Sunday, February 26, 2012

This weekend the focus went back to the backyard. My brother has been working on tilling the mulch into the soil over the week. On this day he was trying to make the final adjustments to the sprinklers. Because the sprinkler system is a few years old and the new efficient sprinklers use less water and have more pressure built up in the system a few things have broken and a few trips to Home Depot for replacement parts had to be made.

The good news it everything seems to be working now. The sprinkler spray patters and distance have all been adjusted.

I selected some resin borders to put in and create the border in the yard. They did not take long to install but each section had four small stakes to hammer in. Once it was in I spread the bark out to fill the area in. I think it turned out pretty good. I had to start taking pictures since it was getting pretty dark.This is the completed area around the pomegranate tree. 

And this is the area around the grapes to where the garden is, waiting for the bark to be spread.

Next up, planting clover seed and getting some plants in the garden.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Presidents Day Weekend Pt 3

Day three of the weekend! Katie and I bought a variety of flower seeds to plant in the front yard planters so we started with that project in the morning. Last year we planted Cosmos and they did great so we added some other flowers this time around.

I mulched and turned the soil in the planters to get them ready for the seeds but Katie also planted some seeds in pots that sit by the front door.

There are a few plants in this planter from last year that are still around or that I think might come back but there are a lot of seeds in there now. This planter was massively dug up in an effort to fix the sprinkler wire to the back yard, it was repaired but the planter has been in pretty bad shape until now. Notice Olive in the window at her usual post.

The other planter has the roses and jasmine plants. Also several of the tulips and daffodils from last year have also come back. I put many seeds in this area as well.

In the afternoon it was time to finish the marmalade, here is the result.

My brother did work in the back yard on the sprinklers, we replaced the existing ones with water conservation ones. They produce larger drops rather than a spray which wastes less water than traditional sprinklers.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidents Day Weekend Pt 2

Next up was Sunday in our weekend adventure. It turned out to be a cold and windy day, I was thankful for the good weather the day before. We turned our attention to indoor projects I had planned. In our weekly CSA box we had gotten a ton of kiwi and they were everywhere, I had also ordered a 10 lb bag of ugly apples and a few weeks ago I had ordered a bag of oranges. I wanted to use this fruit before it spoiled so canning it was.

First up were the apples.

I bought these with the intention of making apple sauce for Katie, it is one of her favorite foods.

First I cored and sliced them.

Then cooked them in and inch of water.

After running them through the food mill they were processed and here you have apple sauce. 10 lbs of apples plus a few more came out to about 4 quarts.

Next it was time to deal with the kiwi. I found a recipe for Kiwi Jam in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. The recipe uses kiwi, pectin, sugar and pineapple juice. We had about twelve kiwi and this used them all. First, I peeled and chopped them.

The ingredients were mixed and cooked then I added the sugar and cooked it more. 

We canned and processed it and now have kiwi jam.

The biggest challenge was the oranges, there is not much you can do with them but eat or juice them and we were not eating fast enough. When looking for something to do with kiwi the thought occurred to me that you can can oranges too, orange marmalade it was to be from the same cookbook as the Kiwi Jam.

Oranges are sliced, I think they look like little suns.

Peels are removed.

The oranges pulp  is chopped and some of the peel along with sliced lemon are mixed and heated to a simmer. 

Next the mixture has to sit in a cool area for 12-18 hours so that puts it into day three of the weekend. Who knew marmalade needed resting time...not me, but the garage is a nice cool area for it to rest.

Presidents Day Weekend Pt 1

Presidents Day weekend presents a wonderful opportunity to get projects done around the house. In the back yard this year we are planning not only a garden but I want to landscape it as well. In the week before the holiday my brother tilled the entire back yard. The little flags are the sprinklers, wouldn't want to run the tiller over those!

Saturday morning Katie went out to check on the work and dig a little to make sure it was done right.

The first delivery was of shredded bark, there is going to be a border along the fence and around the pomegranate tree. 

Inside the border will be bark to help keep the weeds down and keep the water in. The sprinklers along the fence are going to be changed into a drip system so when the sprinklers are running the drip system will be watering the pomegranate, grapes and whatever else gets planted along there. 

Next came the delivery of mulch, a much larger pile than last year.

The first thing Katie did was go for a hike.

Then in true southern California fashion she started making "dirty snowman". 

The work began getting all of the mulch to the backyard, my goal was to finish before the sun went down.

Katie worked hard helping at the beginning, pushing and pulling the wagon.

She also helped Uncle dump the wagon and make sure it was empty.

She tried very hard to help shovel as well,  next year she will be a pro at this.

By the afternoon much of the yard was covered. We were trying for three inches of mulch where the garden is going and one inch on the rest. There will be corn planted in this far end of the yard which will expand the garden this year.

Later in the evening we were finally getting the pile down, Katie desperately wanted to help and we were racing sunset at this point so she started shoveling more.

So close to being done! I am glad to say that we did finish and were all exhausted by the time the sun went down.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It is that time of year again...

The garden is underway. There had been a major lack of winter this year so a few weeks ago my brother planted the first round of seeds, kale, broccoli and some herbs. Then recently Katie helped plant the next round.

The first round are getting pretty big.

Here are the ones Katie planted, just starting to sprout.

We have  moved the plant shelving in the garage this year with the mild weather, so far it is working out good. We will soon be working on the backyard getting the ground ready for the garden and attempting to landscape the rest of the backyard.