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PostPosted: Feb 25th, '18, 07:06 
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Cherry tomatoes growing pretty good with the temps in the greenhouse in 50s to low 60s.
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Getting some good sized cherry toms on it...
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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '18, 05:58 
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Just cleaned out my compost pile and it's only February! First time cleaning it out since we built it 3 years ago. Some nice dirt in there. Very easy digging I just slid a shovel across it for the most part and tossed it in the wheel barrow. I got 6 wheelbarrows full (10cu ft wheelbarrow) moved to the garden/hoop house. Almost finished filling our asparagus bed so I can get it planted then just about got the 2ft x 40ft and 2ft x 12 ft beds in the hoop house filled between the leaves I raked last fall and the compost. I am going to go buy a truck load of bagged topsoil to finish filling the 2ft beds then start filling the 6x30 bed too. Just talking it over with the wife I think we had paid $200 roughly for 10 yards of top soil to be delivered last year then we had to shovel it and wheelbarrow it to the garden. It took us all our free time for a couple months. Add to it that it's really still winter so if we had 10 yards delivered this week and it decides to freeze next week we won't be able to move it, we decided to just buy bags of dirt so it is easier to handle and will be done before we are ready to plant. So I am headed to home Depot to buy a bunch of dirt.

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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '18, 06:55 
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After your trip to HD, probably thinking twice about having truck deliver?

It might freeze the top layer, but would not be to much unless it rained, and rained, and rained, then froze.

Plus you will want to wait because you be paying for water weight instead of usable dirt

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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '18, 08:15 
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It's not terrible, I bought 30 bags of top soil 40lbs per bag plus water weight. Plus another bag of potting soil for starting seeds and a couple bags of peat spaghnum moss to mix in too. I figured it's probably 1300 pounds so didn't want to do much more than that in a trip. It took me about 20 minutes to load it all on a cart, push it out load it in the truck. Now I am thinking I should go unload some of it because my truck is squatting pretty good so I should take some weight off it since my avalanche is only a 1500... This will keep me busy this week if I haul a few bags out every night (will be dark by the time my wife gets home and we eat dinner so will limit myself to a few bags every night). Next trip might be weekend day time trip not when I only have half an hour until the store closes. If I do that I'll take the trailer so I only have to make one more trip (figured it would be easier to haul bags into the hoop house than shoveling into the wheelbarrow then carrying buckets too).

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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '18, 22:10 
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It's so green there Rob, dang. All the snow is gone? Your greenhouse is also way greener than mine, dang it. I knew I shouldn't have bragged, mine was staying green all year! :laughing3:
We leased our pasture out for cows this year, and our yard isn't fenced. The cows found my compost pile early on. Who knew they eat rotting veggies, doh? Hoping for a great year all around.

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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '18, 18:58 
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yup all of our snow is gone. was 50 last monday, 60 last tuesday, 40 the rest of last week. yesterday was 50 when I left work... this whole week is 40+, I think Wednesday/Thursday there is a chance of snow but then it will be up to 40 so it won't stick. Our 15 day forecast is calling for 22-58F as the lowest and highest. All of the ice on our lakes has melted. I'm hopeful that spring decided to come early but we will probably get a nasty spell towards April... normally spring break we get snow.

I finished filling my asparagus bed last night and finished filling the 2x40 and 2x12 beds in the hoop house so they are all ready to plant. I spread two bags of peat moss in the 6x30 bed but I need to get more dirt to start filling it in. I already used the 30 bags I bought for the 3 beds I topped off... I hadn't taken in to consideration how much they would need, so I probably still need 125 bags to fill in the big bed but I probably won't fill it all the way up this year. Just a few inches to cover the leaves and peat moss and give plants something to start in, then I'll have to pick up a broad fork and try to break the hard pan so the roots can get down in to the clay too. I guess I could still get the tiller in there and use it to break up the clay a bit but I'm trying to go no till so hopefully broad forking will be enough to break it up without creating a new hard pan for the roots to deal with.

I am thinking now that the two 2ft beds in the hoop house are filled I will probably plant radish, beets, carrots, maybe some peas and lettuce in them to get them going. It's 90-100F in the hoop house during the day so should be able to germinate in there without a problem, just need something that is going to be OK with freezing at night... this year is all an experiment so one way or another I'll learn what I can do for future years.

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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '18, 19:06 
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I went down to check on my tilapia last night and feed them and thought I should check if any had eggs... to my surprise there were a ton of babies swimming around in the big tank with the parents. I spent a good hour netting them out to move them to their own tank. I didn't have one of the 10 gal tanks ready (heated) so I tossed them in the 55 that still had the heater running in it... I was going to transfer the other breeding colony in there (I lost the third breeding colony that was in there because the male beat all the females up so I removed him to his own tank trying to save the last female and they both ended up dying, so I'm down to 2 breeding colonies but as long as one of them gets the job done I don't care, and it seems the young colony is getting the job done, there are at least 3 more females in there with eggs in their mouth right now).

Successful batch #1 2018...


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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '18, 19:10 
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Brian my greenhouse is just starting to green up with the warmer weather.. it looked pretty rough all winter so I think you still have me beat. I did notice last night that the tomatoes I posted a picture of above two of them are in the 'breakers' phase. I'll have a couple ripe cherry tomatoes in the next week!

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An interesting discussion I saw this past week on tomatoes and when to pick them for market... the market gardening group seems to pick them at the 'breakers' stage and store them in 65-75F they said it takes about 4 or 5 days for them to finish ripening so if they go to market at the end of the week they pick the breakers at the beginning of the week so they are just ripe on market day. This makes it easier for transporting because if you wait until they are riper the skins break during transport.

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PostPosted: Feb 28th, '18, 10:48 
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HSM!!!!

I was finishing up chores the last thing I needed to do before going to bed was feed the tilapia and check on my new fry... I walked over to the 55 gal where the fry were and something didn't seem right... It took me a few moments to realize what it was... There is almost no water in the 55 gal tank!!!! I'm baffled for another few moments because I can't figure out what would siphon the water out... I added an auto top off with a gravity fed line with a float valve to shut it off but it's been a week since I did that.... Then I step back and realize there is a huge crack across the entire front of the tank... And about 80 gallons of water drained out (50 gallons out of the 55+30 gallons that were in my top off reservoir that is now empty)... The floor isn't even wet in front of the tank... I don't know where it all went I will have to look closer tomorrow but it looks like it must have gone under the wall through the utility room through the laundry room to the sump pit 3 rooms away... I did find some stuff in the utility room slightly wet... But not 80 gallons wet...

All I can figure is that there was a lot of vibration on the shelf the 55 gal was on due to the air pump sitting on that shelf and it must have worked on the 55 gal tank until it gave out... Not much I can do now I guess so I scooped all the babies out of the few inches of cold water that was left and tossed them in a 20 gal that I just moved another fish out of last night..


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PostPosted: Feb 28th, '18, 11:08 
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Looking to see where the water went... There is a drain going in to the sump pit that angles that way which reminded me that when I tiled the laundry room floor there was a spot about 6-8 inches wide that I could tell they had cut the concrete out... I had to level it up a bit to match the rest of the floor before I put the tile down. So I think they must have busted concrete out and added that drain... I checked in the utility room and noticed the floor isn't really wet but there is a saw cut running around the outside edge of the fuel oil tank. So I bet they must have saw cut it to go to that drain. Thanks to whoever had the foresight to do that! My cleanup job isn't quite as bad. I already have a dehumidifier that runs 24/7 in the fish room so hopefully I can clean some stuff up in the two rooms and put fans blowing on the wall to make sure it didn't soak anything up, but drywall looks dry, I can see the bottom 2x4 from the utility room it's a bit wet but workable I think. Oh the joys of having large fish tanks in your house.

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PostPosted: Mar 8th, '18, 19:03 
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I ran out of propane in the greenhouse yesterday. I had set that 15# tank on 2/13 and had it running on pilot non-stop since then... so about 3 weeks on 15# I think is pretty good... that means it cost me less than $0.75 a day to run the pilot light and keep the greenhouse a little warmer.

I have a second batch of Tilapia fry that I pulled out of the tank this past week, so I'm probably in the 200 - 300 fry range right now. Thats way more than I'll raise myself, but I'm going to let them keep going as long as they feel like it (or until I run out of space to put fry which right now is about 5 more batches of fry, but I need room for grading too so can't use up all of my tanks) because I plan to do a much better job of grading the tilapia this year and only growing out the fast growers. I have a buddy who is thinking about setting up a system in the commercial greenhouse he works at so he wants some tilapia from me so I'll probably try to grade out about 80-100 for him to grow too. The rest will get sold off or fed to the chickens. The first batch of tilapia in the video above have about tripled in size already in a week and a half.

I started a new adventure a week or so ago... I bought maple taps and started collecting maple sap. I collected about 12 gallons in the first four days or so off of 4 trees and have cooked about 7 gallons down (5 gallons = about 1 pint of syrup). It took a turn towards cold again this week so sap hasn't been running as good, but supposed to warm back up before the weekend so hopefully I'll have more flowing soon. I tried cooking the first 5 gallons down on a turkey fryer but it cooked for about 4 hours without getting up to boil so I split it out and cooked it on the side burner of the grill and two pots on the stove. It took about 3 hours to cook it down then. I cooked about 2 more gallons down the following day just on the stove in about 2 hours. I have about 5 gallons in the freezer still but decided I needed a way to cook it on the fire pit instead to do it outside so I ordered a couple of big metal steam pans (stainless) that I'm going to try and cook on the fire this weekend to see if it will go faster... at a minimum it will be outside so I don't have to deal with all the steam in the house. If I get enough to make a few more pints I will be happy, I want to have a couple pints for us and have a couple pints to give away.

I've got a few cherry tomatoes off the plant in the greenhouse so far. The first couple didn't taste very good so I was getting worried I would have to rip the plant out if they all tasted bad but last night I got the first one that tasted like a tomato, so hopefully they will be OK.

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PostPosted: Mar 8th, '18, 20:40 
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Nice that you live in a area where you can tap maples. Are they sugar maples?


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PostPosted: Mar 8th, '18, 22:40 
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Bummer about the crack. Hard to keep up with all that's happening over at the Rininger place. Maple tree tapping? My goodness. Never a dull moment. You are an inspiration sir.

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PostPosted: Mar 9th, '18, 02:56 
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No, I tapped a Crimson King Maple, and I think the other three are Silver Maples (but one might not be, one might be a Sugar Maple because it seems like it flows a LOT faster than the others...)

Sugar maples have about 2x the sugar in them as other maples, so it takes a little more to make syrup from non-sugar maples, but it's doable... I measured my trees to see how many taps I could put in them without hurting the trees, the crimson king is about 47inch circumference so I only have one tap in it, then the other tree out back is about 95inch circumference, and the two out front are both about 101 inch circumference... so those three have 3 taps in each. I'm hoping as we warm up towards the end of the week they start flowing like crazy again. Now I have the pans I should be able to cook it down a lot faster.

Brian my wife told me last night that her co-workers took her out for lunch yesterday because it was her birthday. She said they were talking about what was going on at home and she told them about my projects that I'm working on, that I built the hoop house, planting stuff in the greenhouse, planning out the garden, started collecting maple sap to make syrup, etc. and she said her co-workers were baffled at how I could have the energy to do all of this stuff and the mental capacity to learn new things because when they go home they just want to sit down with a glass of wine and not think about anything. My response is that my mind is numb when I go home at night, and I am at a point where I'm sick of my job but can't really leave it and get paid what I'm making anywhere else because I don't have a degree no one will hire me to do what I do or pay what I get paid. So I have to come up with things to entertain me so my life isn't just a cycle of wake up go to work come home go to bed wake up go to work come home go to bed. This stuff I actually enjoy learning new things and being able to say I did it... I forget who it is (bullwinkle?), someone on here has a '100 things in 30 years' or something like that type of thread about learning to do 100 things you've never done before, before you die. I love this thought... I've thought about starting my own page to document it all, but I am more or less documenting it all spread out on the different forums I'm on.

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PostPosted: Mar 9th, '18, 03:03 
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As I said, "you are an inspiration." Thanks for that

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Specs: 2600 gallon (347.56cf) Masonry fish pond. 44cf GBs. 200 gal (26.7cf) ST. 15 gal (2cf) RFF. 50 gal (6.7cf) biofilter. Brook trout and Comets.


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