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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

It’s garden season here in the burb.  Not that you’d know it by looking at our garden.  Every day, I say, “Must work in the garden tonight”.  Every night, I find another chore to do.  Yikes.  I need to go back and watch “Multiplicity” again and see how Michael Keaton did it, because I need more of me.  Well, at my girth, not more of ME, but more copies of a leaner me. Well, you know what I mean.

Our sun room is loaded with tomatoes and peppers that need to go out, but they must wait a couple more weeks, in the unlikely event of one more frost.  I have bags and bags of seeds begging to be unleashed into the earth.  Unfortunately, the garden beds and containers are unprepared for their arrival.  In other words, I’m BEHIND.  Oh, that the Keebler elves would do me a kindness by sneaking in and take care of that for me one night.  Perhaps they could even leave behind some of those little cookies with the yummy fudge stripes on one side; that would be nice. Sorry, got side tracked.

One of the things I’m excited about this year is our compost.  People who actually know what they’re doing, say that one sure sign of good compost and earth is the presence of worms.  If that is the case, then we are in luck this year.

First, as previously recorded here, after our worm bed box was flooded last year, B tossed the soggy contents into a compost pile we have in the garden.  Somehow, a few of the little wigglers lived.  The survivors tackled the rabbit manure with vigor and have turned it into something spectacular.  And, Boy Howdy, have they reproduced.  It is so much fun just to go out to the compost pile and turn over a fork full of it and watch the worms dance.  Am I a cheap date, or what?  I can’t wait to get some tomatoes into that compost.

Hold on, there’s more.

Out at the farm, we have a compost heap made up mostly, of mule waste, with a little side dressing of donkey and cow manure.  It has been steadily growing, and shrinking, for months.  On Saturday, I stuck a manure fork into it and turned it over to see how the compost was doing. Oh my gosh, it was like all my compost Christmases came at once.  First, the stuff is black and rich and smells like earth instead of, well, instead of what it smelled like when it was first produced.

What really painted my wagon though, was the number and size of compost worms.  They were everywhere and they were huge!  These are not night crawlers, these are compost worms.  They found our heap and said, “Oh, baby, we’re home.”  That pile of, well, you know, is to worms what Cracker Barrel is to a fat man. They have buffeted themselves into obesity.  The compost is ready.  And I have snacks for the chickens, too, not to mention a tasty trap for some unwitting bluegill in Lake Acworth a little later this spring.

Yep, we have the best compost ever.  It should translate into the best garden ever. Well it should if I ever manage to get my buttocks into the garden and get it ready, that is.  And I’m on it.  I really am.  Just as soon as I finish looking for those fudge cookies.

 

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I almost ran out of time.  That happens when one has more irons than fire.  Fortunately, the patience of a good wife and the power of a cheap headlamp, I am pretty much back on schedule with the fall garden.

I have planted some corn, which may or may not develop.  It is a short season variety, but still a gamble.  If it works out, awesome.  If not, it was a couple dollars of seeds.  People gamble more than that every day in the Georgia Lottery and my odds of hitting are bigger.

I have some green beans planted and some squash and zucchini.  The risk with the squash is whether or not we’ll have enough late season pollinators.

A couple nights ago,  I planted some cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower seeds in pots.  We haven’t had much luck in the past growing them out from seed, but hope springs eternal.  Besides, the garden centers won’t have transplants before the end of September anyway, so I have time to play with seeds.

Tonight, I’ll plant a few more beans and squash and prep the beds for next week’s plantings; carrots, turnips, beets and collards.

The days are growing shorter, but the burb keeps growing stronger.

 

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Had a big to do list today.  Got most of it done, too.  Got the chores done early so we could get moving.  First, we had to get 25 bales of hay from the feed store.  I’m hoping this is the last hay of the season.  The spring pastures are looking good.  They are starting to green up.  If we keep the current rain/sun ratio they should be ready for grazing by the last week of March.

After unloading the hay into the shed, it was off to Home Depot and Lowes to get some building and gardening supplies.  We needed some 2 x 12 x 12 boards to make some more raised beds.  We also bought some seeds and a few cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts to transplant. Oh, we also bought the materials to build a special chicken tractor for our laying hens.  It will be much smaller than the current tractor, because its designed to be used in a free range model, which we’re moving to in March.

Next up was a trip to the landscape store to buy 1.5 cubic yards of Organic Planting Soil (compost).  That’s 3 scoops from the front loader or 800 to 1000 lbs.  It weighs down my long bet pick up truck, that’s for sure.

After we got home, we built a 4 x 12 garden bed.  Brittan did the construction, I provided the muscle when needed.  I also spent a good amount of time picking up dog piles from the yard.  4 dogs can leave quite a mine field.

As soon as the bed was built, I backed up the truck and shoveled the Planting Soil into the bed, while Brittan raked it smooth.  Tomorrow we will add some lime and some rabbit manure.

By the time we got the bed finished, it was time to go grocery shopping then settle down for the evening.  Pretty much every muscle in my body hurts right now.  I can put in as good a day’s work as ever.  But at my age, the odds of doing that back to back are pretty remote.  I’m as good once as I ever was.  After that, I need 4 days of recovery.

Tomorrow we will transplant some veggies and I will process some rabbits.  On Monday we have to get the brooder box ready because we have 150 baby chicks arriving this week.  Farming and gardening season has begun.   I hope you’re ready.

 

 

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…but certainly one of the most useful.  I’m talking about Mother Nature’s own miracle grow.  Yes, you guessed it….rabbit manure.  The stuff is magic.  It is natural, organic, great for fruit, vegetables, flowers and even pastures.  It can be applied composted or uncomposted.  We used it partially composted.  Oh, when partially composted, it also makes great food for worms, if you are into vermicompost.

We are offering it @ $2 for a 10 lb bag as an introductory price.  It is available for purchase on the store page, or email us and pay for it when you come to pick it up.  Limit 50 lbs per customer for initial purchase.

 

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Another weekend is behind us.  Looking in the rear view mirror, I can say that is was productive and exhausting, with a dash of fun and surprise tossed in for good measure.

The big project for the weekend was fencing.  We are putting in some new pastures in order to get the animals on some good grass before winter.  After discussing it with our landlord, we outlined a plan and started work.  We’re using 4″ x 4″ wire ‘goat fence’ with T posts for the straight runs and log posts for the corners.

I knew all along that driving the T posts into the ground would require some effort, but I seriously under estimated the resistance of the hard baked Georgia clay.  It was like hammering into bricks.  My arms, shoulders and stomach muscles are totally shot; broken down into hamburger.  It will be Wednesday before I am recovered enough to install any more.  Fortunately, I shouldn’t need to do any more of those before the weekend.  We need to put in the corners, but I’m renting an auger for that.  I have no intention of digging a half dozen three foot post holes in this clay with just my shovel and post hole diggers.  There are limits to my stupidity.

Hopefully, by the end if the long Holiday weekend, we’ll have everyone on fresh pasture and can begin the rotational grazing again.  What a relief that will be.

Over the weekend, we had a guest tour our garden here in the burb.  A young mother from a few miles down the road stopped by, with her two wee sons to have a look at what we do, with an eye to starting her own edible suburb next year.  It is always a delight to share possibilities with others.  We had a wonderful time showing them around and talking veggies.

As we strolled through what’s left of the summer garden, we showed here the sweet potato patch and I decided to dig one up to show her how they grow.  I was totally surprised when I stuck my trowel in the soil and pulled out a sweet potato nearly as long as my forearm.  Seriously it was almost a foot long, 3 to four inches around and weighed close to two pounds.  We were stunned.  I reached for another tuber and got the same result.  We sent a bag full of the monster taters home with our guests as a gift.  Some things just have to be shared.

Last night, when we returned home from the farm, B and I dug up a half a dozen or 10 plants and came away with about 40 lbs of sweet potatoes.  Each garden fork full of soil unveiled a new wonder.  If these sweet potatoes are half as good as they look, we are in for a real treat.  We will have plenty to store in the basement and we’ll freeze a few to see how that works.

It’s 6:00 a.m. Monday now and time to do the rabbit chores. My body aches and begs for a nap.  My mind is racing with projects that need doing.  My soul is satisfied in a weekend well spent.  God is good.  My wife rocks.  The work is hard.  The results are worth it.

Rabbits, here I com.

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I get up way too early in the morning.   I do it because I have so many irons in the fire that I could not get everything done without rising early.  I’m not proud of it.  I’m not ashamed of it.  It is what it is.

This morning is a rare leisurely one.  I got the rabbit chores done, checked out a few of my favorite news sites, then sat in my recliner with a cup of coffee and started daydreaming about what I would do if I was forced into a survivalist mode here in the burb.  Some people dream about winning the lottery, my miswired mind runs toward self sufficiency.  I blame talk radio.

So, what would I do (and…what would Brittan let me do…..) if I was suddenly thrown into a situation where I had to fend for myself?  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

  1. Since we grow so many fruits and vegetables already, I’d be pretty good there.  But I would need to save more seeds.  Right now, it’s easy to buy them off the internet, but B got me a good book last Christmas about seed saving, and I could easily make that move.
  2. I would grow more beans.  They are prolific, nutritious and provide most of their own fertilizer by pulling nitrogen from the air and trapping it in the soil.  They are also a good food source for the animals we would keep.
  3. I would pay more attention to my berries.  Raspberries and blackberries are easily grown and spread.  They are an excellent food source for humans and animals.  I should consider more strawberries.
  4. We already have fruit trees.  I think I’m good there.
  5. I would grow more cantaloupes.  If I could figure out how to keep the dogs from eating them, that is.
  6. I would pay more attention to my worm composting.  I would greatly expand that project.
  7. If I could only keep one edible livestock, it would be the rabbits.  They are quiet.  They easily reproduce.  They eat what we grow in our garden and yard.  They provide the best fertilizer in nature.  They are a tasty and healthy food source.
  8. Next, I would sneak in the Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  A buck would be a bit of a challenge, because of odor potential, but we’d work it out.  A buck and two does could provide an ongoing supply of dairy and meat.  I don’t love goat’s milk, but it’s healthy and the goats are small and quiet.  Our Nigerians are much quieter than sheep, chickens or cows.  They would eat the brambles and weeds in the yard and would help with post season garden clean up.  Since they are small, they’d take up little space and would not tear up the yard.
  9. I would try to keep some chickens.  This is the tough one.  I could hide two or three laying hens, but that would only work for two or three years.  Without a rooster, the chicken thing comes to a halt fairly quickly.  Roosters are noisy.
  10. Finally, there is a piece of the puzzle I have yet to acquire, namely the aquaponics tanks.  With a 200 gallon aquaponics tank, I would be able to raise tilapia, all the food for the tilapia and additional vegetables and greens for human and animal consumption.  It would also require a breeding pair of tilapia.  Since I don’t have that, but live near a major lake and raise my own worms, a supply of fish is fairly convenient already.

Many other pieces of a suburban survival plan are already in place.  Brittan already cans copious quantities of produce that we grow.  So those supplies are available.  We have stockpiled things like candles, soap, toilet paper and toothpaste.  We have a pretty good quantity of water purifying tablets and all weather clothing.

With a little tweaking, we are ready for the apocalypse.  I figure that if something really dramatic happens, our HOA would become irrelevant, so I don’t worry too much about them.

This may be the oddest post I’ve ever written.  But, hey, it’s Saturday morning and I don’t watch cartoons.

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Burning Daylight

Would somebody please loan me a week?  I have way too many projects and not nearly enough time.  I’m typing this little note at 5:30 a.m.  in case anyone was wondering if I could be working on one of those projects instead of whining online.

I need to get the fall garden in.  Before that, I need to get the summer weeds out.  All the soil in the earthbox containers needs refreshed and amended.  I need to put up fence out at the farm, acres of it.  It’s time to reseed the pasture.  And let’s not forget the manure than needs spread or the stalls that need cleaned.

Forget the week, I need two.  I would promise to return them, but I don’t think I’d find time to get around to it.

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