Saturday, January 24, 2015

Keeping peppers through winter.

A lot of people don't know it, but peppers are perennials.  It's possible to keep them growing all year long.  I've done it before.  They just have to be kept above freezing. 

I had a number of pepper plants in containers.  When it got cold I moved them to my garage and kept them under fluorescent lights.  They took up a lot of space.  It was pretty inconvenient.  This year I thought I'd try putting them in my greenhouse.
I have not gotten great results in the greenhouse.  My temperature control system has worked great.  It hasn't gotten below freezing in there even though we had some cold nights get into the teens.  I think the issue is humidity.  It's too humid in the greenhouse and the plants have gotten a brown hairy mold/fungus on them.  I tried pruning them but I don't think it helped.

I moved the plants out of the greenhouse once the arctic air passed.  It's too late for two of them, but the other two might have a chance.  I'll just have to wait and see... 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Mid-Winter homestead update

Winter isn't the most exciting time around the old homestead.  I had plenty to do to keep me busy, but I didn't think much of it warranted a blog post.  So I'll just post it all here in a single update.

One of my more interesting projects was to create a bench for my fire ring. One of my coworkers sent out an email asking if anyone knew where he could get a 10' section of tree trunk with the bark removed.  I volunteered to help him. 

I have a lot of trees in my woods that need to come down.  I also own a draw knife.  I found a tree that looked like a good candidate and cut it down.  It was fairly straight with only a minor bend.  The lowest section was 10" in diameter.  I kept that to use as my bench.  A straighter section (with an 8" diameter) further up went to my coworker.
I used my draw knife to remove the bark from the trunk.  The log in the top of the picture below went to my coworker while I kept the bottom log.  It was much easier to remove the bark from the smaller of the two logs.
Once the bark was removed my son and I dragged it into the yard and set it up on two smaller log sections.
 That night we tested the bench by inviting some neighbors over for a campfire.
Leaves are one of the things that have kept me most busy.  I have a lot of oak trees and they drop a lot of leaves.  I spent at least four weekends cleaning them up.  I wouldn't bother if it wasn't for the fact that this year's leaves become next year's compost.
Leaves all over the back yard.
I used the leaf blower, multiple rakes, and the lawn mower to remove all of the leaves.  I found that blowing the leaves into the yard and then mulching them with the mower worked best.  Then I had to rake them onto a tarp or turn my blower into a vacuum and suck them up.  Then I'd move them to my compost bin.  It was a lot of work. 
  The fall and winter is a good time to split wood.  That's a project that isn't fun to do in the summer heat. 
I have a lot of wood piles from all of the trees that I've taken down.  This is after taking multiple van loads on camping trips with the Cub scouts.
There isn't a lot going on in the garden right now.  I have kale growing all over the place, but that's about it.  There might be some lettuce and spinach hanging on as well, but I haven't really looked.
I had the week off of work between Christmas and New Year's.  That gave me the time to tackle some bigger projects.  The biggest of which was spreading mulch.  I had 20 yards delivered on a Tuesday morning.  I thought that I'd be able to get it all moved by the end of Saturday. 
I started moving wheel barrow loads of mulch right after the dump truck left.  I took a break for lunch and then got back to moving mulch.  Not long after that my neighbor came over and offered to help.  He brought his wheel barrow. 
He and I were able to move the entire pile of mulch that afternoon!  We finished 30 minutes or so before it got dark.  I put my shovels and tools away and swept the driveway.  Then the next morning I got the rake out and spread the piles of mulch that we had dumped everywhere. 
I kept a buffer zone between the mulch and the grass.  The chickens tend to scratch and peck and move the mulch into the yard.  Then every 3 days or so I have to go around and rake it back to where it belongs. 
All of the chickens are doing well.  The new ones we got in November have integrated into the flock.  They're all one big happy group now.  I haven't been keeping a real close count on the egg production, but I'd guess that we get 4 a week.  Hopefully those new birds will start laying in the spring.  I think our Rhode Island Red is the only bird that lays regularly right now. 

I think I've posted pictures from the most interesting things that have happened around here.  Thankfully Spring is just around the corner.  I'll probably start seeds for the garden in the next month or so.  I can hardly wait.