est. 2007

Whitewater Township, Ohio, United States
My wife Julie and I purchased our property in June 2007. Our home sits on seven acres of hillside overlooking the Whitewater River valley in western Hamilton County, Ohio roughly 20 miles west of Cincinnati. The property is well wooded and boasts a pond of about 1/5th acre. Our professional careers dictate we live in Hamilton County, which makes a country setting a bit difficult to find in a county of almost 1 million people. We share the property with our son Casey (3 1/2), and a herd of domesticated animals including 2 dogs, 3 cats, 3 parrots, and 4 Blue Swedish ducks, 10 Buff Orpington chickens, not to mention my oldest hobby aquarium fish.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Garden Update

All in all another terrible year for my garden. While I eliminated most of the Gallant Soldier, its still there dropping seeds for next season. I failed to mention in my previous post that I planted lightly this year since I was taking a week long vacation with the family to Florida. I planted a dozen tomato plants, cucumbers and onions. Turns out the cucumbers were a complete bust, just as last year. The onions did OK, and the tomatoes aren't bad, but a far cry from the first two years of my garden.
I'm seriously considering raised beds next year so I can more readily improve the soil, hoping my heavy clay soil has been the problem. I really don't want the added expense, but unfortunately continuing on my current path isn't very productive.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Garden Update

My garden has been in for about 2 1/2 weeks now, and the battle with the Gallant Soldier weed continues. Last years garden was dismal failure, due in part to the woeful state of my clay based soil which no cover crop, compost or amendment has yet to improve. The other issue last year was the invasion of Gallant Soldier. It came up quite literally as a carpet and I was never able to eridicate it completely. I put about a 12" layer of straw on top of it which helped some, but it eventually came up through it. I didn't even get enough cucumbers to justify canning any pickles and the tomatos were almost as bad, I made one batch of salsa. No green beans and my onions were pitiful.
This year I'm hoping for more success. I noticed the weeds starting to come up again and today, before they could set any seed, I laid down 50# biodegradable builders paper over the whole garden as best I could and covered that with about 12" of straw. I'll continue adding organic matter on top of the straw throughout the year and hopefully that will improve my soil for next year as well. Finding enough organic goodies will be the issue.
I also planted a Pink Reliance grape plant 2 years ago and trained it as suggested by a couple of books I've read. This is its third summer and I have quite a few bunches of grapes on the plant. I can only hope the birds don't get to them before I do.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2011 Vegetable Seeds

Well I haven't posted on the blog in an exactly a year plus a day. So I guess I should update it. I started my tomato seeds on March 6th. They are growing well. They were repotted on the 18th and buried deeper in larger pots. I am growing Black Krim (doing the best), Sioux, Super Marzano Paste, Sweet Snack Cherry as well as Virginia Sweet which came free with my order from Tomato Growers Supply. I tried a new system this year. I bought the Burpee Ultimate Growing System. While the idea is solid the execution leaves a bit to be desired. The system is "self watering"; however the materials they use are cheap, flimsy plastic. Mine had hole in it when I bought it, apparently, but I didn't realize it until I had planted my seeds and added water. This of course made returning the damn thing a bit tricky. On the upside the coconut coir works much better than expected, as a matter of fact I purchased a block of the stuff at Home Depot that makes 8 quarts of planting medium. It holds moisture very well. While I was disappointed with the quality of materials used in the system, I wouldn't go so far as to not recommend it, but it only gets 2.5 out of 5 stars. For $20 the materials could have been much better.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Started Tomato and some flower seeds

I started 4 varieties of tomato plant on March 13. I went with the peat pots this year as opposed to the newspaper pots because I got sick of transplanting them to larger pots last year. I started Pineapple, Box Car Willy, Sugar Snack, and Victoria Hybrid. They've germinated and are about an inch tall on average, but have not yet gotten their first true set of leaves.

Today I started a bunch of Marigolds and Johhny Jump Ups. I did use the newspaper pots for the Johhny Jump Ups, but the same peat pots I used for Tomatos for the Marigolds. I saved the seed from the Marigolds last year and have no idea what variety they were, but we were impressed by the size of the blooms.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Garden and Chicken Run Expansions!!!!

After months of being holed up in the house, I took a "me" day today. Took the day off from work and dropped the kid off at the babysitter so I could work outside for a little while. Seemed perfectly logical considering the temperature has stayed above freezing for a few days in a row and the 1 foot of snow we had on the ground has diminished to about 2 inches in most places. I have been toying with the idea of a garden expansion for awhile, then we added 5 more pullets to our flock of 7, so the chicken run expansion seemed a good idea. So here's the plan....

The garden's original size was 25 feet by 40 feet. I am expanding the 25 foot dimension. I have decided exactly how far, but somewhere in the the 6 to 10 foot range, giving me somewhere in the neighborhood of 240 to 400 additional square feet, or put another way a 24% to 40% expansion. I started today by pulling the posts from the west side of the garden, and left it at that for now. Like I said I haven't definitely decided how much larger I want the garden. Decisions, decisions.

The chicken run expansion was more straight forward since I only had so much space to work with. The original chicken run was 15 feet by 20 feet or 300 square feet total. I am expanding the 20 foot dimension. The new dimensions will be 15 feet by 27 feet or 105 square feet more than I had before. At least initially the expansion will be separated by the original fencing which will give me 2 separate areas. The new pullets can be put into the new smaller area and hopefully when added to the flock will be integrated with minimal problems. I'm also hoping that once the new are living peaceably with the old I'll be able to put all the chickens into the newer run and get something green to grow in the original run, and rotate the chickens back and forth (at least spring through fall) growing grass and clover in one side while the chickens eat, scratch, and generally destroy the other. If that doesn't work out I'll remove the original fencing and just expand the run. The upside to that is I will be able to expand the chicken coop making more room for additional chickens. I can't keep up with egg orders as it is right now. I took 2 metal t-posts that I removed from the garden and put them into place. I also took the center wooden post I removed from the garden and used it for the corner post of the chicken run expansion.

I don't have any pictures yet since it wouldn't really look like anything has been done. I will post them in the future when everything is done.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cabin Fever

Getting pretty sick of the cold and wet weather. The only gardening I've been able to do is repotting New Guinea Impatiens I took cuttings from in the fall. Even though they're doing well and I should have more of them than I can actually use it doesn't occupy much of my time off.

On the up side I've gotten about 20 seed catalogs to go through and can start planning my garden this year, but it's still 2 months until I can even start the seeds so in the end it's just a big time waster. I wish global warming would hurry up and get here so I could start in February, but in the end I don't think that's gonna happen, what with Al Gore working as hard as he is. Considering he helped invent the internet, this shouldn't be much of a challenge for him.

God I'm bored......

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Compost Bins

I just completed my new compost bins. The photo on the left shows the area they are located. n the background is my neighbor's small horse pasture and barn. Behind me was a Black Locust tree and a Hawthorn tree that I had to cut down to enable my tractor to get to and from the bins easily without hitting trees with my front end loader. I decided on a 3 bin system. The bin to the left will be for the newest pile, the center bin for half done compost and the third bin for finished compost. I wanted to do this as cheaply as possible so I decided to use posts cut from my property as well as making the walls from fairly straight limbs that I had laying around after the big wind storm of 2008. I needed 8 posts and found a 2 dead Black Locust trees about 6 inches in diameter, which yielded 5 posts, and I cut down a Hackberry also about 6 inches in diameter which gave the final 3 needed posts. I placed them 18 inches into the ground and packed the ever abundant clay around them to firm them up. Yes, I dug them by hand. Each bin is 6 feet in length, 5 feet wide, and 3 1/2 feet deep. It took many more limbs than I initially thought it would which meant I had to go looking for additional "wall" material, but in the end I'm happy with what I ended up with. I only placed a front wall on the newest pile bin. I may add them to all the bins in the future, but I needed to finish the first bin so I could fill it with all the Sugar Maples leaves lying around my property. The front wall is removable and I made it by building a wooden fram from .5 inch x 2 1/4 inch stock I had lying around in the shed. Then I cut about 5 willow shoots from around my pond and stapled and nailed them to the frame. The front wall rests on screw in hooks and the top is held in place by hooks andf eyelets. It weighs about 30 pounds and is easy to remove. I have the first bin abou 2/3 full with leaves, twigs, some kitchen scraps and finished compost. The photo on the bottom shows the completed bins, without the front wall, on the night I finished them (11-10-2009). All in all the project cost me about 30.00 the bulk of which went to 3 inch exterior screws and then the hooks for the front of the left bin. They took several weekends for me and my Dad to complete and totals maybe 30 man hours for the two of us.