Friday, October 29, 2010

Backyard remodel on the Cheap

Our Backyard mini farm in the city has needed a face lift for a longtime. Due to work, vacation, and watching the cooking channel we really didn't have time to address the issue. Butttttt as the law of averages will have it anytime im home for any extended period of time, the wife is gonna have a list of honey do items for me to engage myself in. Lord KNOWSS that I shouldn't be just sitting around the house without doing anything. My wife is a communist!! But anyway, we have been researching products to lay down in the back to offer proper drainage and to keep the dust down from the dogs running in and out. Our first choice was rubber mulch or rubber bark as some call it. You may have seen this stuff inside play grounds or at military bases where servicemen do their workouts. My area total is 2100 sqf which includes the house, garden, hawk house and cottage. So I wouldn't need coverage for 2100 sqf but I wanted to see what the cost would be to fill that area with 1 inch of material. The rubber bark came out to $200-$400 to fill the area butttttttttttt it was going to cost me $1200-$1600 to haul it from South Carolina. (Thats alot of Pizzas) So that was out of the question. We wanted the Rubber Bark because it was recycled tires that they have found use for and many people are using them for ground cover and landscape as a part of a "Greener Environment." Our second option was River Rock, fortunately enough for us we live approx 10 minutes away from a landscaping rock company called Durty Wurks that was able to fullfill our needs for a great price of $490.00 that included tax and delivery. From the time of purchase they were there the next morning with two truck Loads of the river rock. When I saw all that rock I just did a deep sigh. But hey the only way to get er done is to get er done and so I did. Wheel barrel after wheel barrel, a few beer later and 10 pounds lighter; I got er done. And just in time for our first down pour. It was a success; prior to laying the rock we would walk out into a huge messy swamp, after the rock we walked outside and there was no standing water. It was amazing!! Great invest!! I added some landscaping timber to put a little more texture to the back yard and created little outside rooms or areas and now our back yard took on a whole new look. The cherry on top was adding the bird feeder. All in all for my area to include bird feeder and landscaping timber cost me $572.00 and a few pounds:)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chickens need a break too!!

This year I experienced an unexpected phenomenon with my Chickens; their feathers fell out and and they stopped laying eggs. This went on for a approx 2-3 months. I didn't know what was going on. It was apparent they were going through the molt. Egg production stopped a few weeks before the molt, I suspect they were getting ready. So what was actually going on inside Ezelle and Esther? After doing some research I found out that although chickens molt every year which is the process of replacing damaged feathers, they go through a complete molt approx every two years. This would explain the almost baldness of my girls running around. While the complete molt is taking place there body uses all the protein it can get into growing feathers instead of producing eggs. I was concerned because I thought the gals were done with egg production forever and that raised a huge issue me because im an extreme carnivore. But even though the thought of preparing the gals for dinner crossed my mine, I couldn't do it because they are my gals; so I am a big Sap after all. Esther and Ezelle for chickens as all chickens do are amazing creatures, able to produce eggs everyday, that is alot of work for their bodies. During the molt their systems repair themselves, getting ready for another two years of production. So one day when I came home I saw two freshly layed eggs in the nest. That brought a smile to my face, but there is one thing that is evident and that is Ezelle and Esther are family now and even if they stop producing which they will one day, they will never end up on a dinner plate. Damn, I can't believe I said that:)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Start Planning Next Years Veggie Garden Now!!

In many parts of the country the weather is cold, the leaves are starting to fall and the length of day light we have is beginning to change. Fall is upon us and shortly thereafter winter will sneak up on us. This is is the time that many of us Urban Gardeners and Gardeners in general start looking for items that we can use for next year. Another mans trash could have not looked so much better. Many homes are clearing there homes before the full onset of winter pulls in and this is the perfect time to locate garden tools, shelves, and planter boxes. You may have to think outside of the box a bit, but pretty much anything with some aesthetic attributes can be used in the garden. Giving some thought to what your garden will look like is the toughest job. But with some careful planning anyone can come up with a good solid plan.
The alarm bells have also been ringing; the USDA has announced that next year food produce will jump from 1.8% to 2.5% all the way up to 3.5%. If you spend $300.00 a month on groceries; at a 3% increase that's an extra $108 a year you will pay for food. You can take that $108 and purchase seeds at $3 a packet (on the high end) and purchase roughly 36 packets of seeds more than you ever will need. Some places that I purchase my seeds from and have produced some great products are:

If your thinking about starting a garden this year and you don't have space for a garden try your hand at container gardening. Infact even if you do have space and you don't want to take on the responsibility of a full fledge garden I recommend you start with container gardening. Container gardening is so efficient and everyone can do it, unless your in jail locked up away in solitaire or something. But the point is anyway can start a garden. Give your kids a project to see who can grow the biggest, juiciest, sweetest tomatoes in a container. Let them do the research on how to prepare soil, what does it mean to fertilize and what types of tomatoes to grow. Of course you have to reward the winner with something but at least you can the creative juices to flow and when your kids are on their off time they will (willingly research how to grow veggies in a container) You never know what seeds you may plant with that one.

Compost-If your on the fence about starting a garden next year it is very important that you think about your composting needs. Plants need nutrients to produce good quality fruit and veggies. Starting your compost now will put you in a great position to feed those hungry jokers next year. With fall upon us, the leaves from several trees can be gathered up and started with compost. There are a few trees that are not good for compost like black walnut. You will need to identify the trees in your area to see if the leaves can be used for compost. For the most part most trees especially oak trees can be used for compost.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Vacation is over

I have been away for quite some time. I call it a vacation but the truth is I have been extremely busy. Only recently I have finally gotten to take some time off from a very busy year. My ultra-marathon came and went and I was only able to complete 30 miles out of the 50 I trained for due to a ruptured I.T Band. Boy was that run Hell!! I'll do it again next year. I really need to slap myself for even uttering such words. But it goes without saying , That this venture thought me alot about myself and how I deal with pain. In short im a huge vagina but anyway I muscled through to the very last stretch when my knees gave up on me.
My wife's parents visited from Japan for the first time. It was such a pleasure to see them. They were awesome!!! and we had a wonderful time at the beach house. My mother in law was so adamant about eating sashimi from the freshly caught fish. I fillet the fish and she and my wife prepared an amazing dinner that included every piece of the fish. Simply amazing!! I was too shocked with amazement to even take a photo, shame on me:( Nevertheless, this experience has left me longing my time on the ocean and walks on the beach; I have hit the shores of both Jersey and Destin Florida fishing for monster fish. My experince has been awesome and the time with my boys and family have been amazing.

This past summer has been extremely brutal on the garden. The heat was so intense that our garden just suffered. Forget about planting any leafy green vegetables, it was not going to work. My wife planted the tomatoes pretty late this season and learned really quick that in Zone 8 you have to get those tomatoes started early. Tomatoes love heat but not when it saps everything out of them. Amazingly the tomato plants that survived the heat wave are doing very well now. maybe she will listen to me next time. In fact I know she will. It's something about tomatoes that are grown in the garden; the redness that they omit onto painted back drops of green and hints of yellow from flowering plants just brings a smile to my face. I happened to visit PA this past week and my fathers garden was awesome. With all my endeavors I am trying to be as successful a gardener as he is. Those old timers know what it takes to grow everything and do so with so much flare that Martha Stewart would be proud. I was also impressed with his neighborhood; just about every home had a family garden. One thing that I noticed was how green everything was. Down here in the south we are plagued by drought on most days and intense heat. If your not careful, everything green that has a pulse will end up scorched. So all in all these are the pros and cons to living in an environment like mine that has two growing seasons. Up north just has one growing season but it is intense and can prove to produce a bountiful harvest. The lessons learned in the short week has propelled me to give more consideration to my southern garden and maximize on this cool weather that is settling in. More to follow.........................