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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

And the color changing has begun.. and done- almost

Well, it's been a bit since I've posted.
Over the last couple weeks I've gotten all the garden stuff tucked up. The beds are done for everything but some final leaf raking over a few spots. The outdoor pots are in their spots and under leaves.. the last of the Beer Garden radishes and nasturtium seeds have been picked. 
 Been getting the house winterized, capping off windows and such. The weather has been nicely in the 40's and up till now- we got our first real frost this morning, and 30's with snow predicted for tomorrow. Yuck, snow.
We were told we are able to keep the freezer and dryer action till spring, which is really nice. I've picked up some stuff for the winter. The cleanout frenzy was kind of nice though, really made me rotate through stuff and such. Picked up a turkey today- 68 cents a pound at Hardings. Bet Meijer will have them for cheaper soon, but I wanted to just get the bird and not wait and see what Meijer might have.

Reworked the village. Started tearing down what I had up of Halloween pretty much the day after Halloween... I just wasn't into it and satisfied with the spooky this year. meh. I have enjoyed setting up a more autumnal village though, almost done with it cept for some finishing touches. Living room is nice and cleaned up, all the stuff put away.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lovely Autumn

10/9: Got a bit done in the garden today. Cut down the Pink Bumblebee tomato- got about 2 quarts of red and green tomatoes. At the very end of of the process, I found a tomato hornworm on the very top of the plant- and it was heavily infested with braconid wasp cocoons! This is a very good thing, because those little wasps love to kill tomato hornworms. The adults also love to eat dill flowers, which I have in pots right next to that tomato plant. This means my companion planting for pest management works there with zero pesticides needed. When I went and cleaned out the raised bed of Freds I looked to see if there were any more I could feed to the wasps, but no such luck, lol. Got the Freds cages torn down and plants cut back- I still need to go and pull the root masses out of both beds.
Also cleaned out the big lasagna bed of it's brassicas and weeds. It still needs a fork cleaning before I cap it with clear plastic to start solarizing- but that's ok, found out today I was out of clear plastic, heh. So now all three of those beds are cleaned up, the first one completely set, the second one almost set- still need to put in bulbs. Big bed got it's basic cleanup done, needs a good dig and capping.
The kennel beds still need some cleanup, but not much. Right now I'm happy to let the nasturtiums and marigolds grow out, and let those Beer Garden radish seedlings do what they want to do for now. The straw bed capping the area needs some weeding attention though.
The greenhouse is pretty much empty and awaiting some fresh setting up. I need to do a little tending to the walls and pin the top flaps down nicely. Right now plans are to just leave the top open- I can't roof it by myself, and honestly not sure how I want to roof it again at the moment. I also have a lot different overwintering into spring plans this year than I did last year.
Still need to clean up the stair garden. I think it's going to see some different use too. The shadier side is going to start getting planted in with some of those shade loving plants that I've let sit for too long honestly. Those will soften out the mowing edge there. I need to get one of the heavy RR ties down by the pole barn up to the garden to cap off the sidewalk side along the garage.
The cooler I used to trap and drown all those squash bugs showed no signs of life, so I dumped the cooler out. I hope I got them all.
Got the southern edge of the solarium beds cleaned out today- all the grape hyacinth patches are now clear and open, and a goodly outside border  is cleaned out of the grass too. I now have a full walking path again. I'm thinking of getting out the old hexagonal concrete pavers I made a while back, and drop them in as stepping stones in that walkway.  Probably would need to make more to make a full walk, but hey, I can get a start set in. I need to make some more pavers in general too.
Now it's time to be off to make some crispy chicken salads for dinner, then a town hall meeting tonight.

10/10: another round of clearing out the freezers. I happened to have 4 quart packs of ham stock, so that's now reducing down to another pint sized package of ham cubes. A couple random 2 packs of pitas leftover got made into some nice pita chips with a couple different seasonings. Those are now cooling and will get vacuum sealed into quart jars for snacking on. A half dozen various savory flavors bagels got sliced up and toasted dry in a 325 oven for about 25-30 minutes, and then into a couple more jars- those are gonna be used as soup croutons through the winter, yum. Since we still have a few stacks of large flour and small corn tortillas in the freezer, I think those might get baked into crisps too.
The peach pulp is still draining, so since the dehydrator wasn't being used for that- I did up a tray of the fresh ambrosia corn, 2 trays of regular corn, and a tray of peas out of the freezer.
Realized I still had those 2 quart bags of cherries in sweet juice that were canning fails last year, went into the freezer, and got lost. I thawed one of those out to try out a bit of an experiment. Since it was already in sweetened juice, I added in about 1/4 cup each of some cab and pinot, and a steeping ball with a cinnamon stick, couple slices dried lemon, a few hibiscus flowers, a few cloves, and a few slices of fresh ginger. I was out of dried clementines, so I figured the lemon/hibiscus would make that nice tang. That's burbling on high for now, then will get the steeping ball removed and turned down to low overnight to help reduce it all.. then tomorrow I'll do a spice check. Add in some spiced rum, maybe some of the peach juice that has drained off, and really reduce it down- I want to almost gel the stuff if I can. If the reduction works, that will make for some tiny tasty ice cubes- and those will get baked or used in drink goodies through the winter. We shall see how that goes, lol.
I've started tossing some stuff too- old somethings that didn't get labeled, and have enough freezer burn on them that I can't tell either.
I need to do a vacuum sealing of a handful of stuff soon- cubes of concentrated chicken stock, ham cubes, and a bulk of spring chive butter and garlic greens butter. The peach leather and cherry cubes will also need to get frozen. And now that I have got the seed stock sorted out and got the deep freeze pile done- that too needs to get sealed and tucked into the freezer. I need to repack and detail catalog the list to shrink out all the extra packaging, but I think I might have managed to keep within a quart or so space. Got a goodly round of dehydrated stuff in jars to do up too on the shelf.

A bit of Tippy and friends.. and gosh it's been a long time since one of these, right? This spring the McSwanums had their babies.. and amazingly enough, all of them survived to adulthood, including the ugly signet. There was one baby that stayed brown/grey so long after it's siblings had gotten their full white on and were on their flapping runs across the pond I had started to wonder if maybe a goose or heron or something managed to slip an egg into their nest.
Today I'm happy to say that that ugly signet has since then gotten it's full white, done all the strafing runs across the ponds and such.. and this afternoon is the first time I've seen the ponds clear of swans! I know the family is probably just in the next pond over and will come back so long as the weather is good.. but yay for junior.

With the cats.. over the last two years we have lost two of our bubbas to old age- Argent in 2015, and Pooks in 2016. Now the twins are hitting that senior mark and showing it, and I've been adjusting the cats diet for this. Tikki mostly don't care about food, she isn't finicky about dry food, and don't care much for wet food, and can be hit or miss with treats. Nova is my big boy, and will tuck up into pretty much anything I lay down. But Ocelot and Marbles are getting older, and need extra.
Since this spring, I've upgraded the dry food. I used to only use Purina indoors or Meijer brand in the 2 feeders. Now the office feeder has that since the cats still like to eat it. The kitchen feeder now has had Purina Beyond for a few rounds, and all the cats really like that. It's rare to catch a sale or coupon with this stuff, and it's a bit more than twice the price. Been giving out a can of wet food a day in the morning too. They all mostly like beef and poultry more, and can be hit or miss with seafood. But Purina Fiskies and One are their faves.

10/13: ohhhhh, Friday the 13th. Only pretty much not, lol. Today was a south shopping day, had a random handful of oddbits to pick up. Got a new HotShot water heater, ours was screaming to death. And after yesterdays dinner and scrubbing out the large deep 6/7 quart nonstick Calphalon pan.. I finally decided to make a dedicated effort to finding a replacement pan today. Ended up getting a 8 quart stainless steel Calphalon dutch oven. It was a bit pricey at 40 bucks, but it will last for ages since it's stainless, and the cheapest comparison at Target and Meijer was nonstick 5 quart at 40 bucks. It's about the same size and shape as the old one, but a bit deeper with straight sides, and two helper handles instead of one with a long handle. And it came with another 12" lid. I've already chucked the old pan along with the screaming hotshot into the garbage.
Hit Michaels- had a 25% off total coupon, a rarity around here for them. Wasn't much of interest, though the Lemax Christmas collection has one thing that's cool- Sugar Shack Maple Hut. No power, stand alone, pretty neat. I did get to pick up a couple packages of findings on clearance that will make for an excellent stack of pots and plates for mini-food.. I'm finally getting up enough of a collection of this stuff now to start really making stuff.
Hit JoAnns. Had a couple 40% off full price, plus a 25% off total purchase coupons. Got another pair of the 60" 3 pack clear plastic gift wrap for cheap. This is the clear plastic I use for my windows- I've covered this before but.. with the coupons the plastic ends up cheaper than regular window plastics, even when they are on sale- plus it's thicker, comes in rolls instead of trying to unfold compressed squares, works beautifully to fold out and tack into place so long as you understand how static electricity works. I have some 4 mil sheet plastic on hand too- time to start seriously capping off windows and such to prep for winter. And that roll will give me my clear plastic to start solarizing the big lasagna bed.

I'm still not feeling Halloween really. Just a couple weeks out, and Nightvale is still just in some basic setup- and I'm already thinking about tearing some of that out in favor of some more Autumnal theme. Main street is already pretty much spooky free. I think the Alley might be packed back up too. Just feeling slaggy this year.

10/16: Last couple days were dreary and wet- the rain promised late Friday night came in and kept coming in...
On Saturday my love advised me that the siphon somehow got left on suction out, and pretty much drained the big tank. But over the course of the weekend, the big tank was pretty much filled up again. Watering needs on the outdoor gardens are down, so now I need to be bringing water indoors while the weather is dry over the next couple days. Got most of our summer/winter wardrobe swapped out and cleaned up too... It's supposed to be spectacularly sunny, warm, and nice for the next couple days, so a lot of line drying will be going on.
I got around to tinking around a bit with the village... I decided to go ahead and just pack back the alley, and the Orphanage, and most of the backstreet. I got so much other going on right now I just ain't fussing, lol. But Main Street, Scarry's Amusement Haunt, and the Drive In are wired in and getting mostly set up. The lower level of the Amusement Haunt is slow- both because of inspiration of distributing maze, and because Sheriff Nova keeps insisting on raiding the maze, lol. But a lot of the living room is cleaned up now. It was rather an explosion for a while there.
 Today was fine and clear, and even warm in the sunny upper 50's. Did the final crisping off of the peach leather into dryness for peach powder- a few pounds dried down into a nice 8 oz jar. So I pulled off the 3 bags of Jen's Apple Pie Filling from the freezer and tossed them into the fridge to thaw out for trying out for dehydrating next. Why not? I still have a quart of cherries in liquid in the deep freeze too to do something with. I also tossed a bunch of stuff from the deep freeze into the garbage- some various things not really labeled and frosted and it was time anyway, lol. Along with that came a shelf clearing up- and realizing that we have about 6 tubs of ICBINB for mom and sis to pick up- we don't use as much as they do, and we have a full big tub in the fridge already. And a clear shelf on the bottom meant I could do some other cleanup... candles.
I got a lot of jar/crock/ect candles. And some cleanup is due. I got a couple batches of wax built up from previous cleanups, and a lot of glass to clean for anything..

So some greatgrans cleaning tricks..

For soot removal on glass. Take a cleaning cloth and lightly dress it with vegetable oil to quickly swipe away soot. Be sure to take a couple goodly swipes with a clean cloth after the oil and soot removal too to try to get as much out as you can. After that, repeat the same process with a lightly dressed rubbing alcohol cloth to really remove the oil and soot remaims.

Freeze your candle holders for cleaning. Those bits stuck to the bottom and so on. Freezethem and the wax shrinks and will crack apart easier.

10/18: gosh, this entry is getting pretty long, guess I better get my typing done and post this. We are into what is likely to be our last few days of warm and sunny weather- got a lot of linens on the line yesterday. I also got the raised beds dug out of the tomato roots and the roots into the compost, and a nice thick heap of leaves and pine needles for the compost pile- buried the raised beds under pine needles. I also got the little molly alliums planted into the center lasagna bed- just the pink and yellow mix and the white ones. I ended up not using the bag of yellow molly's because I didn't need to :) Got some of the porch furniture down to the pole barn, and some more stuff from the pole barn up to the house. A bit of tinkering on the workbench getting some stuff organized for making some minis finally. Sat down and really figured out how to set up the snow fence for this year- it ended up not happening last year. This winter we are planning on using the pole barn for parking since the other vehicles aren't there anymore- makes keeping the end of the driveway easier than clearing the whole darn thing every time it snows. I can deal with a few hundred feet of sidewalk down to the pole barn, lol. Makes me wonder why we didn't do that years ago before the pole barn had stuff in it.

Today I relaxed for a while this morning- as in some zen stretching stuff. I've lost touch with myself for a while now, with sickness and injury really throwing an extra wrench in there. I want to get back into meditating more, maybe pick up tai chi again. Then I hit the hall to take care of paperwork... then it was time to tackle another round of bulbs- this time the big alliums. I've been working on keeping the side section of the herb garden relatively weed free and buried under leaves for a while now.. and the trample pattern is emerging on that side for how walkway is going to shake out. So today I cleared out the leaves and as much weeds as I could. Popped in the butterfly bush into the middle with 3 lavenders along the walkway side. They are some of the big heldover ones that needed to get into the ground. Then somewhere around 100 various alliums around the whole area. Some from growing out last year- and I have a bunch of tiny baby bulbs to pot up to grow out from those. Purple Rain and Wild About Mixed, which give the large classic balls of purple and white. Christophii, a reddish large start type globe, and Drumstick, a tight budded egg shaped head. I was tempted to put in a few other things too, but figured that was probably plenty to fill in for now and if I got some spots open next year, then I'll fill then.
Still got the solarium bulbs to put in- all those grape muscari, lol. Got 100 of them in the packages. And after cleaning out the current border real well recently, I realized the muscari blocks from 2013 are still very much blocks, and need breaking up more than needing more. So I think instead of putting in more blocks I'm going to dig out the whole border edge and just set in all the muscari at once to re-distribute them nicely. Nice and plush. They will make that whole walkway edge very well filled in very quickly. Then it's time to tackle the space around the little maple tree- and that little maple tree is getting cut down soon while it's still little and not endangering the house yet. It's taken several years of mowing and walking around to really figure out where some of these borders are falling around the house, heh. On the other end of the solarium in the wee folk garden I'm going to be putting in crocuses, snow drops, and eventually more muscari- this time Magic Carpet Mix- it's all the other shades and colors the muscari come in, and I got a bag I can pot up for propagating this winter.
Got some other bulbs for potting up this winter too- mostly fritillaria, including a tiny chocolate and yellow one I'm extra excited bout- weren't cheap since it was Milager's and such- 90 cents a bulb! But they are dear, and I couldn't resist- and till I know where they go outside I'm happy to grow them out in pots for a while.
Still got the front bed to dig up, clean up, and set in with bulbs- and plant markers. Got all the bulbs, but the plants won't be going in till next year. I'm going to use some of the small lavenders that are growing well and will set nicely as second year plants in the spring. The mums suffered a bit this summer, and look shaggy as hell. And what I thought was a bronze last year turned out to be a delightful pink with creamy yellow center instead, so some plans have shifted, lol. With the bronze I picked up this year, I now have mothers of sunny yellow, white, pink, and bronze to grow out- plus a handful of first year whites, yellows, and pinks that survived the summer. All of them are blooming now, so I can re-tag them so I can tell them apart again more reliably than just foliage shapes. Then they will start getting trimmed and such for cuttings and shaping again. By the time they are ready to go in next summer, the bulbs will have died back and the lavenders should be established.

And ugh.. need to tackle the mint hill, seriously. I let it run rampant last year to give the mints more time to establish and crawl- but now it's a bit too rampant and needs serious cutting back. No pulling out anymore- now I want those weedy root masses to stay in place to keep the hill in check while the mints keep stabilizing in. But now the mints are ready. And some of the smaller woody tree weed crap needs it's final killings- not just cutting down this time, but also painting the stumps with kill solution. I'm tired of fighting the damn things, and it's time to move on. I'm going to whack down that weedy thing growing in the bed of Jay's Sky Irises too and give it a kill painting. I got enough chemicals left to do another round of spraying the driveways too- but between all of that, it will use the chemicals up, and that's not a bad thing. I really hate using chemicals, and these have been around for a while now and need using up.

But enough with ramblings, time to publish this entry and go make some dinner- doing breakfast tonight :)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

And October is here

10/2: Warm breezes and clear skies herald in the month.. and I kind of wandered aimless and cleaning puttering around the house today with the windows open to bring in the last warmth of the season. I said a goodby to family yesterday and today that is too painful to relate.
But the show must go on, right? Even aimless and lost, gotta get stuff done.
Consolidated the two deep freezes into the one standing one and turned off the chest for defrosting and cleaning up, pulled the tomatoes for salsa to the fridge to defrost. There were several packets of squash and pumpkin pulps in the chest freezer too. Those are now draining to dehydrate. I'm almost out of squash flour and can use some more.
Got the chicken stock reduced- cooked it with a gallon, got 3 quarts, reduced it to a bit less than a quart, which I poured off into 2 9-cube trays for the freezer. Had leftover Italian for dinner.

10/3: Ran a load of dishes early, and more into the dishwasher. Catching up on cleanup can suck up a lot of space, lol. Got another Urfa Beiber out of the solarium- got quite a bag of those piling up now, gonna need to run the smoker this week.
Got the garlic bed planted in- 72 of the Bardens softneck, and 20 of the softneck I grew out this year. A couple of red hot pokers in each back corner, and the blue eye grass made for 3 nice divisions for the front strip. Up yet is planting in bulbs. I had 15 healthy garlic starts I had put into pots earlier this summer out of the very last of the mixed garlic I was given last year- those got planted into the first bed to mature out for next year. I hope there's at least a couple different types in the mix.

Sat down and went through coupons, and the local sale ads for a bit of shopping. It's time to stock up on some canned and dry goods, especially since we are losing all the good freezer space, lol.

10/4: Glad I set in the garlic yesterday, we had some nice tamping in rain this morning.
Shopping day. And it takes hours to do a good round. The downside of living 20ish minutes away from the big stores. Aldi was pretty quick, but Meijer took a while. Picked up about a winters worth of winter squash today- half dozen butterkins, 2 delicatas, and 2 sweet dumplings that can serve 2 per squash, and 4 lovely single serve gold nuggets, about 28 pounds in all. I was tempted by the hubbards, but they were still too big for even a generous 2 person squash. I'll still probably pick up a few more before the season is done if the price is right and there's other varieties to pick up. But these were on sale for 69 cents a pound with a lot of right sized squash to choose from, and I had an additional buck off coupon to apply to my total produce purchase. Meijer also had those seafood entree packets that I've been looking at but too expensive- 6 bucks for a serving, ouch- and made with alcohol to boot. But today they were on clearance for 1.78, so I picked up a few for us to try out. Hardings had good sale action too- picked up 3 bags of taters for the price of 1. And since I found out my favorite snap lock lid containers for flour were discontinued, I was happy to find a pair of them on clearance- I wanted a pair for my bread and wheat flours. I also picked up a set of sealing lid containers on clearance from Aldi today for 7 bucks- three sizes. Used the medium one right away to store quinoa in, not sure what the small and large ones will hold yet, lol.
Tonights dinner is going to be some meatball stroganoff, I haven't made that in a million years, and we got frozen meatballs that need using up- and Hardings had a couple nice tubs of large caps on clearance for 99 cents each.
Got the last batch of ham stock started up- had a whole smoked ungleaned bone, a gleaned smoked bone, and 5 small smoked hocks in the freezer. Got the Nesco set up with about 2 1/2 gallons of water to burple up into stock, then I get to reduce the result down to just a few cube trays of what will essentially be smoked pork demi-glace for the freezer. I typically package the stuff in it's original gelatin stage in quart bags, but this time I gotta shrink that by a lot.
The tomatoes are still defrosting in the fridge- those will start getting skinned in the morning and all the peppers pulled out of the freezer... salsa tomorrow to burple up. Tomorrow I get to uncap and taste the hot pepper sauce too, and adjust it's vinegar if needed during it's final burple up- tomorrow is supposed to be fine and clear, so I'm going to be canning it up. It's as matured as it's going to get in the fridge, and now it's time to make space in the fridge and get the hot sauce shelf stable.
Got the tub of chestnuts drained off and into the dehydrator at 105- not sure how this experiment will turn out, but the soaking in vinegar water then drying is supposed to cure them really well for eating storage. Either that, or they will turn out in-edible, lol. Either way, it was time for them to get dried. Squash is coming up tomorrow for the dehydrator. The packages have defrosted in their tubs, and are getting pressed to drain in the sink now today- the mass will get repacked into the fridge overnight, then repressed tomorrow while the chestnuts finish up before I set up the dehydrator with the pulp.
Still need to figure out what to do with those bags of frozen whole peaches- letting them sit whole till Thanksgiving and they get used up in desserts is now out. Think I might need to can up a couple jars of peach pie filling- I also have a couple bags of cherries that can be thawed and cooked up into canning, and a bag or two of strawberries.
Over the moving time, I cataloged up the seeds- deep freeze and keeping on- 91 deep freeze, 173 keeping on. 83 packets went into the toss pile. Roughly 60ish packets of flower seeds I haven't fully catalogued yet.
And a small wish list- geez, I just weeded out beans, squash, tomatoes and peppers. A heap of other stuff too. But the Dwarf Wild Fred and a couple of seasoning peppers are making list- and an array of nasturtiums.

10/5: Another nice day weather wise. Got the door in front of our buddys car cleaned up- he called us Tuesday to tell us he was having it hauled off, and today was pick up day. That and some laundry was early chores. Wandering around sorting and cleaning stuff kind all day too.. weird.

10/8: Another right fine fall day. Friday I dinked around with setting up a lot of village stuff. That whole mess needs to be finished, but here it is a week into October already, and still pretty meh. The rally Friday just wasn't up to snuff. I'm starting to think I should just set up the mantle in autumn seasonal at this point. Maybe the back of the couch too. I do want to keep working on Scarry's Haunted Farm though- I think I kind of just want to get to dinking with building stuff more than setting it all up, ya know? Honestly, Fortunes Turning hasn't been right since April. Yesterday was cleaning up stuff again, and more sorting. Lots of crying over this and that. Being kind of aimlessly productive.
Today got the Ham demi-glace in the freezer, and the squash flour done and jarred up. 8 quarts of heavy ham stock reduced to about a quart, now in 32 squares in the freezer. It takes up about the same space as 1 quart bag usually does. Used up 5 smoked ham hocks, 1 stripped bone, and 1 unstripped bone, used about 5 gallons of water through the whole process. Kind of almost screwed that one up. Set up the nesco with 3 gal water in the laundry room, and cranked up the heat too high to bring stuff up to a boil for turning down to a slow simmer. Hours later hubby was telling me it was stinky, and I was like yeah, it's stock, and nope.. it had gotten too far, and had to add another 2 gallons of water to let burple overnight on low. Oops. But the resulting stock was extra rich and heavy to start with, and I normally would have bagged that up into 8 quart bags for the freezer. This time I reduced those 8 quarts to 1 and poured the stuff into a pair of 6" square aluminum pans and off to chill in the fridge-and made it all into 1 little quart space, lol. They were the consistency of very hard jello.
The 6 quarts of various squash and sweet potato pulps from the freezer and now dried down into 12 ounces of squash flour. After defrosting and draining, pressing and draining down to a 2 quart brick, that got pressed into 7 dehydrator jelly roll trays and dried at 135 overnight- this morning I flipped them and let them dry some more while the peppers were smoking. All the extra work with the pressing was worth it- the brick was easy like clay to smooth out, and already really dry since 4 quarts of water had been removed first.
Got the 2 quart bag of Urfa Beibers out of the fridge and onto the smoker, and now they are on the dehydrator. Been using disposable pie plates I got 10/10 per 3 pack, and man those have been nice. I can use them 2-3 times before they get kind of icky. Next up is the couple bags of sweet and hot fresh peppers to do up. Everything that comes out of the Tobago Seasoning and Aji Limon peppers in the solarium at this point will be used in straight dehydrating, no more smoking this year for that. Got all the smoked ones I want now, and since I will have a "surplus" of the Tobagos, I'm gonna keep off the pint or so I will want to use whole, and grind up the rest into a nice batch of pepper flake.
Then on to the whole frozen peaches. They just can't stay in the freezer, and I'm pretty much shut down on big canning for the season, and ain't making pie filling or jams this year. So I'm going to dehydrate those down too for later use. We shall see how much shrinkage I get, haven't dried peaches before. I'm hoping for a much pair smaller vacuum sealed freezer bags at the end of this.
Unfortunately, no salsa this year. I had pulled the big bags of frozen tomatoes and peppers out of the freezer to thaw, then totally forgot about them- and by the time I remembered today, they were bags of totally deflated tomatoes floating in their water, and the peppers weren't any better, so I had to scrap the whole lot of them ;(
So right now, I only have one more batch of canning to do, and it's a small kettle doable batch- the hot sauce that's curing in the fridge. Since it's a half gallon, and I want to do up 4 oz jars.. I think I might do a couple of different flavors depending on what the whole batch tastes like. I'm pretty sure I will need to add some vinegar/acid again during the reheat. It was a bit shy when I jarred it up, and I wanted it that way- better to undervinegar than over right off the bat. Found out the salt measurement I used was a bit overboard too- ah well. I want to sweeten a batch with some of those urfas, and maybe do a batch with extra garlic. Depending on the heat level of the batch, I might round that out with some smoked Aji Limon and lemon juice adjustment. That way I can break the canning into 2 days worth of batches, and not capsaicin the eff out of myself all at once, lol. I figure with the liquid additions to each batch, each flavor will probably make 6-4oz jars. Plenty enough of smalls to have a couple, and give a few away.

On a bit of a seeds note.. We do have a few new seeds to add to the list already. The Canterbury Bells were full dry and ready to clean the seed from. It was pretty easy- but since they are prickly pods, gloves were needed. And a glass seed tray to knock the seed into- not plastic. And a cotton ball.
Tip them stem up and gently roll between your fingers, and tons of seeds roll out. You get some plant crumbles too. After all your seed is knocked out... shred up that cotton ball and gently run bits of it over the seeds to lift out those prickly bits that want to stick to the cotton ball, leaving the smooth small seeds behind. Using glass instead of plastic is important here because the glass lets you slide smoother than plastic does, and you want to smoothly lift the pickles out of the seed.
Up on the needs cleaning list are some morning glories and beans :) .

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Rainy day...

9/19: I awoke to rain gently tapping the roof.. so I decided to snuggle in for an hour and watch the morning news and hubby made coffee. Hung out with mom for a bit, then hit the solarium for a bit of indoor work while the pepper mash came up to heat.
Capped off 3 windows with the foggy plastic on the north wall, leaving the last one open for now to use as an exhaust fan for the mash- that shit is toxic. But some more cleanup and re-arranging done again out there to prep up for winter. Later on tonight we shall see where the taste is at and where the liquid level is at, I'd like to reduce it a bit because it's rather thin right now. And it still needs a good stick blending too, but that will come later tonight as well.
Got the last 2 quart packages of Toothache plant sealed up and on the shelf. Glad that's done for the season. One last round of big stuff to go, the batch of garlic salsa. I got all the tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro in the freezer. But that will wait till after I get the hot sauce done at least.
The rest of the week we are supposed to be coming into something of a heat wave, upper 70's and might even hit 80's. Yikes. But it's also supposed to be dry, so I will be able to get that last round of mowing done before the leaves start falling. It's actually been kind of nice to really keep pace with the garden this year. I've had some losses and successes, and overall good year.

9/22: The gentle tapping of Tuesday has turned into a heat wave indeed. Yesterday I got my Zen on mowing down some of the last mow of the season till that got done. Then went into town with a huge donation load with sis. Astonishingly enough, our first then second favorite resale shops weren't taking donations, and Goodwill got it all.
Early this morning I watered well and set in soaker jugs to the perennial bed I just planted in.  Glad I hadn't really started into the other two beds yet. And cleaned out some beds early. And that we have saved up a goodly batch of water. Turns out the second harvest is hotter and dryer this year than the first harvest was.
Tomorrow is a moving day. Mom and Sis are taking a full truck to storage around the lake. Sunday is transport and dropping off and coming back.

9/28: Busy few days. First truck got unloaded Sunday, a couple dear friends and a new member to the crew helped unload, then we had lunch. Puttered around in town to kill time while rush hour traffic was going on came back home. Picked up an outstanding replica of the Alcatraz 1909 lighthouse complex- FT now has a prison, lol. Picked it up for 7 bucks, sells online cheap for 30+shipping, or more like 50-100 bucks regularly. I just thought it was cool as hell, then looked it up to see if it was really what it was labeled as, and got a steal.
Monday was getting the house straight and shuffling around some FT village stuff to blow off stress- there's going to be a large amusement haunt in Nightvale this year :) Then turned around and left for Wi again Tues morning, had a wake for a dear friend, came home Wed night.
Got a little shopping in while in Wi from a couple local old loved stored I know I can only find some thing in... picked up some more bulbs for the gardens, and 5 Dept 56 lights that were on deep clearance. I now am the happy owner of 7 pieces total of Dept 56- the stuff is sooo nice, but sooooo expensive I rarely can afford one piece, let alone pick up a few for a few bucks each- and holy crap it happened twice this year. Sis noted some tiny bat light strands that were inexpensive too, and it was funny- I had seen Dept 56 strand bat lights, they were around 20 bucks. I picked up 4 strands at the grocery store for the same price, lol. 
Today was a garden cleanup day. Got the whole batch of Tobago Seasoning and Trinidad Perfume peppers that were chilling in the fridge and fresh picked in the dehydrator to straight dry. Tomorrow I'm putting the last smoker batch of Aji Limons on- very happy that I will have a nice full jar of those for storage. I still have a good-ish flush of peppers on the 2 plants in the solarium, so I might still get a small batch for straight dehydrating too if I'm lucky.
Sis helped me out shuffling bins and big pots around- now the blue bins are boxing in the kitchen window bed, and it's filled with potted irises, first year lavenders, and a couple strawberries. That will get mulched in a bit to help keep them cozy through the winter. Since the next couple nights are supposed to bottom out into the upper to mid 40's, had to pull some plants inside. The 5 Tobago Seasoning peppers are now sitting on the basking edge of the pond in the solarium so their fruits can ripen in the warm. 3 coleus, 3 lucifers, and a couple other pots of small bulbs came inside too.
Moved the 5 gooseberries that might still be alive over to the kennel side.
Emptied out and cleaned up a lot of half gallon pots and other pots and added in some sweet feed to make a barrow full of mixed dirt- then used up all my half gallon pots repotting the asparagus. They had lived in those 3" pots long enough, and probably wouldn't have survived the winter well in such small pots. And this way, they have springtime to grow in happy again. I won't have their bed ready till later on next growing season anyway. I still haven't even fall cleaned it yet.
Picked up the first bucket of Chinese Chestnuts for this season- They are already in the fridge chilling, I'll pick out the best 6 for seed stock, then process up the rest for eating storage. It's only a little bucket, so no biggie. After this last weekend move, I'll start picking up more for bigger bucket storage. I want to try out a whiskey recipe and a sugar syrup preserve recipe, and a drying batch for nut flower. Probably only about 10 pounds total, if that. Each gathering will get another best 6 for seed stock picked out of it. Next spring I'll pot them up and start growing them out for planting somewhere. This fall the trees themselves are for sure coming down- I've already been talking to a guy I know about the removal. It just has to happen, that tree is really old, brittle, frail, and overhanging into power lines and over the solarium roof, causing extra damage to the skylight. I'm thinking I'd like to leave the trunks long if I can. Use them as platforms and posts for other stuff, like bird feeders and such. They have a lovely structure and I like the lilly of the valley pool around the base.
Sold the car- happened to be that the neighbor was interested in the car anyway, then his truck died and he needed a vehicle. So now that one is off the books. Need to figure out where to donate or slab the other one off to. It time to clear that space off too.

9/29: how time flies. Today I sealed up most of the windows in the solarium, and sorted out flower bulbs, cleaned up the solarium some more.. Popped off the Aji Limons into the smoker early, and then got them dehydrated off and into their jar today- I now have one whole pint! Took the plunge and waded through all my bulbs, and got some basic sorting done as to which beds they are going into. The front row where the hibiscuses are growing is getting some overdue attention in the coming weeks. All that's growing on right now is the hibiscuses, and I'm not sure where the daffs went, lol. The original bed was 3x14, and the original section isn't too bad. But it's a pain to mow around now, and the bed needs reopening and a bit of lengthening maybe. Might end up being more like 5x16 by the time I'm done churning stuff up around the outside edges. The wee folk garden area is getting a freshening of bulbs too.
There's bulbs going out into the herb garden, and a heap sorted out for the perennial lasagna bed switchover. And another pile for potting up this year because they are almost ready to split. Got one lone bag of something that didn't get it's ID tag included, and a couple missing small bulb tags, so I will have to re-pot that one to figure out what it is again, lol.

9/30: Had a town hall meeting this morning, followed by picking up a truck. Then a lot of tinkering and fussing with cleaning, and sorting plants, and so on. Got the first stall of the greenhouse cleaned up and stuff put away so I can start filling it with some leaves for me to nestle those 30 pots of asparagus I just repotted the other day into. Took some plant tallies, moved a few fruits- raspberries and jostaberries to the greenhouse porch. Culled out the last couple brown bags of seeds for their deep freeze.. I didn't bother with sorting flowers, because I always use those up pretty quick. But some of my seed stock is getting kind of old, or I know I won't be using for the next year or few while I use up some other seed stock. So right now from the total drawer, I've culled off about 10% as straight get rid of- it's all just things I've gotten in trade that I wasn't too interested in, or stuff I've tried that wasn't our speed. Of the 90% of whats left, about 15% of it is flower seeds. Of the remaining 75%, I culled out about 30% for deep freeze. Looking at the piles, I can tell I've reduced the overall stock by about 40% between the toss and deep freeze. All the seeds culled off for freezing will only take up a quart space at most by the time I'm done sealing down the packages. So now I need to catalog the freezer stock and write up it's list to have on hand and another in the package.

And ha, already on to more seeds. The other day in Wi I picked up a packet of spiderwort. Already starting a short wish list with Biquinho pepper. It's another seasoning pepper. And fresh stock on Dwarf Wild Fred- I just looked him up recently, and only a couple sellers offer it, and their pics do not match up with what I got. So now I'm on the hunt, lol.

Monday, September 18, 2017

9/14.. moving on with cleanup

9/14: Took a bit of a day off today. Did some chores.. today was the last anything harvest of the tomatoes, and the first deep trimming off of vines to the fall. Still got blossoms opening up that might ripen, and a few fruits that still will ripen.. The toothache plant is in it's first final flush and first weak plant culling.
Started up a pepper mash, will see what happens with this one..

From frozen
About 4- 41-2 cups of hot banana peppers, all red ones.
About 2 cups of green jalapenos
3 fingerlings, about a half cup?
This amount to 7 cups
Added in 1 cup of fresh picked Tobago Seasoning peppers- 36 of them.

For the brine... information is all over the place. I ended up using 1 liter hot water with 196 grams salt. It was supposed to be 189 for 10% solution, but meh. I did have the Himalayan salt on hand, and used it. Filled half gallon and a pint and a half jar. Capped them with coffee filters, then let them sit for a few days...
UPDATE 9/19: The jars were just starting to get a little bit of bubble forming, but nothing forming on the surface yet. Turned out the 2 jars into the blue crockpot and added 2 cups of white vinegar. Let it sit on low covered overnight, from about 4PM till 10 AM. At around 10, I tasted it- hot, the salt has mellowed a lot, needed more vinegar for sure. Added 2 cups cider vinegar and turned the heat up to high to start really burbling while I did some work in the solarium capping a couple windows for the winter. By the time it hit 2PM, the fumes were noticable, and it was burbling good. So I closed the solarium up and left the lid off the crockpot so it can all reduce a bit. Had to set up a ventilation fan to help suck out the fumes it got toxic pretty damn fast.

9/15:
Warm, sunny, and fine. I took the final harvest off the toothache plant and pulled out the bed entirely- kept 3 plants to pot up to see how they fare in the solarium.

9/16: busy garden day. Again sublime late summer weather. Drew off all the milk and litter jugs of water that I could for now, still need to move them into the solarium and to the garden beds that are getting fall watering. Cleaned out all the dead pots around the kennel and cleared the pots off to storage.
Squash bugs, yeah muthafucker. I have been keeping an eye out on the stair bed to see if they would turn up there after I pulled out the whatever squash and sprayed the beejeebers out of the area. And yep, sure enough, they did. Interestingly enough, they were all over the scalloped squash, but the entire cocozelle squash was almost untouched, though it has fresh and dead leaves, and even a couple blooms on it.
I emptied out a silver cooler and dropped the scallop squash plant entire into it- then dumped a couple gallons of water into it then put the lid on. Then I mixed up a 2 gal sprayer full of Neem/Tea Tree/Peppermint/Rosemary mix, and sprayed the entire area.  By the time I had come back out with the sprayer, the inside dry area of the cooler was crawling with bugs- I sprayed the dickens out of the cooler and it's inside before anything else.
Then I went and checked the whatever squash I had pulled out and layed out days ago- and shucks, that one still had bugs on it. So I picked it up and packed it into the cooler too. And then I noticed a few adult squash bugs on the base of the cocozelle. And then sprayed the stair garden heavy, the lasagna bed area that had the whatever squash, and the cage I laid the dead squash on heavily.
While the shade was coming on good and it was hot as hell in the sun anyway.. I dug out several Irises from the solarium bed. It's far past time for those to be transplanted off to other places in the yard more friendly. All of what is there of the specials are now potted up, and what's left is probably just the regulars to be dug up and relocated another time.
I also planted in the Solomon's Seal out back in the wee folk bed. I picked up that plant so darn pot bound I had to cut the pot off the plant, so I'm hoping it will take off well.
After all of that, started in on some re-potting of the porch plants. The botanical tulip got divided up into 2 pots- a big and small one. The two Hot Pokers I picked up and potted a year or two ago got pried and sawed apart into 9 bunches that are now in one big pot to not freak out while I figure out where they will go in the yard.

9/17: Another round in the garden. Unpotted and massaged the Lucifer today- the one plant I got a couple years back yielded up 2 really large, 4 large, 8 medium, and 9 small crom chains, and those are now repotted up into 3 pots- it was a devil of a task, lol. Cut back the coleus real well and left the mothers outside for now- I have 3 ice cream buckets full of the cuttings I now need to decide how I want to handle, lol.
Still a goodly bit to go with the plant cleanup, but not too bad too. I got Parks Candy Lillies I need to drop into the couple squash bins real soon. I think I'm going to take out the whole bed the squash grew on to use as the winter shelter spot again. The two bins are already on the one side, and it shouldn't be too difficult to cobble together the other side. I have 3 flats of small lavender, 2 flats of asparagus, and a few other odds and ends I'd rather mulch in deep to tuck away for the winter rather than bring them into the solarium for overwintering. I still got a goodly handful of fruits and herb pots out by the kennel, I'm going to tuck those onto the kennel porch for the winter- again, the whole front is already capped off, it should be easy to mulch deep there. I'd like to keep the inside of the kennel empty for now in case I get the chance to get a roof on it yet this fall. It was really handy, but who knows.
Still have a few more perennials to plant in the lasagna beds, and a bunch of small mums to put into the ground.
Already planning the next raised bed to the east of the tomatoes, heh. This year earlier on I layed in a thick paper and straw smother bed curving off with the mow line  when I moved the other two raised beds. Now's the time to put it to use, and also recycle the most damaged of the tomato towers into a composting cage. With 1 cage, I can break it down into 2 panels, then link them up and shape them to make a 3'x3'x3' cage. This is perfect to drop into the middle of the next raised beds spot to give me a place to heap up all the good composting greens I got building up right now to get layered in with browns and left to simmer for a while and let cook down till next spring. Then next summer when I'm ready to drop a 6x4' raised bed there, I will already have my base stuff layer built up and just a little bit smaller than the frame to help with taking the cage out and spreading compost stuff around.
The whole yard needs a good mow around too, at least in the areas that the leaves build up in. Time for what is likely to be the final mowing before the leaves start building up enough to be needed for mulch. I want to be raking up leaves off the grass, not trying to detangle the grass to get leaves right now, lol. This year I don't happen to have straw bales on hand, so I'm going to be bagging up leaves for my thermal buffers in the few spots I will need that sort of thing in.
That is a nice thing about starting to switch over the lasagna beds to perennials, some different mulch needs there this year. I'm going to need to heap it deep on the little west bed. I plan on putting in seed garlic in the middle bed to grow out to pull next fall, so it just needs keeping up with cleanup and some mulch. The biggest bed I plan on planting in the asparagus seedlings as it's forever bed next year hopefully if the seedlings do well- so this fall once the cleanup is done, that whole area is getting capped with plastic to solarize, and zero mulch there. So I'll have the "spare" leaves to bag up for other use.
Now that I'm pretty much done with most of the Irises.. mostly, lol. Still got 3 pots of the Watervliet Irises that I don't know what they are really, lol. Gonna pull 2 of them off for me, and give the other one to Sonja.
I need to go in and clean out the bed where Jay's Skies are growing too soon. I'm gonna cull out some of those for Sonja too. The bed needs it anyway, and I know I want to replant the one tagged iris I just pulled out from behind the solarium in that area. I also want to break up one of the bins of lilies to put in there too, but that will wait till next year once I'm sure of which lilly bin it is and get the irises done first, lol.
Also got a darn big heap of bulbs heaped up... now comes the time of year that all those last years buy, potted up over the year, divided, cured, and ready for planting time comes on. And I got plans for them too.

Hmmm, some food... the hot pepper mash has been sitting in it's jars capped off with coffee filters for a couple days now. Tomorrow is time for some reblending and setting up into refining. Pulled out a chicken from the freezer a couple days ago that's roasting up with taters and creamed spinach.

9/18: Tomatoes today, it was time. I have two Freds with a couple of clusters I didn't cut back, because I know those will probably ripen up before the chills hit. That's going to be about a week from now, when overnight temps will be dipping below 50. But all the Romans are gone, the Candles had a lot of babies, but I know those take a long time to mature, and not worth waiting on. The Flames only had about 5 green tomatoes on both plants, so scrapped those too. Tore out the cages, and cut one up into that compost cage, and got all the tomato cuttings and dead toothache plants dumped into the cage. Still have plenty of room to toss on more as the season winds down. A good mow around is next up tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Got a bit done..

9/9: Weather was lovely today. Cool and breezy at first, then fine for work out in the yard. Got the whole batch of hot peppers smoked up and into the dehydrator. The last batch of enchilada sauce done for this year- another round of regular pints. The tomatoes are winding down enough, I got another goodly batch on trays that need to go into the freezer- those will finally become a batch of salsa. And then just a few more working in for more regular eating again.

The early part of the day was mostly spent with a bit of cleaning, as usual. Then the afternoon was spent on working on those lasagna beds.
I tackled the western bed first. It's the smallest one, and the first one I knew I wanted fully planted in. I weeded everything out, cut back the bronze fennel.. And planted in a Agastache Foemiculum Blue Fortune, Baptista Lemon Meringue, Baptista Blueberry, A couple rosemary, a lavender, and a couple each of two different colors of mums. Not sure which colors, the buds aren't showing yet, but two different leaf types.
Then on to the middle bed. It wasn't so bad really. The couple bean towers came out, and the bronze fennel got cut back. Didn't plant in anything yet- I just have blue eyed grass planned in front, and I want to go back over that area for a second grass removal first- I don't want to confuse my good plants with the weeds.
I've got a handful of various bulbs that I'm going to be planting in in a few weeks when the time is right. These are ones I picked up on clearance in 2016 and grew out in pots this year- all of them divided well, and will be good for sowing in later this fall. Now I just need to keep those beds cleaned up a bit, water if needed, and mulch in and I should be good to go.

The eastern and biggest bed, ugh.  I planted in some brassicas this year, then neglected the bed. A volunteer squash showed up, which saved me the trouble of planting in a trap squash there. Don't know what it is, looks like a white acorn of some sort, though it grew on a bush vine. First I cut back the grape vines yet again and pulled them out. And then yep, cut back the bronze fennel. The squash plant must have had every bug in the yard on it, yuck.
During cleanup, I sprayed a goodly gallon of Neem+ tea tree, peppermint, and rosemary oil all over the bed, surrounding area and fence, the plant I pulled out and laid on a tomato tower in the driveway.. everything. Little suckers didn't like that much, some of them appeared to be bleached out by the spray, and died. The bed isn't fully clear of weeds, I kind of pooped out by the time I was done spraying. But all of the brassicas are uncovered again, lol. And I can tell where the borages are springing up from. That bed is going to get finished clearing out entirely then a plastic cap laid over it to smother and solar kill the dickens out of it for as long as I can stretch it this fall for next year- I do have a rather nice and goodly round of asparagus rootlets that never made it out to the back 40 that I plan on setting in there next year to make that it's own permanent bed. Not a huge one, but plenty for fresh eating for two, while the rest of the pickling asparagus can continue on in the wild beds out back.
Making a couple pans of scalloped taters and ham for dinner tonight :) Decided to just split the batch between 2 pans so one could just be straight popped into the freezer. 

9/12: First off Happy Birthday to my sister! This is a good holiday- weather was superb, and everyone was bustling. Sunday was spent on some family affairs, and Monday I was feeling wretched with a stomach bug or something that made the need to be close to a bathroom and bed was necessary. Today I got a bit of canning done, couldn't put it off and the weather was fine and likely to turn tomorrow. It was either stuff the freezer and wait till the weather cleared again, or just get it done. So I sucked it up, and skipped any gardening plans though the weather should be clearer later this week.
Making mac and cheese and broccoli for dinner tonight, sisters choice since it's her B-day :)

Kind of a random general weather note. This year the U.S. got gobsmacked by a couple hurricanes. Harvey, which landed in the gulf and almost drowned Houston, and Irma, which was a SUPER hurricane that shredded Cuba and the entire state of Florida, and is now storming over pretty much every state touching Florida. Our Labor Day cold snap was the tail end of Harvey, and we did actually hit the low 50's into high 40's overnight. Days have been mild, and nights chilly since- we have been closing the windows or keeping them closed. Today during the day we peaked out around 80- tomorrow we are supposed to be possibly getting evening rain from the push in of Irma. Crazy.

Friday, September 8, 2017

9/3....

9/3: It was a cool morning. Got a batch of Flaming Fred sauce and a batch of sloppy joe sauce cooked off and ready for the fridge. Picked off another 30 pounds of tomatoes off the Freds and Romans- I really need to do a cleanup day tomorrow and clear off all the tomato plant debris and such.
Those two glorious heads of cauliflower yielded up 8 quarts of florets for pickling. This was after cleaning them up and cutting them up. Last time was about 6 quarts cut up yielded 9 pint and a half jars.. I will have a full day of canning tomorrow, even if I don't touch the peppers yet.
And sigh.. the tomatoes are still dehydrating. Just a few are mushy... but that's all it takes in a dried batch. Have to keep drying overnight again.

A nice soup tonight- corn and chicken chowder. We had gotten those dozen ears a couple weeks ago that I shucked, cut, froze off the kernels and made stock from the cobs.. And hmmm, had a couple chicken boobs in the fridge defrosted.

9/8: been a few days, busy. Got the Flaming Fred sauce canned off, 14 half pints, and sloppy joe sauce, 5 pints. It rained all weekend and into the week, and was way too crappy to set up the outdoor canning kettle, so the cauliflower didn't get canned, or the peppers. We've eaten up one full 4 quart tub of cauliflower in various dishes, and I still have another in the fridge I can maybe pop off a batch with tomorrow if the weather holds good. All the peppers either went into the dehydrator- 3 trays of hot banana chunks, 2 trays of jalapeno slices, 1 tray of fingerling rings- or into the freezer, ended up with about 3 bags of peppers!
Today I picked the 2 Tennesee Sweet Potato Squashes, cleaned up their rack area, and moved all the peppers over to that spot. They really need all the full sun they can soak up right now before the true chilly hits and I have to decide if I should pull them in or let them go. I did get a nice full round of pepper picking done today, so I have a full batch to do another round in the smoker.  I also picked what's likely to be the last good big batch of tomatoes- the plants didn't like that chilly spell one whit. I got a batch of nasturtium seeds picked- a scant half pint, but hey, beggers can't be choosers, and I don't really have a lot of nasts growing this year.
With the weather chilling out, now I need to start figuring out what I want to do with all the plants this year that are outside. Time to start thinking about getting a roof back onto the kennel too. I don't happen to have a handy stack of straw bales this year to make up a snug box on the south side of the kitchen, but I might be able to figure something out with perhaps bagged leaves this time to make something snug for the plants I can overwinter outside that way.

Nightvale is getting a slow start, but is starting... The whole village just sort of petered out into nothing this summer- too much other stuff going on to really fuss with stuff that much. A couple weeks ago I started really cleaning and sorting stuff.. Then over the last weekend re-arranged the furniture, looks good and different now. Then with the solarium cleanup came a lot more shuffling and sorting of stuff, lol. And then I had myself a rare day or two of actually feeling creative, and wanting to use my new bench setup, and indulged myself in repainting Oncle Boo's house, doing the jewel detailing done on the carousel, fixing Ms. House Spider and now she's up and walking again, and a couple other minor repair things. Now over the last couple days I've gotten the platforms sort of set up and starting to figure out where the big buildings and setups are going to be.

A bit of interesting news for us.. this week was a busy one of chasing around- we closed on the land contract and the second parcel that landed in our laps. We now have a total of 25 acres, with a pretty full back 20- including a new large pond. It's an ultimate dream expansion we sort of chortled and wished over early on, but figured it would never happen. And also, the neighbors had a property turn up for them that they were able to get- it's got the acreage that they will be removing the dogs and the horses to their new place. So pretty much as soon as the stable is really cleared out, I plan on moving in there with some gardening stuff. That front horse pasture area is chock full of years of horse poo trampled down and pounded in, and the stable has electric and water already. I don't plan on making the mistake I did years ago and plan a huge garden. But I do plan on starting to work that area in for gardening big stuff, like trying out the 3 sisters garden, or sprawling melons. In the spring if the plants survive it, I can start planting in the orchard and berry bushes out back too. I still plan on utilizing and upgrading the gardens out front. But since the lasagna beds are about ready for their permanent plantings, and just a couple more raised beds up the line to the kennel area.. And with it being just the two of us soon, without the need for such large gardening of the food needs.. and with my fondness for container gardening around the kitchen.. And with the chicken coop and run area opening up soon since the dogs will be gone from there soon... the gardening and homesteading around here sure is going to change fairly soon. The front will keep evolving into more permanent and perennial gardens.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

8/25....

8/25... time to start really keeping some notes again. The summer has pretty much gone, or at least feels like it... No sweltering nights, the solar eclipse was cool.. and now we are getting down into the 50's overnight here... WTF, right?

So, today I got the first 14 half pints of enchilada sauce canned up- a Mild Garlic one. I was going to start doing up the Lemony Cauliflower too- got the burner and outdoor stuff set up, and started pulling together the indoor mes in place... And discovered I was almost out of white vinegar. Well shit. Had to run to town for a couple gallons of it. By the time I got back it was too late to fire up the outdoor kettle, so I brought in the burner and just prepped up the two big heads- about 6 quarts. And peeled the couple heads of garlic. By the time I was done doing that, it would indeed have been too late to fire up the big kettle.
But while I was prepping the cauliflower, I got the sauce canned up. Tomorrow I'll do up the Smokey Hot sauce while I'm doing up the Lemony Cauliflower outside.
Then I can attend to doing up the double batch of Garlic Salsa. The garlic salsa will be it's own full days cooking up. Last year a single 5 lb batch yielded a dozen half pint jars. This year I plan on doing some half pint jars, and some quarter pint ones for snacking use. So it's going to make for an extra long canning day, lol. Or maybe I'll split it up into two batches like I did with the sauce- I'm rather liking the hold and then process thing I got going on here.

And a great note... Crock Pot bags. They can be sort of pricey, but ooohhhh can be worth it. I start off the sauce in the green crockpot- to get my measurements right, lol. After burbling it up in that crock I whirred it up with a stick blender and poured it off into my blue crockpot- the next quart size up- in one of the bags to do it's overnight low and slow cooking- and it was perfect. All the wet stayed in, and the bag has corners so every last bit of it squeezed out of the bag neat as can be.

Good thing we are down to just a little hefty tray of produce left- whatever don't get eaten in Crispy Chicken Salads tonight is like gonna get used up in something tomorrow, dunno what.. but there's another hefty round of picking that needs to happen Sunday. The toothache plant needs serious picking.. and the Freds and Romans have another full round ready to pick already. I'll probably fire off a round or two of regular enchilada sauce depending on what is ready for fresh cooking- Crockpot round or two of Sloppy Joe mix needs to happen too, but those use skinned tomatoes if I'm recalling right, so I'll be sure to toss some more in the freezer.

When at the farm market where I picked up the cauliflower, I also picked up a generous "quart" of a half dozen HUGE white peaches locally grown. I IQF'd those up, and those will be held with the other bag of peaches for cold weather baking when a delightful fresh peach is a total drool.
Ah freezer action.. With mom and Bear going back to Wi and taking the deep freezes with them.. I've already been saving up my pennies to hopefully get a good deal during the Labor Day sales for a new one. Gonna need to look into another dryer too since I assume they will take theirs with them.

Got a nice good whack at cleaning up the solarium yesterday... then promptly started cluttering it up again, lol. It's always a magic-9-square game out there. We really need to get that old hot tub out of there and clean stuff up. With the cooler and dryer weather it might be more plausible to get the truck up to the back door and load that thing off to the end of the drive with a "free if you can haul it off" sign over the big weekend. Just be done with it if someone else wants to haul it off.

It's getting to be that time of year that I need to clean out the Hardy Hibiscus border in the front, and plant in some of those mums I've been growing out. Give them a bit of time to establish in and want to bloom a bit later on. I think I'm going to be tossing in a couple handfuls of the bulbs I grew out and cured up earlier this year to help flush in spring and early summer blooms too.

The Lasagna beds.. time has come to start some planting shifting. Years ago when we first moved in, I dreamed of a full line of beds of edibles.. and have found over the years our gardening needs are much better served tighter up to the house, and with the shifting of the two raised beds this year, it's confirmed. I figured at some point that a lot of fence area would get to be more dedicated over to permanent stuff over annual stuff.. And I think now the time has come to start with that on a kind of serious planning basis.
I have a nice handful of very good perennials built up now. All beneficial insect goodies. The Bronze Fennel, Blue Borage, and Lemon Balm have all established nicely in the beds. And frankly, I haven't missed the growing space for food, and the beds and nicely fallow and ready for some lovely "other". I've worked hard to establish those beds, time to finish them in. I think perhaps the large bed might be worked up into an asparagus bed. I've got a goodly round of seedlings I can grow out for planting another year- and I do have the wild beds building up back already, it would be nice to have a good close up patch at hand too.
Coming up in the orchard area is also going to be some culling out. The peachish/whatever tree is slated to come down. The Sweet Cherry Trees are going to be thinned out, and the Maple needs trimming too. The green apples might just get scrapped yet- I can plant in a good one out back. Same goes for the red apple out front too. I think with the removal of apple and peach, and thinning of sweet cherry trees.. I'd like to plant in a couple more fruit trees. Another plum or two to cross and grow with our lone Green Gauge that isn't doing much. And another dwarf sour cherry or two to produce with the one we got.

8/26: Another busy day. I got out about a quarter of nine while the shade was still good and the dew still fresh on the plants over the toothache plant bed and did a full harvest- 3 quarts of fresh flowers this time, they are already on the dehydrator. Now that I have a goodly couple gallon bags of the stuff already dried and stashed in the freezer, it's time to pull those out and vacuum seal up the crops for deep storage. I'll still get another flush or two out of the plants before frost hits.
It's also time to start culling out some of the plants themselves to distill/render out with some fats and alcohol pulling. I'd like to produce a couple of topical bits for sore muscle rubs and such. This has been such a good growing year that with some careful storage, I could have a batch to last into 2019.
After I came back in from that, it was time to set up canning. Got the big burner going and the stove, and cranked out a half dozen jars of pickled lemony cauliflower, and a couple rounds to do up the 14 half pints of smokey spicy enchilada sauce. Using the big outdoor burner for the water kettle is wonderful. I was able to use the kitchen table to stuff the cauliflower jars, and used the stove to heat up the sauce and brines. Didn't kill my stove- and was able to keep most of the heat and steam outside, yay!

Tried out a new thing- homemade corn nuts.  Used about 2 cups dried corn. Followed the online recipe with big dried corn, overnight soak- the corn even went into a bag and sat in the fridge for another day before I oven toasted them up today... and tossed them with some soy and wasabi.. They are ok, but not great.. it needs tinkering.
I think the overnight soak is good.. but I think they need a short cooking too to really get a full hydration going on before they get baked. They had some dense chewy inside action that indicated not good enough hydration before baking.
Tossed the bag with about a quarter cup of veggie oil and a goodly shaking of salt. Toasted it off in 5 minute increments, stirring, for about a half hour... at the end they started wanting to pop like popcorn, so I pulled them out... but they really could have used another 5-10 minutes worth of toasting and roasting to get all of them better crispy dried. Not sure if that means I should just use a deeper pan to contain the popping, or finish them off with a goodly stovetop toasting before finishing them off. I might toss this batch back in the oven after I kill the heat after dinner to toast/dry out a bit more honestly.

I poured them hot out of the oven into a big metal bowl, and drizzled they soy over.. it actually sizzled because the corn was so hot. Stirred in a couple spoons at a time about half a can of wasabi powder, and another goodly shake of salt. It took a lot of wasabi for them to have a good hit of it. They do have a nice corn/popcorn flavor to them.. they just need a bit of tinkering to get a nice crunchy baked corn snack. Chick peas are still easier. Gonna use the other half of that can in a bit to make up a nice batch of wasabi peas, yum. I think perhaps with a better cooked up corn batch I want to try coconut oil and some caramelized sugar/spices mix. These kernels are nicely sweet enough on their own I think a good salty caramel version of this would be good.

Dinner tonight is Moms meatloaf. Roasted up four huge golden beets to pair up with that third head of glorious cauliflower I managed to not pickle up and save for dinner tonight, lol. Still got that head of cabbage languishing in the crisper, so going to do up a batch of horseradish and mustard cole slaw. Some tater tots and biscuits... slice up a plate of tomatoes and cukes with some pickles to round it off.. mmmmm.

8/27: kind of a cleanup day. Got the potting table cleaned up and such so I can start stacking other stuff on it. Cleared off and logged up the last of the bulbs finally.. pretty soon it's time to start planting them in again. That's ok.. I've scoped out the lasagna beds. Bed 1 has some nicely established blue borage, and a decent bronze fennel. Bonne plant in the Agastache Foeniculum, yellow and blue baptistias, a rosemary and a lavender, and some allium bulgaricum bulbs. Bed 2 has a great bronze fennel in the back, the lemon balms in the corners are well established and going to seed, and a nice blue borage popped up. Gonna plant in the blue eye grass and a mix of short alliums- molly and neopolitanum- yellow and white upcups of happy. Bed 3 has the best bronze fennel, and two good blue borage in the corners- think I might put in my asparagus babies there next spring.
Then the nice big clear patch around the pole. Needs a bit of cleaning, but meh.
But since I do have the other more shade loving plants too.. time to plan some planning, heh.
Solarium first. Need to dig out a goodly bit of the special irises and throw them into pots to hold up for some 2018 watching. They are the closest to the door, and I want to start keeping that space clear and open more for some spring slab plans. I also want to cull them out to plant elsewhere in the yard once I figure out what their actual blooming is. The whole wee corner could use some serious cleanup in general.. and I also have a lovely Solomons Seal to plant in back there- it prefers some shade and is a very beneficial insect friendly plant. I also have a white bleeding heart to try to get to grow too- I somehow always seem to kill bleeding hearts, sigh.
The counters are open for all the canning stuff to sit for cooling. Tried out a batch of fresh fridge cuke pickles using Milwaukee pickle juice I saved and froze up. Got another crockpot of regular enchilada sauce set up, and will turn around and repeat tomorrow- then do a double batch of pints on the big burner. Now that I've cranked out double the half pints from the 2015 tally, it's time to start working up on those pints.
After that, salsa is on hold again- I've already diced and tossed the peppers in the freezer. But since I do need skinned tomatoes for sloppy joe sauce, the ones in the freezer are going to go to doing up that batch first. I only need to do one double batch to fill the case I want to make of that.

Pulled the beer garden radish roots today, lol.. the little snubs they were, not suitable for any eating. So much for another batch of 1720 relish. They really did expend themselves on seed, which is what I really hoped for from the 7 seeds I planted last year so I can start growing them regularly... and a few seedlings are already self sowing up and need dividing to hopefully get a late fall harvest of some decent roots. Also time to set up another round of the Helios radish- that was damn fine, and we still got time before the frosts get frosty enough that I can grow out another batch.
 Nasturtiums behind the kennel are looking great. So much so I'm seriously reconsidering my idea of building a raised screen for the vines to grow on for some optimal seed harvesting. The two pheonix nasts in containers haven't proven to be particularly spectacular in their blooms- but their seed should be good. The longer vines I think I might need to raise up to be able to catch as much seed goodness as I can- green or ripe for planting, I'm pretty much tapped out on all nast seed!!

8/30: For the last couple days, I've been doing a lot of cleaning and re-arranging of the living room and solarium..  Got the solarium finished cleaned up to get the hot tub out of there. It's been nothing more than a cabinet for years, and it's a huge space eater and it's time to go. I'm looking forward to the extra space to reshuffle shelves again and get some more use out of my workshop. Got a dozen pints worth of enchilada sauce sitting in the fridge to can up tomorrow, and pulled out the edamame for pickling up tomorrow as well.
Picked off another large round of tomatoes, probably another 40 pounds. I think so far I might have picked about 100 pounds total. I've already got another round of Freds cored and in the fridge to set up a crock of HOT enchilada sauce. They are far more prone to cracking than the Romans are. I also have harvested enough of the "perfume" peppers to smoke off a smoker full, those are now cooling to go into the dehydrator overnight to get crispy dry. Got enough of the Roman Candles sitting that I'm going to run a smoker full of those tomorrow and finish with dehydrating. They are such a nice dense paste that they should take to smoking particularly well. And I'm almost out of smoked tomatoes, so it will be nice to have more.
I picked up my first eyeshadow in about 20 years, lol. And it's not even to use as makeup. It's for detailing mini's with. Much like regular paints do go into the "specialty" paints like nail polish does, and I've got a lot of nail polish.. Artists chalks, pastels, and oils only go so far in the color realms- eye shadow fills in the "specialty" dust colors.

8/31... last day of August, and Labor Day weekend on right now. Had a bat in the house this morning, the three of us shooed it off to the solarium and closed it off, and it tucked up cute and tuckered out in a corner. During the day while it snoozed, we got the old hot tub out with the help of Dave and Matt. Sooo much space open now. After the tub was out, I left the inside doors open again while I was cleaning, sorting, and doing up batches of canning. Ocelot of course cried all day long about losing her favorite laying around spot and the kitchen window being closed, poor thing.
Got a dozen pints of enchilada sauce canned up. And did up that 2.5 lb bag of edamame into 9 half pint jars- one didn't seal and went into the fridge. I have to say I'm over the moon happy with having the big water bath kettle outside for this. I'd like to pick up a couple more cinder blocks to help enclose the fire ring better rather than having to shift them, lol. And one of my trivets has proven to be the perfect size to put into the bottom of the canning kettle. Since the new rack I just picked up for 15 bucks was too big, I get to return it anyway, and I'm still good to go.

It's been pretty nice to really pull apart and sort out stuff in the solarium. The hot tub cramped out space that will now be better used. I've already shifted the workbench over those crucial 10 inches to center it under the above lighting and shelving, and have dropped the series of drawers into it's corner niche properly.

9/2: Happy Labor Day weekend... I'm depressed as hell that I didn't get to go to faire this year, not once- first time in 20+ years since that has happened. Too much other going on, too much I just don't blog about here. And this weekend, it does feel like the death of summer is already been upon us, and this is more like the first nice weekend of fall than the last one of summer.
Today, I hurt. The summer is badly catching up on me, the early season malaise, the June food poisoning, the bad fall in early July that barely healed up enough to be functional for the back to back work weeks.. then the catching up on harvesting, processing, cleaning, and autumn setting up ever since then. Yesterday was a blur of doing stuff... Today started out with watering everything, laundry, firing up the smoker and setting up another load of smoked roman candle tomatoes, swapping over the other regular batch of them in the dehydrator to finish up- ended up with a couple trays of not quite done fresh sandwiched between 3 trays of smoked and on low overnight in the solarium... another round of enchilada sauce in the crockpot, this one a Flaming Fred. It's 4 heavy quarts of Freds, topped of with a few roman flames, and done up extra spicy. I've pulled the 10 lb bag of tomatoes from the freezer for making sloppy joe sauce, but they won't be thawed enough to slip till tomorrow, so I'll have to toss them into the fridge overnight.
Then it was nice to sit and relax for a bit in the car to go out to mums to drop off a couple bots and pick up the black audi to bring home. Stopped at Sawyer- got a couple glorious HUGE heads of cauliflower for 3 bucks each for more lemony cauliflower, a nice round of hot banana and sweet banana peppers, and a goodly handful of hot finger peppers- all local grown. Hit Piggotts, and picked up a 5 dollar bag deal of a large amount of hot bananas that were fully ripe and oranging out, and a cram full of a bunch of jalapenos for dehydrating. I've realized I still have a goodly store of smoked hot and mild, mild dehydrated, and smoked flaming hot peppers, but pretty much out of some standard dehydrated hots, lol. All the banana peppers I'm going to pickle up, we are out of pickled peppers of all sorts too.
And kind of a special squee- picked my my first seed packets for next year, lol. a container zuke, some foxgloves, a particularly fragrant sweet pea, and Sungold cherry tomato. With Autumn on the there is already hope for spring. The first harvest has long past, and the second coming up. The uptick is that we are only about 60 days from Halloween!
So now spaghetti sauce is simmering for dinner, and it's time to start some water.. probably well past time to finally post this entry, lol.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

MMMMMM....

Been a while but..


Got back home from GenCon to a bit of a garden explosion, and catchup is catching up! Got 10 pounds of tomatoes in the freezer for garlic salsa, another 20-ish pounds cooked down into 3 quarts of enchilada sauce vacuum sealed in the fridge for heating up and canning. And a couple more pounds still for fresh eating :) Picked up a couple glorious large heads of cauliflower at a farmer market stall for 3 bucks each, and happened to have picked up a 2 pound bag of lemons yesterday..
Got 14 pint and a half, and 13 half pint jars in the dishwasher right now on the sanitize cycle to prep up for some serious canning tomorrow...
Gonna try to bust out with the big burner and kettle outside for the water bath kettle.

The minis action over the last several weeks has been on and off. Michaels has had some serious 70% plus some good coupons for a change. Cashed out all the summer and woodland stuff. Lemax was kind of a yawn- I got good stuff and just picked up a couple smalls. And one building, a Creepy Critter Sitter.  They had one Creepy Critter Pet Sitters left in the Lemax stuff- the one on display. Originally 55 bucks, with sale and coupon, 28.50. A rather expensive piece for me, but it is sooooo irresistible. The gal got my box out of the back and I packed it.. and asked her for the cord too, because it comes with a cord and it wasn't in the box. We unwove it from the display, only to find it was set up on a 3 way splitter, not it's original single cord. Since the manager couldn't find it and it had to have a cord.. They gave me a 25 dollar 3 way splitter off the rack for free to make sure I had my power cord.
Blew a day's pay from GenCon on some awesome minis. A bit outside budget, but I got a LOT of bang for my bucks. On the way home, hit a place we always meant to but haven't hit yet. Not only did the place have a friendly shop kitty named Toes.. The also had a small pile of Dept 56 Autumn/Halloween stuff.. a true rarity for me to find in person. I splurged my bonus pay on two awesome sets- one a farm signs, and a delicate light up Halloween luminary set.  These might be my only two pieces of Dept 56, it's really hard to find ones I like of good themes that aren't stupidly overpriced all the time. The are really nice, and some pieces worth it.. but ugh.

The weekend before GenCon I got to be privileged enough to be asked by Sonjia to work at the Enchanted Bead for her first annual bead sale. Sooooo many beautiful beads, and good company, and inspiration and learning. It was awesome. And because we are good with bartering and trade, I picked up some astonishing beads for making jewelry, and a bunch of random stuff like a heap of lucite and seed beads to use in mini-food crafting.

Hit Menards today and did save big money.. getting a saw setup, lol. Picked up a 6" saw with blades and miter box for 7 bucks, a second 6.5" saw with finer teeth blade options for 6 bucks, and a 6.5" saw blade set with even finer teeth for another 3 bucks. 11% rebate brings that 16 bucks down to about 15 once stamps and taxes are counted in, lol. Now I can start in with some of the wood build projects I've been stacking up materials for slowly but surely for a while now. And can do stuff in a more volume scale than patiently cutting planks with a Xacto blade, lol. I stained up a bunch of stuff for cutting while my arm was ganked, and now have enough blade finesse back to use saws.

Yeah.. Health has been an issue for a couple months now. I caught a case of maybe food poisoning
 at the end of June. As I was recovering from that, I took a seriously hard fall in the driveway pushstarting a truck.. and laid myself up for a while on the left side. My legs are almost back to normal, but my shoulder and elbow that took the most shock impact are still pretty fucked up.

Anywho.. off to do some tear down on garden benches to free up a half dozen bricks to set up an outdoor burner tomorrow.. yay!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Garden pics :)

Time for a little garden tour.. I took the pics on Sunday morning, but I'm also going to put in stuff I've done since then.

A long shot from the FOH garden. Off to the right in front of the garage door are all the fruit pots that need to be hauled out back and planted. The greenhouse is standing strong, and that front flap is essential for shade that makes the front porch pleasant. On the left in the back you can barely see the beds.. In the foreground is a sea of grass- half of that is gone as of today- once the sun got too cooking down by the greenhouse, it was time for weeding in the shade. I've now cleaned out the whole planting in area for this years columbines.

A shot of the greenhouse and kennel beds. In the foreground you can see where I spread out a tarp to lay out some composted manure and straw bale flakes to dry. Why did I do that you ask? Because I got those two boxes moved and needing filling. Today I completely weeded out that whole front bed, and started out some sifting on the right side- where the most of the gravel and shallow rooted weeds are.. by the time I got the first couple feet sifted, the sun was nixing anything more there for today- shade is my friend, lol.


A good shot of the setup. Off frame to the left is another tarp where I stacked up the bags of stuff and straw bales- it's a testament to how well they were wrapped for winter 2015/16 that when unbagging 5, only one was really rather gunky... mostly with mushroom mold. That bale I flaked out to dry a bit overnight on Saturday. Three bags of composted manure- really wet stuff. What makes it good to mix into sweet feed but sucks for spreading over a couple boxes. So those got dumped out on Saturday to dry out a bit too. In the back you can see the left box with a first flake fluffed in. I fluffed the flake for a couple reasons- I didn't have enough bales to just straight lay in flakes, and I wanted to spread out and mix up that mushroom mold, and break up the flake matrix into a new matting to better accept what was going on top. There were 11 flakes, 5 went into the left box, 6 into the right since it's a deeper box.
A closeup of the boxes as I started. The box in the back has one flake on it so far, the box in front is just the basic inch I gave of smothering paper layer to seal in the bottom, shovels of dirt from the bed removal, and some grass on top. got the green mulch, I'm using it :) The carpet edge goes under the box by an inch or so to help with weeds too. Carpet is wonderful stuff.
After flaking up the straw, had some fun stomping it down real well again. Then a bag and a half each of composted manure on top. I watered in with a couple gallons each box to help tamp stuff down a bit more for settling.
The fill after the peat and veggie dirt mix. I used one big bale of peat moss and 4 bags of veggie dirt. Mixed up a quarter batch at a time and spread around with a small rake- it was wonderfully zen. Watered in this layer with a couple more gallons per box to help it settle in before packing a very full barrow divided between the two of more grass over the top.
While my grass fairy was off collecting that heap that you now see packing those two raised beds to the top, I started working in the rest of the smother bed action. I had just enough carpet left over that I was able to do the whole front line of the lasagna beds. This front corner is cardboard and one bale- I had barely enough, because I wasn't also covering the carpet aisle- didn't need to. Around the light pole area got two bales of straw and a good heap of cardboard- It needed the cleanup, and this year it's were the peppers growing in their containers are going to live. Nice big spot for them.
Ah, and cleaned up the far corner to with a new smother layer. I had the cardboard, but not quite enough straw at one bale because I was also renewing the aisle on that side. In the foreground is this years big brassica garden- Kalettes in back by the fennel, a row of romensco broccoli, a row of green cabbage, and a row of red cabbage. You can see the two lemon balms in the front corner of the next bed looking good, and the two cages for the asparagus beans to grow on this year. The far bed is going to be some corn, and maybe some greens.
A shot from the far end. You can see how loose that straw looks by comparison to the other end, but it was a darn sight better than the tall grass mess that was there. The carpet on the front looks great, and lays in nicely. The three bronze fennels are spectacular- we hate the stuff as a food, but it is beautiful and the bennie bugs love it. While in the cleanup, I discovered several borage sprouts popping up in the front of the beds too, which is rather nice.
A bunch of seedlings enjoying the sun... everything has been moved from the solarium and porch down to the greenhouse now. Monday night I had to tuck everything under cover because we got a thunderstorm with hail... but tonight they all stay out.

Some pots lined up and ready to move around... Starting on the left in the kitty litter bin is hardy kiwi, three lemon balms, a couple baptista and foxgloves, the dozen gallon pots of lavender, and the avocado tree.
From the nice shady corner of the greenhouse at this time in the afternoon. In the forefront is some dried grass. That marks where the helios radish is.. beets and carrots haven't done nada. Right close to the garlic is the transplanted beer radish. And a nice big area in between that I can still do what I want with. With the way the rows are matching up, I can put in future raised beds moving from the pole, and will still have a nice aisle further down the time line...

The old raised beds area still needs the whole round of attention too, starting with some solarization. And the stair garden needs it's cleanup and set in of this years plants. The tree garden needs it's tending too, lol. But so far, so good!














Thursday, May 11, 2017

Started May 9...

5/9: So, looks like everyone survived the freezes. Yes, freezes- last night hit it like the night before. But today I took off the frost cloths and the stuff down by the greenhouse looked perfect. Since overnight lows are going to be in the 40's now, we are good to go there. The poor Purple Hyacinth Bean- I covered it over days ago, and I fear it may have cooked a wee bit much when it was still sunny out. But it's still almost hanging in there when I took it's cloth out, so we shall see. The dill has loved the extra cover and sprouted great.
Today was another shuffle day- a lot of stuff moved back out of the greenhouse, so a lot of stuff could be moved from the solarium to the greenhouse. The lavender seedlings- there's a total of 84 of those at the moment, lol. Over this year they will be slowly transplanted up as needed to 3x3 then 5" pots to grow in for a year or two. Got 56 chamomiles, 36 zinnias, 18 each of fennel and dill plugs, some cauliflower, a couple more baskets of fuchsias, and all the 3x3 scented geraniums in the greenhouse too. A few days ago I transplanted 13 variegated sages from their 3x3 pots into gallon pots for growing out this year, and those got moved out to the porch. Those will be planted in next year along the front fenceline where I've tried and failed to get other stuff to start.
This year I'm going to pull out the few tulips from that area and lay in a deep smother bed and let it just die for a year before trying again. Next year I will set in the sages up that line. And I now have 16 Candy Lilly seedlings that are going to be grown in pots this year too- those will be nurtured along to plant in with the sage. Candy Lillies have spectacular blooms on 3' stalks that will look spectacular over the sage growth. So some 2018/19 plans there.
I did another good spraying with Neem & oils over the lasagna beds today- almost finished off this batch of mix doing it. Since I had a wee bit left, I started to spray on the corner of the kennel garden where there was the most recent squash bug activity... and noticed some delightful seedlings!! Last year sis and I had capped over the Beer Garden Radish as late in the season as I dared to help along what little blossoms and seed pods I saw at the time.. and when I moved the giant radish corpse today there was a nice handful of tiny radish plants!! I carefully dug them all up, and transplanted the best 21 in the batch- 7 per row, 3 rows. There were littler seedlings I scrapped too, but dang, those are big radishes and I only need so many, even with letting a few go to flower and make seed. And I do hope a few do that so I can collect some seed stock. I put them into half of last years brussels sprouts, on the garlic side. The brussels didn't respring for seed, and those radishes had to move anyway since that's the area the toothache plant is going in.. so hey, good deal. I got one strip left in that garden area, and I think I'm going to plant it in with "weird spinach and greens". Some of the other other plant species that aren't part of the classic plant rotation groups.

Tippy and friends..
The feeder action has become popular! A few weeks ago I started refilling the nyjer sock feeder, and picked up an new tube feeder since all of the old ones were broken. Menards has the sale on nyjer seed, Meijer better on wild seed. Started filling the tube feeder with cheap Meijer feed that had more small seed and less sunflower and corn. The finches, sparrows, tickmouses, chickadees came out. Dumped all the moth ridden bad seed down on the platform feeder- and that seemed to draw off to the greater extent some of the pest birds like grackles, starlings, and some of the red winged blackbirds- the grackles and starlings can't perch at the tube feeder, but the red wing blackbirds can if they are smaller and hunch up well. Then there was a red belly woodpecker that was showing up at the tube feeder and being rather entertaining because he was so huge and could hang in so well to snack at those holes and pegs meant to feed a bit smaller and upright perching feeders.
So I made up a lil batch of suet to try to feed Mr. Woodpecker. I had a lot of suet goodies stacked up that didn't get used so much this winter since it was so mild and birds had a lot of natural goodies. I made two suet cakes, poured into mushroom tubs....

For the fat..
1/2 cup of lard- I use a pound tub, and half of it was used up. I used half of what was left.
Equal amount of generic chunky peanut butter.
Nuked them up enough to make them soft and mixable, but not liquid.
In a 16 oz Daisy sour cream tub... about half fullof freeze dried mealworms, and topped off to about 2/3 full with some moth spoiled quinoa. Topped the tub off to the top with dehydrated apple bits.
Mixed in about 1 1/2 or so of Daisy tub of wild seed to that.. and poured it off to two mushroom tubs...
The woodpecker was last to show over the curiosity of the red wing blackbirds and sparrows.. and then I put out the Baltimore Oriole feed.. just in time too..
Because now every good bird is exploding like a colorful and musical muse into the spring backdrop of the tree blooming..
We have at least 2 females and 4 male Baltimore Orioles. And a nice treat- Rose Breasted Grosbeaks- we usually see a few of them here and there, but this time we have a full Gross! I'm not sure if it's the suet, or other goodies, but it's rare we see so many.
There's flocks of birds.. but then there's names for those flocks.. And how much fun is that?
Chicadees are banditry
Finches are Charm or trembling
Grosbeaks are gross
Sparrows are Host, quarrel, knot, flutter, crew


5/10: lots of indoor outdoor shuffling between the house and the porch... hardening off time has come since today is the last frost date. Transplanted up all the double furled blue columbines- ended up with 63 big, 12 little seedlings. Will be growing those out in the pots this year, or perhaps two depending on how slow they are to show first bloom. I'm hoping the mother plant was isolated enough not to have been cross pollinated with other colors, but only growing out will tell if that happened or not. If they are true, I will plant them in with the original mother. If not, elsewhere as I'm sure they would still be pretty.
Meijer had their mushrooms on sale, so over the last couple days I've dehydrated and picked up a heap of them! Which is nice, because we are always chowing those down, lol.

5/11: The birds are happy- we also have catbirds and cowbirds showing up- just a couple of each. They are new additions we had to take time to look up and identify. Orchard Orioles started showing up today too. Knock on wood, the larger ickier birds are staying away- the grackles, starlings, and bigger blackbirds. The new tube feeder has perches just short enough they can't really get on it, and the birds that are feeding aren't dropping much to make the ground enticing. Filling the platform feeder has helped with it as well.
Another round of shuffle indoors/outdoors for hardening off. Moved the asparagus seedlings and the blown small spring bulbs out to the garden porch. Moved all those transplanted columbines into the greenhouse.
Took the time today to start moving the raised beds. The biggest bed sort of fell apart while I was digging around inside and popping it up- a bit too much rot on one of the bottom side boards and collapse of a corner left me with one solid side and end panel, and some wood, lol. So it isn't being moved up this year obviously. I'm glad I did the dig out on it first, because I cleared that mound off first to start filling the two other beds. The smaller bed I made when I made the big one almost survived intact- it had a bottom end board that rotted out. No problem since I was planning on flipping the frames over so the good side was down anyway. I just put the short end in front and won't deep fill there just yet. The first frame I made held up best- a bit of chunk off on some bottom edges, but not too much- that one made the flip perfect.
Keep in mind I tend to build my beds straight on top of the lawn, I don't dig out the area first. 
So to start off with, I started cutting up that old rug we used to smother the stairs garden and has been sitting folded up for a while. 2 foot wide strips. Made 2 at first, one for the front and one for the fence edge. The front edge lines up perfect between the lasagna beds and the kennel beds, and the fence side tucked in perfect too. One box fit neatly front to back just barely covering the carpet strips. Another couple of 2 foot strips cut in half fit perfectly for the aisles between the boxes. Carpet makes for a darn fine kill blanket.
On the pole side of the beds, I laid in a new cardboard and straw smother layer to even out that curved mowing edge to butt up against the first box. I've let the back and front edges and the aisles sit as just carpet for the moment. I still got carpet to use and still need to smooth that edge for now.
In the beds themselves... laid down a thick layer of saved up MailMax newspapers.. and covered that with the dirt dug out from where the large raised bed was. It sure did make it easier that I had dug it up a lot this morning before I tried moving the box... after that all I had to do was shave that mound down to about ground level to put in my first dirt layer. I sprinkled in dirt as I was laying down paper to help hold it down in the wind.. then went back and filled and tamped down the edges and corners well with dirt, and made sure all newspaper was completely covered.. and that took up pretty much all the "extra" dirt. Raked up the mowed grass from the garden path to put a bit of green over the top- not much, but a nice fine layer of seed free green mulch. And that's as far as I got today, lol. It pooped me out, but felt good to get it done.
Tomorrow I will continue on it... I have three bags of "veggie soil", two bags of manure (both got to sweeten been planting, but I'll get more after this, I need the beds to mature before planting tomatoes), a big bag of used cocoa saved up- it isn't the most satisfying medium I've experimented with, but it will be good to add a big boost of organic fiber to the box. Since I'm breaking up the last of the bagged straw bales, I'll take a good bit of that and break it up for more fiber.. mix that stuff with the bags of stuff, plus the top clearing off of another of the old beds- the oldest one is pretty much crap now for soil removal.. I got a handful of small fertilizers that need using up and will go into the mix... and hopefully at the end of the fill I will be filled enough to plant in tomato goodness.
I should have enough straw to give the rest of the walkways around the beds a fill too. The front of the lasagne beds and it's far corner are sorry as hell, but the aisles there are looking good. This weekend sees the last of our low 40 overnights, so the big patch in the lasagne bed will be getting planted in soon with this years brassicas.
Where the raised bed were I'm going to clean up a bit then just lay it over with clear plastic to solarize for a while. I don't really need to do anything yet to that area other than the bed removal, and I don't want weeds to get in there yet, lol. I already need to work a lot down there, don't need to add to it while other stuff is going on if I have to.
In the kennel bed- the Helios radish is for sure popping up- the questionable on if it was viable or not Little Finger carrot has not popped. I think I'm starting to see the beets starting to sprout, but I'm not sure yet, lol- they are still tiny.
I still need to weed out and clean up the side of the greenhouse where the toothache plant will be planted in. And the Tree bed needs to be addressed and cleaned up before I can start thinking about putting in the beans, winter squash, and cuke seeds.......

But now it's time to get cleaned up for dinner.. pulled pork sandwiches tonight!