Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We decided we needed a pantry to clear up some counter and cabinet space in the kitchen. This pantry will be the future home of all foodstuff for the kitchen including cereals, pasta, oils, flour, etc. The kitchen will then have enough cabinet space for all our gadgets and hardware.

We closed off the weird doorway from the dining room to the laundry room and put this pantry in the corner of the laundry room where that doorway used to be. Can you visualize it?

Here are some pics...

I didn't think to take any pics during the process of building the shelves. Oops!

Here it is with the shelves completed and the main walls of the pantry up. One set of shelves is very deep, the other set is kinda shallow.

Here I have the rest of the framing up, with one sheet of drywall installed. Getting those pieces in the middle angled correctly took some time and a couple of wasted 2x4s. But it's perfect now! I'll find a use for those wasted 2x4's, don't you worry. I'm thinking chicken ladder...

My third hand.

Here it is fully drywalled, with our first visitor.

Here it is with the first coat of mud. Have I ever told you how much I hate mudding? No? Well, I hate it with a passion. By the time I get around to the third coat, my patience is gone and I rush through it. Since this is such a small job, I'm hoping I can dig around for some patience and do this thing right.

I won't bore you with anymore photos along the way to blissful pantry-dom. My next pantry post will be of the final product, fully stocked.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Going Gangbusters

As a friend of mine put it, "Those tomatoes are going gangbusters!"

They are indeed. And I'm shocked, because I've been known by many to possess a black thumb. That is, until I got my hands on this book. I've read other gardening books, but man.... I couldn't put this one down! I am a serious gardening dork now.

Oh and by the way, everything in the veggie garden is totally organic. I use no chemical pesticides or commercial fertilizers, because what's the point, right? Might as well just buy it from the store...

Most of the pests are taken care of by the hundreds of lizards that live around here, as well as those cute pest-eating chickens of ours. I used Neem Oil to spray for bugs once, but later I realized the bugs were not enough of a problem to actually spray. Plus, those bugs are quickly devoured by the ladybugs (a major beneficial garden insect). Chicken poop is my fertilizer of choice since it's free and abundant at this point.

Anyhow, here are some pics of my victory garden! Click on any of the pics for a close-up view.

Below is English Thyme growing between rocks in one of my raised beds:

Below is a vigorous Patty Pan Squash plant started from seed:

Close-up of a Patty Pan Squash. They are small and delicious! Check out its interesting shape.

These are rows of Sweet Corn in a raised bed. These were also started from seed:

Pole Beans started from seed as well as transplants, climbing up a trellis that I made out of 1x2s. Notice the tendrils wrapping around the pole, which I am way too mesmerized with. I spend too much time staring at those little rascals.

View of the corn/squash/beans/peppers raised bed. These four plants are great companions, since they all contribute to the growth of one another by providing special nutrients to the soil. My raised beds were made out of broken concrete chunks found around the property and/or found for free on Craigslist.

Integrated Pest Management, a.ka. the Adorable Chickens.

These tomatoes were started from seeds that came from a package of Trader Joe's Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes I had bought for rapid consumption. I just picked a few from the package, squished the tomatoes into the ground and voila! Here's what I got! I do believe cherry tomatoes are the easiest plants to grow and also one of the tastiest. Who doesn't like cherry tomatoes???

View of my tomato/lettuce/radish bed, most started from seed. I have too many different kinds of tomatoes to list...

These are Butterhead Lettuce started from seed. We've been pulling the outer leaves off and they keep producing more for us. I will forever be planting lettuce.

Look closely and you will see a Jersey Giant Asparagus sprouting up. Asparagus plants are perennial and they can last up to 25 years! Preparing an asparagus bed takes some time, but is well worth the effort in the long run.

These are Mary Washington Asparagus ferns. The asparagus you saw above will look like one of these, if it's not picked. It is not recommended to pick any asparagus the first year, in order to establish a good fern/root system. The ferns grow into billowy, 4-foot-tall beauties by the end of the season. Yummy and ornamental!

These are Mammoth Sunflowers. They are almost 2 feet high now, but should reach about 8 feet high, with heads 1 foot in diameter! They will produce seeds for roasting as well as for the chickens to devour.

I hope you enjoyed touring my veggie garden. I just completed a third raised bed (with Anisa's help!) and I will put it into production starting this winter for cool-season crops. In the meantime, I will let the soil settle and build up an earthworm population under a thick bed of chopped macadamia tree leaves.
More updates to follow....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pakistan Mulberry

Check out these finger-sized mulberries from our 3-year-old Pakistan Mulberry tree:

The first year they were a lot sweeter. I'm wondering if I gave the tree too much water this year.... I fertilized once, after the fruit had started to come in, which could've been a mistake I guess. All part of the learning process!

If anyone has any experience with this type of mulberry, let me know how to make the fruit sweeter. I'd appreciate it!

They are still very tasty though. Just not like they were the first year.