Adding Trees to the Rickabaugh Orchard

We stopped by Lowe’s in order to look for the tomato cages that we saw that they had online, which stated they were in store. We never found them, but we did find their newly stocked plant/tree section. We looked at the Rose of Sharons and they we $50.00 a piece. They are still on our list to purchase, but not this trip. Then we found 6 and 7 foot fruit trees for $24.98 a piece. So yes of course we purchased two different plum trees as well as two more different breeds of peach trees.

So our fruit tree count is now up to eleven. We have three raspberry starts, three blackberry starts, two grape vines, four strawberry bushes and six blueberry starts. Also we added 20 stalks of Asparagus this year. So of course we need to look into more veggies that you plant once and they come back every year. Reducing the need to seed save. Which I don’t mind, but less fuss is so much nicer.

I am worried about one of the blueberry bushes, it lost all of its leaves very early in the summer. We do have a great deal of beetles, aphids and squash bugs. I do know that the one apple tree did much better this year due to me collecting beetles and drowning them in soapy water, but I relaxed in my gathering of them because of other pressing matters in life. And we did notice that the one apple tree on the end has been stripped of the leaves from about the middle of the tree the whole way to the ground. I am sure it is the bugs that had previously been named.

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We have noticed that we are getting some more recent help with the extermination of some of the bothersome bugs. Below you can seen our recent pear tree guard. He or she is doing amazing! He or she by the way is completely alarmingly large. Close to three inches long from the tips of its back legs to the tips of its front legs. Get them bugs! Specifically please get the mosquitoes that leave quarter sized itchy welts all over me.

So putting in four new fruit trees took about three hours. We planted and watered. Put up posts and strung the support wires, all four of the support wires for this year. And then of course there was the much needed task of trimming the unwanted branches and training the remaining branches that get tied to the wires.

The first plum tree was extra hard for us to really get into the harsh trimming that espalier style requires. There are so very many beautiful little branches we want them all to survive. So the first tree took the longest. I also think that it also needed the most trimming out of the four trees. Closest to the berry patch we started with the plum trees and then worked our way up along the other fruit trees planted earlier in the spring, this way all three peach trees are in close proximity of each other.

You can see in the back row the Bing cherry tree which will have white flowers in the spring. It may look like it is not doing well but when purchased in February it was shipped bare root. No leaves, and not many branches at all and was the smallest of the trees. In the front row you can see the brand new to Rickabaugh Orchard, Santa Rosa Plum tree. The Santa Rosa Plum tree will also have white blooms in the spring. It is very interesting to see such different views of this plum. There are a few web pages/ orchard websites that will tell you that the Santa Rosa Plum is a self-pollinator. But on the back of the tag it states that cross-pollination with another plum variety is needed to produce quality fruit. Well because I would like it to produce fruit I wasn’t going to chance it and we also purchased the only other available plum at Lowes, a nice Methley Plum.

The Methley Plum also blooms white flowers as well in the spring. The nice part is that both of these plums have each other as good cross pollinators.

Next in the new row of fruit trees is the Early Elberta Peach. This peach tree is a self-pollinator as it states on the tag as well as on all the orchard websites that I have used to research if this is a good pick for our home. I have read that a great deal of self-pollinators do okay as fruit producers. I have also read that when a compatible tree, not necessarily the exact same breed of fruit tree is planted close by the trees produce larger and more plentiful amounts of fruit. Like the curl free peach tree which was planted in the spring and has light pink blooms, the Early Elbert Peach tree has dark pink and sometimes purple blooms in the spring.

The last new tree planted is a Hale Haven peach tree. Also a self-pollinator peach tree which does better close to other peach trees, it is planted closest to the road. This tree has light pink blooms in the spring time. We put this tree last in the line, this type of peach tree requires full sun and it will be getting the best sun out of all of the trees.

Here are photos of after trimming and tying of branches to the wires. It went pretty quick after the first tree, we felt more tired, done with the project, and more confident the trees would be perfectly fine.

Our very adorable Santa Rosa Plum tree planted and trimmed and beginning its new training of branch growth.

Our new little Methley Plum tree planted in the same row and trimmed and trained to the wires.

Very excited to show off our new Early Elberta Peach planted, trimmed and starting her training as well.

Lastly but not least of all the Hale Haven Peach tree planted, trimmed and on board with the branch training game.

RickabaughReviews is very nervous about all these new trees making it through their first winter here, but also approves of trees for the bees and trees for mother earth. oh yeah and finished T-Rex photos!

Berry Patch update

While some areas of the yard get worked on others go by the way side. I have been watering the berry patch but we have not done too much weeding of the berry patch. We have trimmed down out front and planted tulips and we have worked on the veggies, fruit trees and the pond.

The pond had so much algae in it that we could not see the fish at all. We tried one type of chemical for about a month and it did nothing. So very disappointing. We got a very expensive algae eater chemical and of course it worked right away. But along with the new chemical we also took out a good 6 inches of water from the pond. We watered all the veggies and fruits and we pulled out the water hyacinths, they are all dying. Which is very odd. We put them in two big barrels with the algae pond water and I have been watering the plants with that pond water for a few days. Then we scrubbed a bunch of rocks, rebuilt the waterfall and we scrubbed the top 6 inches of the whole top edge the pond liner. It all looks and runs much more smoothly. It has been a week since the all day pond face lift, but it was worth it. We can see the whole way to the bottom, every single rock. Today I added three of the water hyacinths back into the pond. If the pond scums up within the week we will know that we purchased some diseased plants this year.

I split up the one strawberry plant into three and so we now have a short little row of four strawberry plants. We propped up all of the asparagus, because it doesn’t like to stay standing up on its own and lays on top of the strawberry plants and is much bigger than I had anticipated. So we used a few garden wickets to hold them up straight. Now they are in two beautiful rows, one on either side of the strawberry row.

We planted a fall crop of sugar snap peas, which we now have 4 little sprouts so far. We harvested the spaghetti squash. We put up another wire to the three new fruit trees that we are growing Espalier style and tied a few branches down on two of the trees. And so we have been a tad busy and have let the new berry patch get a bit overgrown with weeds.

Today the Huz and I spent an hour weeding the berry patch. Everything in the berry patch is new this year so no berries this year but next year there should be a few. The last thing I want is to waste time and money on plants that die because of neglect. We are going to have to put up some stakes and wires just like the fruit trees, for the blackberries and the raspberries. Just not nearly as extensive thank goodness. But today was rip out the weeds that are trying to choke out the new berries.

In the before photos you can see that there is a great deal of luscious greenery growing.

And in the after photo you can see that the nice little designated areas for the berries to grow and that we already have some stakes out. We just need to put up some support wire. Also in the after photo you probably can not see all over the weeded area is covered in acorns. Which I am going to want to rake up and pile into the woods for the deer/ wildlife this winter.

We did do a time lapse of about 45 minutes of our full hour of weeding. Its a bit blurry but its so crazy to watch in a few short seconds a full hours worth of hard work pay off.

This fall we are planning to continue our chipping efforts of the leaves that fall in our yard and we will be putting down a nice big layer of chipped leaves over the berry patch as well as over the rest of the new fruit tree patch and the blueberry patch too. Free insulation as well as winter nutrient feeding and weed block/deterrent are the three main reasons for chipping the leaves. The other reason is because we have some very large trees with some very large leaves. And throughout the fall we could easy boast about a foot of leaves fall over every square inch of our yard. Or as the huz likes to say “its an insane amount of leaves”

I am very excited to start having the new fruit areas all have a nice bed of fine healthy mulch. I am also very excited because i am going to be able to use the compost in my little compost bin this year as well. I have done so much direct composting right into the raised garden beds because they have fencing around them and animals don’t get into them, that I have not put nearly as much kitchen scraps into the little compost bin as I used to.

RickabaughReviews approves of weeding reluctantly and greatly approves of updates on the 3D printed T-rex!

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.

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.

The importance and impact of dead heading your flowers.

This summer we received a new hive of honey bees for our property.  We have a very nice friend of ours who just happens to be a bee keeper. My husband and I have been aware of the environment and its needs to survive. One of these needs is honey bees. Our new home has a great deal of flowers of many kinds, and most of them are perennials.

The soil is mostly clay and so the plants and flowers are of very hardy varieties.

I remember walking around when I was a little girl with my gramma and she would name all of her flowers for me. And we would smell them, and deadhead them. I have told friends in the past few years that deadheading helps for a year round continuous blooming of their flowers depending on the flower. Most of the time the question I get is “what is deadheading?”

Plucking off the dead blooms of the plant. With my research of plant care I have learned that if the dead bloom is still on the plant the roots are still gathering nutrients and sending it to the dead blooms. So if you trim ( with roses because of thorns) or pluck which is easy enough when talking about marigolds,  the dead blooms off the plant it can then send its nutrients to the rest of the plant where it can form new blooms. Thus a consistent bloom of flowers all summer long.

Consistent blooms all summer long means a consistent food source for the resident honey bees all summer long  to stock pile honey so that when winter comes they are prepared to weather the cold and lack of food.

Rose bushes are an incredibly good example. Their response is within just a few days. Marigolds are also incredibly responsive. I also have cone flowers and lilies that love to be trimmed. Another great example which I don’t have and are an annual is petunias.  My gramma would buy a flat or two of petunias every year.

In my constant “save money” frame of mind I have found that marigolds are super easy to save seeds for the next year and do amazing! You just save the deadheads that you pluck off. This does not even include the wonderful addition with color and low to the ground covering.  They do great in the heat and sun. My favorite part is they really help to deter predators from my garden veggies. They have a strong sent and are very bitter to eat.

The one plant that I wasn’t sure if it was helpful to dead head was the many many Hosta’s that I have all over the property. I would like to confirm that my little science experiment of trimming the Hosta’s immediately after I find that every bloom is dead on the very tall stalks that they send up, will force them to grow a new tall stalk with all new flowers on them.  And the bees and butterflies absolutely love it!

I will admit that deadheading a half an acre of landscaping is a huge task, but I have found that if I do just a little bit every day, 20 minutes early in the morning, it is not too overwhelming. Am I able to keep up with all of what the previous owner had, nope. Not when you work two jobs, but the neighbors are not complaining.

Deadheading is great for the local bees and great for the visual aesthetics of the plants, which is why people usually have them. Deadheading is hard work but worth it in the long run. This summer RickabaughReviews is gardening a lot but also approves!

My January garden prep!

Fall fun is over. Winter is here. Garden with me while the snow is on the ground.

I have to be honest-I never stop gardening or thinking and researching how to better my garden for the upcoming season. I garden all winter long.  I have already started.  I looked up how to bake my dirt.  I am so frugal, I don’t spend a penny if I can do it myself.  So I got dirt out of the garden box put it in a (now designated) foil pan and popped it in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. I have read that it is really stinky.  Well I lit 2 candles in the kitchen and I didn’t open the oven door until the timer went off. Then it was a tad stinky until it cooled. Why bake the dirt?

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Well it kills off fungus and bugs-good or bad.  When I was scooping it into my small seed starting greenhouses I saw steaming bits of worms. It was so gross and I was super happy my plants were going to love it. I want germ free dirt for my seeds to start them in.

So I put in my starter green house boxes:

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used coffee grounds. Freshly used from this mornings coffee pot.

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baked dirt,

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ashes straight from the fireplace, and a bit of water to moisten it all up well.

Then I got out my big box of seeds which includes my gardening book as well as my gathering apron my beautiful sister-in-law made for me.  In the move I some how misplaced the bottoms to my large greenhouse starters.  But I did find 4 of my small greenhouse starters. They will do for now. Wiped out the lids and got out the label maker.

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I decided quickly on marigolds and bell peppers.  The two things I have always planted in the early spring by seed like nearly everything else and they are only just ready by October.  We really enjoy bell peppers and would eat them every week and all year long if they were not so expensive.  When ever I purchase a pepper in the grocery store I 9 times out of 10 “harvest the seeds” when I cut them up.  This makes so many less seeds I am purchasing come growing season.  In October of this year I also harvested my orange marigolds that grew from the previous years seeds. I had about a dozen plants come up from all the seeds I put down after all 200 sugar snap peas were half grown and eaten down to the dirt in one day by bunnies. I pulled and laid out to dry about 100 flower tops. In full bloom petals and all. I only planted orange marigolds last year.  I need a bunch more marigolds this year because BUNNIES. And also chipmunks were scaling the fencing and eating my beets right down to the dirt. Marigolds are very pretty to the human eye, attract bees to pollinate your garden and deter bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks and deer from eating in your garden. Yes I want every fourth plant to be a marigold.  Also not one but two of our friends have moved to the area which means I am working on getting marigolds started for three gardens not just one. In my seed stash I had left over yellow marigold seeds from a few years back.  So as Sherlock would say-the game is a foot! I have one container of yellow marigold seeds and one container of orange marigold seeds planted.  I also started one container of green bell peppers and one container of red bell pepper seeds.  We shall see which sprouts first! We are very competitive in the Rickabaugh home.

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So that is just a bit of my summer garden-winter prep.   And since the snow is now on the ground it is indoor gardening from here until spring. If your your winter gardening is just watering the house plants.  I do that too and RickabaughReviews approve.

 

Stepping stone too thin?

Last year we had a honey bee hive relocated to our back yard.  We put it at the edge of the woods and behind the shed where they would get less noise and not direct sunlight so as to not get too hot in the summer.  We also put up a small fence so that our big dog would not be too curious and upset them.  We have a rocky pathway from the veggie beds to behind the shed that leads to the picnic table where the bee box lives.  What I did not realize is how many weeds would grow up between those rocks.  I am not a huge fan of weeding around a bunch of buzzing bees. The husband doesn’t like to weed at all. Well the queen swarmed and left half the hive behind without any queen, so what remained died.  Alas we will try again this upcoming spring. But until then I get to kick butt on trying to make a better pathway, so no weeding will need to be done around the hive.

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I first started making concrete stepping stones in order to make a pathway down to the creek.  They are adorable and work okay, but I think we need much larger, sturdier steps for getting down to the creek, and I would not mind a hand rail either, it is so steep. I still have around 30 stepping stones that I made earlier this summer, most of which are still in the shed continuing to cure. I have been bringing them out one at a time to paint and waterproof, and set aside for placement on the First of March.  The husband and I decided that we can use the stepping stones in among the rocky/pebble pathway back to the bees. Much better pathway with less weeds and when we start laying them down we can add a barrier under where the rocks are so that no more weeds come through.

I discovered earlier this summer that my first three stepping stones were good and sturdy, being and inch thick each. I thought well maybe I can make them thinner and they will be much more cost effective for us.  Well when I made this paver we didn’t know it was too thin.

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When placed in the pathway down to the creek I was able to walk carefully on it just fine.  But I am small and did not think how it would hold up to a bunch of guys going down to the creek to fish. Well the step cracked in half, and then in half again.  Live and Learn!

So the rest of my stepping stone are going to be too thin no matter where I put them.  This means I need to thicken them up.

But How?

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Well take this step that I just finished painting the top. I just flipped it over. I mixed up concrete pretty thick and chunky ( be careful not to make it too runny I didn’t want it running down overy the counter everywhere) just a small amount at a time so that I wouldn’t have too much.

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I mix small amounts in a disposable cup with a disposable knife.  Then I used the knife and spread the concrete on the bottom side of the step like I was icing a cake.

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This before photo shows it was kinda thin and it also shows where the bottom of the cardboard box came together. The other step first cracked right along this line perfectly.

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This after shot shows the old half of the step with its new sturdy backer. It really is as easy as helping it slide out of the mixing cup and spreading it out evenly with the knife, its easier than cold butter on fresh bread.

I am letting it harden up for 24 hours in the garage, and then bring it inside to the painting table to harden completely for 2 days, then it will be put in storage to cure for 30 days then I can waterproof front and back and then back into storage till spring!

As you can see- the step doubled up in thickness quickly and easily.

RickabaughReviews Approves!

Bonus!!! Below are a few of my other stepping stones that are in process!

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How we fight off winter blues!

Its cold outside, but I can still do some garden prepping for the spring, to help fight off the winter blues.

Winter blues get me down, even before the Christmas holidays and with New years parties I still feel a little low.  I have tried anti-depressants which just made me more sad and fat which made me angry and sad.  Gardening makes me the happiest, so I needed to figure out how to garden in the winter.  I had a friend who was a nurse tell me once that what helps reduce winter blues is sunlight.  She told me that her sister would get a tanning package in the winter, not to keep up with a tan but to get more “light therapy” Sunlight gives you vitamin D and vitamin K which reduce sadness and loss of energy.

There is very little sunlight to go around during the winter so I work really hard at being outside when it is light out.  I can do inside chores when it is dark out. But I live in Pennsylvania. It is a balmy 41 degrees Fahrenheit outside right now, how do I garden? Got to be honest it’s not a lot of gardening, its much more of garden prep for spring since I do not have any greenhouses for winter veggies. It gets me outside in the light and the fresh air.

We have a few pine trees on our property and a whole bunch of other trees that drop their leaves every year. Oaks, Maples, Dog woods, Sweet gums. I have super high expectations of making a whole bunch of gardening space in the next couple of years and the huz is mostly on board. I noticed that most of the neighbors collect their leaves at the curb and the city picks them up. Life is crazy busy, I get that works for most people.  I am greedy I want to keep my leaves, I have read that they make some of the best mulch/compost for gardening and flowers.  Most importantly I am into free or super cheap! I don’t mind getting my hands dirty and I don’t mind putting in the sweat work.

Earlier this fall when most the leaves were falling and we had to keep up with appearances we raked and used our Torro leaf blower/vac to get a lot of leaves contained.  We super underestimated how many leaves would have at the new place! We put leaves in the raised beds.

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We used chicken wire and stakes and made a three foot high by eight feet long by four foot wide leaf corral and filled it.

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And then we piled up the leaves in the flower beds and raked them around all the bases of the trees and raked them under all the pine trees.

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Lastly my husband just started blowing all of them into the woods.

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Now that it is winter and colder out, no more leaves to rake. Yahoo! but all the plants are dying off from the frosts over night and it isn’t snowing yet.  I have read that leaves break down faster to make amazing compost/soil/fertilizer quicker if they are mulched and if you add used coffee grounds. So I have done some asking and Starbucks has a grounds to garden program where you can just take used coffee grounds for free! I have also found that not all Starbucks locations do this.  The Starbucks that is located close to my work is situated inside of the Target, so do not participate.  The manager was super sweet. I asked if I could just stop by and ask if they needed to empty their used grounds bin.  He said he can’t promise any but they are more than happy to give me whatever they have when I stop by.

So until the snow gets here I have gone out with my vac/mulcher and have sucked up leaves already piled high in the gardens and are mulching them down smaller and putting them almost right back where I sucked them up from.

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Might seem a bit silly but I didn’t have time earlier in the fall to mulch them all then. I have time now. It gets me outside for about an hour to two hours before the sun sets. In that amount of time I can fill the collection bag two to three times. Yes I even mulch them when they are soaking wet from all the rain, because this summer it rained ALL THE TIME.

The trick is to have a big long screwdriver in your back pocket. One that the husband won’t freak out if it gets dirty or a bit nicked up. About every other minute you need to take off the collection bag and un-jam the leaves using the screwdriver.  The other place leaves get jammed up is the big tube you suck them up with.  You have to just reach in with your arm and pull them out. The last place you have to un-jam is inside where the blades rotate.  UNPLUG the Vac/mulcher before cleaning any leaves out. You have to take off the big black tube and use the screwdriver in around the blades, it is going to look and act like mud caked up in there. It might be a bit of mud too but it is very finely chopped up leaves, and because they are wet they stick together and clump up.

How to know when to pause and clean out the vac/mulcher! Very important-you don’t want to blow out your motor. When you hear-or actually don’t hear the blades mulching your leaves. Another key indicator of when to clean out around the blades on the inside is when you hear the motor of the the vac/mulcher increase in pitch, it will start to whine high and loud.  It will not be long before you smell a burning.

When the snow hits usually around the end of January is when I start some of my seeds inside such as Bell peppers.  They can sit in that dirt for 6-8 weeks before poking out their little leaves. Just in time to start gardening outside again.

This is how the RickabaughReviews get rid of their Winter blues!

Weekend Warrior!

Last weekend in August! Got to make the most of it!

Last Weekend in August-Work hard, play hard, sleep hard too.  Had so many gardening tasks planned for this weekend but only got a few done- due to my finger cutting episode. That is okay, we worked on a million other things this weekend. Plus we spent a little sweetheart time date night out to a movie.

Yesterday bright and early I started cleaning. Bathrooms, floors, laundry and ceiling fans. Then we did some gardening where my finger got cut, but it is healing great.  I soak it in warm soapy water every morning and then wear a bandage with triple antibiotic ointment, changing the bandage 4 times a day and letting the skin dry out a bit in between.  I wait until my skin is not so wrinkly from being wrapped up with moisture before I wrap it up again. When we go out I put a small finger splint we have on hand over my finger for extra protection. it is still just slightly sensitive.

While soaking my fingers in soapy water I set up a stepping stone to start painting. Looking good.

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I got around to water proofing my concrete leafs as well as a rock I painted months ago. The tops of these are done. I will get the bottom s of them tomorrow.

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I have the border on the baby boy blanket completed and am working on tying in the ends, so almost complete blanket! In plenty of time before my friends baby boy is here.

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I have successfully designed, printed, addressed and yes put in the mail box. Invitations to a great Aunt”s 90th birthday party.

The husband and I both sanded for an hour each on my China cabinet makeover.  The husband used the Dremel on the top edges where its a bit fancy and too tricky and small for the Black and Decker Mouse hand sander that I prefer to use.  It doesn’t look much different then my last update on my china cabinet makeover but it is coming along.  I did some sanding on the bottom of the shelves and I used the 220 grit on the one outside and my goodness that is so smooth.

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We went material shopping for my Halloween costume updates are in my previous post Hela of a costume. Made my cutie pie niece a card for her birthday. 8 is great! Also in the mail.

We also finally started working on our new bar.  We left the old bar behind when we sold the old house, it really was beautiful and it went great with the dining room.  It was our first bar building experience as a couple and we have a few things we are very excited about doing differently.  We got some stain, and some frame! 2x3x8 boards to start building the frame.

Busy! To bed at midnight and Up at 5am. Do it all over again tomorrow.

Adding More Garden

My husband and I recently purchased a new home. It came with 4 average sized raised veggie garden beds and an enormous amount of decorative landscaping in the way of flowers and ground cover and a bunch more flowers. Watch my ever so slow process of turning some of these flower beds into veggie beds.

This is our current veggie garden space.

F8621D4C-4A21-46F9-A58C-0E5B40B7C48D.jpegThe landscaping is very beautiful at our new home.  There are so many different kinds of beautiful flowers and lilies.  A lot of lilies, which is great because they are perennials. Which means they will come up year after year.  Considering we just got a hive of honey bees this is great news for them. I am allergic to pollen so it isn’t as wonderful as it may seem. Part of the property has a six foot privacy fence.  In front of this fence is about four feet deep worth of plants, some flowers, some not. Most of the distance of the fence line gets a fair amount of sun and for at least 50 feet of the fence I would like to turn it into garden space.  This adds up to adding about 200 square feet of garden space.  Does not seem like a whole lot to a bunch of the homesteaders out there who have many acres but I have one acre, and half of it is wooded .The very nice part about having a raised bed up against a fence is the ability to better brace the plants for the crazy amount of wind and rain storms that the Pennsylvania climate has. In the last seven years that my husband and I have been trying out this gardening hobby, at least twice a year we are running outside into the storm with rope and scissors to prop back up and tie up the sweet corn.

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This is some of the space that I would like to transform.

Step one-start taking out some of the hostas.  The first part of removal but trying to keep as much dirt in the space as possible is to trim away the leaves so we can see the roots that need to be dug out.

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This one hosta came out over this past weekend.  Monday I cut down three more Hostas.

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The leaves I put into the compost and the roots I put in a specific area in the woods. I will not mind if they root in this area.  I just tossed them all in the area. Hostas are extremely hardy and I would not be surprised if they took  to the area.

We lived at our old home for 8 years and I tried to remove a hosta in the front flower bed twice a year for all eight years. I am hoping I do not have as much trouble at our new home.

8/6/18 Update:

I am a very busy person with lots of projects.  For example I am currently having our robotic automatic vacuum the upstairs, boiling eggs for my salad tomorrow at work, updating my blog with my right hand and making butter with my left hand.

Making my garden bigger today involved finding a big rock and bringing up from the woods.  I know not a whole lot on that effort today. But I also started to trim down one of the three pine trees that have a great deal of dead branches throughout them and are blocking a lot of light from my garden area. These three trees will eventually be coming down, not just because they are blocking light and have a bunch of dead branches but also because of two other main reasons. 1- I am very allergic to pine trees, sad but yes we have fake Christmas trees. Also they block my vision of keeping an eye on my dog, Belle, when I am outside. If they were in the woods, and there are a few, I would leave them. Every time I try to do yard work with her within 2 minutes I am panicking because I can not see her, EVERY time she is on the other side of the pine trees. In addition that is a great location for another raised veggie bed! Long story short, I cut some branches to let in light for the new veggie bed.