From the Garden

Last week, a couple of tomatoes, a few potatoes, and these butternut squash:

Butternut squash

Butternut squash

Yesterday I made first salsa. Five tomatoes, one each habañero, jalapeño, and cerrano pepper, and some cilantro from the garden. A small onion, and half a clove of garlic. Yummy, but a full 2.75 on my 3 point scale of salsa. I could not finish a measly three cups of salsa – I stopped when I noticed that my lips, cheeks, and tongue were all numb with the heat. Yummy, but too darn hot. It was four hours before that wore off…

Today, from the garden:

Tomatoes, zucchini, and insane cucumber

Tomatoes, zucchini, and insane cucumbers

Tiger lilies blooming

Just wanted to share this with you. There’s ALSO a tomato or two headed through orange on their path from green to red, but that’s a week or so out.

The tiger lilies are doing gangbusters this year, even in all this heat.

Tiger lilies - 8 July 2012

Tiger lilies – 8 July 2012

Monday: The dog was happy I broke her out of jail (the kennel).

Tuesday: Regular work day, then schoolwork – ASP.NET. I am a lucky, lucky guy. Not!

Wednesday – Friday: Ditto.

Saturday: About 6 hours of work, at the office in the morning, and at home in the evening, doing a large data migration project. Nearly finished my ASP.NET project, but not quite.

Today: Work – half hour wrapping up yesterdays work. Shopping. Coffee roasting. Haircut. Yardwork – weeding, taking out the dead-ish snow peas and transplanting peppers from elsewhere in the garden. ASP.NET to completion. Review project against requirements, finish documentation and packaging. Upload. Whew.

This database class requires very little database work, and a lot of programming in languages I don’t use, ever. Next up? Java. I am a lucky, lucky guy. Not!

Transition garden

Transition garden

I call it a transition garden, because all the brown bits? Those were snow peas. Snow peas don’t like 90 degree weather, and we had about a week of that. So they’re brown, dead-ish, and “transitioning out.” Meantime, I’ve got some red habañero that were being overwhelmed by squash in the back right box – now they’re back in full sun, and likely to be very happy there. I also had my started-from-seed jalapeño plants that needed to be moved to an area with more space, so those are next to the habañero. I left one small section of peas in, for the peas to finish maturing and dry. I’ll harvest them, and use them to plant, next spring.

Last night I heated some “rattlesnake pasta”, I think Uno-brand, and amended it with more chicken, more cheese, and every serrano pepper I could pull off the little plants. I want them focusing on growth, rather than “fruit”, and I’m happy to use them rather than mulch them. They added a lot of heat and flavor to the dish – that’s why I like the serrano.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Spc. Gerardo Campos, 23, of Miami, Florida, died June 2 in Maiwand, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.
  • Lance Cpl. Joshua E. Witsman, 23, of Covington, Indiana, died May 30 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Pfc. Vincent J. Ellis, 22, of Tokyo, Japan, died June 4, in Landstuhl, Germany, from wounds suffered June 1, on Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with improvised explosive devices and small arms fire.
  • Capt. Scott P. Pace, 33, of Brawley, California, died June 6, in Qarah Bagh, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his helicopter crashed.
  • 1st Lt. Mathew G. Fazzari, 25, of Walla Walla, Washington, died June 6, in Qarah Bagh, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his helicopter crashed.
  • Cpl. Anthony R. Servin, 22, of Moreno Valley, California, died June 8 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Pfc. Brandon D. Goodine, 20, of Luthersville, Georgia, died June 7 in Maiwand, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Master Chief Petty Officer Richard J. Kessler Jr., 47, of Gulfport, Florida, was found deceased in his berthing compartment June 8 on board USS Enterprise (CVN 65).

 

Did you say Snow Peas?

More snow peas from the garden

More snow peas from the garden

That’s a second nearly-two-pound harvest of snow peas out of the garden (tastefully blurred in the background) this week! At this rate I’m going to need to find a tasty animal to feed snow peas to, so that I can enjoy them all without becoming a vegetarian.

AND a dollar Short

Yep, I’m a day late with this. The weekend got away from me, but I did get a lot done. Not a lot in the garden, but the garden’s doing fine on it’s own right now:

Bilbrey garden 21 May 2012

Bilbrey garden 21 May 2012

As you can almost tell even in the small format, the peas are going wild, as are the potatoes. Everything else is just trying not to get left in the dust. But it’s early days for this growing season.

The old lawn mower went the way of Fat Albert’s car – spitting fuel sideways and back while making a lot of noise. It wasn’t an expensive one, but the expense and delays I would incur to fix it means that new makes more sense, so I bought a new Troy-Bilt self-propelled mower on Saturday. Marcia keeps asking me if I want a tractor or a zero-turn riding mower … But for the cost of an inexpensive tractor, I can buy five of the mowers I bought on Saturday. So for now, I walk. Also, the Troy-Bilt has 20% more horses than the old Toro, and doesn’t bog down in the tall grass where the Toro would fall over. So, win-win.

The first week of my database “capstone” course is also done. Gonna be a bloody busy summer. I’m very happy, though, to be taking another class taught by Reggie Haseltine. He’s one of the best instructors I’ve had, full stop.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

1st Lt. Alejo R. Thompson, 30, of Yuma, Arizona, died May 11 in Bagram, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire.

Sgt. Wade D. Wilson, 22, of Normangee, Texas, died May 11 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Spc. Alex Hernandez III, 21, of Round Rock, Texas, died May 12, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Brian L. Walker, 25, of Lucerne Valley, California, died May 13, in Bowri Tana, Afghanistan, when the enemy attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

Pfc. Richard L. McNulty III, 22, Rolla, Missouri, died May 13, in Bowri Tana, Afghanistan, when the enemy attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

Staff Sgt. Israel P. Nuanes, 38, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, died May 12, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained during an enemy attack with an improvised explosive device.

Sgt. Michael J. Knapp, 28, of Overland Park, Kansas, died May 18, in Asadabad, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an indirect fire.

Sgt. Jabraun S. Knox, 23, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, died May 18, in Asadabad, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an indirect fire.

Garden Progress

Moving right along, I managed to take a picture this evening as the clouds started rolling back in. Here’s the state of the garden today:

Garden, 15 May 2012

Garden, 15 May 2012

The potatoes are coming in nicely, as are all the other plants. The snow peas … they’re in production. I’m pulling a meal’s worth out every two days, and they’re barely started yet.

*      *      *

School is started too, and for grins, the first project in CMIS 485, the capstone course for databases, involves PHP and an Access database. Yeah, Access. Whatever. I’ve mostly completed the design of the required tables based upon the ERD, and I’ve got one question into the instructor about apparently duplicated fields. Beyond that, I’m going to roll as fast as I can in this class, getting ahead before the next class starts in three weeks from yesterday.

Garden and War

Yesterday, I mowed the yards, and little else, since rain was inbound. We got another 2/10″, which is all to the good – perhaps a total of 1.5″ over the last week. That’d be a wonderful regular event.

Today, I planted all the seedlings in the garden.

Seedlings in the Garden

Seedlings in the Garden

It doesn’t look like much right now – 28 or so tiny tomato seedlings spread out through two beds, zucchini and butternut squash, cucumbers, and half-inch tall jalapeño plants. None of the cerrano peppers germinated. I’ve got spares of some of the tomatoes bedded for now where the cold frame was, in case of a late failure … and everything’s documented, so that I can preserve seeds for next year from this crop. The main purpose for this picture is to provide a baseline for the jungle to come.

Snow peas and tomato seedlings

Snow peas and tomato seedlings

The snow peas are doing very well. All about eight inches tall, and starting to flower. I sense YUM in our future.

*      *      *

Walking the dog after her supper tonight, we were lucky that her feet weren’t cut on the broken glass left behind by an asshat who was done with her bottle of Smirnoff. It covered a chunk of sidewalk. Fortunately, Lexi was trailing me, so that when I crunched, I stopped and made her walk around. After the walk I went back and swept it up and disposed of it. I suppose it’s true in any neighborhood – some are always going to be asshats.

*      *      *

A bad week in Afghanistan for our troops, sadly. Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

Staff Sgt. Joseph H. Fankhauser, 30, of Mason, Texas, died April 22 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

1st Lt. Jonathan P. Walsh, 28, Cobb, Georgia, died April 22 in Paktia, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Pfc. Michael J. Metcalf, 22, Boynton Beach, Florida, died April 22 in Paktia, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas S. Johnson, 27, of San Diego, California, died April 19, in Helmand province, Afghanistan, when his Black Hawk (UH-60) crashed.

Chief Warrant Officer Don C. Viray, 25, of Waipahu, Hawaii, died April 19, in Helmand province, Afghanistan, when his Black Hawk (UH-60) crashed.

Sgt. Chris J. Workman, 33, of Boise, Idaho, died April 19, in Helmand province, Afghanistan, when his Black Hawk (UH-60) crashed.

Sgt. Dean R. Shaffer, 23, of Pekin, Illinois, died April 19, in Helmand province, Afghanistan, when his Black Hawk (UH-60) crashed.

Spc. Manuel J. Vasquez, 22, of West Sacramento, California, died April 24 in Paktika province, Afghanistan.

Spc. Benjamin H. Neal, 21, of Orfordville, Wisconsin, died April 25 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Spc. Jason K. Edens, 22, of Franklin, Tennessee, died April 26, in Bethesda, Md., of wounds sustained April 15, in Laghman province, Afghanistan, when the enemy attacked his unit with small arms fire.

Spc. Moises J. Gonzalez, 29, Huntington, California, died April 25, in Balkh province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his vehicle rolled over.

Lt. Christopher E. Mosko, 28, of Pittsford, New York, died April 26 while conducting combat operations in Nawa district, Ghazni province, Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Brandon F. Eggleston, 29, of Candler, North Carolina, died April 26, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.

Sgt. Dick A. Lee Jr., 31, of Orange Park, Florida, died April 26, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.

Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Brittonmihalo, 25, of Simi Valley, California, died April 25, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from small arms fire.

Third day and done

I decided not to add a new category: Pain. It belongs here, but it’d (hopefully) be so bloody rare as to be much like a broken pencil.

You saw one before-ish (more middle-ish, really)  picture from the front yard, day before yesterday. Here’s one more deeply before picture: the right-hand bed off the front porch:

Right porch bed before cleanup

Right porch bed before cleanup

You might need to click on the image to get the full extent of the pain this bed caused me yesterday. Bracketing the bed are a pair of golden euonymous bushes (pre-trimming. In the center is our wonderful batch of tiger lilies. They’re being owned, sadly, by the yellow-ish grasses, so those had to do. The tulips and gladiolas have been pretty sad the last year or two as well, so everything had to go, excepting the shrubs and and tiger lilies.

Friday morning, I started work on the left porch bed, and it was a bit of a breeze, really. Weeded it out with a hoe, then turned it over with the rototiller. I turned my attention to the right bed. I started weeding it out.

That was when I realized the depth of my problem with the yellow grasses. They were going to take over the whole bed within another couple of years. So I started trying to take those out. Hmmm. The hoe wasn’t going to cut it. More to the point, the hoe was bouncing off. I didn’t want to use the pickaxe, because I don’t want lots of left over bits for this thing to spring back to life with. So a shovel it was. There went two hours of my day, cutting some “grasses” the size of a love seat from the right hand bed.

By the time I’d actually cleared the bed all the way around, it was about 3 PM. I figured I could “hit the ground running” with the rototiller after shopping this morning (Saturday), and get the whole thing done by around 3 PM. So I spent an hour transplanting some of the tiger lilies into the tree bed on the left side of the yard, and called it a day.

I did the shopping this morning (off my usual Sunday, but I’ve got to go to work tomorrow for an indeterminate period of time), got home, took the dog for a leisurely walk, and changed into the yard clothing. Out came the rototiller, and I attacked the final bed. The ground attacked back, and won! It’s partly due to how dry things are here (we’re really short on rain this spring), and other than a few specific areas, much of that bed hasn’t been touched in 7 years. Sigh. Out comes the pickaxe, there goes two hours.

I amended the broken up bed with some leaf compost, and turned it with the rototiller. I tuned up all of the beds with a landscaping rake, applied the mulch to all of the appropriate places in the yard …

Wait, did I just say all? One more piece of bad news. Unlike topping up the mulch from year to year, this time I pulled it all out and refreshed the whole yard. Well, the whole yard except for the bit on the back of the tree bed on the left side of the yard. I had 25 bags of mulch. That’s 50 cubic feet, and I came up short by about a bag and a half. But from the street it looks great, and I’m bloody tired.

Here’s what some of it looks like:

Transplanted tiger lilies in the tree bed

Transplanted tiger lilies in the tree bed

The right porch bed, after

The right porch bed, after

With a bit of the old clicky-clicky, you can see that I’ve already added some new decorative grasses to the right porch bed. They’re spiky and non-invasive. In a year or two they’ll do a nice job of providing a bit of backdrop for whatever I plant there.

Now it’s nearly time to sleep, but first to walk the mutt. Ciao!

Spring: Sprung

For the second morning in a row, early temperatures in the mid-30’s Fahrenheit put a bit of a damper on morning yard work. I’ve taken a couple of days off to get the front yard in order. I’m peeling out all the old mulch, weeding everything, edging around the trees, and re-seating border bricks around the beds. What I didn’t count on yesterday was finding that a couple of the beds needed a deep turning.

Revising a planting bed

Revising a planting bed

When I uncovered the bed you see above, the soil seemed a bit lifeless and compacted, in keeping with the tepid growth of the few tulips that survived there. Normally I plant hardy annuals there, but they haven’t done so well, of late. This time, I remembered why: I haven’t turned that bed (nor the one behind it, up against the fence) since we moved into the house, nigh unto a decade ago.

Side note: We’re really short on spring rain this year – there hasn’t been but perhaps a quarter of an inch in the last 6 weeks or so.

Silly me, I attacked the ground with a spade point shovel. That bought me about three inches of penetration. I tottered back into the shed, and brought out the pickaxe. That did the job. I trenched out to 12-15 inches (in both beds, tree and fence), hauling the dirt back onto the concrete pad behind the fence. There I broke it up and mixed it with equal parts leaf compost. Then I barrowed the mix back out and filled the beds. The first partial load has just been tipped in, above. When all was said and done, five barrow loads went back into the bed.

The bed work slowed me considerably, though. I didn’t finish with the de-mulching and weeding yesterday, but I did all seven of the smaller beds/trees. What’s left are the two large beds around the front porch. I do know I’ve amended those quite recently, so no more pickaxe work today. I’m just waiting for the temps to rise into the 50’s so that I can get back to work. Ciao!

 

Good news, bad news

The good news is twofold. First, my penultimate deliverable for the Software Engineering class is in the hopper – two sections (about 11 pages) of an SDMP document. One more week of reading and writing puts that class to bed.

Second, it looks like my effort to finally purchase materials and get the cold frame built (see yesterday’s post) is going to pay off: we’re likely to see frosts Monday and Tuesday nights. With luck what I built protects what I’m growing.

Third (yes, third, this is a bonus good thing, for some definition of good), I’ve got a week-long VSphere 5 boot camp training that I’m attending this upcoming week. It’s nearby, I won’t be away from home much early or later than normal working hours, and I’m going to learn a crapload about VMware to supplement what I already know from the environments I’ve worked with previously. The downside is that all of this piles into my brain while I’m trying to finish a very challenging UMUC class. Such is life – the next convenient training is months away.

*     *     *

Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Sgt. Jamie D. Jarboe, 27, of Frankfort, Indiana, died March 21 in Topeka, Kan., from wounds suffered on April 10, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.
  • Spc. Dennis P. Weichel Jr., 29, of Providence, Rhode Island, died March 22 in Laghman province, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered in a noncombat related incident.