Friday, May 30, 2014

Hops Experiment - May 30th 2014


I have been growing 2 "Nugget" hop plants as an experiment to see how they would do out here. We haven't had a long heat wave yet so not completely sure how they will handle that but so far,the experiment is a huge success!
They were planted on March 15th or 10 weeks ago and are close to 8 feet tall on their way to 20+ feet. They bloom in late summer and my friend at work and my son are both anxiously awaiting them...

Here are the pictures so far of how they are doing.. 
1 week after planting

2 weeks

3 weeks and now they are taking off!

5 weeks


2 months

10 Weeks - they reached almost to the floor of my deck so I have had to string them to the roof of the deck now.

Close up of the leaves at 10 weeks
Apparently, there is a shortage of hops for the home brewer market right now. If I can get these to grow well, I can turn the back hill into a "HopYard" and make some money at this!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Deck Repair Project - Memorial Day Weekend 2014 (day 1 -3)


My favorite laborer (my dad) came up to help me with repairing the deck on Monday, Memorial Day. Of course, as soon as the demo started we realized we were in for a bigger project then we anticipated! 
My goal was to replace the railings and steps if we could, and we did get all the railings replaced but not the steps. This is not a 1-day project and the skill level is definitely not for beginners! The deck is elevated off the second story of the house and that gives it a higher degree of difficulty.
First load of wood
 These are before pictures of the deck.
Floor boards with a lot of damage


Front railing and deck

Dad using a crow bar to take the railing off.

This is what it looked like..

Bad damage from dry rot

Dry rot in the post - and this is what was stopping people from going over the side!

The posts were connected to the joists below by lag bolts so we had to take them out to replace them.

Railing is out!

My friends all say they don't believe that I do the work since I am not in any pictures! Believe me I do the work and here is proof for you!
New post is in the corner and we are starting the railing - notice the caution tape? That was for my dog.. 

New railing going up!

Screwing in the new railing to the post.

All the railing is up - now I have to put the stiles back in.

Back of the deck needed new posts and railing as well.

Back deck posts, railing and stiles going in..we reused the stiles so the colors are the deck don't match. I am going to have to paint them.
Time Saving Tip!
Replacing any stiles can be a chore if you try and measure each one and then screw them in. Instead create a jig, by measuring the distance between the stiles before you remove them and cutting a piece of scrap lumber to fit. Then when you are putting them back you just hold up the jig and you have the same measurement over and over, without having to use the tape measure.
I mark it so it doesnt get thrown away!
The deck needs a lot of work still, and I am afraid this is a multi-part episode. I am working on filling the holes with wood putty and replacing the damaged deck boards. THEN when all that is done, it needs to be painted since I have so many different wood types I can't stain it.

Any volunteers??


Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekend of 5/17/14


Not a lot happening this weekend but good news, the goldfish are still alive! And I think I have the solar almost figured out to work all night long. The second crop of lettuce is going good and I have planted more stuff... chard and squash. :)

Baby lettuce will done in a couple of weeks

Tomato has a fruit!

Not sure which tomato this is but it is doing okay so I am happy with it.
Also, I was able to harvest the onions I planted in the fall. They are "Stockton Red" and are curing now on my deck. Some of them were as big as a grapefruit!
Onions on my deck

Close up on the onions
The garlic will be done soon so at least I have gotten a winter crop out of the yard! I can't wait to try these onions. Family and friends will be seeing some too!

This upcoming Memorial Day weekend my dad and I are going to work on replacing some of the bad boards on my deck, and the railings which are shot. I spent saturday trying to prep it by power washing the deck to see where the wood is good and bad. You can see the difference the right side is clean and the left is not.

If anyone wants to learn DIY - come on out Memorial day weekend!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Aquaponic set-up - 3 tier grow bed


This past weekend I used my new miter saw to add another level to the aquaponic system. (The goldfish were still alive but it is getting hot this week so it could prove to be a challenge!)

I added so that I could expand the grow bed capacity. All the books say my grow beds should hold at least the same amount of water as my tank, which they don't right now. Each grow bed holds about 20 gallons and the fish tank is 100. I am not sure how I can add more capacity so hopefully this will be enough to filter the water and keep the system healthy.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Wildermuth House - Pardee Lake


I went on another educational hiking trip with EBMUD again this past weekend, this time to the Wildermuth house. This is the homestead of an early pioneer family and the house was built out of local sandstone in 1861. The house has a basement and a 2nd story but it wasn't big.. there were only 2 bedrooms for 8 people. Really tight living quarters! But they had "running" water because of a nearby stream where Mr. Wildermuth installed a "spring box" and ran a pipe to the front of the house where a cistern was... this was a luxury in that time period!

Front of the house

Front from the "road"

Side view - you can see the basement and the top story windows

Picture of the boys and the house 

Just a beautiful location!

The stones are so big -  I can't imagine cutting them by hand!

Cactus flower out in front of the house

Nice view of Pardee - it wasn't there when they lived there but still a nice view!

The house was taken over when the Pardee dam was being built, and then it burned in a fire in the 1940s. Only the stone walls were left.. EDMUD took it over in the 70's and then a local group starting rebuilding in the 90's. It is something to see this kind of homestead and how they lived, just not an easy life at all! 


Thursday, May 8, 2014

California Alligator Lizard - May 2014


Just a short post - last weekend I had a good-sized alligator lizard on my deck. I think these are really cool! Unlike the blue-belly lizards, these guys get big and they are fearless... this one was about 8 inches long. Not the largest I have seen here but big enough!

Hiding out waiting for bugs..

His coloration is pretty and works as camouflage!

Who are you looking at??


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Doorstep with log rounds is finally finished! May 2014

D.I.Y. Fact #314b
You will never finish your project if you have a more interesting project going at the same time!

I finally was able to get a solid border of cherrystone landscape timbers around the log step. (If you have no idea what I am talking about, look at the First Post on the doorstep) The steps to finishing it were pretty easy. First I removed the flexible border, dug out the sand and gravel from around the steps, sized up and cut the timbers, drilled a hole and hammered a spike to hold them together.

Laying out the timbers - I made them 7 feet long just a bit longer than the step

Dug out the sand and pebbles to get a smooth base
Dug out to make it level
I used the old spikes to hold the timbers together while I adjusted them
Lining up the corner to the front piece
Drilled holes all the way through and hammered in some landscape spikes into the ground

My greenhouse project took my attention away from finishing this.. but it is done now and I really like it. I would have liked to put more of the small wood sticks but my saw broke.... rock hard oak wood will do that to a saw.