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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Homesteading Update August 2, 2017

*click on the pictures- they're much more clear that way!

I wanted to tell you that I have my winter garden started on time for once, and I do, but I think I’ll probably lose my brassicas. Maybe some others. It’s hot here, really hot. Like 100F hot. Tomorrow is forecast for 110F, and the next nine days will be in the high nineties.  I have a feeling I may have to start over.

So- since it will probably be too hot to start my August stuff like lettuce, broccoli raab, kale, etc., I’ll have to get clever about it.  The problem with growing for winter is that you have to have it pretty much mature by the early part of autumn so that when the sun finally wanes off and your vegetables quit growing, everything is ready for harvest. I am frankly not really sure what I’m going to do but I’ll let you know if I come up with something. It may be just sowing seed, keeping them watered and covered, and crossing my fingers.

In the meantime, I’ve been really busy, which is why I haven’t written in awhile.

First, I finished the dining nook!  You know what that means?  I get to start rabbits! The deal was that I couldn’t start another project until I finished the dining nook which took me, I’m ashamed to say, I mean, really ashamed, six years. But it’s finally done.

For some reason, getting that done made me want to finish another project I’d started last year.  It was ostensibly to have something to practice on with my drill press, but once the chuck fell out of it with a spinning hole saw in it that bounced on the drill press table and then went skipping across my forearm, I kind of lost interest in using my drill press. The injury wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been but I'm a little leery about that drill press. I remember thinking 'I don't know about this' when the instructions said to bang it in there, and a cabinet maker friend assures me that's how they all get put in, but it seems to me that there should be a set screw somewhere. I still haven’t put the chuck back in. 

In any case, I finished the new hat and coat rack with my cordless drill, so now we have enough room for our coats and our guests’ coats. Also a place to put hats and gloves. By the way, these photos look terrible because I've given up on our camera and the phone takes good enough pictures in every other use, but Blogger doesn't like them for some reason. Although this one was a little on the grainy side. It's usually fairly dark where this rack is.

Then because I had this making stuff wild hair up my backside, I made myself a floor mount embroidery frame. It’s largish so that I can embroider cushion covers and embellish largish things. Incidentally, part of the reason I made this was because I saw a picture of one and realized that I had all the material lying around in the garage. I only had to buy the hardware.

Right on the heels of the embroidery frame, I made us a patio table because we didn’t have one and we had house guests coming. This was back when the weather was decent and we wanted to hang out outside. We had been using a folding card table but that got old because there wasn’t enough room. I mean there wasn't enough room for Steve's knees!  The new table has plenty of room; I can comfortably get six people around it (eight in a pinch) and have room for serving dishes and platters. It’s made of cedar and should weather to a nice gray. We've used it a lot, although mainly for breakfast. You know. Breakfast on the veranda. It's kind of nice when you have a decent garden to look at while you're dining.

After awhile I got tired of crawling over and around stuff in the garage, so I cleaned and reorganized it, which took Three. Whole. Days. It's a whole lot better- there's actually enough room for us both to climb into the car at the same time. It used to be that Steve would have to pull the car out of the garage and let me get in.  I'm not going to show you that because, even though it looks great to me, it would not to you. I'm not like my father-in-law who besides having cupboards to stuff everything into, also mops his garage floor. I asked him how he got it so clean and he said 'With a mop and bucket!' like I was the crazy one. I'm sorry if you mop your garage floor too, but that's just nuts.

But back to projects: next was the garden. About two or three years ago, I started beds for cold frames for winter.  Well I finally got around to finishing them.  Since I needed to be able to shade the seedlings against the hot sun, I made frames for the reed fences that we used to have to put over the pergola.  The reed fences work really well to shade the seedlings. I may cut them down because they’re a little awkward, but they work really, really well for their new purpose. 

While I was building cold frame boxes, I boxed in the boysenberries as well.  Since this picture was taken (I really gotta go back to using the camera), Steve cut the part of the neighbor's crabtree that fell over the fence into our yard and ran it through the chipper.  All those lovely crabapple wood chips are now tidying up the box. They are sitting on soil which is sitting on cardboard, and even though I torched everything on the ground in there, a dandelion is still making its way up through it all.

This seems to be the best way to train indeterminate tomatoes.  I really like this method better than anything else I’ve tried.  The stands and crosspieces are all three-quarter inch EMT. I just ran a line from the ground up over the end, along the crosspiece and down the other side, and tied both ends to one foot long pieces of rebar that were hammered in on the diagonal.  That’s also what I tied off every tomato line to as well.  I love using rebar in the garden. I have one, two, and three foot lengths of it and they get used over and over and over again. When I’m not using them, they get stored in a couple of five gallon buckets on the porch. By the way, the tomatoes are two times as big now as they are in that picture. One month sure makes a difference on everything.

I recently saw a couple of videos of different professional cucumber growing operations, and that’s how they grow cucumbers as well. Cucumbers have suckers just like tomatoes, and you can keep the plant tidy by pinching them out and growing it up a line.  My plan for next year is to build a cage with one or one-and-a-half inch EMT and run the three-quarter inch EMT across, and then I’ll have a good place for tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons.  Beans too, come to think of it.

Speaking of melons, I am having much better luck this year with them. I remembered reading somewhere that pumpkins really like to grow in compost piles, and I figured melons are kind of like pumpkins so I moved the compost which was almost done anyway, into one of the beds and transplanted my melon starts into it.  

I have a couple melons on the Prescott Fond Blanc, but not too many of the Valencia Winter Melons, and I don’t know if I’ll have enough time to ripen them or not.  I haven’t given up on growing melons though.  Next year I’ll look for an early honeydew.  Steve and I discovered on our camping trip that we really like honeydew melon. This one here is called Prescott Fond Blanc; I got the seed from Baker Heirloom.

I’m actually still working on rabbits, though!  Before I can get the rabbit house going, the fence desperately needed mending.  Steve and I knocked out three panels last weekend, and I think we’ll suck it up and get the last four done next weekend. We’ll just have to stay hydrated and take breaks.  I was going to use the old fence boards to make a compost bin but they are way too rotten to bother, so I’ll have to research how to get rid of them in my area. I guess it’s a good thing I have a truck!

I have a couple of other irons in the fire, but they should be in a post of their own because they fall under one of my favorite subjects: soil fertility. I have a whole load of information to share on that one.

In the meantime though, I'm going to try to stay cool. And I'm going to pray for my seedlings!

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