Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hey Guys! Wait up!!!

The title of this blog was my mantra in the early part of my life. I'm sure my Bro remembers it well. Up until I guess I was about 12 or 13, I wanted to hang around with my brother all the time. He was cool and I wanted to be cool, but cool doesn't work by osmosis. I hadn't figured that out yet. :)

So wherever he went, I wanted to tag along. They were always being bigger and taller and so would move a lot faster. So I would whine, "Hey Guys! Wait up!!"

Why am I relating this? Because it's catch-up time!

Yeah, I have been bad about blogging.

To blog or not to blog, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous internet denizens...

Sorry to get all Billy Shakespeare on you.


What have I been up to? Well, me being of the Texas variety and our summers being of the insane heat variety as well, I took the summer off from planting. "Say it ain't so!!!!" Yes, yes, (humbly bows head) I have thrown in the towel of trying to grow anything resembling something fresh and eatable during the insane summer months.

My water tanks thank me.

My aching back thanks me.

And something else which I can't thing of right now, thanks me.

However, all did not come to a screeching halt.

The bees still buzzed.

"Oh no, not another bee blog, ugh!" No. Thank you very much, but it was the only thing that kept me busy gardening-wise.

There was other stuff, OTHER STUFF, OKAY!!!


Where was I, oh yeah, stuff.

Frankly, there wasn't much, but I do have some pretty pretty pictures to show you of leftover stuff.

Fine. WHAT-ever.

Remember my cutting up of my side walk, then I tempted you with this...


Well, then this happened...


As much as I would reeeeeally like to show you a pict of me in action with everything jiggling, it ain't happening. The Very Significate Other was at work and wasn't able to take any unflattering photos of me this time. That's a good thing.

Here's a close up...

(Guest appearance by the construction ghosts sneakers)

Once upon a time, in SuburbanGuy's primordial Texas days as a Filmmaker, I wasn't able to get a whole lot of film work, so I worked construction to make ends meet. The one thing that I remember was, "When Jackhammering, make sure the pieces are the size of your fist". That was said to me by my very tiny fisted Supervisor.

So if you think hauling around a concrete cutter is fun, a Jackhammer is a load of laughs. Here's the final results.


Then came the really fun part. The "fun part" is open, way open to debate...

Making somewhat square rocks into, well, squarer rocks. Wait, what?

Take these rocks...


With a hammer and chisel and chop of this stuff...


And make it into this...


Now remember that pile?


Do it to all of them.


Well, after about 20 or so blocks, my elbow whispered into my ear. More like yelled, "You ain't 25 no more!!!" Or 30 or 35 or 40 or...let's just stop there, okay?

Tennis anyone? Not me.

So I will get back to it, just have to let ice work it's magic. :)

In the mean time, I was still able to put what I chiseled and what I didn't to work for the moment. This is only temp...

(Ghostly laundry)

We had gotten some really pretty Esperanzas  and needed to plant them, but since I was going to put in a raised bed in this spot, I had to think of something quick to work as a hold over. Here's a better shot...


So that's were that is at and I'm hoping it won't stay at that stage much longer. Especially now that the weather is at the "Safe-For-Humans" level again.

Okay, now for the bees. I know, I know, you are all on the edge of your seats.

Cut me some slack. The bees are the only thing standing between me and going postal. Well, not really but it sounded good, didn't it?

One Sunday morning, SO and I were having breakfast. SO says to me, "Look at the bees".

First a little quick background. Usually around 9-10am each day, the bees are getting ready for their daily rounds, so they "swarm" per say. Not really swarm, but there is a lot of activity. This morning, there was A LOT of activity. Deep in the lizard part of my brain, a little voice spoke up, "Bees swarm. Not good. They go away. You be sad".

Aside from it being a truly awe inspiring site, I was indeed sad. :(

They went bananas and swarmed into my neighbors tree.

There is no "Unswarming". Once they swarm, they are on a mission.

Here's a tip, bees are are at their most docile when they swarm. They are loaded down with honey and pollen for their new digs. Wherever that might be. Not that I'm suggesting you go play with swarming bees, but they aren't apt to try and sting much.

So anyway, SO says to me, "You are taking this pretty well". All I can say is, I had a feeling they were going to swarm. Me being the novice beekeeper, sometimes it's like trying to find the light switch in a pitch black room. I had noticed some "Queen" cells in the hive. That's when the hive wants a new queen for one reason or another. And again, my lizard brain kicked in and said, "Queen cells bad. Bees no like hive. Bees probably hate you". Since when did my lizard brain have an opinion about the bees attitude towards me? I hate my lizard brain so much! It's always right! Stupid lizard brain!!!

Okay, huh, maybe I should think about dealing with my id sometime?


One week later, again at breakfast, SO says to me, "Oh look..." She didn't need to finish the sentence, I was already looking. They were swarming again. I sat there, drinking my tea, philosophically reflecting on my hive swarming twice in one week. First I said, "Shut up, Lizard brain!" Then I thought, I need to "requeen" the hive. I had to do it quick. A "queen-less" gets very aggressive and all sorts of other problems can happen. It was a miracle I had any bees left at all!

I had to make sure there weren't any queens at all in the hive first. After a very close and very tedious inspection I found a Queen that wasn't laying eggs. There is a term for that type of Queen but I don't remember it. Let's just call her "A pain in the @ss" ;) I plucked here out...

I was ready for a new Queen. It was just a matter of finding one. Through a series of panicked emails to my bee group and a couple of calls later. I was able to get a new queen and introduce her two days later!

A very long story, short, I have a new Queen and she's laying eggs!

If you want the gory details email me. (Well, they're not really all that gory, just frustrating)

I'm happy to report the hive is healthy once again.

Now finally onto the garden.

I just put in my fall crop...



(The Garden Ghost makes an appearance)

I know, pictures of dirt.

Here's what I have planted...

Kale, chard, broccoli, beets, turnips, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage and onions.

The potatoes and garlic go in, in December.

In the side yard, I'm trying something out with my Blackberry bushes. It's called propagating.

Yeah, duh, that sounds obvious, but it's a little different...


The long stems on the bush can be planted directly into the ground.

Dig a hole and put a healthy stem about 6 inches into the ground...


In a couple of months the stems will root and I just have to cut the stem up from the ground about foot.

This is part of a "fence" line of blackberry bushes I have been wanting to have. If everything works out, I will have gone from my current 4 bushes to 9 in the spring! Pretty cool. :)

Well that's it! Whew! That was a lot. And as always, here are some quick photos from this past summer...

Backyard archeology...










And Paulie...

And a friendly warning next time you need a caffeine fix from your local gas station...

On that note and an end to this very long installment of my blog,
Green is Good!! Frustrating, crazy, philosophical, but always good.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ton O'tomato...

See what I did there?

This week I'm interrupting regular programming to bring you our little tomato-fest.

And to be upfront, my new insane project isn't going to be finished anytime soon, so let's stop fooling ourselves okay? I know I try to fool myself into thinking it's already done.

So let's talk "matoes". No, better yet, let's talk TON O'TOMATO! Okay, I'll stop now.


Sure, you see the red ones, but if you look a little closer, you will a whole butt load of tomatoes that have yet to ripen. I see 6 almost ready to go, but if you look really closely, you will see at least another 10, if not more. However, there is probably another 10-15 that are hidden by the leaves. And this is only two freaked plants!!

I have already harvested, roughly, 30 tomatoes. Well, what do we do with 30 tomatoes? Eat'em, what else?

This is just my regular "Better Boy" tomatoes, we have a whole bunch of "Sun Sugars"on deck...


I'm picking anywhere between 3 and 8 of these a day.

So besides sitting on our sill ripening and rotting, what do we do with them?

Well, we likes that to-mate-a sauce on our 'sketti.

But in order to use said tomAHtos, we must get them ready. And to do that you must blanche them.

Scene: Late night at a seedy after hours club. The bar tender was finished cleaning up and needed to use the john. When he opened the door, his face blanched at the sight!

Yeah, something like that only mine involves boiling water, an ice bath and a blender. Huh, maybe that's what the bartender saw.

First, get some of these.


Grow'em or buy'em.

Boil some water...


(was this photo really necessary?)

Some ice water...


(sorry, I know this is getting painful)

And a blender. I'll skip that photo and save you all 2 seconds of your life you will never get back.

Oh and one of these...


So you don't scald yourself, unless you are into that sort of thing.

Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and blanche for 60 seconds. Fish them out then drop them into the ice bath.


(I'm really sorry. I took a lot of photos)

Then after a few seconds, they are cool enough to handle.

The skin will come right off...

(guest appearance by Mr. Hand)

Then core them (yes, I have a photo of that as well)


Finally, drop them into the blender. (I really am sorry, yet another photo)


When full, let it rip!

And here is what you get...


A frozen jar of puree'd tomatoes. I took all these freak'in pictures and forgot to get a photo when I was all done. I quite literally ran out to our freezer and snapped a quick photo of it. Yeah, I'm so smart.

This is just one jar of 3. We aren't even close to being done. I suspect we will have another 10 of these jars (at least) when all the tomatoes are picked.

While we loves ourselves some tomato sauce, we also like...

Sun dried tomatoes (actually dehydrated. Honestly who has time to watch tomatoes dry in the sun for 3 days? Well, I guess I could catch up on a little reading while I got eaten alive by mosquitos)



Pico De Gallo. Yummmmm, this was sooooooo good!

So needless to say, we have tomatoes a plenty for a while.

Don't worry, I will be back next week with more misery regarding my insane project of death. :)

In the mean time, here are some photos from my garden!


Zinnia's? (not sure, I'll have to ask the SO)

Morning Glories..


And a teeny tiny Lantana (this little flower is smaller than a dime)

That's all for this week.

Remember, as always, Green is Good!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why do I do this to myself?

So I have the bees, I put in a clothesline, I built a fence and a composter, raised bed gardens, install "monster" water tanks, moved the freakishly heavy shed (yes, I took everything out first) and now this. Ugh!!!


This is the side of my house. Stunning, huh? Yeah, it's really not all that. (the dead tree is my neighbors)Here's a list of things I need to do before this next project kills me.

1) remove sidewalk.

2) dig out the bushy weird ground growth in front of fence.

3) remove fence and replace with gated arbor

4) put in pathway

5) put in cow panel fence

6) install secret side project the zoning people don't need to know about.

7) put in pretty pretty flowers.

8) drop dead. :) Weeee!!!!

Just imagine me laughing manically as I write this list and realizing just what the &%$#@@ I've gotten myself into!!!

Well, the worst part, the very very worst part, the part that this whole entire insane project centers around that must be done first? Numero Uno? Remove that bizarre side walk.

Look back at the photo. There are a few things wrong with my lovely side walk. 1) it's drifting away from the house like a concrete glacier. (I'm into lists today. 1) think of stuff 2) write it down 3) create a list) 2) the drifting concrete if not dealt with promptly, could do damage to my gas line (when they built the house they put the gas line right through the middle of the side walk) and finally 3) if you look carefully at the photo, you will notice that the side walk bisects the gate. So technically, it's half a side walk. There were some real genius's at work when putting this thing in.

So first things first 1) scream out in aguish over having to remove a side walk.

Well, that's not much of a list. But really, after thinking about having to remove the thing, I had nothing else to add other than screaming.

Then I was off to the good people at Home Desperate to rent a concrete cutter. What's that you say? It's this thing straight out of a horror film...


The blade alone costs 75 bucks! It's coated with itty bitty diamonds. And no they don't rent blades...I asked.

All told, for a 24 hour rental 179 freakin bucks I will never ever see again. (That's with the blade)

Now when I first looked at my side walk, here it is again...


It's only 30 feet long...the longest "only 30" feet of my entire life.

Now if you don't know much about cutting concrete, which I didn't and only watched other people do, it's much like cutting tile, which I have never done but have watched other people do. You need lots and lots of beer, no wait! not that, although it helps, but water. Lots of water.

You want to keep the blade cool and it cuts down on it's wear. Otherwise I would be flying through blades quickly. Flying through blades? That's an image, huh?

I forgot to take photos of that first little block. My demo block if you will but we now join our hero cutting the rest.

First score the concrete...


one way then the other...


The photos eliminate the concrete water spraying up my leg and the entire time me being bent over with my forearms resting on my thighs while I slowly push the cutter through the concrete while my back screams obscenities at me in several different languages.

Each one of those lines I had to cut 3 times at 3 different depths. The concrete was 4 inches thick. Each "score" was about 1 inch deeper than the last. So first time 1 inch, second time 2 inches, and lastly 3rd time 3 inches. (Thanks to my co-worker David W. for the suggestion!)Then I went back with a block of wood and a sledge hammer and knocked them apart.

Here is a photo of a very tired and miserable SuburbanDweller...


Yes, those are sandals and yes, I still have all my toes. That's me, breaking apart the concrete after it had been scored. You will notice the gas meter behind me...


Note the crack in the concrete. That was a big help. I cut round it as best as I could without setting off an explosion. I'm writing this so I guess I didn't blow myself to smithereens.

After a long tiring day, of being soaked with wet gritty concrete mud up my legs, working out in the backing sun, and hauling around a 50 pound concrete cutter all day long, for which my back still hasn't forgiven me, I was done...


What will I do with all that concrete? Well, that was the reason I rented the concrete cutter in the first place. I cut them into blocks which I will use to block in some of my flower garden my back yard.


It's not pretty now, but after some "shaping" it will look a lot better.

I'm tired of saying and writing "concrete".

So that is part one of this crazy @ss project.


Now for a few picts..

My first tomatoes of the season...

These are sun sugar cherry tomatoes, I highly suggest you try growing some of these yummy guys next year.  (A helping hand Hand)Photobucket

(My days as a hand model are long behind me)

And a few yet to be picked... (you can't tell in the photo, but these guys are as big as baseballs)

And lastly, a bee pict...


As always, Green is good!