Saturday, December 31, 2011

Garden Expansion and How to Remove a Tree Stump - Part 2

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I detailed in part 1 of this post what my plans were for expanding my garden and now I am going to detail how I removed the stump.  I have gotten to be pretty good at removing stumps for some reason.  I have removed half a dozen of them at various times in my life and I have learned the easiest way to extract them.  I know it sounds weird, but I find it kind of fun digging and carefully extracting a tree stump free.  I have listed below my method of removing stumps, and I hope you find this helpful.

Here are tools I recommend using when removing a stump.
Pick ax - Used for breaking up soil around roots
Ax - Used for chopping small roots
Regular shovel - Used for digging around stump
Garden Rake - Used for raking away debris and soil
Chain Saw - An absolute must have in my opinion.  You will
wear yourself out trying to chop big thick roots with just an ax.
A chain saw works great if you are careful and pay attention.

Step 1 - Clear your work area by removing any sticks or debris away from the area you are going to be working in.  In my case this involved raking away a thick layer of pine straw and mulch.

Step 2 - Dig, Dig, Dig and then dig some more.  Don't go straight in there with an ax trying to use brute force to remove a stump.  You aren't Paul Bunyan and you will just get frustrated.  Also, don't dig right up against the stump, that is where all the roots are.  Depending on the size of the tree, start digging 3 to 6 feet away from the stump.  You can see in this picture I didn't dig right up next to the stump, I started away.

Step 3 - When you encounter roots around the perimeter of your dig, chop them with your ax.  If the roots are larger than 2 inches in diameter I recommend cutting those with a chain saw.  Just dig all around the root and make sure it is fully exposed.  Dig all the dirt from underneath the root as well, this will give you a clear path to cut it with your saw.  This two pictures below show a root that I exposed and then removed with my chain saw.

Step 4 - Continue step 3 by working your away around the perimeter of the tree.  Once you have circled the entire tree stump, then you can start digging closer to the actual stump itself.  This method is good because by working out and then in, you have given yourself plenty of room to dig under the stump.  In the two pictures below you can see where I have made a path and I am starting to dig under the stump on one side.

Step 5 - Dig down directly under the stump to access any tap roots that are anchoring the tree and preventing it from being removed.  In my case there were three small tap roots and I was able to whack them with my ax.  Sometimes you can rock the stump back and forth and they will give way too.

Digging down deep will allow you to rock the stump on its side

I pushed the stump on its side to access the tap roots.

Once you get at the tap roots, the stump should come right out.  This was a decent sized tree, 25 to 30 feet tall and the stump was about 1 foot thick at its base.

Step 6 -  Once the stump is out, you will now have to pull up all the perimeter roots.  Sometimes this requires more digging, sometimes you can just pull them up.  Refill the hole with dirt and you are done.

Here are all the roots from my tree including the perimeter roots.

I still have a lot of work to do, but the tree is completely gone and I have pulled up 75% of the roots.  I am sure I will find some more roots that I missed when I till the ground in the spring.  The entire process for this tree took me 2 hours, which isn't that bad.  The key is to have a chain saw for the thicker roots, and my ground was really easy to dig.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Garden Expansion and How to Remove a Tree Stump - Part 1

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For 2012, I have decided to expand my garden.  I have an area in the back of my yard that is not your typical red Georgia clay.  The soil is a good sandy/loamy mix, and I can easily dig down four feet because the soil is so nice.

In 2011, I worked a 4 by 25 foot strip in this area alongside my back fence.  I grew a nice batch of corn, some peas, and a few tomato plants.  I couldn't do any more because of a maple tree that was located near that area.  I planted an October Glory red maple tree in 2003, this was long before I had ever started gardening.  The tree did really well up on that hill and it was about 25 to 30 feet tall and about 15 feet wide.

It wasn't long after I planted my corn this year, that I realized this tree would keep growing and eventually shade the entire area.  I hated to do it, but I cut the tree down this summer.  All that remains is the stump, and I waited to do the hard task of removing it in the winter because it is just too hot in the summer.

My goal is to remove the stump, clean up all the roots, and then till the soil really well.  This will allow me to expand this area from 4x25 to 16x25 of usable garden area.  That is a 300% increase and will give me an additional 300 sq ft of garden area.  I plan on doing traditional row gardening in this area, and I am going to plant butter beans, white acre peas, and probably a batch of corn in this area in 2012.  Below are some pictures of the area, I will post my progress as I remove the stump.

This is a picture from 2010, the tree in question is in the background next to my shed.  The whole area behind that rock wall used to be grass and I built the rock wall and filled the area with pine straw to cut down on the grass I had to cut.  The area near the tree is relatively flat, then the ground begins to slope.

This is what remains of the tree.  As you can see it is already trying to send up shoots to regrow itself.  The area behind it is the 4x25 strip that I used this year.  I am going to extend that passed my shed about 3 feet right passed where that bird bath is.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Getting Nothing Done

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I have two weeks off from work during Christmas and I had all these plans of all that I would accomplish around my house and in the garden.  Well, half of my vacation is gone now and I haven't got a single thing accomplished outside.  The weather has been awful, it has rained 5 out of the last 7 days.  I mean all day constant rain too, so the ground is pretty much saturated at this point.

 The weather is supposed to be dry the next few days so maybe I can get out and get some work done.  I have gotten a few seed catalogs in the mail and I am getting garden fever again. 

In other news this post puts me at the centennial mark for blog posts and I hope to keep going strong in 2012.  My wife and I are expecting our second girl around April 2012 so I am trying to get as much done now as I can because I know my time will be limited in the spring.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What's Your Favorite Christmas Song?

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I love Christmas time and one of my favorite parts of Christmas is all the different Christmas songs.  There are so many great songs, but my favorite without a doubt is O Holy Night.  This song for me represents the true meaning of Christmas and reminds me of how awesome the birth of our savior is and what it represents to me.  As with many songs, this one has been sung by a lot of people, however you always have the version that is the standard.  All others are just imitations of the standard.  For my song the "standard" version is Celine Dion's and Josh Groban's versions.  These are both performed flawlessly and give me chills every time I hear them.  I have included a video of Celine's version below and the lyrics to the original and modern versions of the song.  In most modern renditions of the song some of the original lyrics are excluded, I have always wanted to hear it using the original lyrics.

What is your favorite Christmas song, and which version do you consider the standard?

O Holy Night Modern Lyrics
O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night
Of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt His worth
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, oh night, oh night divine

Chains shall He break
For the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord, let ever ever praise Thee
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh, oh night, oh night divine

O Holy Night Original Lyrics
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend!

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Garden Harvests - December 18th

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Things have been pretty quiet in the garden with winter approaching. I am harvesting lettuce every couple of weeks and enjoying it in salads. I have some time off from work for the holidays and I plan on doing some prep work in the garden during that time. I will post some information on some of the projects I got in the works.
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Homemade Spinach Dip

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I love spinach dip. I always make the Knorr's spinach dip recipe that comes on the Knorr's package. I have been waiting all fall to have enough spinach to make the recipe. It calls for a 10 oz. frozen spinach package. I decided to use 10 oz. of fresh spinach and shred it with my food processor. The dip was excellent, but the only thing that was different is that the creamy portion of the dip was a mint green color instead of white. I guess that was because the spinach was super fresh, either way it didn't affect the taste.

I washed the spinach good in my sink

Then I shredded it via my food processor.

Final product was delicious, I can't wait to make more.

1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, cooked, cooled and squeezed dry
1 container (16 oz.) sour cream
1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
1 package Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix
1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)
3 green onions, chopped (optional)
PREPARATION Everyone Loves Our Dip! Here's How We Make It:
Combine all ingredients and chill about 2 hours. Serve with your favorite dippers to your favorite people.
A new serving idea: Hollow out cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes. Fill vegetables with Knorr Spinach Dip and garnish with a sprig of dill.

Monday, November 28, 2011

How to Overhaul Truck Interior - Part 3 Putting it Back Together

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It has been a few weeks since I posted a couple of DIY posts about how I was trying to breathe new life into my worn truck interior.  I posted about cleaning the carpet with a pressure washer, and then I posted about cleaning the seats with a rug doctor machine.

It has been a few weeks since I put everything back together and I am posting the final results.  I am extremely pleased with how this project turned out.  After putting everything back together, I purchased a custom molded carpet dash cover that fits my dash perfectly.  I also purchased a set of Husky floor liners to protect all my hard work cleaning the carpet.  The Husky floor liners are expensive, but they are worth every penny in my opinion.  We purchased a set of these on my wife's new car back in 2007, and her carpet looks like the showroom finish still to this day.  Besides purchasing the dash cover and floor liners, this project was pretty cheap.  It cost me about 50 dollars to rent the rug doctor machine for a day and to purchase the cleaning solution that goes with it.  Everything else was my sweat equity.

This was what I started with, 13 years of neglect by previous owner.

Here is the carpet after the initial fit, it slid right into place and everything lined up perfectly.  This is one benefit of why I decided to clean my existing carpet rather than replace.  When you purchase replacement carpet, you have to cut all your own holes and trim it to fit yourself.

Another angle from the back

This was after I installed the backseat and trim pieces.  There were still a few small stains that became apparent when I put it back in the truck.  I used Tuff Stuff carpet cleaner and a towel, and all of those spots came right out.

Here is close up of drivers side after cleaning with tuff stuff, looks brand new.

Here is a shot of the front husky liner.  You can see how it is custom molded to your vehicle.
Here is the husky liner in the piece that covers everything.

Here is the custom molded dash cover.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Garden Harvests - November 27th

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The garden is all but gone, I have some lettuce and spinach growing but that is it. The holiday season is in full swing, so that is taking priority right now. I harvested a small batch of lettuce this week. It tasted great, and I should have plenty of lettuce to give away. I have about 12 heads growing now. I also had a batch of paper bag ripened tomatoes from my garden. I tried to make salsa, but it did not come out that good. The tomatoes were red on the outside, but were not a deep red on the inside. They were more like an orange-yellowish color. I don't know if this was why my salsa didn't taste right, but something was definitely off. I have been off the entire week of Thanksgiving, so it is back to work tomorrow.

Half pound of lettuce.

Nice batch of tomatoes
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I know it is late in the day, but I want to wish all my garden bloggers a safe and happy Thanksgiving.  I hope to catch up on some reading and posting on my blog.  I have been out of town a few days in Nashville and I have been wiped out and catching up on sleep.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Garden Harvests - November 15th

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The first frost hit us last weekend so pretty much everything was killed off except for my lettuce and spinach. Of course today the weather is in the 60's for the low and almost 80 for the high. Mother Nature is so fickle, if it is gonna get cold stay cold why don't you.

I got to pick what was left of the peppers and green tomatoes and I got to harvest my lima beans. Although many of the pods didn't have time to form beans of suitable size, I harvested a total of 38 lbs. of pods from a couple of 4 by 8 beds! One bed filled an entire 5 gallon pocket full of pods. I will definitely be planting them again in the spring. I also harvested my first batch of fall lettuce and spinach. Eating fresh salads is great, but I am so spoiled I can't touch store bought bag lettuce. Yeah, I admit I am a snob, a lettuce snob.

Here is a half pound of lettuce and a little bit of spinach.

You know your lettuce is fresh when the water is as green as the lettuce.

Here are the last of the jalapenos, 8.40 lbs. from four plants.

2 lbs. on the nose.

Here is another 14 lbs. of green tomatoes, I have to work on ripening them now.

The best for last, this bucket was filled with lima beans from just a single 4 by 8 ft bed. This is square foot gardening at its best.
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

First Freeze of Fall

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This weekend brought the first freeze in my area.  It was a hard enough freeze that it wiped out what was left of my peppers, tomatoes, and lima beans.  According to my charts, there was a 50/50 chance of a first freeze coming before December so I can't complain.  I wish it would have waited a few more weeks, but I guess that is the life of a gardener.

While out in my backyard, I noticed my red maple was in all its glory changing colors so I decided to snap a few pictures of it.  I believe this particular variety is an Autumn Flame Red Maple.  I planted it about 7 years ago and it always has the best colors of all my red maples.  Its leaves take on awesome shades of orange and red which is more like a sugar maple than a red maple. 

In my dream house, I imagine living on acres and acres of land with a long winding driveway leading up to my house.  I see both sides of the driveway lined with these trees, what a wonderful sight that would be to come home to every day.  One day, if only in my dreams.

Monday, November 7, 2011

How to Overhaul Truck Interior - Part 2 Cleaning Seats

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The second step in overhauling my truck interior was to clean the seats.  I had the same issue with the seats as in part 1 when I cleaned the carpet.  Cigarette smoke and dog stains, as well as a nice odor.  Luckily the seats themselves were in pretty good shape.  There were a few cigarette burn marks, but nothing torn.  

I rented a rug doctor machine from my local grocery store.  I also picked up the optional upholstery attachment.  The machine works by squirting cleaner onto the fabric and then it vacuums it up as you move the attachment over the fabric.

It took several passes to clean the front and back seats, but I could tell a big difference.  It worked so well on my truck seats that I went ahead and cleaned the seats in my wife's car and my car.  I took pictures while I cleaned the back bench seat.  This was the first seat I cleaned and it was the least dirty, but you can tell in the before and after pictures the difference.  I should have taken pictures from the dirty front seats, but I just wanted to be done.

Bench seat before picture, doesn't look too dirty does it.

Seat after a few passes with the rug doctor, you can see the half I cleaned.

After a few more passes....

Close up of final cleaning, you can see how dirty the seat was and this was the cleanest seat.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How to Overhaul Truck Interior - Part 1 Cleaning Carpet

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I mentioned a few months ago that I bought a new truck, a 1998 F150 to be exact.  I got a great deal on it, but the truck had several mechanical problems.  I finally got everything fixed and it is running smooth now.  So this weekend I decided it was time to start overhauling the interior.

The truck's carpet was completely trashed.  It smelled of smoke and dog mixed together and was covered in white dog hair and dirt.  I read online that you can remove the carpet and clean it with a pressure washer and it can breathe new life into it.  

I started by removing both seats and trim panels.  I then removed the carpet from the truck.  I scrubbed the carpet with powder Tide detergent and a push broom.  I took my pressure washer and blasted the carpet clean.  I am super impressed with how clean and plush the carpet is now.  It isn't perfect, but it is 100% better than before.  I am going to let the carpet dry for a few days before reinstalling it.  This method didn't cost  me a dime except my time, which was much better than replacing the carpet.  I highly recommend trying this method rather than replacing the carpet.

This is my new truck all waxed and shiny.

Here is the interior, doesn't look too bad from this angle but it is.

You can see how nasty the carpet was.  This was after I removed the seats.

The truck interior completely stripped and carpet removed.

Here is the carpet before I cleaned it, the clean parts are where the seats were.

Here the front of the carpet after I cleaned it, looks brand new.

Back side of cleaned carpet.