Time to Prune Apple Trees – Winter Workup!

Late winter is generally the best time to prune apple and pear trees since they’re dormant.  This has two benefits.  The one that benefits you is the fact that there are no leafs in the way, so it’s easier to see where your branches are and get in there to chop things up.  The one that benefits the tree is that it’s stored sugars for spring growth won’t have to spread throughout the tree and instead will focus on smaller areas that haven’t been pruned off for growth and fruiting.  As far as a general how-to, Wiki-How has a pretty good article on pruning apple trees in particular, but it neglects to mention the suckers that grow along the root base.

Pruning itself is important, particularly if you have severely overgrown trees such as mine on my lovely inherited foreclosure home.  The reasons I have to prune include 1) downward branches growing into the ground (though I’m sure the deer, bunnies, and my goats have enjoyed the bark), and 2) a windy day broke one of the main scaffold branches, and the other one looked pretty well on its way to being the next candidate, so I needed to chop it up to avoid disease.

I won’t go into the details of how to shape up your tree (especially since while I know the theory behind it, the practice definitely escapes me, aha), but I have noticed a lack of photos of actual trees as you go through the steps.  So!  For all my fellow human beings who don’t quite get what those vague drawings are referring to…

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How to Get Dried Joint Compound / Mud / Limestone Out of Your Sink

Recently, I made a terrible mistake. I asked my husband to clean our mudding supplies. In part of our unending quest to remove the excessive texture on our walls, we regularly slap joint compound on a few walls and call it a day. Sometimes, that slapping happens when it’s nearly lunch time, so while I go to whip up a nice meal, I hope everything will be cleaned properly with lots of water by my dear husband.  “Properly” means most of the mud goes in the junk bucket and only trace amounts have to be wiped off our tools or rinsed off our paint roller. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and the next day when I next used the upstairs bathroom I found it to be rather clogged, dried, and next to impossible for me to do anything about. It wasn’t visible on the top, but as I ran the water to wash my hands, the sink was quickly overflowing.

I had tried a few different things. Vinegar, baking soda and vinegar, boiling hot water, and my bathroom plunger. None of those quite did the trick, though since mild acids such as vinegar dissolve limestone it was definitely a step in the right direction.  Short of having to buy a snake to go down the drain, I decided to try out a small sink plunger. The ones I had found at the local home improvement store didn’t offer great suction (which, like the crazy person I am, I had tested on every single wall I came across while I was there), so I decided to order this questionable looking thing from Uncle Amazon instead.

…Yeah, doesn’t remind me of anything inappropriate at all.

Okay, creepiness aside, it’s a suction machine.  I tried cleaning out my sink again today since I really didn’t want to have to replace a P-trap I had just swapped out when I moved in, adding a bit of vinegar into the sink to erode the limestone, and I used the hand plunger.

Ta-da!  Fixed!  For slightly unpleasant photos and steps, click read more!

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Self-Propagating Onions – Egyptian Walking Onions Planting Time! …Sort of.

My buddy at Shady Side Farm and I were discussing my onion woes.  Mainly, every seed packet I saw convinced me I’d need to buy multiple packets of seeds each year, and then hope they store well, because I eat a lot of onions.  Hundreds.  They are the backbone of cuisine.  I eat a lot of shallots too, but fortunately I can buy some of those from a fancy grocery store and then drop them off in the dirt like I do garlic to make baby food.  Onions, however, I’ve only found ones I need to wait to flower then collect the seeds, which leaves me with nothing to eat since the stalks are stiff as tree bark, the seeds are, well, seeds, and the bulbs are mush.

Fortunately, however, my dear friend suggested Egyptian Walking Onions.  They self-propagate, have lots of edible little bulbs on top, bunch at the bottom, and have tasty onion greens.  Not only that, but I’ve heard they spread like wild fire.

After trying to find a place to buy them and getting lots of complaint reviews about the bulblets being dried out, mushy, or otherwise not fertile and full of life, I finally found a source online.

They arrived just a few days after I ordered them and in great shape.  I actually ordered two separate sets!  One of ten and one of twenty because I thought they were different varieties, but I can’t tell at all if that’s the case by looking at them.  I was really grateful the place I ordered them from sent me an extra 10, since I paid for shipping twice and I greatly suspect that perhaps they are actually all the same.  This works out, since I plan on giving some to my mom for her garden, though I’ve been warned to be careful with these guys since they spread rapidly.

Since they can be planted in the winter, I tried to dig some holes out of my excitement, but unfortunately my ground is still frozen from Friday’s snow!  Ahh, I’m so excited though.  Please let me know if any of you have had any luck with these plants!  My excitement photos are below!

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