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.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Wow, it's been a while. So much to do while we have these warmer weeks. I'm trying to get outside work done, but it's been hard with my daughter unable to help because of back problems, plus an extremely active puppy, and just the ordinary day to day stuff.

Spray paint projects have been in full swing. My daughter commented that the colors and designs looked like the toppings for a cheeseburger (ketchup, mustard, and pickles). 

I made a little more progress on the pollination garden. This project is going to take most of the summer. I haven't figured out how to explain to a puppy that the plant markers I am putting next to my plants are NOT for him to take out and run away with, so I used a bucket to mark where I put some canna lilies. Yes, he managed to dig two of them out. Today it was my marigolds. Oh well.

My garlic is coming along nicely. I'm hoping next month to have a good harvest. For me that would be three dozen strong heads of garlic. Some to plant in the fall and most to use for fermenting in honey and a good amount for cooking.

I harvested a great amount of lavender yesterday. My daughter has had to sit, so she cleaned it up and made bundles for drying. Glad to help her so we didn't lose the first harvest. Looks like it's going to be a bountiful summer. I also harvested an over flowing cup of chives, and chive flowers for salads and vinegar.

This is a calendula blossom. The more you pick them the more they grow and they are starting to have many blooms. This one is so pretty. So nice to see those seedlings grow into pretty flowers.

The Bee Balm and St. Johns Wort are thriving nicely. They were just single stems when I put them in last summer. I had more than enough to split and add to the back yard garden. The pots contain shallots that I started from seed and I can't wait to harvest them later this summer.

The bees are doing well. Lots of orientation flights, so we know the colony is growing. We got a taste of their honey from a tool  being used for inspection and we are hoping to get a little in the fall. One day at a time.

We have been in our, new to us, home for fourteen months and what a difference a year makes. This is one after picture of what the front garden is today. 

This was one year ago this month and the work was well worth it. Just have to keep working in the back yard so that we'll see the same result next June.

In the next week or so all of these plants will be in bloom. My zinnia seedlings are in the ground now and I can't wait to see it all colorful in the next few weeks. This is another one year later picture.

I've done some more unpacking and sorting for a garage sale and along with the sorting I've been putting things in place on the breezeway. It needs a lot of construction fix up, but for now I have a place to chill while Hunter plays out back. I love the fact that we have a vintage home with vintage Pyrex collections. So nice that they can be out where I can see them and not shoved away in boxes or cupboards. 

Last, but not least there's Hunter. He's four months old now and I'll still confess, I am not a pet person. Here he is in his pen that he reconfigured to suit himself, but he didn't plan on a place to play. Needless to say he wasn't happy, but we couldn't stop laughing. Most of the time he is lose outside with us in the fenced in yard, or tethered in the gazebo out front, but he can find mischief wherever he goes. Maybe some day I'll share the nightmare story of his first obedience class, or maybe not. So, that's what's been keeping me busy at the new townhouse homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

So much going on around the property and keeping us very busy, but it's been worth every ache to see the results. After thirteen months we've got a yard that's starting to look good and work for us, a dog, and bees. Not to mention the developments on the house itself. So much needs to still be unpacked and organized, and I think I need to buy stock in shelving. 

My daughter did a quick inspection of the bees. The ladies seem to be surviving well, and in another few days she will check them more closely to see if she can spot the queen, and check on egg production. Weather has kept her from looking.

She did have time to notice that there was honey production, and when she sits to watch them come and go, she sees pollen pants. We are hoping to see a little more activity as warmer temperatures move in.

Hunter is trying to learn to be outside on his own. It's going to be a challenge, but he'll get there. He loves being outside, I have nick named him the Tasmanian devil. 

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All I do is turn my back on him for a couple of seconds and he runs off with whatever he can steal. He keeps my busy.

My seedlings have been hardening off and I'm slowly getting things planted. These are mostly perennial flowers for the pollination garden, tomatoes, peppers, bunch onions and shallots.

I continue to dig out plants from around the yard to replant around the bees. I transplanted a rose bush, found even more chives,  spider wort, and more hosta. It's a work in progress, but so far it's cost only physical labor and a couple packages of seeds.

The plants are beginning to take well and are growing better than I expected. Can't wait to get more done this coming weekend and watch it bloom through summer. 

The compost bin is moving right along too. We've come a long way learning the composting process. It's ready for another good toss now that we've cleaned up some leaves.

Turning to the growth on the inside, she has added this beauty to the kitchen. It's smaller and gives us room now to be comfortable and it's in almost pristine condition. True vintage, and come this fall we will get back to adding color to walls. 

And finally I found a few moments to play with the succulents that have been growing around the house, and replanted my old steamer. Unfortunately last years plants didn't winter well and I had to start over. These are plants that were gifts and babies that we were able to collect. It's in the sun and already growing. Relaxation at it's finest. That's what's been happening in the last couple of weeks here at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by to visit and have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

The Town House Homestead now has it's first colony of bees. What an experience so far. Getting  a garden tilled, putting plants in, painting boxes, and then the trip to get them.

It was a one hour drive south of home to pick them up. You enter a driveway in your car, are given a tag with your order on it, drive up and they load a nuc, or many in your vehicle. Drive through bees. 

This is one colony of bees in the trunk of my daughter's car. On the one hour trip back we had one lose bee, but she may have entered when we had the windows open to do business. The process took less than fifteen minutes. 

When we arrived back home my daughter carried the nuc to the back yard and set it on top of the hive box and pulled the plug allowing them to come and go. It's been a week of very wet and cold weather, so she had to watch the weather to get them homed.

Fortunately we got a break between storms and the transfer was made. They were not happy, but did a great job settling in.

I was only brave enough to stand with the dog in the pen to take pictures, but fearless daughter got the five frames moved.

She added the cover and got them protected as quickly as possible. The next move would be to get them some food since it's been rainy and cold and they are not coming out to forage.

She temporarily added a jar of sugar water to the outside and left the empty transport box next to the hive box so any stragglers could find their way to the hive.

A few ladies here were discussing their plans to move. The next evening they were gone so they may have found their way in.

It was a great relief knowing they were in and it's been a long week waiting for the bad weather to stop, but yesterday a few started venturing out and looking around.

Since the initial transfer she has added a second box containing sugar water so they had something on the inside and could stay dry and hopefully warm. It's going to be warmer today and maybe a bit sunnier so I may see more activity. I didn't get as much of the garden around them planted as I wanted, but when they develop their flight path I can try and work around them. I'm an anxious gardener and I want to see it grown in quickly. 

Blossoms are starting to pop out around the yard. These are apple blossoms on a very sick tree that will need to come down, but for this spring we are going to leave it.

Hunter needed a bath. It's been nothing but mud here and he enjoys digging in it. He also thought that the dead bees around the hive were yummy, started licking the robber screen and chewing the corner, so today he goes out on a tether. Poor guy, but he was lucky no guard bees came out before I was able to call him away. He's developing well. In four weeks he's doubled in size. His first weigh in had him at six pounds two ounces, but last night he weighed in at twelve pounds six ounces. I think he's going to be a good addition to the homestead. In another month we'll start obedience classes. Until then he has to keep learning from us, but he is getting better every day. That's what's been happening at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by for a visit. I wish everyone a great week.