Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Monday, January 30, 2012

YAY seeds!

Feeling pretty good about seeds.
Had a HUGE stock of all sorts of random stuff I knew I was never going to use (like I need a dozen varieties of tomatoes?) so I cleaned up the seed stock to what I will use and shipped off the rest to a friend of mine who is also an avid gardener... I told her to please feel free to keep on sharing what I sent her. It was a ziploc bag that neatly filled the smallest of the free/fixed shipping Post Office boxes, and I am sure they will all have good homes to grow in.

So, I now also have planned out where almost all of the seed I still have is going to go in the yard. Still have a handful that I'm not too sure where it's going yet, but I will figure it out. 

Still have a smidge of seed leftover that I know I will not be using this year, but I'm still holding onto it for future growing.

Got a some IDGAF seed too. What's IDGAF? I don't give an eff where it goes. Quite likely it will be my scatter seed for the fenceline of the firepit sanctuary like I did with my rousing failure if IDGAF extra bean seed last year. Hey, if it takes, wonderful, if it don't I don't care.

And ooohhh, wag my tail, I put in my seed order today. Geez, why did I need to order seed if I had so much I gave a third of my stock away? Because I had some missing. Corn (which is a requirement for the three sisters garden), spinach, mixed hot peppers, brussel sprouts, some medicinal herbs, kale. I decided to skip the creeping thyme this time in favor of going with Richters for better suited thyme in the future. Got a sprout mix that has yellow peas in it because it's almost impossible to find yellow peas on their own, and I do like to mix green and yellow for soup. It also has green peas, red and green lentils, and chickpeas too, which is very nice. Decided to pick up a gourd mix too- may not grow them this year since I know I will be growing luffa this year, but decided the time was now to pick those up.

Coming soon will be my seed removal from the ghost peppers I was so thoughtfully sent from a dear friend of mine. He sent them semi fresh, and I lost a couple of them because I wasn't careful enough with drying, but there is still plenty there for me to deseed and grind.. HAHA, now I just need to be VERY VERY careful about how I do it since they are the deadliest peppers on the planet. I'm thinking of doing a "sealed pulverization" of a tiny mortar and pestal I don't use inside a gallon ziploc.  I will be reporting back on that one.

Most exciting... Our first hydroponic trial starts today. We had a complete failure of Tom Thumb pea in the past, but I think it's because it was a half-assed effort. Today we started three each of Disoy soybean, and edamame type that grows small, and Coco Noir bean, a dwarf bush drying type of bean.
It starts by sprouting them sandwiched between wet paper towels that are encased in a pair of plates (now available to recycle since we got a lovely eight place setting set of dinnerware as a housewarming from one of our moms) to help keep them moist.. Then once sprouted they will go into the baby grower, then on to the adult system. If they fail, I will try another two trials before moving on, and the rest of the seed will go to the garden instead. If they succeed the next trials are going to be a miniature tomato and eggplant. Or maybe cucumber instead of eggplant. Got a decent handful of other seed to try out as well.

For other seed starting, we now have over a dozen styrofoam egg cartons saved for small starts, and a promise from my mom and sister to save their cardboard cartons. Might not be much, but it is a few bucks worth of planting supplies I was able to recycle and keep out of landfills instead of spending at the gardening store. Why buy when you get it free with every egg purchase? I do kind of wish I had at least another person or two that I knew would save cartons for me, but ah well.
I've also learned the "secret" to making paper pots out of newspaper, and I got a couple of wine bottles already cleaned and set aside for the purpose.  Those will be for seed starts too big for egg cartons, like tomatoes and peppers. Better to just start them in the bigger pots right from the start.
Got a nice handful of larger soup and tomato product cans for doing up lettuce and herb starts this year too.

Unfortunately, I will have to buy seed starting soil this year... The compost pile simply isn't up to snuff to provide yet. But with any luck and effort, I will be using all homemade seed starter next year. Considering that the pond was created by digging out a peat bog, I've been putting in some serious consideration to some dredging of the future dock area for good soil amendment. I know the area needs to be cleaned up, and what the heck else am I going to do with the dredgings?

Still have a few weeks before seed starting for the garden starts and I am chomping at the bit to do it. Mayhaps I will broadcast some of that plantain seed to appease myself, lol.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens.. Everyone should have one.

Victory can be a lot of things.
Yep, the U.S. is at war, though the government is not calling for us to grow our own like they have in the past. But shoot yeah, if you want to plant a tomato in your own support of troops, do so. 

If you are tired of companies charging you and arm and a leg for dried parsley or whatever.. Claim a victory over them by choosing not to patronize them. Grow a pot of parsley on the windowsill. Learn how to dry and store it too.

If you are tired of questionable farming and processing practices... Use your patio and claim a victory in the name of knowing damn well where your food is coming from. Use your yard to grow your own instead of just growing grass.

Claim a victory over food ignorance by planting a new veggie or herb you have never tried before. Or by planting an old favorite, and learn that not all produce looks store perfect, but is still perfect to eat!

Claim a victory over bad food habits by starting new ones with a garden. After spending the time and effort to grow an edible, it can be hard to resist eating it.

Claim a victory in self sufficiency. Do a little or a lot to be able to say, yes, I did this myself, and it felt good to be able to do for myself.

Victories can be  great and small. It can be a pot on the windowsill with your favorite herb. Choosing to plant your flowerbox with edibles instead of just pretty stuff- and yes, there are a lot of plants out there that are edible and pretty. Having a couple containers out on the patio- or filling it chock full of homegrown goodness. Putting in a garden so at least you get some edible benefit from growing, instead of just having the chore of mowing.

Whatever victory it is that you want to claim... Make plans now to start claiming it. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Owls in the yard

Just had a magnificent Barred owl land on a branch of the maple outside my office window. He stuck around long enough for me to go grab my love so he could take a look at it too!!
Sadly, when I went to grab my camera to take a shot, I discovered the battery was dead. Sometimes the wonders of Mama N are just to be experienced instead of recorded.

So now we have confirmed Great Horned and Barred owls here, how much does that rock? Ha, now I just need to see what it is that screeches out there so I can identify it. I'm not sure if it's a raptor of some sort, or a barn owl type of screech. 

The bluejays have been out recently too showing off their lovely plumage. And the chickadees, so cute!!
Unfortunately, I haven't seen Tippy in a while :(

For other critters we love... Ocelot. Been keeping an eye on her, and she is eating and drinking normally. I'm still worried about her and keeping an eye on her. She's not acting much differently, so I'm hoping that my coddling and pumping up the liquid availability is doing the trick.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

my meows :(

Ocelot has been displaying some alarming symptoms this week. But I am keeping an eye on it to see if we really need to take her into the vet or not.
Acting totally normal. Drinking and eating normally, hanging out in my lap or on heated devices normally, sleeping and playing normally...
Only, there's been a couple piddles in inappropriate places recently, and not exactly normal color and amounts for a cat.
So checking all over the internet, including asking friends with meows.. And watching her since the first WTF moment on Monday...
She seems to be displaying some alarming symptoms that are steadily improving since Monday when we first had our WTF moment. So at this time I don't think I need to take a vet appointment, though I am keeping an eye on her. 
And found out some things to help our meow action in the future. First. Make damn sure none of the cats are locked up in not often used rooms. And yeah, need to have extra water bowls out, especially with our hard water and since it is winter. Need to start adding in more canned food to make sure they are getting enough liquids. Already switched to an indoor dry food, and will be mixing in some urinary tract health food.
I think that perhaps this will help Pooks as well. He's been coming up with some skin markings recently, and at first we have been thinking that the meows have been bickering alot. But with his sensitivity, and his dander, I'm wondering if some of his patches are because of water and diet too. Been brushing him extra, and been keeping my eye on cat fights more.
Moon and Marbles have been getting more notice, and they seem perfectly normal..
But geez, looking at the records.. Pooks is 13, the twins are 10, and Moon is 8... I guess they are all getting to be more mature meows now.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stop American Censorship


At this time there is a movement in our government to increase internet censorship. It is moving fast, and it is not a good thing.

This isn't internet censorship like helping prevent young kids and porn situations.

It's internet censorship like you could go to jail because of the song that was playing in the background of your youtube featuring your cat or kid being really cute. Or your social network account could get suspended because you chose to share that cute cat/kid video your friend just put up. Your kids school concert group could get nailed for putting up a video of their concert if they used the wrong song and the original artist feels it's copyright infringement.

This needs to be stopped before the government can pass it into existence.

UPDATE: Obama Veto

Obama has apprently vetoed SOPA or at least parts of it, and it has been shelved at this time... HOORAY!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MMMM, food.

Thinking out a game plan. Having some salsbury steak tonight, but I am cooking up an extra batch of taters for mashing. The extra is to thicken the soup with.

And with all the snow predicted, I'm hoping that I will be able to do some cozy cooking tomorrow.

Found a couple of 99 cent/lb last chance bags of chopped cabbage and carrot coleslaw base at the store today.  That's gonna get cooked up into some soup tomorrow. Also using a couple bags of turkey stock and broth I boiled up from the T-day carcass. Still pretty happy to have gotten 52 cups out of a double boil. From a free carcass none the less with about two bucks worth of other veggie action.
I have a couple pounds of taters eyeballing out, so those are gonna get chopped and peeled for chunks. As will a bunch of the carrots. And onions, garlic, a few bits of sausage chunks... Yum.
I figure the whole pot will yield at least 8-10 freezer portions of soup.

I also plan on setting up a beans and sausage crockpot/s tomorrow. I want to make up a bunch to pull and serve with rice, or greens since we like them both. It will be likely that the pots will yield 6-8 freezer portions of yummy goodness.

I already picked up a multipak of BarS sausage on sale last month, and just did so again today. 14 links/2.5 lbs for 4 bucks. So tomorrow I will use up the frozen pack since I was foolish enough not to IQF it, and take time tomorrow to IQF the pack I picked up today out of the fridge case.

And it's pretty likely that dinner tomorrow will use up all of the tail ends of freezer cooking in a big skillet.

Will report back some more serious recipe action later, I gotta go mash taters. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New look for 2012

I've been looking at tons of blogs and forums lately while out on the search of information from people that have done it.
I figured so long as I was working on fresh action for 2012, the blog should be included to reflect that. Extra cool is that now I have a permanent listing site for all those good places I hit up for information. Expect to see all that sort of stuff expand as time goes on, and more subjects are covered.

So onto the random weeks doings...

I have the three sisters and veggie gardens planned out now, yay! I am doing a writing journal as well as my online blog. All my other "goal" areas have notes in them too now. But will I be able to implement them?

The weather is sort of worrying right now. I shouldn't complain, but we really haven't gotten much by way of precipitation. Reading up on some of the latest agricultural news, I'm not the only one in the midwest thinking about it. Last years crazy weather has led to a seed corn shortage that may end up being further impacted by this year if things keep dry.
I'm starting to have some concern about watering the gardens. We live in a really frigging wet area, but even so, a lack of precipitation is still a problem. I'm currently figuring on some ways of how to deal with the situation.

Started the newest portion of recycling the other day.
I think so far we have cut our landfill footprint by a lot. We used to fill a couple bins a couple times a month, and now we have one bin that we put out once a month-ish. We have weekly pickup, we just don't fill the bin enough to put it out every week. That's a lot of garbage being pulled for recycling- and all of it has plans for it. I have so far followed a plan of as I figure out usefulness of stuff, then that stuff gets pulled for recycling. I started with paper and cash back bottles, then added in other glassware. Then eggcartons and other cartons good for growing stuff in, and now paper tubes have their own bin, so does cans and random plastic containers.
An absolute must- clean whatever it is of any type of foodstuffs before you store it! Rinse out your cans and eggshells, wash out your closeable containers. Remove the labels from glassware at this time too if you aren't saving it with the label for some reason. I have found the easiest way is to just soak it first. Sticky crap left on the bottle from sticker labels comes off best with nail polish remover.

So now I'm going to tinker with the format a smidge more, then it's time to tackle the huge pile of dishes I've allowed to pile up, again.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The 2012 yard...

I decided  to tackle several projects for 2012, and wanted to write up a list of objectives for this year. Keep in mind I really haven't reviewed all my 2011 hopefuls yet, so the list might change.

I want to continue cleaning up the raspberry bed. Need to keep trimming back and killing off the weedy trees part next to the fence. Transplant the raspberries up by the house to down into the bed. Perhaps even plant in a couple red raspberries to complement the black ones.
Future project will be placing golden raspberries somewhere else since they apparently don't play nice with blacks and reds.

The preliminary stages for the herbal fence will be going in this year. Laying out black plastic, and doing a three sisters garden in square foot style.
Future project will be slowly introducing permanent herbs. I know that fenceline will end up being important, and so I want to take my time and plan it well.

The first segment of veggie row will go in this year along the north fenceline. Again, supercheating with black plastic. I'm thinking in eventual terms of square foot here too. I'm not positive how well I will pull off square foot for this segment, and I know I will have some failures. But I really need to start using some of all this wonderful seed I have from swapping, and I'm guessing I will be relearning a lot of gardening. And I really need to figure out this year just what bed sizes will be put in and how they will be placed in the future.
Future projects will be building in the square foot beds, creating mowing stones for the border.

Composting. 2011 composting efforts were kind of not the best. This year will be an improvement. Gonna keep the big heap o shit for my main dumping patch. But I am also going to set up a couple of chicken wire barrels too. One at the junction of the herbal fence and veggie row, and I'm thinking maybe one somewhere around the mulberry tree, perhaps kind of under the maple canopy.
Future efforts will be getting good enough with the composting to fill my raised beds, build vertical mushroom "logs" of chickenwire and compost. 
And yep, will start collecting horse poo in 2012 for composting. 

Orchard. Learning about pruning and spraying action, so will be doing something with the orchard this year. Right now I want to concentrate more on keeping the trees in shape and tending to the canopy floor. I will be continuing the promotion of moss around the tree bases. I'm ordering some roman chamomile and creeping thyme seed this year, and I think I will be experimenting with a few of the starts here.
Future plans: the addition of a plum tree(s) for sure. I am allowing myself only two more trees positions for the orchard, thus the need for the living fence.

The driveways. With any luck, I will be planting in some lilac starts and ditchlilly transplants along the easement drive "swamp row". I am for sure planning on at least marking in the lilac row with sunflowers this year. Mammoth variety I do believe, an eater type rather than a decorative one.
The arch drive will see a part 2 of the 2011 action. I liked the notion, the execution was super sucky. Still have a package or two of mixed s/p/g's. So this year it's black plastic again to the rescue, and I will be starting then transplanting seeds. I think this will result in a major improvement. The drive itself is still gonna be a wood drop area for a while. Yeah, this spring will see a lot of burnings of the stuff dropped in the arch drive.
Try to keep weeds out of the pavement better this year.
Future projects are all over the place right now.

Firepit Sanctuary. Hopefully my scattering of the Wild Carrot border on the east side will yield results this year. Carrot is a biannual. That means I should see greenery this year, flowers for seed next year. And if I don't see greenery this year? Go around the yard collecting seed heads and try again.
I have a large shaker building up of wildflower seed to broadcast on the west side. Think I'm going to try "plugging' with it. Tearing up smallish sections, and concentrating efforts. When stuff does grow, will make it easier for seed scattering and collecting.
I also have built up a lot of my bordering marigold seed for the firepit cutout. Lot's of seed and seed heads from the super cheap discount marigold plants I got last summer. Those will be scattered around the entire edges. Of my bought stock, a bit of it will go into starting plants, more of it will go to a late sowing of the cheap marigold scattering. Most of the chamomile and creeping thyme I'm getting will go to parts of the area too.
Future projects will be making the stepping stones to expand out from the firepit, encouraging the walkable plants to grow in between. The rest of the sanctuary will get addressed in 2013 and beyond.

Wee folk garden. Want to put in stepping stones and stairs marking out the path between the house and the firepit crossing. Anything else is gravy.

FOH garden. Got a ton of plantain seed I harvested around the yard to broadcast into part of the upper tier. Found a lot of them growing as weeds there, and not much else would grow there, so I figured I would put the area to good use. Finish filling in the well hole, and mark it well.
I'm thinking of letting the walk down between tiers stay natural, and just work on evening out the ramp. It's a gentle enough slope for it, and I bet I can get some of the local mosses to take grab there.

Grandma's gardening: Transplanted those gorgeous huge blue irises, will need to watch the area to see if they took or not. I think they did :) Need to watch the spot of double daffs down at the raspberry cutdown area this year and mark them so I know where to dig when it comes time for transplanting. I hope I was able to save enough poppy seed from the two weak grandmas poppies along the south side of the solarium to be able to start repopulating that bed in 2012. With any luck I may be able to capture enough seed to pass on some of 2013 harvest to Chris. The lily of the valley pool around the base of the chinese chestnuts will continue being shifted- in 2011 I pulled the edges of the main pool from the south side of the trees to start filling in the north side of the trees.  I will do much more realigning this year.