October 21, 2009

SO MUCH FUN!

Seriously, check out this website for some awesome, time-wasting awesomeness.

October 20, 2009

"Grrrrrrr," and other things that happened in my house last week

Penny's bestie, Gretzky, stayed with us last week because his people, my sister and brother-in-law, were on vacation.

There was a lot of barking at the window. Squirrels, bunnies, leaves, mailmen. Who knows. Well, I know one day it was a squirrel who had perched on the little table on the porch, just about two feet in front of the dogs, who were apoplectic.


There was also a lot of prodding of the dogs, since we were trying to get both of them to sleep on the floor. The first night, I woke up multiple times to shoo Gretzky off the bed. What I didn't know (hubs told me the next day) was that Penny was on the bed for some amount of time because she's sneaky and bad and didn't wake us up. Poor Gretzky just wanted to be included. I'm extremely disappointed that they didn't snuggle in Penny's bed. Gretzky would just approach it slowly when Penny was in there and then just back away. Pansy.


They did have snuggly moments when laps were involved. More often, they wrassled and growled, tried to hump one another, and were generally instigators of mayhem. Penny tried to sit on Gretzky's face, and he didn't know whether to kick her in the butt or bite her legs. Hilarious.


UPCOMING PROJECT: knitted doggie boots. Stay tuned.

October 11, 2009

Well. I guess it's Fall.

And apparently it's also National Coming Out Day. So that's cool.

Hubs and I took down the garden today, so I thought I would share some last bits of garden delight before the snow flies. OH THAT'S RIGHT - it already did. Are we heading for another infamous Halloween storm? The 1991 Halloween debacle holds the record for the most snowfall in one storm in the state's recorded history (28 inches in Minneapolis; 37 inches in Duluth). Luckily, I chose to be the grim reaper that year. Wearing a cloak, I wasn't so cold that I couldn't still go trick-or-treating.


Aaaaanywho. This, once again, was our garden post-grass-tearing-up and planting/transplanting. Something I learned at this stage: it is WORTH IT to rent the ridiculously heavy and hard to operate sod ripper. Also, do not start your pole beans indoors - they will grow too fast and wrap their tendrils around each other, making it impossible to transplant them. Don't start carrots or herbs indoors, either, because their roots won't be big enough to transplant and you'll be forced to extract the clump of them from their little pot and put the very same clump directly into the ground, lest you try to separate them and thereby turn them all upside-down.


The easiest part of the season is when your little seedlings are becoming more substantial and you're all excited and all the hard work is done, you just have to water. This is the part when you go out there twice a day to see if you can maybe see a little bit of progress or maybe even a bud and it's very exciting because sometimes you actually can see progress! A watched garden, it turns out, does grow.


After a month or so, your hovering and hand-wringing pays off and you have peas! Hubs doesn't like peas, but he liked these ones. Your other plants are now budding and flowering and showing you what's to come. Suddenly, you realize that you should've planted more peas and carrots but fewer broccoli and absolutely no corn. Something else learned at this stage: tomato cages as sold in stores are totally insufficient - they should be about three feet taller and have more rings.


By the time the peas are done and dried out, the garden in is full splendor and the plans for canning begin. We were reading up on blanching and freezing and I can't believe all the stuff we learned in our first year. I started tallying our yields and couldn't be happier with our results. Here are the estimates:

Basil: a couple handfuls and growing more.
Pole Beans: hundreds, perhaps thousands. One day yielded 71 beans. Next year we'll be more diligent about picking every day and freezing batches.
Broccoli: three small heads. Could've picked a few more but they flowered first.
Carrots: aside from the mutants, 11. Delicious.
Chives: a lot, but we never used them.
Cilantro: a few handfuls.
Sweet Corn: zero. Failure. The cobs never got more than 4" or so and then the birds ate them.
Lettuce Mix: one row. Could've planted more rows for another harvest.
Oregano: four or so handfuls that we dried to store.
Green Onions: 10ish. Never really used them, though.
Yellow Onions: a few, but they never got bigger than about 3/4" so they weren't really edible.
Italian Parsley: about 10 handfuls, which is a lot. That stuff is prolific.
Snow Peas: many dozen. We'll do more next year and hopefully freeze some.
Green Peppers: eight, plus I'm still trying to grow some indoors since I couldn't bare to let the poor tiny things just sit outside and die.
Jalapenos: 22, and I'm trying to grow a few more inside as well. The heat level has been really inconsistent, but still worth it.
Red Bell Peppers: seven.
Chili Peppers: seven. Not hot, but good.
Spinach: none. It was too shaded by the broccoli.
Thyme: three handfuls to dry and store.
Better Boy Tomatoes: about 50.
Roma Tomatoes: over 100. Delicious. We'll do a lot more tomatoes and canning next year.
Zucchini: about a dozen. With four plants, I thought we'd be overrun, but we weren't.

And now it's all cleared out, but we've got beans in the freezer and salsa in the pantry. When the kids were here, they really appreciated growing and picking vegetables, even though they wouldn't eat them, and that was fun to see. I'm already excited for next year.