got some winter squash plants for the 3 sisters garden.  They had a Sedum tray on sale that I got a rain check on to start planting in the alley garden.  I need to add more plants in the alley way garden to drive out the nasty weeds.  I need to adjust my rock and mulch and add a different water plan.  I’m not sure trying to drown weeds is a good plan. LOL

Updates:  The Homemade pepper spray appears to be a success!  I have had no squirrel size hole dug in my berry planters. I’ll add another spray coat to the straw mulch this week but so far I’m very please with the results.  The red potatoes are putting on a lot of new growth so this weekend I’ll add more dirt to the buckets.  Mom tells me the blue potatoes tend to grow a bit slower so I have not given up on those taters.  The Starting plants are ready to put in larger pots.  I want to grow every plant but some times you just have to thin out the starts.  I am excited as I will have starter plant to give Mom and my neighbors.  Once I give away the plants, I don’t have to see the plant carnage !  Last but not least I have saved the “burnt” cast iron pans and I’m building up the non-stick coating. Scrambled eggs are not sticking much to either pan so I think the pans are as good as they can be.

 


Mowed the back yard grass patch

May 6, 2019

I had a few tall grass “bunches” in the backyard that I knocked down with the weed wacker.  I ran the mower on a high setting over the backyard lawn.  Basically I’m trying to level the grass from the old stuff to the new grass growth. The new grass is seedling are a bit delicate and only about an inch tall so no carpet like lawn is possible yet!  But the grass seed is growing and filling in the backyard area.

I set up a new watering system for the front yard that waters my plants and does not water my windows or siding of my house.  My irrigation water is hard and watering windows or siding will leave a scale on on the house.  Best to water the yard and garden beds and not my house.  I’m not sure that my front yard re-seeding project worked but that part of the yard did not have as many weeds this Spring and the lawn is a bit more level after raking in compost/manure.

I’m starting to transplant plants from the starters from March.  This process is new to me but I think I have the basics down.  Mom and my neighbors say they will take any transplants so I’m using Styrofoam cups as a larger “pot” for the plant to grow.  I’ll be adding many seedlings to the pots rather than tying to separate the plants.

It never really crossed my mind that I might start plants from seeds.  I see plants growing and it always stuns me.  I know I have built the soil, a watering plan but to see theory result into food plants is stunning to me.  While my little backyard lawn patch is no big deal in the world.  It makes me happy and my dogs love it.

Get self reliant now. Practice everyday, every little bit helps you.  I’m not buying 4 cords of wood because I love Idaho power!  Buy a little solar panel that powers your phone, a light or whatever you want powered. Can you cook a meal, boil water off grid?  If you can do that you are better prepared than 90% of americans.


Mowing the weeds at Mom’s place

May 4, 2019

We had a big work day at Mom’s place cutting down weeds in the garden area.  The green works electric mower did okay cutting down the semi-damp/2 foot tall weeds.  I wanted to use my bagging lawnmower hoping I could bag some of the weed seed.  I’m not sure I bagged the weed seed, but we did get Mom’s garden area cleaned up enough so she can start her raised bed gardens with new soil and compost.

Mom was a little concerned about using my lawnmower on her weeds but the little Greenworks mower did good, even though the weeds were very damp. I think I showed Mom she can take her riding lawnmower into the field and keep the weeds cut back even if we can’t eliminate them this year.   Cutting down 2 foot tall weeds is a challenge for any mower but I have proved the Green works electric mower can handle the job if not quite as well as a powerful gas mower.

A friend suggested using old carpet as a weed barrier.  This friend is a garden goddess that built a greenhouse from cast off window frames.  So she knows about going cheap but also spends money when and where it is needed.  Our friend just happen to know someone getting rid of some old carpet and Mom got it for free.  After mowing/weed wacking. Mom laid down the carpet “JUTE” side up and will add mulch on top carpet so the carpet makes a weed barrier and Mom can walk around her beds without the weeds trying to trip her up!  Mom will need more mulch.  I don’t know about anyone else’s garden but I always need more mulch.  It might be that as I learn more about gardening and landscaping I see more areas that mulch would be a great addition from building soil to water retention

The Kellog’s soil,  I love using this soil in my raised beds and when (the soil) went on sale a couple of months ago and I was correct in guessing the cost per cu. ft. was going up by about 33- 50 %.  I was able to give Mom four of the 3 cubic ft. bags as well as top off all my garden projects.  I did not plan for that soil to go up in cost but I’m composting and the steer manure/compost is a low cost augment to my garden beds.  Now I have added enough good soil in my beds that I hopefully no longer need to add soil.

Great news my onions are coming up in the garden bed!  The grass seed is sprouting up and my potato buckets are starting to grow.  The pepper spray on the straw mulch in the berry buckets seems to have dissuaded the squirrels from digging in the berry planters.  My hoses reach to all parts of the garden and I soaked all the planters I have not watered the last few days.  I’m still working on the garden irrigation plan but now I know I have plenty of hoses ready to water all of the garden beds.

Last but not least I splurged on some Jiffy starter packs.  I want to have a fall garden as well as succession plantings in my raised beds. These are cheap starter beds, but if they last 2-3 years the cost of $4-6.00 is an acceptable cost for starting plants.

 

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Started the garden beds new irrigation system

April 26, 2019

The local Bi-Mart had 25 foot soaker hoses on sale for $8.00 each. The 25 foot hose works just about perfect for a loop inside the 10 foot garden bed so all the plants get watered and the hose has little instruction guide about how long to water based on how deep you want the water to get into the soil.   I did the first test on the first garden bed this afternoon watering the bed for about 75 minutes.  All of the garden bed is watered without any puddling.  The Frost cloth did a great job containing any excessive spray so all the water stayed in the bed. This weekend I’ll check to see how deep the water penetrated the soil to make sure I’m watering long enough for the water to get deep into the soil.

I picked up a couple of 6 foot hose “faucet extensions” that will let me daisy chain all of the garden bed’s soaker hoses. This little hose come with a valve on plastic spike so I can water beds individually and add another hose to water the cherry tree and potato buckets with out dragging a hoses all over the yard.  I like using hoses for watering the yard but I want to have all the hoses pre-positioned in the areas I need to water.  I still have a couple of garden areas to get hoses in place.  The 3 sisters garden beds and the future greenhouse/compost bins water system are still in the planning stage but I’m excited to work on those since watering systems are a lot cheaper, creative and it is easier to build watering systems with off the shelf parts.  For about $40.00 I got all of the stuff needed to water the garden beds as well as make the system expandable in the future.

I can’t recommend using Preen for stopping weeds.  The water I added to activate the the Preen weed killer seems to have made the weeds grow faster in the alley.  I’m going to keep the weeds cut back and go back to using the black walnut leaf mulch and wood ash this fall and winter for weed control in the alley. The wood mulch area looks mostly weed free and I will plant add good soil and plant some sedums and Mossy rose, to start replacing the bad weeds with plants I like for the alley.  Perhaps a few sunflowers and sunchokes to add a bit of taller elements to the alley garden.

I’m growing grass in the backyard!  Not MJ but a real grass cover crop.  I have sort of that green haze as the grass seed starts to come up and most of the grass seed is about an inch tall.  My tufts of back yard grass are also putting on growth. I will cut down the tall tufts of grass via weed wacker and wait on mowing  to let the new seedling grass put down deep roots.  It is early days reseeding the yard but it is looking very good for my basic plan

I started my first garden bed by just tilling up the local soil and then adding soil amendments.  This was a bit backwards, as making good soil makes plants grow better and cuts down most of the weeding.  My back yard grass space is surrounded by all sorts of weeds.  Yet the good soil has seemed to keep the weeds out of the area.

I’m not a scientist, I’m just a gardener looking to build a sustainable yard and garden.  I do a lot of trial and error stuff and error seems to be a big part of that learning.  My grass seed is growing in the backyard and seems weed free after 2 years of work building soil.

I did a bit of a dummy as I set my cast iron pans to clean on the stove and then got distracted.  Good news my fire alarms work great. Bad news is I destroyed the seasoning of my favorite cast iron pan.  I’m a bit peeved at myself for getting distracted so the pans could set off my fire alarms.  Now that pan has not burned off all it seasoning but the pan is rusting/oxidizing in spite of the lard I’m adding to season the pan.  I screwed the pooch by getting distracted. I might be able to fix the pan but it is better not to screw up in the first place.