Are you still gardening?

Places are opening up and places are shutting back down.  Does that mean you have stopped gardening? Or that you have stopped looking for great gardening deals?

With it being the dead of summer here in the states that does mean a few things, your plants probably need a little more TLC.  I have been going around to the plants checking on them watching for bug infestation.

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This is what the grape leaves look like with a bug problem. What I have seen around the damaged leaves are two types of beetles. So far the grapes that are growing every day have not been damaged by the beetles.

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Although I have watched them eating the blueberries. This is the type of beetle that I have seen in the past. It also devours all of the rose bushes.  The last two years they have stripped the one apple tree of all of its leaves. So this year when I started seeing damage I have been trying to drown a few in soapy water daily.  I tap them into a coffee can with a paint stick.  I have noticed that while I am only ridding my yard of a few beetles a day the apple trees, grapes and rose bushes have been better than in years past.

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Also recently I have been seeing a few of these lighter brown beetles around.

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The one bug I have heard about and have never seen in previous years are squash bugs.  I don’t know what they look like but I have found a bunch of bugs on my squash plants that look like this.

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The bugs we have the most problems with are aphids, ants and beetles.  I noticed an infestation of aphids on my newly planted apple tree yesterday. I have seen ants all over the tree for weeks, and would tap them off.  Are the ants eating the aphids or are they all working together to destroy my new tree?

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I water every morning and evening especially with the amount of heat that we have every day, unless it rains.

But what I noticed yesterday while shopping was the plant deals.  Its not a perfect time to transplant and a lot of the plants at stores that don’t specialize in plants, have a hard time keeping them alive.

Discounted plants is where it is at, in the dead of the summer.  I only recommend spending money on plants if you are willing to put in the time and effort.  Otherwise planting in the middle of summer might be a bit devastating for you. Financially and emotionally.

Make sure you are looking for plants that come back year after year.  Also make sure you are not buying a dead stick, which I have done in the past, then I just have to return it.  If you see green on the stems make sure the green goes the whole way down to the dirt.

I purchased some blackberry bushes earlier in the year and when I transplanted them, they all died.  It was very heart breaking, but stubborn me, I just kept watering them and sure enough all of them but one has shot off at the base of the plant a new little stem with leaves.

I try to give all my plants a fighting chance.  RickabaughReviews approves of discount plants and watering.

Selling handmade crafts.

Making handmade crafts and selling handmade crafts are two totally different beasts.  I find it relatively easy to make the crafts with the skills that I have acquired.  I thought selling them would be easy if I used the right platforms.  Esty for example specializes in handmade products.  I have sold a few but the shipping is out of this world expensive, and then you also have the problem if when it is shipped states away they open up your well packed item and it is broken.  I have only sold two items on etsy in two years, but there is a listing fee. So shipping my crafts has not proven to be profitable.

I have looked into going to a boutique to sell my hand made crafts.   The space was tiny. It was also $75 a month just to rent the 3 foot by 4 foot by 1 foot deep space.  I had to provide my own shelving/display.   On top of paying taxes to sell the items.  I also had to pay the location 20% of each item sold.  Outlandish.  A few friends of mine also thought it was a bit much.  Did not even attempt that route.

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In 2019 I did a small craft show, there was a few involved which was not much at all.  completely reasonable.  But there were a grand total of 20 visitors for the whole craft show.  I also only sold 2 items for $5.00 each.  So that panned out to be me paying $40 to sit at a table for 6 hours.  The best part was I had two amazing friends with me the whole time completely supportive.  I had been signed up for a really big craft show in a neighboring town, then Covid 19 hit and hit hard.  No more craft shows.

What has been working just a bit is facebook marketplace.  Those interested are local and that is great.  I have in the past sat at a location for two hours waiting for someone to show for something they wanted to purchase from me, and they end up being a no show no call.  It is very frustrating.  My husband and I have finally come to the conclusion that I offer really great product for really great prices.  If someone can grasp  the concept of a great deal then they usually have no problem driving to my house to pick up the item.

I need to look into listing my items in online local yard sale sites.  I have not done this yet.  I really need to find a little more time to list the items, that is the longest process, not making the items.

Until Covid 19 clears up I guess craft shows are out.  But RickabaughReviews knows selling crafts is far harder than it looks.

Infused oil as a moisturizer

I have been having fun making my gardening useful to me. I have been dehydrating mint and lavender and as I trim them, they grow more.  Which is wonderful until you run out of space for them.  I purchased a large container of coconut oil at Costco just a few years ago and I have really enjoyed using it as a moisturizer for my dry and itchy skin year round. I have a great deal of allergies to the stabilizers used in lotions and have struggled for many years with my hands swelling and breaking out in hives.

I have wanted to find additional ways to use the lavender besides in my tea.  I looked up how to infuse my coconut oil on Pintrest.  The process is super simple and only takes two to three days.

I used a pint mason jar and lid.  I trimmed the spearmint and peppermint fresh.

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I rinsed off the leaves, but have found through the process that next time I will end up patting them dry before popping them into the jar.

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The coconut oil that I have is a solid until about 74 degrees.  So in the air conditioned house it is a solid.  It needs to melt in order to infuse the mint into the coconut oil.  Simple fix was a candle warmer.

I scooped in coconut oil until the jar was filled to the shoulder.  The shoulder of the jar is the top of the jar before you get to the threads where you screw on the top.  So the very top 1/2 to 3/4 inches was not filled.

I noticed when I infused my lavender I did pack the jar tighter with flower tops then I did with the mint leaves.  Thus I got more coconut oil in the jar with the mint leaves and in turn more infused oil.

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I kept the jars of oil at a liquid state for two days.  Also I covered them with a black dish towel.  To keep the light out.  I gently shook the jars back and forth maybe 10 times, 3 times a day, for two days

After 2 days I strained the flower tops of the lavender out and after two days I strained the mint from the infused oil.

The infused oil has gone back to being more of a solid since I took them off the candle warmer.  It has a light fragrance added, not strong or over whelming.  Which is perfect for on my dry skin before bed every night.

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You can see the lavender infused oil on the left, I had started the lavender process one day before the mint infused oil on the right.  I took the photo directly after I had strained the mint infused oil while it was still warm and in a liquid state.

We purchased these cute 3 ounce containers to keep the oil in.  Easy to pass out to friends or sell at a craft fair.  I chose 3 ounce containers, the max that is allowed on a airplane.  Perfect for traveling.

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RickabaughReviews approves of infused oil.

Money saving tips I use in 2020

First of all, live within your means. Pay off your credit cards and get rid of them- the interest alone will break you. It is very hard in this society. But if you don’t have the cash for it-don’t buy it.  Also take care of the items that you have, be more gentle with life, control your emotions-don’t throw things – this is a big reason why humans go through so many items.

If it still works – you do not need to purchase a new one. Cell phones are the biggest culprit. Just because there is a new version doesn’t mean you need it. With our cell phone plan my phone was paid off in two years. I used that phone for a whole third year before getting a new one. The old cell phone still worked very well. I chose to donate my phone to someone who needed it. But in that year when the phone was paid off I saved 32 dollars a month. That 32 dollars a month went straight into savings.

Coupons-cut coupons! Coupons save a bunch! I save over $300 dollars a month in coupons. Every month. If its not on sale or doesn’t have a coupon it doesn’t get purchased for this household. We have learned that the key to a comfortable lifestyle is working hard and spending less.

Here is the key to using coupons- Don’t use a coupon just because you have it on that item.  Only purchase items you already have in your regular grocery list that you know you like, unless you are willing to try a different brand.  We will most of the time purchase the store brand.  It is cheaper and on most occasions tastes just as amazing!  I look for the overall best deal too.

There are free apps that you can download onto your cell phone that will give you money back for items that you purchased. Sometimes it can be a bit tricky about what items qualify and expiration dates of the digital coupons. Just keep at it. These are the apps that make a difference in our budget, the apps that make us money.

Savings Star – You can cash out after you have reached $20.00 in you account. We have been able to load our Giant card (local grocery store card) to the app and it is super easy when grocery shopping because I don’t need to scan my Giant grocery receipt when we get home. You are able to select other stores in which they have coupons available, but you will need to scan your receipt in. You do need to go into the app before you go shopping and select the items you intend on purchasing. Saving Star says that it can take up to 20 days for your rebates to show up in your account but I have usually only had to wait up to 3 days before I see my new account balance.  They also have a section where you can see each date and coupon you used.

Ibotta Sign up on your own, or with friends. Use my referral code:fvclxby to join as a friend.

For this app you do not need a referral code, but there are bonuses involved if you do.  When you are in a group there are group goals that everyone will benefit from if you achieve the goals- which is free money.  In the app you select a store and it will list the available items that have a rebate on them.  You need to activate the coupon first.  Don’t wait to activate your app coupons- sometimes they are such a hot deal the apps run out of the specific coupons. Next grocery shop.  When we get home we do our receipt scanning.

Checkout 51 is another free app that works the same way as Ibotta.  You active the coupons you want, shop, then scan your receipt when you get home.  Use my referral code to sign up- https://checkout51.app.link/7zHqWVfQUQ

Receipt Hog is an app where all I do is scan in every receipt.  It is a market research group, they are just interested in what you are purchasing so that the companies can better promote their products. Depending on what I am purchasing and how large of a purchase decides if I receive coins, or tickets or spins. Tickets are placed into a monthly drawing, I have never won in drawings and I don’t ever intend to. Spins are a bit different, they are like a slot machine.  They say you win 50% of the time.  Honestly its about 30% and I have only ever won the most of 10 coins but I like to think positive and I will take it.  It earns us free money.  Coins is where it matters! Hog Coins.  When you reach 1000 hog coins you can choose to cash out which equals $5.00 and they send it to your paypal account.  Paypal then sends it right into your bank account, with my usual spending I am able to receive $5.00 about every three months. I am feeding and caring for only my husband, dog and myself.  If you have kids I am very sure it would add up much more quickly.  Now $5.00 may not seem like a lot but I like to think positively and every little bit helps. Look at my results over a year- This is a free $20.00.

ReceiptPal is very similar to receipt hog in which you are able to scan in 99% of the receipts that you have for the house hold purchases. The difference is each receipt is worth 25 points. At 2000 points you are able to request a gift card of your choice or send it to your pay pal account. In the beginning of the year I would get gift cards to stores that I could easily stop by on the way home from work.  Switching jobs means switching tactics. I have more recently sent 90% of my app rewards to my paypal. I have actually found this to be more helpful in my spending habits.  I purchase less non needed items, and I have more money to add to my monthly budget in order to pay the car payment, the electric bill, the mortgage or put into special savings funds such as retirement or my gardening budget.

Fetch Rewards a free app that is similar to Receipt Hog.  Here is my referral code: B1RWH They are looking for specific items that you purchase, so the receipts that you can get credit for scanning are: grocery store, warehouse store (Sams, Costco) and purchases made inside of convenience stores (food and drinks from Sheetz, Turkey Hill-not gasoline).  You are able to cash out after 500 points which equals a $5.00 gift card.  They have a bunch of options of gift cards as well as sending them to your pay pal account.

trunow is a new app I started trying this year for gas rewards. It only accepts your fuel receipts. Also the hitch is that you have to earn “10 dollars” worth of rewards but you only get $5.00. The company keeps $5.00. I remain positive and I would have needed to spend the money on fuel either way because we need to go to work and we are unable to walk to work. I remind my self it is free money and don’t get discouraged. I like to think of it as 1000 points and I can get $5.00.

Sweat Coin my free app that tracks my steps outside of my home. Here is my referral code: sweatcoinapp.uk/i/jeanete891767  I am accumulating coins that can be traded in for items.  This app can earn you discounts on certain things but they also do crowd funding for causes such as planting trees and sending meals to needy families as well as their current funding for vaccinating children. My husband and I both have this app on our phones. So when we are raking the leaves in the yard we are earning sweat coins which can be traded in for items.  This is a slow earning free app, and the rewards change daily but I love the crowd funding. This app does track your location, and it will not track your steps if you close the app, I let it run in the background.  I have noticed when I took the battery saver mode off that my battery does wear down a bit more quickly (I always travel with my charge cord so I can charge while driving or at work or at home while sleeping.) but I am earning about double the steps with the battery saver off.

Facebook Market place– If you have facebook this is a great way to reduce the extras you have. We sell our spare items on market place for very low prices. It helps us reduce and helps out someone else who needs the item but can not necessarily afford brand new.  When my husband and I got together we were both established adults living on our own.  So when we combined households yes we had two vacuums, two irons, two ironing boards, two dining room tables, four couches and two very comfortable lounge chairs. Not including pots, pans and bedding for days.  All in relatively great shape.  The couches we ended up donating to the Salvation Army because they would come and remove them from your home. Market place is amazing, we have de-cluttered and we like to put the spare couple of dollars into savings for a vacation.  I like to think of it as having a yard sale every day at your house but you don’t have to drag everything out and sit outside all day. I have a few things on market place at all times and so does my husband.  It is harder for me now with my new job where we are not allowed to have cell phones at all but we have been slowly switching everything to my husbands account because he works from home and has a bit more flexibility to meet someone at the front door when ever they are available to come and pick up a spare cabinet or chair or microwave.

Make my own clothes– I have seen this on other websites and to be honest, it is so hard!!! But I have figured out a few simple things that I can handle. I have been crocheting some ponchos, are they the most beautiful most stylish of all times- goodness no.  But I have been using up spare yarn that people have been giving me for the last 20 years and I have increased my wardrobe selection. I also have been handed down a bunch of material and we are talking from the 40’s and to current times. So I find big peices and make circle skirts super easy by cutting out the middle making sure I can get it over my hips and then hand sewing in elastic around the waist. I don’t make it even at the bottom. I fold a big square in half and in half again and then snip out the place where my body goes through in a little circle. the skirt is nice and full and flowing and all different lengths. You can’t tell if I messed up at all, some of them I don’t even hem any more, the material doesn’t fray and its kind of fashionable. So I increase my wardrobe with clothes made specifically for me, by me.

Shop Kick This has become my family’s favorite app! It is our fastest money maker! And the most fun.  Here is my referral code: Best029650   How it works: its like a scavenger hunt in the stores you usually go to while you are shopping. You earn kicks(points, coins, credits, kicks) for finding items in the store and scanning their bar codes. They have tons of different stores.  We shop regularly at target, giant, best buy. Some stores offer walk in kicks.  Some stores offer kicks not only if you scan it but if you purchase an item on the list. This is where you can get tons of kicks but I personally only purchase items that were on my list to begin with. My husband works from home so about 2-3 times a week we like to go out, we go to stores and scan kicks. We both have the app on our phones.  We are both scanning at the same time. This means we are making double the amount, while getting some exercise by walking around stores. You are able to cash out very quickly they have low amount gift cards of $2. You are able to get the earned money sent right to your paypal account but yes of course you guessed it my husband and I get target gift cards. Last month both my husband and I were able to each earn $20.00 in gift cards-yes for scanning bar codes- not purchasing a thing.  And we did it at our convenience. Yes that is $40.00 of free groceries.  Or a free pair of shoes!

Swagbucks this free app both my husband and I have been using for over a year now and its great! How I use this app daily. I do not need it open for a whole lot of time. At 500 swagbucks I am able to redeem them for a gift card. The really nice part about these gift cards is that they send you a bar code not an actual card through the mail.  I personally activate my gift card and then I take a screen shot of the gift card on my phone and that way when checking out I can quickly go through my photos and pull up the bar codes for the cashier to scan, I am able to swipe from one gift card to the next very easily, and this way I am not logging into 5 different apps while holding up the check out line.  When I use the gift card I delete the photo,  It’s also excellent for when I hit the grocery store on my way home from work.  I text the husband and ask him if there is anything else I need on the list and usually he volunteers his earned gift cards by texting me the photos of his gift card bar codes. Getting on the same money saving page with my husband has really helped our communication in our budget and marriage.  Swagbucks offers a multitude of different ways to earn money. I personally do the daily poll. It is one question and earns me one swagbuck every day as long as I remember to take the daily poll.  They also offer other survey’s that take longer, but sometimes I will be working on a survey for 10 minutes and then I don’t qualify for the survey pay out and so I tend not to do a whole lot of survey’s. The survey profile questions are easy and quick so I tend to keep up on those, after answering 10 questions you receive 2 swagbucks.   this will eat up your data. I set my phone to watching the videos while charging and on wifi. So about every 2 months I earn a $5.00 gift card.  I forget sometimes on the weekends so I round it to about every two months. Between my husband and myself we are earning $5.00 free every month. When I use gift cards to pay for our groceries it also frees up money so that when a friends birthday rolls around I am able to send a card and sometimes a cute gift and it will not break our budget.

Costco – I pay $65.00 membership fee to shop any and every day of the week at Costco.  We get really great prices on our basic necessities.  Our dog food, the dog is allergic to corn, German shepherd mix, shes a big dog and eats a lot of food.  Grain free is not cheap – Kirkland brand 35 pounds, for just under $30.00, and there is a more cost effective turkey flavor but we get her the beef flavor because she likes it more.  We also like to buy in bulk – Tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, soap, laundry detergent, dish washer detergent Kirkland brand is a HUGE discount compared to the local grocery store. The other two items that saves a great deal of money at coscto are rice and honey.  I put honey in my coffee every morning to assist with my allergies, which it does.  Also a 25 pound bag of jasmine rice is under $20.  25 pounds of rice would last us close to 9 months with just the two of us eating it but we have some friends who have fallen in love with the rice we get and we split the bag whenever we get rice.  So we basically have three gallon zip lock bags of rice on hand at all times.  We lived closer to the Costco before we moved but I don’t mind the 30 minute drive. I have been taking my friend with me and she hands me cash and we split the purchases, saves her money and time and we get a bit of quality time in.  We are both super frugal so its really nice chatting about how we are each saving money and doing well. 

RickabaughReviews approves of saving money!!

Making essential oils while living with no air conditioning

Living with no air conditioning this summer has not been easy.  Especially with my allergies.   I am pretty lucky though I get to drive in my air conditioned vehicle to work where it is air conditioned.  My husband on the other hand has his office on the second floor and with the computer and 3D printer running quite often, it is the hottest room in the house.

The air conditioning works sort of.  It doesn’t really keep the whole house cool and it over heats and then freezes over and then we have to shut it off and then it leaks a bunch of water all over the basement.  So the air conditioning does not work, but we have a really good neighbor who does HVAC for a living and is going to look into fixing it for us.

Last night we slept in the unfinished basement where it was a balmy 72 degrees Fahrenheit. compared to the 88 degrees up in the bedroom.   We have air mattresses, I slept better than I have in the last three weeks and my husband did not sleep well at all.  He is not great with the air mattresses.

There are a few upsides to having a very warm upstairs.  Okay so far I can only think of one.  I made lavender essential oils for the first time yesterday.  It took 3 hours and a great deal of lavender, but I have plenty of the latter.

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I have coconut oil that is a solid but at 74 degrees F it turns into a solid.  I wasn’t sure how I would get my oil to stay as a liquid long enough to make the oil without boiling it.  Oddly enough the coconut oil was already melted in the master bath.  It’s 88 degrees.  So I just have it in the master bath.  I have a few ideas of how I might use it when I get some cheese cloth to strain it.  But for now It gets shook every 8 hours for a few days.

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I know a few friends who make goat milk soap and use lavender oil so I thought about chatting with them about how else I could use it other than a moisturizer for my hair and skin.

I also would like to make mint essential oil.  One because I have a lot of mint, and two because it would be such a cooling & relaxing moisturizer.

When I got home from work today I shook the lavender oil and then opened the lid and tried a dab on my face on a dry spot next to my eyebrow.  Worked just like it did before, but also smelled extra nice with the hint a lavender.

Tomorrow should tell if we have mint oil infusing. Until then RickabaughReviews approves of simple recipes.

 

 

 

 

Gardening in June of 2020

It is very hard to work full time, part time and try to homestead as well.  We have made many orchard type additions this year to our little patch of land.  We have a total of 6 blueberry bushes in one of the flower beds, now known as the blueberry patch.  I have 4 different varieties.  I have four very small twigs- which are very affordable.  $10.00 a piece, but you have to be in it for the long haul.  The will probably not produce for at least another two years.  Then I splurged one day and got 2 full grown- already with a ton of blueberries loaded onto the bush.  At $27.00 a piece and with how well they are doing it was a great investment.  Unfortunately the two full grown blackberry bushes that also had berries and flowers on them and were purchased at the same time for the same price are completely dead.  With the whole virus lock down I am not sure if the nursery I got them at will accept them back.  I need just an hour to do a little research.

We visited my brother and his wife and switched flowers for starts and seeds.  I gave her lillies and cone flowers and spider wort and bee balm.  And she gave me loofah seeds, thyme, raspberry starts and sour dough starter along with much more.  Only one of the raspberry starts survived.  So the new berry patch is not doing the greatest, but there are other plants that are doing great this year.  such as my lavender.  It is going crazy!!!  I cut and dry at least once a week if not twice a week  and we are not talking one little tray.  For example, yesterday I nipped off one tenth of the flowers and it was 4 trays of just lavender tops drying.  Great for in soaps and sachets.  I have been giving some to the neighbors and they love it.

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Two years ago we moved to our current house and it had 4 fruit trees already semi-established.  What I mean by semi established, is that they were several years old when they were first planted , and have been in their current spot for several years now.  Our first summer we got zero fruit from any of the trees.  My husband said if they don’t produce net year they all get chopped down.  Thank goodness for the pear tree on the end.  Last year it gave us five pears.  I did a bunch of trimming, several times the last two years, the four trees were very large and not trimmed.  Since I really wanted more fruit trees I took the time to get some education. This included watching a few videos of how to prune to increase possibility of fruit.  What we didn’t know was that my random tree trimming actually gave them all a chance.  There is a trick to trimming fruit trees so that they produce more the next year.  It is not an instantaneous type of project.  You have to be able to have and enjoy the long game.  This spring the husband and I worked hard on trimming according to what we had learned.  When you find a sucker (a branch that shoots straight up) go to the bunch of leaves and count three leaves up and then trim.  We have a total of 13 pears on the one tree.

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None have been found on the other pear tree this year but I am hopeful for next year because there was three bunches of flowers on it this past flowering season.  I did some research on the two apple trees – of course they will not produce with each other, they are the same type of apple tree and this particular type of apple tree needs a third party pollinator.  So I have been trimming them accordingly and we purchased three fruit tree babies this year.  A golden delicious apple which is a self pollinator as well as a well know third party pollinator.  The baby trees that we purchased are about three to four feet tall right now and are doing great.  We are being very realistic and knowing that it might not be next year that we will get flowers on the baby apple to cross pollinate with the two other well established apple trees, it might be the year after.  All we can do it keep everybody in good shape and hope for the best.

With our three new fruit tree babies we are doing an apple, a bing cherry and a dwarf peach.  It was also suggested that we try the Espalier style of growth and care.  We love the concept and have already have all three on wires.  We have read that this style of growth and trimming is very time consuming.  From what we were dreading it would be hours every day.  It is not!  Yes I spend thirty minutes watering every single new fruit that we planted this year twice a day if it does not rain, but I expected that going in.  We have spent maybe three hours every other Saturday specifically on the fruit trees.

Today I spent a total of an hour trimming down a good bit of the four established trees, the only reason it took so long is because they are not Espalier style where I can reach them all well.  I have to pull one branch down at a time basically fighting it while I trim with the other hand and then step back see which branch I trimmed and then get a game plan for the net branch go in grab it and try to pull it down with out snapping it.  But within that hour I got two full armloads of suckers cut off.  Hopefully next year we will get some fruit on those little fruit shoots I just prepped.

The beets this year have not done that well, nor the bell peppers or lettuce, but the aphids have not been too awful and now that the sugar snap peas are producing I have been able to pick a few every morning.

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We have been getting one or two blueberries as well as a few strawberries.  The sage and oregano have tripled in size this year.  The spearmint and peppermint have gone gang busters jumping out of their small enclosure.  I have been able to dry so much mint this year that I ran out of room in the quart jar I use, its now in a paper bag, and I should probably cut some down tomorrow.

The Elephant Ears as well as the Hostas are perfect for concrete casting right now but with all craft shows canceled for the time being I am slightly hesitant to spend money and time on casting leaves right now, I will have to see how busy our weekends get as places start to open up.

Spending time on Gardening, RickabaughReviews approves.  I really have been taking advantage of the Covid slow down and have been enjoying putting my gardening goals into action.

April Showers

The old saying is April showers brings May flowers.  The flowers have been here but the honey bees died again over the winter.  We are unsure of what killed them off because it was a very mild winter this year.  We are very sad about not having bees, we might not try again this year.

We did trim up the existing outdoor fruit trees.  There are two pear trees and two apple trees.  We were told when we moved in that the trees were a few years old when planted and were planted for a few years and had never produced. We have been here for 2 years so at the youngest they are 6.  The first year we got one pear. Last year we got 5 pears from the same pear tree.   I trimmed all four trees several times.  We have watched some videos on how to properly trim fruit trees for fruit production.  And we are pretty confident that my random fruit tree trimming helped with out knowing how or why.

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You can see how out of control the trees were and below they are all trimmed up nicely.  We took about 15 feet off the top of the one pear tree because we did not get to trimming it up last year.  They are all doing very well.

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The pear tree that we got 5 pears from last year when in bloom had three clusters of flower blooms.  Today we counted and have 11 flower clusters on that pear tree, the other pear tree has 3 clusters so we are hopeful.  The two apple trees do not have any flowers on them yet.  We have noticed that the last two years the beetles are pretty bad and have stripped 3/4 of the leaves off of the one apple tree every year.  I am going to work harder on getting rid of the beetles.  We have also had problems with aphids on the rose bushes.

Earlier this year I purchased a great deal of cinnamon, three bulk containers.  We were having problems with the ants eating the vegetable plants.  When we lived in Harrisburg, cinnamon really did the trick to keep the ants off of the sunflowers.  We will be trying cinnamon on all of the plants this year.

We took back the one blueberry bush that died and we purchased three more.  We now have two bluecrop and two jersey.  The huz and I were very excited to try and get some of the plants transplanted this weekend but yes it is calling for flurries today.  Ewwwww.

We have not taken all of the plants out yesterday and we will be keeping them in again today.  But we got some progress done yesterday on chipping for around the pond as well as I dug a very little bit around the second stump in order to burn them down this weekend if the wind is not bad.  I am working half days the next two days because of cut hours at work so we will see just how productive I can be.

We did do a great deal of chipping the last two days and when the huz and myself really work together we can get a lot done.  In the picture with the trimmed up tree you can see in the flower bed above the rock wall that it has a bunch of old dark mulch among the plants that are getting bigger every day.  Well the husband chipped on Wednesday for 45 minutes while I was at work and yesterday evening we both worked on chipping for 45 minutes.  We almost have the whole pile of branches from the two pine trees coming down chipped.  But just take a look at how lovely the area looks with fresh mulch.

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We do have to continue chipping because we need to do on the other side of the pond.  And there are plenty of branches in a mess of a pile in several places in the wooded area of the property.  We just have to drag them over to the chipper and prep them.

RickabaughReviews approves of yard work as hard work and yard work is good exercise.

Timber

This weekend we trimmed trees and cut down two.  I also removed over 1000 dandelions from the yard.  So we noticed this year a great deal of dandelions in the yard.  I only remember two from last year.  This year they have overwhelmed the front yard.  While they do add a beautiful pop to the bright green grass the huz does not like them and was pretty upset at just how many dandelions have covered the front yard.  So I got out the nail puller, now one of my favorite “gardening” tools and went to town popping out the dandelions.

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It is hard on the back and I have only gotten a very few out in comparison to how many are in the yard but, its a start.  I spent a little over three hours total on popping out dandelions throughout the yard about 45 minutes at a time.  I fill up a bucket and take them over to the burn pile to be burnt up.

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This upcoming weekend we will be burning down two stumps.  We finally got the two mostly dead pine trees down.

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It sure is letting in a bunch of light and has opened up the side yard a great deal. Which will be great for the garden boxes that have gotten a lot of shade up until now.

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The hard part is they gave a good bit of privacy to the back yard.  Driving by you can now see into the back yard, yes over the six foot privacy fence because the property is down hill.  We intend to purchase some clumping bamboo in order to restore a bit of privacy.  We will plant it directly inside the fence line in order to maintain  the extra space in the yard we created by taking down the mostly dead pine trees.

Fire pit plans! So step one was get the trees down.  They are down.  And we found out a few weeks ago that burning down a stump is very easy to do and works really well.  We worked together and had the two trees down, one at a time, cut up and in piles in just a few hours.  The huz worked the chain saw and I was on nipping branch patrol.  We have three piles.  The chip pile which is all the dead branches from the two trees. We have a pile of the cut up trunks. Then the last pile which you can see in this photo are the few live branches, they will be burnt when we burn down the stumps as well as the trunk pieces we cut up.  We have started to dig out the first tree stump that we took down.

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This photo is of the first tree we took down we had to dig out a metal post that was placed when the tree was planted, so it was a bit of a win win that we decided to burn down the stumps, we needed a small pit around the stump.

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This is the last of the three pine trees in all that were unfortunately mostly dead and we were not able to save.  Also because they were so close to the house being dead was a risk of them falling into the house with high winds.  This week after work we will work on digging down around both stumps pretty deep and also getting the ax in there a bit to chop up the roots in order to really give the fire a place to latch on to, to burn down the stumps rapidly.

We have started bring rocks up from the woods in order to put down the stone patio/fire-pit.  This weekend we will end up putting on some back packs as well as putting on our dogs’ back pack on her and take her down to the creek, through the woods on a leash we can put small rocks into her zippered pockets.  She will be very useful.  I was worried at first thinking will it hurt her to have her carry up rocks?  Then I remembered we got the dog back pack when she was young because she pulled a lot while going for walks and we would put four full bottles of water in the pockets to try to slow her down. So it will be like the good old times weighing her down. She will be more excited to go for a walk in the woods then even notice us loading up and then unloading at the house.

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So we have a small pile of rocks.  We need about 5 times more than the current amount in order to make the stone fire pit and patio area.  We were originally going to try to find matching brick in order to expand the patio with a nice flow and then with the virus lock down we looked at a few stone fire pit and patio combos on Pintrest and we feel confident we can do it.  Our neighbors a few houses up are also taking the extra home time to put in some flooring and put in an outdoor fire pit.  They are using stones as well and have dug a huge beautiful space out of a hill side. Their hill provides a great deal of privacy into their back yard.

Next week we will see how far we got during the week in our 2020 summer yard plans.

RickabaughReviews is enjoying hard work.  Also my four leaf clovers are doing well.  Wishing everyone luck and good health.

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April 2020 Week two gardening

To catch up on our adventures in Gardening for week two of April 2020.  We did more sewing of masks for friends and family than we did gardening but it was a mostly successful weekend.  I am still going in to work everyday and the huz still works from home like he has for years.  So nothing has changed at our house.  We did rotor-till the entire area of the new garden space on the side yard where there is a great deal of sunlight most of the day.  The rotor-tiller worked very well in the dirt that I had already taken the top layer of grass off, of which was about 15 feet of the 40 foot long garden space.

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I put up 6 tomato cages.  No we are not growing tomatoes at our house this year- not that I know of yet.  I sprouted all the seeds that I had saved from last years free plants from the neighbor but we plan to give then away to several friends.  I also have left over seeds from packets that we purchased this year.  I gave a dozen cucumber seeds away, planted 2 dozen and I still have about 15 seeds left in the packet.  I think that I will be able to give them to a few more gardening friends this year- I have three in mind already. I also planted in the new garden space the some of the spaghetti squash seeds that I had purchased.  If they do not take I have a bunch started inside that I can plant around the cages to have the vines grow up a bit instead of all over the ground. I also planted marigold seeds saved from last year the whole way around the newly tilled space.

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This picture is one that I will save in my photos so that I will know what I planted, where I planted and when I planted.  In my camera roll all the photos have a time stamp on when they were taken.

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I checked the plants outside this morning.  It really is gardening season!  There are 17 sugar snap peas poking through the dirt.  Eight onions, several white and yellow, I do not see any red yet but there is plenty of time.  One of the garlic is growing very nicely.  I have not seen any beets yet.  I think I remember that they take a bit more time in our soil.  The romaine lettuce and the salad bowl lettuce are sprouting.  How I can tell that these tiny little green leaves are what I planted is because I hill up the rows just a bit and the tiny green leaves grow in row fashion in the middle of the long hill.  I was very surprised to see the salad bowl lettuce that I had purchased last year, I had saved seeds and they were up before the romaine.  So my seed saving for salad bowl lettuce works! Also all of the sugar snap peas this year are from seeds I saved last year. As well as all of the marigolds.

All three fruit trees are doing so very well in their pots until it is time to plant them outside.  I was very skeptical if the peach tree was going to sprout any leaves but it sure did and they all look very beautiful.  Yesterday I let all the plants and trees out all day because it was nice with no rain.  When I got home from work I noticed all of the leaves on the apple tree were sagging dreadfully.  I of course went into fix-it mode.  The huz ran and got water and I took them all in and popped on the grow light.

We were then gone for about three hours- delivering hand made face masks to a bunch of friends and family.

When I checked on them before we went to bed the apple tree had perked up, she was just thirsty.  I wish all plants were able to talk to us like that.  Nope, my one blueberry plant was doing amazing then the next day all the leaves gone and dead.  Very sad.

The forsythia is beautiful this year as is the blue bells.  They really do brighten our dank spirits.  The Hosta and Lillies are all growing and a friend up the street has a new area cleaned out on a hill and was wondering if I had any plants that needed a bit thinning out.  Now is the perfect time to split them up a bit.  The lillies are easy to dig out, the hosta on the other hand took my breath away working so hard to dig out a bit of a few of them.  She jokingly asked if she had to do more digging to plant them.  I told her I removed three plants the first year from a space and threw them in the woods up-side-down on the ground. I pointed to the woods and said I can show you where I now have three hostas in the woods.

The huz uses the hose by the fish pond to water the new garden area and I am using the makeshift rain barrel to water the raised garden boxes.  My rain barrel is just a large old trash can that has a lid and no holes in the bottom.  when it rains we flip the lid open and when we remember, we close it.  Most of the time we forget to open it for the rain. The dark can and dark lid help debris from getting inside and from anything growing inside. If light gets inside too much you will have plants and insects living in your trashcan pond in no time.

April Gardening

Today is the first day of April and it is supposed to be chilly and rainy, this means I will not be putting the plants outside to sun.  We were able to get the stump that we burnt down low enough to add four inches of dirt and seed the area.  We are very excited to start to see grass grow in this area.

I have started the new garden area.  It is a lot of work.  It is about 4 feet wide and 40 feet long.  Day one, Saturday and in the rain, I dug the outline of the 40 feet to make sure that the huz didn’t think it went to far into the front yard.  He is okay with the 40 foot length. He doesn’t want any garden space in the front yard.  The garden space that I am prepping will have the three fruit trees as well as the spaghetti squash.  We are going to add the tomato cages as trellises for the squash plants.  I noticed yesterday morning I had two tiny little sugar snap peas sprouting in the one garden box.  I started bell pepper seeds all over again hoping that these will sprout.

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Day two, Sunday, not rainy but not sunny, of the new garden bed I started to take out the grass in the new garden bed in order to avoid a great deal of weeding after using the rotor tiller over the area.  I also have found some really big rocks in the area and have been taking them out as well.

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I have been taking the shovelfuls of nice grass to other areas of the yard and have been patching areas that do not have grass.

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Now that the huz knows about the patching technique I am using he is even far less upset about the new garden bed area. Day two I was able to shovel out by myself a 6 foot by 4 foot area.

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I moved one shovelful at a time to somewhere else on the property.  Yes in three hours I had walked 6.7 miles.  When I finally went inside with the dog who followed me around almost the whole time she fell asleep right away, apparently it was exhausting work for her to watch.

Day three, Monday-I worked all day and when I got home we got right to work.  The huz decided he was going to help patch the yard.  I only got about 10 square feet of grass off the garden bed but we used the wheel barrel a bit to haul a bunch of the grass/dirt clods around the yard.  Its a bit more back breaking.

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Day six-we took day four and five off-not feeling awesome and it wasn’t warm enough.  I am hoping that after work today I will have a bit more energy to get maybe 10 more square feet dug out.  My goal would to be to work on the garden space an hour a day but its still a bit chilly every day and after a stressful day of “essential” work with everyone at work being foolish about the spread of germs and I am the only person wearing a facemask to work its difficult to get out of a cranky mood.  Yesterday I had 2 guys at work ask me to make them a few masks so I did that last night instead of gardening. But I am still taking out the compost every morning and then checking on the veggie beds.  If you look closely you can see five little sugar snap pea sprouts.

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RickabaughReviews approves of pretty flower pictures at the end of posts to brighten us all up. A picture of some of the Bleeding Hearts that were transplanted out of the woods.

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