Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

So, I can finally feel the growth of the suburban homestead we are trying to create. As our bodies mend from the injuries we have suffered from working so hard, it suddenly feels like it's coming together. It's been a long sixteen months, but WOW! The immediate roller coaster ride seems to be slowing down. 

The shed is getting a face lift. One side left to paint, and I can see that I need to clean around the spruce tree and mulch before winter. In the clean up I found boarders around the shed, and two sides have slate laid. The side still left to paint has a border with just soil and I am going to set Hosta's in there before winter. Then it will have the floor repaired and new doors. 

A motion sensor, solar light was installed and it is wonderful to know it works. Now it won't be complete darkness in the back yard and we'll be able to find that black puppy when he wanders off.

We had what we call a great harvest this week. We are grateful for any harvest we get no matter how big or small. We got a second harvest of lavender, plus one of my daughter's co-workers harvested hers, and gifted it to her. I got a few bunch onions, a large bunch of basil, more patty pan squash, and of course beans. 

I made myself a fabulous bunch onion and home grown pepper omelet for breakfast with my little harvest. Of course I cook with cast iron skillets, and eat off of vintage plates. Who doesn't? Well, not everyone, but we do here. 

The basil came inside because overnight temperatures fell a little low, so after I cut it back there was still plenty, and I put a good amount into a crock pot of home canned tomatoes, peppers, and a few other goodies and made sauce. We had cheese tortellini for dinner, and there's a quart ready for a small holiday lasagna, and eggplant Parmesan, put up in the freezer. The refrigerator vegetable bin is holding the rest and the lavender is vacuum sealed for holiday baking and crafts.

I'm falling in love with the bright colors the zinnia's are providing. I can't believe the different mixture that is growing, and the bees just love it. 

And, speaking of the bees, they have been an experience this summer. This past weekend they swarmed again. An inspection was done, and there was no indication that this was going to happen. A queen cell was removed to prevent the growth of a new queen, but oh well. This is the third time this summer they have swarmed. So many beekeepers around here say they have never seen their hives swarm, and I have seen five swarms this first year. Three we are sure were ours, one that was ours that left the tree, and one from who knows where that ended up in a neighbors tree. I may see this one fly away, but they have stayed put for a day and a half now. Now it's hope and pray that we can keep the hive stable through winter. 

This is an early Christmas gift from my daughter. It is three and a half pounds of white German hard neck garlic. I will plant a great bit of this and hope for a good harvest next spring, along with some scape's, and I will also ferment some for cooking and medicinal purposes. I will cook with some too.

As of this morning my fifth sunflower is ready to open. I am so excited to watch these grow. They are over eight feet tall and the heads are getting larger by the day. They add a splash of brightness to my day every time I look out my kitchen window. Who knows maybe next year there will be five times as many growing out there. 

I don't know how I can end my blog without another Hunter adventure, so here it is. Sunday morning I bought him a new "dog" ball. Yes, I am trying to get along with this busy, strong, and growing beast. He got the new ball because this week he decided that the soccer ball he was given just a few days earlier, and loved so much, tasted good too. I chased him around trying to make sure he didn't swallow it, and up to this moment in time, I'm not sure he didn't get some eaten. I was in tears because I can't run after him and no matter what I did he just ran faster thinking it was a game. I finally got him to run, without the ball, into the breezeway and shut the door behind him. I later went out to clean up the ball and locate several pieces, for his protection only, and tossed the soccer ball away. So far he hasn't missed the old ball and is having the time of his life chasing the "dog" ball around the yard. That's what's been going on here at the Town House Homestead this week, and thank you so much for stopping by. Stay safe out there and enjoy the end of warmer weather, and "pumpkin spice" if you indulge.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

It was another weekend that the hive needed to be inspected. This venture has been a serious roller coaster ride. The colony at this point is not prepared enough for the up coming winter and will need to be fed. They are working hard, but they need all the help they can get at this point.

These are some awesome pictures she took so I could see what was going on inside the hive. You can see the new bees eating their way out, some capped honey, and the comings and goings after the mouse guard was put in place.

This lady followed her back into the house and became disoriented and tired. She gently picked her up and got her back where she belonged. 

I harvested a few more items from my garden. I have quite a few beans coming, but only a handful were ready. I cut back the chives to make my zucchini quiche, potato salad, and to have on baked potatoes with sour cream. 

I was given some very old, but heavy duty garden tools this past weekend. I will wire brush them clean and treat them so they will last even longer. I will be sharing some too.

My sunflowers are doing so well. One is opened and growing and two more will be coming soon. This happy Bumble bee is certainly enjoying them. Next year I hope to have a larger area filled with them. They are so photogenic.

They are so mystical and mysterious at the same time. My daughter never liked them, but for some reason this year she has changed her mind. This is the first time I have ever grown sunflowers.

I've been getting almost too much help from Hunter these days. I was cleaning sod and putting it in buckets for next years container garden and he wanted to dig too. My daughter calls this engaging the dog. I'll decide some day what it actually means. Maybe just a puppy who needs to dig in the dirt. I'm saying this because of all the holes he's dug in the lawn that I need to fill. That's what's been keeping me busy here at the Town House Homestead. We just keep growing and I want to thank you for stopping by for a visit. Take care everyone and be safe. If Irma is coming your way please start preparing. She seems to be very dangerous.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

This week was good for harvesting a few herbs and veggies from the gardens. I'm beginning to consider these practice runs for a larger garden next spring. 

We got a very large colander of mint that I have drying for tea. My lemon balm is recovering from insects that tried to eat it away, and I have chives and oregano ready to harvest this week.

I harvested patty pan squash and a pepper along with some calendula blossoms. My daughter is going to start making soap soon. We try to leave some blossoms for the bees too.

I boiled the squash whole and then stuffed and baked them. They are so good and make a complete meal or a great side dish. Not a large farm harvest for sure, but for the two of us it's fine. Our garden will grow larger in time. 

I have five buckets of beans growing along the walk and am hoping the deer leave them alone. They know we have Hunter now so we haven't seen them around, but you just never know..

If they leave them alone we may have a couple of meals that will have fresh beans as sides.

I've been cleaning and polishing a couple of vintage mid century chairs that my daughter got for her living room. I'm just taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and the sun. 

The big project has been the restoration of the shed. Something we've been waiting 16 months to get to. Our great friends at CCH Lawn and Landscape spent time this past weekend power washing it for us, measuring for new doors and investigating the way to secure the floor. This out building is needed to store our tools and garden supplies and we are very excited about it.

As soon as it was dry my daughter headed out to apply some paint. It will be gray with white trim. For now the doors will remain in place until they are replaced. 

I spent a couple of hours yesterday cleaning all the weeds and making sure she could paint all the way down to ground level. I discovered there is a border around the shed that has been covered in grass. On the shaded side of the shed I will transplant some Hosta's. There are plenty of them around the yard and it will be a nice touch. 

She came home from work last evening, ate some dinner and went out to paint another side. This is what it is becoming. Everything can be fixed up with a little TLC.

Of course Hunter has been such a big help lately. He's seven months old now. While we have been working on projects outside, and trying to build a garden, he has very nicely removed and torn to shreds the cardboard we laid to be a weed barrier. It upsets me to see my work undone, but I have learned to let it go, but not really. For every step forward we make in our relationship we always take a few backwards. I keep getting told to wait and he'll grow out of it. He probably will, but waiting is hard for me. So, until then, that's what's been happening at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. To all those recovering from hurricane Harvey, we wish you the best and have donated to help you out. Love to you all and stay safe. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Yikes! Where did this past month go? Many differences since my last post, sooooo long ago. 

The weeds are higher and my sunflowers are as tall as I am and getting taller. All five have blossoms and I'm so hoping to get some seeds. The squash is also growing up the tomato cages and up to my neck.

Two five gallon buckets growing fast and steady. Lots of blossoms, and the start of some fruit. I am thrilled with this venture. Patty pan squash growing in five gallon buckets.

My ginger plant is now 35 inches tall. Lots of activity in the pot, so maybe in a year I'll be harvesting ginger. Watching ginger grow is a new experience. It's a different plant to say the least.

The zinnias I started from seeds are starting to bring wonderful color to the garden. In the next week there should be many more. I love the fact that a package of seeds gives me so many different colors.

This is butterfly milkweed that I started from seed and it's doing it's job attracting those beautiful pollinators. I will add more next spring. It is tall, dainty, colorful, and environmentally friendly.

I was literally gifted a 13 gallon kitchen bag full of freshly harvested basil. I do not say no to these or any food gifts. I got busy washing and preparing it for pesto. I froze 16 four ounce servings so that through the winter I can make pesto anything. I used walnuts this time because I had them on hand and I love the flavor just as much as pine nuts.

All individually wrapped and ready for the freezer. This was a wonderful blessing.

I was also given six wonderful fresh cucumbers that are all prepped to become bread and butter pickles tomorrow morning. I know they are not pickling cucumbers, but I had all the ingredients and they will be awesome.

I harvested the pot of shallots and ended up with eleven healthy ones. They are hanging in the breezeway drying and make a wonderful piece of wall art. Next year I will do a lot more, but not bad for the first time from seeds. I planted beans in the empty pots as a second batch. The bucket beans are almost ready to blossom and there are now three peppers that I can see growing.

The adventure I am on as far as gardening and becoming a little more self sufficient goes back a few years when I lost everything and hit bottom. My daughter and I started searching for ways to stop the waste and make everything work. All usable vegetable scraps go in the freezer for vegetable stock and gets canned for use. Then the scraps are added to the compost. I keep a small empty coffee container by the sink so I can add the scraps as needed.

Not everything goes to the making of stock or compost. This is the bottom of a red onion that I soaked in water to stimulate the roots. It will grow into a new onion and I won't have to purchase any. I do this when I buy different varieties because I'm the only one who eats the onions here and even though it takes time, I still benefit from waiting. Call me crazy, but it's working for me and I'm not starting everything from seeds. 

With my daughters back injury and the swarming we were sure we had lost the bees, but this weekend she did another inspection. To our surprise there is a queen and she is laying brood and they are producing honey. They seem to be very healthy and as I watched them daily thinking they were dying off they always appeared to be getting stronger. I guess mother nature was telling me that is was meant to be. We will be watching them closely to make sure they keep moving forward and will think about protecting them for winter.

And to put a nice end to this weeks blog, there is Hunter. I've admitted in the past that I am not a dog, or for that matter, a pet person. However, this little guy and I have taken those obedience lessons over the top and he is becoming a good puppy. He has quite a ways to go, but we are bonding. He is now six and a half months old and weighed in at 31 pounds. I would like him to stay this size, but who knows. For now the path to a good relationship with him is going okay. That's some of what's been going on at the new Town House Homestead. We grow more and more each day and learn constantly. Things are moving along well and we are happy here. Spread Love and thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Container gardening has been my sanity this summer. I have been working diligently at cleaning and bringing our little piece of earth back to life. There's so much more to do just cleaning growth from a chain link fence, and working on the pollination garden a few shovels full at a time. I started two five gallon buckets of green beans yesterday. These will be growing in the breezeway so that the "friendly" animals around here won't eat them. My sunflowers are doing well. They are in the best pot of all, Mother Earth's. They are more than three feet tall at this point and I'm hoping with the heat we're going to be getting they will soon shoot higher.

A couple of weeks ago now I planted patty pan summer squash in two buckets and they are showing off at how well they can do in containers. 

I planted another bucket with basil. This is purple basil and it's also doing well growing in the breezeway. Beetles ate my basil last year and I am so looking forward to something more this year.

My potted shallots are growing and so is the one and only survivor I put in the ground. Gardening is a learning experience for me. I will succeed.

I started a pot of green bunching onions. Yes, I know they grow and spread, but I love them, cook with them, and am tired of buying them.

For a little change for our meals and salads I also started a pot of scarlet bunch onions. Although I have these in pots, I have also put a patch of each in the ground. I know it's late, but they will winter well and I'll have sets for next spring. 

My most exciting venture with container gardening is my ginger. This is my second attempt and I am happy to say it is sprouting and getting roots. It's been in the container for a little over two weeks and I think I'm in a bit of shock. I use so much ginger in my cooking, baking, and beverages. It takes about a year to grow before any harvest, but I've got this. 

In the pollination garden I have a five gallon bucket of mint growing that survived the winter and is ready to harvest. I also have a five gallon bucket of lemon balm growing and harvested that this past weekend. It is drying to use for tea. So, that's what's been going on this week at the Town House Homestead. We are making better progress than we expected. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. Happy gardening. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Well let's talk about activity and being busy. So much has gone on that I'm going to make it simple and mostly one liners if that's possible. 

Another find on this lovely half acre piece of the earth has been this peach tree. It's growing through the fence and has just a few peaches, but we'll see what happens. My daughter came across it when she was walking Hunter. 

I dehydrated sweet potatoes for Hunter so that he'd have some healthier chews. The teething and tooth loss has made him a little sick, so we've been trying to make things easier for him. Puppy kibbles are a bit hard so we've been adding some chicken broth to it.

I had a healthy harvest of garlic. As hoped I got 34 heads from the 36 cloves I planted. There are two braids hanging in the garage to dry well for the next few weeks.

Beekeeping has been a real trial. My daughter's first attempt at her own, and the hive split, which is normal. They swarmed to the dead apple tree about twenty feet from the hive box itself, and about eight feet off the ground. We watched it happen and immediately contacted another beekeeper and he came with his daughter to rescue it. 

This is Max doing his first swarm collection and what doesn't show in the pictures is that this is during a very heavy thunder storm.

Close to two hours later when the rain was letting up, Max and Brianna had the box filled and sealed up for transporting, and so far so good for them. Unfortunately one week later the rest of the hive swarmed to another tree 35 to 40 feet up and could not be rescued, but again I saw this swarm happen, and 24 hours later watched the swarm leave the tree and fly off into the sunset. 

This was the best picture I could get of the second swarm. We are sad, but the hive is still active and we will inspect to see if there is a third queen. You never know. 

The long neglected and dying apple tree was taken down. Emily and I needed to release some stress so in a couple of hours we had it down and mostly cleaned up. The future of the stump is still being decided.

One kids trash is a dogs treasure. Our friend Richard brought Hunter a kiddie pool. With a little duct tape repair it holds enough water for Hunter to play in. 

The gardens are growing. Weeds and all. The rose bush in the back I transplanted from a very shady corner of our lot and it is so happy. Blossoming on a daily basis. A bucket of mint and a bucket of lemon balm are almost ready for a good harvest, and there are Iris and spider wart in this corner. Much more growing and lots of planting to go this fall with bulbs. The front flower beds are growing nicely too and we'll have stronger plants to split next year to keep going. 

Everything has to look messy and old before it looks clean, new, and young again. The shed has been cleaned out so that a new floor can go down and new doors built. For now everything is in the pollination garden area that has not been planted, waiting for the new work to be done before it can go back in. 

We gathered all the landscape timbers that came with the property and stacked them in the back yard. These will become two raised beds. One for raspberries and one for blackberries. 

And here he is, the most curious puppy on earth, who stuck his face in front of the camera while I was trying to take a picture sitting down. Don't know what I was thinking. We're learning to work together. Hunter is five months old and completed three obedience classes. Some successes and a lot to work on, but he's still a baby as I am told, and he will get it. So that's how busy we continue to be as we build this half acre homestead. It is paying off in wonderful ways and we couldn't be happier. Lots more to do this summer and getting ready for winter, but even though time is passing quickly, we have accomplished a lot in 15 months. Thank you for stopping by for a visit and have a great week.