[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
or rather, I have.

This blog will remain up, but for new posts, check out Converting Habits
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
There is no such thing as too many cherry tomatoes.

Further note:

one 8x4 foot bed takes up to eight 1.5 CF bags to fill (depending on how much finished compost I have to supplement with). Further, it takes up to three bags of mulch, although that could be gotten free if I would get off my mountainous anxiety molehill and find the place to pick it up.

At $6.97 per bag of organic soil, plus $2.85 per bag of organic mulch, and a further cost of  three cedar fence boards at $3.89 each, that means that, when I don't have items here to help (saved fence boards, finished compost, free bark mulch), and presuming I don't need peat (at $1.86 each, so far only used with blueberry bushes), each 8X4 foot bed costs me $75.98 to put in, or, with tax: $82.35.

This is not insignificant, and buying each bit on a separate trip over the coarse of the month so as not to see the total in one place does not change that. $82.35 is still 1/10th of your monthly income.

Naughty Gail, no tomato for you today...ok, tomorrow, since you already ate three off the vine today.
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
I have to find the software before my camera can attempt to upload photos to this temp laptop, so this is a pathetically picture free entry, which is why I've been delaying it.

I really hate talking gardening without inundating you with pretties.

Maybe I can come back and add the pictures later and it will look like a real entry. ;)

Lucy has been spotted multiple times in the neighborhood. If there were some way to catch her I would, but alas.

The chicks are grown enough to be in the pen now, but so tiny compared to Top Chicken, who is still my most reliable layer despite being a year older than anyone else in there. The bantams, Fluffy Buffy, Tiger, Nana, and Raven, are adorable in their difference, and absolutely frightened of everything except people. Rooster is huge, but has not yet crowed, so we'll see. Rooster thinks sie is a duck; plays in water and walks on the female ducks. Little Red thinks that Rooster is the bestest thing EVER. They are inseparable, they even sleep together. 0.o

The ducks need their own entry, because watching multiple marriage, fowl style, is just hysterical.

The tomatoes are doing well. I've gotten four large tomatoes off the Patio tomato, the Roma has a ton of fruit on it, several of which are starting to ripen, and the various heirloom tomatoes are looking good. I have baby tomato plants doing fairly well in my kitchen window, taken from the...thing...the little branch that tries to grow that you pull off...I forget what that is; I've been putting the ones from the heirloom varieties in seed starter mix and seeing how many want to become new plants. 8 so far are looking good. No idea whether they are Mr Stripey, Homestead, of Black Krim though, because I don't label things sufficiently. ;P

I think I have proven the fact of companion planting. One bed has two tomatoes, a Black Krim and a Homestead (I have four Homesteads, two Black Krims). Those two tomatoes are INSANELY tall. I've had to tie up the cages, because the plants were tipping over the cages and crushing the other bedding plants. Why are those two so tall and such a darker green then their compatriots? I strongly suspect it is because there are two basil plants and a tansy in that bed. Tansy to keep away insects, Basil to make nightshade happy. There will be more basil here soon. Oh, no! Don't throw me in that brier patch! Anything but that! (A reference the current generation of children will not get-along with clapping to save fairies).

The peppers are doing well. I've harvested several banana peppers already, and have lots of bells on the plants getting big. The beans have a few *tiny* little beans growing out of previous blossoms, 4 or 5 that I noticed today. I'm still harvesting some arugula, though it does keep blooming in the heat so it is a bit more tart than usual. Fortunately I like that.

The blueberries are suffering. .The rain barrels are empty now, so they are getting hose water. They do not like it ("or it gets the hose again" just floated through my head). Our water is EXTREMELY alkaline. :( Various suggestions and internet searching has me now putting the hose water into an empty rain barrel to about half full, letting it sit for 48 hours, then dumping in a bottle of apple cider vinegar just before I water via soaker hose. That seems to be helping a bit, as they have some tiny new leaves coming in again. ~whew~ May be able to save them yet.

The squash and zucchini and the volunteer plants have TONS of blossoms all over them. I really hope things get fertilized so we can see what the volunteers are. :P

The potato plants are finally starting to peek up a bit. I have some more to throw in and then it is time to cover them again. :P

Mental note for for future: Do not plant anything next to the chicken pen that you aren't growing to feed *to* the chickens. It just does not work.

Other problem seems to be spider mites and some sort of tiny white mites which are attacking the tomatoes and *decimating* the marigolds. I have made up a garlic and pepper tea, and we'll see if that helps. ~crosses fingers~

Strawberries are doing well, though now that the tomatoes are high they are very much shaded. :)  Okra is just sad. Like a lot sad and very tiny. And the beans by the back are being eaten by something...I suspect something that roams the night since I've now had several mornings of "huh, I now have one less plant than I had before, how annoying is THAT!?!".

We bought mallard deritive ducklings at Easter. Yes, that was dumb. Dang they are fun though. It has yet to be determined whether they will go straight to the freezer at adult weight, get their wings clipped and go loose in the yard, or have a ramp built and be encouraged to enjoy the creek while still considering our yard for nommy treats.

They really are fabulously fun. We have the play yard set up and a casserole dish has been temporarily made into a pond so we can sit in with them and laugh at how ridiculous they are.  Looks to be a Mallard (Jane the Strange-Peaches duck), a Peking (Sunny, Monkey's) and a...something that looks like it is a mix of both, with pink AND black on both bill and feet. That would be Peepers, my duck. Monkey likes to hunt pillbugs so that Peaches can hand feed the ducklings. I prefer to sit until a fly lands on me then lean slowly forward until the mallard, Jane the Strange, notices... she eats the fly right off me. I find this amazingly satisfying for some reason.

The whole thing strikes me as odd...like adopting a kitten when you don't want a cat. At least we can eat them when they get bigger though. Try that with a kitten and you get in all sorts of trouble. ("If you're so evil: Eat. This. Kitten!")

The lack of rain has been hard on just about everything. I do not enjoy living in the Sims game.

rosebud;!;!;!;!;!;!;!;!;!;!
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
But it is pretty darn satisfying.

My tomatoes (all but the two that insist on being short, and the one in the hanging pot) are now contained in cages.

I half convinced Monkey, while at the feed store, that tomato cages are to keep tomatoes from running away. hee hee

We played with chicks while we were there. The Americaunas have the funniest puffy cheeks as babies! ;P Too cute.

Blooms on the squash and/or zucchini. About to have blossoms on some volunteers. blossoms on just about all the tomatoes. TIny green tomatoes on about half of them. The beans are doing that "I think I grew a bit last night! Did I? Did I grow!?!?" thing....the pest guy was here today but did his best to work with my random garden bits, we'll know in the next week if the precautions he took were enough. The okra is slow to start, but I suspect that is the repeated cool weather we've been having.

No sign of the potatoes. :( I fail at potatoes this year.

oh well. Since that is one of the few things i *can* get organic and not in plastic at the store, I"m not sweating it. (too much).

Pics later. Lunch now.
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Not bad, really, for so early in the season. Thank heaven for poultry though. :P

Best flavor today: mint squared/sweet herb tea (it was better after steeping and cooling, I've been drinking it constantly today)

Thing most missed: cheese!!!!!
more, plus pics )

For those who would also like to eat petals, I recommend this site as a good beginning. I like their chart and reference it often. :)

Not yet 9am

Apr. 1st, 2011 09:07 am
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
and I've learned several important things from this first F(e)asting day:

1) mint tea, when made with fresh peppermint and orange mint, is very strong...even when flavored with half as much sweet herb as mint.

2) one should not wander outside in one's slippers...no matter how tired and ill one is...for they shall collect many things from the ground which will not be persuaded to stay outside by any silly doormat.

3) I do like eggs with basil, but I do really prefer my eggs- no matter what herb I put in them- to have cheese. :( Must. find way. to barter for cheese.
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Today, K came over and helped out. This, coupled with the help from Big Event and the random tree removal folks, means that despite my plummeted mood (hello, Depression, who invited you?) things are still toddling along.
cut for pics and such )
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
A friend of mine, errantember, is also a suburban permaculturist. He recently started a routine wherein on the first of each month he only eats food he has grown himself or bartered for something he has grown. It helps keep him aware, and motivated.

I have to admit, knowing you will be spending a hungry hungry day on the first if you don't attend the yard would be fabulous motivation.

I've decided to somewhat modify it for myself and start the same thing.

From now on, Fridays at my house will not feature any pre-packaged food, and the first of each month those over the age of 14 won't find food in my home that wasn't grown here or bartered for something grown here. Anyone under age 14 will be given the option to participate or not.

This Friday is the first of the month, and the first 1st after the Spring Equinox/Ostara/Holi...so that seems an appropriate day to start.

eep.
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Quick update, then I'm back out into the yard. :)

Yesterday was Big Event. For those not in Aggieland, Big Event happens every March, and those of us who sign up get four hours (ish) of help from a group of volunteer Aggies. I've participated a half a dozen years now, twice as a student, four times as a member of the community, and it has always been a good experience.

This year, I got 8 girls from a Christian Sorority, all of whom were enchanted by my poultry and impressed with our efforts to grow produce. They swept off the gutters, helped me gather about a tree's worth of branches and sticks from around the yard, and took all the wire down from the old chicken pen, salvaging what they could. They also raked up leaves and placed them near the current pen for me, and organized as many bricks etc as they could find so that they are easy for me to re-use. :) I let them go early cuz they had worked so hard I ran out of things to do that weren't obviously adding on things to my job order (which is a no-no).

Later in the afternoon, the rental neighbors had someone over finally taking the big limb off the tree (it cracked during the ice storm and has been laying on their roof since). I went over as they were finishing up and asked if anyone needed cold drinks...fetched water, and as I handed the last one to the one who seemed in charge (he got to drive the heavy equipment) admitted I had an ulterior motive...what would he charge to take this small ugly tree down in my front yard?

He did it for free! :)

sweeeeet

Between that, and finding a pile of old fence boards on the side of the road, I feel pretty darn happy. Karma even gave me a chance to give back when two teens fundraising for a trip to DC came by that evening...I gave them my tip money.

Happy day.
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Mostly because: omg we need rain and the trees need to stop mating so enthusiastically.

I just want to be able to breathe and open my eyes all the way. Also, constant-multiple-day-long headache is uck.

So I'm still making progress but much much more slowly. ~sneeze~
picture proof. :) )
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
The kiddos are fishing with their dad today, so I have some unexpected time. Figured while my breakfast digests and the pills settle, I'll do a post I've been meaning to do for ages. :)

Then I'm going right back to playing in the yard, and all my indoor work and computer things can continue to sit sadly by, unattended.
I babble about laws for a bit... )
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Today was another day of random garden bits. Peaches and I planted the rue, lavender, thyme, and two other herbs I'm too lazy to go look up in the dark, as well as putting the purple basil in with the Black Krim tomato, and getting the Sweet 100 (the one the neighbor recommended) put into a hanging pot. (I've run out of space in the garden boxes). Monkey and Peaches had a lot of fun searching through the dirt in the pot for snails before I transplanted and hung the tomato.

words! )

pics! )
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
In that you don't get sick days unless you happen to have a willing and available babysitter. ;)

This means that, despite feeling like cat vomit, I have still taken care of chicks and chickens and cats, checked and watered as needed the plants, mulched the okra, and am now deciding whether or not I should be getting the potato bed ready, since the seed potatoes I divided are hardening over nicely.

Probably. I probably should.

I have decided to delay harvesting the dandelions until after Monday's rains though, even if that means they will be more bitter.

I like my coffee-type drinks bitter, so that is cool.

cut for pics (one with Monkey!) )
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Woke this morning to puffy eyes and sneezing.

Thanks, trees.

Decided this was not going to change my plans to work in the yard.

So there.

Today's accomplishments:

are behind the cut, with pics )

[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Let's see, this morning I went to the garden center, list and cash in hand. Shopping without my son is not as fun, but it is easier to take the time to FIND all the things on the list. :P

So now I have the rest of what I need to roof over the chicken pen (finally!) and finish chick proofing the bottom half, as well as a plunger to replace the one the gnomes ran off with.

I also got what I needed to plant blueberries. Four varieties: Alapaha, Premier, Tifblue, and Climax (hehe, climax, heh). All rabbiteyes, so they should cross-pollinate.They are now planted in 4' x 4' beds in the side yard, with plenty of organic peat mixed in to the soil. As soon as I finish testing the soaker hose there, I'll mulch over it, and take pics.

I've laid out and tested the soaker hose for one of the south side beds, but I've got it weighted down and am waiting for the sun to soften it up and unkink it before I mulch over it. Otherwise it will be like playing whack a mole.
more...with pics! )
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Let's see, I updated after Thursday's planting, so...

Saturday I covered the new plants with various plastic and glass containers. I ran out before I'd covered everything, so I used light covers to support the plants I then put a comforter over. It worked, but now I need to clean my comforter, and I've come to the conclusion there is a reason all the gardening books end up mentioning plastic gallon jugs. I had a vinegar jug and yup, that was by far the simplest.

So I've put out word that I need plastic jugs, and it looks like I should be able to collect enough to have a frost-cover collection soon. I'll just keep it stacked with the garden stuff, which will make these things easier. :)

Sunday all I did was check things and tend chickens, then Monday it was back to work.

I put a few more plants in the ground, a couple of Homestead tomatoes (I've heard good things) and a few banana peppers. Then added another layer of mulch to the garden boxes. I've pulled out the soaker hoses and once they uncurl a bit I'll be putting them in the side beds and adding another layer of mulch to those. Before that I should really find the courage to use my drill on the masonry and put in the support for the faucet divider. :S

(btw Gryphynshadow: I looked up the mulch thing, I think it may be sawdust you were thinking of that leaches nitrogen...no mention of that in my text for bark mulch....if I'm wrong, can you link me?)
cut for gratuitious photography )


[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
My son has some issue with the idea of eating chickens we raise (though my daughter is all "I hope one of these is a rooster so we can eat it!"). For this reason, rather than go with the original plan of ordering a straight run, keeping the girls we need to fill in the flock, and butchering the rest, I decided we would pick out chickens from the feed store to fill in the flock, raise those until they can move to the yard THEN order a straight run to be meat birds. This should help him deal with it, I hope, in that he will know when we get them which chickens are food.

So today we went to the feed store and each picked out two chicks. The kids, not surprisingly, wanted Bantams. They miss Giblet and her 'kid sized eggs'. The girl chose a striped one and a spotted one, and the boy chose a black one (the tiniest one he could find) and a yellow one. I picked out two of the assorted standard chickens: one dark red one, and one that looks like a penguin.

Since I didn't have the handy table in there I attached the light to last year, this year I found another solution.


That is a much better use for my walker. ;P Thank you, Spring, for making it unlikely that I will need it for a while. ~knocks wood~



Those are some cute babies. The small black one is quietly smart, and the stripey one is super pushy and constantly wants the big ones to snuggle it. The redhead is indecisive, and the penguin is way laid back. So far, no personality to the yellow or spotted ones that I can see.

I need all the shredded paper I can get...and today my shredder died. Thanks, Murphy. ppphhhhbbbbbttttt
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Because yesterday I had unexpected wealth of labor: and so we went to Lowes and spent the money that should be coming in soon (what? why is that bad?) and go the spring garden going. It are pretty.

It is also random. I read a book that mentioned that while research is great, and planning helps you not have to undo, if you find yourself using it to delay, just stick something in dirt and dive in. Yeah, you may spend time later correcting mistakes, but at least you'll have your hands in the dirt now.

I took it at its word. Several cedar fence boards, a pile of soil, and some plants later: The garden boxes are planted with peppers and tomatoes (my neighbor recommends I add a sweet 100 to my tomato collection..and that in future I try to time my labor availability for after March 15) and the new beds on the side (where the chicken pen used to be) is planted with marigolds, geraniums, a couple heirloom tomatoes, basil and fennel and a handful of other herbs.

I'm waiting until after Saturday to put the tulips in dirt (they are on the dining table now) but I did pot up the rosemary. Hopefully the pot I put it in won't be too shaded. We'll see.

cut for photos )
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
This cold weather is dragging me down. Between that and finances, I'm further behind than I wish to be on getting ready for spring. Thanks to the help of a recent houseguest, however, I am not as far behind as I was. :)

The pagoda has been started, but due to an unfortunately timed bout of illness is not finished. The patio is swept, however, and all the leaves stacked in the big pen. I also finished one more panel of chicken wire. The pathway is weeded, and in the process we found more path! This is one of the joys of an older home. :) It can surprise you.

The ladies are clucking along, 2-4 eggs a day, despite the weather. Possibly because I've been winter-spoiling them when it is cold. I hate the cold, so I presume they do to. I'll give the wyndottes this much, they may not like the heat, and they are annoyingly consistent flyers, but they weather winter like no ones business.

I've built a makeshift windbreak on the side of their kennel that faces in to the nest box, and have been feeding them warm rice and lightly coating their feed with drippings on the freezing days. Seems to be helping, or at least not hurting any.

I found that seed catalogs are far too tempting and lead to great indecision. Since I want to start a garden bed and fill the earth boxes this spring, I've decided to go with what providence suggests. In this case, three articles that showed up in my inbox had lists of suggested veggies. One of "Easy to grow", one of "kid friendly veggies" , and one with "top ten nutritious". So I'm gonna make a list of those, and whichever of them I can find, that is what I'll try to grow this year. Fate, fate will be blamed. bwahahaha

ahem.

I may have a lead on some no-longer-fit-for-critters hay, which would be awesome, and make building the garden bed just about free.

Now if it would just warm up.... ~longing sigh~ I really hate the cold.
cut for big copypasta )
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
This week was...unfortunate, in the plastic department. Between cleaning out the fridge, a trip to McD's where I wasn't quick enough, a visitor who did the shopping (eep!), and the school rewarding with candy, it was a plastic-full week. cut for pics )

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