Car Port project(1)

Summer project: build a Car Port for daughter and family has begun.
1,225 pounds of assorted steel arrived on sight this afternoon.

Just so there are no misunderstandings. When I say build a car port, what I really mean is son-n-law and grandson will do the real work while I set in the shade, drink an adult beverage while I use a long pointed stick to get this thing standing, welded up and bolted to their existing concrete slab.

First wash the oil off of the square tubing. This tubing is made in Mexico and has a heavy coat of protective oil that must be removed before the steel can be prime painted using a red oxide steel primer.

The cut up list has been developed. Steel will be cut to length, purling brackets and base mount plates used to bolt the up-right poles to an existing concert slab will be welded in place. Primed and painted before being installed.

The car port will be a flat top 20 foot by 24 foot structure 8 feet tall. Ample room for 2 full size cars or pick-up trucks to park.

Cut-up List
7 – bars – 8 inch C-purling 25 foot long
7 – 23 foot 10 inches(roof and frame purling)

4 – bars – 8 inch C-purling 20 foot long(roof and frame purling)

3 – bars – 3X3X14ga square tubing 24 foot long
9 – 8 foot long (up-right poles)

2 – bars – 1-1/2X1-1/2X1/8 inch Angle Iron 20 foot long
8 – 1 foot long(corner ties)
14 – 2 1/2 inches long(purling supports)

1 – bar – 2X3X3/16 inch Angle iron 20 foot long
18 – 3 inches long(up-right pole bolt plates)

1 – bar – 1-1/2X1/8 inch flat 20 foot long
20 – 3 inches long(reinforcement weld on purling ties)

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Definition: Mothers day, Nine months after Fathers day

Hummingbird feeder update– New feeder arrived, took down old feeders and hung new feeder last Friday morning. Filled feeder with a fresh batch of sugar water (1 part sugar to 4 parts water, 2 cups water 1/2 cup sugar makes 1 pint feeder mix).
Hummingbirds seem happy with the new feeder and after 3 days, No Bees hanging around the feeder. Will buy more of this type feeders.

Today we hit 93 degrees F(33.9C). Spring rains are still staying 100+ miles north of my tiny garden moving east into Arkansas and Missouri. I’m still watering each tree and vine for 1 hour then moving on to the next plant. Sad smile… by the time I get all plants well watered it will be time to start the process over.

Daughters little 8 foot X 20 Foot garden space is filling up and looking really good. (Click photo to Zoom in).

Bamboo(year 2) and Cannas are doing well.
Cannas will soon be in full bloom and with luck Bamboo will reach it’s advertised height of 25 feet tall.

PS. Chiggers are active and doing well. 😦

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Cheap Entertainment. Hummingbirds In The Garden.

Top Secret Manhattan Hummingbird Project.

Every year I tell myself I need to do more to attract Hummingbirds to the garden but fail to follow through.

(1). This year I have purchased 2 – Honeysuckle vines to plant near the area where I hang my feeders.
(2). I have ordered a different ‘style’ feeder. It makes claim to have bee guards on the feeding ports and is equipped with a perch so the birds can land and feed verses chasing a swing feeder in the wind in an attempt to feed.

Grin… I must be easily entertained.

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1,003,626 hits and counting.

I missed it! Sometime in the past day or so Town & Country blog registered it’s one millionth page hit. My Blog Stats: May 4th 2017: 1,003,626 hits.

Thanks you for taking time to visit my tiny blog and most of all Happy Gardening.

Weather has not been cooperative this week. I missed out on the heavy rains forecast for this past Saturday and Sunday, however the forecast winds were on target. Sundays winds were 30-35 mph gusting to 50 mph. This wind event lasted more than 18 hours. Monday – Thursday this week winds have been a bit calmer, only reaching 20-25 mph during day light hours and dropping off to around 10 to 15 mph at night. Humidity levels have remained low both day and night.

Soil moisture has quickly dropped from a plant stressing 0.46% at 4 inches to 0.22% as of this afternoon. Agricultural experts say “Most plants experience water stress when less than 0.50% of the maximum plant available water remains in the active root zone.”

I have been watering using a slow drip style. Watering trees and vines using this slow drip method allowing the water to run 1 hour on each plant, however I think the warm dry winds and the dry soils are wicking away and evaporating the water faster than I can apply water to my stressing plants.
I’m hoping this is not the start of our next drought. Our last drought lasted 5 years beginning in the fall of 2005 and ending in the spring of 2011.
I have received a meager 1-1/4 inches of rain in the past 50 or 60 days.

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World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD)

World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD) is an annual international event celebrated on the first Saturday of May by gardeners and non-gardeners alike. According to NBC’s Today News, WNGD “has become an annual tradition that celebrates weeding, planting flowers and trimming hedges in the buff. The day is meant to be funny, lighthearted and non-political.”

George Washington hated having visitors to his home in Mount Vernon and now we know why.

Happy Naked Gardening Day.

Figs and Grapes

The Brown Turkey fig tree and the Venus grape vine arrived and was planted yesterday. Temperature was OK, about 73 degrees F, but we had a 25 mph gusting to 30 mph wind all day. Warm weather and more than a week of 20+ mph wind have dried the soil. Digging the tree/vine holes was a chore with the soil so dry. At any rate I managed to get them planted and ran a slow flow of water for an hour on each new plant.

Wind permitting today I will put down 4 to 6 inches of wood chip mulch around the new planting to help control weeds and retain soil moisture.

Attracting bees to pollinate is or can be a problem in what is mostly wheat and grass pasture country. So I try to always buy self pollinating plants.

The grape trellis is now filled with 1- Flame, 1- Concord and 1- Venus seedless self pollinating grape vines. I’m not sure the dwarf Apple I transplanted will survive. If it dies next winter I will replace it with a semi-dwarf variety.

The native Pecan tree I dug and moved in to the orchard is only about 8 inches tall but it has leafed out and seems to happy with it’s new home.

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Fig Tree In Your Garden… It’s Possible

Figs are one of the oldest cultivated crops and were enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. They are a semi-tropical tree that is easy to grow in areas with long, hot summers.

Fig is a deciduous, small tree or bush like, usually growing 8 to 20 feet tall, In cooler zones often more bush like than tree like, with large, lobed, deep green leaves. The first crop of fruit in spring is called the “breba” crop, maturing from buds set on last years growth. The main crop that follows in the fall(this years growth) matures on the new growth made that summer. In cooler parts of the U.S. the breba crop is sometimes lost to late spring frosts.

There are a number of fig varieties adapted to different regions of the country.
Good varieties include:
These are Self-Pollinating and you will not need a second tree for a pollinator tree.
zones 5-10, ‘Chicago Hardy’.
zones 6-11, ‘Brown Turkey’
zones 7-10, ‘Celeste’
This is 3 of the most common varieties sold in nursery’s.

Set out new trees in spring. Set bare root trees atop a small mound of soil in the center of the planting hole, and spread the roots down and away without unduly bending them. Identify original planting depth by finding color change from dark to light as you move down the trunk towards the roots.

Container grown(potted) trees, remove the plant from its pot and eliminate circling roots by laying the root ball on its side and cutting through the roots with shears.

Young trees need regular watering while they are getting established, and established trees in dry climates will need deep watering at least every week or two. A deep layer of mulch over the root zone will help to conserve moisture.

Figs generally don’t need much pruning to be productive. Shape trees lightly during the dormant season and remove dead, diseased, broken or crossing branches.

In the northern parts of the U.S. figs may benefit from frost protection. In late fall, tie the tree’s branches up to make it more compact, fashion a cage of chicken wire around the tree and fill it with dry straw for insulation. Wrap the outside of the cage with layers of burlap and plastic. Remove the wrappings and straw in spring just before new growth begins and after the danger of hard frost.

Fruits should be completely ripe before they are picked. Ripe figs will be fully colored, starting to bend over at the neck and will be slightly soft. Pick them with the stem still attached. Fresh figs will keep in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days.

Hint Eat whole. Figs have a mildly sweet taste and can be enjoyed fresh and on their own.
The skin of the fig is edible. You do not need to peel the fig before eating it. Merely twist off the stem and eat the fig skin and all.
If you do not like the texture of the skin, you can peel it off before eating the fig. After twisting off the stem, carefully use your fingers to peel away the skin starting from the exposed top.

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Fennel – Under Used And Unappreciated

Fennel is a flowering plant species closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean. Use Fennel in soups, stews, salads, baked, broiled or eat them raw.

There are two types of fennel. One is treated as an herb (Foeniculum vulgare) and one that is treated like a bulb type vegetable (Florence fennel or Finocchio – Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce).
The herb type grows 3-5 feet tall with fine textured foliage resembling dill. Flat topped clusters of yellow flowers appear in late summer. Stems, leaves and seeds of this type of fennel are harvested and used.
Florence fennel is shorter with darker green foliage and is grown for its large, flat thick rosette of petioles at the base often referred to as a “bulb.” Both forms have an anise or licorice flavor.

Fennel are grown from seed. Both types prefer a full sun location in soil that is well prepared with organic matter. This is especially important when growing Florence fennel as it prefers uniformly moist soil to develop the best “bulb.” Herb fennel is best direct sown in the garden in the spring after frost is past. It does not transplant well due to its tap root structure.

Florence fennel is also direct sown into the garden but seeding is best done from mid-June to July. This is done to allow the crop to develop during the cooler, shorter days of late summer and early fall. If planted earlier, long, hot days of summer result in plants bolting (flowering) thus reducing the quality of the “bulb.” Another important consideration for Florence fennel is maintaining uniform soil moisture. If soils are allowed to dry out, it will result in bolting and affect bulb quality. When “bulbs” start to swell and become the size of an egg, push soil around the “bulb.” This will produce a paler and tenderer “bulb.” This is a blanching process that is similar to what is done with leek.

Herb fennel can be harvested as needed by cutting away the feathery foliage. If seed is desired, allow the plant to flower and when the flower heads turn brown the plant can be cut, place in a paper bag and hung in a cool, well ventilated area to dry. Seeds will drop down into the bag and can then be cleaned and stored. Foliage can also be air dried and stored for later use.

Florence fennel can be harvested when the “bulbs” are about the size of tennis balls by digging the “bulb” and cutting off the root and cutting back the top. “Bulbs” can be stored in a cool location for several weeks.

Hint: Make any cabbage dish special by adding a bit of Fennel.

Fennel Popular Varieties
Herb Fennel Types
Sweet Fennel – Standard variety for fresh and dry leaf production.
‘Purpureum’ – A bronze leaf type. It is used as an ornamental.
‘Rubrum’ – A deep bronze to red leaf type. Also is used as an ornamental.

Florence Fennel Types
‘Rhondo’ – Uniform round bulbs, quick to mature.
‘Victoria’ – Vigorous type with grater resistance to bolting.
‘Cantino’ – A very slow to bolt variety good for early planting.
‘Mantavo’ – Good yield in slow bolting variety.

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Sweet Potato’s are not Yams…

Sweet Potato Pie

More than you want to know about a potato! Origin and domestication of sweet potato is thought to be either in Central America or South America. In Central America, sweet potatoes were domesticated at least 5,000 years ago. The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum).

Although the softer, orange variety is often called a yam in parts of North America, the sweet potato is botanically very distinct from the other vegetable called yam(s), which is native to Africa and Asia and belongs to the monocot family Dioscoreaceae.

The plant does not tolerate frost. Abundant sunshine and warm nights are needed. Annual rainfalls of 30–39 inches are considered most suitable, with a minimum of 20 inches in the growing season. The crop is sensitive to drought at the tuber initiation stage 50–60 days after planting, and it is not tolerant to water logging, this may cause tuber rots and reduce growth of storage roots if aeration is poor.

Depending on the cultivar and conditions, tuberous roots mature in three to nine months. With care, early maturing cultivars can be grown as an annual summer crop in temperate areas, such as the northern United States.
Cured sweet potatoes will keep for a year or more when stored at 55–59 degrees at 90% relative humidity. Colder temperatures will injure the roots.

Sweet Potato, baked
(Note: “–” indicates data unavailable)
1.00 cup
(200.00 g)
GI: medium
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Protein 4.02 g 8
Carbohydrates 41.42 g 18
Fat – total 0.30 g
Dietary Fiber 6.60 g 26
Calories 180.00 10
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Water-Soluble Vitamins
B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B1 0.21 mg 18
Vitamin B2 0.21 mg 16
Vitamin B3 2.97 mg 19
Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents) 4.31 mg
Vitamin B6 0.57 mg 34
Biotin 8.60 mcg 29
Choline 26.20 mg 6
Folate 12.00 mcg 3
Folate (DFE) 12.00 mcg
Folate (food) 12.00 mcg
Pantothenic Acid 1.77 mg 35
Vitamin C 39.20 mg 52
Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)
Vitamin A International Units (IU) 38436.00 IU
Vitamin A mcg Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE) 1921.80 mcg (RAE) 214
Beta-Carotene 23018.00 mcg
Beta-Carotene Equivalents 23061.00 mcg
Vitamin E mg Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents (ATE) 1.42 mg (ATE) 9
Vitamin E International Units (IU) 2.12 IU
Vitamin E mg 1.42 mg
Vitamin K 4.60 mcg 5
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Boron 215.78 mcg
Calcium 76.00 mg 8
Copper 0.32 mg 36
Iodine 6.00 mcg 4
Iron 1.38 mg 8
Magnesium 54.00 mg 14
Manganese 0.99 mg 50
Potassium 950.00 mg 27
Sodium 72.00 mg 5
Zinc 0.64 mg 6

Sweet Potato Pie
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch ground cloves

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (1 stick)
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon cider or white wine vinegar

1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon whiskey, rye or bourbon
Candied Pecans, homemade or store bought

Directions and Special equipment: 9-inch pie plate, glass preferred

Filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the sweet potatoes on a small roasting pan and bake until easily pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile make the dough: Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor with the metal blade until combined. Add the shortening and pulse about 10 times. Add the butter and continue to pulse until it resembles cornmeal mixed with bean-size bits of butter. Beat the egg yolk and vinegar together, add and pulse 3 to 4 times, but don’t let the dough form a ball in the machine. Remove the blade, and gather the dough together by hand. If dough does not come together, sprinkle up to 1 tablespoon of ice cold water over the dough and bring together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and shape into disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (To make the dough by hand, see below.)

Peel the cooked sweet potatoes and mash lightly with a fork; you should have about 2 cups puree. Mix the sweet potatoes and butter in the food processor until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Set aside.

Lightly dust the counter with flour. Roll the dough into an 11 to 12-inch circle and transfer to the pie pan. Trim the dough so that the edges hang about 1/2 inch over the pan; fold edges under and flute as desired. (See how to). Pierce the crust all over with a fork, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to a day.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven of the 425 degree F oven. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans and place on a baking sheet. Bake until the crust sets and begins to brown around edges, about 25 minutes. Lift foil and weights out of crust, lower oven temperature to 375 degrees F. and continue to bake until crust begins to brown on the bottom, about 10 to 12 minutes more. Pour filling into the warm crust and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on rack

When ready to serve, whip the cream with the whiskey until it holds soft peaks. Top pie with whipped cream and candied pecans. Serve.

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Jerusalem artichoke – Did you know…

This is a reworked/updated post from January 2014.
Consider adding this plant to a somewhat neglected spot in your yard or garden. Brighten up that neglected area with colorful sunflower like blooms and get a surprise crop of tasty tubers as fall turns to winter.

sunflowers Suprise! Jerusalem artichoke is not from Jerusalem, and it is not a artichoke. All though both are members of the daisy family.
A plant with many names. There have been various other names applied to this plant, such as the French or Canada potato, topinambour, and lambchoke. Sunchoke, a name by which it is still known today, was invented in the 1960s by Frieda Caplan, a produce wholesaler who was trying to revive the plant’s market appeal.
The eatable artichoke part of the Jerusalem artichoke’s name comes from the taste of its edible tuber.

Jerusalem artichokes are native to the Central America. The plant is technically an evergreen perennial but cultivated as an annual crop. Once established, it grows vigorously with multiple branches, reaching about 5-10 feet height and carries many golden yellow flower heads at the terminal end of branches.

It’s tubers are elongated and uneven, typically 3 or 4 inches long and 1 to 3 inches in diameter and vaguely resemble ginger root in appearance, with a crisp texture when raw. They vary in color from pale brown to white, red, or even purple. sunflower-roots

Jerusalem artichokes are easy to cultivate. The tubers are sometimes used as a substitute for potatoes. They have a similar consistency, and in their raw form have a similar texture, but a sweeter, nuttier flavor, raw and sliced thinly, they are fit for a salad. The carbohydrates give the tubers a tendency to become soft and mushy if boiled, but they retain their texture better when steamed.

Jerusalem artichokes have 650 mg potassium per 1 cup (150g) serving. They are also high in iron, and contain 10-12% of the US RDA of fiber, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper.

It is one of the finest sources of dietary fibers, especially high in oligo-fructose inulin, which is a soluble non-starch polysaccharide. Inulin should not be confused for insulin, which is a hormone. The root provides 1.6 mg or 4% of fiber. Inulin is a zero calorie saccharine and inert carbohydrate which does not undergo metabolism inside the human body, this tuber an ideal sweetener for diabetics and dietetics.

The tuber contains small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C, vitamin-A, vitamin-E. These vitamins, together with flavonoid compound like carotenes, helps scavenge harmful free radicals and thereby offers some protection from cancers, inflammation and viral cough and cold.

Jerusalem artichokes are an excellent source of minerals and electrolytes, especially potassium, iron, and copper. 100 g of fresh root holds 429 mg or 9% of daily required levels of potassium. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte which brings reduction in the blood pressure and heart rate by countering pressing effects of sodium.
100 g of fresh sunchoke contains 3.4 mg or 42.5% of iron, probably the highest amount of this trace element among the common edible roots and tubers.

It also contains small levels of some of the valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Sunchokes prefer loose, well-drained soil, but will tolerate poor soils. (Lighter soil makes harvesting easier.)
Space sunchoke tubers 12 to 18 inches apart, 4 to 6 inches deep.
Space rows 4-6 feet apart (they will be prone to spreading).
Soil temperature at planting should be at least 50F.
Plant in full sun
Do not plant in areas that are consistently wet, as wet soil will rot the tubers. Plants are drought tolerant, but produce best with a regular supply of water.
Preferred growing temps = 65 to 90 F.

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