Friday, May 30, 2008

The Deluge

I've been checking on my baby seedlings almost every day, as I find a moment, usually without H since he tends to focus on whatever I'm focusing on, sometimes with a little stick in his hand or sometimes just with his hands, and well, those baby seeds seem awful fragile so I sneak out just to see who's popped up.

But almost none of them popped up after I left the sprinkler on. It was getting a bit dry so I thought I should water them and then I forgot I turned it on. Mr. Thystle was in the house after dinner wondering why the water was running; I said it was probably the dish washer. Later we realized the dish washer should be done by now so he went downstairs to investigate. Ooops. There were puddles in my raised beds, but they soaked in within minutes, so I figure the drainage is good considering they got the equivalent of 6" of rain.

That was a few days ago. Today the beds now look like alluvial plains, with silt and sand in spots. I wasn't sure what this meant for the seedlings (none were up yet). But there were radishes, lettuce, and mesclun up more or less in the correct spot. Still waiting on the beans, potatoes, onions, and cilantro. There are also some serious sink holes. This concerns me. Where did the soil that was in the holes go? How can I get my bed back into a flat, loamy consistency again? Time will tell.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Pajama Bottoms

We got pants! H & I went to a friends house with lots of fabric and some of H's pants in tow. Then with two babies and one sewing machine we cut like mad women and started stitching to make some pajama bottoms for out loved ones. It worked out pretty well. She was a good influence on me as she likes to stitch first, ask questions later and I'm much more about asking questions until I forget what I'm supposed to be doing then change to whatever shiny thing has caught my eye. But with my friend's "just do it" vibes working on me, plus working with a currently amicable H underfoot, knowing my time would be limited, I just started making pants. I think they turned out pretty nice. A little big, so might be better in a another 2 to 4 months for H. And a little bit loud, but that's why they are pajama bottoms. Did you see the little kids having a pillow fight on the fabric? Too cute.

We both took two different approaches to making cuffs and neither was a resounding success but we both learned something (drawback to stichin' first). I used some of my friend's cute castle fabric for H's cuffs and she used some of my corduroy for the pants she made with a flannel cowboy print. I definitely want to try making some more pants. Perhaps next time I'll try something a little less loud for everyday wear.

Macaroon Cherry Tart

As referenced on my current events sidebar, I made a Macaroon Cherry Tart from 101 Cookbooks. Cherries in season and recently purchased coconut were in my pantry when this blog post popped up (gotta love RSS feeds). Very good! I substituted coconut oil for butter in the tart crust and worked just as well. Not a good dish for transporting, however. The macaroon topping needs to be pressed into the crust but in reality gravity is what's holding it there. I also used the needle nose pliers to pit the cherries. I never realized that cherries were so plum like until you start ripping them apart instead of just popping them in your mouth. Also, the cherry juice stained my cuticles. Never really knew about that side of cherries.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Seeds In!

Parsley Plant Awaiting Planting

So I FINALLY got my seeds into the ground. Starting in late March my goal was to plant seeds during the April/May planting period as suggested in Golden Gate Gardening. So I made it! Now the troubling part. I just couldn't make up mind what to plant and I had a 4'x4' raised bed. That's 16 square feet. That's not much. So I know I over did it, but we'll see how it turns out. Isn't that one of the cool things about vegetable gardening? You can treat it like one big science experiment without the peer review and grant writing. The fun part of science without the double blind tedium. You know, potatoes do better when they have more than 1 square foot devoted to them type of thing.

Dirty Gloves

So here's what I put in: potatoes (All Blue), onions (White Ebenezer) for green onions, radish (White Icicle), carrot (Scarlet Nantes), mesclun (Q's Special Medley), bush bean (Blue Lake), cilantro (Sabor), romaine lettuce (Parris Island Cos), butterhead lettuce (Tom Thumb). I'll try to get a plan drawn up so you can see how little space each one takes up. Also everything except the beans and potatoes are planned to be planted in succession, so there might be one or two more rows added in three to six weeks (hrmm, better put that on my calendar before I forget).I still need to transplant the chives and parsley but those won't be going in the garden bed.

Freshly Sown Seeds

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dinner Inspired

When hanging out with one of my mama friend at the park, we have been in the habit of stopping to have a Peasant Pie. H always eats half of mine and could probably eat a whole one if I remembered to buy two. They recently had a special of cauliflower, leek, and fennel with blue cheese which both H & I LOVED. I thought that all those vegetables should be paired up more often as they are in season together and are a bit sweetish and go quite nicely with salty/tangy blue cheese. So I tried to recreate the mood of this pie with a casserole, held together with some eggs. Here's what I came up with that was pretty nice (although never as good for me as something someone else has made).

Ingredients: Bulb of fennel, 3 leeks, half head of cauliflower (I used a whole head and the vegetable ratio was off), 6 eggs, some milk, oil of your choice for sautéing, salt, 4ish oz blue cheese, bread crumbs and parmesan. Saute leeks, add chopped fennel, add cauliflower and some water, cover until cauliflower is soft, stir blue cheese in, poor into greased baking dish, poor scrambled eggs/milk mixture over veggies, top with bread crumbs and grated parm. Bake at 350 for more than 20 minutes but probably not more than 40 (I accidentally turned the oven off midway through so I' not a good judge of how long). We ate with peas since they were quick and easy and on hand. Pretty nice.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Screen Time

I thought I might make a blog entry about one of my other hobbies that isn't gettin' too much action lately, my screen time entertainment and more specifically World of Warcraft. Here's what I've built up over the last two plus (that long?) years:

On Wildhammer (PvP servers r3WL!):

  • Xeby - Level 23 Tauren Shaman (haven't played in years, literally)
  • Thystleburr - Level 70 Troll Hunter (my main if I can have such a thing - play BG's mostly and just enough to get really rusty)

  • Kompost - Level 15 Undead Warlock
  • Seby - Level 39 Undead Priest (parked at 39 and twinked to the nines for BGs - love my shadow spec)
  • Ataree - Level 18 Tauren Druid
  • Thys - Level 21 Orc Warrior
  • Thystlespark - Level 24 Undead Mage
  • Thystle - Level 15 Undead Rogue
  • Thystleblood - Level 30 Blood Elf Paladin (my main PvE char at the moment)

On Ner'zhul I have three lowbie Alliance characters that I started to try out Alliance quests.

On Bronzebeard, I have Thystleburr a level 16 gnome warlock to play with some online friends.

What time I do get to myself at the end of the day, has to get divied up between all the stuff I want to do, so video game playing hasn't happened much. I'm guessing 5 hours in the last month or so. Hardly enough to get much done, which is probably why I have so many lowbie characters as its something I can get a lot more gratification for time spent. But I thought I would share how much of a geek I really am. Now back to gardening and crafting...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Watering Air

Here's how things work around my house when I try to garden. Well when I try to do any project really, but for illustration purposes lets stick to gardening. Step one, get myself dressed to garden, not terribly hard, but it does mean getting out of my pajamas and putting on something suitable for a SF spring. Step two, potty H, then diaper him (since he usually is nakey-butt), then dress him, then put shoes on, then put coat/sweater on. Usually he is not happy about something along the way (the shirt going over his head, sitting still, why aren't we outside already, etc.) so its not just doing those things, but trying to do them respectfully and not piss him off. Step 2.5 is to go downstairs with H and put on my gardening shoes. Step 3 is to head into the garage and start schlepping all the tools I need outside. For example, today I took out a shovel, a tined fork, my oversized bucket for garden debris that goes in the green garbage bin (compostables), pruning shears, organic fertilizer and humic acid, and the soaker hose and sprinkler head I just purchased. I never found my gardening gloves. And, of course, I didn't need the fertilizer/humic acid or soaker hose. And it took a few trips since I forgot some stuff the first go around. And oh, yea, never forget anything upstairs because then you have to bring the baby upstairs to fetch what you forgot and they think that their fun is coming to an end and want to let you know how they feel about it, even though you promise them its not, and they weigh 30lbs so you can't carry much in your free hand anyways, which means two trips up and down the stairs with said 30 lb baby.

Ok, finally I can get down to business of trying to prep the garden beds for planting (which I was able to get some seeds and goodies at the nursery yesterday, go me!). The garden beds are so dry that they need to be watered first before I can add the amendments (or so says the fertilizer bags). So I put the sprinkler on it and the water starts pooling on the surface. You know when dirt is so dry the water beads up then forms little puddles and if you keep the sprinkler on, small lakes. So I used my fork to "churn" the beds up and get some water down lower. I'm not really sure what this phenomenon is called or how to fix it. I'm assuming that if I keep mixing it up, it will moisten everything up eventually and as long as I keep it moist it won't be a problem moving forward. I will try running the hose again to see how it goes.

Which brings me back to how things work around here. So today was basically about watering one little 4'x4' bed and a bit weeding elsewhere before H ran into trouble with gravity and the door threshold (don't worry everything is fine, just ended our gardening a bit early). Day two of operation veggies, will probably be more watering and weeding. Day three will be work in the amendments. Day 4 will be planting (dare I hope!). Day 5 will be attach the copper tape to keep the slugs out. And so on. In other words, with a toddler, there's a lot of prep work and lots of running around, so every step of a project is broken down into microsteps. Whew! The upside is that I could conceivably blog about every microstep! Or just wait until something cool happens. Or perhaps there are gardening mama's out there who have discovered some secrets I don't know yet. How do you garden with a toddler?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Vegetable Garden

I'm working on putting a vegetable garden in. It's been a major work in progress. The idea started last summer, when I got mad about paying money for something that I knew I could grow. And I read about modern versions of Victory Gardens somewhere online, except instead of the enemy being Germany and Japan, the enemy is out dependence on foreign oil and the food miles that comes with our food. And I wanted H to know about where food comes from and feel that connection. And then Mr. Thystle said he'd help out and well, that sold me!

Backyard circa December 2001

Back Yard When We Purchased the House, Dec. 2001

The problem has been finding time and when the weather turns foggy finding motivation to get H dressed and me dressed and downstairs. And before he walking it was where to put him and then he was putting everything in his mouth, etc. He's a good age dig up all my seedlings when they pop up *grin*. I knew the spot I wanted to put raised beds in at (raised beds to help define the area I'll need to protect from cats and slugs) but we had an old pond that had been filled in with soil that we needed to remove first. As we're working at it, there are paint chips flying. So after a brief period of freaking out about lead paint, I did the right thing and tested it. Turns out we're a.o.k. Yea! But then we had to go through 4 or 5 or 6 colds.


Back Yard A Couple of Years Ago - Notice the patio as nearly disappeared

I'm using the bible for vegetable gardening in San Francisco (Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Pierce) and it suggests 4 planting times for beginners, since you can really plant all year round in SF and that gets a little intimidating. They are Feb/Mar, April/May, July/Aug, and Oct/Nov. So the crunch was on to get things pulled together in May, so I called in backup. My parents came and helped move the last bit of rubble from the pond demo and level the ground to get the raised beds in - 8" high cedar with aluminum posts from Gardener's Supply to make 4'x 4' beds. There are currently 2 beds in place, and if things go well over the next few months, I'll try 2 or 3 more beds. Four beds for each planting period (although really probably only 3 would be in production at any point and 1 would be fallow) and 1 bed for perennial herbs.

So we're getting there! Today I did a bit of bed prep work, making sure the soil was broken up and removing the largest rocks and bits of organic matter (like twiggy roots). I've made a tentative list of plants to go in this bed, and I'm really not sure how its all gonna fit. Many of the items are things that need to be planted in succession, like sowing cilantro every 3 weeks or so. So I might not end up with exactly the space I expect. We'll see. I'm also trying to figure out how to irrigate it. I think the short term solution will be a hose and sprinkler. The most important part is to get SOMETHING in the ground and then I'll worry about how to attach my copper tape to prevent slugs and what happens if the dog decided to run through the beds, etc.

So stay tuned!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Back Yard Today - My Butt Working on Irrigation and H supervising, Also patio re-emerges