Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Seeds for fall

So I have been busy, and not...

Finally got around to sorting out all of my seeds. I had a bunch of sample packets left over from my "garden in a box" wedding favors, and I had picked up a whole bunch more Seeds of Change seed from Goodwill for cheap, and just a couple other random packets of stuff sitting around. So I posted it up, along with my wish list yesterday, and I already have three trades going today! I'm getting in return three of my wish list seeds, and a whole handful of others that I didn't even know to have on that list :)

I posted everything up here: My exchange list on GardenWeb if any of my friends want some of my seed, or got some seed to send me, drop me a line :) I also have tons of seed in my keep pile that I don't necessarily want to share to the random public, and for my small growing friends, yep, I got seeds that work for the small garden too. And for my Growbox Hill Blog fans- you guys will be getting a Christmas package :)

I am also seriously thinking about hitting up Wintersown again- it's been about a year since my last send in. Yes, I know, I seem to be obsessed with collecting all the varieties of tomatoes, squash, and dry beans that I can. Along with a lot of other kinds of seeds too! We currently have about 150 seeds on the have list, and lol, around 300 on the wish list. Probably another couple hundred on the secondary list. Grobox Hill will end up circulating a 1000 seed list in time if I can.
Right now the pair of 10 pound tomato boxes are holding my seeds- one for seeds I'm keeping, one for seeds for trade. And both of them are full. The boxes are the ones on the top right of this blog- the pic with canned tomatoes in the foreground and a box full of Nova behind it.
I also got some much needed cleanup of the potting bench done in the solarium. It's almost getting to be that time to start getting my shit together for wintersowing. Yeah, I said wintersowing. Ya need to get everything together before the snow flies so you are ready to go when it's time during the winter. And now is a good time between other projects to start working on it. This will be my first experiment around with wintersowing, so we shall see how it goes.

Anywho... I planted in several buckets of Green Arrow shelling pea on the 2nd- and some of them are already starting to crack open! I've been a good kid about keeping them moist as they need to be. Mama N has been helping me along with that too. Today I planted in another set of Small Wonder Spaghetti squash- hopefully I will be able to get at least a couple for the fall- I'm down to my last two seeds, and I'd like at least 2 fruits to collect seed from. There were some blooms on one of the surviving vines, so I just planted around it, lol. I also pulled up the two pretty much dead Patio tomatoes, and dropped a couple more in, keeping my fingers crossed about that one. The Black Krim tomato is really dead and drowning, so I pulled it and the cage, drained and dragged that container over to the front porch to hopefully dry out a bit. I filled most of it in with 8 plugs of basil plants that have been sitting in their small containers forever, and had a bit of space left over- so I sprinkled in some lettuce seed. A mixed sampler of Black Seeded Simpson, Bibb, Prize Head, and Grand Rapids.
I also had a couple of cans of parsley sitting around- so those got planted into the parsley pot. A chippie pretty much decimated the parsley that was there, lol. 
So now the front porch is cleaned up, yay.
And an extra hooray!!! The luffas are going great! I worried all spring about it- and now I get to worry all fall about them getting ripe in time, lol.

 Here's the vines crawling up the posts. You can see how they are starting to crawl across the beams, I need to encourage them to crawl across the top trellis instead. Off to the right you can see a couple of the buckets I recently planted in with Green Arrow pea for fall harvest, and on this side of the trellis are all those wonderful Top Crop green beans I've been harvesting off of. In the background is the huge heap of horse poo the goodly neighbor dropped off for me :)
If you notice, the trellis twine on the left is kind of saggy- that's regular garden twine. The twine on the right that is still firm is the braided recycled bags twine I made this spring. You bet I will be making more of that twine!
Here is a closeup of one of the luffas growing. The spacing on the trellis is 6 inches to give you a gauge of how big it is so far. This particular fruit was still in bloom early last week- it was the first bloom on the vine that I saw open and being checked out by the bees :) There are at least 5 other fruits that I saw on the vines- and there are several bud clusters and flowers that haven't come open yet. With where this fruit is growing, it will be a serious test of just how strong the braided recycled bags are. I'm also loving this growing area so much I have to wonder if our chicken coop is really going to end up here- it may just end up going onto the other side of the garage!

I want to take some lavender cuttings off the mature plant I picked up this spring. But a lot of advice calls for rooting hormone. Well that's no problem, I got it growing down in the sanctuary- willows. Yep, there is something in willows that makes for an excellent rooting hormone! All you have to do is pick some of the twiglets with the leaves, chop them up, and steep them in hot water overnight, and poof! Free rooting hormone. I have water beads I can hydrate in the morning with the resulting willow tea, and just snip, strip, and stick them into the containers :) This is a fresh rooting solution- what I don't use tomorrow needs to go into the fridge and can be stored 2-3 weeks.

This is what a half gallon pitcher looks like when it is freshly stuffed and after a few hours of steeping. I just took the pitcher out to the willows, picked a bunch, and then chopped the whole mess up, putting it back into the pitcher. I filled the pitcher with hottest tap water and set aside. The chopped mess compacted down more, but the tea is now unfurling.

Ok, so I tried to resist... But I've been getting better with putting up pics lately, and just could not resist posting the awesome chicken roaster I picked up over the weekend:

And while putting jars into cartons today, I've come to the conclusion that I really need to get a shelf unit for canned goods. So far I have over crowded the pantry- 5 cases of goodies there- and two more on the kitchen table waiting to be stored! And we still have apple and pears coming in yet this fall that will need to be canned up. And there will be fall harvest from the produce place too, like cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage- I want to make kraut and can it up. We eat lots of kraut, but the Franks is so rarely on sale- and Vlasic is often on sale, but tastes fucking gross, like pickles, ewww. So if I can can up a bunch, so much the better.

I've also come to the realization that I seriously need to do some work in the basement to make it into a proper cellar- the humidity is just too high right now for proper storage. We have a typical Michigan basement- that is, not a proper basement at all. We are lucky to have anything especially considering how close we live to the lake, and how much surface water in ponds there is here. Under most of the house is crawlspace- filled in with sand and about a four foot clearance to crawl around in, and it houses the well pump. But there is a 12x12, maybe 15x15 ish proper cellar built in, it has our sump pump and when we can afford the plumbing, the water softener. Apparently it's a perfect space for making lager, lol. But I want it to be a space for storing canned goods and produce as well and that that requires a properly controlled cellar. So what to do about the humidity without blowing a crapton of money running dehumidifiers? Salt teats. Yeah, salt teats. You make a large teat out of burlap, fill it with salt, and hang it between the rafters. The salt sucks up the humidity, and the teat shape allows it to drip down into a little point, where you put a container to catch the water.

And what's going on with my canned goods?

I made up a batch of Berry Preserves before last christmas- all are long gone now, mostly as gifts. I made another batch in April- most of those are given away too, I have one left on the shelf, and half of one in the fridge and going quickly.

I made pint and a half jars- 3 pickled asparagus, 3 lemon cauliflower, and 1 garlic brussels sprouts. Now we have 2 asparagus and 1 cauliflower- one of each needs to go into the fridge- and the brussels sprouts are now in the fridge.

9 12 oz jars of wild blackberry syrup- not tested yet.
6 12 oz jars of wild blackberry jelly- not tested yet
7 mixed 12 and 8 oz jars of darkberry jam- not tested yet
14 pint and a half and 11 half pint jars of chopped tomatoes- not tested yet
4 8 oz jars of dilly beans- not tested yet
many jars of dilly beans, spicy beans, pepper rings, peach spread, and cantaloupe syrup- setting to cure up.

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