April 26, 2015

APRIL SHOWERS BRING FRUSTRATION!

It has been the most unusual weather this spring. I thought winter would never end with a late snow occurring at the end of February with temperatures in the teens.  March wasn't much better with only 10 days without rain, which has continued into April. It has really limited my ability to get anything done and I am very late getting the vegetable garden started this year.



                                                           
Early Spring Flowers













Spring Project

Last fall I started my Espalier Fruit tree project. I installed telephone posts at each end  
and then put in 4x4 posts every 18 feet which would accommodate two trees between posts. Early this spring I ran three strands of high tensile wire at 3, 5, and 7 feet. A friend gave me some gigantic turnbuckles which I used to tightened the wire and which would allow me to tightened over time as needed. 









In February, we went to Petals from the Past in Jemison, Al. to pick up our fruit trees, we purchased 11 different apple trees and two asian pears. We have planted them in the order they produce fruit, earliest to latest. 


First apple blossoms

Three weeks later

Hopefully in about three years we will have all trees producing fruit. They are all on dwarf root stock which will produce fruit earlier than conventional root stock.  I will continue to prune the trees until they reach the uppermost wire at which time I will top them out and prevent any further vertical growth. 

Blooming this week.


Cherokee Rose


Clematis Etiole Violette



Zephirine Drouhin thornless rose


Doublefile  Viburnum "Shasta"



Sum and Substance Hosta with Caramel Heurchea








 
Dappled willow with geraniums and Solomon's seal


Euphorbia "Ascot Rainbow"

This past Friday we attended Antiques in the Garden at Petals from the Past in Jemison and bought these two lovely roses ( Katy Road and Julia Child ) and a few perennials home with us.




Today was a great day in the garden!  I was able to construct my cucumber trellis using cattle panels and t-posts. I planted National Pickling Cucumbers and Armenian yard long cucumbers.  This is how it looks finished.


I may add another section later on for beans and/or tomatoes. I was able to get most of my tomatoes planted today along with the crookneck squash.  The peppers are in and tomorrow I hope to get the zucchini and the Roma tomatoes planted. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate this week and I can get most of the garden planted so that I can get some other projects started as well.

Well, that's it for now. Have a great week!

December 29, 2014

Winding down......


As 2014 comes to an end and again I find my blog woefully delinquent, I sit here and reflect on the many blessings from the past year.

In January we took a cruise with friends to Grand Turk, San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. John's.



February brought snow to Southern Oaks.


March- we said goodbye to Belle, a really sweet and loving dog.


Feb.-April we took beginner's bee classes at the Botanical Gardens and installed our new bee packages in April bringing our total hives to three.


April we took a road trip to the Amish Community in Ethridge, Tenn. to purchase heirloom tomato and pepper plants.


May - Roses and Clematis.

  Year two of the shed garden. Hard to believe it has changed  so much in one year.

June- busy time in the garden. The tomatoes and peppers did exceptionally  well this year and we canned about 65 quarts of tomatoes, 40+ quarts of green beans, lots of okra, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, stuffed bell peppers, jalapeƱos, blueberries, and pears.  In July, we harvested 3.5 gallons of honey from our oldest hive.




July- blooms in the garden.



August- sunflowers and zinnias.





September we finished our bottle wall project after two years of collecting bottles, drilling holes and procrastinating.



In September we also added two new members to our animal menagerie. We rescued Kate and Pippa, miniature smooth dachshunds from the local shelter.

It had been almost two years since we had to put down Duncan our old guy of 19 years and the longest we had been without a dachshund in almost 35 years.  Needless to say, they have become welcome members of our family and just a "little spoiled" as well.

October brought us our greatest and best blessing to date. We welcomed our first grandchild!
October 14th, we welcomed Madeline Amelia Bunt into our lives.


Needless to say, she is the center of our universe. What a blessing! 

November- Fall/winter garden is doing well. Harvested kale, broccoli, turnip and mustard greens, with spinach, savoy cabbage, and brussel spouts coming on. 



December- Best Christmas present ever from Drew and Cat, baby grandson on the way and due in June!  
So excited and can't wait for him to get here!


2014 has been a great year for which we are truly thankful. Looking forward to the coming year and spending lots of time with the grandkids on the farm! Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

September 5, 2014

Finally Finished!

We started this project almost two years ago and at long last finally finished it. I initially got the idea from Pinterest and decided that it was something we could do. After doing some research on the best way to drill holes in wine bottles via Youtube, we embarked on our quest to build "The Great Bottle Wall".  The first order of business was to collect wine bottles for the project. Being good Presbyterians, we reached out to our fellow brothers and sisters for their contributions, needless to say, our cofers were soon overflowing. We had estimated that we would require somewhere between 150-200 bottles for the project.  I think we ended up with about twice that number.  While we do have friends that consume their fair share of wine, having a son who sells wine for a living didn't hurt either.
I ordered some 12 mm 1/2 inch diamond tipped metal drill bits for ceramic glass that I found on Amazon at a very reasonable price.   Next, we filled a 5 gallon bucket about 3/4 full with sand and pushed the wine bottle neck first into the sand to hold the bottle snug while drilling the hole. We had found that if you mix up a little soapy water and put it on the bottom of the bottle, it reduced the friction and prevented glass particles from getting into your eyes.  Just the same, we wore protective  eye glasses while drilling. It takes approximately 5 minutes to drill a hole in the bottle of a wine glass, sometimes longer if the bottle has a particularly thick bottom or nipple. You have to apply even pressure and avoid angling the drill bit to prevent breakage. Once the learning curve was mastered, we began the process of removing labels,  cleaning and sorting the different wine bottles by size and color.  Since we had so many other projects going on with renovations inside and out on the house, landscaping, putting in a new garden, the chicken tractors,  the bee hives, etc., left precious little time to devote to such a low priority project, therefore, we did what we could, when we could.  Recently, after almost two years we decided that it was time to finally close the chapter on this project.

We decided to install the wall between some Maple trees on the north side of the house adjacent to the side yard garden I installed last year.  I installed a partial section of the wall in Feb. 2013 to make sure the plan was feasible before proceeding further.


By doing so, it gave us an idea of the approximate number of bottles per row based on size of the bottles used and spacing of the rebar that would traverse through the bottles, and bracing to hold the wall in place. It remained this way until we started the final project about two weeks ago.  We decided to move the wall to the trees adjacent to the garden fence to add continuity to the landscaping and other structures. In doing so, we found that we could complete the project with the bottles we had already drilled and stored.  First we told down the temporary structure and removed the bottles from the rebar and relocated the overhead support to the new location. Next, we dug out and leveled the ground and installed a treated 4x4 timber at the base of the proposed structure. We drilled holes to correspond to the holes on the upper support structure.  Next, holes were drilled into both ends of the 4x4 and two foot sections of rebar hammered into the ground to hold the bottom support in place and  prevent movement. 


Next we installed one section at a time with no particular pattern in mind,  just varying color and size 
as we progressed.  We decided to leave the excess rebar at the top in case we ever needed to replace broken bottles or insert new colors, or unusual bottles at a later date. 

The finished project!


Stained glass effect 



Although it took a long time, we are very pleased with the end result.  Now,  what do we do with the rest of these wine bottles?