Since August, the garden actually turned out better with me being gone much of the summer helping a friend with geting his place in Hermiston updated and cleaned up in the hopes of getting it sold. The tomatoes were the most interesting. We purchased some tomato starts from HomeDepot as insurance in case our tomato starts from seeds didn't take. Of course, one cannot go by the little tags on the plants as to what they actually are, variety wise. Anyway, we purchased several pots, what we thought were a couple cherry tomatoes and four or five larger tomato starts.
In the mean time, we bought some packets of seeds and placed them in flats of soil and kept them inside close to our south facing patio sliding doors. We kept these moist and they sprouted quicker than anticipated. While the temps outside was much cooler, we nursed these sprouts along, seperating them out into larger pots. Of course, the plants we purchased from HomeDepot were much further along. Eventually, the temps outside warmed up and we planted the purchased tomato starts in the garden first. I constructed a couple hoop tents out of PVC pipe and placed them over the purchased tomato sets. These hoop tents made a huge difference. The purchased tomatos established rapidly. Our starts from seeds were marginal but were ready to be transfered to the garden. I put out over twenty some seed-starts thinking less than a third would survive. I placed the hoop tents over the transfered seed-starts since the purchased starts responded so well.
We put other usual veggies in the garden... zuccini, beets, green beans, carrots, pumpkin, squash corn and onions. I did my best in keeping up with the weeds, however; due to going to Hermiston four days a week helping our friend out, sometimes the weeds got ahead of me. ( smile ) I have a drip watering system which functioned flawlessly this year. Anyway, the garden really responded very well considing my more than frequent absents. ( smile )
Back to the interesting tomato saga. Turns out the purchased tomato starts from HomeDepot were actually four or five "cherry" tomato starts and two larger tomato starts, not the other way around. Moral here is... DO NOT TRUST HomeDepot plant start labeling! There's always some clown or idiot that thinks switching labels is horrendously funny. Our seed-starts have been totally successful two years in a row, so we will not be purchasing any more starts from HomeDepot.
All of our tomato plants went totally balistic! I was not able to thin out the seed-starts and so ALL of the plants remained in the garden... and did they produce! We took off over 350# of large tomatoes, largely from our own starts from seeds. Most of which were either canned or frozen, with about 50# given away. Sharon canned about 39 pints of large tomatoes and several quart jars when she ran out of the pints. She also did a neat trick with the cherry tomatoes. She placed them on flat cookie sheets and put in the big freezer. Once frozen solid, she placed them in one gallon freezer bags. What a totally neat and simple idea! We've actually used more of the frozen cherry tomatoes in our soups and stews than the canned tomatoes so far. Wow! Those little tomatoes are "packed" with flavor! They are also great just to pop a few in your mouth for a flavor boost experience! ( chuckling ) Needless to say, cherry tomatoes are definately included in a big way for next season.
One other interesting aspect of the tomatoes growing pretty much totally unattended... the vines grew over one another creating dense vine cover with many many pockets of tomatoes that ripened much earlier than those with less vine cover or in the open. With the unusually warmer weather much later in the year, my last harvest of tomatoes occurred on November 2nd. I had been placing a couple large tarps over the tomatoes beginning the first of October. There must have been at least 60# of green tomatoes that didn't make the deep frosting temps after November 2nd. Sad to see. Anyway, we had plenty. ( smile ) My observation of the tomatoe vines growing over one another, I believe the dense vine cover actually protected the tomatoes from temperature extremes. Maybe not, however; those tomatoes under the dense vines actually did interestingly better.
Besides the tomatos, we took off 176# zuccini, 60# beets, 40# acorn squash, 15-20 small sweet pumpkins, 15# green beans, 30+# cherry tomatoes and 5# Walla Walla sweet onions. Our corn did not do as well this year as last. However, that that we did harvest was wonderfully sweet and yummy. So, our garden, even given the neglect, produced quite well and has dramatically reduced our grocery bill for yet another year. ( smile )
With that, I will close this segment out for 2015 and continue with the January 2016 segment. Sharon and I are so very very thankful and blessed for what we have and to those that have so generously contributed towards our happiness and well being here. It truly saddens our hearts that circumstances of life prevents us from sharing or expressing our thankfullness and gratitude towards the generosity. However, it is unfortunate that there are individuals who's sole purpose in life is to do their utmost to tear loving hearts apart. And so it goes, the devil's deciples succeed in their quest. It's all part of growing up.
May 2016 bring you and yours wonderment and joy. ( smile )
The garden has been coming along pretty good this year. I don't believe it is as good as last year's garden, but it is producing. Our biggest concern are our tomatoes. We planted many more tomato plants this year because we ran out of canned tomatoes this winter. However, the warm dry windy weather has taken a toll on our tomato plants. I'm not sure we will get a crop off before the temps begin to drop. This morning (8-16-15) was 40.4 degrees. That's only eight degrees to freezing! Anyway, the Acorn squash and Sweet Pumpkins are coming along nicely. We have a bumper crop of beets and Sharon has canned 21 pints of beets so far. I was so conservative on the canned beets from last year that we ended up having 26 pints left over. ( smile ) Needless to say, I'll be consuming MORE pickled beets this year. ( smile ) The string beans, carrots and corn are continuing to progress nicly. I'm considering expanding the garden for next year, not to increase crops, but rather to give tomatoes and squashes more room to expand. Right now, some plots are pretty crowded.
The foam R/C airplane building had to take a back seat to all the other summer time activities. I've just been too busy to get a good construction program going. However, I've had a lot of enjoyment flying my Soaring R/C motorized glider around the property. I purchased a couple of Mobius ActionCam video cameras and velcroed them to the glider. Great fun! My sons Mike and Robert paid us a visit a few months ago and it was comical to view them hidding behind each other when I did a few close low level fly-bys. ( chuckling ) It was a wonderful visit.
Progress on the motor-home reconditioning has been coming along pretty good. I have totally resealed the top which was a pretty big task. I purposely took it out of its machine shed storage during the tail end of the rains this year. This was to discover where all the leaks were to be found. Of course, I found several. It had a pretty bad leak above the windshield which was caused by leaking clearence lights around the top of the windshield. These were pretty easy to correct. Both heat pump air conditioners leaked so those had to be disconnected and removed for resealing. The other leaks were around both skylights, one over the shower and one over the hallway between the kitchen and bedroom. These skylights required total removal because water was being retained between the glasses. There is an inner glass and then an outer glass. They are not "glass" per se, but rather plastic domes.
After the roof reseal was complete, it was time to reconcentrate effort of ridding all traces of "mouse" enviroments. This motor-home had been stored in a machine shed for nearly fifteen years. Needless to say, the mice found it a great place to live. The first initial cleaning I did during last winter only took care of the surface traces of mouse living. Tearing componants apart to get to the deeper traces was left for this summer. To make a long story short, I've managed to get rid of and clean most ALL mouse evidence and the motor-home is looking and smelling FAR better than when I started. I still have a heating duct tube that goes below the floor to remove and replace. This will involve taking the carpet and pad up and sawing a hole in the hallway flooring. Not a fun job, but has to be done to fix the mouse chewed and pooped heating duct. Not sure I'll get all systems resolved this year, but the only system not done yet is the LP gas system and house generator. Once all these are done, then a complete engine oil servicing will make the motor-home pretty much road worthy. But, not this year. ( smile )
The other project I'm involved with this year is helping a friend get his property in good condition for sale. He and his wife moved to KY last year. He came back and is getting their home here ready to put on the market. This has involved totally redoing the kitchen floor with new tile, kitchen cabinets refinishing and two window replacements, one in the kitchen and one in a bedroom. He engineered two closets in two other rooms to qualify them as actual bedrooms. He has a three car garage (which I helped him build years ago) that needs to be cleaned out as well as a huge three door 40x60' shop building that is full of stuff that needs to be gone through and cleaned. He also has many items outside the buildings that require cleaning and getting rid of. It's a HUGE project to say the least. I'm glad I can be of some help to him because it more than one person can do by themselves. We'll eventually get it done. He has to if he is going to get it sold. I was thinking cleaning out my mobile-home before it sold was a huge task. ( chuckling ) It couldn't possibly compare to his task!
Health wise, we have been doing ok. However, Sharon was diagnosed with onset of Parkinsons. Doctor stated that her's being later in life as a good thing as the progression is slow. The medications have made a huge difference. She is able to do things that she couldn't even think of last year. She was really down until she finally went to see what was causing her issues. Anyway, she is back to her happy self again. ( smile ) Of course, the progression will continue, but she has many more years ahead of her to enjoy our little piece of heaven here on our eight acres. ( smile )
Here's hoping your summer is a good one this year.
The foam airplane building has been progressing nicely. The first FoamCub has been flying nicely after rebuilding. I managed to get a second airplane build before Spring sprung. It is a motorized glider called FliteTest Simple Soarer. Fun plane to fly. The last two years, I've always wanted a glider to fly above the hills surrounding the house here. Fun glider to fly. I have in the works a glider made of foam that I am designing which has a 117.5" wing span. It should be interesting to see how this project pans out.
For the garden, I constructed two hoop tents with 1/2" pvc pipe. The first one was a mere brain fart I had been thinking about during the Winter. Went to HomeDepot and purchased all the pipe, fittings and plastic sheeting. The brain-fart turned out better than expected, so I made a jig for the hoops and built a second one. These hoop tents are 8' long by 41" wide, the exact size of each of my garden plots. Now to test them out. ( smile )
My rhubarb plants that I transplanted from Pendleton did not survive the move to Athena. Last week, I ordered 24 Victoria Red rhubarb plants, via mail. They arrived in good condition and now have them resting after the shipping ordeal. Hopefully, out of 24 plants, a few will survive. I gotta have my rhubarb!! ( smiling )
The only other news, Sharon succefully made her first batch of homemade wine. Her mash was apples,raisins flavored with a little cinnamon. It brewed for over a month. Not as long as it should, but long enough to give us some idea how the process works. Her oldest son makes his own wine, so he mentored her along. Now I'm anxious to try some different flavors too. ( smile )
That's about it for now. Time to get going as I have lots of weedeating to do here on our place and in Hermiston on a friends house while they are away. Yeah, I know... as if I didn't have enough to do.
It appears winter vacation has ended for another year. The grass in the pasture and around the house is insisting on pushing its way into my consciousness and laziness. The early arrival of Spring will require some careful juggling of plant dates this year. We had such a good year last year from our garden that we are anxious to get another one started. Sharon's father upgraded the windows in his house and gave us one really nice big aluminum framed window that I can use for a starter hot bed. We are actually still taking carrots out of our garden from last year. They are starting to root out, but they are still very crisp and tasty. We canned, froze and dehydrated veggies last year and we are still enjoying everything except tomatoes. We went through the tomatoes pretty quickly and wow, were they wonderful! We canned the tomatoes last year. This year we will plant twice as many tomatoes as we did last year.
Over the winter months, I decided to return to my R/C airplane hobby. Since moving to Athena, I threatened many times to take all my old R/C radio gear to Goodwill as it was old and outdated. Procrastination kept me from actually going through with it. I was cruising the internet to see how the R/C hobby had changed over the last 20 or so years. I discovered that I could actually upgrade my old radio gear to the new 2.4ghz frequencies and VERY cheaply too. So, I ordered the upgrade RF module for the transmitter and a new receiver and did the actual modification myself, all for less than $50. And, it works great!!
Seeings the radio gear was still usable, I decided to try my hand at building airplanes out of "foam". I found a site on the internet called "flighttest.com" who make free plans available for their foam airplanes. I really liked the looks of one called the "FoamCub" which one of their users designed and built. It is constructed from "foam poster board" which can be purchased from the DollarTree store for a dollar per 20"x30" sheet. WalMart sells their 20"x30" Elmer brand poster board for a little more money, but it is twice as heavy, weight wise. It's far better poster board and I use it in some of my airplane construction where stiffer material is require.
Over the last month or so, I've construced two foam airplanes. One is the electic powered "FoamCub and the second a foam glider. I've flown and crashed the FoamCub twice and the foam glider once. The FoamCub required a totally new fuselage from the second crash. I guess I'm a tad rusty in my flying ability. ( chuckling ) When time allows, I'll post my two new creations along with my other R/C interest on my R/C Interests link on the main page.
I sincerely hope you all had a great holiday season and looking forward to the new Spring dawning. ( smile )