[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.


Nov. 11th, 2009 03:58 pm
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Of the many different garden chores, I rank harvest right up there as the most fun. Sure, planting is neat; all that possibility, the different shapes of the seeds, but really, we garden to get produce right? :D

Today we got a basket full. :)

Happy Harvest to you all!


Nov. 9th, 2009 03:03 pm
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Steadily getting about three eggs a day for the last week or so. Two from some of the big girls, and one from the Bantam. Go, chickens!!

I'm also pleased to report that when I visit friends in Austin (and sometimes when I visit friends in town) they want to know if I've brought the chicken food bucket. woot! That makes me so happy I want to bounce.

A few of the tomatoes ripened. Our dinner last night was yard egg omelets with home grown tomatoes on the side. Someday we'll have a whole meal from our yard. I'll post pics. :P

Hope everyone had a happy Samhain/Halloween and has plans to spend time with family for the Harvest festival. If you don't have anywhere to be Thanksgiving weekend and you can arrange to be here: speak up in the comments and we'll throw together a gathering! (Notice me putting that out there without consulting the cook: no worries though, it will be fine as long as it's potluck.)
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
We have lots of green tomatoes refusing to ripen on the vine, might be time to pull out the frying pan.

Our chickens, after the recent loss of one, seem to have settled in and are recovering from the overcrowding at the other place, so that now we are getting an egg every couple of days. Not bad for a relatively cold time of year. We even had an egg two mornings in a row recently. This makes me happy.

At this rate, if you calculate the cost of layer feed to the number of eggs we are getting, we are paying about 40 cents per egg...but since we are also getting "happy", and scrap management out of them, I really don't care a whole lot about that. I want to expand their space and then get some more ladies next year, bringing our flock up to the 10 hens we are allowed, but for now: happy happy to watch my ladies clucking and scratching about. Eggs are just a bonus. Eventually we'll need to get more eggs out of the girls to support their upkeep, but for now....


I'm in love. :P

This is the lady who meets me at the gate each day, "Top chicken". She was a little unsure about this flashy thing I had brought with me, and was letting me know that even as I snapped the picture.

The other girls decided that if Top Chicken was nervous, they were going to the other part of the pen, thank you much....little did they know that I have a sport option,and running from my camera will not keep it from capturing their souls.

And on a "greener living" note: we haven't turned on the a/c or the heat for a month, with the minor exception of a few hours during a recent party. The house could still use some insulation, but I have to say, starting with brick is a lovely thing. Our neighbors down a few blocks got solar panels for their house, which has me completely envious, and we recently attended Go Green First Friday in Downtown. It is so lovely to see all the little corners of environmental consciousness poking up about town. :)
[identity profile] gryphynshadow.livejournal.com
Today, I did a lot of work on the garden. I'm very proud of myself, and also quite pink and sore. :)

I had planned to be up by five thirty this morning, so I could take advantage of the cooler temperatures. My body had different plans, however, so I slept in till eight thirty.

Despite my late start, I did get my entire list of chores to be done in the garden cleared away. I've earned my afternoon/evening off!

I loosened the soil in the EarthBoxes in the driveway. Then I emptied the three that are missing pieces (the irrigation tube, and some of the underpinnings for the grate system in the bottom), mixed their soil with more sand, and rebuilt them. I used some PVC from a section of the sprinkler system in the backyard that we're taking out to replace the upright irrigation tubes, and set bricks in the bottoms to hold up the grate. I mixed compost into all the boxes, and then mulched them all with 5 inches of leaf litter.

I raked the leaf litter I used for mulch from the kidney shaped bed in the backyard -- the one we haven't done anything with yet. We still need to clear that bed out, and take out the giant honeysuckle of doom, and its leaning half rotted T post support. However, that wasn't on the list for today, and can wait for another massive gardening spree.

I worked up two beds on the North, North-East side of the house (and found another buried flagstone, while I was at it.) I used some of the lovely black rich dirt from there to fill 11 peat pots, and repotted the tomato seedlings.

Side note on tomato seedlings: tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers are all in the Nightshade family, and they all have one characteristic in common. They will all root from the stem, if buried, or in contact with soil. Gardeners use this characteristic to their advantage, when growing potatoes, and if they're wise, when growing tomatoes. For potatoes, as they grow, you 'hill up' the plants -- bury them, leaving the top six inches unburied. Every bit that you bury will become roots, and the roots will produce tubers. And it's the tubers that we eat!

Same deal with tomatoes, only, we don't eat the roots. When you start tomatoes from seed, before you set them out in their final location, you need to repot them. Move them from their little seedling trays into larger pots (not too much larger, just a bit will do). As you move them up, position them so that only the top with the leaves is above the soil -- bury the stem. Do this (according to Earl at the gardening class) twice before you put them out. Bury the stems to promote strong root systems. In harsh climates (and ours is harsh, especially right now), strong healthy root systems will support the plants better, creating healthier plants in general, and an increased yield.

So, today I potted up 11 tomato seedlings. I've got 3 Cherokee Purple, 4 Arkansas Traveler and 4 Bush Celebrity.

Also, if you're using the peat pots that you fill yourself with soil or potting mix, when you repot or transplant your young plants, peel off the peat pot. Yes, they will break down and biodegrade, eventually. However, it's the 'eventually' part that is tricky. I've set out plants from the home improvement store in those, and been able to get the peat pot back out of the ground at the end of the season. Peel the pot off so the roots of the plant can expand into the surrounding soil. It's what roots do, so why discourage them?

Lest you think I set up two garden beds and then did nothing with them, let me assure you that I did indeed make use of them. They now each have one cucumber seedling, and two okra seedlings in them. I'll let those get a good start, then in August, I'll set garlic out around them, and if I'm feeling frisky, some bush beans as well.

The EarthBoxes are ready and waiting for their tenants! By next weekend the tomatoes should be big enough to go into them, and the week after that will be pepper and bush bean time. Also in two weeks, I'll be setting up the bean tripods, and starting pole beans in the backyard. I still need to prep the beds they'll be in, and when it comes time to plant, I'll need to set aside space for the spinach, later in the season.

The garden is changing, on a daily basis, and it's so much fun to watch all the young plants growing! (The spaghetti squash is up to six inches tall already, and the first zucchini hill is 4 inches tall!)

Here's hoping everyone's fall gardens are healthy, productive, and fun!
[identity profile] gryphynshadow.livejournal.com
Today, [livejournal.com profile] gailmom  went and picked up a bunch of canning jars for me. She found them on Craigslist, and scored 10 cases of 16oz. jars and 33 cases of 8oz. jars, for half the price they would have been retail. Hooray for Craigslist, the resale market, and smart shopping! Way to go [livejournal.com profile] gailmom !!!

Because she picked up jars, and because it's been on my mind lately, I'm thinking of canning and preserving food. Admittedly, so far we haven't had much of a harvest (although I've learned a lot, especially about my own habits and the need for workarounds there), but the local farmer's market should supply us with enough locally grown produce to make a foray into canning worthwhile.

The farmer's market is open on Saturday morning, so we're planning a trek out there to survey the offered goods. I'm hoping to score +20 pounds of tomatoes. I don't want to get too many to start with, because this will be my very first foray into canning all by myself, with no guidance from experienced canners (my mom and grandmother.)

With this in mind, today I did a little google work, and found this: http://www.pickyourown.org/canning_tomatoes.htm It's a step by step guide, with pictures, to canning tomatoes in a hot water bath. We don't yet have a pressure canner, but do have a hot water canner. Canner, plus jars, plus lids, plus tomatoes equals home canned tomatoes!

I feel pretty confident that I'll be able to successfully can tomatoes for the winter. I will, however, be sure to write up my experience with it, to share with you all here. Even if I screw up totally, and make a giant mess. Even if we wind up having to eat twenty pounds of tomatoes before they go bad. :P
[identity profile] gryphynshadow.livejournal.com
I went out into the garden today, to see that over the past three days the broccoli bloomed. Yep, little yellow flowers. So I've harvested 6 out of 9 plants, leaving three on one end that have been lagging behind all season. Those three have got little bitty heads on them, so I think I'll leave them a couple days more, but the six that I've harvested are, I think, done.

The poor brussels sprouts didn't produce at all for me. I think I planted them way too late. February first is really a bit after their ideal plant by time. I'll start some for the next winter season at the end of October, and see if I can overwinter them and get them to produce. I think it's just too hot for them.

I also need to find out what eats the (expletive deleted) worms that have been chewing them to bits. I left the brussels sprouts in the ground, even after it became obvious they weren't doing well, because I wanted the worms to eat them, instead of my broccolis. Sadly, the worms have finally found the broccoli, and gone to town on them. :(

In other news, the tomato seedlings I planted out (was it two weeks ago?) are doing well. I've noticed that the ones in the ground are noticeably taller and healthier looking than the ones in the earth boxes. Phooey. I think it's the microorganisms in the soil, possibly earthworms, too. The earthboxes don't have worms, the soil is different in them... Sigh. I've got one Arkansas Traveler in a box, and one in the ground, and the ground one is a good two inches taller already.

I think I may start a couple more tomatoes, for an extended harvest (and cause I like tomatoes.) Besides, both my Rutger's tomatoes are in a box, and I soo want some to eat! I'm sure they'll produce, I just feel greedy.

Oh, I know, I'll make some compost tea! With molasses and apple cider vinegar. mmm. Plant yummies.

Waiting for me to make room for them are 6 okra plants, 6 (or 12, if I don't thin them) zucchinis, a basil, a marjoram, and an oregano. I need to pick up a pot for my lemon thyme (I already know better than to try to grow thyme outside). Also coming along, I started some zucchini seeds last week, and they're poking up too. Yay!

It occurs to me to wonder where I think I'm going to stick all these plants...


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