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Monday, January 14, 2019

Local Farmers and Growers are So Damn Important

GrowFood Carolina

I was watching NatureScene on SCETV a few weeks ago and saw reference to GrowFood Carolina.

The resurgence of farm to fork is nothing new to me. Only a few generations ago many families had a garden and perhaps some chickens and a cow or pig or two. And, even those in the urban areas received much of their food from local farmers and growers.

My grandfather was a mechanic at Hanes in Winston Salem and he had a rather large garden and several cows. He also raised his children in three different homes over time, from a log cabin to a substantial brick ranch home. The land was important to his family.

Working at Piggly Wiggly as a teenager in the produce department, the produce manager was able to purchase certain products from local farmers. We called it buying through the back door. Piggly Wiggly also had an office down at the State Farmers Market.

Well, things have changed since those times, but there is an effort to return to supporting local producers and providing them the access to market and us, the access to them.

GrowFood Carolina was established in 2007 by the Coastal Conservation League, which does more than simply address the coastal region. They also address other natural resource issues.

To learn more go to GrowFood Carolina.

And, if you know of any similar efforts or situations more focused on the Midlands, please leave a comment.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Project from Hell...I Loved It

Fire Pit Area and Walkway
Actually, this was not a project from hell, but with the due date and the foreboding weather, things got a little dicey - well worth it.

We had already performed seven or so projects on this property and helped to or brought in a few more. We truly appreciate and enjoy working with the owners.

Well, this project was proposed last February and with so many other projects and their life and schedule this one was put on the back burner. Oh, it is the back burner. Ha!

Sometime in the fall, several weeks before the Carolina and Clemson game they had mentioned having it ready for such day and then there was mention of an oyster roast and a wedding anniversary. I was somewhat confused about the dates of said events and then realized they all shared the same date. There was to be a Carolina-Clemson Game Oyster Roast Wedding Anniversary Party. Say that three times fast, or even once.

Flagstone Walkway Project - Beginning
This had been taking place since their first anniversary. How could I possibly have not known this? In what cave in Forest Acres had I been living.

Okay, so I was confident some of week prior to the week of the event and some of the week of the event would easily accommodate completing the project, knowing I could juggle a few projects which had no due date or urgency.

Mother Nature had not one iota of concern for my plans and immediately put a damper on this project. During the week the rains wouldn't cease I received an invitation to the CCGORWA Party (too long to type anymore). Then I felt the pressure and my RSVP was: I will only attend if I finish the project and am happy with the work.

Fire Pit Area and Walkway
There are some advantages to doing a flagstone walkway using non-polymer sand in regard to future maintenance and modifications, but you need to re-sand, water in and adjust a few times. I completed the project on the Friday before the CCGORWA Party and these finishing touches were not going to be possible.

I was not completely finished, but the show had to go on and after remembering how the late afternoon sun bounced off of the really old rusty sugar cane kettle, I wanted to see (RSVP: I'll be there.) how this would light up the walkway area with a fire ablaze...and, it did. 

I also met two wonderful families who seemed, for the most part, to be one huge wonderful family, and their friends as well.

So, this truly wasn't a project from hell.

Thank you, E and J.

Flagstone Walkway Project - BeginningP.S. Please don't forget about possibly installing some large stepping stones to the vegetable garden - we can handpick some consistent and finished stones and still allow for a wheelbarrow or cart without creating a continuous path. It'll look great.

Monday, December 24, 2018

You Must Go to Tombo Monday Evening...or Any Other Night

I am still amazed by the number of people I meet who have lived in Forest Acres and surrounding areas far longer than I who are still not aware of a wonderful place named Tombo Grille...more in a moment.

I truly enjoy their Burger Night (others, as well.) - $10 for a Burger, a Beer and a Band. They almost always have a band on this evening, almost always mostly acoustic. This Christmas Eve will be an exception, in lieu of a Special Holiday Menu.

The burgers are fantastic and the cheese options only add to the flavor. They have killer fries, but I choose to go naked with the burger and choose asparagus (always done just right) - less carbs in the evening. Oh, except for the beer.

This evening I had blue cheese. The mayo and ketchup got nowhere near the burger - no need with that blue cheese blend. Otherwise, my Clean Plate Club membership plate was not in jeopardy.

The glass of red wine was added at the direction of the Assistant Epicurean Art Director, Karen Hood, courtesy of a nearby patron.

The current owners have carried on the traditions of the original owner (Eddie Wales - current owner of Motor Supply Company), along with some wonderful changes along the way.

Come out to Tombo to enjoy a well prepared meal from a dynamic menu or their varied and tasty list of beverages.

Or, come hang out and see some friends or meet some new ones.

Go to http://www.tombogrille.com/ and please check out their Facebook page for the latest and upcoming events.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Wonderland...Just Wonder, and Wander

Winter is officially here - time to hibernate. Nope.

The good news is: After today we start to receive more daylight as we approach spring. Yesss!

Many of you may remember the snow of 2011. This photo is of my driveway at a little place I had at Lake Murray on January 10 of that year.

Yes, it was a Winter Wonderland and the song of the same title is a wonderful song.

Well, enough of all this wonderment. Let's think of the other use of the word, as in:

Get out on your property, look around and wonder about all the things you can accomplish now instead of waiting until spring.

Why wait for spring to get your property ready for spring? As if that makes sense.

Spring is the time for caring for and maintaining and enjoying your property instead of running around trying to catch up and hoping to find the right people to help you.

Simply go and wander around and look at the things which need attention and don't necessarily need a warm and sunny day to be taken care of, such as:
  • Pruning certain shrubs and trees for health reasons and aesthetics. Raise canopies of tree-like shrubs and trees. Most any shrub or tree can be pruned most any time of year for health reasons, even those spring bloomers. You will most likely notice the aesthetic benefits as well. 
  • Refreshing or replacing mulch in plant and mulch beds if nearby leaf-drop is done.
  • Re-establishing plant and mulch bed borders to better reflect plant growth and size, and to make them stand out.
  • Pruning back encroaching shrub and tree branches from neighboring properties. 
  • Having soil tested for plant beds and your lawn. Although fertilizer should not be applied this time of year, this is a good time to get the jump on applying lime if your pH needs adjusting. This will also give you time to plan for fertilization.
  • Pressure washing horizontal and lower vertical surfaces such as decks, patios and retaining walls, particularly the more porous concrete materials which have darkened over the year(s). Pressure washing above chest-level or overhead may be quite a wet and chilly endeavor this time of year, but you may find the right warmer and sunny day.
  • Repairing your existing irrigation system or installing a new one.
  • Upgrading your landscape lighting to LED or installing a new LED system.
  • Repairing your existing hardscapes and walkways or installing something new and exciting.
  • Correcting water erosion and drainage issues.
  • Applying spring and winter pre-emergent weed herbicide in late winter. We'll let you know when.
Below are just a few of the projects we have completed recently.

Fire Pit Project - Beginning
Fire Pit Project - Beginning
Fire Pit Project - After
Fire Pit Project - Completed

Yoshino Cherry Bed - Before
The Mess it Was
Yoshino Cherry Bed After - After
After Pruning of Yoshino Cherry Tree, Cleaning out of Bed
 and Pruning Dead Branches from Gardenia

Prior to Reworking the Plant Beds
Prior to Reworking the Plant Beds
After Reworking the Plant Beds
After Reworking the Plant Beds

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Take Advantage of the Cooler Months - Winter Plant Bed Maintenance

After Reworking the Plant Beds
After Reworking the Plant Beds
Before I begin, I must say that other than pruning the somewhat young crepe myrtle (She was a slight mess.) in the center bed in the front yard, I had nothing to do with the shaping, trimming or perhaps otherwise unhealthy treatment of the shrubs.

This was done prior, by someone else, and the property owner knows it.

We did remove some unwanted ground growth and I did raise the canopies on some of the shrubs slightly to accommodate mulch - long needle pine straw in this case.

Prior to Reworking the Plant Beds
Prior to Reworking the Plant Beds
This is a nice home, but the owner has had little time to work with it since moving in a few years ago.

Although it is in a beautiful neighborhood adjacent to a country club, her home is unfortunately surrounded on both sides by two overgrown vacant lots.

We are working on this in stages, which is a lot of what we do - landscape restoration over time, for many reasons.

Managing plant beds, not just the plants themselves, but more so the bed and how it accommodates the plants and balances with, shows off or highlights the property, was the concern here - attention to detail.

Prior to Reworking the Plant Beds
Prior to Reworking the Plant Beds
A huge portion of this project was to have the beds more appropriately represent the size of the shrubs while accounting for future and mature height and width. Slowly curving lines were used for a more natural look.

Although some grading was performed, most of this was accomplished by re-establishing borders and this is not simply about drawing a line in the sand (lawn). It is about creating a more noticeable border (delineation) where the lawn meets the plant bed without using man-made border devices.

It's also easier for the homeowner or their lawn service to edge more accurately and deeper, keeping the grass runners (stolons) from spreading into the bed while allowing mulch to better stay in the bed.

After Reworking the Plant Beds
After Reworking the Plant Beds
In addition, winter is also a good time for pruning shrubs and trees for health reasons, which always adds to the beauty of a plant and promotes better structure. Much of this can be performed on even those early spring bloomers, if done right.

Re-working plant beds and re-establishing borders during winter allows you to plan for spring's growth or new plantings ahead of time.

Also, testing the soil now allows you to plan for spring fertilization, but more importantly allows time for adjusting the pH (typically by applying lime in our area) sooner so that it has a chance to take hold and be more effective.

This also may be the opportune time to install a drip-line system (either from a faucet timer or off your existing sprinkler system). This isn't Alaska.

So, think of winter as that time when you can work with the pallet of your landscape - manicure, tidy up and perhaps plan for all the wonderfulness to take place in the growing season.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Craftsmen's Christmas Classic Art and Craft Festival - November 9, 10 and 11

Craftsmen's Christmas Classic Art and Craft Festival 
November 9, 10 and 11, 2018 
Columbia, SC - State Fairgrounds

It's time again. Come out and enjoy the show, the arts, the crafts and vendors.

And, come see me and the staff from MeadowCroft Farm at booth 3623 at the rear of the Goodman building.

We are usually busy and sometimes (often) swamped with customers, but we will get you what you want.

Please remember, after a day or so, we do run low on some of our most popular products, but you can purchase whatever you want that is available and we will hold it for you while you enjoy the rest of the show.

Seven years ago I began working with MeadowCroft and four years ago Columbia became it's Number One show. I'll take some credit along with our long-time and new customers throughout the state of South Carolina.

There are over 60 different tasty and healthy products - some easy Christmas gift shopping. 

Come out and get pickled and try our number one seller, our Pepper Mustard Sauce!

Learn more about the show.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Bethel Boston Butt Bonanza

Once again, it's time to grab some butt.

The MOB (Men of Bethel) of Bethel United Methodist Church are once again having their now semi-annual Boston Butt Bonanza and this is a wonderful time to let someone else do the cookin'.

In fact, this is perfect timing for Thanksgiving if you need to add a meat for Thanksgiving dinner or simply don't want to slave away in the kitchen and perhaps spend more time on some of your favorite side dishes, or not.

No ifs or ands, just butts - one of the best butts you'll ever get your hands on.

The Butt: A cooked weight of seven (7) pounds of shapely deliciousness packaged in tin foil...Only $30.00.

Tickets are now on sale through November 12 at the Bethel United Methodist Church office Monday through Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The church is located at 4600 Daniel Drive in Forest Acres.

Or, you can you use the Buy Now button below and select as many butts as you can handle.

Get creative! You can freeze your butt off (in the freezer) now and use it (them) to feed your family during the holidays, host a party or have some bona fide pulled pork for your next meal.

Please, don't later find yourself saying, "I wish I would have, butt I didn't." There's a theme here - getting it? Okay, enough.

Proceeds go to church and community projects including funding for Family Promise (hosting homeless families once per quarter), sponsoring and volunteering for the National Prayer Line the first Saturday of each month and funding for Sheriff Leon Lott's Elder Watch Program.

By the way, thank you to all of you who will be coming to Local Sheriff Sits Down with the MOB on Saturday, November 10. We nearly doubled our normal attendance last visit.

Pick-up for the Boston Butts will be available between 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Saturday, November 17 - just in time for Thanksgiving or just in time for you to enjoy another time.

IMPORTANT! If you use the Buy Now feature, please print and bring your receipt when picking up as this will serve as your ticket.

Your receipt will come from service@3rdtoad.com (Don't ask.), so please check your e-mail spam or junk folder if you don't shortly find this in your in-box.

Please contact Doug at 803-553-5757 if you have any questions or difficulty ordering.

Thank you.