songbird's roost

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

  1. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Whoa, that's some heavy excavation Songbird! Reminds me of home (note the jackhammer to break up the caliche):
    [​IMG]
     
  2. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    hi Bill,

    not too bad when it is wet enough. clay can be messy when it gets too wet, but this area
    only had one small spring (our water table is pretty high here) and i was already done
    digging by the time it got going.

    i don't need jackhammer type power unless we have extended drought. i've shoveled through
    the clay then too. much prefer not doing that. all manual techniques here. i enjoy it. gives
    me a chance to observe the soil structure and conditions.

    also, i rarely have to dig that deep in most gardens. usually do it when i have stuff i need to
    bury (for elevation and also to give the worms someplace to hide down deeper). or like in the
    above case where i'm starting up a new area.

    i sure noticed the difference in garden soils and subsoils when digging out that second layer of
    soil under the old pathway. no worms down their either. the neighboring garden is very nice in
    comparison and also supports worms now (it didn't when i first started improving the gardens
    here).

    within a few years that new area will be up to snuff and much easier to garden. i won't likely
    dig that area out again very deep for several years.

    i have a wheelbarrow of mostly rotted wood chips that will get mixed in the rest of that garden
    when i get back to it.

    we're moving trees now...
     
  3. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    the trees got moved, much mixed weather and rainy conditions, some snow here
    or there, frosts... the past few days have been perfect out for gardening and
    getting gardens ready for planting. no rain is in the forecast for five or six days
    and so the garden work will progress.

    we have still had frosts as recently as last night and the night before. the effect on
    the strawberries i can hope won't be too much. can't cover all of them.

    still harvesting green garlic. picked a large bucket of it the other day and cannot eat
    it all. have to clear it out of some areas or it will take over that space. the worms
    seem to love eating any of it in any form. always worms in the roots when i dig it up.

    finding the morel mushrooms was nice, having them show up in two locations is even
    better. :) i hope they spread their spores far and wide we have so many places where
    we've mulched things with wood chips and they've decayed so hopefully some of those
    locations will eventually get colonized... good eating for sure. :)

    ok back to work, the north garden, i am trying to encourage certain ground covers to
    take over along the edge and knock back the neighboring birdsfoot trefoil which loves
    to spread and drop tons of seeds into the pathways. eventually i will have several
    different kinds of ground covers along the border and then the strawberries can wander
    around the rest of it and i can plant veggies in the spots that need refurbishing after
    a few years of strawberry growing. right now i have plenty of small onion bulbs from
    last year to put in but i'm not quite done with other things yet.

    then there are all the other gardens... :) it's going to be a busy spring and planting
    season for a while yet.
     
  4. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Are frosts normal in your area this late in the year? (they are here until late May but we've had an extraordinarily early spring)
     
  5. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    hi Bill,

    yes, frosts usually end about now, but we like to wait on planting out the peppers and tomatoes
    when the soil has warmed up more. i think giving this year an extra few days or a week might be
    good. i have plenty to keep me busy no matter what. :)
     
  6. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    We had a few cold pocket frosts last week that "touched" our melon plants ... there is good reason the "last possible frost date" here is May 30!
     
  7. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    we have nothing cold in the forecast from what i can see. we now have our
    garden veggie plants and have been weeding the fenced gardens to get them
    ready for planting. all those gardens were done in two days with both of us
    chipping away at them. they were in pretty good shape last fall so this was
    not bad at all. my tulip beds were the worst. i need to get some wood chips
    on top of those when i can.

    it has been really dry here, the clay is getting pretty hard in any unamended
    places. strawberries are starting to get some red. have to water everything
    i've transplanted... it went from frosts to 80+F in one week. trees are looking
    ok still which is good...

    the north garden was finished with the weeding transplanting and then weeding
    out the rest of it and planting. already sprouting turnips.

    scattered rains of not much today. as usual when you wash/wax a car that
    is like a rain dance. but not enough. my poor car has needed a wash and
    wax for a few years... it's getting pretty old, sitting out there in the sun and
    everything.
     
  8. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    strawberry season came on quickly and that's kept things
    extra busy while still trying to get the last bits of planting done
    for the veggie gardens. lack of rains has also meant a lot
    more time spent watering. ah well, it's still been a good season
    so far.

    as of yet, the many trees we moved have all survived, also a
    lot of the ground cover i transplanted seems to be doing ok.
    i don't expect 100% of those to survive, but if half make it
    that will work. next year i do it all again to fill in the gaps,
    divide, transplant, water, divide again... it will look much
    nicer than what has been going on so far.

    with the ground being so hard in some areas i've not been
    able to get some weeding done, er, well, i just don't want
    invasive grasses taking over so i want to turn them under
    and plant it with buckwheat or radishes or something to
    cover it until i can turn it again in the fall. i've been watering
    it the past few days so i'll be able to get a shovel in the
    ground. in that same larger area is the new strawberry
    patch that i hope will continue to spread out into the
    alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil. i need more plants that will
    inhabit the edges and the gaps that the other plantings out
    there create. strawberries will be a good trial as they can
    also generate a lot of extra plants which can be pulled after
    a few years. not quite chop and drop, but close enough.

    all pretty much the usual stuff for me, all good, the gardens
    are looking nice for the most part, veggies all growing well
    having put the worms/worm poo under some of them. then
    the fun in getting those buckets restarted and seeing even
    more wormie friends. the trimmings and tops from the
    strawberries are likely being very appreciated and i also
    have been able to use up a bunch of extra soybeans - buried
    deep, they soak up water, but won't sprout, eventually they
    ferment and the worms will chomp them up. it is like a reserve
    food source when i am short for having other things to put in
    the worm bins.
     
  9. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    one large invasive grass clump has now been removed.

    this gave me a good chance to examine the soil in that
    area as it has been growing alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil for
    about 5 years, with chop and drop some years (last year
    i managed to cut it two or three times).

    the contrast between what it used to be like and what it
    is like now is notable. much darker (it used to be pale
    almost chalk colored but still some grey in it). down about
    8-10 inches.

    the tilth was still very hard (lack of rain) and i spent a fair
    amount of time busting dirt clods apart to get the invasive
    grass roots out of there.

    yesterday i finished up the digging by burying the apple
    tree saplings i cut off and started moving the dirt back
    into place (until it got too hot out). this morning i finished
    leveling it better and can now seed it in with something
    (radish, buckwheat, turnips, clover, alfalfa) to keep it
    covered until this fall when it cools off and i can move
    some strawberry plants in there. i'm also hoping my
    friends will have some organic debris from their yard i
    can use back there. the strawberries will love it. :)

    i have smothered another area of the same invasive
    grass (much easier and quicker since i don't need to
    plant anything in that location for a few years) and also
    plugged up the hole in the fence that the groundhogs
    were using (and an entrance to a den). we'll see how
    that goes for discouraging them.

    i have three other patches of grass to remove
    back there along with some tree trimming but until
    we get some rains i'm holding off on that. to at
    least keep them from spreading even more i did
    go around and cut the grass seed off the tops.
    that will cut down on some new spots from
    appearing faster than i can get them out... yes, i
    know, grasses are good things, i just don't want
    them here. i would rather have other plants that
    have flowers or are productive (like strawberries).

    in other news the rest of the gardens are doing well.
    the lack of rains continue in our microclimate here. the
    storms go north or south of us or fade before they get
    to us. we're about 8 inches of rain behind normal for
    the past three months. the contrast to last year is
    interesting (when i rarely had to water at all because we
    had regular rainfalls). the clay soil in the unamended
    areas is cracked deeply in places. i am not watering
    that area much at all (the alfalfa roots are down to the
    water table - they're doing great :) ).

    thinned beets yesterday, yummy beet green salad last
    night for dinner. cucumbers should be coming in soon.
    peppers are flowering and growing, the garlic is almost
    done, peas and onions doing well too. pretty much a
    normal summer other than the shortage of rain.

    oh, the low space that i filled with a few layers of
    cardboard and then topped with pieces of bark and
    stuff has been going along pretty well. i've only
    needed to pull a few weeds out of there this season
    and of course weeds along the edges. still this is
    many hours less work than i had to spend in that area
    previous years. eventually the worms will have chewed
    up the cardboard and also turned some of the bark and
    leaves into humus, but that won't be for a year or two
    more and i'm good with letting them continue on...
    when it starts getting weedy again i can rake up the
    large enough bark pieces that are left, scoup out the
    humus and put that on a garden and then put down a
    fresh layer of cardboard and then replace the bark
    pieces again. i can do that in a pretty short session
    as compared to the time it takes me to keep that area
    weed free... i like it. :)

    ok, enough rambles here.

    peace, and hope you are all doing well? :)
     
  10. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    ah, blessed rain, mother earth has finally given us a few days where
    it has rained each day and on one day a few ago i also watered the
    veggie gardens well so they are getting a good soaking.

    which means i will be able to get back out to weeding grasses out of
    one area at last. it was getting way too hard to get through the clay
    and that was a long ways to drag the hose to water. i did once or
    twice anyways because i was watering seedlings of various plants
    in an area i'd already cleared (including a few transplanted strawberries
    which i have no expectations will survive because it's been so
    hot and dry -- but i had them uprooted from weeding another area and
    if anything they become mulch).

    the next patch of grass removal i am chipping away at now is off to
    the side of the green manure patch. it is much different soil compared
    to where i've been chopping and dropping for five years. much lighter
    clay in color and even more compacted. this is ok as it means the
    grasses don't have an easy go of it spreading in there. but the whole
    idea of keeping the grasses out of there is to give the shorter ground
    cover plants and some butterfly weed plants more light and to not
    have the grass taking up all the moisture before it can get down to
    them. it is an edge along some bushes and trees so things get
    partial shade as it is. the lilac bush is back there too.

    keeping up with the other gardens and weeding (yeah i know Bill :) )
    or watering has been plenty enough.

    on the whole things are going well this season. :) gradually making
    progress on various projects.

    the cucumbers have been coming in well lately so we've put up some
    dill pickles for a change. we've not done those in 40yrs. last year
    we put up some bread and butter pickles (sweet pickles and onions)
    that i like much more. the dill pickles are mostly for my brother and
    his family.

    as usual the squash plants want to take over everything. :)

    peace...
     
  11. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Heh, I weed also ... but I call it "yank and drop".

    I know you know this, but for everyone else, I don't have a problem calling certain types of plants weeds but I do have a problem with the pervasive war-on-weeds-at-all-costs our farmers and citizens practice using chemicals (especially) and the unthinking hatred of "weeds".
     
  12. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i don't use any sprays at all. i much prefer being able to use
    the pulled plants as mulch, like you say, pull and drop, but in
    some cases i pull and make doubly sure the weed is fully dry
    before it can be reused as mulch. so the weed goes on a
    pile where i can watch it for a while so it doesn't regrow...

    mostly what i want is alternatives, like if i am removing one
    plant am i doing that to make space for another or am i plant-
    ing another? i think that is a good use of my efforts. i try to
    avoid the kind of weeding where i'm removing everything just
    because (unfortunately in some gardens i grow they are
    treated like that, but it isn't by my choice).

    when it gets cooler i am going to try to transplant some comfrey
    to see how it does in the clay out there... it's going like gang-
    busters where i have it now. cut it back a few weeks ago and
    it's looking good again.
     
  13. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    been a few weeks, still hot and very dry here, without the well i'm sure most
    of the gardens would be done by now. instead we are looking at a great crop
    of tomatoes, cucumbers are keeping us busy making more pickles and eating
    them, the squash continue their taking over, peppers starting to show some
    red and i've had a few of those, yum, my favorites, beets and onions look
    great too along with pretty much everything else.

    the hot and dry has made it very tough for me this year to get projects
    going, but i keep chipping away at what i can get done and any weeding
    in the more formal veggie gardens.

    having not done much the past month to really push myself means that
    it will take a few weeks to get going again once it does get cool enough
    out there. i did trim back one tree this morning for about 20 minutes but
    the heat/humidity combination is too much for me. the other tree i will
    try to get done tomorrow.

    even with the lack of rain, it's been a good season. like i've already
    said, thank goodness we have a good well...
     
  14. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    in light of the caring for people ethic of permieness we've been
    reorganizing the pantry and getting 15 cases of food ready to
    be distributed to others (friends and family members).

    most of what we have to give away are tomatoes (chunks and
    juice) along with pickles (dill and bread and butter), some pickled
    beets and bean salad. we're keeping the salsa that is left (not
    much).

    we really need the space for this year's crops. about half way
    through the tomatoes. we may end up giving more of these
    away too (i can't eat them). beets, dry beans, squash,
    red peppers coming along well. i'm not sure i'll get enough
    cucumbers again for another batch of pickles. we'll see,
    last year we had cucumbers right up until frosts took them
    out.

    the weather has finally turned around for the better with more
    rains. about the opposite of what we really want this time of
    the year, but the rains are so sorely needed i guess we accept
    them with some grace that we can try to find. :)

    temperatures have been hot and humid, also finally breaking
    a bit towards more moderate. i will be even more busy as soon
    as i can get back out for more work on projects.

    all said, it has still been a good season.

    peace, ...
     
  15. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Super that you have enough to share amongst friends and family!
    This summer's weather has been quite a journey for us too, now we are looking at two days of 80's before getting back into the high 90's.
    The water bill has been far to high the last two months but we have to keep the hogs watered and the gardens have needed two soakings.
    Most of our plants are giving up, so we will get to replant for a second harvest since we won't see a real fall until November here.
    Keep up the good works Songbird. Pilamayaye kola for your postings.

    Redhawk
     
  16. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    as a supplement to my knowledge about the history of this little plot of
    land... it just so happens that our electrician friend grew up in this
    neighborhood and we had to have the smoke detectors replaced and
    we got talking. turns out that yes this land was a part of a larger
    tract that was a tree farm for years, but this particular area was used
    as a field for keeping the bulls/cows. when we bought it there was no
    fence and it was a fallow field, so that was long ago...

    it does explain the extreme compacted soil and very little diversity.

    in the many years before when it was swampy forest (before it was
    cleared) and i can still find parts of trees here or there down in the clay
    if i dig deep enough. go further down and there are layers of coal, salt
    and other sedimentaries that the glaciers came across...

    in other news, we'll be out checking/picking red peppers, onions and
    tomatoes. not sure what we'll have to put up.

    squash plants finally took a hit and are fading. will have to check those
    to see when they're ready too...
     
  17. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    ok, we really didn't need three squash gardens. when i picked
    them many weeks ago there were 100-200 of them.

    five wheelbarrows full. i spent several days cleaning up and cooking
    those that were in the worst shape so they would not be wasted and
    put about 20lbs in the freezer. we gave piles of them away to family
    and friends. have some left to eat up over the next few months
    before we have to use up the frozen rations. good thing we like
    squash (or as you downunder folks call it pumpkin).

    i also had piles of red peppers and put up around 20 pints of
    frozen roasted red peppers. which reminds me i should get some
    out of the freezer for tomorrow. when the frosts were looking to
    finally knock out the plants we went out and picked five buckets
    of peppers to give away. i can eat quite a few of them myself but
    not that many.

    the beets are still in the ground. it hasn't been cold enough yet where
    i worry about being able to get them harvested. i hope i can get them
    put up this next week or two. weather has been very mild and plenty
    of rain.

    garlic is planted.

    bean garden is being worked on now to have it ready for winter.
    picked a few pods today to see if they are going to be usable but
    most are not. too much rain late in the season. i picked most of
    them before they could rot, but the quality of this year's harvest is
    not as nice as usual. i am still happy with what came of this patch.
    and talked Ma into letting me plant a garden she was going to
    cover up next year with lima beans. that will be a good spot. very
    long narrow garden with great soil and warmth. rotation from
    tomatoes. should get 5 - 10 lbs of lima beans which we both love
    to eat and they are easy to care for. this year i didn't plant any
    because i started too late on bean planting and i didn't have the
    places i normally do (see above about squash gardens).

    :)

    we've had snow already. i don't think it will be all that long before
    it starts feeling and looking like winter here.

    a few gardens yet to put up for the winter and plenty of projects
    to keep me busy for the rest of the nice weather outside whatever
    may come. caulking and keeping bugs/mice out of cracks and
    the garden shed, my car and the garage. semi-feral kitty doesn't
    get them all...

    peace, happy planting to the southern hemi folks, etc.

    :)

    p.s. obviously i should have mentioned that all those squash
    skins cooked up are excellent worm food and i was able to
    stock up the 17 worm buckets and bin on plenty of things for
    them to eat.
     
  18. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    OMG! I feel tired just ready about what you have been up to. I need a nana nap.

    I'm not too sure I understand why you have to cook your PUMPKINs though.
    I find tha if they have been allowed to dry out for a week or so, they store really well in the shed for just about all of the winter, if not into spring. (if we havent eaen them all by then).

    Maybe I should invest in a worm farm. Would they be a good place to put those invasive weeds?
     
  19. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    Climate:
    -15C-35C, 10cm rain/mo, clay, full sun, K-G Dfa=x=Dfb
    some are damaged/partially rotting/stem falls off/bruised/etc and so to
    prevent loss i process those ASAP. the rest do store quite well and
    we'll be eating them for months yet. when those run out we have the
    frozen and cooked ones left to go.

    as for investing in a worm farm, you should not need to put much
    money at all into it. i've probably spent all of $30 total over the
    six years and most of that was really not even needed expenses
    (i bought some mesh fabric to use over the buckets/bin -- could
    also be done by using old t-shirts as long as they don't have holes).
    if you have the space and a few buckets you can get going.

    :)

    some weeds go through a worm farm ok, but some process much
    better when they are dried out first (to keep roots from regrowing).

    weed seeds are also best avoided if you know that the worms will
    not destroy them.
     
  20. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

    Joined:
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    I going to have to look into these worm farms.

    I separate 'squash' into Pumpkins ie long keepers and Squash, like kumokumo,pattipan squash-ie non keepers, so it didnt make sense to me that somebody would go to the trouble of freezing it. Your explanation makes alot sense.

    We are almost into summer here and I am soooo looking forward to Warm days for a change.
    Hope your firewood is dry and you stay cozy.
     

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