songbird's roost

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by songbird, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. Australian Beekeeper

    Australian Beekeeper Junior Member

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    Nice work keeping the pests at bay in such a manner :) are your apples from any seeds in particular? Any idea how they will turn out? They idea of growing seeds in the hope of producing something new really appeals to my but without the time/space I am just going to save seed and work on improving my veg :)
     
  2. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    A.B. sorry, i did not see your questions sooner.

    the apple seeds were from a large mix of apples when we had many bushels given to us for making apple sauce for the homeless shelter. it is very unusual for apple tree seeds to breed true so i have no real expectations for any of them, very few are edible. in the old days they were mainly sour and used for making hard cider, not as much for eating like they are these days. if one out of fifty seedlings is pleasantly edible i'll be surprised.

    since my last writing we've moved another three raccoons and two more groundhogs. there are more still around, we're on the highway from the woods with both the ditch and the treeline acting like direction signals to come our way. the chipmunk population is calm for a change and the rabbits are all over the place, but now that most plants are big enough i'm not worried about them as i was before when they were at easy eating height for the groundhogs.

    the challenge these days is keeping up with the weeding and watering while also not getting too overheated. the temperatures are now heading back down so we'll be in prime gardening weather this coming week.

    we picked quite a few cucumbers today. i had to laugh, because Ma said there were four when she looked, today when i was out watering i noticed the number was significantly more than four and then told Ma to get the buckets so we could get the picked. don't want the plants to get the idea that they are done yet...

    also found a few brussels sprouts, a red pepper, and if the rains hold off tomorrow i'll get some more garlic harvested.

    the alfalfa is growing so quickly that i could clip it again already, but with it being so hot and dry i'm not going to cut it back until it cools down a bit more.

    on the whole things are going pretty well this season. :)
     
  3. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    yesterday was running errands day (i try to make all my errands fit into one outing with the car to keep down fuel costs) and it was also plenty warm and due for some rains. on the way back we were in the thick of it with heavy rain, hail and very dark skies. the temperature difference between the fronts was 18F. heading further south towards our place we were out of the storm and back into the warm front side of things. a few hours later the cold front finally made it to us and past us sending us some rain and hail and we were both hoping the gardens didn't get too shredded by the hail. i haven't gotten out to look yet.

    there is no standing water anyplace even with the rain guages registering 8cm of rain. it's been dry lately so the clay soaked it all up. yay! i don't have to water now and a week of cooler temperatures will help.

    we did manage to put up some pickles last night. (nothing too fancy as Ma does not like spices) onions, cucumbers, cider vinegar, sugar and whatever salt was left over from draining he cucumbers. we'll have a few weeks to let them sit before giving them a try but sweet , sour and onions is rarely a bad combination. 6 quarts and 10 pints.
     
  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    about a month left to go before we start seeing some cold weather and have chances of frost.

    these days the routine is, get up, go out and pick japanese beetles off the plants, they congregate on the wild grape vines so i can pick a hundred or two off the vines in 10 minutes and check the rest of the bean patches. then i rinse out and refill the birdbaths to keep the bees happy. not many birds are using them. i think there are too many bees about for the birds.

    the green manure patch is tall enough again that it could be chopped (for the third time this season). i'm not sure if i'll get to it any time soon.

    the back strawberry patch which provides a lot of fruit is now being covered. Ma did not like how many weeds were in there and said we either had to cover it or she was going to mow it after we chopped it back. it was being taken over by aggressive grasses, pennyroyal and various other weeds. my original plan was to go back and put a weed barrier edge in to help keep the grasses out and then to renovate/weed the entire patch again. so by chopping it back and covering it we've saved a lot of work in the short term, but if you are going to smother an area you don't need to chop it back if your covering material will be held down well enough. so we could have saved a few days work if she'd told me she wanted to smother it but she didn't say that until we were almost done chopping... oops.

    i gain two other spaces in trade for covering that area out back. we are going to expand the first strawberry patch inside the fenced garden which is much easier to keep weeds out of because it is surrounded by smothered/covered or managed gardens. that will be a project to start with in a few weeks when it starts getting cooler and transplanting won't be so difficult. i also get to remove another space from the mowing grassy area next to another garden and thus getting rid of a lot of wasted time (mowing and keeping the edge clear/weeded, and it keeps spreading grass/weeds into the neighboring garden). the extra space will be welcome for growing more veggies. the short term hit to the strawberry production for a season should be ok, i've got several other strawberry patches going.

    the rest of the gardens are doing pretty well. there are plenty of beans to pick, onions, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, fennel, beets, cucumbers, ... i'm not sure there are quite enough beans to put more up but i'll check them today. we've already been able to get some sweet pickles put up and some three bean salad. the dry beans are still growing strong so there won't be any of those to harvest for a few weeks yet (with our fall weather being a bit wet at times i pick the pods when i see them getting done so that they won't rot on the plants).

    the previously mentioned hail storm did cause some damage, especially to the larger leafed plants like the squash and sunflowers, but they are tough plants to kill outright. some of the peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and squash had marks on them from the hail, but we ate them anyways. the leaves took most of the damage. a few peppers had holes when i picked them and one was rotting enough that i recycled it for worm food. a few other peppers had holes in them, but they were in good enough shape otherwise that i just cut out the damage and ate them anyways.
     
  5. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    things going well here. it's hard sometimes in the middle of getting a system going to feel like much is happening. and when you are doing something where you have to cooperate and work around people who don't understand you can also get frustrated and discouraged, but again, over the longer haul, you can see a trend.

    for us this year is is again the improvement in frog and toad populations and the continued improvements to the soils as indicated by the worm counts or food production.

    the biggest indicator of things going in a better direction for me is that most of my efforts are going towards things that improve diversity or improve the soils and i'm spending much less time on doing things like patching the roof or weeding spaces that won't have any production (for us or for wildlife). we've had no flash flooding or tornadoes and most of the animal issues were headed off at the right time so that we have production.

    i know that not all seasons are going to be like this, but when they are it's nice to see things working as designed and intended.

    the next few weeks i'll be mainly involved in more production related tasks (getting the dry beans harvested when they're ready, shelling beans, picking garden goodies and getting some garlic planted) and catching up on some other gardens that've been needing a little weeding. selective weeding is so much quicker and less destructive of the soil and i'm always enjoying seeing how the soil quality is improving as the worms get to use the weeds as fuel for their work. i'll also have to scout the back field to see what kind of plan i might want to try for putting the apple saplings in...
     
  6. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    first hard frost in the forecast for tonight. things otherwise going well, but very busy getting things harvested and put up...

    peace & *hugs*
     
  7. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    now that things are cooler it is easier to do harder tasks.

    since we covered/smothered the back strawberry patch i was promised an expansion of one of my other strawberry patches inside the fenced garden area.

    as the summer and early fall were getting on i was saying as recently as three days ago that perhaps we'd not do it this year and then lo and behold yesterday i got started on it.

    first of all this means scraping the crushed limestone aside and then removing the barrier material to get back to the dirt. most of that got done yesterday.

    today was digging some holes to see what the soil was like underneath (as expected clay with a little sand up top, not too bad for topsoil, it was darker as the whole area was used as farm field in the past and then left fallow for a number of years). getting down 40cm it turns to sand and clay of a much lighter color and so at that boundary i buried the remnants of crushed limestone mixed with sand and dirt that was on top of the barrier. this was then covered with bundles of stuff that Ma has been cutting off the plants for the fall as she usually does. old branches, rotting wood, etc. it all goes down in the bottom to help raise up the area as it is a bit low and will get flooded for some short periods of time if we get heavy rains.

    so the hope is that i can get back outside early enough tomorrow morning to start moving some of the strawberry plants because we have rain in the forecast and that will help settle them in nicely for their new home.

    because it is so low there iwll be plenty of room in this garden to bring in any extra materials and bury them to help raise it up a bit more and plenty of organic material for mixing in up top to give the strawberries a good home. i can also move parts of the neighboring strawberry patch which are up higher so they are more level and less prone to drying out.

    the new patch will also need some wormies. :) now that they have piles of stuff buried underneath they'll have some food eventually. have bags of leaves, pine needles and some moderately decayed wood chips to be used up too. hopefully by the end of next summer i'll have the new patch mostly covered with new growth and can redo the neighboring patch.
     
  8. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    fall and winter have definitely settled in. we had about 12cm of snow one day and have had a few nights well below freezing.

    the strawberry patch extension went well and is almost completely done other than a bit of fiddling around the edges. with the ground now getting cold enough that it will freeze there's not much digging i'll be doing unless we get a warm break.

    the apple tree saplings may not get moved until early spring.

    we have all produce harvested, all gardens are put up for the winter and i'm doing odd jobs when the weather is nice enough for me to get outside.

    all gardens i've done any digging in (to bury surface debris/weeds, etc.) continue to show improvements in worm populations and soil tilth/quality. so things are heading in the right direction. i do not dig entire gardens to bury things unless i've gotten to a point in the rotation of that garden where it needs some deep organic matter or some other amendment. so to put the gardens up for the winter means i'm digging just a part of the garden enough to hold the surface debris and any weeds or other organic materials i want to bury down deep. this way it also sequesters weed seeds and other harmful bacteria or fungi down deep and the soil community and the worms can break things down. in a few years of crop rotation and digging i will eventually return to dig in that area and find the material i buried has been turned into something like dark peat moss.

    one garden in the far southeastern corner was slated this year to be heavily amended with organic material as it was both low and very heavy clay down deep so the drainage wasn't the best. when i was digging in there this year it was very noticeably sour smelling which is not something i smell in other gardens so it really was a good year to get this garden improved. i didn't have enough materials to bury in the whole garden but about half of it was improved and perhaps next spring or fall i can get the rest of it done. the worms will certainly be happier as now there's quite a bit of organic goodies in there for them to munch on. :)

    another garden had a low spot which was problematic because it was getting too weedy. i turned that into a new place to break down bark and pieces of wood by digging it out a little more and then putting down cardboard to keep weed seeds from sprouting and then covered the cardboard with a mix of leaves, bark pieces and chunks of rotting wood. the worms and other soil critters will eventually turn all of this into humus and i'll dig it out of there and use it in the gardens and put in more stuff to break down. a good use of a previous problem area. if the soil looks to be recovered well enough after a few years perhaps i can even use it for growing some more water tolerant veggies.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015
  9. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    "another garden had a low spot which was problematic because it was getting too weedy. i turned that into a new place to break down bark and pieces of wood by digging it out a little more and then putting down cardboard to keep weed seeds from sprouting and then covered the cardboard with a mix of leaves, bark pieces and chunks of rotting wood. the worms and other soil critters will eventually turn all of this into humus and i'll dig it out of there and use it in the gardens and put in more stuff to break down. a good use of a previous problem area. if the soil looks to be recovered well enough after a few years perhaps i can even use it for growing some more water tolerant veggies."

    Very nice ... kind of a lasagna compost pile!
     
  10. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    it isn't that deeply piled, but enough to keep the cardboard from being exposed. only had a few weeds along the edge this season so it worked perfectly. we'll see how it progresses.

    in contrast the spot right next to it is slightly higher and i'm trying to get it covered with a low growing water loving plant called creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia), but the plantains continue to come up strong in there and i have to weed them by hand. still looks much nicer than bare dirt i had before. weeding should keep being reduced each season as long as i can keep on top of things. the critters really like the wide leaf plantains. i root them up and then pull off the seed stalks and then leave them for the worms and rabbits to finish off so very little is actually removed by the weeding.
     
  11. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    time goes by so quickly here it is a month since i started two new worm bins so they can be used for some friend's garden. it will be my first export of worms and nutrients to another garden. they have very poor sandy soil and get very little from their garden. Ma volunteered. luckily i had one warm bin kept in reserve which was very active and could have used spreading out into some more room.

    with the year getting so late i don't know how much actual fertilizer production that will get going in these new bins, but i checked them out today and gave them some extra food. but let me back up a bit to how i set these bins up to begin with...

    first of all, we have clay, so for me to recondition garden soil i'll bring some in and use it in the worm bins, so these are worms that get exposed to clay, and they do fine with it, i also mix in whatever organic materials i can find. Ma managed to get a bunch of one-gallon potted mums that i could tear apart and use the root balls and potting soil as a part of the worm bedding. then i also had very little veggie scraps, but i did have plenty of old soybeans i'd grown here years ago for making soy milk and then decided i didn't like it that much vs. the time it took to make it and i really wasn't into making a market for it either. 20kg of old soybeans... if you put them in the worm bedding down deep they'll soak up water and then ferment instead of sprouting. thus eventual worm food for nearly free... :)

    today i checked them out and put in some of the carrots i've been drying (we'd harvested quite a few and some of them were too small to bother with or had some reason i didn't want to use them for cooking or eating fresh). the peelings, tops and anything that didn't get eaten by us gets dried and becomes worm food for the bins. as the tops are drying some of them are also growing sprouts which if left will get moldy and turn the drying carrots into mold spore heaven. as i did need some extra worm food for the two new bins i took all the drying trays and removed any tops and the smaller pieces and peels that are already dry enough to work as worm food. they are two very well fed worm bins now.

    in stirring them up i could see that the soybeans had indeed done what was planned. they were fermenting away and had a very nice smell to them (those who eat varous japanese fermented bean foods would recognize it). i could also see the worms were doing very well in their new home and perhaps they'll make a lot more fertilizer for me by spring or more accurately, for the friends. i'm sure this trade works out well in the end, we don't make saurkraut here, but they do... :) worms for kraut! kinda interesting slogan... hahaha... :)

    p.s. oh, yes, i expect the clay i've mixed in will be the most help for their garden aside from the nutrients.
     
  12. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Sounds like you are chugging along even as winter gets here.
    We have had two rains that border monsoon type, 5 inches at the middle of December and just last week 7 more inches fell.
    The rains coming at this time of year are pretty unusual for Arkansas and have detoured my building projects by virtue of our road nearly washing out.
    I've spent most of my time re-digging the up hill ditch that I'm putting in to save the road from more washout.

    Speaking of kraut, the wife gave that a go this year and found out that you can put in to much salt.
    That first batch ended up going to the hogs (the loved it). This next year she is going to try again so now we will be buying a crock I suppose.
    I'm hoping we can find an old one that is in serviceable condition instead of having to buy one of the "new" types.

    Stay warm Kola
     
  13. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    most of December was rain, rain, rain, cloudy, etc. we've had five sunny days the past month and a half and two of them were yesterday and today. all that rain could have easily been snow, so it's ok with me as i'd rather have it soak in than have to shovel it.

    that much rain must be very hard on any exposed ground and i know the hilly south is a hard place to keep topsoil in place and with good organic matter levels (higher average temperatures and longer season).

    yes, saurkraut can have too much salt. i've had some like that too, didn't much like it, but i could see where the pigs might enjoy it. i just could not be around them afterwards. *phew!* :)

    just meandering along here in the winter months. putting together a large picture from a bunch of smaller chunks, editing music, reading stuff... daydreaming about garden weather. getting out for a walk here or there. spring will be here soon enough...
     
  14. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    I still have nightmares of shoveling snow ( and that came from the 60's) in New York. Winter is a great time to get sit down stuff done.
    Unfortunately I have far to many building projects to get done and the stop to do road salvage work really cuts into those projects.
    Wife just keeps adding on to things for me to build, now if the weather would just co-operate enough for me to get some done I'd be able to do some reading and writing.

    The rains have shown me where I need to do more runoff control.
     
  15. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    the observational part of permaculture! :) seems like plenty of rains are still going through the southlands so that must be keeping you busy?

    this has been a good few weeks for the California drought situation as at least they've picked up about half a dozen reasonably small enough storms that the rains mostly could soak in and start recharging the reservoirs.

    my sit down project the past few days was getting the last of the garlic peeled. we'll use some of it and most of the rest of it will go to friends, family and a soup kitchen. the worms i keep seem to really like any garlic related scraps they can get. when giving stuff away i like to keep as much of the organic material as possible we can use every bit we have already...

    a bit of a warm spell the past few days, then back to colder real winter weather, but Ma says the temperatures are supposed to get warmer again. i really have no complaints at all about a mild winter but i hope it's not too mild that the trees start blooming too early and then get frosted out.
     
  16. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Our December was very rainy, gotta love the effects of global warming combined with an El Nino. This last weekend we got 4-5 inches of snow which put a screeching halt to the work I was doing, water pipes have been giving me fits in this cold snap, Next time I think I will put in proper metal piping instead of PVC. We are getting ready to buy some frost proof valves so I won't have so much rework next winter. Always something to show me where I didn't think correctly. We have changed the house building plan yet again but now at least I'll be working on the actual house instead of just rooms to end up repurposed. Hogs now have a summer house and a winter house, and I have started clearing out dead trees in the area that will become more pasture for them. The boar has matured but the sow is not ready for his affection so far, I'm hoping that the breeding holds off just a bit longer so the babies come at spring time. We are really looking forward to getting to start planting, though I have been told I'll be building around 6 new raised beds before planting time. I am having to keep close watch on our fruit trees for bud activity, if it comes and we get the next cold snap, I'll be spraying them so they get a protective coating of ice to keep them alive.
     
  17. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    for the cold here we have very long stemmed valves on the pipes, so that the external faucets are outside but the valve is inside the foundation. also they are slanted so that any water in them will drain out when they are turned off. and agreed on the pipe not being PVC if you have temperature swings. my own philosophy also dislikes plastics and i try to avoid them as much as possible.

    good luck with the pigs and all those raised beds! i would ask her if you could just make one large raised bed that if she doesn't want to get in the middle she can work around the edges and you can put other things in the middle. it is much easier to have fewer edges and less wasted space by having larger plots if you can get away with it. i know for my own experience that the many pathways and gardens here are more work than they need to be and i would get more production from getting rid of more pathways. this past year we've combined a few garden patches and expanded a strawberry patch and so that gets a few hundred square feet of space back into production that was previously covered up with rocks and crushed limestone. much easier for me to work in larger spaces with fewer edges to maintain.
     
  18. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Most of our raised beds are in the orchard, made of straw bales and once they deteriorate we move the new "composted straw" to other places and start new bales. The bales work great for lots of different vegetables and the way we are doing it they don't interfere with the fruit tree roots, while also letting us get more production from the areas. I'm still trying to talk her into letting me turn the orchard into a food forest type setup, and she is starting to come around. The hogs are doing quite well and I'm now faced with fencing in more pasture paddocks so I can rotate them through more pastures. Over all this has been a non-winter Winter for us, even our cold days are more like fall than winter.
     
  19. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    well things can sure change rapidly this time of the season. we had snow and temps down to 13F last week.
    today it is in the mid-70sF.

    flowers are out, first project is underway (removing an unneeded pathway giving me more veggie garden
    space inside the fenced area.

    we still have about a month before the warm weather crops can go in, but i will likely get some onion sets
    in place in the next few weeks.

    feels so good to be back outside.

    the killdeer are nesting again in the fenced area, very normal, this bird has been here before, it is
    almost tame that i can work nearby and it will make a little noise and flutter and then settle down
    and roost on her eggs again. she even exchange head-bobs with me. good for laughs. :)

    hope everyone is doing well?
     
  20. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    Messages:
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    Occupation:
    gardening, reading, etc
    Location:
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    first project is mostly done and on to the next already. removing a
    pathway and combinging two smaller gardens into large:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    and a spring flower pic of one of the flower patches.

    [​IMG]

    things going ok, still getting some frosts yet, green garlic is
    yummy. planting might be later this year if we keep getting
    these cold snaps...
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017

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