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Archive for April, 2011

Before and After Cherry Blossoms

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment
Cherry Buds Before Opening Up

Cherry Buds Before Opening Up

The other day I just happened to look over at my two sweet cherry bushes, and noticed that they’ve got quite colorful, so I decided to snap a few pictures.  The very next day, I looked at the plants once again and found that all of the buds had opened, revealing really cool white flowers.

After Opening Up

After Opening Up

The photos were both taken at about 11:00 AM, on April 23 and 24 respectively.

These two bushes were a gift from my sister in the fall of last year, and I haven’t yet gotten to try these cherries, so I’m pretty eager to see them grow.

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Moving and Sheeting

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment
Placing Skids

Placing Skids

My mother stopped by the other day to see how the greenhouse was fairing, and when she took a look at my chicken coop project she explained all the reasons why I would have to move it. The chief reason was it’s location under a power line, which didn’t bother me much, but might be a problem if the power company needs to do work on the line. I finally agreed the the shed would need to be moved, and I began picking  my Brother-In-Law’s brain about how to move it. His idea was simple, cut down two trees, place the trees under the supports, attach the building to the trees and then drag the shed through the mud like a sled. The whole process was pretty amazing to watch, as we jacked the building down off it’s blocks and dragged it across the yard with a truck. Once we had the building far enough away from the line, we jacked it back up, placed it back on blocks, and started construction again.

View from the Top, Left Side

View from the Top, Left Side

I didn’t really want to move this shed in the beginning, but once I climbed up onto the rafters that will hold the second story floor, I knew this was were the shed was meant to be. Above you can see the hay baler still sitting in my front yard, with my row of pruned fruit trees flanking it. The main road is about 1/4 mile as the crow flies from where I was standing.

View from the Top, Center

View from the Top, Center

In front of the shed I hope to make a tomato only garden, with only 40-50 plants maximum. This will allow me to invest the proper amount of time caring for the plants, and watching out for the first sign of blight.

Preparing for Sheeting

Preparing for Sheeting

On Saturday, we set out to purchase some exterior sheeting. I was actually looking for a material I’ve always known as “Texture-211”. Instead we found a very similar covering material that was $10 a sheet cheaper and it was already painted with a base coat. I’ll take cheaper, easier and better any day !

Nailing the Sheeting in Place

Nailing the Sheeting in Place

The sheeting went up quick enough, and we finished it up just before dark. The next step in the process will be to cut out and hang the windows, then place some more 2 x 6 floor rafters, and continue pushing skyward.

Asparagus Roots

Asparagus Roots

After all of the construction on Saturday, I decided to take it easy on Sunday. While catching a break between rain drops, I planted some Asparagus roots along my back walkway. They are said to produce good yields for 15 to 20 years, so hopefully this one little task will pay off year after year.

Cups with Seedlings

Cups with Seedlings

Finally, I’ve began taking photos from a tri-pod that I’ve set up in the greenhouse. Here’s the first photo of many that I’d like to string together into a little animation. If I take one photo a day, it should make a very cool short clip showing the plants growth at an accelerated pace.

Endless Cups

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment
Endless Cups

Endless Cups

The weather is warm enough now to trust in the safety the Greenhouse provides. I have an electric heater attached to an auto-magic temperature sensor to provide the first layer of defense, with a manual start propane heater to use in case of extreme cold.

"Number Five"

"Number Five"

The propane heater is a dual burner gas heater that looks a great deal like the robot named “Number 5” from the 80’s movie Short Circuit. This amazing piece of technology will heat the greenhouse up by 10 degrees F in about 10 minutes on the low setting. I was worried about the temperature dipping to 33F last night  as the weather predicted, so I turned Number Five to the low setting, and lit a single burner. When I checked on the Green House this morning, the temp was at 60 F !

Half of the Water Tables Covered.

Half of the Water Tables Covered.

The shelves are fulling in about as quickly as last year, but I’m really taking it easy with the tomato seedlings. I’ve only started about 150 plants, and most of those are paste tomatoes. I figure this year I’ll be able to take better care of a few plants. I’m planting far more Peppers, and I’m expanding my line up a bit with Eggplants, Artichokes, Celery, Brussels Sprouts and even Cauliflower (Gasp !). I even found the time to plant five flavors of lettuce, and four herbs, including Chives, Basil, Parsley and Sage.

Pepper Seedlings

Pepper Seedlings

So here’s where I’m at in my growing season, with tiny seedlings reaching towards the sun. In a few short weeks, these plants will transform the greenhouse into a small tropical jungle, with many plants growing to 16 inches tall.

From the Ground Up

April 11, 2011 1 comment
Floor Complete

Floor Complete

What a flash. The weekend started like any other with plans for hard work, and real progress. The base of what I’m now referring to as my multipurpose building was completed just in time to start constructing the walls. In the background Davie sharpens the chain saw, while I was measuring out the length of the studs. Davie is a carpenter by trade, and I was a bit surprised by the amount of questions he had for me. This interrogation of sorts forced me to “nail down” my plans for where the windows and doors would be placed, something I didn’t quite have figured out.

Two Walls Up

Two Walls Up

Once the studs are cut to lenght, the whole wall can be nailed together fairly quickly. The first wall requires supports to hold it in place while the second wall is framed and raised. The supports are the angled boards which run from the floor to the wall, and they should be attached once the wall is level.

The side walls will each have two windows, and the short walls will each have a door. This will allow the buildings maximum potential, whether it’s a chicken coop, hay storage, or workshop.  Each door will be about 4 feet wide, wide enough to bring in a wheel barrel, move out custom built furniture, or even bring in an engine to repair. I’m trying to build a building for a purpose I have yet to conceive, yet still fulfill the immediate need of a chicken coop.

First Story Frame Complete

First Story Frame Complete

When the walls were complete, I cut and placed the second story sub floor, comprised of 2 x 6 boards. I cut them 14 foot long to provide a foot overhang. This will protect the walls of the building from rain. You would be amazed how fast a wall would degrade when it lacks that important roof cover.

Looking Down

Looking Down

Here is a view from the second story looking down. Next up: Covering the floor, and building a “knee wall” as part of the roof framing. I hope to finish up the framing by this weekend. If I can get the whole building covered this weekend, and the roof completed the weekend after it, I may just be able to meet my ambitious goal of finishing up by the end of the month.

Elderberry Growth

Elderberry Growth

An elderberry bush half way between my home and the construction site reminded me that summer is quickly approaching.  After snapping this photo, I took a few minutes to plant a row of cabbage seed. I figure the little seedlings will start on their own when the time is right.

Just a reminder to all, I am not a carpenter, and my building advice should take a back seat to that of common building practices. I recommend all readers hire a contractor and have them do the work.

Chicken Coop Plans

April 8, 2011 5 comments
Chicken Coop Plan

Chicken Coop Plan

I finally found the time to plot out my chicken coop design. I’d like to have a second story for storage, but I might not have that much room available. When I originally decided on the placement of the coop, I accidentally choose a location underneath a power line. I’ve measured the height of the cable, and I have at least 16 feet of clearance below the cable, but I’m still a bit concerned. I may need to revise my plan for safety’s sake.

The lower floor will be constructed with standard 2 x 4 construction, with 2 x 6 rafters as the base of the second story floor. I’ll then build the roof in a Cambrel style, with 5 feet 6 inches of clearance. This will allow me to walk nearly upright, without placing the roof too close to the power line above.

To really maximize space, I’m considering a “spiral-ish” staircase that will only use up a 4 x 4 foot area. A ladder would be unsafe for my nieces, and a full blown staircase would use far too much space to be useful.

As for seedlings, I’m still planting tomatoes, mostly San Marzano and Amish Paste.

Seedlings

April 5, 2011 Leave a comment
Artichoke Seedling

Artichoke Seedling

 

Celery

Celery

 

De Cicco - Broccolli

De Cicco - Broccolli

Chicken Coop Update

April 4, 2011 Leave a comment
Snow Covered Work Area

Snow Covered Work Area

Since the last photo of the chicken coop, I’ve started nailing down 2 x 3’s for a sub floor. Above you can see the first four rows, along with a nice covering of snow. The beams below the 2 x 3’s still needed to be cut off in this photo.

If you look closely, you might spot my cat “boots”…

First Floor Boards

First Floor Boards

The sub-floor is now complete, and I’ve moved on to nailing down rough cut boards for the floor. Since this building is far enough away from the house for power tools to be a real hassle, I’ve been using a chain saw to cut boards. I’ve found it’s not an exact science, and you need at least a 1/4 inch room for error when cutting wood this way. It’s working well enough for now, although I think I’ll purchase a long extension cord for future use.

I’ve also been careful to place the boards about 1/8 of an inch apart to allow a bit of air up through the floor for ventilation. I’m hoping to finish up the floor in the evenings after work, and maybe this weekend I can start framing out the walls. I’d like to have the entire project complete by the end of the month, in time for incubating some colorful eggs.