Raised Bed Garden 2015 Second Update

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It’s the beginning of August now and the garden is still thriving.  As an experiment this has been a huge success but also a learning experience.  Here are some of my own take aways from this experience.

Garden Size and Planting Style

4′ x 8′ was a good size for a raised bed garden.  Any wider and we would have had difficultly tending to things in the middle.  The Grid layout that we used was successful overall but this experience has taught me to change my approach in planting.  We planting in rows the plants in that row are all of a similar size.  When you plant within a grid however you have to very aware of everything around your plant.  I will cover this more in plant choices.  I think for next year we are going to add a second raised bed beside the first.

Plant Selections

This was a big learning experience for me.  Here is a break down and I what I learned about each of the plants we grew.

Cauliflower I would not grow this again.  It takes a long time to harvest and produces a single head.  In addition the leaves are large and take up lots of space. Each cauliflower could have easily filled its own square in the grid.  Space consumed compared to output this plant wasn’t worth it.
Cabbage Similar to cauliflower this plant takes up quite a bit of space, has a long harvest time, and produces one viable head.  If I planted this again it would be limited in number and on the outskirts of the bed.
Broccoli These were awesome!  The plant is larger but produced lots of florets over good span of time.  Everything from the stalk, leaves, florets, and even flowers are edible.  The only downside were the caterpillars that were particularly prolific.  I will most likely double the amount planted next year, but I think they are best planted toward a side.
Cucumbers I am amazed by many cucumbers we have harvested and continue to harvest.  The vines became so big that they grew out of the garden and into the yard until we gave them a trellis.  I will probably plant the same amount next year.
Tomatoes We grew both Roma and Grape tomatoes, planted mostly in the middle of the garden.  Both produced and continue to produce quite a bit of fruit.  The plants do seem to branch out and at least one of them reaches from one end of the garden to the other.  We harvested the Roma’s for sauce given most of the grape tomatoes away.  Next year I will most likely stick with just Roma tomatoes.
Celery Our celery grew tall but it remained thin and mostly leafy.  We never ended up harvesting it.  If we grow it again it will be in limited quantity.
Carrots Our carrots didn’t have much of a chance.  Planted towards the middle it seemed like something was always towering over them blocking out their sun.  If we plant them next year it need to be away from anything tall.
Potatoes Successful.  We will probably stick with 2 next year as well.
Bell Peppers We were really looking forward to these but they got a late start due to trying to compete with the cauliflower and cabbages for sun.  Once those were removed we have harvested a few peppers that had the most excellent flavor.  Next year we will most likely plant twice as many..

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Raised Bed Garden 2015 First Update

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Its been about a month now since we planted our garden and its coming along, though not as fast as I’d like.

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We ran a soaker hose strategically through the garden to make sure everything would get the water it needs. Afterwards we added some mulch to help keep the weeds down. The lettuce and broccoli are doing very well and have outpaced everything else growth wise. Everything feels so empty and I have this urge to plant more but wife is adamant that we already probably have too much. Shes probably right.

I’ve also picked up some berry bushes.  I bought a Blackberry, Blueberry, Red Raspberry, and ordered 3 Black Raspberry bushes online.  Our girls really like fresh berries so I’m very excited for them to be able to pick them when the time comes.  An interesting note, apparently Red and Black Raspberry’s don’t play well together so you have to keep them at least 75ft apart.

Berry Bushes

Berry Bushes

I’ve decided to look at gardening

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I’ve never had a particularly green thumb or even the inclination to play in the dirt. The idea of growing my own food however is appealing. At the high level you dig up some dirt, drop in some seeds, add water and bada-bing bada-boom food right? I always understood the premise but I have been skeptical about how much actual food you could produce from a normal sized garden. Some articles would have you believe that you can “Feed a family of 4” with a small backyard garden. I noticed that they never seem to say for how long though. A day? Week? Months?

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So being the prudent and responsible person that I am decided to jump right in with both feet! After all, easing in is for the uncommitted right? I’m fond of saying, “Everything’s simple, if you know how”, and this seems no different. Now that I had a goal I wanted to get started. I decided on a raised bed garden. Mostly so I could control the soil and partially because it means I get to make something. A couple of treated 2 x 12’s and some screws later and I’ve got me a genuine wooden rectangle.

The next step was to fill it with some dirt. We purchased various bags of organic garden soil and filled it up to about an inch or so from the top. Add in a dash of Perilite for soil compaction and good measure and we were ready to start planting.  If you’re wondering about the squares, they were created with jute twine.  What appears at first to be a geometry fetish is actually a system for laying out what you will plant.  Growing up, I had only seen gardens planted in rows.  My wife however advised me to get with the times and educated me on some alternatives.

All that’s left is for her to meticulously plan out which seeds go where while I sprinkle them around haphazardly to her dismay! (Kidding… mostly)

M44 Mosin Nagant Rubber Recoil Butt Pad

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I have always enjoyed shooting the Mosin Nagant since that first time I shot one. Yes, the recoil packed a decent punch, but never in a way that I minded too much. I knew however that the recoil would probably put some people off, my wife included. One day by chance I happened to stumble upon the M44 Mosin Nagant Rubber Recoil Butt Pad.

M44 Mosin Nagant Rubber Recoil Butt PadEventually I decided to take a chance on it, after all it was under $10.  The one downside to this is that it smells when you first get it.  I’m not sensitive to smells in general but the room I opened this in smelled like rubber for an hour or more, even after I had taken it to the garage.  The only remedy for it is time to air out.

Installation was easy.  I actually installed mine at the range a few moments before shooting with just the flat head tool on my Leatherman.  The difference was immediately noticeable.  Even with heavier loads the recoil was tamed considerably.  My wife found the rifle enjoyable to shoot and our friend who also owns a Mosin was so impressed that he ordered one from his phone on the spot!  Everyone that tried it agreed that it really made the Mosin feel like a different gun.20150129_220324

 

I have read that some people will drill out the rubber circles in order to give the pad more flex.  I noted however that many people did this before trying it out unmodified first.  I would recommend at least trying it out to see if makes enough difference before you drill out the center.  If I could only pick one modification for the Mosin this would be it.  If you have one these rifles you are doing yourself a disservice by not attaching one of these beauties!

Pending Reviews

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Look for upcoming reviews on following Items: Blast Zone Magic Castle Inflatable Bouncer Oral-B Professional Precision 5000 or Oral-B Professional Precision 7000

Tapco Intrafuse AR Armorer’s Tool ProMag AR-15/M16 Lower Receiver Magazine Well Vise Block, Black Ade Advanced Optics Workbenth Table Upper Block for Gunsmith and Armorer to Quickly Assemble/Disassemble/Repair Their Weapon Combo Tactical USA Flag Patch – Black & White by Gadsden and Culpeper Molon Labe Tactical Patch – Black by Gadsden and Culpeper Tactical Reverse USA Flag Patch – Black & White Dynarex Instant Cold Pack, 5 Inches x 9 Inches, Pack of 24

Nerf Pro Shop Mini Sports Pack

GOLME Pro Pop Up 4 Feet (Two Goals & Bag)

Mikasa Serious Soccer Ball (Red/White, Size 3)

Kids Collection Sports Balls Twin Sheet Set 100% Soft Polyester

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Sterilite Large Flip Top Storage Box, Set of 6

Lockdown Vault Drawer

USA GunClub Easy Use Gun Hanger Pack of 4 Original Handgun Hangers

Is a Pre-shaving cream worth it?

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The first time I came across a pre-shaving cream I was very skeptical.  The only reason I even looked into it any further was because of the great experience I’ve had with Proraso products in the past.  The reviews for it are great but the description left with some unanswered questions, namely what do you do with it?  I assumed perhaps it was something that you put on and then washed off before applying shaving cream.  This perception only served to increase my skepticism.  After doing some research I learned that you apply it before you shave and your shaving cream goes on top of it.

Proraso Pre-Shave CreamBeing happy with the brand as a whole I decided to take a chance.  It arrives in a very nice little glass jar that has survived many drops from 5 and a half feet without any damage.  Following the advice that I found online I applied the Proraso Pre-Shave Cream first.  It has the consistency of a face cream like Noxema.  Almost immediately I noticed a cooling sensation and within a moment I noticed that the hair felt softer.  I wasn’t sure how well applying shaving cream over the top of it was going to work.  I had imagined that it would simply move it around or wipe it off but I could not have been more wrong.

When applying the shaving cream over the top of the pre-shave cream the lather was much thicker and more full.  I have actually enjoyed shaving since I switched to a safety razor and Proraso Shave Cream, but this felt even better!  The Pre-Shave Cream really does make my skin feel great after I shave.  It doesn’t require much and a single container lasted for over a month.  I am extremely glad I took a chance on this.  I’m looking forward to trying their version with Eucalyptus Oil

So to answer the question.  While I can’t speak for all pre-shave creams, in the case of Proraso the answer is YES it is definitely worth it.

Cold Weather Ahead

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With the temperature dropping recently I’ve been debating picking up something warm to wear at or to work.  I’ve been debating between the following two:

Condor Men’s Summit Zero Lightweight Soft Shell Jacket Condor Men’s Alpha Tactical Fleece Jacket
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At the moment I am leaning more towards the Tactical Fleece.  Partially because I already have a nice Pea Coat but it’s not something I would wear around as much inside.  I really like the Soft Shell Jacket, especially the stow away hood but as silly as it may seem, the placement of the side pockets bothers me.  I like to put my hands in the pockets of my jackets when standing idle or cold and the placement of them on the Soft Shell inhibits that.  Whichever one I get I’ll do a review on and let you know what I think.

Another reason Amazon is awesome!

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While browsing Amazon about a week ago I noticed a spotlight ad for Amazon’s newest device Echo.  After running through the marketing material I was pretty impressed and ready to give one a try.  That’s when I saw it.  “Sign up to request and invite and If selected, you will receive an e-mail with an invitation to purchase in the coming weeks.”  Needless to say the marketing worked, now I really wanted one!  Fast forward to today where I again find myself pining over the Echo and looking for a way to coerce an invite.

Being in a playful mood I crafted the following email and sent it to Echo Customer Service Team.

“Greetings follower of the Amazon,

I have been enraptured by the whisperings of the blessing of Echo.  What
sacrifice dost thou demand that I might receive an invite to partake of
such bounty?  I have virgins ready to push into volcanoes, forsake me not!

Your loyal follower,

Joshua of the clan Terry”

Must to my surprise a few hours later I received one of the best responses to one of my emails to date.  Just in case you needed one more reason that Amazon is awesome I submit the following reply.

“Warmest greetings Joshua of the clan Terry,

I am Katie McCloud of the Clan McCloud.

Echo surely is a blessing, as we require no sacrifice for thou to request an invitation to experience its wondrous bounty.

I beg of thee to follow the link below to request thine invitation to join our throng of loyal Echo followers.

https://www.amazon.com/echo

I do preach patience, my son! We expect to begin sending invitations in the weeks to come. Alas, I have no information on how the mighty few that will be bestowed the honor of receiving an Echo will be chosen.

Thanks be to thee for thy never ending fealty.”

Katie, where ever your at thanks for making my day!

Initial Impressions for the new Google Inbox

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Google’s new Inbox service seems to have slipped right by me as I only found about it last week.  Its being rolled out in typical Google fashion, that is “the limited invites to create buzz and demand”.  While its fun to be on the inside of this loop it can be frustrating to be left out.  Luckily there is an easy hack that I won’t bore you with.

It’s different.  My knee jerk reaction to different can sometimes be negative so I have to remind myself not to let old age creep in and to still keep an open mind.  I can see where they are going with it and after my initial, “yea but how do I …” questions are resolved I think I’ll have a better idea of what I think about it.

Stay tuned!