Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring is officially here

3/22: Well, it's official, spring has sprung!! We have had the first robins of the season hopping around, along with the return of the red-winged blackbird and starling. And this morning mom reported seeing a chippie on the ledge!! Of course that meant today I set up a couple kill buckets for the chippies to catch them as they come out of hibernation. We are still supposed to hit freezing temps tonight, but for the next 10 days plus it's looking like it shouldn't be hard freezing under 32- I still think we might get one, but we shall see.
The early flowers are starting to come up, crocus, lilies, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. The irises are starting to blade up too.

It looks like so far the stuff I put out to repel that racoon from our doors is being effective. I set up a few containers of dryer fluff and ammonia and put them out in strategic places, and blew through a whole jar of hot pepper flake scattering it all along that travel path area. We haven't seen it come back yet, but now I'm out of hot pepper and need to get more, lol. I'll expand out the area to surround the whole house. And start some kitty litter box dumping around some of the trees too- that helps repel the raccoons and is supposed to help attract ferals, and I would like to see a couple of those around here again.

I do finally have some pics of the greenhouse we kicked butt on. These are the originals, before we did the full sheet capover.
So a little tour...

The front porch. It's already been rather nice for a few sits so far. Right now the bench from Black Dragon is serving as a bit of a table to our milkcrate stools.

The doors and walkout to the garden. Last year we did a deep smother bed over that little walk area between the garden and garage. The two big buckets are dead pulled marigolds awaiting dumping elsewhere. But it looks nice enough for the pic :)

Another angle... most of the tubs in front are currently not in use, and likely will be filled with peppers and probably some herbs and flowers. the end bed has been weeded out, but I still need to get out there with some grid mesh and do a good gravel clean out next- I'd like to plant in some root crops there this year but it's rocky enough to need some good cleaning.

A pic from the back corner. in the middle of the staked in area is the giant Beer Garden Radish I grew last year.. I really hope that the thing comes back again this year so I have a chance at some seed off of it. I didn't really get any pods from it last year :(  The green fuzz behind and to the left of the radish is a healthy crop of softneck garlic sprouting up!! After losing all the hardneck, and thought it was too late on the softneck, and here we go. I'll let it go this year to get a good mother crop going, then dig the whole thing up in the fall to re-distribute elsewhere.

And last outside shot. To the far right you can just see some of last years brussels sprouts that I let overwinter in the hopes of seed for this year too. I've let kale overwinter before, but brussels sprouts is kind of a different challenge. The near end is pretty much clear.

The inside. We hadn't put anything in yet, wanted to see what the roof did and all that first. And I'm glad we did! We got in bad weather right after and it was way easier to fix it up while it was still empty. It comfortably holds one of the 12'x1' planks on the right side, and I started putting in cages on the left side.

And the doors. It was nice the way the plastic wrapped around for the walls, it left perfect overflaps to use.

Right now I have all the stuff that was overwintering in the box outside the kitchen window and a bunch of the big pots I was overwintering in the solarium moved into the bench side. And a couple flats of the little pots of spring bulbs- crocuses are already blooming :)
Since the weather is promising not to get all hardcore freezing again for at least a bit, tomorrow I will be moving in a bunch more stuff into the cage side- flats of herbs, lavender, landscaping plants, more spring bulbs, and strawberries. That will free up a huge amount of space in the solarium so I can move a bunch of stuff from the kitchen out to there.. we are quick hitting the time where seedlings and sproutlings are going to be needing more space, and it will be warm enough out in the solarium for a bunch of stuff.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Yay seedlings!!

There's bulbs, trees, and bushes a sprouting in the greenhouse.. and in a few days more plants from the solarium will be shuffled out. Small potted sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and marjoram. Gallon pots of lavender, and a handful of landscaping plants- including a couple bergenia starting to put up buds- they look a lot like asparagus tips right now. A few more pots of bulbs ready to go out. I'm still holding back a couple of them because they are still doing quite well and the zinnias planted with them look like they are ready to start budding up for some early spring blooms.

36 asparagus seedlings have been repotted and after a few days for potential transplant shock, have been moved out to the solarium. And nicely enough, I have a bunch of seedlings popping up out there too. Mostly columbines, and some snapdragons, but hey, happy enought about that much. I'm especially pleased that all six pots of the double furled blue have popped up- I've been nurturing that plant along for years to get it to produce a robust seed crop, so I'm extra happy that the seedlings look like they have a good germination rate. I also have enough seed left over to sow in to the row with the plants. I plan on keeping them separate like they are now, and just keep planting them back in outside that office window.
The big hunk of seed of toothache plant has come along enough now that today I transplanted up 72 of them into their own cells and got them on the rack in the kitchen, and started another box of sprouting garlic. At this point I just started box 4 and box 1 that I planted at the end of December is starting to spend itself out and produce less good greens. Starting a box every 3 weeks or so seems to be working well, and looks like 4 box rotation will work out too.
With how nicely and well the garlic greens and the microgreens were, along with a few herbs- I think we probably will try to do some indoor growing of those all summer this year- an indoor kitchen garden, lol.
A couple of the peppers are starting to pop up- Aji Lemon and Tobago Seasoning.

Mums. Last winter I picked up a pair of half gallon pots of coral colored on clearance for a couple bucks each. They were extra bonus because they came in two pots- a plain one inside a nicer decorative one. Those overwintered in the solarium uncut till just a few weeks ago. Then I trimmed off all the dead blooms and old stalks to the new green fuzz. Those came inside today because they are at the 4 inch or so flush. A trio of white mums in 4 inch pots survived the winter and got brought inside today too. I want them to start flushing out to their 6-8" stage so I can start pinching them for cuttings. I picked up a bright and sunny yellow half gallon one randomly at a grocery store in January. It was in full bloom and has now had that flush die back. I've been keeping up on the trimming and now I have a half dozen cuttings started and took another 16 today. I've now fully trimmed down that mum to it's new flush that is just starting to want to peek out with some fresh blooms.

I had one last sad rust coleus struggling along all winter, and I finally had to admit it's original root and stalk were truly dying and I needed to just cut the live tip off and treat it like a cutting too and hope for the best. On the bright side, it is a nice bushy tip that could grow up quite lovely again.

All five poinsettias are alive and starting to do their thing after their die off. It's kind of neat watching them start to pop back. After a bit, those will get cut back to start over again too. And the hardy kiwi vine is starting to flush out with the most adorable rabbit ears of soft green- it's gonna kill me to trim the tops off.

The fuschias. The full whites have done beautifully in their mother pot all winter, and will be ready to start taking cuttings on soon. The cherry and white mother is doing ok, it needed a serious trimback and is just starting to leaf out again. The cherry and purple cuttings tray has done nicely over the winter and will need to be potted up in bigger pots soon. The two cuttings trays of the whites and cherry and whites suffered, and likely will not spring back.

Three large pots of lemon balm are seriously plush and springing. Large pots of rosemary are going well and the thymes are flush enough that I've started taking trimmings for cooking. The lemon verbenas are starting to crack out of their winter die off too.

All the pots of pelargoniums have flourished overwinter in the solarium. I have a lot of cutting to do on the citronella scented, and the rose scented seriously needs some cuttings taken too. I'm thinking there might be some serious yard plantings of these babies this spring. 

And tonight for dinner is homemade flatbread pizzas :)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Made a greenhouse.. and it is awesome.

Feb 19th....

We have gotten in a freakishly nice weather spell... Freakishly as in steady 50's peaking out into almost 60's for a week straight. Overnight lows getting hard frosts.. Wha? Hello March? Nope. A couple times past this time of year yielded pics of the house snow spattered and drifted in!
Weather broke in nice on Thursday... So I raked out and did spring cleaning on the kennel bed and the raised beds, that sort of thing. Got the kid out to clean up the yard of blown around stuff and tree debris, that sort of thing.

Yesterday my sister and I started making the dog kennel into a walk in cold frame/green house. It cost about 25-30 bucks in materials, and we used a lot of recycled materials that really helped bring down the cost!

Total footprint of the "house" is 12x15- each section is around 4 foot wide and 15 foot long. Two 4x15 sections are enclosed together as the "house", and one 4x15 section roofed but not walled in. This is because originally it's a three run dog kennel- two sections are walled in, but one section does not have an outside wall. On the 12 foot wide ends, on one side there is nothing, on the other the open side has no door, but the two enclosed runs have doors.

Purchased materials list:
2- 10x25 foot 3mil rolls of clear roll plastic, 4 bucks each
2- 10x12 white tarps, 4 bucks each. I picked these up to use for some wall use on the outdoor kitchen too- once the plastic is down mid summer, they will get used again for this.
a couple packages of staples- smaller ones for the clear plastic and the smaller gun, big ones for the heavy bailing twine and the heavy gun. 10 bucks for a couple brand new packs, and still tons leftover for other projects.
That's all the bought stuff really. Everything else was pretty much free.

Free/recycled list:
A crapton of heavy duty blue plastic bailing twine. I got it last fall while working at Watervliet. They get in huge pallets of straw bales that are all baled together with this twine. It just gets cut off as cubes are broken open to sell off bales, and thrown away unless anyone asks for some. No one asked and I brought home a large box before they were thrown away.
A lot of misc boards- these are the ones I keep reusing as "outdoor wood" from a heap that was on the property when we bought it.
A couple segments of TV antenna tower- those were a whole tower before us too, and when Dave cut it down I had him do it in a few six foot-ish or so segments to use for various things. Seemed useful at the time.
A set of single waterbed rails- again free. Picked up a couple free waterbed frames last summer. The pedestals are now additional drawers under our bed. Boards are used all over inside. And a set of rails for scrap now pin the base on two sides of the house perfectly now. The pleather really stands up remarkably well to the elements.
One vertical blind- I happened to have one that was on the windows when we bought the place. When it broke and came down it went into "plant tag" material.

A special recycle from the Black Dragon... three milk crates full of paving bricks and the sitting rail.  Currently, the paving bricks are pinning down the plastic on the veranda in a neat two brick high wall, with the sitting rail acting as a light use table and the crates as low stools. As summer goes along and it's time for the bricks current usefulness ends.. that area will be nice to sit in and start some etching work on them for some folks.

So Friday.. the weather was nigh and good. Started out by raking out the end cap of the kennel bed. It needed it, and it was nice to get the break early to do it. Felt good to be out in the sun. Started out by grabbing one of the empty black party buckets and carefully pulled out the outer edge of dead marigolds- chock full of seed heads and worth setting aside. Then a nice rake out of the bed and some pulling up of weeds. Including that darn stubborn grape that keeps wanting to spring up. Other stuff too.

Saturday. Woke up early and sis busted out early with raking out and cleaning up of the front yard beds while I was still having coffee- perfect. By the time I was ready to go and do it, we got to it. First we spread out the white tarps for the roof. Used the grommets and some blue bailing twine to tie it down, making sure to overlap the two pieces well.

The clotheslines have been in place for a while and used well. Over the top we laid yard wood along the same lines, then laid the antennia sections to hold everything secure from the other way.

We made sure to tug up the corners and overlap them nice too. The Southwest corner gets the heaviest wind action, and the northeast corner the most wind drift off, so we made sure to lap down the south and west faces of the roof tarp. Put up the roof, then ran into a problem with putting up the walls...

A brilliant thought in the early point in the project on the behalf of my sister... Using tack strips- yay science. We didn't have strip wood to use, and ran out of staples during some of the preliminary tack up- that problem with putting up the walls I mentioned... and we went into town. Got staples, but partway through sis had the notion for tack strip- a vinyl blind strip would be ideal and cheap and she figured we might have one of those around... . Well hell, had a dead blind at home, no problem.

Got home with fresh staples, and went to town with putting up the walls. It really does help for this to be a two man team, makes it much faster and smoother to just tack all the way around.

By the time we really got done with tweaking the roof, getting staples, and really setting in the walls and doing some general cleanup... the day was kind of done. There were finishing details to think about and clean up, and by then those details could be finished tomorrow. And we hit the point with some of our strapping down we needed to use the heavy duty staple action.. and darn it, found out we were out of those staples too.. Just have dinner time, lol.

So Sunday morning... well got about finishing up. Sis came down when I was winding up with morning coffee. Ran into town and got the heavy staples and a few sweetrolls. And busted out when we got home. She stapled in the blue binding, and I set out with the sealing in of the foundations and general clean up. We met in the middle after our own stuff and really finished the thing.

March update.... the roof turned out to not be good. Overcapped it before a storm with sheet plastic, and nope, just nope. Yesterday before it really started snowing we overcapped the whole damn thing with an extra large white tarp.

Good news is that the greenhouse is working and full of happy plants that were pulled from the outside box and from in the solarium... And that frees up those spaces for other wonderful goodies that will be getting started soon!!

Like inside the two racks I have set up in the kitchen are full... The tray of asparagus seedlings are just about ready for their first transplanting, and the bins of lettuce are ready to start being munched on thankfully- those darn things been taking forever, lol.  I've already started the earliest of the peppers, scented hots for the most part and of course a round of cherry bombs. I'm itching to start the next rounds of seeds in the next few days. Stuff is starting to pop up in the solarium too... including the beer garden radish top leftover from last falls pickling and I threw it into a bucket of water... now it's grown through the winter and about ready to bloom. How crazy is that?

Some shopping and pricing... Hmmmm...

The difference between shopping in two towns and two stores..

Menards to the north of us.. Yesterday I bought a 2 pack of regular soft light bulbs and two individual daylight bulbs for my pair of 48 inch shop lights over my workbench. At Menards the 2 pack was 5 bucks, and each bulb was 5 bucks- 15 bucks for four bulbs.
Today I hit Home Depot to the south of us, looking for a tarp and already knowing what Menards had from that run yesterday- I checked to see what they have because I knew a recap on the greenhouse roof was coming up sooner than later in the next few weeks. Checked out the bulb prices. The two pack of bulbs ran 9 bucks, and the individual bulbs were 9 bucks each- it would have been 27 bucks!
Then today it became much more imperative I pick up that tarp- we blew a hole in the roof of the greenhouse and an emergency overcap was required stat. Home Depot didn't have any white plastic tarps- and white is mandatory for a greenhouse roof capping- and their blue tarp of comparative size was way more expensive. My sister took note of the prices there and the Home Depot one was 50 bucks, the Menards one 32 bucks. It was worth the bit of time and gas to drive up to Menards and get what I really wanted for so much cheaper.

Menards and Home Depot are about the same distance away from me. But dang, I really do save big big money- 30 bucks between bulbs and a tarp over the last two days. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fortunes Turning.. some long overdue pics!

So I figured it was long overdue to put up a few pics of the village that has been up and changing for months now. There's a crapton of them, so I culled out just some of the basic overall pics for now... I really need to get better with my camera, I take a lot of bad photos, lol. Not sure how many pics I can load as a time, but here goes...

Halloween first. I started putting it up the day after Labor Day, and it grew, lol. It also took up a lot of additional space, but I liked wrapping it around the solarium wall much better than using the long wall in the living room like I did last year.

Merchants Row- this had all the big storefronts, the Avary, and on the right is Grimms coffee clatch- he's developed quite the skeleton following, lol. Down below on the left is the farm, it had it's own running train to pick up the brain vine produce- and the brightly glowing ball is the pumpkin water tower. All that orange fabric is one whole piece of yardage I picked up at one point for some sort of awesome frock or robe or something, just dunno what it will be yet.

An end shot- Draculas nice front door flanked with benches, and in the background you can see the Alley District with it's Drive In :) You can't really see it well because the solarium lights aren't on to backlight it- but the left hand panel of glass is lined with a gory fridge shelf pinup- that's kind of permanently in place.

Another shot- on the left you can see the drive in, including a real movie screen that my love printed up and put together for me so we could have a October movie marathon. Next to that is the Dog Park, Franks, and Stu's. On the top is a bit of downtown next to the coffin makers district. To the left you can see that gory fridge shelf better.

Another angle, this one is better. All the fabrics I used here are stuff that's been sitting around or scraps and work well for filling in and making some color differences.

Above the TV was the Childrens Ward. Orphanage, schools and housing, a church, and a bit of a graveyard for all those lost souls to hang out.

Another angle- the ghosties had a good place :) In the upper right corner is the kids sandbox which will later become a sledding hill. And on the bottom right is the Bone Gazebo, where humans are stored.

The corner build stretching the Childrens Ward over to Main Street. That guy in the upper left corner looking awesome is Job- as in the guy from the bible. He's kind of the patron saint of Fortunes Turning, but that's a long story for another time.

And a long shot of Main Street and Lower Main. The double deck up top has things like the town hall, clocktower, and of course a lot of folks spooking around. Down below is Merchants Run running on the thin strip above the falls with an outpost to the left and the Dock area to the right.

After Halloween it was time to change things up a little bit. A lot of stuff is too spooky to keep out like that. So the entire Alley District got dismantled and cleared out. The Merchants Row got totally dismantled and cleared out too- the stereo area got reset and left open to use as buffet space through the holidays.

 The mantle got a bit of a reset, with Main Street and Lower Main still set up structure wise, but a lot of buildings got shuffled around too. This is a better pick of Lower Main. Merchant's Run is still having fall sales, and the Dock is still open for business.

A better pic of Main Street.

And the Children's Ward got reworked a bit to be more town friendly and accept in the Drive In.

The Autumn setup was more of a time holder than anything else.. and I really didn't want to pull out all that foliage yet that I had wound through the whole shelving here. Taking that out required a full striping out of everything and pretty much starting over.. And that I did for the Winter Season!

 It's blurry, but I wanted to show the holiday setup here. I had the awesome sunburst fabric, but had to pick up the holly stuff- I didn't have too much by way of Christmas colors already on hand.

A finishing detail. To protect that glorious Christmas fabric, I used a red plastic table runner, and laid over that red paper table runner that I already had. The ribbon is tacked down to hold that whole thing in place nicely.

Above the TV got a winter makeover... the sandbox from the Childrens Ward has now become a sledding hill :)

A long shot of Main Street. Lower Main is all gone now, and taken over by the Snow People :) The two hurricanes on the right are filled with blue mini lights and poly fill, and light up beautifully.

The Snow People have also taken over Main Street, much like their undead counterparts a few months ago, lol. In the upper right you can see my new Cheese Sandwich Shop that was a pre-Christmas gift, and in the bottom left the new Barn and Silo I picked up at a resale shop for 10 bucks.

And right side of Main Street.

That pretty much rounds out 2016. Since then right after New Years I set up for Imbolc, and after that a lot of early spring re-arranging.... But that's another years and another post...