Thursday, June 30, 2011

2011 Will Be Known as a Great Gardening Year

It's not even July yet and we've eaten from our garden: lettuce, spinach, onions, kale, beets, beet greens, radishes, basil, chiles, cilantro, dill and tomatoes! Hope all you other gardeners out there are having a great year too!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

When the Weeds Get Ahead of You...

Due to above average spring rains and the sheer amount of work it's been to establish our new garden, some of the beds got ahead of us, weed-wise. After some initial and futile pulling of weeds we decided to do some mulching instead.

First we weeded quickly along the bed margins and such...

 ...then we covered the weeds/soil surface with newspaper...

To keep the newspaper from blowing away we put handfuls of compost down:

Finally, we added more compost and spread it uniformly:

Now, that's our kind of "weeding"!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Supporting the Future of Battery Technology or "We Just Need a Power Mower!"

Our garden design has only one downside so far: lots of grass between the planting beds. While we like the look and feel (soft on our bare feet) and while we also like the idea of having interstitial vegetation (grass) with associated soil food web between the beds, we do not like the amount of time we were spending mowing this grass with our manual-powered reel mower. It gets pretty wooly, pretty quick:

So, until we can replace some of these grass strips with something more maintenance free, enter the beast (It's our new rechargeable battery powered push mower):

We thought we might try and support the unfolding battery technology movement while also getting the grass mowed more quickly (so that we can actually spend time gardening):

We've only used it once but, so far, it gets a very high rating. It mowed our whole garden area and still had 75 percent of its charge. It's built well, cuts great, is essentially silent and requires no gas, no oil, no spark plugs, no filters, no nothing except plugging-in to charge. Our only fear (unfounded) is that we won't be able to find a replacement battery when we need it. Again, an unfounded fear.

We used the bagger so that we could apply the clippings to our garden plants as mulch and as a nitrogen source.

Look at this green gold:

Here's a few shots from the roof:

If you don't have a whole lot to mow, consider a rechargeable mower (and charge at night, during off-peak).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garbage Day Screen Door

Last year when we lived in a rental in Grove City, OH, we used to scan the trash all the time because people would routinely throw out some pretty excellent stuff. One day we saw the screen door pictured below and threw it into the back of the truck "just in case". Of course, "just in case" is now and if anything could use some dressing up with a refurbished Garbage Day Screen Door, the back of our house could:

Jennifer removed all of the old torn screen and thoroughly washed the entire door in preparation for a new paint job:

We get lucky and the install goes quick...

...and here we have quite an improvement!

Here's the "before" pic looking up from the basement to the only view we had prior to the screen door:

And here's the "after". Lots more light, ventilation and a view to the outdoors (which the cats especially appreciate!). Keep your eyes peeled on garbage day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What to do with an an old bucket milker

We found 3 bucket milker's in our chicken coop.  Probably for baby calves?  Thinking the buckets were cool we held onto them and enjoyed a great brainstorm for a new use.  Hanging planting buckets!  Check it out...

First, Steve removed the nipples and used some tin snips to cut out the bottoms of some cans we had in recycling to cover the holes left by the absent nipples.

If you look close in the first picture you can see the back of each bucket is equipped with a bent piece of metal to allow a person to hang the bucket from a fence.  Perfect.

We used some perennials (black-eyed susan cultivars) in these buckets to see if we can plant them in ground in the fall and enjoy them for years to come. 

So far so good - one's flowering.  :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bluebirds, tree swallows & an unexpected visitor...

A week ago the baby bluebirds fledged!  Look closely at the ground to the left of the bluebird box and you will see...

 3 little fledged birds!


We couldn't get much closer for a picture because the parents kept us away.  See the papa on the fence.

One adventurous little soul climbed the compost pile within the first hour!

The other two huddled together next to the garden fence.

Eventually all left the nest.  One met his/her demise quickly but we are thinking long life for the rest of them!

Tree swallows found our other bird box quickly and are currently incubating eggs.  Soon there will be more baby birds here.

And finally, the other morning Jennifer looked out at the bird feeders and let out an excited scream.  Yep, we've got turkeys feeding here!  Lots of cool wildlife at this place.  We're feeling so grateful.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chicken Coop Exhumation

Remember this building?

Steve's steadily worked on the exhumation of the chicken coop from beneath this hideous tack-on.  

Here's a mid-progress view...


The old shake roof came off easily.  Steve saved the plywood from the tack-on and will use it when we re-roof the building with metal.

How cute is this little building?  Just needs some paint, a new roof and flowers!

A hanging basket of flowers gets us started. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Zoo Brew Compost!

The soil in our garden isn't too bad, all around, but it could use some organic matter, which would help with not only fertility but also with re-building soil structure. To that end we researched nearby compost suppliers and found Price Farm Organics in a neighboring county and had them deliver a dump truck load of "Zoo Brew" compost (this is a mix of animal manure, wood chips, bedding and facility compost materials from the Columbus Zoo). Here's the pile:

We had enough to fill all of our raised beds plus we added a couple of inches to each of the regular beds.

So far, the seeds like it:

Nice little bean plant spreading its roots in the Zoo Brew-amended soil:

If you are in Central Ohio, look into Price Farm Organics for all of your decomposing detritus needs!