April 27, 2024

Garden Notes: April 2024

April is tree leafing month


    • 3rd: 0.75"
    • 9th: 0.58"
    • 10th: 0.13"
    • 11th: 0.28"
    • 21st: 0.47"
    • Total: 2.21  inches

    • range of nighttime lows: 33 to 63°F (0.5 to 17°C)
    • range of daytime highs: 59 to 87°F (15 to 30.5 °C)

    Weather Notes
    • We've gotten a little bit of everything - except snow! We've had rain, scattered frost, and hot summery days. Typical April!
    • We've had several days of drizzle with no accumulation. I didn't include these in my rain totals.
    • My daily schedule has switched to summer mode: I work outside in the morning and inside during the afternoon. 
    • Spring always seems to be shorter than autumn! Why is that???

    Greenhouse Notes
    • The greenhouse is getting pretty warm on our sunniest days. The cool weather plants are finishing up, but my volunteer tomato is thriving!
    • This summer I'll experiment with keeping the heat out of the house.

    Planted (direct sow)
    • okra: saved seed Clemson Spineless
    • sunflowers: Russian Mammoth
    • Swiss chard: Fordhook and Rainbow
    • black turtle beans, saved seeds
    • potatoes (last year's sprouting)
    • calendula: 
    • cucumbers: landrace F2 and F3
    • dill: Long Island Mammoth and Bouquet
    • corn: Trucker's Favorite from saved seed
    • cantaloupe: Hale's Best from saved seed 
    • black turtle beans, saved seed

    Transplanted (from greenhouse seed starts)
    • tomatoes: saved seed
    • winter squash: sweet potato squash
    • Swiss chard: Fordhook and Rainbow
    • basil plant (purchased)

    • lettuce
    • radishes
    • broccoli
    • kale
    • asparagus
    • chickweed
    • wild lettuce
    • chicory leaves
    • oregano
    • thyme
    • peppermint
    • hopniss
    • strawberries
    • lambs quarter
    • snow peas

    Garden Shots

    Bed with radishes in front, snow peas & lettuce behind

    cherry belle radishes

    looseleaf lettuce

    I've been concerned our lettuce might get bitter or start to bolt due to our hot days. Fortunately, these are followed by cool days, so the lettuce remains sweet. Even so, I'm certainly glad to have my "Fresh Keeper."

    Lots of lettuce = lots of salads. This one includes lettuce, kale, chickweed,
    asparagus, radish, hard-boiled duck egg, and grated goat feta cheese.

    fresh peppermint

    first strawberries

    snow pea vines in flower

    Volunteer cherry tomato plant in the greenhouse

    Apparently, we've had a peony all these years. It's in a bad spot though, 
    and always got cut down because of where it was growing, poor thing!

    Parting Shot

    Homegrown meal: Scrambled eggs with asparagus
    and potatoes. Dish of canned figs and goat milk kefir.

    Anyone else busy in their gardens?

    April 21, 2024

    Greenhouse Rainwater Collection System

    The rainwater system in the greenhouse is assembled and connected! Rain is imminent in the forecast, so we'll soon know how well it works. Ed (Riverbend Journal) was interested in this project, so I hope the photos explain it well!

    All the pieces are 4-inch PVC

    Dan removed the downspout from the gutter and replaced it with the set-up you see above. The clean-out plug serves as a roof washer and will catch most of the initial debris washed off the roof and gutter when it starts to rain. It has a removable cap at the bottom for easy cleaning out. 

    Close up. Still to do - seal the gap around the PVC pipe entering the greenhouse.

    Once the clean-out plug is filled, the water will runoff into the two barrels inside the greenhouse.

    (Note the overflow pipe on the right.)

    We didn't buy anything for this project; everything was from previous projects. The only thing he didn't have was another elbow to direct the water into the barrel. 

    So he made his own from an old screw container.

    The last step was an overflow pipe. Remember in the above photo I said to note the overflow pipe? Here's the rest of it.

    The drain pipe empties out over an overgrown French drain that Dan dug years ago. It directs roof runoff away from the house and toward the garden swale, which is directly downhill from the greenhouse. 

    Stepping back . . . 

    This will be so much more convenient than hauling buckets of water! I'm planning to attach a hose and a watering wand for indoor plants.

    What I'm really curious about, is how it will function as thermal mass next winter. Thermal mass is anything that retains heat. In this case the barrels will be heated by the sun and hopefully retain enough heat at night to help keep my plants healthy on our coldest nights. 

    I'm really happy this is finally done!

    © April 2024 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com

    April 16, 2024

    Front Bedroom AKA Storage Room: Something's Happening

    April is prep and planting month. Mostly, I've been busy outside, spot seeding pasture and doing final garden bed prep, but when we had a forecast for three days of rain, I reckoned it was a good time to work on one of my winter project goals, i.e. trying to make the front bedroom functional again. The motive for this is to begin setting up my Glimakra floor loom. 

    There have been a lot of steps to reclaim that room as living space. The first (and a biggy) was unpacking, sorting and purging things we simply don't need. Next is figuring out what to do with items we want to keep: mostly seasonal things like space heaters, box fans, beekeeping equipment, soap making supplies, archery items, surplus tincture bottles, etc. With no basement or garage, and limited attic space, I'm thinking our old garden shed may be the storage answer. Except cleaning it out is another big project. 

    When I finally managed to clear out the floor space, Dan and I took a look at the room once again. Initially, Dan had lots of plans for this room; he was going to replace floor, ceiling and walls. But after years of focusing on other things, his enthusiasm has become much more realistic. This is actually a relief for me, because I've already waited fifteen years and am not interested in waiting many more! The question now is, what absolutely has to be done?

    The windows were replaced in 2016 (front windows) and 2020 (side windows). The exterior siding was finished then, but we left the interior walls for later.

    front window

    side windows

    For comparison, you can see photos of the original room here.

    Then there's the floor, which is in pretty bad shape.

    If I'm remembering correctly, this is actually the sub-floor, which was probably intended to be covered. I would love to put a hardwood floor on top of it. Even wall-to-wall carpet would help. But for now, we don't have the funds to do anything with it. So I need a temporary solution.

    Another problem, is this . . .

    The house originally had two back-to-back fireplaces, one in the living room and one in this bedroom. Unfortunately, the mortar in the original chimney was soft enough to poke your finger through, so everything was torn out. You can see the interesting innards of a dual chimney here

    It would also be nice to do something with this closet.

    It's about 6-feet long and very shallow, just 17.5" deep, which is barely wide enough for clothes hangers. The shelves are on one side only. The door opening is 23 in. by 6 ft, so it's awkward to utilize the space. Making it deeper would mean building it out into the room; an idea we've discussed. I think an easier solution would be to tear out the door and wall to the left and hang a pair of by-pass doors. I keep off-season clothing in there, but mostly it's for storage.

    Even in opting for the simplest solutions, the ability to actually do anything isn't imminent. In discussing what needs to be done, Dan said he'd be able to work around the loom, which gave me the go-ahead. The room will be finished eventually, but for now, I want to abandon the storage facility decor and make the room functional. I want to use my large loom again. 

    For now, I decided to cover the floor with an area rug and there it is. This is actually my old dining room rug, which I replaced with a new, cleaner one. The loom is in the middle of the room, with space to walk around it and get to the windows. There's enough room to scoot it over if needed.

    I still need to attach the texsolv cords, which is called "tying up." This connects all the moving parts (countermarch, shafts, lamms, and treadles).

    It's a project in itself because everything must be even and level. 

    Both Dan and I are pleased to see the loom assembled again. It certainly looks better than piles of boxes! I'd like to weave rugs, draperies, and yardage on this loom and use the table loom for smaller projects such as hand towels, table runners, scarves, etc. (My next planned project for the table loom is a small t-shirt yarn bathroom rug.)

    After the windows are finished off, I can paint, which always freshens up a room. In the meantime, though, we can at least enjoy this room once again.

    © April 2024 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com

    April 10, 2024

    Greenhouse Update (Reporting a Little Progress)

    April is prep and planting month, so our other projects pretty much take a back seat. Even so, I have a couple of things in the greenhouse to show you.

    The first is progress on our rainwater collection tanks/thermal mass.

    They still need to be connected to the front porch gutter spout, and the overflow needs to be finished, but the big pieces are in place. 

    The second is a solar patio light

    I don't plan to work in the greenhouse at night, but it will be handy for fetching lettuce when winter dark comes early, or to check to see if any cats are out there. (I say that because Riley loves the greenhouse during the day. At 14 years, he appreciates long naps in the warmest places he can find.)

    I got this one on Amazon. What I liked about it (besides the price) is that it has a pull chain to turn it on and off. 

    So many of them have remote controls only. In my mind, a remote control is just another battery I have to monitor and provide, and I'd rather keep all that to a minimum if there's a simple alternative. 

    I'm happy with it.

    With the warmer days of spring, I've also been monitoring my winter plants in the greenhouse. Some days the interior temp is topping 80 (27).

    The broccoli is flowering, but the kale is still happy. Also, on the right you can see some volunteer cherry tomato plants! Last year's was my cold weather bellwether, and while it eventually froze, it provided valuable information about greenhouse temps when it gets really cold outside. I'll use this one to monitor summer temps (and my attempts to mitigate them).

    My potato containers are doing well, and my potted lettuce is still producing. I cut it back pretty ruthlessly, but it hasn't bolted yet, in spite of warm days.

    Also in that photo, you can see some of my early seed starts. That's winter squash right below the potatoes, and starter trays of tomatoes and Swiss chard in front. Working with these has emphasized the need for more appropriate greenhouse furniture! I need something tall for a potting bench and higher growing tables. 

    We're busy these days, but even a little progress is welcome. I don't plan to use the greenhouse in summer, but hopefully, it will be finished by next fall.

    April 4, 2024


    I gave you a sneak peek of River's twins at the end of my March Gardening Notes post. They were born at lunchtime last Friday. The next day Ursa delivered triplets around dinnertime. I've finally sorted through the photos to show you the new additions. All went well and everybody is doing well. 


    A little doe was first

    The second was a little buck

    Big sister Saluda was surprised at the appearance of her half-siblings.

    I took this 27 second video clip the next day.


    Ursa's doeling was born first

    One of Ursa's two bucklings. 

    Brother #2

    Except I'm not exactly sure which came before the other. Dried off, one little guy is a lighter brown, but when wet, they looked about the same color.

    There's a little more competition for milk with triplets, especially as they get bigger and demand more milk. I keep a close eye on them and if anybody is crying, I make sure they get some uninterrupted nursing time to fill their tummies. 

    Yesterday, they got their nose to nose meetings with the other goats. It was their first time out of the barn and River's twins ventured out into the pasture with her.

    And then there's meeting some of the other barnyard residents.

    Always great fun. :)

    Parting shot