Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

May 28, 2008

Family time Monday

This Monday, Memorial day, it rained all day long. Par for the course this spring I'm afraid, luckily we had no major plans for the day, other than maybe wrapping up a few things in the yard. With those plans promptly scrapped we basically just spent the day in the house. The boys cousin had spent the night on Sunday night, so they played downstairs in playroom. Meanwhile, A~ was putting together a fantastic dining experience for us that night. That afternoon, after the cousin had left, we headed down to the home theater to screen the National Treasure II that we recently picked up, then upstairs for dinner.
And what was the "fantastic dining experience" of which I spoke? Fondue night!! We've talked about having one of these for years. We have the pots, we just never use them.?! A~ put together a some salads to eat, and breads to dunk and we all had a blast. Then for dessert, a must have at any decent family night, we had chocolate fondue with strawberries, shortcake and bananas complimented with roasted marshmallows for s'mores over a Sterno. Was it a local meal? No. Was it something that will bring my family closer together and that we'll remember? Yes, and that's the point. It was a great night, and a very good weekend. I hope yours was as well.

May 26, 2008

Fast and Loose SFG (part II)

Per request I continue with my documenting some of the ways that I've adapted my SFG'ing methods. Below is a picture of 5 of 6 boxes. They are 4x6 and are lined up along the north end of my yard.
You may have noticed that there are no grids... I don't use them. This isn't so much because they don't make sense, they do. I do use the same general spacing guidelines, but I also like to keep things a little more fluid as far as how I plant things together and I hated working around the grid; really it's just a personal preference thing.
Above, the nearer bed is one of the ones that I had tomatoes in last year and the year before. I am rotating crops this year to keep the plants healthy, so their now planted in the furthest bed. This shows how I had built some 2x2 frames to tie up the tom's with. I lined the plants up one/sq ft. along the back edge of the beds and ran strings up to the top beam of the frame.
This is a close-up of the basic construction of the corners of the frame. I used salvaged OSB from a construction site and some ripped in half 2x4's (2x2's would work and are fairly cheap.) basic grabber screws and a triangle piece have held them fast for over three years now. No complaints about them. I'll be making some new ones this year only because I am changing the configuration of the plants, but I'm sure these will be re-used somewhere else in the garden.
Connecting them to the box was also just basic 2.5 inch grabber screws straight in. Now how to trellis??
Twisted, nylon mason line. This stuff is my fave in the garden. it cost barely more than the standard twine, but if your careful and creative with how you tie things, you can re-use this stuff for a couple of years. (I'll cover creative tying later after I get my trellises for the year up but basically, instead of cutting and tying each individual piece that I need, I take a little extra time to wrap most of my trellises as one continuous loop. This allows the string to be unwound and put up at the end of the year, and re-used next year.) This is incredibly durable stuff if used right. Get some, and oh yeah, carry a little butane lighter with you if your going to need to cut it or it'll fray like mad!
Here is another idea that I am trying out this year. It's not in the SFG book, but it passes the common sense test so it's worth a try. I purchased a couple of pieces of welded concrete reinforcing mesh, the stuff they sink into concrete slaps to make it stronger, for approx 5.00 apiece. I cut each in half lengthwise and bent them in half again to make a grid A-frame. They are only about 3.5 feet height, but I have four of them next to each other and have planted peas around the entire footprint of each Frame (18 per side, 36 per Frame x 4 for 144 plants.) As the peas reach the top of the frame, I intend to wire on another A-frame between Frame like stacking cards. this should give me a 6 foot+ pea frame. Again, we'll see, It's all about the learning.
To maximize space, I planted my Baby greens underneath the peas to grow. They help shade the ground keeping it cooler and more moist, and in the summer heat, the peas should shade them, letting me get a longer harvest. I find that you always have to be thinking about how plants can help each other out, and share the same space when your growing in such a small area.
Speaking of small area gardening. This is my big experiment for this year (to be added to the countless small ones no doubt.) I am growing 9 pots of potatoes. These large tree pots that I was able to get from a local nursery for zero dollars, FREE, yep my favorite price. You'd be surprised what people want to give away if you just ask. Anyway, I planted two seed potatoes in each one and the theory is that as the plant grows I will add straw around it covering the leaves. The stem will continue to push ever higher in it's attempt to get sun, and I will put a mesh column around the plant and keep mulching it. I have already covered the plants once with straw and they are poking out the top already. The potatoes on a potato plant actually grow not from the roots, but from the stem of the plant, thus the reason they are traditionally mounded, this method is supposed to allow for a much greater harvest from a smaller area.
OK, this goes out directly to ruralaspirations in regard to her issue with the cost of building her metal trellises per Mel's instructions. I also found that the conduit piping was fairy affordable, but would not get it myself because of the obscene price of the corners. (Do those dang corporations know how to stick it to you or what?) Until this year, when I will be trying one of them out. What changed my mind? That little piece of plastic above. It is an double threaded elbow for PVC pipe, 3/4 inch I believe, that fits very snug on the ends of the half inch conduit pipe. The key here is double threaded, because it's the threads that make it fit tight. There it is, my cheapo elbow. It may have issues in the heat of the summer, I can't say yet that's why I'm only going to try one of them (for .59 cents apiece I can afford to try it), but this is the type of stuff that I like to do in the garden, try this and that. Maybe only this works but that fails, I keep plugging away at it, little by little the garden gets better. I get better too for that matter, I learn that trying things is OK, and so is failing. Now is the time for us to take these opportunities. The future may hold tighter times when heading over the learning curve will hurt a lot worse.

Keep your mind open to the possibilities, and don't get to caught up in the minutia. I look at gardening less like a science and more like a painting. You try this or that, add something here take away a little there, it's a work in progress.

Grow on

Local Wild Asparagus 2008

Some of you long time readers may remember last year in early June when I found a good locale for harvesting Wild Local Asparagus Yes, you read that right, WILD, asparagus. It exists, and I have found it. This is what you need to look for. (visit the link-to post for a few other pics.) As I walked the banks of the ditches, I look for the wispy hits to the location of the "Green Gold". When I come up to a clump of the ferns, I kneel and root around in the grasses and voila.
Wild Asparagus! Could it be easier? Yeah, actually it could I guess. You could just trot on over to the local mega-mart and shell out 5.00 for a little bunch of the stuff, or maybe you want to keep it local and have a U-pick it farm or CSA that you can pick it up from. But you know what, it's just not the same as seeking it out, hunting it and gathering it yourself. This is food, given to us freely from the land in the most pure manner.
The harvest was not gigantic mind you. The weather has been cold the last week or so off and on, and that has a big impact on asparagus, but I'll go back for more, and see what I can find. The point of this exercise to me is that as I said, it is food that is provided for us freely from the earth. It is wild, and it is free. I liken it to fishing or hunting and enjoy the gathering no less. The flavors are different too, slightly earthier; not quite broken by cultivation yet. Keep your eyes open and look around you for the food in your midst and you may be surprised. We're all surrounded by foods that our ancestors lived on for millenia, if we neglect them, they just be turned over and destoyed or worse yet, poisoned as weeds. What a shame.


In Addendum... I found after posting this, that Red State Green had just posted something perfectly complimentary to this just yesterday. Check it out, and keep your eyes open.

100 ft Diet - Garden Update 2008

Just another garden harvest update from this weekend. Again I am very happy to say that the spinach is doing very well. I harvested this batch Saturday morning. This time I decided to split it up into two different groupings for measurement and packaging.

The bunch on top is the larger, fuller leaves that I think will be better served with a little steaming, or maybe sauteed in some butter with garlic. The other bunch on the bottom are the baby spinach greens that I'll use alone in spinach salads, or added to regular micro greens salad. (Not pictured, but I also harvested a good size bunch of that as well.)

We also had a bunch of our early sown radishes come in this weekend. They are really a treat. Don't they just shout out fresh with the bright red color and full greens. I love radishes. We have been making regular weigh ins of the produce that we've brought in so far, and hope to keep it up throughout the year. We don't have a harvest goal Per Se, but we do want to establish a base line of sorts so that we know what we're bringing in, and can plan better next year.
Anyone else out there bothering to weigh in and keep a record of your harvests?


May 22, 2008

Fast and Loose SFG

Well I meant to start this post yesterday, but as I was headed into the city that afternoon for a Microsoft conference I started feeling peculiar. Before the first session was over, I had to leave and head home. I ended up spending most of the night with a fever and bouncing back and forth between hot flashes and chills. Thankfully this morning, I felt much better and was able to go into work for a full day again. I guess I just had a bug. So now that that's cleared up, on with the post.
I've mentioned in the past that I used the famous "square foot gardening" (SFG) method. This is certainly where I started. I have, however, found that there are many pieces of it that I just don't use on a regular basis and others that I have modified to suit my own needs and abilities. I've also found through my readings of other blogs out there that there seems to be a number of people getting stuck with some of the things Mr Bartholomew outlines in his method. It's not so much that the stuff he suggests isn't practical, but I guess for a lot of us it's just not economical or necessary, so I decided to share my view of the way I've come to regard SFG's.
In the beginning I was a fairly firm SFGer. I built my 6" deep boxes, and composed a batch of "Mel's Mix" (1/3 each: compost, vermiculite, peat moss) and laid out my grid. There was my first variance. While I did make a grid, I didn't use the thick 3/4 to 1" sticks that Mel suggested because I didn't have the extra income to buy wood for it. Instead I used a roll of white nylon mason line to lay a grid out. I did this by placing nails around the boxes and tapping them over to make "hooks" and them running the string around them until I had a grid. It worked well, took up less space, and I could see the grid very well. As far as the Mels Mix, I still use it. I don't now, nor did I then, sweat the details over how much vermiculite I add compared to my compost and peat, I just split it up evenly and called it good, By and large however I hold that it is a very effective mix over all. One thing I would like to change, and would if I were to do it again, is that I would not make my boxes out of 6" boards. First of all, a standard 2x6 is not truly 6" deep, it's more like 51/2". Plus, I would like to have a little deeper soil, as well as having a little bit of lip at the top so that every time I work the bed I don't lose part of it over the side.
In the SFG book, Mel is a great advocate for making due, and reusing scrap materials to build the boxes. I totally agree with this approach, and would in fact extend it to the entire system as well. Trellising for instance.
In the SFG book, Mel makes mention of using metal electrical conduit for his trellis frames. Now while I agree that these would make very nice frames, and do in fact intend to begin incorporating a few this year, I was able to use some reclaimed 2x4's ripped in two and built a frame out of those for my tomatoes. For the trellising material itself I again went to the white nylon string. For tomatoes I stuck a stake in the ground and ran a string up to the top of the frame, as the tomato grew, I moved the plant around the string. I still do this today, it is the best way I have ever seen to grow perfect tomatoes. For cucumbers I made myself a sort of spider web strung between two tomato frames made out of... you guessed it... white nylon string. (seeing a pattern here, go get some!) This worked awesome and was completely removable and very inexpensive. (I'll be doing this again soon and will post some pictures.) Remember, every time you buy an item for your garden that you could otherwise make yourself, you are adding to your over all cost of production, and allowing yourself to become dependant on the garden center rather that the supermarket.
I have more to say on this, so stay tuned, but for now... time for sleep.
Till tomorrow.

May 19, 2008

100ft Diet, Garden Update 2008

The first harvest of the new Season is in!

Oh sure I pulled some carrots out that overwintered in the garden, but this is fresh 2008 vintage tastiness. Not only that but it's the first time that I've grown mesclun and I'm very happy with it so far. About half of the bag is pure mesclun mix from under the pea plant trellises, The other half is a mix of baby spinach and arugula. I also was able to harvest some radishes (not pictured) that were very tasty as well. The grand total for the weigh in... drum roll please...
A whopping 14oz. :)
Honestly though, we are planning on keeping a running total this year of the amounts of food that we are able to produce from our yard. IT will kick in quite a bit once the cukes and zucchinis start to mature, but for now, I'm pretty pleased.
In years passed I've had a tough time growing spinach in our climate. We tend to go from cold early spring to hot late spring very abruptly and it tends to send the spinach's, actually all greens, bolting. This year, I am trying Straw mulch to help keep the moisture in, and the soil cooler. So far so good. I actually have seen a significant increase in a couple of plants since I mulched them. I did however, notice a breakout of small mite-ish bugs on some lettuces that I transplanted with straw around them. I don't know if the straw caused it or what, but I hit them with a bit of Diatomaceous Earth and it seems to be keeping the plants healthy. In case your unfamiliar with D.E., it is a natural mined mineral made up of the dried shells of ancient sea creatures. It works as an effective organic pest control for small pests like aphids, spiders, mites, etc. It also contains many trace minerals that are beneficial to the soil so it's a win win situation.

I am planning to go in depth into a gardening topic this week spurred on by a regular reader and fellow blogger. She's having a bit of a time with the learning curve associated with the Square Foot Garden method. I initially started my garden using this method as well but, as with so many of the things I do, I took the things that I found to be useful, and left the rest; even of those that I kept I modified to suit my needs and available supplies/budget. So I thought I'd go into a couple of the cheap workarounds and generally outline my philosophy regarding this system. What I'd like to hear from you is this. If you have used the SFG method, or are currently, what are your opinions of it? What issues have you had and how have you solved them, or are they even solved? I know I'm not the only "freelance" square footer out there, come on, chime in.

Marathons and sprints

Ever notice that sometimes in life you're jogging along at a good steady marathon pace, focusing on the long term goals and just kind of plodding along? While other times it seems like your in a sprint to a finish line that is coming up quicker than you expected. That pretty much sums up the last week or so around our house. Problem with that was that while I was trying to do well on the sprint I was trying to run a marathon at the same time.
What the heck am I talking about? It's like that commercial, "Life comes at you fast". In one week, I had to dig and set posts for our fence, then install the fencing a couple of days later. In the time when the fence posts were setting, I was trying to do some basic prep work in the garden beds to prepare for the big planting push, clean up the yard for an outdoor party over the weekend to celebrate with family and friends our children's baptism. Which was a whole other process, taking a bit of time in the afternoon meeting with church missionaries a couple of days during the week. All this time I was getting up and into work early and staying late to meet a deadline that came today. (I made it by the way, despite a 2-day issue that popped up.) Anyway, I felt like I was sprinting to get all the immediate stuff completed, while still running the marathon that is vegetable gardening.
Whaa Whaa Whaaa... all pissing and moaning aside, it was a good weekend. With A~'s birthday on the same day as the baptism, and our Anniversary on the same day as their confirmation; May's a big month in our house. I'm happy to say I think I can get back to a bit of a schedule again, and perhaps get my blog to be a little more regular once more.
Thanks for the patience.

May 16, 2008

We are not alone

The Dervaes Family, of Path to Freedom, was on Nightline last night. I am sorry to say I missed it, but will certainly be watching it online tonight. As I took a minute to read over the story on Nightline’s website I read some of the comments left by viewers of the program. Overwhelmingly I found that there are a lot of people that either a) didn’t even realize such a thing was possible in so small a space, or b) are already beginning to take steps towards this end (I fall into both categories by the way). In both instances the response to their inspiring story was very positive.

 I think a common feeling to many who feel either inspired to take this lifestyle on, or who are just beginning in the process is that they are setting themselves apart as the outcasts, or that they will be looked at strangely by their neighbors as the “hippie” or “tree hugger” or worse yet the “end of the world is coming” nut job (a personal favorite) . Honestly, there is some truth to that. I can’t say that I don’t get the odd look, or the laughing questions about “how the farm’s coming along?” But I’ve found that my best defense is the same type that many others have used to fight any other type of stereotyping or prejudice; education. When someone asks me how the farm is coming, I tell them how it’s coming; often asking them when theirs will be getting started? “What? You’re NOT growing your own food?” The follow up to this is that I make myself as available as I can be to talk freely about the things that I am doing in my yard. I share from my experiences and try to encourage others in this as much as possible. I don’t do this necessarily because I am so benevolent, but rather because I have learned so much from others along my “Path to Freedom” and I want to share my lessons, because I know when my neighbors understand the joys that I have gotten from this way of living they will in turn better understand me, because when I walk around the block and see “my” pea trellis design in neighbors yards that I didn’t talk to about it myself, it fills me with pride and I know I am not crazy and, more and more, I am not alone. More and more people are looking to gain Freedom of their own. Food costs are rising due to global shortages and transportation costs (not to say that there isn’t a good dose of fear/panic involved as well mind you), we are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of pesticides and genetic engineering in our food supplies and concern for our future sustainablility and our impact on our environment is rapidly becoming the norm. All of these things are garnering more and more attention and in turn are leading many people to at least begin to make changes that will bring us all a little closer in our thinking.

So take heed, and breath a sigh of relief, you probably won’t be the wierdo on the corner for long. If you’re a veteran homesteader, offer some advice and be open about the things your working on. If your new to this, ask questions. It doesn’t even have to be someone in your circle of friends, you’d be surprised how many people in this digital era are out there just waiting to share their wealth of knowledge. Heck I might even have an answer or two.


Grow on!


2008 Asparagus

It's that time of year again. Asparagus season. It took forever getting here too! This spring has been one of the weirdest that we can remember, although strangely, no one seems to be noticing it, at least in our neighborhood. I can tell that it is an "in tune" with the earth thing because I finally found someone who gets it too; the farmer at our closest you-pick-it farm. He told us last weekend that the asparagus has been slow to come in this year because of the roller coaster hot/cold weather we've had. Either way, last weekend we made two trips, (Fri and Sat) to the farm to pick a bunch of sweet, tender asparagus.
Here is only a part of the total haul. All told we had over ten pounds of raw asparagus. We brought it home and let it soak for probably a little longer than we had too, but it was in cold water and it kept itself well.
Look at that color! It was, no kidding, the most vibrant green I can imagine. After rinsing and trimming, we shocked the young greens in boiling water. We added 1 lb of shoots to a large pot of water and timed it for 1 min. After the minute passed I pulled them out and they went straight into an ice bath to stop the cooking. We took them from there and layed them out on some paper towels and blotted them off.
Here is a picture of Amber vacuum packing one of the 1/2 lb bags of asparagus that we made. I need to diverge into another product review here.
We bought this small light duty vacuum packer a while back. It is battery operated, and uses a special zip lock bag that has a vented hole built in. We decided to purchase ourselves a Food saver Vacuum Sealer this year. We know that we are going to be putting up more food, and thought we could justify a little expense for that reason. Well let me tell you, we got that thing home, followed the instructions and gave it a whirl. it vacuumed that bag tight, everything looked great, and then... no seal. ??? What's up? We tried that thing 9 ways from Sunday and couldn't get it to seal worth a damn. So guess what we ended up using? That's right, the 15 odd dollar battery operated model with the special zip locks and it worked great! Go figure?

Here is the total haul from one weekend of putting up asparagus. finished weight is approximately 9 pounds. Guess what we spent on it? 10.00 for the asparagus (1.00/lb) and a few bucks for the bags. Can you beat that? I don't think so. If you have U-pick-it's near you I encourage you to get to them and see if they have asparagus ready, it's one of the real prizes of the spring. It's also one of the crops that, although we love it, we will not grow. It takes too long to mature and takes up too much space for our small lot. I rather go down to the farm stand and pick it myself. Besides, it's a great Saturday morning out with the kids and A~.
Hope you all have a great day tomorrow, I'll be finishing my fence. Pictures anyone?
Till then.

May 15, 2008

Garden Update (100 ft Diet)

Holy Crap, it's been a week since I posted last?? I'm so sorry for the intermission. I am almost done with the major stuff that I've had going on, but not quite. In the Next two days I will be installing the fence (I know now why people pay to set fence posts.) and wrapping that project up, Then on Saturday we're having some family and friends together for my three boys baptism. Faith is something we've always been open and honest about, but have never pushed on them and recently they made a joint decision that they all wanted to be baptised together. As if that weren't enough, all this will come together on A~'s birthday, and they will be confirmed as members of the church on our anniversary... go figure? What a blessing it will be.
Amidst all this chaos, I have been managing to keep relatively on top of the garden, and it has finally begun to really come into it's own. I didn't initially decide to participate in "The Growing Challenge" because, well honestly it's so hard to keep up with all the challenges, but I think I may participate in it after all since I really have a lot of new stuff going on this year, that applies to it. I thought I'd share some pics and updates.
My Cabbages that I planted early this year and had covered as a test did really well through the cold spring that we've had.
New crop this year. I tried Kale for the first time last year when it was too late in the season to grow it. I'll probably grow a late season crop too to see how long I can keep it bearing through the winter.
New crop this year. Grew up with pickled beets, and tried the greens for the first time from a farmer at the F-Market last year, very tasty.
New crop this year. I've never eaten it, but it looks so interesting and I have a co-worker that always had it growing up and loved it, so what the heck.
New(ish) crop this year. Bush beans. I've never grown a bush variety, but thought they would be a good determinant crop for our canning program this year.
New crop this year. Never grown onions, but we've planted approx. 150 starts this year. Some will be tested as storage onions, others will be chopped and frozen for quick recipes.
Rhubarb... what can I say, I love it. I'm trying out more companion planting this year, this is a good one. Broccoli, onions and rhubarb. They are all said to be complimentary, so again, what the heck.
Peas. Not a new crop but definitely a new method. I am using a sort of A-frame technique that I am trying out this year. It seems to be catching on too, three neighbors of mine going down the street have "adopted" my technique. (Hope it works.) I also have mesclun planted under the A-Frames. The idea is that the peas should shade the tender greens as the summer sun get progressively hotter.
This is my early, baby spinach, and radishes. Almost there, I should be eating this stuff this weekend.
Arugula (Rocket). This one took a little doing for me to like. It is definitely a "have with..." not a "have alone..." and gives a earthy, peppery flavor to salads and such, I want to try arugula pesto this year.
And of course the Apple blossom special... What can I say?
Finally, our dwarf cherry tree. This is the smallest tree we have, and last year it only yielded a couple of cherries. The big story here is that I think I have managed to beat a very high aphid infestation organically. Last year every time I walked by this tree, I inspected and removed any aphid heavy leaves and discarded. By the end of the summer it seemed to have beaten it. I hope for this year to be much better.

Well, That's about it folks. I have a bunch of pics of the front yard too. I'll try to get those up tomorrow night. I haven't even begun planting heavily in my main beds either so that ought to go on this week or weekend as well.
As for now, well, I'm beat! I'm going to bed. Hope your all well, and thanks for the patience.
Tomorrow, AsparagusFest '08 begins!!

May 8, 2008


Hi all, P~ checking in here... Remember me? I was listening to NPR the other day on the way home from work, and heard one of the public service announcements that they're so well known for. Well it got me thinking.
The PSA talked about the upcoming stimulus payments that so many of us will be receiving in one way or another. As we think ahead about all the wonderful things that we can get with this check in order to do our part in "stimulating" the economy, consider this. Before you run out for that new plasma TV, or even that great new kitchen gadget that you've been eying for so long, ask your self..."will this stimulate the economy?" So many of our goods are manufactured outside the country any more that the chances are pretty good that you're buying some fine Chinese, Taiwanese or Mexican goods. This is doing wonders for our global neighbors economy, but for ours, well, not so much. Unless of course you're the retail industry.

I mentioned that we're putting up a fence the other day. It's a vinyl fence. (I know I know, it's plastic, and comes from the petroleum industry, yada yada, yada.) It is one of those things that I kind of have to do, based on standards in our neighborhood. Anyway, I researched the company that we decided to go with, and found that not only are they a local company, (2-3 miles), but the product that they are supplying me with is manufactured right here in the good ole' USA. I'm glad for it. I think the stimulus money should go back into our economy.

I encourage you to really give a little thought to how you decide to spend yours. Here's a couple of suggestions I heard on the radio.
  • spend the money with local businesses.
  • set some of the money aside and use it throughout the summer at your local farmers market to support local farmers.
  • donate a portion of the stimulus to an environmental charity.

I'm sure there are a million other ideas out there, but you get the jist. I don't honestly think that the stimulus checks that are scheduled to go out are going to effect the economy as dramatically as is hoped, but perhaps we can improve those numbers by giving a little thought to how we decide to use it. If you have any specific plans for your "stimulus check" let me know what it is.
Have a great weekend all. I'll check in as I can.


May 6, 2008

A bit Busy...

I wanted to take a minute to let you all know that I may be a little hit or miss with the posts in the coming week or two. I will post, for sure, but I see it being sporadic at best. We have a lot of things on our plate at the moment, and something has to give. Later this week we will be beginning the process of putting in a fence, finally. It will be a great blessing to us to be able to cordon off our back  yard as a bit of oasis for our family, not to mention the fact that it will allow our chickens a safer range and make available somewhere in the neighborhood of 100-120 sq ft of additional planting beds  ;-)  always a plus! In order for this to meet our budget I will be doing a majority of the work myself, actually with a couple of my neighbors, but you know what I mean. I need to dig up and relocate sprinkler heads, dig post holes, find some way of minimizing the damage to my existing and currently planted garden beds, set posts and assemble the fencing. Combine this with having my traditional frost free, major planting date just getting ready to arrive (Mothers Day), an upcoming deadline at work and too many small chores to list and I’ve got a full load for sure. I’m also in the process of putting together an outline for some instruction that I want to offer for people in my community to help them learn to start and grow a “Freedom / Victory Garden” in their own yards. This is all coming together at the same time so, as mentioned I may be a bit spotty with the posts. Please bear with me as I do the best I can with the few hours in the day.



May 4, 2008

Buyer beware!

I bought this sledgehammer last year from home depot. Actually, let me make that statement correct, I bought a sledgehammer of this same model last year from home depot. The one that I had, I used a couple of times during my recycled concrete pavers project last year.

As I mentioned yesterday, we went out and broke up some more concrete over the weekend. After the first load of it was broken up, brought home and unloaded we went back for a second load. I hadn't even taken swing number 1 when the head literally fell off. It seems that the handle made of "American" hardwood had snapped inside but hadn't come loose yet. I used the head of the hammer to push some dirt to the side before swinging, and plop, there it went. I issued forth a few choice descriptive words to illustrate my frustration and then proceeded to head off to home depot to see if I could still exchange it for a replacement. I mean with less than a month of cumulative use it must have been defective or flawed right? I was in luck, I wasn't supposed to be able to return it since it had been over 90 days, but the very nice ladies at the customer service counter let me anyway since they could tell I had hardly used it.
Well guess what? Not ten swings into the brand new off the shelf replacement, and this is what I had. Now I know I am a true stud...(alright take a second while you finish laughing...done? Ok then.) but really, I hadn't even had enough time to get scratches on one side of this thing before I clean broke the top head off again.
I've taken the time on here before to tout products or services that I feel strongly about. As I've said, good products and services deserve good word of mouth advertising. Conversely, poor and shoddy products deserve poor word of mouth. If any of you are in the market for a sledge hammer any time soon, I encourage you to steer clear of this product, at least the wooden handled one. Which begs me to ask the question, what exactly is "American" hardwood. Didn't good American handles use to be Ash or Hickory? Is this the same variety of "American" product as "American cheese"? Why have we let the name of the greatest country in the world (no offense to those you from elsewhere, but it's how I feel. I wouldn't expect you to feel less for your country.) get associated with poor quality and cheap products? It's a shame really, we're better than that.
On a good note, I had a great weekend over all, I hope you all did too.

May 3, 2008

Another year older

Well, as I mentioned the other day, I was planning on sitting around getting older this weekend, and so I did, today's my birthday. 37 years have flown by as of today, and as we all know, they only go by faster. We went to a local historical heritage park yesterday for my birthday, because I love history and have been wanting to go there since last year. The kids had a good time, and we went ahead and got a family membership for this season. (50.00 for a family of 5, not a bad deal if you ask me.)
Today the whole family, my Dad included went and broke up and brought home some more recycled concrete for a future project (details to come in the coming weeks.) after a delicious breakfast of Homemade biscuits and gravy. In the afternoon my Uncle T~ come up from Salt Lake City to hang out for a little while. I always enjoy visiting with him. I also got out into the yard for a little while, and had enough time to plant some seeds that I wanted to get planted. There's still more tomorrow, so we'll have plenty of time. After everything I enjoyed some homemade lemon meringue pie, made by my wife, with fresh CA lemons from San Diego from my moms lemon tree.
It was a great day, no complaints. Hopefully all of you had a great day. I'll post more details on some stuff tomorrow if I can. Take care all!

May 2, 2008

Welcome and Action

Hey all, just wanted to take a second to say welcome to all the visitors that seem to be dropping in from Farm Mom's Blog, and to thank her for her support with my "Walk the Walk" campaign. I've been really starting to feel more and more that I need to get involved with the things that I want to see around me. I'm sure most of us have heard the famous quote from Gandhi that goes:
"Be the change that you want to see in the world."
If not, well you heard it here first. When you really think about it though, it is no less than a call to action, of some sort anyway. It don't think it necessarily means to go out and protest, or to be an activist. In fact to some degree that would almost be the antithesis of what he was saying. "Be the change..." not "affect the change..." was the call wasn't it? Yet then again, if we don't begin to take the actions that we believe should be taken, they may never be taken at all. (The "Someone else will do it" syndrome.) One of the reasons that I decided to try to get others involved in the issue that I have with Walmart is because it is a change that I would like to see happen. That and the fact that I know no matter how many letters I write to them, without many other voices, I will not be loud enough to be heard. I guess I am, to some degree, trying to "Be the catalyst of the change that I want to see..."
I have also begun another project this week that I really can't give to many details on. Not so much because it is confidential as it is not set in stone yet and I really don't know what the finished project will end up looking like. What am I talking about? Teaching. Or more to the point, sharing what I have experienced and learned with others in an effort to educate and hopefully inspire them. As I have grown in my experience with my garden and food production and urban chicken raising, I have hoped to get others in my neighborhood inspired to do the same and have actually made some strides on that front as a matter of fact. I've had a couple of neighbors that have decided to expand or modify their garden or gardening techniques to match the ones that I am doing, I am regularly asked about what I'm planting right now, or when they can start their tomatoes. I've kind of started to become that "garden guy" on the corner. So I decided, since it's something I LOVE to talk about anyway, that I would work with the local city to offer some basic FREE classes about growing small scale food plots or "Freedom Gardens" in our suburban lots.
I think that the time is ripe for people want to learn more about how they can begin to become more self sufficient on their own land. The higher food prices are not going to go down drastically, and more and more people are beginning to be more aware of the things that they feed their families. This is the type of change I hope to see in the world. People being responsible for their own sustenance to the degree that they can. Neighborhoods growing food and friendships and becoming more sustainable and prepared for future changes. If you have stories about the things you've started to do, I want to hear about them. Have suggestions for me? Fire away.
Hope you all have a great Weekend. I'll just be sitting around getting older, but more on that later.