Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

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.