Thursday, July 8, 2010

tin can-rag garden and gutter garden update

I was reminded today that I have never done an update on the tin can-old rag garden that I made from an old fan   this past spring. I am pleased to say that  despite my neglect  in caring for the plants that I am growing in it,  it has done quite well. In typical fashion I made the little garden and other than watering it every now and again have not given it any nutrients of any sort. While I did only plant basil in it, I did plant them from seed rather than transplants like I have seen most  do with these sorts of beds.  The other thing next to the garden is a piece of salvage from the fifth wheel tear down that I am hoping to set up as a super simple hydroponic bed.
The gutter garden that I made this spring is now on its second crop of veggies. After the first successful crop of lettuces and spinach I now have cucumbers planted in there. While they are growing quite well I am wondering how bad of an idea it was to  plant cucumbers up and over the top of the chicken  enclosure as I have no idea how I am going to prevent them from going over the top.

garden update

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

around the homestead- watering gardens

Yesterday we had to throw the tank and pump on the truck and haul water in for the gardens. We have been in a dry spell for a couple weeks now and the last couple rains we  had we got very little accumulation so the cistern  is too low to be watering from. The gardens were getting very dry  and the cistern was down to just two blocks, 500 gallons, or about 1/3 capacity so we needed to  haul in the water for the first time in a couple years.
 When we need to haul water it is actually a simple task  and  the biggest  issue with it is all the hose that is needed to reach all of  the gardens and leaky connections. I swear no matter how new a hose is; connections still always leak. Because we have been doing it  for several years we have the whole operation down  to a science and can getter done without much hassle at all other than the time it takes to set it all up.

We use two portable  pumps here on the homestead. The larger one is a heavier duty semi trash pump that can pump  well over 10000 gallons an hour if needed  and we use that to pump water from the pond as needed in to a 275 gallon tank that we put on the back of the truck. We then use a reducer to hook the several hundred feet of garden hose to it  in order to water  most of the upper beds. The pump is rather loud and obnoxious to listen to  but it is much quicker than using gravity to distribute the water where we need it and it uses very little gas o pump it off in that manner.  In the lower garden we use a small homelite pump with a bucket placed in the creek and a couple hundred foot of hose, then  we can water the lower bed directly from it. The small pump is much slower than the larger one but it runs very well for a cheap investment.The two of us can water all of the gardens in about 4 hours using this method  and is well worth the buck or two in gas that it takes in order to keep the gardens growing well and us fed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

north georgia roaster -winter squash

This is the first year we have planted North Ga roasters here on the homestead. They are an heirloom variety of winter squash  and were originally grown here in North Ga. Now I do not know if this is just beginners luck or if  it is because we are in  North Ga  but boy can these babies grow and GROW and GROW! The top picture is just two plants in an 18 foot long bed and the  boot totem is about  10 foot from the bed itself. As you  can see the squashes  are about 10 foot past the boot totem and still growing well. We put some rocks to measure how much they grow in the couple days following a rain and they literally have grown 18 inches in a 24 hour period.
They are a beautiful plant as you can see. They have ginormous leaves that I swear you could use as a baby blanket if needed and  heck I could probably wear them as a skirt if I stitched two of them together. The manthing is certain that they are actually a  mutant cross of elephant ears, kudzu and squash  because they are very very large and spread all over.  We literally have to keep moving the long vines and making them grow in different areas  because they  grow in to the pasture, in the driveway, across ditches and up and over everything they can. The vines already are well over 20 foot long  and it is only July. Like many other squash varieties they will begin to die off where they were originally planted and root themselves along  the vines where it comes into contact with the ground. The squash below is a giant FAIL just waiting to happen.

 The squash themselves are supposed to weigh around 20 pounds and can be used like most other winter squash and used as a replacement for pumpkin. Being this is our first year growing them  I can't tell you what they  are actually like when cooked. The squash are long , up to about 3 feet and are a yellowish orange in color at harvest. They are also one of the few varieties of winter squash that  do well in the deep south where it is hot and often times drought like conditions. So far ours have done great and the leaves   do not fold up and wither on the hot days like most squash types do.

picture from the pooper

Yup, that's right  it is  titled correctly and yes the pictures are taken from the outhouse. I love the view from there  and unlike most bathrooms  the door is closed while empty and open when occupied. The door closed while empty is to keep critters n serpents out of there and while  one can close the door while shitting sitting it makes it a much more pleasurable experience to leave it open, enjoy the scenery  and listening to the birds singing. How many people can say this about their pooper?

Monday, July 5, 2010

chocolate zucchini cake

If you find yourself with some extra zucchini or summer squash of any variety and a sweet tooth, why not make  a cake! This is one of our favorite cakes here and as far as sweets go it isn't all that unhealthy for you. It isn't all that healthy either but it sure is good and is a good way to use up the squash or zucchini that got away and grew too large for much else. This recipe is one I found and then tweaked to our taste and budget.  It is not overly sweet yet very moist  and does not need a frosting unless you want it.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup applesauce
3 cups grated zucchini or other summer squash
1/4 cup  oil
3/4 cup chopped walnuts 
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs and oil, mix well. Fold in the nuts and zucchini until they are evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared pan.Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely before frosting with your favorite frosting.

    monday's mountain musings

    Ahhh, summer is most certainly in full  swing now and we are in a hot, dry spell here  as is  much  of the country. Most out door work is getting done in the early mornings or in the evening when the  sun has gone down, while the heat of the day is spent staying cool or  something that resembles cool and comfortable anyway as there is no central air in this house  nor a  window room  air conditioner. We  use one single box fan and it works pretty well for us. I must admit that I sort of chuckle to myself when I hear people "dying  without their air conditioners." What in pray tell would they do if the electric grid was to go down in the mid summer heat?

    The gardens are getting dry but seem to be doing mostly well  over all. Japanese beetles are into  a patch or two of beans but I figure so long as they stay there then they can munch all they want. The beans are formed  and grown and are just starting to dry on the vines  so in some ways are making my job easier when it comes to picking time. A couple okra plants in one area have been chewed by deer but it is only a couple plants and we have okra in many different locations this year because last season the deer ate the majority of the okra  as it was only in two locations, this year it is in 7 different places. The tomatoes have had some white fly issues but I think they are going to be ok as I have been  mixing up a potion and applying it to the plants and of course the tobacco is having its normal aphid  and bug issues but nothing too major. I do have an update coming on the gardens but the camera has been rather persnickity the last couple days and does not want to download the pictures.

    We dug up the rest of the potatoes this last weekend and had a decent harvest of them. we did have something chewing on them though in the ground and large pieces were gone from many. I do not know what did this but it was obviously gnawed on. I took some pics but of course they are on the camera so  I will be doing a post on them soon. We canned up 20 quarts  of small potatoes, those that got jabbed with the pitchfork  or gnawed on and have the remainder curing for storage.

    Gumbalina is fixin to be 5 months old next week  and is getting  to be a big girl, 13.5 pounds and 24 inches long at her last check up in mid June. She is trying to crawl around now although she doesn't do a real good job of it. I its more like a really bad headstand  from what I have seen of her. She has found out that her feet fit nicely in to her mouth and every picture I have seen of her in the last week or two has her stuffing them into her face.