I need plant ideas

Alright peoples, I need ideas.

We’re digging up the horseshoe pits that were put in by the former owners, and I’m thinking I want to plant something in those spots.

I want something that flowers (berries or no doesn’t matter), but that either isn’t fast growing or that will stay less than 10ft in height.

I’d prefer no thorns. But if you show me something that’s otherwise perfect I’ll tolerate thorns.

It MUST be tolerant down to USDA zone 5 and I’d prefer zone 4 tolerant.

It MUST be tolerant of having “wet feet”. We have a very high water-table here, and if I dug a hole a foot deep right now the bottom couple inches would be full of water.

Yellow Jackets–bleg

So, last fall I buried the blueberries in straw for the winter.  I don’t know what caused me to do so, but considering how cold the winter got I’m glad I did.

This spring, I decided the blueberries needed new weed barrier around them.  The original barrier was laid when I planted them, 3yrs ago, and never mulched over, and so its REALLY REALLY ragged.  I laid new weed barrier right over the straw figuring the straw would deteriorate and provide an extra layer of nutrients for the plants.

Turns out that might not have been the best idea.

The plants aren’t producing this year, I suspect the cold winter was to much for them though they’re greening up nicely at least.  So I’ve been mostly ignoring them, but the weeds poking through the gaps around the plants got to be to much for me finally and yesterday I went out to pull weeds and adjust the weed-barrier.

There’s ground burrowing Yellow Jackets under the weed-barrier around the plant furthest from the house.

Yes, I found them the hard way.  Though I only got stung once.  And no, I’m not allergic, it barely even swelled infact though it hurt like someone had stabbed me with a burning nail, this morning my whole lower arm aches like hell.

So, I don’t normally have a problem spraying stinging insect nests with wasp spray.  My SIL is allergic and she does visit on occasion, so we try to keep down the number of nests on the property, however this is my first ground nest and with it being RIGHT NEXT TO the blueberries I’m reluctant to spray heavy duty pesticide on them.  And I have no clue where the OTHER entrance to the nest is, and everything I’ve read on it says there probably IS one.  Which makes me a bit nervous about mowing around there now though I’d expect its under the weed barrier too, probably next to one of the plants I didn’t get to….

I’m off to pick up a couple yellow jacket traps, but this time of year that won’t get the queen…..

I don’t suppose anyone has any ideas on how to handle this nest?

Storing homegrown produce–thoughts, ideas, bleg?

Ok, so this  year I’ve got a decent sized garden.  No, its not big enough to truly support the two of us, but it IS big enough that we won’t be able to eat everything that it will (potentially) produce right away.

I don’t have a good place to store much of this.  Some can be frozen sure, and some can be dehydrated, and some jarred, but some is better kept fresh if possible.

I don’t have a basement to turn into a storage space, and the crawlspace isn’t an option, maybe if it was better insulated, but last winter proved its not insulated (much less sealed) enough to keep out the cold, much less the critters.

The garage generally stays at least a few degrees warmer than the outside air in the winter (and the reverse in the summer), but thats not enough insulation in a normal winter, never mind one like this past winter.  Ditto the breezeway.

In the winter the furnace stays set at 58-60 with the wood burning stove for when we want it warmer.  I planted thermometers around the house last winter and the only place that reliably stayed below 60 when we lit the stove was the master bath.  I’m not converting the master bath to food storage.  No where else came close, so even if we set the furnace to a lower temp as soon as the woodburning stove warmed up it’d be to warm.

Obviously this is a problem we’ll have to eventually remedy, we might be able to insulate the workroom on the back of the garage for example, but not this year.

Looking through storage requirements for the vegi’s we’re most likely to have the most of, most of them should be stored between 40-55 degrees.  Though humidity requirements vary a bit.

Doing some looking around, and old fridges and freezers are cheap on craigslist.  If I add an external temperature controller, I can control the temperature of the fridge or freezer to stay within the range I want.  Humidity is a bit harder, but I think I can cope.  And the fridge wouldn’t have to run nearly as hard as usual since it wouldn’t be having to cool as far below room temp (somewhere in the 45degree range likely).

Does that sound like a reasonable solution?  A fridge with a temp controller with me doing something to manage the humidity?  Or does someone have a better idea?

*the link to Amazon is via my Amazon Associates account, if you buy something after clicking through that link I’ll earn a few pennies.

Dehydrated foods bleg

Ok, so I’ve been working on putting together a variety of home “mixes” and “instant” style soups etc for us to use when we want to.  For some of the trial stuff I just bought which-ever dehydrated products were easiest to buy.  But we’re getting to the point of actually using quite a bit of it, so I”m looking at buying in larger quantities.  Not TONS, but more than a quart jar too.

So, can someone suggest a company that they’ve had good luck with that sells (among other things) dehydrated (or freezedried) broccoli, diced potatos, other “soup or stew” type vegi’s, powdered sour cream and milk, etc?


(edit: eventually I hope to be able to dehydrate my own for this, but right now thats not happening!)

Special needs puppy needs a home

I’ve been a little slow to post this, alot of you readers come here via the same avenue that I used to find this post.  But little Major still needs a home, and so let the networking begin!


This is Major.  She’s from the last litter that the Atomic Nerds have raised.  And she as a potentially major heart defect:

unfortunately, the consultation I had with a veterinary cardiologist revealed what she’s actually got is pulmonic stenosis, a different and much less common (the cardiologist commented she’d simply never seen it in an Akita before now) issue. We do not yet know how severe the stenosis is- she was too young at the time to get a good picture- but the cardiologist suggested it wasn’t likely to be mild. We’ll know when she is old enough to have another, clearer ultrasound done in another month or two. She also has a defect in the wall between her ventricles, which the cardiologist said may either be making things worse or actually helping; apparently they often occur together and the treatment for THAT defect on its own is giving the patient an artificial case of stenosis. Apparently Major is very medically interesting! I could have done with boring, personally.

So Major needs a home.  She needs a home that can handle an Akita (which isn’t the easiest breed to work with) and she needs a home that can handle potentially major medical bills and possibly the far to early heart-break if her condition means her life is shortened.

Those factors combined have made finding her a home difficult.  If you are up to the task please contact the Atomic Nerds via the email in the linked post.  If you know someone who might be up to the task please share this with them!

Pressure Canner Bleg

So, my dad gave me his old Mirro Matic pressure canner (16qt, model 0406).  After some frustration I finally tracked down the correct gasket for it.  And I downloaded the basic Mirro manual that seems to apply to all their products.

I’m looking for books on pressure canning please!  I have the Ball Book of Home Preserving of course, but is there anything else that you folks can recommend?  I don’t know that I’ll be doing anything hugely fancy, but Hubby and I were talking about canning chicken and bacon and the like….


Yet another “not this year, probly not next year, maybe the year after” project.

Suggestions, advice, links, other resources on small time honey bee-keeping?

I don’t know that I WANT to have a hive to manage.  For one thing I have a dog (Arty) who thinks that all small buzzy critters are his to pounce on, I don’t want to picture his reaction to a whole hive.  For another, we get quite a bit of wildlife in the yard as its, do I really want to pull them in with the chance at honey?  And where would I put it?  We have two acres, but I can’t picture a good spot, thats not right next to the house, but that isn’t also practically in the woods….

But there seems to be such a lack of bees…..this year we’ve added baskets of annual flowers to the garden in an attempt to attract in the pollinators, but I’m not sure its working.  Course, this incredibly wet weather can’t be helping, but still…..Having my own source of local honey would be really cool too…..

Learning PHP – Bleg

Anyone out there who can make suggestions on either online classes or decent books or other resources for self teaching PHP  coding?  I’m not, at least immedietly, able to find classes locally for PHP….

I cobbled together enough PHP to put together the RSS Feed page, and to modify the base template to make the blog look the way I want, but without more of a clue I can’t take that further the way I want to.