Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vertical gardening, indoor gardening, TED Talks,transplanting herbs, snail mitigation, the internet is a dangerous thing

Vertical gardening.  Doing it.  We have a beautiful alcove-y space right  in front of two picture windows  in our kitchen.  The windows have  lovely southern exposure.... Sun all day!   You would think that this would be  a great place for the table but its not. The kitchen door opens  right into it and,  with the table and chairs there, it makes for a cramped feel and bruised knees   coming into the house.  I had already moved most of the large houseplants into that area for the winter but I still wasn't satisfied.  It was a waste of perfectly good sun and space so I did the most logical thing and   installed 4, self watering,   vertical  garden boxes on the sills.   On last week's waxing moon in Taurus, I seeded chives,chamomile, lettuce, basil (lots of basil), mint,parsley (and for jimmy) some feverfew.  Twenty plants in all. Some of which I plan on switching out at a later date.  This is just the beginning of my vertical indoor garden.   Eventually  The 3x5 space will be an indoor wall of edible  vegetation, supported by natural sunlight.  In the  mean time  I have checked everyday since planting to see if we have sprout. 
We have a few more of the vertical boxes to go out on the  deck/veranda this summer.  I was snuffling around at goodwill  a couple of weeks ago and found  a couple of the 'as seen on tv'  tomato hangers   for $2 each.  For $2, I can experiment with them.  The marketing for these things is over the top, but real gardeners have given them mixed reviews.  Expectations are low.
 I saw a photo on google images where someone had taken a shoe rack, hung it on a wall outside and filled the pockets with soil.  They had large, healthy, vegetables  growing out of it.  The internet is a dangerous thing.  A space challenged gardener in  New Jersey can post a picture of  what they did on their 3x3  balcony and someone in Seattle can see it and say... 'That's a great idea, I'm gonna do that too'.  And then there is the TED Talks.   After watching the one on oxygenating houseplants  I ,slowly, have been   collecting  houseplants  that are very good  for the indoor environment.  I perceive this as  important,  since we folk in Western WA spend pretty much 8 months of every year with the doors and windows closed up tight to keep out the damp and cold.
We have about 6 weeks to go before  we  start our nursery in the basement.  Jimmy and I sat in front of the fire last week making lists and diagrams of what we were going to plant and where.  There is an element of uncertainty  in our plans because we have to have our widow-maker driveway  redone and it runs right between   our best garden plots.  Right now it looks like we might lose the  herb garden in the front.  So, part of the plan is.... where to put the  'new' herb garden.   We  brought many of our beloved herbs with us from the old place and I will have to apologise  as I dig them up and transplant them yet again.  We have a bed in the back that  cannot be snail mitigated because of its location.  The rosemary, thyme,sage and tarragon  should do just fine there, as snails have no interest in them. Gardening in the puget sound is often an exercise in compromise.  The land here is rich and fertile but it has a mind of its own. Work against it and failure is inevitable. Work with it and  the land  will yield great rewards. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

I found the 70's in my fireplace, 1970's sandstone fireplace, groovy dude, foxy lady

I found the 70's in my fireplace!  I'll start from the beginning.  Our fireplace is  one of those 'groovy' one wall of  sandstone things that every house in the 70's had.  Its huge and inefficient.   There is a ducting  system that is inside the fireplace and has a  blower attached to it.  See that black box to the right in the photo below?  That's the blower. The ancient blower was broken when we bought the place.   
Now.... In true Frankie and Jimmy style....what started out as a simple  fireplace cleaning , turned into a major  project.  Once I got all the ash out of the fireplace  (it wasn't completely clean when we moved in) I saw the metal duct on the bottom , under the rack.  I called Jimmy to inspect the oddity  and we determined that the design was cool  and should be preserved .  So, We pulled the whole thing apart to clean and repair it.  The duct came out first and under that I found the pristine, unblackened beer pull tab.  When we pulled off the black box we found a metal comb.  Jimmy said  'oh look  some kind of metal comb!'  I got really excited when I realised what it was.   It was the precursor to  the  1970's afro pick.  I remember this because of my father.  I was hopscotching and cloud counting  behind  Dad one day, when we saw a guy with a huge afro. He had one of these combs  stuck in his hair.   I thought the guy looked 'groovy'.  Huge red afro, skin tight  bell bottom pants and a skin tight, tye dyed  t-shirt.  My father made a snorting noise and commented something to the effect of ' "When you need a dog comb  for your hair....its time for a hair cut!"  That's when I really looked at the guy  AND  his comb and started to giggle.  Probably because my Dad  very seldom drew my attention to  anything  that wasn't immediately relevant to my kid world (bless the man for letting me hop on one foot endlessly and  poke sticks in the dirt and for  not forcing me into an adult world before I was ready)  It went into long term memory.
Jimmy and I now have an image of  'groovy dude' sitting on the mantle in 1975.  Bennie and the Jets is  wafting from the stereo.  Some foxy lady ( in crushed velvet hot pants)  walks over and hands him a  can of beer.  He pops the beer tab and casually tosses it into the fireplace and leans back against the sandstone wall (cuz he's so cool).   He pats his leg in invitation and she sits on his lap.  They start 'making out' ('making out' in the 70's meant kissing, I have no idea what it means now)......  He doesn't notice that his comb has fallen out of his hair and  slipped down the wall  behind the blower box.  The blower box that wouldn't be removed from its position  until it needed to be repaired 38 years later! We imagine that at some point in the evening he searched for his comb and maybe the foxy lady helped him look for it before they gave up and he gave her a ride home in his Chevy Nova.
Groovy Dude is still out there someplace.  He doesn't have any hair left so he doesn't need his comb. His bell bottoms are  long gone.  They went missing after he let one of his  kids wear them to 70's day at school.  He sighs wistfully when he thinks of  crushed- velvet- hot- pants- foxy- lady and then goes out to the garage to  'tinker' with his classic  nova that he only drives on sunny days in the summer.   Sometimes, when he's tinkering, he thinks about that night and wonders "what the hell happened to that comb?"
1970's beer pull tab
1970's afro comb

1970's sandstone  fireplace