Sunday, April 16, 2017

Stand-Uppity Garden #3 - Cedar

As requested by several folks, this is a picture How-to-do-it for my latest Seriously Raised Garden.
These materials - the Cedar Raised Bed kit came from amazon - as did the Wholly Cow poop bag of fertilizer. All other materials were acquired locally.
The kit came with 21 4 ft cedar slats, dove tailed at the ends to fit in the corner posts, already grooved, as you can see. Rather than build this as a 4'x8' raised bed on the ground - since I have serious trouble getting DOWN that far to plant, weed, or harvest, I build my garden areas up on concrete blocks. This is workable for me and it also seems to help with weed control. However, it requires daily watering. And I find a 4'x4' size more manageable, so that gave me the left over parts, like slats, for the bottom.
 There are salt-treated 4x4s on the concrete blocks - the cedar frame fits on top, the extra pieces of siding are nailed to the 4x4s leaving a drainage space. Do NOT use treated wood next to your soil - the chemicals can leach into the dirt and be absorbed by your plants.
To keep the soil in the garden and not let it wash out, we put a cover of "rat-wire" over the cedar and a double cover of heavy garden cloth (that roll of black stuff) over that, stapled to the sides.

 

The 'garden' is filled with a mixture of garden/potting soil, peat moss, perlite, more garden/potting soil, and about a quart or so of dehydrated cow poop. Stir well, level it, and add seeds or plants! In this case, however, since it is the Ides of April and the soil is not warm enough, we may have a few more cold nights, I covered it with a garden cover (that gauzy stuff)  to keep it clean until I have a chance to get my heirloom seeds and plants next week, and the maple trees stop sending their whirligigs down on everything.
  
 
Those are extra grooved boards on the edges holding the cover in place - freebees from the local building supply scrap pile. The actual garden soil goes all the way up to the top, almost 12 inches. It will settle and will get topped off again later.
It will be interesting to see how long the cedar lasts. The first Stand-Uppity garden rotted out rather fast and the wooden legs were not very stable. The second one is still standing - but it is a garden bag with a 4+ foot diameter on plywood on a pallet (another freebee from the building supply folks) but set on concrete blocks. It will soon have its 6th crop of yellow wax beans on one side, and Italian flats on the other. I have learned not to grow so much that it gets wasted. You can give just so much away, and southerners are not generally fond of yellow wax beans. So I feed my Yankee neighbors that surplus. I gave most of my pole beans away last year, preferring the yellow wax and Italians.
The theory is your food is better for you if it is grown near-by. This new garden is 10 feet from my kitchen!
Also, this way I know exactly WHAT poisons are put on my food - or in my case, zero poisons. No pesticides, no herbicides, and the gardens are small enough pest control is easy.
Next, after planting is done, I need to attach some 1x1s to the corners and some nylon fencing to keep the deer from munching. The loose nylon keeps the coonie-bears from climbing into the garden, too.
Have fun! It is easy to build - just a few hours once you have all your materials together. The only tool I used was a hammer to tack down the rat-wire and slats and a heavy-duty gun stapler for the garden cover. That's it. Even an idiot can do it. I am proof!!!!!




Sunday, February 19, 2017

TRYING AGAIN - FEB IN THE GARDEN

I HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING WITH BLOGGER - and so far, blogger has won. So, I will try again especially since so many of you have complained that I "don't blog anymore." Well, I do - but then I get messages that say I cannot publish because of some unnamed error. SIGH.


So, last week, I did a long post of the garden... my escape from the chaos of trump... and an escape from my health problems... but nada. Error messages each time. So, I will try again. Last time I wrote:
Yep, it was warm out sitting in the sun. I sat with my shirt open to expose as much skin to the free vitamin D as possible. I believe in the healing power of sunlight – and, as some of you know, I have been a bit under the weather. “Strep throat,” the Dr said.


“Should have bought stock in Kleenex,” my broker said.


My voice was so deep even the cat cocked his head when I spoke to him. “Who is that?” he said.
Its pretty bad when your cat cocks his head at your voice.  But, that was last week... I am better this week, have one more day on amoxicillin, and am grateful I bought a Super Pack of Kleenex at Sam's last month. My sinus's are still, um, active (?) I guess you could say. But, the sun is shining and it is already 60 before 9 AM. I will spend as much of the day outside as possible soaking up the free vitamin D as possible - and getting a start on the springtime chores. But first I will share what is blooming in the garden, starting with the new daffodils I planted last year in the Meditation garden. I am excited to see how many came up - I planted a few hundred here, around a hundred at the Town Garden, and gave another hundred or so to the Baptist Church for their new garden area. It is right next to the road so the whole world (!) can enjoy the daffies as they drive by. More my gift to the traveling public than the church, actually.

And some camellias.
Aunt Alice
I found a NEW one! next to the propane tank. I have no parent plant like it.
The heavy snow bent this18 foot tall camellia over. Maybe it will straighten itself up???

OK, I need to see if this publishes... and head on outside and not waste the 60+ temps today.
Enjoy!





Sunday, January 08, 2017

SUNDAY'S SNOW REPORT

FIRST A NOTE to those of you from - AWAY. We can go years with NO snow - or maybe just a little inch or two every once in a while - but this was a BIGGIE for us. Even just a few inches of snow can basically cripple the Shore and close schools for days as the buses just can't get down into the "necks" as they call our back roads and farms down in the marshes and woods. We can't use chemicals like other places because we are only about 5 miles across, the Chesapeake on one side, the Atlantic Ocean on the other, and miles of marsh, gullies, and guts draining into one or the other. The land is flat, so that drainage is a problem for the roads, consequently they are what we call turtle backed, high in the center often with deep drainage ditches running along side. And no guard rails, BTW. So it is difficult to plow the roads once you get off the main highway (13) that basically runs up the spine of the 80 mile long peninsula to Maryland. Some roads never see a plow. When you add wind to the snow, the open miles of farmland can quickly drift the snow back over the road. VDOT long ago stopped putting up snow fences (after 5 years in a row with no snow) and have had serious drifting problems ever since. But they save $$ not putting the fence up for only 2 or 3 snows a year. If you have a problem with that, move. Seriously. That is what one of our complaining "Come Here's" was told. Actually it was more specific............
Anyway, here are today's pix for my friends and family who are not here to enjoy this latest News making snow event. I will start with my CoCoRaHS precip cylinder, minus the inner tube which would crack in these temps (currently 23!!!!! It is supposed to be 63 by Friday) This cylinder is 4 feet off the ground to help you measure the snow drift there. The sign advertises it is a butterfly garden.
Hoover (the newest cat) actually caught a butterfly near this sign in Dec.... the 18th, actually when it was 70 degrees. But I digress. The yardstick is a few feet away in the zucchini garden, actually, minus the zucchini, of course. Please note the number nearest the snow is 17. Yep. 17. OMG!




Hoover likes to spend her days in the sun on one of the Adirondacks. This is her favorite. She struggled to find a potty spot, finally working her way over to the huge Aucuba where she could dig a spot in the leaf litter underneath. This is her first snow and she is confused!
 


The wind has been a real pain... the Buddha out front under the Yule Tide camellia was completely buried last night. This is what is left of the snow this morning... and Buddha sans snow the other day.

My old cat, Spook, spends much of his time across the street (away from Hoover who wants to play) and kind of got stuck there with deep drifts. I shoveled out my driveway to the street to help on this side, but that didn't help over there! At 73, I can't shovel snow like I used to... and the day of neighborhood kids coming by to shovel snow are long gone. They don't have an app for that. 

The snow is beautiful on the camellias. Snow won't hurt them but this cold temp will.
 
 
 
I picked these Friday and brought them in the house. I love having fresh home grown flowers on the table year round. Now I can't even get to this bush!
Stay warm! Stay safe! Keep off the ice  roads!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

A FOOT OF SNOW! YIKES!

IT DOESN'T HAPPEN VERY OFTEN, but when it does, we are up that well known creek... no paddle, but we do have snow shovels! It is still snowing as I write this... I just came in from feeding Spook and Hoover and sweeping and shoveling ON THE CARPORT! It is 23 degrees but wind chill makes it feel like 9, wind sustained is at 14, gusts up to 30.


I had someone ask me about that big sheet of heavy plastic next to the cat boxes... I said it was to keep the snow out of the boxes and I got laughed at. "But they are up on the carport!" he said. Yeah, they are... but the wind blows the snow around, even up on the car port. My van is covered on all 4 sides with snow even tho it is on the carport which is attached to the house. OK, it does not have a foot of snow like Anna's van, but it is covered nonetheless.


Anyway, here is the reworked plastic snow guard doing its thing. As you can see, some snow still made it up on top of the greenhouses - but NOT in the boxes. BTW, the temp in the boxes averages 55 degrees but is toastier directly on the pad.


This is the new water dish - keeps the water at 45 degrees. It is smaller than the old one which held a quart and a half, but it is easier to drain and clean. Spook is getting a drink.
 
2 other warm boxes are on the left of Spook... often there is a possum in the bottom one. A visiting cat sometimes sleeps in the box above it... plastic covering the opening but snow actually got in it this time! (Another reason why I built a new box for Hoover.) The bottom box has a vent that opens to the furnace room, upstairs has a heating pad like in the boxes.

And this is how I keep the greenhouses warm when we have these unbelievable cold temps! (currently 57 and 58 degrees) It will come off to let the sunlight in as soon as it warms up a bit... Tuesday?
   I LOVE foam board insulation! I wish I had discovered it sooner! The cats love it, too - and so, apparently, does the possum snuggled down in the possum box out in the back yard.


The foam is taped to a piece of plywood (with red duct tape) because the critters use it as a highway from the ground to the cat boxes - and food, of course. The old windows (with Plexiglas) keep a snow free path for critters heading out. All this is covered in snow now.


Here is the back yard taken at about 9 inches of snow. My new wheelbarrow (a Christmas present) has a good pile of snow on it as does the Adirondack the cats and I enjoy in the winter when the sun is shining. Gotta keep that Vitamin D up so I don't have to take any more pills! The old Adirondack is in the top picture, just about in the center buried under a load of snow!



I hope you are enjoying your snow - if you got any. Most of all, stay warm and stay SAFE!

Sunday, January 01, 2017

HOOVER'S UPSTAIRS APARTMENT (minus the stairs!)

For the New Year (2017,) having a new kitty (Hoover), who is not exactly welcomed by Uncle Spook, I felt it would work better if she had a more comfortable place to eat, perhaps to sleep, or just hangout when it is cold, where she can see out, keep watch, listen to the back door open (FOOD???), and basically be warm and safe, and Spook can have his old familiar space back to himself. The old medium sized cat mat decided to quit heating, so I bought a replacement and took the smaller one I had been using until the larger one arrived, for the new, slightly smaller box. Hoover CAN get in it unaided, but is still needing to be put in there to eat as she goes over to her old heated but dark box to eat. She is a fast learner, so, a couple more meals in the Upstairs Apartment and she will be all set.
I feel sorry for her, in a way... she so wants Spook to play with her, but at 13, all he does is hiss and smack at her. She smacks back and he turns and leaves. Spook has never been a fighter. Punkin always fought his battles for him. I had hoped Hoover might sort of take Punky's place in his life - or at least provide some companionship. They often curled up together and sometimes walked leaning into each other. I often wondered where Punkin found Spook as he was a kitten when the 2 of them showed up in my yard during Hurricane Isabel. One would have assumed Punk was his mother, but that would have been rare - Punkin was, after all, an orange cat.
Punk has been gone several years now and Spook has been a solitary cat ever since, but still roams his territory here and across the street where he now stays mostly as Hoover will not go near the road - be grateful for some things, right? Spook is VERY cautious. Punky taught him well.


Anyway, here is the new box with Hoover on top, Spook chowing down by himself 'downstairs.' The electrical connections have all that wire around them so critters don't bite into them and get electrocuted or start a fire. The wiring is actually quite elaborate as I have remote controls on their beds as well as the greenhouses under them. Their water dish is controlled by a thermo-cube that turns on at 35 degrees and off at 45. Their water does not ever freeze. I feed them in the boxes when it is real cold - the heated pads keep the food from freezing.




A friend came over the other day and was quite surprised at how warm it was in the boxes in spite of them being only a thin piece of plastic.
The doors are covered with Ziploc freezer bags and a clear contractors grade plastic flap.
The bungee cords keep the boxes from blowing away. The blue stuff is insulation foam. The white mat covers come with the mats.
If you are interested, here is the info on the larger pad that I bought for Spook and Punkin and just replaced. The old one lasted 5 years and had a lot of critters warm up on it.

Product Details

It is also the perfect size for a couple loving possums looking for a meal and a place to toast their toes. In fact we could fit quite a few possums in here!


Just sayin'..........
Ya know, I think they are wishing you a Happy New Year!