HOW COULD WE HAVE A WORLD WITHOUT THESE?

Those of you have been following me know that I am a “natural” nut.  Our farm and gardens are all grown using natural methods.  We do not like or use chemicals, nor do we care for hybrids (as most will not produce viable seeds for the next year growth), or GMO’s.  We grow mainly heirloom fruits and veggies, and we try to encourage the natural vegetation for our area (Even the bindweed as long as it stays out of my gardens.  It passes that line, and I feel I have a right to use all the salt, vinegar, and soap as necessary.).

I also subscribe to emails from the Smithsonian, and the Health and Science section of the Washington Post. (Nothing with politics as it stops me from sleeping.)  The email I received on 10/12/17 got me all upset.  This was the headline:

BANANAPOCALYPSE:  The race to save the world’s most popular fruit.

had heard about a month ago, the threat of a disease to the crops in South America.  I also know that is where the US gets the majority of its bananas.  I am a self-proclaimed banana-holic.  I love the darn things in so many different ways:

  • Banana bread (the obvious choice)
  • Strawberry-banana smoothies (Grandsons favorite choice).
  • Frozen Bananas dipped in chocolate (These were called “Monkey Bars” at a long-gone little drive-in, in Wisconsin, called the Tinker-Tot.).
  • Bananas sliced on cereal with milk cold.
  • Bananas sliced in oatmeal with a bit of honey and milk.
  • Banana malt (milkshake to most, however, I prefer the malt flavor best).
  • Just plain old bananas.

They have got to be my most favorite fruit, and they help keep up my potassium levels (bonus!).  So I am very saddened to hear of this latest epidemic.  I hope you all read and share the full article, then pray for a natural miracle.

I did not read in anywhere in the article if they have discovered where the TR4-resistant strain (disease) originated?  My first thought was if you know what it is, and you know what it does to the target plant (in this case my lovely bananas), then why wouldn’t you spend the scientific time and money to figure out how to kill the fungus in its tracks?  What good is all their GMOing if it just the fungus just catches on and comes up with its own new tweaked version of attack?

I do not want my amazing bananas to go away completely nor forever, but I also am not thrilled about the method the people in the know are taking to try to help.  I do not believe that in the long run, splitting and splicing, mixing and matching, is not the answer.  They knew that this first appeared as TR1 discovered in the 1950’s, found a unique variety in China and cloned it – why haven’t they been working on a cure for the fungus since then and not just a disease resistant temporary fix banana?

To me, it is like using makeup to cover up acne.  The condition maybe masked but it is still there, and without the proper medication it will continue to thrive.

Then again, we still do not know how to cure a common cold – oh well.

Thank you for allowing me to share my soapbox with you.

silly bananas

 

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You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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PLOWSHARE THURSDAY – COMPANIONS.

The thing I am most grateful for in our gardening endeavors today is that we learned how to use “companion planting” to our benefit!

Those that may not have heard of this before: It is the method of planting that puts one or more plants next to each other, to naturally protect and strengthen them.

What this means is very simple:

  • Plant carrots with tomatoes.

carrots n tomatoes

  • Plant dill with just about everything.

dill-in-gh.jpg

  • Plant marigolds with just about everything.

marigolds

  • Oh, and when possible, leave a place totally natural – untouched!

wild plant area

The last one is a HUGE secret that we found out about last year.

The fire three years ago set us back on all of our normal routines.  The biggest damage occurred on the land and gardens.  To have something, anything, for harvest in the fall of 2014; we chose to let parts of the farm and gardens go natural.

Then in 2015, we were still trying to get a handle on things, and I was still doing surgeries.  Since I am the main person working on the farm and gardens, I was in no shape to keep up with it all (and we only garden on about 5 of our 20 acres.).

It was summer of 2016 when it came time to finally tame the whole area.  We have one long field that is about 100-feet wide by about 200-feet long.  It is the length of the whole main area of our farm.  Nothing is growing in there except weeds and wild grasses.  The chickens loved roaming around in there after bugs and worms.  The problem by mid-summer is that we could not see the chickens in the tall grasses anymore – HUGE DANGER FOR CHICKEN FARMERS!

Even though we had not seen or heard a coyote or fox in a couple of years, we did not want to take the chance.  Thus the major mowing finally began.  My sister was smart!  Out of the fire funds, we managed to purchase a John Deere Riding Mower – best investment ever!!

I put on my pretty sun hat (not – but it works- ha ha), doused myself with sun screen and bug repellant started the monster up and away I went.  What fun it actually was!  I could get pretty close to things so we would only have to push-mow a few spots when I was done.

When I got to the long field, I went around the first corner, and a praying mantis landed on my arm!  I stopped mowing, caught it with my hand and put it into the greenhouse.  It took me about 3 hours that first day to clear that long field (normal is only about 1 hour), due to the friendly critters!

We then realized that the corner where we had a pile of old wooden posts had attracted a bunch of bad bugs, which then attracted a bunch of good bugs – viola – natural pest controls!

We used to trim up everything thinking that this would keep the nasties away – nope, the best we ever did was to leave the woodsy area alone.  Most of the long field gets mowed now, but a large section with the wood gets left untouched.

Companion planting works in the same manner.  You plant things next to each other to deter the bad bugs and naturally attract the good bugs.  I even let the dill in the greenhouse run amok this summer.  It is over five-feet tall.  Has seed heads the size of basketballs, and attracts the aphids.  I have no clue why they love the dill more than all else, but they do.

I can now plant dill in succession and simply cut down and bad the old buggy stuff and throw it in the trash.  The plastic bags will suck out the air and kill them, or they will be moved to the dump when the trash guy comes.

I can still find a bit on my food plants – but not as much and it is easy to take care of with wash or wiping.

Hope this helps – happy gardening!

(If you enjoyed this bit of humor, please feel free to visit my latest blog: Life Lessons Lived  to get more laughter in your life!)

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WHEN TROUBLE COMES IN THREES WHAT CAN YOU DO?

I started this post but got too wordy. So, instead, I am going to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a young, old woman who loved to garden. She loved the seeds, the starts, the transplanting and even the weeding.

This young, old woman was so into her gardens that she did not mind if a bee landed on her to say hi or rest. It did not make her flinch to come across a spider the size of a silver dollar while working away. Even the surprise toad or snake did not deter her from her daily visits to the natural beauty.
lady and a bee
Then one week she had the terrible three’s visit her.
First: She ran into the turkey door latch and severely bruised her upper arm (which just happened to be right by her first major surgery: Reverse rotator cuff replacement).

Second: She tripped over the mat by the front yard garden gate and fell on her left side ribs. This caused her to take her breath away, and she was very sore, but still able to go on.

Then, late Friday afternoon that week the terrible third struck. While humming one of her favorite songs and weeding the front yard patio, she heard a buzzing sound by her right ear. The dreaded black biting flies had been around all afternoon, but she would put on a bit more bug repellant, and they would leave her alone. She believed it was just another fly, so she raised her hand to shew it away. Little did she realize at that moment she was irritating a wasp!

The monster stung her right by her right ear – on the face. She again did not flinch as she assumed it was the black fly. The evening went on as a normal Friday game night, but she realized that the right side of her face was very hot and kind of itchy.
On Saturday morning, she realized that her right eye seemed a bit blocked. Taking her normal morning trip to the bathroom, she glanced into the mirror and was shocked! The whole right side of her face was swollen. She now realized that it was not a black fly that stunk her – it was her old nemesis the wasp!

Then by Sunday morning, the swelling was growing across her face. Having been stung many times before (mind you there was NEVER a serious allergic reaction – EVER!) she simply took some aspirin, grabbed an ice pack and proceeded to place it on and off her face all the rest of that day.

Monday morning came, and the swelling was still getting worse, so she decided she had better visit her local hospital ER. Upon arriving and being all checked in, the doctor prescribed prednisone – 20 mg which is a type of steroid. She immediately went to her friendly pharmacy and filled the prescription. As soon as she got back into her car, she took the first pill.

Later Monday afternoon her head felt as if it was on fire. She was heating up but chilled, and everything (including her hair) had a burning itch which she was told not to scratch. That night she felt flu-like symptoms: Fever, chills, and a possible need to throw up.

Tuesday morning, she was the size of a party balloon! The swelling was not going down but seemed to be getting worse. Her eyes were so swollen she could not even see her beloved computer to write her thoughts. She took the 2nd pill.

balloon head

Wednesday was, even more, worse than Tuesday, but she took the 3rd of the four pills. Completely miserable, she could not sleep that night. Luckily the ER Doctor did tell her to schedule a follow-up appointment with her regular Doctor within 4-days. She had done so and was to see her doctor on the next morning.

Thursday morning came, and she did NOT take the last pill (by now it had dawned on her that the steroid and she were not in agreement!) and headed off to her doctor.
Once the Doctor took one look at her she knew – this was some type of allergic attack. Her Doctor proceeded to call over to her Pharmacist an order of Claritin and Zantac (prescription level) and over-the-counter Benadryl.

The young, old woman got safely back home and immediately started the routine of meds. By that same evening the burning, itching all over her head had ceased! Saturday morning she would see out of the left eye, but it was still fairly swollen. It took a full 10-days for all the bad steroid reaction to mellow out.

The moral of this young, old woman’s story:

Use the damn head nets you bought three years ago stupid!
(See Plow Share Thursday for more info.)

alergy pic 1 6-10    alergy pic 2 6-15

alergy-pic-3-6-17.jpg    alergy pic 4 6-26 all better

All better!

PLOWSHARE THURSDAY- Good Bug, Bad Bug – Who’s what?

I must give a major shout-out to MNN.com again!  They seem to be providing the best info at a perfect time!  My helpful hint from them this week is much more than a hint:

Good bug, bad bug: How can you tell the difference?

Not only did they provide outstanding specific information on the good vs. bad critters; but they also shared closeup pictures as a visual aid.  KUDOS guys!!

They only list six descriptions, but these are some of the biggies (at least they are for the U.S.).  We have issues with Squash Beetles every year.  Every year we have tried something new to, at least, limit their numbers.  It has been (in our experience) impossible to completely eradicate them, and I am not really sure we should.  We use completely chemical free methods in our garden workings. Some years this is a very hard thing to do.

The huge farm fields around us are mainly hay and pasture (we are half lucky here).  The pasture is great! No one sprays their pasture unless the Canadian Thistle comes back and then you only need to kill the individual plant before the flowers die off (like a dandelion).

Here in northeastern Colorado, they grow to about three feet tall, and they’re a major pain – in more ways than one! You can see from the pics they have needles and will spread like dandelions after blooming.  Our non-chemical method is time-consuming but very effective.  We wait till they flower, then cut off the blooms and spray a mix of vinegar, salt, and dish soap on them (our “go-to” natural spray for bad weeds).

The reason I stated that I am not sure we should eliminate a bug completely is also for natural reasons.  They are here for a purpose.  I do not know what every single one of them does, but I do know that most are food for something else.  I do believe in limiting their numbers by whatever natural means you have at your disposal.

I am still trying to find the purpose for the Yellow-Jacket’s.  Unless they are some specific food for something else, I have no need of them AT ALL!  Personal experience has taught me:

  • They will attack for no reason.
  • They can sting again and again (do not die as a bee does).
  • They might do a little pollination, but nothing to the help from our Bees.
  • They make their nests in the worst possible places.
  • Lastly, they are ALWAYS in my way when I am gardening.

It never fails!  These beasties are worse than our Red Ants!  The sting/bite is about equal, but the Yellow-Jacket can travel from my front yard to my herb garden in a heartbeat (And I know they are watching me planning their next attack!).

Oh well, just had to throw my own two cents in on this one!

 Bee=good.                                           Wasp=bad.

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO OUT – NOT AGAIN!

Funny how quickly the spring can make me just fly out the door with joy! The smells of all the new flowers, after the first good thunderstorm, and new mown hay excite me into the season. Just when I thought it was safe to go out and I am prepared for all the nasty critters (mosquitos, biting flies, snakes etc.) a new one comes along:

What is the Powassan virus? From MNN.com

It is from ticks. Including our Deer Ticks here in the US (and Canada where it originated).

deer-tick.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart

(This pic is from their article – great shot!)
Now, I can handle spiders no biggie.

I do not mind snakes (as long as they stay in their own space and warn me when I get close.

garder snake

I’ve even been known to handle them – not a problem!
I hate mosquitos just because I am allergic to them. A normal person gets a bump the size of about a pencil eraser head; not me, I get one the size of a silver dollar.

cartoon mosquito

Bees and I have a great gardening understanding: They don’t sting me and they can hang out in and round me and our gardens all they want!
Yellow-jackets/wasps and I have an outright third world war going on! Took out about 20 nests in our open sheds this last winter. I have only seen a couple of them this year, but I see they are already looking to build a new home (grrr!).

When it comes to ticks, I get all icky!
• I hate finding them crawling on me.
• I hate having to pull them off me, someone else, or the dog.
• I hate how sneaky they seem (you never know where you pick them up at?).
• I hate that I do not see any purpose for them except to bug me.
• Worst of all, I hate the way they look. I blame the Alien movies for this part.

aliens movie pic  (see – flat head, with a huge nasty mouth – yuck!)

Ick – sorry, just gave myself the willies thinking about the creepy crawlers. This post is not concerning my nasty bug fetishes but to warn you, my fellow outdoorsy people, about the new virus out-and-about. So please click on the link to MNN and check out the symptoms – let’s be safe out there!!

 

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DO YOU HAVE A SECRET YOU CAN’T WAIT TO SHARE?

I love doing research!  I seem to be always digging for something either new-and-improved or looking for the next helpful hint for the farm and gardens.  This blog is about one secret that I came across during my early research days (early meaning before we moved to this small farm).

One of the first things we knew we wanted for our farm was to be as natural as possible.  We thought about organic – but even that is not completely natural.  My wonderful little home in Denver had a huge back yard.  Part of that yard was my garden, so I was able to test a bunch of my findings on it.  The bummer was that it is higher altitude, which does make a big difference.

high altitude gardening

In my research travels, I came across a website that I had never heard of “PLANT NATURAL.COM”.  This was a God-send in my research for all  (or nearly all) natural gardening methods!  They recently sent me this little tidbit:  10 Garden Pests & How To Organically Control Them.  It is a YouTube video that is most excellent viewing on natural pest controls!  (Note: Looks like they do their research also as the video is from California Gardening, but the same pests are here in Colorado.)

Those of you have been with me for a bit, know that I do not have any affiliates on my Helberg Farm Stories blog yet.  This may change shortly as I would like to share with you the sites where we buy our farm and garden things.  A secret should not always be kept.  In this case, I want to share!

sharing is caring

There are a large number of websites that I go to in any given week.  Most of them are just to gain more information.  Some, like Planet Natural, are to purchase something.  Planet Natural also has a huge amount of information and a Forum.  Those of you that have not been to a forum, I strongly urge you do so!  If you garden at all:

  • In containers
    • A patio
      • A back yard
        • A big space
          • A greenhouse

I suggest you get involved in some of the forums.  You do not have to ask any questions if you don’t want to.  Just reading through the thoughts others, can help you a bunch!  Forums are nice because they are everyday people just like us that are asking the questions and getting/giving the answers.

What worked?

What didn’t work?

Why didn’t it work?

How can I fix it?

Our recent US election gave me a purpose.  I have decided that I will continue to be fun and funny as often as I can; however, I will also be trying to share more “earth-friendly” information with all of you that want to know it.  As I said earlier – I love to do research, and I am good at it!  There was a time when I had no time to spend on it, now that I do I will be sharing!

If my paid Politicians do not want to care for things like Global Warming, Climate Change, and Clean Healthy food – then I will!

Please feel free to share with me anything gardening that you need help on!  If I don’t know the answer, I will happily find it and share!

no-worries-friend-590770

WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND OUR GREENHOUSE? – Part 4 (last one)

Answers to all the little questions.

I think the first three Saturday blogs answered the

“Why did we do it?”     “What did we do it for?” and  “Why so big?” questions.

This final bit of our greenhouse process will hopefully answer more questions.  Please feel free to write me if you have more after this!

1)      Why Plants vs. flowers?  This one is easy – FOOD.  Everyone will always need food, not always need flowers.  We do plant flowers, but only for our admiration or to share with friends.

2)      Why inground instead of on tables?  In ground is more natural.  It also takes less water.  Plants can dry out much faster sitting up on a table.  The other main reason is temperature.  It would take more to heat the underside of the table vs. allowing the sun to warm the ground.

3)      Why so big?  We wanted to make sure we could produce enough (in the long run) to sell the extras.  We love to can and process our homegrowns, and it takes a lot of food to make something like a sauce.

4)      Why build it ourselves vs. hiring a company? This one I would re-think if we did this again.  I am very glad for the learning experience, but, it was hard, hot work.  I had never done something on this scale before (thank goodness our friend did) but I do love learning new things.  In hindsight, I would have paid a company to do it and just did some oversight on the hard stuff (to learn how it operates).  Also, because it took much longer than we originally anticipated, funds became scarce.  This is the main reason why we only have plots on the north end for now.  However, I and my motto (everything happens for a reason) also think we may have other ideas for the south end (a special seed start area and maybe an aquaculture spot?).

5)      How do we keep it hot?  The sun does most of it for us.  We do have natural gas heaters installed, but have never used them yet.  Thinking we may switch to electric, easier in the “alternative energy” long run.

6)      How do we keep it cool?  This is harder than the heating part!  Since we are in Colorado and we are closer to the sun, it is quite warm here during the summer/fall months.  We try to plant close to the seasons, but we also like things like spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets all year long.  During the summer months, those plants are closest to the swamp cooler (remember it is the width of the greenhouse – HUGE!), and we have started using shade cloth and warm weather crops trellised to provide more shade areas.  This helps to keep our cool weather crops cooler.  We tried to grow spinach and lettuce outside in the shady areas, didn’t work very well.

7)      How do we water?  We have our own well, plus we have rain barrels to collect any snow melt and rain that we can.  We have several tanks that we can transfer from one to another in, and if you noticed last week’s blog, there are several blue barrels that hold extra water inside the greenhouse.

8)      How do we feed the plants?  As natural as possible.  We have animals for manure, several wood chip piles that are continually composting down (part of this is through an agreement with our local tree trimmers), egg shells, coffee grounds, end of season plants (except tomatoes) are all mixed into our composting piles (yes, more than one).

9)      Do we use pesticides or garden naturally – how?  NO PESTICIDES!  We pull weeds by hand or dip in a vinegar, salt, and dish soap solution.  We use companion planting in EVERYTHING!  We have just started introducing the Weedless Gardening Methods to our exterior plots with great success.  We have free-range chickens and guineas to help keep down the pests (guineas are great for the grasshopper, snake, and rodent control).  The bummer to the birds is chickens scratch up everything.  We have to build good wire borders around the exterior plots, at least for the first couple of months.  Once the plants are established, the birds are pretty good about just going after the bugs.

We also leave part of our gardening areas weedy – this has been very beneficial!  We have left/created a natural attraction for the bugs, good and bad.   We found tons of Praying Mantis, Ladybugs, and Lacewings all over the natural area in the last years.  This then led them to our plots and protecting our food area as well.

It’s funny when you think about it; this trick was an accident!  Things got very overgrown after the fire and because of my surgeries.  It was all we could do to keep up with our food areas, so some outer areas were left to nature.  When we finally did get around to work on them, we could not believe how many good bugs were hanging out there!

Well, I hope this helps anyone that is thinking about creating their own greenhouse.  I will gladly share more with anyone that asks and give you any helpful hints that we have learned along our journey.  You do not have to go as big as we did.  There are now tons of online places to purchase some fantastic kits to help start you on your way.  My last bit of advice to you – HAVE FUN WITH IT!  We have been having a fantastic time learning all the unique attributes in all our garden areas.  We still are learning (hope that never stops!), and would love to hear what natural ideas you use!

Happy Gardening!!

20160605_091933 (1)         good pic our veggie garden

(Note: Neither garden looks like this for a couple of months yet)

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FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT CARE, this is worth the read!

(A thought-provoking note for the first day of spring!)

It may just be because we grow naturally and love Mother Earth.

It may be just because I have an eight-year-old grandson that I would love to see grow up happy and healthy.

Then again, it may be just because!

We do not like to use pesticides.  We encourage good bugs.  Use companion planting.  Pull weeks and maintain our gardens by hand – inside and out!  It never bothered me to get down into the dirt (The ugly part is trying to get back up with fake knees – LOL), up close and personal with our plants.  I really enjoy it – yes, even pulling weeds.

Roughly 20 years ago, our local PBS station ran a program called: My Father’s Farm…this was eye-opening to me.  It was narrated by a woman recalling her childhood on the farm.  She shared how her father got sick and died early due to the pesticides (remember, the childhood was the 40’s – 60’s eras) used back then.  I remember growing up on a farm with animals and equipment to maintain the 80 acres we had.  I remember Dad mixing up stuff to go put on the fields to chase off the bugs and weeds, but I never thought twice about it because it was just what farmers did. (Note: I have tried in vain to find the old documentary – if I should come across it, I will share because it is worth watching!)  My father died at age 54 of cancer.

Now I am not blaming everything toxic for my father’s cancer.  He smoked like a chimney since he was a young teenager.  But I am sure the pesticides did not help.

PBS ran a similar story in 1996 called: My Father’s Garden…this is similar, but not as scary as the “farm” one.  It talks more about changes in farming and gardening.

Those of you that read me also know that I receive the MNN (Mother Nature Network) newsletter.  I just received this little beauty:  Roundup weed killer deemed a carcinogen, at least in California by Jenn Savedge

I am a fast reader, so it only took me about 15 minutes to read this article – however – I also had to swing out and check out the facts they list, which took me much longer.  Pretty scary findings from my point of view.  Just one more reason for my sister and I to choose no chemicals on our little piece of Earth.  Besides, I am pretty sure if our chickens went mutant, they would learn how to open doors, get into my bedroom at night, and scare the snot out of me!

scary mutant chicken  (This is sooo not right!!)

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WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND OUR GREENHOUSE? – Part 3

How we set up the inside of our greenhouse and why?

First, we were going to just dig in the ground – easiest right?  WRONG!  The bindweed from hell grows here.  I’m not sure you could call it growing, more like a hostile take-over!  It is aggressive, gets into everything, and doesn’t care what you say or want – it’s not going anywhere (Hostile take-over right?)!

Even with our nine months plus efforts building the greenhouse, it did not stop.  We dug three feet underground, burmed the sides and had triple insulated sidewalls all around.  But the bindweed still finds its way in.  All we knew we could do is try to slow it down or contain where it enters.

We then decided that plots were the way to go.  We are also lucky that we have a food production plant near us that gives away its drainage cloth.   We asked them about it, and they gave us the distributor.  Come to find out; it is made of the same stuff that cloth weed barrier is made of only thicker.  They use it to drain leftover water from cheese (note: eventually this bio-degrades so we will have to keep watching our weeds).  We were able to cut off massive pieces of this stuff to use on our farm.  Since it is food – there is no chemicals that are left in the cloth to do harm.  In fact, we were surprised at just how clean the cloth was.

Once the decision to use plots was settled, the idea of a whole floor weed barrier set in.  We cut off chunks of the cloth (f.y.i. this is NOT light stuff – it is very heavy) and spread them out on the floor of the greenhouse.  We used standard garden stakes to hold it all in place.  The only gaps are around the outer edge where it meets the cement wall, and where we have to overlap pieces.  When it was all done it looked great:

DSCF5135

This pic also has the very first plot I put in.  It is what it looked like before we established all the north-end plots.It is on the far right against the wall.  Those are tomatoes growing in there.  This was late summer 2011.  You can see next to that plot is the start of another.  The ones against the wall are one foot wide, the others on the inside are 3 feet wide.  We left about a three- foot walkway in-between rows.  Wanted it to be big enough for carts to get through.  This picture is also fun because we are looking north and the swamp cooler is not in yet.

This is what it looks like now- before growing season (note the tarragon against the wall by the black cover.  There is an ever-bearing strawberry bed next to it on the right):

GH blog3 pic 2

This is what it looks like at the start growing season:

GH blog3 pic 3

This is after one month:

GH blog3 pic 4

And this is full production:

GH blog3 pic 5

There are tomatoes and peppers in with the dill.  Oh, and for all you crafters out there;  dried dill stalks make great crafting/weaving sticks – BONUS!  The top center you can see some orange mesh (It is actually used as horse fencing.  This is part of a bunch of bundles we got at the auction for about five dollars.  Works great for trellising plants.), that is where our cucumbers are going crazy.

There are Four 3’wide by 26’ long plots in the middle.  Then we have a 1’wide by 26’ long plots on both east and west sides.  All plots are made with 2’x12” painted (barn paint – non-toxic) boards with 6mil plastic lining on the inside (not bottoms) of all boards.  The plastic is the same as the greenhouse cover and is used just to keep as much moisture as possible off the board.  Our way of trying to get them to last as long as possible before needing replacement.  You can also see the weed barrier up close in this picture.  It is just a fine mesh material.

The greenhouse has been up and operating for going on seven years now.  The weeds are starting to make their way in, in some spots.  We pull what we can, and I dip the bindweed ends into vinegar in a cup.  Those of you that do not know, this is a perfect way to get to the root of the weed and kill it without killing anything else around it.  The only bummer is this is a very slow process.  The weeds move much faster than I do.

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THRILLED FINDING MY NEW GUEST!

Gardens and gardening is a never ending adventure for me.  Every time I go out to them, I find something wonderful and amazing.  Today is her day:

gardenspider-1

She is a common garden spider for out here.  The funny part is the first five years on our little piece of heaven; we did not see any of them?  Then, in the 6 year, they were everywhere.  We had a fun one that made a next on the old chicken shed.  The front of it was all chicken wire to let the sun in, and she found that to be a perfect spot for feeding.  We also have one of our well pumps right beside that spot.  Well, we would go to water the animals and turn on that pump, and she would spaz out. She was a massive predator!  The minute her web wiggled, even a tiny bit, she was all over it.  Most of the day she was very lazy and just hung out in the middle sunning herself.  But the first time I was trying to untangle the hose for the chicken water and splashed her web – I freaked out (my turn I guess, haha).  She came bolting across to where I hit her web, and I must have jumped back a foot at least!  They are not a small spider:

gardenspider-2

My fingers are right behind her in this shot, and she is not even full grown yet! Eeek!!  Her body alone gets about as big as a ping-pong ball, and those legs stretch out about three inches from that.  She actually has a pretty silver streaking going on, but I was at the wrong angle for the picture to properly show that.

Considering how aggressive she is toward bad bugs, how she doesn’t bother me if I don’t bother her, and I caught her eating a wasp – she is welcome to stay and call the greenhouse home!  Now I just need to remember that she is in there because this web is up as high as my head, and the place we turn on the swamp cooler pump is right behind her.  Would hate to not be paying attention and have her right on my face – double EEEK!!!  Happy gardening you all – and keep your heads up!
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