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Monday, April 18, 2011

WWII Motto / Raised Bed Gardening Through Recycling

"Eat it up and wear it out. Make it do or do without."

I make things do in other ways when I can.  Recycling in the garden works for me!  It also helps with my "the ground has gotten really far away" problems. I cant "do without" raised beds. I just can't garden at ground level very effectively on crutches (can't get down there, or especially back up!), but I've learned there's a way around just about every problem.

Raised Garden Beds a la Recycle

Take an old refrigerator or freezer, remove the door, puncture or shoot holes in the back, remove any spare parts and drag by truck or tractor next to a fence or the area of your choosing. Add rocks or fill to the bottom 1/3 and top off with the best soil and compost you can get.

Add some transplants or seed with veggies you 'll eat. The squash transplants in the fridge behind this one looked great last year, and produced well. Everything is a little less waist  height and easy to plant and care for.

 Seeds finally germinate; waiting patiently is tough. Plants can be trained up a nearby fence when they're ready.

I realize you can sell some fridges/ freezers at scrap yards, but this is just too handy.

Folks have started bringing me their old "coolerators", so the garden expands.

Three more gardens are down at the shooting range being aerated for drainage. I need to paint the outsides with Rust-O-Leum this year, but I'd like to enclose the lines with fence pickets for a rustic look, eventually.

If someone gives you an old truck tire, that works also. A saws-all rids the tire of some of the sidewall for more planting space. This puppy's so big I can lean my backside against it for a rest.  I cant treally reach across it, either. Follow the same directions for filling a fridgie-planter.

I'm thinking of covering the tire this summer with some white cloth to bounce the sun back and keep the tire cooler.  During the winter, the black color soaks in sunlight and warms the plants within.

I love it when recycling makes my life easier. I love gardening and don't want to give it up.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reclaiming Old Gardens and Other Projects

Years ago they were poultry pens, then changed to gardens, then ignored for two years. Everything beige and twig-like are the skeletons of Roosevelt weeds. AKA poverty weed. They grow where ground is disturbed and left to its own devices. The pile is the first one we cleared out of gardens B and C. More have been pulled and stacked as we reclaim these spaces.

One view of garden C
 Matthew had built raised beds a long time ago, since the ground and I are not on speaking terms. Pulled the Roosevelt out, and will do grass and small weeds next.
Seedlings of squash need clear space soon to spread out and produce.

Opposite end of garden C

Paper shreds from Hangman's family and Maggie's old papers collection form a clean space to walk while choking out most weeds. Barely visible is my "settin' stool" at the upper left edge of the garden. More grass to pull, but rabbits enjoy it.

View of south fence of garden B
 Not all bad news, though. This wild grapevine trained itself on the fence, and is sporting tiny grapes already. Art rewarded it with a few shovels of "bunny poo", our favorite time release fertilizer.
There's another started on the north wall of garden C, too!

Garden B nearly cleaned out and ready to go.
 With our all purpose vehicle, the M-37 (Dodge), Art hauls buckets of compost from the rabbit and poultry area near the house to these back gardens to enrich the soil. Once dumped he smooths the rich blackness in place or fills holes he's dug previously.

Once done, he boards the M-37 and rumbles back to the critter area to plant fig trees (thanks, Hangman) near the old goat pasture. Meanwhile I'm planting okra , watermelon, and cucumber seedlings in another garden area, across from the tractor shed. It contains some lovely recycled raised beds, a topic for the next blog.

I've re-discovered my favorite quotation from WWII in an issue of Reminiscence Magazine that applies to these raised beds. It's a thought very much on my mind as I watch our economy. Preparedness is a garden, no matter how odd. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cheap Cologne Saves Bunny

Under the bathroom sink, an old bottle of men's cologne lurked for more than ten years. I meant to throw it out but never did. It finally got some use Thursday morning.

One of the does delivered a litter of 6, but they were dead when I found them except for one little runty bunny. Scaredy Kat had chewed on one (yes, gross, but sometimes happens). I didn't want to leave the live one, considering the mood Scaredy was in,but I didn't want to bottle feed a newborn bunny. Or collect rabbit night dung, dilute and feed with milk, to ensure the baby got the correct enzymes. GACK! Don't forget stimulating elimination, too!

Specs and her combined litter
  I remembered something about fostering babies with another doe. Specs had delivered the day before, and had room for another. I needed some Mentholatum, Vicks, or something smelly to block her sense of smell until the fosterling picked up the smells of her nest and kits. Couldn't find anything smelly until I thought of that awful cologne. I snatched it up and went back out.

Usually Specs is glad to see me. After the first short burst of spray on her back she flinched, and her nose twitched. Thinking she  might need more smell, I gave her another three bursts: between her ears, on her forehead, and on the area just above the nose. Whew! She began wildly scrubbing her face with her paws. I added another spritz or the top of her nest box. If she smelled the other doe on the foster baby it was a goner.

It's possible I might have used a bit too much cologne. I was feeling a little queasy from the smell, and I wasn't even wearing it. Poor Specs! She scrubbed her face  intermittently for hours.

White fosterling with new litter-3days old
It worked, though. She's been nursing the foster kit, who is fat and squirmy along with the rest of Spec's litter. Going to get some Mentholatum for the vet box next time we go to town. I'll put the cologne back under the sink. You never know ....

                     *                            *                                *
Sorry for the lapse in posts. Stayed with Maggie during the first round of the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) so I could administer small group testing at the school without driving back and forth most of the week. Thanks for the hospitality, Maggie! The truck engine is being rebuilt. Why do we need to have the engine boiled? It's always something, isn't it?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring with Bear-Dog

Go walkies, Mom?

Bear is the organic early warning system around the HomePlace. He's the most stubborn dog we've ever had; I think there's some Blue Heeler in there, certainly some Rottweiler. However, he redeems himself daily; nothing goes on without his notice, and subsequent warning.
He's an enthusiastic companion whether gardening or walking. Just look at him grin! His stubby tail wags so hard, his entire butt shakes side to side.

With him, I'm secure against skunks, strangers, and trains. Trains??? Bear hates the trains that rumble along a mile away. He barks until the train sound wanes in the distance. As far as I know, he's never seen a train, but his past is a mystery. We adopted him from a shelter, who got him from another shelter as a pup. 

Bear takes time to smell the flowers

I can excuse his irrational behavior about trains though. He saved me from a skunk last fall by growling and staring. I also excuse him when he steals and chews my garden gloves, or helps me dig. The Tree Killers hired by the electric company don't stand a chance of sneaking around unnoticed, trimming the fruit trees in the right of way. 

I am such a softy for critters  to begin with, regardless of their uses. Sometimes despite their behavior.
Slowly strutting temptation for Bear

He has a running feud with Antonio Banty-Deras. Antonio taunts him by clucking and screeching, then running. Bear gives chase and gets yelled at for chasing that brazen rooster. Bear ducks in false embarrassment, and waits until nobody's looking to stalk Antonio. Antonio explodes in shrieks and tears off around the feeding area, Bear's in pursuit, and in trouble again! I know Antonio is laughing at Bear. Frankly, I'm laughing, too. He just can't resist the lure of Antonio's ruckus.

Bear's the best present I ever got Art, at least in my opinion.