Infrastructure Upgrades (Part 1)

PVC pipe ready

Finally a break from the rain! Wait – what’s that just over the horizon? It’s tropical storm Dorian, and we are right in the path!

Now that the property has dried out a bit I can get to work on the big infrastructure upgrade project. This is primarily adding water pipes for irrigation and other uses plus power to all different parts of the property. Once this is in place I can begin the fun stuff like a new and improved garden area. This week I purchased some of the pipe needed and leveled out the location where the new garden will be Check out the video of the progress:

Hopefully Dorian doesn’t cause too much interruption as I’m prepping everything to be ready for the end of September or beginning of October, that’s when I want to rent a trencher and get everything in place. To be completed before I can begin the trenching – buy all materials, get utilities located (power and internet wire), reserve trencher, clear and mark all paths. A lot to do!

This coming weekend is when Dorian is supposed to pass over, if it’s interesting I’ll post some video. Until then, stay dry!

 

Mosquito Control

Mosquito magnet

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:

Pile of dead mosquitoes

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!

Mosquito Magnet
Spartan Mosquito Eradicators
Insect Fogger
Fog Juice
Coleman 100 Max
Thermacell

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!

YouTube – Three of my favorite Florida Bloggers

I’m constantly watching videos related to homesteading and raising food in Florida. There’s so much to learn and I’m always adding to my lists of things to do and plants or trees I’d like to add. Rarely do I subscribe to a particular blogger but these three caught my interest for very different reason. Check them out, especially if you are in the south! In no particular order:

Pete Kanaris

Pete Kanaris – Green Dreams Florida
Pete creates professional level videos from food forests and gardens all over the place. He also runs a company (Green Dreams Florida) that specializes in edible landscaping. If you want to see variety and some of the best food forests around check out his channel.

Rob Greenfield

Rob Greenfield
I actually found Rob’s page through Pete.  Rob is doing something unique – he’s living for a year completely on food he forages or grows himself in Orlando, Fl. It’s interesting to see how much work it is to feed a single person this way. Once the one year challenge is up who knows what he will do next but you can always look back through his video library to see how he survived the challenge.

Food Foresters

Donto & Amy – Food Foresters
This couple does a little of everything. What I really like about their channel is they show it all – challenges, successes, failures, and a lot of personality thrown in. I see them working with a lot of the same problems I deal with such as flooding, bugs, and weeds to name a few. They grow vegetables, fruit trees, raise livestock and even show processing and cooking their harvests. This is what I’d call the down to earth realities of homesteading with constant updates.

If you have any favorite southern homesteading YouTuber bloggers feel free to make a comment below. I also have a few worldwide ones I follow but not as closely as a lot of their methods don’t apply here in the subtropics.

Enjoy!

 

 

Plant Propagation Sandbox

Sandbox propagation tray

In this previous post I used a plant cloner to propagate cuttings.  While the cloner works well, it is a bit of maintenance with having to keep it clean and running a power cord for the pump. While browsing around for other methods to clone using cuttings I came across the idea of using a sandbox. Does it work as well? See for yourself in this short video:

The tray and sand cost about $20 from Home Depot, be sure to get the small tray which holds 100 pounds of sand. I’ll continue to use this tray for more challenging cuttings and post an update with those results.

If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my youtube channel. Most future posts will be videos so that is the best way to get alerted when something new is added, plus I need to get to 100 subscribers for youtube to let me have a custom web address (url) for my page.

Have a great day!

Planting Sugarcane from Cuttings

Sugar cane in bucket

Recently I got a bunch of free sugar cane cuttings from an ad on Craigslist, while I already have some sugarcane growing it’s nice to have several different varieties. In this video I attempt to get cuttings growing using several different methods and locations.

In summary, the bucket method and in ground had about the same results. There was no success in ground with pieces grown vertically, all that sprouted were horizontal or at about a 45 degree angle.

Hope you enjoy the video!

Inexpensive DIY Outdoor Plant and Tree Labels

DIY Plant and tree label in ground

Have you ever planted a bunch of stuff then forgot what was where? Maybe not if you are new to gardening but that day is coming. I quickly learned the value of labeling everything that goes into the ground unless it is absolutely unmistakable.  It’s also handy for when spouses or friends go roaming around so they don’t have to ask what every single plant is. In my case, I’ve got hundreds of things planted around three acres so there is no way I could remember everything.

The challenge I had was to find an inexpensive but durable way to label things as they went in. A lot of plants die off so the labels need to be able to be reused and easily changed. Metal and wood products are out, they simply don’t last very long in the ground here or are too expensive. Oh, and one more thing, my handwriting is awful so I want to be able to print them out.

The solution came bits at a time but I now have a system that works and holds up for years. I make plastic labels, print adhesive labels to go on them, then fasten them to plastic covered stakes (solid plastic or fiberglass stakes are very expensive).

For the plastic labels, I tried several different things and finally found what I believe is the best solution for the price. I use plastic rain gutters, they sell for around $5 at Home Depot or Lowes for a ten foot section.

Rain gutter example

These gutter sections are thick plastic and UV protected. They are designed to last for many years in direct sun and weather extremes so are ideal for this purpose. You can make around three hundred labels from a single piece.

Rain gutter closeup

It may be hard to tell from the photo but these are thick! They also have several flat surfaces which can be cut for the labels. I don’t like to waste but I think the longevity of these makes up for the plastic that will be disposed of. To make it easier to work with, I cut these into shorter sections first (around two feet) then use heavy tin snips to cut out label blanks.

Cutting plant label blanks

The blanks are about an inch high and three inches long. Once I have a bunch of blanks cut, I use a soldering iron with a big tip to make a hole in one end of each. You could also drill a hole but I think melting one through keeps the label stronger.

Plant label blanks

The holes get a little dirty and messy from the iron getting crud on it but that usually scrapes right off.

Plant label blanks with holes

I’ll prep a whole bunch of blanks at once then do the finishing as they are needed.

To finish, I print a label from a Brother label maker, I strongly suggest getting one that includes an AC adapter as these things can eat batteries.

Brother label printer

I haven’t had any of these labels fade out from the sun yet, the ones that are two years old now actually look as good as the day they were printed. If you use the genuine Brother tape refills it would be expensive, I use a generic version of TZ tapes. Using a 1/2 inch tape holds two lines of text nicely.

DIY plant and tree label

As you can see above, for a finishing touch I like to clip the corners and trim the label. Trim it pretty close to the hole so when tie wrapped to a stake it doesn’t try to wrap around.  I like to use the short plastic coated stakes from Lowes, the three foot ones are right at a dollar each. For temporary applications I’ll use bamboo stakes but they only last about a year.

DIY Plant and tree label in ground

Of course you can put several labels on each stake to save even more cost, I do this when plants are close to each other. I hope this is helpful for someone, if you have any other great ideas for labels please let me know!

Shopping from my links helps support this site and doesn’t cost you anything 🙂 Even if you don’t buy these items, clicking either of these links first when you start your shopping will help us out.

Brother P-touch Label Maker 

Generic TZe tapes that I use

 

 

Infrastructure Project and Clover Flop

Another two weeks has passed since I planted the clover around the property and there still hasn’t been any significant growth. This may change over the coming weeks due to the rainy season starting, if it does then I’ll make sure to show it here. In the meantime, I’ve started another major project.

I’m calling this one the infrastructure project, it is basically putting all the plumbing and electrical wiring underground around the property to support future plans. I’m trying to do this in one shot as much as possible so the planning stage is very critical. I’ve created a map of where I think everything needs to go:

Infrastructure map

The first step was to lay out the locations for things such as the new garden area and the potting shed, then mark the plumbing and electrical connections based on these. Second, I placed markers all around the property for the remaining connections. There was some changes from this original design so I will have to make an updated map. Next, I measured the distanced for each item so I know how much pipe, connectors, and wire to buy.  This is where I am at now.

Once the items are purchased I’ll call in for a utility locate, this is where the power and cable company come in and mark the locations of their wires. I don’t have to worry about existing pipes since I am on well and septic and I know where they are located. Once this is done I’ll rent a trencher for a weekend and get everything underground. The final step will be hooking it all up.

Here’s a video walk through of where I am at now:

I’ll spend a couple of weeks double checking everything and getting the house connections ready, Stay tuned!

Clover Update – Week 2

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.

Keep on planting!

Planting a Clover Lawn

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.

Upcoming project posts:

  • Aquaponic fish feeder protection
  • Outside seed starting rack
  • Aquaponic trellis
  • Fence realignment
  • DIY plant ID tags

Stay tuned!

Building a Garden Shade

Garden canopy shade cloth

Summer is a tough time in Florida to grow vegetables but there is a solution, by shading your garden you can keep the intense sun from damaging your plants. I’ve successfully used a shade cloth canopy over the last two years and have had good production throughout summer. There are a few things that won’t do good as they will bolt from the heat (romaine lettuce for example) but many other plants grow and produce just fine.

Recently I’ve had a friend ask about purchasing a cheap carport cover from Harbor Freight tools to use as a garden shade. I have had experience with this cover but not for a garden. The frame of this cover is made from painted steel which rusts very quickly and the cover is too shady for plants, I’ve found a 40% shade works well.

Here is the list I put together with links to the products to make a good quality 10’x20′ cover. The plan is easily modified for different sizes, my garden has a 20’x20′ cover. Here’s a drawing showing the main components:

Garden canopy frame

Links to components:

(4) Low peak corner fittings (red)
(2) Low Peak Top End Fittings (green)
(2) Low Peak Side Fittings (blue) 
(1) Low Peak Top Center Fitting (gray) 

Optional (6) footpads (brown) – I use these but you can just plant the pipes right into the ground if desired. Attach some sort of weights to hold the frame down in high winds.

These are all 1  3/8″ pipe connectors, this pipe is also known as chain link top rail. You can get this at any hardware store but the best deal will be at a fencing supply company. For a 10×20 as above you would need:

(6) Rafters @ 5′ each
(6) Ridges @ 10′ each
(6) Legs at whatever height you want, I used 6′. Add a little more if you are going to shove them into the ground.

This builds the frame, it is all galvanized and should last you many years if not a lifetime. The connectors can also be reused for different sizes and configurations. The final width of this design will be slightly less than 10 feet due to the rafter slope but it will be very close. For the shade cloth:

10 x 20 shade cloth 40%
9 inch Bungees

They also sell a 6 inch bungee but the longer ones are easier to set up, you can wrap it around the pole an extra time to shorten it if needed. The shade cloth will probably last 4-5 years from what I’ve seen so far, the bungees about 2 years. Harbor Freight tools sells a grommet repair kit for around $4, it’s a good investment for shade cloth repairs.

Also, check Craigslist and Facebook marketplace for used top rail. You may be able to save $$ this way.