Thursday, May 28, 2015

Building the New Strawberry Bed


Strawberries are my official fruit of spring, they welcome you to summer after a long winter. If I could have an acre of just strawberry plants I would but I can't so I'm trying to tuck them into my garden wherever I can.
I already have one of those metal strawberry towers and several plants randomly planted in my mini orchard so now I'm adding another bed in the garden area.

I started with this frame that I have from an old tree that I no longer have. I put down chicken wire and cardboard to keep out the critters and weeds. Then added soil.

I built an other level with some 2x4's (I cut the boards so they would fit inside the bottom layer and fit together to make this decorative affect) and added the decorative center with some left over Trex pieces. 

And added the strawberry plants.

I was able to plant 20 plants on the bottom level and 12 on the upper level. I am thinking about planting Borage in the 6 holes in the center. I can't wait to get some yummy strawberries from it.

I think it looks nice don't you?

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Patio Bed

About 5 years ago we put in a patio in the back yard when we put the addition on the house. Shortly after we reseeded the lawn which came out very nicely the grass around the patio seemed to get burned and die mid summer. After a little investigation we discovered it was from the crushed stone that was put down under the patio. The crushed stone extended out about a foot and a half beyond the patio, when the patio heated up in the hot sun of summer it cause the stone to heat up and burn the grass so I decided I needed a fix to this problem. I didn't want to spend a lot of money and I wanted to be a diy project, last year I got my hands on some recycled brick when we took out the front walk as it was falling into disrepair.

this is what it looked like when I finished the bricks.

Here is what I did (when I say I, I mean "I", I did all by myself. Well as you can see Sam helped a little). I installed a string line so I could keep it straight and dug out what was left of the grass. I then add a line of bricks along the concrete patio edge.

I then started on the outside of the bed I leveled it as I went along. I put mortar under the bottom layer and landscape block adhesive between the layers.

I then raked the soil so it was even and added some to fill it in where it was low.

I then put down landscape paper and filled it with mulch.

A few pictures of the side.

And then planted it with some bushes.

I could only get 4 bushes so it's not quit finished but I have the rest on order so it will be soon.

Now all I need to do is get the dog to go potty some where else!
(The brown spots you see in the lawn are from my best bud Sam.)


Monday, May 18, 2015

Melancholy day on the Homestead

Today has been an unfortunate and distressful day here on the homestead.

do not read on if you do not like the sight of death

I got up this morning just like any other day, I let my dog Sam out to do his business and that's when it happened.
There was a bunny in the back yard inside the fence where Sam runs and plays well he saw her and started to chase her. Now this is not anything new and I did not get to stressed by it because Sam has yet to get a bunny so I just yelled and he backed off. The bunny went through the fence and took off.

I decided to have a walk around the garden while he was doing his business and just as I got to the other side of the yard I heard his tell-tail high pitched bark. I ran over to where he was to see him ripping a large hole in the yard and there just in front of him was a rabbit nest with babies in it. 
I was able to get him calmed down and back into the house but the damage was done. There in the hole were 4 cute little bunnies, just starting to grow hair with their eyes still closed right in the middle, one of them had a puncture wound in its neck just behind its ear.  I just sat there for a minute and cried, I knew that this little bunny was not going to make it.
I carefully picked it up and brought it inside, put it in a basket on a soft towel and covered it to keep it warm.

I went back outside and carefully covered the nest back up and put up a fence to keep the dog out of the area. 

Now all I can do is hope that mommy bunny comes back. Everything I have read says she should but we shall see.

Now I know that this is the way life is, I'm not one of those people that thinks everything should live forever. I'm a meat eater and I have eaten rabbit I just don't like senseless painful death. It's sad to have such a small helpless little baby suffer like this poor bunny.

I am not upset at Sam he was just doing what he has been breed to do and he was not punished. This is my fault I know there are bunnies running around in the yard and I should keep a better eye out for them.

The poor baby did not make it so I took him out back and buried him at the back of my garden.

(I took this picture to remind myself that I should be doing better)

I left him some flowers.

I hope your day was better than mine!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Disney World greenhouse at Epcot

Recently my hubby and I took a long overdue vacation to Disney World, I had never been and he had not been since he was a child.

I did a lot of research before we left to find the best things to do while we were there to maximize our 4 days at the parks. The one attraction at my list was “Living with the Land” in the Land pavilion at Epcot. This 43,000 sq ft attraction is actually a boat tour ride that focuses on new technology to make agriculture more efficient and environmentally friendly.

The Land pavilion is nothing fancy from the outside but once you wonder up through the long sloping walk and through the front doors you will realize it is something to be explored. There are several places to eat and a few other rides but my favorite one as I said was the “Living with the Land” nestled in the back corner on the lower level.

The ride starts out with a boat ride through a dark forest during a thunderstorm and winding around through a tropical rainforest, a desert and a prairie.

 Next you find yourself floating through scenes on how we have interacted with the environment and how we have manipulated the land to serve our purposes.
(the pictures I took came out too dark)

You then come to a back lit sign indicating the (Production & Research Center) is ahead of you. This is where the came to life for me. There are 5 distinct areas I’ll call greenhouses.

There is a tropical greenhouse with crops from tropical areas around the world like dragon fruit, pineapple, papaya, jack fruit and bananas.  

A greenhouse dedicated to Aquaculture called the Aquacell. This is also called fish farming; there are several tanks that house fish like tilapia, sturgeon, catfish and even American alligators. Some of the fish harvested from here are served in the coral reef restaurant.

 There is also a Production greenhouse that has crops from temperate climates like winter melon, pomelo, lemons, and giant pumpkins as well as cotton, millet, sunflowers, and beets. We saw the largest melons I have ever seen. 

There is an amazing greenhouse they call the String greenhouse that uses a high density technique called Nutrient Film Technique (a hydroponic technique where nutrient rich water is recirculated past the roots of the plants in enclosed channels.You will also see the “vertical growing technique” plants growing on special trellises that cause the plants to grow into the shape of a tree. There is a tomato “tree” that can produce ever 32,000 tomatoes in just over a year.

The Creation Greenhouse is the last one and is the most spectacular of them. You will be awed with spiral contraptions that have several different plants growing on them as well as plants that seem to be suspended in the air just hanging around. These plants are being grown by the Aeroponics technique. A fine mist of water and nutrients is sprayed directly on the roots of the plants; there is no soil for them to grow in.

There is also a small exhibit of NASA hydroponic growing units that were developed for use in space.

As well as an Entomology laboratory that raises beneficial insects for use in the greenhouses and around the Disney property.

All told these greenhouses produce over 30 tons annually.

A few more picture from around the greenhouses.

The lean and lower tomatoes were my favorite.