Hello SNH’ers, the family has been busy this December. A few things to note: the garden is producing well for our winter items. Lots of lettuce, pickling cucumbers and pak choi are coming in. I also have a good amount of collards, mustard and some swiss chard growing.
We got to bake some really tasty things, like some great gluten free peanut butter cookies and a peach upside down cake.
On the investment side, I am still seeing lots of inflationary effects and have diversified the portfolio to include some income producers like JEPI, QYLD and some stabilizers like SCHD. We are seeing slower growth rates in both the 401k and Roth accounts, typical of the political and business climate right now. I am working to weed out the portfolio from items that haven’t performed and don’t maintain the same outlook when the initial positions were taken.
The winter brought some awful service issues to our home. First, we had to replace a septic pump, then an air conditioning issue hit us up. Lastly, we had to repair an alternator. That really has wiped out a few months of savings, so our new year will see us get back into the black.
Here are some nice things to look at from the last quarter:
Lastly, I have really been enjoying watching David the Good on youtube. I encourage you to check out his videos. They can bring a dose of practicality to an otherwise crazed gardening world.
Since the price of wood is now nearly equal with the cost of sheet metal, I tried my hand at building a metal bed. I should have leveled off the spot a bit better, but it will do. Filling a 12″ bed is a lot more work than a 6″ bed.
We are now getting a few snow peas to nibble on. My experiment with the overwintered tomato plant seems to be working out. The cutting is still green in its planter. If it works, I think I’ll start using the cutting method to get a quicker start on the growing season.
I also installed a rebar panel down the center of the tomato bed to give some decent structure to the tom’s as they get bitter.
The blueberries seem to be happy as well in their permanent bed. They have all been leafing out and growing. I hope to get them to a big enough size that they will produce a crop for me next year. We clipped the flowers on them this year to give them better growth. 6 of them were barely twigs when I picked up for $5 a piece.
We need to get a good watering solution in place. The hand watering starts to become a bit of a burden when you get more than 2 beds.
I spent the weekend building the chicken coup. The ladies are getting too big and need to have some room to roam. Vertical beams are sunken to 18″ with a concrete footer. The max height is 6’6″, but tapers to 6’3″ at the rear. I planned on originally roofing the top, but now think we will just put wire on it for now. If it rains, they will have access to the inside of the shed. This will also help keep the structure around during a hurricane. If I put a roof on it, it might just sail away.
I did not get as far as I wanted to since it is V-day weekend and Mrs. SNH’s birthday weekend. This is always a very busy time of year.
Ok, sorry, had to borrow that from that insurance brand. Really, once we got rid of the tree, we were able to install a fence and keep Cocoa the wonderdog out. She supervised the construction of the fence. The garden area is shaping up for some planting this year.
Mrs. SNH did a great job of clearing out some of the old homeowner’s plantings around the house. This is making way for us to get the back yard in shape. I was planning to chop down the large Pine in the rear, but decided it would be better to talk to a Professional before I take that one on.
If you are planning to do your own tree removal, please check out a few safety videos on felling trees. There are a lot of things that could go wrong. Better to pay a pro if you are in a tight spot and haven’t done it before.
We got a few of the cool season veggies started in some plant pots. We placed them on the roof of the shed that is still standing. This avoids the rather nosey wonderdog from interrupting the young plants. We started with Broccoli, Snow Peas and Romaine lettuce.
Last night was fun too, we ordered 2 Orange trees from backyardcitrustrees.com. I staggered the variety with a Valencia and Navel to give a slightly different flavor and slightly different harvest time. It will take about 3 years before we see the ‘fruits of our labor’ but well worth the free shipping and anticipation of our fresh citrus. The last little bit to round out our trees for the property will likely be an avocado and peach.
Lastly, we decided to relieve the stress of vacuuming up after the cats and dog. We purchased a Shark Robotic Vacuum and put it to work. We named her Mrs. Patmore after the cook in Downton Abbey. I know, pretty unimpressive if you already have one of these doing the chores for you, but it truly is a time saver allowing you to do more productive things.
I do love the fall and miss the days when I could go to the local park in Oregon and grab a nice harvest of apples and walnuts for free. I would then fill the house with the cinnamon infused scent of cockpot apple butter and enjoy a great treat after it had cooked down to a jelly like spread. Here are a few pictures from those fall Oregon days.
Meanwhile in the present, this rainy Florida Saturday yielded a surprise when I went to check on the plants. I cannot believe it is near Thanksgiving and there are still tomatoes producing in one of my garden bins. We kept one of the roma plants when we moved to the new house. It has continued to grow. The Florida weather has held up and the plant now has about 5 tomatoes on it. It would be great to harvest them before Christmas! Other plants that seem to keep on ticking are kale, blackberries (which were once just a small twig) and the Seminole pumpkin which is now about 8 feet long with several flowers on it.
I also have a Moringa tree that we cut down when we first moved in. It is back to a height of about 10’. We cannot kill it! Moringa is widely hailed as a miracle tree for its edible leaves. We may just decide to manage it and if you are a local and want a cutting for your own yard, feel free to contact me. I will gladly propagate for you. Here is a picture after we cut it down in August. I’ll try to get a pic up this weekend of how it has grown.
Lastly, I wanted to report that the first shed is fully removed so we can start building our raised beds for the spring season on this portion of the yard. Cocoa the wonderdog has to be fenced off first, so that project will take me through December to properly section off the yard. I did manage to put up part of field fence during a lunch break, but it cannot compete with the size that we now have available. I will solidify the sketchy back fence by using some 4×4’s with a concrete footer and extend a 4′ high section to where the field fencing is now (just in front of the Moringa tree shown in the picture above. I am still debating about how I would like the gate. I think a nice arbor would make a great entrance. Maybe my ambitions are bigger that my capacity.
If you want to continue to propagate loved plants or specialty varieties, you should try saving some seeds from year to year. In this group of pictures, I take you through the steps of saving some pepper seeds from our tabasco pepper plant.
1) If you’re like me and have built up a tolerance to the capsaicin in your peppers, you might not need to put on some gloves. All others, please put on some gloves.
2) I like to dry my peppers first before pulling the seeds. This way, when you cut off the head, most of them will come out by simply rolling the pepper between your fingers.
3) Put the seeds on a paper towel to remove excess moisture that may still be left on the seeds. Moisture can be an enemy to seed savers by allowing the seeds to mold or even sprout.
4) Count each and every seed you have on your paper towel. Just kidding, please don’t do this.
5) Get a glass jar with a lid that creates a decent seal. Place your seeds inside, but give them some time to dry again.
6) After a few days, place the lid on it and put in a cool, dry and dark location.
7) Plant in the next garden cycle, check your propagation rates. Beware that not all plants come true to seed, but peppers are fairly reliable as long as you don’t have a lot of different varieties growing in the same space.