Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A little experimentation goes a long way..

It's Thursday, chilly, crappy, breezy, damp... I could almost think we are back in April again!

So it's been puttering around the house kind of day. Cleaning day.

Decided to try an experiment today- homemade liquid soap. The basic recipe you see out there makes a gallon- and geez, I didn't want to make a gallon. At least not for bath soap on my first experiment. I had a couple bars of really good smelling soap a friend gave me, enough to do a quart of each.
Full batch calls for gallon water, 8 oz soap grated up, and 2 Tablespoons liquid glycerine. Huh, I just so happen to keep that stuff handy, and know how to break that down into a quart batch!
I went and dug out the three quart aluminum pot from the camping gear, dug out my kitchen scale, and a couple of nice recycled 1 quart pump bottles my sister gave me.
Grated up 2 ounces of soap
Added 4 cups water
Added 1 1/2 t glycerine
Heated it over medium heat till everything was totally dissolved. Then it struck me that if I wanted to try two batches, I needed to pour this off... Milwaukee pickle jars to the rescue! After I took the soap off the heat, I added a few drops of food coloring to it so I could tell them apart- the citrus got yellow, the woodsy orange. Now I get to let it sit overnight before I do anything else- it has to coagulate back up. Then tomorrow I'm supposed to bust the gooey mass back up again. It has a lovely pearlesent sheen right now- of course I had to fuck with it and give it a stir now that it's room temp- and I can already tell the orange had some slight massiness going on at the bottom of the jar.

I filled up the nectar feeders and hung them out today. Took pics too, but I'm not sure if I'm happy cuz it's so overcast- I might wait for a sunny day to take pics again. A bit about nectar- hummingbirds and orioles are a bit different but not much...
Oriole feeders have a bit bigger holes to allow the larger beak access to the nectar.
Oriole nectar is a 6:1 ratio of sugar to water
Hummingbird nectar is a 4:1 ratio of sugar to water
3 cups of water + sugar is enough to fill a wine bottle- even overfill it a little. So..
3 cups water+1/2 cup sugar= 1 full bottle of Oriole food
3 cups water+2/3 cup cugar+ 1 full bottle of hummingbird food

I wanted to make sure I put in a tutorial on how I did the bulbs this year so I can find it again easily in the future... This was an experiment gone right :)


Picked up a bunch of tulip, grape hyacinth, and a few irises last fall when they were all on clearance. Tossed them in the Florida room in their shopping bags, and there they sat till next year...
In February I was sorting through things and was like, eeeep! I seriously need to so something with those- wintersowing plans were on. I pulled the bags from the Florida room to the solarium about a week later after I had done some research. I put the bags on the corner ledge and let them adjust to the climate there.
Well, potted up the bulbs on March 19th. When all of the bags were showing budding signs of life, it was time to plant. And all the outdoor earlies were starting to poke up their greens around the yard- daffs, hyacinths, dwarf iris..
I potted them up in the 8 and 10 inch pots with potting soil. I only filled the pots 1/2 full at first. Packed in my bulbs pretty close- the 8 inch pots got 7 each, and the 10 inch got 12-15 each. Then I topped off the pots to about 3/4 full to fill in the bulbs and just barely cover over those tender yellow-green tips. I wanted to give some cup room in the pot so it could be sort of it's own vase in case I had blowouts.
I set them up at first at the south windows in the solarium, then moved them under the central skylight a month later when most of them had a couple inches worth of green showing and displaying daily tilt. Then it was more of a matter of a couple times a week rotating and spacing out to accommodate the greenery spread.
On the first weekend in May, the earliest of them, White Emperor,  was just starting to drop off bloom, the latest of them, Mistress and Leen van der Mark, was just about to pop. All of them had lovely greenery and a bloom or two going on. The Berry and Darwin mixes were in really good spread.
Planted in all the tulips along about 35 feet of fenceline in a shallow 2 foot border, they seem to be doing well there so far, nothing seems to be eating them yet. They were all pretty much leaf blown by the time I set them in. Lost several Shirley and Orange Queen, they didn't like potting too much. I gently broke apart the pots into separate bulbs for the border, and several of them already had babies separating off of them shooting up their own greens.
The grape hyacinths I gave the same treatment for, I packed them into some recycled fresh mushroom bins, about a dozen per bin. And I filled them 3/4 full before nesting in the bulbs and filling the bins flat to the top. They were fully bloomed by a month later, and almost blown by the weekend.
I planted in the bricks of hyacinths into their border at the end of April, I let them dry out a smidge before doing so, and they were all grown into nice solid mass.
The irises, well.. I just crammed them all into pots about half full and covered em up. I was more concerned with the tulips and hyacinths. But 10 out of 14 survived- next time I would pot them all up a bit more nicely.

TGIF!!! Ok, not really, every day feels like living on a resort here.

So I went to my liquid soaps this morning, expecting to see a snotty congealed mass... Well, there was some mass on the bottom, thin soapy water on top. WTF? So I hopped online and checked around, found out some stirring would help considerably- and it did, several times through the day. I'm gonna let them set overnight just because.
Since the soap was a gift, the bottles recycled, and water is from the well, that's just the glycerine- about 5 cents worth maybe- I just got 2 big ass bottles of really nice soap for 5 cents. I picked up a 3.5oz bar of Neutrogena today for 3.30, this will make around 60 oz- a 8.5 oz bottle at the store runs 6-8 bucks. We are currently out of Neutrogena so I figured, hey, why not try this instead?
Had to do some shopping today- sometimes it just has to happen. Restocked all the bird supplies. While refilling the seed feeders. I noticed the jelly pots were all empty- now, that might be due too all the rain and wind the last couple days, but I saw more than enough birds poking at them that I'm pretty sure they helped empty them. As I write right now, there's an Oriole nipping at the lemon curd and apricot jam :) Looks like if we get to collect fruit from the orchard this year, at least a couple jars of jelly will have to get set aside for our feathered friends.
The jars are recycled, the floss was a leftover from a thrift shop bargain bag, used two bamboo skewers, about a penny, and dunno, maybe 25 cents worth of jelly each time I fill them. Not too bad for a whole lot of very enjoyable bird watching.
Haven't seen any activity at the nectar feeders yet- dunno if they don't like it or if they haven't figured it out yet. I haven't seen any activity at the regular humming bird either, though I could have sworn I heard them buzzing around and chittering last week. But even if it's a wash, all of it was recycled or leftover craft stuff and a buck of sugar. 

Since the soap experiment seemed to have gone well, I decided to go ahead and try making scented gel jars. It's basically unflavored gelatin and salt with smell good oils and some food coloring.They are cooling now, can't really tell yet if they are a good thing or not. They smelled great when I was making them, but it's too soon to tell how effective they are- or not. I took 4 pretty bottles my sister gave me and filled them up.

EEEEP! just checked the weather report, and we have a frigging frost advisory tonight, ugh! That means my nice little seedlings probably need some coverage! Good thing I save milk jugs- I just ran out and made caps for all the litter buckets and the vining beans. We had a couple of the disposable collapsable garbage bins lift over, those made caps for the tomatoes- they were too big for the milk jugs. And all those green beans got a floating row cover of white garbage bags. All the seedlings still on coolers go into the solarium. Thank goodness I stuck with my gut and didn't plant in the luffas yet!

And it's Saturday..

Did the final whisking of the liquid soap today and filled the pump bottles, yay! So I made up the Neutrogena liquid soap today. It turned properly milky white like the other tutorials suggest. Stirred it a couple times since this morning, it's still water with pearl swirling around in it.
The gel fresheners smell good close up, and you can tell in a small bathroom if you keep the door closed- Guess I will need to beef up the smell a bit if I make them again. Now we wait and see how long they really last.

Shucked out the corn, and now it's drying in the oven, the corn stock is just going onto it's cooling.

All my little plants survived the frost warning- dunno if it's because it didn't get that cold, they were already hardened off, or my capping them all. I didn't loose any of them on the porch either- I totally forgot about pulling them inside.

No comments:

Post a Comment