Sow: live, learn

I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m not very pleased with the Urban Farm at the moment, although it looks nice from the mulching two weekends ago. (Side note: We’re getting really good at mulching—this morning we mulched the front flower beds ourselves. Oddly, lots of cars slowed down to watch me spread the mulch around. I can’t figure out why. Either they didn’t think it was an ok thing to do on Sunday morning or they were shocked to see homeowners doing their own yard work. I really enjoyed it—and it gave me a good look at the growth of all the perennials and shrubs planted last year.)

This fall growing season does not seem to be going very well yet. My kale seeds never sprouted. The two kinds of beet seeds I planted have not turned into a bounty of beet sprouts, much to my (and Bruce’s too) disappointment.  Eating lovely roasted yellow farm-grown Ontario beets last weekend made me yearn for beet harvest time again. I guess next weekend I’ll plant some more seeds and see what happens.

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this is what I’m dreaming of

After a chat with one of the horticultural experts at North Haven Gardens today, I’ve decided not to move forward with growing my own blueberries. I just don’t think we have enough space for two bushes that need their own 4″ x 8 ” raised bed. I’m worried about crowding the fig tree that hasn’t given us any figs yet. Sorry birds!

And then there’s my nemesis: the tomato plants. They’ve made me want to rip them all out of the ground and throw them in the composter. They are not looking very well. So far I’ve pulled three. There are four more left.

But before you think the worst: don’t think I’m giving up on the Urban Farm, because I’m not.

Lots of good stuff is happening, but at this point, I’d like to think of my approach as realistic. I’m getting schooled by the climate—and maybe even though this is my second fall season, I’m not the best student. I love digging in the dirt and seeing the results of weekends spent outside. But I’m thinking that I’m going to stop experimenting with tomatoes. I may grow Sweet 100s or some other kind of cherry or grape tomatoes in a large pot, but I’m going to leave the big juicy and heirloom ones to the professionals. I can pick up delicious ones at the hippie-yuppie grocery store. Or from a real farmer at a farmers market.  So I don’t see some improvement in the tomato plants I planted in July by next weekend, I’m pulling them out next weekend and planting collard greens. Or something else that likes fall/winter in North Texas. Maybe even more lettuce since after yesterday’s rain storm, none of ours looks too great. The bok choi looks puny, snow peas are still small. {cue the violins, right?}

But the okra? Still going strong. Same with the basil. Same with the peppers. Same with that wild and crazy Malabar spinach which now is thickly covering the trellis since we haven’t harvested any for over a week—it also has lovely tiny purple berries. Bush beans are flowering. Chard seeds have made 5 viable plants. Stuff is happening, it’s just taking it’s own sweet time. And I’m not as patient as I should be.

After the kale seeds didn’t happen, I picked up 6 kale plants at North Haven Gardens today — 4 Nero kale (the Italian one that looks like palm trees) but also 2 Russian kale with their pointy leaves and purple-y veins. The parsley seeds didn’t sprout either so I grabbed two Italian flat parsley transplants. It’s funny because the cilantro seeds are doing their thing and I’m excited to see the results. But I guess you just never know if conditions were right, the birds were hungry while I was at work, whatever.

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to fertilize everything and see what happens.

And with that, I leave you with the gratuitous dog photo of the day:

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Godiva also likes to see what happens, usually from a human vantage point

Enjoy your Sunday evening!

 

 

Sow: late start

Perhaps it’s not the best idea to plant the fall carrot and radish seeds before work. I’d like to think that it wasn’t that. Maybe it was the garage door not wanting to open (worked fine for Bruce tonight). Or the strange melted-looking blue-green plastic that was adhered to the side of my otherwise clean and wrinkle-free pants (not sure how that happened). I couldn’t go to work like that! And then, well, Gidget was out too long with me and the rest of the Gs while I was planting those seeds. So she didn’t want to pee when I let her out before I left (ah, puppies).

You get the picture. Clearly, I was working something out in my head this morning. And puttering around in the garden needed to happen. I’ve been a bit out of it. Lots of learning happening at work and maybe it’s sucking up all of my energy. And I’ve been a bit foggy for at least a week.

Fall allergy season seems to be hitting me harder than usual. Luckily I’m not snotty or sneezy. But I’m terminally itchy. Throat and skin definitely, but my eyes especially. That’s a problem for looking at a computer screen after a work day of looking at the computer screen. All in all, this sort of discombobulation is no good for making regular blog posts.

As I’ve said before, I’m not usually a procrastinator, but tonight when I said to Bruce, “I think I’ll write a post in the morning,” he gently reminded me that I’ve been saying that all week. And it’s Wednesday, in case you haven’t noticed.

So this morning while I was puttering and trying to get the synapses firing, I tried something new with the carrots and radishes. Remember all that seed tape that I made back in February? I made too much and said that I’d use it in the fall. Well, today it got used!

carrot seed tape in stock tank #3

carrot seed tape in stock tank #3

Notice I’ve used a different approach. In the spring, I planted long rows of carrots with radishes in between, since they come up first. Bruce took one look at it and said, “Why did you do it that way?” He had envisioned the carrot tape going from side to side, with radish seed in between, because he was sure that I’d do it that way to maximize the harvest. Well, duh! Of course, my brain didn’t work that way. Should have waited to do the planting when he was around!

But this time, I realized the error of my ways and got it planted this morning. It’s a little late, but given the wacky weather we’ve had all summer, it’s probably ok.

the seeds under the dirt, the recycled skewers mark the carrot rows

seeds under the dirt, recycled skewers mark carrot rows

Looking forward to seeing the radishes come up soon. I also threw some free thank you mesclun seeds that came with my Botanical Interests seed order in the front part of the stock tank. Never can have too much salad, right? Not in this household!

In the meantime, Bruce and I’ve been doing a lot to spruce up the Mortroski Midcentury Urban Farm. In fact, we’re about 2/3 of the way done. We’ll finish up the first fall improvement on Saturday and then I’ll post the photos. Believe me, it needed it, especially since the temperatures are headed down to the cooler 80s and that means time to enjoy more time on the patio.

Are you looking forward to cooler fall weather where you are? Or is it already there?

The Gs are looking forward to more time outside when fall and winter come. Here are your gratuitous dog photos for today:

our supervisor for last weekend's improvements

our supervisor for last weekend’s improvements

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camped out in the kitchen, hoping for fall out

sow: dirty gardener

 

IMG_3758Guilty as charged! It was a fantastic Labor Day long weekend for getting stuff done—with plenty of time for relaxing. Although I slept in for the first time in eons, I spent most of Monday afternoon outside digging in the dirt. Perfect timing too since it rained on and off all morning long—a lovely way to start the day lounging about and drinking coffee, although Guinness was not impressed with what the wet weather did to his morning walk.

Monday’s harvest was pretty awesome (notice the seed packet next to the pile of produce):

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The chard is the last of what I planted last fall. As you may have gathered from the seed pack, I planted more. The peppers are all still going strong as is the okra (it’s all as tall as me now so it’s getting harder to pick) and they’ll keep going until the first frost hits them. I decided to freeze the nearly 1.5 pounds of okra I gathered up since it will be nice to pull some out in the middle of winter and use it in soups or stews.

But picking wasn’t the most important part about Monday. Serious digging happened. And I’m not talking about the hole that Gidget and George have been making next to the driveway when no one’s looking.

Why? Well, because fall’s here. Ok, truthfully, fall’s not really here until September 21 or so and it’s still close to 100°F almost every day, but it’s time to get fall seeds in the ground. So I started by soaking some snow pea and beet seeds on Saturday evening. The snow peas are already sprouting and they were planted on Sunday afternoon!

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Monday, I dug, added compost and soil, pulled weeds. moved stuff around. And I did a lot of squatting which is why my body was a bit sore yesterday—and my brain was too tired after work to blog.

But not too tired to get one more thing done. Bruce and I worked on clearing out the flooded stock tank (#3) last night. I used about 1/2 of the dirt to augment the other beds and tanks on Monday, then he finished clearing the rest of the soil out into two wheelbarrows. We added three bags of crushed stone, then tested the draining (works fine now). So we loaded the 1/2 of the dirt that was left back in and I’ll get more dirt on the weekend so I can plant carrots and radishes.

Can you tell that I’m excited to get new stuff in the ground? Here’s what what I planted on Sunday (all seeds are from Botanical Interests):

  • Oregon sugar pod II snow peas
  • French filet bush beans (had to plant more since I think the birds may have eaten some of the seeds I planted a few weeks ago)
  • Gourmet blend beets (check out the seed pack above)
  • Detroit red beets
  • Five color silverbeet Swiss chard
  • Nero Tuscana kale
  • Red velvet leaf lettuce
  • Qs special medley mesclun
  • Cilantro
  • Italian parsley
  • Bok choi

Here’s what’s sticking around from the spring planting:

  • Malabar spinach (going crazy still)
  • Oregano (moved into a planter)
  • Thyme (moved into a planter)
  • Mint
  • Jalapeño peppers
  • Anaheim peppers
  • Clemson spineless okra
  • Orange bell peppers
  • Green bell peppers
  • Marigolds (moved to the bed with the fall tomatoes, they help attract bees)
  • Black diamond watermelon (a gift from a friend that is finally just starting to produce watermelons)
  • some of the basil (see below for details)

My arugula patio planter experiment is going very well. We’ve been harvesting handfuls for sandwiches and burgers—it’s really yummy. Definitely going to do it again next summer and maybe try a couple of additional planters to increase the volume.

I picked up some sprout seeds over the weekend and will be trying out growing those on the window sill just as soon as I get some quart mason jars (I thought I had some, but I only have 1/2 quart jars). I really love them on sandwiches and am a little worried about all of the illnesses that store-bought sprouts seem to have. (The instructions explain how to properly disinfect the seeds so there is little chance of getting sick.)

The fall tomatoes are cranking away. There’s fruit on the Indigo Rose and Celebrity plants, flowers on the rest and I’m already dreaming of tomato sandwiches and caprese salads. The warm days and cooler nights appear to be working their wonders. I pulled a tomato (sweet 100 so Bruce won’t care) and a bell pepper (green) plant that were formerly in the flooded stock tank and really didn’t appreciate being moved. They weren’t doing well, so it seemed a better idea to use the space to plant something else.

I’ve had an exceptional season for basil. I’ve made pesto several times, frozen some, given tons away. Last Thursday I gave away 10 1-gallon bags of the stuff to some coworkers:

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I love basil and it’s so gratifying to grow—that’s why it makes me so happy to share it. While I have had great plans to make another couple of batches of pesto to freeze (I have everything I need, just need to do it), I haven’t gotten around to it yet. But I did make a lovely basil-watermelon-feta salad from a recipe one of the basil beneficiaries suggested (thanks, Lauren):

 

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Martha Stewart’s Basil-Watermelon-Feta Salad

 

It was pretty and delicious and I plan to make it many times—I even made a small batch of it for our work lunches today.

The basil is also doing double duty as housing. If you look carefully at the photo below, you will see the toad that has lived in Raised Bed #4 all summer. He arrived when the tomato jungle was making tons of shade and has stuck around. Last night, I saw that he’s made a little hut from the mulch around the basil. Hopefully it keeps him hidden from Gidget (she keeps looking for him, perhaps because she has a taste for toads).

 

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Toad in a hole

But as cute as it is, a toad isn’t a dog.  And it won’t satisfy your desire to see gratuitous G photos from the long weekend. Here are a couple of my favorites of George and Gidget, who are quickly becoming best friends:

 

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George has a ball in his mouth that Gidget really wants

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Hope you’re having a great week!

So: out of shape (extra long post)

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I worked 62.5 hours last week. I know that, because in advertising, creative folk like me must complete timesheets (we do it via web portal these days, not paper or clock punching). In this photo, taken by Bruce on Friday night, you can probably tell that it was a tough week. (He also has video because apparently my snoring was so impressive. My whole body moved with each snore. Pretty.)Don’t worry: George was just being an opportunist for a human pillow and a sleeping snuggler.

The week consisted of important meetings in small rooms. Plane rides galore, mostly in the commuter jet kind of plane. Hotel beds, some better than others. Late nights. Early mornings. Lots of writing at the ends of already long days.

Needless to say, after last week, I recognize that I’m painfully out of shape for that kind of marathon. At one time in my career, weeks like that were fairly  normal. And it was exhilarating. Exhausting. Exciting.

There were definitely parts of last week that I loved. I did some solid work. I got to tap dance and sell my little heart out. I did my best to educate and entertain.

Like anything else, unless you use it, you lose it. And I must have lost my stamina and ability to keep that pace for 5 days straight or more about 5 years ago. By the time I arrived home on Thursday night, I was done.

But the week wasn’t over.

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It was so nice to get home and see how much had grown on the Urban Farm. Okra, sweet 100s cherry tomatoes and Anaheim chiles that were marked as poblano transplants were harvested. Good thing they are also delicious. The okra and tomatoes were rehomed since Bruce had been picking tomatoes diligently while I was gone. Several friends and neighbors have been enjoying this spring tomato crop — certainly our most successful so far, despite the weather issues.

And I didn’t want to disappoint this week’s canine coworker:

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Last Friday was Guinness’ turn to go to work. During the summer, we have Summer Hours which means that if you work your 40 hours before noon on Friday, you can head out and enjoy your afternoon. I like to bring a dog along because often I’m one of the last people in the office because it’s nice and quiet, making it the perfect time to get caught up.

Of the three Gs, Guinness is the best office dog because he’s a great listener (Sit. Down. Stay.) and he’s very chill. Plus, he makes every single person he sees feel like a million bucks. He wags his huge puffy tail for everyone like they’re his long lost best friends, sits on feet to keep people from leaving, demands to be petted by putting his big noggin in naps, and lies down on command during meetings, staying put through the whole thing, though he’s very bored. My boss, who isn’t the biggest fan of our dog-friendly office policy (it’s one of the reasons I chose to come to the company), loves Guinness’ well-behaved, laid-back vibe. Although she’d never admit it, she’d be cool if I brought him to work every day.

Friday was actually National Take Your Dog to Work Day in the U.S. I had no idea, honestly. I just planned to bring the Gs into the office one by one this summer and see how they did so I’d know if I’d bring them in again.

The photo above was sent in to a contest that The Three Dog Bakery was having — you just needed to show your dog at work and you could be chosen to win a gift card (the Gs love TDB so it would be awesome to win). I like that Guinness blends in with the office carpet, like he’s in camouflage. He slept under my desk when I wasn’t in meetings. I only knew he was there because I’d hear his soft snores every so often.

Godiva was very put out that again, she wasn’t the office dog, but she’ll be going next. I promise. When she was an only dog, she started coming to work as soon as she was potty trained pup. She had a travel crate, a bed, lots of toys. People bought treats and kept them at their desks just for her. And they bought her fun toys and balls. They had Godiva breaks. Then Guinness came along and separating those two wasn’t a good thing at all.

You already know what I did on Friday night. It’s also what I did on Saturday night. And Sunday night. I can’t remember being that tired in I don’t know when. It reminded me of times in high school when I had to pull all nighters to get the school paper out and study for an exam. Or when I had two finals on the same day in college because of my poor planning. On the plus side, three days later, I now feel back to normal.

Never fear that I rested all weekend. Saturday we needed to get countertops ordered for all of those cabinets. This photo kind of shows what we’re getting, although the photo is too dark. Ice snow is the name of the color:

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It’s whiter but this photo shows all of the flecks in it. The substrate is called caesarstone—it’s quartz and reminds me of travertine which was a popular flooring choice in mid-century homes. The installer will be coming out to do final measurements next week and hopefully it will be installed by mid-July.

It wouldn’t be a weekend without time digging in the dirt. I found out about this cool plant on Saturday morning while I was drinking coffee and reading gardening blogs:

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It’s not really spinach, but a juicy leafed plant that is grown in India and Africa for it’s spinach-like qualities. You see, salad isn’t really a summer food and leafy greens don’t grow very well in the North Texas surface of the sun heat. But apparently this stuff does. I’ve eaten a leaf and it’s delicious. A little citrusy in addition to spinach’s green iron-y taste. And it is a vine so it can climb the trellises that Bruce picked up for me. The photos of it are gorgeous and it would bring lots of visual interest to the months where not much is happy to grow (except okra). Stay tuned for further details.

photo[6]By Sunday I was feeling much better rested. Although it was very hot (98°F), I spent some time outside and did another big beet harvest, which I promptly roasted. We had lots of yummy tomatoes and some additional okra. I peeled, chopped, and froze the remainder of the peaches, although I saw a few in the tree up fairly high this morning. I guess it’s time to get the ladder out again. The jam will get made when it’s cooler.

I’m also thinking about making some pepper jams. Down here in the South, people pour pepper jam over cream cheese (or baked brie) and serve it with crackers or baguette slices. Since I couldn’t make plum jam, it might be nice for gifts.

Bruce made dinner (and extra dinners) on Sunday night. We’ve been enjoying the okra grilled. It’s very yummy and a quick side to just about anything.

photo[4]If we get enough okra, I’d love to pickle it, but we’ll have to see how it grows.

Last night I also ordered the fall seeds: beets, spinach, lettuce, collards, mustard, bok choi, snow peas, kale, chard, arugula, carrots, radishes. It’s funny to think about fall when it’s finally summer and it’s predicted to be over 100°F this week.

Yes, it’s back to “normal” for me. Get ready for more “sow” posts.

And I have something exciting to look forward too. Bruce and I will be starting a stay-cation on Friday (through the entire July 4/Canada Day week). Between now and then I have the usual work, plus a day trip to NC on Thursday.

I must rest up since we are going to use the time to get more of our projects completed. I want to break out the sewing machines. And plant the fall tomato crop. Don’t worry, I’ll post photos.

Sow: mort

These days, with North Texas temperatures headed back up to the 100°+ days, early morning is the best time to head out to the raised beds and stock tanks for a little harvesting, cleaning up, watering by hand, and digging before work. It’s getting closer to surface of the sun weather, by next month, it will be here and I’ll be devising shading systems for some of the raised beds. And even at 6 am, it’s still hot. But it’s cooler than at 6 pm so I doused myself with OFF, grabbed my buckets, garden scissors, watering can, and compost bucket and started to get busy.

It’s usually a good time to clear the mind and get focused for the day ahead.

Just not today.

While watering the tomatoes, I found something that made me very sad: a poor bird that looked like it died trapped in a bit of the bird net. The net covers the tomato plants but this bird was on the part on the ground. It’s the part that I pin down to keep the critters out.

I say it looked like it was trapped, because I have a feeling that it was dispatched by one of the Gs, most likely Godiva the Huntress, since she wasn’t coming near me or the garden. It didn’t look crushed or torn, but a little bit flattened, like maybe someone tried to de-squeak it. I’ve found dead birds before, killed by cats or other predators, dead on impact with windows or walls. But this one made me feel terrible as I wondered if the bird net wasn’t there, this little bird would have had a chance.

resting up for tomorrow

resting up for tomorrow

Death was a theme in the garden from that point on. As the weather gets hotter, the lettuce crops are on their way out. I pulled some that was going to seed and began to ready their bed for the fall tomato crop (yes, it’s almost time to start thinking about planting them). I noticed that all of the cucumber plants were toast except one (partially because of not getting watered while we were in Canada). I pulled out the dying and dried up pea plants. I pulled some of the brown bean stalks. I harvested the remainder of the 3rd crop of bok choi and put the stalks in the compost bucket. As the bucket got more full, I felt even more sad.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve gotten really attached to these plants. Yes, of course, I talk to them and encourage them to grow and do their thing. I know they have a lifecycle and that when they reach the end, they have to go to make room for new plants.

Today it was a little like saying goodbye to old friends. The lettuce and all of the leafy greens have done so well for me. They’ve looked so pretty and brightened up the Urban Farm. And for just $2.50 a seed packet, they produced tons of green stuff since January. An excellent return on such a small investment. But they’re done.

today's leafy harvest: bok choi (right), lots of lettuce (left)

today’s leafy harvest: lots of lettuce (left), bok choi (right),

It’s really taking me a while to get used to the garden circle of life. Just when I get used to a rhythm and a routine, something changes. That’s life though.

But in the midst of all of this death, life. A small toad hopped by as I was doing my thing. He startled me out of my funk. I’ll take him as an omen of unexpected goodness to come.

Sow: friendly harvest

Today’s weather has been very ominous, but no rain at the office during work today. Hopefully at home, we got some free plant water this afternoon—there was a 30% chance, but that’s turning to 70% later tonight. In any case, tonight (or tomorrow morning if it rains before I get home) I’m going to do something that I absolutely love to do: pick stuff for my friends.

 

Filling a grocery bag with gallon Ziploc bags of freshly harvested stuff from the Urban Farm and knowing that other families will enjoy it makes me really happy. It’s a great gift that I’d love to receive (hint to all of you local readers with gardens and/or chickens). Hopefully soon I’ll be able to better predict what will be available so that I can give people a heads up of what’s coming. This week, they’ll get lots of leafy green stuff: red romaine, red velvet lettuce, green leaf lettuce, beet greens, rainbow chard.

Sometimes I accompany the produce with recipes. Here’s one of my favorites to give when I share kale and/or chard since many people aren’t too sure if they’re going to like those hardcore green leaves: kale and rainbow chard salad with peaches, blackberries & pine nuts.

kale and fruit salad

Photo from Napa Farmhouse 1885 blog. It’s a great source for ideas of what to do with a bounty of produce.

I’ve made it in the winter with pears and apples instead of peaches and no blackberries. The other day, I ran out of pine nuts so I used sunflower seeds (quite good). Experiment with the fruit and seeds/nuts you have and I’ll bet you come up with a great combo—let me know what you do and any fruit/nut combos that work especially well. I bet pomegranate seeds would be a good addition or different dried fruit. I like to make it before work on weeknights when we have dinner guests—it’s a big time saver since it’s supposed to marinade all day. Delicious with things from the grill or even by itself. Yum!

Since we’re eating so many salads, I’ve started making a salad for dinner when I make our work lunches. Wash and cut once, eat twice! Another huge timesaver when throwing together dinner on a weeknight. Tonight’s salad will be 85% from our garden. Only the goat cheese, sunflower seeds and vinaigrette are not from the land in our backyard. That gives me lot of happiness (although I’d love to have goats, but that’s a story for another day). And since it’s already done, there’s no post-work thinking involved.

Can you tell that I need a little break? Yes, me too. It’s definitely time for a mini-vacation. While the long weekend was fabulous, this weekend’s wedding in Niagara-on-the-Lake will be more of a getaway and bigger break from day-to-day reality. And the plane time will give me some uninterrupted reading time. I’ve been hording magazines and downloading books. I hope to cruise through lots of words. And not be online very much. So, if you don’t hear from me for a few days, please don’t worry. I may not have wifi and I’m not paying for international data roaming.

But if you have a moment, let me know your favorite green leafy salad recipe. As I mentioned we have a lot of green leaves to eat and George is the only four-legged family member who helps.

George: the newest member of the 3G Network

George: mouth full of tennis balls, not salad

 

So: a break + photos

So, you haven’t heard from me for a few days. Unfortunately life has a funny way of filling up all of my writing spaces when I skip a day. Or maybe subconsciously I wanted a May 2-4 weekend (aka Victoria Day weekend) last weekend instead of Memorial Day this coming weekend. Not sure, but all I know is sentences did not get strung together and very few photos got taken. But maybe this post will make up for it!

Friday night we went to the BARC (Build A Rescue Clinic) Gala for Mazie’s Mission, the awesome rescue organization that saved George. Since it was a 1970s party, Bruce and I put on our vintage best:

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100% authentic 1970s polyester, baby!

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many guys with real hairdos like Bruce’s chose to accessorize with big hair

The outfits were even more amazing than last year. Lots of tie-dye and polyester but also:

great shoes

great shoes (don’t worry, fishy isn’t real)

fun spinning disco ball centerpieces

fun spinning disco ball centerpieces

Mazie’s Mission needs $3 million to build their clinic. As I mentioned in last post, Mazie’s Mission was founded by veterinarian Dr. Erin Shults to bring a self-sustaining, focused approach to animal welfare with the purpose of eliminating unnecessary euthanasia. They provide medical care, expert forensic evidence and adoption assistance to shelters, rescue groups, first responders and other non-profit animal welfare groups. The ultimate goal of Mazie’s Mission will be to establish a world class hospital and lifetime sanctuary for the care of those animals that cannot find a home.

My photos aren’t great (lighting wasn’t ideal to shoot these photos), but they’ll give you an idea. And if you’re interested in learning more or making a donation, visit their website. Or ask me. I might be able to answer your question too.

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aerial view of the clinic grounds

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another view of the clinic buildings

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architect’s rendering of the buildings

It’s a great cause and one I’m definitely proud to support since George was a beneficiary of Mazie’s Mission and Dr. Schults’ skill as a veterinary surgeon. She is an amazing person and it would be fantastic to help her bring her vision into reality.

Speaking of George, he was a bit of a mess yesterday:

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poor Georgie hurt his toe! he’s wearing a human’s sock (mine) to keep from licking it.

Notice his “bandaged” right foot. We woke up to George licking his foot. Sometime between his final let out of the night and his first let out of the am, George was most likely bit by a bug. He licked his swollen toe until it was nice and red. Since it was Sunday, our vet clinic wasn’t open but luckily we have a good friend (hi Christine!) who is a vet tech. She helped us to figure out what we should do to make him more comfortable and also if we needed to go to the emergency clinic (no, thank goodness). Because we had a bunch of medications on hand (a benefit of having Guinness), we were able to get him somewhat fixed up and feeling better fast.

First, I soaked his foot in Epsom salts for 15 minutes. Then I applied some Tritop antibiotic cream, fed him a delicious Benedryl and Rimadyl (anti-inflamatory) wedge of Laughing Cow Lite cheese (the best pill hider for the Gs), and “bandaged” his foot with a sock (mine) and some paper painters’ tape (to keep sock on and prevent sock from getting wet from licks). There was no morning walk for poor George and he woefully waited at the big bay window for Godiva and Guinness to return. Even though he had no mobility issues, we thought it would be better for him to rest and relax (and he’s good at snoozing).

His foot got soaked 3 times yesterday (plus ointment application and a clean sock) and once so far today. His toe seems much less swollen and it is definitely not as red. I saw a bump that looks like an ant bite (itchy!) so maybe that was what happened. If it’s not better by tomorrow morning, our vet tech friend wants me to take him to the vet. They are planning the Mortroski Wing at the vet clinic, so why not, right? Seriously, he’ll be going if it’s not better tonight.

Other weekend highlights included braving the crowds at Costco on a Saturday (not recommended unless you pack your patience), cleaning the very dusty and dirty Mortroski Midcentury, continuing to put away the stuff relocated because of the flooring and trim installation, the usual assortment of household chores, and finally some cabinet installation that hit a speed bump (it has since been figured out so we can hopefully work on it more tonight):

getting the new dark wood cabinets in place -- they will have drawers so being light colored on the inside will help us see what's in there

getting the new cabinets in place

No time for harvesting except for the peas (tons of snow peas and a cupful of sweet English peas for Bruce) for Saturday night supper, a bit of spinach for Sunday morning’s omelette, some lettuce for Sunday lunch’s salmon burgers (nice to have a produce stand in the backyard), so I squeezed some in before work today. Other than a plethora of weeds, today’s haul was tons of rainbow chard, red romaine, lots of mixed lettuce of all types, baby carrots (the real ones not the shaved down large ones), radishes, and chioggia and Detroit red beets.

Check out my biggest chioggia beet to date:

beetzilla!

beetzilla!

Yes, I’ll be roasting beets when I get home tonight.

The tomato forrest was bird netted this morning. I was especially worried about the succulent little sweet 100s — they look like they’re potential bird candy. Found a bit of blossom rot on the Burpee Big Boys, but after some research they could be too wet or not have enough calcium to support themselves. I will pick up some calcium for them later this week and watch their water supply.

Other than that, it’s back to work. We moved floors on Friday so it’s been a bit chaotic in the office for the past few days and rather noisy today with drills, saws, etc. Kind of reminds me of home!

sow: obscene harvest

obscene! yes, that is our kitchen table groaning under the weight of the bounty

obscene! yes, that is our kitchen table groaning under the weight of the bounty

Don’t worry, friends. That craziness will feed 3 other families this week in addition to Bruce and me. It was a productive two weeks for spinach, chard, mixed salad greens, cilantro, mint, parsley, oregano, red velvet lettuce, candy cane beets (the very first ones!) and bok choi. And it felt awesome to pick everything, feel the sun on my back (hello, farmers’ tan!) and do a little weeding this morning. It’s an exciting time on the Urban Farm — English peas are podding, snow peas are flowering, okra plants are sprouting, salad greens are weed-like, tomato plants are getting huge, peppers are starting to flower, beets/carrots/radishes are all forming, herbs are going insane. So much is going on. The Urban Farm is looking very pretty and there’s lots of deliciousness about to happen. Ah, the relaxation.

As you surmised from yesterday, it’s not been a restful or relaxing weekend around here. Dumps, IKEA, moving furniture, getting rid of stuff, etc, etc, etc. And there will be no rest this week. Destroy! Rip out! Sort! Give away! Donate! Put away! Spring cleaning on steroids. Or as I like to think of it an extended Date Night. At least there’s wine every night as a reward for so much physical labor.

Officially, today we became carpet-free home. All of the beige big box store lowest possible grade carpet is gone. It was an excellent magnet for black lab and yellow lab/golden retriever hair and dander. My allergies (nose and eyes) are going insane with the amount of 47 years of dirt, dust, dog hair and dander that I sucked up with the shop vac and the Dyson Monster. But after a shower and a little down time, I’m feeling better. Still I’m having Zyrtec with a Benedryl chaser tonight before bed. That and all the carrying, hammering, prying, cursing, and working will ensure a sound night’s sleep.

The trim around doors and floors in some of the rooms and hall is also gone. It is a bit unattractive around here and most of our furniture is either in the garage, the living/dining room, or back in the office (office furniture only). We still have a lot of work to do on the office, but we need somewhere clean where we can sit and rest after all of our work. In our bedroom, we put down blankets before we dropped our mattress on the bare floor. And we put some blankets under the dog beds too. We are wearing flip flops inside the house at the moment, despite the double vacuuming efforts. The Gs don’t seem to mind the bare concrete.

However, the Gs are a little unsure of what’s going on. George is slowly but surely getting over his phobia of loud sounds, power tools, the shop vac, and swearing. Godiva and Guinness are happy that we’re leaving all of the back doors open and they can come and go out for a squirrel hunt/bark/pee as they please.  There was lots of snoozing in the sun by those lazy hounds punctuated by squirrel chasing and a little visiting with our friend Camille. Despite the inside the house chaos, the Gs had an awesome weekend outside. Good thing since they’ll have another next weekend.

No sense of getting ahead of ourselves: this week will be busy. We have several rooms and closets yet to prep (aka things to destroy and remove) for Saturday’s bamboo-ing. We need to pour a bit of concrete in the lounge to level the floors where the wet bar and the tv cabinet used to be. We need to assemble the new cabinets on the tv side and get them in place for the bamboo dudes. And there’s a trip to IKEA in order on Thursday night.

We’re going to need our pal Jim the Master Plumber to come and remove/cap the wet bar sink and our other pal David the Master Electrician to move the plug. We’re not keeping the bar wet since in the nearly two years we’ve lived here we’ve never used the sink. But we’ll be adding a beverage fridge eventually so we need to make sure the electrical is ok. David loves what we’re doing with the place—he enjoys being part of the process and likes seeing the progress. Maybe that’s because he’s our age and wishes he had the energy and stamina to make his wife happy with the kind of improvements we’re doing. Seventy-one year old Jim is amused by our renos—the Urban Farm allowed him to share his dating exploits with Bruce (never with me, he’s too Southern). Apparently in East Texas if you are a single man of a certain age, the garden clubs are the best places to meet oil money widows. Rush out there everyone!

Well, George is snoring (loudly) and it’s time for bed. Hope you all had as excellent of a weekend as we did. (Yes. I know we’re crazy.)

 

 

Sow: progress report

20130425-211257.jpg Mixed lettuces

A week can bring tons of change to the urban farm. As you can see from the lettuce photo, the plants are bushy and somewhat wild. This weekend the harvesting needs to be pretty hardcore. That’s ok, I’ve lined up some friends to help us enjoy the bounty next week. There will be lots of lettuce, spinach, chard, and an assortment of herbs in their care packages. Mmmm salad!

Weeding needs to be hardcore too. I pulled some out this morning but they have snuck in while I wasn’t looking.

And I wouldn’t mind stopping by North Haven Gardens to see if they have any raspberry bushes left. That is if it fits in with the carpet removal…

Here are a few more visual progress reports:

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Red romaine

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Red velvet lettuce

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Beets

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Beans

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Artichoke

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Carrots radishes carrots

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Tomato progress–getting bigger and getting more flowers

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Black diamond watermelon from Lisa

Cilantro and parsley are on their way out. Bok choi needs to get harvested too.

And I also need to hang up a cute garden sign Bruce found while I was away. I’ll post a photo when it’s up.

Looks like a good time outside is on the horizon.

Sow: French breakfast

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The radishes are coming in nicely. This is the second batch of ten I’ve harvested this week. This weekend it will be time to replant most likely.

Remember how I said that I wasn’t sure that the seed tape I made was worth the effort? I officially have changed my mind since 1) the radishes are actually growing like they’re supposed to, 2) they’re delicious, and 3) the rows look pretty.

Even with last night’s cold weather, the urban farm seems to be chugging right along. Lots of lettuce to harvest this weekend!