How to Open a Swimming Pool Diatomaceous Earth (DE) type filter

How to Open a Swimming Pool Diatomaceous Earth (DE) type filter

How to Open a Swimming Pool is about the procedures I use to open the in-ground swimming pool.  I did a post and video on how to winterize your pool back in the fall.  This process takes you from that point up to the point that your pool is ready to swim in.


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Pool Cover

The first thing to take care of is the pool cover.  After sitting all winter, it likely has water, leaves, and debris on it.  I remove the debris and some of the water as the winter goes on, but if you didn’t, then go ahead and clean it off.  Then use a pump to remove the water.

My system has double water tubes as weights to weight down the cover.  I remove each of these, drain the water, and set them out to dry.  At this point I can remove the cover and lay it out to dry.  After the top dries, I’ll fold it over and let that side dry out, and continue this process until it is small enough to put up.

How To Open A Swimming Pool - Cleaning The Cover

How To Open A Swimming Pool – Cleaning The Cover

Water Level

In the fall, I emptied water out of the pool.  Now it is time to add some water back in, so I simply put a hose in and let it run until the water level is half to three quarters of the way up the skimmer.

Filter

My filter is a Diatomaceous Earth (DE) type filter with “fingers” as I’ll call them.  Once every so many years I’ll take the top part of this filter in to the pool store and get the “fingers” cleaned in an acid bath.  On the off years when I’m not doing the acid bath, I’ll just pull them out and hose them down really good.  After they “fingers” are cleaned, put them back into the filter housing, screw them down, and hook the plumbing up with plumber’s tape.

How To Open A Swimming Pool - Filter

How To Open A Swimming Pool – Filter

More on the Filter

Now remove the pool filter strainer cover and put the strainer basket in.  Then make sure the strainer cover gasket is seated properly, fill the strainer basket reservoir with water and replace the strainer cover.  This water will prime the pump for you.

Pool Plumbing

The next step is to remove any of the winterization products in the pool plumbing system.  For me, this includes freeze plugs that are in the jets, pool skimmer guard, and the skimmer winterization lid.

After all of the winterization plumbing protection is removed, put the pool skimmer basket in place as well as the jet heads in the pool.

Pump On

Turn the pump motor on and look for and repair any leaks.  Add the recommended amount of DE for you pool and shock the pool.  Also, add the chlorine “Hockey Pucks” into the skimmer basket or dispenser if you have one.

Solar Cover

How to Open a Swimming Pool

How to Open a Swimming Pool – Solar Cover

Many people have solar covers to prevent cooling through evaporation and to lock in heat on a sunny day.  If you have a solar cover, put that on now.  I also put my steps in and screw them down at this point.  Some folks remove their diving / jumping boards for the winter.  If you are one of these people, hook it back up now.

More Detail

There is more detail and better views of this process in the video below.  If there is something you don’t understand, check out the video or leave a message in the comments section.


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The Video

Check out the video below titled How to Open a Swimming Pool.

How To Open A Swimming Pool - video

How To Open A Swimming Pool – video

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Propagating Raspberries from Primocanes

Propagating Raspberries from Primocanes

Propagating Raspberries is a “how to” on propagating raspberries from suckers of the original mother plant, also known as primocanes.


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Heritage Raspberries

This cultivar of raspberry is what is known as a primocane.  That means that it actually bears fruit twice in one year.  The first fruiting happens in late spring or very early summer, which is when most other raspberries fruit.  The second fruiting starts happening in the August timeframe and continues up until the first frost.

Propagating Raspberries - Raspberry Bush

Propagating Raspberries – Raspberry Bush

Raspberry Suckers

A raspberry sucker is a new plant that pops up from the root, sometimes many feet away from the original plant.  This is actually just the first-year cane, known as primocane, that is coming up and is a natural part of how raspberries grow.

While raspberries are considered perennial and the root system is, the canes are actually biennale.  The cane comes up and is called a primocane the first year, the second year it is called the floricane, and the third year it is a spent cane or basically a dead cane.

So, by taking the primocane suckers, you are limiting the size of the bush.  This could be a good thing, but you do not want to take too much, or you could end up wiping your bush out.

The suckers I take are usually the ones growing out into the lawn.  Occasionally I’ll grab one from closer to the main plant, but for the most part I’ll leave the area that I have mulched alone.

Digging Suckers Up

Propagating Raspberries - root

Propagating Raspberries – root

The way I dig the suckers up is by shoving a shovel in the soil about six inches away from the plant that I’m propagating.  I make a circle around the plant with a shovel and then reach in with my hands and separate the soil from the roots.  Be careful to not break the cane off of the root.  When you should end up with is a cane that goes down and “T”s into a horizontal root.  You really want at least four inches of the horizontal root.

Trim the Leaves

Now you have to match the leaves to the roots.  By that, I mean you need to trim the leaves and you will leave more leaves if you have more roots.  Raspberries have three leaflets to a leave and I generally leave about one leaflet set for each inch of horizontal root.  So, if I have 4-inches of horizontal root that I dug up, I’ll leave four leaflets on the top side and cut the rest away.

Trimming the leaves matches the energy and water supply capability to what the roots can supply.  If you leave to many leaves, the plant will wilt and could die, because the roots cannot supply the leaves with enough water.  The leaves have something known as transporation that happens to them, which is similar to us perspiring.  Transporation is really the plants losing water to the atmosphere.  If they transpire more than they have water, then they will wilt and if they go too far, they will dry out and not recover.

Propagating Raspberries - Trim

Propagating Raspberries – Trim

Pot the Plant

After the cane is dug up and the top trimmed, I put it in a pot.  I put some soil down in the bottom of the pot, put the plant in, then cover the roots with soil.  You want to get the level right, so eyeball it until you get good with the process.  You want the plant buried in the soil so that the brown part of the stem is in the soil and the green part of the stem is out of the soil.

Propagating Raspberries - Pot

Propagating Raspberries – Pot

Water and Shade

Now that the plant is cut out, trimmed, and in the pot, you want to water it.  Give the soil enough water so that it is thoroughly moist and continue to water for the next couple of weeks.  The frequency of watering is going to depend on the type of soil you used and on the climate you are in.  You don’t want the soil to completely dry out, but you don’t want it to be a marshy mess either.

Now put the plants in the SHADE for a few weeks.  An hour or two of dappled sunshine is ok, just don’t put them in the full-on sun.  After a few weeks, you can move them into more and more sun.  You want shade to slow down the transporation process that we talked about earlier.

Directly into the Ground

If you are going to put the plants directly into their new home and not into a pot, then you are likely going to put them into full sun.  In order to not kill the plants due to too much transporation, you will have to cut more of the leaves on the top off.  Maybe leave one leaflet set for each three inches of horizontal root.  Again, you will have to see what works for your climate.


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The Video

Check out the video below titled Propagating Raspberries.

Propagating Raspberries - Video

Propagating Raspberries – Video

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Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 is the third in a multipart series on upgrading my rainwater harvesting system from 1200 gallons to 4500 gallons.  This video shows the lower half of the plumbing.


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The Plumbing

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 - Lower Plumbing

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 – Lower Plumbing

There is plumbing on the upper side of the water storage tanks and on the lower side.  The upper side filters all of the debris and particles out before the water goes into the tanks.  We will discuss the upper side plumbing in Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 4.  Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3, this post, is going to talk about the plumbing on the lower side of the water storage tanks.  This plumbing is what connects the water storage tanks together and accounts for an excess of rainfall and gives us a way to drain the system to prepare for winters freezing temperatures.

The End

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 - Lower Plumbing Back End

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 – Lower Plumbing Back End

The far back end of the system has a 2-inch pipe that is capped off.  This capped off piece is reserved for a future third 1550-gallon water storage tank.  The way the system is put together, I can simply shut off the valves on each of the other tanks, drain the ten to twelve gallons of water in the pipes, and then cut the cap off and add the new tank in.

Plumbing to the Tanks

Each of the tanks connect to a quick disconnect and a ball valve to shut the water off.  This will allow me to take each individual tank out of the system for maintenance.  The quick disconnect and ball valves were picked up from Lowe’s and are the same ones you pick up for pools.

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 - Quick Disconnect

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 – Quick Disconnect

2 to 4 Inch

Each side of the garage feeds into a water storage tank and comes out with a 2” pipe as discussed above.  We connect the two tanks together in the middle with a 4” pipe.  This is done so we can handle downpours.

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 - 2 to 4 inch

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 – 2 to 4 inch

Drain Valve

In the center of the four-inch pipe is a “T” that runs off as a 2” pipe with a ball valve on it.  This section was designed to be the lowest point in the system and is used to drain the system for winter.  In normal summer operations, the ball valve will remain closed.  This drain is dumping into an area that I plan on putting a swale in sometime in the future.

Overflow

In order to handle overflow so the water doesn’t just dump out of the tanks, we’ve designed a system to handle divert the overflow into our future swale.  The system is basically two vertical pipes with a “U” turn on top.  The height of the “U” turn is designed such that it will drain the water just before the tank is completely full and overflowing.

There are holes drilled in the very top of the “U” turn to prevent a syphon from sucking all of the water out of the tanks.

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 - Overflow

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 – Overflow

Pump Input

The water then goes from the 4” pipe, is converted to a 2” pipe and feeds into our water pump.  Many people can just use gravity feed to use their water, but I need pressure to feed a mist irrigation system, so I’m feeding a water pump to pressurize the water to 40PSI.

Next Week

Keep an eye out next week for the Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 4, where we will cover the top side plumbing.


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The Video

Check out the video below titled Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3.

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 - Video

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 – Video

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Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke

This Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke post explains how to harvest this interesting tuberous plant and how to store and prepare the tubers.


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From One Tuber

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke - 100s

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke – 100s

Last year I put in one tuber of Jerusalem artichoke.  This year I have hundreds.  They spread like mad, so make sure you don’t put them in an area that they can take over and kill out or smother other plants.

The tubers look like the tubers on canna or ginger root, but are a little smaller.  While harvesting Jerusalem artichoke sunchoke, if you miss even one small piece, it will grow into many more plants.

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke - Tuber

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke – Tuber

Inulin

The tubers have a lot of inulin in them, so they are mildly sweet but will not spike your blood sugar like a lot of other sweet or starchy foods.  Be warned though, inulin does not set well with some people and can ferment in the stomach causing gas, sometimes severe.

How do you Eat Them?

Jerusalem artichoke can be eaten raw or cooked.  They are generally sliced thin with the skin still on and put on salads.  One way I heard to try them was to use a cheese grader and then sprinkle them on a salad.  I’ll have to try that.

They can be boiled and used as a potato substitute, but boiling makes them a little mushy.  If you steam them, they have a little better consistency.

The Plant

The plant itself is in the sunflower family and has small yellow flowers that are a little larger than a quarter dollar.  They will grow to ten feet tall, as we already mentioned, they have a spreading habit and can become invasive.  They like fertile soil and full sun.

To Harvest

In order to harvest them, just dig down and start pulling them up.  They will grow just below the surface, down to as much as a foot or more in depth.  I put mine in in a gallon ziplock bag.  They store ok in the refrigerator for a week or so.  If they sit too long, they start breaking down into a starch and lose the crispness.

For longer term storage, they can be frozen, but the best long term storage is just to leave them in the ground.

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke - Gallon Bag

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke – Gallon Bag

When to Harvest

The best time to go about harvesting Jerusalem artichoke sunchoke is after a few frosts.  They can be left in the ground over the winter and harvested all the way up to mid-Spring.  After mid-Spring, they start using the stored energy in the tubers and the tuber quality goes down.  Eventually, the tuber will be spent and become almost hollow.  When this happens, it is a good time to pull out the excess plants, because there will not be enough energy left in the tubers to grow new plants.  This is one effective way to control the spread of these plants.

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke - Spent Tuber

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke – Spent Tuber


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The Video

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Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke - Video

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichoke Sunchoke – Video

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Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 is the second in a multipart series on upgrading my rainwater harvesting system from 1200 gallons to 4500 gallons.


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1100-Gallons in a Week

That’s right, in one week we collected 550-gallons of water in each of the two tanks for a total of 1100-gallons.  But there is still a lot of work to do.  While the gutters and filter system is connected to the top half of the tank, the bottom side plumbing is not hooked up yet.

From last week, we had quick disconnect hooked up and an on/off ball valve connected.  That’s all that was connected on the bottom side of the tank.

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 - 550-Gallons

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 – 550-Gallons

A Leak

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived this week was a leak on the bottom side of the white tank.  The leak was not in the tank itself, but with the threads coming out of the tank connecting to the plumbing.

I grabbed a pipe wrench to tighten the nut on the threads and the leak got worse.  That’s when I noticed that the nut was warped.  This meant I needed to replace the nut with a new one.

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 - Warped Nut

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 – Warped Nut

Water Transfer

Because I had 550 gallons of water that I did not want to lose in this tank, I decided to transfer the water to the other tank.  The way I did this was to temporarily hook this tank up to the pump and pump the water into the other tank.  This worked great and got the water level down to about 200 gallons.

The last 200 gallons wouldn’t come out because of the way the valve was connected up, but I did realize that until later.  To get the rest of the water out so I could work on the valve, I used a leverage system to lift one side of the tank.  Check out the video below to see how that was done.

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 - Leverage

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 – Leverage

New Nut

I took a nut from the third tank and put it on the one that was connected up.  It worked great.  By this point I had the bottom plumbing complete, see Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 3 for details on that.  So, I opened the valves and backfilled the tank and checked for leaks.  There was one little drip which was taken care of with the pipe wrench.

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 - Lower Plumbing

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 – Lower Plumbing


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The Video

Check out the video below titled Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2.

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 - video

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade part 2 – video

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Blackberry Primocane Blackberry Floricane

Blackberry Primocane Blackberry Floricane

This Blackberry Primocane Blackberry Floricane post explains and shows the difference between the two canes on this perennial plant with biennial canes.


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Blackberry Primocane

The blackberry primocanes are the first-year canes.  With traditional blackberries, they are the canes that grow very long and do not fruit the first year.  Primocanes do not grow any longer after the first year of growth. The primocanes on the variety that I own grow to about two twenty-feet long the first year.  The variety that I have does not fruit on the primocanes.

There are varieties on the market that do fruit on primocanes.  They will generally fruit on these canes closer to the fall.  These variety of blackberries are referred to as “primocanes”.  They fruit in the spring on the floricanes, go a month or so without fruiting, and then fruit again that same year on the primocanes.

Blackberry Primocane Blackberry Floricane

Blackberry Primocane Blackberry Floricane

Blackberry Floricane

The blackberry floricanes are the lateral growth that grows on last year’s primocanes.  The floricanes generally only grow about three to twelve inches long in the spring and quickly get buds on them in the spring that will provide you with the spring fruit.

Blackberry Primocane Blackberry Floricane2

Blackberry Primocane Blackberry Floricane2

Spent Canes

Spent canes are the blackberry canes that are three years old.  Generally, they will not even leaf out the third year and will turn a brownish grey color with the bark starting to peel.  These canes are done and should be cut out to make room for more primocanes.

Perennial vs Biennial

Blackberries have perennial roots.  They will survive the winters and come back year after year.  The canes are considered biennial, in that they only live two years, first primocane, then floricane, and then they are done.


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The Video

Check out the video below titled Blackberry Primocane Blackberry Floricane.

Blackberry Primocane Blackberry Floricane

Blackberry Primocane Blackberry Floricane

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Epi083 Great Escape Farms Podcast – Unusual Edible Plants to Grow

Epi083 Great Escape Farms Podcast – Unusual Edible Plants to Grow

This post covers Epi083 Great Escape Farms Podcast – Unusual Edible Plants to Grow in Full Bloom, Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3, More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent, Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade, Food Forest Weeding, and The Week in Review.


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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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Great Escape Farms Podcast

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Food Forest Weeding or Forest Garden Weeding

Food Forest Weeding or Forest Garden Weeding

Food Forest Weeding or Forest Garden Weeding is about advantaging wanted plants and disadvantaging weeds in the first two years of a food forest.


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Background

I put in a food forest, also known as a forest garden two years ago.  Because the plants are very expensive, I bought them small to save money or propagated them myself.  With the plants being very small, they can easily get buried in the weeds.

Food Forest Weeding - Weeds

Food Forest Weeding – Weeds

Weeding

The food forest will get weeded a couple of times and each time it is done, the plants I put in will become advantaged and the weeds will become disadvantaged.  The first thing I did this time was to cut the unwanted weeds and grasses down as close to the ground as I could get them.

Cardboard

Food Forest Weeding - Cardboard

Food Forest Weeding – Cardboard

Next, we wet some cardboard.  The cardboard should be free of any tape or staples.  Then use a hose to wet the inside and all sides of the outside of the cardboard.  Wetting the cardboard will prevent it from becoming hydrophobic and causing a problem later.  It will also allow the cardboard to conform to the shape of the ground more and make it better for the worms.  Worms just love wet cardboard, so about the time that the weeds have died off, the worms will be pushing through.  This will allow water to get through that layer and access the soil.

Leaves

Plants and soil microbes both love to be covered with mulch and there is no better mulch than leaves.  I have put leaves down several times in this area before, but the wind always blows them away.  This time I put down a heavy layer of leaves on top of the cardboard and wet them down.  Then I covered the leaves with wood chips.

Food Forest Weeding - Mulch

Food Forest Weeding – Mulch

Wood Chips

The wood chips I received were delivered for free!  That’s right.  Free.  I found a tree trimming company that was trimming trees around the power lines and they delivered the mulch to my house.  Otherwise, they have to pay to drop them off at a landfill or recycling center.

Not All at Once

I will not do the entire food forest all at once.  We will spend an hour or so at a time and just do the worse sections.  Eventually the whole thing will get done, but we are not going to stress over it.  In a few years, we will just do chop and drop and not use any external inputs.


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The Video

Check out the video below titled Food Forest Weeding or Forest Garden Weeding.

Food Forest Weeding - Video

Food Forest Weeding – Video

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Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade is about my 1200 gallon to 4500 Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade.  I’m in the process of moving from four 300-gallon IBC totes to three 1550-gallon water storage tanks.

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade


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Remove the IBC Totes

The first step was to remove the four 300-gallon IBC totes, the wood, and the cinder blocks that they were setting on.  I stored all of this equipment for later use, either to be added to this system as expansion or to be used at the mobile home, which will be Great Escape Farms headquarters.

Level

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade - Tanks in Place

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade – Tanks in Place

Next was the task of leveling.  I’m trying to keep the budget as cheap as possible and for that reason I used wood chips.  I know that they will break down and this is not the best choice in all the world, but it is the cheapest because I have 40-yards of mulch laying around.  As long as it gets me through the summer and into the fall, then I’m happy.  I can add more next spring to build things up and level out again.  Then I put the tanks in place.

Plumbing the Bottom

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade - Bottom Plumbing

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade – Bottom Plumbing

I did not have time to do all the plumbing in the bottom portion of the system.  But we have some large storms coming this week and I want to catch water, so I will do enough plumbing so the tanks will hold water.  What I did is put in 2” threaded PVC to a regular PVC fitting.  Then I attached a quick disconnect followed by a ball valve.   I shut the ball valve off to hold the water in.

Plumbing the Top

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade - Upper Plumbing

Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade – Upper Plumbing

All of the filtering system is still in place from last year’s system.  I will cover more on that in a future video.  We did need to slightly modify the top system after the filter system so that it aimed into the new larger water storage tanks.  I did not glue anything so I could fine tune everything later.


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Large Rainwater Harvesting System Upgrade – Video

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More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent

More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent

More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent gives you an update on the groundhog that I have been waging war with for the last two plus years.  He has been burrowing under my deck for the last four years and didn’t pay him too much mind until the year before last.  He is one of the most persistent critters I’ve ever seen.


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More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent

More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent

First Round

The year before last I tried caving in his holes, sprinkling granulated fox urine around his entrances, and blocking his entrances.  I even tried suffocating him with carbon monoxide from my four-wheeler exhaust fumes.  Nothing worked.

Lead Poisoning

Between my neighbor and I we were able to dispatch two of them with rifles.  But since we are weekend warriors out at the farm, we don’t see them enough to really affect the population.

Last Year’s Counter Measures

More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent - Chicken Wire

More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent – Chicken Wire

Last year I put down chicken wire on the front and side of the deck.  I buried it down a couple of inches and angled it out so the groundhog couldn’t burrow under the wire.  I also put a few coils of barbed wire out in the ground so that if he did get through, he would not be happy.  This kept him out last year.

More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent - Barbed Wire

More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent – Barbed Wire

Persistence

The pesky little booger is very persistent and has been chewing up my lattice trying to get in through it, but the chicken wire runs up behind the lattice.  This year he has continued to chew the lattice.  But last week he moved down to the back side of the deck where he had never tried to get in before.  Because I did not have chicken wire back there, he was able to get in.

Round Two

This past weekend, I added more chicken wire.  I added it up higher under the lattice, so the chicken wire is a minimum of two feet high, as well as under the ground and out into the soil.  We also added it to the back part of the deck.  Again, we went up two feet high at least and we went down six inches deep and out eighteen inches to keep him from burrowing under.

More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent

More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent

Still Persistent

Over night or early the next morning, he was back at it trying to dig and get under the deck.  I will continue to monitor, but I think he is completely blocked out for now.


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More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent - Video

More Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent – Video

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