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Archive for June, 2016

Jackie Clay

We’re enjoying nicer weather now

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

And we’re getting a lot done, too. We just finished mulching, staking, and caging all 107 tomato plants and are working on weeding and mulching our main garden. Will is hard at work mulching the sweet corn and pole beans right now. With warmer weather, all of our corn is taking off big guns. (Thank you God!) And the beans everywhere look fantastic.


I had to laugh. Yesterday I was going to turn the water on to water the big hoop house and did a double take. “Hidden” on the frost-free hydrant was a pretty tree frog. He was all in camo but that didn’t cut it on a red hydrant. He looked cool though and looked like he had a big smile on his face.


My flowers look fantastic this year. The peonies are blooming like crazy and only two are the same variety. I think there are fourteen … so far. Okay, I’m a junkie.


We are enjoying having our big solar panels hooked up, generating over 10 times as much charging power as the little ones did. Wow! Those batteries charge up SO much faster now. And I know we’ll be saving tons of money in gas for the generator. When such a big milestone comes around we really rejoice. It really happened! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

It finally stopped raining

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

And boy are we busy! We couldn’t do any cultivating or anything else, during the rain so we’re hurrying to catch up (as if one ever does!). The weeds loved that warm, wet weather and parts of our gardens look like a lettuce bed. And our North garden and pig pasture gardens, because they’re mostly clay, were too wet to even walk in.


The bad news is all of our pig pasture corn rotted in the ground and never sprouted. Today Will’s going over to help at our carpenter friend, Tom’s, homestead where they’re going to pour five truckloads of concrete — with a little manual help. After that’s done, Will’s going to till up the corn patch in the pig pasture and I’ll replant it, hoping we’ll have a long enough growing season to harvest corn from it to can. (I do have other sweet corn patches that ARE up, however, but we sure hate to lose any.) All the beans and North garden crops are up and lookin’ good as are the crops in our main garden and berry patch. Hooray!


Now we’re working like mad to get the weeds under control before they get big. Will tilled and tilled yesterday, finishing our main garden and then going out to the North garden. He had a setback when our Troybilt’s fuel pump quit. Luckily, Will had another he’d salvaged from somewhere and after an hour of changing over, he was back at tilling. The garden was still damp but it tilled up fine and it looks so much better without the weeds!


The peppers and pole beans in our big hoop house look great. I’ve got six different rare pole beans inside as they’re relatively long season beans. Plus we have tons of different beans outside, both pole and bush. They just POP out of the ground. It’s so cool! Mittens sometimes sits by a bean row and watches them. She’s a homesteader cat and it doesn’t take much to make her happy. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

It’s still raining

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016


Seven inches Sunday and four last night! I’ll swear I saw a bearded man at the lumberyard ordering cubits of lumber for an ark … Luckily, our gardens were well tilled before it hit and there aren’t lakes on them to rot the seed.

We’ve still been planting a few odd things here and there. (No, they’re not “odd,” just kind of leftover stuff we didn’t get around to getting in sooner.)

There’s a mama killdeer with a nest out in the corn on our north garden so we don’t bother her area. The rows need tilling with the weeds flourishing out there but it’s too wet now and we don’t want to disturb her while she’s sitting on eggs. Speaking of eggs, one of our turkeys came off the nest with three babies and another hatched a CHICK — not a poult. One chick. She found a nest with one chicken egg and became attached to it. Now she has a baby to raise up and love. Strange but cool.

Our tomato plants look awesome! Very stocky and dark green. Unfortunately, we have billions of volunteer tomatoes all over the garden; our only weeds this year! Luckily, they’re easy to till up and pull. It’s time to stake and cage the tomatoes and start in weeding and mulching the main garden. As soon as the rain quits, that is.


My flowers look great this year and my Yellow Rose of Texas is blooming its head off. I’ve been hitting one flower bed at a time trying to get rid of the weeds, especially perennial weeds like nettles and raspberries that keep popping up. And it’s working. So far I’ve got four beds pretty well “domesticated” and another bed pretty good. Mulching after weeding helps a lot. I’m using wood chip mulch about six inches deep. The peonies, delphiniums, hostas, and daylilies look great and make me smile as I sit on the front porch. Ah, homesteading! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We had a hard frost but no damage

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

At 5 a.m. I went outside and saw heavy frost on the roof and on the windshield of our Subaru. And this was on top of the ridge; our garden is down below where frost will settle. But our tomatoes were fine because Will and I worked all day yesterday covering our them. A dear friend had given me some larger plastic nursery pots and we had a few others so we used 50 to cover tomatoes. Then I had a bright idea. Gina, a friend of ours, has a greenhouse in Cook and I remembered seeing piles of used pots along their fence.


I drove in and sure enough, Gina quickly helped me load 50 more pots into the car. (I told her I’d return them today.) When I got home, Will and I finished covering the plants then set a cap of hay on each one as they do have holes and we didn’t want frost seeping inside. We had a little corn and beans up, so I quickly hoed a little dirt over each plant.


This morning I walked down and uncovered a few tomatoes. They are in perfect shape! Will is uncovering the rest right now as our temperatures are swiftly climbing and no cold nights in the forecast. Whew! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Rain, rain, go away

Monday, June 6th, 2016

While it looked like a hot, dry summer weeks ago, when temps were in the high 80s, the last two weeks have brought rain. Lately, it’s been every day. Boy, is it hard to get stuff planted, especially out on the new north garden, where the soil is minimally improved white clay. It sticks to our feet when we walk and soon our boots are carrying pounds that refuse to be shaken or scraped off! Luckily, just before the rains got serious, Will got in with the tractor and planted 3 different varieties of pumpkins and squash; 12 rows each, with 30-foot spaces between, 100 feet long. I’ve hand-planted dozens of hills of pumpkins and squash so far but still have many more to go and it’s almost getting too late to plant. After all, we often get our fall frosts mid-September … or earlier.

In the house, I’ve started many different rare and heirloom beans (folks have sent some to us and we have bought some from various places across the country) that are long-season maturing beans. Some will go in the hoop house while others will be planted outside on each end, hopefully absorbing some heat from the structure. Others will go on our stock panel trellises in the garden.


Meanwhile, Will built a rack for our new solar array and while friends Mike and Dara were here to help, we put it up. We’re really excited as it will increase our charging capability from 100 watts to over 1,000 watts. Huge improvement. We’re waiting now for the combiner box and the cables Will ordered. I can’t wait to have the thing hooked up to our battery bank!


The weather radio forecasted scattered frosts after midnight for tomorrow night. And we have 107 unprotected tomato plants out in the garden. They’re too big for hot caps and too tender to throw plastic over. So we’re going to use thin slices of hay off square bales to make tipis over each one. After the frost danger has passed, we’ll use the hay as mulch around the plants. We harvest our own reed canary grass which is seed- and weed-free so we don’t plant a hayfield in our garden. Been there; done that! Luckily, none of our other crops are up yet except for some onions which don’t mind frost. Homesteading is never easy but the challenges make it exciting for sure. — Jackie


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