Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

And October is here

10/2: Warm breezes and clear skies herald in the month.. and I kind of wandered aimless and cleaning puttering around the house today with the windows open to bring in the last warmth of the season. I said a goodby to family yesterday and today that is too painful to relate.
But the show must go on, right? Even aimless and lost, gotta get stuff done.
Consolidated the two deep freezes into the one standing one and turned off the chest for defrosting and cleaning up, pulled the tomatoes for salsa to the fridge to defrost. There were several packets of squash and pumpkin pulps in the chest freezer too. Those are now draining to dehydrate. I'm almost out of squash flour and can use some more.
Got the chicken stock reduced- cooked it with a gallon, got 3 quarts, reduced it to a bit less than a quart, which I poured off into 2 9-cube trays for the freezer. Had leftover Italian for dinner.

10/3: Ran a load of dishes early, and more into the dishwasher. Catching up on cleanup can suck up a lot of space, lol. Got another Urfa Beiber out of the solarium- got quite a bag of those piling up now, gonna need to run the smoker this week.
Got the garlic bed planted in- 72 of the Bardens softneck, and 20 of the softneck I grew out this year. A couple of red hot pokers in each back corner, and the blue eye grass made for 3 nice divisions for the front strip. Up yet is planting in bulbs. I had 15 healthy garlic starts I had put into pots earlier this summer out of the very last of the mixed garlic I was given last year- those got planted into the first bed to mature out for next year. I hope there's at least a couple different types in the mix.

Sat down and went through coupons, and the local sale ads for a bit of shopping. It's time to stock up on some canned and dry goods, especially since we are losing all the good freezer space, lol.

10/4: Glad I set in the garlic yesterday, we had some nice tamping in rain this morning.
Shopping day. And it takes hours to do a good round. The downside of living 20ish minutes away from the big stores. Aldi was pretty quick, but Meijer took a while. Picked up about a winters worth of winter squash today- half dozen butterkins, 2 delicatas, and 2 sweet dumplings that can serve 2 per squash, and 4 lovely single serve gold nuggets, about 28 pounds in all. I was tempted by the hubbards, but they were still too big for even a generous 2 person squash. I'll still probably pick up a few more before the season is done if the price is right and there's other varieties to pick up. But these were on sale for 69 cents a pound with a lot of right sized squash to choose from, and I had an additional buck off coupon to apply to my total produce purchase. Meijer also had those seafood entree packets that I've been looking at but too expensive- 6 bucks for a serving, ouch- and made with alcohol to boot. But today they were on clearance for 1.78, so I picked up a few for us to try out. Hardings had good sale action too- picked up 3 bags of taters for the price of 1. And since I found out my favorite snap lock lid containers for flour were discontinued, I was happy to find a pair of them on clearance- I wanted a pair for my bread and wheat flours. I also picked up a set of sealing lid containers on clearance from Aldi today for 7 bucks- three sizes. Used the medium one right away to store quinoa in, not sure what the small and large ones will hold yet, lol.
Tonights dinner is going to be some meatball stroganoff, I haven't made that in a million years, and we got frozen meatballs that need using up- and Hardings had a couple nice tubs of large caps on clearance for 99 cents each.
Got the last batch of ham stock started up- had a whole smoked ungleaned bone, a gleaned smoked bone, and 5 small smoked hocks in the freezer. Got the Nesco set up with about 2 1/2 gallons of water to burple up into stock, then I get to reduce the result down to just a few cube trays of what will essentially be smoked pork demi-glace for the freezer. I typically package the stuff in it's original gelatin stage in quart bags, but this time I gotta shrink that by a lot.
The tomatoes are still defrosting in the fridge- those will start getting skinned in the morning and all the peppers pulled out of the freezer... salsa tomorrow to burple up. Tomorrow I get to uncap and taste the hot pepper sauce too, and adjust it's vinegar if needed during it's final burple up- tomorrow is supposed to be fine and clear, so I'm going to be canning it up. It's as matured as it's going to get in the fridge, and now it's time to make space in the fridge and get the hot sauce shelf stable.
Got the tub of chestnuts drained off and into the dehydrator at 105- not sure how this experiment will turn out, but the soaking in vinegar water then drying is supposed to cure them really well for eating storage. Either that, or they will turn out in-edible, lol. Either way, it was time for them to get dried. Squash is coming up tomorrow for the dehydrator. The packages have defrosted in their tubs, and are getting pressed to drain in the sink now today- the mass will get repacked into the fridge overnight, then repressed tomorrow while the chestnuts finish up before I set up the dehydrator with the pulp.
Still need to figure out what to do with those bags of frozen whole peaches- letting them sit whole till Thanksgiving and they get used up in desserts is now out. Think I might need to can up a couple jars of peach pie filling- I also have a couple bags of cherries that can be thawed and cooked up into canning, and a bag or two of strawberries.
Over the moving time, I cataloged up the seeds- deep freeze and keeping on- 91 deep freeze, 173 keeping on. 83 packets went into the toss pile. Roughly 60ish packets of flower seeds I haven't fully catalogued yet.
And a small wish list- geez, I just weeded out beans, squash, tomatoes and peppers. A heap of other stuff too. But the Dwarf Wild Fred and a couple of seasoning peppers are making list- and an array of nasturtiums.

10/5: Another nice day weather wise. Got the door in front of our buddys car cleaned up- he called us Tuesday to tell us he was having it hauled off, and today was pick up day. That and some laundry was early chores. Wandering around sorting and cleaning stuff kind all day too.. weird.

10/8: Another right fine fall day. Friday I dinked around with setting up a lot of village stuff. That whole mess needs to be finished, but here it is a week into October already, and still pretty meh. The rally Friday just wasn't up to snuff. I'm starting to think I should just set up the mantle in autumn seasonal at this point. Maybe the back of the couch too. I do want to keep working on Scarry's Haunted Farm though- I think I kind of just want to get to dinking with building stuff more than setting it all up, ya know? Honestly, Fortunes Turning hasn't been right since April. Yesterday was cleaning up stuff again, and more sorting. Lots of crying over this and that. Being kind of aimlessly productive.
Today got the Ham demi-glace in the freezer, and the squash flour done and jarred up. 8 quarts of heavy ham stock reduced to about a quart, now in 32 squares in the freezer. It takes up about the same space as 1 quart bag usually does. Used up 5 smoked ham hocks, 1 stripped bone, and 1 unstripped bone, used about 5 gallons of water through the whole process. Kind of almost screwed that one up. Set up the nesco with 3 gal water in the laundry room, and cranked up the heat too high to bring stuff up to a boil for turning down to a slow simmer. Hours later hubby was telling me it was stinky, and I was like yeah, it's stock, and nope.. it had gotten too far, and had to add another 2 gallons of water to let burple overnight on low. Oops. But the resulting stock was extra rich and heavy to start with, and I normally would have bagged that up into 8 quart bags for the freezer. This time I reduced those 8 quarts to 1 and poured the stuff into a pair of 6" square aluminum pans and off to chill in the fridge-and made it all into 1 little quart space, lol. They were the consistency of very hard jello.
The 6 quarts of various squash and sweet potato pulps from the freezer and now dried down into 12 ounces of squash flour. After defrosting and draining, pressing and draining down to a 2 quart brick, that got pressed into 7 dehydrator jelly roll trays and dried at 135 overnight- this morning I flipped them and let them dry some more while the peppers were smoking. All the extra work with the pressing was worth it- the brick was easy like clay to smooth out, and already really dry since 4 quarts of water had been removed first.
Got the 2 quart bag of Urfa Beibers out of the fridge and onto the smoker, and now they are on the dehydrator. Been using disposable pie plates I got 10/10 per 3 pack, and man those have been nice. I can use them 2-3 times before they get kind of icky. Next up is the couple bags of sweet and hot fresh peppers to do up. Everything that comes out of the Tobago Seasoning and Aji Limon peppers in the solarium at this point will be used in straight dehydrating, no more smoking this year for that. Got all the smoked ones I want now, and since I will have a "surplus" of the Tobagos, I'm gonna keep off the pint or so I will want to use whole, and grind up the rest into a nice batch of pepper flake.
Then on to the whole frozen peaches. They just can't stay in the freezer, and I'm pretty much shut down on big canning for the season, and ain't making pie filling or jams this year. So I'm going to dehydrate those down too for later use. We shall see how much shrinkage I get, haven't dried peaches before. I'm hoping for a much pair smaller vacuum sealed freezer bags at the end of this.
Unfortunately, no salsa this year. I had pulled the big bags of frozen tomatoes and peppers out of the freezer to thaw, then totally forgot about them- and by the time I remembered today, they were bags of totally deflated tomatoes floating in their water, and the peppers weren't any better, so I had to scrap the whole lot of them ;(
So right now, I only have one more batch of canning to do, and it's a small kettle doable batch- the hot sauce that's curing in the fridge. Since it's a half gallon, and I want to do up 4 oz jars.. I think I might do a couple of different flavors depending on what the whole batch tastes like. I'm pretty sure I will need to add some vinegar/acid again during the reheat. It was a bit shy when I jarred it up, and I wanted it that way- better to undervinegar than over right off the bat. Found out the salt measurement I used was a bit overboard too- ah well. I want to sweeten a batch with some of those urfas, and maybe do a batch with extra garlic. Depending on the heat level of the batch, I might round that out with some smoked Aji Limon and lemon juice adjustment. That way I can break the canning into 2 days worth of batches, and not capsaicin the eff out of myself all at once, lol. I figure with the liquid additions to each batch, each flavor will probably make 6-4oz jars. Plenty enough of smalls to have a couple, and give a few away.

On a bit of a seeds note.. We do have a few new seeds to add to the list already. The Canterbury Bells were full dry and ready to clean the seed from. It was pretty easy- but since they are prickly pods, gloves were needed. And a glass seed tray to knock the seed into- not plastic. And a cotton ball.
Tip them stem up and gently roll between your fingers, and tons of seeds roll out. You get some plant crumbles too. After all your seed is knocked out... shred up that cotton ball and gently run bits of it over the seeds to lift out those prickly bits that want to stick to the cotton ball, leaving the smooth small seeds behind. Using glass instead of plastic is important here because the glass lets you slide smoother than plastic does, and you want to smoothly lift the pickles out of the seed.
Up on the needs cleaning list are some morning glories and beans :) .

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Rainy day...

9/19: I awoke to rain gently tapping the roof.. so I decided to snuggle in for an hour and watch the morning news and hubby made coffee. Hung out with mom for a bit, then hit the solarium for a bit of indoor work while the pepper mash came up to heat.
Capped off 3 windows with the foggy plastic on the north wall, leaving the last one open for now to use as an exhaust fan for the mash- that shit is toxic. But some more cleanup and re-arranging done again out there to prep up for winter. Later on tonight we shall see where the taste is at and where the liquid level is at, I'd like to reduce it a bit because it's rather thin right now. And it still needs a good stick blending too, but that will come later tonight as well.
Got the last 2 quart packages of Toothache plant sealed up and on the shelf. Glad that's done for the season. One last round of big stuff to go, the batch of garlic salsa. I got all the tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro in the freezer. But that will wait till after I get the hot sauce done at least.
The rest of the week we are supposed to be coming into something of a heat wave, upper 70's and might even hit 80's. Yikes. But it's also supposed to be dry, so I will be able to get that last round of mowing done before the leaves start falling. It's actually been kind of nice to really keep pace with the garden this year. I've had some losses and successes, and overall good year.

9/22: The gentle tapping of Tuesday has turned into a heat wave indeed. Yesterday I got my Zen on mowing down some of the last mow of the season till that got done. Then went into town with a huge donation load with sis. Astonishingly enough, our first then second favorite resale shops weren't taking donations, and Goodwill got it all.
Early this morning I watered well and set in soaker jugs to the perennial bed I just planted in.  Glad I hadn't really started into the other two beds yet. And cleaned out some beds early. And that we have saved up a goodly batch of water. Turns out the second harvest is hotter and dryer this year than the first harvest was.
Tomorrow is a moving day. Mom and Sis are taking a full truck to storage around the lake. Sunday is transport and dropping off and coming back.

9/28: Busy few days. First truck got unloaded Sunday, a couple dear friends and a new member to the crew helped unload, then we had lunch. Puttered around in town to kill time while rush hour traffic was going on came back home. Picked up an outstanding replica of the Alcatraz 1909 lighthouse complex- FT now has a prison, lol. Picked it up for 7 bucks, sells online cheap for 30+shipping, or more like 50-100 bucks regularly. I just thought it was cool as hell, then looked it up to see if it was really what it was labeled as, and got a steal.
Monday was getting the house straight and shuffling around some FT village stuff to blow off stress- there's going to be a large amusement haunt in Nightvale this year :) Then turned around and left for Wi again Tues morning, had a wake for a dear friend, came home Wed night.
Got a little shopping in while in Wi from a couple local old loved stored I know I can only find some thing in... picked up some more bulbs for the gardens, and 5 Dept 56 lights that were on deep clearance. I now am the happy owner of 7 pieces total of Dept 56- the stuff is sooo nice, but sooooo expensive I rarely can afford one piece, let alone pick up a few for a few bucks each- and holy crap it happened twice this year. Sis noted some tiny bat light strands that were inexpensive too, and it was funny- I had seen Dept 56 strand bat lights, they were around 20 bucks. I picked up 4 strands at the grocery store for the same price, lol. 
Today was a garden cleanup day. Got the whole batch of Tobago Seasoning and Trinidad Perfume peppers that were chilling in the fridge and fresh picked in the dehydrator to straight dry. Tomorrow I'm putting the last smoker batch of Aji Limons on- very happy that I will have a nice full jar of those for storage. I still have a good-ish flush of peppers on the 2 plants in the solarium, so I might still get a small batch for straight dehydrating too if I'm lucky.
Sis helped me out shuffling bins and big pots around- now the blue bins are boxing in the kitchen window bed, and it's filled with potted irises, first year lavenders, and a couple strawberries. That will get mulched in a bit to help keep them cozy through the winter. Since the next couple nights are supposed to bottom out into the upper to mid 40's, had to pull some plants inside. The 5 Tobago Seasoning peppers are now sitting on the basking edge of the pond in the solarium so their fruits can ripen in the warm. 3 coleus, 3 lucifers, and a couple other pots of small bulbs came inside too.
Moved the 5 gooseberries that might still be alive over to the kennel side.
Emptied out and cleaned up a lot of half gallon pots and other pots and added in some sweet feed to make a barrow full of mixed dirt- then used up all my half gallon pots repotting the asparagus. They had lived in those 3" pots long enough, and probably wouldn't have survived the winter well in such small pots. And this way, they have springtime to grow in happy again. I won't have their bed ready till later on next growing season anyway. I still haven't even fall cleaned it yet.
Picked up the first bucket of Chinese Chestnuts for this season- They are already in the fridge chilling, I'll pick out the best 6 for seed stock, then process up the rest for eating storage. It's only a little bucket, so no biggie. After this last weekend move, I'll start picking up more for bigger bucket storage. I want to try out a whiskey recipe and a sugar syrup preserve recipe, and a drying batch for nut flower. Probably only about 10 pounds total, if that. Each gathering will get another best 6 for seed stock picked out of it. Next spring I'll pot them up and start growing them out for planting somewhere. This fall the trees themselves are for sure coming down- I've already been talking to a guy I know about the removal. It just has to happen, that tree is really old, brittle, frail, and overhanging into power lines and over the solarium roof, causing extra damage to the skylight. I'm thinking I'd like to leave the trunks long if I can. Use them as platforms and posts for other stuff, like bird feeders and such. They have a lovely structure and I like the lilly of the valley pool around the base.
Sold the car- happened to be that the neighbor was interested in the car anyway, then his truck died and he needed a vehicle. So now that one is off the books. Need to figure out where to donate or slab the other one off to. It time to clear that space off too.

9/29: how time flies. Today I sealed up most of the windows in the solarium, and sorted out flower bulbs, cleaned up the solarium some more.. Popped off the Aji Limons into the smoker early, and then got them dehydrated off and into their jar today- I now have one whole pint! Took the plunge and waded through all my bulbs, and got some basic sorting done as to which beds they are going into. The front row where the hibiscuses are growing is getting some overdue attention in the coming weeks. All that's growing on right now is the hibiscuses, and I'm not sure where the daffs went, lol. The original bed was 3x14, and the original section isn't too bad. But it's a pain to mow around now, and the bed needs reopening and a bit of lengthening maybe. Might end up being more like 5x16 by the time I'm done churning stuff up around the outside edges. The wee folk garden area is getting a freshening of bulbs too.
There's bulbs going out into the herb garden, and a heap sorted out for the perennial lasagna bed switchover. And another pile for potting up this year because they are almost ready to split. Got one lone bag of something that didn't get it's ID tag included, and a couple missing small bulb tags, so I will have to re-pot that one to figure out what it is again, lol.

9/30: Had a town hall meeting this morning, followed by picking up a truck. Then a lot of tinkering and fussing with cleaning, and sorting plants, and so on. Got the first stall of the greenhouse cleaned up and stuff put away so I can start filling it with some leaves for me to nestle those 30 pots of asparagus I just repotted the other day into. Took some plant tallies, moved a few fruits- raspberries and jostaberries to the greenhouse porch. Culled out the last couple brown bags of seeds for their deep freeze.. I didn't bother with sorting flowers, because I always use those up pretty quick. But some of my seed stock is getting kind of old, or I know I won't be using for the next year or few while I use up some other seed stock. So right now from the total drawer, I've culled off about 10% as straight get rid of- it's all just things I've gotten in trade that I wasn't too interested in, or stuff I've tried that wasn't our speed. Of the 90% of whats left, about 15% of it is flower seeds. Of the remaining 75%, I culled out about 30% for deep freeze. Looking at the piles, I can tell I've reduced the overall stock by about 40% between the toss and deep freeze. All the seeds culled off for freezing will only take up a quart space at most by the time I'm done sealing down the packages. So now I need to catalog the freezer stock and write up it's list to have on hand and another in the package.

And ha, already on to more seeds. The other day in Wi I picked up a packet of spiderwort. Already starting a short wish list with Biquinho pepper. It's another seasoning pepper. And fresh stock on Dwarf Wild Fred- I just looked him up recently, and only a couple sellers offer it, and their pics do not match up with what I got. So now I'm on the hunt, lol.

Monday, September 18, 2017

9/14.. moving on with cleanup

9/14: Took a bit of a day off today. Did some chores.. today was the last anything harvest of the tomatoes, and the first deep trimming off of vines to the fall. Still got blossoms opening up that might ripen, and a few fruits that still will ripen.. The toothache plant is in it's first final flush and first weak plant culling.
Started up a pepper mash, will see what happens with this one..

From frozen
About 4- 41-2 cups of hot banana peppers, all red ones.
About 2 cups of green jalapenos
3 fingerlings, about a half cup?
This amount to 7 cups
Added in 1 cup of fresh picked Tobago Seasoning peppers- 36 of them.

For the brine... information is all over the place. I ended up using 1 liter hot water with 196 grams salt. It was supposed to be 189 for 10% solution, but meh. I did have the Himalayan salt on hand, and used it. Filled half gallon and a pint and a half jar. Capped them with coffee filters, then let them sit for a few days...
UPDATE 9/19: The jars were just starting to get a little bit of bubble forming, but nothing forming on the surface yet. Turned out the 2 jars into the blue crockpot and added 2 cups of white vinegar. Let it sit on low covered overnight, from about 4PM till 10 AM. At around 10, I tasted it- hot, the salt has mellowed a lot, needed more vinegar for sure. Added 2 cups cider vinegar and turned the heat up to high to start really burbling while I did some work in the solarium capping a couple windows for the winter. By the time it hit 2PM, the fumes were noticable, and it was burbling good. So I closed the solarium up and left the lid off the crockpot so it can all reduce a bit. Had to set up a ventilation fan to help suck out the fumes it got toxic pretty damn fast.

Warm, sunny, and fine. I took the final harvest off the toothache plant and pulled out the bed entirely- kept 3 plants to pot up to see how they fare in the solarium.

9/16: busy garden day. Again sublime late summer weather. Drew off all the milk and litter jugs of water that I could for now, still need to move them into the solarium and to the garden beds that are getting fall watering. Cleaned out all the dead pots around the kennel and cleared the pots off to storage.
Squash bugs, yeah muthafucker. I have been keeping an eye out on the stair bed to see if they would turn up there after I pulled out the whatever squash and sprayed the beejeebers out of the area. And yep, sure enough, they did. Interestingly enough, they were all over the scalloped squash, but the entire cocozelle squash was almost untouched, though it has fresh and dead leaves, and even a couple blooms on it.
I emptied out a silver cooler and dropped the scallop squash plant entire into it- then dumped a couple gallons of water into it then put the lid on. Then I mixed up a 2 gal sprayer full of Neem/Tea Tree/Peppermint/Rosemary mix, and sprayed the entire area.  By the time I had come back out with the sprayer, the inside dry area of the cooler was crawling with bugs- I sprayed the dickens out of the cooler and it's inside before anything else.
Then I went and checked the whatever squash I had pulled out and layed out days ago- and shucks, that one still had bugs on it. So I picked it up and packed it into the cooler too. And then I noticed a few adult squash bugs on the base of the cocozelle. And then sprayed the stair garden heavy, the lasagna bed area that had the whatever squash, and the cage I laid the dead squash on heavily.
While the shade was coming on good and it was hot as hell in the sun anyway.. I dug out several Irises from the solarium bed. It's far past time for those to be transplanted off to other places in the yard more friendly. All of what is there of the specials are now potted up, and what's left is probably just the regulars to be dug up and relocated another time.
I also planted in the Solomon's Seal out back in the wee folk bed. I picked up that plant so darn pot bound I had to cut the pot off the plant, so I'm hoping it will take off well.
After all of that, started in on some re-potting of the porch plants. The botanical tulip got divided up into 2 pots- a big and small one. The two Hot Pokers I picked up and potted a year or two ago got pried and sawed apart into 9 bunches that are now in one big pot to not freak out while I figure out where they will go in the yard.

9/17: Another round in the garden. Unpotted and massaged the Lucifer today- the one plant I got a couple years back yielded up 2 really large, 4 large, 8 medium, and 9 small crom chains, and those are now repotted up into 3 pots- it was a devil of a task, lol. Cut back the coleus real well and left the mothers outside for now- I have 3 ice cream buckets full of the cuttings I now need to decide how I want to handle, lol.
Still a goodly bit to go with the plant cleanup, but not too bad too. I got Parks Candy Lillies I need to drop into the couple squash bins real soon. I think I'm going to take out the whole bed the squash grew on to use as the winter shelter spot again. The two bins are already on the one side, and it shouldn't be too difficult to cobble together the other side. I have 3 flats of small lavender, 2 flats of asparagus, and a few other odds and ends I'd rather mulch in deep to tuck away for the winter rather than bring them into the solarium for overwintering. I still got a goodly handful of fruits and herb pots out by the kennel, I'm going to tuck those onto the kennel porch for the winter- again, the whole front is already capped off, it should be easy to mulch deep there. I'd like to keep the inside of the kennel empty for now in case I get the chance to get a roof on it yet this fall. It was really handy, but who knows.
Still have a few more perennials to plant in the lasagna beds, and a bunch of small mums to put into the ground.
Already planning the next raised bed to the east of the tomatoes, heh. This year earlier on I layed in a thick paper and straw smother bed curving off with the mow line  when I moved the other two raised beds. Now's the time to put it to use, and also recycle the most damaged of the tomato towers into a composting cage. With 1 cage, I can break it down into 2 panels, then link them up and shape them to make a 3'x3'x3' cage. This is perfect to drop into the middle of the next raised beds spot to give me a place to heap up all the good composting greens I got building up right now to get layered in with browns and left to simmer for a while and let cook down till next spring. Then next summer when I'm ready to drop a 6x4' raised bed there, I will already have my base stuff layer built up and just a little bit smaller than the frame to help with taking the cage out and spreading compost stuff around.
The whole yard needs a good mow around too, at least in the areas that the leaves build up in. Time for what is likely to be the final mowing before the leaves start building up enough to be needed for mulch. I want to be raking up leaves off the grass, not trying to detangle the grass to get leaves right now, lol. This year I don't happen to have straw bales on hand, so I'm going to be bagging up leaves for my thermal buffers in the few spots I will need that sort of thing in.
That is a nice thing about starting to switch over the lasagna beds to perennials, some different mulch needs there this year. I'm going to need to heap it deep on the little west bed. I plan on putting in seed garlic in the middle bed to grow out to pull next fall, so it just needs keeping up with cleanup and some mulch. The biggest bed I plan on planting in the asparagus seedlings as it's forever bed next year hopefully if the seedlings do well- so this fall once the cleanup is done, that whole area is getting capped with plastic to solarize, and zero mulch there. So I'll have the "spare" leaves to bag up for other use.
Now that I'm pretty much done with most of the Irises.. mostly, lol. Still got 3 pots of the Watervliet Irises that I don't know what they are really, lol. Gonna pull 2 of them off for me, and give the other one to Sonja.
I need to go in and clean out the bed where Jay's Skies are growing too soon. I'm gonna cull out some of those for Sonja too. The bed needs it anyway, and I know I want to replant the one tagged iris I just pulled out from behind the solarium in that area. I also want to break up one of the bins of lilies to put in there too, but that will wait till next year once I'm sure of which lilly bin it is and get the irises done first, lol.
Also got a darn big heap of bulbs heaped up... now comes the time of year that all those last years buy, potted up over the year, divided, cured, and ready for planting time comes on. And I got plans for them too.

Hmmm, some food... the hot pepper mash has been sitting in it's jars capped off with coffee filters for a couple days now. Tomorrow is time for some reblending and setting up into refining. Pulled out a chicken from the freezer a couple days ago that's roasting up with taters and creamed spinach.

9/18: Tomatoes today, it was time. I have two Freds with a couple of clusters I didn't cut back, because I know those will probably ripen up before the chills hit. That's going to be about a week from now, when overnight temps will be dipping below 50. But all the Romans are gone, the Candles had a lot of babies, but I know those take a long time to mature, and not worth waiting on. The Flames only had about 5 green tomatoes on both plants, so scrapped those too. Tore out the cages, and cut one up into that compost cage, and got all the tomato cuttings and dead toothache plants dumped into the cage. Still have plenty of room to toss on more as the season winds down. A good mow around is next up tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Got a bit done..

9/9: Weather was lovely today. Cool and breezy at first, then fine for work out in the yard. Got the whole batch of hot peppers smoked up and into the dehydrator. The last batch of enchilada sauce done for this year- another round of regular pints. The tomatoes are winding down enough, I got another goodly batch on trays that need to go into the freezer- those will finally become a batch of salsa. And then just a few more working in for more regular eating again.

The early part of the day was mostly spent with a bit of cleaning, as usual. Then the afternoon was spent on working on those lasagna beds.
I tackled the western bed first. It's the smallest one, and the first one I knew I wanted fully planted in. I weeded everything out, cut back the bronze fennel.. And planted in a Agastache Foemiculum Blue Fortune, Baptista Lemon Meringue, Baptista Blueberry, A couple rosemary, a lavender, and a couple each of two different colors of mums. Not sure which colors, the buds aren't showing yet, but two different leaf types.
Then on to the middle bed. It wasn't so bad really. The couple bean towers came out, and the bronze fennel got cut back. Didn't plant in anything yet- I just have blue eyed grass planned in front, and I want to go back over that area for a second grass removal first- I don't want to confuse my good plants with the weeds.
I've got a handful of various bulbs that I'm going to be planting in in a few weeks when the time is right. These are ones I picked up on clearance in 2016 and grew out in pots this year- all of them divided well, and will be good for sowing in later this fall. Now I just need to keep those beds cleaned up a bit, water if needed, and mulch in and I should be good to go.

The eastern and biggest bed, ugh.  I planted in some brassicas this year, then neglected the bed. A volunteer squash showed up, which saved me the trouble of planting in a trap squash there. Don't know what it is, looks like a white acorn of some sort, though it grew on a bush vine. First I cut back the grape vines yet again and pulled them out. And then yep, cut back the bronze fennel. The squash plant must have had every bug in the yard on it, yuck.
During cleanup, I sprayed a goodly gallon of Neem+ tea tree, peppermint, and rosemary oil all over the bed, surrounding area and fence, the plant I pulled out and laid on a tomato tower in the driveway.. everything. Little suckers didn't like that much, some of them appeared to be bleached out by the spray, and died. The bed isn't fully clear of weeds, I kind of pooped out by the time I was done spraying. But all of the brassicas are uncovered again, lol. And I can tell where the borages are springing up from. That bed is going to get finished clearing out entirely then a plastic cap laid over it to smother and solar kill the dickens out of it for as long as I can stretch it this fall for next year- I do have a rather nice and goodly round of asparagus rootlets that never made it out to the back 40 that I plan on setting in there next year to make that it's own permanent bed. Not a huge one, but plenty for fresh eating for two, while the rest of the pickling asparagus can continue on in the wild beds out back.
Making a couple pans of scalloped taters and ham for dinner tonight :) Decided to just split the batch between 2 pans so one could just be straight popped into the freezer. 

9/12: First off Happy Birthday to my sister! This is a good holiday- weather was superb, and everyone was bustling. Sunday was spent on some family affairs, and Monday I was feeling wretched with a stomach bug or something that made the need to be close to a bathroom and bed was necessary. Today I got a bit of canning done, couldn't put it off and the weather was fine and likely to turn tomorrow. It was either stuff the freezer and wait till the weather cleared again, or just get it done. So I sucked it up, and skipped any gardening plans though the weather should be clearer later this week.
Making mac and cheese and broccoli for dinner tonight, sisters choice since it's her B-day :)

Kind of a random general weather note. This year the U.S. got gobsmacked by a couple hurricanes. Harvey, which landed in the gulf and almost drowned Houston, and Irma, which was a SUPER hurricane that shredded Cuba and the entire state of Florida, and is now storming over pretty much every state touching Florida. Our Labor Day cold snap was the tail end of Harvey, and we did actually hit the low 50's into high 40's overnight. Days have been mild, and nights chilly since- we have been closing the windows or keeping them closed. Today during the day we peaked out around 80- tomorrow we are supposed to be possibly getting evening rain from the push in of Irma. Crazy.

Friday, September 8, 2017


9/3: It was a cool morning. Got a batch of Flaming Fred sauce and a batch of sloppy joe sauce cooked off and ready for the fridge. Picked off another 30 pounds of tomatoes off the Freds and Romans- I really need to do a cleanup day tomorrow and clear off all the tomato plant debris and such.
Those two glorious heads of cauliflower yielded up 8 quarts of florets for pickling. This was after cleaning them up and cutting them up. Last time was about 6 quarts cut up yielded 9 pint and a half jars.. I will have a full day of canning tomorrow, even if I don't touch the peppers yet.
And sigh.. the tomatoes are still dehydrating. Just a few are mushy... but that's all it takes in a dried batch. Have to keep drying overnight again.

A nice soup tonight- corn and chicken chowder. We had gotten those dozen ears a couple weeks ago that I shucked, cut, froze off the kernels and made stock from the cobs.. And hmmm, had a couple chicken boobs in the fridge defrosted.

9/8: been a few days, busy. Got the Flaming Fred sauce canned off, 14 half pints, and sloppy joe sauce, 5 pints. It rained all weekend and into the week, and was way too crappy to set up the outdoor canning kettle, so the cauliflower didn't get canned, or the peppers. We've eaten up one full 4 quart tub of cauliflower in various dishes, and I still have another in the fridge I can maybe pop off a batch with tomorrow if the weather holds good. All the peppers either went into the dehydrator- 3 trays of hot banana chunks, 2 trays of jalapeno slices, 1 tray of fingerling rings- or into the freezer, ended up with about 3 bags of peppers!
Today I picked the 2 Tennesee Sweet Potato Squashes, cleaned up their rack area, and moved all the peppers over to that spot. They really need all the full sun they can soak up right now before the true chilly hits and I have to decide if I should pull them in or let them go. I did get a nice full round of pepper picking done today, so I have a full batch to do another round in the smoker.  I also picked what's likely to be the last good big batch of tomatoes- the plants didn't like that chilly spell one whit. I got a batch of nasturtium seeds picked- a scant half pint, but hey, beggers can't be choosers, and I don't really have a lot of nasts growing this year.
With the weather chilling out, now I need to start figuring out what I want to do with all the plants this year that are outside. Time to start thinking about getting a roof back onto the kennel too. I don't happen to have a handy stack of straw bales this year to make up a snug box on the south side of the kitchen, but I might be able to figure something out with perhaps bagged leaves this time to make something snug for the plants I can overwinter outside that way.

Nightvale is getting a slow start, but is starting... The whole village just sort of petered out into nothing this summer- too much other stuff going on to really fuss with stuff that much. A couple weeks ago I started really cleaning and sorting stuff.. Then over the last weekend re-arranged the furniture, looks good and different now. Then with the solarium cleanup came a lot more shuffling and sorting of stuff, lol. And then I had myself a rare day or two of actually feeling creative, and wanting to use my new bench setup, and indulged myself in repainting Oncle Boo's house, doing the jewel detailing done on the carousel, fixing Ms. House Spider and now she's up and walking again, and a couple other minor repair things. Now over the last couple days I've gotten the platforms sort of set up and starting to figure out where the big buildings and setups are going to be.

A bit of interesting news for us.. this week was a busy one of chasing around- we closed on the land contract and the second parcel that landed in our laps. We now have a total of 25 acres, with a pretty full back 20- including a new large pond. It's an ultimate dream expansion we sort of chortled and wished over early on, but figured it would never happen. And also, the neighbors had a property turn up for them that they were able to get- it's got the acreage that they will be removing the dogs and the horses to their new place. So pretty much as soon as the stable is really cleared out, I plan on moving in there with some gardening stuff. That front horse pasture area is chock full of years of horse poo trampled down and pounded in, and the stable has electric and water already. I don't plan on making the mistake I did years ago and plan a huge garden. But I do plan on starting to work that area in for gardening big stuff, like trying out the 3 sisters garden, or sprawling melons. In the spring if the plants survive it, I can start planting in the orchard and berry bushes out back too. I still plan on utilizing and upgrading the gardens out front. But since the lasagna beds are about ready for their permanent plantings, and just a couple more raised beds up the line to the kennel area.. And with it being just the two of us soon, without the need for such large gardening of the food needs.. and with my fondness for container gardening around the kitchen.. And with the chicken coop and run area opening up soon since the dogs will be gone from there soon... the gardening and homesteading around here sure is going to change fairly soon. The front will keep evolving into more permanent and perennial gardens.