Flooded!

For regular readers wondering what happened to the Blog, here’s the answer.  Life intervened in the form of floods.  Since August, we’ve been immersed in the 2016 election news flood.  For good or ill, thank heavens, it’s over.

We also had a flood in our basement.  Funny story.  We’ve had four floods in 16 years.  That’s right.  One about every four years.  A hole in the wall – a miniscule hole – caused two floods.  We fixed that.  A washing machine – not the same washer – caused the other two floods.  The first washer was a total loss.  We managed to salvage this one.

But as I looked around our basement chaos, with piles of tile and carpet turning moldy, I said to Jim, “Hey, opportunity!”  He immediately agreed.

We went through everything.  Probably 20 years’ worth of stuff.  I won’t bore you with the number of trips to Goodwill, Salvation Army, and the dump.  We moved everything out of the basement – and by everything, I mean it all went except for the furnace – and hired a company to come in and polish our concrete.

It looks nice considering it’s a basement.  The floor is pockmarked with visible imperfections – cracks, holes, bumps, and indentations – but it’s easy to clean.  If we flood again, it will be easier to manage.

So that’s my story and my excuse for a four month absence.  I’ve been busy.  Along the way, I was a NaNoWriMo winner (for the non-aficionado that’s National Novel Writing Month during which one writes 50,000 words with rights to purchase a T-shirt), finished extreme fall clean-up in the garden, and tried to figure out what 2017 would look like.

So what will 2017 look like for the Blog?  Hard to say.  Maybe more musings and less gardening.  I considered trashing the NG-Blues and starting over, different title, different, slant.  But then decided: life is like a garden.  I guess I can talk about all sorts of weeds and flowers right here.

My goal for 2017?  Two Blogs a month.

One…

Still Blue

I planned to write about harvesting garlic this week. Then I saw that a number of my Blogger friends had the same idea. In fact, if you want a how-to, head on out to Old World Garden Farms for information including a video. What you’ll find here is probably more like ‘how-not-to.’

I did talk to my master gardener friend, Linda Hoffman, who gave me a cheat-sheet on garlic harvesting. I read it once, then put it away – meaning I lost it. I did remember to cut off the flowers, which look like little bulbous growths on the top of the stem. Here they are in the burn pile. Linda did say I could use them for cooking but I ran out of time before I could do the research on how-to.

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I remembered reading that the tops had to die back 50 percent before getting the garlic up. And Linda reminded me to lift the garlic instead of trying to pull it out. As you can see, I planted a life-time supply of garlic.

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So today was the day. I got out my trusty fork and found that to lift the garlic, I had to lift half the soil in the garden, still muddy from all the rain. A lot of work – and thanks to husband Jim for his help!

But then my memory failed me. I knew I was supposed to hang the garlic someplace dark, dry, and not too hot. But did I clean it first? Cut the roots off? What? The garlic in the produce department at the store is always clean and dry, no roots. So I opted to cut the roots off. Once again, Jim to the rescue. I hosed while he cut, leaving me with a wheelbarrow full of roots and mud. Where to put it?

Perspective is everything! I considered it compost for next year’s garlic crop and dumped the whole wheelbarrow on the bed. What’s still growing there is horseradish, which I also am unsure of how to harvest – another story for another day!

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But where to hang the garlic? Had to be out of the sun, cool, relatively dry. The basement? Too smelly. The kitchen? Really too smelly!! Ah yes, Jim’s workshop.

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So there it hangs with a fan on to keep it dry, out of the sun. Hoping that it won’t get too hot in the next few days.

Now. How to store it?

Damped Off!

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Damping-off – or sudden seedling death due to some variety of fungal problems – attacked my seeds when I first tried to grow them in 2004. And even with some how-to advice, here I am again, as you can see!

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We have the seeds on heat pads in the heated garage. After Jim lost all his broccoli seedlings, which we though was due to soil temperature, I used a soil thermometer to take soil temp every morning. Then I sprayed my seedlings with warm water mist. Oops.

Last night, I attended a class at the Miami (Kansas) County Extension Office on seed starting. I learned a great many things that I didn’t know before, the main one being NOT to mist the seedlings after they sprout. That makes them too wet and can cause damping-off.

Among the bits I didn’t know before was to water the seedlings with a narrow stream of water to prevent overwatering. Lenora (my Master Gardener friend) suggested using chamomile tea for watering, and I found the same advice online.

The online gurus also suggested that I “bake” the seed starting mix in the oven or microwave before using it to make sure the mixture is sterile. Last night, we learned NOT to do that because of the smell. Learning from someone who has years of trial and error experience, along with years of success, is such a plus!

I also learned how to figure out if a packet of seeds is still viable. Now this may be old hat to some folks, but for me, it’s all new information. This is nothing like going to your local big box store and buying a couple flats of annuals and a tomato plant or two!

In a way, it’s easier to know nothing. Let’s me relax and be as wide-eyed and “sponge-like” as I can be. Meanwhile, I’ll be starting seeds all over again.