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Archive for May, 2020

I'm surviving

May 29th, 2020 at 06:02 pm

Spring can be a VERY busy time of year around here. Unfortunately, I pulled a hamstring a month ago, mostly ignored it and as a consequence it really hasn't improved much. My knee is incredibly stiff. Yesterday was really the first day I tried to do as little walking on it as possible, and today I'll do the same, but tomorrow will be a good weather day and I REALLY need to install the hardware cloth on the bottom of the 2nd raised bed and fill at least half the raised bed with my remaining seedlings. (Plus I've been mowing my own lawn.)

I didn't like the quality of the top soil I got for the 1st raised bed, so this time I'm actually thinking of finding a relatively bare spot in my yard and digging up a few wheelbarrows' full of dirt (with my pulled hamstring). I also bought 3 bags of organic Black Kow manure, along with a bag of organic fertilizer.

I've also been having a lot of fun offering and getting stuff on two hyper-local Facebook sites: one is a Buy Nothing group and the other is a local gardening group where I've given away a ton of cosmos seed and also gotten free seedlings of chives and leeks, and also arugula and Jerusalem artichokes. I've also gotten some French bean seeds and a bunch of different flower seeds. So much to plant, including some elephant ear bulbs I saved from last year.

I'm happy to report the lantana plants I tried to overwinter in the back of garage last winter survived, and are growing now.

I did my monthly investment report and was surprised at how much the market has rebounded since the coronavirus began. My portfolio's almost back to where it was. However, I was fairly conservatively invested with only about 45% stock exposure. So my losses weren't as deep to start with.

I've decided to move forward with 3 home improvement projects, all masonry-related. One is installation of a handrail (the kind that doesn't rust or rot) on my front stairs, very important for my dad, as well as myself and any visitors.

The 2nd is to cover the façade of my ugly cement garage walls (one side and front) with stone veneer to match all the other stone walls/stone work surrounding driveway area. I've wanted to do this for years. It will really look amazing and cover up what I consider an eyesore, 1st thing you see when you pull up the driveway.

Finally, the 3rd project is redoing/rebuilding one concrete wall inside my basement. I think there's a name for it, but basically the old concrete is deteriorating/disintegrating. You can scrape it with a fingernail and it will flake off. I don't know extensive it is and hope it's more cosmetic than anything, but feel it's something I need to address, most especially if I ever sell this place (which I don't plan to, at this point).

I don't have a start date yet but we did agree on price; I need to clear off the old workbench in the basement to get stuff out of his way but I figure I have some time as I asked him to do the other jobs first. They are both outside, so it should be easy to minimize contact.

I recently sold a bunch of succulents on Facebook for $50; I just wanted to clear away some excess plants because things are getting too cluttered here, and truth be told, at least one of these plants, a Euphorbia Horrida, while alive, has grown very little in the 2 years I've had it (!) and I'm losing interest in it/them. I also sold a propeller plant, a lime-green pothos, and a small copper spoon.

I took an idea that Dido mentioned and RAN with it...earlier on, when toilet paper was hard to come by, I latched onto the idea of using a portable bidet in the bathroom, cutting down drastically on my use of TP (only use now for #2), and the need to buy it. I bought about 50 hotel-style washcloths pretty cheaply, like $24, and they're still too large for my needs, so I cut them in half to reduce the need for laundering them (just throw in some bleach). However, since they're like a terry cloth material, I found they unraveled quite a bit in the dryer, so I've begun the rather tedious process of sewing a hem on each one. This will take some time, but that's something I have plenty of these days!

I guess my survivalist neighbor is rubbing off on me. I don't think he uses a bidet, but I really like the idea of not having to depend on store-bought toilet paper. He's got about 30 raised beds to grow veggies this year, plus a bunch of fruit trees, a cow for milk, 2 calves for meat, a bunch of chickens and a bunch of sheep. Plus 3 freezers. He says he could eat for 2 years if the severe food shortages he believes are coming materialize this fall.

Planting season and other excitement

May 7th, 2020 at 06:41 pm

It's been a busy month or so.

My neighbor finished building my raised bed, and he also fenced it. It's a 15-foot square area that will nicely fit a second raised bed, which he said he could do this week.

I found a natural wood sealer that is safe to use with raised beds and had to wait a week for the rain to stop before I could use it. You only need to apply it one time. I have plenty left over and plan to use it on the 2nd raised bed. .

So far, I've spent $437 on this. The most expensive item was the cedar wood used for the bed itself. Getting the 2nd raised bed in should cost me another $216, not including soil. I'm hoping that with the sealer, the bed(s) will last at least 4 years, if not longer. I did talk to one person who said her cedar bed only lasted 3 years, but I don't think she used any kind of sealer on it.

I also made a simple compost bin out of a large Rubbermaid storage container. I used my drill to make lots of holes in the side, top and bottom for ventilation. I had a yard of topsoil delivered, but I don't think it's very good soil I should have stopped in to check it before ordering), so I'm working to amend it. Neighbor give me chicken and sheep manure and I bought some organic fertilizer, plus some compost I got for free. You can see the bin inside the fenced area.

We've had an exceptionally chilly spring so the only thing I have actually planted thus far are 2 small kale plants I got from my local organic farm plus some small broccoli which were already flowering. I also planted arugula seed, which has come up but is tiny.

I have lots of veggie seedings in peat pots being nurtured indoors: cherry tomato, beefsteak tomato, and red pepper. They're in the sunniest room in the house, my upstairs bathroom, and so to harden then off in preparation for their going outside next week I hope, I found it easy to open the bathroom window that looks out on my family room roof, which is not that steep. I put the seedlings out there, knowing they're getting lots of sun and are protected from curious chipmunks who go for tender new foliage.

I gave up on some other seeds that require exceptionally warm temps to germinate, like the cucumbers, asparagus bean, eggplant and louffa sponge. I'll try sowing directly outside, but am concerned I'll be way behind schedule, so I bought 2 eggplant from my local farm. The beans grow fast, so they should be okay. I'd like to snag a cucumber seedling somehow; local stores seem to be out of everything. Am getting a free celery plant today from Buy Nothing.

I have red poppies growing in the garage.

I picked up 3 small peppermint plants for free from my local Buy Nothing group. My neighbor said he has lots of extra veggie seedlings so hope to get a few potato plants and maybe basil from him. I'm giving him some perennials.

His work for me was part of a barter arrangement; in return, I'll be writing/editing a set of playing cards, each one to feature one of the characters from his children's fantasy book. I did the first one today. All of the characters are insects. Smile

A pair of gobblers (male/female) has been wandering around my backyard for a while. Or I should say, the female wanders aimlessly (who knows what she is thinking?) while the male follows wherever she goes. Alas, she seems oblivious to his fan displays.

The hummingbird(s) is back, and recently I saw a yellow warbler and a Baltimore oriole in the yard, along with scat I suspect is a fox. Also spotted a very pudgy (pregnant?) opossum trudging along.