Sunday, October 31, 2010

Clawfoot tub.

"Standard" cast iron claw foot bathtub. Got a great deal on it from a local guy who was renovating and didn't want it anymore. Outside needs restoration but the porcelain inside is 100%. Slated to inhabit the main bathroom once that project gets underway.

Mold stamped Feb 22, 1915 on the bottom.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pickled Green Tomatoes...

My folks came up to the farm to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary today. My mom is currently taking the vacuum to every nook and cranny of my house (which is what passes for fun in her life).

We dug up some Purple Viking potatoes to roast with carrots as a side dish tonight. I'm learning that using straw in the tire-towers was a pretty huge failure... it never made close enough contact with the length of stem to prompt tuber growth. The only potatoes I'm finding all are the way at the bottom of each pile, down in the compost.

As such, I'm not getting many potatoes per tower, but I'll still have enough to be floating around in potatoes for a while.

Also picked a ton of tomatoes (red and green and in-between) off of some sick-looking tomato plants. Don't really mind because it gave me an excuse to pickle and can 6 pints of green tomatoes, which are cooling as I type this. Man, I love making pickles!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Event notice!

What: North American Sweat-Bee Family Reunion.
Where: My farm, everywhere.
When: Right now.

Please bring sweat.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Updates forthcoming...

Sorry for the lag in updates. Busy busy. Back soon!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pole beans, meet twine...

My pole beans appear to be taking quickly to my setup with a single pole in the middle and then multiple lines of twine coming down from the top (making a sort of christmas tree shape).

A lot of the pole beans I planted never sprouted, which is a little disappointing as I bought them from good sources and took the time to soak them beforehand as instructed.

Also found a fair number of little slugs in my potato towers for the first time (babies, I assume)? I know many of the traditional, ground-planting remedies for them, but am unsure what to do about them in a tall tire-tower filled with wet straw? Maybe put an open bottle of beer in each tower? :-)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Rainy" weekend update...

The forecasts for rain were a bit pessimistic, and the weekend was mostly just overcast, hot, and sticky-as-hell. Spent a lot of the mid-days working in the basement on remodeling projects (my house might as well have AC down there for as cool as it stays during the day... it's like magic!

The potatoes are going crazy... I had to cover most of them with more tires and straw and I'm almost out of tires again. I hope this will translate into lots of taters later!

Took down and cleaned out my grow room, and rejoiced as it magically transformed back into my guest room. I think I'll be starting seeds in the basement next year, as the relative humidity that the process caused played hell with a lot of stuff in the guest room.

Spent an hour or so this morning picking peas. The Blanco's produced quite well despite never really finding or climbing the fence I put up for them... seems like on one side of the fence they were slightly larger and green, and smaller and properly white on the other? Interesting. Also picked some Paso and some Langston's Progress No. 9's which had smaller plantings and much smaller yields. Two 25-foot spans of pea plants yielded about two soup bowls full of fresh peas once all was shelled and done. It is a sobering thought indeed to realize that all that time, effort, and energy went into making about $1 worth of peas at current market prices.

We take for granted how cheap and easy our food has become. It is a valuable reminder indeed that such things cost more (time, money, effort) without the massive power that fossil fuels afford us.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rainy weekend upcoming...

The weather report calls for thunderstorms all weekend, so looks like I might spend the weekend kicking back with dad and pup, tying up loose ends of some previous projects and getting started on some long-term indoor endeavors.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Garden update: June 5, 2010...

Put a roof and doors on the chicken coop today, and got it almost 100% painted. All that's really left to do is some decorative trim work on the outside and to get it fenced in, and it'll be ready for chickens.

Also planted 2 Mountain Ash trees, 1 Crab Apple, and one apple tree.

Now April and I are breaking off work to head down to the city to meet some friends for hot dogs.

Picked up a decent sized mosquito zapper for $5 today at the local flea market... got it hung up and plugged in... we'll see how it did when we get back. The mosquitoes here are getting increasingly bad and a semi-permanent solution would be a neat trick.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What Are We Composting?

This just in, from The Onion.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I need more tires!

Gonna have to start swinging through the ever generous used tire shop on the way home again... the potatoes are growing fast and I'm actually running out of tires to stack in tower form (an idea that would have seemed entirely humorous some time ago).

On the upside, I may well end up with a crap-ton of potatoes at the end of the year!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Potatoes going crazy...

Turns out, potatoes grow really fast once they start. My potato tires are now racing.

Whomever wins, it'll be delicious!

In unrelated news, got the chicken coop almost finished. It's an Ondura roofing panel and some insulation away from being chook-ready!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Garden update: May 29

Bullet points cause I'm tired and gross:

Planted two Toro blueberry bushes, a bunch more tomatoes, and some Mayflower Pole beans. Noticed a few tomato plants and one sweet pepper with the beginnings of fruit on them.

Set up 4 more potato tire-towers. I have lots of them now but still have lots more seed potatoes that I can't stand to waste.

Did some pruning on the big maple out front to let some more light on the garden beds.

Did some hardscaping along a path between two garden beds.

Weeded a lot.

Watered a lot. The high temps and breezes are sucking the water out of everything.

April and I grilled out for dinner, first time this year. We also ate the first all-homegrown salad... it was delicious, but I think I'd eat my old shoes if they had that fancy 25y0 balsamic vinegar on them.

Solar System groundwork and sizing...

After several hours on the phone yesterday with the very knowledgeable John F. Robbins, I am now doing my homework and trying to figure out the numerical specifics of my electricity usage so I can accurately scale the solar PV system I intend to purchase and install this summer.

To keep costs down I intend to purchase the solar system as a kit, wholesale, and do the installation myself (with help and consultation from John as needed). I have also decided to set up my system as entirely off-grid, entirely disconnected from the power grid and the existing wiring in my house. This will prevent having to deal with a lot of troublesome interfacing between these systems, government regulation regarding grid-tied systems, and after I install some new wiring and outlets in the house, will offer me great flexibility on the choice of where my electricity comes from on a case-by-case basis.

To this end, I've purchased a Kill-A-Watt EZ (albeit at a local Home Depot for only $25) and am quickly becoming addicted to measuring the electricity usage of damn near everything in my house. Already made some interesting discoveries (my tiny television uses as much juice while turned off as my phone charger does while actually in use).

Got a big 3-day gardening weekend up ahead. April is in town escaping the Indianapolis 500, and brought with her a Hori Hori, which should easily dispatch dandelions as it is in fact the sharpest damn knife I've ever seen. Even pressing your finger ever-so-gently against the blade risks a cut. Look out, weeds!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Garden update: May 27, 2010...

Planted 8 hills worth of squash this morning, and had to throw some more hay on several of my potato tires. Once they start, they go hard... I may well get to add a second tire to some of them by weekend's end.

It's also worth mentioning that my sweet potato slips, which were all but written off as frosted to death, and which spent a good deal of time impersonating dried-out sticks stuck in the ground, are beginning to throw out leaves with new vigor. Never underestimate a close relative of morning glory's!

The mosquitoes out in the field are still bad even in the mornings. I'm investing in a crate of Off!.

The World After Abundance...

Another excellent post by John Michael Greer deserves your full attention.

What all this implies, in a single phrase, is that the age of abundance is over. The period from 1945 to 2005 when almost unimaginable amounts of cheap petroleum sloshed through the economies of the world’s industrial nations, and transformed life in those nations almost beyond recognition, still shapes most of our thinking and nearly all of our expectations. Not one significant policy maker or mass media pundit in the industrial world has begun to talk about the impact of the end of the age of abundance; it’s an open question if any of them have grasped how fundamental the changes will be as the new age of post-abundance economics begins to clamp down.

Most ordinary people in the industrial world, for their part, are sleepwalking through one of history’s major transitions. The issues that concern them are still defined entirely by the calculus of abundance. Most Americans these days, for example, worry about managing a comfortable retirement, paying for increasingly expensive medical care, providing their children with a college education and whatever amenities they consider important. It has not yet entered their darkest dreams that they need to worry about access to such basic necessities as food, clothing and shelter, the fate of local economies and communities shredded by decades of malign neglect, and the rise of serious threats to the survival of constitutional government and the rule of law.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The potatoes and the mosquitoes have arrived.

My vast array of potato-tire-tower starts are finally throwing up little potato leaves through the hay. I've got a LOT of tires going, so I'm hoping for a bumper crop of spuds this year when all is said and done.

The LaRatte fingerlings are in an obvious lead, with Purple Viking also showing some leaf. Peanut fingerlings, Kennebec, Russet, Nicola, and Irish Cobbler are nowhere to be seen, as of yet.

During my watering jaunt at sundown, the mosquitoes came on with such force that I eventually dropped the hose to escape back inside. My ankles and temples got it the worst (they always go for the thinnest fleshed areas on me... must be my iron hide). This is making me think of making a bunch of those aforementioned bat boxes so as to recruit an army of hungry winged mosquito assassins for the property. Either that or I need to start brewing citronella candles in 55-gallon drums...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

massive sunday, massive sunburn...

Got my long hair cut short by the awesome barber here in Richwood. He's a very nice gentleman, has a dog that can read (!!!) and is hopefully going to put me in touch with a man who can sell me some chickens. So I'm doing my Clark Kent impersonation again.

Downside is, after a 14+ hour day working hard outdoors on Sunday, I am not only sore as hell but also feeling a strong sunburn on my neck and the backs of my ears.

Planted a bunch of trees today (2 Little Star Hawthorn, 1 Mountain Ash, 1 Methely Plum, 1 Queen Cox apple, and a Hunza Apricot. Many more tomatoes got installed in the ground and in hanging pots, and I transplanted out some Wonderberry, Sunberry, and about 100 square feet of various hot peppers.

Also seeded some Chinese Red Yard-long beans, Christmas Pole Lima beans, and some other type of pole beans whose name I can't remember because I'm so darn tired.

The only problem with keeping a blog about what I'm doing is that I'm often too tired to blog by the time I'm done doing it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fat Snake returns, DIY topsy turvy tomatoes...

A progress shot of the garden bed off to the side of my porch (click on the pic to visit it's Flickr page with rollover notes).

If the state fair had a competitive category for Leggiest Tomatoes, I'd be coming home with an armload of blue ribbons this year. Having planted most of my tomatoes in February at the advice of a family friend, I soon found myself with huge plants that I was struggling to keep alive with grow lights until I could actually plant them out.

In fact, while moving the tomatoes outside, I discovered that many of them had actually shot up into and around the bulbs themselves, to the extent that I had to remove the bulbs to get the plants out. Note to self: Never start tomatoes in February, no matter what anybody tells you.

Now that such a time has actually arrived, the task of actually getting them planted is proving challenging as well. For the leafy AND sturdy ones, I've been planting them laid-down in a trench with compost piled on top in the hopes that the excess stem will all go to root and give them Extra Moisture Powers.

When one stem half-broke during installation, I took a chance and tried fixing it with duct tape. Seems silly, but I've seen them come back from worse with less care.

I've been DIY'ing topsy-turvy-type contraptions out of salvaged hanging baskets, and so far they appear to be working quite splendidly.

April helped me engineer and install a 1 3/8" piece of EMT between the two columns of my porch, so I now have about 100" of room to hang plants from. We also ran a screw into the support beams along the side of the long barn, giving me room for another 30 or so hanging plants.

Below are some random growth-progress shots.

Blanco peas in flower.

My sweet corn sprouted!

Broccoli is getting big.

Bush bean sprout.

It is also worth mentioning that I had several more encounters with Fat Snake before the day was over. I saw him in a garden bed while watering, and then later on in the back of my garage. I had to try and scare him out by making lots of noise (banging on stuff and yelling "Rooooar, I eat snakes!" in a loud voice), and then finally gently dragging him out with a pole. He looked moderately inconvenienced, but not really upset. I guess snakes get food comas too?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fat snake!

Was giving a quick tour of recent garden improvements to my dad upon his arrival when we found a small garter snake in the lettuce beds, glowing from it's recent mouse-y meal. He licked the air a bit but was largely too food-coma'd to slither away.

Little then did I know, we'd be seeing each other again real soon...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A call to garden...

John Michael Greer (whose blog is consistently excellent and on my short-list of must reads each week) has posted a "call to garden" of sorts, positing the once common but now lost concept of backyard gardening as a valuable tool to insulate families and individuals from economic shocks.

As this is a central concept to the life I'm trying so hard to build, I thought it was well worth a link.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

First veggie picked!

Weekend update in progress, but in the meantime, here's a video of a very exciting moment today...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Managing Alternative Pollinators... free PDF

With honeybees (sadly) seemingly in decline, it will be ever-important going forward for us to be able to manage other kinds of pollinating insects to keep the food supply on-line.

An informational book on this very topic has just been released, and you can download it here for free.

Happy pollinating!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Galaxy Peach tree...

Managed to get home in time to plant a Galaxy Peach tree from Park Seed Co. before it started raining buckets. It's a smaller tree, so I put it near the house.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Wheel Horse is my real horse...

My folks showed up to help out around the farm this Sunday, which was great because it means I got to see my mom on Mother's Day. My dad brought my new (to me) tractor with him, a 1975 Wheel Horse B-80 that I purchased down in Cincinnati. She's been lovingly maintained by an older gentleman who loves Wheel Horse tractors more than almost anything, and she got her trial by fire here on Sunday as we mowed almost the entire property, including some parts that would have been more appropriately approached with a machete or flamethrower. Oh, if my crops grew like my weeds...

I was fortunate enough to find another B-80 down in Cincinnati for the paltry sum of $25. While it doesn't run at the moment, it did come with a snow blade, and I figure if I can't get it running I can just use it as a parts machine. Hell, for $25, I can set it out in the yard as decoration.

Flashy Trout's Back romaine.

Amish Deer Tongue lettuce.

Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach.

Tall Telephone peas, finding the fence.

Recent rains and diligent watering have got my greens beds looking like somebody pressed the fast-forward button. The black mustard (seen directly above) has coalesced into one big square patch, and the other lettuce beds will hopefully fill out as some later seedings come into play.

Took some time to plant some Fernleaf Dill and Spearmint in the kind of lousy soil right behind the house, and some Basil and other herbs in largish containers by the driveway. Also seeded some more small lettuce beds to get some variety in the coming Summer's salads.

While I'm probably already behind on this, I've started planting out some beans. Seen here are Blue Lake Bush 274, Contender, Broad Windsor (Fava), Hutterite Soup, and Jacob's Cattle beans being soaked before planting. Bush beans fill up garden beds fast, and I'm already wishing I'd sheet mulched more of the grass last fall. Maybe I'll get a head start and do some more this summer so they have a better chance of breaking down by next season's planting time.

Jacob's Cattle beans. So pretty!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New equipment!

The sky has been threatening rain something fierce for the past 24 hours, and yet so far, not a drop, despite the wind. I keep not watering, assuming it will surely rain soon. So far, no dice.

The roto-tiller is being returned to it's true owner for a while, so I took an opportunity this morning to till up the remaining garden beds around the house that I sheet mulched in the fall. I now wish I had done more, as I'll probably run out of space. I suppose if I get super-desperate I can start digging up sod by hand, but man... what a chore.

I'm getting two new pieces of equipment tomorrow... a 1975 Wheel Horse tractor and a small trailer that looks like a cow. Pictures when they arrive. :-)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wrap-up: first weekend of May...

Had to postpone the much-anticipated farmwarming party this weekend due to promises of constant thunderstorms. Having done so, what rain we got was decidedly light and spotty (of course), but it was enough to keep the garden beds and trees wet, at least.

Had kind of a lazy weekend, but still managed to plant: 1 red currant (Jonker Von Tets), 1 apple tree (Braestar), 1 cherry tree (Emperor Francis), and 2 european pear trees (Bosc and Bartlett), 4 rows of sweet potato slips totalling just less than 100 plants (Nancy Hall, Covington, Boureguard, and Georgia Jets). Have some more trees on the way, and may well have more after that if Raintree keeps putting hardy fruit trees on clearance.

The lettuce and greens in the front beds are finally starting to look like little baby lettuces (thanks in no small part to some very diligent hand-weeding by April), and I am pleased to report that the black mustard greens taste good indeed.

Also washed the dog, who is now running around the house, sharing her newfound relative moisture with all that she comes into contact with... mostly me, April, and the couch.

Also proud to report that my newly authentic farmer's tan is strongly in effect, despite it being only the earliest of May. :-)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Peas and blossoms...

A quick update while I'm still in the process of getting all of last week's progress down...

The Blanco and Tall Telephone peas are coming up gangbusters... the Paso peas... not so much. Not sure if they got planted too deeply (some are coming up, but sporadically) or there's a timing issue with planting or germination. They're looking better than they were a few days ago, so there's hope.

The lettuce is sprouting up nicely (albeit unevenly) in their beds out front, with the black mustard taking the strong lead in both germination and vigor. The onion sets and garlic cloves I planted also appear to be doing well.

The Calabrese Sprouting Broccoli seedlings April helped me transplant into the field from flats yesterday morning (about 65 plants worth) appears to have weathered their first night, frosty morning, and day without much incident. Gave them another good soaking today and hope they take off growing soon.

Heidi is loosing and losing teeth like nobody's business now. As of this weekend she's missing a lower canine and has the dog equivalent of a little kid's gap-toothed smile.

Most excitedly, many of the formerly bare-root trees/vines/shrubs/bushes I planted this past week are all starting to bud out. I'd be lying if I said all of them got watered exactly as much and as often as they should have, so It'll be a real boon if I don't lose any.

I don't think they'll quite catch up and join the amazing crowd of colorful flowering trees that are slowly dominating the Ohio landscape here, but they'll still be a sight whenever it happens.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Rain barrel success!

I am working on the full week's update. It's a doozy!

In the meantime, I'm very pleased to report that we just experienced a short thunderstorm (our first true spring rain), and the several rain barrels I've so far managed to install using what I'll refer to as the "Funnel & Tube" system appears to be working like gangbusters!

I'm still getting a fair amount of water dripping off the other points of the roof besides where I have the funnel. So now I'm trying to cook up some method of installing a mini-gutter of sorts to run that water to the funnel as well...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Vacation weekend #1 progress report...

Oh wow, sore. I am ever so very sore. But with the soreness comes a feeling of great accomplishment, and that's a good feeling indeed.

Yesterday we made some serious progress on the chicken coop, getting the base and middle sections connected together, partially painted, and the whole shebang screwed to the east facing wall of the white barn.

Today we planted (deep breath...): 10 Korean Nut Pine, 5 Highbush Cranberries, 5 grape vines, 3 apple trees, 3 elderberries, a black cherry tree, a peach/nectarine tree, a 4-variety asian pear tree, an almond tree, and a mulberry tree. Whew!

We also prototyped and installed the first real rain-barrel using our specially engineered (er, rigged) method of collecting water from the low points in my odd, round, circus-tent-like roof using commonly available gutter and downspout accessories. It works like a charm, and makes the house look even more like something from outer space.

My first shower in three sweaty days has made me feel much more like a human being, and now I'm just waiting for the Advil to kick in.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Raintree order arrives...

Big order from Raintree arrived yesterday in the mail in a big box. This weekend is going to see a lot of planting going on....

Monday, April 5, 2010

Garlic Mustard Pesto!

After finishing up the day's work, I hit the woods to harvest some garlic mustard with which to make pesto.

The results were quite delicious indeed. Very excited that the foraging season has officially begun!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April begins!

My first work weekend in April found me looking at a full weekend to work on the homestead with a reasonable expectation of nice weather throughout.

Took my leather gloves and shears to work with me on Friday and scoured the forest edges around my place of employment, snipping off the apical ends of a fair assortment of the wild, highly thorned Blackberry canes that run rampant there. I've been reading about propagating them, and had hoped to get some cuttings from these canes to root into new plants that I could then cultivate on the farm. I picked about 5lbs of blackberries from various plants there last summer, and they were quite delicious.

Getting home after work, I snipped them up and planted them in some old nursery cells, upside down as I read to in my best propagation book. Ended up with quite a bit of the cuttings left over, which I might try direct-planting in a location somewhere on the farm to see how they fare. I already have some healthy stands of blackberries along the wooded edge by the creek, so if I can get these going, it'll be interesting to compare them.

After a bummer of an evening on Friday night (my truck got broken into while I was helping a good friend celebrate her birthday in Columbus), I got up early-ish on Saturday and got to work. Managed to get two of the bigger garden beds across the front of the house tilled and raked even (after a week of no rain, the soil was the perfect consistency for this). I opted to leave it at that. Until I can get this space planted, it seems like a bad idea to tear up the rest of the beds.

Had help planting some more peas in the big garden bed, despite the gale-force winds that sprung up (no joke, I had to jump up and run to chase a 60-gallon barrel rolling across my yard, such was the force of the wind). I had hoped to plant some lettuce, herbs and carrots, but in wind like that, it would have been silly to even try.

So I went shopping instead, and picked up some T-posts, wire, and a post-basher-in-er. Used those to install a New York Muscat grape and the beginnings of what will be a support system for it as it grows.

The weather report suggests good weather tomorrow, so hopefully I can make up for lost ground and get some actual seeds in the ground. Feel like I'm really falling behind planting my early crops at this point...

Sunday, March 28, 2010


In my exhaustion while posting last night, I forgot a fun detail.

While taking a few minutes break to walk the perimeter of the property yesterday, we found what appears to be several strongly established bramble patches (hopefully wild blackberries or raspberries), copious amounts of Garlic Mustard (invasive yes, but also delicious) a honeylocust tree, and several decent sized black walnut trees along the forest line by the creek.

And here in edible gardening world, we count such things as amenities.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Premature trees and the roto-tiller blues...

After an arduously long week at work, I was more than ready for nice weather and a work weekend at the farm. But Both Oikos Tree Crops and the Arbor Day Foundation chose to ignore my pleas for specific shipping dates (that would strategically fall during my upcoming staycation) and decided to ship my orders (including 100 Honeylocust seedlings) two weeks early. So the weekend that was supposed to be singly devoted to breaking ground and getting the early veggie varieties in is being partially usurped by needing to get about 120 baby trees in the ground.

My dad managed to borrow a friend's 17" wide, 5HP, rear-tine Craftsman roto-tiller for the better part of the next month. After gassing and oiling it up, we got it running and tilled a fair bit of what has historically been the garden bed, despite the damn thing getting gummed up underneath and constantly shearing off the bolt that holds the right wheel on (we went through 5 today).

After a week of rain and snow, it was likely too wet to be tilling, but I was starting to really feel the need to get some seeds (peas, lettuce, carrots, spinach, radishes) in the ground so they can get going while the weather's still cool.

It should be noted: after a few years, once I get the soil amended with plenty of compost and organic material, my plan is to do as little tilling as possible. But with our extremely high clay content, and having never been worked before, trying to start off with a no-till philosophy would most likely be a losing proposition.

After tilling, I actually got my high-wheel cultivator out to make furrows for the peas, which worked surprisingly well. I planted a few long rows of Paso peas. Had hoped to get more planted, but the sun was dropping low in the sky by the time we finished and we still had quite a few trees to plant.

We planted 30 some Honeylocust seedlings along the roadside perimeter of my switchgrass field. As each seedling only sticks up some 6-8" above ground level, I opted to put half a venetian blind slat by each one so I could keep track of where we planted them.

We planted a small pecan grove on the northeast side of the property between some existing trees (that will be getting the chainsaw treatment the second they begin to interfere with my edible tree pursuits), some Hazelnuts by the driveway, and two Buartnut trees by the older combine shed. Trying to imagine the size of trees that will one day be full-grown is a somewhat daunting task, and I'm still not sure I ended up putting everything in it's ideal location in terms of soil structure and drainage.

So now I am very sore, and very tired, and very much looking forward to bed. Heidi is trying hard to get over some kind of stomach bug (otherwise known as a severe case of the mud-butt), and so I can't give her any food for the better part of two days. Suffice to say, she is not happy with me at all, and it's frustrating that I can't somehow explain to her that I'm not just starving her for my own amusement.

Oh, and Richwood does in fact have a grocery store. We finally found it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Holy bat box, batman!

Just found plans online that will let me build bat boxes out of the giant pile of cheap lumber I've been accumulating.

So excited. Hello mosquito-munchin' bats. Hello free guano. Now I just need to find a sign that says "SHHHHHH! BATS SLEEPIN'"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Broccoli sprouts!

After reading about the conditions that best make broccoli sprout, I densely seeded a flat and put it on a table in the garage. Sure enough, just a few days later, I've got sprouts aplenty.

Reading Seed to Seed, I learn that I can realistically only plant one variety of Broccoli/Cauliflower/Chinese Cabbage/Etc. if I want to save seed. Looks like I'll be buying my cauliflower to pickle from the farmer's market this year...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tubex Tree Shelters

Found a great price on Tubex Tree Shelters from Oikos Tree Crops (where I also ordered some trees a while back), so I ordered a case of the 5' model. Hopefully this will help protect my more expensive fruit and nut trees when they get put in.

Coordinating with my dad to get some more barrels up here to get the rain barrel project finished, up and functional this weekend.

I'm trying to find a local store to buy some more seed potatoes, specifically fingerlings. Vegetables are all well and good when it comes to flavor, but you gotta get the bulk of your calories from somewhere...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Potatoes ordered!

Placed an order with Ronniger Potato Farm for the remainder of my seed potatoes, and an order with George's Potato Plants for 4 different varieties of sweet potato slips.

With a few possible exceptions, this should just about get me set with seed materials for everything I plan to grow this year.

Now, the hard part. :-)

Monday, March 8, 2010

tires and peppers and tired...

Finally located a convenient and plentiful source for free used tires. I'll be hauling them home 12 at a time in the back of my truck every day after work until I'm 110% sure I have all that I'll ever need. This will likely give my mom an aenursym the next time she visits, but I'll win her back with promises of bushels of delicious potatoes (I might also have to promise to set up Potato Tower Land behind a barn).

Got a bunch more seedling tomato starts repotted tonight. I'm beginning to realize that I have planted and am growing far, far too many tomato plants. Like a giant litter of edible puppies, I need to start finding homes for some of them ASAP, so their future size and presence doesn't preclude me from starting other veggies.

To that end, I got a bunch of varieties of sweet and hot peppers seeded tonight as well.

And with that, I am pooped. Hitting the sack.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Slow weekend...

Had some company in from out of town, so it was a sort of slow work weekend here at the farm. I did manage to take a few hours tonight to repot most of the more vigorous tomato starts into larger cups. Some of them managed to escape my watchful eye and got semi-wilted... I hope that I got them rehydrated in time to prevent serious damage. It's becoming difficult to keep all these different plants the proper degree of moist...

Picked up another some 15 free tires this weekend with which to build potato towers, and got a good deal on about six varieties of seed potatoes, to the tune of a few pounds each. I'll likely be placing my order for sweet potato plants tomorrow morning.

As I type this, Heidi is thoroughly zonked out on the floor by the couch. Her paws are jerking and she's making little muffled barking sounds, so I guess she's dreaming about something awesome, like attacking my feet (her most favorite past-time.) Bad wolf!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rain barrel construction begins...

As my little seedlings become larger, proper plants, it's becoming obvious that I need more grow-lit room in which to house them until planting time. So the first part of this weekend was spent expanding my "Guest Room Greenhouse" setup to accommodate many more plants. I added two freestanding racks and my dad built some shelves to span the distance between them. Installed about 6 fluorescent fixtures and still have some more to go, but I'm back to having more lit space than plants (for now...). If all these plants get to produce (big "if" there), I'm gonna have a bunch.

As both a boon to my soon-to-be garden beds and an aid to keeping my basement and foundation dry once spring rains arrive, I'm working to put together a somewhat extensive rainwater collection system around the house. This system, along with a re-grading of the land around the house and repair of the existing drainage system, should help keep water going only where I want it.

I'm sourcing the used 60-gallon barrels from a local winery. The 5-gallon buckets are (obviously) from Tractor Supply Company, and the spigot hardware is all from the local big box hardware store. It took some foresight and searching to come up with the right combination of parts to cobble together a watertight spigot that would marry to a standard garden hose, but I think we did it.

The last picture is the barrel with some standing water in it, not leaking a drop. Hopefully that continues as it becomes more full. We made four barrels, meaning we've got 12 more to make. Then I'm probably going to go back and add overflow capability to each one, so that any extra water beyond what fills the barrel can be automatically diverted into a proper drainage area or to garden beds.

Some warmer temps have finally arrived and brought with them the melting of some of the seemingly ubiquitous snow drifts... is spring finally on the way?