Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sunday, Mayday

Hmph, forecast says cloudy tomorrow, maybe rain, maybe rain on Sunday, clear on Monday.
Maybe I won't get a bonfire for Mayday after all. FA sounds clearer, hope that's true.

I pretty much just puttered around the yard today making up wood piles of fallen branches and not cleared cut branches in the yard. Made up quite a few tidy twig piles to gather up and take down to the bonfire pad.
I figure easier to make twig piles, then load em up onto a heavy duty tarp and drag it down.
Noted that the stones in the wall in the back could handle the top layer coming off.. might make the first layer of the fire ring of that. Think I might change the wall in front entirely. It's a single three tier wall now, and I think I would like it better if it was two tier and shaped differently- then I can also give up enough stones for the second tier of the fire ring too!
I'm hoping that I can eventually tie the drainage field problem and probable non use of fire pad due to mosquitos problem together. They lie next to each other by the pond. I'm hoping that the drainage field will be less of a mosquito breeding ground due to plantings of bird feeding self sowing annuals. I'm planning on planting in the firepad area with an immediate area of  no mowing plants. Maybe a combination of walk on me plant, mother of thyme, and stepping stones. The surrounding ring of plantings will be a combination of plants that ward off insects. Already compiling lists of that, lol.
Would also give me a good reason to finish up one of the first gardens. Since the front is mostly shade, I'm thinking a huge planting of spinach. Does great in sun, does well in shade. I got a few types of seed, so I can plant in a nice patch. I think I might dedicate the space otherwise to herbs that overwinter well or are apt to self seed in our zone. Many herbs tolerate shade well, and can be controlled against unruliness by planting in the shade. Perhaps I should allow for some container gardening along the perimeters for those handy tasty weeds I don't want out of control either.
One of the other first gardens will be the area that was used as a dog area. It's situated on concrete pad off one end of the garage. I think I'm going to tear out the dead grapevine on the earth end, and generally clean up, and tear off the solid end of the runs.  Plant in some seriously vining plants on the earth side, and put in containers of lower vining plants on the other link walls.
Hopefully dig up the rest of the area between that and the "fenceline" too for some gardening action. I plan on at least making the first square foot line down a bit too to put in corn for a ways from the garage. If I plant carefully, I can put in beans on my side of the yard, and use squash and pumpkins to kill off the growth on the other side. Eventually that side will be free of anything living, and just the compost trail for the garden.
Yep, I'm hoping for heavy harvests of squash, pumpkins, beans, and spinach to help the winter months. Hoping for some sweet corn action too. If things work well, should have decent carrots, cabbage, cauliflower.. maybe tomatoes too.
Wasn't able to start toms from seeds this year. With the move and all it just wasn't feasible.. Or maybe there's still hope! I have some seed for container varieties that I'm going to be starting out in the hydroponic system :) I will also be testing that same seed in containers too outside, just not this year.
But I do plan on planting toms in a spot in the yard that is still currently underwater and very sunny. There's a section of the square foot line that falls into that :)
Another first year garden action.. I'm going to try to spread the natural moss more across the area that will become the wee folk garden.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Drainage fields...

Looking outside my office window today and hoping that crappy weather keeps holding off so stuff can get a bit dryer for yardwork.. Been staring at our drainage field.. It's a big gross puddle that will be a mosquito haven come warm time.

I'm thinking I should help out the drainage field.. and help out some bird feeding needs at the same time.  So after a bit of digging around I've come up with a list of flowers I think I'm going to try. I opted to stick with annuals, of the high self sowing persuasion to a great extent.

Rocket Larkspur
flowering tobacco
china asters
corn flower
sun flower
spider flower
black eye susan
bachelors button
four o clocks
annual cockscomb

Hopefully I will discover that a few of them are suitable to the environment, lol.

All this gloom and wet has also started turning my mind to mushrooms. I find Sporeprints on Youtube has a lot of super easy DIY mushroom setup videos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L85IWNO33J0&playnext=1&list=PLEB54C04B393B4707 is an excellent example. I'm hoping in a year or two we will be starting to harvest all sorts of mushrooms for fresh eating and drying.
Still not quite sure how I want to handle attempting truffles. Given some of the information I've run across it might be really hard. But I really want to try it, and if worst comes to worst, I'll still have some hazelnuts, and I wanted those anyway :)

Haven't cooked jack diddly yet today.. Still not sure what I'm making for dinner either. So, a little bit of terminology today :)
A tisane or infusion is made when boiling water is poured over herbs and allowed to steep.
A decoction is made when a herb is simmered in water.
A distillation captures the essence of an herb through evaporation and condensation of steam.
An extract is made when the herb is soaked or fermented in alcohol.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27, 2011

The Farmers Almanac said it's been raining for days.. And indeed it has. It also says it's supposed to clear up quite a bit for the next few days, so I'm hoping for a dry enough Mayday to have our first fire. There's a small cement pad down by the pond, and I plan on snagging some landscaping bricks from around the yard to make some fire ring action. Right now the pad has a heap of seriously soaked chinese chestnut hulls on it. I'm hoping the bags of burnables I've been separating in the garbage will be enough dry stuff. I'm hoping for a Mayday bonfire, and that might just happen if the FA is right and we should have clearer weather for the next few days.
I noticed strolling outside during a brief non raining break that the first of our 10 fruit trees is in full bloom. No leaves really on it yet, just all fuzzy with white blooms with pink bases. I've been told that we have apples, pears, sweet and tart cherries, and peach in our orchard. Not positive what is what though. The fruit will tell :)
Some of the critters are happy of the rain break too. I refilled the finch feeder and hanging feeder. So the American Goldfinches are happy. Tippy, our local black squirrel with a white tail tip, is happily bouncing over the bog under the feeder looking for goodies. Not all the birds are happy though. I haven't refilled the big house feeders- I don't think I'm going to either. Those things seriously need to be replaced, they waste tons of seed.
Haven't seen the neighbor chickens out, but I'm not surprised. Been too wet and not enough scattered seed to interest them.

Made a pretty decent soup today too, a chowder. I sweated a medium onion and 5 stalks of celery in a couple Tablespoons of oil from oil packed green olive mix. Then I added in 3 large carrots and 5 potatoes. Couple frozen chicken breasts went in, and 6 cups of chicken vegetable stock. I seasoned it with black pepper, tarragon, Old Bay seasoning, parsley, and garlic powder. After it was boiling for a bit, I pulled the breasts, diced them small, and added them back in. Let it boil some more, till everything was tender. Mashed it a bit with a potato masher to break everything up into little bits. Added about 1 1/2 cups milk, let it come up to heat, added about 1/2 cup potato flakes in to thicken it a little. Stirred in a bit of nutmeg at the end. Whole thing took 30 minutes or so, yum! It made enough for four big lunch servings.

Super awesome object completed this week off the plastic printer. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:8080
It's a tank, built right here at Growbox Hill :)

Opening day...

Figured it was time to start a journal about Growbox hill. Marc said since I was a prolific writer, I should do a blog. So here I am.
Why start this journal? Because we sort of came up with the idea of living more independently. Utilizing green technologies and renewable energies. Being able to supply the household of its own growables. Basically becoming the future generation of homesteader. We believe it's possible for people to take themselves off the grid to a great extent. And that is becoming more important to a lot of people as costs of day to day living keeps going up.
We just recently landed on a couple acres in the heart of the Midwest.. Hopefully our experiments will eventually help us spend less, and maybe other people can spend less too.

Thanks to everyone that comes along on this blog!