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Archive for August, 2009

My Workouts are "On The House"

August 30th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

My "workouts" this weekend included...

1. Watering my little veggie garden
2. Giving my dog a bath
3. Walks with above-mentioned clean dog
4. A bit of routine housework and laundry
5. Cleaning out all the window tracks (The grimy parts that are under the bottoms of the windows ... they are partially exposed to the outside & get filthy ... you have to lift the windows to clean them. I don't know if "tracks" is the proper name or not.) Gosh - we have a LOT of windows!
6. Sanding & painting 2 old dressers (this included carrying them out to the garage, and moving a bunch of bricks around that I used to anchor the newspaper I used to protect the garage floor. That was followed by over 3 hours hours of bending & squatting & scrubbing & rollering & brushing. Carrying them back in to the house, re-stacking the bricks, and cleaning up will be my "workout" in a couple days (I will let them dry much longer than necessary before I dare to put them back on the carpet.)

Who needs the gym when you have a house, a yard, and a dog?

When I was in my 20's, I would have done the above and then gone out dancing! But now ... well, I'll admit I'm tired & sore (it was re-furbing the dressers that did it) and I think I'll just crash on the couch this evening with a movie (I have "Wall-E" from Netflix). Smile

All Veggies & Herbs Planted Just in Time for Stage 2 Watering Restrictions

August 23rd, 2009 at 05:32 pm

All my containers are planted.

Previously Planted:
Green Onions
Romaine Mix

Planted Today:
- Basil
- Chives
- Okra (Clemson Spineless, the type used in gumbo, not a vine ... thanks for the clarification Joan.of.the.Arch ... In my mind I was thinking "vine" because I need to figure out if they are going to need supports of some type)
- Rainbow Chard (wanted to do tomatoes but as I learned and others here pointed out they don't go in fall gardens even here in hot Texas ... Also I'm curious to see how it grows here vs in the Pacific NW, and if it's as easy to grow as it was when I was in WA I'll be guaranteed success with at least one item.)

If the okra grows well, we'll probably have way more of that than we can consume, but I know it will freeze VERY nicely. The Basil, if it's prolific, I can make pesto & freeze. The other items I limited to quantities that I think we can consume as we go.

I used only about 1/3 of each seed packet. I'm thinking I can do a 2nd planting very early spring (Feb or so), and a 3rd next fall. All packets are stamped sell by 11/10. The basil says "annual" so I'll either add another container or give the rest away ... I'll see how much my one little container produces.

We're in to Stage 2 (out of 3) watering restrictions effective tomorrow due to the drought here. We can use our sprinklers only once per week. Since our landscaping is new, we will need to hand water the bushes once a week and the trees once or twice a week so they don't die, and we'll need to make sure all the vegetation around the foundation also gets hand-watered once a week to prevent foundation cracks. That's the most important thing! We can replace a dead plant, but we can't grow a new foundation! (Hand-watering is allowed as long as it's done by 10am.) The grass? It's gonna go brown, but it should come back.

Kitchen Garden Part 2: Grounded In Reality

August 20th, 2009 at 06:31 pm

A couple weeks ago I did an entry called "Kitchen Garden Dreaming":

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Welcome to the new Kitchen Garden Part 2: Grounded In Reality.

Dreaming is great. That's the phase of any plan when you can let your imagine run wild and ... really THINK BIG. But sooner or later (hopefully) reality sinks in and you make decisions that are, tho inspired by the dream, based on what is practical. (For example, when I was furniture shopping, I did allow myself flights of fancy, looking at $4K dining room sets and ostrich leather Williams-Sonoma beds ... yes, really Smile ... It helped me crystalize in my mind what I wanted ... but eventually I came down to earth and bought pieces that would allow me to furnish an entire house attractively for less than what one of the dreamy pieces of furniture would have cost.)

So, in order to avoid having to get permission from the HOA (which would slow down the process and probably mean not being able to start a garden this fall), to GREATLY reduce startup costs, to eliminate worry about how our automatic sprinkler system would fit with a veggie garden, and to take in to account that fact that I am still a newbie gardener and don't know how successful I am going to be, I have decided to go for a modified container garden.

Yesterday I got a large & attractive container on clearance at Lowe's. This morning I planted green onions & a romaine mix in it. I also plan to repurpose 3 plastic black industrial-looking trash cans by having DH drill holes in the bottom and bury them half-way underground (camoflauged from the street by some taller bushes) and I will plant 2 tomatoe & 1 okra vine in those. In addition to keeping weeds at bay, I'm hoping the containers will be tall enough to keep the rabbits out of them and (with sufficient supervision from us) keep the dog from doing his business on the plants we plan to eat from! If for some reason the HOA objects (which I don't think they will because I am really trying to make things attractive/hidden/blended with the rest of the landscaping) I can easily move the containers. And if I fail miserably, I will not have invested a lot of money in this project. (I'll give you a total once the tomatoe & okra plants are in the ground.) Also, the "pretty" container I bought can easily be repurposed for flowers.

Somewhere on-line I read about an article in a Japanese magazine that taught how to start growing Daikon in bags, and I've asked DH to ask one of his friends in Japan who is an avid gardener if he can tell us how to do that.

I'll probably add a couple little containers of fresh herbs on the front steps ... not only consumable, but will provide a nice fragrance when people come to the door.

If I succeed with my modified and greatly scaled-back plan, I'll probably add a few more containers and scatter them in with the rest of the landscaping. And if I prove to have a green thumb and decide it's worth the cost and effort ... who knows ... the full-blown kitchen garden dream may still some day become reality.

Kitchen Garden Dreaming

August 3rd, 2009 at 03:39 am

In 2007 I tried my hand at a bit of vegetable gardening for the first time for the SA $20 Challenge. I was in a rental house, so I could only do "container" gardening (the containers were anything free I could scrounge up like plastic buckets from Freecycle and no-longer-in-use recycling bins).

Now that I'm in a house I own, I think I may plant an honest-to-goodness kitchen garden. I knew that here in Texas you can plant both fall gardens and spring gardens. The idea of a fall garden is more appealing than a spring garden, both because of the temperature in the fall and because my work schedule is lighter. I thought I had plenty of time still to plan a "fall garden" but today when I was researching on the net (Texas A&M web site has a wealth of info and Gardener's Supply has some pretty nifty stuff too including an interactive plan-your-own garden tool) I learned that fall garden veggies are planted as early as 16 weeks before the first expected frost which is Dec. 1. That means if I'm going to plant a fall garden I need to get cracking!

Here's my to-do list:
- Check HOA rules. See if I have to submit a plan for approval, and if so does that mean I won't be in time to plant a fall garden?
- Figure out where to put the garden.
- Figure out if we'll need to do anything special with the sprinkler system, such as shutting off one or more of the sprinkler heads? (A sprinkler system was not something I had to deal with in 2007.)
- Decide what to plant (I know I want to plant green onions, daikon, okra, tomatoes, and lettuce. Beyond that I have lots of ideas but am not sure.
- Plan the garden, and make a list of necessary supplies.
- Get supplies.
- Get starter plants and/or seeds. I think I'll use starter plants this time as much as I can, since I'd like to have more variety and less of each item than I had in 2007 when everything was started from seed.
- Plant the garden, tend it, and hopefully harvest the fruits of my labor.

For anyone interested, here's a link to the Gardener's Supply site:

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