Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Gardens at the Club

As you all my remember I said that I was going to take over the raised beds we have at work and I did. They are lovely high raised beds that are 12 ft. by 4 ft. Each having 3- 4 ft x 4 ft sections in them. One of our board members who owns the feed and seed store here in town built them for us with grant money we received but unfortunately most of our staff just don't happen to be gardeners and the beds had gone to waste.
 Not this year! I made up a garden plan that had a vegetable for each bed but the vegetables are different colors in each section. So one bed will be all onions but there will be one section with red onions, one with yellow and one with white. Beans will be yellow, purple and greens. Squash will be green zucchini, yellow summer squash and white pattypan etc. etc. carrots, tomatoes, pepper. The  front beds will be different. There will be one for two different color cucumbers (green and lemon) but the center of that bed will have herbs.  Then the middle front bed will be for flowers; perennials in the middle and annuals on each side, then the last bed in the front will have strawberries on each side (a Junebearing variety and an everbearing one) and then a couple of blueberry plants in the middle.
I chose 9 children for the class so they could each have their own raised bed.

This, however, is what we started with:

Every bed looked like this except a few in the back that had actual cedar tree seedlings growing in them. I went out each day for about an hour last week and this week with a hoe that I brought from home (and some loppers one day) and I got the grass and weeds out of them. I could have done it with the kids but it just would have taken too much time and it was hard enough without them.  However, I didn't clean everything thing out, I dug out most of it but then they had to go through it and get out whatever was left or had been missed the first time.
We then took soil samples and gave took them to the feed and seed store to be tested. The ph was only 5 so he measured out some lime and told me exactly how much to put in each bed. We also did the same with fertilizer.
After the kids got the beds cleaned out we would add the fertilizer and lime and dig it in. Keep in mind the kids only have trowels and little forked hand tools.

We got some bulbs planted in the middle front bed. One large elephant ear bulb, two daffodils and two hyacinth that were potted, a bare root daylily, and some caladium bulbs. Doesn't look like much now but soon...

We drew numbers to see which child got which bed. I then gave them a chance to trade if they didn't get the bed they wanted. There are only three boys in the class but one of them was extremely happy to get this flower bed.
Anyway, stay tuned, I'll have more posts on this though I won't share the pictures of the children at work, much as I would like to, I just don't have permission to do that.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Generator Is Here!

So our new generator arrived today while I was at work.

It is just a small one but should provide us with some real comfort the next time the power goes out. We are going to get some gas and oil for it tomorrow and test it out to make sure it works. I'll post an update when we do.
I also ordered a small greenhouse today since the greenhouse we built has now been taken over by shade and cannot be moved (since one side of the greenhouse now makes up one side of a chicken pen). I just wanted a little something to grow a few things in. We'll see how it goes when I get it in as well.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ice Storm 2014

I thought I would write a post about our recent ice storm this week. We here in the South get a lot of jokes about us being shut down every time a flake of snow drops but what people don't understand is that our road crews just aren't prepared for it and don't have the equipment to deal with any snow or ice so it does shut us down. Worse are the trees. Trees down here grow in clay so they have very shallow roots. They also are not used to any heavy snow and ice on them so when we do get snow and ice the branches break or the trees fall and we have massive power outages. I read that 700,000 people in Georgia lost power in this one--some of which, including my sister, do not have power still. Yesterday I read there were still 26,000 without power in Augusta, 11,000 in Evans and still 500 in Thomson where I live.
Anyway, we knew it was coming Wednesday. I had done a little shopping on Tuesday and was supposed to try to exchange a propane tank but it was pouring rain Tuesday and I took the chance that our propane would last. That was a mistake.
It started sleeting Wednesday morning.

The weather report said it was going to sleep for 15 hours in our area. I thought they were crazy but turns out they were right. The power went out Wednesday morning here for about an hour and a half. The temps were in the 30's but no big deal we lit the oven for heat and lit some candles. I had 100 candles stocked up (I made myself stop at 100 thinking I was getting ridiculous).

When the power came back on we were pleased and thought out "storm" wasn't all that bad but it continued to sleet all day. 

We stayed inside as everything was all icy.

Obviously, nobody was going up or down our ice slick of a road. Everything was normal until about 7:30 p.m. when the power went out again and didn't come back on. It was a cold night and we woke up in the morning to a temp of 52 degrees inside. We lit candles and several of the oil lamps (I had two containers lamp oil and a few extra wicks) and the oven. 
Phil went out with my coffee pot I have been saving for a couple years now, just for this occasion. It plugs into a cigarette lighter. He couldn't get any of the car doors open but luckily managed to get the truck door open. 
Unfortunately our little "Quick Brew" coffee maker didn't live up to it's name and took 45 minutes to produce half a pot of only warm coffee. We gave up on it and I boiled some water on the stove and poured it on the grounds in our regular coffee maker. 
The temperature got up to 64 degrees inside and then the propane ran out. It dropped to the low sixties, and I lit more and more candles and it stayed in the low 60's. Outside the sleet stopped and I took a few pictures. 

The plants around the pond were bulbs that had come up already. The paperwhites had even bloomed. 
Those are tulip bulbs sprouted around the fountain.
My poor johnny-jump-ups (violas). These did survive just fine however.

There was actually a pair of birds making a nest in this little bird house. I hope they changed their mind as these little ceramic ones are just for decoration as they get too hot in the spring for the birds. 

The sun did come out and the ice started melting pretty good. Phil got out on the road and chopped up the ice and added some salt I had bought until finally he felt he could get one of the vehicles out. This was about 3:30 in the afternoon. He walked up to the main road first though to take a look and see if the main road was clear because there was no sense in trying to get one of our vehicles off our dirt road if he couldn't go anywhere anyway. The main road looked good so he came back and got the truck and went to town to look for propane. Unfortunately, there was none to be found and the little store that usually fills our tank was closed as well. Instead he thought he would just buy us something to eat at one of the restaurants but found that the lines were so long that he would never get in. He came home without having bought anything. 
But we still had to cook supper. A while back I had been given a little tabletop grill for free at work. Phil got it out of the box and put it together. He then made a wood fire in it since we had no charcoal (that is my spoon wood by the way). 
And that is how we cooked supper. Afterwards I put a pot of wax on the grill to melt down and make more candles since we were going through them so fast trying to keep the house warm. I thought we were in for another cold night but the power popped back a little after 7:00 that night. It took a bit to get used to having it again. We left the heaters on all night just because the warmth felt SO GOOD!
Friday Phil was able to go get us a tank of propane at the little store down the street and the roads were completely clear so I could get out and go to my violin lesson and then got to town to do some shopping. There are small branches all over the yard that need to be cleaned up but this was the only large one that fell in our yard so we were very lucky.

Friday night we had the earthquake- 4.4.  Scared us half to death but didn't do any damage .We have never had an earthquake here in all the years I have lived here and we really didn't know at first if it had been one or not. Phil turned out the t.v. and I turned on facebook and we got the answer at about the same time. 

I hear there is a possibility for another winter storm next weekend. Phil and I ordered a small generator today. I hope it gets here before then. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My New Pot

Hi everyone, here I am months later again. Sorry I cannot seem to keep up with my blog but I get up, do chores, practice my tin whistle, take Michelle to school, practice my violin and go to work. Pretty boring. Today when we went shopping, however, we noticed a new place open in one of the shopping centers. Kind of like a junk shop/thrift store. A bunch of the older men and women at the flea market got together and opened their own (inside) flea market. It is a good sized store and they have a decent amount of stuff in it that will make it worth stopping at every weekend.  I really wanted to make sure that we bought something this weekend though, so that we could support their efforts and keep such a good place open. It wasn't hard. They happened to have a table of cast iron. Old cast iron; pots, sausage stuffers, and other things I didn't even know what they were. There were three large pots though and I really wanted one. Two seemed newer than the other though, not quite as heavy, and the one also had a really heavy lid. I got the one with a lid.

I have several cast iron frying pans but have never had a pot, let alone one with a lid. I'm quite pleased with it (there is a handle that goes over the top but it is hanging in the back in this picture). I think I might have gotten a good deal at $25 and felt good that I got to support such a nice small business in our town.

I don't buy things just to say I have them though. They have to be usable and this certainly is being used today. I have a nice pot of chili cooking on the stove.

I am hoping I will get a chance to do some more posts soon. I have taken over the garden beds at work. If you all have been following you will know I work at the Boys and Girls Club here and several years ago we had 9 nice large raised beds put in that have basically gone to waste. A few of the staff have taken the kids out to plant things but they never actually have taught them how to do it right (maybe because they don't know themselves). Last year they planted turnip seeds in little circles in one of the beds (sigh). Anyway, as I am the Membership Clerk there it is not really my job to do classes with the kids but I asked if I could do a real garden class with them this year and my wish was granted.  I plan to do a real class and teach them how to plant things the right way, with the right spacing. I also want to teach them about fertilizer, what organic and inorganic means, what companion planting is....etc. I have about 8 weeks worth of lessons planned so far. But I can only do so much and I have my own job too plus we have yet another new Unit Director who has a lot of other commitments so I am left in charge more and more so I have decided to only take out 9 children. Each will have their own raised bed to take care of.  I think the kids will like that. Later I hope to add in a few cooking classes with what we produce as well (we have a large full kitchen-seldom used as well). I have been spending what little spare time at work out there trying to clean out the beds which have for the most part just been totally neglected. They are covered in grass and weeds and I had fun digging out several small cedar trees that had taken root in the back beds. I'll start the class with the kids next week and I am excited about it. I will have to take pictures for work anyway, so will copy them and show you all what we are doing.