Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Monday, May 26, 2014

My ass is tired.

So it's May 26, time for a proper post.

Since we last tuned in, picked up a bunch of glads... all potted up in litter buckets except the last one.
15 White Alaska
15 Sun Kissed
10 Wine and Roses
10 Vista Lavender
10 Jessica
10 Antica
10 Bonnes Vacances

Got 2 pairs of hops, Cascade and Nugget- those are in big black buckets. 

Got in all the wildflower jugs, and started putting in the marigold jugs- only the marigolds didn't like that too much, lol.

Spent several days chasing to Wi, loading up trucks, then unloading them here. A billion boxes can really kick your ass when they are all going upstairs,heh. Cleaning and sorting and more re-arranging extra kicks your ass. But at least a good third of the total move is done now, by this time next month I will have most of my family here with me :).

So... figured a bunch of pics would be nice.

Here's a pic of a tiny toad I found in my pots in the mini greenhouse several days ago when it was chilly outside. Smart little thing was snug in the nice warm greenhouse shaded over with flats on the shelves above.

The jelly feeder on the tree in full bloom. The orioles have loved it- so has whatever critter that finally knocked it down and broke it. I was bummed :( But more can be printed :)

Here's what the front porch area looked like yesterday. I moved the second mini-greenhouse down to pavement level. The plastic covers are off the mini-greenhouses, at this point they are just outdoor shelving, not growing boxes. Once they are cleared off, they will be stored in the solarium.

Closer shot of one of the greenhouses. Beans, flowers, and curcurbits. The beans are now in the ground.

Woodle Orange and Tobolisk tomatoes

Roughwood Golden Plum and Juane Flamme tomatoes.

The dill is growing is fuzzy and wonderful, the pair of Pixwell Gooseberries are getting plush. The rosemary is still in bloom and I got parsley from last year growing in well.

What this garden looked like yesterday.

Another shot of yesterdays garden. I was just too wiped out to do much more than a sort of cheater bed of spread out compost with a layer of dried grass on top.

As you can see, I had left a large patch of compost that still needed digging out. I couldn't just cover the whole thing, couldn't bring myself to it while still thinking I might need to build one more bed. The peas are happy growing on the fence in the background.

The garlic bed looks great! The thing is growing in wonderfully, still haven't lost any. Let's keep our fingers crossed that they all grow fat and plush :)

Long shot of the current edge of the box area up to the garage. You can start to tell how I want this line of garden beds to eventually run.

Yeah, I busted ass today and got that center compost area shoveled out and some straw laid in. So:
Front bed left to right is two rows totaling 12 plants of Corno Di Toro peppers , a sweet Italian heirloom, then a row totaling 6 plants of sweet banana peppers, then a row of 3 California peppers.
In the straw is Taylor Dwarf beans. In the back grass section are my 3 Manzanos and the 10 pepperonchini. I took my sisters suggestion and planted the Corno Di Toros, banana peppers, and pepperonchinis in pairs- I just wouldn't have had the space otherwise.

Got this bed planted in too. On the climb left to right are Histada Shield beans, Early Russian cukes, and Eye of the Goat beans. Left to right in the grass is Small Wonder spaghetti squash, One Ball summer squash, Cue Ball summer squash, and Long Island Cheese pumpkin.

The new bed next to the tomato bed. Once I realized how much extra peppers and such I had, I just went for it and built on another bed just to make sure everything had plenty of space to grow. It's about half the width as the tomato bed. I planted in Masai green bean seed, and put in a pair of Dark Star zucchini on the fence side. Only had to haul 10 wheelbarrows of compost this time, heh. I didn't get the tomatoes in today- I was just too wiped out.

I think this year I at least tripled my growing space between shoveling out the compost pile and setting in growing there, and building these two beds.

Now I'm left with just some cukes and melons to plant in along the narrow walk. I think I really pushed it putting in the Early Russians as small as they were, so I'm holding off on these till they get bigger.
I still have tons and tons of flowers to plant in. But that's for another day, I'm all for being lazy and just doing some puttering cleaning. Putting stuff away in my new buffet we picked up the other day for 40 bucks. It's fucking awesome. I always seem to have the best luck finding cool stuff when my sis is with me. One nice big drawer for linens and servingware over a cabinet with one simple shelf in it. Got any idea how hard it is to find a simple yet totally useful buffet in the right size that isn't a gajillion bucks? Yeah, real difficult, so I'm thrilled at this addition of storage space in the kitchen. And now the dry sink grandpa made is in the kitchen too. Oodles of storage space there too. And both pieces look like they have been there forever, woot!

So.. I'm off to whup up some taters to go into the oven to go with the meatloaf I'm cooking up for dinner :)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Summer preserves....

Started June 7...
Preserving season is on! I wasn't thinking and pretty much missed asparagus season. Caught some tail end and at least got 5 jars of pickled asparagus. But berry season is on, canned up 10 jars of strawberry jam, 7 jars of mixed berry jam (strawberry, blueberry, mullberry, wild raspberry, red raspberry), and 7 jars of SMR jam (strawberry, mullberry, wild raspberry).

June 9:
Didn't do squat cept wiping down and writing on what I canned Saturday. Cracked my burn open in a couple spots and figured it would be wiser to not make it worse. But glory bee, those jars of jam and asparagus look right fine.
So today I got another section of the FoH garden weeded. Stopped when I encountered a big fat toad scurrying for shelter. Wanted to give him time to move off to other places. Now I'm up to the previously weeded area edge, and it's time to start working on the firmly established weedy area. Thank goodness for several bins of lillies smothering most of the spot! I think I need to get together a few toad houses to stash around the FoH- toads are good luck in the garden and they eat up icky bugs.
Planted in the Red Russian Kale on the sunny edge of the FoH garden, and plopped in Rosie o Day alyssum, a light pink kind, and royal carpet alyssum, a dark pinkish purple kind. I'm not fond of common white alyssum.
Started tearing up the kitchen window plot, and dropped in the Vates kale- still need to finish weeding that spot out so I can put in some carrot seed tapes. Still need to figure out where exactly I want the ornamental kale. I was going to put all the kales along the fenceline down by the garlic bed, but I figure that area might get too worked up later this year dropping in more raised beds. And I think I want the kales closer to the house so they are accessible for picking in the heart of winter.
Got weeding done on the east side of the solarium and planted in canturbury bells among the irises. Pulled out a bunch of Fulva lilly starts, and I know I will pull more before they are all really gone. And pulled up a bunch of Chinese Chestnut baby trees- wish I knew folks that wanted the stupid things, I feel bad just chucking them.
More weeding in the wee folk garden and planted in moss roses. I was originally going to put them in on the trouble hill, but figured they would work nicer in the wee folk garden, and besides, I put the German Chamomile in on trouble hill and I want that to fill in the whole area. I had to do some thinning of violets in the wee folk garden too- they are getting huge! And happily enough, my Milkmaid Nasturtiums are blooming beautifully, I'm hopeful for some nice seed later on this year.

Discovered that I have an unknown iris- I had planted in a few named kinds, hoped they would spring up. But what sprung up didn't match my tags at all.
 Thought it was going to be a Fall Fiesta, which is orange bottom with white top because the bud was closest to that. But what unfurled was this, clearly not Fall Fiesta. But it's ok, it's a stunningly lovely iris anyway.

This popped up from what I dug up and transplanted:
So looks like there are some regular ole purple irises and this stunning thing. I can hardly wait for the next year or two to see what else blooms up!

And ugh, ticks are a mutherfucker this year! Skeeters too. I would have thought that the deep snow and cold would have cut that back, but we had a right fine late winter/early spring with no late snaps to kill the early suckers off. Gross, gross, gross.  But at least the season has been nice for the fruit trees to be well filled with fruit. Blessings come with curses.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hooray May!

May flowers are sort of popping up today on the 7th, lol. Mostly still the daffs any grape hyacinths, but the fruit trees are budding up right fine. Cept the plum tree, that probably has another 2-3 growing seasons before it starts showing flowers.

It was a tinkery kind of day. Puttering around feeling like I'm getting nothing done. Made a big ass batch of hummingbird nectar this morning since a hummer decided to show up and announce they are here. Refilled all the feeders- jeez I really got a bunch of them all over the place now. Good thing the birds don't really get super fed year round, lol. And I can already tell that the local bug sources must be up since the suet feeders are not being ravaged so hard anymore. The last of the grackles are almost gone. The first orchard oriole made an appearance too today. And the white egret has been back on the pond past few days.

Made a batch of chicken bacon ranch pasta salad for lunching on over the next couple days. I just use the cheap store brand of bacon ranch pasta salad mix and spruce it up with seared chicken, peas, some celery and a handful of the ranch seasoning mix I make. A splash of liquid smoke at the end of the chicken sear in bacon grease to give some extra oomph. A handful of minced wild chives for oniony goodness.
Boiled up the last of the medium eggs to make into egg salad tomorrow. Which reminded me to make sandwich bread, today it's a wheat bread.

Got the last of my tomato seedlings repotted. So far all the other tomato and pepper repots are looking wonderful! Cept one little pepper that I thought might not make it anyway. The current tally is:
10 pepperonchini
3 manzano pepper
6 tobolsk tomatoes
5 roughwood golden plum tomatoes
5 jaune flamme tomatoes
8 woodle orange tomatoes

All these guys are going to go into the bed I created yesterday. Looks like I will be needing to pick up a few more tomato cages! I could have pinched them off in pot, then I would have had 4 pepperonchini, 2 manzano, and 3 each of the tomatoes. I'm pretty pleased that I decided to let them go and repot them instead. Extra not sorry that 2 kinds of tomatoes at 3 pots each didn't sprout at all. If all the plants survive into the garden well, 24 tomatoes and 13 peppers is more than enough for one year! But if they are all a go.. Ohhhhh for canning orange tomatoes and a lot of pepperonchini this year!

Decided today to move all 3 flats of beans and curbits to the mini-greenhouses. They are just starting to crack up and I want to jump that shit up. I'm using a lot of tail seed in those pots and now's the frigging time to know if they work or not. And now that I realize just now many nightshades I got going on, extra glad I made a large bed and only pre-started the Taylor Bush beans. Still might make up a second smaller lasagne bed for maisi though- the whole family really likes green beans.

I really need to tear up the next tulip border chunk ASAP. They are all blooming nicely in their pots, so the time is now to get that area done up and the tulips in. And a few of the parsley cups are finally sprouting! So hopefully by the time the tulips start dying back, those will be ready to plug into the bed.
Also need to get on it and plant the 5 second year lavenders under the front cedar, and plant in that pot of shade loving ground cover in the FOH garden. The ground cover is actually starting to stretch!

The chive spot in the yard has grown back in so much I decided to take another cutting of them today. Only ended up with about half as much as I did from the second cutting, so maybe a half pound or so today. I think this might be about it for spring wild chive season. But still, I think I picked a nice couple pounds of the stuff, and preserved them in a bunch of ways as well as having a lot fresh in the eating lately. Considering the price for the stuff at the market, I feel like I got the superdeal of the season in chives, lol. Especially since this isn't a cultivated bed I had to spend money setting up- it's just a spot in the yard I keep letting grow in of wild eats. I tend to mow high and less frequently than most folks, so this gives plenty of growing action for them.

I have to say I was rather pleased the other day when Chris dropped by. She complemented me on how much work I've been putting in, and how much it shows! And how much it means to her remembering seasons of yesteryear when the property was full of blooms under grandmas care. She noted that grandmas poppy was coming up right fine- we are both hoping for some decent blooms this year and hopefully a little seed :) She also offered me some peachy irises- I think those will possibly be worked into the blue bed.

Hooee it was summer today! It's the 8th :) Forecast said break into the 80's, and we hit 92 today! Super sunny and clear. A bit too sunny and warm for me to do much in the yard- I'm not used to this yet, lol.
I puttered a bit in the pole barn, trying to figure out how I'm gonna make trellising for all those tomatoes and peppers. Helped Chris move the horse fence to the sanctuary and get the horses a grazing. I feel a little like a movie- all the birdies at the feeders, the horses grazing peacefully on the other side of the easement drive.. warm breezes wafting in from all the windows.
I get to see that whole section get prepped up for me with all horse-power, lol. Sometimes it can be a good thing to cut back or burn back some areas. I'd rather this than burning by a long shot. And it should leave the area fairly open for my seedlings.
I think perhaps putting those flats into the mini-greenhouse yesterday was a great idea- I'm already showing some serious accelerated seed popping.
And looking in on that greenhouse I discovered a tiny little toad hanging out and enjoying the hot damp amongst my lowest flat- a bunch of different random flowers. It wasn't squishing the seedlings none, and must have been pleased as punch in that warm damp environment. 

While out with Cris today setting up the temporary fence, I learned another piece of house history relating to the plants. The rose on the fence I decided to try to groom and save for it's promising looking hips turns out to be some crazy 150 year old planting of some sort. Like cutting from an original and planted in way back early. Makes me pleased that I decided to try grooming it back in instead of whacking it down. 

In some thinking about future garden and yard plans.. I'm really getting a bug up my ass to start clearing out the pond area for a small dock. I know, I have been talking about this ever since I started the blog. But now I'm starting to research dredging how to- without all the power stuff. At one time we cleared little patches like this by hand quite well and we can't afford a lot of the power stuff. I think a pair of chestwaders would be rather nice for this- not because I think I would sink more than knee deep, but because I figure I will fall down or step off stupid.
Good fortune is that the area seems pretty well set up for this not to be stupidly difficult. And eyeballing some of the piping in the pole barn I think I might be able to set up a small watercress bed if I'm smart about it. The whole section is really two watery divots split with a fairly solid ground spit.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Building beds and..

May 6. We had frost warnings in local areas overnight last night. If we got frost here, it didn't seem to hurt any of the seedlings out in the yard. The mini-greenhouses are great. The solarium is right fine.

Today I busted my ass building a lasagne bed for the tomatoes, peppers, and Taylor bush beans.

A couple days ago, I cut open 64 paper bags like this (not my photo):
The bags cut open with anticipated overlap is around 3x1 foot. I wanted 2 layers of 8x4 bags.

Duh me, could have taken pics of the process, but didn't think about it really till I was breaking up the straw. Then figured screw it, lol. I might be making another much smaller bed for the maisi beans over the next few days.
Used the big wheelbarrow filled with a few inches of water as a soaking tub to wet up the bags BEFORE laying them down. On a breezy day this is great. Can't really soak them too long or they get really easy to tear up really fast. The paper wants to stay down and stuck to itself while you lay in the layers. Have a hose ready to spray the stuff wet again if needed while laying out the paper. I worked fast enough to lay out the whole first layer before starting in the second layer of paper on top. I had cut up a few extra bags to be prepared, and used them to patch over a couple spots that seemed thin while walking on the first layer.
Then a nice layer of leaves that I raked out of the area before I laid the paper down. Then hosed down real well to wet the leaves till they stopped shrinking down under showering with water.
Then 10 barrows of composted poop. A nice layer of not seeing leaves anymore, not really perfect. Then hosed down this layer real well to see where thin spots might be, water in clumps real well.
Then one bail of straw, broken up and fluffed a bit. Then hosed down very well, to the point where watering didn't make the straw sink at all in any spots.
Then another 17 barrows of composted manure. Really burying in all the straw well till no more can be seen. Payed attention to the edges.
I probably lost about 8 inches around the border between the initial edge of the paper to straw, to final compost layer.
This is the bed right now. Further down the fence is what this spot looked like before I started laying down the paper bags. You can see that it's a natural drift spot for fall leaves. A bit further off frame down the fence is the bee patio and garlic bed.
I may or may not add more layer to this bed. Depends on what cleanup and mowing yields before I start getting plants in- which won't happen for 2-4 weeks.
This bed looks high, but I want a few weeks of weathering in before putting in plants. Just like that fall leaf and compost bed :)

I'm thanking my misgivings a couple weeks ago when I decided to not start Maisi beans and they would be direct seeded. Right now this bed will be full of tomatoes, peppers, and the potted beans.

I think I might build a second smaller bed next to this one for Maisi beans. I would be doing it one bag wide instead of 4, since that's about how wide the bed was last year for the Top Crop beans.

Putting a pretty good dent into the composted manure pile. I think I dug out about a third of it's total heap, maybe a bit more than that. Enough left to do up another small bed and have a goodly bit for the second build box for garlic.
I'm exceptionally happy about the pea trench. Damn I'm glad I really took the time to dig out that big ass board, and really widen out the area a few inches wider than my original intent, and really stabilizing the heap. And for putting in the pipes holding up the board walls. There were several times today that I could have dumped badly on the peas if not for that trench and wall. I actually have most of the worst of tumble stuff dug out and spread in the new bed.
The Alaska pea plants I put in are doing right fine. I might be mistaken, but I don't think I've lost a single one. And they are all growing up enough that I've had to start training them up the fence by their first link. I've been a good girl and haven't even peeked at the Green Arrow pea seed or the Dwarf Jewel Mix nasturtium I seeded in when I planted in the Alaska peas.

Pretty pleased with the end bed right now. I set that up before the pea trench and so far zero weeds sprouting up. I think another sprinkle in of composted manure to fill in the leafy spots a smidge. The earliest of the Histada Shield beans are sprouting up right fine. In another week or two they will be ready for planting in.

I'm not sure to be worried or not- but I haven't seen any potato sprouts in my bags yet. Thought about how little real rain we have had since I planted them and figured I might have already killed them do to lack of water. I watered them real good today, and will have to keep in mind to keep doing so if we don't get rain.

On some good growing news. The two Pixwell Gooseberries I got early this season and promptly potted up in litter bucks are doing really well:
I'm still not sure where this pair will be going. Nice part about this size bucket is if I want to hold them till fall planting, I can. If I want to hold them till next spring, I can do that too.

Here's a pic of the horseradish buckets:
In the three big cans are last years biggest roots. In the smaller one all the little root bits. Unless you want horseradish to invade, ALWAYS grow it in containers. I'm doing a few pots like this to help spread fresh horseradish season more. The tall pots are some cheap on sale garbage cans from a big box hardware store. As they grow in during the season they will make a pretty border along the porch.

And just a random note.. Seriously need to replace the front porch steps. Just a couple new pieces of wood really to make that whole stepping area much safer.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Battle of Williamsburg!

May 5, 1862. 152 years ago today the Civil war was raging, and today over 70,000 soldiers took the field in the earliest of the Peninsula Campaign battles.
Damn fine reason to skip that nasty ass Mexican beer today and drink up some tasty American brew with your Mexican food today :)

So today was a day of just dinking around. Getting some plans together for setting up over the next few days. Made a batch of spinach and beans using fresh spinach, yum! Decanted the peppercorn/chive/celery seed vodka today. About 10 oz. Enough to make a couple bloody mary's and see if the stuff really is tasty or not.

The seal on the right side of the kitchen sink gave way. Dunno how bad it was, but I noticed the wetness shortly after the last time my sister was out. And it's really bad, drizzling water bad. The cabinet inside didn't smell damp, it smelled wet. So I put a cardboard box in that sink side so we can't use it, and let it dry out real good. 
A few days back I picked up plumbers putty while I was out. Today I figured I would just get that seal replaced.
First I took a good look at just how bad the underside is. It's nice and dry now, but you can tell wht happened while it was wet. Gooey gunk oozed out all around a section of a gasket. Shit, I think I might need a gasket.
Then I went about looking for my tools. Channel locks and a big adjustable wrench. Can't find the channel locks to save my life. Well double shit.
Time for a trip into town. As usual the guy at the hardware store was able to help me out perfectly. Held up a box with the assembly and said I needed the gasket and wrench. Less then 10 minutes later I was on my way. Love when that happens.

Then I dinked around a bit. Hit Hardings, they had shank ham for 1.39 a pound. Good for several meals of tastiness. Picked up a couple other things too. Quickly checked out the shelves at the little local junk store that is going out of business. I need to go back and really check the bookshelves well when I don't have meat in the trunk and it's in the 60's, heh. And popped in at Bobs to get a little fruity sweetness to fix my tooth. Turnovers and pie slices, frigging yummy.
I don't often have much of a sweet tooth. But sometimes fruity goodness is, well, good.

And check this shit out. Ever since seeing the first oriole I've been whining to my hubby that I want a jelly jar feeder. Now he has printed me out 2 of them, small mouth and large mouth. How effing cool is this?

This is a stock photo of the commercial version. He printed out the cap part with the petals and perch. I can hang it off a wire super easy.
The actual printed feeders are made with translucent red. We didn't have orange on hand, and I was too impatient to wait till we could order some. I picked up a little bottle of orange paint that will withstand the weather and work with the plastic hopefully so I can spruce in the red.

Here's what my love printed up for me. In the back is a 20 oz widemouth, and the foreground is a 12 oz standard mouth.
The widemouth is good for loading up chunks of melon or apples, or when it's a rainy time, a gobbet of jelly in the rainwater might make good nectar. The smaller mouth is excellent for 8-12 ounce jars. If I want, I can pull a jar of jelly from the canning shelf, break the seal, and screw on the flower head. Hang up. Let them eat themselves silly.

I have noticed that non-birds are a problem. Hung the nectar feeders in the pine, and those got flipped up and raided. So did my DIY glass jar of cantaloupe pulp I put out- that got hauled up on it's rope to the lattice roof of the front porch. The orange metal stand feeder (It's a cheap ass sunflower bird bath) is super ganked- you can tell a critter reared up on back paws and ginked the flower on its screw rod before finally pulling it over.
Fruit screws and nails are working wonderfully. I got a few oranges on clearance the other day and been putting them out. 
Mini jelly jars are working nicely too, though they need to be refilled more often.

The horses are in their second grazing spot. It looks like their first spot is freshly mowed! And Chris is nice about picking up poop in the lawn. I need to grab her before she moves the fence again to make sure she sets up in the sanctuary next. Those milk jugs of flowers need some planting in fairly soon.

Other random pics I've been taking over the last few days..

Lovely orange oriole on the tree. You can see some of the various feeder types I have hanging off this tree.

The nectarine? Peach? tree in bloom the other day when I was re-arranging boards and breaking down the arch drive barrier.

The clump of somethings coming up early on in the bee patio corner. Turns out it's these lovely blossoms.
Turns out all the bulb bloosoms like this were from the POW German/Japanese camp in the area during WW2. The same guys that laid in all the farmers drainage ditches and such around here. These bulbs have some special history!

The current stand of pots in the solarium. Keep in mind that I have already moved off this much shelf space to the mini-greenhouses outside and planted in about three flats of seedlings already with nasturtiums and peas. The wandering jew on the top shelf is my canary- if it's too chilly for it, too chilly for seedlings and some heating measures are needed.

My cluster of nightshades, doing darn well so far with the light and temp shock as well as transplanting. A couple of the tomato pots still need transplanting. That line of milk jugs on the right is the plants solar sink heater for overnight cooler temps. I've been draping in a transparent shower curtain as a tent over this. That's what the stakes on the pond side are for. Between the stakes and the milk jugs, makes a perfect mini-coldframe inside the solarium.

Now it's time to kill the heat on the baking part of spinach and beans, and toast up a few sausages.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

April showers..

Bring on May flowers. Yay for more flowers! Believe it or not the crocuses and siberian irises are fully done and died back already. The early daffs have had mostly dieback. Tons of daffs are still in bloom, and more are starting to bloom. The grape hyacinths are in full bloom, the regular ones are just exiting their peak. And the magnolia is full of fat ass buds with the earliest cracking of bloom. 

Today, the 30th, I finally got off my butt and did up the tutorial on seed tapes and published it.
It's the sort of gloomy day that I thought some nice slow soup would be good. So I decided to make some split pea soup. Don't have any ham in the house, so I improvised.

2 cups of pork stock
3-4? cups of chicken stock
1 pound split peas
1 large onion, diced
5 small carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 large cloves garlic, chunked
3 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bunch fresh chives, minced (1/3 cupish?)
2-3 bay leaves
2 t thyme
1 t oregano
1/2 t marjoram
1/2 t dill
generous half cup of dehydrated from frozen peas
couple tablespoons bacon grease
salt and pepper

Mise en place. Seriously. Get all your dicing and stuff together before you start. I used my smallest stockpot.

Bowl 1: onion, carrots, and celery
Bowl 2: garlic
Bowl 3: potatoes
Bowl 4: dried herbs
Bowl 5: dried peas and fresh chives

Melt bacon grease in pot. Toss in contents of bowl 1 with about a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of pepper. Sweat over medium heat for 10 minutes, the veggies should be yielding liquid but not sizzling it off. Onion should be translucent.
Toss in bowl 2, the garlic. Sweat for about another 5 minutes.
Toss in bowl 4, the herbs. Give them a goodly stirring in.
Toss in bowl 3, the potatoes. And the stock. Bring up to heat.
Add in your pound of peas. Cover partially, turn the heat down low, and let simmer till stirring starts mashing up stuff- reeealll soft.
Add in bowl 5. Peas and chives. Stir well, cover completely. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes, till dried peas are completely hydrated.
Kill the heat. Taste to see if salt and pepper need to be added or not.

I also decided to make pumpernickel bread today. For folks that might not already realize this, there is no pumpernickel flour. Pumpernickel is primarily AP or bread flour and rye flour, sometimes with wheat flour. It's enriched with molasses, cocoa powder, sometimes coffee.. often has caraway seeds.

So it's the first of May, first of May....
Saw my first rose breasted grosbeak! Such a beautiful bird!
Saw another oriole this morning, so it was time to get a couple feeders for those pretty birdies. Orioles will drink hummingbird nectar, but they actually prefer a less sweet water.
And it's time to make another batch of suet :)  This time I only did a half batch, lol. Fills one pan perfect. I didn't have a bunch of dried mulberries on hand this time, so I used some dried watermelon and added in some dried mealworms I got at the pet store on sale. Figured why not?

So, here's the full recipe:
1c bacon grease
3c shortening, though lard is preferable
4c chunky peanut butter
2c flour
2c oatmeal
2c cornmeal
8c birdseed
4c other stuff: dried fruits, bugs, nuts, seed meats...
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper- this keeps the furry critters off your suet, and birds can't taste it.
Melt your fats together on very low heat. Stir your dry stuff together real well. Stir your melted fats into your dry stuff. Then fill your pan, freeze it for 30 min or so to get real solid, then cut into shapes as needed. Wrap em up and keep them in the fridge till used.

May 2nd... I broke my motherlorn grow light setup... DAMNIT!!!! Ok, it was just 2 shop lights, but still.
I knew I needed to reset my tomato and pepper plants since the tallest toms were brushing the light. So I figured no problem, Just move the hang shelf and use a couple litter buckets to give me my height. Only the lights are too long to do that. Darn.
All righty, clear off and grab the rack from the storage room, set the hang shelf on top. Ok, this can work. Move rack to get it into final place, hang shelf promptly falls off, landing on the lights I had set to the side, shattering all 4 bulbs in my 2 lights. Fuck. Seriously? Well damn it. Heh, at least it shattered on an empty floor instead of on carpet or furniture, right? And what we got on hand for bulbs are cool whites, not the best for plant growing. Shit. I wanted those suckers on lights for another week or two till after last frost.
Needed to do something about those plants anyway. I couldn't bring myself to pinch them when I should have, so I took the time to divide and repot them instead. And with as healthy as they are, I am hoping some hardening off in the solarium before they get moved to the mini greenhouse won't be such a bad thing. 2 lines of tomatoes at 3 pots each never sprouted, nor did 3 pairs of peppers. So I guess it's not too bad. After dividing the pepperonchini, if they all grow out well, I might have 10 plants this year!
So super sucktactular that I broke my lights and messed up some plans. But good in a way because it did prompt me to take care of my nightshades like I should. Though it's supposed to get down into the low 40's overnight tonight, the solarium does stay a few degrees warmer right now, but still.... I am not so much worried about the light shock. I'm worried about the temp shock. Those plants have been held at room temp, and overnight will be much chillier. Nightshades don't deal well with that.
So I scrunched them all up in their drip trays. Used some bamboo yard stakes and the clearish shower curtain I used for mixing dirt to make sort of a tent over the plants in the solarium. Filled 5 milk jugs with hot tap water to make the back wall of the tent.

May 3rd.. Started out pretty darn gloomy, but shaped up to be a fantastic sunny day with cool breezes :) My nightshades survived the night very well.
Got the rest of the Milkmaid nasturtiums planted in. And a smidge of cleanup around the solarium garden.  The neighbors asked if they could put their horses on my back yard for grazing, and I said yep. Poor things are thin. And it's the extra nice horses I like better too. The are going to be fenced in the area of the sanctuary where I want to put in all my milkjugs of flowers next. I figure some chomping, stomping, and pooping will be right fine in that area before I start planting in.
Talked to the neighbors while they were setting up the temp fence, and they asked if I wanted their horse poo again- time to clean out their winter poo pile. It's raw shit, not composted manure. I said of course! So I went and did some quick re-arranging of the boards that held the raspberry bed frame. And now that area is the start of the new compost area:)
Figured it would be nice to break down the arch drive barrier- make it easier for the tractor to get over to the compost pile. And heh, while I was doing that he showed up with the tractor. He helped me break down the barrier, took 3 loads in the shovel down to the firepit. How frigging awesome is that? I was figuring I would have to use the my lawn tractor and the wagon, or wait till we had the truck here again. But 20 minutes work max and it's all done and taken care of.
Now he's dumping lots of horseshit exactly where I want it. Pretty stinky stuff, lol.

Threw a corned beef brisket in the crockpot this morning on low. It smells wonderful! And I just put in a pan of rye bread to bake off. And ohhhh, the pumpernickel recipe turned out great!

And it's kind of hard to imagine that tomorrow is our first anniversary. A whole year already. And I gotta say, I'm pretty darn sure I love my hubby more today that I did a year ago today.