Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekly Gardening Update....

Ok, bear with me, this is a long, picture loaded post again.

(I'm sorry Tori!!!! I sometimes forget that you can't see the pictures. I really wish there was some way to describe them for ya. I'm not good at describing things, though. I'm terribly sorry. But instead of just SHOWING, I will try at least to give SOME description. If blogger will allow me.)

My little planter bed out back. I now have a load of turnip seedlings, beet seedlings and Swiss Chard seedlings in this bed. I never did get lettuce planted. I guess it's just not high on my priority list this year. Though, there to the left of the bed is a small strip where I really COULD have put in a couple of lettuce plants if I'd been so inclined. *shrug* I don't know. I may yet for a late lettuce crop. The swiss chard is finally recovering from my thinning efforts and starting to develope more leaves. I thinned the turnips today. I'm going to give the beets a couple more days to see what developes there. I'd heard that the best manner of thinning is to look at the clump of plants and pull all but the biggest in any clump. But, the beet seedlings are still all just tiny seedlings with no indication as to which may be doing better than the others.

My compost bin AFTER adding another bagfull of shredded (by hand, this time!) newspapers. It had started to smell over the last couple of days, which indicated that it needed to be turned. AND, I didn't have nearly enough "browns" in the bin, after Scott added the last load of grass-clippings. (AND, he only added 1 of the four bags of clippings that he got from cutting the lawn. I wish there was a way for me to make more use of those grass clippings, since he's so intent of getting them immediately off the lawn. But at least he dumped them in the empty lot across the street, instead of putting them in plastic bags and taking them to the dump. That's SOMETHING anyway.) So, I actually shoveled as much of the compost up from one side of the bin, filled the bottom with about half the trash-bag-full of newspaper shreds, shoveled all the composted materials BACK over the new newspaper shreds, then filled the other end of the bin up with the rest of the bag of newspaper, before evening out the compost over the whole lot, and mixing it up a bit.

I don't know if you can see some of the composted materials here, but it was definitely seeing some decay there in the bin. Slimy clumps of blackened, decayed matter. I think I may be keeping it TOO wet. *shrug* Trial and error is what it is! Anyway, hopefully being freshly "stirred" and with more brown-matter added, it'll reduce the stink before the neighbours start to complain. *grin*

Next, some pics of my potted plants. (Which I better go pull inside before it starts to rain. I've got two garlic plants here from garlic cloves that had started to sprout over the winter. Since I had a couple of empty pots in my kitchen window, I tucked the sprouted cloves into the soil and covered them over and have kept them watered. I'm hoping, as an experiment, that I actually get a couple of new bulbs of garlic from these. We'll see.

Anyway, I've also got 2 tomato plants here, a cucumber, and a pepper. The pepper seems to be the most fragile. (And that pepper is currently uncovered!!!! Ooops, give me a minute! *5 minutes later!* Ok, we've got a storm blowing in and I needed to get the tomato plant in the blue pot and the pepper in the black pot on the far right pulled inside before they got rained on or blown over.) The two covered pots contain the other tomato and the cucumber.

When I cut the bottom off the one milk jug for the caterpillar the other day, this was my brainstorm to use the top half of the jug: cover the cucumber. I had a second jug sitting there as well, so I cut the bottom bit off it and used it to cover one of my Stupice tomatoes. But, the Black from Tula tomato in the blue container is too big already to fit under one of those covers. And the pepper needs more general warmth than a little cover like that may provide, so I bring them both inside when it gets yucky outside. They're otherwise residing in my kitchen window.

Here is a picture of the cucumber and the tomato, uncovered.

A picture of this week's only "harvested" effort: Rose-petal Sun tea! I remember my mom making Sun tea for Dad when I was a kid. In fact, I vaguely remember her cutting her finger open badly one time when the jar that the sun-tea was sitting in on the front step fell, and she went to catch it, but caught the jar just as it broke and gashed open her finger. I wasn't more than 3 or 4 years old, and Shelli was just a year or two.

Anyway, I thought that this was a rather appropriate "harvest" for the Solstice weekend. While over at the inlaw's house this morning watering the garden, I gathered a bunch of wild-rose petals. About a cup and a half worth, once compacted a bit. (That was all I had time for, or the ability to get at, with only shorts, a tank-top, and sandals on. I didn't have proper gear to go forging into the briars for MORE petals!) Anyway, rinse them of any insect matter, place in a gallon (or slightly larger) size glass jar, cover with cold water, and set in the sun! Shake about once an hour. After approx. 4 hours in the sun, you should have beautifully mild flavored tea that tastes faintly of roses. Of course, be sure and use only non-insecticide sprayed roses! And do leave the rosehips behind, gathering only the petals!!! This allows for the gathering of the rosehips themselves later in the year!

But, aren't those petals pretty!!!! I love the pinks of rosepetals. They're not a color I'd wear, and I don't decorate with pink very much, but on roses I love it!

And a pic of my lilac bush!!! I've got LILACS!!!! Oooooh, they smell divine! Last year this bush was all scrawny with only 2 or 3 bunches of lilacs at the very top. My FIL cut the main stalk off about half way down and it promptly sent out all sorts of side-branches and extra stalks, and now it's filling out beautifully! I have 31 major bunches of lilacs on it, this year. And several smaller bunches.

It may not be food for the body, but it's food for my soul to smell the lilacs!

Now, onto the gardening efforts at the inlaw's house. I realized when I was over there this morning that i've never shown our rain-water collection efforts. We have 2 55 gal. drums, one at the back of the house, nearest the garden, the other on the same end of the house, at the front side, nearer the garage. This is the one in back.

And here is the barrel in front. I was watering from this barrel today, pumping the water that's been sitting there. But, since it hadn't rained in a few days (and, before 2 hours ago look like it may be days yet before we got more rain!), I had to refill the barrel from the well, that's what the hose is filling the barrel with in the picture. Wishing now, though, that I hadn't made the effort this morning and used aquafer water, but had instead let it sit for the MIL to fill up this evening. Then it'd be filling with rain-water now, instead of overflowing. *sigh* I guess you just can't predict these things accurately though, can you?!?! At least our barrel out back of OUR house here is being refilled, as I've taken it's capacity down to about half in the past couple of days.

A couple of the squash seedlings.

*sigh* This pic was supposed to be turned on it's side, so to see the squash seedling you'll need to angle your head to the right. *grin* It's a tiny little thing. Don't know why the squash aren't getting very big yet at the FIL's house this year. The two I have planted here at my house are getting huge already!

Some potato plants, just starting to sprout. And, one or two weeds that are currently too far into the potato patch for me to reach and pull.

Here is a close-up of a potato plant for ya. Kinda a non-descript little plant. They've just started sprouting up in the past couple of days, according to the FIL.

I got over to my next-door neighbour's house a couple of days ago, and she said hers are just starting to come up as well. Mine still haven't made their appearance. I hope I haven't over-watered them!

On to some pics of the garden-rows.

Here we have lettuce and broccoli. The first batch of lettuce is ready to pic! YUM!

Those stakes with contractor's ribbon tied around them are the FIL's effort to scare off the birds or rabbits or whatever-it-is that's been nibbling our broccoli to bits. I don't know that it's working. I hope it is, though, as I'd love to have some broccoli!! That is ONE seed that I won't be ordering from SSE next year, though. My broccoli and cabbage choices didn't grow worth a dang this year. The FIL's choices from the grocery store, though, came up gang-busters.

Here are the half-rows of swiss chard and spinach. The spinach is ready for us to start picking at. I'm afraid if we let it go much longer, it'll bolt. This according to the gardening books I've read.

The Swiss Chard is ready to be thinned out considerably. YUM! A first batch of Swiss Chard with hot bacon dressing! Scott, Tay and I have been looking forward to that ALL winter! *grin*

The Swiss chard is grocery-store-bought seed, and the spinach is American variety that I bought through SSE. (The swiss chard planted here at MY house, though, is the rainbow variety that I got from SSE.)

Here are our beans. I think these are the Empress beans I got on the left, and some beans the FIL bought at the grocery store on the right. Mine came up earlier than his, but once his started sprouting, they've been shooting up to be as big as the ones I bought.

This is a pic of the radishes and the carrots. Some of the radishes are ready to be picked, already. And certainly need to be thinned. The radish seed is also from SSE.

The carrots are just starting to come up enough that they'll need to be thinned here very soon.

The carrots are on the right, and I don't know how visible they are to y'all, sorry. But then again, anybody who's tried growing carrots knows how feathery-fine the foliage is, and how hard it is to see until it REALLY gets big. And, the carrot seed is from SSE as well.

Here are the peas. They're actually right next to the beans in the order of the rows, but ya know.... Who cares, right?!?! *grin*

Anyway, they're coming up very well. I think the FIL and Scott simply planted some sugar-snaps that FIL bought at the grocery store. I don't think they planted seed I bought, here.

Next, invisible onions on the left, and cabbage on the right. *grin* Those onions really just don't show up well for the camera, but there ARE 17 onion plants in that row. This is Australian Brown onion that I bought through SSE.

The cabbage, most of it, is generic seed that FIL bought at the grocery store, but there on the extreme right are a couple of pathetically small cabbage plants from seed I bought through SSE. As I said, I don't think I'll be buying cabbage or broccoli from SSE again. I just wasn't too impressed with that seed.

Now we make our way into the greenhouse. Unfortunately the plants have been so thoroughly mixed up that I have no idea which tomatoes are Stupice, which are Black from Tula, and which are the Polars that FIL bought seed for from Safeway. I really wish I'd been able to have more control over this, this year. But, the FIL is bound & determined to do it his own way. *sigh* And I don't have the money to do it MY way.

More tomatoes, some cucumbers, a couple of melon. Some eggplant. I don't recall what was all next to what.

Will you get a gander at how well those damned cucumbers are growing!!! They're HUGE! Tall enough to need cages or stakes, but there's just not the room in that greenhouse for them all!!! *big sigh* I really wish the FIL hadn't planted so much! Then again, I really hope they all produce well so we get at least a year's supply of pickles and tomato sauce out of it all. *wry smile*

(For Tori, since I transplanted the cucumbers and tomatoes last week into bigger pots, they've all gained at LEAST 6 inches in height, and the cucumbers have filled out immensely! They're sending off tendrils that want to hold onto cages to help them climb, before they start producing their fruits.)

More Cucumbers. Again, I don't know which are Parades and which are Bushy's, as they've been mixed up on me. Two of the biggest got caged by me today. The FIL is prefering to take a "staking" approach to controling their growth UP instead of OUT. I hope mine in the cages do better, to prove to him how much sturdier the plants will be.

Here are two tomato plants that were not started by us. My FIL got these from a coworker of his who has a full, REAL greenhouse up in the hills. So, these were started EARLY this spring, and they're already producing some tomatoes, as you may be able to tell. The one in front here has at least 5 tomatoes on it. The one in back has the bigger tomatoes, and a couple of them are already starting to turn color.

Here are 2 Polar tomatoes that the FIL started. Production wise, his Polars were earlier to sprout than my Stupice or Blacks, but my Black and Stupice are growing just as quickly now that they're in real pots instead of seedling pots.

Here are some of the melon, and the eggplant. That's an eggplant there in the little coffee can. *grin* I really should replant that into a true pot, but it doesn't seem to want to do much anyway. I've also got a pepper plant in there somewhere that's about the same size as the one I pictured above on my deck. (JUST talking to Scott, and he's going to transplant the last couple of peppers into pots. ALSO, some of the smaller cucumbers, and a few of the tomatoes are going outside to make room for the larger cucumbers and the rest of the tomatoes.)

More tomatoes, more cucumbers, more eggplant, melon, and watermelon.

And, that's it for pictures!!!

Now on to my actual FOOD INDEPENDENCE DAY Update! (Mom thought I was talking about my trip to Spokane when she first read the title of my last Update. *grin* Sorry. It's refering to gaining FOOD independence from the mass-production farm and food system we've got going in our country right now. So, FOOD INDEPENDENCE DAY! Also, trying to do SOMETHING every day to foster that independence.

Here goes:

Planted: nothing planted persay. Some trasnplanting, though.

Harvested: Only the rosepetals for my sun tea.

Tended: Yep. Lots and lots of thinning, weeding and watering going on!

Preserved: Nope.

Make Preparations: Bought a couple more boxes of canning lids. I know we'll need them, and if we don't use them this year, they'll last another year or two in the cabinet.

Cooked Something: Potato Latkes and Tomato-Cucumber Salad yesterday.

Managed Reserves: Stocked back up on the canned goods in my pantry, as I was unable to do last week due to the lack of money in the checking account. Not much, just some canned fruits & veggies, and some canned soups.

Work on/Toward local food systems: Visited the farmer's market yesterday. Bought 2 cream rolls (DANG! *drool*) and a small piece of lemon-filled cake from Honey Bakery. Also bought Tay and I each a locally made "hotdog" from "locally" raised buffalo. (I say "locally" in quotation marks because these buffalo weren't raised in Fairbanks, but in Delta Junction. That's still local in that it IS from in-state, but it's NOT local in that it's about a hundred miles away.) Anyway, the dogs were raised by Delta game-farmers and processed by Delta Meat & Sausage. I'm sure the rolls were bought at Sam's club, though, as were the condiments and toppings used. *sigh* It's impossible to win completely in a situation like this. I considered buying some bread, but there wasn't anything that looked like something I couldn't bake myself. And I was really wanting a good rustic Italian loaf, and NOBODY had anything like that, for all the 4 or 5 different "bakeries" selling their goods at the farmer's market. I darned near bought garlic rolls from Honey Bakery, though. But I remember that last time I bought them, they smelled better than they actually tasted. So I didn't bother.

Reduced Waste/Composted: Yeah, added more shredded newspaper to the compost bin (see details above) and turned over the bin really well. Reduced waste in that I'm reusing portions of milk-jugs as "greenhouse" covers on a couple of my plants. I've actually got another milk jug I need to cut and put on one of the tomatoes out in my big black barrel planter. And I kept the bag, and the newspapers from this past week, to shred into more paper-strips for another load of "browns" for the compost bin in a couple more weeks when it needs to be turned again. Doubtless by then it will have enough "fresh greens" added that it will need to be mixed up again.

Learned a New Skill: Nope. But I have been using an "old" skill to work on making use of my yarn stash. I've been working on a shawl that I started quite a while ago. I'm now on the last skein of yarn for this shawl, and wondering who I know that would like these particular colors and is smaller than I am. (It's not going to be a BIG shawl, it's going to need to go to somebody with a fairly narrow shoulder-span.) I may just box it up for the next box of goods I send to the women's shelter or the homeless shelter.


Some crappy news: We got turned down for the IDEA homeschool program. The director of the program (the MAIN director in Galena) called and seemed upset that I thought I could actually homeschool AND work part-time, and was leaving my 1o-1/2 year old child at home alone during the day. He kept saying he didn't think that the program was a good fit, or that we could meet the requirements for the program, but wouldn't give me actual details of HOW it wasn't a good fit, or how we wouldn't meet the requirements. And even though I pointed out that I was told by the LOCAL director that there are other working families in the program, and was told that it wouldn't be a problem that I work part-time, he insinuated that it's impossible to homeschool one's child AND work. I know it'll be hard, but it's already hard even WITH Tay in public school.

Anyway, the letter he sent me denying our application to the program included the phrase that the interview we had gave indication that we (I!) are "either unable (OR unwilling) to meet the requirements as set forth by the program". And yet, as I said, HE was the only one insinuating that we'd be unable to meet the requirements, while failing to give me ANY idea of what requirements he was refering to. And in both interviews I made it perfectly clear that I have time for the schooling in the morning, with time for Scott to help with the math portion in the evenings, and that I can take time off for testings that are needed during the week. I asked if there was anything I could do to assist in getting our application approved, and said that if there were requirements to be met, I'd meet them. And yet, he seemed focused on the ONE fact that I'm NOT a Stay-At-Home-Mom. It's not actually a requirement of the program, but evidently it's a requirement HE has, and I just don't meet that requirement.

And it pisses me off!!! I LOVE my job, and it provides much-needed insurance to our family. Insurance that we wouldn't have (or, have nearly so good!) through Scott's company. It also provides sanity for me! It's VITAL to who I am that I work, and most especially that I work in a library. Until I can get a job out here at the local branch, I won't be leaving the library in town unless truly forced. Why can't some folks see that working moms aren't BAD moms. We love our children too!!! For some of us, it's a monetary necessity, for some of us it is more a labor of love that we work outside the home. But that doesn't make us crappy moms! And it does NOT mean we cannot provide a home school education for our children! It simply means we've got to be more creative about how we manage it.

So, I won't be quitting my job, and I'll be telling folks about the hypocracy of the IDEA director, and I'll be finding a different program to school my daughter through.


Speaking of a job out here in NPB, Miss V. has put in her notice of retirement, and her job position is now open. An application is due in by Thursday (June 26th), so I'll need to get a move on filling a new one out, and updating things this week. Then I need to bust my butt to get a story-time planned.

If ANYBODY has any good ideas for Storytime themes (roughly 2 to 5 age-group), I'd be happy to hear them! Otherwise, keep your fingers crossed that the application and interview process go well, and I get a true shot at this job!!!! I REALLY think it'd be the best for our family. (And then I could call that jerk of a director back and tell him that I got a job 5 minutes from home, and only 20 hours a week, and what the hell does he think of that?!?! *snarl*)


Ok. Gotta get a move on. Tay and I are heading to a barbeque at the home of some friends of mine from HS.

Have a Blessed Day!


barefoot gardener said...

Beautiful garden pics!

I can't believe the director of the homeschooling program was so difficult to work with! What a jerk. It's only fair that he should tell you specifically what you would need to do to qualify.


whimsical brainpan said...

Wow Kati, everything looks good!

Ooooh I'm so jealous of your lilacs! Lilac is my favorite scent in the whole world. Inhale deeply for me please.

I know from other people who garden that broccoli is very difficult to grow.

Farmer's markets rule.

I am so sorry that you got turned down for the homeschooling program. It sounds like a load of BS. I'd be pissed off too.

Use Dr. Seuss. He's a classic and deals with great themes like prejudice (The Sneeches), the enviroment (The Lorax), and not being afraid to try new things (Green Eggs and Ham).

Tori_z said...

Personally, I think you did a great job at adding descriptions in your post. :)

The funny thing is, I was under the impression that they (the government, etc) were trying to encourage both parents to be out working? It would be much easier to work things out if they'd make their minds up!

Sounds like he has a chip on his shoulder over something, otherwise he'd give you details. Sounds like it's his issue rather than the actual programme requirements. That's how it comes across to me anyway.

Em said...

Wow...from cukes to water barrels to compost have been putting in the work and it shows!

And good luck with the storytime!!

Connie Peterson said...

Hmmm .. here in Minnesota, Joy just decided that she would homeschool and ordered her ciriculmn on-line and did it -- I think she just notified the school district that she was homeschooling. No one had to approve or disapprove of it! Sorry to hear that there is such a problem. I know if *I* were doing it, I would inform the jerk that my child would be spending time WITH ME at the library, studying, while I was working.

Love your pictures of the midnight sun - we got dark about 10:00 down here in the "south".