Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cool stuff...

I think I might want to set up a worm bin or two in the solarium to take care of indoor scraps.



We get enough newspaperish and indoor plant stuff to make bedding, and kitchen scraps to make food supplies. Including all of our coffee and tea stuff, and goodly amounts of eggshell grindings. I'm pretty sure that the solarium stays warm enough during the winter to keep active bins going. Some notes read being able to put them in unheated garages and they do fine.
And yep, I'm horribly lazy about hauling the kitchen scraps out to the main pile. So having a weekly dump spot out in the solarium might just be the ticket for helping me keep up with that. Now I just have to figure out how to get the worms at this time of year to populate the bins with. And pick up a new 2 gallon bucket- I need to start over with figuring out just how much scrap we make in a week.

Also stumbled across this site... http://www.riverparkfarm.com/Riverparkfarm/farm.htm Very, VERY inspirational. Holy crap milkcrates and great dirt.. Makes me kind of rethink some of my square foot gardening ideas..

Got the 3 bunches of celery all dried up and in its jar :) The ends have seen 48 hours in water now, so it will be time to pot them up in the morning. I wanted to give them an extra good soaking before potting this time.
And the last batch of slaw mix I should need for a while- though now I'm kicking around uses for the stuff. Like dip mixes, veggie salt.. hmmm :)

Got the final done on the squash powder too.
2 medium carving pumpkins,
1 large delecata,
1 large dumpling,
5 small to medium buttercups,
1 large green and 2 small golden acorn squashes,
1 medium large (filled the pan in it's own roasting) and 1 small butternut squash.
I think that made around 9-10 quarts of pulp. All that roasted and steamed, drained, dehydrated on jelly trays that took 4 loads of drying. Toasted the leathers in a warm oven to make them crispy dry. Powdered them in a spice mill.
Final yield- 3 3/4 cups of dried product. I already tested, and it's a 1:2 ratio of powder to water to make a rehydrated paste, a 1:3 ratio makes it more of it's fresh puree form. It's potent, and very roasted, maybe just a smidge too much so. I already knew that would be the case since I over dehydrated a round of squash in the first place. And it's a very deep rusty orange instead of bright fresh pulp orange, again, due to a tad bit of over dehydration. But that's ok, the stuff is great otherwise! It has a really robust and squashy taste.

Here's my new helping hands keeping the oven cracked while the squash toasted :)

I zested the oranges that needed taking care of, sliced them up, and now they are in the dehydrator. They are drying out quite nicely so far, but I think I will run it on low overnight just to be sure. The zest is air drying by the dehydrator.
Next up I need to grate up the carrots I picked up on sale and dehydrate those up. I want grated and sliced carrots because they will have different applications.
Then I'm going to experiment with making tomato powder. In reorganizing the pantry, I realized I have kind of an overstock on canned tomato paste. I want to try out a few cans and make some powder- see how that turns out :)

And tee-hee.... I have two little limes growing on my mini lime tree!!!

I've noticed that the cats don't seem to want to chomp on the leaves of the citrus plants. Not sure if that's because they had the tasty celery to maul to death and the lemon verbena to mess with. So now the celery pots are going elsewhere, and I moved the verbena to a still bright and warm kitty free spot. Now it's just the citrus on the table, so we shall see if those plant develop bite marks or not. I hope not, I want to start having more plants around the house.

Got the first batch of solar light jars done- they are now charging for testing on the windowsills of the workshop. Was able to put together 7 double high spikes to plug into the herb garden. That will make it easier for me to locate my herbs come springtime :) And used up all the stakes leftover from making solar light jars.

Tried out a new baking product today because it was on sale.. Fleishmann's Simply Homemade bread. I think perhaps I really should have stirred it with a spoon instead of using the mixer- oops. I was kind of underwhelmed with the yeast bloom and rising, but that might just be because of the kitchen being a bit chilly. And I think it would probably bake off nicer in a loaf pan instead of free-form. Even though I lubed my sheet real well it still stuck to the sheet. Perhaps some corn meal or something to help line the pan with. It tasted pretty good. I picked up two of them, so I will be able to try another mix and see what happens.

Also found out my yeast is still good, so I can do some of my own from scratch baking. It had a best by date of this February 2012, but it hadn't been opened yet. So I tested it, and it's still good- and in the freezer now :)

And easy test for yeast:
1/2 cup warm water- between 105-115, don't go over 120
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons yeast
 Give it all a stir and let it sit for a while. It should start foaming within 10 minutes, max. By the time it's done foaming, you should have visually just as much liquid in the measuring cup as you do foam. 

I think maybe I will make up a batch of English Muffin Loaves soon- I need to get back into the habit of making that, it's pretty darn yummy. And I have some preserves for sharing around and eating up to go with it :)

Got the last of the reshuffling done upstairs. Now it's time for cleanup on individual areas and rooms. Sorted out the kitten friendly from the stuff I don't dare put out this year in the christmas decorations. I got a bunch of christmas stuff that sucks a lot of space for really not being much, hehehe. I think if I reshuffle a couple full bins into currently empty ones I could already have the containers I need for worm composting.

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