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August Surprises

August 19, 2011 2 comments
Volunteer Pumpkin

Volunteer Pumpkin

The garden is so very big that I often don’t get to see whats growing in the different area everyday, and sometimes I may miss a portion for weeks at a time. I was having a pretty bad week for a number of reasons, but after spending some quality time checking out what I had been missing in the garden, I’m back to my normal calm self. I’ve found a single pumpkin growing in a abandoned compost pile beside the garden. It’s not the biggest, nor smallest pumpkin, but it was planted with no effort of my own, and I’m sure the kids will have fun with it.

Cabbage

Cabbage

I haven’t been paying much attention to the cabbage plants that I put in long ago, but while taking a look at the garlic I planted, I noticed that three of these plants look very promising, and I may just get some sauerkraut from them.

Large Cabbage Head

Large Cabbage Head

One of the first things I planted this spring was a row of directly seeded cabbage. It was supposed to be a mix of different cabbage plants that would grow and form heads at different rates. Unfortunately, only one of those seeds would grow into a plant, and there it is, the first plant of 2011.

Pak Choi & Joker

Pak Choi & Joker

Some time ago, my favorite cat “Boots” quit arriving for his nightly meal. Since he was a wild cat, and a male, I’m hoping he simply decided to “rough-it” and live off the land in the woods. Since he has been gone for about a month, I’m contemplating keeping this black and white kitten that has been following me around in the garden. His name is joker, and he really likes chicken and cheese.

Above, Joker navigates the space between a Swiss chard plant, and my now 4 inch tall Pak Choi plants. He didn’t stray further then a foot from my feet the whole time I was taking pictures.

In total, I think I’m doing pretty good for the season, with unexpected cabbage, broccoli, and even some potential Pak Choi soon to be on the menu.

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On the Brink – Saving a Cherry Bush from Drying Up

August 12, 2011 Leave a comment
Cherry Bush Not Doing Well

Cherry Bush Not Doing Well

About three weeks ago, I noticed that one of my cherry bushes was not doing well at all. The temperature at that time was well above 90 degrees for a few days straight, and there wasn’t much rain. The leaves on my plant had begun to drupe, and the cherries it tried to produce were very small and unhealthy looking.
Since I had trans-planted this bush from my sisters garden in the fall of last year, I figured the roots might not have been covered enough to protect them from the heat. I decided to take a four layered approach to fix this problem, starting with a fresh layer of soil.
Start with a Layer of Pot Ash

Start with a Layer of Pot Ash

 After the soil layer, I added a layer of “Pot-Ash” or what’s left when burning wood. I had a good deal of this ash in the pit where I make bio-char. I mixed the ash with water, and sprayed a bit of Miracle Grow into the mix. The nutrients in the fertilizer should sink into the ash, and be released slowly as the plant grows.
A Layer of Manure

A Layer of Manure

 On top of the ash, I added a layer of composted manure. Again, I put this layer on top so that some of the nutrients would leach into the ash below, and hopefully be stored in the soil longer. The manure was composted for at least a year and a half before being applied.
Straw to Hold in the Moisture

Straw to Hold in the Moisture

 To hold the moisture in the ground, I finished off the layering with some old straw I had sitting around. I layered it thick enough so that the sun could not directly hit the soil below. This should prevent the soil from having it’s moisture sucked out of it.
Once the layers were complete, it’s time for some serious watering. I dumped ten gallons of water around the cherry bushes base, hoping to hit the roots, and the soil directly around them. I followed up with a couple more gallons every few days during hot spells.
"Boots" carrying a snake

"Boots" carrying a snake

 While I was trying to save this excellent growing cherry plant, my cat was also hard at work hunting down snakes in the field. He is a very friendly cat, well to humans anyway…
Crazy Cat.... Who Knows What he is Doing ?

Crazy Cat.... Who Knows What he is Doing ?

 After he dragged the snake out of the field, he decided to take a break and sit on the snake…. while purring away.
Growth Once Again

Growth Once Again

Three weeks later, my hard work had payed off, and you can see the bush is growing once again. After spending a good deal of time around plants, I’ve discovered a very simple method to see if the plant is healthy. Look at the very top of the plant, or anywhere where you would expect to see new growth. If the plant is a bright or light green, it’s quite healthy. This holds true for many indoor and outdoor plants.

Many Hands Make Quick Work

July 16, 2011 Leave a comment
Working Hard or Hardly Working

Working Hard or Hardly Working

I’m starting to get lots of help pulling weeds, and It’s really helping greatly. In the photo, my niece, her friend and boots are taking one of there many breaks from work.

Spreading Compost

Spreading Compost

While the kids were pulling weeds, I was spreading some compost that’s been sitting around for at least a year. You can see just how dark and rich the soil is.  I’m hoping this solution will get my cucumbers growing a bit.

Nephew and Boots

Nephew and Boots

All of the kids seem to like my outdoor cat Boots, as he is very friendly. To get him comfortable with kids holding him, I used to hold him upside down as a kitten. He got used to it very quickly, and I think it made him immune to being fearfull of heights. Whenever I’m working on my shed, he climbs up to the top and hangs out with me as if it’s no big deal to be standing on a 2 x 4 – 35 feet in the air.

Master Mini- Gardener - Destroyer of Weeds

Master Mini- Gardener - Destroyer of Weeds

My oldest niece took this picture of my youngest nephew, the now five year old boy that grew watermelons last year. This little guy has more character then ten average adults, and he has no problem at all with working in the garden.

Categories: "Boots", People, Weeds

Meanwhile Back at the Farm…

May 2, 2011 1 comment
Not Your Average Floor Boards

Not Your Average Floor Boards

A few years back, we had a very large pine tree cut down, and rather then waste the wood in a fire, we had it milled at a local saw mill. When we got the boards back, I was surprised. Some of these boards are 2 feet wide, 14 feet long and an inch thick. This isn’t your average flooring material, but it fits well into the project. The second story will be used for storage, and will need to be able to hold a great deal of weight. These boards are thick enough to hold lots of weight, and their large size helps hold the whole structure together.

First Boards Down

First Boards Down

By Wednesday night, Davie had installed more 2 x 6s to hold up the floor, and he laid down the first boards for the floor. Since Davie is retired, and likes building things, he’s been working on the shed while I’m busy at work. I really appreciate his help, and It’s accelerated the whole project.

Second Story Floor Done

Second Story Floor Done

The next day when I returned home from work, I found the whole floor nailed down, squared off and ready for the knee walls.

Project on Sunday

Project on Sunday

After a crazy weekend full of unexpected outcomes, and unplanned work, we managed to get the knee walls built and nailed down. We then started placing the roof rafters in the rain, and ran out of 2 x 4s.

The design is not how I originally planned, but this new method will add 4 feet of width to the second story. I’m not sure about the math, but 4 feet wide will allow this area to store a lot more hay.  This new design will also transfer the weight of the roof onto the walls below far more effectively, again adding to the whole building’s structural integrity.

Next up: a roof, some shingles, and an addition off the side to house the chickens.  If you’ve been following along, this whole project was originally intended to hold chickens, but I’ve decided to build much bigger then needed, and use some of the space as a wood shop, pig pen, and hay storage. It’s basically a tiny barn.

Additional Construction

Additional Construction

Just like any barn in the area, the birds have decided to move in, and construct their own nest. I may be nice to these birds and allow them to use the structure for the summer, I guess it all depends on how friendly they are. If there not very nice, I’ve got a solution of my own:

"Boots"

"Boots"

Here’s another creature that has moved into this empty building…. “Boots”, my outside cat. He is a contributing member of the farm, and his job is to keep the mice and snakes in check. He’s a eager hunter, and I sometimes reward him with some human food to supplement his cat food. He really likes Angus burgers with pickles…..

First Strawberry

First Strawberry

I’ve also gotten my first strawberry this weekend. I haven’t even planted these bushes in the ground, and they are already showing me how much they appreciate the effort I’ve put into growing them well. For now they are sitting in the greenhouse, basking in the hot sun. When the sky parts, and the rain gives up it’s iron grip on the weather, I’ll place these berries by the walkway leading to the greenhouse.