Monday, September 20, 2010

Fruit and yardwork

I wanted to take a moment to talk about growing your own fruit. Unfortunately, a lot of people have written of the persuit of cultivating their own produce and fruit. After spending the last few years learning about general gardening and implementing that knowledge into garden plants and fruit trees I have a few pointers for those who care to listen.

Fresh fruit is awesome. You simply can not buy the greatness of picking your own fresh fruit or produce. This is why U-pick-it farms and road side stands sell. The fruit and produce that you purchase from the market usually have been in the transport cycle for a while (with bananas a good long time as they pick them very green and ship them off). Here is the trifecta of fruiting goodness from my garden. Raspberries (yellow here), Grapes (training on the wire trellis), and apples (young tree in back).

Fruit can yield an abundant harvest. For most people it may not be entirely desirable to have a few bushels of fruit and for these people some brilliant people have used a hardy root stock and grafted smaller trees to mark dwarf trees. These cute little trees will product full sized fruit in smaller, more manageable quantities. However, what ever you choose allows you the opportunity to make new friends by sharing your produce. Additionally, I think we all know a few college kids, young mothers, or neighbors who could use some help or encouragement. This heritage pear tree yields consitantly large crops of firm pears with virtually no effort. If anyone can help me identify the actual species please contact me.

Fruit can reduce your expenses. Everyone knows the ancient adage about apples and doctors, however, how about simply making small improvements in your health by have more fresh fruit and less processed foods. This will increase your health and reduce medical costs, additionally, a well planted raspberry patch or fruit tree can be accomplished which gives many years of fresh fruit for the very little cost. Our red raspberries, cost about $20 and now yields more than 4 gallons of raspberries per year, the only work I do is to mow it down every fall and water it a couple times during the driest parts of the summer. These grapes cost about $60 and should yield about 20-50 gallons per year.

There is a myriad of so called experts out there who will try and sell you on their system. I will not suggest that I have attained all wisdom here, although I will throw in my two cents. My suggestions are as follows:
1. Keep things low maintenance. Stick with hardy, disease and drought resistant plants.
2. Start simple. Do not buy $700 of plants if you have never planted tulip.
3. Experiment with what works well for you.
4. Educate yourself. I have a few books I recommend for the new initiate that can contribute well to ones overall understanding (Gardening without work: Ruth Stout, From Vines to wines: Jeff Cox, Square foot gardening: Mel Bartholomew, are three I can think of quickly)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The CleanUp Crew

After the installation of the roof I spent a couple weeks doing a medical study to garner more funding. For those of you who are able to take a week or two in relative seclusion and have a desire or need for bulk funds than this is something to consider. I will write again about this method of gaining useful blobs of cash, but for now if interested have a look at and if you screen for a study mention my name. And by the way I am soliciting corporate sponsorships, if interested please contact me.

My most recent funds have gone mostly to the purchase of siding and exterior cleanup. It is somewhat surprising that after 4 large dumpsters we still require more. We brought in another 3 dumpsters and filled them with the help of a skid loader with grapple bucket. This is really the only way to go when you have large piles of debris or massive clean out to remove. The rental is not cheap, about 200-250 per day but well worth it when making the comparison of several days labor. In this scenario I will not go into details, suffice it to say that the major things that you must have in order are loader delivery, all dumpsters on hand, the wheels of the loader should by non-pneumatic (filled or solid). A one day project stretching out another 2 weeks, modus operandi.

Here is the great before Shot, actually other than the big piles of lathe, siding and wall remains it does not look too bad. Certainly the exterior looks pretty scary, but this is a process that flows slower than molasses in winter. And sadly I sacrificed a lot of those green weeds you see to the gods of heavy equipment.

Now that we have cleaned up most of the trash here is a look at the property. I am not saying that the yards is fully cleaned up however, as I plan on burning off some oak flooring for a little heat as the weather gets cooler. There remains plenty of low level yard work but things are starting to shape up there also.
I will post something about the land and plant life shortly. We managed a few treats from the asian pears, the regular pears, and the yellow raspberries. I am hoping that next year we will see an actual harvest from those plus some extra treats from some of the younger fruit trees and black raspberries.