• Gardening

    a-gardening we go

    I got this quite splendid little 2 story grow house from Ikea for Christmas, mostly because I have a handful of cute tiny little orange trees I started growing at the end of last summer and they were getting too cold and very sad and miserable and I wanted somewhere bright and cosy for them.

    Of course, part of the reason they were becoming sad is that they needed repotting, so this morning I very bravely repotted them. I’m not good at repotting things, so I’m very proud of myself. :)

    Anyway, while I was preparing to do that kind of thing, and thinking about gardening this summer, and how I want to do raised beds because the soil in our little plots is terrible and I, frankly, am not *that* enthusiastic of a gardener. And along the “not that enthusiastic” lines, it suddenly occurred to me that probably there are people out there who provide kits for raised beds, and that that would be a much better use of my time and energy than trying to make them myself.

    So I looked, and lo! There are people out there who provide kits for raised beds! In all sorts of sizes! And they deliver directly to one’s home! So I measured our plots and it turns out they’re not so little, actually, they’re 6×10 each, which if I was to fill it properly would be A LOT of gardening space! I could, in theory, get 4 6×4′ beds and have a couple feet between them to kneel/walk between.

    I could also just get two, which might be more reality based with regards to how much gardening I’m actually interested in doing, but…well, I don’t have to make the decision right away. :) And since I’ve now got this cute little growhouse, I can also start things in it over the next few weeks and see how enthusiastic I am about THAT, before making the raised beds decision. :)

    (We also have what is effectively a greenhouse for our back entryway. It’s not warm at this time of year, but there’s probably something I could use to heat it a bit if I got wildly enthusiastic and needed more starter growing space. :))

    All that lies before us, though. I need to get a couple of trays for the growhouse to start with, and work from there.

    (I have dreams of a large semi-submerged greenhouse that are born from having this house with a long-defunct pool beside it. If It Was My House (and if I had all the money) I would have the whole pool mechanism removed and cleaned up and I would sink a greenhouse into the hole and build it 6-8 feet up above the surface, so there’d be like a 15 foot roof peak, and I’d grow a couple citrus trees and year-round veg and stuff. If I was that dedicated a gardener. Which I have dreams of being, although I don’t know that I’ll ever *be* that dedicated. Still, it’s good to have dreams, right? Right.)

  • Gardening

    a brief panicked spate of gardening


    I’m afraid I’m probably the kind of gardener who is only going to garden if it’s stuff one sows directly. Or, at least at this early stage in my gardening career, that certainly appears to be true. Which is fine, really. The fact that I got potatoes into the ground a month ago is a great triumph!

    In fact, it looks like we have 28 potato plants, and I think we planted 32 or 36, so that’s quite good. Better than I expected! (“Catie,” a friend said, “you live in Ireland.”)

    Anyway, since it’s the LAST MOMENTS OF MAY I went forth and planted PURPLE carrots and (yellow) corn. I have purple broccoli and purple green beans (they apparently turn green when they’re cooked, which is kind of disappointing) and…a whole bunch of other stuff, in fact (most of which is not purple :)), so I should spend some more quality time digging up the other little planting plot in the front garden & see what I can fit in. I bet I should just cut to the chase and get some planting boxes for stuff like lettuce, anyway. And perhaps for my wee crop of purple POTATOES. (I’m in to purple food this year, apparently.)

    I would show you a picture of my little garden, but for some reason I can’t get it to upload. Maybe next time. :)

  • Actual Manor House,  Gardening

    Garden Ambitions

    I have Ambitions about the garden. My Ambitions probably require a wood chipper, a chainsaw, a tiller, whatever one uses to pull (reasonably small, because I wouldn’t try to deal with the big trees) stumps/roots out, and as many willing bodies as is feasible, to accomplish.

    See, half of it garden is gone to wild, and was before we moved in here. I don’t even necessarily mind that it’s wild. It’s that it’s murderous, full of brambles (which at least produce blackberries) and nettles (which don’t). I’d like to reduce it to non-murderousness. I don’t have any PLANS for it beyond non-murderousness, not really

    (except the blackberry bramble patch would probably make a good area for a small vegetable garden)

    it’s just that I want it to not leap out and attack random passers-by. But if that’s going to be done it might as well be done right, and if it’s going to be done right it’d probably be silly to not at least put grass down, or something.

    There’s far too much of it to be done, realistically. It’s…well.


    That’s probably…I don’t know. I mean, from that angle, it’s 60 feet deep, but that’s looking toward the corner from where I was standing. Facing straight back it’s at least 20, maybe 30 feet deep from where I’m standing to the fence blocking the creek. And it’s at least a hundred feet long, so it’s just…a lot of ground. Too much. Except, y’know, if you’re gonna do it at all… #sigh

    Even so, just dealing with the first…15 feet of depth?


    There’s a fence running along the left of this picture, more or less (more or less) where the earth stops. Taking that out and clearing even just the five or so feet in front of it and the ten behind it would get rid of MOST of the brambles and nettles and it’d…just be a lot better. *sigh*

    The whole mess is made worse by the fact that when pieces of the apple tree fell off last year, the gardener just threw them right over the edge of the fence in the clearest patch (which had been my blackberry patch, god damn it):


    so what was bad the year before is much worse now because it’s got an entire extra dead tree lying on top of it. #sigh

    And of course the longer it goes on the worse it’ll get, so I would LIKE to deal with it, but…agh. :/ And it should be done NOW, before spring really kicks into gear, and…agh!

  • Actual Manor House,  Daily Life,  Gardening

    fruits of the garden

    There’s been an unexpected benefit to having gone out and chopped my way through the nettles and brambles in search of blackberries, which is that I tromped quite a path out there and unintentionally exposed the plants to quite a lot more sunlight than they’d been getting. That, combined with a couple of weeks of unseasonably sunny, warm weather (which is due to continue for another week!) netted a startling bounty of extra berries! I got about four more cups today!


    I need about two more cups and I’ll have enough for a THIRD batch of wild blackberry jam, which I’ll be making in adorable little 4oz jars and using as Christmas gifts. And there are enough unripe berries out there to get those two cups, and if I’m lucky, even more! (Actually I’m really *hoping* for more, in the name of another crumble or something, but I’ll take what I can get. :))

    Given that I have two laundry baskets full of apples, I got down to the business of peeling and slicing them for the purpose of freezing. We’ve been reading up on this sort of thing, and one ought to throw the sliced apples into salt (or lemon or sugar) water to keep them from browning and to help preserve them against freezer burn, before freezing them single-layeredly on a cookie sheet (or in my case, ice cube tray) for later bagging. That way you have individual slices instead of huge blobby masses, and can take out as many or few at a time as you wish. :)

    I thought perhaps the ice trays’ capacity to hold apples would about equal my enthusiasm for peeling them. I was wrong. They hold about twenty apples, whereas I reckon I’m good for about forty at a go. But I kind of suspected that, and proceeded with caution, so it worked out perfectly, and I now have the first batch of apples freezing. If I’m diligent I can probably easily do two batches a day, but I seriously doubt I’m that diligent. :)

    Apple slices, displayed by my helper boy! :)

    Oh, hey, I also wrote 2500 words today and got REDEEMER over 20K!

  • Family,  Gardening

    apple picking party!

    We have, as I may have mentioned, several apple trees in the garden. The apples aren’t really ripe yet, but a lot of them are cooking apples that aren’t going to be any good to eat straight off the tree anyway, so yesterday we had an apple picking party and the family came out to play in the garden and pick apples and eat apple pie (made, yes, from garden apples. I forgot to take a picture but it was lovely and tasty!).

    Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!

    Indy gets in on the action, with Grandma to make sure he doesn’t fall down.

    Deirdre flies her youngest son…

    …while the elder is up a tree!

    Grandpa holds things steady.

    Young Indiana took this one! (I cropped it. :))

    The haul, which is about…a third of the apples from one tree. Perhaps. :) a href=”https://mizkit.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/appleparty020.jpg”>appleparty020

    Deirdre took away about half the apples in the grey laundry basket, citing plans for chutney. I, today, boiled six pounds of apples, acquired 8 cups of juice and 4 cups of pulp, made 6 very pretty, if rather taste-free, jars of apple jelly and four jars of rather ugly, if very tasty, apple jam. I don’t know if the latter would be less ugly with less cinnamon, or if it’s just ugly.

    It’s certainly ugly of spirit. It’s like applesauce only with added hate. My arms are covered with spot burns from splashing jam, which sticks painfully.

    Pretty, if tasteless, apple jelly :)

    Tonight I’ll be peeling, coring, slicing and freezing as many apples as I can fit onto the ice trays in our freezers. Tomorrow I’ll probably be doing the same. Later in the week I may make some more apple jelly and reduce the sugar (although honestly, the apple juice I got from the boil was pretty tasteless too: kind of flat and tart all at once, but not super appley or anything), but first I need more jars! I’m out of jars! It hardly seems possible! Although I’ve probably made fifty or sixty jars of jam in the past few weeks, now that I think about it… :)

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