Saturday, September 19, 2009

Angry Villagers


We decided to try to burn the seed heads off our weeds in the garden. After so much of the garden had died, due to the fusarium wilt, as well as much of my time being spent in the kitchen, learning more about the wonderful world of canning, our garden looked like this:

The seed heads of the weeds are what is scaring me. There are some vicious, thorny weeds in there and they are LOADED with seeds.

I don't know if we spray them, if the seeds die too, or if they will drop and be fine. A friend wondered about burning them off with our propane torch. Nice idea, but I can't afford to go get the tank refill.

What is a girl to do.....?

I know! Build a torch!

You can find almost anything online. We learned a lot about torch building. One thing I SHOULD have thought of but didn't, was using a green branch, instead of the handy, ever-so-movie-torch-like, club you see here. Aesthetically pleasing, yes, but also catches fire all the way up to your fingers, if you don't watch it.

Also, the staples in the staple gun were not long enough to do the job. But you need to use 100% cotton, so you don't get any nasty burns from having melting globs of fabrics fall off and stick to your screaming flesh.

And Tiki Torch type fuel is good. Clean burning. You can use oils of other types, like motor oil, but that will give you smoke. Don't use more flammable things like gasoline.

We began by stapling the folded old t-shirt to the club.

Then the fabric must be pulled very tightly as you wrap. If you don't, you will have too much oxygen in there when burning and it will be brighter, but shorter lived. Rather like a flaming ball dropping at your feet.

Stapling every few inches, all the way around, we wrapped as though we were peasants, ready to invade Notre Dame.

Seth gives ignorant approval.

Then the staples began falling out. So we grabbed God's gift to humanity, baling wire.

Completely unprepared for this endeavor, we had only enough to pour over the torch to barely soak it. The actual instructions call for soaking the torch in a container of oil for 10 minutes. It was very thirsty.

Oooooooo! Scary villager!!!

And this is how we discovered that this method is extremely ineffective for this purpose.

The seed heads were too green to burn as well.

This garden may never dry out before those seeds drop, so our next approach is to go out with scissors and bags and trim them off.

And now you know how to NOT build a torch and eliminate seed heads.

I'm sure I can use a torch for more fun projects however. Stay tuned!



Friday, September 18, 2009

A Civil Sewing and Critique Day


Tuesday several of us that are in the Civil War Civilian Society met for sewing at a friend's house. We are alternating homes each week.

I love this dress form, and I love the dress, too!

Afterwards we trekked over to the meeting where we were to all bring our attire and have it critiqued so that we could have a good idea of what needs work.

Here are some of the gowns.

A very good representation of a 'tween' dress.

A lovely little girl's dress, though the pantaloons are apparently a bit long, and they did not have eyelet lace then.

The seamstress that did all four of these daughters did a very good job. There was very little needing to change for them. The oldest sister also has little to do.

Only her necklace needed to be made choker length.

These sleeves are amazing, and we discussed how to make them.

Lovely gloves, but lace gloves needed to be fingerless.

How to combine period correct with modesty? A challenge for low-cut ball gowns. You might be able to see the added fabric that covers her shoulders.

This very colorful dress, is still correct, but the laces and grommets are not to show. They will be adjusted so they are hidden better. Also, the fabric is bunching because the bodice is too long. This will be shortened.

Everybody standing around discussing the clothing.

I have not finished my bodice yet, so I just quickly pulled on my hoops, underskirt, and overskirt for quick inspection on if the hoops were the correct size, shape and length; and if the skirts needed shortening.

This dress was a find!!! 75 dollars at a flea market and period correct! Not to mention gorgeous! We were all ecstatic for her.

Some of the boys, awaiting their critique on trousers, shirts, vests, cravats, and frocks.



Magical Transformation!


Yes, I get to cross something off my list! I've been needing to go through my poor houseplant rack for 2 years. We did it last night.

Again, I forgot a before picture. But I used to have about a dozen plants on it. However, with all the outdoor work, I kept forgetting to water these poor neglected plants, so most of the are dead, and the rest are looking poorly.

Here we are, beginning to untangle all the vines...

One of them, all it's little arms neatly coiled until I decide I have enough time to make a few decisions.

What a mess!

Well, it's definitely neater! LOL

Not really appealing, but for now, I'm just happy to have it all up off the floor!

The canner calls...



I Seriously Need A Cellar.


I've got stuff all over the place.

I ended up canning til 3 a.m. this morning, trying to get all those pears off my floor.

Remember these?

Well, they've been sitting on my kitchen floor for 2 weeks. There are still two boxes in the back porch, seen above, but now my floor looks like this, and I've got one more 7 quart load going in the canner right now.

Ooooh, I just got to blow my air horn into the phone on another unwanted sales call. I have my number on the registry, but these guys like to break the law and call anyhow. So this usually works for a few days.

I feel like I just cleaned my right ear....



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gettin' Figgy 2


We had great growth on the fig trees (bushes) over the summer. This is the tallest they have been yet. Sadly, because they were frozen to the ground over winter, they had to start from scratch again. So we did not get a fig crop.

We have 3 Celeste and 3 Brown Turkey. Both are hardy figs, but not quite hardy enough for my goals.

There were a couple earlier this year, and this one yesterday.

I got to eat it, since Michael does not like them. Lots of green ones, but they will not ripen before frosts come.

I truly hope that one day I can get enough growth to stay, so that they can become trees.

Big dreams.

The scent of fig trees is incredible. Nothing like it.

Autumn is nearly here...

Red berries of asparagus.

Red berries of highbush cranberry.

The blackberries did well this year. Still looking green. We are kind of glad they are no longer producing!

I have been wondering what was wrong at this end of the vineyard. Vines were yellowing and losing their leaves. I think it may be chlorosis. I saw the same thing on part of the blackberries earlier this year. It can be due to several deficiencies, and made worse by a lot of rain.

New growth is returning, however.

Now that I've caught up, I've got to get busy again.



Herb and Flower Bed Documentation


We spent several days doing weeding, thinning, and a little planting in the herb and flower beds. I am learning about really growing them for use this year so keeping record of things I have done and want to do differently.

I am loving the herb beds. Everywhere you walk, a new intoxicating fragrance wafts across the breeze. Fun!

This entry is as much for my own record keeping as anything. When spring comes and I'm standing out there wondering what is what, I will be back here, again and again.

I am still dealing with herbs that the labels were lost on, and I believe a couple were actually MIS-labeled in the store. So I am going to ask for your help in identifying some of these.

If you know what they are, or if you think I am incorrect in some of them, please comment your ideas. THANKS! I'll number them to make it easier.

Here is the first herb bed, just below the strawberry bed.

1. Here is the basil. Labeled Sweet Basil, from FedCo. I planted about 20 of them closely together in a 4 by 5 area. That was not the best, I think. So maybe 6 in the same area next year.

Here it is in flower. It's been in flower nearly all summer long. The first and only cutting I got to gave me two quarts of dried, crushed basil, so I'm good. I believe the reseed quite well, so I am wondering if I can just wait and thin what comes up next year.

2. Here is the Stevia, also from FedCo. They are a little more challenging to grow. I ended up with about 5 or 6 in this area. I wonder about cutting them back when first growing, to make them bushier.

Here it is in bloom. I will try to catch the seeds when ready.

3. Next up is a hidden patch of chives.

Just looks like thick grass.

4. Then we have our Zefa Fino Fennel. I never did dig up any bulbs to roast, darn it.

These also naturalize very well. I want to save some of these seeds to spread around in out of the way places to see how they do.

5. More chives. I do not remember where these came from. Could have been WalMart.

6. I am not remembering what this is. Any ideas? German Thyme? Oregano? Rosemary? I think it's one of those two...

YAY! Jo has a vote for German Thyme!

Here is a close-up.

7. Then I have our first really big mistake. This is, I believe, an accidentally planted mint, which was meant to go in a pot. However, now that I think about it, I did not buy any lemon mint. So perhaps this is the Lemon Balm I bought. It looks just like a mint, with square stems, and smells like lemon, but it is spreading like a mint and I'm going to have to dig this up, I think, and pot it.

EDIT ~ I DID have lemon mint! I just found the seed packet.

Jo says Lemon Balm!

Here is a close up.

8. Next is another one I am unsure of. It could be the German Thyme, Oregano, or the Rosemary. It spreads nearly at the same rate as does the mint or lemon balm before it.

And this, Jo says is Rosemary! Thanks so much!

Here is the close-up.

9. This is Summer Savory.


10. And I have this labeled as Winter Savory. However, it looks to me to be identical to the Summer Savory. Are they that close, or have I somehow ended up with no Winter Savory and instead a stray Summer Savory in it's place?

It's close-up.

Now on to the second herb bed down the hill.

11. The first one is a sage I was either given or bought, I can't remember, nor do I know the cultivar.

Close- up.

12. These are lavender. The one in the lower right corner was planted at the same time as the sage, above, but has not been thriving, as you can see. The other three are ones that my friend gave me, and I have just now gotten around to planting them. I do not know the cultivars of these either.

Another new grouping planted yesterday;

13. Sorrel.

14. Fever Few

15. Hyssop

16. Walkers Low Catmint. I thought this was catNIP, but I misread the tag when I bought it. It smells wonderful. I did a little reading up on it when planting it yesterday and it appears to NOT be invasive, despite being called a catMINT.


17. We have a long, open patch of ground that the sage did not come up in, except for this one lonely plant. This should be a broadleaf sage.


18. This is my Fernleaf Dill, FedCo


19. Caribe Cilantro, FedCo


20. Somehow, this got planted again. I think it is more Lemon Balm.

20. German Chamomile did not make a great showing. In the dry area of CA where I grew up, we had a very low growing chamomile that was all over the edges of our dirt roads. Horrible soil. It was all that grew there. Hardy stuff, but I wonder if that was chamomile that was usable?


The third bed down the slope.

21. This was a large planting that did not do well at all. I had probably about 24 of these planted, a foot apart, and the 2 or 3 that survived look like this.

Close-up. I don't know what this is. Rosemary? Oregano? Thyme?

22. Lovage - seems to be fairly happy. Very potent stuff!

Two that I just planted yesterday. These have been sitting outside for weeks now.

23. Mystic Blue Salvia

24. I have NO idea what this is.

25. Marigolds that I scatter seeded and raked in, hoping to transplant them into the veggie garden to attract beneficial insects. It never happened, but I love this bed.

And the final bed, which is all flowers ~ and weeds.

26. The sunflowers. I loved these and can't wait til next year. We already harvested what seeds the birds did not steal.

27. The spent cosmos, in pinks.

28. More Cosmos. Bright lights, arent' they?

29. Little pansies. Not much of a showing. I did not give them any care, just raked in some seeds and let nature take it's course.

And that was all for the beds. Just letting them go to seed now so we can save as many as possible.

I could garden forever.