Welcome to Growbox Hill

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wow, two months and the end of the year...

I haven't written a post in two months, whew. I can't say nothing has happened, though life has mostly been a blur of split up days of work mixed with losing my mind and depression trying to get everything done.

So a few brief highlights... Sold some stuff on Esty, yay! Still have that last small handful of tomatoes from this years garden to eat up, which is a triumph in and of itself. Weather has been bizarre- just yesterday was our first real drop down into freezing and icy snow crap.  It was in the 60's for Christmas. The plague went around here a few weeks ago, and that totally sucked ass. Got to see one of my brothers happily married, and that was supremely joyous.

I am already in midst of plans for the 2016 yard of course. So far, I've been able to overwinter quite a few plants. And have a ton of seed planting planned too- the veggies are starting to really form up, now I need to figure out the flower and herb planning, lol. I sowed the first of the wintersowing jugs today, four of them full of hellebore starts. I had kind of forgotten about the seed packets in the fridge, and sure enough, some of them had sprouted. So potted up they needed to be.
There will be extra rotation going on this coming year with all the problems that erupted this year- that will teach me to try to keep the beds static, lol. Right now the kennel beds, the north side is planted in with garlic, and the west side is empty- I want to give that one a serious digging in and work over before doing anything else. The three lasagne beds need a good digging in too. The raised beds need a serious weeding and turn over. The "new" beds need a lot too, heh. And I still want to seriously consider digging in some more front border.
Yipes, what I wouldn't give for a tiller, lol.

The close of this year also brought us the greenhouse that blew away- and needs to be fixed. Sis and I ended up traveling around the whole pond and back 40 before finally finding it in the neighbors back 40, lol. It was for sure an adventure walk, I ended up waist deep in a ditch. Good times of living in the boonies, hehe. I really loved having that season extender on hand. I'm starting to kick around ideas of wrapping the kennel runs in plastic and seeing how that works for an "instant" hoop house. I have some pretty high hopes that we can get the chicken coop up and running, and probably get a hive or two set up in the year to come.

This year coming brings our first round of comparison tomatoes. Jaune Flamme will be coming back along with Snow White to go up against a main crop of blacks, and some container varieties of interest- including a second year of Dwarf Wild Fred. I will be growing fewer super hot peppers, and more mild and sweet peppers- but overall reducing the total number of pepper plants. Back on deck for sure are Aji Lemon and 7-pot brain strain yellow so long as the plants I have inside fare well. My mystery CA pepper too if the cuttings I took fairly late into the season ever decide to start doing well. Fish and Black Hungarian for beauty and tasty. Going to try to get a cherry bomb crop again. And for sweets- not sure yet.

I put in my 2016 seed order already- 12 packets of seeds spread across three companies.
High Mowing had my Jaune Flamme and free shipping- so I ordered those and a pretty sounding bread poppy seed.
Since Garden Watchdog listed Seedsnowas a good source, I picked up a few 99 cent packets. Ordered a couple packets from my long standing favorite, Pinetree Seeds- and for the first time ever, I didn't order any veggie seed from them, only some flowers.

But I guess I should pop off this post while I can... try to get my shit together for next year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Preserving tally

Started April 27, 2015... Yeah, I know it's kind of off, and I've lost a bit of time here, but whatever, lol.

Couple weeks ago I dehydrated up a quart of shredded from raw sweet potatoes.
The other day I dehydrated up a quart each of clementine and lemon slices, and dehydrated 4 pounds of kale (on sale 99 cents baby) to about 6 quart jars full.
Made up three pounds of chive butter for the freezer, and a quart of chive-peppercorn vodka.

5/8- IQF and sealed up 6 packs of asparagus for the freezer- about 12 pounds overall. 
Dehydrated a quart of clementines, a quart of lemon slices, and a pint and a half and a pint of lime slices.

5/13- did up a quart jar of fridge mushrooms from 2 pounds of baby portebellas.  It was a super tight pack, but it would have been too loose in two quart jars. Note to self, each jar packs a pound and a half perfectly, keep that in mind for future reference.

5/19- canned up 9 half pints of dandelion jelly. I actually did 10, but lost a lid during processing on one, so it ended up being a fridge jar instead of a shelf stable jar.

5/28- canned up 7 half pints of roselle jelly. It's beautiful, a lovely red color. Bottled up a 24 oz bottle of sage blossom simple syrup.

6/6- two half pints of pectin free yellow nectarine jam. It was an experiment in doing pectin free, so it has the skins on. Tasted good, and set perfectly. Also IQF two pounds of whole strawberries.

6/9-  7 half pints of white nectarine and lemon verbena preserves. A different style of canning than the pectin free jam, but still has no additional pectin in it because the skins are kept on. It's even tastier than the pectin free, but kind of sweet. 
Also made up three batches of tofu jerky- killed my dehydrator.

6/10- 4 wide mouth pints of garlic scapes. One raised bed of garlic makes about 2 pints. Since I still have one raised bed that the scapes aren't ready to go on yet, I should be making another 2 pints soon.

6/12- 2 pounds each of white and yellow nectarines sliced, and IQF- now in vacuum sealed bags in the freezer.

6/17-  one pint and a half of garlic scapes pickled. I did them up fridge pickle style using a different recipe than the canned ones. All the garlic scapes are now out of the garden. Most of the scapes were smaller, more delicate than the first batch, and I reserved the stems for cooking with instead of packing up.

6/19- Two quarts of fridge pickled mushrooms. Hardings had six of the tiny baby button mushroom boxes on clearance for 99 cents each, and three fit perfectly into one quart jar. I took it as I was meant to make pickled mushrooms, lol. I am dead out of allspice berries, so instead I used some pickling spice, and a pinch of whole cloves, with a shake each of cinnamon and nutmeg to make up for it. They tasted really good, and smelled really good, here's hoping my substitution was a good idea :) 

6/22- dehydrated up a pint or so jar of savory. Still have a bunch of sage and oregano on the box fan drying out. It sure is a PITA not to have a proper dehydrator anymore, but it is handy to use the trays I have on the box fan to at least get some herbs set up. Picking time in now, and we do need to stock up on a bunch of herbs. Pickled two pints of brussels sprouts, using Food in Jars recipe.

7/5- pickled 4 pints of brussels sprouts- one didn't take the seal, and went into the fridge.

7/8- pickled 3 12 oz jars of spicy wax beans- first decent crop from the garden!

7/13- pickled up 3 pints of dilly beans, again from the garden, yum!!!

7/17- pickled up 3 pints of dilly beans

7/25- pickled 6 12 oz jars of spicy wax beans, 2 pints of mixed pepper rings, 2 pints of pickled summer squash, one quart of regular pickle mix fridge pickled summer squash, and one quart of lime and garlic and lime basil fridge pickled summer squash. Vacuum sealed for the freezer 2 one pound packages of smoked pork roast, and 1 two pound, 2 one pound packages of smoked ham.

Eating notes.. the fridge pickled garlic scapes were utterly delish!! But the canned ones were a bit better, because they were a little bit softer due to the canning process. The fridge brussels sprouts and another jar have been demolished- apparently those are the only way my sister will now eat her hated brussels sprouts, lol.

8/4- 15 half pints of pickled cubed zucchini.  I used the recipe from the ball book, but left out the sugar and added garlic. We shall see if that was good or not.

8/5- 7 pints of dilly beans, 4 pints of spicy mixed pepper rings. Set up one quart of lacto-fermented zucchini chips. Froze two bags of garlic roasted zucchini, and one big bag of mixed beans. Shredded up five quarts of zucchini and vacuum sealed it for when the dehydrator comes in in a few days. Got a bundle each of oregano, thyme, and sage off their drying hooks and into jars.

8/12- catch up post. Got a dehydrator last week Friday!!! Happy birthday shipment from my hubby. Of course I've been drying every day since then. Sooo.. ..
5 quarts of shredded zukes dried down to 1 quart. 3 bundles of celery dried down to a pint and a half jar. 6 pounds of mushrooms dried down into 3 quart jars. One dozen half pint jars of pickled mushrooms. Got 5 pounds of blueberries and 4 pounds got IQF and in a freezer bag, the other quart given to sis for fresh eating. 3 full sized casserole bags of raw zuke slices vacuum sealed in the freezer. 3 quart and 1 pint of pork stock in the freezer.

8/17- got another round of herbs done up. Sage, marjoram, oregano, and thyme. A round of tomatoes dehydrated- a mix of Wild Fred, Tumbling Tom, Beaver Lodge, and Yellow in Red out. And eight pints of white tomato product canned up early this morning- 1 gallon pitcher of diced tomatoes makes 8 wide mouth pints.

8/19- one quart of dehydrated corn and two quarts of dehydrated mixed veggies done up and put away.

8/22- got three quarts and one pint of Italian tomatoes made up in the crockpot. It's going into the fridge for now, not sure if it will be frozen off or canned up yet. I got a goodly couple gallons of tomatoes to can up first. I also have a heap of various peppers and a bunch of Wild Fred tomatoes in the smoker.. we shall see if those are going to end up in the freezer, fridge, or right into the dehydrator overnight or not, depends on how they turn out after I pull them out of the smoker in a few hours. But at the end of the whole shebang, they will get dehydrated.

8/27- another catch up listing, lol. I got the peppers and tomatoes off the smoker, one quart of smoked wax and banana peppers, partial pint and a half jars of hot peppers, sweet peppers, and tomatoes that I need to fill the smoker again to top those jars off. Got another quart of tomato slices dried. Six 12 ounce jars of Habanero beans pickled up, one quart of regular fridge pickled beans, one large pint of pickled garlic tucked away in the back of the fridge. Eight more pints of tomato product canned up.

8/30- Got a smoker full of tomatoes smoked up and are now in the dehydrator. Got four pints and 6 half pints of white tomato juice canned, and four pints and five half pints of white and copper tomato juice canned. Got another couple gallons worth of tomatoes into the freezer for later canning, I now have three gallon batches in the freezer that will need attending to sooner rather than later. I am now a full blown convert of freezing to remove tomato skins rather than blanch and shock.

9/3- four quarts of Italian stewed tomatoes and five pints of spicy enchilada sauce cooked up and into the fridge under vacuum seal- might not have the time to get them into the freezer proper tomorrow, but under seal it will keep in the fridge for weeks if needed. Two quarts of chicken stock into the freezer.

9/4- one quart of yellow tomatoes dehydrated and packed up. Got called off work so was able to get canning done today. The five pints of enchilada sauce and eight pints of stewed tomatoes are now canned up and shelf stable instead of needing to go into the freezer :)

9/9- been crockpot and canning today... So cooling down right now is 12- 8 oz jars and 5- 4 oz jars of white hot fatali salsa. Four pints and one half pint of enchilada sauce. Almost four quarts of sloppy joe mix up for canning tomorrow, got a crockpot of mild enchilada sauce set up. Vacuum sealed up and put into the pantry a pint and a half of dried radish greens, and white tomato sticks.

9/10- Four pints of mild enchilada sauce canned, seven pints of sloppy joe mix.

9/16- twelve 8 oz jars of "not so hot garlic" salsa.

9/18- Seven pints of enchilada sauce canned- have already cracked open the first can, very tasty :)

9/30- catch up listing... 9 pints of enchilada sauce, 9 pints of smokey enchilada sauce, ten 8 oz jars of smokey enchilada sauce, 1 quart of dehydrated white tomato sticks, 1 quart of dehydrated anhiem peppers, two pint and a half jars of smoked tomatoes, two quart jars of smoked and dehydrated inferno banana peppers, one pint of smoked and dehydrated chinese 5 color peppers, 8 oz of smoked and dehydrated aji lemon peppers, two trays of clarified tomato juice concentrate cubes in the freezer, one half tray of smoked ham reduction in the freezer. Seven pint and a half of lemony cauliflower, 4 pints of tomato sauce, and six 8 oz jars of tomato sauce.

10/2- two quarts of dehydrated onions- one is already filling the stove jar, the other on the shelf. Only a couple more quarts worth to go, lol.

10/3- seven pint and a half jars of lemony cauliflower, one quart of holy shit hot pepper rings.

10/5- another quart of dehydrated onions.

10/6- a dozen half pints of pickled mushrooms, a half dozen pints of rotel style tomatoes, five 8 oz jars of creole sauce, ten 8 oz jars of chili sauce, and five pint jars of Indian tomato chutney.

10/12- six pints of tomato puree, one quart of dehydrated onions

10/16- 6 bags of jiffy mix, 10 bags of six muffin mix, one olive jar size of veggie stock powder made.

12/30. Been eating the hell out of everything. Need to can more tomatoes for sure next year. Pickled brussels have been an unexpected hit. Lacto-fermented green cherry tomatoes were a fail, but the pickled ones were good.
Looking forward to preserving a lot more in the new year :) 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

October has been just too much. Too much, lol.

But I have gotten a lot of plant stuff done. All the container plants have been brought inside. Got the big pop up green house capping over the best of the pepper patch, and it has been an excellent season extender. It was well worth dropping the 45 bucks on. The tomato beds have been totally cleaned out, but haven't been able to get the garlic bed in yet. Next week is supposed to bring some decent days when I have the time off work to get the whole thing in the ground.
Plus, I have found the kennel bed to be remarkably shitty for root crops. The cleaning out of the compost in 2013 has really become apparent once I dig down a few inches, lol. So I will just get the north bed dug in and set, and rely on some slower action to clear out and clean up the west side. No more nightshades, legumes, or curcurbits for a year or two in that soil. Maybe some greens or brassicas. Maybe cover crops and ground enhancing roots.

The lasagne beds need a lot of cleanup. Laying down of new cardboard and path stuff, pulling weeds. The marigolds are still blooming like crazy and super plush. I think with the seed I have saved off them I might have to really extra grow a bunch out and plant them in the road beds next year. They did exceptionally well, and I really need more of that kind of action out front. No nightshades in the big bed, last year was tomatoes, this year was peppers. No beans either- not sure how bad the Mexican Beetle spread will result in yet. Curcurbits, brassicas, greens, and root crops are good.  No legumes or curcurbits in small bed 1. No tomatoes, but peppers would be ok. Small bed 2 is no on legumes and peppers. Ok on tomatoes, curcurbits, greens and brassicas, root crops.
All three beds need a good turning and mulching yet this fall. 

Raised beds aren't in too bad of shape. Bed 1 needs weed cleanup, bed 2 I'm leaving the beans in bed to die and release- will need to dig them in soon. Bed 3 is the radishes, and I'm planning on pulling those soon. The seed collection out of those should be excellent, I am seriously curious about what kind of crossbreeding will have resulted. Beans would be good here next year I think. Maybe peppers too. Perhaps a round of spring peas and other cover crop action or root crops. Not brassicas or greens.
Need to layer in the next walkway and build a raised bed for number 4 to lay in over where the bushel gourds, beans, and sunflowers grew this year. Right now I will be happy if I get a lasagne layer in place.

The herb bed is a freaking mess of weeds, unattended plants, and general crappery. The whole thing needs a major re-cleanup.

I've been thinking about plans for what to do about winter composting, because I really want to try to keep that up. I was thinking of buying a couple of cheap 32 gallon or so garbage cans that have goodly locking lids. Several straw bales to sort of build as walls around the garbage cans. And several really big black contractor bags.. bungee cords too, lol.
Drill many holes in the cans like shown in "how to make a garbage can into a composter" tutorials. Use a couple bungee cords to extra secure the lids on.
Use the contractor bags to bag up the straw bales. The point here isn't really to keep out vermin, it's to keep out the worst of the winter wet- wet bales are heavy and less insulating. I want to be able to move these in the spring. Use these to build up a two layer deep wall around the trash cans.
Use a couple more contractor bags to bag up a lot of leaves- you need to put brown matter into the layers of kitchen scraps, and leaves are it. Plus they can add insulating layer to the top of the garbage cans.
I'm thinking of putting this whole setup in one of two locations. The corner of the FOH garden that's closest to the edge of the front porch steps. Or smack dab outside the kitchen window. I'm leaning to the FOH because there is less snowfall to fight with- and less chance for vermin to want to reside since it's on the other side of the concrete.

The solarium is a mess, but a good mess really. The new setup with the potting bench area is great- but lol, I already miss my one countertop I'm currently using in Hallowed Corners. And I set up the two new mini greenhouses as sort of shelving for storing/curing foodstuffs.

The Halloween Village has been renamed to Hallowed Corners. I did have it finished.. kind of, almost.. and took a heap of pics of it. Then I started generally tearing apart stuff and moving it around to better get an idea of what I want to do with landscaping structures. I have a nice heap of Styrofoam to work with now. And ambitious plans, teehee. There are some set areas, like Main street is on the mantle... and I really like the pumpkin patch in the low slot over the TV.
And heh, I have a serious tons of painting to do. I picked up a lot of new stuff this year that had super cheap painting or otherwise needs reworking. Or needs finishing off like the housespider. Jeez, the housespider really needs her own name. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:95344

Set up a spare bedroom. The room had been unused in quite a while and shifted some things around so it could be storage and a spare room. I put a ton of effort into gathering boxes from work, and using dry erase tape set up shelves for storing all the canned goods safely. And holy shit there's a heap of them.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Getting ready for winter...

Yeah, sad but true, getting ready for winter. Time to put garden beds to bed or extend them through the early frosts.. prep the house for winter chills and the big S word to come.

Bought a new pop up green house for 45 bucks, on clearance from 80. It's currently sitting over the big part of the pepper bed. 6Hx6Dx4.5w... All of the tomatoes are pulled for the season- just a couple more bushels of processing to go for them, lol. Picked up my last two mini greenhouses on clearance for 15 bucks each.
Put a frost blanket over the raised bed beans, and pulled in a LOT of containers for tonights predicted hard frost potentially at 38 degrees.

Got more preserving, pulling plants, and such going on... busy day today. Tomorrow is another canning day, one of the last of the tomato canning days for this year.

Halloween village is built for this year..

Got way more going on.. too much to post much, lol.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

And so comes the end of summer

I know, haven't posted in a month... but there is a reason for this. We had a blazing hot Labor day weekend, and with the breaking of summer so did a beloved friend break and leave us- and when he left, he took summer with him. And so comes the end of summer, and Autumn has already made her debut known. I've been kind of lost since Labor day, and overly busy trying not to be lost. Been overly nostolgic- this companion represents 20 years of my life, and with the way and timing of his death, and a lot of other things... I'm just totally fucked up, and have been for weeks. I've lost track of what I've done or not, when what has happened or not... I'm lost without my sister here too.. I'm just a hot mess.

And now has come the end of summer, and it's time for me to move on, and get back to everything.

A lot of my busy has been food processing, especially tomatoes. This has been for real a bumper year for tomatoes- mostly due to my heavy planting of those this year. Let's compare the plantings first.

For whites...
In the top picks are Snow White cherry- super productive, so much so I plan on growing it in following years to compare against other cherry tomatoes as the tomato to beat.
Jack White, White Beauty, and White Queen are all rather nice- didn't get to save any Jack White seed, the bagging just kept failing. Which is a shame, because Jack White was the favorite of the bigger whites. White Beauty is iffy, I got one tomato that I hope will grow to seed. White Queen is secure, I got at least three tomatoes from two plants to carry on seed stock. Which is good, because I really liked White Queen. White Tomesol was nixed, a nice plant but in the end a meh plant. Great White is nixed too- really, really long season, monster plant, and produced the least tomatoes out of the whole bunch.

And for everything else...
All the greens got nixed. They were meh, low producers, nothing to shout about flavor wise. Good small growth habits, but a total pass for the future.
Yellow in, Red out got a seed save- it has a nice growth habit and tasty tomatoes, a decent bi-color. Seed save is for trading and selling rather than growing again. A lovely tomato, but not a repeat here. The other bicolor, Copper River.. now that one I'm trying to repeat. Seed bagging failed, so right now I've taken a cutting to try to clone it- yes, it was that good, despite it being a new hybrid and not normally my kind of growth.
The sole black, Dwarf Wild Fred.. that one is a keeper for sure. Surprising, considering it's one of the newest of the hybrids. But it's growth is wonderful, the plum tomatoes keep coming along all season from early to late, and the tomatoes are beautiful meaty bloody inside- and utterly delicious. I've got two rounds of seed curing, and another two rounds on a couple plants outside that I hope mature before seasons end.
Beaver Lodge slicer- a lovely and rather nice salad sized red, the growth habit is excellent and it produces yields early... of rather average tasting fruit. I got a couple of fruits that hopefully will mature for seed stock, and I took three cuttings for clones to help ensure seed stock. Not for here, I won't really grow it again for us with so many other reds available- but this will become a serious core stock for seeds and plants to sell for years to come.
Patio pretty much sucked, but seed stock got saved for trading and sale. Tumbling Tom Yellow was pretty decent, and seed stock is saved for trade and sale, and for selling plants- and probably to have a basket tomato or two around here most summers because of it's nice tiny growth habit.
Silvery Fir Tree is so beautiful that it makes me weep that I haven't been able to try a tomato yet to see if it tastes as good as it looks- I brought it inside weeks ago when the weather broke to hopefully get it to give me a fruit or few for seed stock.
Totem is beautiful, tiny, and has good fruits- those too came inside early for hopeful seed saving.

All these tomatoes have yielded me bushels of tomatoes... so many I've had to come up with new stuff to preserve! I dehydrated them of course. And smoked them dry. Canned up crushed tomatoes. And moved on to cases of enchilada sauce, some sloppy joe sauce, Fatali White HOT salsa, Not so hot garlic salsa, tomato juice, tomato sauce, Italian stewed tomatoes, frozen cold pressed tomato pulp cubes, condensed cold pressed tomato juice. Rotel style tomatoes, chili sauce, creole sauce, and Indian chutney are done too, now I'm getting down to the last bushel or three of tomatoes, lol.

Been up to my ears in peppers too, with go and nix of course. The number one champion is Black Hungarian pepper. Absolutely beautiful, sweet and hot, prolific as hell.. I've pulled all the peppers from one side of the garage except these to insure the isolation so I can have a shitton of seed, and this one is going to be a regular in the garden every year. I'll do up a whole pepper report at a later date once the peppers are really done.

But since it's been too long since I've last posted, and I should just let this one go.. I'm hitting the publish button now.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes...


This year has been a banner year at Growbox Hill for tomatoes!!

We have had a not so great season- wet and chilly, then dry and hot, then wet and hot, then dry and chilly, and now wet and chilly again. I have had some serious toppling over of some of the tomato cages- the ground is too rich and soft and those tall plants in tall cages require much tougher staking.

But hot damn the season has been good too. I've put up a couple gallons of tomato product in pints so far, and have about three more gallons to go, maybe more. Got a couple of quarts of dehydrated tomatoes. Got some Italian stewed tomatoes in the freezer. Got to smoke up a couple smokers full of tomatoes. And now I'm doing up a large amount of canned tomato juice. And I still have a lot of tomatoes on the plants! So it's likely that I will end up doing up a nice lil batch of extra hot white salsa.

With the way the weather is going, I might end up with a heap of green tomatoes at the end of the season as well- which would be fine by me, we could stand to have some fresh eating tomatoes for a while into the chillier months if possible.

The Patio and Tumbling Tom tomatoes have done well in their containers. The rest of the tomato containers not so much, I think the growing medium just wasn't quite right. But that's ok,  most of them were odd off hybrids I was just testing anyway.

So far beans are not too bad either. Got a big bag in the freezer, several jars of spicy and dilly beans canned up, and a quart of fridge pickled beans. The Top Crops I put in for fall are coming along right fine, I need to get on it with how to rig up frost framing for them soon. But they should see me into a nice fall crop of beans. The Mexican bean beetles really did a job on my summer crop, but I still have a plant or two that is chugging along for seed. The winner of the year so far is the Succotash bean. A couple pounds of beans so far off just a dozen plants, and some of those got pretty beat out by the tomato plants. I've been picking the pods off as they leather up so I don't have to shuck a big ole crop at the end of the year. Mayflower is still going along too, I'm hoping that barring something happening, I will end up with at least seed stock off of the one plant that survived the spring. The Tiger Eye is totally done for the season- enough for seed stock, but the volunteer gourd just simply smothered the few plants I had out of existence pretty early. I did choose the Succotash and Tiger Eye because of the difference in days to maturity, but I didn't think it would have played out quite as it did.
The fall pea crop is popping up. Dunno just what I will get off of them before I need to bring them inside for the winter to finish up their season, but we shall see how it goes. This is the first time I'm trying out a fall crop of beans and peas so I'm hoping for the best.

Peppers are still chugging along, some better than others. Some are kind of not right though, like they are not growing according to the original descriptions- like the Bulgarian Carrot that has two different kinds of plants that came from the same seed stock and the Costeno Amirillo that is supposed to be a green to red pepper but so far is a green to black pepper..... so, I'm saving seed anyway, and taking pictures, and going to ask questions about it. The ones I really know are right, are dead on and beautiful. I'm especially pleased with the fish peppers, they are astonishingly lovely. And the Black Hungarians are as tasty as they are pretty- I have a huge crop of them all in the black stage that I'm just chomping at the bit for them to get to their bright red stage so I can pick them and dry them out for the spice cabinet. Alma Paprika is pretty meh, I think it's getting lost in the bed- and I will need to dedicate some different space to it next year if I want to grow it again.

Squash was a really sad year this year. I lost half the plantings early on. What survived was Futzu Black that is yielding two squash, and the Italian Tondo- the round zuke- and that is getting decimated by squash bugs. Right now I left the last two Tondo's that were getting big on the plants to hopefully ripen up enough to make for some seed stock at the end of the season. I got to pick two small yellow zukes- and those were killed off by squash bugs and by the stupid straw bale- I am just not doing that shit right. Because lo, my buttercup squash died off the same way. The bushel gourds are growing great- but won't have any ripe gourds before the end of the season because of several die offs early on that made their planting out date waaaay later than it should be. And of course, the volunteer gourd that swallowed up the garden is doing beautifully and I should have at least a couple dozen beautiful little gourds at the end of season.

Something that has done exceptionally well this year is the Lemon Scented Pelargonium. Geez for the 5 bucks investment this spring.. I got a mom plant, three junior moms, and now I have about a dozen babies that should be well rooted by the time they need to come in with the frosts. Scented Geraniums hate the cold. But boy oh boy, do these plants fetch top dollars everywhere they are sold because of their bug repelling qualities. So if I get any luck on (and yep the cats seem to utterly ignore these plants so far), I will have a nice pile of these babies that I can sell in the spring along with other plants. Tomatoes and peppers did ok this year, I think the white tomatoes kind of freaked people out. Next year will be blacks, and those are currently raging popular. I'm thinking perhaps if I get some good gumption up, I'll build a more permanent kind of selling table before spring so I can just leave plants and stuff out and not have to haul it all in and out of the pole barn every day- that royally sucked ass.

Anywho, lol. Back to the garden and such. Herbs have done well, I have several cuttings of Rosemary that I need to repot. And marjoram, parsley, and thyme are all good. The mint plantings of this spring are now a huge weedy mass that I don't even want to contemplate. Picked the first flowers of the toothache plant for this winters medicine. Didn't pick a single blossom of chamomile dang it. Chamomile needs a new growing spot, and something else needs to help keep filling in that damn troublesome hill spot.


Hot as shit yesterday.. even hotter today.. this hot streak should be lasting well into Sunday and perhaps a day or two beyond.. which means that all those peppers and tomatoes just sitting around will really be ripening up fast. Too bad we did not get this weather a month ago, but hell, it's all good, bring it on now. I'll endeavor to keep up with it all :)

So been checking into how to use up all those dang tomatoes. Gonna go with some hot salsa for sure, and need to freeze up a heap of the smaller tomatoes to do canned quartered tomatoes with. Then I got to thinking about it, we don't do a lot of ketchup or bbq sauce, but we do love sloppy joes.. so now a gallon or two of tomatoes is going to get used up to make sloppy joe sauce. I don't like canned sauce, but I do love to do it up from scratch, but I hate the time consumption that doing it from scratch takes, because tomato product always takes some time, and sloppy joes should be just about instant gratification, lol. 
I'm also looking into getting a fresh propane tank so I can do up some bigger canning outside. If I can can up a gallon at a time in quarts or pint and a halves, that would help things right along. Amazingly enough, I'm running out of canning jars again. I think I might have to invest in a few new rolls of vacuum sealing bags and seal up several quarts or gallons of tomato product to put into the bottom of the freezer, lol.

In some super sad news.. went this morning to feed Glugg. Turned on the light to the aquarium and he had passed away sometime over the night. So I took him out to the sanctuary and buried him on top of Moon- figured both of them would be happier for the companionship and I just didn't feel right flushing him or just leaving him outside for any ole critter to pick apart.
So now I will tear down the aquarium and pack it away for another day when I get another fishie in. Right now I'm kind of not so bummed to be packing the aquarium away... but now I'm thinking about maybe unpacking the hermit crab habitat instead :)

And interesting news.. might be able to go home and visit with family this weekend.. ain't really counting my chickens yet with that one, but I'm utterly dying to visit everyone. If I really get the weekend off, it's a day of faire, and a day of time to hang with my younger sister.. maybe I can squeak in a visit to my older brother too, but not too sure about that, he's a busy boy. So maybe I will get a second vacation this year, how frigging exciting is that?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

BeesNeeds Etsy shop is open again!!!

Yep, the etsy shop is back up and running again. It has just been crazy enough of a summer with a lot of other things going on that I kind of had to let the listings just go out and take a deep breath and get through this time.

So now there is jewelry, hand knitted and croched slippers, and some really cook 3D printed stuff. Soon up I will get some more beaded goodness completed for the store, plus I'm starting to do up germination trials on the earliest of my harvested seed. And of course with Halloween coming up, I'm trying to squeeze in a round of getting some good stuff out.

The weather has been pretty wet- so I've been popping outside between the rain drops to do some harvesting and tending to gardens- but mostly cleaning and re-arranging the solarium. It has desperately been needing some care and clean up. It still needs a bunch of hours of work- hauling stuff to where it needs to be hauled off to and general cleaning. Sorting some stuff. But now that I'm thinking about it, it really is my entire workshop- art and craft stuff, gardening, and food stuff. So it's past time I take a bit of tending to that and get it squared up and useable.

I've been a good kid and keeping up with my putting up list- some of my dehydrating is stacking up- I got heaps of stuff in the freezer and the fresh is accumulating slowly...  and canning for real is accumulating. Bummer, another burner is no longer functional on the stove, so I'm down to using two burners very carefully and one electric hot plate. Good thing I've gotten good with small batch processing.

In cooking.. now that I have perfected the Southern Style Squash Casserole.. and I think I'm almost got it set with the Baked White Jambalya casserole... and want something else to do with squash. I'm testing out a Squash Enchilada casserole. I'm thinking about firing up the smoker this weekend to smoke up a bunch and then dehydrating it- the squash might suck up the smoking great then become some incredible smoked powder.

So now it's the 22nd, the weekend. I got the smoker running right now, filled with peppers and black tomatoes. Some of the bean seed in containers never popped, so I planted in some Sugar Pod 2 and Dwarf Grey Sugar peas for fall harvesting, well, hopefully harvesting. Top Crop beans down in the raised bed look great! Which is good because the other bean bed is starting to get shot. Squash plants are starting to crap out too, and it's time to leave a few on the plants to fully mature for future seed stock. The cukes are kind of crapping out too. Tomato cages have fallen over again, and been put back up again. Finally got some tomatoes for seed- a yellow in red out, and one lone snow white.

Got the solarium completely cleaned up, and wow, it looks nice. Actually makes me want to work out there again. I rearranged the counters and boards into one whopping big hutch along the south windows.

Now I have counter space- and the counters can be removed if needed to use elsewhere, say perhaps to make a halloween village? Plus the two shelves up top- obviously Nova decided I set that up just for him, lol. The top shelf currently has all my seed starting stuff stacked across it, but if I need to, I can use that for plants, or to hang lights up high for seed starting.

And I picked the biggest tomato in the garden...
Jack Whites really do grow huge!

But anywho, I got dinner to make and gardens to tend.. and everything else, lol.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Trying to keep up...

Gonna try doing a few days worth of entries at a crack to see if that helps me keep up with the blog more, lol.

So, today is 8/13. I got all the water out of it's catch tubs and bottled up. Planted in the rest of the asparagus plants on the back 40. Watered in containers and the new green bean bed. Moved the Martins Carrot pepper and Silvery Fir tree buckets to the kitchen porch side of the garden so they can get some extra TLC.

Got more tomatoes coming in.. right now I have on the table Beaver Lodge, Copper River, Wild Fred, Snow White, White Queen, Jack White, Tomesol, Totem, and Yellow Out, Red In. I'm trying out some picking at first blush and letting the fruits ripen on the counter to see how well or not that goes.

Right now the freezer and fridge are stuffed stupidly full. Local market had a buy two, get three free on cheeses and meats, and yep, super stocked up on that. Been putting in some serious cooking too- had to put moms ribs in the freezer today in a squeak in space, lol. So no putting tomatoes in the freezer to keep for now, bummer.

Yesterday and today have been cucumber slices on my new dehydrator... Oh, didn't I mention my new dehydrator? Belated birthday present. I made a note of it in my preservation list. Yes, this year I'm being a good kid and keeping track of everything I'm putting up in one blog post. The list is pretty long so far and I'm just starting to swing into the season. Sometime shortly after New Years I'll post it up.

And just a couple random pics.. one of the thirteen pounds of garlic I harvested this year, and just a nice pic of random produce that was sitting on the table tonight.

It's 8/16.. got a smidge of a catch up... On Friday, I worked then it was an evening of socialization with family.. an aunt and uncle in law that I hadn't met yet, then dinner with the inlaws. Mum of course made a smashing dinner, and my FIL served up some lovely wines. The company was wonderful :)
 Then on the ride home, we got a nasty but brief storm. How brief? About 30 minutes. How nasty? enough to topple over three of my tomato cages entirely, and it would have been four if the cage hadn't been caught by the webbing on the trellis. So it was a holy shit morning of getting the cages back upright again.
In a way, I think the cages were both the fault and the save. The tomatoes are really filling up the cages, making them columns of tippyness... but the cages saved the tomatoes from the super crush that a smaller cage would have suffered. Just resetting the tent stakes sufficed for two of the cages, but the one closest in this pic, a Snow White, needed a few re-enforcement rods and a pitchfork stuck in on it's lean side- the cage was really ganked up on the bottom. I think in future years I will be smarter to use 6 stakes instead of 4 in each cage. And keep on it with the inside trimming to help prevent top heaviness, though really, of the bigger whites the primary crop is down low from when the rains were great. Then there is a center section that don't have much, and now I'm getting serious topsets.

Rest of the day was spent tinkering around with jugging up water, and trimming some plants, bla bla bla. Made a chowder of all sorts of dried veggies, fresh taters, and ham. It was frigging good.. but with all the other cooking I've been doing in the last few days, we have a few days worth of leftovers to eat up or freeze soon..  and not much room in the freezer either. Hurry up and shuffle, eat it up, freeze it- vacuum seal for the fridge- eat it up, dehydrate it.. lol.

I know I'm a farmer year round- well almost, I get a winter break for a couple months like teachers do for summer. But hoo-boy this time of year really packs the days in for what to do with it all. I want to get a second chest freezer to sit down in the pole barn for "seriously deep freeze" kind of action so I can do up all the seasons produce, make ahead meals, plus be able to get a side of beef, or pork, or both and have room for hens once we get that going on too. Sometimes I just need prep room in a freezer that I don't have. Sometimes I need to mega put aside stuff. Sometimes we lose power and... shit, I need a pressure canner too, for a lot of other food preservation. It never ends :)

Today was more of the same. Fussy early morning tinking around in the garden picking and such. Afternoon spent in the kitchen frying up a ton of bacon that got pulled out of the freezer and forgotten about- so hours later I had to fry it up or lose it all. Boiled up a dozen eggs for lunches this week, I got a lot of work. Prepped up four trays of sliced tomatoes for the dehydrator- Wild Freds, Tumbling Toms, Beaver Lodge, and Yellow out Red in. Diced up a gallon of various white tomatoes for canning in the morning- the earliest of the blushes have indeed broken and it was time to get on it. And a gallon of dice is pretty good for a couple small batches of canning up pints. Tomatoes take longer to process than pickles, so I would rather go smaller than bigger. Or go really fucking big and hook up the outdoor brewing kettle- but I don't have enough tomatoes for that.. yet.

But it's time to post and get on with more stuff, lol.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Long time, no see....

Yeah, I did that disappearing thing again.. been busy, really busy.

My etsy shop has expired, I need to post up stuff again and get it running again. Maybe this time sell some stuff :)

Quit my morning job cooking. It was too much stress, and I mean STRESS to do the grill, and my sister is going to be away for a while and I need to be home for the morning hours to make sure everything runs ok around here. So it's back to more regular hours at CB, and looking for another, better job again. Ah well.

Adventure mowing has paid off.. there is now a circuit all the way around the perimeter of the property. Sis busted a tire and screwed the deck with a rope, but I got that fixed and now we can mow again. I just need to get some tree trimmings cleaned up off the yard first. The asparagus is looking good on the back 40, I feel I can go ahead and plant in the rest of it back there. The blackberries got wiped out this year by Crazytown- all I got was a mere pint. But I also have a bunch of other fruit in the freezers, so it will be enough to make a pie or something.

The gardens are doing well... and not. The tomatoes are growing like crazy, and we have even had a couple of the earliest ones, Copper River, Wild Fred, Beaver Lodge, and Snow White. Right now Snow White is a for sure keeper, it is one of the tastiest cherry tomatoes I've ever had. I caught and killed my first hornworm the other day... this is a hornworm, gross.

Giant sucker, ain't he?

I also had to pull the small bed of yellow beans- have a Mexican Bean Beetle infestation. Sucktacular.
I didn't find any adults, but found loads of the yellow larve you see on the bottom left in this pic, and a few of the egg clusters. Found them all over when I got back from Gen-con. And ain't nothing to do but pull up the whole plants and dispose of them. Bummer. So a couple days ago I pre-sprouted some Top Crop beans, and yesterday I planted them into one of the raised beds that didn't sprout the beets like I was hoping.

After a great flush of zukes that I picked after getting home from Gen-con, haven't had any new zukes :( Pickled a TON of zukes. But there will be more, keeping my fingers crossed. The succotash beans have been prolific, I'm hoping prolific enough that I can eat and seed with them :)

Need to get a LOT done out in the yard too.

And while I was gone... Gen-con. Holy shit. I haven't been in years and years, and it was mind-boggling. Huge, crazy huge. We did crazy sales. I got a brain in a jar for Nightvale, and a bunch of cool swag. It was a great road trip, I really needed the "vaca", even though it was a working one. And it was extra cool because this is the first road trip sis and I took in a really long time, and it felt really good to have a good adventure with her :)

But it's already 9 AM and all I got done so far is setting up a dehydrator of cuke slices, so I better be off. I will try to get some pics taken today so I can post a bunch :)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Three cheers for Bloody Mary's!

Ok, so had to open with something rather fun... yesterday while scouting out a local town for food dehydrators (no good luck, sigh), I stumbled across plastic caps for mason jars. And shucks, the Meijer had canned veggie juice on sale! I figured it would be nice to portion out mason jars of juice to make it easier for everyone to drink it up- and really for a buck a can vs 3.50 for a bottle, the price couldn't be beat!I ended up using 12 oz instead of 8 ounce jars to give shaking headroom.. then hmmmm, thought that might be perfect for making bloody marys, and I was right.
Today, before heading out to pick summer squash and beans.. and a few early peppers.. I added a couple ounces of wild chive and peppercorn vodka, a couple drops of worstershire and hot sauce, a couple shakes of celery salt, a splash of lemon juice.. and a few ice cubes.. and BOOM! Bestest Bloody Mary in the garden ever. The caps are nice and tight... and the shakability makes the beverage good till it's done, though I would consider picking up a beer snuggie or two on clearance to help the jar stay cold for other beverages.

What else is going on? Hmmmm..

Almost have the entire property mowed in with a path- we are about 10 feet short of a complete circuit, including the campground loop. Got a lot of heavy lopping done with that, along with a lot more to go, and some pruning of low hanging branches of trees in the yard. And a lot of lopping going on to get the mudhole filled with debris to fill in with other mulch action later on.

Beans are coming in pretty darn flush now, already pickled up a few jars each of spicy and dilly beans, and preparing to do a few more.. Summer squash is starting to come in too, and the earliest of peppers... still got a ways to go with most of the tomatoes, but the patio tomatoes are almost done- will have 3-5 batches of seed to mix up by the time it's all said and done, and nice bit of seed stock. Herb drying season is in full swing, as is garlic curing season- I actually need to hurry up and finish cleaning up the rest of the garlic before the solarium gets too hot and curing turns into cooking!

Work sucks of course.. kind of odd thinking of how much in debt I am and how utterly fiscally screwed we are due to culinary school and I end up doing the one thing I utterly failed at in culinary school. But it's kind of cool because I'm getting all the work on that school completely missed. So at the end of the day, I will be much more well rounded if I don't flub out entirely. The notion that winter looms scares the shit out of me- what happens when I'm supposed to be at work in the wee hours of the morning, and the roads are closed due to snow?
I just want to be a farmer, and make good food out of what I farm.. is that too much to ask for? Yes, yes, and yes, it's almost impossible for even a millionaire farmer with the ultimate kitchen to make money this way.
So I'm slogging forth with Etsy.. the stuff I listed in the spring never sold, I lost heart, and haven't checked the site in a while.. but now is coming into more goods season, and a newly restocked and revamped store that hopefully will garner more bucks. 

The lawn tractor is broken, and something died under the crawlspace in the stairway.. a couple more things to add on to my ever growing list of things I can't get done in the time I have. I'm hesitant to rely on others- it's hard to ask for help, beg for money, and hope for the best of getting either.

I still really need to figure out how to get into dehydrator action in the next few weeks- we are running low on some supplies, and coming into season for drying other stuff.

Bunch of other shit going on too.. but I'm shorter than ever on time for typing into the blog here, and will try to get into it more soon...

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What's up July??

So far it's been unseasonably cool this July. Not necessarily a bad thing, don't get me wrong. But unusual to have this kind of cool on. It's rained once- and I saved 71 gallons of rainwater for the garden. Seriously hoping this weather isn't an indication of a hard winter- I can't afford to miss work due to being snowed in this winter.

Really need to start checking around to see if I can pick up a free or super cheap rain barrel or three. Just off one morning rain I collected over 70 gallons, had to keep bottling it till I ran out of jugs! It would be sooo much easier to utilize bigger barrels, lol.

But the other day while it was still nice and dry I got in some hardcore adventure mowing. The alley behind the barn is now cleared out around through the sable- now it's a matter of keeping it mowed down. Got some trimming done around the chicken coop, and now I've come to the realization that the coop area needs a lot more work than I initially thought it would. Including a shitton of cleanup of grape vines and scrub trees, as well as a goodly bit of repair and cleanup on the coop itself.
Then I mowed down a path all the way along the south and east sides of the horse pasture- that was major as hell. And a round path around the "campground" on the back 40 corner, and that was pretty darn serious too. Started trying to hack in a path around the north side of the horse pasture, but I didn't get too far- the mower was complaining, and I realized I have a huge amount of tree and brush to clear out.
I have major work to do in filling in and smoothing out the rutted section on the south side of the pasture- too much of a wet dip and a lot of heavy truck action has resulted in the area being almost impassable when dry, and horked when wet. Not too sure what cheap/free solution will be to that one- my sister suggested "just get a load or two of gravel". Shit, she has no idea how expensive that idea is. I would love to dig out and put in a cross drain pipe- but that is stupidly expensive as well.

In gardening news... the garlic is curing up right fine in the solarium :) I've bagged off the first 8 of the tomatoes for seed saving! I've also started the fermenting of the first tomato seed, patio tomato. The Crosby Egyptian beets are finally starting to pop up, and the earliest of the radishes I sowed in the raised beds are popping up too- too bad I can't remember the order I planted the radishes in, heh. Raspberries and gooseberries are coming in now as well, and I picked about a pint of each today. The gooseberries are already in the freezer- a nifty trick is to freeze them, then shake them in the bag while frozen, it tops and tails them perfectly in a snap, and then can be rinsed off, perfectly clean!

As a random aside about canning... the place I work at uses tons of boxes for incoming goods. I've discovered some of them are absolutely perfect for storing canning jars in. There are candies that come in pint jar boxes, other candies that come in 24 jar boxes- with dividers, and all the fried apples and cobblers come in 12 count boxes that hold quart jars perfectly, again with dividers.

And sigh... really dying without a dehydrator. I don't know where I will pull the money out of my ass to get another one, but time is coming up fast to seriously need one. But I'm down to my last jar of corn, and onions, and running really low on celery too. And got summer squash starting to come in, and cukes that will need dehydrating. Garg.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

So far, so good..

June 24...

So, putting in the new schedule at CB didn't go over well. At all. First was the bummer that I was only open for 5 hours a night on weeknights.. then when I was asked what my new job was and I answered "cook"- the shit hit the fan. They are desperately looking for grill line. Offered me a full weeks hours- at barely above minimum wage, under all the same policies I'm currently working. I told them I would think about it, but really, I'm not too sure I want to get in deeper with the company, getting seriously short pay for the work involved, and still being on an unpredictable schedule. We shall see how it goes next week when my actual boss comes in from vacation.

On the bright side, my first day of training went great! It was pretty quiet, which was perfect for starting to learn the lingo, how stuff is done.. and geez, re-learning how to cook eggs. Yes, that's right, culinary 101 newbie cooking. But sheesh, we don't do eggs fried up  over easy, medium, poached, and so on to order very often around here. And just learning how to handle a grill again is a bit of a challenge- gotta get in the wrist flips for eggs, pancakes, taters... though burgers are way easier. Eggs are the hardest to get perfect.

And super cool.. they said I would be in charge of Monday special.. and they meant it. And right now there isn't much spectacular going on with Friday special, which is the other day of the week "open" to the cook. The Friday cook told me that flat out this morning. And no one there knows how to make mac and cheese, chili, stuffed peppers.. they were very intrigued by my mention of enchilada casserole. I can also get really lazy and to a tomato soup and grilled cheese day, or a salad day, lol. So I get the security of a steady and small menu, along with the endless open options of expression with a lunch special.

Extra cool.. today was a short training day, so my work day was over at 10 AM. I came home and mowed the back yard. I mowed open a keyhole around Moons Grave- it was seriously getting swallowed up by the sanctuary. Mowed open a keyhole around the gooseberries. Mowed down the back 40 truck trail. And opened up a bit more of the alley. It was a great mowing day.
Then a smidge of shopping. Off to the Red & White for some straw bales- I want to set up a smother bed to move some irises and lillies to later in the season. Then to Menards, where I got a 2 gallon pump sprayer for 12 bucks, and three 6 packs of strawberries for 1.75 a pop. I already sprayed an intital section of the fence side of the easement drive with white vinegar. Tomorrow, depending on the weather, I will spray a section with ammonia. And probably mix up a batch of borax solution to spray all around the house to help with insects.

And can you believe it? It's already time to take an "end of season" seed tally. Sheesh.

June 30... been busy as hell with the new job, old job, and dealing with the yard... pulled all the garlic, got beets, radishes, and carrots planted in. Unfortunately, the garlic showed basal root rot, so no more using those beds for garlic for a few years. I think garlic might end up in the kennel garden this fall instead. I've been heavily growing tomatoes, peppers, squash, and beans there for a few years now, it's time to give that bed a rest. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Got another job!

Ok, so short post yesterday.. another post today. Geez, can't call me the consistency Queen, now can we?

Or maybe we can, and rather soon. I just picked up a second job. Lead cook at a very small cafe locally. Off the bat it looks perfect. Sunday and Monday with every other Saturday, 7 AM to 2 PM. Potentially plus a couple days of working dish. This is a breakfast and lunch place only, a family kind of joint. About a dozen four tops, four booths, and a half dozen seats at the counter. The back of the house is equally tiny. Two basket fryer, two burner stove, nice sized griddle. Freezers, fridges, and a standard compartment sink.

Super local, ultra hometown. Locals have their own mugs on a rack for their daily dose of caffeine. Family runs the place, and has for decades.

Kind of exciting and scary- I would be in charge of what the Monday lunch special is since I'm going to be the Monday cook. They only run lunch specials on weekdays. And check it- they do crock-pots!! So potentially I could set up a few crocks of Monday special- or do sammies, or skillits, or whatever. They also do all their own soups. So I could end up adding to that action too.

But delirious.. It's a set schedule. After months of being early dawn to possibly home at midnight, and everywhere between, with no two weeks alike, and the hazard of being called off shift at any given day or sent home early, potentially losing 18-25% of my paycheck each week.. this is a standard set of hours. All the time, every time. Never thought an early AM set schedule would look so good, lol.

And extra joy.. I can go pee when I need to. There is a terrible thing about having to make up excuses and get floor coverage on the spot because of a full bladder. I can eat or drink as needed without having to plan on it and get someone else to specially write up my food and cover and if it conforms to scheduling procedures and if a customer might or might not see me chewing or having to hide in the far back room to eat- or have to hide quick snarfs of an ounce of protein to keep up calories to make it through the day. I get a free meal for me each shift, not a percent off meal if I work X amount of hours that day and eating within X amount of time on that shift. I get to behave like a human in this place, and not just a sale robot. 

Another joy.. dressing how I like. So long as I have closed shoe and hair up, it's all good. That means I can roll out of bed in the wee hours and slap on pants and tshirt, pull up hair and away I go. I can dress to be cooler when it's hot as fuck out, or bundle up. Have wet hair pulled back and curling left not done.

And I get to know people. Seriously know people, not just that glossy overview needed to pitch sales to the regulars. I might even learn about the area in ways I haven't before.

And having a problem is directly confronted and dealt with. None of this third party mediating service crap. No back biting shit.

I already made the boss aware of the weird hours of CB that I will be scheduling CB around this place and must have off at the end of July/beginning of August for Gencon. And shit, might be able to have a Saturday off for wandering around faire this year after all. Or at least some Saturdays off to get things done around here.

Damn, a second job and scheduling will make the full time job of here tighter. So two part time jobs and one full time of here isn't too big of a deal as long as I get the shit done, right? I can sleep when I'm dead. Or at least I'm trying to make sure I schedule to get some decent sleep on a regular basis.

On from new job actions.. I pickled two pints of brussels sprouts today.  Hardings had a bag on clearance for 99 cents, so hey.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

How time slips away...

I try to be good about posting regularly.. but sometimes time just slips away.

We have been having an usually wet June so far. More days of overcast and/or rain than days of clear skies and sun. Temps have been pretty good though, nice and warm during the day, and a bit cooler at night makes for great plant weather.

My Alaska peas finally and really produced. I've gotten a goodly couple cups of peas so far. The plants are finally starting to die off- I think a lot of the more overcast and not as warm days extended the season. I'm kind of getting to chomping for it now since the tomatoes are starting to get big and I need the space to walk between them! The Peitit Provedence peas are now going to seed- I picked the first few ready pods yesterday. I should have enough for a nice spring planting next year. I'm not too sure just how much I want to grow shelling peas in the future though. They taste better than anything else but.. it's a PITA shelling all those pods! I think I might give sugar snaps a shot in the fall to see how those work.

Most of the tomatoes are starting to show early blooms. Means I will need to think about bagging some branches soon. And heh, those Patio tomatoes I started indoors are finally starting to have fruit turning red. I'm not too sure I'll be repeating that experiment. Or at least not with patio tomatoes.

Rest of the crops are doing pretty well. Seriously lost the Musquee de Provence squash, planted in a bushel gourd there instead. Ended up with about 100 tomato and pepper plants in the yard! Got no clue what all I'm going to be doing with all that harvest, but I'll figure it out.

On super sucktacular news... my dehydrator died. Right in the middle of a batch of something. I wish I could afford to get an Excalibur.. but as it is, I will have to try to scrape together the penny jar and hit Dunham sports for a cheaper one- they are the only ones locally that have dehydrators, and I know I seriously seriously must have a dehydrator for later on this year once harvest starts coming in. Already bad enough that we are down a burner on the stove still- I might have to try to figure out how to use the outdoor propane burner set up just so I can get tomatoes done this year. I still haven't been able to figure out how to fix the kitchen sink.. and now I've discovered the spigot out front in the house is no longer working either, and I have no idea why.

Other sucktacular. We got a big ole coon in the yard, and he loves to pull down the humingbird feeders. So I have had to stop feeding them for now till I figure out how to set up the feeders and make them coon proof. Ah well. I'll figure something out.

In cool news, I'm awaiting a callback on an interview to get a second job. I need all the hours I can get, especially since my first job is so erratic with hours, and cuts hours without notice.

So, this is a short post.. but short is better than none I guess. I've just been so busy keeping up with everything, and trying to get as much as I can done around here, plus work, plus trying to find another job that I'm having a hard time coming up with a little bit of me time regularly to make posts. But I'll keep trying :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How does my garden grow?

So for my second post, this one with all the gardening pics in it. A lot of stuff is up and growing right now.. plus I have a whole heap of pics from when I built the tomato cages to share.
On with the pics!!

This is the kind of fencing I used- 2x4 inch holes, 6 feet tall, 50 feet long. Perfect to make 8 cages with.

This is what the roll of the stuff looks like.

Measure carefully, every section. The sections were each supposed to be 6 feet, 3 inches, but in order to make life easier, I snipped to one side of a square, leaving me long legs to wrap with. This meant I went between 6'2" and 6'4" cuts. I used the wheelbarrow to weight down one edge, and the weight of the fencing to hold it on the other side.

Use the wire cutters carefully, the stuff wants to roll up once the cut is made, and that stuff is sharp!

The stuff wants to roll up after being cut, but that's ok, because it helps it make it's nice big circle instead of the tight on the roll circle.

A closeup of how the leg part of the cut gets twisted around the square side to secure the two sides together.

One done cage, showing the edge where it's "stitched" together.

Three down, only 5 more to go!

They are super light to carry, but kind of awkward because of how big they are and how short I am, lol. But well worth the investment and time used to make them.
So now for heaps of garden pics...

 So.. the kennel garden. Not much to look at from there. That crazy vine thing to the right is the hops. I lost the Cascade, but the Nugget came back right fine- it's already so big I've started training it to cross over the top of the runs. My stringing project of a couple years ago is finally getting used!!

The west side of the kennel garden. To the right snugged up against the ropes is Eye of the Tiger beans, and the far end is supposed to be melons, but I haven't had much luck with that so far, lol.
To the left, in the front is a Yellow out, Red in tomato, and behind it are two of the white tomatoes. In the very front is my Futzu black squash.

The north side of the kennel. To the right snugged up against the fence are succotash pole beans, with 5 of the white tomatoes spaced in between. Since the beans are just a grow and forget it till this falls harvest, it can share space on the fence. I only had one Great White tomato survive to planting out, so it's one one in the wayy back.
In the middle is a row of peas- why yes, that does seem like close spacing, but in a month or so those will be wiped out by the heat and taken down, leaving the full space between the fence and tomato cages. On the left are two each of the rest of the white tomatoes. And in the very very front is a pair of my Italian round zukes :)
Here's a closeup of the lone Bloomsdale spinach that actually came up, sharing space with a white cherry tomato, that tiny little plant in the center to the right of the big spinach. The spinach will be allowed to go to seed, which it will do when it starts to get really hot, then it will be pulled, just in time for the tomato to really need the space.

 Hungarian wax peppers- these were an unexpected add on when my sister discovered I did not start any from seed, and demanded pickled peppers which we ate the jeepers out of from last years plants. I did it with 6 plants last year, but I figured I'd only need two this time since I'm growing a lot more other peppers.
Sweet banana peppers- a critter snacked on the one on the right, I'm hoping it will survive anyway. These are to go into the pepper ring mix with the Hungarians.

Tequila sunrise peppers. A very pretty sweet pepper that is small enough to be container grown.
 Bins of container sized tomatoes of various kinds, and that messy looking straw bale has a buttercup squash growing out of it.

And more bins of tomatoes and peppers.

 Sweet potatoes

More sweet potatoes. I also have two more bins up by the porch that I need to eventually move.

 Lasagne bed #1- last years tomato jungle, this years pepper patch. Most of the peppers are planted in, but a few of the super hots just are not big enough yet, and are still in pots. All those craptacular tomato cages actually have a use supporting peppers!
 Lasagne bed #2- what should be a bean bed. And three tomatoes in the back.

Lasagne bed #3- another bean bed, with two Georgscu Chocolate peppers in the back.

The squash and bean bed down by the garlic. I lost my Musquee de Provence, but reseeded it, so here's hoping for the best.

The garlic beds, looking good. They look better now that we got some rain.

And check it out- proof that our cherry trees do indeed make cherries- it's just the critters get them all before we do, lol.

So there we have it.... the second set of pics from the sanctuary.

Picture Day!!

So yesterday I did an epic mow of the entire yard, including getting a section behind the barn cut in... and got 4 spots where there are wild asparagus growing. Now I just need to make sure I get those spots cleaned up and keep prompting the asparagus to grow! There is one stretch where there is an asparagus on either end, and I think I may cultivate that into my asparagus from seed patch. Can't hurt, now can it?
Today was a couple hours out in the woods, taking pics and building a several feet tall deadfall barrier in the back corner. But since I'm waaayyyy behind on posting any pics, I'm going to do that now. I had to cut it down from about 90 pics, lol.

First up, the mint border- it looks scrappy as hell, but just wait till a year or two when it all grows in!
The chocolate mint is in the foreground, and pineapple behind it. The other mints you really can't see.

From the bottom of the hill, you can see the cleared out swaths where mint got planted in. There's still a lot of grass clumps because I gotta leave something there to hold the soil in place till the mint really gets a good foothold.

And we have a Killdeer nest on the arch drive this year. Killdeer are super cute, and play the broken wing act when anyone comes too near their ground nest.
See those sticks on the ground? I placed them there so we wouldn't accidentally lose where the next is and smush the nest.

Here's a closeup of the nest.. those four little round "rocks" in the center are the eggs. Kind of weird that they lay on the ground, but very smart camouflage of the eggs themselves.

Some random flower pics from around the yard..
 Fancy Alliums I planted in on the edge of the herb garden last fall

This is kale that I left to overwinter, and is now in full bloom. Once all those seed pods are ready, I will pick them and have a whole new seed stock of kale for next year.

The rather large snowball bush is in full bloom :) I seriously need to clean that area up a bit more.

And the irises are starting to bloom :)
Moons white irises

Some of the irises blooming behind the solarium.

Iris close up
Nother Iris closeup.
And a lovely yellow iris growing down the row.

And now for pics from my nature walk and barricade building...

A view from the back 40 towards the house.

This is the barricade I built to help keep the crazy truck neighbor from driving onto the back 40. The bulk of it is about 4 feet tall, but the rest of the brush stackup makes it around 9 feet tall or so.

Another angle of the whole thing.

And this is what it looks like from the "approach" side off the property.

And now onto some pretty picture pics :)

Birdsfoot trifoil
Wild blackberry in bloom
Common Cinquefoil. I might also have Dwarf cinquefoil growing out there too, but they are hard to tell apart and I didn't know I was potentially looking for a second kind till after I came back in and identified this one.

Lanceleaf violet, AKA White Bog violet. This is a damn pretty and dainty flower I'm going to for sure encourage growth of the patch on.

Purple milkvetch

Some ferns
More ferny bits :)

I'm going to post this now because I don't want any one post to be too pic heavy... and of course there are garden pics to be had too! Gonna do a second post about that.