Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Just a little in the heat...

Holy crap it turned out to be HOT and sunny today... in the 90's. It's been way nicer out all weekend, and it has kind of skewed my plans around a bit. I was expecting bursts of nice among nicely gloomy and sometimes wet kind of weekend. Between the unexpected weather and catching up on $*&^$((&* critter destroying my corn seeding.. gack.

I'm seriously starting to wonder what will become of my garden even if I do succeed in growing plants. Am I going to have to put up a dozen frigging fences and growing barriers to help keep the critters from eating out stuff? I'm more than happy to give them their own garden- thus the firepit sanctuary and all- if only they will leave my patches of garden goodness alone.

But I still got a little done today. Made up a ton of seed papers to go into the veggie row. Just one more batch to go, and it's time to attack the beds and plant everything in.
Making seed papers sucks up time, but better time spent out of the sun using flour paste to set seed into place than doing it under the broiling sun. Especially at this time of year- rather blow time than suffer several days of sunburn.

Got another tray of bean pots done, only 3 more to go now... Gall dang that critter again for destroying all my pots when digging out corn seed. I have spent a lot of time this weekend so far catching up that I would rather have spent doing other stuff.
And gall dang corn again- I got all five trays seeded up yesterday, so kind of in time.. But a couple of them showed water heaves today. I tucked everything back in and made a devout prayer to the deity of gardening, or corn, or whatever that this time the corn will set up.
The corn is so important cuz I'm totally fucked on the three sisters row without it. If I don't get the bean turn out that I want it's not such a biggie. It's the corn that provides the stakes for the beans to grow on that counts.

Got the weed whacker all primed up and tested out.. That thing is a go for yardwork this week. I discovered while priming and testing it... Oh yeah, it is really stupid to weed whack in a tank top and shorts. And I wasn't even wearing any type of basic eye protection for the stupid of me. Now I just need to be willing to go full out sleeves and legs and bugspray.. and spend some time whacking the snot out of the areas that need it. Good thing it isn't a ton of area.

Started a moss project today- yeah, hot and sunny as hell, and I decide to plant what wet and shady is a major requirement. We shall see if it does anything or not. I read about a Japanese trick of collecting moss when it's dry to seed an area with when it's wet. So I pulled up a two gallon bucket of green dry moss off the back balcony and I seeded in the start of a path in the FOH garden. I only did the "easier" portion of it. Easier to get the weeds out and slap moss chunks down, lol. I started clearing the last part of the path, but I think it will take more than one pulling before it's ready for moss. The step side needs a tad of stone setting before I plunk down moss. I still have over half a bucket of moss and the back porch could yield another full bucket of moss... But I'm not sure if it's living moss or not yet despite it's being green.
An unexpected surprise out of the FOH garden.. Snapdragons. There are several lovely clumps of it coming up in the upper south section... Same section where I started spreading plantain seed. Not common field yellow, but rather a mix of pinks, whites, and multihues of the reds into purple range. You bet I will be keeping my eye on those snapdragon plants and redistributing the seed as I can.. Hey, if only weeds will grow there, cultivate the useful weeds till you can start harvesting edibles or potential selling seed.

Those huge sky blue irises I rescued and replanted last year? Several plants are booming- and it turns out they are very pale lavender rather than blue once they are out of the deep shade and see some sun. Neatly enough my wish for a different iris to add to that border area has been granted- there are enough blades behind the solarium to move and start a whole nother node of them. I'm thinking about hitting up the folks on the corner for some of their glorious white ones.

Grandma Howards poppies are doing rather well so far this year. Last year was two plants- one with two pods of questionable seed, one with zero seed pods worth cracking. This year the "bigger" plant has yielded at least 10 flowers that I have carefully tapped to each other for pollination. At least  four times as many healthy seed heads so far. I may end up with a dozen seed heads of healthy seed- some to replant, and some to share with Chris. The smaller poppy only has one bloom so far, but that's ok, it can mark the far end of the poppy garden. I've already expressed my happiness of the poppy so far, I'm REALLY hoping to have some healthy seed to share next year.. and more poppy action along the south side of the solarium.

As a Tippy and friends.. Unexpectedly a small fat toad popped whist pulling weeds for the FOH garden.. Guess it's past time I build a toad home or few to populate FOH garden. I've been driven by the rosepetal pavilion recently.. But I got a lot of "family" accommodations to take care of, post haste!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


So... Planted corn seed for the third time today.. and not because I'm planting three plots of corn.

I decided to try using paper tubes to start the corn in. That went pretty well- cept the first batch of seed didn't really germinate, and I don't know why, if it was wrong temp for starting, or if the seed just wasn't very viable. So, not thinking about it I reseeded all the tubes yesterday and got the trays on the front porch since it's supposed to be super warm.
Yeah, woke up this morning only to find some critter demolished all the trays getting at the corn seed. As in utterly demolished, not one single tube left to reseed in.
It disturbed the sunflowers too, but thankfully those are far enough along that it lost interest in them pretty quick.

Well effity... and a lot of other swearing too- not funny Mama N.

So, I already had a couple trays prepped up for the beans, and just made another 50 pots to make the whopping 132 pots- and used up the last bigger package of corn seed I had, Silver Queen. But bet your boots those are staying inside the solarium under the skylight till they all sprout.

Kind of sucks, now I have to start all over with the bean pots :( But I will get this three sisters square foot thing to work gal dang it all. 

More on the death list...
All of the brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower are a wash.. I simply started them too early and by the time I got them outside to harden off, they puked. Lost a tray of leeks and most of the lettuce too. I accidentally mushed one of the toms while moving stuff out to the porch, and it looks like it probably won't recover.

I have full rows missing out of all the boxes now, well crap. I was planning on doing some extra spinach, carrots, and beets for whatever didn't turn out, but I really wasn't expecting this much die off. I got some refiguring to do before I can start planting..

Good news? Most of the toms and peppers are small but holding up pretty well. All the gourds and squashes are doing well, as is the compacto dill. The moonflowers are almost out of control and need planting.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weep for neighbor chickens

We have no more neighbor chickens... It makes me so sad I wanna cry, the yard kind of feels more empty now.

Last weekend I didn't notice them out when I was mowing... through the week I was busy in the workshop but, ... by this weekend I was darn sure I hadn't seen any of them in days. So I asked the owner neighbor, and we checked the coop... and nothing. No splattered feathers, all three chickens went poof.
Not like one of them finally passed of old age and we couldn't find them- all three went missing in the same time frame...

Pretty much impossible that all three keeled over of old age at the same time in a place where we aren't finding them. A predator got them. We have our suspicions on what kind of predator got them, and I guess we will just never know for sure :(

Rest in Peace Mr. Dirty Harry Tasty, Ruby, and Madge...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Holy crap I own a lot of stuff.

It hasn't been raining too much, but it has been fairly cool over the last couple days. Since I had half my rack open up recently, I decided it was time to tackle cleaning up the workshop while it was nice enough to have the windows open to cool me off, but before the hot season did me in.
The whole workshop looks immeasurably better... But holy crap I own a lot of stuff. Fripperies and garb, accoutrements and weapons.. and craft stuff, wow. Sorting through everything made me realize just how much doo-das and gee gaws I got.

All the garb and dress clothes are out of boxes and hung as they should be. And most of the rest of the stuff is tucked away.. At least till I start getting some shelves and hooks up. I got goodly wall space that I can actually use however I want- it's such a nice treat I'm not sure what to do.
I do think I might now have a purpose of that roll of obi linen I picked up years ago if there is enough of it. I think I might make a roman shade for the sliding door out of it.
The storage room is finally straightened up. All the empty boxes, packing supplies, crates and bins of decorations, and all that jazz is finally put away. The previous owners had built in a 2x4 with heavy plywood in the nook of the room as a bunk bed setup, and it is the perfect setup for pretty much all the storage we need.
And yes, I finally got the last of "my" stuff is out of the Florida room. With some help from my love of course :)

Ended up with a couple full bags of garb to donate to RESCU once fair opens, a couple full bags of clothes to donate to the thrift shop to add to the bags I already have been weeding out. Up to 4 bags for them now. Think next time I do a bottle deposit run I should drop those off.
And nicely enough, I ended up with a whole pile of stuff to take back downstairs. Some shirts for working in, some tops to wear. And I finally found my big cream cloak! And all the rest of my hippos for the powder room :) While weeding through all my school paperwork, found a whole stack of recipe packets I missed and I pulled all my Safety and Sanitation notes. I want to start pounding S&S into my brain again. My hand crossbow is all assembled again and just needs some tightening- only found three quarrels though, I will have to get some more.

Then I went through most of the stuff in the workshop. Yikes. Billions of buttons, clasps, writing utensils, needlework stuff, beading stuff, sewing stuff.... But in the end all that cleaning was super worth it. Now I have direct light over the workbench- I cleared off enough of the top shelf that I was able to set up my grandmothers lamps. Those were crated the entire time we lived in Chicago, and it warms my heart every time I see them glowing. And they do throw rather nice light.

Monday, May 7, 2012

All kinds of good stuff...

Had family and friends out to visit over last weekend, and it was awesome.
Got to go out on a ladies day at the shooting range- I now know how to handle our firearms safely. Also got to eat ribs and kraut- man, I had forgotten all about that dish, it was spectacular! THANK YOU MOM!!
Got all kinds of cleanout goodies from my sister. A bunch of seeds, books, a mishmosh of other stuff, and YAY!! A food dehydrator. THANK YOU BEAR!!
Picked up some bulk black oil sunflower and buckwheat catgrass from the local feed shop for super cheap. Also picked up a few packets of seed on spring clearance.
And a special yay to a book fairy. When my sister and I were out at the resale shop this weekend past, a kind lady overheard us talking about books and she popped the couple bucks to pay for them when she was in line ahead of us. We didn't know it till after she left the store.
Random act of kindness... THANK YOU BOOK FAIRY!!

On Wed., I set to soak two kinds of nasturtiums, five kinds of morning glories- and set up a viability test on some black oil sunflower seed I got from the feed store. It's a 25 seed sample, so I should get a really good idea on if the stuff will sprout, or if I should just dump it in the feeder.
I also started up a whole bunch of stuff in the dehydrator my sister gave me.
Our local Hardings always puts a clearance sticker on produce that's on it's last day or two before it gets pulled. We graze pretty often off those deals. So, there was a lone package of sliced portabellas for 1.99, and a .99 cent package of cole slaw mix got spread out in the dehydrator.
I picked up four big bins of fancy organic baby spinach- down from 5.49 to 1.99. Ate a bunch for a couple dinners, and blanched, shocked, and tossed into the fridge four portions of spinach goodness. Of course those great bins got saved- I'd pay a buck for such a nice bin at the garden store, so I figure a buck for the spinach, buck for the bin, that's a good deal. 
Saved the pits of the avocados from dinner- just tossed them in a bowl of water for overnight. And saved the root bottoms and greens from the two bundles of green onions. The roots went into a container in the fridge, and the greens went into a container in the freezer.
Got all of the clearance seed packed up into their sample envelopes and snugged away in the fridge.

On Thurs.,  I put the mustards, wildflowers, marigolds, moonflowers, and Envy Soy out on the front porch.. It's time to start hardening them off.
I planted the three avocado pits and the root tails from the green onions used yesterday with dinner. The largest of the pits is already split open on the root end from soaking overnight, so I'm hopeful about that one. Had really nice success with the sprouted onion, so we are going to try out other kitchen scrap sprouting too.
Got the Minnesota Midget Melon, White Wonder Cucumber, Batwing Pumpkins, nasturtiums, morning glories, the buckwheat catgrass, and a couple reseedings of lovage and toothache plant done.
I also got all the paper tube bins set up for all 125 starts of corn. But alas, ran out of dirt so I couldn't fill them.  So I didn't bother starting the paper pot setup yet. And yes, of course I used all four of those spinach bins to hold tubes- each one holds 23 small or 18 larger ones. The tubes sit under the rim, so I can pop on the covers and use those bins as mini-greenhouses once they are filled. At least till the seeds start to sprout :)

Pulled the spinach out of the fridge. Squished them flat, sucked the air out of the bags, and tossed them into the freezer.
The mushrooms were done in the morning, so I pulled that tray and now those tasty mushroom slices are sitting in a jar waiting to get ground up. One package of slices stuffed up my "shroom holding jar", so now I need to decide what jar to pull off the shelf for powdered shrooms. I had a small tray of ends sitting from the last time I picked up button mushrooms, so I tossed those in with the portabellas.
The cole slaw mix- one tray was ready in the early afternoon, so it got pulled and tossed in a jar. With two empty trays I was able to set up all the onion greens from the freezer and pop them on to dry. Those will eventually be ground up for spice mixes.

On Fri... Lost power Thurs night :( It was back up by the time we woke up this morning :)

Pulled most of the green onion from the dehydrator and put it in a jar. There were still a few pieces left that needed more time. The celery was looking pretty good, so I chopped the rest of it up and reloaded the whole thing. Took the root end and sunk it into water overnight- I will be potting it up tomorrow.

Lots of plantings- 124 starts of Oh So Sweet Corn, one hill pot each of Sweet Dumpling, Golden Delicious, Long Island Cheese, Small Wonder Spaghetti, Cue Ball, and One ball squashes, 28 Mammoth Sunflowers, and a dozen each of Large and Small Gourd Mix and Autumn Display mix. The Autumn Display is a mix of pumpkins and squashes with a couple gourds.

Sat was pretty slow- merely potted up the gooseberries and the root end of the celery stalk.. The rest of the celery was dry, so it went into a jar, then a bag of frozen mixed veggies went into the dehydrator. 

So, today is Monday, and I started this post a week ago, lol. So I think it's time to post up all the stuff that happened last week :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Happy Beltane!! First of May!!

Now is the time of year when the earliest glimmerings of Imbolc/Groundhog Day/ whathaveyou are coming into full season. All of the fruit trees are having their blossoming time as well as a plethora of flowers. I have a huge patch of daffs to split up and those ooober beautiful irises I dug up and redistributed last year are just starting to fringe out on several blades in their new location. The wild mustard has been blooming like crazy all over the place everywhere we go for the last several days. Even the oaks are showing signs of stirring, though I would hesitate to call the tiny buds anything close to leaves the size of a mouses ear yet.
The time has come to start looking forward to steady warmer weather and more sun.

Right now is the start of asparagus season as well as avocado in the stores and markets. For regional hunting, it's spring turkey season. Now is also the time that the first flushes of spring sown lettuce are ready for some tender salad. For mushroom hunters, it's to my understanding that a lot of the recent weather has lead to some unpredictable flushes and delays, so good hunting to you!

In wildlife, now is the time that an explosion of birds comes onto the scene. All the goldfinches, sparrows, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, and blech, the grackels are coming onto the scene.
Time to start setting out a tray of ground eggshells- today is the mark of a lot of wild laying season, and the shells can help with future shell development in the wildlife.
Mr. and Mrs. Swan have both been spotted with 3-4 cygnets. We spotted the whole family yesterday, and from the angle we were at, it was hard to tell how many babies there were. 
Going to fill the oriole and humming bird feeders this week now too- should be past freezing the tank, and still cool enough to let the liquids set a spell.

No bonfire or wee folk action for this holiday. Just mellow have some leftovers and turn in early. Why? I don't want to throw open an invitation when I plan on a lot of renovations before Halloween. Wouldn't it suck to start a lease or ownership of a place just for it to move someplace else over the next six months to a year? And get renovations too?

Anywho, happy May day. Time to get together some plates of leftover food bits. The natives are restless for snacks, lol.