Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thank heavens it's wet enough for sumping

Our sump pump kicked on late last night, and twice today so far... YAY!!!!!!!!

It ran pretty regularly, ranging from a few times a week to a few times a day for the first year and a half since we moved in. Then by the end of May last year no pumping. We hit into the drought and since June on it's been too dry for the sump pump to run.

But now with some recent heavy snow and a bit of rain the water has been seeping in fast and deep to the ground. So much so that the pump is running again.

I'm keeping my eye on the drought monitor of course. Farmers Almanac is promising some more precipitation into the next couple months too.

We live in an extremely water rich area. We live on the edge of a football field size pond big enough to show up on google maps among a large cluster of ponds and lakes only a mile away from Lake Michigan.

But last year we fell into the moderate drought range. The pond we lived on dropped by at least 10-12 inches. Our neighbor has a springboard on the pond, and it used to touch or just hover the water... Now the gap is huge. The pond down by the corner that was full of lillies in 2011 was a green scum dressed mud pit in 2012.

By the time July hit, I was sending my love to Aarron for his fire safety speeches, and my sister for coming out for a weekend of major yard cleanup in the spring that made our home a much more zone clear place. I couldn't keep my plants wet enough to grow, let alone produce in the flat soil.

I've watched our back neighbors cart in rolls of feed hay since late spring instead of seeing the horses graze the pasture till fall with some square bales being carted in now and again.

But the pond at the end of the road was seeing standing water since a bit before Thanksgiving.. A good sign. And now the sump pump kicked in. An excellent sign.

It's almost enough to bestir myself out of my gloom and once again look forward to something this year. I've been awfully depressed lately about a lot of things. But the promise of possibly having enough wet again to make some plans worthwhile is hopeful.

And lol. Now that I have watched the exit pipe a couple times... I totally buried the crap out of the drainage area with leaves. On the bright side, a couple of the sages should get some excellent watering if the flow happens regularly again.
And I'm thinking I might still do a bit of deck over in the area.. and maybe plant in the rest of the tiny field with bread poppies.

House history.. We found out recently that our little cellar was once a walk out basement. Apparently is was built in that way and at one point Dave walled up the area and filled in the hill to what it is today. That explains the weird patch hole- I thought it had been a window, but it seems that it had been a door. I didn't ask about the rest of the basement fill in.
I also found out that the hill we are built on was not made from the leftovers of the pond digging. This hill was here naturally, and the extent of the pond dug was how much peat could be cut out.

We are taking in Nova tomorrow for his neutering preop. They need to establish his record before we can schedule the surgery. It's overripe time for it. It will be interesting to know just how much fuckerhead weighs now- when we got him in Oct he was just a hair smaller than Ocelot- now he is bigger than Marbles by a noticeable bit, and gaining on Pooks.
I know he won't like the travel for preop, but I think he can deal. I'm a bit more worried about the surgery. We will be dropping on a Mon, surgery Tues, Pickup Wed. He is such a mama's boy, and a hater of confinement, and extremely vocal. I should probably warn the vets about his cuddly lover action.

We got in some seeds yesterday.. Pink Banana and White Cushaw squashes. From a friend, and I was well pleased to see them.

But the weather is kicking up again, and it's time to make some dinner... Homemade mac and cheese with ham...

MMM, good cold and blustery weather food. Boiling up the noodles and such heats up the kitchen with some nice moist heat, and the dinner is warm clinging goodness to your ribs.
 I do it up kind of different every time depending on whats in the house.. This time?

 1 1/2 c dry medium shells, cooked up in salted water
can of small peas
cup of ham from the roast the other night
can mushroom soup
half cup or so velveeta
palmful parsley
T dill
t magic dust
t pepper
splashes milk

boil pasta, set to drain
in same pan heat mushroom soup, start dumping in cheese bits at time. Use a couple splashes milk to make it more of a sauce and less a cheese concrete. Add in ham, stir. Add in pasta, stir. Add in seasonings, stir, and adjust if necessary. Add in peas, stir. Serve up.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wow, had to call the cops...

Had some strange going on, and I actually had to call the cops today.

A couple weeks ago, some guys were delivering phonebooks, dropping them on the porches. One was going house to house, and the other was driving the car as they went along. Well, you bet my watchful ass caught sight of this, and I answered the door and got the phone book from him. He then went and hung a book on the other door before running back down the driveway and getting into the car. The guy didn't look old enough to be out of high school, and it was the middle of a weekday.
I thought this was pretty darn odd, but hey, maybe out here the phone book folks are nice like that right? Even though we had gotten our other phone book in our mailbox.
Went into town shortly after that, and tried to notice bagged books on porches. I was sort of surprised at how few there were, maybe there are more people around their homes during the day than I realized?
So ok, we thought the whole thing smacked of something really not right, but then it wasn't really not right enough to call the cops, or even mention it to the neighbors really.

Now today... Same car put puts down the road and coasts up the driveway of the Fontanos. All the way up to the garage. But then my love was standing in his office window, and they promptly put put coasted right back out of the driveway and then took off the same direction they came from. And really creep putting, the engine sounded like either it wasn't getting enough gas and he had to keep revving to keep it running, or the guy wasn't good at driving stick so slow and was gassing funny to keep it from stalling.. Just really distinctive and not what the car sounded like once they got up to speed when back on the road.

We are almost positive it was the same car that dropped off the phone books. Mid to late 80's angular square shitbox, all red except for a flat black hood, with tinted rear triangle windows. Nope, clueless as to what model it was, I am not that good with all makes and models.
Didn't see the hood the first time, but those back windows were distinctive enough to trigger recall.
My love and I talk about it, and yeah, he thinks it's the same car too, and it really did act oddly this time.

So, I called my neighbor. He's a volunteer cop, so I figure he can tell me if this is something to worry about or not. I chatted with his wife, and find out that no, phone book droppers are not supposed to do porch drops, they are supposed to do mailbox drops. The guys were probably fishing that day. They were probably doing a porch check next door- good thing the Fontanos had indeed stopped by between then and now, they snuck in and out the other night when there was so much snow. They might not be my favorite neighbors, but hey, I don't want anyone getting tapped if I was paying attention and could have prevented it.
So her advice was- she would for sure call it in, so yeah, I probably should. So I did. I have never before in my life had to call in something like this. I felt kind of stupid, like I was over assuming, but it was just so strange, and I wasn't the only one who thought that.

Wow, had to call the cops.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Avoiding GMO seeds

Last year I put up a post about GMO seeds. It was rather late in the seed ordering season and into the buying plants season, and I think this subject is definitely worthy of posting about again. This time earlier in the season for the sake of seeds.
It's that time of year when we get piles of catalogs, make wish lists and orders, think about picking up that packet or few off the rack at the local hardware place. Or later on in the season, buying plants at the local big box hardware or building store, megamart or greengrower.

But do you know if you are buying GMO, or if your purchase is going into coffers you would rather not enrich? Avoiding Monsanto/Seminis seed is a good start.
Note: Not all of the veggie varieties in the below list are Monsanto/Seminis exclusives. Consequently if you spot some of these varieties in the catalog of an heirloom seed-seller or plants in a local nursery spot,  just check with the seller to make sure the seeds or plants were not purchased from  Seminis/Monsanto.
But if you find these seeds on a rack at a big-box garden center, or later spot these plants for sale in the same places, you have every right to suspect they were purchased from the evil empire.

Seminis Products as of January 2013. This is the full list of direct to home gardener as well as commercial seed so you might not see some of these in seed form, but rather you might be eating them out of the fields instead.

Beans: Aliconte, Bronco, Cadillac, Ebro, Etna, Eureka, Gina, Goldmine, Labrador, Lynx, Magnum, Matador, Spartacus, Strike, Stringless Blue Lake 7, Tapia, Tema, Brio, Carlo, Excalibur, Fandango, Festina, Golddust, Gold Rush, Grenoble, Opus, Pony Express, Romano Gold, Sea Biscuit, Secretariat, Serin, Storm, Sunburst, Teggia, Thoroughbred, Unidor, Valentino, First Mate, Golden Child, Hercules, Slenderpak, Titan, Ulysses.

Beans, dry: Black Velvet, Cabernet, Chianti, Etna, Hooter, Mariah, Medicine Hat, Pink Panther, Red Rover, Windbreaker, 
Broccoli: Packman, Captain, Castle Dome, Contributor, Coronado Crown, General, Heritage, Iron, Ironman, Legacy, Liberty, Major, Revolution, Tlaloc, Tradition.
Cabbage: Platinum Dynasty, Red Dynasty, Blue Dynasty, Constellation, Tropicana
Carrot: Bilbo, Envy, Forto, Juliana, Karina, Sweetness III, Abledo, Achieve, Cello Bunch, Dominion, Enterprise, Legend, Propeel, Tastypeel, PS 07101441
Cauliflower: Cheddar, Minuteman, Fremont, Cielo Blanco, Cornell, Freedom, Juneau, Whistler.
Cucumber: Babylon, Cool Breeze Imp., Dasher II, Emporator, Eureka, Fanfare HG, Marketmore 76, Orient Express II, Poinsett 76, Rockingham, Salad Bush, Sweet Slice, Sweet Success PS, Talladega, SV3462CS, SV4719CS, Conquistador, Indy, Intimidator, Speedway, Thunder, Thunderbird, Turbo, Arabian, Colt, Expedition,  Powerpak, Vlaspic, Vlasset, Vlasstar.

Eggplant: Fairytale, Gretel, Hansel

Lettuce: Braveheart, Conquistador, Annie, Bubba, Coyote, Dol Oro, Desert Spring Grizzly, Honcho II, Javelina, Mowhawk, Raider, Sahara, Sharp Shooter, Sniper, Sure Shot, Top Billings, Valley Heart.

Melon: Early Dew, Sante Fe, Saturno, Cabrillo, Caravelle, Colima, Cristobal, Destacado, Durango, Earli-Dew, Earlisweet, Fast Break, Honeydew Green Flesh, High Mark, Laredo, Magellen, Mission, Moonshine, Roadside, Zeus 

Onion: Candy, Century, Red Zeppelin, Savannah Sweet, Sierra Blanca, Sterling, Abilene, Affirmed, Aspen, Barbaro, Belmar, Bunker, Caballero, Cannonball, Ceylon, Champlain, Charismatic, Cirrus, Cougar, Exacta, Fortress, Gelma, Golden Spike, Goldeneye, Grateful Red, Hamlet, Joliet, Leona, Mackenzie, Margarette, Mercedes, Mercury, Montblanc, Nicolet, Orizaba, Pecos, Rainier,  Stratus, Swale, Tioga, Verrazano, Vision.

Pepper, Hot: Big Bomb, Big Chile brand of Sahuaro, Burning Bush brand of Chichen Itza, Cayenne Large Red Thick, Chichimeca, Corcel, Garden Salsa SG, Holy Mole brand of Salvatierro, Mariachi brand of Rio de Oro, Mesilla, Milta, Super Chile, Aquiles, Ball Park, Cardon, Caribbean Red, Cherry Bomb, Chichen Itza, Cocula, Coyame, Fresnillo, Grande, Habanero, Hot Spot (with X3R), Hungarian Yellow Hot Wax, Inferno, Ixtapa (with X3R), Kulkulkan, Major League, Nainari, Nazas, Papaloapan, Perfecto, Rebelde, Rio de Oro, Sahurao, Salvatierra, Santa Fe Grande, Sayula (with X3R), Tajin, Tam Veracrus, Time Bomb, Tula, Tuxlas, Vencedor, Victorioso.

Pepper, Sweet: Aristotle (with X3R), Baron, Bell Boy, Big Bertha PS, Bounty, Camelot, Capistrano, Cherry Pick, Chocolate Beauty, Corno Verde, Early Sunsation, Fooled You brand of Dulce, Giant Marconi, Gypsy, Jumper, Key West (with X3R), King Arthur, North Star, Orange Blaze, Pimiento Elite, Red Knight (with X3R), Socrates (with X3R), Aladdin (with X3R), Antillo (with X3R), Archimedes, Biscayne, California Wonder 300, Camelot X3R, Early Sunsation (with X3R), Enterprise (with X3R), Ethem, Excalibur, Mar Rojo (with X3R), Petite Sirah, Plato (with X3R), Prophet (with X3R), Revelation (with X3R), Sir Galahad (with X3R), Sweet Spot (with X3R), Valiant, Wizard (with X3R).

Pumpkin: Jamboree HG, Orange Smoothie, Prize Winner, Snackface, Trickster, Appalachian, Buckskin, Longface, Phantom, Spirit, Spooktacular, Wyatt's Wonder.
Spinach: Hellcat, Avenger, Barbados.
Squash: Ambassador, Canesi, Commander, Dixie, Early Butternut, Gold Rush, Grey Zucchini, Greyzini, Lolita, Peter Pan, Richgreen Hybrid Zucchini, Storr’s Green, Sungreen, Sunny Delight, Taybelle PM, Conqueror III, Consul R, Daisey, Depredator, Embassy, Gemma, Independence II, Judgement III, Justice III, Papaya Pear, Patty Green Tint, Prelude II, President, Progreen, Quirinal, Radiant, Senator, Terminator, Autumn Delight, Butternut Supreme, Pasta. 
Sweet Corn: Devotion, Fantasia, Merit, Obession, Passion, Temptation, Obsession II, Passion II, Temptation II, Absolute, SEneca Arrowhead, Sensor, Synergy, Vitality.
Tomato: Amsterdam, APT 410, Beefmaster, Betterboy, Big Beef, Biltmore, Burpee’s Big Boy, Caramba, Celebrity, Cupid, Debut, Health kick, Heatmaster, Husky Red, Husky Cherry Red, Lemon Boy, Patio, Phoenix, Pink Girl, Pio, Poseidon 43, Sun Sugar, Sweet Baby Girl, Tye-Dye, Viva Italia, Yaqui, Crown Jewel, Empire, Flora-dade, Florida 47 R, Florida91, Huichol, Maya, Picus, Puebla, Quincy, Sanibel, Seri, Sunbrite, SunChief, SunGuard, Sunoma, Sunstart, SunShine, Tygress.
Watermelon: Charleston Grey, Crimson Sweet, Jade Star, Mickyle, Apollo, Coopers Town, Crimson Glory, Cronos, Delta, Majestic, Omega, Regency, Royal Sweet, Sentinel, StarBright, StarGazer, Tiger Baby, Wrigley. 
Who to avoid that sells Monsanto/Seminis seeds? Well, pretty much anything that is found in regular hardware, farm, or gardening stores. Pretty much all the regular big seed catalogs too- right now on my desk is a stack of no-no's- I like to make origami seed envelopes out of them :)

Miller Nurseries
Thompson & Morgan
Jung Seeds
Totally Tomatoes
Vermont Bean
Gardens Alive
R.H. Shumway's
Now I'm not trying to say that any of the No-no companies exclusively sell Monsanto or Seminis seeds. All of them have products that are pretty likely not M/S related. If you don't care about GMO stuff, don't really matter if you buy from them or not. However, if you want to do seed saving and/or sharing, smart advice is just don't get seeds from these kinds of sources. If you think you are being nice to that seed collector you know... Well, they will probably be happy to get seed, and might grow it, but it's unlikely they will try to save seed from it.

Here's the handy link to the 2012 safe seed pledge- http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/ViewPage.aspx?pageId=261
There isn't any information out yet about the 2013 pledge, sorry about that. I also got a stack of let's go catalogs. I could only dream of getting all the seed I want from these folks :) And yeah, I save their catalogs too for making into envelopes :)

The Potato Garden
Wood Prairie Farm
Nichols Garden Nursery
Seed Savers Exchange
Territorial Seed
Baker Creek Seed
High Mowing Seed
NE Seed
Pinetree Seed- I use this one the most
Johnny's Selected Seeds
Botanical Interests

Now I am trying to say you should get seed from sources like these.  I know I've seen Baker Creek, Seed Savers, and Botanical Interests on the shelves at good stores. Sometimes it really is worth it to be patient and get your seeds in the mail. For the seed collector, these are viable seed sources worth growing, saving, and sharing and growing again.

Terms to look out for while looking :)
Heirloom- while this isn't a 100% guarantee of seed goodness, it's a lot less likely there has been any genetic tampering.
Re-introduced- Old seed makes a comeback. Sometimes these are great heirlooms.
Pre-1960 seed origins- GMO really only has been around for a few decades. Until then there was some intense breeding, but no monkeying around with cell or DNA stuff really.
University of whatever school- Chances are they are doing intensive breeding more than genetic tampering.
F1, su, VW, and a whole bunch of other letters that go with seed. Don't be scared of these, most of them were created through intensive breeding, not genetic tampering.
Open Pollinated- usually those are good for seed saving.
Pelleted, coated, inoculated, dusted, whatever- Usually it's ok, but if you aren't positive about your seed source, be leery of what they are putting on your seed.

Organic. This is a term to be really wary of. Organic has a lot of different meanings, some of them are clearly legally defined, some of them not so much. Principally, it means that your seeds were grown in an organic environment. It can also mean that the parent seed was organic and all that jazz. It can also mean that the parent seed is not GMO and the offspring seed has been found not to be adulterated with any GMO substance. But it does not always mean the parent seed was organic or that the offspring seed was tested for adulteration of GMO cross pollinators.
I can buy some pepper seed from a questionable company, grow it 100% organic, and call my offspring seed organic seed.

So.. Plan a Victory early this year in your garden.