Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ah the fine weather

Ok, so after the chilly scare, all the plants actually look pretty happy :) It's been increasingly warm, and wet, so great muggy weather for the plants.

The gugh weather over the weekend kind of put me into a bit of a funk. That, and an extraordinary amount of neighbor action. So I made myself a pretty housefrock. It's bright aquablue with a white print, totally outlandish. I used a pattern I copied off my sister- it's a vintage from Hawaii, Pattern Pacifica. It's light and airy and bright, just the pick me up I needed.

So today was chasing around, and then some more. Made a couple trips into town because I had to do stuff, and forgot stuff.
Went off to Watervliet to get some herb plants. Rosemary and Sweet Marjoram to replace what was killed off during the winter. And another Lemon Verbena. Three dwarf Munstead Lavender, and an overflowing pot of Roman Chamomile to break up. One large pot of regular Munstead lavender to break up- this one is an older plant that is already starting to show flower spikes- Yep, I will be gathering seed this year for next spring. Decided while I was out to pick up asparagus- totally got myself mixed up on what I thought I recalled were the directions, and went in way the wrong direction. That's ok, that direction happened to take me by the Enchanted Bead, my local bead lady. She is so neat. Got some silver and gold magnetic clasps- the ones she carries are smaller than the ones I currently use, which is rather nice. While I was there we talked plants a bit, and I picked up a couple Provence Blue Lavender.

Yep, the next part of the flower war against ticks is on. Still have tons of marigolds to dig in, but they aren't going to any harm sitting in the pots as they are. Now I got some lavenders to start working with. Gall dang it, I will plant those little fuckers out as much as I can.

And yum, found out where a great local asparagus place is round here. There's several places of course, but this one is supposed to be oober good. Got 10 pounds for 16 bucks. Yep, of course we will be eating some of it fresh, but also yep, I'm going to try some different preservation methods with it. Drying of course, and some pickling, probably some freezing if I can make room in the freezer.

While I was out by my bead lady, we talked about cats.. And yeah, the winky eye booger ick going on with Ocelot for the last few days is indeed probably something that needs vet attention, and not just a random Nova stuck her in the eye kind of thing. So the princess goes in to the doc tomorrow.

Happy Wendsday!

So yeah, took Ocelot in to the vet, and yep, she got kittycat pinkeye- conjunctivitis. She was so not happy about the ride, but I bet she will like it even less to get drops in her eyes twice a day. So far, none of the boys seem to be having any sorts of problems, but I'm watching it. The vet seems to think we caught it early enough that just drops are needed. Just as a random factoid, feline conjunctivitis is one of the few things that can transfer to humans! The vet showed us how to do the drops, and three hours later, her eyes are already looking more runny and open. Of course we will give her the full run of the drops, but with the first dose it's already looking good.

All the back and forth over the last couple days... I may be mistaken, but I think the McSwanums only have one cygnet left. A couple weeks ago, I saw both flying to the northeast, and I thought that must not be good... And I only saw one today, both of them have been keeping it sheltered in the front pond. And I thought I saw a Great Blue Heron today on the land bridge- he wasn't as huge and grey as the Grey from our first year, and not little ones of brown or white that I have seen out here.
And I think we have a second oriole in the yard- the Orchard Oriole. Bigger than a finch, smaller than a Baltimore, and a much deeper rusty chestnut on it's chest.

And it was a preservation day. Had all that asparagus to deal with. Five pounds of it got cut into 1 inch pieces, blanched and shocked, and has been going in the dehydrator for a couple hours now at 135. Figured it out at about a pound a tray.
And did some pickling. Three pounds of asparagus got pickled up- those nice tall pint and a half jars were beautiful for this. Had a pound of brussels sprouts and a head of cauliflower sitting in the fridge, so I made a jar of garlicky sprouts, and three jars of lemony cauliflower.
Found out 7 pint and a half jars take up considerably more volume than 6 pint jars- yeah, no kidding. I didn't even think about it when I filled the kettle, but realized in a hurry once I went to set the basket in the kettle. I dipped out a half gallon of water, and it still was a wet mess all through the processing. But meh, I needed to do a good wipedown of the underside of my stove anyway. It's an electric so it has a liftable hood.

So, a little information about canning...
Right now, I do all of my canning in a boiling water bath. NEVER do heat seal only for canning. That may be fine to start up a jar of refrigerator pickles, but no way for canning. Sooner or later I will own a pressure canner too.
ALWAYS follow the recipes. At least as far as things like brine is concerned. Sure, you can add a couple more cloves of garlic in your pickles, or use a little more or less of whatever berry in a mix for jam... But always stick to the right brine.
FOLLOW TIMES!!! You can almost always step down, like the recipe calls for a 12 oz jar and you are using a 8 oz jar, use the 12 oz time and you are fine. Stepping up is more difficult to adjust, but it can be done within reason.
Always move your chunky shit around. If you got chunky jelly, gently shake the jars while they are cooling and still oven mitt hot to keep redistributing unless you want some layering. Chunky veggies, gently upend the jars for a few moments a couple times while cooling after they are naked hand handleable. Let those spices and juices mingle around.
Cool, set, clean, and label jars with the rings on- but store them with the rings off. Why? Because if you have the rings on, it is possible to have a seal break, then re-seal because the ring is on it. Foodborne pathogen hazard big time. With the rings off, if the seal breaks, the lid will go as it should. And the you also always have rings on hand for more canning.

Time to be off, need to deal with some plants before settling in for the evening...

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