Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Greenhouse Set Up....."

Yesterday seemed a good day to set up our "pop up" greenhouse.  I decided to set it up on the deck, so instead of using the stakes and tie downs that come with the greenhouse, I went to Menards and bought 8 cement blocks to set along the inside edge of the greenhouse (on top of a plastic lip that goes all the way around the inside), which will also give some mass for solar heat gain, too.

Don, of course, was there to document the set up.  ;)


The day was overcast and somewhat cool, but it wasn't long before I shed the flannel shirt because it was warmer in the greenhouse.  ;) Plus, I was moving cement blocks, expending energy, and I break out in a sweat just thinking about exercise.  ;)


When we moved here, this 55 gallon plastic drum had been left behind by the previous owners and it is now being put into use.  I filled it with water so that when the greenhouse heats up, the water inside will gain warmth, then release it during the night and overcast days, keeping the temperature warmer of the greenhouse warmer than the outside air........"I hope".  :)  That is my plan......between the water and cement blocks, I'm hoping their mass absorbs and retains the solar heat, keeping the inside greenhouse temperature from fluctuating too widely.  This means, of course, that I must open the door to let in air during the day (after the water has heated up enough) when I have plants in the greenhouse so that they don't overheat.  


I also bought a digital thermometer that will allow me to know what the high and low temperatures inside the greenhouse have been each day, too.  It gives a reading of the temperature where the main unit is placed (as of now, this would be at plant height) and another reading of where the other sensor is (at the end of the white cord), which is on the floor of the greenhouse.  I am hoping to hang the main unit closer to the top of the greenhouse, stretching the cord for the other sensor so I will have a better knowledge of the range of temperature from top to bottom.


Here it is all set up and gaining solar heat.  :)  It will take a few nice sunny days to heat up all that water.  When I see that the solar mass has moderated the inside temperature, not allowing the temperature to dip too low at night, I will then begin to move some of the seedlings I've started in the house into the greenhouse so they can grow with better light and also harden off.  The greenhouse came with a mesh shade cloth, too, so that may be needed to help temper the heat as well.


It got so warm inside the greenhouse while I was working I decided to wear a headband to soak up sweat as well as to keep my hair from falling into my eyes.  When Don saw me he called me "Jerry Garcia", so I added a photo of Jerry, too.  I admit there may be a "slight" resemblance if I had more hair on top.....and played the guitar.   ;)



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Fruit Trees...."

About a month ago, Don and I stopped in at Garden Goods Nursery (http://www.gardengoodstc.com) to find out when they expected fruit trees to be available.  I was told mid-April was when they expected them and they were kind enough to get our phone number to call and inform me when they arrived.  We received a call last Thursday and I drove to the nursery on Friday, picking up six trees!

As I'd hoped, they were all able to be loaded into our small Pontiac Vibe and arrived back at our house in great shape.  Fortunately, Don had not accompanied me because in order for the trees to fit, the back of the front passenger seat had to be put in the flat "down" position, too!


Now that the temperature is rising once again and the recent snow from the past 2 days has melted, the warm air can now continue its work on the piles of snow from this past Winter.  Soon it will be gone and I can begin planting our trees.


As I mentioned, I bought 6 fruit trees.  Not all are dwarf trees but I plan to keep the taller ones trimmed to a shorter height.  Here is a close up of the tags.......

Our 2 apples.......



Our 2 Peaches.......



And lastly, our 2 cherries.......



I look forward to getting them planted so that they can begin to "settle in" and send out roots.  Any fruit that is set this year will, unfortunately, have to be picked right away so that all the strength of growing goes into root growth.  I also will not do any pruning until next Winter, too, so again, all the strength of growing goes to the root system.  This Spring is going to be an exciting one!  ;)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Fermentation for Beginners....."

"Fermentation for Beginners" is the name of the class, sponsored by Oryana (http://www.oryana.coop), our local food co-op, that Don and I attended last Thursday night.  We both enjoyed it VERY much with a great group of people.

Don took notes and photos while I did the cutting/slicing and mixing of our quart of sauerkraut.  In this photo, I am slicing the head of cabbage, prior to adding salt and hand mixing, kneading, squeezing.  :)


Here is a close up of my cabbage "slivers".  After slicing around 2# of cabbage, it is then put into a large bowl with a tablespoon of salt sprinkled over the cabbage, then thoroughly mixed by hand until the cabbage releases 1/3 to 1/2 cup of liquid.  When that was achieved, I added a tablespoon of caraway seeds and mixed those in thoroughly, too.  The "sauerkraut" was then packed into a glass quart jar up to the jars shoulder, topped it with a folded cabbage leaf, and submerged under its "juice" by adding the cabbage core last, prior to screwing on the lid.  When we got home, we were to add plastic wrap between the sauerkraut and canning lid so that the sauerkraut did not touch the metal.


Each attendee went home with a quart of sauerkraut that we made ourselves.....I love "hands on" classes!  Here is mine, sitting in the kitchen while it "ferments".  We were told to let it ferment for about 5 days before tasting it.  After doing so, we can either say "OK, this tastes great and I want to keep it at this level of ferment", or......"This is good, but I want it to ferment a bit longer to give it more bite".  :)  If keeping it "as is", it then is refrigerated to keep the fermentation minimal, or left out on the kitchen countertop to ferment longer.

I noticed last night that ours had "worked" quite a bit already because it had pushed some of its "juice" out of the quart jar.


I chose to use only caraway seeds in my jar of sauerkraut but the instructor had curry and ginger root available, too, in case anyone water to have a curried/ginger sauerkraut.  There were samples for us to try, but I went somewhat "traditional".  :)  The curried/ginger sauerkraut was delicious though and I think I will make some of it eventually.


Due to time constraints, the instructor demonstrated how to make Kimchi (a spicy, fermented mixture of cabbage and vegetables and the national dish of Korea), and Kombucha (a food supplement prepared from a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria that is added to tea for its health benefits).

Here are the ingredients used in making the Kimchi......


We were all given a "Mother" to start our own Kombacha, too.


As with any class, there was a huge amount of information given out in a short time, so thankfully, we were given handouts with all the recipes and instructions needed to make these fermented "goods" at home.  We had a lot of fun and as I mentioned earlier, our classmates were very nice, too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Our Flower House Pop Up Greenhouse Arrived!"

I had talked with Don about hardening off our indoor seedlings when it came time to set them outside.  They need protection but also need to adjust to temperatures and light intensity.  I searched online and at a very reasonable price ($150.00 with free shipping) we ordered this little collapsible greenhouse from Flower House.  Another thing I like about it, is that it will be able to be set up over our metal fire ring raised bed, warming that up and giving it a head start with the growing season, too!

Here it is lying at my feet......


It assembles very quickly, too.



How about the static it caused making it a "hair raising experience"?



Here it is with the interior cross bars and roof bar installed.


And here it is totally set up for its photo op.  ;)


When disassembled, it has a zippered carrying case for packing it away.  It also comes with a "shade cloth", along with stakes to anchor it securely to the ground.  I "think" we will be setting it up on the cement pad next to the garage first for hardening off plants, so will be anchoring it with something like cement blocks, but will eventually move it over the converted fire ring and get something planted/growing in that.

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Temporary Fix......."

Dave Soper of Soper Services (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Soper-Services/294265167352106) came over today to put a temporary fix to the issues from the front porch ice damming.  It will suffice until the snow melts.

Here is what it looked after Don cleaned up all the fallen blocks of ice.


The tree support (using those words loosely) has been moved over and replaced with the expandable metal support.  The bars across the beam are, hopefully, going to slowly move the beams back to center.  As you can see, they are under pressure and can be tightened as needed.....sort of like straightening teeth with braces.  ;)


Here is a close up showing the setup.


A quick and easy solution until it is possible to work on it after the snow is gone......

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Helinox Collapsible Chair......"

When Don was perusing the Canoecoppia Catalog for this years event, he saw an advertisement for a lightweight collapsible chair which he thought would be perfect for having along with him for rest stops when biking.  As seen in the photo below, he ordered and received one.  :)


Small, lightweight and easily packed on his recumbent bike to be brought out when he stops for a longer rest while on one of his "higher mileage" rides.  Here is the frame and the chair cover is seen behind Don on the chair.


The frame assembled and the cover about to be slipped in place......


Here it is fully assembled.  I was surprised at how tall it is!  I was expecting it to be more the height of a low folding beach chair.


The fully assembled chair with one comfortably seated and very pleased consumer.  ;)






Friday, March 21, 2014

"Cleaned up....."

Don did some porch clean up while I was downstairs weaving yesterday.  I came up to find he had used our 2 wheeled cart to remove the chunks of ice and totally cleaned up the mess.  He was even able to stand the "tree" support in place, although it isn't as much of a support as we had originally thought.  We'll be doing something about that when the snow/ice is melted.

He did a fantastic job!