Adding the back yard mulch. Mom picked up the big water tank

April 24, 2019

I got two of the garden bed pathways weeded and added a very deep layer of mulch all the way to the fence line.  I used a D shape weed hoe and it worked much better than a regular hoe to dig out the weeds.  I had a to level the ground between the fence and the garden beds as that is one of Tucker the Peke digging areas.  The mulch layer is almost six inches deep now and I hope that a deeper layer of mulch will help keep down the weeds.

It has been a couple of years since I put down the mulch between the new garden beds.  I was amazed to see how good the soil looked in the areas where the mulch had broken down.  The soil is almost black and much easier to work with the weed hoe between the garden beds.  Around the recovering Cherry tree the soil is not so good but I’m adding a bit of the steer manure compost and a thick layer of mulch to start building that soil up.  Right now the only “plant” I want to feed in that area’s soil is the cherry tree.  I have all the other plants in potato buckets or herbs in containers.  It looks like the cherry tree trunk/upper root  area is a little exposed so I will add the compost very close to the tree trunk but I will keep the mulch set back a few inches so the tree can breathe and not develop any issues from having the mulch to close to the trunk.

A few days ago I added straw to all of the berry planters.  I suspected the squirrels would go for the strawberry plants but one of the blackberry planters had the straw pushed aside and a hole dug in the planter.  I gave the the straw a spritz of the home made pepper spray and will give you an update in a few days about if it worked discouraging the squirrels digging in the berry planters.

I’m still working on the garden beds.  The pvc pipes cracked rather than bent into arches but the Harbor Freight heat gun makes the pvc pipes bend without cracking under the stress of installing the pipes in the garden beds.  I might be able to use a couple of the cracked pvc pipes by heating the area and bending the pipe into place using the heat gun to “soften” the plastic to make the pipe less rigid.  I have a layout of the drip irrigation system and a few more parts to buy to finish up the long garden beds. The new irrigation system should just water the garden beds and not the mulched pathways.  That should help keep down the weeds in the mulched areas.

I’m trying to get in the habit of weeding a little bit everyday rather than weeding a long time every week/two weeks. This is a major fault of mine in tending a garden. I’ll work very hard and a long time (for me) then spend time in recovery.  I need to learn how to “Putter Daily” in the garden rather than work very hard and then have to take a day or two to recover my stamina.  Gardens are a year round project.  While there are days you have to build and do heavy physical work, most of gardening is doing some work everyday to maintain/improve the garden.

Great news, Mom and I loaded the big 250 gallon water tank into her truck.  Mom is getting a water pump to irrigate her back pasture but the water tank will allow her to start storing water for irrigation between times the irrigation water is not available.  I know 250 gallons is not a lot of water storage but that tank is a start for Mom’s irrigation system for her pasture/garden area.  Plus the tank is already paid for, so no out of pocket costs for Mom.  As for Mom getting the tank off the truck and installed she has some great neighbor’s that have offered to help her around her place.  These water tanks are as common as mud around here so getting hoses and fitting to irrigate is easy with a bit of work planning her water system.

Mom picked up many of her pots full of herbs to take to her place.  While she is trying to start a garden area this year the local soil needs a lot of work.  Pots/ Container gardening are going to be the primary part of her garden this year.  There is nothing wrong with container gardening.  A raised bed is simply a large container garden. It is dumb to try and grow a garden in poor soil.  You are better off doing a container garden with good soil rather make a garden that has poor soil.  Trust me I know that the little skiff of top soil dropped in my area is not good nor deep. Now I have earthworm every where when a decade ago I had literally no insects in my soil. Building good soil takes time.  You  can still grow a garden or lawn as you improve the soil.

You don’t have to follow anyone’s advice.  Not mine nor anyone else.  Follow your own voice and take other people’s advice, simply as advice.  You have nothing else you must do in this world but die.  Everything else is your choice, and not paying taxes is a choice.  Perhaps a less than optimal choice but a choice none the less.

 

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Yard and garden work in thunderstorm?

April 20, 2019

The thunderstorm did not arrive until 3:00 PM so the early part of the day was basic yard work.  I’m trying out Preen garden weed killer in the alley way.  I won’t use Round up and I’m hoping the Preen will kill the weeds in the alley before I start some new plants that do well in poor soil.  I did not follow the instructions precisely for the Preen weed killer.  I weed waked all of the cheat grass and foxtail weeds spread a layer of the Preen and then watered the area.  The alley area has layers of rock and mulch so digging out the weeds to the bare dirt/root layer is not going to happen. My hope is the weeds will start dying back and I can add a mix of sunflowers, sun chokes and perhaps some mossy rose plants to replace the weeds.

Great news most of my gardening hoses survived the winter. I did not store my hoses properly last fall so having one leak, in a cheap light weight water hose was good news.  I have been looking at ways to water my garden beds that is effective and low cost and I think I have a place to get all the parts I need and the cost will be around $50.00.  Now I’m not using water timers.  I will be the “timer” but I think it will conserve water and be a good watering system for the garden.

I was a bit surprised to see the Agriborn frost cloth does not let a lot of rain water hit the raised beds. It does make sense not to let cold water land on plants but I figured the cloth would let liquid water through the cloth.  Great news is that the cloth cover raised bed was dry enough to add plants in spite of the rain storms.  So I got the broccoli and cauliflower from D&B supply planted.  I planted some of the purple onion sets as the onions and these cole crops are good companion plants.  Garden bed #1

This is the lay out of my first garden bed.  I still need to sow the the lettuce and the root crops but I think this is a good start for the early spring garden.  A huge advantage of using the frost cloth is my digger dog Tucker has not dug in this bed.   PVC arches and frost cloth is much cheaper than installing a garden fence.  I have left some open spaces in the garden bed for succession plants starts ready to plant in a couple of weeks.  I used the the the basic lay out for the garden beds from https://www.gardenguides.com/garden-planner.  It a simple planning website, but it is free and gives you the basics for planning raised beds. I really like using the calendar planner as a basic gardening journal.  Jotting down some notes of what you have done and if it works or does not work seems to be working for me.

Sorry my fridge water tray overflowed and I had to cleanup after dumping the water tray.  Tucker followed my efforts as if wondering about the muddy paw prints comment.  I guess another job is done. That job totally surprised me needing to be done.  Well the Kitchen floor has been at least rinsed with water and semi-cleaned…..

The soil in my front yard that supports growing grass looks terrible!  The exposed dirt already looks liked poorly baked clay pottery.   I have been adding new soil and a lot compost to the back yard grass bed and the soil in the back yard bed is looking better plus the grass seed is putting up sprouts/ actually grass seedling are this spring.  I don’t like de-thatching wet grass or soil as much of the marginal grass will get pulled up in the de-thatching rake.

Once it gets a little less rainy I’ll use the de-thatching rake to “scratch” the existing soil, add grass seed along with new dirt and compost. Then work the compost and soil into the front yard with a rake.  That is about the best I can do this spring.  I do have plans for the fall that will be more comprehensive in repairing the front yard grass.

I’m a little ahead of the game, as far as the garden and building the wood pile but I’m little behind on the front yard.

Good news, I got a Dremel tool to help with small jobs around the house.  Supposedly the Dremel will sharpen tools so I’ll test that out on the hatchet.  The hatchet is critical for making kindling but it is the lowest cost ax for replacement cost if I screw up.

To recap all that has happen in April so far…

  1. I have made deeper raise beds and added more soil and compost
  2. Planted cole crops early Spring in hope the plants won’t bolt. Will replant in fall.
  3. Started plants early indoors that generally was successful.
  4. Transplanted plants into larger pots.
  5. Pots ready to go for the sprout/ kitchen herb planter pots.
  6. Pre-paid for 2 cords of fire wood delivered in third week of May.
  7. Started building the “kindling box”.
  8. Starting the garden early because I have frost cloth to protect the plants. If the weather gets wonky.

Mama nature and politicians often screw up your plans.  But overall I think this summer should be relatively simple if not easy.

 


I fixed a lamp today

April 18, 2019

Okay, it’s not a huge accomplishment but this is a lamp Mom really liked and she was ready to throw it in the trash. I picked up a light bulb replacement socket for $4.00 while I was getting the Prime rib on sale and got everything installed and working on the lamp and I only saw sparks and tripped the breakers two times.  I’m not sure how old the lamp is but the color wires  were black and brown. The socket in instructions did not cover anything as mundane as wires that are Ground or Hot wires.  That info probably would not have helped me but it would have been good info for future repairs.   That made guessing what wire equivalent to the white wire in the instructions required a couple of those test are what resulted in the sparks/ blown breakers.   For $4.00 and a bit of cursing, I learned how to fix a broken lamp and I kept that lamp from going into the trash.  I also gained a bit more confidence working with120 volt AC electricity.  When I worked with electronics in the Army it was usually 12-24 volt DC systems.  Most equipment had high wattage but very low amps.  Amperage is what kills people doing stupid stuff with electricity.

Overall I caught up on the jobs I wanted to do when I was laid up/ hurting this week.  The old box spring mattress is  out of the shop to be hauled away next Monday by the trash guys, along with a few other bulky bits of trash.  Mom stopped by and hauled a few more items I have been storing in the shop and a small bucket of kindling for her wood stove.  I’m not sure if she will start a wood fire as it is starting to warm up in SW Idaho. The kindling wood won’t spoil if not used in the next 6 months.  It is amazing how much room in the shop has been opened up by getting the old mattress and box springs out of the shop.  Heck I found a window air conditioner brand new in the box and we have no idea who bought it or when it was bought!  Not a problem as I don’t mind storing a few small air conditioners to use, have a back up and one to trade/barter.

I got my alley way area weed wacked and I’m going to try using Preen garden weed prevention, to assist with my other weed preventers.  Wood ash does help but a thick layer of Black walnut leaf mulch in the fall  seems to work about the best for stopping alley weeds. My biggest problem is picking plants that can grow in poor soil and choke out the weeds.  I get rid of all my goat head weeds and then I see the goat heads take root in the alley because people either don’t pay attention or they use Round up that kills the soil and nothing can grow.   If you want to get rid of weeds you have to find plants you like, that replace the weeds.  You will never stop all weeds as those weeds are nature’s paramedics but you can minimize the growth of noxious weeds. I have a personal vendetta against “Morning Glory”  Jamie the flowers are so pretty and it grows in poor soil, why don’t you love this plant.

Morning glory is the Kudzu of the west.  What does morning glory add to the soil? It grows fast in bad soil. So does “cheat grass” and fox tails weeds.  I don’t mind pretty flowers but when I spend hours of time cleaning all those morning Glory vines off my fences and off my roses.  I’m not a big fan of the plant.  If I had to plant a weed I’d choose dandelions at least they are edible.

Sorry about the rant but I really hate Morning Glory.  On to the fun stuff….  I planted new grass seed in the backyard and I have a few sprouts,  the big tufts of grass are also looking very healthy with the addition of compost and soil.  The new grass seedlings will need a few more weeks to see if they grow.

Idaho is going full on retard/califronication.  The state is about 44% under federal lands yet the state is buying private property with tax payer funds.

WHY? and for what purpose?

E-cigs are looking to be Outlawed in all parks.  Now wasn’t the problem of  smokers was 2nd hand smoke and the smell?  I vape and the aroma/ steam is minimal at best and not like some one smoking tobacco.  How could anyone in a park be injured by water vapor in a park?  It’s not about protecting the people it is all about control.  Hell, the local Boise council meeting had a dozen people show up and demand a mass transit system just cause…According to the local news cast that was overwhelming support for a mass transit.  Boise is creeping up on 500,000+ and the rest of the treasure valley adds another 250,000 yet 12 people showing up to a Boise City council meeting is overwhelming support for mass transit.  According to the news media.

 

 

 


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.

 

 


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,


Adding in new clothing items…. and I repaired a bird feeder.

February 14, 2019

I’m a firm believer in prepping/storing clothes especially underwear, socks and basic work clothing.  One Item I seldom read about storing is foot wear.  Many people talk about buying, care of good work/cold weather boots and I’m not knocking that as good foot gear makes doing out door jobs safer and more comfortable.  But what about people like me that wear sneakers most of the time or prefer a pair sturdy sandals in summer. I’m am biased about garden working foot wear as I hate Uggs or any sort of enclosed clog-like shoe.  If you like them great but (My) feet get all sweaty feeling and the clog slips around… So let me say I won’t be covering any clogs.

I have needed to replace my sneakers for awhile and I’ve been wanting to get a little higher quality shoe rather than the $25-$35 dollar special of the week.  Well today I had great luck as Fred Meyer had a 50% sale on marked down $70.00 sneakers I picked up for about $32.00 per pair.  Now I have big foot for a women so I can usually get the men’s small sneaker or the women’s large sneaker on sale as those are the leftovers.  Are Men’s feet shrinking in the USA?  I used to get a 7 size men’s shoe and now I need a 8 1/2.  I’m in my 50’s so I think my feet have stopped growing and I have not outgrown any of my old boots and shoes. I got a nice pair of light weight Asics running shoes and New Balance sort of cross training/walking shoes for about $65.00 total for both pairs.  The trick of wearing sneakers or any shoe you wear regularly is to trade off wear of the shoe daily.  That way the two pairs of shoes will last as long as if you bought 3 pairs of shoes in succession.  For example: If one pair of sneakers lasts you 3 months.  If you buy 2 pair of sneakers and wear them on alternating days those two pair of sneakers will last 9 months.  It’s the same thing for Boots but the timeline is usually a bit longer.

Sandals:  I’m not a big fan of flip-flops or light weight sandals.  I have a pair of Columbia “River Sandal”s that are in great shape after 5 years of limited wear.  I really like the thick Vibram sole and the velcro tabs for securing the sandal.  My feet don’t get as sweaty compared to clogs and it super easy to spray off the dirt gathered when gardening.

That is the footwear I use.  Yes,  I also have boots and slippers but what I’m saying is many people do most of their prepping in sneakers and don’t always need specialized foot wear. They do need to have a good fitting pair of sneakers and know how to make them last and what sort of sneaker to store for the future.

Buying/storing footwear:

  1. When you find comfortable and sturdy  footwear buy at least 2-3 pairs of what fits you and what you are doing.
  2. If you like that foot wear buy more pairs to have in your storage.
  3. Always buy the best foot wear you can afford!  An ill fitting shoe or boot can give you blisters and even affect your foot bones after a long time.
  4. Take off your shoes and walk around barefoot or in slippers when at home.  Try on shoes late in the day to see how your foot fit in the shoe
  5. Care for your footwear, leather needs oil, waterproofing and find a local guy/cobbler that can replace a heel or sole. Twenty or thirty dollars is cheap to refurbish a pair of $200.00+ boots.

I have to say that Army combat boots are one of the greatest work boots ever.  The Gore tex winter boot sucks if you have to work at doing anything.  Don’t get me wrong the Gore tex boot is great.  If you are sitting for hours in the cold.  I stayed warmer by using my galoshes over my sneakers when I had to work. When I bought the first generation Army Gortex boot.  I would often patrol, help dig a foxhole and then sit and when I sat those boots felt like an Ice block enclosing my feet.  I’m not knocking Goretex as a product.  It just is not the solution for every environment.

Don’t preppers have access to gloves? I have seen many preppers on youtube get sliced and diced by just not having a pair of good leather gloves. I’m reminded of a old story that a man says his scars means he lived life dangerously and his wife says his scars means he led his life stupidly.

Get good gloves of leather gloves.  Hell I’ve bonk my hand with my hatchet cutting kindling and it is no big deal.  If I had not used leather gloves, I’d have a deep flesh cut to deal with if not worse.  Hell I don’t even go into Homedepot  of Lowes without at least a Jersey gloves to handle the wood. You ain’t tough dealing with splinters, you are an unprepared idiot.   Also good to know Scotch tape is great at removing small wood splinters.   Just an FYI!

End of rant.

Gosh I did not cover the bird feeder repair. I used a couple of larger tongue depressors to support the repair.  I got a little bit better at using the glue gun.  It was not a big deal as I glued a couple of tongue depressors to support  the roof of the bird feeder and it worked.  I’m glad I’m getting better using the glue gun and not a complete spaz job I did at first. The roof did end up with a bit of a flare rather compared to the barn  outline. If this repair lasts the roof line on the feeder should protect the feed/seed much better than the original design.