Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just stuff

Got my bow saw, it's a 21 inch. Rips through branches right fine. Starting to make a serious dent in the downed maple now. Sigh, if only it would stay rain free for long enough for me to get some serious burning done. One of the oak branches is now down, the other two not so much. The dead maple branch stuck up in the canopy hasn't shaken loose yet either. Ah well, it will come.

Started transplanting the ivy starts that are left in the solarium, which is nice. Gonna have to soak that dirt before I can dig out the rest though. Yeah, the pond is dry as a bone now, but so is the dirt around it, and it's hard as a rock. But I do have three kinds under the fir spot where I want them, I sure hope they take!

Got the first set of the iris beds in too. Trimmed out all the dead stuff of the pretty weed bush under the pine by the magnolia. Dug out all the irises, the big sky blue ones, from the area out front by the raspberries. If where I dug them from is any indication, they should do well- they were in total shade, now they are in partial sun. There ended up being quite a bit more of them than I thought, so I was able to really do a nice bed. The heirloom double glads aren't quite died off yet, so those will wait for their transplant.

Had to trim out a lot of wood down by the raspberries too. Sadly, a couple oak saplings had to go- they are directly under the power lines, so I couldn't leave them to grow :( Got a goodly pile of trim sitting now, and I'm not looking forward to making a few more piles like that down there. But it is seriously overgrown and under the power lines. And blech, I need to do some major weeding down there before I can start transplanting the random raspberries from the rest of the yard there. Good news is, most of em are showing their fruit heads, so it will only be a few weeks now till I know if they are all the same for sure or not.

And fucking hell yeah!! The mulberries are coming into ripe!! Ate my first one yesterday. Came off good, but still not quite sweet. Good thing I'm hitting Racine next weekend, need to get the dehydrator from my sister so I can start processing them. The orchard is coming along rather well too, I can actually identify everything now, lol. The cherries look to be the next to be ready. One of the apple trees got some pretty scarred apples forming- guess I'm gonna have to plan on pressing this year instead of next year. But the pears are looking good so far. The peach is sort of meh, but then it does need a goodly pruning.

The sunflowers, corn, and squash on the trouble spot are doing well. The cauliflower is still tiny. The squash and pumpkins along the arch drive are finally coming in enough that it's time to put in some stakes so I don't accidentally mow them down. lol, that reminds me, need to fix that stupid tire on the mower.

Not much to report from Tippy and friends. I'm seeing them all, and of course hearing Mr. Tasty, but nothing too interesting. Sadly, one of our orphaned raccoons is now dead. Looks to have been hit by a car by the end of our driveway. Haven't seen hide or hair of the other one, hope it's ok. Looks like only one cygnet made it this year too. And yeah, the hummingbirds are hanging out. They are frigging loud for such tiny critters.

There's stuff going on in the tec front.. But nothing really to do with Growbox Hill. Everyone should hit Thingiverse though, all kinds of good stuff!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Starting to balance

Think I'm figuring out I'm not wonderwoman in the yard, lol. Just taking it sort of easy, puttering for an hour or so, then taking a break.. rinse and repeat :)

Got the rest of the front and side yard de-twigged. Gonna have a nice lil fire tonight :) Seven paper bags of twigs in the pit, and a modest heap of branches to burn. Still got way more to burn too, but it's a start. Still got more than plenty to haul down for the solstice next week. Crap, I can't believe we are already upon the solstice. Gee, goodbie lengthening days, hello prepping for the coming winter. Woo-hoo ripening time for the earth!! And lol, still have enough cleaning and burning for the next couple holidays too :) With any luck, the firepit will be built up to use all times of the year.
Cleared out even more weeds from the FoH garden. At this point.. I know our drive is big enough, I'm just letting the greens die where they lay before they go to the compost heap. Discovered all sorts of growing action under the weeds :)

Discovered a couple mulberry trees in the yard, will have to dig those up and see if anyone wants em. Got a couple lil firs too that I think are worthy of potting up and letting sit for a while, they are the tall skinny kind- gonna give those away too. I just hope someone wants them.
I think I have long leaf plantain too, but I need to take some pics and confirm with a friend that I know knows his plantains.
Several more raspberry sproutlings to go into the patch in front. Looks like next year the patch will come up pretty darn good if I can get transplants to take.
Pretty sure I got some baby lilacs coming up in the FoH garden too. Gonna dig em up and start the easement drive line. Since all that is tall grass right now anyway, I know I won't mow the stupid things down, lol.
Gonna start a tad of the ditch lily line too. Got a handful of em I want to dig up and toss into the fenceline between the easement drive and neighbors fence. After the ones in the solarium finish their bloom, those are coming up and going in the corner where the easement drive meets the road. Still have to wait for a while before the rest of them flush. In a few years, a plush ass line of greenery will line the road and easement drive. If I can get a hold of water irises, I want to mix those in too. At this time those are buyable, and not already in the yard for free.. so they can wait :)

Nope, the effing truck hole in my yard still hasn't gotten fixed. I think if the weather is good midweek, I'm gonna fill it in myself. I know I've intended to before this.. but crap, I need to be able to mow that area.
It's looking good to be transplanting some ivy soon too. The area under the pines where I want to transplant the crap in the solarium to looks pretty free of moss, so it should just be dig, move, and water.
Solarium.. The alge pad is almost dry in the pond, so soon it will be time to work in there again. I think the current pad had too much "other stuff" to be useful for pressing. But since I'm not positive what is going to happen with the pond yet, just the outside of it. I think it may be our first alge growing area.

Now that the twiggies out front are clear, I can mow.. Just gotta fix the flat front tire on the lawnmower. Yeah, used the effing replacement once, and I managed to damage the new one too. Just gotta love my luck :) I'm hoping with time, the spirits already living here come to understand that I do want to do good, and to quit picking on me.

Effing mosquitos.. Mother lorn skeeters like me here apparently. One place on the planet where they will pay attention to me, and it's where I live :( Lucky for me their bites still do little but annoy at the moment. Crap, if they are willing to eat me, I gotta do something for everyone else that skeeters do already like. 
I will be looking for every packet of marigold seed once they go on sale. I was already planning on planting them heavily around the firepit. Now it's gonna be a mission, lol. I'll just mow the border areas this year.. But next spring, I'm gonna lay in the seed thick as hell around the perimeter. It might by the right time of season now to pick up a cheap flat of plants and see if they will take too.

FYI: Tansy is listed as great for anti skeeter action. It is also listed as being a honey poison too. Not killing bees, but the resulting honey is poison to humans. So that will not be something that will be planted in the yard on purpose.

I think for sure I will be dumping rocks found in the yard around the firepit ring. Apparently the yard is made up of sand, clay, and gravel. And tree roots, lol. I need to get out to HD and pick up a handful of 5 gal buckets for this. I wanna leave a handful all over for rock collection as I do gardening. As I get as much as I can carry, take it down to the firepit area. Prolly some into the easement drive too- there are some serious dips in the thing! There are some kind of too big rocks too, those are gonna get collected separately. I figure I can dump those down in the sanctuary for a while and use as needed.

It is kind of good that I have to be taking the yard in pace. I wanted to take the first full year to watch the yard and start to really figure things out. So far, I've been able to start second year planning already, which is totally awesome!
I am very optimistic about Growbox Hill being able to succeed. We settled into a mature property rather than a fresh one, and boy, there is some catching up to do.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yes, seeds can happen

After a couple weeks of pretty much nothing.. Mostly because I managed to get myself punched in the forehead by an oak tree while doing the lopping on the maple that fell down in the back yard. Followed up by a slip and smack into a wall in the house the day after. Been a couple weeks recovering from that one, I must of actually done some damage, lol.

Anywho. Building it back up again. Got a lot of the windstorm damage gathered up. While toddling around a bit today, I checked on some areas I sowed seed in.
On the trouble spot slope- a few of the seeds took. There some lil squash plant action going on, yay!
The sweet corn next to the chicken pad? Got a few inches in several of them :)
The cauliflower has mixed success. The shadier area looks like it got some sprouting, the sunner patch not so much.

The popcorn scattering by the raspberry patch seems not to have taken :( I scattered them at the same time I did the sweet corn, and haven't seen anything.
I think it's too soon to start hunting squash seedlings along the arch drive.
nor have the leafy greens seed scattered in the FoH garden had success. I think I'm gonna end up putting some permanent spreadable in the whole area and mulch heavily. Maybe bushy berries that tolerate shade well. The whole dang thing is just too weedy, grassy, and most important, full of effing gravel and roots to ever properly cultivate. But the line of ditch lilies on the bottom of the wall looks good. The hostas that are coming back are pretty much at the wall line, and will look good too once they plump in more.
Ditch lilies.. Gall dang it, yep, a big part of the stand blooming in the solarium is ditch lilies. Those effers are coming out and becoming the first ones into the ditch along the road and easement drive. There's a pretty smaller yellow one too, and that one is getting transplanted for flavor. The tall fancy one will go elsewhere. The ivy that's popping back up I got a place for too, between the two firs where only weeds grow now. Gonna coax it up the slope to back the top of the hill behind the ditch lilies by the house.
In good solarium news, the algae has almost totally dried in the pond, making a nice thick cracked sheet for me to pick up and remove. That will be very good for the compost pile.

Kind of too soon to tell what's taken or not in the firepit sanctuary. There's for sure sunflowers starting to peek up in the ugly mud patch.. I can only assume other stuff is coming up, just lost in the tall grass. The daisies and red headed clover are in full bloom down there, big fat heads. I'm checking them for shaking off when they are ready. The roses along the fence have turned out to be lovely little pink ruffled ones. And the ones by the pond are indeed little white briar roses. Wow, the willow seedlings are taking over that area though, I gotta thin those out!!

Aww, The passing of Buffy

Sad to say that apparently the neighbor chicken Buffy passed. I hadn't seen her in several days, and I happened to be out to ask the neighbor about it. She said Buffy died peacefully in the henhouse.. was just lying there. She had a burial.

In other critter news, the female orioles are hitting the oranges more now. I assume that means eggs are hatched, and wee orioles can now be left alone for bits of time.

Some of the hummingbirds are starting to look like their ruby throats are coming in. Still a few that are all downy grey though.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Well, the winds kicked in at quarter to twelve last night. We lost power till eightish this morning. And we got more storms coming in right now.
We got winds clocked at 55, it was fierce! Most of the heavy raining and lightning parts of the storm apparently split and we didn't get the worst of it.
Lots of little branches down.. and one of the maples in back had half of it split off into the yard. Thankfully it didn't hit anything and landed off the neighbors drive.

Since I found the camera charger, I was able to take pics of it.

The rest of the maple standing looks ok and not too off kilter, so I think it will just need it's wound cleaned up and sealed. Now we need to get a stupid chainsaw. Geez, I hope that's the end of it for this episode. At least the homeowners insurance is up to date just in case the wind blows in the wrong way next time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

ah, liquid refreshment

It's that time of year when drinking extra liquids is important.. And cold ones required :)

There's a few beverages I like to keep in the fridge. And since we now have a working icemaker, we sure have been using it :) I grew up in a low sugar household, so I prefer my drinks less sweet.

So, number one. Water. Just plain ole tapwater is good. Fill a glass with ice, and filler up with water.

Two. Iced tea. Yum. I like to take 6-8 teabags, clip them together and hang them in a gallon pitcher, fill with water, and set in the hot sun for a couple hours. I like various berries, zingers, and chais best for iced tea. I stay away from traditional blacks and greens because it gets bitter fast.

Three. Lemonaide. One cup each sugar and lemon juice in a gallon pitcher. Fill with water and stir it up. I like to slice up a fresh lemon and sometimes a lime to toss in. If I make a party sized batch, I like to slice up a couple lemons and limes, and an orange and a grapefruit to toss in.

Four. Kool aide. The packet says one cup sugar per packet. Not me. Two packets, one cup sugar, gallon pitcher.

Five. Juice. I tend to get frozen concentrates when they are on sale, anything non citrus. (I prefer my citrus "fresh") I leave it on the counter till it's thawed, and almost always add at least a half a can more water than the instructions.

Six. Alcohol. Yep, theres something just good about a cold fizzy brew on a hot afternoon. Drink responsibly. Keep in mind that 12 oz of alcohol drink does not hydrate ya like 12 oz of non alcohol.

And in my opinion. Stay away from sugary soda. Stuff isn't good for you. Don't use sports drinks unless you are actually working it that hard. Try eating a pickle or having some tomato juice or V8. Those too have the stuff your body is losing, but on more natural levels.

Keeping it cold:
Using insulated and freezable beverage containers is always great. Sometimes ya just gotta use ice.
Don't want to water it down like that? Make ice cubes of the beverage. Dilute whatever by about a quarter more, pour into tray, and freeze. If you use straight lemon or lime juice, it only takes a little juice to flavor a lot of ice cubes.
For "fancy" ice cubes for presentation. You can freeze citrus sections, mint and other herb leaves, small edible flowers..

Monday, June 6, 2011


There's lovely little flowers blooming in the birdfeed hill area. Need to go check those out. But feeling under the weather today.

Saw a pair of baby coons wanderingin the cut grass side along the easement drive today. They were cute as hell, just picking in the grass for I dunno what. The camera on the phone not good enough... gotta find the charger for the camera. Thought what I heard last night was coons squabbling. With some listening on the web to the scrapping sounds I heard late last night and seeing a pair of juveniles in the yard today confirmed it.

Food- a couple of quart bags of tomato meat sauce from the freezer, a can of chick peas, a couple cups of frozen spinach. A cup and a half or so of dry pasta. T or two of fat. I tend to do about 1-2 1/2 cups of sauce stuff per quart bag.
Bring chick peas to a boil in salted water- boil for 5 min or so.
bring down heat and not quite simmer for 10 min
bring back to boil, add pasta. Cook pasta till al dente.
Drain beans and pasta.
Add fat to boiling kettle. After it melts, add spinach.

While this is going on, defrost bags of sauce in the nuker or under hot water till the contents melt enough to put into the pan. Or if using canned, pop the lid and set it aside.

Completely heat the spinach in the fat. Add in the sauce, and heat totally again. Toss sauce well with chick peas and pasta.

MMMM, I got a couple big feed dishes coming up.. Gonna have to plan and post about it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Just some weedin and seedin

Whew, apparently I cooked my back a bit yesterday. Got sunblock and still can feel the cook in the sun today.

So, it's been some in the shade work today. Got the poppy bed on the south side of the solarium weeded out. Crap there was a ton of viny bits to yank out. But I did find a second poppy among all those weeds. I'm gonna keep my eye on them and snatch that seed when it's ready. It will be re-broadcast all along the same area. Think I might dig up the bulb action that's there and move it to the east side of the solarium. Really encourage the poppy bed to become lush again.
Tee-hee.. had an odd find while weeding there, a pair of handcuffs.
This does confirm that I have to put the breadseed poppy bed somewhere else. Not quite sure where yet.
I'm thinking maybe using them for part of the border to mark off the edge of where the steel box area will be. Or lol, probably more accurately, the edge of the orchard that I can't plant past :)

Got the well patch fairly well cleared out. Planted in all the cauliflower seed I had. Violet, green, yellow, a pointed romanesco.. And scattered a couple types of whites on the edges. Hopefully something will come up. cleared a section of tall grass by the chicken pad, and plunked in some sweetcorn. Scattered some red and brown popcorns down by the raspberry patch.

Don't think there will be any root crops this year. I'm starting to think the only area fairly free of root crap is where veggie row is planned. So, looks like next year at least for that.

Anywho, now it's time to feed the birds.. And us too. Still got a ton of veggie salad fixings in the fridge, so I think it's veggie salad and chicken fingers for dinner tonight.

I like..
a cucumber, peeled
3-4 roma tomatoes
couple peppers, and color works
some minced onion and garlic
handful of fresh mushrooms
A carrot or two, maybe shredded.
Some olive oil, italian herbs, s+p..
Let chill for an hour or two to self marinate.

Made super easy honey mustard for the chicken..
3-4 heaping spoonfuls of mayo
couple big squirts of grainy yellow mustard
a teaspoon drizzle of honey
bit of salt and white pepper
half tablespoon or so splash of lemon juice
dash of Worcestershire sauce
mix well :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yay sunshine!

Just been puttering...

Got a few of the knotwork edgers done. They look pretty nice. Still not down pat on the ratio, but I'm settling in around 10 cups mix to 2 cups water or so.
I figure the knotwork ones will be for edible trees.. And I'm going to build a set of plain forms to make edgers for the rest of the trees. I figure it's a handy "secret" signal.. And let's me make more than one stupid edger at a time, lol.
And yay, we do indeed already have irises :) Got some bronze and yellows and yellow throated purples in the border behind the solarium. There is a stunning large sky blue one down in the raspberry area.
So now I got all sorts of fun bulb action to dig out of that area and move to another. It's a shame all those beauties are lost down there now.
And hey, the poppies are blooming. There's only a few of them, the flowers are huge, bright orange, and purple throated. Now I know what to weed, I need to hit that patch and clean it up.
Still don't have the FoH beds fully weeded out. Just been too uninspired to do that kind of weeding, lol.
Most of the fruit trees are now in fruit set. I can tell what the cherries are now. Still not quite sure what else is what yet, the fruit sets look awfully alike. The mulberry in back? Bursting with fruitset! Can hardly wait till they ripen. The raspberries are going from flower to fruit set now, so hopefully I will be able to positive ID those over the next month or so.
Nada on the chestnut trees so far.
My love helped me plug a whole packet of mixed pumpkin/squash seed along the arch drive. We shall see if anything comes up. I didn't see anything popping up on the trouble spot, which bums me out. I figured the fresher seed would have at least sprouted by now.

And no, the truck hole in my front yard is still not fixed. Starting to figure I'll have to do it myself. Sort of pisses me off. But that neighbor did mow the two front sections of my yard for me today, so I'm mollified for the moment.

Met the north neighbors last weekend. Very large family! They seem cool. So I figure I'm ok to proceed with my plans for veggie row. I gotta at least start getting plastic down- less mowing the better, lol.

Yep, they replaced my mower. Went to mow today, damn thing would die every time the brake was released. Figured out through some internet searching that the culprit was.. The safety switch under the seat wasn't plugged in. After I plugged it in, worked great!
Got the path to the firepit mowed in. The neighbors asked if I was gonna mow the whole thing, and I told them nope, growing it out for the birds. I think they think I'm a bit nuts between that and making my own edgers.

Got the seed separated out to start testing hydroponically. There's a couple legumes in the heap that I'm a bit concerned about after killing off a couple batches of tom thumb peas. We are going to try flat out spray first. If we keep running into wet feet problems, we are gonna try the baskets with clay pellets in them style growing. I think it would be tits wiggle if I can bring fresh veggies to the christmas table this year.. I'm hoping it will happen.

The solarium pond is finally starting to dry out. Hopefully soon it will be worth getting out there and doing the next round of cleanup. I'm thinking I might have to get yet some more materials, and do a few of the screenless windows with velcro mounted screens. 3 screens out of 20 on the outside walls just don't cut it. Gets so hot out there condensation forms on the house side windows.
But the lilies are flowering before anything outside. One is tall and rather pretty. I swear if the ones that look like ditch lilies prove to be, they all getting pulled and dumped in the water strip.

The chickens are happy the grass is shorter I think. Been seeing them in the yard more again.. well, when it hasn't been frigging pouring that is. Mr. Tasty was having himself a crowfest the other day, and Ruby just stood by him looking like he was nuts. Apparently it's critter freak out time. The black squirrels have been chasing each other through the trees like mad, and the blackbirds have been flaking out all over each other. The hummingbirds have been zooming each other, and I got to watch a male goldfinch rather closely for a long time yesterday. He latched onto the bottom of the screen of one of the office windows and was watching my ass. lol, maybe they are trying to tell me to come out and play more. And the swans appear to still have two babies, they are getting bigger, and I think whiter too. There's more swans now on the pond to the south too.

On the tec front.. There's all sorts of tinkering around. The cool drip device is now a big ole mounted thing in the great room. Three coke bottles hung on printed out brackets.. feeding into lines that run through the cool printed off valve control. I'm starting to feel like the indoor feed and water upkeep is going to get way easier :)
There's also a cool modular bird feeder coming up. Printed out plates and pegs- snap together for any size feeder one wants. I can hardly wait to try that one out.
The fruit spikes are still working great, and holding up perfectly. I've found oranges work best on them, which is fine since that's the prime feeding fruit anyway.
I have found some squirrel proof bird feeder plans. Gonna build a couple and see just how proof they really are, lol.

On the food front... The quest for one of the top summer foods.. Salads. I found out one of the boys didn't like salads save a couple exceptions. Now I must make all sorts of delicious salads and teach the yumminess that falls under the title salads. I think I'm already starting to grasp what he isn't too keen on, and he is willing to try at least a taste. Ok, I make him at least taste. Lol, I've found myself telling adults the same thing too sometimes- how do you know you don't like it if you've never tried it?