29 August 2012


The webbing on this oak tree may look very dramatic, but it is not a problem - it is caused by barklice.  Barklice are small tree-dwelling insects that feed on pollen, mold, lichens, algae and dead insects and plant material.  They may go unnoticed until they produce this large web.

They are not harmful to plants or animals - they may even be considered beneficial by some, eating things that grow on the trees.  There is no need to do anything about them, unless you think the web is unsightly.  In that case, you can use a high-pressure stream of water to remove the web from the tree.

For more information see the Clemson Cooperative Extension fact sheet, HGIC 2365 Barklice.

Simple DIY Compost Bin

 I've wanted to do a lot more composting around my yard, but didn't know where to start.  Recently I attended a local weekend "gardening school" where I learned about composting.  An easy compost bin made from wire fencing made my day and I wanted to share it:

Take a 10-foot length of wire fencing, about four feet high.  You need something flexible enough to make a cylinder , but sturdy enough to stand on its own.  I recommended welded-wire fencing - make sure it has been "galvanized after welding".  This will prevent the joints from rusting prematurely.  You can get this type of fencing, and others, at home improvement stores and feed stores.  You can also look at the other fencing options they have as well.

Compost piles should be at least three feet wide and three feet high, and no more than five feet in each direction.  A 10-foot length of fencing will make a bin just over three feet wide.  You want it at least three feet tall - that is why I recommend fencing at least three and a half feet tall.

Cut the fencing so that you have a few inches of wire to bend around the other end of the fencing when you make your cylinder.  If you have chosen a more rigid fencing, it will most likely stand on its own.  Don't worry if you are using something less sturdy, like chicken wire - you can use a few t-posts to keep it upright.

 Using these wire bins also makes it easy to turn your compost pile - unhook the wires holding the cylinder together, or just pick it up, and set it next to your pile.  Then use a shovel or garden fork to turn it back into the cylinder.

 Now that you have an easy-to-make compost bin, I hope everyone will be collecting all of their yard waste to use, instead of putting it on the curb...in plastic bags.

New Garden Plans

Thanks so much for bearing with me during my hiatus - I hope I've kept people informed through Twitter, @PCHomestead.  It was very productive and I got a lot of big-picture kind of things sorted out.   First of all, I have been writing or rewriting blog posts, and I will begin publishing them on a weekly basis.  They will usually fall into one of three categories: horticulture, how-to, or garden journal.  I plan to post a hort or how-to article every week, and hopefully a garden journal entry as well.  With the latter, I will try not to be as rambling as I have been in the past.  There will also be links to all of these new articles near the top of the site for easy access.  I've been volunteering at the Master Gardener's Office all summer, answering people's gardening questions, but I don't get many outside the office.  I think they're interesting and I learn something every time, so I thought I would go one step further and encourage people to email me with their questions.  I'll do the best I can to answer them.

I've been going back and forth about what I want to plant in the front yard.  First it was fruit trees, then it was something a little more normal - then it got too hot.  Now I think I've decided once and for all and I'm going to be a rebel.  I'm going to plant vegetables year-round in my front yard.  There, I said it.  I think it took me a long time to finally commit to the idea, but I finally did.  I have a little work before I can do it, though - I have to move some plants and dig up a few stumps and pull lots of weeds.  I can't say when I will have the whole project up and running, but I hope to be able to plant some veggies by October.

I also decided on something at the spur of the moment recently.  I started a calendar to keep track of gardening-related events, including chicken hatching and vegetable planting, etc.  Clemson Extension has a planting chart for a number of vegetables in the three main areas of the state.  It's a good reference and I have used it before, but I needed something a little more in-your-face to remind me of when to plant my vegetables, so I can maximize my yield.  I may adjust some of the dates as time passes, and I will also need to know when to harvest them as well.  There very well may be more added to the calendar in the future, but for now it's fairly complete as far as planting windows.

Since creating the planting calendar, I have rushed to get the seeds and plants I need to get my fall planting off to a good start.  I've missed the window for winter and summer squash and lettuce, but it's only by a few days, and it is still time to plant beans and transplant broccoli.  The time to plant radishes is coming up.  That's about all I have room for at the moment.  Until I work on the front yard, the garden will be full for the time being.

In order to get Fall off to a great start, I'm going to post a few articles - a little taste of what's to come.

07 August 2012

Summer Hiatus

Normally I don't take a hiatus from writing this blog - what usually happens is, I post infrequently or not at all.  After updating the site some, I have been busy with other things this summer, and I think the best thing to do right now is to take a short hiatus.  I plan to be back around Labor Day with all-new posts and updates on the goings-on at Park Circle Homestead.

Meanwhile, I'll be posting periodic photos and info via Twitter, so, if you're not following @PCHomestead, you should!