Food not lawns continues

We finally made good on planting up some new figs. This will help give us more fruit consistently in the coming years as they grow as discussed in a previous article about staggering harvest times with your perennial plantings.

I still need to finish up with some nice mulch and a decent ring around them. I found that the previous homeowner left the remnants of a plastic garden border buried. That is the thing sticking up between the figs in the picture. I planted the larger Brown Turkey in the corner to fill that area of the yard, leaving about 6′ of space between the fence. I plan to keep both trimmed to around a max height of 8′.

Yeah, they really are twigs at this point, but they arrived well packed from Isons Nursery.
Close up with the Celeste

We also did some harvesting over the last few weeks.

A little SNH’er with a great flat dutch cabbage!
More carrots from the regen bed. Very happy with how this bed is being reconditioned from the nitrogen poor soil it was growing in. Beans will be filling this bed next.
I started to keep track of the value the garden is bringing this year. $18. That more than covers the cost of the seeds planted for those harvests.

Get Growing!

Mr. SNH.

Biochar in my sand? Yes, we are doing that!

I was inspired by some youtube surfing the other day to get busy and try making some biochar. I used the DTG method of digging a pit and burning the wood laying around the property. The pit is in a new 10×4 section next to the blueberries, but with some separation. I don’t think the ashes left behind will affect the blueberries PH, the proximity is not close enough.

After the big burn, I put the charcoal in a wheel barrow where I topped it with all of the grass that I had just torn out. Biochar needs to be “activated” before becoming and effective nutrient battery for your plants. To activate it, we soaked the charcoal and weed mix to form a batch of “Dave’s fetid swamp water”. The charcoal absorbed it for a week, I hope it is enough to become somewhat effective in the new bed. After the heavy rains today, I furrowed a section of the new bed in the center and dumped that nasty foul smelling water with the charcoal into the ground and raked it over. It might become my watermelon patch tomorrow. I have 4 starts, and a 10×4 sounds like a good area for 4 melon plants.

New bed cleared and filled with biochar and swamp water

I also did a few other things in between the rain. Found out that the potatoes popped up. I also threw in a few more rotting red potatoes in the row just to fill it out.

Potatoes popped up this week. I clearly had some weeding to do as well.

The 3rd generation of our pretend homestead black eyed peas is in the lettuce bed to help regenerate the nitrogen loss. I did not yet pull the couple of rashes that are left in the bed in hopes of getting some seed out of the radishes.

Since my yellow wax beans are doing well, I planted another 8 row feet in the “shed bed”. This harvest will be about 3 weeks behind the first one. I am trying to stagger some of the plantings to make more consistent harvests.

About half of the tomatoes are now in ground. I still have green zebras and brandywines waiting to be planted, but don’t have a spot for them yet. I’ll likely interplant basil with the tomatoes to get a harvest from some “small structure” plants like I did with the blueberries last year. Oh, I also placed an order for some everglades tomatoes. Those are the ones I truly hope to have abundance with.

2 of the Seminole pumpkins have germinated. I was thinking of growing these into my fence just to see if they survive weaving in and out of the chicken wire. I have long way to go in the season with pumpkins, so I can start another set if this group fails.

None of the peppers germinated. I think we got into weather where the nights are just too cool. I’ll probably set some up under a grow light in the garage.

My Florida grown raspberry plant is starting to ripen. Can’t wait.

Raspberries are ripening. Maybe the berries will make it after all.

I picked up a purple sweet potato for a grocery store garden bonus. I’ll start working on getting slips going as soon as I can. Does anybody know where I can identify sweet potato varieties?

Lastly, I did some off the cuff math. It appears that the chickens have paid off about half of their coup through their egg production over the last year. Keep up the good work ladies. Mrs. SNH found out that some organic eggs in California are selling for $11/dozen. That hasn’t hit us here in Florida, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we get to $7 or $8 / dozen soon. Food not lawns people, it’s the smarter way!

Tips for dealing with a down market

Since the weather outside is frightful today and Mrs. SNH is out traveling the States, I thought it was about time to get onto a financial post.

I am sure many of you are out there looking at your 401k and pondering how the US markets have lost about 12% since the beginning of the year and some funds losing much more if you happen to be in sectors like Tech. I am sure that the conflict in Ukraine and rapid inflation have something to do with it. How are you combating it?

S&P 500 (* source yahoo finance)

I have put into place a policy of holding cash in my IRA until the markets start looking better. I am not pulling out of any investments that I have made since this has a fairly frequent history of happening and I am holding long positions. By holding “dry powder” in my portfolio, when a really solid opportunity comes around, I will have the cash to make a really good move.

For example, the real estate group “O” has lost 9% which is better performer than the S&P 500 index yet retains excellent value, returning dividends through the downturn just as it always has since 1994. I am using bellwether stocks such as O to gauge the right investment time to deploy cash when the market turns around and sentiment grows again.

O vs S&P 500 (* source Schwab)

These are key tools I am using to maximize my market moves to reduce losses in the down market.

For folks with a longer time horizon like myself:

  • Keep a clear watch on overall markets
  • Don’t pull investments just because you are frustrated. Those returning dividends in a drip cycle offer you the opportunity to lower your cost basis through the drip.
  • If you do decide to place money into an investment, be hard nosed about which companies your are putting into. When we are in a bull market, everybody makes money. When we enter into corrections and depressions, analysis is king. Follow the advice from Ben Graham, Warren Buffet, and relative newcomers like Brian Preston who find true value in their investments and offer rock solid advice.

For folks with a shorter time horizon (those in or near retirement):

  • Measure the impacts on your income
  • Evaluate your market risk with a financial advisor
  • Based your expected needs, form a plan to get through the hard times
  • Look into alternative moves to reduce expenses or bring the income gap and keep your capital working.
    1. Rent out a spare room
    2. Move in with in-laws (if that is appropriate)
    3. Reduce services such as Cable TV. Antennas are fantastic for basic tv, and a low cost subscription on a roku work really nicely for media consumption.
    4. Garden – yeah, that one reduces your inflationary effect from rising food prices as well as gives you some great fresh air and exercise.
    5. Make your travel plans more local so your planned trips don’t cost as much.
    6. Plan your trips out during the day to maximize your gas cost
    7. Eat a bit more at home

I hope this helps ease some fears out there. Remember, rough times are ahead, but we can overcome them!

Work smarter, not harder!

Mr. SNH.


Happy March SNH’ers, harvested a few carrots this morning for a crockpot pork roast this evening! Had a great time chatting with other gardeners on a david the good live stream. I highly recommend checking out his youtube content. Tons of information, it has helped me improve my growing.

In other crop news, the tomato starts are about ready to plant out, the yellow wax beans are starting to get fairly large. I am planting another row soon. I decided to open up another section of ground at a 10×4 size which brings me to about 450 sq feet of space. My goal is to get to 1500 sq ft, even though it may not be possible in our yard space.

Small Carrot, big on flavor