DIY and latest topics
DIY and latest topics
If you have heavy clay soil that just won’t grow anything, raised garden beds are the way to go.
Raised beds can go anywhere and be made from many material such as lumber, blocks, straw bales, water troughs, bricks, etc. If you have trouble bending down, raised beds allow you to garden at waist height, so no bending.
Raised beds let you create the ideal soil mix. They also lend themselves to lasagna gardening where you build the soil with layers of alternating green and brown material. If you build your beds now or before snowfall and fill them with soil mix, they will have all winter to compost and your spring garden will have marvelous soil. Just be sure to cover the soil with shredded leaves or other mulch to keep weed seeds from taking hold.
Raised beds drain well. Because you never walk on your soil and compact it, the plants have this beautiful rich, loose soil to grow in. The soil also warms up quicker in spring allowing you to plant earlier and grow later. Because of the frame, you’re able to add covers that will allow growing plants that like the cold all winter.
Raised bed gardens don’t need to be tilled and weed populations decrease over time if you keep them weeded in the beginning. Using hay, straw, or shredded leaves to cover the soil when planting and during the winter will mean very little weeding. Tilling in ground gardens every year brings all the dormant weed seeds to the surface where they can grow prolifically.
After a while, you’ve eaten all the fresh tomatoes you can stand, so what do you do with all the rest? Well, preserving them is one way.
Tomatoes contain acid, so you can remove the skin, cut them up into chunks, pack them in a Ball jar, and process the jars in a water bath. This method takes up pantry space for all those jars, and it will take you the better part of a day to fill about 8-10 jars.
Freezing may be a better option to save time if you have extra freezer space. You can freeze whole tomatoes if you want, or you can make marinara, spaghetti sauce, catsup, and soup bases and freeze it all.
Whole Tomatoes With Skin –. Wash the tomatoes and place them in a plastic freezer bag and freeze till you need whole tomatoes.
Whole Tomatoes Without Skin – The traditional method to remove skin is to boil the tomatoes for a few minutes, lift out, dunk them in a cold-water bath, and peel off the skin. But you can also freeze them with the skin on by cutting off the stem end, turn the tomato upside down on a baking sheet and place in the freezer till they are frozen (1-3 hours), then run them under cold water and the skin will fall off.
Pureed Tomatoes – maybe you would like to make tomato paste or puree to have available when you need them to make your favorite dishes. Remove stems and any bad areas from the tomato and place large chunks in a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times to desired consistency and place in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 10-12 hours or until reduced and thickened to desired consistency. Freeze in quantities you would ordinarily use.
Freezer Bags – Bags with locking closures work well for freezing tomato sauces and purees, soups, and chunks. Fill the bags, seal them, then lay them flat on a baking sheet in the freezer. The frozen flat packages will stack better in the freezer and you will have room for more bags.
Check out this great reference from Old World Garden Farms
If you’ve been trying to keep a large lawn mowed with a walk-behind mower, fall is a great time to think about upgrading to a riding mower. There are some very good buys on riding mowers now, but determining what works best for you can be confusing.
Lawn Tractors – Tractor type mowers do more than just mow if you’re just doing light yard work. The engine is up front like a tractor but has lower torque transmissions, less horsepower and smaller rear tires than other types of mowers. It will tow light carts and spreaders and, with snow plow attachment, can move light snow. The cutting width ranges from 38-54 inches.
Garden Tractors – These tractors are the big brother to lawn tractors. They have higher horsepower engines, can tow heavier attachments and loads and have larger back tires for extra ground clearance. The larger wheels provide better stability on up to 15% slopes and inclines. The cutting width ranges from 50-50 inches.
Rear Engine Riding Mowers – Basically used only for mowing, the rear-engine rider has a smaller cutting deck ideal for narrow spaces. These are generally lower-priced than the other models and take up less storage space but may be slower. With more than a ¾ acre lot, you may want to move up to a larger model. The cutting width ranges from 26-33 inches.
Zero-Turn Mowers – If you have a large yard to mow and want to do it quickly, consider a zero-turn mower. While the more expensive of your options, time saved and maneuverability may be worth the extra cost. You can make 360 degree turns with ease and get closer to trees, flower beds, and fences. Designed for comfort and with powerful engines and speed, you’ll be done mowing in no time. Cutting width ranges from 30-72 inches.
Other Considerations – The mowing deck width can determine how much grass you can cut on one pass so you may want to look for a width that will allow you to make the fewest passes, depending on the size of your yard. With zero-turn mowers you have a learning curve getting used to handles in each hand rather than a steering wheel.
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