Saturday, April 12, 2014

Buckets of Buckets

On the farm you use pails for so many things, watering animals, carrying grain, as an impromptu tool kit when you go fencing, all sorts of things.

I have developed a rather weird fixation with buckets and all the things they can be used for. I hate the waste of seeing them thrown away. I used to work at a Truck stop with a restaurant and they got their pickles, margarine and mayonnaise in good heavy food grade plastic buckets. While I was there I used to get the cooks to throw the used buckets in the back of my pickup. Then I got busy!

I grew things in these rejected buckets. Herbs, Lettuce, Flowers and even an experiment with potatoes.  They were wonderful and convenient  I could move them around when I mowed the lawn and they looked pretty filled with flowers and hanging up!

It is a simple procedure to use buckets for this, first check with any local restaurant to see if they have any they can give you.

Wash them clean of any food residue or there can be insect problems when ants or bees go after honey or other things they have had in them.

Drill 4 holes in the bottom of each pail about equal distances apart and 1 to 2 inches above the bottom of the bucket.

Drilling a Hole

 The Hole placement, about 1 inch from the bottom of the bucket.

Add a layer of gravel to help with drainage about 1 inch deep on the very bottom. Then fill with good composted soil or potting soil or even regular dirt. Plant your flowers, herbs or pepper plants!

Jimmy Nardello peppers, this plant yielded 17 peppers over its a Bucket!

If you love Irish potatoes and baby potatoes and your limited for space they do quite well in buckets too!

This is a bit different and after some experimentation I have found this works well.

Step 1: Drill the holes in the bucket. Omit the rocks and place the holes 1 inch above the bottom of the bucket.

Step 2:  Put topsoil into the bucket to about 1/3 full.

Step 3: Plant the seed potato.

You can see the seed potato at the end of the Trowel.
This is an Adirondack Blue Potato, Blue flesh and very tasty. They are a smaller potato and it  makes wonderful roast potatoes or pale lilac mashed potatoes.

Step 4:  Cover the seed potato with about 2 inches of either potting soil or regular dirt. This leaves about half the pail empty and as the potato plant emerges you cover it again...similar to hilling it in a regular garden.

  Adding a cover of potting soil.

Step 5: Let the plant grow and hill it as needed until it is well grown above the edge of the bucket.

These plants were just topped up with potting soil and are ready to get making "tater's"!

Step 6: The hardest part of this process is keeping them watered evenly. I catch rainwater and use a large plastic cup, about 16  ounces, and water them about every second day or as needed. Water, watch for and pick potato bugs and let them grow.  I use no chemicals on my potatoes.

Here are some well grown Adirondack Blue from last year.

Step 7:  Harvest as needed.  To do this I dump the pail slowly into a tub and there is no digging, I just sift through the soil and get lovely potatoes for fresh eating. The the dirt mix goes back into any area of my regular garden that needs  bit more organic mix.  Or you can stock pile it for next year.

You can use these bucket potatoes for lovely new or baby potatoes or you can let them grow and develop for fall storage and eating. The last storage potatoes from the bucket "brigade" made fine roasted potatoes here in the first week of April!
Here is an idea of what you can enjoy by the bucketful!
These were harvested from buckets along the sidewalk into the house.

 Red Pontiac, Kennebec, All Blue, Adirondack Red, Adirondack Blue and Caribe'. All grown in buckets saved from the landfill!

 You can see the colored flesh of the new potatoes. It makes for an added burst of fun when you dig them!

I am looking forward to baby potatoes from this years buckets and I can almost taste them, cooked lightly with a sprig or two of mint in the water then served hot with butter and of course Kosher salt....yummm!

So if your limited for space and wnt to try something different think of buckets and have fun!

There is much more to buckets than just pailing grain to livestock!

Friday, April 11, 2014

From Brownie to Digital..a Camera tale.

   Photography has always been something I have loved. My Mother gave me a used Brownie Box camera in 1967 for my birthday.  It taught me a lot about things like heads and feet and saving money to get film developed and to buy more film.  It was an El cheapo even if it hadn't been used but I still smile at some of the old Photos I have from it.

 Then years later I saved and scrimped and bought a very good camera with several lenses. An Olympus OM-10. 1 wide angle lens and a telephoto lens. I treated this camera like western gear, it went with me everywhere and i have to admit a lot of places a camera of quality should not go!

I had that camera from 1981 until my camera repair man told me it really was not worth repairing in 2004! It took photos of everything from weddings to grizzly bear, farm equipment to eclipse's of the moon It documented my life, both good and bad and followed me all over the country. It was loaded into saddle bags with my lunch when I was a range rider, it sat on the truck seat beside me when I hauled hay in from the fields. I so enjoyed learning how to use it and its viewfinder saw so much change in my life and the world around it.

In 2004 I went Digital with the purchase of a Fuji Finepix S700. It was a perfect camera for me to learn about digital with and it gave  me the feel of SLR with the wonderful instant picture of the digital.

This image of the Yellow Rose bush outside my house was one of the first digital photos I ever took!  

I took this photo on a cold morning in Great Falls Montana at the Giant Springs Park...the little Fuji didn't mind being cold and I think the goose was keeping his feet warm in the water from the springs!  I was always amazed at how close the zoom brought the item I was  focusing on in!  It did take me a long time to get used to using the display screen not the viewfinder and I still to this day have some issues  with that process!

I often used the Fuji at work to  record some of the big loads that were hauled through the Truck stop. Here is a Huge Michigan loader destined for a mine to the west.

The Fuji is still working but it no longer recognizes its flash function. The sad thing  about this age of throw away is it is more expensive to fix it than buy a new Camera. 

Christmas of 2012 saw me come up in the digital world with a wonderful Christmas present!  A Nikon Coolpix P510, this is an awesome camera with a lot more bells and whistles than I have figured out yet. Zoom, GPS, Wide Angle and panoramic are just a few of its features!

Now this camera is really good and I am so enjoying it. Light and easy to hold it takes great photos and has some pretty neat the Art effect...I can make photos I  have taken look like paintings...okay I am easily amused!

The daffodils out in front of the house were victimized in this fashion!

A Lady Cardinal in snow...wondering why the grass is covered up....I so love the zoom lens to capture these elusive birds!

It has been an interesting journey with my camera's and I love the memories they have put to paper and into albums over the years. I do miss some of the anticipation of picking up my photos at the drugstore to see how they turned out but then there is the trade off of  "Knowing" they have turned out!

Thanks for the memories Brownie to Digital...I look forward to many more saved and looked back upon.