Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Autumnal Equinox

Yeah, it's that time of year. I figured it would be nice to post a holiday entry :)

The equinox is officially listed on Sept. 23 for this year. It kind of floats from the 21-23. It is the second harvest, the first being Lammas and the third Halloween.

So, wonderful time to celebrate fall foods that are in plenitude right now.  Soups and stews, fresh baked breads, spice cakes, mulled beverages, yum!
Also time for the savorings of the season. All the trees and plants changing colors, the first true crisp evenings, the tang of burn smoke on the air..

We now have a wonderful property to celebrate the holidays on. We can go for a nature walk and see what nuts have fallen, maybe gather a few here and there to put out as an offering to the critters. I'd like to take a wander around the firepit sanctuary and trim out some grassheads and pluck up the dead corn to make dollies and crosses with for Imbolc. Cut the willow saplings so I can make a door for the fairy hill before Halloween. Maybe if I'm lucky I can find some still intact cattail heads and pluck them to dry for decoration.
We get to have a proper bonfire, hooray! Want to burn up the piles of brush down there so I can mow and get the new brush piles into place before the halloweenie burns. I also want to get the firepit cleaned out and re-stacked for fall burnings. We are almost a brick deep in ash right now, lol.
I'm also going to go through the decorations boxes and see what I have and need to make for Halloween.  I know some lil jack o lanterns need to be sculpted up for sure. Need to take a window count first. I'm going to go old school and make them out of salt dough.
I stumbled across a wicked paper mache lantern making site. Will be making some cool bits for next year!

In a way, it's kind of exhilarating that the equinox is here. Kind of scary too. Now I know I'm on a ticker counting down to full cold season. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feeling the need to bable about the yard.

So, it will be highly unlikely that any of my squash will be producing. Most of them are small and have barely bloomed. Probably a side effect of my hey maybe it will grow there tactic, lol. Better known for next year. We did get a couple ears of corn, though they didn't look healthy enough to me for me to bother to save it for next year. Well, maybe not hopeless. I'll collect them and put them into the casting bucket for spring starting. Waste not want not. If nothing else, the local critters may appreciate the late winter snack. And I can still use the corn leaves.
The sunflowers didn't really come up mammoth, though I'm not shocked there, I did plant them in a drainage field. I am a bit surprised that all my wild casting of sunflower and bean failed. 
Something that did succeed? The launch of the marigold project. Those plants I picked up at the end of sell season for super cheap have already produced enough blooms to pay themselves off. Plus they have busted out with more blooms that will likely go to seed before the end of the season. I've also managed to pick up quite a bit of end of season sale seed too. Between the seed gathered for wild broadcasting, and seed for plug starts, I think it's likely we will be able to get the first year off the ground and encircle the firepit area and path up to the easement drive.
How I sorted the seed? Seed bought for this year at closeout is for plugs in the spring. I picked up several packets of older seed for super cheap, and mixed it with the seed gathered from the plants this year.  Some of it will be broadcast for the last reaping, some of it will be saved for the first sowing. I think about half of the plug seed will go to fuel our first flood and fill experiments. I also picked up a largish bag of lettuce seed at the end of season for experimentation too.
Quite a bit of the wild carrot has finally gone to seed enough that I did my fall broadcast of it. Dropped the heads in a wide "hedge" from the cottonwood at the edge of the sanctuary up to the easement drive. In a couple weeks, enough heads from what was too young to harvest this time should be ripe for me to collect and store for the spring broadcast.   Hopefully in a couple years my efforts will yield a nice bed of the silly things. Why wild carrot? Easy to cultivate, looks pretty, and the seeds are good for medicinal and culinary purposes. Plus I figure they will add some extra goodies to the soil over time.  And they are easy to whack out if I want to do something else to the area later on :) All the daisy seed I collected will get sprinkled into the area too in the spring.
Took a load of yard droppings down to the firepit. Since I had my handy new loppers hanging from my awesome wheelbarrow... I took the hour and started the trimout by the pond. Lots of bushy stuff removed, and suddenly you can see so much more of the pond and can clearly tell where the eventual dock is going to be. lol, a shallow dock- I've been told the pond is shallow, averaging 6-8 ft deep with a couple maybe a bit deeper spots. So the pond is out for swimming, but a go for light boating and probably ice skating.
Still have a lot of cleaning to do down there. Right now it's waiting till everything has died back so I can tromp around and whack what shouldn't be there. The more pondside stuff will have to wait till we are a few hard frosts in. Wait for the ground to firm up more.
I think another couple years a border will be the chickory. I'm willing to collect seed and encourage in a border in the yard. There's a hashed in trail in the tall grasses from the drainage field to the far cottonwood, and I think I would like to sow in a border there. Locks in all the sides of the firepit sanctuary on the drainage side with a wide berth for if any work needs to be done.
And I'm not so sure about the cottonwood removal. A cleanup to be sure. But maybe it would be good to just trim it up rather than remove it. Its a good landmark.
lol, the best laid plans....

All the fruit trees have pretty much gone to crap. We had good intentions to use them this year, but I think we were really unprepared to actually do anything. I'll be able to do some fall pruning, I've read up enough for that much. I think the stuff I can't handle will just have to wait till spring for Earl and the boys to take care of. Right now I think the best that will happen is that the handleable pruning gets done, the ground gets cleared of dropped fruit, and maybe a few apples and pears get picked.
This cold season I will sit down and learn what I need to for next year. Still not planning on putting in any new trees for at least a couple years. What we have now needs to be tended to before making any decisions. 
An orchard success? The moss starts under the cherry trees. Most of them have at least stayed green all season, which is good. Will have to make sure to feed it during the wet spring to encourage it in. Probably wouldn't be a bad idea to pull in some leaf mold over the bare spots.
Another take off? The ivy I moved from the solarium to under the pines. Rather nice to see :) Now I need to do the cutback of weediness, re-position the tendrils. They have stressed into nice long tendrils that I can now re-position into their fill in lines. And whatever is now left in the solarium can be wetted up and moved now and I'm pretty sure it will work well for inside spots.

I may still espalier fruit in along the neighbor and easement drive. And still build a bottle wall. I was thinking of doing a wall in segments that are only a foot or two high. The gaps between are where the plant is placed. Good way to protect the plants, and still do some bottle recycling. We do need to do some creative recycling. Though a lot of bottlers have a return in MI, there are some that don't, and I need to weed those out of the returnables to use for recycled glass. It's about time that working in the outbuildings isn't painfully hot anymore, so it's time to move the building stock down to the pole barn, and take the rest in for return. Maybe put in a person but not vehicle wide "gate" somewhere close to where our fence meets theirs. Despite my rant about the subject, I still want to be friendly. They are nice people, even if they seem to be irresponsible at this time IMO. Thinking of doing a sunflower project along the line in the spring to see how I like the layout. Some taller or open where I will want gates and gaps, shorter where I want the fence height of differing height segments. It's gonna end up a pretty permanent feature. Rather start with annuals now and figure out what I really want to do with the space now.

I'm hopeful that I will foot in some ditch lilies along the easement drive yet this year. Cattails got a good foothold in, which is sort of nice. If I can, I want to try to put the lilies in among them. Maybe in the spring I will start the lilac portion of that side. Now I have an excellent idea of what the water path is on that side. Once again, in a couple years, that spot will be sporting along right nicely.
The fairy mound is just begging for me to start doing something. I think a door to be installed for the move coming up. Sort of the official welcoming and introduction sort of thing.
The stump at the arch turn needs attention too. Maybe we should mount it with a pole. Do some lighting on it that's sun or wind driven as a small scale project.

Anywho, continuing around the yard. Another attention spot is the border along the road, and our driveway entrance. I think that the area will need some further consideration. Need to think about several factors along that strip. Pretty much all of them have to do with low growing and zippo maintenance.

The northern side of the property is shaping up nicely. Just a matter of cleanup and progressing with development there. Need to do some serious killing along the fence side of raspberry field apparently. A couple of the weed trees have sent up serious regrowth. I have left off those efforts till spring however. I may have cut back enough growth that I killed off the area that I think sprouted morels this spring. I saved one, split and dried for if I find someone to ask if it is a morel or not. The one I mushed on accident I whacked up on the spot and scattered further into the lilacs.  If it is a morel, and I think it is a blonde one? than I may have been in error with how much I cut back. I left the high canopy and the regrowths for now.

Must totter off. Time to stop thinking about the yard and dig into burger goodness...