Monday, October 27, 2014

this years tale of leaves

the first pile of leaves
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it may not look that big, but it was!
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so here is molly in the pile for scale. did these leaves on oct 25. the pile filled 18 bags.
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pile number two, with molly again, happy to dive right in. did these leaves oct 26. the pile filled 16 bags.
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still PLENTY of leaves left on the damn tree. my gigantic maple tree. its over 10 feet around. this picture doesnt even do it justice as to how big it really is.
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molly isnt even as wide as the tree trunk
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first two piles cleared, new raised bed full of leaves.
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old raised bed block holes stuffed with more leaves
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leaf pile number three
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leaf pile number four, the smallest of them all, with molly again. did these two piles oct 30. both piles filled 10 bags.
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the fifth and final pile, with molly again, happy to roll around or dash thru any leaf pile i make. did this pile nov 1. it filled 6 bags. for a grand total of 40 leaf blower/shredder bags of shredded leaves this year.
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the strawberry patch, with one bag of shredded leaves. it took four or five to cover it all. i use the ground cover cloth for easier removal of the leaves in spring. without it i was accidentally yanking up the leaves of the strawberry plants when i was removing the excess shredded leaves. this way i pull all the shredded leaves off easily with the cloth, and then i can sprinkle back on SOME of the partially decomposed shredded leaves, for soil improvement. but not so much that the plants are buried, the way they need to be over winter.
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all covered up to survive winter
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the bag full of shredded leaves from the leaf blower/shredder, with puppy for size comparison. puppy is a tall, long dog, weighing in at 60-65 pounds. thankfully the bag does not weigh that much!! but its still a good sized bag. puppy was barking at me to put the camera away and play keep-away with his tennis balls.
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filled a wire bin in my garden with more shredded leaves, for mulching next spring. the shredded leaves did such a phenomenal job of keeping the weeds down this year.
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my next door neighbors have a lot of leaves too. its free if you haul them to the yard waste drop off center in the next suburb further out. here, you now have to pay to have the trash companies pick up your leaves. its an extra $90 a year! these are all his leaves. just a few. still not as many as mine, but close.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

filling the new raised bed

i filled the bottom of the new raised bed with bags of tiny little rocks leftover from where the greenhouse was built. yay for getting them out of my garage!
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well, the rocks covered only half the bottom. my compost bin was full up, so i started dumping everything else in.
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ground cherry plants and buckets of weeds i had sitting around that i didnt know what to do with.
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full compost bin
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finally got the wooden shelf-support pieces painted in the greenhouse
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used up the rest of the paint on the pieces of hardboard my dad bought for in case of hail, to protect the glass roof. i dont think it'll need it, its thick glass. but you never know. better to be prepared.
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it was supposed to rain overnight, and i needed my soaker hoses dried out so i could roll them up and store them in the garage over winter. so i threw them in the greenhouse. worked great!
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seeing the new bounty in her habitat, sweetpea the tortoise leaves the safety of her hidey-pot to investigate
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behold, broccoli!
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it must be nommed!
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Monday, October 20, 2014

sugar beets and my failed attempt to make sugar

sugar beets! fresh out of the garden. i grew five this year.
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i balanced all the sugar beets on their heads, leaning against each other, to help dry out the dirt on their sides.
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scrubbed clean. really had to scrub!
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the dirt packs itself into these rooty crevasses
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and around all the top branches
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tops are peeled off and roots are trimmed off
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chopped up to fit thru my foot processor. you can kinda see the subtle rings in the flesh.
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each individual shredded beet practically filled up my food processor bowl
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had to use two stock pots, it was too much for one plus a bit of water
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stove setup
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peels and roots for the compost bin
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cooking the shreds down, they foamed up
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foamy foamy
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strained brown sugar water liquid
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strainer full of shreds
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second stock pot with liquid and shreds still in it
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two large colanders full of sugar beet shreds
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back into the stock pots to boil down
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and boil. and boil and boil and boil. its supposed to spontaneously form sugar crystals on its own. it never did. i've seen maple sap cooked down into sugar crystals. it is spontaneous.
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it just kept cooking down and thickening, but no sugar crystals.
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at this point i gave up. its so thick.
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i stupidly poured it into a bowl. i never got it out of that bowl.
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i barely got the damn pan clean!
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dried hard as a rock. couldnt poke a nail or a knife into it. even soaking the bowl in boiling water wouldnt free it. i had to throw the bowl away.
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and the underside of my 'over the range' microwave with a vent hood, was covered in moisture. its too low to the stove, and the vent isnt strong enough to pull the steam to the center where its vent it. i'm not happy with this microwave/vent. but any fix would require a total upper cupboard remodel, ripping out the soffit and replacing the custom built all one piece crummy old upper cabinets.
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