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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Should I Even Be Boring You With This?

Not much is going on, and yet I manage to be busy all the time. Winter is the slow season, although Steve has been busy brewing. Winter is also brew season.  It's even been cold enough he thinks he might get another batch of pilsner in, and that's the one that takes the coldest temperature and the longest ferment time (because it's so cold).  But things will pick up soon once spring starts.

Last weekend marked six weeks before the average last frost date for our area- it came and it went and I didn't get the seeds started. I only feel slightly guilty about it because I'm not convinced that waiting a week or two will hurt anything, given that our springs are getting longer and colder and wetter.  The reason I didn't get to the seeds is that Steve guilted me into working on the dining nook, which was actually put off for a good reason: I needed to find the right-sized corbels for the shelf that will run around the top. His timing was perfect, though: the corbels arrived that Friday and I was able to put them up on Saturday.  But it turned out that I didn't count how many I'd need correctly, so I'm waiting on the last one to show up so that I can install it and screw down the shelf. Here's my progress so far:

It wants to be dark brown like the book case
Before I glued up the header, I included a note on the filler boards underneath it just in case someone decides to pull down all my work. I originally thought of it as a time capsule, but since I neglected to include the date, it'll have to do as a love capsule:


Once the top shelf is all done I can turn my attention to the skirting on the box bench, for which I've already cut (by hand) the birch plywood.  The hard part is going to be mitering the corner cuts, because I've noticed my circular saw doesn't like me anymore and I don't think I can manage to do a miter by hand. Not unless I can muster up some sort of jig or something. I'm still thinking about that.

But back to the garden: I  haven't been a total toad: when we had a clear-ish day a week or so ago, I did manage to get outside and get one of the beds weeded, and since there were a good number of volunteer onion starts, I went ahead and transplanted them.  I've no idea what variety they were because of my extremely laughable garden record keeping skills, so I'll let them all become onions and eat them, but I won't try to store them or save seed because I don't know how they'll do.  They're free onions, that's all I know.

Mystery Onions and January King Cabbages
I will be growing a keeper onion though. I ordered this year's garden seed from several sources and it's all here now, so it really is time to clear off the bench in the garage and get down to it.  I have to return the second grow light bulb I bought though, because even after some lengthy discussion of how long the fixture is, I still managed to buy a fluorescent tube that was a foot short. Yes I did.

All the seed I ordered this year is for open-pollinated varieties; I gave all my old stuff to my boss because I wanted to start over and he has a lot more room for failure than I do. I will not bore you with the varieties, except for one: my tomato seed. Tomatoes are important to us because of the considerable amount of canned tomatoes and tomato sauce we go through eating pizza at the rate we do, and I discovered last night another very important reason the tomato plants need to rock this year: we're out of home made ketchup. The best tomatoes I grew were the ones my very first year of gardening when I didn't have much time or space for a garden and had thrown some plants purchased at the box store into the garden bed the previous owner had left.  They were German Queen, and they produced mightily all summer long.  It might have been because the bed was closer to the house and thus nice and toasty, and then again, it might have been just because it's a stalwart variety or just beginner's luck, I don't know.  All I know is that I'm anxious to have better luck with tomatoes this year, so I tracked down the German Queen seed from a listed member of the Seed Savers Exchange. Maybe I'll get really lucky and be able to actually save some of the seed.  I've read a few different accounts of how to save tomato seed- they evidently need to ferment, which I haven't mastered. Maybe I should let Steve do it.

Speaking of fermenting, I'm reading a book on fermenting foods right now called Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, by Sandor Katz, and once I get it digested, I'll review it (oh you know that pun was intended!) for you.  In the meantime, take a look at the book in my  What I'm Reading Now section down there to the right.  I really enjoyed Tiny Homes and will be leaving it on the coffee table for awhile because it's fun to pick it up and thumb through it.  I'm also harboring a tiny glimmer of a hope that Steve will feel inspired by it to buy a few acres way out in the sticks, help me build a cob house on it (or a half-timbered wattle and daub house, but that would take a LOT more money and time), sell this house, and retire early to the country where we can brew beer and have a real honest-to-goodness root cellar.  And some chickens. Girl chickens.  And our own woodlot with a managed coppice.

Maybe even a pickup truck!

A girl can dream.


Rachelle said...

Beautiful wood working in the dining alcove!

Rae said...

The nook is looking great!!! I also really like the "love capsule". :)

Girl chickens ARE very important. :) Are you ordering chicks this spring? They've already got them at Wilco, Coastal will follow soon if not already there, and Union Mills has them too. We're picking up ducklings at UM tomorrow. You'll have to take a drive out to the sticks and see them, AND the pigs, AND the puppy, AND Henry. :) I also would like to give you a couple goose eggs while we've got them, and one of the bars of soap that Miriam sent me. Sooo... Shoot me an email and we'll make something happen, eh? :)

Christian said...

That sounds like a darn fine dream to me. How is that Tiny Homes book? I really dig the concept.

jules said...

Nice work on the nook.

German Queen eh? We are having a "Tomatopalooza" at our Botanical Gardens next weekend. They promise thousands of plants and 15 different varieties just for our deep South region. I think I'll be there and see what I can find. We had real good luck with a yellow tomato last year. Lemon Boy (I think). It was very good.

Rachel said...

You do beautiful wood work, but I hope it changes its mind and wants to be white. I love white painted woodwork. And I didn't find the post boring at all. It always inspires me to hear what others are doing in their quest for self-sufficiency.

Paula said...

Thanks Rachelle!

Thanks Rae- I want to see all those things so I'll shoot you an email. Steve is going to let me get started pullets.

Thanks Christian. I loved the book. It's very Lloyd Kahn, who owns and operates Shelter Publications, which is kind of a hippie publishing house from the good old days. You can learn more about him here: Anyway- he still lays out his books (the ones he authors, anyway) the old-fashioned way: paste up! I have a short review in the side bar.

Thanks Jules.

I like painted white wood work too, Rachel, but it won't work for this room. Plus, I'm recreating a bierstube for Steve, which would be dark wood. When I'm dead and gone, or-! moved to the country! - someone else can paint it white.

Jenny Debeaux said...

I like: for instructions on how to keep tomato seeds. It's a smashing little company promoting non F1 hybrid seed, so that people aren't tied to having to buy from the seed giants. I'm going to try some this year - their tomatoes look good!

And - beautiful woodworking!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I loved your note! Where would we be without whimsy.

And your post was an excellent kick in the pants -- we, also, need to start thinking about seeds. Kevin got some carrot seeds in (in the hoophouse), but that's the sum total of our progress so far.

Here's to a great season.

click clack gorilla said...

Wow that paneling looks really great. That's the kind of detail work I can never quite get myself into. Can't wait to see it when its finished, aka stained to match the darker shelf next to it. Sweet.

HelenB said...

You might look at this. I've never had any problem saving tomato seeds. Just think of the "fermenting" as "soaking the seeds in water for a few days", which is essentially what it is.

Anonymous said...

I think your carpentry is amazing and your posts are never boring. I always read them although I don't always comment. I'd be interested to hear how your second encounter with German Queen goes - I am always on the look out for a highly recommended variety.

[and can I just say that I hate, hate, hate the new blogger WV]