Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lots going on...

In the past couple of weeks we've had lots of progress with a variety of projects. The cabin finally, really feels complete. The porch is my favorite place to be which is what I fully expected. I added a new flower bed and have put in rock creek paths to replace the composted mulch which was raked into the flower beds. The garden beds in the area immediately around the cabin (Zone 1 in permaculture terms) are shaping up pretty good. Lots of lettuce, chard, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage and radishes as well as perennials such as rhubarb and comfrey. The flowers too are starting to take hold with blooms. The last touch was moving the little garden pond from it's somewhat neglected location to a spot just a few feet away from my porch. Frankly this little corner of the world is starting to resemble a moment or scene in a storybook which is what I'd hoped for.

Other projects that have been tidied up or finished include the new fire ring which also got a thick layer of rock creek gravel. The kids cabin is fully painted and trimmed with the last bit of deck finished. In the main garden the crop of onions, garlic, and peas are fantastic. The potatoes are looking great. Two beds of tomatoes planted and looking good with another bed to go in soon. Still to do, transplant or sell my remaining rhubarb, tomato, and comfrey seedlings. I also need to get the basil planted as well as melons and pumpkin.

The chickens have been spending their days in the lush chicken pasture that I prepared this spring and they seem to be pretty happy with it. I miss having them free range and do intend to let them range for a couple evenings a week but they will be spending most of their time in the pasture as long as it is holding up. I won't let it get run down to the same point as last year. While it was sometimes somewhat problematic I really miss having them in close proximity to the cabin.

It's gonna be getting hot and humid soon so I'm going to go crank out a few loads of laundry. Have a good day!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Covered Porch Progress!

 

New Porch

Deck, cedar poles, and rafters ready for metal roof. Steps and railings have been added in this photo. The Deck is salvaged from an old deck that has been in use on various other structures for at least 20 years. The rafters were salvaged from yet another deck and the cedar logs were from tornado damage as well as a few selectively harvested from a grouping that desperately needed thinning. The metal roofing will be added soon and is the only thing that will be purchased new.

 

In this image you'll notice that some of the logs have had the bark removed, others have not yet been cleaned up. I actually prefer the way they look with the bark but that usually means that insects will get in and when the bark eventually does come off (which it will after a couple years) it will likely have a bit of damage in the form of small grooves. By taking off the bark now the logs will be a bit nicer in the long run.

I'm very happy to have this up before the heat of summer kicks in because I rarely use the air conditioner. I think last year I used it maybe three days. That is a south facing wall so having the porch should really help keep the cabin cool as it will completely shade the area in front of the door and that south facing wall.

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Salad!!

Harvested my first bit of lettuce and spinach Wednesday night and it was so tasty!! There's nothing quite like eating salad that was picked 5 minutes before eating. I've got an okay crop of greens coming in though it's not as thick as had hoped it would be. I planted it pretty dense but we had such a warm spell back in late March/April that I think it stunted things a bit and gave a head start to the weeds that were plenty happy to have the warm weather! In any case, nice to have fresh salad!

I've also started harvesting strawberries from the plants donated by friend and fellow Fredericktown Revitalization member Juli. I probably won't get many this year but the plants are healthy and should produce very well next year!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

New Natives





Lots of planting the past couple days. Saturday I picked up some ferns, hostas, Russian Sage, and Catnip from my aunt. The ferns come from my great grandmother and have been passed around the family for years. They are beautifully lush and spread quickly. They're also quite large, some of them reaching a height of 5 feet. I'm not sure what kind they are but I planted a row across the front of the cabin and can't wait for them to fill it in hiding the base of the structure during the summer and softening the lines. Then I picked up a whole bunch of native wildflowers: Columbine, Jacob's Ladder, Bee Balm, Purple Coneflower, Orange Coneflower and Black-eyed Susan most of which was planted into the shade garden in front of the cabin, in front of the ferns. Some of them were planted in the new flower border that lines the northern fence of the garden.

I probably planted 150+ plants in the past two days. When they all fill out, probably by the end of next summer the planted areas will be about full. I don't cut the flower heads in the fall because the gold finches and other birds will eat the seed. The seed they don't eat will fall and germinate. By the spring of 2012 I'll have more plants than I can use and will be able to pot them up and sell them. The plants originated at my parents' house which I planted in 2004-2005. The plants there are now multiplying exponentially. Thousands of seedlings now cover the area and serve as a growing nursery. I'll probably go back for another batch of transplants in early June though I don't really need to.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Garden Grows!







It's been slow going this spring, or at least it seems that way. I am impatient. The onions, peas, potatoes, strawberries and various greens are looking pretty good. I think I should have planted my greens (lettuce, spinach, chard, etc) a week or two earlier than I did. The greenhouse is full of plants that will be ready to plant out pretty soon: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, comfrey and rhubarb. Unfortunately my tomato varieties got all jumbled up so while I know what I planted I have no clue which is which. I'd thought I might sell a few plants at the farmers market but I'm not sure that folks will want to buy if they don't know what variety they are getting. I'll just call them all "Denny's Great Tomatoes".






In other green news, the last year's chicken pasture is really looking good! With the exception of a couple of spots it is now a lush polyculture with a base of red and white clover. Other notable species: comfrey, self-heal, yarrow, violets, daisies, plantain, and honeysuckle. There's far more but those are the most numerous. Now that the chickens are free ranging I'm not in any kind of hurry to open this back up. I'm going to give it another week or two for the clover to grow a bit more and then I'll start leaving the gate open for chicken browsing. Th peach tree and apple tree in this area are both looking fantastic.






Speaking of fruit trees, we now have plums, apples and blueberries coming in. Pictured here are some of the plums. I need to learn about proper fruit tree care. Should I have clipped these off to promote more growth this year? These are still pretty small trees. Also, I know they need major pruning. Their rate of growth is taking off but in terms of the shape of the growth, they are a huge MESS. Assuming no major natural disasters the trees, bushes and vines should all be putting out a really good crop in the summer of 2012. The currants, gooseberries and blueberries will probably be producing pretty good as early as next summer. I can't wait.

Cowbirds!!

Since early spring I've become a favorite hang out for Brown-headed Cowbirds and even Red-winged Blackbirds. Apparently they often hang out together. The Cowbirds are certainly not the prettiest of birds but I really love their song. They've taken to scavenging around for corn and chicken scratch leftover from the chickens and the deer. The other day Petunia was in for her evening snack of corn/scratch and a Cowbird was there by the bowl. She nosed up to the Cowbird and followed her in a circle around the bowl. They did a couple laps that way, with Petunia pushing her nose up to the bird and the bird moving away a few inches, over and over. Really very comical.

Speaking of birds, I was scouting about the iPad applications and found a $5 app called iBird Yard and wowza! Very cool. I've not downloaded it yet but plan to the next time I have some highspeed access. Drawings, photos and bird song audio of North American birds with a variety searching modes based on bird color, shape, size, and location as well as a pretty nifty comparison mode for looking at similar birds. I'm going to have to look around for some other reference apps... butterflies, insects, edible mushrooms, edible plants, trees, etc. I'm thinking the birds apps will be most useful as they have the added dimension of audio.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Quiet Moments of the Simple Life




Life is strange. I know that right now in the Gulf a tragedy is unfolding as oil continues to gush out of the sea floor and spread ever further across the waters. I know that huge storms have created hardships in Tennessee and elsewhere. I know that in Iraq, Afghanistan and in many other countries half a world away a good many people are suffering.

But in my little corner of the world, at this particular moment, all seems right. The sun is setting over the lake and an Eastern Phoebe fly catcher sits on the fence outside my window looking for dinner. In the distance I hear the mingled song of Red Wing Blackbirds and frogs as they go about their business. Petunia came in for an evening snack and has wandered away. There is a gentle breeze blowing in through the open window. I know that these moments of bliss come and go, surrounded by the turmoil that nature or we ourselves create. I'll soak it in while I have it.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Morning Crew





These are the folks I wake up to. I couldn't ask for a better start to a day.

P.s. Notice the new deck! Not new actually but salvaged and relatively intact. This thing was heavy as can be because it was made of oak many years ago. It has served as a porch for thee or four different places. We cut it up into two pieces to move it. A big thanks to Greg and Jessie for all the help! I've got to power wash it and then stain it with something. It is a bit rough at the moment but after a bit of work it will look pretty good and should last many more years.

Location:Unnamed Rd,Fredericktown,United States