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Building a Table

Lots of non-gardening things filling up my life these days, which keeps me from gardening and, by extension, blogging about gardening. I’ll get a fall wrap-up garden post written soon to cap off year two of my young forest garden, but in the meantime I’ll share some pictures of a dining table I built a few weeks ago.

We’d been using a Nittori-grade dining table that we bought about 10 years ago, but it was starting to look pretty beat. Having small, messy children has discourage us from buying anything very nice over the last few years, but we’re to the point where the kids can get most of the their food from the plate to their mouths without a majority of it being lost in transit, so I was thinking it might be time to get a new table.

When a quick IKEA search failed to turn up anything, it occurred to me that I could try building a table…and the rest is history. I originally was going to use these plans, but aside from being about two times larger than we can accommodate, the whole ‘pocket hole’ element proved to be too much of a hassle. But I liked the look of that table, so altered the size and figured out a simpler design.

Notching out the legs and spanners (if that’s what the technical term is) with my hand saw was the most difficult part. The next project is going to be a chicken coup, and I think I’ll have to finally invest in proper electric saw for that.

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The reset of the table required very little cutting, so the frame went together quickly.

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The top is made of 2×6 and 2×8 boards, which I had pre-cut, along with the legs, at the homecenter. Somehow I miscalculated the width of the top. I wanted an overhang all the way around, but the sides ended up flush.

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A few coats of paint…

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Slap together a matching bench…

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I’m quite happy with the results. The table and bench are both very sturdy, and the stench of oil stain has finally dissipated. I did end up replacing the boards on either side of the top with wider ones to get the overhang effect I had initially wanted, and the table looks much better that way.

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Back soon with gardening news.

End of Summer

We went about three weeks without rain and temperatures pushing 90 nearly every here, but the vegetable portion of the garden continues to be productive.

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While we still have some hot days ahead, I feel like things are starting to slow down a bit. That could be due to my own thinking starting to shift and look forward to fall.

One of my goals is to plant things that flower at different times to that something is always in bloom in the garden to attract bees and other beneficial insects. Right now my first bee balm is in flower.

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As are these blue globe flowers — I can’t recall what their proper name is, but I planted them last fall and they survived the winter.

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My garden is literally crawling with these increasingly large spiders. They are extremely creepy and extremely beneficial, so I have a complicated relationship with them.

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In my last post I think I said I was out of projects for a while, but you can’t keep a good man down. I had always planned on building an arbor for my grape trees, but figured it wouldn’t need one for the first year. And it probably doesn’t, but I was bored, so I built an arbor.

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It creates a nice entry into the garden, and I can also utilise it for climbing annuals like kabocha and cucumber.

I have another grape tree that wasn’t doing as well, so I was pretty sure I definitely didn’t need an arbor for that one this year. But after I chopped down some corn stalks and old kabocha vines that were hindering the grape’s sunlight it started doing much better. And well…mine as well build another grape arbor. I may need to reinforce these arbors at some point — remember I have zero carpentry knowledge. But they are sturdy enough for the time being.

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My summer vacation is coming to a close, which is just as well because I’ve been eating and drinking like I’m the king of Kanazawa for a few weeks now. Even my vigorous weight lifting and running routine is no match for this lavish lifestyle!

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A Beautiful Mess

The rainy season has ended here and we’ve moved into the hot, sticky days of August. I’m getting lots of cukes, tomatoes, and green peppers, along with bowls full of blackberries and blueberries and a smattering of eggplant and okra. Kabocha pumpkins are just about ready, as are red peppers and a second batch of corn.

Non-edible plants are also doing their thing, and several of my guilds are really taking shape. They can look a bit chaotic, but it’s pleasing to think each plant serves a purpose (more than one hopefully). It’s awesome to see things I planted last year start to mature and fill in the bare ground.

Here’s the guild with the acacia tree at the center, which has gotten massive this year. Around the acacia are comfrey, yarrow, cherry, artichoke, raspberry, currant, chamomile, echinacea, mint, Juneberry, asparagus, garlic chives, sage, creeping time, oregano, rosemary, and red valerien (which is actually white). Wow, writing it down makes me realize how much I have jammed into a smallish space, and there’s still some room to spare. All of the non-edible plants, and some of the edible ones, are improving soil, attracting beneficial insects, and deterring problematic insects — at least that’s the theory.

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This guild still needs a little work, but it’s coming along. It has a biwa (loquat) at it’s center and a gumi bush for nitrogen fixation. There are also chives, rosemary, turmeric, yarrow, raspberry, currant, comfrey, hairy vetch, sage, hissop, and lemon balm.

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In the front of the garden is this guild, which is also nearly full. It has pear and pomegranate trees, a bill berry bush, creeping time, yarrow, and comfrey. I’d like to get a few more species in there next year.

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I’m in a lull at the moment with projects, but a few weeks ago I built a fire pit. My tired old drum grill had finally given in to two years of exposure to the elements, and I’d been thinking of a fire pit for a while now.

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I collected rocks down at the beach, and one big one from the forest.

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So that’s all the garden news. Hope everyone’s enjoying these hot summer days!

Pests

I keep taking pictures and thinking about writing a blog post, but by the time I get around to it the pics are outdated and the garden has changed too much. These are only about a week old, which is about as good as it’s going to get.

We had a nasty encounter with the NHK (the national broadcasting agency) representative the other week — NHK stories are kind of cliche so I’ll save the details and focus on the results. I’d been kicking around the idea of fencing in my entire yard at some point for the sake of my future free-ranging chickens, but I decided to do it now and slap a ‘no solicitations’ sign on the front to hopefully prevent any future disturbances. I’m quite pleased with the results, both in terms of looks and no further NHK harassment.

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The garden is going off right now with daily handfuls of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peas, with eggplant and peppers starting to come in and corn just about ready to go. I’m digging all these nooks and crannies.

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A wall of food.

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Cattails for the first time.

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Penthouse view.

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I had a mole infestation for the first time last week. I think it was driven off premises by a combo of my harassment and a several-day deluge that flooded it’s tunnels, but I have a feeling it’s back…

Hope everyone’s having a great summer so far!

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Comfrey Compost Tea

I intended to include this in my last post but forgot. A few weeks ago I wrote about my first attempt at making comfrey compost tea. I started with a trash can full of fresh leaf and stem cuttings, and several weeks later it had decomposed down to this:

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I was expecting to get a concentrated liquid that I could bottle and dilute to use as needed, which his not quite what I ended up with. Maybe I need to let the next batch go a little longer, but this was a lot more sludge and lot a less liquid than I had anticipated. I won’t say it didn’t stink, but it wasn’t as raunchy as I think it would have been if I had added water at the beginning of the process. It did, however, get progressively funky the longer it sat out.

I tried straining it for a while but I wasn’t making much progress, so I ended up just chucking the whole mess back into the trash can, filling it up halfway with water, and then ladling it throughout the garden.

I don’t know how much it helped, but I have another batch going now that I’ll let go a little longer and see if I get a better juice:sludge quotient.