Ok, it’s hot, here in Oklahoma and right when we were getting excited about the 70 and 80 degree weather! This is no longer the case, the hot dry wind of reality has started to blow. It caught me napping, I hope it didn’t catch you, but just in case here are a few pointers, learned the hard way, on how to beat the July heat, and help your garden out a little too.
I lost our entire batch of squash plants because I didn’t keep the watering as it needed. I’ll be replanting some myself. The pests look to be bad this year, so below I’ve attached a few links to some organic and natural pest fighting tools.
Enjoy, and keep those green thumbs growing!
From the Farm
A cool wet spring has given our garden here in Oklahoma a great start. I’ve barely watered yet… I say yet, because I have this gut feeling that mother nature is going to switch on the oven soon. That being said, it’s time to talk gardening again. Most plants have been planted very late this year due to the cool and almost fall type weather this spring so let’s keep the watering and the soil comments on the list. Keep in mind that very soon you will need to add a mid afternoon watering time to give your plants a little relief.
Good luck and keep up the green thumb practices. Don’t forget to check back with your planting schedule if you’re using Traditional Seed Company’s Online Garden Planner. These plans can be very helpful in organizing your next steps towards a great summer garden.
Also, don’t think that it’s too late to plant… As I mention above many warm weather plants can just now go it. Tomatoes, Okra, melons, and squash can all be planted now for great crops mid-summer.
From The Farm
It’s spring! Spring is finally here in Oklahoma. After a beautiful Easter weekend I can’t help but get excited about gardening. The sun is out and at least for the last couple of days we’ve seen some rain. Overall a great start to the growing season. If you planted any cool weather, or early season produce, you might be harvesting a few things. Any veggies that you wintered are hopefully showing an early harvest like our carrots in February! Regardless, it’s time to start stretching your green thumbs and getting ready for a great veggie season. You might look back over my post about the awesome new garden layout and scheduling tools from Territorial Seed Company and while you’re at looking into ordering some Heirloom Seeds!
If you’re laying out your garden look closely at your sun angles and shade ratios, keep in mind the prevailing winds in your area, and watch closely for an update from me on garden layouts coming a little later this month.
Now that I’ve got your head spinning with ideas of pretty blooms and juicy produce let’s look at the garden checklist for April.
That’s a lot, but it’s worth it when you are serving up home grown entree’s that blow the neighbors minds. Keep your garden plan close at hand through this season. April, May, and June can be hectic as it is, but you don’t want to miss a prime planting time due to other distractions. If you haven’t already I would start looking into a compost bin, as we move toward harvest and cleaning out those garden plots. All the old grass and leaves can be placed in a compost bin and the soil used to boost the plants later in the season.
Happy planting and growing, and keep those green thumbs working!
From The Farm
Feel free to share any great garden advice of your own by leaving a comment. Thanks!
There is nothing quite so luxurious as smoking a pipe. It’s a James Bond; “shaken not stirred,” type statement. I know who I am and what I’m about, that I can state it casually. To me pipes are about an image, enjoyment, relaxation and fun. That’s why I smoke one, and that’s why I would recommend it to any man or woman that wants to try something new, something from a bygone age.
I started dreaming of smoking a pipe in the second year of our marriage. I would watch old Humphrey Bogart movies and Cary Grant films and the desire to know that time, to have Sean Connery’s accent, Cary Grants humor and Bogart’s sex appeal. But I settled for a pipe, and it was one of the greatest choices I’ve made.
The basic startup items for a novice pipe smoker are…
- Accessories to help with that first experience
I recommend buying a second hand pipe, or if you have a pipe smoker you know possibly borrowing or buying one from them. There are many advantages to buying used vs. new pipes as a beginner.
- First, used pipes are already broken in, or tempered. A new pipe will need to be cared for more specifically and your flavor and quality of smoke can be affected if not done properly.
- Secondly second hand pipes are cheaper, money isn’t the only consideration but it is one nonetheless, why spend $50 – $300 on a new pipe when you can pick up a used one for $10-$30 and determine if pipe smoking is right for you.
My first pipe was a second hand pipe from an antique shop; I still smoke it and love it today. Here are a few links to great places to purchase new and second hand pipes…
THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A PIPE
A few things to know when buying second hand pipes, these may seem obvious but need to be watched when picking out a good used pipe. None of the new pipes should have these defects and if they do, send it back immediately.
- Cracks or large chips in the stem or bowl
- Used or baked on tobacco in the bowl, this means that pipe was probably not well cared for and it may just need cleaning. But I find it nasty and unprofessional to sell a used pipe without cleaning it.
- Broken or cracked stem, heavy bite marks or disfiguration of the stem
- Finally, you should be able to pull the stem and bowl apart and look inside for cleanliness, a filter, and any cracks or broken edges
Not all pipes will have filters, neither of my two favorite pipes do. Other things to look for in a pipe are.
- The fit, how it fits in your hand and how comfortable you feel with it in the smoking position
- Style, this is completely up to you, I tend to like Dublin and Billiard shaped pipes see the image below from the Pipe Rack for shapes and styles
- Draw, the pipe should have a good draw; which means a good flow of air when puffed
Again, pipes are a statement of who you are and what you like. So picking one is like picking a good hat or that perfect pair of boots it takes time and thought. But when you find it, it’s yours and only yours and you’ll tell stories about your first pipe and how you found it. Now that I’ve got you searching the Internet for pipes and defining your style, let’s talk tobacco.
TOBACCO TYPES AND QUALITIES
The second key ingredient to a good smoke is your tobacco. This is one of those areas where a little trial and error comes in. Each person likes different flavors and different types of tobacco. From very rich dark flavors to light and fruity flavors tobacco is much to the taste and like of the smoker, so here are some basic types and descriptions for your reference in picking a tobacco, or tobacco blend. Keep in mind most tobacco you find in the shops is a blend of two or more of these tobaccos with possible additional flavors added.
- Virginia: one of the basic tobacco types used in most blends, it ranges from a light yellow color to medium brown. The lighter colors tend to have a spicy flavor while the darker colors tend to have a deeper more complex taste.
- Burley: the opposite of a Virginia in its oils and sugar ratio, being high oil low sugar. Burleys tend to have a nutty flavor.
- Carolina: similar to a Virginia but not as rich, a more diluted tobacco.
- Maryland: A mild tobacco, used often in blends.
- Orientals/Turkish: A broad group of tobacco’s used to “spice up” a blend, and are often quite fragrant.
This is a simple list there are others and some non-tobacco elements that are used as well. A great way to learn about tobaccos and to start to develop a personal preference is to try them out, spend time in your local tobacco shop talking to the owner and other pipe enthusiasts, you’ll learn a lot and possibly make a few friends in the process.
Smoking a pipe as I said before is making a statement, it’s about taking time to think and to listen and so don’t expect to smoke your first pipe in 10 minutes. Grab a beer or a manly cocktail, and settle down in your favorite chair, it’s time to enjoy your pipe.
Step 1. Filling the bowl of the pipe. This is the hardest part, but has the most affect on the rest of your smoking experience. Fill the bowl loosely with tobacco and press or pack it lightly with the tamper. The tobacco should compress half way down the bowl. Fill again to the top and pack with the tamper once again, more firmly this time. Now the bowl of your pipe is about ¾ full of tobacco. Finally top of the pipe with a last layer of tobacco and pack it with the tamper, there should only be a small space between the top of the bowl and the tobacco.
Step 2. Testing the pack. Put the pipe to your mouth and draw through it as if smoking. Don’t light the pipe yet. If the air is flowing freely through the tobacco and pipe then your pack is ready to light. If the air is not flowing freely and it’s difficult to draw on the pipe then empty your pipe and re-pack using less pressure with each tamping this time.
Step 3. To light your pipe, use a wooden match or pipe lighter. I like matches, they have a style that I enjoy, more old fashioned. But a lighter works just as well. If using a match let it burn for a second after striking to let the sulphur burn away. Then gently draw on the pipe while moving the match in a circular motion over the surface of the tobacco. You want an even and complete lighting of the top layer of tobacco. Some will tell you to let this first lighting go out, they call this the false light. When breaking in a pipe I follow this rule, but on my older pipes I often get a good light and just let it smolder for a moment, then start puffing.
Step 4. Smoking your pipe is leisurely, and slow. Slow steady puffs, this is not a race it’s a casual stroll with friends. A good comment to make here is that tobacco smoke similar to cigar smoke is not to be inhaled like a cigarette. These tobaccos are stronger and blended more for flavor and enjoyment, so bring the smoke into your mouth taste it, like wine rolling it on your tongue and then release it into the air.
Smoking your pipe should take 30-45 minutes at least, and enjoying it should add even a little more time. So don’t hurry the worst thing a beginner pipe smoker does is smoke 3 bowl full’s of tobacco in an hour and wonder why your head is hurting and your tongue is burning. Slow and steady is the proper and most enjoyable way to smoke a pipe.
WHAT I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME
- The pipe is going to go out, especially as your getting started and learning the feel of packing and lighting. You’ll get halfway through a bowl and realize your just sucking air, not a problem follow step 3 and keep going.
- The pipe get’s too hot for your hand, let it go out, and give it a second relight and keep smoking.
- If the pipe starts getting wet, or gurgling, you start to get tobacco juice in your mouth or any combination of these means that there is too much moisture in the stem of the pipe. Take a pipe cleaner and run it into the stem and let is draw out the moisture for a second or two. Try and keep your mouth dry while smoking to keep this from happening.
- When finished smoking, let the pipe cool before cleaning. Never “knock” a pipe out into your hand or on a hard surface. This can lead to stress fractures in the pipe bowl and stem, which will affect the draw and eventually may crack the pipe completely, rendering it unusable.
I hope this helps those who might be interested in smoking a pipe to get started, and for others maybe it was just a fun read. I’m by no means an expert in pipes or tobacco’s and smoking is something I enjoy but it’s not for everyone. So here are a list of links that helped me get started and which informed this post and it’s images.
- The pipe Rack
- Just for Him
- Tobacco Exchange (local to OKC)
- Pipes by Jake
- The Art of Manliness
- Pipes and Cigars.com
Let me know your smoking stories and any advice that you would like to add for the new smoker in the comments below.
From the Farm
Pipe Image via The Pipe Rack
Are you seeing little green things poking through the ground? I’ve got spinach and carrots and crazy enough garlic coming up! You usually plant garlic in the fall, but if you are more of a tomato’s and peppers kinda person you’ve got a little time yet before planting season begins. Most veggies, in Oklahoma, will go in around the end of March, first of April. Check your local planting guides to find out proper planting times for your area. Now let’s get down to it!
It’s snowing and I’m excited, not for the normal reasons, like a day off (didn’t get one), or snow angels, or snow ice cream. No, the reason I’m excited is that snow equals moisture and moisture equals growing, and due to some very awesome people at Territorial Seed Company my garden is three steps ahead and no going back.
Garden planning is one of the hardest things for me to do. I love gardening but I’m the type of person who moves in the moment. When the sun comes out I don’t need a jacket anymore, I’m ready to play in the dirt (a.k.a. garden). The problem with this is that I’m always working to catch up (so it seems) and even as I present my Garden Checklist for the month I’m wondering how I’m going to get it all done!? Then I stumbled upon this wonderful digitized and computerized garden planning tool from Territorial Seed Company. I order seeds from them occasionally, and I love looking through their catalog, but what’s won me over is this little jewel.
It’s a simple subscription style online garden planning software that allows you to layout your garden, draftsman style. With actual dimensions, specific pathways, and an overall look you can see our raised bed layout (below) as it looks after the drawing and planting schedule was complete.
Then you add plants! They have a full range of basic plant types and blanks for you to create your own from the seed packet information you have on hand (or look up specific plants online). You can work in standard row gardening formats or as I’ve chosen to do this year try out the Square Foot Gardening Method.
Within each square you can see the number of seeds that need to be planted for that specific plant and how much space it might take up. As you can see (below), some of my zucchini squash and butternut squash didn’t fit the square foot so it’s been planted in rows shown by the pink cloud under the image. When you plant in the row format the number of plants/seeds is shown by the number of vegetable icons present in each row. As you can see with my squash rows they are intermingled with tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. I’ve dedicated approximately 2 squash plants per row.
Ok, so it doesn’t feel super warm out yet, at least not consistently, but gardening is in full swing! Many people are starting seeds indoors and waking up their perennials as spring quickly approaches. I’ve already been out, warmed up the raised beds, cleaned up the over winter weeds, and put in my first run at square foot gardening; not to mention digging up an unexpected crop of carrots! So if your green thumb is already itching for green sprouts or if you’re just one of those people that likes to get an early start here are a few February garden tips to get you going…
It’s August and it’s hot! This month for a garden checklist you’ve got some basic rules of thumb, about heat protection, sun protection, and hydration. I know it sounds like I’m talking about working out or the proper summer safety techniques. But honestly, your plants are the same way, they have skin, and need water, and they suffer sun damage just like us. So below you’ll find some basic rules of thumb and techniques to protect your plants and prolong your summer yield.
I hope this helps with your summer gardening. As we move toward the fall, I’ll be talking about planting cover crops and prepping for fall gardens.
Happy August and happy gardening!
From the Farm
This week we are excited to announce that we are posting a week of gardening advice at Curbly! Last January Meg met Chris, the editor-in-chief, at ALT Summit, and hit it off immediately. With a love for creating homemade design to personalize his home and life Chris is a maker, writer, and crafter in the most manly of ways! We joked about how it’s ok for real men to wear pink, love musicals, and still know how to swing a hammer!
“Curbly is a Web community for people who love where they live. Curbly is the best place to share pictures of your home, find design ideas, and get expert home-improvement advice.
Everyone should have a happy, beautiful home. With the right tools and know-how, every person can create a place that fits their personality. Curbly helps you bring out the best in your home.” – Curbly About Page
Here is a sneak peak of the topics we will be covering. Check back cause we’ll be updating the links throughout the week and/or look for our garden post header with the set of three plants (at the top of this post) at Curbly.
It’s time to get inspired, get outside, and get gardening! You can do it!
- How to: Choose the Best Spot for Your Garden
- Good vs. Bad Soil: How to Prep Soil for Your Garden
- Top 4 Things to Consider When Picking Plants for Your Garden
- DIY Upcycled Garden Weed Block
- Roundup: DIY Trellis Ideas
The first post is already live so hop on over and tell the Curbly crew we said hello!
From the Farm
If your plants are anything like mine your cool weather greens are going crazy in this wonderful spring weather. Good amounts of rain and cool afternoons have made for some amazing growth in my asparagus and broccoli, even my radishes (a new attempt in my garden) are growing in leaps and bounds. But with this wonderfully gradual spring we are already seeing the first blushes of summer. So here’s what we need to do to stay ahead of the heat and on course for harvest.
I hope these little tips help make your gardening a little easier, and greener this year. I know I’m headed out this weekend to mark some of these very items of my list. So here’s to lush gardens, great harvests and green thumbs!
From the Farm