We have some apples

Greetings SNH’ers! As we work to improve our food security, we have landed some southern apples to add to the yard. Anna, Golden Dorset and Tropic Sweet will all work to pollinate each other. Come to think of it, we now have quite a few fruit options growing on our little pretend homestead.

Golden Dorset Apple
Golden Dorset Apple
  • (3) Apples
  • (1) Avocado
  • (2) Peaches
  • (2) Oranges
  • (1) Lemon
  • (2) Figs
  • (8) Blueberries
  • (2) Blackberries
  • (4) Watermelon
  • (1) Maybe beautyberry ..more below.

This afternoon I was trying to identify some plants in the yard.

If you know what these are, send me a message. I think beautyberry is also a nitrogen fixer.

Possible Beautyberry
I like the foliage, is this yaupon holly? Not really sure, but I wont be eating the berries or extracting the caffeine until we can identify it.
Another bright beautiful plant, not sure what this one is.

Garden Plans for July

Since the last of our big harvests in May, we have been pulling a few random items like everglades tomatoes, purple hull peas and couple of cucumbers. Today, I removed the cucumber plants seeing a fresh batch of insect damage and small black insect eggs on them.

Since our garden becomes a bit dull during August with sweet potato production being the real focus, I am thinking about starting a run of peppers for the fall when we comfortably get back into the 80’s and production picks up again. I’ll also re-order some seed stock to replenish the fall plantings like carrots and lettuces that did well last year.

The compost bins however are doing great work. I added a “trash can” composter to handle larger amounts of rubbish and it seems to be breaking down fairly fast in the heat. Maybe we can get a 6 month cycle to usable compost instead of my 1 year mark as has been in the past. The addition of red wigglers has also hastened the tumbler bin significantly and the kitchen scraps seem to be breaking down much faster than before.

The addition of a mechanical timer on the drip system has made watering much simpler allowing me to get out of that chore (mostly) and focus on the weeds. I am setting it for 30 minutes in the morning and occasional evenings when the day has exceeded 95 degrees and the humidity is high.

Lastly, a big shout out to the youtube community for showing me better ways to manage the garden and also show that my own struggles are not unique. It’s funny how we all want the perfect landscape with a massive harvest all the time, but its not the reality. Summer gardens, here in Florida, often look like a total mess in July and August, most just give up. With some tenacity and good crop selection, you can remain productive and keep the weeds at bay.

Happy Gardening.

Mr. SNH.

The quest for fresh foods marches on!

Greetings SNH family, my pavement planted hands are finally healing up to where I could get a few things done in the garden this weekend. We had to replace the chicken water container as it broke when I was carrying it across the yard. The ladies were also laying a good bit under the roost. While technically edible, we did a cleanout and hopefully they will be back in the boxes today.

We had a great harvest of pak choi. I put 5 bags into the freezer for soups and save a fresh group for stir fry tonight.

about 20 heads of pak choi in that basket. A lot of work to prep them all.
Pak Choi stir fry with steak, peas, carrots and onions too.

Lastly, we had a mix of white globe turnips and another variety that I had some seeds of but have since forgotten what type. The greens were frozen and the roots stored in the fridge.

Turnip Roots
Turnip Greens, before cleaning.

I also took about 30 minutes to put our tomato volunteers into pots.

Get ready for spring, its going to come fast.

Brief Garden update

Harvested some more carrots today and looking forward to getting tomatoes growing again in spring.

Here are some pics from today.

A fresh Carrot Harvest, we served them in a crocpot with lemon pepper chicken tonight.
Buttercrunch and Pak Choi coexisting nicely
t Half a bed for Carrots, cant wait till a black nebula carrot is harvested.
Green Cabbages from Pine Tree Seeds. These have grown much smaller than the flat dutch variety last year. I don’t think I will re-grow this variety in my area.
I have higher hopes for this red cabbage than their green counterparts, but the grow time will take us into April for these.
Kale and Broccoli are coming along on schedule.

I may have planted too many mustard starts for our use, but the chickens will enjoy what we don’t eat.

The onion bed is weedy. 4 to 5 more months of growing for these to get big and bulb up. I did the weeding after the picture.
A couple of grocery store potatoes that sprouted eyes are now being made into more potatoes. These are russets.
I have pulled tons of turnips this year, the middle section still has a good number. There are also some sugar snap peas and some rutabagas in there.
We have tons of volunteer tomatoes popping up. I have a good spot where I will transplant them to some pots and then likely into a defined spot in a month or two.

The eggs have picked up this week from about 1 day. We have 2 days this last week with 2 eggs, and 4 today. They are like solid gold in the market right now.

We have now harvested about $400 from the garden this year in our database. I have till March to review the year tally and start again.

Rocket Stove Part 1

This is the rocket stove build, part 1. We started with a firebrick base and my *incredible* masonry skills.

  • Here are some things that I really need to practice:
    • Cutting blocks
      • These were cut with a chisel, so I only did the bare minimum and broke many blocks in the process.
    • Application of mortar and keeping things level
    • Taking my time to make sure things are square.
      • It took my all of about 2 hours to assemble. I was more excited to build it quickly than to build it well.
  • Upgrades to this stove:
    • Add an ash tray for easy extraction after cooking
    • Add decorative bricks on the outside to make the appearance more fashionable
    • Add a grill for cooking access
      • I have one that I can use temporarily from my barbecue grill
  • Notes about the first test:
    • This stove gets really hot at the top
      • This was the reason for the build, a reliable wood fired outdoor cooking surface.
      • Great backup if hurricanes hit my area and we can’t power our electric stove for a few days.
    • Using only a few sticks is sufficient for cooking in comparison to a pit fire which requires a massive amount of fuel. I may put a bin on the porch or the garage to collect the random sticks from the yard and have them convenient for use.
    • After initial lighting, the smoke is significantly reduced when the rocket stove is running at full power.
    • This will be great for marshmallows with the little SNHers without too much fuss.
    • Now we have to finish the stove to make it look nice, add a firepit as posted previously and add the pavers to form a seating area in the back yard. As they say, it’s a process, not a race.