Saturday, May 29, 2010


I still don't know if the Earthbox will give us more fruit than a regular pot will, but they sure as heck are producing greenery. This is our green zebra plant in a regular pot. It's a respectable 14". Maybe closer to 16" if you include the s-curve at its base. 

This is our green zebra tomato plant on the left side of the Earthbox going on 3'.  There are no flowers yet, but look at the size of the plant! I sure hope I get to eat some tomatoes this year.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Balcony Homestead

I've been talking about if for weeks and now I've finally done it. I've started a gardening blog at ....not that I won't still talk about my garden here. So here's a run-down of my blogs because, really, there are starting to be an excessive amount of them and I like to keep it straight in my head.

Lehcar Knits: That's this one. The original one. I lie to myself and tell myself that it is semi-private. Anyone can find it if they know the address or are linked to it, but it isn't searchable by Google. It used to be a knitting blog, but now I use it as a place to blog with my friends. I talk about knitting, family, politics and my garden. Somewhat obsessively talk about my garden, actually. I don't actually picture this changing with the new blog. There are something like 20 of you who read this, plus the occasional visitor who is linked in. I like that. This is the blog I feel free to say hey buddy, fu.....sorry mom and dad.

Dyeabolical Yarns: The business one. I'm marginally more professional there and as a result no one reads it except my friends and family. I love you guys.

Balcony Homestead: Public, searchable, does not have my name or location attached, it isn't attached to my business or this blog, less of a journal-type blog and more of an information blog. I feel like I have something valuable to contribute to the conversation about container and balcony gardening. I share a lot of that conversation here, but I wanted to put it in a place where I can connect with others. I am going to talk about my own garden but I have started to write posts about generic topics, like how to keep water off your neighbor's head and how to deal with squirrels at altitude. I'll be having guest bloggers in the future if this project gets off the ground. I've already said 'dammit' there twice, so I may have to wash my blog-mouth out with soap.

Monday, May 17, 2010

They're done!

Scott's birthday socks are finished with just hours to spare! These will be on his desk when he wakes up.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Remember when I said the radishes had a week to grow or I was pulling them up and abandoning radishes altogether? I said that 2 weeks ago. Good thing I didn't get around to pulling them up. Look what Scott spotted yesterday...

 Those be radishes. 

These are possibly the best radishes I've ever tasted. They are really different than store-bought radishes. They are tender and a little sweet. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

As the heel turns...

I have been thinking about knitting all day, but thinking is not doing. I can't recall what I did this morning. I can't recall it at all. I assume this probably means that I did not have coffee nor did I dye yarn. I don't think I did any paperwork....what was I doing?

Well, whatever I was doing I stopped doing it and hung out with my pal Ann. After that I had an allergy and an asthma event (those would be two separate events--hello rainy season) and then came home and did the math for my tech editing class really quick before the benedryl kicked in. If I had known I was going to need trigonometry in knitting then I would have paid more attention in college.

This evening I spent knitting like a crazy woman when I wasn't taking mid-row naps (see benedryl) I thought I would be to the toes by now, but I'm not. I'm through the heel turn of both socks and the gusset of one sock. I can live with it. I won't be giving them to Scott until tomorrow night or Saturday morning, which gives me another day to knit.

Oh wait! I remember what I did this morning. I installed the scanner and scanned the first page of a rediscovered family album. This is me circa 1977. I didn't sit like a lady then, either.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thunderstorms are nature's way of saying 'you'd better get up and knit on these socks'

I'm awake! I'm awake! No need to throw hail at my roof, Mother Nature.

Since I'm awake, here's what I got finished on the socks yesterday. Notice I am not to the heel on either one of them. That's because yesterday was nap day. I did the bare minimum of work--checked email, called a supplier for some of my bases and had a complicated conversation that went like this:

You billed me 15-54s instead of 5-54 and 10-80. I think that might be a mistake. The second thing I was calling about is that the 80 is labeled 80-base1 and should be 80-base 2. I think the 10-80base2 might be 10-54base/80base1, b/c the 80 smells like 54....oh good, so I'm not the only one who thinks 54 smells like that.

I suppose the fact that the above conversation makes sense means that I'm officially a resident of crazy wool town. The rest of the day I spent taking spontaneous and unauthorized naps, except for the 2 hours where all my allergy, antibiotic, cough medicine and asthma bong all started working. I spent those 2 hours running around Webster Groves digging through a small but fantastic garage sale. I'd show you a picture of my haul (canning pot! pasta pot! egg basket! 1940s/1950s linen napkins! super nice kitchen shears! Wooden afghan hooks!) but it's raining like cats and dogs and its all in my car.

I started cleaning my oven while I wrote the above paragraph. The smell from yesterdays burned pizza is still pretty awful. I heated up some vinegar on the lowest setting in the oven on the principle that it would get that rank smell out of the air. It sort of worked.

Ahem, where was I? Oh yeah.

Time for coffeeeeee.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Birthday Socks

I'm making Scott some socks for his birthday on Wednesday. I'm not sure I'll make it before then.

This is what they looked like Sunday night:

This is what they looked like last night:

I don't think I'm going to make it. Luckily he won't be home until Friday so I have a few extra days. If I don't finish them it is because a) I've been falling asleep every time I get comfortable. Just like everyone else in this town, I have a sinus infection plus whatever is going around; or b) I ripped them out because the gauge feels too loose and my stitches are uneven. My favorite pair of sock needles for stockinette socks have gone missing and I'm trying to adjust to this new set of 5" needles and I'm having trouble getting a rhythm.

Fuchsia Flowers

Our fuchsia hanging basket has really taken off the last few weeks.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I've been reading

Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk
Book: Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant

I am a sucker for books that chronicle the authors thoughts throughout an unusual project, like reading the Encyclopedia Britannica or eating outside one's comfort zone for a year.

The first several months of Living Oprah were entertaining, but the last few months I had to slog through. I'm sure that experience mimics what the author felt on her slog through her last few months of Living Oprah. 

It is an interesting and quick read. The author is trying to derive some meaning from her experience for herself, but does pretty well not pushing an agenda on readers. It reads simply as a non-preachy re-telling of her year. Thank you! I hate the preachy gotta-learn-a-lesson memoirs that tell me what I ought to think.

I really loved the month-end wrap ups. The charts of money and time spent satisfied the voyeur in me.

Next up on the "to read" shelf are some books we picked up from Puddin'Head Books and a book Ann recommended to me months ago.

The 19th Wife: A NovelThe 19th Wife: A Novel I have owned this novel for months now but it is just now coming up on my Kindle queue. I think I'll like it. What's not to like about a gay kid, his dog and a cult of murderous polygamists? I have no idea what's in store for me in this book. Is it a comedy (doubtful)? A tragedy (likely)? A tale of redemption? A mystery? A life-changer? A heart-ripper? I really don't know, but the first few chapters are really good.

Real Food Has Curves: How to Get Off Processed Food, Lose Weight, and Love What You EatReal Food Has Curves: How To Get Off Processed Food, Lose Weight and Love What You Eat I'm not going to lie. I bought this book for aesthetic reasons. I liked the cover, the pages were a made from a pleasing paper (not too thin, not too thick), with wide margins to write in, a good font size and it was written about a topic that I am at least marginally interested in. I know I'll like it. I have never bought a book from Pudd'nhead Books that I haven't liked. The owner does a great job picking out her stock.

Cookin' with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star PriceCookin' with Coolio. I've skimmed through it and it's pretty good. His philosophy is that you can eat well when you're broke. It's written in Coolio/gangsta-speak which is pretty damned entertaining. Do you remember when Coolio guest starred as a nerd on The Nanny? Shaka-zulu!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Paying for themselves

I planted some of my extra tomato seedlings yesterday because I was bored and didn't want to work. Did I need more tomato plants? NO. This brings us up to 7 tomato plants on our balcony, only 2 of which are made for small space gardening. If they get too large we may need to give some away. I predict some mid-season transplanting, as in transplanting it from our balcony in to someone's yard.

If we don't have tomato success this year then I will be very cranky and give away my tomato seeds. Of the 3 years we have been growing tomatoes we have only been able to harvest less than a dozen tomatoes. The squirrels get the rest or sometimes disease.

We have an earthbox for 2 tomato plants and bought a container for another plant that I figure will last about 3 years.  The other tomato containers are old and faded, so they are working to earn their new homes next year. All together the tomatoes need to grow $50 or more worth of tomatoes to make it worth it. Last year heirloom tomatoes were selling for $3-4 a pound. We have a mixture of heirloom and fancy hybrids, so figure $3 a pound. That would be 16.6 pounds of tomatoes or 2.38 pounds per plant. I am hopeful.

Today we plant the peppers. 6 sweet (bell) peppers. This will be our 3rd or 4th try with bell peppers. If they don't pay for themselves this year (both seeds and 1/3rd dirt and container) then we aren't doing them again, either. I hope they do well because yellow and orange peppers are $2 for a single pepper and that's just bloody ridiculous.

The lettuce has gone wild. We have gotten 5 salad servings, which has paid for the seeds. If I get 10 more salads out of it this year, 15 next year and 15 the year after then the lettuce will have paid for itself, the container and the dirt. I figure by that point the container and the dirt will need to be replaced. I hope not, but it is a plastic container. They don't tend to last long.

I planted the basil in cute containers, which is a mistake. I don't want cute basil. I want big basil so we won't starve to death this winter when we run out of pesto. I need more dirt to repot the basil and all the dirt is in the car, 3 flights of stairs and half a block away. So for now the basil will be cute.

Speaking of cute things, I can't stop buying small cute plants in small cute containers. I don't know what's happened to me. Is this a biological clock thing that suddenly I want small cute things?

My scallions sprouted and are now turning yellow. I'm pretty sure that isn't supposed to happen. This is my first time growing scallions, so I'll try again as soon as my new seed order gets here.

My radishes have greens, but no attached radishes. The package says radishes grow in 28 days. It's been 60 days and no sign of anything other than some limp looking leaves. This is the 4th time I have sown radishes and carrots and come away with vegetable tops with no vegetables. They have a week, maybe less, before I lose patience and rip them up.

The herbs don't need to earn their keep monetarily. They just need to make me happy and they always do.

The swiss chard needs to just make me happy to look at, as well, and so far it isn't happening. C'mon swiss chard, I need you to perk up, get big and quit putting up yellow leaves.

The flowers just need to make me happy and they are not, with the exception of some heirloom marigolds. The wallflowers and snapdragons smell wonderful but are all bent over and sad looking. The pansies aren't growing at all. I think I killed the woolflowers but just don't know it yet. The wildflowers haven't bloomed yet, so I can't speak to those. The hanging basket with the cascading pink flowers is making me about $6.50 happy, but not $12.95 happy which is what it cost.

The succulents and cacti are Scott's and they make him happy, so they mostly stay, although I have been making an argument to put a gigantic sad looking kalanchoe out of its misery.