Almost Thanksgiving

Had a very busy weekend starting with the dock.   We’re having holiday company and I anticipate some time spent there so I wanted it to be “freshened”.   That meant repairing/replacing some rotten deck planks.   Joey and Mark came up on Saturday and attacked it with vigor.   To start I walked around pressing down on suspect boards to determine whether or not they needed replacement.  I pressed one and went right through.  So I was down on the dock with my leg dangling into the lake – so the job was properly blooded.   We ended up replacing a dozen or so rotted planks with no more happenings.   So the dock is ready for company.  Thanks guys.

Later that day, I was in the tub cleaning up and Nancy was asleep on the couch when this crashing sound occurred.   It sounded like a tree had fallen onto the roof – hit hard then shifted down the roof.   I got out of tub and walked outside to see where the damage was and Nancy went out the front to do the same.   Nothing.  Then she found that the crash was inside in the laundry area where a cabinet had ripped off the wall, stopped by the dryer and the power cable I have connecting the house with the portable generator.   Of course the cabinets were full so the appropriate mess was made.  After trying myself to deal with it, clearly it was nothing I could handle myself so I alerted Tom and Joey that we needed emergency assistance.  Tom was already scheduled to come up Sunday so he said he’d come up earlier than planned and between us, we’d get the cabinet removed.   And that’s what happened.  It took us about an hour but we got it removed and ready for replacement.   Joey/Mark are going to look for a replacement cabinet and install it.   No rush on that.  The back of the cabinet is/was fiber board and I guess, over the years, it absorbed moisture and just gave it up.   The wall looks just fine so it’s only a replacement job, not a repair.  I think if it hadn’t been for the generator cable stopping the crash, it would have damaged the utility room doors and possibly the clothes dryer.

But best of all – Baby Bay visited!    He (and his parents) stayed overnight on the way to Tom’s Thanksgiving day party.  He loved the garden and the lake and being carried by his nana.   He’s tiny but has a big voice to grow into. We’ll be hooking up with them later today for the Thanksgiving celebration. Should be a great day with all the grandkids on hand.

A Full Garden

The garden is full!   Between mature plants, seedling transplants, and seed beds there’s virtually no open planting space.   The last addition was a 2’x10’ row of beet seeds and another 2’x6’ row of carrots and radishes.   Also used the last of the fall compost pile.   A few weeks back it was full – 3’x3’x6’ – 54 cubic for the math challenged.  Now it’s doing its’ thing in the garden.   I always have two compost piles going with all new stuff going into one while the other cooks.  At this point I have one that will cook for the next 3 months and one just getting the first inputs.   That one will be the fall load for 2022. 

I had troubles with a few things last year but those items seem to be doing just fine this year.   For some reason I just couldn’t get a decent spinach crop last year.   Had trouble even getting seeds to germinate and when they did, the plants never produced.   I compensated for that this year by planting more seed but have been surprised by how many popped out and are going gangbusters.  Last year I had good swiss chard which made up for the poor spinach but it looks like this year both the chard and the spinach are off to a great start.   The first run of turnips proved so good that I planted another patch.   The lettuce likewise was not all that great last year but off to a strong start this season.   One thing I did differently this year was not growing much at all during the summer.  It was so hot and buggy that I decided to give it (and me) a rest.   Perhaps that is why the new stuff is doing so well.   I have 6 Fennel plants going.  Never grown them before but they look healthy.  In the herb dept, nice basil, rosemary, and parsley.

The vegan lady brought us over some new dessert a few days back.   This time it was a chocolate tuxedo cake and a pumpkin-cranberry cake.  The tuxedo cake is a feature at the Costco bakery but not the vegan version.   Both full vegan, both full delicious.   Her cakes are really dense and moist as opposed to dry and airy.  I think this is going to be interesting when the garden is putting out at peak.

Getting close to spec season.   It’s gotten cooler and that usually triggers action.

Apple Upside Down cake on the menu

Our new neighbor is turning out to be an interesting character.   Gretchen is a serious Vegan and baker.   In Jersey she owned a vegan bakery for 10 years and has a fairly strong on-line presence on the subject now.   You can check it out at http://www.gretchensveganbaker.com.   On Utube it’s wwwutube.com/c/GretchensBakery.   Her last entry was for an apple upside down cake which is incredible.    The other night she knocked on the door with 2 pieces.   She explained that she makes stuff for her shows and needs somebody to eat up the left overs.   Would we please mind?   and if it get’s too much just tell her we’re being overloaded.   So far that’s not a problem.  Although she’s a dessert specialist, can’t wait to see what she does with the garden veggies.   She picked some turnips this week and commented on how tender and delicious they were.   We’re always had way too much coming out of the garden but I’m thinking maybe that problem is solved.   

I think I’m mostly over the last kidney stone attack.  It totally plugged me up which led me to an emergency visit to the urologist for a catheter.   My day to day rhythm was totally messed up as I tried to keep my system flushed.   The doc prescribed a med which caused me to lose stability and nearly pass out several times.   I quit taking that and have had no problems since.   Bad week though.

Got some good stuff popping in the garden now.   The weather has cooled so my winter stuff is now surviving.   The Swiss chard is looking great with over a dozen healthy looking seedlings in the garden.  Also I tried a row of spinach and it looks like that seed is germinating just fine.  It’s always marginal with spinach seed which doesn’t have much of a shelf life.   I soaked the seeds overnight before planting and that seems to have done the job.   Also put in the first fennel plants.   Never grown them before so really don’t know what to expect.  I read a caution that they may deplete the soil around them of nutrients causing other plants to have problems.   I’ll keep an eye on them.   Cabbage coming along fine and expect we’ll be eating some before the end of November.  Tomato and pepper plants looking mostly good with plenty of blossoms.   It’s always nip and tuck to bring in a crop before we get any frost.  I keep hoping for global warming to kick in but so far, looks like Pierson is out of the loop.

A New Garden Option

The garden is taking shape for the season.  Planted seedlings of cauliflower, broccoli, kale and swiss chard this week.   The cabbages, peppers and tomatoes I put in last month are mostly doing well whereas the earlier planted squash and cucumbers are being routinely consumed by the critters and becoming fodder for the compost pile.  I only planted those on hopes of a cooler season but, if anything, it was hotter and more humid than usual.  I’ve also planted a few seeds for a new crop.  Trying to grow fennel.  Nancy uses fennel in her tomato sauce and it’s not alway easy to get.  Never tried to grow Fennel so not sure what to expect.  It’s a fairly fast crop, 50-60 days so may be ready before any frost.  

And, another option surfaced regarding gardening on the neighbors property.   Still no complaints from them but the neighbor on the other side, the Ashcraft’s,  suggested that I plant a garden on their property.   I really wouldn’t relish starting over from scratch but it is an alternative that I hadn’t considered.  Brian and Amy Ashcraft have decided to fix up the old double wide on the property they inherited from their Grandmother, May, and move in.  They (Amy) had considered tearing it down and building a new place but instead they (Brian) opted for the renovation and adding a large, steel shed for his business.   He’s going to open some kind of handyman business.  Their plans include building a nice dock and a new ski boat so I think my garden would be secure there for as long as we’re here.

Egg-Chard Barter Plan

Have had basically zero interface with the new neighbors except for a 5 minute chat at the garden.   Clearly there will be no immediate problem with the garden.  They are way too engaged with the house to worry about anything in the yard at all.  Gretchen confirmed that they are vegetarians and planning to start raising chickens since eggs are such a big part of their diet.  I’m just proceeding as in the past, assuming they will be eager eaters when my Dazzling – Blue Kale and Bright Lights chard turn on.   Maybe I’ll be able to barter eggs for Chard.

We found a new (to us) Chinese restaurant.   It’s in South Daytona and showed up in a survey as the best Chinese restaurant in Volusia County.  We were in Daytona and decided (actually Nancy decided) to give it a try.   We had looked it up on a Maps program a month or so ago and had a rough idea where it was but I really had my doubts as to how difficult it would be to find  on a high traffic, 3 lane each way kind of road – buried in a commercial shopping area.   Since Nancy can’t see, I was fairly sure I’d be wide open trying to navigate the traffic while looking sideways for a Chinese restaurant sign buried in a strip mall. We didn’t even know which side of the road it was on or exactly what the name of the place is.  I did know another good place in the general area so had it in mind that we’d go there when the Chinese exercise proved futile.  As it turned out, I happened to look in the right direction at just the right time to spot a sign way off the road.  We were, of course, in the wrong lane and I had to navigate a U turn but we actually found the place.    Really good and I’m sure I’ll be eating there a lot more than I want. 

New Neighbors

Well, it looks like the sale of the garden (AKA  the house next door)  is going to happen.   Barbara has to be gone by 10/9 and the new folks are scheduled to move in on the 11th.  I may get a cucumber or zucchini but nothing else.   The garden is really looking good this year and I hope they either agree to share it or at least farm it actively to take advantage of the high quality soil that I’ve built over the last 10 years.   It’ll be about 75% planted out by then.   Another loss to be dealt with as new neighbors move in is the burn pile.  As with the garden, we share a large burn pile where we both dispose of tree and brush trimmings.   Doesn’t sound like much but you’d be surprised just how much “tree litter” we deal with.  Up until now, this has been a good thing since the wood ash adds nutrients and mass to the compost piles – so eventually ending up in the garden.

I was more than a little proud of the gators almost beating Alabama.   From here on out, “almost beating” doesn’t get it.  I was hoping that the Jag’s would show up with a winner this season rather than pulling up the rear as usual.  So far, not so good.   Ditto the Dolphins.   I’ve never been a Buc’s fan but …………….

We’ve had lots of rain over the past week.  I’ve dumped the 6” rain gauge 3 times in the past week and the lake is the highest we’ve seen for several years.   It’s about 6” from overtopping Barbara’s dock.   The good news is that we’re past most of the hurricane season with no signs of anything to worry about.   Some of the green bean plants in the garden are looking shabby which I suspect has to do with excess water.   Their roots are probably deep enough to be in saturated soil – great for rice but not so great for beans.

UPDATE

Met the new neighbors – Frank and Gretchen.   He looks like a “Frank”, she doesn’t look like a Gretchen.  They come to Florida by way of NJ.   Very close to where Chris lives – within 15 minutes.  The guy’s parents are from south Jersey, near Philadephia – how weird is that!  Look to be in their 50’s, look Italian, and the wife is a vegan – crazy about greens.   They definitely plan to use the garden on a mutual basis.  Ditto the burn pile.   It just so happens that I burned it out this morning.   I think this is going to work out OK.  So far, so good.

Lots of rain

Well, it looks like the sale of the garden (AKA  the house next door)  is going to happen.   Barbara has to be gone by 10/9 and the new folks are scheduled to move in on the 11th.  I may get a cucumber or zucchini but nothing else.   The garden is really looking good this year and I hope they either agree to share it or at least farm it actively to take advantage of the high quality soil that I’ve built over the last 10 years.   It’ll be about 75% planted out by then.   Another loss to be dealt with as new neighbors move in is the burn pile.  As with the garden, we share a large burn pile where we both dispose of tree and brush trimmings.   Doesn’t sound like much but you’d be surprised just how much “tree litter” we deal with.  Up until now, this has been a good thing since the wood ash adds nutrients and mass to the compost piles – so eventually ending up in the garden.

I was more than a little proud of the gators almost beating Alabama.   From here on out, “almost beating” doesn’t get it.  I was hoping that the Jag’s would show up with a winner this season rather than pulling up the rear as usual.  So far, not so good.   Ditto the Dolphins.   I’ve never been a Buc’s fan but …………….

We’ve had lots of rain over the past week.  I’ve dumped the 6” rain gauge 3 times in the past week and the lake is the highest we’ve seen for several years.   It’s about 6” from overtopping Barbara’s dock.   The good news is that we’re past most of the hurricane season with no signs of anything to worry about.   Some of the green bean plants in the garden are looking shabby which I suspect has to do with excess water.   Their roots are probably deep enough to be in saturated soil – great for rice but not so great for beans.

Great, Great Grandfather

Of course the big news is the new great grandson.   Bay Joseph Carbone.  Congrat’s Amy and Simon.

Still no hard definition on next door – supposedly an acceptable offer has been proffered and the deal is at the bank getting a loan.   Barbara is thinking she’ll be moving the end of October.   Toward that end, she’s had a moving POD brought to her house which will be loaded with furniture etc and put in storage.  I wouldn’t think she would do that without feeling fairly certain that the sale will happen.  That means we may get to pick some beans and maybe squash and cucumbers but no tomatoes, peppers or greens.   Most of the seedlings have been transplanted to temporary quarters – aka yogurt cups – where they’ll grow some for the next 2-3 weeks.  I’m really happy with the green peppers.   They’re a hard crop but it looks like I got 100% and they all look strong.   One bad thing is that they’re a 90 day crop so it may be that the new owners get all the benefit. ditto the tomatoes.   I also planted some lettuce – way early.  Lettuce has trouble with heat but I decided to take a chance that it will cool down early enough to produce.  I have the seeds left over from last year so the worst thing that can happen is it doesn’t make it.  Time will tell.  Also, I still have plenty of lettuce seed so if we keep working the garden, I can always replant the lettuce.  One thought I had was to offer them use of our dock for parties etc in exchange for the garden.   Just a thought. 

The new computer is behaving so I treated it to more internet access.  The ATT personal hotspot gave us 3GB of data per month which was perfectly adequate pre I-pad.  The I-pad included plenty of data on the sprint network but we had frequent signal problems.  Never any ATT problems since we’re within a few hundred yards of the tower so we uptick’d the ATT hotspot to100GB.  

Change is on the way

Everything has germinated as of 9/1 except for green peppers and carrots.   That’s absolutely to be expected so all’s well.   I did something in the garden today that I had promised myself I wouldn’t do.   I thinned out the turnips and replanted the ones I thinned.  It’s a tedious job and you get a high loss on transplanting root crops.  But it was a coolish, overcast day with light rain forecast on and off all day.  Perfect conditions for the transplants.   Also, the soil where I planted the turnips is so soft that I can remove plants without totally disturbing the roots – at least that’s how I rationalize it to myself.   Last season we found so many ways to eat turnips that I’m putting a lot more garden space and effort into them.   Aside from mashing them with potatoes or carrots, you can roast them in the oven/Holland Grill and they’re really tasty.  Depending on size, peel them or not, coat with oil, season with salt and pepper, roast for an hour and they’re perfect.  I like to cook them with chicken or ribs that also take about an hour on the grill.

Update 9/3 – the green peppers started germination with about 6 plants popping out over night.   So the only question mark is with the carrots and that’s to be expected.   I’ve also moved all the tomato and cabbage starts from the seed beds to plastic yogurt cups.    I transplanted 5 different varieties for a total of 30 tomato plants.   Three varieties of cabbage for a total of 18.  The plan right now with the tomatoes is to eventually move 12 to the garden proper and the rest given away to Nancy’s friends and setting aside a few for garden fallout.   The cabbages will move to the garden in a couple of weeks with a few spares set aside for critter damage.

Now the real news – Barbara sold the house – aka the garden.  Not labeling the change as good or bad at this time. The timing details are not set yet insofar as when she moves out and the new folks move in.   I’m guessing 60-90 days as a reasonable transition time.   That should translate into me harvesting beans, squash, turnips, and cucumbers.   Maybe some cabbage.  No tomatoes, peppers or carrots.  According to Barbara, the lady of the house loves “gardening” but that probably means flowers and other distractions.  I have a lot of time invested in this season but very little money since I mostly had the seeds from last season.  It will probably be a month or so before I’d plant the peppers and tomatoes in the garden and by then I should know whether to go ahead as normal or buy some containers to grow them on the front porch.   Who knows, maybe the new lady will be a bridge playing quilter.

Seeds Germinating

After only 3 days spotted some germination of the new seeds planted directly in the garden.   The turnips and cuc’s had poked out.   I’m going to stay on top of the turnips this year and start thinning them out early on.  I let the crop last season get out of control and ended up with some getting way too big and pithy while others struggled for space.  That was all on me.   In the past I had trouble with turnips so last season I treated them as most probably going to crater anyway and gave them scant attention.  Subsequently we found several ways to use them and regretted not giving them proper attention early on.  

With respect to the cuc’s, last year was a disaster – poor growth, buggy etc.  That was a surprised since we had always had good luck with cuc’s.  I paid more attention to planting these seeds and prepared hills of pure compost.  I created 4 hills and put 3 seeds in each hill.   After only 3 days I was really surprised to count 9 plants breaking the surface.   I’ll let them go for a week or so and then thin to 4 plants.   Four plants will provide more than enough for us with plenty to give away.

8/29 update

Great germination.  Almost all the bean seeds, bush and pole, have popped out ahead of schedule.  Ditto squash and cabbage.   All of these germinated in well under a week.   The stuff that takes a week – 10 days, aka carrots, haven’t poked yet (and shouldn’t have).   I’m particularly watching germination because most of the seed I planted is 1-2 years old so you anticipate a reduced germination.  It’s of particular interest this time because at the end of the last planting season, I resolved to take better care of the seed until the next starting season.  Seed is getting more expensive and it’s much simpler to just use the leftovers than go thru the ordering process.  I found a metal cookie tin to store the old seed and kept it in the refrigerator veggie bin.  That should keep the seeds dry and cool – but maybe it will kill them.   So far so good.   All the seed mentioned above went through the spring/summer seasons plus the cabbage and lettuce and survived.   The jury is still out on tomatoes and green peppers.   These normally take 7-10 days and it’s been way less than that.