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Monday, March 30, 2009

That'll Teach 'Em!

I just had to share this. I found it on Craigslist and couldn't quit laughing. I am not one that advocates child abuse in anyway but this one might just work. I can totally relate to this guy's plight as having a 13 year old will test anyone's patience. He may have just found the perfect "listening" tool or tools depending on how you look at it. So here it is...... Please don't hate me if you think this is cruel, I just thought it was funny.


This may sound strange but it's been brewing in my head for a long time. Like many of you that have children, mine don't always listen. I'm starting to get really tired of this and have an idea for how I'd like to help motivate a bit of change around my house. I'm looking for a stack of bricks (50-100), preferably regular house bricks as my children are 11-5 in age and can't pick up the big ones.

My idea is that I'd have a stack of them at one end of my yard and when they haven't done what I've asked (like hang up their clothes for the 4th time that day) then they can move the brick stack from one side of the yard to the back of the yard. Nothing horrible, but it'll be nice and boring and hopefully it will teach them that picking up their clothes is so much easier than moving bricks :)

If you'd like to help out with this little project of mine, please let me know. I'll be happy to come pick them up and I'll pay you $10 to take them off your hands. I live in Boise and will travel anywhere in the valley.


Well, what did you think? Mean as heck or just the perfect plan? I personally think it could go both ways but it is creative as most of today's children don't seem to know the true meaning of hard work in relation to the luxuries they have on a daily basis. Mine included as evidenced by the recent loss of her cell phone usage for a week. Maybe I will try bricks when the texts exceed 5,000 per month. That would likely go over like a ton of bricks....... Get it?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Compost In Need of Remodel

I got this very cool compost tumbler for my birthday a couple years ago. Does anyone see the trend here? Pygmy goats, compost tumblers. My next birthday is coming up and I fear what is next. Actually, I loved this gift and the goats are still growing on me. We chose this one by Mantis. It is called a ComposT-Twin Compost Tumbler. It has two 10 bushel chambers so you can fill one while you cook the other. The company claims 14 days to Brown Gold but it is really more like 6 weeks in my world. I probably could get it done a little faster if I really paid attention to it but I get easily side tracked. This will be the third year with this gadget and I really like it. Plus non-gardeners are always asking funny questions about it, which is often a good laugh for us.
The real problem lies in the pile we have waiting to go into the compost tumbler. This is not so pretty and I plan to do something about that this year. In the beginning we tried to contain it with some left over wire cattle panels.

I had tons of sod to add and didn't want to put it in the pile inside the cage so I dumped it out in front. Sod is very heavy when first removed from a new planting bed. We recently acquired a chipper/shredder so now the options are endless. We are going to shred all this stuff and add it to a newly built compost system. My husband just doesn't know this yet. I have to let him come up with the plan and then I will pull out the drawings and pictures of how I want it to look. We are getting awfully handy with the little building projects. That little willow shrub needs to come out too but that is another day, another project. One step at a time around here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Raised Beds Free of Snow

This is what the raised beds look like when nothing is planted in them. But the true intention here is to gloat about the fact that there is officially no snow in the immediate area. YEAH!!!! Nothing is greening up yet but when the snow actually leaves, there is cause for celebration. My beds are made out of 2x12 lumber which is not pressure treated. They will not last as long but the possibility of bad stuff leaching into the dirt and veggies was enough to be OK with rebuilding them in 5 or so years. I may even get more time than that out of them. We will have to see.

These barren pictures show the layout pretty well. The grates on top are made from cattle panel (?) with about 6 in. squares in them. I have them cut so that nothing over hangs the bed, therefore no leg injuries when you walk by. The purpose of this is to keep the pets out of them. I had tall growing plants in the ones without last year. I will add them this year. You can plant right between the squares and plants come right up through them without any problems. Very great when the cats don't use them for, well you know. We filled these beds with compost only the first year. They were very hard to keep wet enough for good growing. I added Miracle Grow Garden Soil the following year. Only 2-3 bags per bed and they held moisture perfectly. I am going to try mulching them this year. Maybe with grass clippings? I have always been hesitant but I think they need some good additives as nutrient leach from the soil of raised beds very quickly.

Friday, March 27, 2009

All Moved In.... Almost!

I am most of the way moved into my new garden shed. I found a lot of my tools and garden musts and hung them on the pegboard. I added things to my lower shelf and organized it all as I went. I plan to use the shelf for starting seeds next year. I would like to hang grow lights to the under side of the counter and have my trays there until time to harden off out doors. I would still like to buy a little more pegboard organizing stuff so that everything has it's own perfect spot. Buying before building turned out pretty well though.

I quickly realized I have more little hand rakes than one girl needs. I think I picked them up for several years in a row when I wasn't as organized. My husband also keeps bringing me things that he thinks a garden shed ought to have. On the opposite wall, I would still like to install hangers of some kind to hang up my long handled tools like shovels, rakes, and the like. Maybe another shelving unit for more storage.

I also added some potting soil to the bin, more for show than for anything. I even got a cool vintage ice scoop (?). Also a gift from the man shop side of this building.
The finger is still very sore, not nearly as bad now that I hand drilled my little pressure relief hole. That was pretty high up on my hardest things to do list. I really don't believe man was meant to bore holes into his body (other than ear piercing). Pretty sure the nail will be gone shortly but as I've been told.... it could have been worse.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dang Goat

It really is hard to be annoyed with this funny little goat. Ollie is just a character. Heck, he's even photogenic. We have been letting them out of the barnyard and into the yard while we work outside. We figured they could use a change of scenery too. Plus their little feet could use some trimming which can effectively be done on the alphalt of the drive if they would just stay on the driveway. Ollie has decided I must be one of his 'girls'. He started trying to herd me, and headbut me when I don't do what he wants. Which is all made more annoying by the fact that he is a wether goat. Short for neutered. This little dork, slept in my house because he was such a ninny when we got him. I couldn't stand the thought of him feeling afraid or mistreated by the girl goats. Now he is king of the hill. Not so cool when acted out by a 45 pound goat. He is little and full of attitude. I think he sometimes forgets who feeds him so well here. OK, so my husband feeds him, but I let him be fed. He should remember that. The funniest thing I have seen in a while is Ollie running full tilt down the long driveway. His back end gets going faster than his front legs will take him and you just know there is about to be a disaster. There never is, but it is damn funny nonetheless. He always has to keep Doyle in sight and yells if he can't see him. My husband has a bromance going with a pygmy goat. Nuts, huh?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Garden Shed Completed

I had this slightly used and very messy storage room off the shop and accessible from many areas of the garden. I tended to toss big junk in here every year and always wished I had a garden shed in which to store my stuff. Sometimes it takes a lightning strike to make good ideas occur to me. I had a lot of snow time on my hands this winter to plot and plan this spring's projects and this one made the list. I really wanted to house all of my garden paraphernalia in one spot and not have to look in the barn, the garage or the man shop to find what I was looking for. Inside the house I am extremely organized, in the yard and garden I am organized. But in the garden tool category I failed. So here is the project; before and after.
This work bench is taller than a normal one. I should have measured the one in my husband's man shop but I thought I knew best. I chose 40 inches because I hate to bend over and since I am 6'4" (not really, I am 5'5") I thought this sounded good. Way too tall. Oh, well. We seriously over built the bench and in the process I hurt my finger, which still hurts 4 days later. I finally drilled a hole in the nail and let some of the pressure out and boy does it feel better. I can touch it now.

We added peg board all the way around the work area so that I could organize in my legendary (laughed about) manner. This room has been paneled for many years with some old salvage paneling. It's original purpose was a fort for my daughter who is now too old to have one. But it is insulated and we plan to add a ceiling soon. For now it functions perfectly. I added a shelf close to the ground and that way I can add grow lights from the underside of the counter, hung on chains so they can travel up and down above new seedlings. This room has power so I plan to start my seeds in here next year. The big window you see above the workbench opens into the shop, which has a wood burning stove, so the seedlings won't freeze in the early spring. See how well this little project came together?

We also recessed a shallow tub into the counter top so that when I am potting up plants or filling seed trays I will have a nice place to hold my dirt. I even bought a garbage can to house all that pretty potting soil. Then when I want to store my dirt back in the big garbage can, I just lift this tub out an dump it all back in. This is something I always wanted.

And lastly, you must have the inspector come and deem all of the work proper and usable. Ollie did this for us free of charge. He quickly found he could scratch his head here perfectly, I think he was thinking this when I took the picture. Isn't he cute? Last week he was about to become a head mount for the new garden shed, this week he isn't head butting as much, he will live to eat another day:-D

Friday, March 20, 2009


While working on my first project to cross off the list, I hurt my finger. Bad. I don't know if it is the fact that I have been crash dieting or that I am a weenie, but I almost threw up. Then I thought "that's gonna leave a mark". My husband I were working on converting an unused storage room in the shop to a garden shed with a workbench, when somehow a 12 foot long 2x4 smashed it. Before I even had a chance to explain what just happened it had started to darken. Thank goodness it wasn't the hand I clean teeth with. That would have been hard to explain.... why sick has nothing to do with illness and everything to do with a smashed finger. Forgive the crummy fingernail polish but I also pulled early spring weeds. Just thought I would share my newest owie. I am a klutz. Boy, my husband felt bad.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Cleaning

This is the big yard, which in good spring weather and after some actual sunshine, looks pretty and green. Now it looks drab and dreary. I will be eating these words when all I do is mow.

I don't know too many people who love to rake leaves and we are certainly no exception. We have a very big yard in the middle of our circle drive. It has old willow trees around the perimeter and they drop a ton of leaves during fall and early winter. Occasionally we don't get them raked before winter and have found that we would still rake again in the spring even if we raked in the fall. We are leaning toward once only in the spring. When I say "we", I really mean "he". I don't rake much, thankfully. So Doyle started the raking project. The reasoning for this is stated in the next paragraph.

This week we decided to do a 7-day diet called the Sacred Hearts Diet. We both know this is a crash diet and don't usually follow along with things in this unhealthy manor but we decided we needed a major jump start to a healthier eating lifestyle. I must admit I would happily eat my own arm at this point. My husband is a lot less angry about it than I am. He just finds constructive things to do. I bitch about it to anyone that will listen. Sorry. He is down a lot more than me and he thinks his rosier outlook is doing that for him. Blah, blah, blah. I am hungry and can say with all honesty, when this is over, I think I will love eating healthier food. As long as it is considered a true food. Veggie soup sucks after 4 days of it. But we made it this far so we will finish it. Who knew I would so look forward to banana and skim milk day. Crazy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Shopping Spree Continues

My husband goes fishing, I go shopping. Internet shopping that is. In my younger days I wondered just what kind of people actually used home shopping as a form of entertainment. Well, move to rural Idaho and it too can be your life. Our nearest big town is Boise, which is a little over two hours away. Not the closest thing when one just wants to see what's out there. Then lightning fast DSL enters our small town (pop. 816) and I am on fire. Shopping this way fits my OCD personality. I can comparison shop with multiple tabs open for different stores and I never even had to get dressed. Love it :)

I also ordered 6 of these cool babies. The Potato Bin from Gardener's Supply is a product made by Smart Pots. You can get these cloth bins/pots from either place and I suggest you check them both as sometimes the manufacturer is cheaper and sometimes Gardener's is cheaper. Never can tell. I actually got them for $9.50 each from Gardener's Supply which is down from the regular price of $12.50 and cheaper than from Smart pot at $9.95. These pots can be used for more than one year and are a strong cloth used by many nurseries to grow stock. The simple design allows for good drainage, root pruning performed by the air itself, and are lighter than regular pots. The idea is that you plant about 4 seed potatoes into each 15 gallon bin and add more dirt as the plants grow. I think this is similar to the tire growing method, just not as ugly. In a good season one can hope for a yield of roughly 10-13 pounds per bin. I am sure that varies by type of potato used.

This will be our first attempt at growing potatoes. One would think that living in the potato state, potatoes would be dirt cheap. Just try to find an Idaho grown potato in the great state of Idaho. Good luck. So here is my answer to that dilemma. Traditional growing in a hill just doesn't appeal to me, I want neat and orderly without using too much lateral space. We will see how this experiment goes too. I will keep you updated.

Friday, March 13, 2009

No More Walls of Water, Introducing the AquaDome

I am so excited to say I just ordered 24 of these cool alternative to the flimsy Wall Of Water. Now I am sure the Wall of Water is a great tool for many gardeners, but it did not work well for me. The reasons it failed are named Barrett and Marley. Two funny black labs that thought it was a handy drinking fountain. Not so funny. I have to purchase my tomatoes and peppers every year. I have run tests with tomato plants with a wall and without a wall around it. Where we live, I have to purchase earlier than I should plant for our area, but if I don't the plants won't be available in the closest shopping mecca. Their season starts at least a month to 6 weeks earlier than ours. I usually end up covering my tender young plants at least 3 or 4 times before the absolute last frost happens here. They don't grow even a 1/4 inch when not protected by a water wall insulator. But with one, they grow great. (Except for Barrett and Marley.)

These domes are hard sided, 16" tall and have a two wall system to add water to. I have read that they should be stored out of the sun when not in use as they may become brittle. That won't be a problem for me. They are from a company called Winged Weeder who also has fabulous tools called Winged Weeder or Winged Weeder Jr. sold by Do It Best. The Aqua Dome cannot be purchased from this company but when I called the company, they said you could purchase it through several farm supply places we don't seem to have in Idaho. I spoke to Kirk, who was very helpful.

Let me know if any of you have tried this cool wall before. I can't wait to get them. Now I won't worry nearly as much as I have in past years. I love garden gadgets.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How On Earth Do You.......

How on earth does one go about having a bed that looks like this? This photo is of the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise. (I scalped it from their website:) But what I mean is this; how do they keep it weeded? Not at the botanical garden, they have staff and volunteers. But in real life if I am the staff and the volunteer. How do I do this? I have mentioned in earlier posts how I strongly dislike weeding. I rebuilt a few beds this last year that grass got into and I couldn't eradicate. Then all the new ones I built got weed cloth. Seems to be a moment of bad judgement from what I have read on many other blogs. Apparently it doesn't work that well and not for very long. Landscapers hate it. Home gardeners rue the day they installed it. I guess I boo-booed. I thought it sounded like a grand idea at the time as I have had major weed issues in every other bed I've had in the past. I want the pretty garden with the super fine edges, that looks realistic but fabulous. I know about mulch, I have tried newspaper under 4 inches of mulch. Then in 2 years, you have to remove mulch (sort of) and put down tons of new newspaper and reinstall mulch. I don't mind hard work, but when do I win the battle? Wait.... will I ever win the battle? Is it even possible without hired help? I am open for instruction and ideas. Maybe someone has written a real-life book on the subject of how a working mom and wife can actually have a gorgeous yard and garden while canning and doing laundry, without hiring it done. Let me know!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

New Tomato Cage Experiment

Tonight I took the leap! I decided to try a new kind of tomato cage this coming season. I know, crazy right? Anyway, I have sought new and better cage ideas for years. I have tried wood framed jobbies made by the local Lyons Club. Traditional round wire cages, and fold up metal kind. We even custom made them out of hog panel to get them tall enough. None of these were as pretty as I would like them to be nor were they really that sturdy. OK, so really they just weren't pretty. I just said that about sturdy to make myself feel better about not wanting to use ugly. Some years our tomatoes have been so tall they folded over at the top and went back to the ground where they turned again and headed up. The following year is the one we made the tall custom ones. Thankfully that only happened once. Well, I found these at Park Seed and ordered six of them to try.

The description says to use any stake, up to 7 feet tall. Does anyone else use these? I plan to have a lot of tomato plants this year as my mom and I will have a joint canning venture with the harvest. I still have all the other ugly cages I can use for the rest of the tomatoes this year. I like the idea of using a little less space that traditional cages like to take up. I only ordered them in green but I could have ordered them in red too. I thought I would get crazy with color next year. Does anyone think red really makes tomatoes grow any better? I seriously have my doubts but I am not a botanist.

Friday, March 6, 2009

One Year Old Already!

Last night was our granddaughter, Baylee's, first birthday. I can't believe that it has been a year already. Crazy how fast the time goes. Seems just like yesterday this beautiful little person entered our world. She is very dainty and absolutely adorable! She was given her very own cake at the party and this was as dirty as she got. Baylee doesn't like to be dirty. Just thought I would share what we got to do yesterday, fun stuff!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Garden Room Plan... Still Planning

A while back I posted a early draft of my first garden room and asked for some suggestions as to what to do in that area. I originally had a strait stone path to the garage but David from Montana Wildlife Gardener suggested curving it which does look a ton better. He brought up the fact that anytime your eye has time to wander to the other end, rather than shoot strait to the other side, it adds interest. I agree, just hadn't thought of that. Thanks David! I also intend to add a stone landing where I will have a garden bench or some other place to rest while in this part of the yard. The borders are governed by the garage, the walkway to the house, the house and a fence. I plan to mound the beds a little to keep the plants elevated a touch which should serve two purposes; One will be to add some height and the other will be to keep the plants' feet out of the water. This is a low spot in my yard. On my never ending list of things to do, I have "Re-side Garage". The garage is ugly but not my highest priority, maybe this will hide it a little more. Please excuse my very basic drawing of the plan, my only drawing software comes from "paint" preloaded on my computer. Not a very good program but it does the trick. I am really looking forward to a plan as I rarely have one drawn out. It should fit in with my type A personality very well. More ideas are welcomed as only some of the hardscaping has changed. Our snow is leaving pretty quickly now. YEAH!!!!! We have had some pretty hard rain and that helps get rid of the white stuff faster than simply melting. Bring on the rain, everyday I see more brown where green will soon be. It won't be long now.

About This Blog

We started this blog in Feb. of 2009 to help us stay motivated and to track our progess in the garden. We live on 5 acres surrounded by Idaho farmland. We have wildlife galore and are attempting to attract more in the bird catagory. This is our journal. Welcome!


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