Douglas Fir is all stacked! More wood coming in June. Arrrgh!!

May 28, 2019

I finished stacking the last of the Douglas fir.  I’m a little sore and tired, but it sure feels good to have all of the wood under cover.  I have never had a problem with theft here and fire wood in May is not a high value item subject to theft.  It just makes me feel better, when a person can’t see wood lying around the alley.  Another advantage of having the wood stacked is I can start planting the Mossy Rose/Portaluca and sedums in the alley area I have been covering in wood mulch.  I have had some success growing sun chokes and the sedums in the mulched areas of the alley.  I have seen Sunflowers grow along the border areas of the alley and fences. So there are a few plants I can plant that hopefully will start replacing the the weeds.  This year I’m going to add some dirt and compost to those alley planting areas and I can water those areas through out the summer.  The weeds this year seem to be bad along the edges of where I laid down mulch and rock.

It might be Karma, now fire wood suppliers are calling me to take loads of wood.  I got scammed a few years ago on a fire wood delivery when I paid cash up front.  I learned and usually do a pay half now and pay off the delivery in cash when delivered. Today I got a call from my primary wood supplier to take early delivery of 2 cords of poplar.  I suspect the supplier has a lot of poplar and needs to free up some work space as many people don’t buy poplar or any kind of firewood in May or June.  Any hoo I have another 2 cords of cut and split poplar to be delivered on June 7th but I can’t pay for the wood in July. It really feels good that my wood supplier trusts me to pay after I have the wood delivered to my home.  This capitalism at it’s finest as both the customer and the business work with each other for mutual benefit.

As for the other wood delivery it was cheap wood because of the price and they were honest about the wood being delivered was not a true cord for $125.00 per “cord” nor was all of the wood cut and split to fit in a wood stove.  While I don’t think I’ll buy more fire wood from that supplier.  I will say they were very honest about the firewood quality and why it was offered at such a cheap price.  This person also called me back to take another delivery of their fire wood.  If someone asked me about getting some cheap fire wood fast I would show them the wood and let them decide if it worth $125.00 a “Face Cord” delivered.  I don’t think I got screwed on this wood delivery.   It is just a bit daunting the work I have to do to get Mom her wood and get the carport area prepared for 2 cords of poplar in about 2 weeks.

With all those caveats stated I’m sort of looking forward to splitting that wood and stacking it.  While there are a few chunks of wood that need a chainsaw to cut to length, there is a lot of hard wood that just needs to be split to make a long burning fire.  My “redneck” is coming out as I have a new splitting maul/axe in the 3.5 pound range that I want to try out splitting those hard woods using a 3 pound sledge. I tried out the 3.5 splitting wedge on a small piece of poplar and it split the wood.  The wedge will do better when sharpened.

Some times you can get screwed and all you can do as look at that situation is a learning experience and not do that thing again.  I’m a firm, believer in “what comes around goes around”.  Learn from my mistakes but don’t think all people are evil because some people do evil.  Also don’t be dumb like I was, and always hold back about 50 % payment on any job.  It does not mean you won’t get screwed but at least the cost is lower.  80% of all people you meet are great, that 10-20% of assholes are very annoying.

 

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Two loads of fire wood in two days? Idiot!

May 22, 2019

My timing has sucked,  trying out another fire wood supplier this week but I have to say I’m glad I got the fire wood on site and I can take time to stack it all.  The first delivery of wood was tossed under the carport so the wood will stay dry until I can stack it.  About 1/2 of the doug fir is exposed to the elements so getting that wood stacked and drying is my priority.  I filled 5 of my 6 wood racks of the Doug fir today.  The rest of the stacking of wood will take a bit more time.

From the new wood supplier, the wood looks like a good mix of hard and soft wood and Mom says she will take half of that fire wood to start building up her wood pile.  I’m a believer in getting fire wood delivered in early summer to give the wood more time to dry/season before winter wood heat is critical.  One nice thing about living in a high desert climate is the humidity tends to be low, so wood tends to dry quickly when stacked.

I’m physically worn out, but looking at all that fire wood gives me a good feeling about the winter heating season.  After this last winter and all the wood Mom bought from me. I think it is plausible I could store 2-3 years worth of fire wood.  I’m still playing catch up on stuff but once the firewood is stacked I don’t have to worry about that winter heating issue for a couple months.

 


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.


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.


Mom got her tomato plants

April 22, 2019

I’m learning when you get “pony pak” vegetable need to go in the garden beds or transplanted into larger pots within a day or two of purchase because the plants get root bound quickly in those small pots.  It was amazing to see how much the Sun Globe cherry tomatoes perk up after moving them into 3 inch pots. I’m going to have to invest in getting some of those small 3-4 inch small pots for succession and starting plants for a fall crop.  I did not consider how I would plant crops in the Future green house.  I’m going to need a lot intermediate size pots and many large pots to grow plants nearly year round.  Yard sale season is starting so I’ll keep my eyes open to getting pots for the green house plants.

I’m holding off planting any Brussels sprouts as we are already seeing 70 degrees F. this week and I’m afraid I’ll grow a huge plant that will have no actual sprouts to harvest.  The broccoli and cauliflower plants seem to be suffering from transplant shock but I hope they will recover as the frost cloth provides a little protection from the sun and the plants are getting watered in the garden beds.  I’ve never used a Frost Cloth cover before so this is a learning experience for me.  My hope is the white cloth will reflect some of the heat away from those cole crops and help keep the plants from bolting in the garden bed.  I bought more seeds so I’ll do starts of those cole crops in late summer indoors and try for a fall harvest this year.

I started de-thatching and adding grass seed plus compost to the front yard grass area.  I got about of 1/4th of the front grass area done as de thatching by muscle power is a challenge for me.  I reseeded grass with a drought tolerant fescue grass seed mix then added compost and water.  The compost areas sort of stand out in the formally bare patches of grass but whether is the dark color compost or adding water that area of the yard is looking a bit better/greener already.  The backyard grass area has some new grass sprouting up and I’m hoping the grass will fill in that area.  I have not had to fight many weeds in the back yard area so I know good soil does help stop bad weeds.

I was darn happy to see one of the strawberry plants in the front yard kiddie pool bed has a couple of little flowers after the massive weed clean out and adding new soil I did last week.  If I remember correctly this Strawberry plant is an Ozark and while all the plants are greening up I was surprised to see flowers so quickly after the plants being manhandled so recently.  I have some critters digging into this bed (squirrels) but I have a home made hot pepper spray mix I’ll spray on the straw mulch in the bed.  I used a Tabasco pepper spray mix a few years ago to discourage squirrels a few years ago that was effective keeping those critters from chewing on my wood eaves and setting up nests in my attic.  The hanging bird feeder hooks have worked great.  The birds are messy eaters and squirrels have been happy to feed on the seed that falls to the ground.  Unlike many people I like watching squirrels even though they can be a little annoying at times.  A little spray bottle of home made pepper spray tends to make the squirrels go to the area I prefer in my yard.  Especially if the squirrel can find an easy meal there.  It is funny to watch a squirrel  reach for a suet cake that is at least 3-4 feet beyond his reach.

I’m often surprised by what people consider “good animals” and repelling the “bad animals”.  I think the brown little sparrows and larks are great bird watching.  Oh, the birds don’t have showy plumage but they are a study in and of themselves as “survivalists”. Squirrels are much the same as being survivalists.  I don’t mind animals that are opportunistic for a free/good meal.  I do the same thing when trying to survive  winter!   I’d shoot coyotes around the ranch that killed a calf.  I did not blame the coyote for trying to eat the calf but the cow calf was needed for me to eat in the future.   We were fellow Apex predators competing for food.  Even if you are a vegan you compete for food with other Herbivores like birds, deer and squirrels.  Trust me a deer, few rabbits, gophers, moles and voles can reek havoc on a garden.

I like wild life in the city and in my yard.  That is why I use a little pepper spray to encourage some critters to go elsewhere to feed.  But I would have no problem shooting an animal feeding on my garden nor a predator hunting my dogs and cat.  Thankfully this not a problem I need to deal with very often.