Tuesday, March 27, 2012

OK, so I have 99 tomato plants.

Which is not 100, so I'm calling myself less than totally ridiculous.

Right? The double digitness rather than triple digitness makes it OK?

Yeah, maybe not. BUT - I have a plan for finding homes for all of these lovely ladies.

Lovely ladies, who, by the way have set up shop on the bar and why wouldn't they because I like it a lot myself.

G&Ts used to be had here. Now - only water. A dry bar! How sad.

So, what's the update then?

That I have 99 potted up tomato plants (after some thinning of weaklings and doubling up) living la vida loca in their own individual 4" pots PLUS 13 Lettuce Leaf basil plants (awesome favorite!), 3 Padron Peppers, 2 Banana Peppers, 2 Tomatillos, ZERO (sad) Golden Greek peppers, 12 Parisian Pickling cucumbers and 2 Solly Bieler cucumbers.

It's quite the Hey Whatcha Got Going On Back There set up and I realize that my neighbors and the PG&E guy definitely think that yeah I may be growing tomatoes but what else.

Clearly these are all people who underestimate the near insatiable desire for tomatoes.

An insatiable desire that I'm heavily banking on as I get ready to roll out Phase II of my World Tomato Domination Plan.

OK, actually, no. I just have a super nerdy garden thing that I want your opinions on. Really! Tell me what you think.

See, I'm finding homes for my tomatoes (and those other plants) by either exchanging them for AIDS LifeCycle donations, selling them at our neighborhood garage sale or trading them for goods at our neighborhood produce swap.

That's all fine and good, right? (Just say yes. This isn't the part I need opinions on. Unless you have a good one. In which case, go to it in the comments.)

But then, what of the plants?

They go off to a million (or 20, but that's about the same) different points on the globe (in the Bay Area) and I'm left with just the few plants I put in my own garden and maybe some neighbors who plant theirs and then let me visit them at some point during the season (when I sneak into their backyards unannounced in the dark morning hours).

How sad!

I won't know how the plants do. I won't know what kind of harvests they rake in, how delicious the bounty is or what they do to preserve their harvests. I also won't get to save any of their seeds to grow again for next year.


So, because I'm totally certifiable at this point, I've come up with a plan to see if I can't subvert some of those woes and it's called The Finny Farm and it's a new tab that I've added to this blog so that I can in a nice way stalk and keep tabs on my green friends as they go off and make their ways in the world and then *maybe* have a chance at some of those seeds for next year's Wild Indoor Grow Op That Looks Like I'm Growing Weed In My Kitchen Extravaganza.

I'm going to design a plant tag for each of the transplants that goes off to a new home that will have all of the plant's information PLUS a link to that page so that people can dork out on their plants and also maybe stay in touch after the fact (and let me see their tomatoes - PORNY).

Is that the most fucked up thing you've ever heard?

Wait - go look at the page first and see if it sounds crazy.

And - if you're feeling really awesome and good idea have-y - is there anything else you'd want to see if you were to follow a website from a yard sale bought plant tag to the internets with the promise of MORE information and nerdy good garden times?

You can also just tell me I've lost my walnut and should be committed. I won't be offended. Probably.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I give to thee, my beloved, a pile of dirt.

Since you're all aware of the odd gifts that Bubba gives me, it probably won't surprise you too much when I tell you that his most recent gift was a pile of dirt.

The covered part is the neighbor's. The dark part next to that was where mine used to be before the shoveling.

Like the day a few months ago when I came inside to find him proudly strutting around the kitchen smiling and pointing at me.

Me: Did you start cocktail time without me? Because that is rude.
Bubba: Nope! But *I got you a pressssssssssssssss-ent!* (*implies sing-songy-ness)
Me: Oh yeah?! Is it shiny?
Bubba: Er...no. But *it's super coooooooooooooooooo-ol*
Me: But I like shiny things.
Bubba: It's dirt.
Me: What? Dirt? Whaddyamean? Are you sure you didn't start cocktail time already?
Bubba: Awesome Neighbor asked me if we wanted in on some mushroom compost and I said HELL YEAH! because I knew you'd want some.
Me:  *raised eyebrow*
For the garden.
Me: *looks at the dog*
The vegetable garden.
Me: *looks out the window*
Because that shit's supposed to be awesome.
Me: *smiles big*
Me: Wait...so you're telling me that my present is a pile of mushroom compost for the garden? Present = dirt?
Bubba: Yes! Awesome, right?!
Me: YES. But also, I like shiny things.
Bubba: I know. But compost! Yay?
Me: Yay!

So, yeah, you probably didn't need to read that whole dialogue, but there you go. Bubba bought some awesomely earthy smelling (AKA Like shit) mushroom compost which was TAH DAH delivered to my front curb in a heap yesterday.

And then, just as quick as I could get my gloves on and the wheelbarrow to the curb, transported to the backyard and dumped in the beds.


But not before I waved bye-bye to the HUGE fava bean plants.

Remember the hugeness?

Peace out, fellas.
Yeah, it was sorta sad. The bees were finally starting to groove on the fava flowers and I got to watch them fly from the hive to the plants and back and forth, which was kinda lovely, but then I saw a bean on the plants and knew...MUST KILL.

So, I thusly killed.

And then we ate them like the monsters you know us to be.

In broccoli walnut pasta...
In a bizarre impromptu salad of my own devising.

T'wer delicious.

Red onion. Almonds. Dried cherries. Honey Dijon vinaigrette.

Doubly so, knowing that this nutrient heavy compost was out soaking into my soil and would soon be feeding four of my 150 tomato seedlings which BY THE WAY all germinated and are hardening off without fail.

I'm finishing the potting up of the rest of the three-to-a-tiny-cell tomatoes (on the right there) this weekend, which will bring me to around 150 total tomato plants. I'll have the final tally next week. 

Meanwhile, if you feel like nerding out on the garden, I'm on myFolia now (Well, I'm back. I started something in 2008, but haven't done jack with it until a few weeks ago.) and you can follow along there, too. 

If your Inner Garden Nerd needs something to do anyway.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I guess we all knew it would come to this.

I've been gardening for a while, friends.

Which you know.

I've been vegetable gardening and testing out methods for better vegetable gardening and testing the soil for better vegetable gardening and stacking up tires inside which to grow vegetables and building contraptions for better vegetable gardening for a while, too.

Which you also know.

What I have not been doing all of this time - even though it's something that LOTS of vegetable gardeners do - is growing my own transplants.

And not like the hair ones.

Because my thought has always been, with our climate as mild as it is, that direct sowing was the way to go. Push the seeds through the pre-amended and bear-hugged soil when it warms up and let the rest happen naturally. Also, just go get tomato seedlings from the nursery or Master Gardener's freakshow sale because starting tomatoes indoors is a bit much.

Until now.

Who's to say what's *too* much.
No, now I'm irretrievably obsessed with growing transplants - particularly tomatoes.

All thanks to the one class I took at Love Apple Farms wherein Cynthia bestowed upon me the great wisdom of properly using grow lights, a fan and the outdoors, I'm growing everything under the damned sun from seed into transplants that will eventually go into the garden.

But, yes, I only have room for 2 cucumber plants, 3 pepper plants, 4 tomato plants and...that there is a LOT more than 9 plants.

It's closer to 200.

Some still need to be potted up into individual pots, so those little packs are 3 to a cell. Yikes.

Because, as it turns out, I tend to get *into* new gardening methods and then run fucking rampant with them without any regard for the final outcome.

Thankfully - as I started to border on frantic while imagining that some of my plants might have to *GASP* go into the composter - I devised a few plans.

Plans like giving them away to friends via a handy sign up form (Love you, Google Docs.) in exchange for donations to Bubba's AIDS LifeCycle event, selling them during our spring neighborhood garage sale and using them in trade for eggs and lemons from our neighbors and beekeeping EMERGENCY assistance

As it turns out, vegetable seedlings are a valuable trade commodity.


That is rude, people. I thought we were friends.

Anyway, I have a lot of tomato (and pepper, cucumber and basil) seedlings now, including some grown from the seeds I saved last year (Score one for the Finny the Full Circle Gardener) from the Pink Brandywine tomatoes and tomatillos, so I'm looking forward to a big bustling planting session in a few weeks.

Once I manage to tame and turn under the massively, oppressively, frighteningly enormous fava beans.

Yeah. I'm tempted to leave the fava beans in just to see how big they'll get, but they're starting to form pods (meaning their starting to transport the valuable nitrogen from their roots back into the plant to make beans) and I need all that nitrogen fixed in the soil, so I'll probably take them down this weekend and let them rest on/in the soil until I'm ready to test.

And I know you all are going to test your soil before planting this year, too, right?

Don't make me fucking flog you people because I will totally do it.

Or, I'll just adequately prepare you to test your soil by saying that what you need to do this is the following:
  • Get a soil test kit from either the internets or your local hardware store. OSH carries them, if you're close to an OSH. 
  • Get a big old clear jar that will hold  6+ cups of water and dirt
  • Gather up your trowel, a notebook, a pencil (like in the olden days!), maybe a calculator and some patience
And, for extra credit bonus butt punches (This is a form of reward in our house. I'll just explain that another time.):
I don't know for sure that you'll need all of these amendments, but I always do and it makes me SUPER PISSED if I need something for the garden and don't have it on hand when I'm already out there and sweaty from the sun and mad from doing math and then have to go to the effing hardware store or whatever to get it.

So just do it, peckerhead.

And then I'll send out the garden bat signal in a few weeks (it'll look shockingly like a blog post) that it's time to test and amend so that we can all get ready to rumble, gardening wise anyway.

Sound good? Thought so.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Some might call it Discardia. But, to me, that lends a certain whimsy and good intention that doesn't necessarily apply in cases like mine.

Cases where you're aware of your aversion to collections and stockpiles and accumulations of things and yet still you uncover big buckets in your garage containing six pairs of identical (except for the model year) Brooks Adrenaline GTS running shoes at various stages of exhausted wear and six pairs of worn through the fingers size small Atlas gardening gloves.

Oh my god just light me on fire already!

Apparently I have not cleaned out my potting bench since we moved to this house six years ago. Apparently it takes us moving house in order for me to stop my hoarding madness before it overtakes us both. Apparently I will run around unshod and ungloved in the event of collapse of either the Brooks or Atlas companies.

Did I mention that when I uncovered this particular gem of a character flaw I was wearing YET ANOTHER pair of Atlas gloves and YET ANOTHER pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS running shoes?

I totally did not realize it at the time.

And that there were two other pairs of gloves in other dedicated spots and two more pairs of Adrenalines in my bedroom awaiting a run on either pavement or trails.

No, I did not mention that yet. Because I'm just, as of right now, coming to terms with my inadvertent hoarding tendencies.

Because this weekend, when I decided to join Bubba in the garage for happy hour while he waxed our skis, I got antsy, started cleaning out "my" part of the garage and then realized that, LO, I've been hoarding.

Also hoarding Willow Glen Bike Shop water bottles and climbing ropes.

I did not know this previously.

Honest! The concept of hoarding makes me nauseous! I can't even watch the previews of that show on cable because it makes me want to rip off my skin and run into a burning building for its cleansing properties!

Also, I appear to be stuck in some sort of apparel rut.

Sadly, this pile of identical running shoes and gardening gloves is only the tip of the I'm A Scary Woman Of Habit iceberg and what you're not seeing are the countless black zip-up hoodies I've worn threadbare, the Chevy's sombreros (Did you know that they're going out of business? Sad.) and other woven sun hats I've sweated into the fray,  the dozens of cheap American Eagle Antique Indigo Favorite Boyfriend jeans I've blown out or many many MANY pairs of Havaianas that have flipped their last flop on my bare feets.

I think I've gotten uncreative with my apparel, is what I'm saying, people. And, I haven't realized that despite the fact that all of these very poignant reminders are spilling out of buckets and practically in my face most of the time.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME? I'm hoarding and I, apparently, have a uniform for my hoarding.

Oh. You're right.


Anyway, I righted my wrongs after coming to this realization.

That bucket of running shoes is getting donated (well, the ones with any wear left in them and no mud caked to the soles), the gloves have been tied together and marked for destruction and I have my eye on the most worn pair of jeans and rattiest black hoodie, so as soon as I can get them down from the top-most shelf in my closest, I'll throw them out, too.

Though that will be tough.

Because I'm a freak who has unnatural attachments to worn our inanimate objects.

Found this guy while digging in the yard.
He now has a place of honor on the Magnet Board of Found Bullshit.

There is no end to my madness.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Bees in a box

Hint: it's not shaped like a pineapple.

So, I know I promised you a new queen bee strutting around in a bikini laying thousands of eggs after her flight over from the Hawaiian Islands, but I'm afraid that absurd fantasy is not to be.

Firstly - there are only a few Hawaiian bee yards that rear queens and of those bee yards, one is sold out until June and one requires a minimum purchase of 25 queens.

Um, I'm not trying to repopulate the Castro, I'm just trying to get my beehive running again.


Worse news than that was that mated queens are just non-existent in the continental US this early in the year because they're still rearing up for shipping in April.

So, no queen in my hive, no single queens in Hawaii, no queens on the mainland.

What to do besides freak out and cry?

Call my friend Steve, of course.

Do not even tell me that you don't remember Steve.

Steve who saved my effing bacon when I lost my first queen when installing my first colony by talking me through The Rapture I'd brought upon our home and yard?

Yeah, you remember Steve.

FYI: New beekeepers of the world - get yourself a Steve. They're the best and always help and sometimes help at really inconvenient times but are always so super awesome and accept tomato seedlings in exchange for brood frames (frames with babies in them) that you should cultivate this friendship with all your might.

So, I emailed Steve. I told him the woeful story of how I'd bonked the supersedure cell while I was checking the hive and how there weren't many babies left in the hive and no eggs and no queen in the whole wide world and uh oh.

To which he said, "Let me check my hives for a queen cell and I'll give it to you."

Oh really now? Your awesomeness continues a year later when I'm back asking for more help?


Unfortunately, none of his hives had queen cells, but he did have a nuc frame full of babies at various stages of growth, so he packaged it up with some attendants in a styro cooler to keep them warm and set them out in front of his house to pick up within the hour.

Which, of course, was at 2pm on a weekday which meant that yours truly was at the office and getting ready to go to a meeting.

Um, crap.


To make a long story short, I'm now the weirdest person that all of my coworkers know. I'm probably also on the bubble with my manager because I had to pull the, "I have a hard stop at 4pm and MUST leave." thing when our meeting started, which is never the way to get into the good graces with people.

I also had to bribe my carpool buddy to leave work early, too, because I NEED TO GET HOME FOR A BEE EMERGENCY.

We're ready to rumble.

Thankfully, she is well versed in not only my weirdness, but also my beekeepingness.

Bless all of these forgiving and only-judging-me-behind-my-back souls.

So, after racing down the peninsula to Steve's house, gathering up the cooler from his front yard, transporting it to my house in the backseat of my friend's car (thankfully none escaped - that would have been DONEZO for our future carpooling) and smoking out my own hive - I've now managed to install the frame of babies into the hive with all my girls and HOPEFULLY they're in there making a new queen right now.

See that bit of comb between the 4th and 5th frame there? That's the smushed queen cell. Sad.

I even plopped on a fresh new feeder of syrup this morning, so they'll be well fed and won't even have to leave the house to get started on this queen.

You gotta love a queen carrier made from an old cooler.

Which is what I'm assured they'll do. Assured by Steve. Knower of bees, fixer of bees.

That's the frame I removed in order to put in the Baby Frame. EVERYONE - GET IN THE HIVE.

And in return for this enormous, if not ill-timed, beehive saving act - all he asks is that I let him know how it's going when I check it in 10 days and, hey, if I end up with a Pink Brandywine tomato seedling from my massive seed sowing fest, he'd sure like one.

Only one?

Oh, and if I have a few vegetables lying about this summer, he'd love whatever I've got.

See? Get yourself a Steve, beekeepers. They're the best.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Bees in bikinis

You remember my checkered past with the queens, right?

Queen #1 flew off.

Queen #2 had to be overnighted to me and installed but then WHOOPS the cork in her tiny cage reset itself in the opening, meaning that she was stuck in there for a week until I opened the hive and released her. Sorry, friend!

Queen #3 is, well, probably dead. And the reason for this post. And the many frenzied phone calls and emails I've placed in the last two days. And the reason why, yet again, I'm feeling like a total hoser when it comes to my bees.

I do hope they don't hate me forever.

Yeah, so I'm really not doing so hot with the queens, so I'm not sure why I was so surprised at my most recent failure: breaking the supersedure cell.

Know what a supersedure cell is? Yeah, I didn't either until two days ago.

See, I went out to check the hive because I'd seen a few drones wandering aimlessly around my yard with fuckered up wings. Like sorta mangly and sad looking and representative of the presence of mites in the hive. A fact that I, initially, freaked out about until I referred to my handy Beekeeping For Dummies book (yes, I love it and I'm not ashamed of it) which stated very clearly that I shouldn't freak out because this "happens" with drone cells in the spring time and to just do a check of the hive and make sure it's not rampant.

So, that's what I set out to do.

Of course, I also set out to sugar the bees again (because that was retarded good fun the first time), except that in all of my OH MY GOD WHAT ABOUT THE MITES frenzy, I totally forgot the damn sugar set up until I was out there with the hive open and the smoke going, so whoops.

Good news was that I didn't see much evidence of mangly wings inside the hive, so at least these poor sad souls escaped the hive to go quietly be eaten by the birds elsewhere on the property.

Also, yes, the damn birds are still picking off my bees. Good times.

But, what of the queen massacre? Let me tell you.

I had just gotten started with the check, so was only a few frames into the top brood box (which used to be the bottom, remember? You remember.) when I was using my hive tool to pry apart the #3 and #4 frame which were stuck together forcefully with propolis and heard an unnatural sounding crack.

Maybe it sounded like cracking into a peanut, I don't know, but it was the sound of me cracking open the supersedure cell that was mounted to the west-facing side of the #3 frame and the east-facing side of the #4 frame.

That gal with her head stuck in there? She's eating the royal jelly. Piglet.

The cell was stuck to both frames, is what I'm trying to say here. So, basically, there was no way I was going to *NOT* damage it, no matter how much of a masterful beekeeper I was.

This is my justification for the ensuing sadness.

And, before I get too far into this post without explanation, I will tell you that a supercedure cell is this peanut shaped cell (thanks to Beaver Creek Bees for that photo) that the worker bees build at the top of the frames when their current queen either dies or starts wandering around all deranged and possibly pants less.

They all huddle up over cocktails (or so I imagine) and decide that it's time to make a new queen to replace the one that's started peeing in the potted plants and eating glue.

Then they climb up to the top of a frame, find a viable egg that looks like she'd fit the soon-to-be-empty crown, and go to work building a nice peanut shaped annex off the frame, with the larvae in the bottom of the peanut and the royal jelly (what the larvae eats to become The Boss Lady) at the top.

16 days later - bam! New Boss Lady emerges and either lays a swift youthful beat down on the old queen who's strutting nude through the hive reciting the TV Guide or realizes that these bees have been queen-free (because the queen died) and gets to setting things straight in the colony again.

Except when the hapless idiot beekeeper, all awash in noob anxiety and Stupid, comes a crackin' into the hive wrecking their future queen in her peanut condo.

Ugh. I suck.

I actually saw the queen at the bottom of the cell - still all white and larvae looking (so, gross, but in a regal kind of way) and the royal jelly at the top of the cell (also kinda gross looking and white like yogurt) - when I lifted the frame out to inspect it.

Sadly, had I approached the hive from the east side, I would have probably (maybe?) seen the cell before slamming in there to *inspect* it and would have left the frame alone.

Maybe. Because, let's face it, I'm still a total noob when it comes to this stuff. But I like to think that from now on, I'll be more careful and notice things like HEY THAT'S A NEW QUEEN LET'S NOT KILL IT.


Also, would have been nice to read some warnings or guidance about this in my bible for dumbasses, but alas, all it did was tell me how to distinguish a queen supersedure cell (because this queen supersedes the old one, get it? I finally do.) from swarm cells, which was also helpful because I had both.

Swarm cells, for your info since I assume you're all interested, are the cells that the bees build up on the bottom of the frames when they're building up ranks to peace out and swarm from the hive. This is not good news and, if found when checking the hive, need to be scraped the fuck off so that the bees don't take off on you.
Hello swarm cell and giant-eyed drone larvae. EW.

Which I did. Scrape them off, I mean.

Though, sadly, I also broke the queen supersedure cell and, regardless of how carefully I sandwiched the frames back together so that the two halves would be a whole again, the nice gal at the bee yard from which I purchased my bees last year told me that she probably wouldn't live.

Which made sense since I saw a bizarre activity going on after I closed up the hive and I'm pretty sure it was the colony bidding a sad farewell to their Killed In Utero queen.

Peace out, mama.

Thus commenced much calling around to Hawaii, of all places, to find a new queen to be shipped post haste so that I could re-queen the hive and hopefully have a decent season that produces enough honey for me to make mead.

Which isn't the stupidest thing I could hope for since, aside from the ritualistic abuse of the queens, which I seem to be ALL ABOUT, the rest of the hive looked decent. Good honey reserves, no ants, no beetles, light on mites (I broke open the swarm cells and found some drones with a few mites, but no mangly winged freaks wandering the hive otherwise), but precious few babies.

Red dot = mite. Also, see the bee larvae? Grody.

This is why I'm pretty sure that good 'ol Queen #2 probably croaked after a year of building up my hive.

Thanks, sister. Sorry I gave you such a rough start.

Let's just hope that the people at Hawaiian Queen *have* received my order (no confirmation email) and my voice mail (no return call yet) and that Boss Lady #4 is on her way to my hive where I will install her WITHOUT leaving the cork in the cage, letting her fly into a tree or smushing her house.

Wow. If I get any honey from these ladies, I'll be lucky if it's not spiked with arsenic. And, really, I'd probably deserve it.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

I don't even remember what I had promised to blog about

When I set out to DO this weekend, I had it in my head that on Sunday night I would sit down and blog about something specific.

Anyone remember what it was? I really don't.

But, let's imagine that it was about the garden and the bees because that's been my entire weekend.

Come hang out with us! Also, buzz.

From sun up to sun down Saturday morning until, like, 20 minutes ago, it's been nonstop.

Not that I'm complaining, because you know I love that shit like way deep down in my bones, but WOW -- totally knackered.

And I used to hate that word, "knackered", but lately I've been feeling it deep down in my bones and, alas, it has worked its way into my vocabulary.

So, the knackering began on Saturday morning as I set out to sow some peas.

So innocent, the peas.

Which sounds like a pretty easy and innocuous project. Something like, "Open packet of seeds. Push through soil. Water. Peace out."

Except that preceding the pea sowing was a list of miscellaneous tasks that took up most of my morning. Things like finding the pea fence nested alongside the garage with a thousand other poke your god damned eyes out pieces of wire mesh, extracting said pea fence after pruning back the neighbor's tree that had grown through the fence and into the pea fence, turning under the fava beans into the soil, fixing the pea fence, installing the pea fence and leveling it and then fixing where you broke it shoving it in there all too forceful like.

And then the always anti-climatic event of actually sowing the damn peas.

Those bitches better be FUCKING DELICIOUS.

Though, I know they will be. They always are. Which is why I'm OK spending a morning with all those other not-delicious tasks.

Then, after the pea sowing incident that nearly took my life, I thought I would sow some lettuce.

Because the sowing of the peas had gone so smoothly.

Yeah. I don't learn. Even when I've JUST experienced the pain from which I should learn. But I don't. So...moving on.

I went and *tried* to just sow some lettuce seeds, but, since I'm not growing beans this year (another story for another Hi, I'm Crazy day), I was immediately worried about the shade situation.

I mean, you can't just leave lettuce out in the broad throbbing daylight like that. It'll bolt, burn, freeze and a bunch of other unsavory and unlettucy things that will make me mad in a few weeks.

SO - my original plan back in the winterish months when I had nothing but time on my hands to fantasize about all the magnificent gardeny things I'd do once spring showed up, was to build a cucumber trellis like the one everyone keeps pinning and repinning on Pinterest.

What? You haven't pinned this yet? WHAT ARE YOU, CRAZY?

I pinned it off Wise Moon Wendy a while back and damn it all if I don't get a hundred notices every day that someone has repinned it.

It's nice because it has kept it top of mind for me but annoying as fuck because I really need to get into Pinterest and change my notice settings.

FYI: I don't care if people repin my shit. Should I? I can't decide.

Anyway - I've been wanting to make one of these guys for a while so that my cucumbers have a good trellis upon which to grow and my lettuce has a handy shade under which to NOT BOLT RIGHT AWAY THANK YOU SO MUCH and Saturday was the day.

So, when I got done with wrestling the pea fence in a bloody death match (seriously, I'm still bleeding. On my thumb. It's hurty.), I went into the garage to mess around with tools and listen to Phish.

FYI: Bubba was skiing, so he didn't have to shove me out of the way to do real garage work. Thankfully.

Now, I'm warning you to NOT LAUGH when you see my cucumber trellis. Not that it's bad looking, but the fact that it took me almost 2 hours to make it is pretty embarrassing.

I mean, it's just a wood frame with wire mesh staple gunned to it and two hinged legs all salvaged from shit in our garage. In my head, that shouldn't take 2 hours.


But it does have hinges. Something about which I'm obnoxiously proud.


So yeah, Saturday was "Sow peas and lettuce. Build cucumber trellis." And that took the whole effing day.

Which explains why I had a bloody Mary and popcorn for dinner. Because that's what crazy people have for dinner.

WITH my Spicy Green Tomato Pickles as a garnish which is my new favorite garnish. SO DELISH.

Then, today, I set out to Out Crazy my own self. Ambitious, right?

Well, I started off by giving myself a face enema with the front yard sprinklers. I come out of the gates strong on the Crazy.

See, I've been keeping an eye on my dormant front yard meadow and, while it's supposed to be dormant and not great looking right now, a few plants have just plain died. Which isn't like me. I don't generally kill plants.

Which is why I obviously blamed the sprinklers.


After many minutes and swears spent inspecting the heads, tubing, settings and valve, I decided that since water STILL wasn't coming out of the sprinkler end, it must be a clogged manifold.

"I shall blow the manifold!" I declared loudly enough to bring raised eyebrows from my elderly neighbor as she passed by on her morning walk.

So, after explaining that I was fixing irrigation and not taking Johns into my bedroom as a side business, I left my neighbor to finish her walk and I unscrewed the sprinkler manifold cover before going into the basement to turn on the line and "blow it" clean.

Can anyone guess what happened?

I mean, beyond the obvious geyser of water blasting out of my front yard?


Let me tell you how bright I am...

Despite the fact that, from the basement on the other side of the property from this geyser, I could hear said geyser rocketing into the stratosphere through my neighbor's very tall Sycamore tree, I did not just turn off the valve from my safe (and dry!) basement location and then go inspect the status of the inside of the manifold.


Because then I would have to...wait for it...come back to the basement YET AGAIN to turn it back on and go about my fixing up in the yard and that extra trip back and forth was totally unnecessary.

Unnecessary if one likes to go through one's life in dry clothes and without having one's sinuses aggressively assaulted by a heaven bound jet of sprinkler water.

But I'm all about saving trips to and from the basement (and apparently NOT AT ALL about going through life like a sane person), so out I went toward the sound of the Bellagio fountain in my yard with the intent of screwing back in the manifold filter and going on about fixing the sprinkler system.

Except you know (and I know! That's the sucks part.) that there's no way in hell to get anything to thread back into a hole from which a geyser is escaping. Imagine trying to thread the bolt back on to a fire hydrant on full blast and you'll get what I'm saying here.

It's not possible.

Though it is possible to become completely soaked and nearly drown in your front yard while trying.

Thank god I was wearing a dark tshirt and pants for this exercise otherwise it would have gotten porny. And thank goodness the sound of water escaping from the center of the earth as though shot through a cannon muffles the pathetic panicked weeping of idiots (me).

Eventually, after I'd soaked everything I was wearing and called attention to myself from all the neighbors who already think I drink at all hours, I went running to the basement and stopped the madness.


Then I determined that the manifold wasn't clogged at all. It was just broken. Because it sits at the corner of our driveway and I am not so swift backing into said driveway and tend to run it over. Also with the trash can on garbage day.


I had an extra manifold on hand (thank you, Bubba, for being so forward thinking to buy these things in bulk) and so I replaced it and HA HA magically all the lines worked.


At that point, I felt a bit knackered and had no desire to check the bees, sow another flat of seeds, set up my grow op extension (for peppers and cucumbers, people. Not weed.), deadhead daffodils or do anything else that required being in the yard, so I changed into dry clothes (which, obviously) so that Fester and I could go on a date.

No Bubba? Take Fester.

You know what's the best way to slow the hell down and be happy? Drive an old Volkswagen.


In my flip flops and tank top, I hopped into Fester, rolled back the sunroof, downed the windows and drove all the way across town to my favorite nursery to buy one random plant (to replace one that had died at the hands of the failure sprinkler manifold) at 55 MPH.

Mind you, this was all freeway driving.

Yeah, it's slow. And cheerful. And no one gives you any beef for going 55 on the freeway (OK, sometimes 60) because HELLO you're driving a 45 year old friggen car. Or maybe it's because they feel bad for you while you blast KNBR on your AM radio.

Whatever - there is no possible way to be sad while driving this car with its sunroof down to the nursery. It's just not possible.

I was so cheered up in just a few minutes on the road that I gave those freaks on the highway overpasses with the big Ron Paul and Go America posters a peace sign instead of my middle finger.

How's THAT for an attitude adjustment?

And then I bought a new salvia to replace the one that croaked at the hands of the broken manifold, went to a local market to get my favorite sandwich and sat in the backyard talking to my mom on the phone.


Pretty fucking awesome.

Then a bunch of other knackery things happened like a beehive check and the setting up of the Grow Op Annex and sowing a ton of seeds and laundry and, and, and...but I'm knackered, like I said, so I'm going to stop now.

If someone can remind me about what I'd promised to blog about, I'll try to smush that and all that stuff I just mentioned into another equally long, equally mind-numbing post that will do not much more than remind you what a nutter I've become.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

No one's dead yet

We're ALL alive.

 So, sure, I'm still in known territory with the seedlings. I've started seeds indoors before just fine and these guys are starting just fine.

Granted, I've never started SO MANY seeds indoors - just fine or otherwise - but this isn't really the part of the process I'm worried about.

Not worried. Yet.

Though, in a small showing of personal success, I have shuffled this flat of seedlings in and out of the house, so that they could spend the day basking in the unseasonably warm until two days ago spring sunshine, without any disasters and that's a good sign.

If you're in the business of looking for signs, which recently I have been.

"Brandywine Black" That's a sign. Of some kind anyway.

Lots of existential wonderings going on around here, my friends, but we'll stick to seedlings for now.

And, thanks to the advice from Cynthia at Love Apple Farms and the reinforcement from y'all - I've constructed a rig that has caused a near perfect germination rate so far.

Perfect if your tomato seedlings want to catch up on Gordon Parks. Which, why wouldn't they?
Fan is on. Warming mat is warming tiny seed buns. Grow light is LIKE RIGHT ON TOP OF THE SEEDLINGS atop a very technologically advanced stack of books. It's good times.

Plus, because I'm me and because I'm a TRACK EVERYTHING dork, I made a germination tracker.

It's just a new tab on the original Garden Tracker, but I figured it all belonged together. And I also figured that my little orange notebook stuffed into the drawer with my garden notebook and beekeeping notebook wasn't adequate for the likes of my anal retentiveness.

It'll do. For now.

 Take my word for it - I need more spreadsheets. It fills my soul with absurd pointless joy.

And in other I NEED DIS news, I'll be adding to the madness this weekend as I set up another grow op on the bar for my pepper and cucumber seedlings. And I think you know that I'm going to buy another 48 cell flat, so I'm sure I'll sow more than just peppers and cucumbers.

Also, at least one bed of fava beans are coming down this weekend to make way for the first outdoor sown crop of peas.

OK, and *maybe* I'll start some lettuce out there, too. And maybe build one of these. For the lettuce, you know.

It's March 1 and I'm calling the garden a GO. Bubba has left the scene in order to save himself.