October 13, 2013

NEW AND IMPROVED WATER FEATURE


NEW PROJECT


Last weekend I finally got to a project I've had planned for quite a while. I've had this water feature in for over a year now and realized that I needed to make it larger so that I would not have to constantly add water to keep it running. I also needed to put a larger pump as the one that came with the fountain pushed just enough water to spill over the top of the urn. I found a round 35 gallon preformed basin at Home Depot for $30 and a pump that would circulate up to 700 gallons per hour at Lowe's.  With shovel and pick in hand, I was ready to get it done!

Original fountain with small basin and low flow pump.


Fountain broken down with new basin ready to install



Now the fun part, digging!



Basin installed, leveled, new pump added and urn placed and leveled and basin filled. Stones placed around the basin and the power cord connected.

The new improved water feature!



The area around the fountain is now ready for planting with fall bulbs (tulips) and flowers (pansies, snapdragons) and maybe some ornamental kales.


THE GARDEN

The fall garden continues to do well. Due to the lack of rain I've had to water a couple of times a week  for 30-45 minutes in the early morning. 


Georgia collards



Broccoli, cabbage, brussels spouts


Sugar snap peas

Earlier this summer I planted three different varieties of fig bushes. To my surprise I found some that were ready to pick today. What a treat!

LSU Purple Fig Bush


FALL BLOOMS


The climbing blackeyed susans continue to take over the landscape.


The yellow butterflies love this plant.


Swamp sunflower with daisy-like bush in foreground.


Close up of above bush.



Swamp sunflower

About two months ago I took some cuttings of  several different hydrangeas and weigela. I started them in course sand after applying a root hormone to the cuttings. The cuttings were placed in a small plastic container with the sand and tented with a white kitchen trash bag after giving the cuttings a good soaking. I had drilled holes in the plastic container to provide drainage. The plastic bag was closed up and placed in a shady spot under some trees and allowed to sit for about 4 weeks. I would occasionally check them to make sure adequate moisture was maintained in the mini greenhouse created by the plastic bag.  After about four weeks I checked to make sure they had rooted by gently tugging on the cuttings. I then removed them from the sand and potted them up in potting soil and hardened them off under the trees. This is how they looked today. This was my first experience with cuttings propagation and I am very pleased with the results. I recently read Ken Druse book "Making More Plants" and I hope to expand and try different propagation techniques next year.  


PARTING SHOT

Dusty my constant companion in the garden.


September 30, 2013

"JUST UNDER THE WIRE"

             
Over the last 3-4 weeks I have been trying to recap the past 15 months and bring this blog up to date.  I have finally gotten caught up through August and then realized that today is the last day of September and I haven't posted what's been going on in the garden this month.

NEW PROJECT:  I've been wanting to develop this area for some time now, but just haven't been able to get started. I finally bit the bullet and got it off the ground.  This is what the area looked like before.





This is how it looks now.  I hope to have the entire project finished by the end of October.

THE BEES

Our main hive continues to thrive. The smaller hive was kind of "iffy" from the start. We examined it and could not find a queen, but just to be sure we decided to transfer them to a "NUC" which is half the size of a regular brood box. It holds 5 frames instead of 10. With a small hive this limits the area the bees have to defend from wax moths and other potential threats.  I examined the hive a couple of weeks after the transfer and all the bees were either dead or gone and wax moths had taken over the empty hive. I took down the nuc and destroyed all the moth infestation and feed the larvae to the chickens. The large hive continues to thrive, so all is not lost.


I planted buckwheat as a cover crop after harvesting the corn. It is a nitrogen fixation crop and bees are supposed to love it. It is quick developing crop and blooms until frost. It can later be turned into the soil as an amendment.  

I've seen a few bees in the buckwheat, but what I did not realize was the sea of goldenrod all around us which the bees absolutely love.



THE CHICKS

This month the young chicks started laying, which meant it was time to separate the buff orpingtons from the barred rocks. Our original coop is divided with laying boxes on both sides so it made sense to move them to this coop and divide the yard between them. The chicks however did not like being separated and proceeded to fly over the fence according to their individual preferences. This prompted us to seek professional help (aka Youtube) and watch a brief tutorial on clipping chicken wings.  In less than 30 minutes the problem was resolved and the chicks returned to their own domicile. I love Youtube!

THE GARDEN

This month we planted our fall garden consisting of broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collards, spinach, beets, kale, lettuce, sugar snap peas, and turnip greens.  Next month we will plant garlic and onions.



SEPTEMBER  BLOOMS


MEXICAN SAGE BUSH (SALVIA LEUCANTHA)

ANGEL'S TRUMPET (BRUGMANSIA)

CELOSIA-Self seeded from last year's plant.

Close-up of celosia (cockscomb variety)


MOONFLOWER (IPOMOEA ALBA) 


Well I'm finally caught up and just made it under the wire.  Tomorrow is a new day and a new month. 
Carpe Diem!

September 21, 2013

REWIND-PART 5 (The missing chapter)

Obviously, I"m not as smart as a 5th grader as I totally skipped over Part 5 and proceeded to Part 6 in my last post. Not wanting to leave any possible readers confused about what happened to Part 5,  I  therefore dedicate this post retrospectively to Part 5.


AUGUST:

PROJECTS:

I have been working on a project for about 15 months now and  I am finally beginning to see the end of the tunnel. It took so long for a number of reasons. 1.) Incredible amount of physical labor in clearing the area, hauling approximately 3 tons of flagstone in my pickup along with several loads of 86/10 gravel for the base and finally cracked pea gravel to finish it off. 2.) Trying to work in other projects that were time sensitive, i.e.  the kitchen garden, the vegetable garden, setting up the bee hives, the chicken tractors and fencing, getting the garden shed installed and the barn built.  3.) I'm getting to damn old to be working this hard!.

Anyway, the project has shaped up nicely with several modifications made that were not in my original plans. 

Before......




After.....







I purchased the vinyl arbor at at local auction for $90 and the fencing on Craigslist for $100.





THE GARDEN:

Composted the corn stalks and planted a cover crop of buckwheat for the bees.  The Rattlesnake pole beans have done really well this year. Cynthia and her mother put up quite a few in the freezer to enjoy over the winter.  The bell peppers and JalapeƱos  are producing like gangbusters and jalapeƱo  poppers are one of my new favorite football snacks. The okra is producing very well, having to be cut every 2-3 days. 




Little Lucy (Red) and Emerald Okra


THE CHICKS

The young chicks continue to flourish. They probably will not start laying until next spring, so we are not expecting any eggs from them at this time. The old girls are coming out of molting which has decreased their egg production, but should pick up a little now.


The chicks really like their watermelon treats!



WHAT'S BLOOMING


Limelight hydrangeas



Butterfly bush and Sweet Autumn Clematis

Thunbergia alata- Climbing Black Eyed Susan Vine

ROAD TRIP

I attended the walk in the orchard tour at Petals from the Past in Thorsby. Dr. Powell talked about different varieties of apple, pears, figs, grapes and muscadines. We then took a tour of the orchard and he showed how the fruit trees and vining fruit were grown on trellis. I plan on planting some apple and pear trees in November using this method. I would recommend these tours to anyone interested and Dr. Powell does a fantastic job educating on all aspects of fruit growing and production. (Note how many apple and pears are on these trees, simply amazing!)
 


Cumberland Spur Apples



Dr. Arlie Powell


Espaliered Asian Pear Trees




PARTING SHOT


 This concludes the blog rewind series. My next post will bring everything up to date, and hopefully, I will be able to keep it current or at least more frequently than every 15-18 months. Thanks to everyone who have taken the time to visit this blog. 

September 7, 2013

REWIND- PART VI

After a week hiatus, we continue our story......


THE GARDEN

JULY:  We started off this month with a visit from our niece Sena and her husband Tyler and daughter Ollie.  Ollie likes to help in the garden and her aunt Cynthia with the chickens.


Ollie and Bill

The garden is thriving despite intermittent monsoon caliber rainfalls. Fortunately, the wood chips have minimized the amount of wash going through the garden. I also added some railroad ties to the upper boundary of the garden which has helped a lot.


Bounty from the garden.

July 12th- Harvested approximately 200 ears of corn (Peaches and Cream) in addition to tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and rattlesnake pole beans.  I have not sprayed any pesticides on any of the crops. Instead, I have planted companion plants like marigolds and borage which are supposed to attract the harmful insects.  


Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato.


Borage:  Pretty blue flower which attracts insects that are harmful to squash and cucumbers. Bees love borage, so it was another reason to plant this lovely plant. 

THE BEES


July 13th: I first experience in harvesting honey. In June we ordered our honey extractor in anticipation of harvesting honey sometime in July.  The extractor is made by Maxtant and is stainless steel and has a variable speed motor for spinning the honey from the frame, and is capable of holding nine frames at a time. It really makes the process so much easier than manually spinning the frames. It took about 2 1/2  hours to extract almost 9 gallons of honey.

We bolted the extractor to a pallet to help stabilize the unit while spinning.

Cynthia and Mike with a frame filled with honey.


GARDEN BLOOMS 

Dusty and the coneflowers



Eucomis (Pineapple Lily)


Hardy Hibicus


Red Hot Poker


Stargazer Lilies



Casa Blanca Lilies with varigated miscanthus grass.




Humor in the Garden


When I staked my pole beans I failed to cut the canes back to a reasonable height. What was I thinking?  Anyway, it has make picking the beans interesting this year.

The Chicks

The older hens are doing fine with the exception of egg production which is due to several of the hens molting. Feathers fall out and new feathers are made. Feathers are about 85% protein, so most of the hen's energy is directed to making new feathers.  The young chicks are loving their new coop and large yard. They have finally caught on as to when to go to roost. They continue to grow by leaps and bounds and consume over 50 pounds of layer crumbles a week. 


Enjoying a fruit salad.


Young chicks in new coop




PARTING SHOT - JULY