A 5-gallon Bucket of Potential

It’s the most gut-wrenching thing an aspiring orchardist has to do every spring: thin the crop. Amidst the flush of life and potential on display in the many subtle hues of green, an orchardist must bring cold-hearted callousness to bear on his or her bearing trees. Fruit abortion. Plucked in their innocence. Too young…far too young.

Polyculture Pros and Cons

The zucchini are finally done giving their all. We cleared something like 30 pounds of zukes, not counting culls that went right to the chickens, so the plants didn’t owe us anything. They were getting tired looking, so I decided to pull them up and get the bed they were in ready for winter. After I got the plants yanked out, I was surprised by the understory of weeds poking through the mulch. To be fair, the zucchini plants got so […]

Accidental Trap Cropping

Mrs. Paranoid often says that she has the soul of an Italian grandmother, because she loves to cook for people. But based on my observations, I’d say it’s more likely she has the soul of a WWII Marine who did a stint in the Pacific Theater, because she clearly hates Japanese. Beetles, that is. Once the Japanese beetles and other mid-summer bugs come out, she spends time each day collecting and drowning them in a bucket of soapy water, with […]

Holistic Orchard Spray

“Fruit Trees you have? Spray, you must!” – Yoda (maybe) There’s no escaping the need to spray your fruit trees, but I prefer the biodynamic methods that Michael Phillips puts forth in his book “The Holistic Orchard”, probably *the* bible on beyond-organic orcharding. This video/post is the process I’ve been using for the past few years to put all the ingredients together for a 4 gallon backpack sprayer. I’m not going to go over all the ingredients and why they […]

I gave my new Wayne 12V Transfer Pump a field trial a few days ago. Here’s a peek: In general, it seems like a solid unit. The suction strainer is a little on the plastic-crap side, but it seems like it will probably hold up OK. The pump itself is pretty solid, and quite heavy for the size. The pump head is a beefy looking plated bronze fixture with sturdy fittings. A nice touch is that they add a kit […]

A Nearly Perfect Prepping Day

Gorgeous, warm weather. Clear skies. Gentle breeze. Plenty to do outside. It was a perfect prepping day. Right up until I the point that I passed out. Well, I didn’t actually pass out, but I came close. More on that in a moment. I started out the day with some quick errands to resupply a few things. Then I decided to attack a few projects on my “lower lot.” It’s part of an adjacent parcel that we picked up five years […]

I set my alarm clock a little early the last two days, and it’s amazing what you can get done with just a few spare hours. I work from home three days a week usually, and so I’m trying to get into the habit of doing something extra around the house with the extra two hours that I would normally waste on the road. This morning, I got out into the garden before 0700. It was still a bit nippy, […]

I love my new wood chipper, but the chips it produces are a bit coarse. Not as coarse as a big commercial chipper produces, but still a little too big for rapid soil building. So I decided to try a little experiment today to see if I can double-grind my wood chips. I fed the output of the chipper into an old Craftsman chipper-shredder, and was pleasantly surprised. Now I have a process for making nice, finely ground wood chips. […]

The Great Wall of Grapes

I’ve always wanted to have my own grapevines. I had a lot of Italian friends in high school, and invariably I would go with them to some uncles’ or grandparents’ house, and there would be a trellis in the backyard, covered with grape vines and used as a shady spot in the summer. The grapes, of course, would go into homemade wine, which always seemed to be stored in those big green gallon jugs that Carlo Rossi wines used to […]