Sources for Free Dead Trees

Untreated wood chips layered in abundance make plants happy. Mara Grey in The Lazy Gardener (a particularly nice and guilt-free gardening book) recommends, among other things, an abundance of mulch. Mulch, mulch, mulch. It keeps down weeds, helps balance out moisture, and provides more of a natural compost-in-place of wood chips. Especially for perennial shrubs, this mimics nature. In my neck of the woods, we have identified the 3 easiest sources of free mulch. The list is ongoing… Local power company. I did not expect this one, but in a region with plentiful trees, the power company is responsible to … Continue reading Sources for Free Dead Trees

Hunkering Down for Winter

In an unseasonably warm November, there has been a lot of extra time for outdoor stuff. Spreading mulch in the garden. So much mulch. Splitting and stacking firewood. Clearing the gutters. A lot of trees means a lot of leaves. Cutting down dead trees. Garden rearranging to prepare for spring. Setting up new raised beds and a straw bale garden, piling on so much ash and compost and wood chip mulch to percolate for next spring. I like to take down some of the fences and let the deer eat the dried up plants. The return to our regularly scheduled … Continue reading Hunkering Down for Winter

We Got a Woodstove!

This was a home upgrade some time in the making. We really wanted a wood-burning fireplace or wood stove when we were looking at places to live. In our corner of the world, firewood is readily available. Winter is not usually a serious affair here. One idiosyncrasy of the home, though, is that all of the heat is electric. No natural gas furnace to fall back on. Big storms are uncommon, but like to show up with a vengeance once in a while. There is more to it than just throwing some logs in the fireplace. Too low of a … Continue reading We Got a Woodstove!

3 Ways to Stay Warm in a Power Outage

From least involved to most involved method. Body heat. The lowest of low tech. In my home, this would mean gathering humans and pets into the smallest or second smallest room and hunkering down. With a goodly supply of sleeping bags, traditional bedding, and perhaps some jury-rigged extra insulation over the window(s), this would be a surprisingly effective method in a mild scenario. For instance, in a power outage of 72 hours or less, with cold weather but not subzero temperatures. Candles. This adds a layer of complexity, but is still very manageable. Even one or two emergency candles will … Continue reading 3 Ways to Stay Warm in a Power Outage

Celebrate Harvest Season

Once again, it is my favorite time of the year! The leaves change color and fall, and it is time to put the garden to sleep for the long winter. Reflecting on the summer garden, I realized that we have actually made a lot of progress in a relatively short time. There was a late frost, and significant competition for our produce from the deer, squirrels, and birds. Now that the harvest is wrapping up, here are a few of the successes after a couple of years in progress: Increased the number of raised beds Added mulch (and learned how … Continue reading Celebrate Harvest Season

One Minute Latte

Save glass jars with lids. I like Mason jars. I have a good supply of them and the deer decimated our tomato crop so I am not expecting to do a whole lot of canning any time soon. Microwave milk. This is very important: WITHOUT THE LID. Do not microwave metal unless your intent is to ruin your microwave and start a fire in one fell swoop. Shake jar. This is also very important: WITH THE LID. Add coffee or espresso or cocoa or tea and maple syrup or agave or cinnamon or nutmeg or other flavorings to taste. Drink … Continue reading One Minute Latte

Tiny Beginning Summer Harvest

One use of a pantry stock of dried beans is to plant them. If intended for sprouts, the pantry version should actually be used instead of seeds from a seed packet, because the latter are often treated to prevent spoilage and enhance germination. As one of the easiest garden plants to sprout and grow, plain dried beans germinate just fine. In fact, our vines had been pretty well neglected. Yesterday I checked on them. Here are the results! I may pan-roast them or just chop them up and add to a stir fry. I think we will have a lot … Continue reading Tiny Beginning Summer Harvest

Ripening Blackberries

I am eagerly awaiting fresh ripe blackberries from the first plant from three years ago. Last year, there were a couple of handfuls of berries and they were delicious. The two big takeaways from last year? First, the blackberry grows the cane the first year, and produces fruit on it the second year. After the cane has produced fruit, it is important to remove the spent canes. This helps to prevent the plant viruses that raspberries and blackberries tend to suffer from. Second, I have read that if you prune the tips of the primary cane, the plant will put … Continue reading Ripening Blackberries

Haircuts at Home

A step towards minimalism, inspired by necessity and the pandemic… My husband has been cutting his own hair for years. We already had clippers. I bought a new pair of hair cutting scissors. I wanted a new, sharp pair. My hair is quite long. I had not had a haircut in at least 6 months. In that time, I had started to trim the ends myself. Then my bangs. But overall, I was feeling more and more shaggy. My hair tangled easily and the ends were pretty damaged. I watched YouTube videos and started gathering my courage. Finally, I convinced … Continue reading Haircuts at Home

Backyard Berries

Raspberry and Blackberry. These are hardy and productive, and they can create large wild brambles. They can be susceptible to viral diseases, especially if they receive too much moisture. I have seen conflicting advice regarding applying mulch. The biggest thing I have found helpful: Know your varieties. Many plants grow by producing a primicane, or first year cane, that just grows the first year, then becomes the productive cane the second year. The deer ate the top off of the primicane last year, which led it to send out a bunch of lateral branches. The lateral branches are the ones … Continue reading Backyard Berries