Friday, May 18, 2007

Planting grass, painting walls and other fun stuff...

When we first moved to The RJ Ranch we learned from the previous owners that one of the neighbors regularly harvested the grass from the field on the east side of the house. (The house faces east so I guess you could say 'from the front of the house'. But, it's not really the front of the house because the field is really across the road.) You figure it out. Anyway, he uses the grass to feed his animals during the winter.

The first summer Joe (the son) cut the grass, bailed it and hauled it off. Not a problem because it gave us a better view of the landscape. The second summer Scott (Joe’s dad) told us that most of what they harvested was called 'cheat grass'. I'm not sure that is the botanical name for the plant but either way, it causes problems when it gets caught between teeth and gums on some of the critters. So, last summer they cut the grass and left it in the field.

Roger and I decided that, since no one was interested in the field and we actually 'owned' it, we would do something with it. First we burned the field. When Scott found out what we were planning he told us that by burning the field we just might get a better crop of 'cheat grass'. Go figure.

Along with the grass we also destroyed some of the pipe we had laid down last year for watering the trees in the triangle. BTW: Can someone please tell me where dirt goes? When you remove dirt from a hole, place something in the hole and then replace the dirt why is there never enough dirt to fill the hole totally? Inquiring minds want to know, where does the dirt go???

Back to the story.

After checking around for something that might actually survive the dry summers here, we planted pasture grass. This spring our field began to turn green before the wheat fields began to sprout. Were we proud or what?

Then we remembered Scott telling us about the great crop of ‘cheat grass’. That’s what it was ‘cheat grass’; what else could it be? Whatever it was (is) it was (is) abundant and has quickly gone to seed. So, we began to attack it with the lawn mower.

About two weeks we found out that it really is pasture grass…duh! Well, how were we to know? We’re not farmers and it didn’t look like any lawn we’ve ever seen. It won’t get high enough to warrant ‘harvesting’ so we’ve decided to work on mowing the entire field (I’ve made a good start) and make it into a park. I think a park might be a NEW PROJECT but, don’t anyone tell Roger. Our second challenge is going to be keeping the 'park' green.

We’re still working on the studio. I began teaching classes in the studio on May 8th and, so far so good. I have five students. The laminate had not been installed for the first class. The floor was half way done for the second class. By the third class not only was the floor in I actually had paintings hung on the walls.

We placed wall panels between the studio and the rest of the room to cut down on the echo. The room actually looks good. We still have the base shoe to install and the door frames to replace. I reinstalled the vent covers today and worked a little on the assignments for next week.

Yesterday Roger and I (mostly Roger) installed the drip system to the trees in the east pasture (aka Park – you know – the one with the pasture grass). He also repaired the damaged drip system to the trees in the triangle. Though the trees don't need it just yet, it is starting to dry out here and they will be thirsty soon enough. Once the trees in the 'park' are established the need for the drip system will cease (they're planted not too far from the creek).

Roger is anxious to get started on his EV but does not want to tear the car apart until he has the floor finished in his work shop. So, yesterday he also etched the floor and will paint it this weekend. Well, maybe he will paint it this weekend. He made a purchase from his favorite seller on E-Bay and won the bid. That was the good news. The bad news is that he has to drive to Seattle to pick up his prize. I would tell him that it’s probable a new project but, I’d like to keep the peace so we’ll call it an extension on an old project.

The plants in the green house are getting bigger. I’ve transplanted 60 of them so far. No, they're not outside yet. Last year I planted three gardens. This year I’m going to plant one. Last year the first garden was taken out by a killing frost. The second garden was bombarded by quarter size hail stones. This year I’m not taking any chances. June is a great month for planting (I hope).

Hey, there's a blueberry.

We’re still working on the barn and I’ll post photos or our progress next time. This should keep you busy for awhile. I know it’s keeping us busy.

There are natural ways to keep your garden looking green and healthy. Maintaining your garden by lightly saturating it daily with water and using your compost soil will dramatically perk up the growth in your plants. The premium time to water your garden is in the early morning, so rise and shine! And for all those who can’t stand reeling in the hose, here is something for you. Check out the No Crank hose reel by going to the link below. The power of water pressure rewinds the hose so you don’t have to! Water is a vital part of a flower's life, but too much can upset the delicate balance of nutrient production. Too little will have the same effect. The outward signs of too much water are wilting and yellowing of leaves, especially those in the inner areas of the plant. Vegetables need about an inch of water each week.

A good way to test the texture of your soil is with the “Ribbon Test.” After you take a soil sample, roll it back and forth in your hand. If it sticks together easily, it is high in clay, if it simply falls apart, it is probably has a lot of sand. Clay soils don’t drain well and are difficult for the roots to penetrate. Sandy soils drain well but don’t retain nutrients. Adding organic material will help both sandy and clay soils. Not sure how to make compost, well it’s simple. Start with a layer of chopped leaves, grass clippings and kitchen waste like banana peels, eggshells, old lettuce leaves, apple cores, coffee grounds, and whatever else is available. Keep adding materials until you have a six-inch layer, then cover it with three to six inches of soil, manure, or finished compost. Your plants will love this natural food! Did you know the soil can determine the color of the hydrangeas you grow? Check out the link below for some awesome gardening tips.
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