Saturday, February 26, 2011

When to Fertilize?

The past couple of weeks have been filled with rain and flu running rampant through the family.  The flu running through the family, not the rain.  That stays outside.  Family inside.  Not much time for gardening, although I did seem to have enough time to whip up a batch of American Pale Ale last night.  Go figure.

The book on raising plants from seed said I should start fertilizing when the first "real" leaves appear?  What the hell are "real" leaves?  Are these plastic?  I would like it a lot better if I fertilize when it says "Feed Me, Seymour".  I'm just sayin' it would be easier.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Seeds: Sweet Jesus, What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

I received my first two seed catalogs in the last week.  First two catalogs...ever.  One from Burpee and one from Johnny's Seeds.  There are really 13 types of carrots?  Really?  Not just "orange"?  Oy, what have I embarked into?  Well, we've made our first attempts.

First tray.  Ever.  There are 8 sections.  Three of the sections contain catmint (27 plants, hopefully), two sections of Snapdragons (18 plants), one of English Daisy (9 plants), one of Forget-Me-Knots (9 plants) and one of Foxgloves (9 plants).

The catmint goes back to our plan post for the east side of the backyard.  (Look, a link!!)  I need 14 plants, so I roughly doubled it with the 27.  We have plenty of spots should any survive above 14.

The remainder of the plants will go by the front door and around the small vegetable garden we're putting in.  I'm drawing the plan up for that one, and should have that in a near future post.

Those of you who know these things are probably saying, "but, Turling, those plants all have different germination times."  Yes, they do.  I planned for that.  Because, I'm now a planner.  Didn't you see the binder?  I'm a planner now.  It's actually come in handy, as I had no idea how many types of seeds I planted until I went and consulted the journal.  I then noticed I had written everything down and typed in that I had planted a total of seven sections.  But, as you can see from the picture, I planted eight.  Thank God for markers.  Let's just go with I "plan".

Anyway, germination.  The Catmint and Forget-Me-Knot packages state they germinate in 10-14 days.  The others in 7-14 days.  So, in my infinite wisdom, I planted those two three days sooner then the others.  That way, they should all start about the same time and I can move them to sun at the same time.

Well, slap my ass and call me Fannie, if those damn catmint didn't pop up after four days.  And, the English Daisies...two!  I'm sure there's some, "the English are always early" joke, but I don't know what it is.  Make up your own.  I'm bitter about my seeds timing, right now.

The tray I purchased from the local garden center came with a plastic dome.  You can sort of see it propped up in the back of the picture.  It said to crack the dome open when the first seedlings (that's what they're called, right?) appear.  So, that's where we're at.  After the other pop up, I'll move them to our south facing bay window in the kitchen, and trim all but the strongest looking from each section while removing the plastic dome and leaving them uncovered.  I don't think I'm going to wait more than a couple of days, though.  It seems to me that they will grow just fine without the dome in the sun, so I don't want to lose the one's that have started waiting on the others.  We'll see how that goes.  I'll write it all down in the journal.  Well, 7/8's of it, at least.

SPURS UPDATE:  Big win against Sunderland yesterday at the Stadium of Light.  Three wins in a row now, even with a mass of injuries and we're back in fourth pending the outcome of Chelsea's game Monday.  Champion's League Round of 16 Tuesday against AC Milan in Italy.  I'll be taking the day off of work in order to enjoy the game from the comfort of my couch.  Now, go plant something.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Homebrew #1: The Verdict

Drinkable.  That's the verdict.  Don't get me wrong, it's not good, but it is drinkable.  This was a brown ale that I made from a kit I received for Christmas.  In hindsight, I should have replaced the sugar that came with the kit with malt.  I think that would have made a big difference.  This one tastes like a Newcastle with a little sugar or sweetness added.  And, the really odd thing is, it smells like bacon.  Normally, that's a very, very good thing; however, there is no bacon in it, nor does it have any taste of bacon at all.  It's quite a mystery.

I opened the first few for Sunday's Super Bowl.  I'm letting the others go another week or so before I chill them, and we'll see if any of the sweetness goes away.  In the meantime, I'm going to start gathering ingredients for homebrew #2, a pale ale.  My wife is so excited.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

That Four Letter Word

P-L-A-N.  That's it.  I said it.  It's out there, now.  I never thought it would come to this, but it must be done.

We have been very slow in getting off the ground here at Castle Turling.  Because we have so much space (by California standards), we are stymied on even where to begin.  Trips to the nursery turn into walking around events where nothing gets accomplished.  So, we've decided, we are going to map out a planting scheme for a section, visit the nursery and buy what's on the list.  Stick to the list, I say.  Here's where we're starting.

This is the (wait, rises in the east, sets in the west) east side of the backyard.  Where our so called orange tree is that I've written about in the past.  Yes, it looks exactly the same.  It's so sickly, you probably can't even see it in the pictures.  Anyway, it's moving somewhere else.  No, not the compost pile (we don't have one, yet), but another part of the yard.  If it doesn't thrive there, then it will be the first visitor to the compost pile that it will begin the formation of.

Here's the plan:

Not a good rendition, no, but it works for us.  I think it also shows that you don't need a lot of fancy stuff to create a plan.  This is actually on a piece of graph paper and I used our kids crayons for the original.  That didn't show up in the scan, so I did it again in markers.  The plants or pretty close to what their fully grown size will be.  The top photograph above is taken from the gravel.  See, down at the bottom, it says "gravel"?  My handwriting is horrid, but you should be able to make out the "G".  The second photograph is taken from the top of the plan looking back towards the gravel/patio.  We're putting in the following:

  • 1   Fan Palm in the upper left.  That's already there in the background of the top photograph.
  • 2   Catmint.  About 14 to be exact.  That's the row of purple on the right.  It will be up against the lawn.
  • 3   Daylillies.  Behind the catmint will be about 14 or 15 daylillies.  Different species.  Species?  Is that the word?  Types?  Colors?  Kin?
  • 4   Jerusalem Sage.  Moving from another part of the yard.
  • 5   Italian Cypress.  To give some height.
  • 6   Not shown is the Hollywood Juniper.  It's the plant in the two photographs that looks like an Italian Cypress falling over.
  • 7   Monkey Flower.
  • 8   Echinacea.
  • 9   Aster.
  • 10 Coreopsis.  I think I spelled that wrong.
  • 11 Sedum.
  • 12 Lion's Tail.  That's moving from another part of the yard, as well.
This area received full sun, which is why the Jerusalem Sage (4) and Lion's Tail (12) are moving there.  On the other side of the walking path behind our house are two massive Pepper Tree's.  You can see part of one in the upper right corner of the top photograph.  They have in the last couple of years pretty much blocked the sun from the area the Lion's Tail and Jerusalem Sage currently nest.  The backyard is south facing, by the way.

Since buying so many plants will be pricey, we're making an attempt at growing some from seed.  Won't that be a treat????????  The catmint looks like poppy seeds.  I hope the DEA doesn't show up.

In the meantime, I'm off for a pint.  Speaking of pints...stay tuned for the next post.  (That's called a "cliffhanger" by the way.  Let's see if it works.)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Smart & Stylish Award

The Elengantologist has awarded me, yes me, a Smart & Stylish Award.  Thank the Lord he's not seeing what I'm wearing right now, as he would rip that award clean out of my hand.  Anyway, I digress, as part of the award, I'm suppose to list seven things about myself you may or may not know.  Well, here it goes:

1)   I like beer.  Ok, you know that one.  Do over.

1)   I abhore talking on the telephone.  I don't think it's an actual phobia, mind you, but I absolutely can't stand it.  If you call and leave a question on my voice mail, you'll undoubtedly receive a written response.

2)   I was always a much better athlete in my mind then in my body.  Didn't matter the sport, baseball, soccer, wrestling, rowing, I was never the best.  Probably not even in the top half.

3)   I have a difficult time answering questions directly.  Drive's my wife batshit nutty.  "Answer the damn question!" is a normal sentence in our household.

4)   I prefer pen and paper over electronic versions of, well, anything.  Even post it notes are better, in my humble opinion.

5)   I knew nothing of gardening before starting this blog, and many would argue that has not changed.

6)   In 20 some odd years, I am going to make an absolutely smashing retired person.  I, actually, think "retiree" should have been my chosen occupation, instead of accountant.

7)   Why did an American choose Tottenham Hotspur as their favorite football team?  And, yes, that's what I call it, along with "American Football".  Get over it.  After visiting the UK a few years back, I really wanted to start following the Premiere League.  The fanatacism was amazing.  So, I had to pick a team.  I didn't want any of the big four, as where is the fun in that.  They needed to be in London, as we aren't going to be vacationing in all likelihood anywhere else.  They needed a small chance of relegation.  So, I chose Tottenham, because how cool is Tottenham Hotspur as a team name???  And, they play at White Hart Lane!!  That was too much to pass up.  So, here we are.

Again, I thank Mr. Cox for his award.  I'll keep it where I spend the most amount of the bar.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

An Update If I've Screwed Up Your Reader

I know this happens to my Google reader, when someone updates an old post it appears as new.  I've updated a lot of old posts, so if they're appearing in your reader as new, I apologize, but let me explain.

Over the past few days my traffic has gone up nearly five fold.  Normally, I would consider this good.  Assuming, of course, I've actually done something to warrant that, but I don't think I have.  In looking through my stats, I'm noticing nearly all the new traffic is coming from a porn site.  Not just once, but multiple times over multiple days from multiple countries.  I went to the website, for answers only, my wife was well aware I was there, but couldn't find anything.  Therefore, to error on the side of caution, I have removed every picture of my children from this site and they will not be shown here anymore.  I, of course, will still talk of the batshit crazy stuff they do, because it's funny and a huge part of my life, but no more pictures.  Period.

I believe I have removed them all, but if anyone comes across any then please, please, please e-mail me or leave a comment.  In the meantime, go plant something!