March on the Homestead

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Good heavens, We've got rain and thunder out there right now!

I remember when I was a kid and some grown-up had just informed me that heaven and hell were eternal thinking 'No, that's not right, nothing is eternal' as I looked across the valley at the mountain on the other side.

Well, weather is certainly a fine example of impermanence, if you ever needed one! LOL Everywhere I've ever lived the saying has been true... if you don't like the weather, wait a bit, it'll change.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Good to see March on this homestead. Thanks for starting it.

I am looking forward to springtime and fresh from the earth food. I've turned a new leaf this year that any plants/seeds I buy need to be edible. I have enough seeds and greens that aren't.

Things are oh, so slow getting started as it is still colder than normal and far wetter than I would wish for. Would love some of both temps and moisture in July but

if you don't like the weather, wait a bit, it'll change.
My MN brother said they had 97 straight days of temps below freezing and I suspect they were tired of waiting a bit! LOL

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I just checked the extended forecast and nearly the whole week has gone cloudy and grey, with a good chance of rain. Now, I appreciate the fact that we desperately need the moisture, but if I'd wanted cloudy, rainy and dreary I would have moved to Seattle and gotten a lifetime membership to Starbucks.

Folks in town are getting surly. We're going into sunshine withdrawal.

Things need to get back to "normal" around here, which is all our yearly rainfall comes in two afternoons, widely separated. LOL We all stop work, go outside and watch water run down the arroyo, and marvel at the miracle.

The wallo waters I set up this weekend were slushy yesterday, so I think it might be a tad early to put the broccoli seedlings out, though it was 32º this morning, which I'm putting down to cloud cover.

We had some pretty good rain fall last night, complete with the great rolling booming thunder that seems to go on and on till I wondered if maybe I wasn't mistaken and it was one of those giant military helicopters cruising the valley. The dog asked me to open the door, then just stood there looking at the rain... not going out, just looking and listening and smelling. See? Everyone in NM stops what they're doing (in her case sleeping) to marvel at rain. LOL

I think today's going to be mostly an indoor day... taxes. }=P

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

Last year's March was "In like a Lamb, Out like a Lion". I hope this March reverses that back to the famous In-Lion, Out-Lamb, so my fruit tree blossoms won't be knocked off the trees by late snowfalls.

We had snow yesterday, lots of wind, and more snow during the night. Mostly melted off by now but still cold and supposed to snow more. Right now the clouds are the kind I love, big and black & white with lots of blue sky inbetween. I brought in lots of firewood yesterday and am enjoying the crackling firepot behind me as I sit here and waste time, instead of bundling up and going out to dig weeds out of the veg garden plot. Maybe tomorrow?

I amused myself yesterday afternoon and this morning getting my tax stuff together and sorted out. Yay, it was not as painful as I expected, although as always, some records I KNOW I had have disappeared. I am actually ready for my appointment with the accountant down in the Valley Thursday. Smilng through my tears: I know I owe, so off to work I go!

Meanwhile, I am still eating the beautiful chard growing in my greenhouse, and brought a huge bag of various lettuces that I picked in the Valley when I went down there last week. I also bought a big bag of fresh Arizona oranges. I expect to pick several bags of pink grapefruit (free) before I come back this time.

It is already spring in the Valley. Spring is almost here in the mountains. Life is good.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I'm longing for some fresh greens big time, I am so jealous of yours, AZ. And the grapefruit... I love pink grapefruit. {{sigh}} I think my itty-bitty chard got frost nipped a couple of nights ago even though I had it covered. It was just a light cover. Waah!

Our sun is in and out of clouds today, wind but no more wetness from the sky so far. The mud was just starting to dry out, but now I have to wait a bit longer before I can start outside. Pooh.

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

Sorry about your chard, wonder if it will come back?

I'm having a roast pork sandwich crowded with alfalfa sprouts from my sprouter for lunch today. Yum, yum. Defrosting the pork now -- I buy a big hunk of pig from Walmart now and then, pot-roast it, divide it into small portions, and freeze. I have mung beans in the sprouter right now, for Chinese food in about a week. Using the sprouter, I never lack for fresh greens even when nothing is ready in the gardens. I just have to remember to order more sprouting seeds every year or so.

I roast my pork in a big pot on top of the stove My son the chef roasts his in the oven. Turns out yummy either way.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

You're just telling me all this to make me feel better, right? =0P

I don't think the little bitty chards that got hit are coming back, they didn't even have true leaves yet. But there are more poking their little heads up. I took a break from the paperwork and went and peeked in on my little green things... more little chardlings coming up, but uh-oh it looks suspiciously like someone has gone down the row of peas and dug up the seeds... grrrr. Can't tell for sure, but I think I'm back to the soil block idea: get them started inside and then put them out under cover. We had this problem last year... got about 6 sugar pea plants out of a 6' row 'cause things kept eating the seeds and newly sprouted seedlings. Didn't bother the snow peas or the shelling peas... critter has a terrible sweet tooth. I think it's a combo of mice and gophers last year. This year no gophers (yet) but mice... hmmmm.

Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

The last three beautiful days have really, really gotten my spring bug biting, but alas, I fear it won't last. I've gone two days without having to kindle a fire...woohoo!

MsRobin graciously came down from KY and helped me put up the garden fence...I has a garden! I've managed to lasagna up about 43 row feet over the last couple of days. Now I am out of dirt again and have to do the Lowe's trip before next Sunday, as well as a trip to TSC to buy some cattle panels for trellising my peas onto. I grew peas once before, but they got smacked down by the tornado so I never got to eat any :(

So far I have seedlings of: Chard, spinach, leeks, romaine, red cabbage, broccoli, and tomatoes - peppers planted but no life signs yet. I have two rhubarb plants ready to go into the ground and a beautiful cherry tomato itching to be outside. Looks like about 34 seed taters will go out on Monday the 15th, along with a portion of my 600 onion sets (red, white, yellow), some asparagus roots and 25 strawberry plants. I also have Jerusalem artichoke tubers to retrieve from the fridge (and reclaim some shelf space!) and get planted and my sweet taters are in the windows to hopefully make some slips to plant out around the end of April. New seeds started this week are Holy Basil and Za'atar. Lemon verbena, tarragon, lemon balm, spearmint and peppermint, lavender, thyme and rosemary are ready to go out. I need to reclaim my living room...LOL! I spend more time moving plants in and out, rotating around my tiny greenhouse shelves in the south-facing window and stuff, than I do most anything else other than work. I need these guys to move on out so I can plant more seeds. I've also got dianthus, black-eyed susans, nasturtiums, petunias and marigolds started as well.

Jay's mention of mice making short shrift of seedlings has me wondering if I ought to use TP rolls to protect the little guys when they first go out. Hmmmm. Everything looks so tiny that I can't believe it is 'supposedly' time to plant them out. I may hold most stuff inside until after the frost date just to give them a little bit more of a head start. I am hoping that my straw mulch, plus a row cover, will keep what I do decide to put out next weekend alive until we get past April 5th and whatever weather weirdness comes our way 'twixt now and then.

Kids start arriving for visits during their Spring Break this week. Everyone has a different break, so at least I only have to throw down the mattress on the floor for one at a time...LOL!

Podster - thanks for that solarizing tip. I'll have to get the 5' plus hay cut down first before I attempt that in the 'expansion' area for next year's larger garden space. many seed dreams and so darn little time!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Wow! No wonder you haven't been posting. I am impressed and look forward to hearing how the garden grows. Sounds like if it is successful, you will be able to market garden along with Msrobin. From your last freeze date, I think I would wait as least till then...

I have heard lots of complaining about mice this year. We took on two kittens last June and now that they are larger, I've never seen this many dead shrews and mice. I would never have believed I had that many since I already had four older cats.

Jayrunyen ~ I slipped into deep, dark depression when you mentioned taxes. Not that I mind paying them... after all the more I make, the more I "get" to pay. Just depressed as I am dragging on doing the paperwork and you reminded me. lol

So instead, I went out and dug up some junque plants between the walkway and the house. Making it a kitchen garden of sorts with lots of perennial herbs, garlic and onions. Not sure what else I'll put there but I managed to dent the digging before it started raining again. That is a double edged sword. The rain makes it easy to dig and harder to get it done!

No heat needed here either for a few days. I guess the sun will come back out today because I am due back to work.

AZgram ~ I agree ~ Life is good!

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Goodmorning, my Friends! My ears were burning, so thought I'd stop by to see what was being said.

Yes, I helped Hineni put up her garden fence. It went pretty smooth, but she neglected to tell you that we spent more time trying to decide where to put it, than it actually took to put it up. LOL! We are still patting ourselves on the back for a job well done. I'm anxious to get back down there to see how she's progressing. We had a wonderful visit. She's got several neighbors interested in her garden, so she may be in business sooner than she thinks. :)

Al is in Utah, so I have the entire south half of our place filled with seedlings and seed trays. I'll probably move them to the greenhouse next week. Just hate the idea of spending extra money to heat the greenhouse at night these next few weeks.

We've got lots of rain forecast here for the rest of this week, but I can still get plenty done between rain bands. Too early to plant out, so I'm working on cleaning up different flower beds and other areas around the place that I didn't get to last summer.

I wonder about the disappearing seedlings....would sprinkling a little red pepper when planting the seeds help any? I know I have a huge colony of field mice and moles.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Wow Hi, you are cranking! I'm inspired! Looking forward to following your garden efforts.

I'd be lucky if mice got my seedlings... they're getting the seeds! Little varmints might as well just walk behind me and dig them up; waiting til nightfall is just leading me to think I've actually planted something that might actually grow.

So it's soil block day... I'm going to figure this dang thing out and start my sugar peas inside today.

My spinach is starting to come up, more chard... mostly I think things are just hanging out waiting for warmth.

I started another batch of eggplant and sweet pepper today... didn't get very good emergence in the first batch, had it in with the tomatoes which sprout at a lower temp. Now the new batch is on the germination mat at 85º... that oughta make 'em happy!

It's still too muddy to work outside the tunnel.... aargh!

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

UGH! It is so seriously yucky outside, I could just scream! Blowing snow/sleet this am, not much, just enough to make life miserable.

Things were finally starting to thaw and dry out a bit, and now we're back to sloppy and squishy. Bleh! =oP

Managed to get some sugar snap peas planted in soil blocks yesterday. Well, soil lumps, actually. The recipe for the blocking mix calls for a small amount of garden soil, and I think ours may have too much clay in it to work well... the mix tended to stick in the blocker. I'll try leaving the dirt out when I do this again for the sweet corn.

Here's my little seedlings... I took them out for a sunning yesterday

Thumbnail by Jayryunen
Colmesneil, TX(Zone 8b)

Our weather is finally starting to get back to normal around here. The collards are up along with the carrots. Just ate the last of the broccoli and am now waiting for the last round of brussels sprouts to make. Taters are in but haven’t come up yet.
Sorry if I’m off topic some but I only skimmed the posts. Had a horrible night and am ready for bed. Good night/day folks.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Is there a topic? Other than what's happening around your place, it's pretty open to my mind...

sort of your neighborly over-the-fence blather thread. =0)

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

We have had beautiful weather for a few days now. We got a sprinkling of rain last night and still a chance for the next few days but the sun is peeking in and out today and I'll take it!

Went to town for a load of feed Monday and got another bator. I put 2 dozen big stock brown eggs in it last night. Going to use the new bator for incubating and the old one for hatching. We have 6 new chicks that hatched out Saturday. They are cute and doing well. They are roundhead / hatch crosses. (Game chicks) Hoping to sell them.

Wind is blowing and drying things up. I haven't had to wear my big heavy mud boots in 3 days!

I had a hard day Sunday. Went on an overnight trip Friday and I think the ride and conference was a bit much for me. Went in the church van so I couldn't get comfortable. Had a lot of pain and weakness Sunday but by monday I was on the mend. I'm fine now and getting the work done.

Glory is doing well. We are giving her 2 rings of bute every night. The vet said she didn't need it but he was wrong. She was in pain and she quit eating. She was trembling even in her blanket and it wasn't that cold. With the pain meds she is doing well and eating well.

Pigs are ready to process. They are getting huge. Near as tall as Max. LOL I may ride them to the butcher.

I picked up 10 eggs yesterday. All 3 bantam hens layed and the duck. She layed again today. Had a double yolk egg over the weekend from one of my RIR hens.

Gotta get back out and work on my veggie beds. I have broccoli and mater plants sprouted in the cellar. I have quite a few things wintersown and sitting in the back yard. It's the first time I have tried it.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Is Glory your horse that got hung up in the feeder? Glad to hear a little bute got her eating better.

I once saw a picture of a hog in harness... seems like that'd be some awesome pulling power. LOL

A minute ago I looked outside and it was snowing... 50º and snowing. I do believe that means it's spring... just not the one I want. I need your boots, Cajun!

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Yes, that is glory. You can see where the feeder gouged a piece of her eye out. It looks like a huge ulcer on the eye. But it's not draining near as much as before.

I got a lot of work done on my veggie bed. I got the groundcloth and the pavers down. It's 10ft long and about 1 1/2 ft wide. I got about 3 feet of soil in it. I have the soil to finish it but I pooped out. My legs get weak having to go up and down the hill. I should have it done by the time I need to put the broccoli out.

Sad about the snow. I'm sure you are as sick of it as I am.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Blathering? I like it, let me blather some. I know you are tired of the snow. What I'm tired of is the crappy store bought tomatoes. Had one tonight that cut like, looked like and tasted like cardboard. C'mon mater seedlings!

Jayryunen ~ please describe your soil blocks. You made reference to them and I'm not sure what the procedure is? Seedlings are looking good there.

Cajun sounds like you are getting after it. That garden bed is interesting and you said you hauled in all your dirt? What an effort. Glad your Glory is doing better but on the chicks/chickens, you better hush ~ LOL I have been resisting temptation but am tempted sorely. Trying to stay away from the Poultry forum.

Lizardskeep ~ glad to see you surfacing again. How does your garden grow?

On weather, it has been warm and windy but sunny and beginning to dry out. I just wish for sun on my days off but... At least there is early morning daylight and I am able to get some work done outdoors before work. That will change again on Sunday with DST time. Then, I'll be dragging and lazy after work and won't want to do much. Wish the time change would be LEFT ALONE! One way or the other.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Yes, I am sick, sick, sick of this snow and now it's melted and we're back to slop.

I've been learning about bucket gardening using a really neat system utilizing 5 gallon buckets and plastic colanders... check it out!

Aren't those the most incredible cabbages?!

This is a great system for renters, patio gardens, and those who need an elevated garden. I'm going to build a couple for a friend of mine who keeps trying to grow tomatoes in the shade... her deck is about the only place that gets full sun all day.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Oh crud... DLT. I'm with you podster, I wish they'd just leave it the heck alone!

I'll try and get it together to start a soil blocking thread... though as I said, I don't have the soil mix down right, so you'll get to see soil lumps and blobs instead. LOL

Cajun, I don't know how anyone could think gouging a piece of an eye out wouldn't hurt like the dickens. I know horses have a higher pain threshhold than humans, but come on, we're talking an eye here, not a hide. Sheesh.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Jay, you don't leave the homestead much, do you? (giggle) Linda (Gymgirl) has a thread here on DG with this bucket idea. BTW, they do work great. I've got 4 going with cherry tomatoes and they are growing like crazy. Well, they were until I got the bright idea to put them on the front deck for their daily outing today. It was 72, but pretty breezy out there. Maybe they will look less-ragged in the morning.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

LOL... nope, I don't get around much, takes too much of my time just keeping up with this place. I tried to talk Linda into posting here, as I think she's doing a kind of urban homesteading, but I guess she's busy with those buckets... =0)

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Jayryunyen ~ thanks for the link on the bucket garden. I had skirted the edges of it here on DG but took the time to read your link. I think it will be an excellent system for your friends' deck garden. I was actually interested until I saw how much water they required in the heat of summer. Water conservation has always been top priority for me even tho I live in an area that has adequate moisture/rainfall. I tried something last year that I am doing again. I grew the vegies in containers ala Twiggybuds in water beds. The water consumption was minimal and (because I work) the maintenance effort was wonderfully minimal. The great thing here is the exchange of ideas and information as no two situations or locales are similar. What works for one, may or may not for the next one. Interesting read tho and I always enjoy GymGirls' enthusiasm.

Not like I was in need but turned in more seed orders from Willhite this a.m.. Ordering extra too as I cleaned out a corner in the freezer for seed storage. Miniature pumpkins and more small maters and improved pintos and....
Off to work to earn seed money. Lord ~ save me! lol

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

You know, I think I am as bad about seeds as those folks over on P&L are about chickens... LOL I can't just walk by a seed rack without responding to their tiny little cries of 'plant me, plant me'.

The buckets use a lot of water? I thought they'd be pretty efficient, especially with the lid cut out that way to reduce surface evaporation.

Could you post a link to Twiggybuds system?

We've got another 1/2" of snow here this morning, 27º, and will probably warm up enough to melt this batch again today, just like yesterday. Always just enough to keep things too wet to work. Grrr. Don't the weather gods know I have grand plans? Or do they delight in taunting us mere mortals? Fie, I say, fie!

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Jay, welcome to Seed Collectors Anonymous. LOL

I didn't get the bad thunderstorms, as predicted and only got 1/4" of rain, woke up to 55*, so can't complain...yet. Have a 80% chance of rain for today. I may start to get growly as the day wears on.

I used Twiggybud's method last year with 4 5 gal. buckets of tomatoes and it worked well. I used GymGirl's bucket with lid method to make up these 4 using 4 1/2 gal buckets without lids, and just used plastic to loosely cover the top of the soil mix. They take just under 1/2 gal of water about every 8-9 days.

I started moving some of my cool season vegetable trays of seedlings out to the greenhouse yesterday to make room for more seed trays that I'm starting today. Want to wait another week to move the tomatoes, peppers, etc, to make sure the night temps are staying where they're suppose to.

Cajun, glad to hear Glory is doing better.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I think I will move her down to 1 ring of bute a day for this week then see how she does without it. She is eating very well now.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

1/2 gal. of water every 8-9 days seems pretty conserving to me, especially compared to watering things in the ground. Robin, as you've tried both, how do you think the two systems compare water wise?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

At work so I'll have to look up Gymgirls water comment later and I am sure more water usage due to the summer heat in the Houston area. I am not far removed from her. I'll post more later...

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

I had 4 buckets in a 5' kiddie pool. I think I added a couple of inches of water every other week, if we didn't have any rain. I probably lost some water due to evaporation because of the larger water surface. If someone wanted to just use one or two buckets on a patio, there are a number of things to use for the "trough", such as a kitty litter pan or oil pan, which are readily available. The kiddie pool was almost $15 and would hold 6-7 buckets easily. Twiggybuds describes more frugal ideas for the water beds. I used a drill to make the holes on these buckets and each bucket took about 2 minutes to prepare. I did observe I had less hornworm problems. I don't know how they reached the plants, but I did have 3.

With the self-watering bucket, I don't think there is much evaporation and the watering is equally as easy. At Dollar General, I paid $4 for the bucket, $2 for the strainer, and $3 for the recommended potting MIX. I had straws and scrap pvc pipe here. Only tool I used was a pair of heavy duty scissors and it took me less than 15 minutes each to make. I also used a saw to cut the pipe. My only concern with self-watering buckets, is that if you can't find a source for free or cheap buckets, and want to do a lot of these, it could get pretty expensive.

Is one better than the other? As far as function, I like them both, and will continue to use both, in addition to still planting in the ground.


Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

No, that's great info... I think having exposed water surface here in dry ol' NM I would lose a significant amount to evaporation with those pools. I'm looking forward to your post, podster.

My idea right now is a couple three buckets with an attractive box around them on the deck.

I agree about the expense, but a little resourcefulness will find cheaper buckets... around here there's a lot of drywall buckets, and Gymgirl gets hers from restaurants... I'm going to start asking around and see what I come up with. I've also seen the buckets on sale from time to time at places like Home Depot...

I've started the soil blocking thread here on Homestead.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

We buy 5 gallon buckets with lids at TSC for $2.99. not bad. How do you know if you have too much water in the bucket?

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

You're right, I could have scrounged around for free buckets, like I did for the water bed buckets and will for buckets for that method. I wanted something a little nicer for the few self-watering buckets that I'll be using. I'm going to have my CSA members coming out to visit and these will be sitting around the little picnic area.

Off to check you new thread....

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Cajun, Twiggybud's just take up as much water as they need from the water the buckets are sitting in. The other one's have a "resorvoir" inside the bottom of the bucket and there is an overflow tube a few inches from the bottom that comes out the side, so they only hold so much water.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Cajun, essentially there's a plastic colander turned upside down in the bottom of the bucket, with a 1 1/2" (or so) pvc pipe that runs into it from above to put the water in, and a plastic straw that comes in from the side towards the top of the inverted colander to drain off excess. You then fill the bucket with potting soil, and plant. Check the link I posted for a very helpful drawing and explanation of the system... you're one of the people I thought of, being a renter and all. =0)

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I didn't realize there was an overflow straw. This would be good for my DD and Knock. They live in a rented apartment and have 2 balconies they can "garden" on.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)


Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

First, here is the post on GymGirls' water usage for the ebuckets. From this thread...


In the beginning of the season when my seedlings are just taking off, I can fill the reservoir about once a week and they get the water they need.

Once they reach full size and start to take off, I may have to fill the reservoir once in the morning and top off again in the evening.

When my huge heirloom tomatoes took off in the patented EBs they were drinking so much and so fast that I was filling the reservoir morning AND evening without fail -- and probably could've stood to fill them at lunchtime, too, if I'd been home!
With alot of containers, I wouldn't have time to tend to them. I can see the principal and understand how well it will work. Were I only doing a few containers, I would consider trying it. After all there are 5 gallon containers tossed out on the roadsides although they had hydraulic oil in them and I wonder about reuse for food products.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Twiggybuds system is simply a level soil surface with a frame bed of landscape timbers, probably about 3" high. I believe my beds are 2 ft x 8 ft. Lined with black plastic. The plants are potted in containers, I used black nursery pots as I had plenty. They are planted in a cheap but well draining soil with compost added. These containers are packed tightly in these beds of standing water and on the eBucket theory, will use water as needed. The more tightly the beds are filled with pots, the less chance of evaporation. I started with four beds and added a fifth before long. Like the eBuckets, they need additional fertilizer on a regular basis.

I am going to add a photo or two. In this photo, green beans in the front, a couple of tomatoes behind and on the far end, a couple of spaghetti squash vines. On the right hand side of the bed, TX tarragon, basil and other herbs mixed in. Upper right hand corner of the photo, you can see a squash hanging from the trellis.

Thumbnail by podster
Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Podster, that is a really attractive "bed" too.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

A bonus on the tomatoes, I planted the seedlings low in the black pots and added soil as they grew so they developed a good root system. The black plastic and the black pots helped provide early heat and I could easily cover them on frosty nights without crushing the foliage. These were not standing in water until they grew more. I kept the young plants on the dry side to prevent root rot.

Thumbnail by podster

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