Sunday, August 08, 2010

 

August flowers

Not too many flowers in August, but here are some that I thought were worth posting. This pink blossom is one of a small handfull of bulbs that I planted by the kitchen composter. Two blooms popped open in the last few days and quickly faded away. The ants like them and you can see a few in the center of the bloom if you look carefully. The blossom is about two inches wide and about 10 inches tall. I forget the name but have it somewhere in the saved packages.

Susie, down the street gave me a big bucket of Black Eyed Susans a couple of years ago. They all got planted on the southeast side of the yard along the fence. Now they come up every spring and provide bounteous yellow blooms in the summer. There are three big areas with these yellow faces and they command the fence at this time of year.

Dahlias are interspersed with the Black Eyed Susans and keep leaning out over the lawn and getting mowed down. This little one looked nice enough to photograph. There are lots of them but this late in the season they are on their way down.

Echinacea Purpurea or Purple Coneflower also a gift in a big bucket from Susie, down the street. Ralph and Susie have an old English Setter named Lady who stays at my house and gets to roam in the big back yard when they go on vacation. Back to the coneflowers. Some of these are wierd and have things growing out of the center cone. Some have drooping petals, some have long petals. All are interesting. The birds eat the seeds. There were a couple of goldfinches in the Echinacea plants yesterday.

The big hostas hiding the air conditioner are in bloom now. I can look out the window and see a big row of these blossoms above the big green leaves.

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I went out the other evening in early August, 2010 and took a few pictures of the garden as it looks now. I had just mowed the lawn and it looked pretty good. It has changed a lot, and for the better in the last few years. A lot of flowers were in bloom this spring, but now the pickings are fewer. The White Maple replaced the Bradford Pear that got the foam treatment. It is growing nicely now.

Several rabbits frequent my garden. In the spring i have to put fencing around the smaller blueberries and azaleas and young plants in the vegetable garden. At this time of year, though, they eat the clover in the lawn and that is fine. This little guy is unafraid of me and lets me get within about 8 feet before he (or she) hops a little further away.

The rabbit picture is a very long shot at full telephoto of my Olympus SP-550UZ. It has an 18X optical magnification and I cropped the picture by about 4x. The camera was braced against the doorway to the shed in the first picture.
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I will post some more pictures soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

 

Dove for Lunch

 A hawk decided to have a dove for lunch by the sunflower seed feeder. My son caught this picture just as the hawk was grabbing the dove carcass to fly over the fence. We got a little too close. By the way, both doves and hawks are welcome in my garden.
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

 

Its been a year since the last post

Its been a year since the last post. I will try to update the blog with the main news and the pictures I have taken of the gardens in my yard. There have been some major events! The Bradford pear that had the cables installed has been removed. Another Bradford pear also decided to fall and has been removed and two large pine trees in my neighbors yard crashed into my yard, both at once, falling on my newly planted "path to the woods" and taking out the older white dogwood nearby.

Monday, September 25, 2006

 

Major rain storm

We had a major rain storm over the weekend. There were over 3 inches of rain in the rain guage and the bucket in the backyard was full. My guess is 6 to 7 inches in about 4 hours at my house. The major event was a leaking skylight in the living room. We posted buckets and moved furniture and today I called a guy to fix that.

In the yard I went out during the rain to watch the water wash away my mulch. It didn't do it. The wood chips that I put down when they took out the tree just sat there with the water rushing by. Further down the large pine nuggets floated from the beginning of the pathway to the false gate at the end of the path to the woods. They stopped there. The water was running fast over the landscape fabric, but it held in place. This morning I used the pitchfork to move all the stuff back where it belonged. It looks like nothing happened in the back yard at all.

The area around the parking pad for the RV holds a couple of inches of water. That means that the front lawn will be pretty soft for a while and I better not plan on using the RV for a week or so. The parking pad for the RV does not seem to cause water to get too close to the house; one of my worries when I put in the pad.

This evening I noticed that the steel cable holding the Bradford pear together had come out from one of the branches. I need to call and have it reattached.

Still pulling burmuda grass.

I put up a hummingbird feeder. I am using a solution of 1 cup of water to 1/4 cup of sugar for the syrup. Three of the hummers zoomed by me this afternoon as I was pulling grass.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

 

Clearing bermuda grass from planting beds

Much as I don't like it, bermuda grass is what I have and it crawls far and fast, both on and under the ground. Today I dug a trench around the laveneder bushes and removed all the bermuda grass, then filled it with mulch. Now I can go along the trench with the steel blade power edger and trim the grass that crosses the line. Seems to work in other areas.

In a small area by the port to under the house, I have planted a Carolina jasamine. This is on a trellis and is now growing fine. When I planted it originally, I placed landscape fabric around the area and covered it with large pine bark chunks. This space is only about 5 feet wide and is right at the corner of the house. It is difficult to mow around because of the placement. Today, I put in a stray piece of plastic border that just fit. Dug out the trench like for the lavender area, but installed the plastic border instead of mulch. Then I put back the fabric and the pine bark. Now I should be able to use the string trimmer on this area and keep it neat.

At the end of the sun room I am digging out the bermuda grass and sifting the soil to be sure of removing all the bits and pieces of grass. This is tough, but it is the only way to permanently get rid of the grass in the area. I am digging about 8 inches down, removing the soil onto a piece of plastic fine chicken wire kind of stuff that is attached to two pieces of board. The grass and rocks do not pass the mesh. The soil and the small organic soil amendment do. I put dog food down at the bottom, then replace the sifted soil. It is slow work.

I will plant boxwoods, azeleas, day lilies and hostas here. They are patiently waiting.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

 

Seeding the lawn

It is late summer. Time to overseed the lawn. Keep in mind my lawn is huge in the back and OK in the front. I picked up 50 lbs of Pennington Kentucky 31 grass seed the other day at Sam's Club. 50 lbs does not cover the full lawn, but it will do the front and a good part of the rear. The front is reseeded over the crab grass and foxtails and other noxious weeds. There is new fertilizer on the front, too. The remainder of the grass seed was spread on the back where the weeds were obvious and around the perimeter of the lawn and around the tree mulched areas. This should give a better look to the edges of the lawn in the spring. The crab grass will die in the winter and the new grass should replace it. With new grass in place and proper fertilizer it should grow thick enough to shade the crab grass seed and at least slow the growth of the dreadful stuff.

In other work, I have some new plants to put at the end of the sun room. The sun room is the addition to the house and the end generally faces southwest. I am digging up the bed in preparation to planting the area. I have to do this to remove the deeply rooted bermuda grass in this area. Remember, this area used to be the main lawn. I am sifting all the soil and removing the rizhomes by hand. I made a sifter by nailing some chicken wire to some 2x6 board pieces that hang over the sides of the garden cart. The soil in placed into the sifter and broken up to find the bermuda grass. Then the soil only is replaced. I am putting dog food into the dirt to feed the worms. Still trying that trick. More on this later.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

 

Foam to fill the hole in the tree...

I used insulating foam to fill the cavity in the Bradford pear tree. First I vacuumed and blew all the dust and crap from the hole which has lots of cracks and splits. Then I just filled the hole from the bottom to the top with foam. I was carefult to make sure all the broken wood was covered with a layer of foam.

Then I went in the house to have a beer. When I came out, the foam had filled ... and filled... and filled the hole and now it looks like a basketball got stuck in the tree.

Ballof foam in the tree wound. Now I have to trim it down and then paint it. It won't grow after curing for 24 hours. Then it can be cut with a saw and shaped with a rasp. In outdoor conditions, it must be protected from the weather.

The chips from the tree look like about 5 yards. The pile got rained on for a day. Now it is filled with mold. Each forkfull is full of mycilium from the fungus growing in the pile. I suppose that is good for the soil.

I put a bunch of the chips around the blueberries because it is supposed to be acid. It will also soak up all the nitrogen from the plants. It will burn if ignited, and I expect it will attract termites. I am placing it by the chainlink fencing and away from the house to minimize the termite problem. It took one yard to do the blueberries.

Wood chips placed along the chain link fence by the Rose of Sharon.I have placed a couple more yards (three carts full is one cubic yard) along the back chainlink fence. This area is sort of neglected. It backs up to overgrown Rose of Sharon alternating with overgrown forsythia in the neighbor's yard. The chips look good.

Friday, July 28, 2006

 

The Bradford pear gets fixed...

On Monday after the Bradford pear fell, I called several tree companies to get quotes on cleaning up the mess. I selected vendors with arborists on staff to get the quotes. Two replied promptly and the third called in too late after I gave the work to one of the others. I selected Arbor Care of East Tennessee in Lenoir City, near where I live. Their bid included removing the fallen limbs, adding cables to the tree to support the main remaining limbs, removing all the internal small stuff like suckers to open the interiors to let the wind through. Here are the pictures of the work in progress.


The two large branches of the Bradford pear lying on the ground. This is what I saw when I looked from the back porch after the tree fell. The tree just whisked the end of the house. Some of the leaves were caught by the end of the gutter and there is a little damage to that end of the gutter, but not much. We will see if and when it rains. My son and his wife were sleeping in that room when ith tree snapped about 11 PM. It scared the hell out of them.


The workers began cutting the tree about 8 AM on Thursday. The workers were here bright and early on Thursday morning. They began cutting before the foreman rang the doorbell. By the time I got the camera to take a picture the big limbs were cut and they were dragging away the pieces to go into the shredder. No, he is not sawing up the chair. We placed chairs and tables in a group and normally sit there in the evening at sunset and enjoy the garden and maybe a glass of wine. One chair was crushed. The other stuff was OK.


The wound in the tree will be very weak.
The wound in the tree looks like this now. The arborist pointed out that this was a very weak system now and needed to be reinforced to withstand normal winds. "It may still break," he said, "but with the cableing, it won't fall like the other did. It will just hang down."


The branches were fed to the chipper that quickly reduced the pile to chips in the truck.All the branches and most of the stumps were ground up and blown into the truck. This chipping machine is a monster. It has steel "grabbers" that bite into the material and drag it into the maw of the chipper, then take anothere bite. Inside a hammer mill chops everything into 1/2 inch chips. It is fast, too. The pile was gone in just a few minutes. I was amazed at how fast it worked.


The workers climbed into the trees and cut away all the little stuff using sharp saws.The next work was to trim the small stuff out of the insides of the three Bradford pear trees in the yard. The workers climbed up into the tree and with a hand saw, rapidly took out all the little stuff. They also took out crossing branches and suckers. And, at my suggestion, they took out many of the branches coming from the bottom of the parent branch. These men carry a holster for the saws and I noticed that they have learned to respect the sharp points. They are quick, but careful and take care of their tools.


Eyebolts were used to cable three of the main branches together to make the tree stronger.When they were done, the shape of the tree was unchanged (except for the big break) but the interior was empty of all the little stuff and very open. This allows the wind to blow through the tree and reduces the stresses on the lower branches.
Finally, they attached eye bolts to three of the main branches in the damaged tree and wired them together. They used galvanized cable which should last as long as this short-lived tree will last.


What now? Since the tree will maybe last for another 5 years or so, I will plant a longer lived tree between it and the house to grow into that space. I have some maple trees that would be ideal. So, that is the plan. I will plant one of the maples in front of the pear. The other will shade the bedroom in the afternoon. In addition, I think I will plant several dogwoods in front of the maple tree as well. These grow fast and are also short lived. When the Bradford pear finally goes these trees will be will on their way and can fill in quickly. So, thats the plan.

More later. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

 

Brittle Bradford Pears!


This morning, Sunday, July 23, 2006, this is what I found in the back yard. A good portion of the large Bradford pear tree has fallen down. Snapped off right where the branch and the trunk meet. Two branched fell. My son and his wife and children were staying overnight and they were in the room near the tree. When it fell, the tops of the branches whisked across the end of the house sounding like a bookcase falling down. All preceeded by the sound of the branch snapping, of course.

Interestingly, the tree branches fell on our little set of chairs and tables that we use when sitting on the lawn in the shade. One chair was crushed. The others appear to have survived, but are locked in the cage of branches. I am having wierd thoughts of what would have happened if we had been all sitting there when the thing fell.

My neighbor had three of his Bradford pears trimmed nicely by a local tree company. I will call them tomorrow and get a quote. They did a nice job for him. I have a chain saw and could cut up the fallen portion, but I cannot thin the remaining top, so it is all a job for a professional. I think I need an arborist to sign off on the plan, too.

Meanwhile, we have four english boxwoods, three Delaware Valley white azaleas, a dozen hostas and a couple of day lilys to plant...and a fringe tree waiting to be put into the ground. Also the tree seedlings in the tree nursury are outgrowing their space and need to be put into the ground permanently. Some planning to do for that.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

 

Planting mugo pines...

Today I planted 9 little mugo pines (pinus mugo mugho). These were late season on sale plants from Wal*Mart for $3.00 each. I put one out front last year and it is growing slowly, but nicely. These plants get 4 feet wide and 4 feet high at maturity, but don't look on the web. The pictures of these full grown plants are up to 20 ft high. Mostly they will stay small rounded evergreen conifers. Just right for the winter garden when everything else has lost its leaves. I planted two at the base of the larger trees in the planting beds I have established around each tree. These beds have a five foot radius which is a nice tight turn for the lawnmower.

The weather is hot and humid and things are drying out. The township has put us on watering only three days a week. Odd and even address alternate and no one waters on Mondays. With all the new plants I have in the ground this year, I have to be careful to keep them alive.

Still have about 3 more yards of mulch to place. So much to do, I have a tough time deciding what to do next.

Monday, July 10, 2006

 

Five yards of mulch for the front yard...

Grandson, Ryan, came over for the weekend and we placed five yards of mulch in the beds of the front yard. It goes on thick and lasts a couple of years. This is just ground brush mixed with composted sewage sludge and is available from several processing plants in the area. No color added, just brown mulch. We placed it 3 to 4 inches thick and the five yards just did the front yard.

We also trimmed the eunonymous manhatten in the front. These things are varigated with yellow and green leaves. When I trimmed them, it became apparent that they are infected with scale. I think I will take them out and replace with something else. They can grow too big too fast and need trimming. At my last house I had one that was planted too close to the house and it got pretty big, then fell over. Just pulled itself out of the ground. I cut it way back and it came back just fine. These are indestructable.

That done, Ryan, who is just 16 and just got his learners permit, got to mow the back yard on the riding mower. After he finished we went over it again and did the places that he missed. He has a lot to learn. Nice kid. "A" student. Can't hammer a nail.

I spent today, Monday, pulling the rye out of the glads. The rye got big. Now I will have rye weeds forever in that area.

I still have 8 mugo pines (pinus mugo mugho) to plant. Also a fringe tree awaiting a decision on where to put it. Also have to move one of the maples that is now aproaching 6 ft tall. It was an arbor day seedling two years ago. I want to plant it where it will cast evening shade on the bedroom in the summertime. I need to go out and cut the roots for the rootball.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

 

My computer crashed, lost all pics of garden...

This is a sad note. My big computer crashed. Yes, the one I built that had the big disk and a backup disk died. I think the backup disk is OK, but I am not sure. In any case, the pictures of the garden after I got the coral bark maple went to the bit bucket behind the desk.

Where am I now? The Rye has grown and most has been removed or has glads growing up in it. The lilies didn't prosper in the rye.

The vegetable gardens are very productive this year. I clearly have planted too many tomatoes and zuccini. We have a very prolific papaya squash that produces large yellow summer squash by the basket full every time I look at it. My wife does not like it as much as the normal summer squash.

My tan pumpkin has overtaken the garden area where it was planted with a vengance. I mow it where it invades the lawn.

My grandson (he is 16) and I put in a parking pad for the RV. This is a gravel pad that is level and near water, sewer, and our new 30 amp electric outlet. I have filled around the pad with top soil and tapered it down to the lawn level, then reseeded with fiscue. The bermuda is comming up fine.

The path to the woods in the corner is essentially done. I may move one plant later on. There are 15 little azaleas from Wal*Mart, you know, the ones for $1.75, and a nice rhododendron and the coral bark maple in the island part of the garden. Along the fences are 3 Alabama azaleas, some asian lilies, a Star magnolia, two rhododendrons, and a native azalea. Then the fence across the corner.

I put two hinges and a gate latch on this fence section to make it look like a gate into the woods. Wife put some artificial flowers on the gate in a little moss basket. It is too dry and shady for anything to grow in the basket.

Along the next fence are another rhododendron, a witch hazel, three summer lyric azaleas, five Virginia sweetspire, four winterberry (including one male) and a multistemed redbud tree.

This whole thing took a while to complete, lots of holes to dig. To dig the holes, I used this technique: Clear the existing mulch away to reuse around the new plant; Dump a bucket full of soil amendment and some 10, 10, 10 fertilizer on the spot for the hole (it is good clay); Dig the hole a shovel depth all around mixing the amendment into the soil as the soil is loosened; Toss out any rocks and cut any roots from the trees; Plant the plant, backfill halfway, soak with water; Full the remainder of the soil, making a basin with the excess; Return the mulch, then get a beer. We have had a hot spring.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

 

Found a Coral Bark Maple

I have been shopping for a coral bark maple for weeks, now. I finally found one at a nursury near downtown Knoxville. The owner said he didn't have any, but there were two just as you entered the lot. They were mixed in with some other Japanese maples and now labeled as coral bark, but only as Sango kaku. The last time I went in he really didn't have any. Here is a link to info about this tree. I was really eager to plant this tree because it is the centerpiece of the path to the woods in that corner. I got my stuff and dug the hole and was about to plant the tree when I decided to check the visual layout so I stuck the shovel in the hole and walked back to the house by the deck to look. The shovel handle was hidden by the larger dogwood in the middle of the back lawn. That location would not work because we would not be able to see the tree from the deck. I picked a better location and noted that that is where the cable runs through the back yard over to the house. I can plant here, but I have to dig very carefully not to disturb the cable. It is somewhere near the marks left by the cable searchers. I had everything marked recently but now the marks are gone and the ground is covered with mulch. Rain today, so I didn't dig. I will when it dries out a little.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

 

Some more plants for the path to the woods...

We went to Oak Ridge to the Willow Ridge nursury and found several more plants for the path to the woods. We got a nice witch hazel, a sweet olive, and a star magnolia plus some smaller plants. They have a broad selection and very knowledgeble staff. I will be planting for the next few days.

Friday, April 07, 2006

 

The multi-trunk redbud


Yesterday I picked up a very nice multi-trunk redbud tree to place on the northern side of the new pathway to the woods. There is an out-of-the-way nursury downtown (Knoxville, TN) that has very good prices. This will be an outstanding spring showpiece next year. We will have to wait for the pictures.

Today I priced the other small trees and shrubs that I am looking for. Found the Star magnolia at Home Depot for $80. :-(. The coral bark maple is available at Home Depot, Saplings, and at Meadow View Greenhouses and Garden Center in Lenoir City. These run from $130 to $150. Ouch again. Meadow View also had a couple of Witch Hazel plants. I have not seen any Sweet olive trees yet. Still looking.

There is an eight foot section of cedar fence at the end of the path to the woods. I got hinges and a latch set to put on the fence to make it look like a gate. It won't open, but it should look nice.

Thunderstorms and heavy rain tonight. This morning I fertilized the huge back lawn with 23-3-2 lawn fertilizer. Now I will have to mow.

Next door neighbor planted a new dogwood and had a lot of heavy clay soil left over. I took it and placed in in a large low spot in the lawn. I will add peat moss and then till it into the area. I keep adding odds and ends of grass sod and soil there, so maybe I will fertilize it and plant the squash and pumpkins there. I have some tan field pumpkins sprouting that are heirloom seeds. Maybe put in watermelons, too, like last year.

Monday, April 03, 2006

 

Three yards of mulch in the way of the RV

Massive thunderstorms last night left piles of hail under the shrubs and beside the RV. Today is the day to take the RV to Kodak to have the generator repaired. There are still three yards of mulch in the driveway that has to be moved so the RV can get out of the yard. Also the ground is very wet after the rain -- we got a little more than an inch -- so I had to wait for the water to soak in and run off.

I moved the mulch to the corner of the back yard by the woods where I am building a small mulch island with a "Y" shaped path to the corner where a little piece of fence blocks off the open corner and the cable connection. The other day I measured out the curve to match the curve of the old dogwood tree but with a larger radius and I painted the outline of the island and 3-foot wide paths on either side. I have 3-foot wide landscape fabric to lay under the path. The island is just to be 3-4 inch thick mulch to block the grass and allow planting of the 15 small azeleas. My job this morning was to move the mulch from the driveway to the island so I can get the RV to the appointment.

Done! The eastern path segment landscape fabric is pinned to the ground and outlined with mulch. Now it is ready for the pine bark nuggets that will be the path material. When that is down, I will add pine bark mulch on top to solidify the path and fill in the gaps in the larger nuggets.

The three yards of mulch was just about right. I need some more, so I will order another load. I will complain, too. My cart holds 0.42 yards and by my count I only got 4.3 yards for my money.

Pictures comming when the plants are in and the path is done.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

 

Five camelias planted...

Five camelias are now resident in the shade of the maple and the Bradford pear and the mulched area is bigger by about 2 yards of mulch. I had to move the kausa dogwood to do the job right, thus requiring the expansion of the mulched area.

An interesting aside, I found lots of small rocks, say 1-1/2 inch across, looking like worn crushed granite or railroad ballast buried where I planted the camelias. I found even more when I accidently poked as a low spot in the lawn with the pitch fork and clinked on a rock. There were many of these just under the surface at that point. No telling how many more there are here, or why they are here. This is not construction gravel!

Pictures later.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

 

Five yards of mulch... Now what...

I recieved 5 yards of mulch this morning. It will go into the back yard to make the path into the woods and to expand the mulched planting area around the big Bradford Pear.

The path into the woods comes from an idea in my landscaping book, "Home Landscaping Southeast Region," by Roger Holmes and Rita Buchanan, Creative Homeowner, Upper Saddle River, NJ, ISBN: 1-48011-003-7. See www.creative homeowner.com, on page 96 and 97.

Basically, there is a corner of the yard that goes into the woods. It is fenced off, but we can deal with that in the landscaping. Here is what it looks like before I started. The woods are to the right in the picture in the neighbor's yard. The wooden fence section hides the cable box connection and keeps the dogs from coming through the fence at the corner. My little path will end there, split and come out to the right and to the left with an island in the center in front of the path.

The plan illustration in the book has a number of trees and shrubs including Delaware Valley white azaleas. I picked up a number of these on sale at Wal*Mart today for $1.50 each. These will go into the island along with another white azalea that blooms slightly later in the spring. The remaining plants will be added as I find them or suitable substitutes.

The path, itself, will be underlain with landscape fabric, 3 ft wide. Initially, the path will be pine bark nuggets, perhaps with pine bark mulch over it to fill in the holes. I have done this before and it works. However, the left side of the path will be the principal drain path for the 200 some feet of the back yard. Occasionally during a heavy rain, this can become a small stream, but normally the lawn keeps the runoff rate fairly slow. So, the path could wash away, or bunch up against the fence at the end. If that happens, I will replace the nuggets with egg rock to make a more durable path - stream bed.

The rest of the mulch will go to expand the bed of mulch to accomodate the 5 camelias that I got on sale. Three of these will go into the grass area to the east of the bradford pear and the mulch area will expand to accomodate them. Two more will go beside the dogwoods I just planted in the area. I will also move the kousa dogwood out of the mulch area and expand the mulch to include it. This is according to the plan in my drawing book.

Today was spent killing the grass where the mulch will go using Roundup, and digging holes for the plants in the soil that is laced with 2-inch gravel. Digging will be a chore.

My strawberries in the strawberry pots didn't survive the late frost, so I have 20 new plants to replace the frozen ones.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

 

Some catching up on spring works

I picked up three blackberry plants. Thornless - Arapaho. Planted all three somewhat apart along the fence on the western side of the backyard. This is the area where the leaf mulch was placed in the fall. I have also planted 10 trees in this area. These trees are the little things available from the Arbor Day Foundation. This is the second set of these trees I have planted. The first set is on the other side (west) of the house behind the front fence where the lavender grows now. The 10 trees are 2 each redbuds, 2 dogwoods, 2 Washington hawthorns, 2 golden raintrees, 2 crabapples, and one crape myrtle (a bonus tree). Not much to see of these little things.

The four vegetable garden plots are ready for planting. They have been dug and 2 cu ft of peat moss added to each one during the digging. All the grass rizhomes have been removed (hopefully). Plastic edging is installed inside each 4 x 8 frame. Worm food is added in the bottom of the soil matrix using cheap dogfood. This is a trial. We will see how well the worms do. They seem to have disappeared from the soil immediately after the digging.

Brocolli sets are in. Romain sets are in. Sugar snap peas are coming up in one block. Cucumber seeds are sown in another. Green onions are in one 2 sq ft section. Sweet onions have been planted. There were way too many in the bonus package for $0.01 more and get 2... So the extras were just set into the leafmold by the fence (above) to see if they would grow. Carrots are behind the onions along with beets.

I planted some sweet peas along the fence behind the blueberries. They are coming up and the resident rabbit has not found them yet. I see him eating the clover every morning. He hides under the deck in the back or in the bushes by the deck. He is certain that he cannot be seen if he is very still.

I had 5 packages of additional sweet peas to plant and it was getting late to put them in the ground. If you soak them for a day in water, they should sprout sooner. So...I put all 5 packets in a little cottage cheese tub of water and left them overnight. The next morning I began to plant them and found that all the envelope glue had melted. All the peas were loose in the tub. So, now I have a row of mixed sweet peas at the south end of the sunroom.

I found a forlorn bird house shaped and colored like a shotgun shell. Put it up and within a couple of hours it had been occupied by a pair of chicadees. I put up a little house for the wrens that like the shed. No renters for it yet. The new bluebird house is occupied. That one rented in two days.

There are black eyed susans under the three trees in the east yard now, along with purple coneflowers. These should attract butterflies. Also, there are two new trumpet vines planted by the east fence behind the daylilies. These should provide flowers and a green vine on the fence behind the lilies.

I see lilies coming up in the rye. See the earlier note.

First asparagus ... thin as pencil lead!

Rhubarb coming up!

Dahalias are planted in pots. Last years geraniums survived in the garage and are on the porch.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

 

Landscaping

Landscaping is a landscaping design site that I will use for ideas in my upcomming spring planting. Lots of good stuff here.

Friday, March 03, 2006

 

Spring is Beginning...

Crocuses are blooming. Daffodils are beginning to bloom. Tulips are comming up. Green onions are peeping out of the ground in the vegetable garden. My rye is growing gangbusters. (This is the grain that I planted too thickly.) Sweet peas are sprouting along the fence behind the blueberries. Day lilies are waking up. Forsithia are in bloom in the nieghbor's yards. Pansies are blooming. The climbing roses are sprouting. The miniture harmony iris are in bloom. These are no bigger than the crocuses and bloom at the same time.

There are flocks of robins and starlings in the yard. The rabbit that lives under the back porch is getting huge. Woe to my vegies...

The RV is getting ready to travel in a couple of weeks.

Friday, February 17, 2006

 

Planting summer flowers and blackberries

Today was so nice I planted the Rudbeckia Goldstrum (Black Eyed Susan) and Echinacea Purpurea on the west end of the yard under the three trees there. The three trees are a Bradford Pear, a Red Maple, and a white Dogwood. Each has a 10 ft diameter mulched area underneath that makes it easier to mow the grass. Each also has a butterfly bush that I put in last spring. The new plantings will provide three each of the yellow and purple flowered perenials under each of the trees. This sort of part of the plan to make this area butterfly friendly.

Last week I also put in 10 more asparagus plants in a row next the the ones I planted a year ago. Only 4 of those plants came up. Hope to get some stalks from those 4 this year. I seeded this area with rye (grain, not grass) earlier this year and it is coming up fantastic. It turns out I put down way too much rye seed, about 1 inch apart. Normal spacing is much wider. We will see how that works out.

On the east side of the lot, the leaves have been placed in a bed along the fence to provide a bed that is from 4 to 8 feet deep. It mows well. I put in three blackberry plants. Arapaho is thornless with stems from 3 to 6 feet long. They are about 8 feet apart. Blackberries produce fruit on the canes in the second year, so after fruiting, the spent canes are removed. Thornless should help this process. This is part of the vegetable garden area.

The third of the four vegetable garden plots has been dug and amended with peat moss. One more to go. Peas are planted in one and onion sets for green onions are placed in one square foot. Vidalia type sets are on order.

I put in three more day lilies. I can't avoid these it seems.

Sweet peas are planted along the fence behind the blueberries.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

 

Strawberries and Leaves

Strawberries

Picked up 20 strawberry plants at the store the day before yesterday to replace the ones in our two strawberry pots. I moved the ones in the pots (all Quinault) to a row in front of the blueberry bushes, then repotted with the new plants and some of the old ones since there were only 10 in the bunches and there are 12 holes in each pot. The new berries are Sequoia and Quinault.

Leaves

My neighbor rang the doorbell and had a trailer filled with mulched leaves from his oak tree orchard. It looks like about 3 yards of fine chipped mulch leaves. These will go to complete the mulching along the back of the lot along the chain link fence. If there is enough, then some will go along the east side of the house by the RV.

I also put in 6 more irises along the east side of the shed where some of the ones I put in last year did not take.

I was mixing some bird seed the other day. I mix 20 lbs of the Pennington wild bird seed with 5 lbs of the hulled sunflower seeds and peanuts. The bigger birds like it. Anyway, I poured alternate layers of the two kinds of seeds into the waste basket used to hold the birdseed, then got the spare one to use for mixing by pouring from one to the other. The spare had some seeds from last falls cilantro that I was saving. I grabbed some of the cilantro seed and the corpse of a small mouse. He got into the basket and could not get out because it was too deep. He ate a bunch of seeds, though; there wasn't much left.

The other evening I was using the last pound of 13-13-13 fertilizer on the ferns by the porch when I fertilized a rabbit. Shocked both of us.

Pictures later of the leaves to date.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

 

Snow day...

Snow today, so I fed the birds. We got only one inch and that was gone early. I read a book, went to sleep and woke with bright sun shining on me through the window. I looked out the other window to see snow flakes falling.

There are two more garden plots to dig. I may build two more for additional vegies later in the season.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

 

Digging in the dogfood

It is winter now, early January, but the weather is really nice. 60 deg F daytime and reasonably warm at night. Time to dig the garden plots that I described back in June or July. In the spring, I built 8 ft x 4 ft frames, laid them on the grass in the back yard, put down newspaper to smother the grass and covered it all with soil amendment like fine pine bark. My garden was planted on these frames with holes punched through the newspaper to allow the roots to get into the soil. It worked, more or less. The real reason was to stop the bermuda grass from overwhelming the garden and that worked.

These plots are now barren and it is time to dig up the bermuda grass that should be now dead. Here is a picture of one of the frames as it is now.

In order to dig the plot, I just lift up the frame and drag it out of the way. OK, so I had to rebuild the frame as the nails came out of the wet wood and the termites had had lunch here and there, but it is easy to move.

Before digging, I fertilized the plot with 13-13-13 fertilizer and with epsom salts or magnesium sulfate. These will be dug into the full depth of the dig. The digging proceeded using a spade or a fork to lift out blocks of clay covered with bermuda rizhoms and nice mulch. Now the hard part. Each clod wad decomposed by hand and the old rizhomes were carefully removed as were any rocks. The soil amendment was distributed evenly, sort of, in the mix and the next block of soil processed. Took all day. Wore me out. When done, there is an 8 foot long pile of nice dirt about 4 feet wide.

Recently, I read of planting roses using dog food to feed the worms in the hole. I thought, why not? So I re-dug the plot and placed dog food in the bottom of the whole trench. Found some more rocks and a few bermuda sprouts, but put a spade full of dog food in the bottom of each trench from one end to the other of the plot. Here is a pic of one trench. Essentially, there is a layer of dog food across the whole bottom of the plot. This is also called double digging, I think.


Now the rebuilt frame is replaced over the pile of dirt. It fits over the same hole right over the stakes that were in each corner to hold it in place when the lawn mower ran into it. That worked, too. As another test I placed plastic lawn edging just inside the frame to prevent the bermuda grass from creeping into the soil. This may or may not work. My next step will be to kill the surrounding bermuda grass with grass killer, but only if necessary. Finally, the soil mound is releveled with the frame and now, peat moss is added to the top layer of soil. It takes about 2 cu ft of peat to cover one of these things with 2 inches of peat. It is moistened and then tilled into the top few inches of the soil. That's it. Here is what it looks like when done. It hardly looks any different.

Each of these plots produced about 1/2 bushel of rizhomes. Most looked inactive, but there were a bunch of really long ones that were cream colored and clearly actively growing. None were visible on the surface. It will be interesting to see how well this process works. Clearly, I need to use something like cedar wood, not pine. Treated wood is not a good thing for the vegetable garden because the arsenic and other metals get into the soil.

There were some earthworms in the soil, but not many. I will report on this later. The epsom salts are good for tomatos. Should be interesting. Regular fertilizer will include MiracleGro or similar products.

Two of the plots are done. Each takes a day of stoop labor to get the roots out of the soil and do the initial dig. Two more to go, but only when it is warm.

Cheap dog food is about $11 for 50 lbs at Sams Club. Each plot takes about 10-15 lbs to cover the bottom. I will watch for racoons or skunks digging up the beds, but it shouldn't matter until things are planted in a couple of months.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

 

Leaf Cleanup Time...

Yesterday and today I cleaned up all the leaves from the three Bradford pear trees. They drop their leaves just before Christmas. I vacuumed the leaves in the front. Took forever! In the back, I just blew them over by the fence across the back where the grape vines are. We will see if they do any good (or harm) to the grapes. Some snow today. Just a few flakes.

Monday, December 12, 2005

 

The Fat Mouse

I went out to the shed in the back yard to refill the bird feeders since we had been away for a few days. I got out the waste bsket that has the bird seed in it and removed the plastic bin that almost fits and acts as the lid for the waste basket. There was a mouse inside running around on top of the bird seed. He couldn't get out because the plastic bin acted as a one way stopper. He was fat, I mean really fat. I carried the waste basket out into the yard and he jumped free when the bin was removed. He (or she) ran to hide under the shed. Safe for another day.

Merry Christmas, fat mouse.

I refilled the feeders and put the seed basket back with a better lid that fits and weighted it down with some 2x6 pieces.

Friday, December 09, 2005

 

A Brief Update On The Trip

We completed the trip around Lake Superior and had a great time. We have almost 1000 pictures of waterfalls and giant moose and giant geese and huge canyons, among other less spectacular visions. I may entertain some pictures here in the future, but not now. This blog is really about the garden, so let me update that.

The corn came up and grew on schedule and produced approximately on time just after we returned. However, I delayed picking and thr overall result was tough ears.

The three seeds in each hole didn't work out too well either. Not enough fertilizer to feed three plants at once. The thick planting did work, though, and most of the plants succombed to the wind during a thunderstorm. That's life. I used the stalks for the Halloween decorations, then threw them out. They are too much trouble to compost.

The tomatos were fine. We had them all summer long until frost. When I pulled the plants up, the roots were compressed into small space, so the soil really needs to be tilled digging fork deep. I will do that this winter if it isn't too cold.

Cucumbers didn't fare too well. Again, poor soil conditions are the root cause. Same solution.

Bell peppers did OK considering. Onions did fine and were harvested early and all eaten.

We had both green and red cabbages. Small, but enough to enjoy.

The first brocolli was eaten by the rabbit. The second crop was protected by wire screen and survivied the rabbit and was eaten by us. Wife is always skepticl of brocolli because of worms, but this was OK.

We had lots of zuccini and yellow squash. No wasps to speak of in the stems this year. They killed all the plants every year at the other house.

We had baby watermellons and jalapeno peppers planted in the other garden areas.

I may make more vegetable plots next year. Maybe.

Friday, July 29, 2005

 

Over to the Mississippi river road...

Saturday, July 23, 2005, On the road to the north along the Mississippi

We left the Winnebago campground at 8:30 in the morning to get the unit weighed. We missed them yesterday. Weighing is done and the weights are OK on all wheels. We are a little heavy on one side in the rear, but the axel weights are all OK. The Saturn weighs less than the 3500 lb hitch limit, so that is OK, too. We are now heading north and east toward Red Wing and the Mississippi river.

We stopped in Austin Minnesota to go to the Spam museum. Very interesting ad for Hormel products. We got a tiny taste of fried Spam.

We traveled across Minnesota on the US highway to Winona and stayed the night at the Pla-More Campground. This is not as flat as the lower plains part of the state. The road winds and turns over the hills through small towns. We got lost twice by going straight down the road instead of turning, but ended up in the right place anyway. The roads along the rivers flowing into the Mississippi are pretty and we watched a lot of tubers and canoists enjoying the sun and water.

 

The rally is over, now to do repairs...

Friday, July 22, 2005, Rapair the Starter and do Laundry in Forest City...

We took the RV to the Ford dealer in Forest City and had the starter and solenoid replaced.

While this was being done, we went into the town and did the laundry in the laundromat. A busy place and quite hot both inside and outside. Temperatures have been in the 90s for the last few days.

With the car repaired and the laundry done, we got some propane at the local Winnebago dealer then filled up on gas, then went over to get weighed. We were too late! We got there at about 2:15 and they had closed after their 2 p.m. appointment. The lady was still there picking up the signs (the scales were gone...) so we agreed to come back in the morning. She was wilted to a puddle from the heat and working in the sun. She tried very hard to be nice to me. I appreciate that.

Since we had a half day to spare, we drove the RV with the tow car to the nearest Wal*Mart to get new house batteries. The old one do not hold a charge any more and were only 75 Amp-hrs anyway. They were blocked in with wooden blocks to take up the extra space. The new batteries are each 115 Amp-hours and should give good service for a while, anyway. The battery service at Wal*Mart is my preference. No questions asked if they fail or don't last as long as expected. And, Wal*Mart is everywhere, even in Canada.

After all that, we stopped at Clear Lake again to have dinner at the Dock, a nice restaurant recommended by the Alstate agent in town. We had forgotten to get the Canada insurance card from our agent, so after the batteries were installed, we called the local agent and he provided the cards. Nice guy. Nice dinner, too.

Finally, we went back to the rally grounds to stay one last night. (We could stay until Monday night if need be.) We found a level spot to park and as I was hooking up, the man in the rig next door came out to see why his satalite signal had disappeared. I pulled up another six feet so I was not blocking his view and he and his wife were happy.

Tomorrow we head for the Mississippi River and begin the river tour up to Red Wing.

 

The last day of the rally and a birthday party...

Thursday, July 21, 2005, Party at the Wilson's and Crystal Gayle...

The last session was on the internet and web pages for State clubs and for Sections. This presentation tried, but missed the boat for the group that attended. Some like me have a pretty good feeling for doing web pages, at least amature ones. Others were absolutely green. We suggested that they have more depth on this subject at the next rally. Maybe they will.

After the session I volunteered to help with the development of guidelines for making web pages for the NetWIT group.

This evening we had a party with just the Eastern section of the Tennessee club and I had a birthday cake for Dixie. Later we shared the remainder of the cake with the all the others. It all dissapeared. Tomorrow we get weighed and fix the starter and do laundry and get propane and and and...

 

Notes on the rally classes...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005, more classes...

Awnings need to be cleaned with warm soapy water, then rolled up wet for 10 minutes; unrolled and rinsed, then dried open before re-rolling up. When rolling it up, let the awning go and roll hard up for the last foot and one-half. This will assure that the latch is secure. All according the A&E.

Towing information. Always receck your linkage before restarting your travels. This means that everytime you stop and leave the car connected to the RV, when you return ALWAYS check the links. Seems that there has been some vandalism reported and links have been disconnected or pins removed just to cause the RVer problems. I bought a pair of locks to lock the towbar to the car so it cannot be removed. I also bought some extra pins to replace any that get lost (or stolen).

Every day we have a get-together with all the other Tennessee Winnebago owners at 4 p.m. This is fun, full of talk about RVs and friends and our plans. Today there is no show, but tomorrow will be Crystal Gayle. The singer with the long hair... a beautiful voice and a great band.

 

A visit to the Winnebago store...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005, More rallying and a visit to the Visitor Center and to the factory store...

Fixed the door stop. The plastic is getting old and the outside connector that holds the door open broke when we closed the door. The hook just pulled out of its hinge, taking some of the plastic with it. Got a new one from the factory store. Apparently this is an often replaced item.

Arranged for the converter people to check my noisy converter. It is the fan, not the electronics. Fan is a standard 80 mm fan, 12 volt, 26 cfm fan used in computers. Not too hard to change, but the converter is under two drawers below the refrigerator, so the access is through the hole for the drawer. Awkward access at best. The converter plugs into the AC and there are three wires. Chassis ground, negative and positive. Chassis ground and neg are both greeh. Don't mix them up.

Got electrical boxes from parts. Do those later. The electrical boxes have little wings that hold them to the wall or surface that they are attached to. These wings are breaking. The boxes are not available at Home Depot. The ones used in RVs are shallow and are designed to fit into thin hollow surfaces such as just below shelves in wiring channels in the overhead shelves.

 

The rally begins...

Monday, July 18, 2005, The rally business starts...

The first thing for us on Monday was to go into town and see the Ford agency. Service was friendly and they set us up an appointment for Friday morning to fix the starter and solenoid. With that out of the way we went to Bills Friendly Market and did some grocery shopping and got more bottled water for coffee and drinking. Nice store, could be a Kroger in Farragut.

Much of the rally is seminars on various RVing subjects. For me it was ID theft and prevention for RV'ers, then ONAN generator maintenance, and then maintenance tips for black and grey water systems, and finally the new changes in Medicare prescription coverage.

ONAN parts: I needed air and fuel filters for my generator. The ONAN people were there with all kinds of parts, but not the air filters. They will get two of them for me and have them by tomorrow, along with a couple of plugs and two fuel filters.

ID theft and protection for RVers was full of good advice. Get your credit report from each of the three companies at four month intervals so you can get three each year. Check them and cancel all unused credit cards. Have your checks made with first initial and last name imprinted and no other information.

Black water tanks was about the avoidance of chemicals and instead, using the proper bacteria to control digestion of wastes. Also, the standard rules of not leaving the black water tank open (let it fill, then dump). Don't let food particles or grease get into the gray tank. Wipe plates and pans clean of debris first, then wash. When dumping, dump the black tank first, leave the black tank valve open while dumping the gray water, then close both valves. I will help rinse the black tank.

Medicare is changing. A heavily attended seminar on the new changes to the prescription drugs was interesting.

In the evening, we all met at 4 p.m. for the state group, then went to see Jimmy Travis, a commedian and guitarist from Nashville. He was really good. It was two hours of one-liners like the one about how hot it was. It was so hot that Bill went to stand beside Hilary to feel the chill.

 

Arrived at Winnebago Grand National Rally

Sunday, July 17, 2005, Arrival at the GNR site in Forest City, Iowa

We took our time leaving the park in Clearlake, Iowa, and drove into town toward Mason City looking for propane. We didn't find any, so ventured back and drove through the corn fields up to Forest City. We found the camp ground and rally site and continued into town, still looking for propane. Of course, on Sunday one would not really expect to find the propane stores open unless it was at an open gas station. We found the propane dealer in Forest City, then turned around and went to the rally site.

The back way in is used for all arivals so that there is enough room to stop and disconnect the tow car. As we did this chore, the old steam tractor near us blew his whistle ear-drum-shattering loud and chugged across the road behind us. When we were ready to go, the RV engine was reluctant to start. Looks like the starter is bad. Tried 3 times and the engine started. We got our parking location information and a team in a golfcart escorted us to the parking spot. This is on a slight slope and I had to use all my blocks to make the RV level enough to sleep in without rolling out of bed. I set up the blocks and urged the reluctant starter to start which it finally did. As blocked the RV was nice and level. Now we don't have to move until Friday morning. Need to make arrangements to have Ford fix this problem. I opened the switch on the chassis battery, then hooked up my trickle charger to the chassis battery to make sure that it is fully charged and not the problem with starting.

Or friend, Jean Johnson arrived from up the row to welcome us to the group. There are three RVs from our group here, but there are quite a few from the central (Nashville) and western (Memphis) groups, so there are about 23 couples here from Tennessee. I hear that there are 1550 RVs at the rally! We Tennesseans all got together at 4 to snack and meet and sit around and talk for a while.

In the evening we went to the starting ceremonies at 7 p.m. in the amphitheater. Announcements, Flag ceremony, parade of states and flags and we were done for the day. On the way back to the RV it began to rain and lightning was striking in west. We sat in the front seats in the RV and watched the storm approach and drench us. My awning was up and my antenna was down, so it was fun to watch and the storm was good sized, too.

 

Almost made it to Winnebago

Saturday, July 16, 2005 Almost made it to Winnebago

The tiny pea blossoms covering the campground and along the highways are birds foot trefoil. Gbout 24 feet long overall. Well, I asked if I could take a picture and by the time the conversation ended and I got away it was already 9:30. The Indian was attached to a trailer holding the Jeep and a bunch of bicycles. Seems there are three little girls and a young boy along for the ride. As we talked about the RV, the story evolved that it now has a modern diesel engine from a pick up truck and gets pretty good mileage. The wheels have been changed to 16 inch iron from 17.5 because tires are no longer available for that size wheel. Some grinding on the front calipers was necessary to make them fit. The interior is clean and tidy ood fodder for cattle. A legume, I suppose, with lots of protein.

This morning's plan is to go to the Herbert Hoover Library and Museum in the little town of West Branch Iowa. The gates open at 9 a.m., but we didn't make it on time. I saw a Winnebago Indian RV in the campground and went over to take a picture. They were all getting ready to continue their trip to Colorado, Denver, to participate in a Jeep rock climbing rally. Now this Winnebago has seen much better days. Turns out it is a '73, and it looks like it is awith a new hardwood floor over much of the busy area and the stairs going in. The dinette is re upholstered and the refrigerator is an AC studio model powered by a 1000 watt generator when boondocking. The owner, Tim, and his wife say it is all paid for and they are having a ball. There is more to the story but you will have to find Tim and talk to him to get all the details. I understand he is trying to get over a pass at 8000 feet in that rig towing 5000 pounds and going pretty slow.

We went on to the Herbert Hoover site and looked and talked and finally left after 1 p.m. Late for our 200 mile trip to Forrest City and get there by 6 p.m. Here is a picture of the young lady who provided information about the buildings in the small town now preserved by the Federal Government. We had an interesting discussion about Hoover. She was very shy and thought the picture didn't look like her. It is a perfect image.

Hoover is an interesting study. The US had great expectations for him as President. The problems he faced were horrendous. Drought and poverty in the farms. World War I barely over and unions fighting and prohibition and the crooks it brought into politics, the stock market crash followed by bank turmoil and so he lost to Roosevelt who let the banks crash and then had even worse problems than Hoover had. Hoover was an honest man in the presidency, unlike many before or after him (Truman and Eisenhower are the exceptions.)

We had thirty miles to go when the gates closed at the Winnebago rally for early arrivals. We decided to stay the night at Clear Lake State Park near Clearlake, Iowa. There was a wedding taking place near the lake in a beautiful setting and we watched hot air balloons racing across the lake.

 

The second day to Winnebago

Friday, July 15, 2005 The second day

We drove through Indiana and Illinois, both states paved with corn. The corn goes on for miles and miles. We did get a little history about a guy named John Deere. He invented a plow that was suitable for the tough prairie grass and shrubs. With this new plow, the swampy prairie was drained and plowed and turned into infinite corn fields. All the natural wildlife was destroyed and the relatively rapid runoff from the prairies now causes the Mississippi to flood and do great damage occasionally. Just think what the EPA would have to say if all the wetlands in the prairies were drained today!

At about 6 p.m. we tried unsuccessfully to stay on the Cedar River at a Corps of Engineers campground. It was full of kids having a good time for the weekend. We went on a little further and stayed at a small campground, Colony Country Campground, near Wal*Mart in Iowa City.

When we unhooked the Brake Buddy to park the RV, I noticed that the wire to the plug had come apart where I had installed a new plug with crimped on connectors. I repaired it right away and that fixed the transmitter light for the brakes and probably fixed the brakes, too.

 

Off we go to Winnebago

Thursday, July, , 2005 The trip begins

We got away later than I expected. The goal was 9 am, but Dixie didn't understand the urgency of the matter and we left about 11. It was raining as we hooked up. This was the first time to hook up this Saturn, so it goes slower than will be normal. The tail lights and turn signal on one side didn't work, so had to fix that. The bulb was not burned out, but the contacts appeared to be corroded. An emery board fixed that and the light worked bright as it should. Did the same to the other side and all was well. The Brake Buddy monitor didn't work, but the brakes worked fine and the stop lights on the saturn lit; the radio transmitter that tells the RV that the brake lights on the Saturn are on did not seem to be working. This is not urgent, so we went without fixing that. The trip was uneventful and took us north thru Kentucky and into Indiana. We stopped at Seymore, Indiana, at Wal*Mart and spent the night in their parking lot with pleasant permission. I picked up a new multimeter for the RV since I had not brought mine from the other tool box. I also picked up an inexpensive color printer for $25. Lightweight and powered from the USB cable. Should be good for occasional use in the RV. In the morning after our limited use of the electrical system the night before, the batteries were very low! These batteries need to be changed. I'll do that later.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 

Almost ready to go...

Today was final packing and getting the contract for the lawn and going to the Dr. and getting the propane leak fixed. All are done!!!!! We are both pooped. Dixie said a few unkind words to me and stomped off to bed. I decided to add a line or two to the blog.

We had rain this morning, so it was slow going for a while. My doctors appointment was at 11 and he is not far away. I almost didn't make it because I flooded the Saturn and it would not start. (This is the second time.) I had to back the Buick out of the garage and the RV was parked behind the Buick, but I had left I thought room for the Buick to get out if I really needed to. I made it with only one readjustment of the angle.

I called the propane man and he said he had the part and would be right out. Finally. He was there when I got back from the doctors office. I have a perscription for Cipro for a potential kidney infection. I can recognize the symptons now after three times and I know it recurrs. He will call me if the blood test indicates that I need to take it.

Propane if fixed and no more leaks in the repaired system. That's good.

The lawn guy came and gave me a quote. I took it. Now that is taken care of and when we return we will call him and he will bill us for the work. Works for me.

I spent the rest of the day going back and forth trying to get all the stuff we take back into the RV and all the stuff we don't need weeded out of the pile.

The other day, I moved the RV from the yard to the driveway, so we were not going through the gate and tracking mud all over the place. Things are pretty wet as hurrican Dennis is comming back across east Tennessee today. We got another 3/4 inch of rain today. It is still light rain.

I finally put the Buick to bed and backed the Saturn into the garage, then backed the RV up to the Saturn to make hookup easy in the morning. I can put the bra on the Saturn in the garage, too, without getting it all wet.

More later as we begin this trip.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

 

Packing for the trip...

After our last trip to California, we moved. As a result, the supplies in the RV are empty and the nooks and crannies are filled with odds and ends stored for the move. Lots of fishing tackle, all of it, in fact; sleeping bags and tent; that kind of stuff. Well, we are removing all that and restocking supplies and hardware. The step ladder is packed. Very handy if needed on a long trip. Also packed the compressor after all the tires were filled.

Tried on the bra for the Saturn. It fits and goes on easily. This one covers the entire front of the car including the windshield. On our old Saturn, the bra was in two pieces over the front of the hood and the top piece would catch small stones and hold them against the paint, ultimately doing some damage to the hood paint. I like this one better, but it must be taken on and off for each trip. You can fold down the windshield part so you can see to drive around the parking area, but it would not do on the road.

Put in the DVD player and a stock of DVDs that we have not watched yet. Many are oldies that are now available cheap. I also restocked a new set of blues and classical CDs to listen to.

We have 4 gallons of spring water left over from the recent water shutdown on our street. I never did find out what happened.

Found the propane leak in the refrigerator. It was at the shutoff valve right where the gas feed comes into the refrigerator. Found a repairman to order one and come to our house and repair it. He ordered the part overnight, then it came in this morning and there was a screw-up and the check cut for payment to UPS was for the wrong amount and UPS would not deliver it. It should be here in the morning at 10 a.m. to be installed. I think I am lucky even to find this guy. Most other places would take me in in two weeks.

I can't find the phone number of the guy I had contacted to mow my lawn while we are away. He does a neighbor's lawn and I stopped him and we have a contract to do mine when we go. Now I can't find his number and I don't remember his firms name. I do remember the 966 prefix on his phone number because that means he is local. Our prefix is also 966. I looked all the lawn service firms up in the phone directory and there are only 5 that have 966 phone numbers, so I called all of them. Of course, you just leave a message and hope they call back. Two have so far. One was a fax machine. Two more to go to find the guy. If I don't find him, I will get one of these others to do it. Sweat, but not panic like the propane leak.

Monday, July 11, 2005

 

Hooking up the Saturn for our upcoming trip...

Yesterday I spent all day working on the electrical system for the brake lights on the Saturn that we tow with our RV. This was the first time we have used this car and the hitch is all new and the connections for the electrical cable are sort of unknown. Since I built the cable for the other car, I was somewhat unsure about the use of it on the new car.

Dixie and I hooked everything up and got out the FRS radios and changed the batteries on the dead one (put away still on probably...) then we went through the routine light checking on the RV and the car when it is hooked up. We always do this so we are sure the lights work properly. The tail lights and the running lights and headlights on the RV worked and the tail lights on the Saturn worked. Checking the turn signals found that they worked on both vehicles, too. Then we tested the brakes......... RV: fine; Saturn: none!!!!! Time to check the cable connections.

I took the cable apart and looked at the connections at both ends. Nothing broken, but no wire connected to the brake light connection on the RV, the red wire. Well, this worked on the other Saturn that we sold, so what was different?

I got on the web and found several sites that gave information about hooking up trailers (but not towed cars) and found information about the 7 connector and the 4 connector fittings that I was using. The RV has seven connectors and separates the brakes from the turn signals and the Saturn has a connector that uses only 4 wires, and one of them is ground.

I opened up the back of the Saturn and looked at the connections from the wireing to the light assemblies on the rear lamps. There were diodes in place to permit the two vehicles to share the lights without damage. Fine. The brown wire was for the tail lights, just as in the book. The green and yellow wires were for the left and right turn signals, and the white wire was for the ground. No brake light connection!

I went back to the connecting cable and futsed around with it some more, and read the RV book and the notes I had made and it was 4 p.m. I started at 10:30.

Then it dawned on me. I use a Brake Buddy braking system to stop the Saturn and it presses on the brake pedal of the car when we slow down. Voila! The Saturn brake lights come on when the pedal is pushed, not when the RV lights come on. I felt stupid and relieved. The problem was solved and now I know that to test the brake lights on the Saturn, I have to use the test button on the Brake Buddy. Now I feel better.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 

Vegies...



I built four vegetable patches on the lawn this spring. These are just simple frames made of three 2x4x8 boards. One is cut in half for the two ends. These were staked at the for corners on the lawn with enough room to run the riding mower around them. The stakes prevent accidental movement of the frames. The lawn was covered with newspaper at least 4 pages thick and overlapping. Then I added five bags of pinebark fine mulch or soil amendment to each frame to fill it up. Later I added climbing frames made similarly using 2x2x8 boards and plastic chicken wire mesh for the cucumbers to climb on. The mulch and newspaper stopped the grass from growing. (Burmuda grass is very persistant, though and is finally comming thru.) In the spring I planted sets of squash, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. The plants went down into the soil under the paper. I fertilized using Miracle Gro and other 13x13x13 fertilizer.

Now we are overwhelmed with zuccini and yellow squash and the tomatoes are heavy! We got a good crop of cabbages and a few small heads of the red cabbage. Only one pepper so far. Some cukes. It is only the 4th of July, so more is comming.

Yesterday I took out all the cabbages remaining in one plot and planted sweet corn on one-foot centers with three seeds in each hole and a handfull of fertilizer. This should be up in 68 days. Look for sweet corn on Sept 19th.

In retrospect, I should have used Round-Up early on in the beds to kill the bermuda grass and I should have used it around the edges to keep stuff from creeping in. The climbing nets should be set into the area about one foot, not on the edge. Then the cukes will climb straight up the fence. I had to guide each plant and tie it up to make them start climbing on the outside where they are accessible.

Friday, March 25, 2005

 

Today we moved the yew...

Before we moved the yew.
Today we moved the yew from the front curb. This shrub was planted too close to the electrical service box and in the summer is overwhelmed by the two large grass plants right next to it. Grandson, Ryan, came over in the afternoon and we moved the shrub to the fence to the back yard. This is what the area where we replanted it looked like before it was moved. Several days ago, I sprayed this area with Roundup to kill the grass. This area is hard to mow with the riding mower, so the plan was to make it into the planting bed by extending the existing bed over to the gate.

First we layed out the line of the bed using the garden hose. Then I painted the line with marking paint so we could see where to remove the sod. The sod was taken up and the river rocks were moved to make a mowing strip for this area. This also took down a double layer of rocks that made mowing difficult. The rocks were fitted into the soil leaving everything at the grass level to make a neat mowing strip. Each rock was fitted to the previous one to make a nice neat edge for the grass and to keep the gaps betweent he rocks to a minimum. After this, we tackled the yew.

Last fall I went around the yew with the spade and cut the roots in a circle around the shrub so we could move it. Now we went around it again and using the spade and the shovel we levered it out of its hole and rolled the root ball into the garden cart.

Now with a template of the size of hole we needed, we dug a hole for the plant, leaving a cone of soil in the bottom, then rolled the root ball into the hole. We backfilled the hole about halfway and filled it with water to settle the ball. Then we filled it the rest of the way with the soil from the hole.

That took care of the plant. We moved the excess sod to the backyard to fill in the low side of the swale for drainage of the back yard to keep water out of the neighbors shed. Ryan and I laid newspaper over the remaining grass to keep it from sprouting through the mulch, and then brought mulch and placed a three-inch thick layer over the newspaper. It looks really nice. This is what it looked like after we finished.

I have several pots of azeleas that will go in the area nicely.

Thanks, Ryan.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

 

Catching up with plantings...

It has been two weeks since I updated this blog. Things are coming along. For one, Ryan, my grandson came over and spent a day helping with the brute work in the yard. Chopping up branches, moving mulch, digging and planting bulbs. Nice to have a hand and he really helped. We got the glads planted under the trees and the lilies planted along the fence on the north side of the lot. The lilies are mulched.

A couple of days ago, I moved the last of the Eunomymous manhattans from the south fence so I could plant the blueberries that have arrived in the mail. While Ryan worked at planting bulbs and spreading mulch, I tilled the blueberry patch tilling in a lot of mulch to make is a better planting area for the acid loving blueberries. Then I measured out the 10 holes for planting and got the plants out to plant. There were only eight. That is all I ordered, but in my mind I had planned on 10. Ten it is. I went to the nursury and got two more. So now we have 10 blueberries planted, 3 Jersey, 3 Coville, 2 Blueray, one Powderblue, and one Tifblue. Should be interesting. These are all 3-year old plants, so they have a little way to go before they produce much. The Tifblue, however is covered with blossems and is only 1 foot high. Here is what this area looks like with all ten small plants.

Tifblue is very popular both comercially and for home gardens. It grows 15 feet high at maturity. It is supposed to bear the first year. Looks like it will.

Powderblue is native to the southeast. Should grow well here. We are in zone 7. It is a late ripening rabbiteye blueberry. The fruit are medium sized, should be easy to pick and they say this plant is resistent to Autumn rains. The Tifblue and Powderblue are both rabbiteye varieties so they will pollinate properly.

Jersey is a tall and quite erect grower that produces large, light blue berries with a delicate flavor. Excellent for planting as a decorative shrub that gives you berries as a bonus. Fruit ripens from midseason to late. Individual blueberry varieties are self-infertile so we have planted these with other varieties.

Blueray is a mid-season variety that forms small tight clusters of large high quailty, powder-blue fruits of truly delicious flavor. Grows a vigorous bush 4 to 6 feet tall. Burgundy fall color.

Coville is a late season variety which has very large firm berries. The berries have a slightly tart taste which makes them and excellent desert berry. Extra time should be given to allow the berries to completely ripen. The open and upright bush will exhibit lovely burgundy leaves in the fall. According to the web, blueberries are acidic soil lovers, so I should add peat moss to the soil.

I finished adding the stones to the entrance to the shed. I set them into the mud without borders or sand underlayer, then put small pebbles between the stones. One is wobbley, but it will set into the ground if I keep stomping on it. I addes a sack of potting soil to the matrix and picked up 6 thyme plants to put into the spaces. should smell good when they get walked on.

I found a Hollywood Juniper at Home Depot. Nice one. It goes on the south side of the shed. Still have to plant it in the ground.

Oscilli Circle had a dogwood sale recently. Ann Durall told me about it to post it on the Hickory Woods web site. I posted it and bought three more dogwoods. Two pink dogwoods that are planted in the front yard to add spring color, and the Kausa dogwood for the backyard. The dogwoods are all sprouting new leaves now. Looking forward to next spring when we will get some blooms.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

 

Planted more dogwoods... and more...

Yesterday I planted two more dogwoods (Cornus Florida) in the big mulch area across from the deck. These are in the plan for this area and another Kausa dogwood goes in between them. The excess soil from the holes is going to the ramp for the shed door.

I pondered the Bradford Pear and notices that it is beginning to open the buds. Should be really pretty in a couple of days. There are two branches, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, that are crossing and should come out. Need a ladder to do that.

Today I planted four seedless grapes along the fence. This is somewhat shady at 2:30 this afternoon. Maybe they will not do too well. We will see.

Then I planted the three yellow twig dogwoods over by the day lilies and gladiolus on the north fence. They look nice now with twigs only about 3 feet high. I saw some mature plants at a nursury recently. They were 8 feet high and 8 feet across. Lots of yellow branches. These are supposed to be trimmed back every spring so that there are only a few twigs for that years plant. The ones I saw had not been trimmed in some time.

I also planted three butterfly bushes in the tree mulch for the three trees in the north end of the back yard. These are tiny, so I put plastic tubs over them to protect them from the cold tonight. Hope they make it.

Now I have to plant hostas. KORRnet sent a notice today about the new web pages they now host. One is the East Tennessee Hosta Society in Knoxville. Since I will be planting a bunch of hostas, I checked out their links and spent an hour learning about hostas. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

 

Planting dogwoods...

When I got back from Nell's house I planted the two dogwoods by the deck. Cold and snowy in the morning but nice and 47 in the afternoon. I sorted the rocks for the north side of the shed and for the entrance to the shed, then came in out of the cold. I need to take a couple of pictures, but not much to see yet.

 

Nell has problems with Internet Explorer...

Nell is one of my CHIPS clients. CHIPS is the KORRnet program for Computers for Homebound & Isolated Persons. I volunteer to help those in the Rockwood and Harriman areas in Tennessee. Anyway, Nell called and left a message that she had lost her Internet Explorer (IE) icon on her desktop. I told her I would come out on Monday and reinstall it for her. I went out there and took the Microsoft Security Update CD with me. Her system is old and somewhat out of date.

Sure enough, when I got there, the icon was missing from the desktop of here old Compaq desktop. I used the CD to update her systems, then called Microsoft using the internet and updated the programs from that point. Took another 15 minutes to download the new patches since the Update CD. When the computer rebooted, there was the icon back on the desktop. She was pleased and I went home. Only took 2-1/2 hours.

She sent me an e-mail. She cannot open attachments to her e-mails.

I called her back and agreed to go out and see her today. Seems the updated Outlook Express will not open attachments that have threats in them. They don't even get downloaded. I explained it to her and changed the color of the OE message to yellow that tells that the attachment was not downloaded. Seems that most of these are forwarded junk jokes that may have trojan horses embeded in them. I told her that it was OK that they did not get downloaded, but she was disappointed.

I will correspond with her and send some attachments that are free of threats and see if they get downloaded.

Hi, Nell...

 

Five yards of mulch...and more...

I ordered five more yards of mulch and it was delivered right away. Spent two days placing it in the back yard along the north fence. This covered the 10 tiny trees that have been temporarily placed just inside the fence. These trees came from the Arbor Day people. I will let them leaf out and identify them with the data that came with them. Of course each tree was marked with a different color of paint, but the paint was gone when I got them. Thats OK, I have a list of paint colors and names.

Dixie had three mums in pots left over from the fall decorations by the front door. I planted these near the other hardy mum in the back yard and mulched over the area. Then mulched over the 12 day lilies that I had planted last week. These guys were all sprouting in their bags, so they had to go into the ground. I needed the mulch for these.

A week ago when we were in Sam's I bought a large bag of 100 gladiolias. These need to be planted 4-6 inches deep, so I started digging a 2-foot wide trench, placing three bulbs (corms) and continued until I had just one left. Pretty good counting. The last row has 4 corms. Then I mulched over the area 3 inches deep.

I had tried to till the area where the glads were planted a week ago, but it was too wet and the grass clogged up the tiller and the area was just two ditches going along the fence. After digging for the glads, the soil was OK for tilling, so I started it up again and tilled the remainder of the fence line so I can mulch over it.

Seemed like a good place to plant my asparagus, so I dug a trench and placed the plants with potting soil in the hole, then covered it and covered the area with mulch.

I used the rest of the mulch to mulch around the three trees in this end of the garden. I laid out a 5-foot radius using the hoe handle and marking paint, then just brought in the mulch and laid it in the big circle and filled in the center. Had just enough to cover the areas nicely. Now I need another 5 yards of mulch.

Sunburned my head. Forgot to wear my hat until it was too late.

Then it snowed and rained. Looks nice out there now. Nice and neat with the dark mulch around the trees. The bradford pears are trying to bud.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

 

Planting more stuff...

This week, after it quit raining, I placed some more rocks on the south side of the shed to be the mowing strip for that garden. It is 5 feet deep and 12 feet long. It took about 35 stones to mark the outline. I began setting the stones down to level with the lawn, then quit. It is hard to dig out a bermuda grass lawn. There will be a similar garden on the north shady side of the shed. That is where the rest of the stones are now.

As part of the shed work, I designed a stone ramp to put in front of the doors to the shed. Right now the shed floor is about 9 - 12 inches above the lawn. The design for the ramp uses cheap landscape timbers to frame the stones within the slope and to support the last part of the ramp under the doors. The doors extend below the floor line, so the ramp will still have a bump getting into the shed. I should have enough stones to pave the mowing strip on the north side and pave the loading ramp, too. I may get some more stones.

The back of the shed will have a 5' x 10' block paved area on which to park the lawnmower. That will take several trunk loads of blocks.

All of this paving and gardening will generate some extra dirt. This dirt will be used to fill in the ramp in the front. So that is where all the little extra bits of dirt are going now. Later, when we do the paving of the main patio area off the deck, the dirt will go to fill in a low area in the north end of the back yard. That is an oval of about 15 x 20 feet with a depth sloping to about 4 inches in the middle area.

Anyway, yesterday I moved two of the Euonymus manhattan bushes to the fence line behind the shed. These will grow to 6 feet tall and wide and will block the view of the chain link fence behind the neighbor's house. Before I moved them, I cut them way back to just stumps. These plants are tough and will grow back quickly. I will not trim them in the future and they will be far enough from the fence that the neighbor will not have to trim them either, unlike where they are now.

I moved the big plants because I wanted to plant 3 hostas and they were in the way. I also had to remove the black plastic covering the ground under the euonymus m. to plant the hostas. I had to move the big plants because that is where the blueberrys that have been ordered will go, and I need the move them to cover the other fence that is not good looking behind the shed. It is all in the plan, but the hostas are still sitting there waiting to be planted.

I got tired of digging eventually, changed my shoes and took the car over to Wal*Mart in Lenoir City to get some dogwoods. Picked up four Cornus florida white dogwoods that are in the plan and three yellow stem dogwoods that are not. I also got another trellis for the Blaze rose that will go on the sunny side of the shed and some wire and long eyebolts for the grape arbor to go on the long wooden west fence and 8 bags of potting soil which I use for planting stuff on this Tennessee clay. The dogwoods are sitting where they will be planted. That was it for the day. I changed my muddy shoes, went inside and had a glass of wine and some cheese. A nice day, overall.

Today I planted some ferns, asian lilies, and hostas, but not those over by the garden where the blueberries will be. The ferns are by the bases of the two large trees, then the lilies, then some astilbe, and finally the hostas near the border of the mulch. Lots of roots near the trees...hard to dig even small holes. I also put in half a dozen daylillies by the north fence. These guys will need to be mulched later.

I put three canna lilies on the three sides of the sun dial.

Everything is underground so no pictures of all this.

End of day... cold...47 degrees, and time for another glass of wine, but instead I had hot coffee left over from breakfast and reheated.

Monday, February 21, 2005

 

Picture of new stone border...

Here is a picture of the new stone border I put in around the patio. There is a stone path to the faucet on the wall. The stones there are set in sand to make them stable, othewise everything is just laid on the edge of the landscape fabric under the mulch. More to be added are a dogwood tree and a climbing rose on the brick wall plus ferns and astilbe at the edges of the deck to help hide the underdeck area.




New stone border... Posted by Hello


Saturday, February 19, 2005

 

Half a ton of stones placed...

Today I put the edging of river stones around the mulch by the deck in the yard. There is also a path through the mulch to the water spigot. Looks nice. If it doesn't rain, I will take a picture tomorrow, Sunday, and post it.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

 
The Fernbank museum had a special display of frogs. We went to see it and Allie was really fascinated by the little buggers. She stood close to the glass and looked. Dixie, her grandmother, picked her up for this better view of the green frog on the glass. We all had a great time. Her brother, Jack who is now four, liked to push the buttons on the displays and spent more time doing that than looking at the real frogs. Later, Allie got to pet a giant beetle. Jack didn't want to touch it.


The blue frog...or is it green. You decide. Posted by Hello

 

Allie getting ready... Posted by Hello

 

JohnAndrewsThoughts


A new blog by John and Dixie Andrews.

We have an RV and do a little traveling. I thought I might post some pictures of places we have been and things we have done as well as some pictures (the better ones) of our family for all to see.

This weekend we went to Atlanta to see our now 2-year-old granddaughter, Allie. Here are some pictures I took while we were getting ready to go to the frog show at the Fernbank museum.

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