Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When should you start planting indoors?

When I started out taking this gardening thing seriously the first thing I came across was trying to figure out what Zone I lived in. I heard all this Zone talk and quickly realized that this Zone word was going to be an integral part of my vocabulary. But even though I started to understand what "zone" meant, I didn't fully understand until last year how I can use the information around each zone for planting. I'm pretty much the type of guy that reads something for the first few seconds and quickly loose steam anything short of brite lights and whistles wont get my full attention. Below is a chart for the last frost date in your area. 
 And pretty much this is easy, simple, stupid for people who are just getting started in gardening.  Locate your zone  and you will notice a starting date and an end date. The first date is the first possible date that your frost will end in your area. The Last date would be the last possible date frost will be in your area. Some seeds have specific guidelines for when to start them in doors; nevertheless, the majority of seeds will fall under the guidelines to start planting indoors 6-7 weeks from the last frost date. Keep in mind these are suggestions. But if you have a sun room or a sunny window sill, this will give you an idea for when you start planting your seeds indoors. There is one thing that separates green thumbs from non-green thumbs and that's timing. Happy gardening!!

•Zone 1: June1 - June 30

•Zone 2: May 1 - May 31

•Zone 3: May 1 - May31

•Zone 4: May 1 - May31

•Zone 5: March 30 - April30

•Zone 6: March 30 - April30

•Zone 7: March 30 - April30

•Zone 8: February 28 - March 30

•Zone 9: January 30 - February 28

•Zone 10: January 1 - January 31

•Zone 11 Frost Free Year Round

Monday, January 24, 2011

Squirrel Control

When I lived in Pennsylvania I had to protect my garden from groundhogs. It got so bad, that I took off from work so I can sit at home and watch when the groundhogs attacked my garden. And I developed a plan to take them out. That is a bit to censored for this blog, but it was a necessary evil to save my first ever garden. When I moved to Georgia, these first few years have been great. I have never had any issues with large pests. I understand the bugs and other insects that will eat up my garden every year. But I never had to deal with Squirrels until this winter. The squirrels in my area are everywhere. I live around several oak trees and pecan trees and the squirrels hang around the area when the trees are in full bloom. But these squirrels have went above and beyond the norm. Squirrels visit my garden all the time but I noticed one day that my lettuce were devoured and ripped apart. I didn't know what happened until one morning I walked outside and saw several squirrels dart away with lettuce in their mouths. I couldn't believe it. I noticed the squirrels stuck to one green leafed veggie at a time, first the lettuce, then the broccoli, then the kale and so on. So enough was enough. I employed the only method I know that works and that's shooting these guys one by one. It has become apparent to e that the word in the tree house is that the urban self-sufficientist has all the goodies. I have watched squirrels run from down the street in a file on power lines headed toward y home. This is not a house party. But they think so. Until they had a run in with my new Remington Crossman vantage.177. This is a pellet gun with a break barrel that absolutely puts the smack down on squirrels. Even though it's a pellet gun this is not a toy, you can seriously hurt somebody with this pellet gun. At 1200fps Squirrels don't have a chance anywhere near my garden. I currently killing at least one a day and my hawk is loving me for it. Shoot responsibly.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Grow $700 worth of Food In 100sqf

Click here to read the article.

As the year starts I have been giving a lot of thought to how much of an impact I want to make on my garden this year. I started searching around the web to see how I can translate my garden growth into dollars and cents and thier is really nothing that stands out except the post above written in the Mother Earth column. I will start to catalouge how much veggies cost per vegetable in another post so that I can translate that into money. I will have to call up mom and tell her that she was wrong; Because Money does grow on trees:)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winter Fishing, Yes Im out of my mind!!

I had a wonderful time yesterday with my buddy Todd and Scott. Scott works with an organization called Freedom Outdoors Adventures; they provide hunting and fishing expeditions to veterans and really focus their time and energy on wounded veterans. It's a great organization centered around people who really care and put in the work to make dreams happen. So yesterday Todd and myself accompanied Scott on a winter fishing trip. It was cold!!! But we had so much fun!! I have been trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle to target Hybrid Striped Bass. Which by the way are crossed with the White Bass and the Striped bass. As hybrids they don't have the ability to reproduce, but they have all of the tools that make them go through the motions. Currently the Stripers and Hybrids are feeding up getting ready to travel up river to spawn. Stripers need moving water for thier eggs to hatch and thats why year after year stripers leave from Large lake impoundments and the Ocean (Because they live in both) and head up stream to spawn. The Meat is wonderful. but the real treat is the immense size that stripers not hybrids get, which is around 30-50lbs. Hybrids average around 10-12lbs but I am willing to bet that you will never fight a harder fighting fish at that weight class. Pound for Pound they are tougher than any other species of fish with comparable size.

We had a great time out there and Scott is a first class individual. In a month or two the stripers will be headed up river to spawn and I will be there with pole and carolina sinker waiting for them.

Monday, January 17, 2011

8 Cheap and Easy Raised Beds for under $100

I really don't like spending a lot of money on things that seem so easy to make. I am a retard when it comes to building stuff, so when I engage in a project, the scales need to tip my way for success. And I came up with a pretty nifty outfit that cost me under $100 to make eight 3' x 6' raised beds. If you do a search online you will quickly see that most raised beds will cost you $50 to $100 for ONE raised bed. Who has that kind of money? So with a little time and ambition I figured this all out and will like to share it with anyone thinking of giving it go this year.
Materials to make 8 raised beds 3'x 6' each:
(48) six foot privacy fence planks
(32) one foot 2"x2"x 12"
Box of Wood screws
Skill Saw
For the first two years I only used half this order and it worked great, but looking back at it, doubling up on the height of the planks makes a lot of sense from the beginning. The privacy foot planks cost me $1.59 at Lowe's for one piece. I purchased deck material at .99 cent a piece and cut them down to 32 one foot pieces.

3 x planks are needed to make one raised box and 4 x one foot 2"x 2" pieces to support the raised beds structural integrity. Take one of the 3 planks and saw it in half to a three foot section. Take the 2 six foot pieces and attach them to the two three foot sections forming a rectangular box to make one raised bed. Take two raised beds and place them on top of each other or build the second raised bed on top of the first one.

Raised beds are a great way to grow veggies in small places and especially if your soil is not of the best quality. The Raised beds give you the ability to manage your dirt appropriately and build it This particular design can also be used to compost organic matter and direct grow right in the box.

Composting done Right

When it comes to compost there is one thing that you have to put into it that you can't purchase from the garden store and it is called patience. With out it you just wont get the desired effects your looking for. Two years ago I decided to make my own compost and I have a system that works for me. In the pic there are two bins. On the left are all the leaves I have collected from this fall along with grass clippings and veggies from the kitchen. On the right is what it will look like after one year of having worms, microbes and moisture work it. That deep black crumbly chocolate cake look is the desired effect. In a few days when it stops raining I will take all of my black gold "not oil" and lay it in my garden beds ready to prep for this growing season. What a growing season it will be. In theory I should be able to do better than I did last year. We shall see. Lately I have been plagued by squirrels eating my kale and and other greens. The Garden Wars have begun- Such is the life of a Urban Homesteader:(