Thursday, December 8, 2011

Check this out

Just wanted to point out the Rohan Anderson over at Whole Larder Love has a video series on several recipes that he has put together for a TV station.  Check them out.  They're as follows:

December 5:    Rocket Pesto

December 6:    Spanish Rabbit

December 7:    Spring Slice with Garden Salad

December 8:    Smoked Eel Tagliatelle with Asparagus

I'm interested in that rabbit, as I have hundreds of the things running through my backyard.  You've been warned, Bugs!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gone Fishin'

Sunday morning, me and the boy went fishing.  I haven't been fishing in at least 30 years.  My son has the outdoors bug, and I'm trying to urge that bug to continue to grow.  So, off we went.

Look at that cast!  Unfortunately, that was about the only thing to look at.  We caught exactly squat.  Which is American for zip, zero and nada.  Not even a nibble!

The boy did re-teach me quite a few things, as he's gone fishing with his grandfather a couple of times.  He taught me, once again, the fisherman's knot seen above to attach hook to line.  Unfortunately, most of my time was spent dealing with this!

After the THIRD time of this happening, I threw in the towel and shared my son's rod.  Of course, with his I have absolutely no trouble.  I guess that's what I get from buying the cheapest set up Turner's Outdoors had.  The rod itself is nice, so it looks like a new reel is in order.

It was unfortunate that we came up blank, as I was really looking forward to smoking some trout.  And, no, not that kind of smoking.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Ticket Quest Update

For the two of you concerned about these matters, do not fear.  I have gotten me hands on three tickets for Spurs versus Chelsea at White Hart Lane, granted from what I'm pretty sure is the Irish mafia.  And, no, the family doesn't mind eating macaroni and cheese for the next three year's, and I've convinced my son that college is overrated, despite what some people say.  Hey, he gets to come to the game.  No whining.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Garden Entrances, House Exits

Recently, we've had some new doors put in.  These will hopefully give some much better views of the garden once completed then our typical Southern California cookie cutter contractor cheap ass sliding door.  Yes, that's what they're called.  The previous one's, not these.

The bottom photo is of an arena that used to be a window.  We decided to remove the window and add a door.  This, hopefully, will become a nice private patio.  At least, that's the plan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Please, please, please...

You may remember our sad little gopher ravaged orange tree.  Well, we've killed the gophers...and their offspring.  And, now we have these:

She's making a comeback.  These are Valencia oranges and the Sunset Magazine Massive Plant Book states they are summer bloomers.  Maybe in Australia, but last time I looked it's fall and these still have a few weeks to go.  There are six oranges in total on our sorry little Charlie Brown tree.

I'm foreseeing a big comeback for this guy.  In the meantime, it had better ripen those Blue Moon is waiting.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank a Veteran

My pops.  Japan, pre Vietnam

Gramps on my mom's side, World War II

Gramps on my pop's side, World War I

Pops-in-law (the one in the beard), Vietnam

In addition, the one's I don't have pictures for, great, great Gramps, American Civil War and great, great, great, great Gramps, American Revolution.

Thanks to each and every one of you, and all the others that have served.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

If You Do Things, They Will Come

I'm so giddy, I could pee!!!  We recently added compost, sand, gypsum and lots of love to this section of the garden.

Yes, yes, yes, the two of you that follow along at home can tell I'm doing things out of order, but at the end of the day it all ends up here.  But, while I was digging all of this soil into my inert earth, I found earth worms!  Two weeks later we planted, and I found this...

Isn't she beautiful?  Yes, if you try, things will change for the better.  And, of course, I cut it in half so I had two.  Do you think I'm an idiot?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dear Tottenham Hotspur,

Can you make it any more freaking difficult for an American to buy tickets to one game!?!?!?!?  Granted, I understand there are about 5,894,506 people on the waiting list for season seats, but sweet Jesus, they live there!  There are other games they can go to!  I'll only be there for Chelsea at home and Norwich away!  I don't even know where Norwich is!!!  Alright, I'm done.  Maybe someone can recommend a good pub to go to.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Drip Irrigation...Take 2

Not that the first stuff I put in needs to be changed, mind you, I'm actually continuing the retrofit to another section.

This is a new kind (or different, I should say, hell if I know if it's "new" or not) of drip irrigation from what I previously posted.  Up to now, I had been laying flexible tubing and then attaching smaller flex tubing along with an emitter at the end.  This particular item has an emitter, or hole, already in the tube every 12 inches (too much math to figure out what that is in metric).  So, all I have to do is lay it near the plant and make sure a hole is somewhere in the vicinity.  It took about one third the time the other tubing did.  Me like.

However, since I am the brilliant gardener that I am, when I capped the sprinkler heads already in this area months ago, I did not mark where the heads had been.  Thus, a wild goose chase began to find them.  After digging several holes, and then realizing the pipe was buried 1.7 miles below the surface, I decided just to cut into an area and put in what I needed.  Above is what I needed.  And, since it was such a chore to do, and I highly recommend when you're already there to add in a few more.

I ended up putting in three risers, although I'm only using one for now.  That should leave me enough to finish off the bed once the rest of the plants get in.

The beauty of this is once the tubing is laid moving it is quite simple, just pick it up and put it down where you want it.  Also, with a 50 cent adaptor I can add to the tubing at a later date to continue the run.  After 100 feet, however, it's best to start a new line as you will lose too much water pressure to maintain the proper drip.

In the meantime, I will be setting my clock's back an hour tonight and you should do the same should you be so required.  Spurs vs. Fulham tomorrow at 8 am PST, and if you forget you won't tune in until halftime!  We'll be up by 7 by then!!!  HA!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Compost, Therefore I Am

A couple of months back, when I wasn't blogging which we shall refer to as the "dark ages" for obvious reasons, we picked up a compost bin at our local big box store that you have to pay to be a member of.  I don't pay, it's a gift membership, but anyway...

We picked up this beauty.  Why, you gardener types ask?  Well, a couple of reasons.  First, it was $40, about 75% off.  And, I'm cheap, so right off the bat, we're a match made in heaven.

The second reason takes a little more explanation.  We have been pondering this for a while.  Now, most people would ask, "why ponder, it's just dirt?", well it's not that simple.  I wanted to create a very simple chicken wire structure from lumber and chicken wire we already have.  I have read about composting and had come to the conclusion that it would be a cheap way of creating the black gold for the garden.  My lovely wife has not read about composting and was of the opinion that it would be a stinking pile of shit that attracts rats.  So, this is our compromise.  I get the compost, and if it is a stinking pile of shit (because I did it wrong, which is not out of the realm of possibility) it would be contained.

I'm glad to report that every time we open the bin to put in scraps, clippings, etc. it smells just like...dirt.  I have been vindicated.  For now.

The innards.  Not bad, people, it's not like I opened up a deer or anything.  So, we currently put our table scraps of veggies (no meat, dairy, etc), yard clippings, newspaper, egg cartons and the like into the bin.  We keep a smaller old Folger's can on the counter to put them in while cooking.  From what I understand, it takes roughly 273 years for this to break down, so my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson Turling X will post it's completed compost.  Granted in 273 years we won't have computers, and he'll just e-mail it directly to your brain.  So, be sure to sign up for updates!  In reality, I think it's closer to a few months, so we'll see.

Lastly, I have one question I am pondering, that I need to research.  I've read that I should have a 50/50 mix of "brown" stuff to "green" stuff.  The green stuff being obvious, but the brown along the lines of newspaper, fallen leaves and the like.  My question is if I let the green stuff, such as grass clippings, dry out and turn brown before composting does it count as brown stuff?  The reason being this is California and we don't have things around such as fallen leaves and the like.  Just green stuff.  Once I find the answer, I'll be sure to post that.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rohan Anderson. Whole Larder Love.

Nice video interview of Rohan Anderson, who's blog is linked to on the left.  I've never met him, since he's in a different hemisphere, but I read his blog whenever something new appears.

I stole this image from his site.  Hope he doesn't mind, but I am giving some free advertising here!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sweet Mary of Jesus: Plants

Odd that I use biblical references so much, since I'm an atheist (knock 10 off the followers after that little revelation).  Anyhoo, we here at Castle Turling (read:  me) actually planted stuff this weekend!

Yes, they're small, but aren't we all at the beginning?  These are the daylillies I previously posted on these way back in January.  My God (biblical), that was 10 months ago.  And, yes, they're four inches tall!!!  Bite.  Me.  Greenhorn!!  It's in the title!!  I'm making no promises here, this is nothing more then an exercise in self degradation.

Moving along.  We finally got these in the ground.  I've been trying to get them to a point where they were tall enough where the rabbits won't eat them.  Then, we inherited a chihuahua.  That's another post, but the rabbits have vanished, although the chihuhua is the biggest pansy I've ever met.  Rabbits are dumber then dogs.  Write that down.  So, I'm feeling glass is half full that that the rabbits won't eat them to nubs.  The plants to nubs, not the chihuahua, although that wouldn't surprise me.

Now, my soil dirt is nothing more then inert matter.  Here's an example:

Bear in mind the darker brown on top is the soil and the orange item on the bottom is a field stone.  We have incredibly hard clay soil.  In an effort to make things grow, we're adding matter as we plant.  To the bed above we've added:

7 cubic feed of soil amendment
75 pounds of sand
25 pounds of gypsum

These are the daylillies pre-amendment all laid out.  And,  a couple of year's ago, I added two inches of planter's mix to this very bed.  No noticeable difference.  So, we added the above items and turned the soil in the couple of feet next to the lawn.  (At this time, I'd like to note the spectacular Lion's Tail in the background.)  I need to add about four more daylillies to the tail end (closest to the camera) in order to complete the entire row.  Our local big box store had some sorry looking daylillies, so I'm going to hit up the nursery this week.  In the meantime, I'm going to continue to add amendments to the backside of the planted row to get ready for the rest of the plants we'll attempt to get in this fall.

P.S.  North London Derby, Spurs 2, Arsenal 1.  All hail Kyle Walker.  What a strike.  And, all hail Wojciech Szczesny.  Should have had that, he should.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Logical Conclusion... that we can't seem to get this ball rolling!!  So, today we hired someone to help us come up with a plan for this garden.  We've had too many trips to the nursery with no luck and this garden looks strikingly similar to how it looked two years ago.

We have found we're pretty good at doing things once given some direction, and it's the direction we're having trouble establishing.  So, onward and upward.  I'll be introducing our new designer real soon.  Stay tuned...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mr. Whitmore

For your listening pleasure.  Don't get excited, the picture doesn't change.  Plus, give me some credit, it's my first embedded video.  Christ, Turling, welcome to 2008!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Veggie's Are a Bit Closer

Just a bit, though.  Lots of work still to do, but at least we have dirt!  Err, sorry, soil.

Looks a bit like concrete, doesn't it, but I assure you of ye' of little faith, that it is fluffy and whatever other quality plants like.

After Spurs complete destruction of Liverpool this morning, I felt inspired to actually accomplish something.  Which I still didn't, because as you can see, I have a couple of inches space left to fill to reach the top of the box.  I want to hit the top, so when it settles it won't look half full.

I made a mix of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 sand.  The recipe I had found online called for 1/3 vermiculate instead of sand.   Then, I went to the store and priced vermiculite.  Sweet mother of God that crap's expensive!!!  I would have been better off using 1/3 14kt gold!  Luckily for me, one of the bag's at the gardening center had "accidentally" been opened.  Funny how that happens when you wedge your finger in the top and pull, but I digress.  So, I decided to take a look and vermiculate = sand.  Yes, people, it's f-ing sand.  So, you know what I got???  Well, I got a bag of vermiculate, because there's a little Catholic left in me and the guilt was overwhelming, but after that I got SAND!!  So, it's 1/3'ish sand you could say.

Anyway, now I need to tackle irrigation, because let's be honest, I sure as hell won't remember to hand water everyday, and then complete some fence requirements to keep the rabbits out.  Then, we'll actually plant something.  But, not today.  It's 95F (35C) and I'm grabbing a pint.  Plus, I'm dog sitting a chihuahua and, to no fault of my own, it's barricaded itself under the television console.  I'm sure it's pissed its little brains out down there, too.  It's sure peed every where else.  Where's that pint??

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Listen Up, Wankers!!!

Honestly, quit setting crap on fire over there!!  You're now seriously about to disrupt my Saturday morning of coffee drinking and enjoying our beloved Tottenham Hotspur beat the bejeezus out of Everton!  I've been looking forward to this since May, so don't fuck it up!!

Don't make me open this, damn it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Another Wednesday. It is Wednesday, Yes?

Well, I was going to have one of two exciting posts, but alas, I can't.  Why do you ask, oh curious reader?  Well, they would have required pictures.  And, my lovely wife, whom is not home at the moment, took the card from our big, expensive camera to put in the little handheld camera.  Now, I do find it funny that the little, inexpensive camera can take a few pictures without a card, but I'll be damned if our big expensive camera (which I have) can't do jack diddly squat without the card!!!  So, what's one to do?  Yes, exactly.  Sit around, drink beer, smoke cigars and watch the lawn be watered.  Very important that I keep an eye on the hose to be sure some mysterious kink doesn't appear.  A fate worse then death, I say.

But, all is not lost.  I do have have a little tidbit for those of you waiting by your computers with bated breath for my next words of wisdom.  I have three words for you.  (I learned this from Kyna who has her "What Are You Listening To" posts.)  Three words.  William. Elliot. Whitmore.  Go to ITunes.  Now.  No, wait, not yet, I have a few more words.  If you don't believe me completely (shame!), then just download "Johnny Law".  You're welcome.  Now...go.

P.S.  He has a new track here and it's free!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Report of My Death Was an Exaggeration

We have, shockingly, been putting a few plants into the ground here at Castle Turling.  See???  I have pictures to prove it.

Looks like we knew what we were doing, eh?  Well, it's the benefit of going to a nursery, and not to a big box store.  We went to our local Village Nursery and told ourselves that come hell or highwater we weren't leaving until we had the plants to fill this area.  We rounded up a couple of employees, who happened to be husband and wife and also landscape designers.  We had our measurements, so we marked out in one of the aisles the size of our plot.  Then, we (read:  they) set to work.  Three months salary later, we ended up with this:

We took some photos, they set us up with planting plan and off we went.  Something is actually complete!!!!  Sweet Lordy, hallelujah!!  Granted it's 7/10's of 1% of the yard, but every journey starts with a single step.  Or drunken stagger as the case may be.

Here's what's in here:

1 Golf Ball Kohuhu
2 Red Kangaroo Paw 'Big Red'
1 Gold Kangaroo Paw 'Gold Velvet'
A Buttload (yes, it's an amount) of Senecio Mandraliscae
1 Riceflower
4 Red Hot Pokers
3 Pittosporum Crassifolium 'Nana'
1 Iceberg Rose

Now, we just have to get some irrigation in the works here, so I don't have to remember to water.  Anyone who knows me understands that the words "I" and "remember" are like water and oil when it comes to me.  Hopefully, mass plant genocide due to starvation isn't our next report.

Keep calm and go plant something.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Go Watch TV!!!!!!

I am usually not one to promote the idiot box, but your beloved Tottenham Hotspur and AC Milan start in a little over half an hour.  You should be glued to your televisions!  Come on you Spurs!

Update:  We did it!  0-0 against Milan and the lads are through to the quarterfinals!  It couldn't have been done without the support from both of you, of course!

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!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I'm Breaking Down and Writing Down

And here it is:  the journal.  Yep, we need one, like you wouldn't believe.

My wife picked me up a big ol' notebook.  I'm breaking the journal up into a few sections:  watering, fertilizing and planting for now.  I think I may start a section just for vegetables when we get to that point.

I've discussed previously that I have the attention span/memory of a cucumber.  That has been solidified by the experiences of the past year.  I have a tendency to forget the last time I watered the potted plants (the "watering" section) and when I last fertilized (the "fertilize" section).  I always think I watered yesterday and fertilized the previous weekend.  Then, the plants get droopy and I realize I fertilized last in February...2008.  So, I'll be tracking each of those in the appropriate section.

The third section, planting, is where I'll be tracking a few things.  First, obviously, is what has been planted.  What goes with that is that most dreaded of four letter words, the "Plan"

Over the past year, we have gone to the nursery, we have shopped, we have purchased plants, we have even put them in the ground.  But, we're finding that once you get to the nursery, it's overwhelming.  We end up doing one of two things, either buying nothing, saying we are going to go home and create a plan we never do, or we have a bizarre mixture of plants that we're not really sure what watering, light or feeding requirements they have.  So, we're going to pick plants prior to going and stick to the plan.  More on that this week.

Also, I'm going to create a yearly calendar, which I'll try and figure out how to put on the sidebar or a separate page of this site with my limited technical abilities.  I always seem to be a couple months ahead or behind in whatever I'm planning on doing, such as pruning, splitting perennials or reseeding the lawn.  That should at least give me an idea of what to plan for in the coming months.

In the meantime, I'm going to go grab myself a pint, as our beloved Tottenham Hotspur were absolutely demolished this morning by Fulham in the 4th round of the FA Cup, 4-0.  We are still sitting fifth, though, in the league and I think we can still qualify for Champion's League (4th or better).  Twenty four hours left in the transfer window, and no talk of a central defender or realistic option at striker.  We'll see how that goes.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Holy Crap, Gardening Happened!!

My son missed three days of school last week with the flu.  Yesterday and today, my poor wife came down with the same illness.  Or, at least the same symptoms.  I, being the most excellent husband that I am, called in sick to work so I could get my son to school and watch my daughter as my wife rested.  Funny, because if I were the one ill, I would have absolutely gone to work.  Who wants to waste a sick day being sick?

Both yesterday and today we topped out at nearly 80F (26C).  That timed with a nap by both the two year old and my wife allowed me to get outside a little.  I was able to fill a five gallon bucket full of weeds in no time flat.  I would also like to throw in that included a vast majority of the yard, thus there aren't many weeds!  Take that!  Actually, we don't get our weeds until spring, and they continue through until late June or July when the 100F+ (38C+) kills them off.

I was also able to get in a little fertilizing and some pruning.  Look at me go.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's Next in 2011

Mike Donghia over at Art of Minimalism has asked readers of his blog to post what is next for them in 2011.  I enjoy reading his blog, so thought I would post here what's coming up in 2011.

My miniscule little spot of real estate here in the world of the internet has been around for nearly a year.  I think I'm coming up on the 100th post, as well, but I'll have to check that fact.  Being the beginning of the year, Mike's request over at his blog and the looking back that normally comes with some type of an anniversary has me believing this is a good time to pick some sense of direction, or purpose, if you will.

What I want to do is to actually do what I created this blog for:  a journey or "journal" of a non-gardener attempting to garden.  That's it.  It was also suppose to keep me motivated to perform and keep up with that task by publicly placing expectations on myself.  I've gotten away from that by posting on things that aren't related to my original purpose in order to keep things going.  That's what will change in 2011.

Looking at our garden, it carries a striking resemblance to the exact same garden we had a year ago.  A couple of plants have been added here and there, but for the most part, it's unchanged.  Many projects I started and posted on that I started were never completed.  Again, that's going to change.

So, in a nutshell 2011 will have more gardening.  More planning, creating, maintaining, triumphing and inevitably failing here and there.  Vir Beatum over at Being Manly has a nice post today about pushing through.  "Moreover, the way is often not the along the intended route, but we might well resolve that come hell or high water we shall get where we are going in any case. The important part is not to resign before material difficulties."  Not to resign.  Don't give up.  We'll get there.  Starting now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

48 Bottles of Beer on the Wall...

Last Sunday morning was bottling day here at Castle Turling for our very first brew, a brown ale.  I spent quite some time getting through two cases in order to have enough bottles.  Then, the day before bottling day while I was washing all of the bottles I realized twelve of them were twist offs!  This will never do!  So, I had a choice, buy 12 bottles or drink all 12 of the Sierra Nevada Celebration's I had in the refrigerator.  Mrs. Turling gave me the raised eyebrows when I told her of my predicament that could only mean one thing.  I was buying 12 bottles.

The one thing I am noticing about this whole brewing process is the dedication to cleanliness.  Now, I garden and build furniture, neither of which would be considered clean pastimes, so this takes a little work for me.  I washed down all of the bottles and then needed to sanitize them.  Our dishwasher has a sanitize function!  Saved!  Into the dishwasher they went.

See?  It says it right there.  Sanitized.

If my brew goes bad due to unsanitarinous (I'm pretty sure that's a word), then Kenmore owes me a few bucks!

After sanitizing the bottles, I set in to sanitizing everything else.  Including me.  Ok, I just washed my hands, but that's better then usual.  After transferring the brew out of the fermenting bucket and into the bottling bucket that contained my priming sugar, it was a hop, skip and a jump to get it into the bottles.  The kit worked like a charm containing everything I needed to make two cases.

I did taste the beer prior to going into the bottles, though, and I'm a little concerned.  The beer carbonates while in the bottles, so it's flat coming out of the fermenting bucket.  But, this brew had a sweetness to it I just didn't like.  Hopefully, it was caused by it being flat, but we'll find out in two weeks.  In the meantime, I'm thinking a pale ale might be my next target...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Update on the Olives

The olives have been curring for six weeks, now since we harvested them.  We tested the ones being cured in water and the result was "bitter and watery."  The salt cured olives were just "bitter".  We dumped the water cured olives since I figure adding more water to something that is watery was a loss cause.  I put the salt cured back into cure for another week and we'll try them again.

I still am not sure what type of olives these are.  They were completely black on the tree and have now turned a more pinkish purple after curing.  And, both the water and salt cured looked identical, so I don't think it was the method that affected the color.  I'm thinking it's either Mission, Lucaca or Santa Caterina.  It's now safe to say, since I've typed that, it will end up being none of them.  Onward!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More Daylillies

I'm starting to think I have some type of daylilly crush.  I picked up a couple of more.

Ok, the main reason I picked these up is a) we have no plants and this is a gardening blog and b) the red one on the right is called Red Rum.  Redrum!!!!  Really, how was I going to let that one pass.

All axes will be kept far away from the far side of the yard...for obvious reasons.

Now, I took a picture of them in the pots to point something out.

Each pack came with two plants and, honestly, I don't remember which is which, so we'll say the one's in the back are the Red Rum's.  Yes, there are five, that's for later, stick with me.  I have previously planted some day lillies, but as you can see if you care to look back, there is no green sticking out the top.  The previous daylillies (yes, I've spelled it differently 4 times now, get over it, as I'll probably spell it differently going forward) did not have green stuff sticking out.  They were on sale for $1, I think, and there was no green as it was late in the season.  So, I just shoved the whole thing in the pot, thinking it was like a bulb.  It's not like a bulb.  It's like a day LiLLy (now, I'm just messin' with you).  The fifth plant in the picture above is the lone survivor from the one's I planted previously.  I know it's small, that's because we have f-ing rabbits who continuously eat it to the ground.

I've now put all five up on a table until they get large enough to where the rabbits won't seem to want to eat them.  I've found they tend to stay away from the larger plants.  Then, into the garden they'll go.  Look at me go...gardening.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Brew Day!!!!

The New Year's weekend provided too many commitments to allow our first brewing with the new brew kit I got for Christmas.  So, we had to wait a week.  I think it actually turned out for the better, as I could spend a week gathering what I needed nearly all of which I ended up not even needing.  But, better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it.  So, off we go.

I brewed a Brown Ale, which is the kit my wife got me along with the brewing kit itself.  It contained all of the above, with the exception of the Widmer Bros. Halo India Pale Ale.  I added that, as I felt some liquid encouragement may be required.  And, I was thirsty.

The kit contained dark liquid malt (in the can up top), dried malt, dextrose and First Gold hops.  I decided to stick to the recipe rather then deviate as I had been contemplating, since more than anything, I just want this first batch to be drinkable.

I set everything out above, along with all of my equipment to make sure everything would go smoothly.  Or, as smoothly as I could.  For anyone that has seen me cook, it's normally an exercise in panic as I inevitably forget to chop, smash, saute' or obtain some key ingredient until the moment it's needed.  I didn't want that here, and it worked out pretty well.

First thing required was boiling a couple gallons of water.  I bought six gallons of bottled water, rather then stand by the filtered water in the fridge for two hours waiting for six gallons to come out.  We're making the nectar of the Gods here, I'll save the planet from plastic bottles next week.  Stay with me.  The little pot to the left is to heat the malt, so it would come out of the can easier.  And, believe me, from what was stuck to the lid, there was no coming out without heating.  It was like caramel.  Except in taste.  Not caramel.  Don't taste.  Trust me.

Then I added the malts (liquid and dry), dextrose and hops.  Looked like split pea soup.

Smelled like pizza dough, so anyone worried it will stink up the house, unless you don't like bread, it won't stink.  Luckily, my pot, which we use to steam tamale's, could easily hold about six or seven gallons of liquid.  I stood by the wort (that's what the brew in the pot is called, look at me, I'm practically an expert with the lingo and all) in case of boil overs.  But, that would have been one hell of a boil over to get out of that pot, so we were safe.  After it stopped foaming, it looked like this.

Boiled that for 30 minutes, then into the sink it went.  No, not that way.  Per Palmer's How to Brew, you should cool the wort as quickly as possible, called the "cold break" in order to keep the beer from clouding.  So, I filled the sink with water and ice and in the pot went.

Yes, yes, yes, I haven't finished tiling the backsplash, so shut it.  I know.  To the left, you can see that I set aside a jar to pitch the yeast.  All of you brewers out there can see the temperature is too low.  I know, I heated the water too soon, so I needed to reheat it to between 95 and 105 F later.  I would like to point out the one purchase I made that I found indispensable for my first time out, and that's an electronic thermometer.  I put it in everything, from the yeast jar to the wort as it was cooling.  I kept a separate jar of sanitizer on the counter and dropped the thermometer into that after each use.  Cleanliness is the name of the day in this process.

So, the wort took about 25 minutes to chill down.  I got it down to about 80 degrees, then I filled the fermenting bucket with three gallons of the bottled drinking water.  We're looking for 5 gallons of beer here.  I figured once I poured the wort in, it would get it down to about 70 from the new water, and I was right.

After preparing the yeast, I poured it into the fermenting bucket, popped on the top and the airlock and then took it to its home for the next two weeks.

Luckily, we have an interior closet that is under the staircase.  It is smack dab in the middle of the house and none of its walls touch the outside of the house.  It is a constant 70-72 degrees, regardless of the time of year.  Now, we wait for two weeks, and then bottle.

I checked on it this morning (I made it yesterday), and the airlock is bubbling away, meaning the yeast are doing their thing.  Hopefully, by Super Bowl Sunday, or read: the Big Game if you're from the National Football League (I have no money, so don't sue me for saying Super Bowl), we'll have two cases of drinkable beer.