Sunday, June 28, 2009

REVIEW: DIG Drip Irrigation System

I've heard a few people call it "Chore Efficiency" but I just call it lazy. Or maybe I am being efficient. I'm talking about watering the plants. We've spent $500 easy on new plants around the house, and watering is a pain. Plus we're going out of town for vacation, and don't want to come back to a bunch of dead plants.

My first try at doing the drip system was in my garden when I saw a kit on sale at Harbor Freight for $10. It didn't work too well for me. In fairness, I think I was asking too much of it. This kit would work great if you just need to water some planters or a small herb garden.

So I ended up getting a much beefier system at Home Depot. It's the DIG Micro Sprinkler Watering Kit. The basic kit at Home Depot was $26. I got one for the front of the house, and one for the garden. I also bought an extra 100 ft. of the half inch tubing. I think 150 ft is about the max for length, and I needed about 140 ft.

Here's a video of my install.

Review of the DIG Drip Irrigation System from Upshaw Ron on Vimeo.

Now that I've had it for a few days, I'm really happy that I got the battery powered timer.
If you're going to "automate" your watering, might as well do it all the way!

So overall, I'm really quite pleased with the micro sprinkler kit.

See you next time.

From City Boy Starts Farmin'

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My DVD is on Amazon!

This is cool news. I just got a DVD I produced with my buddy Kenan on

We did it a few years ago. It's called Hike Great hikes close to home. It's basically a half hour video for the beginning hiker or for a hiker that's new to the Puget Sound area. We cover a bunch of really cool hikes, and cover what gear you'll need including the 10 essentials. If you're into hiking - check it out.


From City Boy Starts Farmin'

Top 5 Farmer Father's Day Gifts

So Father's Day is right around the corner, but what do you give your dad if he's a country boy? NO SOCKS or BOXER SHORTS. Put some thought into it and get him something he'll actually like. Here's my top 5 list for this year.

5) A Weather Station. This one is the La Crosse Wireless Station. Dad's love things that are wireless, and love checking the weather. Mark my words, you'll start to hear things at the dinner table like, "We had a max wind speed today of 17 miles per hour." Or, "Guess how much rain fell last night." Believe me, Dad will love this one. $70

4) A Weed Puller. May I present to you the Yard Butler Rocket. It really works and saves your back. Sit and get a chuckle as you watch dad wander around the yard just looking for a weed to pull. $38

3) Skidding Tongs. Trust me on this one. I just got a pair of skidding tongs, and I couldn't wait to hook em' up to the tractor and start dragging some stumps around. If your Dad has a chain saw, then he needs a pair of Skidding Tongs! I know you have no idea what this is, but Dad will love it. You use these tongs to pick up or drag stumps. A major plus when it's time to cut firewood. Bonus: dad gets to pretend he's a real life lumberjack! $54

2) A Metal Detector. I know what you're thinking - that's the dorkiest gift ever. But every dad would love to have one of these but it's one of those things you just don't buy for yourself. Believe me, Dad will be happy he got this one, and I bet you he finds some strange piece of metal on the property within a week! $60

1) A Nail Gun. This is the one that I have, and I use it all the time on the ranch. One prerequisite: make sure Dad already has a compressor. If not, then buy the cordless nail gun - a bit more expensive, but there will be an ear to ear grin on Dad's face when he opens this up. Trust me. $209

Good luck! And treat your Farmer Dad right this year!
From City Boy Starts Farmin'

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Top 5 Things for a Lazy Gardener.

Well, it's my second year of gardening. I must admit I went a bit overboard last year. I think that's probably pretty standard. You can use the search box at the top of my blog to find the plans for my raised beds if you want to see the stuff from last year.

But here's my list of things I learned to be a lazy gardener.

1) Seeds suck. Don't buy them till you have a few years experience and find that you LOVE gardening. I went crazy last year buying seeds, and because I'm a beginner, it's a total waste of time and money. I don't know how to start things inside - I don't have growing lights - and I don't really have the time.

2) Buy The Starters. For several reasons. Less work for you - that's the most important. And second, because you'll know what the plant looks like. Last year, when I planted seeds, I couldn't tell the plants I wanted from the weeds. Finally, you get to eat stuff quicker. In the end, it was only a few dollars more that the mountain of seeds I bought last year.

3) Less Is More. Mistake #2 from last year is that I tried to do too much. Start small and you'll realize that unless you cook a gourmet meal every night, that it's actually quite hard to keep up with the yield of even a moderate sized garden.

4) Raised Beds Rule. This is the one area that I give myself credit in. I knew going in that I did not want to be down on my hands and knees fooling around with these plants. The raised beds that I made bring everything right up where I can get to them. I did make the boxes deeper this year, and that helped out immensely.

5) Automatic Watering. This is the next project on my list. For around $30, you can set up a system that will water automatically. Just turn the little timer, and away it goes. A must have for the lazy gardener.

So here's some video of stuff this year:

Ron's Raised Garden from R. Upshaw on Vimeo.

See You Next Time

From City Boy Starts Farmin'

Good Bye Dwarf Spruce Trees...

A word about Craigslist. It can be the best thing ever (see: Total Gym for $25) and it can be the worst thing ever. I speak of the "Free" section. I don't know what it is that is encoded in the DNA of the people who love the free section of Craigslist, but there seems to be a few nucleotides missing. I put an ad up for free Dwarf Spruce Trees.

I figured that someone who needed some trees could transplant them and save a lot of money. Who am I kidding? I also wanted some free yard work. I needed to clear them via orders from the Cowgirl, and thought I could kill two birds with one stone. Lets just say to call these people flaky isn't fair to a biscuit. But after several start/stops, I managed to get the area cleaned out.

I wasn't totally convinced we needed to do it. I kinda like the dwarf spruce trees, especially in the winter when there's some snow on them - seems like a row of Christmas trees, but I must admit that I like the new bed much better.

Good Bye Spruce Trees from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Next up, I need to install an automatic watering system for these flower beds. I'm tired of watering already! Funny how one project creates another.

See you next time

From City Boy Starts Farmin'

Nuts! I Love Em.

...Ah, Nuts!

Last year on our honeymoon we went to the Oregon wine country and rode horses through a winery. One winery was right next to a hazelnut farm, and we bought a bag of hazelnuts and fresh honey with some hot spices. It was awesome...

So I thought I'd plant a few hazelnut trees out on the ranch. I learned that you need two so they can cross pollinate.

Plus I've already got the bees - so this should be a no brainer.

Planted some Hazlenut Trees from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

I doubt I'll get any nuts this year. In fact I don't know how big the tree needs to be before it starts producing? Anyone know?

See you next time

From City Boy Starts Farmin'

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Topsy Turvey - Why Do You Hate America?

So I'm getting ready for the gardening season like everyone else, and I see a stack of Topsy Turveys at the store. On sale for $10.

You know the one. I had visions of so many tomatoes that I would open up a Ragu factory on the weekends. So I bought it, and planted 4 tomato plants at the same time.

Well, mine didn't quite turn out like the commercial:

Topsy Turvey = FAIL! from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Am I naive? Did I fall for some clever marketing? Does this mean that the ShamWow is a fraud?

From City Boy Starts Farmin'

The World Famous PIGERATOR

You read that right... a PIGERATOR.

Me and my crazy Cajun buddy Charles decided to have a pig roast out on the Ranch this year. He was at a pig roast in Louisiana that was cooked inside a gutted refrigerator. He said he wanted to make his own version of a gutted fridge with his friend Gator (I told you he's a crazy Cajun.)

So Charles & Gator took care of building the Pigerator, and I was in charge of the pig and beer... and a bon fire. Not a bad trade off.

While I don't have pics of the Pigerator build, it's pretty simple in theory. They welded 1/2" steel plates inside the fridge box - with some insulation so the outside wouldn't get too hot. Charles installed a BBQ grill thermometer thru the door. There's a removable hook welded to the top inside, and a coal box on the bottom. He put a drain hole in the floor for the drippings, and 4 vent pipes - 3 in the front, and one in the back.

You can see the pipes on the front... the one in the back is bigger. Charles has the pipe covers so you can control the airflow. They also installed a fireproof gasket around the door, and two clamps that hold the door open. The thing weighs a ton... man is it heavy.

Next up, I needed to find a pig. Initially, the people I spoke to said to get about a pound per person, but because we didn't want to run out of pork, we ended up with a 114 lb pig. I got it from Mike Lind's Custom Meats.
23022 172nd Ave SE
Kent WA 98042

Mike did a great job on our pig... he even let me borrow a cooler for the weekend since our cooler wasn't big enough for this 114 pounder.

Here's a video of the day in question:

The World Famous PIGERATOR from Upshaw Ron on Vimeo.

It was the best pork that I've ever had in my life... good job to Chuck and his Cajun magic.

Everyone had a great time...

Here's some more video from our buddy Marco:

See you next time..

From City Boy Starts Farmin'

Easy Bloom Review

So I don't exactly have a green thumb. But in my defense, I haven't tried to make anything grow since we suspended a potato over a Styrofoam cup on toothpicks in Mr. Diamond's second grade class.

So I broke down and bought an Easy Bloom. I didn't need my arm twisted too hard, I admit I loves me some gadgets! It now lives next to my iPod, Blackberry, mini DV camcorder, still camera, and a bunch of cords that don't plug into anything.

It costs me about $60. I got mine on Hey, they're on sale now for $39.99... that's a really good deal.

It's a very cool little gadget. Plug it into your computer, and put in your zip code, and it will tell you all the plants that thrive in your area. It also has a watering mode, and monitor mode.

Easy Bloom Review from R. Upshaw on Vimeo.

Here's a little video on the "Water Mode"

Easy Bloom Review - Water mode from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

If you're new to gardening, or clueless - or both, I really recommend the Easy Bloom... especially since they've dropped the price to $39.99. That's less than the cost of one tree that you could avoid planting in the wrong spot with the Easy Bloom.

See you next time.

From City Boy Starts Farmin'

Two Bee Hives This Year

I have a confession to make: I've been slacking off on the blog. But not because I've been lazy. I've been too busy doing stuff to post.

I'm going to try and catch up today.

I have another confession to make: I murdered a bunch of bees last year. Not quite in the Dexter with a saw kind of murder, but my hive did die. It was a really cold winter, and the girls didn't make it. But I'm going to try again this year, and I'm adding another hive. It's really the wooden ware that's the most expensive part of beekeeping for me. So I got a bunch of new gear for this season and changed the bee yard a bit.

Getting Ready For New Bees from Upshaw Ron on Vimeo.

I've expanded the Apiary this year... in fact, I've doubled it... to two hives. Here's how things look now.

Two Hives This Year from R. Upshaw on Vimeo.

Here's some footage from Memorial Day Weekend.

Bee Hives - checking in... from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

It's really fascinating to have the second hive this year. It's helpful to be able to A/B the hives. Initially, the gray hive was much more active... in fact they were kind of testy. I theorized that the gray hive would be more active, and pull out more frames quicker and eventually give me more honey.

But that hasn't really been true. The pink hive seems to have a bigger population, and seems to be pulling out frames quicker. Exactly opposite of what I thought.

I actually reversed the hive boxes two weeks ago to see if it would encourage the girls to pull out the rest of the frames and put honey in there. I'm anxious to put my honey supers on the hives, but I don't think it's quite ready yet.

See you next time.
From City Boy Starts Farmin'