right now

right now

Apr 10, 2009

It worked!

The gnats are gone!  The IndoorPharm spray worked wonderfully, and the best part is that it didn't hurt even my tiniest seedlings!  I am still going to repot into new peat pots today because they need more room, but overall, this product saved the day - and the tomato season! 
I have attempted to post pictures of our homestead and plants on here, I hope they work.  It is my first time using photobucket so there may be a few kinks I will need to work on.  
Today is "Bird Day" around here.  The kids and I are going to be mounting/hanging our bird houses & feeders along the fence in hopes of relocating our feathered friends a little further away from the raised beds and new berry patch.  Time to get to work!

Apr 8, 2009

Seedling Emergency!

This morning as I was turning on the lights for my seedlings, I was assaulted by GNATS!  I saw one the other night, but attributed it to the seedlings being outside for a couple of hours that day hardening off, but this morning...ugh!  I know what gnats look like, but didn't know if they could cause any real damage...so I research it to death like I always do and find out that indeed adult flying gnats cause no real damage, but the LARVAE from the eggs they deposit in the soil actually damage the plant by eating parts of the roots.  I then came across only a couple of things that can help, both being chemical/non-organic in nature.  No matter, I decide...they have to go and I am willing to do anything to save my heirlooms!  Off to the garden center I go, complaining kids in tow, and find none of the products recommended but instead stumble upon a line of products made by Pharmsolutions of WA.  Of course they have beautiful packaging to lead your eye away from the price and seem to have a product for every need, one bottle is called "Indoor Pharm" and is intended just for indoor seedlings, plants, and hydroponics.  Perfect!  Bonus...specifically intended for fungus gnats!  I took the bait and bought a bottle and also picked up a bottle of "Veggie Pharm" to have on hand once my outdoor garden is in full swing.  They state they are safe for beneficials too, which is important since we do everything we can to attract and keep beneficials, including importing them!  
The product label says to test on a plant first, so I "sacrificed" some seedlings (the ones on the right in photo) for a full-on assault with this stuff to see if the plants survive.  My sacrificial plants are tomato seedlings with only 1 set of leaves past the cotyledons, and I soaked the soil and the foliage to get a good idea of how early I could get away with using this stuff and how forcefully.  A "worst case scenario" if you will!  I will let you know how they look tomorrow and if the gnats are gone...keep your fingers crossed that I will have a positive product review on this...since I already bought it, lol!  (BTW, price was 14.99 for 35 fl oz., not really too bad since the bottle is large enough to last a good while.)

Apr 5, 2009

You know you're "farming" when...

The past week has been filled with work and more work!  It's like one of those yard makeover in a day shows around here!  We have been needing to replace our weather and wind beaten fence for years now, and we decided to do half of that this past week as well as create a border and space for more raised veggie beds along the fenceline.  We managed to do it all without any digging (except for a trench barrier along the bed).  My husband was thrilled to have a legitimate use for his new propane weed torch aka "The Flame Thrower".  He torched all the grass/weeds for the new bed and we then laid down cardboard (courtesy of my neighbors' latest move, thanks guys!), then spread out a bunch of compost we had and mulched the area in.  

After that came the fence.  I believe you can judge how close you are getting to a homestead/farmette farming by they severity of the mishaps involved...!  As my husband was kicking down the old fence, I had my son stand safely away from the area (so I thought) when a huge gust of wind came and blew down the gate on the other end of the fence right on top of him.  It was one of those horrible moments when you can tell what is about to happen right before it does.  I looked up, started running but was too late.  The massive drive-thru gate smacked him down to the ground.  It took both Charlie and I to pick the gate up, and surprisingly, not a scratch on him!  He was terrified for sure, but he fell flat down on his front and took the gate on his back, which was the best outcome for that situation.  We have had that problem with the gale force winds and the solid fence blowing down for years, so I think we have solved it now by installing wire fencing and reusing the wooden posts to channel the wind through instead of smacking into the fence.  The downside to this plan is the loss of privacy and our little microclimate!  I am going to grow Hyacinth Bean vines for the summer, but now need to plan for permanent coverage.  I am debating whether to do something easy like an evergreen honeysuckle or something that will take a little longer, such as Rosa Rugosa or Russian Olive.  Either way, we will need to have some privacy back before integrating "Urban Stealth Chickens" into our family!  If anyone has any experience covering a fence cheaply and quickly for the long term I would love to hear it!  Here are a couple of photos of the new fence (on the left) and the new border and raised beds along the fence.  I hope to have some better pics soon.

The containers hold my new colonnade apple trees!  I am still a little unsure of where I will want them since the border is a blank slate right now, so I figured I would park them in pots in the meantime.
My youngest son Finnegan gave us a scare the other night by having what sounded like an asthma attack.  I took him to the ER where I was relieved to hear that it was not asthma but instead croup.  He had a couple of hours of nebulizer treatment and a steroid to help open his airway and then we were able to get back home (by 3 am!) and rest.  I thought only babies had croup but apparently it is not uncommon at all for a child his age.  I am just very thankful that it is not a chronic condition like asthma.  Here he is breathing his "magic dust"...

He was feeling well enough the next afternoon to plant his apple tree...

Next up, allergy season!  My husband and one of my boys have allergies pretty bad, and I find that every year I live in VA mine get a little worse, so maybe this year I need to get some meds.  I am sure we will all be sneezing today as we get outside to work some more.  I have a huge list of "Charlie Chores" for my husband to finish today since he gets to go on vacation in AZ for a week for his sister's wedding, while I get a "Staycation" at home with 2 kids, 2 dogs and a lawn to mow!  (Note to self:  keep removing parts of the lawn-grass is evil!)