Welcome to Growbox Hill

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

shuffle shuffle left...

Been cleaning... and packing... and shuffling...

That's what spring is all about. Got lots of plans and wants and needs for this coming warm season. Been doing tons of cleaning upstairs, something long overdue. It's amazing how once stuff is cleaned up and packed away in the proper places how much space there is. And a ton of cleaning and re-arranging downstairs too. Just a lot of moving stuff around for best use of space and bringing workspaces together.
Decided to move the laundry room table out to the solarium, and re-arrange the potting bench. Double stacked those wide ass boards so now I have effectively doubled my close up window space for all my seedlings. And streamlined that whole side of the solarium. And have a decent potting table right there by the door which is extra nice. I never fold laundry in the laundry room anyway, so the table was a dump spot more than anything else.
Moved basement shelves to the solarium and laundry room, and moved all the canned goods to the laundry room shelves for now. I noticed the canning lids and boxes were degrading downstairs- too humid. So first salt teat area to get a hang will be in the cellar proper to see how much that affects humidity down there. If we can get it under control it will be prime again for canning storage and brewing storage.

Of course all this is bringing on a lot of sickie and icky. Kicking up lots of dust and such without the windows open- Mama N teased us with some really nice early spring days but I wasn't fooled. Used the time to my best and didn't give in to opening windows. Though I have cut back on the heaters on this side of the house a smidge.
So a lot of sneezing, coughing, and runny noses. Stiff and achy muscles from doing moving activities I'm not used to. It's good for getting in shape before hitting the real yard stuff, lol.

Been seeing lots more birds since I started filling feeders again. The snow was just too deep to get out there proper before the big melt off. So I hung a couple suet feeders, cleaned and refilled the regular seed feeder, and cleaned and filled the thistle seed bag feeder. We have had a lovely red-belly woodpecker showing up and cleaning up on the suet- it's been hanging around so not surprised. The black capped chickadees, dark-eyed juncos, fat little titmouses and sparrows, some big ass bluejays, and a plethora of early goldfinches still in winter plumage have popped up for eats. Not surprisingly the blackbirds have been showing up too, but looks like I've hung stuff right this time so it's not so pleasant and tempting for them.  Lets hope this continue once the grackles show up, heh.
On some sad news.. We only have one swan on the pond this spring. We think it's Mr. McSwanums by the behavior. Don't know what happened to Mrs., but for sure there is no one on a nest. Good news is that mute swans can indeed change mates and be just fine.
Seen more ducks on the pond, though the geese are still chased off. Spotted out great blue heron a couple times now, and I think at least one other one, it's smaller but I'm unsure of the colors.
There have been a few predator birds swooping the trees along the shoreline, pouncing on dinner in the sanctuary.
Been fucking with the chippies that have found our home so delightful so far. Been letting cats out into the solarium, spreading the smell around and actually giving chippy chase a couple times. Scared one right into the garbage bag which promptly went outside, lol. I stuffed a wad of aluminum foil into the wire pipe the other day when I caught the little shits running out of it- the foil has not been disturbed. 

In gardening notes... At least one of every tomato and pepper pot started has sprung with a seedling or two. Some kinds have more than one pot sprouting. Hooray! If I can get at least one plant of everything I will have seed stock base and a decent amount of produce for the year hopefully. Almost all the pots in the library have positive sprouts too.
I have realized a mistake in the soil I used for all these pots- I mixed some of last years litter buckets with some dirt from the horseradish buckets... And I'm not sure what some of the sprouts are, but I got a bunch of either weed or horseradish starts all over the place, lol. I'm plucking them out as soon as I positively ID those from other seedlings in the pots. OOPPPPPSSSS.....
Good thing I've been using straight bagged soil for the rest of the seedlings so far, heh. No activity out of the milk jugs yet, I don't expect to for a while yet. But it is pretty cool seeing them sitting on the front porch and not panicking about the weather. Or the critters- not one jug has been disturbed or tampered with so far.
Of course, none of the trays in the solarium have done anything yet either. I'm really looking forward to the tulip trays since I packed them for forcing like I did to the hyacinths last year. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring cleaning and seeding

On the countdown to Spring Equinox this Thursday, friggin wooooottttt!! Hooray Spring!

Started in on some seriously needed spring cleaning upstairs today. I haven't done squat up there cept mess it up since pretty much Thanksgiving- too much snow and cold and too lazy to deal with winter, blech. And today is chilly, but the rest of the week is supposed to be pretty nice, so better upstairs today, and into the solarium for setup for a couple days.
So today was mostly putting stuff away, stuffing all the sprawl out back into the places they came from. And I decided to set up a couple grow lights upstairs to stick the tomatoes and peppers under. Gives me a damn fine reason to keep going upstairs every day or two and keep cleaning and doing stuff up there.
I really need to pick up the plumbing fixings for the kitchen sink and bathroom shower, and just call T&C to have them come out and set up those and make sure all is well with the toilet too. I'm tired of not having proper facilities upstairs. I'm betting I will be able to find a cheap sink at the Restore, and a couple fixtures after that is pthhht. New toilet seat probably too, that toilet is icky as hell.
Why do I feel the need to call in T&C to do it when it's all stuff that's probably easy enough for us to do ourselves? Because those pipes have been pretty much untouched for three years and if something is fucked up, I want the plumber on hand right then and there to take care of it. Just like that ick with the well filter- we couldn't deal with it for good reason, was happy to have T&C take care of it and fix the pipes after busting the stupid filter off.

Tomorrow I get to sort out some of my donation seed and send a few friends off some packets of goodness. I have a few small packages to send out too, so I want to just get all of them together at once so I can take them into town on Wed- it's a super sale day at the market, and I want to pick up a couple things, and I need to drop books off at the library. 

Pretty soon I need to work in the kennel area. I want to move a fence panel around, and it's darn soon for early spring setting in and planting of early greens and peas to prep up trellising for this year.

Tuesday- totally rocking ass spring day, full of warm and sunny!! Got a lot done out in the solarium today- all three buckets of horseradish are replanted, plus an additional short and wide pot for all the little roots that will become next years big stock. Potted up the two gooseberries in litter buckets- those need to be topped off a smidge once they are moved outside. After pulling apart the horseradish buckets, I realized I kind of have to keep all that dirt together- little horsey hairs running through the stuff will likely cause weeding problems later if I just indiscriminately plant the stuff in all over the place. Good thing I picked up those two huge bags of soil mix to take care of the rest of planting. 
Got the ornamental kale, Vates Blue Curled kale, and Red Russian kale starts set up- 18 of each, using TP tubes in recycled plastic containers from greens. The ornamental kale is for around a couple tree bases, the other two are to smother in the fenceline for the current chunk of garden being worked in. I also got 18 milk jugs set up, though I only planted in four of them.

Today was rainy and not too chilly, mostly a running around day. Woke up achy as hell, and that was after a long hot shower and a massage from my love last night. Heh, spring hell on the joints is here already. Had to get off to the post office and get stuff in the mail, hit Hardings for some Wild Wednesday sales, and the hardware store for some bird supplies. Then it was mostly prepping up stuff for the freezer- got hamburger for 2.19 a pound, max 12 pounds. So yep, I picked up the max. Beef is just getting out of hand expensive, and Hardings has good stuff they grind themselves. And since we don't have fresh beef in the house a lot, I decided to make an Italian meatloaf for dinner tonight, yum!
And squee!!!! Went to water the herb pots today, and we have tiny sprouts of lovage, horehound, lemon mind, valerian, and sorrel. WOOT!!

HAPPY EQUINOX!!!!! Been mostly a planting day out here. Got the horseradish pots and gooseberry buckets outside as well as all 18 milk jugs containing marigolds, tall marigolds, wildflower mix, black eye susan, and calendula. Started 24 pots of chamomile, 3 pots each of cherry and papaya cream mixed nasturtiums, and 6 pots of milkmaid nasturtiums.
We sat down and had a seriously long and nice chat with the neighbor today, hopefully that will yield some nice results this summer.
And in light of the holiday, I'm making eggs for dinner tonight :) 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Planting season has finally started!

Started Thursday the 13th....
I didn't do diddly with my day yesterday cept read a juicy vampy smut novel. Well, kind of juicy, kind of eye rolling, hehehe. Was trying out a writer I haven't tried yet, not sure if I'm going to read any more of her stuff or not.
Today I was a much better kid about doing stuff. It's an orange tomato year here- three each of half a dozen toms- Dr. Wyche, Orange Queen, Roughwood Golden Plum, Woodle Orange, Juanne Flamme, and Tobolsk. I'm really hoping for at least a pair of each to grow out, though if I have extra, I won't cry about it, lol. Some of these are on the orange side of yellow and I'm trying to keep my yellows more in the lemon sort of range. Peppers, two each of Cayenne, Red Cheese, Pimient de Espelette, and Manzano Orange, and four Greek Pepperonchini. Peppers for drying hot grind and paprika, a thick walled sweet for salsa, and of course pepperonchini because we eat tons of them when we can. Bunch of herbs, Lime, Lemon, Cinnamon, and Holy Basils, Beetberry, Valerian, de Belleville Sorrel, Lemon Mint, Lovage, and White Horehound. I want to have more variety in my basils, and Holy basil is AKA tulsi tea. Beetberry is AKA strawberry spinach, an attractive plant that can be invasive or beautiful in hanging containers and has edible leaves like spinach, berries like strawberries. Valerian for roots for tea and kitty treats. The sorrel is a french leaf, lemony and peppery. The lemon mint I hope will be a very naughty herb indeed and help finish in my mint border. Now I just need to keep my eye open for apple mint. Lovage is kind of a 6 foot tall celery plant that is cut and come again, comes back every year. And the horehound of course is for cough drops.

I ended up not getting outside to drop in some of the seed I wanted to try wildsowing with. It was just too soggy, then we got in another goodly blanket of snow with cold ass temps. I'm planning on doing it next week Thursday :) Weather is looking like it might potentially be pretty ok for it.
I still have a lot of early planting to work up and deal with. Flowers, tons of flowers. 

With working out in the Solarium... I'm not sure my lemon verbena or marjoram survived out there overwinter. They are watered and put into a sunny spot and I'm hoping, but they look pretty dead. Nicely enough, as I went to clean out little pots, I found that some lemon balms survived out there, this year they will get a dedicated spot in the herb garden :). I'm damn pleased with that. Some of the toothache plant flower heads look about right to potentially sprout up nice this year. Keeping my fingers crossed. All of the small pot lavender did really well and should be able to be planted out under the pine tree out front. The big pot lavender is pretty not healthy and must go into the ground, I'm thinking under the pine at the end of the Fulva Lilly line. Fulva is ditch lilly, but I'm trying to make sure I use the proper name. If the lavender recovers well there, it will really nicely fill in that whole little patch wonderfully.
I need to remember to hit the fruit exchange this spring and pick up some more small pots- I have a friend that has had zero luck getting good live plants by her. And for what they charge, it's worth it to pick up several more this year to grow out in pots to plant in next year.
I now know what I'm gonna do with that lovely bag of tulip bulbs my Mum Ingrid gave me last fall- Pot them up tight like I did with the grape hyacinths last year.

Meows in the solarium... So I let Nova and Pooks out, they were all good. Let Os out too, and by the time I grabbed my coffee and vape and went back out, the little bitch was chomping on my parsley! Ugh, right up and off she went. Pooks got tired of it soon enough and wanted to come inside. Nova was in and out and having fun all day. Tikki got swept up and tossed out there for a few minutes too- every time I see her by a door I have to wonder how in the hell she ever escaped in the first place to end up with us. Marbles wasn't interested. Interestingly enough, Nova, Tikki, and Os all prefer the living room door- that shows promise for using one of those windows. If we can fix up the solarium up to an all year room instead of two seasons porch.. Hell yeah.

Friday was sort of a blur getting the house ready for the boys, and Saturday was all shopping. Thrift shops, farm place, restore... sheesh. Managed to find a brand new 2 pound bread machine for 10 bucks- tested it today and hooray it works great! I will prolly use it more as a dough maker than a bread baker, but sure as hell is nice to have it. I picked up a couple gooseberries when I was at the farm store, fresh healthy ones to pot up and grow out for the year. Tomorrow will be another busy day in the solarium, yay!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The timing of shit.

Started Sunday, March 9th..

We slept in late- as in an hour late, lol. That's what happens when the clocks spring ahead into daylight savings. Just glad we didn't have any appointments today. It was another chasing day today, this time into town. Meijer had briskets on sale, so I picked up 4 of them to stuff into the freezer. Each one is only 2-3 pounds, perfect for a dinner or two and some rubens besides.
Got a pair of garden paws on clearance- they are like shovels you attach with your hands for scooping stuff with.. They will be perfect for weedy cleanup :) Picked up some weird crayola markers too- window markers that frost as they dry. Yes, I will be doodling on my windows come warmer weather. I might pick up more the next time I'm at Meijer if they have them still.
And gotta say, hooray for GFS!!! I love them.  I dearly wish I had a chest freezer so I could better utilize them. Even a little one would be wonderful, lol. But their prices can't be beat- a 4.5 oz jar of chili powder from the store is about 3.50, a 16 oz jar from GFS is 6 bucks. 10 lb bag of rice from the store is 11-13 bucks, 5.49 at GFS. And they have coffee on sale regularly, cheaper than sale coffee at the store.

Got a dry erase board hung and cleaned in the greatroom today. I was cleaning the one on the fridge and got a bug up my ass to hang one down there. We have three of them, well and beyond time for at least one to be hung. Good thing too, my love and his partner are working on some project that the board will be super handy for.
I started out using white vinegar for cleaning, and if the marks had been recent, it would have worked perfect. Or if I had been willing to spend a couple hours of spraying and elbow grease to get it like new again. But I was cleaning ink that had been sitting for three years- acetone nail polish remover to the rescue! That board is white again :)

With the hour delay and by the time I was done chasing today, I kind of ran out of day to work in the solarium.

Monday, Monday... So good to me :) Really, it's been a beautiful, sunny, low 50's kind of day. I didn't tromp around the yard- we have ponds and moats out there with all the melt off, lol. All the birdies have been coming out to check the feeders which to my shame are still bare.
I did get some cleanup done in the solarium. Nova was out there with me for a while, he is really being a good kitty out there. Not chomping on plants or digging in dirt, though he did get curious and jumped to the top of the fountain. He's being good about going inside and not trying to get out and not crying the end of the world when he can't get out as much. I tried letting Os out, but nope, she had to start chomping a cattail, and got booted. Then she sat and stared evil at me through the kitchen door. I need to test Tikki out there, see how she behaves. I would rather like it if I could keep the lower solarium window open when it's nice out so all the cats can come and go as they please, but yeah right. But I can keep trying.
I got some horseradish worked on today. Using an old shower curtain to mix on, I would empty a horseradish pot, mix it with 2 of the litter buckets, then back into the pots again. The horseradish clumps were sort of frozen up so I pulled the plugs and set them to thaw/drain in pots on the bench where the sun should make them happy. I was surprised to find that all the pots were still so wet, and here I worried about it, ha. I still have the last horseradish pot to bust and mix tomorrow, then it's hurry up and wait for the root clusters to be ready for replanting. The resulting leftover from the mix should kick me off with 4 litter buckets or so of dirt mix to start spring potting with. Enough for some milk jugs for sure, prolly enough for other potting too.
And the bear paw shovel scoops I got on clearance have already paid off. In fact, wish I had picked up 2 pairs of them. I used them for scooping up mixed dirt off the plastic and into pots and it was nice as hell. They are far more gentle than a shovel would have been and far superior than trying any other method to get the dirt back into pots. 
Picked up a new product to try out at Meijer the other day since it was on clearance- Crayola window markers, they dry to a frost effect. I've tried them on a couple different windows around the house now and I must say, I rather like the effects. Quite a bit. I think these could be a perfect solution to the windows we have birdstrike problems with. The stuff washes off so if we aren't happy with it, I can clean it off and start again. The colors look great from the inside and particularly striking from the outside. I'm already making plans for a few other windows as well. Heh, I might have to go back to Meijer and pick up more if they still have them. I just wish they came in more colors, it's mostly pastels and I kind of wish for jewel tones sometimes too.
I think I'm going to start with the library window for this. It will be an interesting challenge to get the pattern onto the inside of the glass then color it in. Very different method than what I'm used to for making faux stained glass. Typically I use a pattern behind the glass and use gels working on a horizontal surface. This time I will be using a pattern on the glass and use all inks on a vertical surface. Then come later this spring I can take apart the outside of the window, clean out all the wasps nests and repair the screen as I can.

So... Now I'm a week in on the vape, hooray! Right now I would be at least 40 bucks in the hole on American Spirits this week- even when smoking I hate most of them because of the chemical ick and way liked AS better. By this time next week, my vape will be paid off and all the juice I've been using too. Two weeks from now I will be pulling ahead. And I'm not a raving bitch in nicfits, my habit is in better control. I still need to figure out a little case to slip into my purse for travel- gotta be cute and fit into my often super tiny purses.
Best of all (well except the fiscal part which is number one) is the smell... Geez, I knew darn well how nasty stinky smokes are. But just a few days of no smoking here and I'm finding myself doing laundry to clean all the stink out of bedding, using lots of vinegar to clean to leave it all good. Using a lot of air freshener and incense. I can hardly wait till I can have the windows open and really air the house out good- just being out in the solarium with pops outside through the day today was fresh and better than usual. Even when I've been vaping like a motherfucker, it smells like a tasty confection or fruity goodness rather than the stuff burning tobacco leaves.

Tuesday, another lovely day here at GbH! The snow outside the office window has finally melted off enough that I can see the litter bucket out there- finally under 15 inches, woot!
Another day for the kitties in the solarium. Four of them this time. Os of course ended up getting booted first for chewing on my parsley.  Pooks decided after a while that he wanted in and waited by the door for me to let him back into the house. Marbles was curious all over and a really good boy- till it was time to come inside, then he was a whiney lil puss, heh. Nova of course was right fine till he annoyed me by faking wanting to come inside one too many times and then he too got to come inside.
I did get the last horseradish dumped out and it was the wettest one so far. I'm kind of wondering if they didn't dry out at all all winter and are just thawing out now. I ended up using all the rest of my bone dry potting soil just to soak up all the liquid. It's requiring a bit more of a sit and drain time than the other two did. And I found out the dirt I've been mixing is wet enough to require perching on the soil instead of the carpet, damn it.
Other than that, it's just been a lot of doing laundry and cleaning floors today. Seriously overdue for it, but I really hate floors when I can't have the windows open, lol.

I've been cooking quite a bit since getting back. Casseroles and cheesy veggies, roasting chickens and tonight is spicy chicken and rice enchiladas.

Tuesday.. Went to sleep with the pitter patter of raindrops falling on my roof.. Woke up to winter wonderland of snow frosting everything deeply...

I was not teased to pissed by a day or two of over 40 degree days. I was not disappointed by the snow this morning... I am not unhappy that we got another generous blanket of snow before the official time of spring has struck. I was not tempted to open windows or turn down heat. I knew better.

I know Mama N has been having a grand ole time this winter. I'm not fooled by later winter/early spring shake ups any more than I am by early summer days almost touched by frosty fog in the free lot.

On the bright side, no matter what.. I get to plant in a lot of tomatoes and peppers tomorrow :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Breaking the ice

Been a while since I posted. Good reasons for that. Mostly due to the weather. So much snow and cold kind of shuts everything down. Depressing as hell really. No wonder why folks get cabin fever. I haven't even been able to get upstairs really.

Today, Thursday, I finally started sorting through seed- electronically. That's what happens when you have a crapton of seed, lol. Basic tomato is done- I've trimmed off over 30 types of seed, and now have it sorted into catagories. Red, orange, yellow, green, black, white, and bicolor- I ended up with a surprising amount of bicolor. A lot of fresh eating only too, though I was encouraged by the amount of multi-use fruits in all colors.
Update: down to the 6 kinds I'm growing this year- it's going to be an orange year. 

Peppers got addressed, not a lot of seed cleanout there, but some decisions need to be made about what to grow this year. Pepperonchini for sure, a few of those. I want to be ambitious and pickle up a case of those this year, yum! After that I'm gonna see what's oldest and plant out what I can of it.
Update: Pepperonchini, cayenne, and monzanto. 

Still sorting through beans, still have all the rest of the seed after that, lol. I know after tomatoes, beans, and peppers I want to sow in a bunch of greens. I have a lot of seed to work with. I think come spring I will plant in some root veggies in the herb garden again, spring radishes and beets, maybe some carrots. Come full summer I will have some basils to grow in too.

With the good weather the last few days, we have swaths of yard showing up. Time for me to get out and do some wintersowing. I have that big paper bag of coneflower to drop in, and I think I'm going to put in some flowers around Moons grave, and sort of backsplash in the wood edge on the west side of the sanctuary. I have a ton of seed that needs to be wintersown, and with all the super snow and cold, I haven't prepped up anything for milk jugs so I want to go next best and direct sow with the snow. My plan is to walk in the "pathways", marking in the "beds of untouched snow. Sprinkle in seed or drop heads in the case of the coneflowers, then muss the snow like I would with sprinkling in a plain dirt bed.

Picked out a melon for this year, started picking out some greens and further flowers.

Started letting Nova out into the solarium- he's been good and smart about laying his meeps and smell around and not going where he should not, nor chomping on plants he should not. And chippies beware!!!
Now I need to pull the tarps from the garage and mix up all the buckets of everything I got in the solarium. I think everything might be thawed out enough to mix it up and get all the base pots started up.

Today, Saturday, I got some in town chasing done- and yep, didn't buy smokes! The vape is working, yeah boy :) I saw the smokes behind the counter and all I could think was geez that's a lotta money. So glad I'm not spending it on smokes anymore. Or hopefully won't be- I'm feeling pretty darn optimistic at almost a week in.
Got most of the rest of seed sorted out for this years growing. Still have herbs, some flowers, and beans, blech.. Those are the hardest to sort out.  Especially the beans, I want go grow a dozen kinds and have to limit myself to just a couple kinds this year.
Opened the door on the solarium, and ya know, I'm pretty darn sure I see daffodil tips poking up where the snow has melted off. Or at least with the spacing I'm really hoping those are not left over ditch lilies, lol.

Tomorrow it's supposed to be nice-ish out, hoping to get the solarium straight. Sorted out enough flower seed to have a nice fat packet of seed to start in milk jugs- I'm gonna do up a few blocks of seed to set in.  Woohoo!! Looks like it will be upper 40's and just overcast on Monday :) Looks like I will be doing some "wild" wintersowing. I have a large paper grocery bag of purple coneflowers to lay in as a drift, and the first dose of marigold border to shake out. Wild sweet peas and black eyed susans, and milkweeds as well perhaps- kind of depends on just how thawed and mucky or not areas are.