Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rolling on with spring..


Yeah, just posted the after wedding entry today, but getting stuff done, so next entry is started. We have an overflow of food! I figured yeah, a week of good eating in leftovers- Nope, way more than that. So much so that we are still using coolers to store it, eeep! Evidently more food should have been sent home with folks. It was already packaged up, but ugh, duh me. So what to do?

We had a wonderful roasted turkey for the wedding table. Today I'm burbling up the carcass into turkey stock for the freezer, yum! I really, really love the stockpot I got last Christmas. And time- it takes a while to make stock. Time to come up to a boil, then turn down a bit and simmer for a long time. I tend to let the whole pot reduce down quite a bit, helps concentrate the flavor.

There was some leftover veggie tray action too. Some carrots, broccoli, a few tiny sweet peppers. Shocked them and packed them into a recycled 32 oz pickle jar with dried lemon slices, dill, peppercorn, mustard seed, and bay leaf. It filled the jar perfectly. Made some brine- made too much, but meh, better too much than find out part way through filling the jar that you need to make more. Vinegar, salt, water, and a bit of olive oil. I had forgotten about garlic till I already filled the jar with the dry stuff, so I smashed a couple big cloves and tucked them into the top. Put a slice of lemon over the top to sort of cap it off, and filled it, capped it straight off, and set it aside on the counter to chill down quite a bit, then stuck it into one of the coolers that still had ice in it to chill it down faster. Now it's in the fridge tucked in the back, and in a few weeks that will cure into some yummy fridge pickles- and I don't have to worry about fresh storing it anymore :)

We ended up forgetting about the cukes n cream entirely :( Like I have a big ole bag of whole cukes. I don't feel like it, and I don't think I will get around to doing it for canning them into shelf stable pickles. And I'm not positive they are perfect enough for it. So I am going to try dehydrating them. Apparently it works, but it's a morning to evening kind of watch it sort of thing, so that will happen tomorrow. What the heck am I going to do with dried cukes? Flavor and veggie power. I can chunk them up or powder them up to make dips, add some veg content boost to anything... We shall see how sponge-like it is in rehydration trials. And how much cucumber fills the dehydrator!

Got a ton of pots moved from the solarium to the porch. Perfect sort of day and next several days to start hardening off the seedlings. Did a goodly wandering around the yard, so much to do.

Since my stockpot is huge, I decided to cook the stock overnight. So I turned it down low, capped it off, and left it overnight. This morning I strained out most of the big chunks, and turned the heat up a bit to let it condense down. What started out as a totally full 20 quart pot ended up at about a gallon and a quarter or so of really rich deep stock. I was able to do enough swapping around of coolers, fridge, and what can go into the cellar I now have one big cooler of serious ice slushy chilling the two pitchers of stock.

Set up the dehydrator with the first round of cuke slices. Four and a half medium big cukes filled the trays- oddly enough, I got 9 cukes since that's what fit into the bag. Put them on at 125 at 10 AM, turned them up to 135 at about 4. Then crisp them up till around 8 or so, then jar them up.
OK, so WTF is dried cuke good for, all they are is water, right? Well, get rid of the water, and it's just cuke flavor and some fiber. Grind it up to add to dips, or dressings like ranch, toss into the general veggie soup mix or powder blend.

We had forgotten about a couple bags of little chicken breasts in the bottom of the fridge on Friday. Those got grilled up today, cooled, wrapped, and are now in the freezer. I felt bad about wasting heat cuz the chicken didn't take long.

Ok, so my first estimate was the leftovers would be a nice honeymoon week of eating. With some frugal food preservation tricks, we will be able to enjoy the weekend for weeks if not months to come. Super happiness spread out all over the summer, boo-yah! We will be enjoying our wedding gifts for a while, I'm so grateful that we will taste the joy again and again :)

Why yes, I did go out and get bug spray. @#%^VWE%Y% TICKS... Picked up my usual deep woods off. The store also had a Coleman brand that had more DEET. Yeah, nasty ass shit, I know. But I like to use it on critical points of my clothes. I'm starting with clove oil on my skin points. Since I needed to do that and was doing food and kitchen cleaning today, I didn't want to be crossing who knows what all over the place. Hopefully tomorrow will be clear as promised and now that I'm equipped I can just icky up for the day outside and get stuff done.

Tomorrow it is supposed to be nice, but into the weekend increasingly cooler and overcast. I'm hoping this pattern will have a natural hardening off effect on most of the pots taken out today. But part of the beauty of using the coolers... They make excellent weatherproof tables for hardening off. And for the less hardy plants that can't make it in the overnight chill, just drop them into the coolers overnight, and take them out again in the morning when it's warm again. This weekend if it's supposed to dip into the danger zone, I'm a bit more prepared for it this year than I was last spring, yay.

Pulled out all the wonderful seeds we got as gifts and started sorting them out.


Got all the branch debris cleaned up out of the back yard. Dumped it off down at the firepit and woah, we burned up a lot of scrap! Which is wonderful because now we are caught up to a reasonable amount of wood for a couple fires instead of being a big heap of fire hazard in the Sanctuary :)
Got the whole yard mowed. I was a little bummed that I had mowed last Monday and by Saturday you sort of couldn't tell.
All the little seedlings survived the night! I don't think I lost any, and It really did not look like any critters had disturbed any plants. Prolly cuz they are all packed together on the coolers. I forgot to mist them well this morning, but I remembered earlier this afternoon after baking hours but with enough sun to dry all the foliage decently before nightfall.
Got all 10 litter buckets set up with all the broken earthenware from the polterabend. Between the wave in the bottom of the buckets, and all the smashed bits, gave all the buckets the perfect layer I was hoping for. Yes, I took pics, no I didn't load them up yet, I will later. Now I get to start filling them up a couple at a time between the barn and the run. Good thing I really only have to do this once, lol.
Checked down on the fenceline to see how much of a bitch it will be to start tearing up the strip to put in the tulips, and not too bad. So not looking forward to it with just a fork and garden claw.
But it wont be too bad- I decided to turn a what to do with recycling into the border for the whole thing. All those cans that have been piling up into the bags- well, used most of them up. They will be the border for the tulips. Yep, they will rot in over the course of a year or two, maybe a bit more. But hopefully that's all the time that will be really needed for the tulips to really establish themselves into those areas into a proper mow around area without the cans :) I'm seeding in cilantro and some curly parsley as the grow in around the tulips. Hopefully they will grow in and help keep the other weeds out.
Got the other half of the cukes set up in the dehydrator this morning, those came off and got stored up before bedtime. Tried one as a chip- really really potent cuke flavor!
 Got all the food sorted around, and now all of the coolers are empty. Still got a couple more things that need to be eaten in the next day or two, and a whole heap of cheese. Freezer is just about as full as it was before I started the weekend, lol. I knew I didn't have space for the whole top of the wedding cake that was so thoughtfully peeled off for me. So I took a little plastic container and sort of cut a cupcake out of the center where the two bees were and tucked it into the container.


Well, the day started out a bit slow over coffee. But it was looking beautiful out on what I thought was going to be a total rain day. So I got outside and did some puttering while the weather was good.
Finally got the whole herb bed weeded out. It was something I would have preferred to have gotten done before the wedding, but meh, had to do what I needed to first to get ready for that. So, one whole wheelbarrow of weeds pulled out of the herb garden. The pineapple mint was sort of a pain in the butt cuz of the particular weeds there, and because they had already sent out runners to where I didn't want mint. So that took an extra long time. Sad, both the rosemary's and the creeping thyme are indeed dead, I think the Marjoram is too. But the tarragon is already really healthy, two of the sages are already almost big enough for me to start plucking leaves from.. The variegated sage I  thought died turned out to just be a slow starter buried under all the leaves. And Yay, the french thyme survived. I couldn't find it last fall after I dumped the leaves, but it's still there!
After the weeds were cleared out to the compost pile, I started raking up the cut grass of the back corner, stuff is like hay back there. Got three barrows done in the sun and thought screw this- the main part where the plants are is under a thick carpet, there's enough leaves from last year over the rest. Needed some shade.
So I went and raked off the back patio where the shade was- three wheelbarrows of leaves and some grass to mulch in the divot side of the herb garden. Can't mow there and I want a big patch of something there, so time to start smothering now. By then the sun went behind the clouds- it was like Mama N was giving me some shade and telling me to do that last grass barrow- so I did, and now the whole herb garden is under some grass. Grass is a really fast breaking mulch, but the ground there could use some plant matter build up. And a thick layer helps smother down a couple of the weeds a bit.
It was still nice out, so I decided to keep pushing outside while the pushing was good. Got all the nails in to the four posts at the end of the luffa run. I started off the first six inches with one inch spacing, the next eighteen inches with two inch spacing, then the rest of the way up with three inch spacing. I kept looking at the sky and asking Mama N to just hold off with the rain long enough for me to finish my task. She even let me get a quick shop sweep done of the run before she sent down her warning sprinkle.
 Nice bit of rain so far, good for tamping in the leaf and grass mulches. Moved the plants on the porch so all of them get a good little drinkie.
And oohhh, noticed today at least four irises in three pots have sent up some sort of blades. So I won't be getting them all, but at least I will be getting a couple. Right now it's kind of like excitedly waiting for a present to open- I liked them all so I'm all happy to find out what I actually got.  And now I know better how to treat them if I find some I like on clearance. Which will be likely considering they are one of my favorite garden flowers. The whole oval of the pale purple/blue I transplanted last year are looking really healthy! I bet I will get several blooms this year :) 
The little lilac that is struggling to come back in the FOH garden is producing bud this year :) K pointed it out last weekend that it was happening, today it looks like dark reddish more than purple.

So, I decided to start tinkering around with worm tubs. First thing that was in order was- just how much dicking around and paper consumption is shredding a whole tub of paper for worm bedding? Well, I got an old personal shredder, so not too bad. Only shreds half a tub at a time before it's too hot and wants to cool down. Will prolly take about 10-12 weekly mailers. Depending on how fast the worms are, that might just account for most or all of our non-envelope/newsprint junk mail being recycled into super-compost. I will need to adapt bins before I can proceed with that part of the project.
This time I'm filling it up to make a paper mash. I figure if dry spreads work, and seed tapes work, why not try a whole vat o seed mash?  I was thinking of trouble hill, but I got the seed and timing to try marigold borders. If it works well, you bet your ass I will start working on mash patches for other places in the yard.

But I guess this particular post has probably rambled on long enough...

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