Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Harvesting tomato seed..

Time for a tutorial... This started on October 16th...

How to harvest tomato seed? It isn't the standard cut and dry method. It's a wet fermentation method...

You need a couple tomatoes, a fermenting jar, a knife and cutting surface. Note the bigger tomato on the left- it has bruising.. the one on the right is an overripe but still good tomato.

 The larger and more bruised/damaged one shows it inside. You don't want any blackened icky portions of seed when you go to save. The halves on the left show what the insides should look like for saving.
And here's a pic of the outsides of the same tomatoes.

 Your seed cavities should look fully healthy like this.
Don't try to save any of this unless it's a really rare and you can't get more/better any time soon. Then I might say save some of the yellowest goo bits.

This is how much goo came out of the two tomatoes on the left into the jar.
This is how much water I added.

Now I capped the jar with a used lid and ring, set it on the counter to ferment..for a week. Make sure the cap isn't air tight- you want a little air to get in there to help with the fermentation.

So, here it is a week later... October 23.

 Took the cap off and here we have a fine scum on the top. This is a good thing.

 This is a side view, I sloshed a bit of the scum up onto the side of the glass, oops. Notice the light upper layer, and the darker bottom layer with the dots in it? Those dots are the seeds :)
 After carefully pulling the scum off the top as you can, pour the liquid into a strainer. This is the goo before starting to rinse.
And here's the same mass after rinsing. Kind of rub the seeds against the mesh a bit to help any clinging goo to come off and go through the mesh away from the seed. It's ok if they aren't perfect clean, but you shouldn't have much goo there.
Drop your cleaned seed into a dish and tuck away in a warm, dry, and safe spot and let totally dry before packing up. You might want to stir the seeds a couple times while drying to make sure they all get separated.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting it done...

I've gotten a couple things done over the last few days...

Weeded out the root crop area of the herb garden. And yes, I gave up to temptation and pulled up 4 white icicle radishes- they were ready to be picked :) Nothing else was, and I was good and left the rest alone. I think after I pull all of them I need to put down a load of horse poo and leaves this year to overwinter.

I also got the daffodils planted in, yay! Took a goodly bit of time, but here's the result.

I know, the edge is still scrappy as hell- that will get more properly trimmed out in the spring when the next set of bulbs go in. I left in a couple of the milkweeds too. I planted small patches at a time. You can sort of see where I started out along the wall line and worked my way around the bird bath going counter clockwise. I'm kind of hoping this will look nice and fill in decently. I wanted to work around the birdbath since I knew that's where the drip point off the corner of the roof is. The line closest to me is approximately where I want the slab to edge up to eventually. Next step before winter will be sinking in a line of recycled cans to finish out that line.
This whole area took a while because I went through with a hand trowel and dug out a lot of root bits and a bit of gravel. I wasn't meticulous about getting the gravel out, but I did pick out all the bigger rocks. Those got dumped at the top of the hill where I want a patch of gravel.
I'm hoping to be able to pick up a couple bags of grape hyacinth on clearance soon like I did last year, and cut in blocks in the spring like I did last year.

Monday, Monday..
Got the seed trades packed and ready to go, along with other mail.. Even drove it to the post office- then discovered it was a holiday today, Columbus day. Oops. Decided while out an about to hit up the local stores for their Halloween wares. See what my local shops had compared to when I was out visiting. Glad I did because that stuff was already being clearanced out.
I now have three buildings. A candy shop and a B&B from JoAnns, and a blood bar from Michaels. Rather happy about the blood bar, I snagged it from the display to get it. I also picked up a handful of smalls. All in all, making a rather tight gathering on the mantel at the moment. I have to clean up Gluggs tank and install his heater before I can do final arranging.
I hit the local places that carry bulbs too- everyone is currently in full selling mode, no clearances yet on bulbs. 

I've added a couple new links to the right...
http://listeningtoleaves.blogspot.com/2012/11/kintsugi-art-of-repairing-teaware.html a blog posting about Kintsugi, the art of repairing ceramic with precious metals. Very informative. It's under Making Stuff.

http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/myclock.html  earth's position relative to seasonal cusps. As in what on todays date is the real times for the eight holidays. Brings up some fun points :)
Or wedding this year was truly on Beltane eve. True Beltane struck at three AM on the 5th, and we celebrated from Friday to Sunday :)
Halloween this year is actually on the light side of midnight on November 7th.
This link is under Cool Links.

Tuesday is gloomy. Stayed indoors and did some cleaning. Set up the Halloween stuff in the living room.
I needed to clean Gluggs tank and set up the heater for him first. I decided to move the whole tank to the other side of the mantel closer to the power supply in the corner. I hope he's happy where he's at now, and feeling a bit better about having warmer water. Apparently betas like warmer water in the upper 70's. And leaving the light on does not heat the water enough, promotes algae too much, and sort of messes with the betas normally preferred light and dark cycle.
So after that I was able to set up my new Halloween village.

 Starting on the outer corner is the big ghostie I made as a kid and the local candy shop. Chocolate eyeballs and poison apples are in stock right now :)
 Next to the candy shop is the local B&B. Grim is hanging out having his morning coffee and doughnuts while other folks go about their daily business.
 On through the pumpkin patch, where the Great Pumpkin reigns supreme.
 And into the graveyard, overseen by Job... He is being backlit by Gluggs tank :)
 And up the way on the first shelf is the local blood bar. All sorts of folks hang out here! There are many vintages on special today, and the ever running blood fountain for general refreshment.

I did have all the pieces on the mantle at first, and everything was just too squashed up. Gluggs tank seriously makes a footprint! Spreading it out to take up the first shelf makes it all look a tad sparse, but that's a good thing. I know I will end up collecting more- possibly more than I really have space for, lol.

And this is the little witch that tells me how many days till Halloween, she resides on my filing cabinet. Off to her left is her little box of pumpkin numbers, and I can change the numbers daily :)

Decided to look around at what all there is in the world of Halloween village, and my goodness there is a lot of really neat stuff out there.. and a ton of stuff I'm kind of meh about. A couple that have particularly struck my fancy..
The Retching Pumpkin by Dept 56

The Grinning Goblin Brewery by Lemax

There are tons of smalls that strike my fancy as well. And I've realized that just with the houses, pumpkin, and tombstone to light up that using all plug in cords will not do. I want to instead use battery operated lights, preferably led and maybe on a timer if I get really lucky. Huh, wonder if that sort of thing is within the realm of a raspberry pi- that would be a neat thing for folks that like to run holiday villages. Just hook up all the much smaller led leads, and have a Rpi programed to run the lights.
I also need to "give back" the second Halloween decor bin. Those three buildings come in some large boxes, and you bet I will be packing them away in those boxes. Right now the second bin is holding a full bin of shredded paper that needs to go out to trace in the garlic bed. I'm going to use the paper as sort of a base marker mulch that hopefully will show up nicely under a leaf layer. It just started raining, so I don't have to water in the bed before I start spreading paper :)
I want to grind up another batch of paper or two to lay down over the area at the top of the hill that leads down to the sanctuary. I've put in a lot of dug up gravel from the herb garden and around the solarium, and now I want a tamping in layer. I might also want to layer in a bag of beer caps. I want to firm pack in this spot before I terrace out any further. And allow the other side of the opening to firm up with mints- the chocolate mint is bordering this area, and doing well. After a large die off of moving the pineapple mint as I did, we have firm areas of this mint taking off too where it's supposed to. And several starts of leftovers from where I removed it that can now go into the die off areas.
This first terrace area is taking a while to firm up, but it's worth it.

Back to indoor stuff.. Started rearranging the library over the weekend past. Had a couple of menfolk on hand to shuffle bookcases. Set up the beta globe on the top of one, and it makes for wonderful lighting in the area. Need to fill it with water and some reflecting filler. Thinking through the rearranging, I want to set up the hermit crab tank in the library too. But as a tank for living stones this time.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Back at Growbox Hill

I got back home yesterday afternoon. I love visiting, but always love being home more :) It was a rather nice and boring kind of drive home- always a bonus when driving through Chicago :) So after getting home was pretty much hanging with my love and meows, unloading the car.. Just getting back home.
Today was some cleanup. Starting in on kitchen cleanup, mostly dishes. Unpacking from being gone- and that's always a thing, hehehe. Picked up the garlic and garden raid that I talked about in the last post. And a bunch of other stuff too.
A couple of sweaters and fall coat- all from Goodwill at damn fine prices. A goodly stack of books, ranging from 49 to 99 cents, most of them being on the low end. A couple odds and ends.
The books reminded me- I need to check in with the local library and see what I can drop off or not. I have a heap of books and such to donate, and I'd like to see them in the best donating sources. 

And a fantastically cool board game- Gourmet Challenge. It's kind of a trivial pursuit, only in all things culinary. Origins of foods, eating etiquette, ingredients... And checking out the game of 2 boxed decks, a lot of stuff I know, a lot of stuff I don't. You have to build a cake of layers instead of filling in your pie. And the game was 100% complete- all for 6 bucks.
So, here's the catalog of what I got from my brothers yard.

 I picked some of the fluffy ariels from this plant. You can see a cluster that I left to the right, and the frilly leaves of the plant in the center.
 This is a purple spikes something- I gather seed heads from this one.
 Stripped a few heads off what I think is an allium of some sort. At least the seed heads looked just like the ones I stripped off the solarium allium. This variety has a much thinner stem and leaf set.

 Stripped seed heads from this daisy
 This is a Wisconsin native of some sort, has large daisyish blooms
 This plant has blooms, and grows by sending out runners to make new starts- I collected several of the starts.
 This is a fast growing creeper that sends out runners and puts up starts. I plucked up a container of this stuff too.
 Deadheaded this one
 This plant is similar to the purple spiked one, but has pink spikes instead of purple.
 This one is like the other that looks like it, but with greener leaves and different color blooms
 This parsleyish looking thing puts out large blue flowers. I pulled some of the spent flowers in hopes of getting some seed
 And spent flowerheads from this ladys mantle.

I also collected a bunch of seeds from the clematis, but I can't remember what the colors are on them, lol. And I got to take home a chocolate iris!

Got the garlic planted in this morning...
 Here's the bed and how much it has settled since I set it up a couple weeks ago.
 Marked off my 1 foot square boxes. Used map pins and some crappy leftover embroidery floss.
 Here's my template to give 6 inch spacing. Made from a recycled bag.

 Here's the bed with all the divots done and all the cloves planted in. Rows are 6 each going across- made for the easiest way with the varieties I had and how many I have. Going from the fenceline forward is:
Giant Russian
UP North
Skips 1
Skips 2
Skips 3
Pearl Porcelain- two rows of it
Kankakee Hardneck- three rows of it
Kankakee Softneck
Our earliest luffa was ready to pick, I was a tad leery since it had gotten damaged early..
 Here they all are hanging
 The one for picking is in the background, brown and shriveled up
 Ready for peeling open
 Starting to pull off the peel

This is what it looks like cut and split open. I already kind of knew that the seeds would not be good in this one, and I was correct in that assumption
The one tomato I planted in the ground- Lemon Boy- while I was gone, it somehow managed to overheave the two tomato cages I had set up to contain it. Did some serious pruning to it and reset the cages. Was able to get at a few ripe and overripe tomatoes finally.
Weeded out a goodly chunk of that whole patch to better expose the fall Top Crop beans for drying- need seed stock for next year :)
Picked what might be the last of the Hutterite soup beans and Gold Marie beans- I now have excellent seed stock for both varieties.

Still got tons to do...
I need to address and weed out the herb garden. The radishes and beets look great. Must resist the urge to pull any of them right now. And a lot of green to pull up and add to fall compost bed.
Rake up under the apple trees. What to do with all the fallen stuff? Perhaps a bottom layer to fall compost bed?
To mow or not to mow? The flowering shag I usually use for need to mow is popping up, but the grass isn't too shaggy yet. Right now I might just leave it because we are on the cusp of frost time- October 15.
Seriously have leaves and needles to rake up for our first bed. It will make for a rather nice top mulch to bury all those garlic seeds.
Thinking about taking fallen or cut brush to weave up the next box or two in rough form. Lordy knows I have enough of all of that.
Need to plant in daffodil bulbs.
Was able to finally pick some milkweed pods today, woot!! I collected about a half dozen heads and now they are drying in a bag :)
I have blooms starting to show up on the fall peas. hooray! Need to pull back all of the containers to the solarium access. 
Got in a stack of seeds today, five kinds of peppers and one tomato. Need to package up my trade seed for shipping off on Monday. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Seed stock gathering and garlic planning

Ok, so I'm not at Growbox Hill right now.. I'm back in my hometown visiting family. That does not mean I'm not thinking about seeds!

I brought my entire seedstock with me, and made sure I had them all cataloged correctly.. And wow, we have hit 280 seeds in the collection!! My goal for this year was to hit 250, but now I think I'm going to go for 300 before the close of the year :) And that shouldn't be difficult, I've set up trades for 19 kinds of seeds that I will be shipping out as soon as I get home. And today I get to go on a garden raid up by my brother... Hmmm, maybe I'll end up hitting 350 before the end of the year :)

Anywho, I went to the Kenosha Harbor Market yesterday- a farmers market. It was rather nice, I probably would have spent more money if I were at home to take care of all the lovely produce properly, lol. But I did pick up a couple of sugar cube cantaloupes- little sweet things, but alas, after looking it up, apparently they have non-viable seed due to them being a hybrid of that sort. Well, I found it out after I already scooped out the seeds for saving, so perhaps I will try them out anyway and see if they are non-viable because of sterile flowers or non true growing.
Also picked up three kinds of garlic, two from one seller, one from another. I was slightly disappointed, because I thought I was picking up 2 heads each of a softneck and a hardneck from the one seller, but it ends up I got 1 softneck and 3 hardneck, ah well. Also unfortunate, because the guy didn't even know that there are different kinds of garlic beyond soft and hard, he was just a seller of produce, and all he could tell me was the stuff came from Kankakee, Il.

Kankakee softneck: 7 large outer cloves, 3 medium and 1 large inner cloves, and one medium center clove. The skins were very papery and easy to peel
Kankakee hardneck:
clove 1- 6 huge cloves ringing the stem
clove 2- 1 large, 7 huge loves around the stem
clove 3- 1 large, 6 huge cloves around the stem
all three cloves had easy to peel skins with a light purple striping.
The Kankakee garlic had necks cut to the quick, so no telling what the scapes were like.
The other garlic was actually grown by the seller, who called it Pearl Porcelain. And of course I can't find information about that particular name- it isn't pearl garlic, and not Mother of Pearl, which is a silverskin softneck. This really is a hardneck. Also confusing is that it did have long scapes sans heads on them, but they weren't wavy snakelike the way porcelains are supposed to be. They were super straight scapes for the length of them. All three heads had 4 huge cloves each with some delicate purple striping on the skins.

So now I have more garlic to put into the first raised bed, perhaps I'll end up filling that bed with just garlic after all. And it's kind of nice to have gotten together a decent variety of garlics to try out :) 9 varieties, and with what I got I will be able to fill that 3x6' bed perfectly- I already drew up the chart for it, lol.

Got over to my brothers house and gathered several seed heads and dug up some lovely ground cover- all for deeper shade areas. And I got a chocolate iris to boot!!

I'm gonna post this now because I will be getting home soon, and I will get everything sorted out and catch up on the yard and post again later :)