Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rockin' broccoli...

rockin broccoli
Originally uploaded by southsideandy
As promised, I finally got out to take some pictures of the various garden updates. Head on over to Flickr to check them out...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

And the rains fell, and the dryer broke, and so did my wife...

So, between a trip to the hospital for emergency surgery (she's fine now) last week for my wife, the dryer breaking down and general Memorial Day madness, I was only able to construct the third veggie bed, though I need to get another bag of garden soil to really complete it.

This is a bummer, because I wanted to plant the tomatoes I started indoors. They're ready to be transplanted, but because of the rain showers, they're still inside. I had to economize my time outside in between downpours, so the picture-taking got sidelined.

It was also sidelined by us having to buy a new dryer (and then deciding to get a new washer too, since we "have to" have a matching set -- so if anyone wants to buy an older, but working well, wash machine for a cheap price, let me know!). I had to disconnect the washer and dryer, which is simple enough, except when the gate valves are seized up from years of immobility. I broke one and couldn't budge the other. Fortunately, I had two perfect gate valves laying around from a previous plumbing event, and was able to change them out without any trouble, amazingly enough. Also, I was nervous about the gas line to the dryer, but after shutting off the valve, it held (no leaks) and there was no problem there either (for a change)! I had to connect the new dryer, though, because the delivery guys did not have a vent pipe, and I wanted to replace the fire-hazard plastic pipe that the PO had put on there. Again, amazingly, no problems going to get a vent chute (UL listed flexible aluminum), installing the vent chute or reconnecting the gas line. I was thrilled.

The good news for the backyard is, the first two veggie beds are sprouting nicely.

In Bed No. 1, the garlic is growing great and was the first to sprout. Then, the asparagus started coming up. They aren't kidding about it being spindly the first year -- the spears are no wider than a typical spaghetti noodle. But they're neat to watch. Once they break the surface of the soil, they sure shoot up in height pretty fast. I was impressed! Finally, in Bed No. 1, the broccoli I started from seed began to sprout. It seems to be lagging a bit, but the plants appear healthy and in good shape, so I'll just need to be patient.

In Bed No. 2, I planted beans, carrots and beets, all from seed. The beets started sprouting earlier this week, and today I went out to find nice rows of seedlings peeking through the dirt. Yesterday, the beans began to push their way through the surface, and today, they've broken through nicely. Also, a surprise, the carrots are sprouting like mad today...I'll have to cull those rows heavily, as I simply scattered the seed in rows. So that will start soon. All in all, Bed 2 is in good shape, it appears.

Bed No. 3, like I mentioned above, is a few inches low on soil, so I have to go get more before moving on to construction of Bed No. 4. When that will happen, I'm not sure...but it has to be soon! Even though they're predicting storminess on and off for the next few days...might be sketchy.

Complicating matters is that my birthday is coming up this weekend, and my brothers were nice enough to get me Lego Indiana Jones for the PS3, and a Best Buy gift card, both of which have and will, respectively, distract me from doing "yardwork" around here! Ah well, I'll get back to it soon enough, I'm sure!

So there's the update...I leave you with this: It's a picture of my son attempting to eat a marigold when I told him to sniff the marigold in the planters out in front of the house. I did plant those up, and the flowers are doing well.

Edible marigolds...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The early bird gets the truck...

Well, quick post before I head to bed, following my successful completion of the Walk & Roll 50-mile bike ride today (from which I'm beat, obviously).

Yesterday, I got an early start and headed out the Home Depot to get a "load" of topsoil, peat moss and manure to make another veggie bed and finish filling the second one. When I walked in, I decided to see if they happened to have one of those nice rental trucks available. When they said they did, I decided to get 30 bags of topsoil, and enough peat moss and manure to fill up (hopefully) the last two, yet-unbuilt veggie beds.

Got home, and with the help of my bro, tossed all these bags over the fence. I felt vindicated that, for once, I was there early enough to get what I wanted and get out, knowing full well that yesterday's beautiful weather coupled with the technical passing of the frost date spelled doom for any gardeners trying to shop there after, say, 10 a.m. I was right. It was fine when I got the truck, but already a madhouse when I returned it.

I filled the remainder of the second bed and decided to plant seeds instead of start building the third bed, given I didn't want to do too much hard work given today's bike ride.

I planted a row of beans along the wall of the garage (will string up some wires at some point to carry the beans), and then several rows of Chioggia (sp?) beets and several rows of carrots. All seeds, of course. I also bought a Big Bertha pepper plant and put that in one of my freestanding pots near the deck.

Today was the bike ride, and I'm way too tired to go was a beautiful day, and a beautiful ride -- but next year, we'll probably do a shorter run. We missed out on a lot of the fun at the end, because we weren't speed-demons. Ah well, live and learn...the most important thing was that we raised a great amount of money to help fight the battle against cancer. I think you can donate after the event, so if you want to, go ahead...otherwise, wait till next year!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Donate to fight cancer...

OK, well, this is the first blatant solicitation you've seen here, but I'm making it for a good cause. On the left, there, you see the American Cancer Society's logo, and a link. I'm riding my bike in this year's Walk & Roll North Shore in order to help raise money to fight cancer. I've had tons of relatives and some friends diagnosed from cancer -- some won the battle, some did not.

Doctors found cancer in my Dad's prostate last year, and fortunately they caught it early enough -- he had the prostate removed, and life has gone on. Thankfully, he's a good news story. Not everyone comes out on the positive side.

Anyway, I'm riding in two days (this Sunday), and although I don't expect anything from any of my loyal readers, I did want to offer up the chance to donate. My team and I will ride 50 miles, from Skokie north to Lake Forest, down to Evanston and back over to Skokie. (We didn't pick the route, of course.) I feel very prepared, even though this is the most I'll have ridden my bike in one "sitting" since college. I've gotten some good riding in lately in preparation, so as long as the bike doesn't break (knock on wood) somehow, I should be fine.

Please consider donating to the cause -- if you don't want to click on the link, then find the Walk & Roll official page, find the Walk & Roll North Shore (Skokie, Ill.), then you can find my team, the Whammy Ka-Blammies, and find me (Andy)...(I just don't want to post my last name here...paranoia and all).

Thanks for listening...and, amidst all the biking prep, I've done some housework and yardwork, and I promise to have photos and updates very soon!