Monday, November 22, 2010

Odds and ends, catching up, a little bit of this and that...

I know, where the heck have I been?

Well, frankly, right here, but just not having a whole lot to say. So get off my back!! I'm only one person!!! Ahem, excuse the outburst, I think the pressure of blogging is getting to me. So much pressure...yawn...I think I'll have another back massage...

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, I've kicked back a little bit, resting before the next big push.  Bricking up the ground under the clothes line, putting down the first of our backyard paths and, eventually, building not one but two arbors.

But until then, I have been suffering from lack of rain. Usually we are getting buckets right now, but nothing measurable for well over a month and a half. WTF?

Once upon a time, in my primordial days, I worked in the film industry. While on set one day, out in the middle of the high Californian Desert, a few of us were talking about it being a tough shoot. (middle of summer in the upper 90's and over 100 at times) I expressed the want of rain. (that's a day ender in the film biz especially when the shoot is a fast food commercial and the stars have to give a convincing performance of how much they enjoy wolfing down near real tacos on a glorious sun kissed set)

One of my buddies told me a story about another shoot he was on. The same want of rain was rampent among the crew. One local hammer (grip), who also happened to be a Native-American, kneeled down and drew a crude version of a turtle in the dirt. He then told everyone to spit in it. They all looked at him confused. He told them, "you want rain, right? Well, spit in the turtle". The 1st AD (assistant director) got wind of this and laughed.

That inspired the rest of the crew to spit in the turtle. (AD's have a running rep of being jerks. Sorry Merle, I'm not including you in that reputation...really). Well, not 10 minutes later clouds began forming. One half hour later the shoot was called due to rain, which was now coming down in buckets. The moral of the story? Don't piss off the turtle.

What the heck am I eluding to? I've been drawing freaking turtles and clamming in them weekly and still no freakin' rain! There is some cruel joke going on here and I'M NOT IN ON IT!!!!

The monster tanks are just about empty and the back up barrels are done. I have to start using city water probably on Thursday. What's the big deal right? The big deal is, we are going through water averaging right now. That means whatever our water volume totals to during this time, that's what our water average rate per month will be for the rest of the year! This is why I used the monster tanks and the barrels. Otherwise our water bill would kill us. Sigh.

By whatever means y'all divine water, please sent it our way. (Yes, I'm pleading)

In the mean time, we have been dealing with this...

Beautiful isn't it? Yeah...well...that's after it is first, this...


A heartless eating machine. Leopard Moth Caterpillars.

Since I don't use any pesticides, natural or otherwise, I'm out there pulling these little buggers off the plants. There were, at one point, literally hundreds in my yard.  Frankly, I think we were a little lucky, we didn't get too much damage. Well, except my grape vine. Oh, the poor little thing. It's my little buddy and it got hit hard. I hope it makes it. I don't know if it will. :(

I pull these things off my plants and they act all insulted! They curl up and poop on me. ON ME!! Lousy little #$@%@#!!!

They appear to have finally tapered off. I thought that before, then they came back with a vengeance.

Now for the updates. Well, remember the mystery melons? Oddly, we got hit by a very bizarre, out of the blue, frost last Thursday. Here is the after pic of the melons...


I know, pretty grim. However...


They still live! Not only that, but still are growing. And get this...


Another type of mystery melon!! But here's the worst part; we are expecting another frost this coming Thursday evening. I will cover them up, but I fear the worst. :(

Funny thing though, while the melons suffered, my cabbage...


Shrugged it off as did my broccoli...


However, all is not well in Mudville...


That's my lettuce and those white dots? That's !#%$@#$^#R% White Fly!!!! Arggg!!!

It's all my fault, I planted a different type of lettuce than my usual type. This stuff is getting eaten alive. I couldn't fine my usual seed last month, so I had to use this stuff. Grrrrr...

However, I was able to get my hands on a packet of the good stuff, this past weekend. Oh man, really really good stuff. Wait, we are talking about lettuce right?

So I ripped out two of the four rows of the bad stuff, and put the good stuff down. I want to compare growth rates and pest effects. Frankly, due to the very unseasonably weird warm weather, many of the warm weather bugs are still around. Heck, I got bit by a mosquito tonight!  Little cretin.

We shall see...

Significant Other and I have been wanting to plant a fruit tree of some sort. We COULD just go out and buy a sapling, but what kind of fun would that be? Why do it the easy way? My middle name is: take the hard road. Hmmm, that's four middle names. Well, that's not really my middle name. It's actually Vincent, but on some planet in the universe it translates to "Take the hard road!". That has to be a very weird planet.


We are trying to grow a peach tree from scratch! (what is "from scratch" mean anyway?)

First eat a peach...


The Prez and I go way back...

Then take the husk...

and a hammer and crack it...



Peach pit...


Then take a medium ball jar, put in some top soil, some compost and a bit of water. Make it moist but not soaked. Too wet and the pit will rot.

Push the pit down about 2 inches, put on the cap real tight and stick it in your refrigerator...


After about 4 weeks you should see some whispy white roots forming. At that point, put it in a pot with potting soil and lightly water. Hopefully, it will begin to grow.

Ideally, you want to begin this process in early November (zone 8).

I will keep you updated as it grows. Keep your fingers crossed.

Come the spring, your peach tree should be ready to plant.

Other than that, I planted my garlic 2 weeks ago. 72...cloves...(thanks Sis).


Half of which have already sprouted!

And I have my first...


Mutant Strawberry...kind of freaky isn't it?

Anyway, that's the latest. Just a smattering of stuff. Hopefully, after a day of bloating myself on turkey, I will be inspired to go sweat off my food baby doing yard work.


Anyway, the hallowed season of competitive food eating is now upon us. Y'all have a wonderful giving of thanks and thanks for giving this week. Think of those who who don't have enough to eat and think of those who have too much to eat. Then think of a way in which we can make those even. :)

Green is Good.

Drive safe. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

We interrupt our regular programming...

Several weeks ago I blogged about how I made my own stevia extract.

In case you weren't around for that, or just like looking at the pretty pictures, here is a link back in time...

Oddly, this particular post had a higher than normal number of hits than all my other rants and raves.  I had a grand total of 7 1/2 people!! 2 more than my regular views!  I don't know if I could handle such fame.

Anyway, other than the goat herder in upper volta with his wi-fi stapled to the back of his yak, the other was a company from up Seattle way.

They are Steviva.

If they found my site interesting, they didn't say, I guess they were trying to be polite. :)


They wrote me and asked if I would review a few of their products.  Completely perplexed by this, I didn't know what else to say, but YES!

(To quote Ghostbusters, "when someone asks if you are a god, you say yes!)

In my grand moment of a momentary ego boost, the only thought that flew through my head was, "They love me! They really love me!!!" (Honestly, I have been trying to work in that movie quote for some time.)

Here are the products they sent me...


The appear to be a very socially and environmentally friendly company.

From their website:

-all plastic packaging is made from 100% recycled PET plastic.

-fleet vehicles run on alt fuels

-manufacturing and offices are powered by renewable energy sources

-all paper is recycled

and best of all...

-they give a portion of their net profits to environmental concerns.

This was enough for me to try their product. :)

I had a chance to try the Fructevia and the Stevia.

Steviva is a concentrate of stevia in powdered form.  I found this works very well as a sugar substitute.  It dissolves very well in hot tea or coffee.   In ice tea, it clumps a little bit, but with a little stirring it dissolves nicely.

It had a very nice flavor. (If you aren't accustomed to it, stevia will taste little different than sugar, but after a while you won't even notice)

The Fructevia has a very nice smooth sugary flavor due to the infusion of fructose fruit sugar.  I found this dissolved a little better in cold drinks. No problem with hot drinks.

Fructevia is used for baking and they suggest using half as much as you would normally use when using sugar for baking.  I will have to give that a shot.  I will give my findings in future blogs.

Overall, I believe these to be two very fine products.  I would suggest their use to anyone looking for a high quality sugar substitute.

Check out their site and give them a try. :)

Meanwhile, out in the garden...

I put in my garlic for the season: 77 dealies.  (Honestly, please someone tell me what each little wedge of garlic is called.  It's a little tough talking seriously about gardening with other gardeners and referring to the garlic things as "dealies". LOL)

And I think I finally put to rest the mystery behind the Mystery Plant...


(Thank you, Mr. Hand)

Looks like watermelon to me.  I took this pic yesterday.  It's already about doubled in size.  So, yeah, watermelon.

Now, the question is: will it make it to full size before our first freeze?  That is the 64 thousand dollar question.

I will post updates on the potentially ill fated watermelon.

This was a quick one.

Next week: I have no idea what I'm going to write about!!

Until then: Green is Good and sometimes very mysterious.