Summer projects

Have a new and no doubt tasty ingredient going into the compost pile. My neighbor has 3 Koi ponds, each about 20’x7′. He does a major clean out every few years to remove the muck and debris that accumulates on the bottom. The ponds are, more or less, shaded by oak trees so they collect their share of leaves,pollen, squirrel droppings and whatever else falls from the trees. I mentioned in an earlier blog that we have experienced a heavier than usual leaf drop which triggered George to clean out the ponds this year. In addition to Koi, there are hundreds if not thousands of other tropicals in the ponds including swordtails, mollies, and guppies. So to say that the muck that accumulates on the bottom is rich in organics would be a major understatement. There are now several hundred pounds of this muck in the compost pile working it’s magic. One thing for sure, the vegetables in the garden can’t complain that they don’t get a variety of organics to munch on and there’s something in there to please the palate of even the most fussy plant. The mix du jour is Koi muck with a hint of key lime tree clippings and overtones of peas, cabbage and broccoli. Yummy!

I mentioned before that my neighbor is a firewood guy and that we literally spend hours cutting down trees and then splitting logs into firewood. With big oak trees, the log splitting is a real task involving pure brute labor. That is until now. George’s nephew bought a hydraulic log splitter and we used it today. What a great piece of equipment. It’s got 22 tons of force and splits a log that would have taken us an hour in about 1 minute. We went through 2 big oaks in a couple of hours and have enough firewood for next season. Without a doubt it would have taken us two or three days to split the pile and totally wore us to a frazzle.

Have two big projects in front of me to be accomplished in the next couple of months. I want to add an extension to the dock to add space for a picnic table. When we have events everyone invariably drifts down to the dock and unless a bunch of them are out in the lake, it can get a bit close and not a good place for serving a meal. My expansion will add about 150 square feet, under shade, which is more than enough for an eating area. We’ll have to sink two pilings which I have left over from the original job, construct an under frame using rough cut lumber from a local sawmill and then top with standard decking. I estimate that with Joey and Mark, we should be able to do the job in 2-3 days. I haven’t got a hard schedule but want it ready for Simon’s graduation party in early June. I would have started earlier this month but the cold winter means that water is still uncomfortably cold and there’s lots of wet work involved.

The other project is to add square footage to the garden. We’ve talked about expanding it for a couple of years but I’ve held back until I could get the soil built up in the space we started with. I had figured that to be a 3 year job and that’s how it turned out. The expansion area will be about 200 square feet. My strategy is to overlay the new area with clear plastic sheets to kill the field grass then dump loads and loads of mulch after the grass has given it up. The compost making operation along with the Shop Vac leaf mulcher should provide plenty of material to build up a nice organic base without having to till into the field at all. If my estimates are anywhere close, I should be able to actually plant in the new area by November. If not, by next summer for sure which would give us enough room to make another run at growing corn. I do want to hold off about a month before starting to make sure that I’ve broken the code on controlling the nematodes in the current garden. If not, no sense in just having more area for nematode grazing.

So all in all, I should have a busy summer.

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