Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

This week I was out Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum.  I’m a little late, but did have some berries left.  Normally I’m harvesting from July until first frost, but this year I have been tied up with the business and they have not produced quite as well as usual due to a drought.

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

The Basics

Before I get into how to go about harvesting goji berry, let’s discuss some basics of goji berry. The goji berry has a scientific name of Lycium barbarum, and is also called the wolfberry.  It is a shrub that has purple flowers in the spring and early summer followed by bright orange-red berries in the late summer into fall.   They are native to China and are part of the nightshade family, which also includes potato, peppers, tomato, and eggplant.

Growth Habitat

Goji is woody perennial in zones 5-9 that is deciduous and grows three to five feet in height, with long arching stems.  The flowers are a purple to lavender color with 5 to 6 lobes. After flowering, green berries grow that turn bright orange-red when ripe.  The fruit has 10 to 60 small yellow seeds and ripens from June to October.

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Vitamins and Minerals

Goji berries are high in iron and fiber as well as vitamins A and C, low in calories and high in dietary protein. Studies have cited the high level of antioxidants in goji berries, especially zeaxanthin.

Medicinal?

According to Webmd.com, Many health claims have been made for goji berries, including maintaining a healthy heart and circulation, boosting the immune system, protecting against cancer and increasing longevity, yet the medical evidence to back up these claims is weak.” *

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Picking

You want to pick berries that are a fire engine red color.  To pick goji berries, just grab the berry between your index finger and thumb and pull down.  They usually leave the stems behind.

Process

You can dehydrate the berries, eat them fresh, or make a number of recipes with them. I have washed my berries and will put them in sandwich baggies and eat them with lunch this week.  They have a bit of a strange taste when eaten right out of hand.  The taste is almost soap like to me.  I do like the taste a little better when they are dried, but won’t go through the trouble of drying this few berries.

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Other Uses

Dried goji berries are cooked and added to several dishes including; rice congee, almond jelly, and Chinese tonic soups and is said to go well with pork, chicken and vegetable stir fries.  Goji berries can also be used in herbal teas.  You can also eat the young shoots and leaves as well as using the berries for the production of wine.

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Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review

This Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review provides information on Michael Judd’s book.  The book has eight chapters.  I outline each of the chapters below followed by my thoughts of the book as a whole.

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review

Introduction

The introduction chapter explains what edible landscaping is and why you would want it.  This chapter also explains what permaculture is and how to give edible landscaping a permaculture twist.

Herb Spiral, The Ultimate Raised Bed

An herb spiral as explained by Michael is like a snail shell coming out of the ground to create microclimates and provide lots of planting space in a small area.  This chapter explains what an herb spiral is, how to construct one and why you would want to construct one.  He even gives some examples of what someone may want to put in an herb spiral.

Rainwater Harvesting, Swales & Rain Gardens

In this chapter Michael explains some of the ways to harvest and conserve water.  He focuses on swales, which are a ditch on contour, to slow and stop the water to allow it to penetrate the land.  An explanation is given on how to make and calibrate an A-frame level, how to design and dig a swale, and some concepts for dealing with raised beds, such as mulching and planting into them.  The book also talks about rain gardens for capturing water and how to construct one and explains how to make a good soil mixture to put into the rain garden.

Fungi!! Growing Specialty Mushrooms

The fungi chapter covers several different ways of cultivating fungi and harvesting the fruit – the mushrooms.  He covers a good deal of safety in this chapter, as you have to be careful and not eat any old mushroom.  One of the best ways to be safe with mushrooms is to grow your own and this chapter gives you several ways to do this and several sources to order material from.

Food Forests

To quote Michael; “A Food Forest is a low maintenance gardening technique that mimics a woodland ecosystem but substitutes woodland species with edible trees, bushes, perennial vegetables, herbs, vines, and annuals.”  In this chapter he also touches on sheet mulching, companion planting, and guilds.

Uncommon Fruits

Here you will find some of the great forgotten fruits of our area as well as some not from our area.  The list includes persimmon, paw paw, hardy kiwi, mulberry, jujube, goumi, sea berry, gooseberry & currants, and cider apples.  He teaches us how to prune various fruit trees at different stages of a trees life cycle, how to graft, and how and when to paint a tree.

Hugelkultur, Mounds of Fertility

Hugelkultur is a mound of wood with soil on top.  The first year or two are not great to grow in, but after that there is added fertility and hydration in the soil available to plants.  Some mounds are built on top of the soil and some are sunken in the ground.

Earthen Ovens

Earthen ovens are better insulated than brick ovens allowing the heat to be used longer and more efficiently.  This chapter explains how to make one of these and gives very good detailed instructions along with a lot of pictures.  He even offers up a recipe for your first pizza!

My Thoughts

I met Michael at the Mid-Atlantic permaculture convergence in August where he was the key note speaker.  He was selling books there and I bought one.  I went on a business trip the next week and read this book cover to cover and immediately wanted to build an earthen oven, herb spiral, and get some mushroom logs going.

This book is probably not for the career permaculturist.  It is absolutely for someone who is just starting out in permaculture or any level of gardening.  He explains permaculture concepts and actually all concepts in a very easy to understand way and does not drown you with unfamiliar technology and terminology, but you do walk away having learned an immense amount of new information.

Available on Amazon

Purchase this book on Amazon.  As of this writing it is on sale at Amazon for just under $20.

The Video

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Epi059 Great Escape Farms Podcast

Epi059 Great Escape Farms Podcast

This post covers Epi059 Great Escape Farms Podcast – The Week in Review, Frederick Paw Paw Festival, Ginger Beer, and Happy Anniversary Great Escape Farms.

Great Escape Farms Podcast

Great Escape Farms Podcast

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.

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Happy Anniversary Great Escape Farms

Happy Anniversary Great Escape Farms

Happy Anniversary Great Escape Farms!  One year ago today Great Escape Farms posted our first blog post on GreatEscapeFarms.com.  After one year we have a successful blog post with 287 articles, a YouTube channel with 111 videos, a podcast with 58 episodes, a Facebook page, a nursery that sells unique edible plants, and many, many new friends!

Great Escape Farms Logo

Great Escape Farms Logo

The Pre-Work

While the first blog post went out one year ago, Great Escape Farms was more than a year in the making prior to the first blog post.  There were many lawyer and accountant visits and countless hours reading books on business plans, how to build a web site, and how to get a site to rate on Google as well as other search engines.

Great Escape Farms Podcast

Great Escape Farms Podcast

The Payoff

In my opinion all of this work has paid off.  Here are some of our current stats:

YouTube Views: 16,835

Podcast Downloads: 4,434

Subscribers: 537

Visits to Great Escape Farms yesterday: 136

Onward To 1,000

We now want to get our number of subscribers to 1,000.  With your help this could be accomplished in a relatively short period of time.  As an incentive to help, we are going to run a contest that we are calling the “Subscriber Appreciation Contest”.  This contest will reward at least two lucky winners who follow the instructions below.

Subscriber Appreciation Contest

To Enter the Contest:

Do at least one of the following:

  • Tell friends, family, and acquaintances about us and get them to check us out. It helps if you refer them to a post that they would be interested in.
  • If you have a blog, please blog about our web site, podcast, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or Twitter sites.
  • Tell people about us on in forums, on Twitter, or some other social media platform or share our articles on Facebook.

Then Do This:

After you have done one of the above, send an email to [email protected] including your name, email address, and which method above you did to qualify for the contest.  Also, tell us how you are subscribed.  Entrants must be a subscriber in some way to qualify for the contest.  You could be subscribed to our FaceBook page, our email newsletter, on Twitter, or as a podcast subscriber.  To subscribe to our newsletter go to this link: Great Escape Farms Newsletter.

About Your Email Address

Entering this contest does not subscribe you to any list.  We will not use your name or email information from the contest for anything other than the drawing.  We will announce the names of the winners on the blog post and podcast.  After the contest is over your entry names and email addresses will be discarded.

The Prize

We will hold a drawing and pick two winners from the eligible entrants.  The drawing will be held when we reach our goal of 1000 subscribers.  The prize will be a personally autographed copy of Michael Judd’s book: “Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist”.

Happy Anniversary Great Escape Farms

Happy Anniversary Great Escape Farms

Book Review

We will be doing a review on Michael’s book on our blog post on Tuesday, September 27th.

Thanks for visiting the Happy Anniversary Great Escape Farms post.

Credit: Contest concept from Jack Spirko of TheSurvivalPodcast.com.

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Ginger Beer at the Paw Paw Festival

Ginger Beer at the Paw Paw Festival

I met Ryan at the Paw Paw Festival in Frederick, MD.  He brewed some Ginger Beer and was giving out samples and explaining how to make his brew.  He was nice enough to explain what he was doing for us as well as providing an overview on video.

The Recipe

The ingredients include 2”-3” chunk of ginger, one lime, ½ c sugar, ¼ tsp yeast and water to fill the container.

Ginger Beer at the Paw Paw Festival

Ginger Beer at the Paw Paw Festival

A Quick Brew

He made his Ginger Beer just 24 hours before the festival. Ryan uses the following process: Use fresh grated ginger and squeeze the ginger juice out to taste.  Some people like more and some less, so use what you prefer.  Combine all ingredients, put in an air tight jug, fill the remaining space with water, and store in a dark room at room temperature.  In twenty-four hours you have a mildly carbonated refreshing beverage.  The beverage has a very low alcohol content because it was fermenting for only one day.  It is basically an old time soda beverage and it did taste very much like ginger ale to me.

Ginger Beer at the Paw Paw Festival

Ginger Beer at the Paw Paw Festival

The Container

Ryan usually uses two liter jugs for small batches.  For the Paw Paw Festival, he used a thirty-five-pound oil container.  The CO2 or carbonation comes from the fermentation process and the sealed container.  The smaller bottles have more carbonation because the seal better than the larger jugs.

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Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

This past weekend I attended the Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016 in Frederick, MD hosted by author Michael Judd.  The festival included paw paw tasting, paw paw ice cream making, tours of his straw bale house, tours of his food forests, ginger beer tasting, pizza from a fire brick oven, live music by local musicians, a Michael Judd book signing, and many other activities.

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Paw Paw Jam on the Rocket Stove

The first stop I made on my video tour was the paw paw jam station.  They were making fresh paw paw jam on a rocket stove.  The jam included paw paw pulp, lemon juice, sugar, and pectin.  The rocket stove is a very neat device that cooks with small pieces of wood and cooks extremely cleanly.

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Other Food and Drinks

They had a wood fire pizza oven there and they were making pizzas for the people. I did a separate post and video on that earlier this week.

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Next there was homemade ginger beer for small tastings. I have a separate post that I will put up in the future on this topic.

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

They also had an ice cream station where they were making fresh paw paw ice cream and serving it up to the guests.

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fun for the Kids

They had several kids’ areas where the kids could play and entertain themselves.  There was an area where the kids could paint what they thought a paw paw festival should look like.  They even had an area with sand and kids toys as well as face painting and arts and crafts.

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Sampling the Paw Paws

There was a table that had four different types of paw paws on them.  This area had volunteers slicing the paw paws and answering questions for the people.  Behind this area was a table set up with volunteers who were cleaning the seeds.  If any of the guests asked for the seeds, they received a handful.  In this same general area Michael Judd was doing a book signing and selling some of his paw paw seedlings.  He only had about half a dozen grafted varieties that he was selling and they were sold out before I even knew he was selling plants.

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

The Music

The festival had several local musicians that were entertaining us.  They had a gentleman playing a harp near the kids’ section.  Over near the paw paw tasting area they had a guitarist, violinist, and they took turns singing.

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Hugelkultur Mound

Michael has several Hugelkultur mounds on his property.  He had signs up explaining what they are and why they are there.  A Hugelkultur mound is basically just buried logs that you plant into.  As the wood breaks down it wicks water up and holds it like a sponge for the plants to get a drink.  It also helps build soil as it decays and helps add nutrients to the soil.

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

The Garden Tours

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

I went on a garden tour and saw the many unique edible plants that Michael has in his gardens and food forests.  I did a video of one of his forest gardens and will post that next week.

The highlight to many was seeing the paw paw trees loaded with fruit on them.  This is a sight that many people have never seen before even though the fruit is native to this area.

Paw paws do need two varieties to cross pollinate and sometimes people plant two different varieties right next to one another to ensure cross-pollination.  If a paw paw falls on the ground, they have to be eaten in just a day or two.  If they are handpicked they will store a little longer.

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016 – Paw Paw Cluster

Straw Bale House

Michael’s house is a straw bale house.  He gave a tour of the house and I only caught the tail end of it.  I hope to get out there and video a tour at some point in time and make a post just on the straw bale house.  The house is made from materials as close to his property as he could find it.  Many of the materials and timbers came from his property.  Other materials came from friends and neighbors in the local area.

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

The Volunteers and Guests

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Fredrick Paw Paw Festival 2016

Frederick Paw Paw Festival 2016

There were at least 20 volunteers at the festival helping make it a success.  It was likely more than that, but it was sometimes difficult to tell who were volunteers and who were guests.  Many of the guests jumped right in and were helping out with certain tasks. It seems everyone was enjoying helping out.

 

My Thoughts

From a guest point of view, I’d have to say that this festival was a success.  I have not talked to Michael to see what he thought of it.  I know there was a lot of investment of both time and money he had to put into this event.  I hope he has this again in 2017 and if he does, I’ll be there!

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The Video

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Epi058 Great Escape Farms Podcast

Epi058 Great Escape Farms Podcast

This post covers Epi058 Great Escape Farms Podcast – The Week in Review, Early September 2016 Homestead Update, Propagating Autumn Olive, and Homemade Pizza Oven.

Great Escape Farms Podcast

Great Escape Farms Podcast

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.

If you would like to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, you can do so by clicking on Great Escape Podcast.

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Great Escape Farms Podcast

Please help us by going to iTunes or whatever podcast feed you use and rate our program. We are a new small company and the ratings will help us become more popular on the podcast feeds.

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Homemade Pizza Oven | Paw Paw Festival

Homemade Pizza Oven | Paw Paw Festival

This weekend I witnessed the maiden voyage of a Homemade Pizza Oven made by Ron of Ron’s Handyman Services.  He custom made this oven and is willing to transport it to your party or will build one for you.

Paw Paw Festival in Fredrick, MD

I spent this past Saturday at a Paw Paw festival in Fredrick, MD.  There were many activities going on and one of the vendors there was gracious enough to give me a tour of his exhibit and he explained on video what he was doing.

Homemade Pizza Oven

Homemade Pizza Oven

Mobile Pizza Oven

The vendor was Ron from Ron’s Handy Man Service.  He does a variety of things for people, but for the festival he had a homemade pizza oven that was mounted on a trailer.  The oven is a fire brick and heat stop mortar configuration that you build a fire in on both sides and the back of the oven.  The pizza slides into the oven from the front and is surrounded by fire on three sides.  He rotates the pizza as it cooks to get an even cook all the way around.  The end result is a wood fired pizza that has a wonderful wood smoked flavor.

Homemade Pizza Oven

Homemade Pizza Oven

The Trailer

The trailer was custom built and modified for the pizza oven.  It was re-enforced with angle-iron to handle the weight of the pizza oven and the tailgate was cut so the setup looked natural and not like a landscape trailer.  He also added feet that crank down and stabilize the trailer while he is cooking.

The Food

During the festival there was a constant line at his trailer.  The food was wonderful and the smell of the wood fired oven drew anyone over to him as they were walking by.  I saw many folks eating the pizza and everyone seemed impressed.

Homemade Pizza Oven

Homemade Pizza Oven – The First Pizza

To Reach Ron

If you would like to talk to Ron about his services, call him at 240-678-3189.

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The Video

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Propagating Autumn Olive

Propagating Autumn Olive

This post shows the process of propagating autumn olive using softwood cuttings and a mist irrigation system. The process involves taking cuttings during the summer, dipping the cutting in rooting hormone, and putting the cutting into a soil that drains very well.  Then you mist the leaves every five to ten minutes during daylight hours.

Autumn Olive Basics

Autumn olive is a nitrogen fixing plant that produces berries and is easy to propagate from softwood cuttings.  The botanical name for autumn olive is elaegnus umbellate and is sometimes called autumn berry.

Propagating Autumn Olive - The Plant

Propagating Autumn Olive – The Plant

It is a deciduous shrub that can grow into a small multi-trunked tree reaching as high as 20 feet. The leaves are a grayish green and looks as though it has scales on the bottom of the leaves. The leaves are about three inches long and very narrow measuring only about one inch wide.  It is often used in forest garden design to assist in repairing soil as the food forest garden matures.

Autumn olive is a drought tolerant plant that can grow in full sun or partial shade. It does prefer well drained soil and does well on the edges of forests, hillsides, and abandoned fields. Birds like the fruit and propagate the seeds. It is a very hardy plant and is usually not bothered by deer. Some view Autumn Olive as a noxious invasive weed.

First, Do This….

To start, pick the right time of year and the right wood.  Autumn olive does good with softwood and semi-softwood cuttings.  These are cuttings that are taken from this year’s new growth in mid to late summer where the wood snaps when bent.

Then, This

Then you cut the branches down so they have two to four internodes.  Internodes are any place a branch or leaf comes out.  I usually go with three or four.  Leave two leafs at the top and remove the bottom leafs.

And now the Special Sauce

Dip the bottoms of the cuttings in rooting hormone.  I use dip and grow liquid hormone because I only need the one product and I can mix it as strong as I like.  You generally use more solution on harder wood and less on softer wood.  Powder rooting hormone will work, but you may need to get several different products for different concentrations.

Cuttings in the Ground

Now it is time to place the cuttings into the ground.  Push them into your planting medium about two inches down.  Your planting medium should be something that drains freely and easily.  You do not want to saturate the soil where disease and pathogens will proliferate.

Propagating Autumn Olive - Mist Bed

Propagating Autumn Olive – Mist Bed

Keep Them Wet

These little cuttings will die if the dry out.  You don’t want to soak the ground, but you do want to keep the leaves wet.  The best way to do this is with a mist irrigation system that automatically comes on.  I use the Galcon 8056 and have it programmed for 10 seconds on and 5 minutes off.  This runs all day, but shuts totally off from 9 PM until 6 AM.

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Early September 2016 Homestead Update

Early September 2016 Homestead Update

This post is an Early September 2016 Homestead Update for Great Escape Farms.  We cover 1550-gallon water storage tanks, garden harvest, food forest update, and finally an update on the ever persistent ground hog.

Early September 2016 Homestead Update

Early September 2016 Homestead Update – 2 New Tanks

Those Are Some Big Tanks

This past week I was searching for more IBC totes on Craig’s list and I found two 1550-gallon water storage tanks being sold.  They were priced at $250 each or both for $450.  So I contacted the seller as soon as I could and bought them.  Both have some minor dents that can be easily knocked out.  One of the tanks has a cut in it near the bottom of the tank.  The other one has a crack near the top of the tank.

Early September 2016 Homestead Update

Early September 2016 Homestead Update – Ready to Travel

Tank Repairs

Initially I was a little concerned about how to fix the holes in the tanks.  But after doing some research, I found several ways to repair the tanks.  I bought a “Poly Welder Pro Plastic Repair Kit”, which should be the right fix for both tanks.  I’ll be doing a video on the repair of these tanks in the next week or so.

Early September 2016 Homestead Update

Early September 2016 Homestead Update – First Tank on the Farm

Garden Harvest

I had another large harvest from the garden.  About 20lbs of tomatoes, a dozen or so hot peppers, a dozen cucumbers, a butternut squash, and a 25lb watermelon.  I also harvested some berries from Red Malabar Spinach for seeds and some leaves from the Red Malabar Spinach.

Early September 2016 Homestead Update

Early September 2016 Homestead Update – The Harvest

Food Forest Update

I again watered the food forest on this trip to the farm.  We ran out of water in the totes again and used a little water from the well.

I have been asked about how big my food forest is.  The word forest makes it sound massive, but mine is only about 40-foot wide by about 120-feet long.  A food forest is more about mimicking nature and the layers of the forest than it is about size.  You can mimic the canopy, understory, shrub, herbaceous, groundcover, rhizome, and vine layer in a pretty small area.  I plan on building a bigger one once I’m out here full time, but that is a desire of mine and not necessity of design.

Early September 2016 Homestead Update

Early September 2016 Homestead Update – Red Malabar Spinach

The Ever Persistent Groundhog

He’s baaaack L  The groundhog is leaving the deck alone now, but I found a hole under the garden fence this past weekend.  A groundhog can decimate a garden in just a few days, so I need to work at aggressively keeping him out.  I was in a time crunch this weekend and just threw a thirty-pound rock on his hole.  Next weekend I’ll burry some chicken wire around where he is going under.  If I ever see him, he will be in a stew, but he remains quite elusive while I’m around.

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If you shop at Amazon, please go through our site.  All you have to do is click the Amazon button on the menu bar at the top of every page on our web site.  That link will take you to Amazon and you then shop as you normally do.  It does NOT cost you one penny more, but it does help us out!  Thank you very much for helping to support our small business!

The Video

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