Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

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.

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