hsifeng: (Running)
Friday, April 5th - Crossfit:
April 5 - Crossfit Board

1 Minute WOD (Workout of the Day): Squats. The only part of the workout that I did a max effort on. *chuckle* Competative? Who, me? I got through 51 of these.

This past week was an exhausting one for training. Not sure what was going on with my sleep patterns but they were Not Good and left me totally bereft of energy despite getting to bed early and rising late most days. The suck. :P This lead to a less-than-exemplary performance at Crossfit on Friday, but I am giving myself full kudos for even going since the temptation was to skip, skip, skip.

Strength Training 1 (Super-Set): Snatch/GHD Half Sit-Up: The snatch ended up being at 30 kg (wimpy levels) but I was working with a new lifter and as I said: No Energy. *sigh* Ah well, at least I got some form work in. The GHD work was done with 5 kg (again, WTF weight but I know I *did* work since my lower back certainly felt it the next day.

Strength Training 2 (Super-Set): Dead Lift/Ring Push Ups: The dead lift was a little better with 50 kg, but I can do a lot more with that lift. Ring push ups were done well with good form and close-to-horizontal placement of the body. I did all of them without any cheats, and only a couple pauses to stretch my lower back (which was feeling this session).

Saturday, April 6th - Running and Yoga:
3 miles/6 mph (30 minute run) followed by 1.5 hours of Hatha yoga. I then proceeded to run around like a chicken with my head cut off completing errands and projects for...

Sunday, April 7th - 5k Color Run! (...followed by gardening...*ouch*)
I won't even both recording the time on this one, because I was there to play with family! We all got together and organized a potty break (no small feat at an event with 12K+ attendees) and a Finish Line spot for a picnic post-race (in the shade no less!). The race was totally relaxed, and fun, and the weather was beautiful. :) I love doing these event with my family as it gives all of us a chance to chat and goof off as well as enjoy the race.

When photos show up I will pass them on, promise! :D

Right after the race - because I am an idiot - I headed to Home Depot and picked up a rototiller (still covered in paint, which got comments) and then proceeded to till my back garden plot for the next 1.5 hours. Again, thank the gods for beautiful weather. Although I did end up getting a little red (ah, that Northern European skin! *chortle*). Now, you'd think that a rototiller would have made the process a lot easier and more painless. I am sure that turning the whole garden by hand *would* have been a longer and more exhausting process; I am just not sure by how much. My hands, they are covered with blisters and my shoulders/back are wondering if I just carried that heavy-ass piece of equipment all over my garden rather than 'it walking itself forward and doing all the work'. *eye roll*

Regardless: Next weekend, we plant! Hooray!
hsifeng: (Garden)

Have I mentioned recently that I love [livejournal.com profile] jillwheezul? Well, I do. *loves*

I’ve added this to my ‘list of things to work on reading next year’ during my German III “Underground” course. Because there isn’t an institution of higher education in this area that offers German III, and because my current instructor is cool enough to be willing to create a ‘self-study’ for this course from scratch for a handful of his students who are interested in continuing their German studies.

Also still hoping to figure out the local regulations on keeping a hive so that we can get one for our backyard garden.

Reposted from [info]jillwheezul's recent post to the SCA-cooks list (which I joined upon her recommendation as well):

History of Honey and Bee Keeping”

This book has provided me with many recent hours of fascination.  It is a lengthy farm/husbandry manual with medical information as well.  There are instructions for bee-keeping starting on page 308 of the downloadable pdf. Now that I know you are looking for information, I'll keep my eyes open for beekeeping info in my short-attention-span-theater peregrinations.

Details from the Bavarian State Library:

Crescentiis, Petrus de: Von dem nutz der ding die in äckeren gebuwt werden, Straßburg, 1518 [VD16 P 1835]

The specific pages:

Also if Eduardo is scanning, vinegar making is on pages 116-117

For others, there are lists of vegetables, fruits, grains and how to plant, care for them and harvest information.  So far as I have looked (and that's not very far) there is also a 1512 version with some different woodcuts.



hsifeng: (Garden)

Well, lots has been going on in the garden plot - but I have been a bit preoccupied with our cat Gabe and his health of late, so updates to my blog have been scarce. (BTW – many thanks to everyone who has posted their heartfelt wishes for his well being in response to the few posts I have managed since his surgery.)

But as they say, life does go on, most especially when you are dealing with a spring garden plot!

Since my garden report on April 12th , [livejournal.com profile] saoirse42  and I have had quite a number of our seedlings come up and have managed to plant about a 1/3rd of them thus far (with plans to put the rest in the ground next weekend). The tomato plot is doing well, although our Black Prince plant is looking a little ‘wilty’ around the edges, and the artichokes, radishes, green onions, and transplanted melons and potatoes (now in their new/used tire home ) are holding their own.

The big experiment this past week was the planning of our Three Sisters crops; yellow corn + a variety of peas and squash. We are using a variation on this method, but our rows are rather curvy rather than straight as they follow the edge of the lawn at the back of the yard. There will be more corn and pea starts going in the ground this weekend, as we need to make a big enough patch to ensure proper pollination. I am excited by the prospect of fresh corn, and the idea that we are using ‘ancient technology’ in our garden this year.

This weekend will see the rest of the beans, peas, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant and other seedlings going into the ground in the garden patch. We will be ‘starting’ more seed (mostly the corn mentioned above) and working to get some more of the overhead branches cleared from the garden spots to ensure more sunshine on the plants.

I am hoping to hit a local stable to see if I can get some ‘raw ingredients’ for the garden next year, and possibly some yard sales to get pots for starting some flowers in. Because, bees like flowers…


hsifeng: (Garden)
Plans are in the works for this coming years garden and work needs to be done to get it on track. I spent a good deal of time this AM sorting my seed packets, both new and old (*cough* *cough* yes, I bought even more seeds *cough* *cough*) and placing them in order of what needs to be planted when. I am setting up reminders in my online calendar so I get a poke when a new set of seeds needs to get started...because I forget otherwise...*sigh*

Reviewing past information gathered here, it seems my sorting is on track for what we should be putting in for our Spring/Summer starts. It also seems we should start looking into old tires and potatoes if we want to get those going this year...

Yesterday saw me securing more potting soil to begin my 'as soon as the soil can be worked' seed starts; this looks to include turnips, parsnips, carrots and peas. There are also some onions and leeks in there for good measure as well as the 'early starting' leafy greens. I can't believe they already have so many 'late starting' plants in as seedlings at the local Home Depot. I was sorely tempted by some of them, but I am going to wait on the heirloom varieties to show up at the farmers market instead.

Speaking of heirloom, I have a number of squash varieties that I saved seeds from last year (my sister went NUTS and had 15 heirloom types in her garden last year, so I am reaping the benefits). I am looking forward to those, and will be enjoying some of the squash dumplings/gnocchi from last years harvest soon as well.

Today the soil the the garden needs a good turning and then a layer of hay to start warming/breaking down. The raised beds will get turned and will have compost added. The 'squash annex' at the back of the garden will be de-ivy-ed and cleaned up for it's new plants - TOMATOES.
hsifeng: (Garden)


The tomatoes are making their slow progress towards ripening and turning red. Lots and lots of green 'maters on the vine, only a handful ready to pick. Patience, patience.... The garden is continuing to produce cucumbers, salad greens, wilting greens (I need to make a quiche with some of those this weekend!), squash and more hot peppers than we can shake a stick at. And we’ve *tried* shaking sticks at them!


Cantaloupe are not really developing all that much, about the size of my two fists pressed together. Lots of blooms, but only a few fruit; perhaps they will do better next year when I get them separated out sooner from the suspended cucumber trellis.


With any luck we will be hitting up some folks at the local Home Depot sometime in the next few weeks for installation advice on drip lines. Moving our taps to the garden sites and getting some drip set up on timers will go a long way toward making the maintenance on the overall garden easier. I do love spending time in the patches every morning and evening, but I would rather be weeding/harvesting/pruning than hand watering.


Already making plans for more peas and beans next year….*grin*

hsifeng: (Garden)
I have been gathering some information for both this years garden, and next years planting. Here it tis':

Pruning and Staking your tomatoes

Another source for this information with various trellis ideas based on tomatoe variety

Get plants off the ground.

Give plants room.

Never prune or tie plants when the leaves are wet.

Of interest: When staking, "To avoid damaging roots, drive your stakes in within a week of planting. Space staked plants at 18 inches for a single stem, 24 inches for two stems, and 36 inches for three or four stems."

It seems that there is little 'hard and fast' rule as to how many stems to include on your tomatoes. However, there are some notes based on tomatoe type:

Indeterminate vs. determinate

Indeterminate tomato plants continue to grow, limited only by the length of the season. These plants produce stems, leaves, and fruit as long as they are alive.

Determinate tomato plants have a predetermined number of stems, leaves, and flowers hardwired into their genetic structure. The development of these plants follows a well-defined pattern. First, there is an initial vegetative stage during which all the stems, most of the leaves, and a few fruit are formed. This is followed by a flush of flowering and final leaf expansion. Finally, during the fruit-fill stage, there is no further vegetative growth. As the tomato fruits ripen, the leaves senesce and die. Commercial growers favor this type of tomato because all the fruit can be mechanically harvested at once. The major advantage of planting determinate plants in a home garden is early harvest.

Semi-determinate plants, as the name implies, are somewhere between these two other types. Although there aren't many semi-determinate tomatoes, one of the most popular hybrids, 'Celebrity', falls into this category. I think semi-determinates are best grown to three or four stems.

Squash pollination and bees

Which lead in turn to figuring out what flowers we need to plant in order to encourage bees in the garden. Thank you

[livejournal.com profile] stacymckenna!

The list of potential flowers:


Lilac, Blue Blossom
California Poppy
Scented Geranium
Large-flower phacelia
Tansy Phacelia
West. Verbena

hsifeng: (Garden)

Lordy, do I need to catch up on LJ reading! This weekend was spent with many of project, but with minimal computer time. Trust me, I have plans to catch up on everyone’s “doin’s” as soon as possible! *grin*


In the meantime, a couple of project with pictures today: You will probably be happy to see my eschew my normal mode of separating posts by subject (gosh, I know that the tags will track it all for me…but the OCD makes it hard to not make a separate entry for each specific project type…*rolls eyes*). Anywho, on to the gardening and blackpowder!


“This is how I spent my weekend.” )



hsifeng: (Garden)

For those in the *central* Central Valley of CA who are interested in using converted raisin sweat boxes as planting beds, the following contact information is for you!


UC Master Gardner Pete Susvoe sells these boxes from his home in Sanger. Pete’s contact number is 559-846-7565 If you live nearby, you may be able to arrange for him to drop off the boxes. Otherwise you will need to arrange to pick them up at his location. The UC Master Gardeners also have three of these boxes for sale at ‘the Garden of the Sun’ here in Fresno. Their contact phone number is 456 4151.


I believe both sources sell the boxes for $6-$8/each.

hsifeng: (Garden)

After a long ‘dry spell’ in writing (*insert pun-drum roll here*), I am finally back with a garden update for April. There has been work going on, believe me; I have just been bad at documenting it! Earlier this month we secured a free truck-bed worth of wood chippings and continued to procure various other garden building bits like lumber and addtional hay-bales for mulch. [info]tristinmorgan and[info]saoirse42 came by for a few hours and helped plant the remainder of this seasons 'first seeds' (see list at bottom of post) and also took care of dog and garden for hubby and I on a weekend we headed out of town and the temperatures headed into the 90's - YIKES!


Also in the last month, we have prepped the raisin sweat boxes that were purchased from Jerry after the March UC Master Gardner class. The transformation of these boxes into working lettuce beds was accomplished by drilling holes in their bottoms for drainage and then lining them with perforated heavy black plastic. A layer of hay went in the bottom of each box; followed by a mixture of top soil, mulch and potting soil and a dash of blood meal thrown in for good measure. We currently have five of these boxes set up, with three more ‘waiting in the wings’ as potential berry growing stations.

BTW - the green 'caterpillers' all over the place are the shedding pollen pods of the trees that edge the North side of the garden.


The advantages to the boxes are portability (sort of – they are damn heavy when full!) which allows us to figure out where the best location for them is in the garden/yard and the ability to easily ‘copper tape’ them to prevent snails from feasting on our young lettuce sprouts. The bad news is, the top soil I got to mix with our potting soil as filler on these seems to be mostly clay. Hard. As. A. Rock: Once water hits it that is. And really, why would you want to put water on your garden?




However, the beds actually seem to be doing OK – so we’ll wait and see before we scream and gnash our teeth. *chuckle*


The main garden is coming along. Hubby has some fence work to get done, but the hay is keeping about 95% of the weeds/grass out. Except for the damn Bermuda grass. I have words that I could use to describe my hatred for this creeping, crawling, tunneling little weed. However, I know we have some delicate ladies in the audience, and so I will refrain.


Don’t laugh. I actually *do* know some delicate ladies. Really. Pinky swear.


The next ‘big’ step is going to be getting the sprouted seeds into the ground. Right now I am up in the air about this a bit, but I think we are going to be launching the ‘Squash-Sub-Garden-Project’ in the back of our (thankfully) huge yard. Why a separate location for the squash? See my list of varieties below the cut at the bottom of this message. That many squash will take over my current garden space in a matter of months. So, we’re going to do a ‘traditional’ (non-Ruth Stout) garden patch at the back of the yard and just let the squash and zucchini go *mad* back there.


“Watch out! That wild Crookneck is coming right at us!”

Sucessful squash planting doesn't even begin to describe these monsters:


So, next Saturday there are plans to hit Home Depot and rent the necessary rototiller while picking up the other ‘sub-garden’ supplies; like wire fencing to keep Tonda’s beasts…er…puppies…out when they visit – They are diggers. Nuff said…


I know[info]tristinmorgan and[info]saoirse42 will be busy at the farm next weekend, but I hope to co-opt[info]bedpimp and sirduckie for some work if I can. *grin*


The list below the cut gives you information on what is currently being grown. Once you see the list, you’ll understand the cut.

Clip, clip, clip... )

Garden Map

Mar. 17th, 2009 04:49 pm
hsifeng: (Food!)
Time to start plotting the "where" to go along with our "what"...

hsifeng: (Food!)

Just making a note of this site and giving a "shout-out" to all my garden homies: If you like to plant stuff, you might want to join this lovely community! They have a lot of great groups including the "Food Preservation Station", "Compost Nuts" and "Homesteading Newbies" as well as blog spots, chat forums, etc.

They are still under construction, but it has been nice to get that 'project high' off of other people gardens and to get inspired to try new things!

BTW - Anyone out there have an old fruit and vegetable dehydrator that they aren't using and want to give to a good home?

Edit: Have I mentioned that I *love* this site for inspiration yet? Someone mentioned that LA has a "free mulch" program through the city on the "Square Foot" gardening board. So I called up the City of F to see if we had a program too: The short answer is, "No." The long answer is, West Coast Green Waste (497-5320, 3077 S Golden State Frontage Rd.) takes the City of F green waste bin contents and makes mulch from them. Then they sell that mulch at $50 for 2 cubic yards (a good amount of mulch!). It's also possible to get compost via Gallo Wineries here in town (458-2565, Clovis and Olive Avenues behind the winery. Open 7-4 M-Sat, closed from 12-12:30 for lunch) for $14/cubic yard.

Once I get my hay bales together enough to be able to set up a little composting center, I am going to have to hit these places up for raw materials.

Edit 3/17/08: More lovely links from Freedomgarden.org, specifically the "Compost Nuts!" board. I want me some wormies once the rest of the compost materials are set up in the side yard. I think a set-up like this will work out quite well as an addition to the growing "compost station".

Edit 3/18/09: Per the online F.A. (Farmers Almanac) - "Start some vegetables in flats now: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and lettuce are good choices." Perhaps I will have to start som peppers and eggplant seeds this weekend as well as the lettuse.
hsifeng: (Food!)

We picked up a couple of handy "Fresno Area" garden information resources at the UC Extension/Master Gardeners workshop this weekend. I thought I should share....


Lift this rock for more information.. )

I need to start looking into where I can pick up asparagus starts, because it seems like getting our asparagus bed in and establishing itself for next year might be a good idea...


Mar. 15th, 2009 08:02 pm
hsifeng: (Food!)
So garden sprites, what lovely heirloom seeds should we try out? I am interested in trying to find some types that might be historically "accurate" for us... *grin*

Edit 3/16/09:  Found my old list of "historic foods" from the RWA workshop I ran last year. Now, to figure out what modern varieties might "relate" to these historic ones...


Vegetable greens (Wortes): cabbage, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, chicory, endive, radicchio, spinach, sorrel, watercress, lamb's lettuce, dandelion, nettles, rocket, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens.

Roots: rapes (turnips) - the staple, salsify, radish, celery root, pasturnakes (carrots and parsnips), skyrwates/skirrits (water parsnip), scallions, onions, garlic, leeks.

Beans and Peas: peas, split peas, white beans, fava beans (broad beans), lentils, chickpeas (garbanzos).

Stalks and Vegetable Fruits: asparagus, celery, fennel, mushrooms, marrows/gourds (mostly varieties we would call summer squash and zucchini), cucumber, eggplant, artichoke, olives.

Grains: wheat, oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, rice, millet, spelt.

Fruit: apple, crabapple, pear, quince (very common), cherry, peach, apricot, nectarine, damson (plum) and prune, fig, date, pomegranate, orange, lemon, grapes, raisins, melon (such as honeydew and muskmelon/canteloupe), rhubarb, strawberry, currants (very common), gooseberry, bilberry, wild blackberries (but not cultivated), mulberries.

Nuts: almonds (a staple), filberts (hazelnuts), chestnuts, walnuts, acorns, sesame seeds, pistachios, pinenuts.


Anyone know what (if anything) they plant in the Kentwell gardens? I know that Monticello has a terrific historic garden, but that is at least partly because Thomas Jefferson's big thing was farming.


"Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever He had a chosen people, whose breasts He has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue."—Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1785

Found my old list of "historic foods" from the RWA workshop I ran last year. Now, to figure out what modern varieties might "relate" to these... Anyone know what (if anything) they plant in the Kentwell gardens? I know that Montechello has a terrific historic garden, but that is at least partly because Thomas Jefferson's big thing was farming.
hsifeng: (Food!)
After a lot of mad rushing about today, there is a nice little planting station on the side of the house and a garden gate to keep the dogs out. This s a vast improvement over the prior barricade - many thanks to the hubby! The fence is progressing, the second layer of mulch went down on about 1/2 the garden and the seeding station was set up in a sunny spot on the side of the garden closest to the kumquat trees.

And we got some seeds in the ground! Ok...not in the ground actually...but into their seedling pots at least. *grin* I  made up a nice big batch of garden soil, nitrogen and mulch mix in the big black tub that sits under the planting station and went to town. Here's what we planted: 

Broccoli de Rapa - 1/3 flat
Yellow Jubilee Tomato - 2/3 flat
Scarlet Nantes Carrots - 1/2 flat
Wisconsin SMR 58 Pickling Cucumbers - four pots (hills)
Marketmore 76 Cucumber - four pots (hills)
Parsnips - 1/2 flat
Borage - 1/2 flat
Sugar Snap Peas - 5 pots

The sugar snap peas are an guessing game - while the other packets said that this was an OK season to plant in (although the tomatoes need cover until they sprout), the peas are from a vendor at the farmers market and came in a self-labeled zip-lock bag with no instructions. I roughed up their endosperms (*giggle* - it's their outer layer) - apparently peas need you to scar it in some way to escape the bonds of their shells - and plopped four in each pot with some of the soil mix. With the rest of the seeds, I just followed the directions on the packet.

And we have a *lot* of seeds left over...

Some pictures of the garden at this point in it's progress... )Next steps include locating more seeds and perhaps some seed potatoes (might as well try some out, even though the weather is getting warmer) and to check through the local feed lots for heaping piles of rotted hay.

Finally, for seed organization I would like to come up with some sort of three ring binder with "card holders" so that I can pop the seed packets in there with note cards about when they went into the ground. This will help me track the yearly planting as we continue to garden and will help me chart what worked and what didn't.

At some point, I need to chart out the garden and set up a plan for how we'll be planting this year...
hsifeng: (Food!)

Got some composting and weeding done this weekend. Why weeding in a mulched garden you ask? Well, the mulch is doing a fine job of turning into lovely compost, and the lovely compost is very compacted, and I don’t have more “mulch makings” to pile on top. The thinness of the layer has given the weeds a chance to get a root-in-edgewise.


Is it weird that even seeing how well the weeds are growing makes me happy? *chuckle*


After a couple of hours of work on Sunday, the non-veg plants are mostly gone (off to the compost pile with em!), the garden is looking orderly again. There is still some work to be done on the fence and the gate, but I am hoping we can get that knocked out next weekend along with the acquisition of more compost materials (hay and whatnot).  


I got a chance to make some newspaper seedling pots, they are *so* easy to make! I knocked out about 40 of them in around 30 minutes. I plan on making more tonight, and with any luck I should have my seeds started by the end of the week. If anyone local wants a lesson on how-to make these, let me know!


I am also in the market for some large (not necessarily deep) tubs and/or basins. I am thinking that I want to do my salad greens in these in order to help prevent pests. I think a line of these on the outside of the garden fence will work nicely as container gardens. If they are all sorts of different shapes, that’s OK too!


**Just a reminder to the Garden Crew, this Saturday is the PARS program vegetable garden course over at the Garden of the Sun.  9:30 AM until noon: If we want to carpool I can provide early morning snackies and coffee at my house before we head out…?

hsifeng: (Food!)

I got this great video demo on how to make your newspaper seedling pots cheap and easy from [livejournal.com profile] vanderbruegghen 

How to Create Seed-Starting Pots From Newspapers -- powered by eHow.com
hsifeng: (Food!)

Thinking more about getting the garden up and going, now that I have spent a weekend on J&T's spread. I want to start gathering the following items so that I can get the seedlings started soon - the weather is crazy warm, and I think we can manage a cold frame on the planting table for the seed starts if we get going on gathering the materials.

Plastic gallon milk jugs

Newspaper – black and white print only!
Cardboard egg cartons
Thick, clear plastic tarping
Soil/Compost - I've got some, but I need more!

I just requested information from J&T on the cost of making this little item (since he is a woodworker and a lathe specialist).

I am going to start tagging garden posts by month so that I can use them for future reference as the work on the plot continues over the years.

hsifeng: (Food!)

I am very excited by this opportunity!




By volunteering to Plant A Row (PAR) for one of the local community food banks, I can get free Master Gardner lessons via the local UC network. The classes are held at the Garden of the Sun at the local Discovery Center.


The program only asks that you donate extra produce (which I can imagine we are going to have in droves – you can only eat so many tomatoes and canning eventually takes up more space than you have shelves), and even then you have a chance to get a ‘donate receipt’ so you can use it as a tax write off.


They also have a ‘gleaning’ service for folks who have fruit trees that they don’t harvest….sorta like my two Kumquat trees….*hum*

hsifeng: (Food!)
I don't think I want goats, chickens and ducks in my backyards...but they might be tasty!

As for the rest: I actually agree with the thoughts going on behind this family's vision, if in less idealistic way. No, I am not going to go vegetarian (although I have nothing against those who are), but I do want to up my plant intake and cut back on the meat based products. No, I am not going to start using a solar oven, but an earth oven would be LOVELY (if I can just figure out the "burn days" issues here in our smog infested central valley).

Lots to think about, and lots of good examples of garden layout ideas...

On the other hand, I *did* grow up on an organic family farm, so I have a pretty reasonable idea of just how much WORK can be involved in this process. Hence the Ruth Stout method!



hsifeng: (Default)

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