Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
While some people get ideas from great literature or history, I got mine today from a stick.
Not uncommon for me.
Inside our garden we had originally laid out some soaker hoses. In order to get them to lay straight, we needed stakes to use as hose guides. I had taken my hatchet and cut off some branches from a a hurricane victim, a downed black walnut tree not far from the house.
Well, we had to give up on using the soaker hose because we couldn't afford to buy enough to cover all the rows. (That should give you an idea of how broke-ass we are.) We returned said hoses to Walmart, but left the stakes in place. Yesterday, we noticed that they were actually still growing. Not just one, but they all had little shoots of new growth. Weird, huh?
So today when I got home from work I went outside to water the garden. Of course I was outside for a while, because I found out that one of our ratcheting sprinklers doesn't ratchet any more. Itwas a few years old, so that loss was not too bad.
Anyway, I got my trusty hatchet. I love the hatchet. I just feel so woodsy when I am chopping stuff. I want a really nice one from Lee Valley tools, but they cost a ton. I hacked off a new branch from the walnut tree and trimed the bark off the bottom five or so inches. I filled a coffee container with a mix of regular dirt and potting soil and inserted said branch.
OK, I am well aware that this sounds ridiculous, but who knows, maybe it will actually grow. I know that for it to have any chance, it will need lots of water, maybe some fertilizer and probably a miracle.
Here's a picture of our lettuce from the container garden on the porch. Both of our girls ate it in their salad last night. They were balking at the prospect of a little rabbit food for dinner, but when we gave them the old "Hey, you helped grow this," their mouths were soon full of green stuff. If you're wondering, yes, that is a tub from an old washing machine.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Our garden lies on a slope that heads down toward a small spring-fed branch running along the edge of our property. When I tilled the garden and put in a little fence, I had piled up the soil around the the bottom of the fence on all 4 sides, so we could use the fence to trellis some of the veggies like cukes and gourds. The mounded-up soil on the downhill side of the garden was keeping the water in and creating a small lake. The watermelon sprouts where completely underwater.
Can you see where I'm heading with this?
I had to go out into the rain and the mud, wearing a rain jacket, my boxer shorts and a pair of my wife's slip-on sandals.
The ground was so wet that I was sinking straight into the lawn. I trudged over to the bottom edge of the garden thinking "OK, hardly anyone actually gets hit by lightning." Of course, it's probably the guy who is out in a lightning storm holding a big metal trenching shovel that gets juiced by a couple thousand volts.
I cut three trenches and let the water drain. The center of the garden is lower than the outside so I used the dirt from the trench to make a little burm to keep the water out of the center.
After twenty minutes or so I was soaked but the water was draining and our pond was no more. A few plants had to be sacrificed and the drenching will probably kill some more, but all we can do now is wait. In the morning we will assess the damage.
Here's the score so far, based on a freeze and two floods: Nature, 3. Gardeners, 0. Mama Nature is laughing at us, and I'm thinking there's more of a learning curve to country living than I had previously thought.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Not a little drizzle, certainly not a smattering of rain: This is a full-blown downpour.
We should get between four and six inches of rain today. This, of course, is followed by the usual tornado watch, massive thunder storms, very likely power outage and more of the same tomorrow, but so far, I can still get an internet signal.
If you are used to living in a town or a big city, your internet options are plentiful. You can choose from cable, DSL, or even the dreaded dial-up. But out here, there's nothing. Even the phone lines are so old that with a dial-up, our service is even slower than its normal snail's pace.
When we first moved in, a guy from Sprint came out to fix a few old phone lines right at the house. So I asked if DSL was an option for us. He just laughed and said that, in order for the company to run the line, it has to be going somewhere. We are literally the last house on the line. The power and phone lines stop here. I guess that means so do the improvements.
After going without internet for a while and jonesing like a true internet junkie missing out on all the free samples of cat food and cheesy YouTube videos, we got HughesNet.
I gotta be honest, they're not happy with me right now because I need to pay my bill, but I can't complain about them. We have gotten a signal in terrible weather even though they tell you it will go out during storms.
Even after Hurricane Rita we received a signal and didn't have to have a service call until the roofers took it off and then put it back on. The wind hadn't hurt it at all.
We pay around sixty-five or seventy dollars a month for their lowest speed, and it is just a tiny bit slower than our cable connection was in Las Vegas.
The only problem is their Fair Access policy, which only allows you to upload and download a certain amount of data in a twenty-four-hour period. If you go over the limit, they jack up your connection for twenty-four hours. To be fair, however, we have only gone over the limit a few times in the five years we have had service with them. For the most part, HughesNet gives quick and reliable service.
If anyone is wondering, I was not paid or asked to write this (which is too bad, because I could use the money to pay my internet bill).
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The plants seem to be very happy.
Of course this also means so do the weeds.
This weekend is supposed to bring three to six inches of rain to Tyler County, but we need to do more weeding desperately. Hopefully Sunday it will be dry enough to get some done.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
We are gonna wait a few days and replant. Some of the tomatoes might come back--their damage, for the most part, left the crowns of the plants intact. Cross your fingers, because I know I'm crossing mine. Next week the kids have spring break, so maybe we will have time then.
This week I need to go to the old barn on the edge of property and see if the PVC pipe that I found in there will be useable for tomato stakes.
I have a love/hate relationship with all the junk out here. The side of me that wants to be neater and tidier hates it, but the cheap guy in me likes to dig out things we can use from these piles of crap. We have used T-posts, tools, pipe, buckets. and other junk from the old garage, as well as adding old bottles and antique fishing lures to our collections.
For years, we had been trying to get rid of junk that had been piling up for years before we moved to the country...and then we moved back here and there was even MORE junk piled around... Lots of people have told me that I should dig a big hole with tractor and pile it in, but that seems like it is not really fixing the problem. When it is gone, I want it to be gone for good. I know I am the kind of lucky guy who'll find out later I have buried it right where it will have to be dug up again. Little by little we've made progress getting rid of all the clutter, but I am starting to realize that there will always be junk. It would be easy if a trash guy came every few days and took your piled-up stuff, but that's just a part of rural life you have to do for yourself.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Anyway, this is how our garden looked last night after a desperate attempt to cover all of the stuff coming up. We didn't have any plastic sheeting (and we're broke) so this was our only hope for salvaging the plants we've either bought or had sprout.
Using buckets and coffee cans (luckily Luci drinks a lot of coffee), we covered up all of the tomatoes and peppers. Those were the most expensive to replace so we got all those covered. The rest we covered with sheets and old jars. I do mean old; most of the jars, I dragged out of the crumbling garage behind the house. Some of these jars are probably fifty years old, so if anyone knows anything about vintage jars, let us know.
Even with the covering, some of the garden looks like it might go down. That means we will be planting again soon. Bah, humbug.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Down here in Tyler county we are supposed to have nice little frost tomorrow night. SO tomorrow after work I will be ot in the garden covering up little plant after little plant so they don't die in the cold. If we had nothing planted I can assure you It would be uncomfortably hot.
Friday, April 3, 2009
So far, we've transplanted tomatoes, 26 total, about 8 different kinds. My wife loves to try different heirloom types, but we're limited in what we can find around here because of our location. Note to self--next year, order seeds early and try to start them in the house around mid-February. Here are the kinds we have so far:
- Health Kick Roma (supposed to be higher in lycopene by 50%)
- Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes
- Golden Jubilee full-sized yellow tomatoes
- Golden Pear tomatoes (the little yellow ones)
- Big Beef beefsteak
- Regular Roma tomatoes
- Red Grape tomatoes
- Early Girl slicing tomatoes
- Best Boy slicing tomatoes
The transplanted peppers are also looking happy in their new home--we have sweet banana, big green bell, and red bell.
Both types of sweet corn came up, but the Chubby Checker appears not to have germinated yet. So we have about 3 half-rows to fill with something else.
Also a dud are the blackeyed peas and the purple-hull peas. Not sure what's the deal with those, but we'll give them another week and then give up and replant those two rows with something else.
Mustard greens have sprouted, as have the radishes, yellow squash, zucchini, okra, pattypan squash, acorn squash, dragon tongue beans, Ford Hook lima beans, and both the pole and bush green beans. We're also seeing a few of the watermelon seeds sprouting, and both types of cukes. And the marigolds and sunflowers that the kids planted are also coming up.
No word yet from the gourds, pumpkins, or cantaloupes. Not sure if they take longer to germinate or not.
We sprinkled some Miracle-Gro on the transplants and on the beans that had at least one set of true leaves, and on the corn. We'll see if that helps. Plans are in the works to do some fertilizing in a week or so, with some time-release fertilizer pellets.
Also, we have MOLES. I don't think I've ever even seen a mole. My mother-in-law says we need to get "peanuts" from the feed store to kill them off. So we'll be doing that fairly quickly too.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
The quick rain clearing into a nice sunny day seems to be a great trend for the garden. Everything is growing well except for one type of corn, but it was seed we bought several years ago so a I am not suprised that it has not come up. My wife has bought some more tomato plants to put in place of the not-corn. We have big plans for the tomatoes. Should be putting up lots and lots of sauce this year.
The weekend will really consist of just Sunday since we have a soccer game for the kids and a parade to go to on Saturday. Here're a few things I hope to get done:
- clear more away from the pear tree to keep the squirrels off
- clean more of the dirt around the peach tree and possibly use some extra to form a little well around it
- strenghten the fence with some extra wire that is out by the old garage.
- plant the okra that I started in the house with the girls
- plant the seeds from the cantaloupe we ate yesterday around the garden
To do in the coming weeks
- plant some garlic
- get mulch for around the blueberry bushes