Click HERE for a YouTube video complementing our previous blog post "Surprise for mom..."
Patti is out of town this week, staying with her mom, and yesterday Cory said "You know, it would be a great surprise for Mama if we could get the garden ready before she gets back."
I confess that his idea tickled me for a couple of reasons: first, I'm proud that he thought of surprising his mom, and secondly, it makes me happy that Cory isn't afraid to roll up his sleeves, break a sweat, and get his hands dirty in order to pull it off.
It was late in the day when he made the suggestion, but we decided to get started anyway, and worked until dark removing the two raised beds in the area we wanted to cover. The first one was no trouble at all, constructed of treated lumber. We just had to pry it up to loosen it, then it came right up. The second box was a booger, though, formed from cinder blocks. Both holes in each block was slap full of tightly compacted dirt, and we wanted to clean them out, so that took time (by the way, we will re-purpose those cinder blocks for a fire pit later on). Then we had to remove the 24 (or so) rebar stakes Patti had used for tomato stakes. WHEW - much easier said than done. But, a front-end loader is invaluable for many things, including pulling stuff out of the ground. I simply eased into the stakes, Cory would push the rebar against the leading edge of the bucket, and then as I tilted the bucket up and slowly raised it, the little ridges on the rebar would catch and up the bars would come. Machines are awesome.
Once the raised beds were completely removed, I used the discs on my tractor to break the ground until it was too dark to see. Had we started getting our mulch weeks ago, I wouldn't have broken the ground at all, but because we will be planting less than 30 days from now, I figured I'd give it a head start by breaking up the top. It's odd to realize I'll never have to do that again on the areas we are covering.
While I was doing that, Cory was in the barn, collecting manure to spread before we spread the mulch - again, just to provide the ground a little head start.
Once we were done for the evening, I asked Cory if he wanted to get up early and try to finish what we could before my work day started, and he eagerly said "yes sir!" Proud of him.
Cory, laying it on thick
We knew we didn't have enough mulch to cover the whole garden at the proper thickness, so Cory only gathered enough manure to cover that part of the garden we guessed we could cover with mulch. In the photo to the left, there are two shovels in the barrow. I used one of them to help Cory, but I couldn't do that and take a picture at the same time. Together, we made pretty quick work of the load.
Cory, the Groundskeeper
Once the manure was spread, the fun started.
We made a pretty good team, Cory and I: I brought him load after load, and he spread each one as evenly as possible and was waiting on me when I got back with the next bucketful.
Again, machines are awesome. Because of recent rainfall, we had to have the tree-limb mulch dumped in an area of the yard near the gravel driveway, which is quite a distance from either garden plot. How thankful we are for this tractor and front-end loader! Sure, it would be great exercise to move the load using the wheel barrow, but it would take a month to move it. Whew.
Remember, I mentioned two surprises: one for Patti, and one for Cory and me. Our surprise was that as big a pile of mulch as we had, it would cover only about a third of the first garden! Maybe it covered only a quarter of it (I hate math), and not even to the depth we eventually want it. That's ok, though, because the fellas in the big trucks PROMISED they'd be back again and again. So we will eventually have more than enough.
I do wish I hadn't broken up the ground in this whole plot, though. It's gonna rain today, which means "mud," but not where we've applied the mulch, at least!
PS - below is a video update as well.
This post shared at Black Fox Homestead's HomeAcre Hop.
first mulch pathway, initial application 03/02/13
As mentioned earlier, although the primary reason we are excited about tree-limb mulch is as a covering for gardens, we are also thrilled to test it as a covering for well-worn pathways - both footpaths and tractor trails.
We'd planned to wait until we'd received a few more loads of mulch, just to be sure we had plenty to cover both of our large garden spots. I know those fellas said they'd be back, and I WANT to believe them...I really do. But what if we've gotten all we're gonna get? I shudder at the thought.
This morning, however, our youngest son Cory convinced me to dig in, and start spreading.
There are plenty of unsightly tractor trails to cover, but we decided to begin with the footpath that leads from our back deck to the barn. I wasn't willing to cover the whole thing just yet (I mean, what if they DON'T come back???), but I agreed to cover the muddy strip between the deck and the garden fence. Boy, am I glad I did.
I drove the tractor, equipped with a front-end loader, and Cory was armed with a rake. I spread each load as evenly as I could with the bucket of the tractor, and Cory did the final dressing with the rake. I didn't count the loads (I should have, I know), but it wasn't too many - four or five maybe?
Once we had the area covered, Cory and I walked all over it to pack it down a bit. It was a little spongy, but really not as spongy as I'd expected. We're pleased with the results, and like the way that it looks. When the rains return (and they will), we're curious to see how the mulch responds.
Now if the fellas will come on with some more truckloads, I'll feel free to cover the rest of the footpath.
One final note: we've decided to get started on one of the gardens tomorrow afternoon. More on that, later.
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Change of Plans
Remember this barren, sad-looking spot? This is where the mulch was supposed to go. Everyday when I passed it, it was as if I could hear it calling out to me saying, "When? O when will they come?"
Well, they came today! Trouble is, this perfect looking spot turned out to be not so perfect after all. Had something to do with the power line running directly overhead, and the long booms on top of the trucks. Who knew they'd have to extend those booms in order to dump? Oops.
No worries, though.
We just moved across the driveway, right in the front yard (pre-approved by Patti, of course).
I felt almost silly being so excited about trucks dumping stuff in my front yard. Almost silly. Almost.
It's funny, too - all that worry, wondering if they had changed their minds..."Maybe I shouldn't have told them all the wonderful things I had planned for the mulch...maybe our pal Sara was right...maybe they've decided to use it themselves instead of giving it to us." All that worry vanished at the sight of two large white trucks. Whew. They came. They really came.
And they were quite apologetic for the delay. Turns out I wasn't the only one anxious. Believe it or not, they told me they'd been angling to get here since the day the company rep told me they'd start coming. They just haven't been able to justify the distance. And they further confirmed what I'd been reading and hearing: they were almost as thankful for us as we are for them. Almost. It's true that when they can't find a homeowner willing to allow them to dump their mulch, they have to pay to dump it! That's an unbelievable, but fortuitous circumstance...for us.
Bring it on, gentlemen.
The guy who seemed to be in charge assured me that they'd be bringing much, much more. In fact he said, "Won't be long and you'll be telling us to stop." I smiled. I told him, "You may be right. I hope you're right. But I doubt it."
He laughed. We'll see.
I can't think of a better scenario than getting to the point that we have all the mulch we need, plus some.
As I have mentioned elsewhere, mostly on our YouTube channel I think, based on what we've learned about the properties of tree-limb mulch we plan to do more than just use it as a covering in our gardens (as seen in the "Back to Eden" film). Folks say that tree-limb mulch is almost "magic" with water: when there isn't enough water, it sort of hoards it, and when there is too much water, it "spreads the wealth" so to speak, so that it never gets muddy. That last bit caught my eye.
Have mulch, will travel.
I perked up when I heard that, because having to move the tractor around as much as we do here takes a terrible toll on a lawn, especially when there's been any amount of rain.
We live on a ridge, so water doesn't accumulate for too long, but if I have to drive the tractor through the yard while the moisture remains, it just makes a terrible mess. So my plan is to use the mulch to build pathways for the tractor. It's gonna take a lot of it, but the fellas tell me they've got plenty, and it's mine...all mine. We'll take care of the gardens first, making sure we have enough to do that properly, but once that's done we'll use the rest for pathways and see how it goes. We know it'll take a while for the pathways to settle, and that we'll have to add more as it does, so that the end result is a pathway thick enough to avoid rutting and spreading...but we are hopeful it'll do the trick. Time will tell, I reckon.
Below is a video of the mulch arriving this morning:
a "potential" pile of mulch
Boy, when we had the chance to view the film at www.backtoedenfilm.com which expounds on the virtues of using tree-limb mulch as a cover for the garden (both raised beds and larger gardens), we knew we were onto something. Then we took to YouTube and searched for others using the same method and were overwhelmed with the number of folks around the country doing the same thing with much success - even folks in areas with climates similar to ours here in South-Central Mississippi.
Once convinced, we set out to locate a source for tree-limb mulch - we knew we would initially need way too much for us to make it ourselves. Several days, phone calls and emails later, and we'd located a tree-trimming company who seemed as anxious to give us their mulch as we were to take it.
So after considering several spots on our place, we settled on the spot pictured above for at least the first loads to be placed. The picture may not effectively show the size of this spot. It has the potential to hold many-a-load of mulch. It has the potential to be a HUGE pile of tree-limb mulch. Plus, we figured that as fast as we'd be moving it from there to different locations where we plan to actually use it, we could easily stay ahead of deliveries, so this spot had the potential to be "the" spot for quite some time. That was way last week sometime. Or was it two weeks ago??? I'm not sure anymore.
I was so very excited to get the call from a company rep who said he needed to come out and look at the spot we'd selected for the dump site. I mean I was plumb giddy (here's the video evidence of my giddiness). We agreed on a meeting time, made sure he had the correct directions to our place, and we were all set. As the time grew near, I headed to the end of the driveway to make sure the rep didn't pass us up. And there I stood. For what seemed like a week. It was probably no more than half an hour, but it was cold and I was anxious. It was like waiting for your parents to wake up on Christmas morning. I mean, "C'mon already!"
I don't remember how long I waited, because once I saw him coming, all was well with the world again. The rep and an assistant followed me up the driveway to the spot seen in the photo above, and he quickly said "That'll work just fine." We stood around for a few minutes of pleasant conversation, most of which was my explaining all the wonderful things I had planned for the mulch. They seemed interested, but maybe they were just being polite.
Our conversation and their stay ended with these words from the rep: "Ok, I'll start sending trucks right away." Woo hoo!!! He said "right away!" Surely that means within the next ten minutes, right?!?!?! No? Ten hours? Ten days?????????
*sigh* And my potential pile of mulch remains a potential pile of mulch. I can't cover a garden with potential mulch. I need real mulch, and lots of it.
How easy is it to get aggravated or even angry? Pretty easy. Too easy. But thankfully, the Lord is patient with me, and He was kind enough to remind me of a few things.
"Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools."
(Ecclesiastes 7:9 ESV)
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
(Philippians 4:6 ESV)
"And endurance produces character, and character produces hope,..."
(Romans 5:4 ESV)
"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains."
(James 5:7 ESV, emphasis mine)
I could go on and on - there everywhere these verses. But do you see that last one there? From James? See the bold, italicized part? Boom! Right in the kisser. Thank you Lord, really...I needed that, and You knew it.
What am I getting all worked up about? The man said he'd start sending trucks right away - he knew what he meant, and because I didn't ask him to explain, it's unfair of me to cast my expectations upon him and assign meaning to his words that he never intended.
Anyone who plants, waters, and hopes to harvest should know that the Lord handles the details. We do what we can, and should, but no matter what we do - it's up to the Lord to make it work.
So, enough of my pouting. It's time for patience. The Lord can and will help me to be patient. I believe that He will.
"...Lord, I believe! Help me in my unbelief!..."
(Mark 9:24, paraphrased)
~ Tommy Alderman
1. Arthritis tonic and treatment; 2 spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar and honey in a glass of water several times daily.
2. Thirst-quenching drink: apple cider vinegar mixed with cold water.
3. Sagging cane chairs: sponge them with a hot solution of half vinegar and half water. Place the chairs out in the hot sun to dry.
4. Skin burns: apply ice cold vinegar right away for fast relief. Will prevent burn blisters.
5. Add a spoonful of vinegar to cooking water to make cauliflower white and clean.
6. Storing cheese: keep it fresh longer by wrapping it in a vinegar-soaked cloth and keeping it in a sealed container.
7. Remove stains from stainless steel and chrome with a vinegar-dampened cloth.
8. Rinse glasses and dishes in water and vinegar to remove spots and film.
9. Prevent grease build-up in your oven by frequently wiping it with vinegar.
10. Wipe jars of preserves and canned food with vinegar to prevent mold-producing bacteria.
11. To eliminate mildew, dust and odors, wipe down walls with vinegar-soaked cloth.
12. Clean windows with vinegar and water.
13. Hardened paint brushes: simmer in boiling vinegar and wash in hot soapy water.
14. Clean breadbox and food containers with vinegar-dampened cloth to keep fresh-smelling and clean.
15. Pour boiling vinegar down drains to unclog and clean them.
16. Clean fireplace bricks with undiluted vinegar.
17. An excellent all-purpose cleaner: vinegar mixed with salt. Cleans copper, bronze, brass, dishes, pots, pans, skillets, glasses, windows. Rinse well.
18. Make your catsup and other condiments last long by adding vinegar.
19. To clear up respiratory congestion, inhale a vapor mist from steaming pot containing water and several spoonfuls of vinegar.
20. Apple cider vinegar and honey as a cure-all: use to prevent apathy, obesity, hay fever, asthma, rashes, food poisoning, heartburn, sore throat, bad eyesight, dandruff, brittle nails and bad breath.
21. When boiling eggs, add some vinegar to the water to prevent white from leaking out of a cracked egg.
22. When poaching eggs, add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water to prevent separation.
23. Weight loss: vinegar helps prevent fat from accumulating in the body.
24. Canned fish and shrimp: to give it a freshly caught taste, soak in a mixture of sherry and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
25. Add a spoonful of vinegar when cooking fruit to improve the flavor.
26. Soak fish in vinegar and water before cooking for a tender, sweeter taste.
27. Add vinegar to boiling ham to improve flavor and cut salty taste.
28. Improve the flavor of desserts by adding a touch of vinegar.
29. Add vinegar to your deep fryer to eliminate a greasy taste.
30. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to fruit gelatin to hold it firm.
31. Steep your favorite herb in vinegar until you have a pleasing taste and aroma.
32. Use vinegar instead of lemon on fried and broiled foods.
33. To remove lime coating on your tea kettle; add vinegar to the water and let stand overnight.
34. To make a good liniment: beat 1 whole egg, add 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup turpentine. Blend.
35. Apply vinegar to chapped, cracked skin for quick healing.
36. Vinegar promotes skin health: rub on tired, sore or swollen areas.
37. Reduce mineral deposits in pipes, radiators, kettles and tanks by adding vinegar into the system.
38. Rub vinegar on the cut end of uncooked ham to prevent mold.
39. Clean jars with vinegar and water to remove odor.
40. Avoid cabbage odor by adding vinegar to the cooking water.
41. Skunk odor: remove from pets by rubbing fur with vinegar.
42. Paint adheres better to galvanized metal that has been wiped with vinegar.
43. Pets’ drinking water: add vinegar to eliminate odor and encourage shiny fur.
44. For fluffy meringue: beat 3 egg whites with a teaspoon of vinegar.
45. Pie crust: add 1 tablespoon vinegar to your pastry recipe for an exceptional crust.
46. Half a teaspoon per quart of patching plaster allows you more time to work the plaster before it hardens.
47. Prevent discoloration of peeled potatoes by adding a few drops of vinegar to water. They will keep fresh for days in fridge.
48. Poultry water: add vinegar to increase egg production and to produce tender meat.
49. Preserve peppers: put freshly picked peppers in a sterilized jar and finish filling with boiling vinegar.
50. Olives and pimentos will keep indefinitely if covered with vinegar and refrigerated.
51. Add 1 tsp. vinegar to cooking water for fluffier rice.
52. Add vinegar to laundry rinse water: removes all soap and prevents yellowing.
53. After shampoo hair rinse: 1 ounce apple cider vinegar in 1 quart of distilled water.
54. For a shiny crust on homemade bread and rolls: just before they have finished baking, take them out, brush crusts with vinegar, return to oven to finish baking.
55. Homemade sour cream: blend together 1 cup cottage cheese, 1/4 cup skim milk and 1 tsp. vinegar.
56. Boil vinegar and water in pots to remove stains.
57. Remove berry stains from hands with vinegar.
58. Prevent sugaring by mixing a drop of vinegar in the cake icing.
59. Cold vinegar relieves sunburn.
60. When boiling meat, add a spoonful of vinegar to the water to make it more tender.
61. Marinate tough meat in vinegar overnight to tenderize.
62. A strength tonic: combine raw eggs, vinegar and black pepper. Blend well.
63. Douche: 2 to 4 ounces of vinegar in 2 quarts of warm water.
The guy usually given credit for this list is Henry Godwin, and old timer from the survival forums in the 90s.
I’ll add my own little use here that ties into #6 above. If you have cheese getting moldy cut the mold off and wipe down the rest with vinegar and you’ll get a few more days from the cheese. I’ve tried it and it works.