Sunday, December 30, 2012

More Tree Plantings - Nuttall Oaks

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In my previous post, I detailed my first tree planting at my new house.  It was a huge b&b Nuttall Oak that was planted in the Northwest corner of my yard.  In the picture below that tree is planted where the shed is.  I also wanted a big tree because I wanted to provide screening from my neighbors behind me.

I can't stop at planting one tree, what fun would that be?  Lucky for me, within 10 minutes of my new house are two nurseries.  I stopped by one of them and I scored two more Nuttall oaks.  Better than that is I got them for a steal of a price.  They were 50% off and only cost me $25 per tree.

They aren't the prettiest trees, in fact they are pretty much broom sticks with little to no branching.  However, I can see past that and I know with a little care they will make fine trees.  One of the two was in serious decline and may not make it, but for the price it was worth a shot.

I planted the trees in my South facing side yard and I hope in 5 to 10 years they will provide shade for my house in the afternoon sun during our hot Summers.  In the picture below, the pin marks represent roughly where the trees were planted.  They are pretty tall trees at about 12 feet, but since they were crooked broom sticks, I staked them down to help them grow straight and protect them from the wind.

I look forward to posting about these trees in the years to come and to chart their growth.

 Here is the better looking of the two trees.
My little helper being silly in front of it.

Here is where I planted the two new Nuttall Oaks.
That side yard slopes down toward the street.
The trees are planted on a slight slope.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First Tree Planting - Nuttall Oak

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In my last blog post, I ended with a picture of the corner of my yard and a big red "X".  Obviously from the subject of this post it is obvious that I planned to plant a tree there, and not just any tree it had to be the perfect tree.

A little background on me and trees:
I am a little bit of a tree snob, there are only certain varieties that I like.  What I look for in a tree is that it has a strong central leader at least the first 6 to 10 ft up the tree.  Then coming off that central leader, I like a nice even branching structure.  I also prefer deciduous trees that have great fall color, mostly red.  At my old house, I planted several red maple varieties because they fit all those characteristics.  However, red maples grow a lot of surface roots and they make landscaping difficult around them.  Because of this I knew I didn't want red maples at my new house.  When we moved into the new house, I had been researching trees for weeks on the web and then it hit me.

At our church there are some of the most beautiful trees that I have ever seen.  They have a wonderful branching structure, strong central leader, beautiful pyramidal to oval shape, just great looking trees.  I asked someone who worked at the church if they knew what kind of trees they were.  After some research, they told me Nuttall Oaks.  I was like, say that again, never heard of it.

Within minutes I was on my phone googling them and within five minutes I knew this was the one.  It has all the characteristics I want and even more.  It turns out this is an under used tree, but has all the great characteristics of so many other oaks without any bad ones.  It has well behaved roots and actually prefers wet sites which was good for me because the area is kind of a gulley.  Here is a nice article about the Nuttall Oak.

Ok, I know that was probably way too much background information for a blog post, but I get pretty passionate about my trees.  I will stop there and suggest you look up the Nuttall Oak, now on to the pics.

So here is the spot with the big red "X" marking it

I purchased a 2.5 inch caliper tree from a local nursery.
I wanted something big for this site because I want it to fill in fast.  
Ball and burlap trees of this size are too big for me to handle.

These two guys were good, they made short work of digging in the hard clay.

Here she is, a big one, over 15 ft tall.

They rolled it into a wheel barrow and had to muscle it up there.

You can see how tall it is compared to the guys.

Here it is all finished, I can't wait to watch it grow.

Another perspective from farther away.

You have to take a picture to commemorate a tree planting.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Shed Move Project

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One of the projects I knew I wanted to do when I bought this house was move a wood shed located in the corner of my yard.  I had every intention of paying someone to do it for me as I thought it would be too much for me to handle.  In my typical fashion, I obsessed over the project researching the Internet on moving sheds.  After a few weeks I finally decided to tackle this myself.

The reason to move the shed was mainly because its location was on a slope and the corner of it was very high off the ground.  You could tell the previous owner had jacked it up several times adding wood to level it out.

The shed is a pretty decent wood built one that is 10x10 feet and I use it to store all my landscaping equipment.  From everything I read on the Internet, the way to do it is you slide 4 inch PVC pipes under the shed and roll it to the location that you want it.

So that was my plan, me and a friend to move it one afternoon.  My goal was to move the shed 20 feet out of the corner of the yard and then turn it 90 degrees so the doors faced my house.  It seemed like it would be easy, but I was wrong.  The problem I had was that the skids on my shed were facing the wrong direction to roll the shed.  I really needed to turn it the 90 degrees first to get the skids in the right direction and then roll it.  The problem with that was since it was already on a slope when we started to push it to turn it, the whole thing seemed like it wanted to tip over on us, talk about scary.

Finally we decided to just drag it across the pipes the 20 feet first, and then we would turn it the 90 degrees.  We pushed, clawed, grunted, groaned, and strained our way but we finally got it all done.  It would have been a whole lot easier with a few more people, but hey you work with what you have.  All in all I am happy with the shed's new locale and now I can focus on the next project...more on that in my next post.

So here is the shed's original location in the corner of my yard.  Behind it is a house from the neighborhood behind us.  The house is somewhat screened from the pine trees and that silver maple.  The crap in the yard is the stuff I had stored in it.

Closer view you can see that one corner in a big time gully.

You can see where the previous owner just kept adding wood to level it out.

This was my tool, 4 inch PVC pipe. I had 3 pipes that were 10 feet long.

Here is the shed after I moved it and got it situated, it doesn't like much but it was a ton of manpower getting it moved and turned.

When I reset the concrete blocks on each corner, I poured a bag of gravel in a small hole to help with drainage and settling in the future.  I also used construction adhesive to glue each concrete block together.  My logic here was that it would prevent the blocks from sliding.  I also included a few more blocks in the middle just to give it extra support.  It is also much closer to the ground and since I turned it 90 degrees the high side will be covered by the ramp.

And speaking of the ramp, when I removed it to move the shed I found some bones.  Kind of creepy, I thought it was from a cat, but the eye sockets looked too large to me.  Anyone archaeologists out there that can tell what this was?

After I moved the shed, I cleaned up the gulley and filled it in with 2 cubic yards of fill dirt.  I had to do this with shovel and wheelbarrow.  "X" marks the spot, but what for....more on that in my next post.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Christmas Story - You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

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My favorite Christmas movie of all time is "A Christmas Story."  I have seen it every year since it came out in 1983.  I can quote every line and if you have seen the movie you know one of the best scenes is where Ralphie is forced to put on a bunny suit that his aunt sent as a gift.  

I found a picture of the baby from Halloween and she looks about as happy as he did being dressed like a pink bunny.  I thought it was cute and had to share, but it made me realize just how fast time has went in 2012.  She is already eight months old.

Really?! A pink bunny dad?

Only a few days old here back in April.

Fire in the Sky

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I captured this sunset from my iPhone today while working out in the backyard.  I had to stop what I was doing and just stare at it.  I don't know what it is about my new house, but I have noticed that it is situated just right to see beautiful sunsets like this one.  The sky seems to be so close to us in our backyard, and the land we are on must sit slightly higher than the surrounding area to make it seem so.

Ironically, our house actually sits lower than the surrounding houses, and that was what I was working on.  I was taking some measurements along the fence line in preparation to plant some screening plants.  I turned around while I was measuring and was stopped dead in my tracks.  I am always touched when I see God in nature and this was one of those moments.

In other news, the project list is long on the new house and I am busy busy busy.  I am making a commitment to catch up on my blog and post at least once a week to get everyone up to speed on what I have been doing.  I hope everyone is having a blessed Christmas season and I know we are all looking forward to Spring.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sad News about House

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I am sad to report that our deal on selling our house completely fell through.  It has been an incredibly stressful and nerve wracking month of November.  We signed the contract on September 19th and we were supposed to close on October 26th.  Everything was fine until the day before the closing, when we were notified that it would take a few more days for the buyers "financing paperwork to go through".

Well one month of being given every excuse and reason why it would happen the next day or week and finally it just didn't work.  Needless to say we are extremely frustrated and disappointed because we have wasted the last two months and have to start over.  It just seems like it is not in our plan to sell this house through a realtor.  Without going into a bunch of details, we are moving on and trying the For Sale By Owner route.

It is unfortunate because I realize that we will probably not get any traffic in the dead of Winter and I will be so consumed with maintaining two houses I will not have time to start building my new garden at our new house.

We are praying that God has something better in store for us and these doors being closed are all for a reason.  I will post updates as they happen. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Georgia Home AND Garden - A New Focus

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I know it has been a while since I have blogged, but I am still here.  We are still under contract at my old house and we were supposed to close over two weeks ago.  The buyers have run into some issues with their financing and it has created a considerable amount of stress on my family the past two weeks.  I am just praying the deal goes through, but the focus on that as well as projects at the new house has prevented me from blogging.

I am compiling a pretty good backlog of projects at the new house to blog about and whenever the old house closes, I will start blogging regular again.

Today I spent some time cleaning up old files in my office and on my computer.  I stumbled across some old photos of a tree I planted back in 2006.  I was surprised at how much it has grown in just 6 years.  I have posted some pictures below.  It is a beautiful tree and I am surely going to miss it.  I have been in a tree mode lately, more on that in future posts.

Lastly, I am changing the focus of my blog from just gardening to info about gardening and home improvement projects.  The blog address will still be, but I am rebranding it as Georgia Home AND Garden.  I am just slipping the word AND into the blog name to incorporate the new blog focus.  I thought it was kind of neat that it just worked out the way I had originally named it.  The reason for the change is because I am focusing a lot on home improvement projects in addition to gardening.  Originally when I set this blog up, my old house had pretty much been redone and my passion for gardening was just starting.  Now with the new house, I am back in home improvement mode and I hope to share some of my experiences as I make this new house OUR HOME.

November 2006 - Autumn Blaze Red Maple - About 8 feet tall

My oldest daughter was only 9 months old then, boy time flies.
No rock wall, no garden, landscape is so much different.

November 2012 - It has grown to more than 20 feet tall

It looks tiny next to the huge pines in the background.
Still my favorite tree at my old house.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Garden Harvests - October 15, 2012

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This may be the last garden harvest of 2012 and the last from Georgia Home Garden 1.0.  The only thing I have left in the garden is eggplants and bell peppers.  The plants may produce for another month, but we are exactly two weeks out from closing on the house and at that point they won't be MY plants anymore. :( 

The eggplants have produced better than I could have expected.  My harvest of eggplant this year is over 55 pounds from only four plants!  This is the second year in a row the eggplants have produced so well.  I may only plant half as much next year because it is way more than we can eat.

I am so busy with the new house and working on various projects I may not have another garden until next spring.  That doesn't mean that I won't be posting though.  I am busy working on the landscaping at the new house and I am going to share more on that in future posts.  

Only half of what I have harvested

Bell Peppers

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Comparison of Georgia Home Garden 2.0 vs 1.0

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Things are still pretty busy for me these days as I have so many projects that I want to get done and only so much time.  Earlier this week I wanted to research how my yard looked at the new house from a historical perspective.  Google Earth is an awesome free program that allows you to get close up aerial shots of anywhere on Earth.  It has all sorts of bells and whistles and is really neat.

The images below are from February 2011, which coincidentally is when Georgia Home Garden 1.0 was being constructed.  In the image below you can see the pavers outlining the garden area and only three 4x8 beds. I must have still been working on the other three.  My lot was .20 of an acre, it was really a good size looking back on it.  Big enough yet very manageable.  The house was directly North facing which made for a South facing backyard, perfect for a garden.  Scroll down for the new garden.

This is an aerial shot of the new house and future home of Georgia Home Garden 2.0.  As you can see I am now on a corner lot.  The house is East facing, but I have two potential spots for a new garden.  The first area is on the North East side of the house.  This area gets a good deal of Sun and only gets shade from the house that grows larger toward the afternoons.  It is a good sized area for at least three 4x8 beds, maybe more.  This area of my yard is a train wreck right now and it is going to take a lot of work to get it ready, more on that in another post.  The second potential spot is this huge side yard to the left of my driveway that is South facing.  There is a ton of room to do whatever I want.  The only problem is this area isn't fenced and could present a problem.  Ideally I would like to bump that fence out to about 15 feet off the road and capture more area in my backyard.  This lot is double the size of my old lot at .40 of an acre.  That didn't sound like a lot to me until I had to cut the grass a few times with a walk behind mower.  Well that is all for now, there will be more posts in the future as I am working every day on landscaping projects, planting trees, getting garden area prepped, etc.  I hope to share some of these as  they progress.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Georgia Home Garden 1.0 Under Contract

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There are times in my life where I am just speechless. I have learned that many of the "coincidences" of life aren't really those at all, they are God speaking to me.  So we have had Georgia Home Garden 1.0 on the market for about two months, we have had several lookers and even two offers.  They were both low ball offers and in earnest we tried to work with the buyers but to no avail they all fell through.

I have been praying for guidance from God to guide me in knowing what to do and praying that our house will sell.  During this same time, we have not been going to church regularly like we normally do and I haven't been studying His word.  Of course I always had a good reason:  we are too busy right now, too tired, we will watch the service on TV, we will start back after we get settled, etc.

Well yesterday we went back after being away for a few weeks and people asked about our house in Sunday school and if we had any offers, offered prayer and support, etc.  So yesterday afternoon, I was thinking about how I have been neglecting my relationship with God and my blog and that is when I decided to post about my new house yesterday.

Today we got another offer on Georgia Home Garden 1.0 from someone that looked at the house yesterday.  It was a much better initial offer, we countered with some small changes, and we are officially under contract.  Our closing date is end of October if everything works out.

I thought about how I have been praying and hoping, yet while at the same time neglecting my relationship with God.  It is no coincidence that this all happened the day after my actions reflected my prayers.  Today, I felt God speaking to me, "Why were you so worried.  All you had to do is trust me and continue to actively have a relationship with me.  Why were you so stressed all those nights praying for this  when in the grand scheme of things doesn't even matter.  You have your health, your wife and kids, you have everything you need, and yet you worry about something like this?"

His words rang in my head loud and clear today.  Now I am not suggesting that just going to church is an instant ticket to getting your prayers answered, far from it.  However, in this particular situation in my life, this was clearly not a coincidence.  I am reminded of this scripture verse that I have heard frequently over the last few years.  I am also reminded that things don't happen on my timeline, but on His.  

Jeremiah 29 : 11-13
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Saying Goodbye...So Long to my Georgia Home Garden

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I haven't posted much since mid July and I have been rather silent about what is going on in my life.  I thought about the last few months today and I am ready to share what is happening.  I have some good news and some bad news.

The bad news first...
I am saying goodbye to my Georgia Home Garden and my blog for a short while.  We have purchased a new house and that is what has been taking up my time.  My wife always joked that we would never move and that I would die in our house.  We have lived there since 2001, almost 12 years, and it is true that I have touched every square inch of it.  I have completely remodeled it,  and I know every nook and cranny of that little ranch.  Both of my children came home to that house and I that is where I discovered my passion for gardening.  I was 23 when I bought that house and now I am turning 35 in just a few short weeks.  It is absolutely amazing what you can accomplish and what can change in 12 years.  I never imagined that I would move anytime soon, but once the second baby came in April in combination with record low interest rates, I knew if I was ever going to move now was the time.  The funny thing is almost every single person that we told we were moving, the first thing they would say, "OH NO, What about your garden!?!"  I would just smile and say, "I know, I know."  It seems like right as we put the finishing touches on the house before the baby came, now we are leaving it.  That is life.

Now the good news...
While I am saying goodbye to my original Georgia Home Garden, I am proud to announce that there will be a Georgia Home Garden 2.0.  Our new house is wonderful, my yard is almost twice the size of my old house.  It is .40 of an acre, and it is a corner lot so I have lots of room.  The previous owner really took care of it and the landscaping is decent.  My mind is running wild with all the landscaping projects, trees to be planted, gardens to build, and on and on and on.  It will take me years to implement my vision for this new house.  I can't wait to start sharing this new chapter in my gardening life as it unfolds.

For the future...
We still own Georgia Home Garden 1.0, and we hope it will sell soon.  The garden is still there and I go by there most days to check on things and to pick whatever is ready.  I have tried to maintain it, but I only have so much time and it is looking rough these days.  I won't be posting frequently, but once we get the old house sold you better get ready because I have a lot of plans to blog about.  I know this post was long winded, but I wanted to share with my gardening bloggers. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Zipper Cream Pea Harvest

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It has been a few weeks since my last post, and someone recently posted a comment asking about my zipper cream peas and where I got my seeds.  This prompted me to try and squeeze in a short post about my success with them this year.

I planted two varieties of field peas this year; pinkeye purple hulls and zipper cream peas.  The purple hulls were a complete bust, but the zipper creams produced very well.  I picked the last of them just yesterday and pulled all the vines.  The total haul was over 27 pounds for the year!  The taste of zipper creams are ok, not as good as white acres in my opinion.  However, what they lack in flavor, they make up for in size.  The peas are huge and it is easy to shell a quick batch for dinner.  Overall I am quite impressed with the output of this variety and will consider them again next year.

I didn't always take pictures after picking, but here are a few I did take.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Idle Time is the Devil's Playground

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"Idle Time is the Devil's Playground", if that is true then the Devil is pretty bored with me these days.  My life has been turned upside down, inside out, and back again.  I have a lot of life changes going on and the garden is definitely getting neglected.  I am sorry I have not posted more frequently, hopefully within another month I will be back in the swing of things.

Speaking of the devil and things that are hot, my habaneros finally changed from green to orange.  These things just look mean and scary and I won't dare try one.  I grew them this year to give away to some people that like hot peppers.  Last year, they said my jalapenos were not spicy enough.  Hopefully this will give them the kick they need, hehehe!  If these aren't hot enough for them, (I can't see how), I will go up the next step on the Scoville scale and that would be the Indian Ghost Chile.  I have to say, they are one of the prettiest peppers when ripened.  The orange color is really nice.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Have I Lost My Mind? - Store Bought Veggies

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Most of the time, I will do everything in my power not to buy vegetables from a grocery store.  I am sure this is just something inherent to gardeners.  Well today I kind of had a break down and then an enlightenment.

My butter beans were a complete bust this year and I have been really craving them.  So today after work I decided to drop by a local farmer's market and pick up a bushel, but of course they were all out.  The lady told me that a bushel of shelled butter beans goes for about $30 bucks.

Discouraged, but not beaten I decided as a last resort to go to the grocery store and buy a few cans of butter beans.  I was at Publix and for some reason (divine intervention maybe), I decided to check the frozen food section instead of the canned goods.  Much to my surprise, they had all Bird's Eye brand frozen vegetables on sale for 50% off.  Not only did I load up on butter beans, but I also picked up some broccoli and green beans.

The crazy thing is I weighed my butter beans and I got the equivalent of 2.25 bushels for only $20 dollars.  That would have cost almost $70 at the farmer's market.  My total haul was only $32 bucks.  We had some of the butter beans for dinner tonight and they were excellent, even better because of the awesome deal.

It got me thinking about all the time, effort, and money I spent trying to grow and shell my butter beans.  Maybe for certain items I won't waste valuable garden space and resources on high maintenance veggies and just buy them in the store.  I know this is crazy talk to all your gardeners, but time is money and the reality is I have a career and a family.  My time is so precious right now and I am trying to balance my garden passion with my family life.  Makes me question whether I should grow any peas, beans, or things that are high maintenance and focus on just plants that are easier like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, etc.  Any thoughts?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Garden Update and Harvests - August 2, 2012

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I just returned from our annual beach vacation to Florida.  There is nothing like being gone for a week from your garden and being so excited to see what has changed since you left.

As expected I had a ton of tomatoes that ripened on the vine.  I harvested 13 pounds of ripe tomatoes to bring my grand total over 100 pounds for the year!  I am super excited about my tomato harvest this year.  The next thing that changed drastically was my purple hull and zipper cream field peas.  The zipper creams have exploded with pods and I can't wait to start harvesting.

Now for the bad news, something decimated my zucchini plants.  I don't know what it was but it completely ate the plants down to nothing.  I don't know if they will bounce back in time, and I may try one more planting for fall harvest.  I heard from my neighbor that we got lots of rain while I was gone, so all in all not a bad week.

Purple Hulls on the left
Zipper creams on the right loaded with pods

Close up of pea flowers before they form into pods.

The zipper creams are sprawling everywhere.

The silver queen corn shot up while I was gone.  
I have neglected this batch so I hope I get a few ears.

Hungarian Wax Pepper plants loaded with peppers.

Jalapeno peppers, Bell peppers, and Hungarian Wax peppers

Huge batch of tomatoes, over 13 pounds.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garden Harvests - July 25, 2012

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The garden is still holding on despite the record breaking drought and heat.  The zipper cream and purple hull peas are loving it, and I should have some harvests to show for it in a few more weeks.  Everything else is struggling despite my best efforts to keep things watered.  There is only so much time in the evenings and the heat is so draining I don't go out for long. 

I had a big harvest of eggplant this week

The tomatoes are still producing, they have even started to flower again.

More harvests of eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes

I harvested my first red jalapeno, I bet it is hot.  Giving this to someone at work.

Speaking of heat, my two potted habaneros are finally producing fruit.
These things just look wicked.  I can't wait to pass these bad boys out.