I’ve noticed on my YouTube channel I get a lot of activity on garden how-to posts and other informational subjects but very little on things related to the property. On the other hand, posts on this site seem to do very well when property related.
That being the case, I’m going to focus this blog on property related happenings and the videos more on the how-to items. I’ve renamed the YouTube channel to Gardening Solutions to better reflect the content that will be there. I will still post videos about the property (including a full tour coming up for spring).
If you haven’t been to the YouTube channel please go check it out and subscribe if interested. When I get to 100 subscribers they will let me get a custom url (web address). I’ll continue to cross post to both locations but the video posts will be short here (mostly a link and description of the video).
There’s a lot of cool stuff coming up this year, spring is right around the corner!
It’s been a while since I have posted an update to the blog as most activity goes straight to YouTube, in this post I’ll link a couple of my latest videos. The infrastructure upgrade project is moving along nicely and I have a self imposed deadline to get a lot of it done. To recap what is being done:
Adding electrical outlets throughout the yard
Adding electric to the chicken coop and future garden and potting shed areas
Adding artesian well spigots around the property including the new garden area and potting shed
Extending house water to the new garden area and potting shed
The electric being added has both hot (always on) and switched (timed to go on at night) outlets. There is also two dedicated circuits, one for a future electric gate and one for a well water pump and pond aerator.
Here’s a video I posted about two weeks ago where the trenching had begun:
And here’s a more recent one:
I have a deadline of November 9th to have a majority of this in place, we are having a big house party and I want to have the electric working so the yard can be lit up. The race is on!
To save some cost I purchased a used trencher and will be selling it after the work is done, renting one would have cost around a grand since I am slow at it and have to trench when I find spare time. Once this phase of the project is done I’ll do a walk through of the improvements.
Hurricane Dorian is projected to take a northern turn away from Melbourne, however just a slight wobble could put it very close or even over us. I’ve made a decision to go ahead with my pre-storm checklist and get the house ready for any possibility. Running through this exercise will also allow me to see if anything on the list needs to be added or updated (it does). I’ll post an updated list in the future with the changes.
Here’s a video walk through of what it looks like once we are prepped. If there was a threat that we were going to take a direct hit I’d do a few more things such as securing all loose items in the yard and putting up the last remaining shutters. I consider this stage of prep is good for anything up to a category 2 storm.
I’ll post a follow up in a few days, hopefully there’s not much to show.
We’ve had rain every day for the past couple of weeks and this has resulted in a mosquito invasion. It’s the worst I can remember since we have been here, it’s so bad that I haven’t been able to go out in the yard at all. About a week ago I took some measures to control this and the yard is now a happy place again.
In this video I’ll show the tools I used to combat the mosquito outbreak. Three of the tools are for the yard and two are personal protection. These are all things that are working, for example here’s a pile of dead mosquitoes from the mosquito magnet:
It’s nice to get back to almost normal, there’s still daily rain and a lot of the yard is a mud pit but at least I can get out there and work. Here’s the video:
I’ve put referral links on the YouTube page but here they are again for reference. Any time you shop Amazon and start from a referral link it helps me out a lot!
Once the property dries out I’ll start working on the infrastructure project (explained in this post). I’ve already had some fill dirt placed to raise the new garden area but it is also too wet to work with. In the meantime there’s been a lot of new stuff planted so I’ll do a property walk through to show some of these new additions. Until then, stay dry!
It’s been two weeks since I planted the test areas for white clover and there hasn’t been much activity. I think the main problem has been lack of rain, we got a downpour about a week after planting then nothing else since then. One wetter area has started sprouting and I’ll be planting another test area that should do better.
I’ll check in again in two more weeks although there isn’t any rain in the forecast. I think a better strategy might be to plant, cover with mulch, then water. I try not to water any more than necessary (anything) so the plants get deeper roots and don’t become dependent on it.
I’m really liking posting videos, it is so much easier and quicker. I do have a backlog of project pictures but moving forward I’ll be combining the formats as much as possible.
One goal at Three Acre Paradise is to reduce the required maintenance and part of accomplishing that is to eliminate lawn care as much as possible. I’m working towards replacing as much grass as possible while still having the yard look nice. One alternative to grass that I have read about is to use clover as a lawn. Clover has a nice look, it makes it’s own nitrogen (no fertilizing needed) and it also a nitrogen fixer for the yard. Sounds like a great thing!
As an experiment I’m planting clover in some problem areas, as it grows I’ll be posting the progress here along with my thoughts on it. Here’s a short video highlighting these areas:
I’ve gotten a little behind on blogging and have a large backlog of pictures and projects to document. While I do plan on getting these posted I’m also going to move more towards using video instead of lengthy text and pictures. Video is quick and easy so I can be more timely, editing individual pictures and writing posts takes a lot more time. I’ll still continue to document them here and put links to the videos but if you want to get intant notifications please subscribe to my youtube channel.
Well I finally did it. All fence posts are in, the last post was placed yesterday. What a relief! The next step is to put up the fencing.
Got a spare 7 1/2 minutes? In this video I take a walk along the fence line so you can see what it looks like and how many posts were placed (hint: around 150).
In other news, WordPress has decided to make some changes to the site without my input. When I fired up the web site the whole theme was different, not that it was bad but certainly not what was originally set up. I reverted back to the original format and all seems well now.
Next up, what I’m planting this spring. Stay tuned!
2019 has come in with a roar, it’s already February! Last year spring caught me off guard and I’m determined to not let that happen again, the last frost date for this area is February 20th so it is approaching fast. My spring task list to have completed in the next few weeks is get the vegetable garden planted, trim all trees, and get everything into the ground as possible (potted trees).
The web site move was a much bigger deal than expected and is still not completed. Turns out a lot of things were lost (photo descriptions, feature pictures, metadata) so I’ve been trying to get all that fixed.
What’s the plan for the coming year? The fencing is the biggest thing to get completed. I’m about 2/3 of the way done putting posts in, once that is done the actual field fence goes up, the two top wires go on (like barbed wire without barbs), then I have to realign the front rail fencing to line up with the new stuff.
Once the front is realigned I’ll be putting a welded wire backing on it for additional protection to keep animals in and out.
Another recent change is with the aquaponics system. The floating raft bed was changed to a media bed since these have seemed to perform a lot better,
The change was pretty easy since this was how it was originally set up. The bell siphon was already made and I had the media put in do the whole process only took about an hour.
Speaking of the aquaponic system, it is performing much better now. I’m not sure why but maybe it’s due to the cooler weather or it just needed a year to get better established.
A Roma Tomato plant that was placed in has done exceptionally well, it took a long time to get started but really took off in the last month or so. If I had planned better I would have put some support in for it. In the photo below you can also see some celery getting started. Celery has always done well in this system.
I’ve changed my mind a bit about the aquaponic system, I wasn’t impressed originally but it does seem to have become more productive. I’ll redo some testing and challenges this year and see if the results are improved.
Another recent success is with the Pigeon Pea plants. I’ve been harvesting these for the last few weeks and they just keep producing.
There are two plants in this picture and they have different colored peas, one is green and the other is brown. The brown ones take a little longer to ripen and get a little longer but they are otherwise very similar.
Both plants have been producing heavily and are still flowering with new peas.
My big goals for 2019 are to get the fencing done then get all underground plumbing and electrical in place for future projects. If I get more than that done then great, the new garden area would be next.
Next week I’ll post a list of new plants I’m trying out this year, and the first seed and plant exchange for this year has already been posted. If you are local and would like to attend please see our Facebook page for details.
The move to a new web hosting platform has been completed, unfortunately a few things got changed through the process. All blog post featured photos were removed and the ability to zoom photos by clicking on them has been lost. This is easily fixed but requires me to go back through the old posts and update them. What fun 🙂
Why we moved – the site was originally hosted on wordpress.com which is a great place to get a blog started. Unfortunately to do any real customization you have to upgrade to their business plan, and even then they really restrict what you can do. This has some good, it is a very controlled environment and helps avoid making mistakes. They also take care of a lot of the site security. Once your first year is up there is no more discount, they wanted $300 to renew for another year. That’s waaaay too much for a hobby blog.
I moved the site to siteground.com and paid for 3 years of hosting up front at a total of $140, around $47 per year. Much better! It was more work getting things worked out but I also have a lot more flexibility such as file access (FTP), email, and I can pretty much do anything with WordPress.
Later this week I’ll post a property update and get back on track with regular posts. I’ll also be going back and fixing the earlier posts as time allows. Good stuff coming up!
Mowing Three Acre Paradise can be a challenge, there are over 400 trees here so a zero turn mower is the logical choice. When shopping for a mower in 2015 I came across the Big Dog brand at a local dealer, these are manufactured by the same company that makes Hustler mowers which have a good reputation. Many of the parts are interchangeable so I don’t know if the Hustler brand has this same problem.
Like many zero turn mowers, this one is steered using two levers which you push forward or pull back. One lever controls the right drive wheel and the other controls the left. These mowers are fairly fast and are able to turn without moving forward, that’s where they get the name zero turn. For steering around a lot of trees this is a great design.
The problem I had recently is that one of the control arms came disconnected from the pump that controls the drive wheel. This happened as I was approaching a tree, when I went to steer there was no response and I hit the tree straight on (I was only a few feet from it so there was no time to do anything else). Here’s a picture of the part that came unattached:
The problem I have with this is two fold. First, the only thing holding this on was an E clip which vibrated itself out or maybe got pushed out by some debris. In my opinion this should have been held on more securely with something like a washer and split pin (cotter pin).
The second issue I have with this is that the pump did not return to the neutral position. When the arm disconnected, there should have been a spring that brought the lever on the pump back to center.
Here’s the arm reconnected with an E clip. Sometime in the future I’ll remove the arm again and drill a hole in it so I can add a split pin.
Why such a big deal? When I mow there are plenty of other places where this could have come out a lot worse. I could have ended up in the pond and caused a lot of damage to the mower, in the street while a car or truck was driving by and been hit (the road I mow by has a 45 MPH speed limit), or by the bike path when a bicycle or pedestrian was nearby. A lot of people mow in similar areas so this is not unique. As it is, the only real damage was to the front of the mower:
Keep in mind this is a 2015 model, not some 10-15 year old worn out mower. It currently has just under 124 hours of use.
If you are considering purchasing a Big Dog Alpha MP then I’d suggest you look at this to see if the design has been changed (and Hustler mowers). It’s a simple thing but could have really bad consequences.
Now, back to our usual programming. Stay tuned for an update on activities at Three Acre Paradise 🙂