Tag Archives: sugar snap peas

A Little Bit of Everything

As usual, sorry for the blog hiatus.  Time has just been zipping by, but that’s what happens when you’re busy from sun up to sun down.  So, let’s see what’s new.

I’ve planted a ton of new fruit trees and berry bushes in the garden.  At the last minute I decided to try some blueberries and put three plants in this evening and added some sulfur to acidify the soil and mulched them with dried out cedar needles.

I also planted two different varieties of Goumi, which fixes nitrogen in the soil and grows an edible berry.  It’s related to the Russian Olives that grow here wildly so I figure it’ll do fine.  I planted them in among the fruit trees so that when I cut it back its roots will die back and feed the fruit trees.

The garden looks amazing and the first thing I do every morning is go check on it and just soak it all in.  The sugar snap peas have started coming in full tilt and there’s more lettuce and spinach than I know what to do with.  The first little green tomatoes have appeared on the early variety tomato plants, and there’s already some little zucchinis in the making as well.

I have a work exchanger from Nebraska who I’ll call “Dan” for privacy’s sake among other inside joke reasons… He’s been helping me since early May.  He’s staying through the 4th of July weekend when I’ll be holding an earthen plaster party and having a large bonfire down at the lake.  If you’re interested in coming just shoot me an e-mail and I’ll get you info.

Mid-way through May I also had a couple visitors from St. Louis who stayed for a week and helped me raise the wind generator.  I would’ve raised it sooner but it had been far too windy, and now that it’s up the wind hasn’t come back.  I’d like to have gotten higher above the trees but it just wasn’t easily done without cutting a bunch of trees and having a lot of ugly guy-wires all over the place.  I may have to cut the tops off a few trees to get some better air flow, but it still spins regularly.  I’m thinking about getting a small solar setup to augment it in the meantime.

Dan and I have gotten a lot done on the interior of the roof, and tomorrow we’ll be filling over half of it with cellulose insulation made up of recycled paper.  I also put quite a bit of alpaca wool scraps in there, but it was nowhere near enough and apparently all the other alpaca farmers sent their scraps to the gulf to help with the oil spill.

I’ve also installed the basic wiring for the house and put in the breaker box.  I used the chainsaw to cut out the depressions for the switches and outlets, and then attached the boxes to a plywood wedge and pounded it in between the bales to secure it.  I left them jutting out a little over an inch so that they’ll be flush once the wall is plastered.

With the help of my dad, Charlotte, Jessica, and Dan we’ve also got a bunch of mushroom logs inoculating.  Right now there are 3 different kinds, shiitake, chicken of the woods, and reishi.  I have another large bag of plug spawn for maitake(hen of the woods), which I need to get plugged in the next few weeks.  I won’t actually have any mushrooms for at least 6 months, possibly a year.

The main trees that needed to be removed from the dam have been cut down and piled up for the bonfire on the 4th.  The roots can penetrate the heart of the dam and cause leaks.  There’s quite a few more trees that need to come out though and there’s already enough wood down there for several large fires.  While I was clearing one day I almost stepped on a fawn in the reeds by the lake.  It was clearly scared, but just hoping that I didn’t see it or would ignore it.  I somehow just expect animals of that size to run, even if they’re small.

We also cleared the tour route and cut back the grass so ticks won’t be a big issue when I give tours.  The ticks haven’t been bad, and the only reason I get them at all is because Pink brings them in on his fur and they fall of in my bed in the camper.  I’m working on getting a lavendar oil/water mix to spray on him so that hopefully the ticks won’t hold on to his fur.  The mosquitoes are just now getting kind of annoying and aren’t nearly as bad as they were this time last year.

I’ve got 200 pounds of hydrated lime slaking in preparation for making lime mortar, i.e. lime putty and sand, which I’ll use to mortar rocks against the foundation wall of the house.  I’d come up with the plan of using the rocks surrounding the foundation wall at the old cabin.  My dad told me that they actually got the rocks from an old farm house that had been on the property so far, so this would be the 3rd time they’d been used.  However, I passed a granite counter place in Jefferson City that just had piles of broken granite pieces and I’m talking to them trying to see if they’ll sell or let me have it.  In which case I might have a really pretty foundation wall material, not to mention a great material for mosaic counter-tops, furniture in-lays, etc.

I took a fantastic trip down to a place called Jack’s Fork in south east Missouri.  It’s actually in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.  We went canoeing one day, and exploring water falls and springs the next.  There also a bunch of really interesting caves.  Surprisingly, the water was almost perfectly clear.  I have a bunch of fun and interesting stories from the trip and I’m contemplating whether to post that kind of stuff on the Maya Creek blog.  I know I make this pretty personal, but it has a pretty specific scope.  Let me have your input on whether I should branch out or not.

I’m having a hard time believing it’s June already.  I still think I should have everything done to live in the house this winter, but I’m getting a little anxious.  The trip to Jack’s Fork this last weekend and the wedding I’m going to in North Carolina this coming weekend have me feeling like I’m not getting enough done.  I had a couple other trips planned later in the summer, but I may have to cancel them depending on my progress out here.  I’ve definitely got one new work exchanger coming out at the beginning of July from Ohio, and very possibly a second one from New Jersey coming at the same time.  Having help is fantastic. It’s great to get so much done, but also to have someone to hang out with.

Hopefully, I’ll be getting back to my regular 2 week posting rate, but we’ll see.

The Big Thaw

It’s finally happened.  The weather has warmed to the point it’s no longer miserable to be outside.  In fact, it’s down right pleasant and judging by the chorus of crickets and peepers, the wildlife would agree.

The change in temperature has been swift, but I remember being struck by how quickly the chirps and hum of nature disappeared last fall.  One day it was there, and the next it wasn’t.  Two days ago the woods were completely silent at night except for the occasional owl hoot, and yesterday it was as if everyone got the memo.

As the days have gotten nicer they’ve also begun to pass much more swiftly.  That tends to happen when you’re constantly busy, web work in the morning and projects in the afternoon.  I have to slow myself down at times because it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer scope of everything.  I’ve taken to making to-do lists every other night just to keep that next step in perspective.

I’m aiming to start setting up Tarpopolis again at the beginning of April.  Once I empty the house out then I can start working on the interior roofing again, and after the last frost is past the plastering can start.

Until then I’m focusing my energy on the garden.  I built a trellis in the garden and cheated a little by buying some bagged garden soil to plant the sugar snap peas in.  I’ve also got a lot more seeds in the mini-greenhouse and coldframe although I’m a little worried I may have to restart some of them since I think I might have cooked them by not paying attention and opening them on a sunny day.

Due to some ridiculous beaurocratic wrangling with the DMV I wont’ be able to get a plate for the truck until early April.  Which severely hampers my rotted manure collecting operations among a host of other things I need the truck for.  I do have a plan on how I can still use it, however, it’s not exactly legal so I won’t post the specifics here.  Big brother may be watching.

I’ve got several new sources for manure which I plan on taking advantage of.  I’ll be adding a 4th vegetable garden bed as well as a 2nd perennial bed and then I’d like to add at least a small layer of manure around the perimeter of the main beds where I intend to plant berries and fruit trees in a couple weeks.  All in all I’m probably looking at 8 full loads of manure and another 2 or 3 of free mulch from Columbia for the paths.  It’ll be a good workout and warm up for the coming construction season.

A couple weekends ago Justin and Melainia came out and we burned a bunch of the brush piles that had been built up over the last year or so.  I wanted to make bio-char out of them by putting them out before they’d turned to ash.  The charcoal holds a lot of the nutrients in the ground so that they don’t wash away.  Unfortunately I didn’t have any water so we just let it burn where I’ll be adding the new vegetable bed.  The ash will still be good source of potassium for the plants.

One point of excitement was when we all 3 came back with bunches of brush to find flames leaping from the humanure pile which was maybe 20 feet away from the fire.  It was amazing how quickly the pallets caught on fire as well, and putting the whole thing out wasn’t easy with the aforementioned lack of water.  It was tempting to stomp on it, but it would be the equivalent of stomping out a giant flaming bag of poop on your doorstep.  Justin made this excellent graphic which is certainly t-shirt worthy should the opportunity arise.

I was considering planting standard size fruit trees, but there really isn’t enough space in the garden for that.  Instead I’m going to plant a lot of semi-dwarf and dwarf trees and have a big variety of different kinds of fruit.  I’m hoping that these trees will serve as sort of the genetic stock for the eventual food forest in the ecovillage center.

Typically you don’t want to start a fruit tree from seed because you don’t know what kind of fruit it will have, for instance an apple pollinated by a crab apple probably won’t have very tasty fruit.  However, if you start some of the trees from seed and then graft a branch from one of the tried and true varieties that I’ll have growing in the garden here then you’ve got something you know will be tasty.   Of course, any trees grown like that will be full-size since size is determined by the roots and they won’t have the dwarf root stock, but that’s what would be more appropriate for the ecovillage anyway.  Standards produce a lot more fruit and do so for many more years than dwarfs and semi-dwarfs.

I’m also waiting on the truck plate to pick up the pipe I need to raise the wind generator.  I’m hoping I can get that next week and get it up and running soon.  I did manage to fix my gas generator which hadn’t wanted to start since I got back so I at least have some power until then without having to go recharge my batteries at my friend’s place every several days.

I also picked up some trash along the road with some help from a friend last weekend.  I noticed that people had still been parking at the driveway to the old cabin and littering it with more beer cans and bottles since I cleaned it up last year and posted the “No Trespassing” signs.  Clearly they didn’t get the message so I lugged some of the 30 or so old tires that someone graciously dumped in the old root cellar and placed them as a barricade across the driveway entrance.

There are still another 30 or more tires in a ditch just down the road.  I plan on using some of those in the garden to grow potatoes in, and saving the ones that are in decent shape for other uses down the line.   A lot of them are really too far gone to do anything with and I may end up hauling them to a special tire recycling place not too far from here.  I also posted a homemade “No Dumping” sign in the hope that it might make some sort of difference as far as future tires are concerned.

My current struggle of the moment is getting water in the camper.  It appears that simply opening the main drain valve didn’t empty all the water out of the pipes and at some point the water froze and burst the water supply line in two different places.  Neither spot is very easy to get at, but I’ve only had to cut minor holes so far.  I’m on my 3rd attempt at patching them and each time I’ve gotten closer.  In fact the last time they held for a couple hours, enough for me to take my first hot shower in the camper, but then one burst and the second started leaking.  I think I’m finally on the right track now though and I should have it taken care of in the next day or two.

I’m also looking to get 3 or 4 laying hens and keeping them around this time.  I considered guineas again as well, but I wouldn’t be able to actually have them out and tick hunting until late July again.  They also don’t have the benefit of easily collected eggs and aren’t going to handle the winters as well.  The chickens have stinkier poop, but I think if I only let them free range around the campground and construction site every other day or so then it won’t be too big of an issue I’m hoping.  In the future I’d like to get guineas again since they have a wider tick-hunting range and they’re just kind of cool, but I’ll save that for another time.

So that’s where I’m at.  I’ll probably start having visitors out on the weekend of March 27 weather permitting if anyone’s interested.