GNOIF’s First Thanksgiving, Or, GNOIF Lacks Historical Accuracy

-A.J.

GNOIF #30 recap — GNOIF’s First Thanksgiving, Or, GNOIF Lacks Historical Accuracy.  (Historically inaccurate games)

Games That Got Played:  Century: Spice Road, Fjords, Fluxx (Python), Guillotine, Star Realms

Games That Didn’t Get Played:  Carcassonne, Castle Panic, Citadels, Gardens of Alhambra, Lost Cities Board Game, Medieval Academy

A quick turnaround from the last GNOIF, the big game this time was Century: Spice Road, which ended in a tie. We also played a long, strangely strategic game of Python Fluxx.

And, as usual, everyone enjoyed the beheadings of Guillotine.

Thanks to everyone who played!

EarthBox 2017 Recap — The Cucumbers And Zucchini

-A.J.

The Marketmore 64 cucumbers had a good year. I think that’s partly because we harvested them more aggressively, and the plants responded by making more, better fruit. (One box, 4 plants. 38.5 pounds of good-looking cucumbers. We elected not to count the weird stuff that grows after the plants are all but done for the year.)

170820 cucumber

The Tromboncino zucchini accidentally got overcrowded. I planted all four plants we wound up with when it should have been two. I thought maybe it could work. Between the extreme heat and the overcrowding things didn’t go well.  3.8 pounds from the whole box. A more typical year would be around 20 pounds. More User Error That Will Not Be Repeated.

170820 zucchini

The plan next year is to try some Fortex (stringless) pole beans and Cranberry beans up the edges of the trellises. We loved the bush beans this year so hopefully the pole beans will be more of a good thing. It’d be nice to find more self-watering containers for that. It’ll be something to potentially shop for this winter.

 

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

EarthBox 2017 Recap — The Peppers And Melons

-A.J.

A recap of the 2017 peppers and melons.

The almost complete list of what we grew this year is here. (Missing from the post is one “Bell” pepper and one “Lilac” pepper). The “grand” total was 238.6 pounds, which is around our average. That total weight doesn’t include anything except for what was grown in the EarthBoxes and excludes the one box of basil.  11 EarthBoxes yielded 238.6 pounds. Calculating the yield and dividing by 45 square feet of growing medium = 21.7 pounds per box or 5.3 pounds per square foot.

2013 Peppers recap here.  2014 Peppers recap here. 2015 Peppers recap here. 2016 Peppers recap here.

 

170820 bell pepper

It was a hot and dry summer, which in theory would be ideal for pepper plants. How did they actually do?

Year Plants Weight Average
2013 10 22.3 2.2
2014 18 31.0 1.7
2015 18 32.5 1.8
2016 18 24.2 1.3
2017 18 25.7 1.4
Total 82 135.7 1.65

As a group they didn’t do all that great, but 1.43 pounds is still within 10% of the average of all years. Also, the entire garden produced more ripe fruit than in past years, so I’m ok with the yield. Here’s how the individual varieties break out:

6 plants, one box, Carmen:  15 pounds, 2.5 pounds per plant.   2.5 pounds per plant is an excellent total for us. Carmens are tasty and they’re easy to clean due to the long straight shape. We committed 1/3 of our total space for peppers to Carmens and it paid off again. Positive reinforcement!

6 plants, one box, King of the North:  5.4 pounds, .9 pounds per plant.   Well, that’s not really exactly fair. One plant got broken off at the base very early one, so the actual yield was closer to 1.1 pounds per plant. That’s well below the usual yield of around 2 pounds per plant, BUT:

One issue that the pepper plants suffered from as a group was a complete lack of support. Usually we put Ultimato cages around each box. This year I decided that wasn’t necessary or helpful.  WRONG! I wound up belatedly adding stakes and trying lots of string around things as the plants all sagged this way and that. End result:  The King of the North produced about half of what they usually do.  Correctable User Error That Will Not Be Repeated.

2 plants, Anaheim:  .4 pounds, .2 pounds per plant.  This total doesn’t feel right. My suspicion is that we miscounted Anaheims as something else, though they were a little buried so I can see the yield being low.

1 “Bell” pepper:   2.1 pounds.  This was mislabeled at the nursery. Still, it produced well, so … ok.

1 “Chocolate” pepper:  1.1 pounds.  We tried this for something different. The yield was a little below average, and the taste was a little strange. We froze these as “Pepper for Chili”, thinking that all of the flavors in a chili will hide the weirdness. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

1 “Jimmy Nardello”:  .6 pounds.  Very nice smokey flavor. I’d like to try these again despite the low yield. I think maybe all the peppers need a little more room next year so that they get a little more sun.

1 “Lilac” pepper:  1.3 pounds.  Like the Chocolate pepper, a bit strange. The yield was fine. Meh.

170912 melon

Minnesota Midget Melons.  4.7 pounds. 4 Plants, 3 of which shocked and died either due to my handling or the fact that there were a couple of pretty cold evenings immediately after transplanting. Despite the warm dry summer the melons ripened late and were mostly bland. I’m glad we tried them and I got that experiment out of my system, but I doubt we’ll be doing them again.

Next post:  The Cucumbers and Zucchini

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

GNOIF: Monsters, Murder, and Mayhem. The Sequel.

-A.J.

GNOIF #29 recap — GNOIF:  Monsters, Murder, and Mayhem. The Sequel.  (Horror/Zombie/Vampire themes)

Games That Got Played:  Dixit, Exploding Kittens, Kill Dr. Lucky (boardgame), Mystery of the Abbey, Ultimate Werewolf

Games That Didn’t Get Played:  Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Dark Gothic, Fluxx (Zombie), Guillotine, King of Tokyo, Last Night on Earth, Mr Jack (boardgame), Seven Dragons, Small World

We started with Dixit and concluded with Ultimate Werewolf. In between we played a marathon game of Mystery of the Abbey. Or, I should say “they” played a marathon game — I knew better than to get involved. If a big group is committed and focused then Mystery of the Abbey can go on for quite some time.

The players enjoyed Dixit — it’s an “interpretation” game, in this case it’s pictures, but the active player has more control over the results than in a game like Apples to Apples.

Thanks to everyone who played!

Container Garden Update — October 1, 2017

-A.J.

The last harvest of summer veg. It’s mostly Siletz tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, Carmen peppers, and Anaheim peppers:

171001 harvest

We also have a big pile of basil to pick through for the “good stuff”:

171001 basil

The newly empty EarthBoxes have been planted with Shallots, Leeks, and Garlic. The romaine in the foreground got a little bit of a head start. All of the alliums are covered with bird netting to keep out the squirrels:

171001 earthboxes

Full circle.

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

 

Container Garden Update — September 17, 2017

-A.J.

It’s been a busy ten days. Everything decided to ripen at more or less the same time. Altogether it’s been almost 80 pounds of mostly tomatoes and peppers. And melons(!)

Starting on Friday, September 8 (Tomatoes: Old German, Purple Cherokee, Oregon Spring, Siletz, and Black Krim.  The big peppers are Carmen, the little bells are King of the North, there are also a couple of Jimmy Nardellos and a mis-labeled-when-we-bought-it regular bell pepper.  The beans are french filet beans from one of the whiskey barrels):

170908 harvest Friday

Tuesday, September 12 (L-R, top to bottom:  Oregon Spring, Marketmore 76 cucumbers, Black Krim, Roma, Purple Cherokee, Filet Beans that just keep coming, Old German, Minnesota Midget Melons):

170912 harvest Tuesday

The smaller of the two melons was the first to ripen. The others still on the vines are the size of the bigger one. Here’s a close-up of the melons:

170912 melon close up

The little melon at dinner:

170912 melon

I’m pleased that we got *something* with the melons. The melons that didn’t survive the transplant and cool early season weather were replaced by a Siletz tomato plant. We’re going to get quite a few Siletz tomatoes to go with the 5-7 pounds of melons from the lone surviving melon plant.

Onward to Saturday, September 16. It’s around 35 pounds of stuff. The left top box contains Carmen peppers. Middle left is mostly Roma, bottom left is mostly Old German. The top right box is a collection of assorted pepers. The bottom right box contains the mis-labeled-when-we-bought-them bell peppers, more Carmens, and King of the North.:

170916 Harvest Saturday

Even after all that, there are still more Romas. I’m guessing there may be 10-15 pounds hanging around:

170916 roma

As I write this, the wind is picking up. It’s supposed to be cool and rainy later today through Tuesday. We’ll see how many “jumpers” we get with the wind.

The melons are about done. But they’re ripening, so “done” is ok:

170916 melon

The basil will need to be harvested in the next few days. We been harvesting aggressively all summer and the plants seem to like it that way. That will be the new strategy in future years. Basically, instead of just managing the very tops and flowers we’ve been cutting a full node below the tops. It’s resulted in better product, and more of it:

170916 basil

Finally, a picture of the salad table. We’re getting our first fall peas now. We’ll remove the shade cloth either today or very soon — we’re still getting days in the 70’s and one of the arugula plants decided to bolt. Better safe than sorry with the shade cloth. The trick will be reattaching it as neatly in the spring — or, remembering which way it goes back together:

170916 salad table

 

We’ll also make a point to aggressively harvest the salad table in the spring. It’s hard not to “wait” and hope the stuff gets bigger, but the plants almost always respond by going to seed.

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

GNOIF: GNOIF Is Working For A Living

-A.J.

GNOIF #28 recap — GNOIF:  GNOIF Is Working For A Living (Industry/ Worker Placement themes)

Games That Got Played:  Biotix, Circus Flohcati, Terraforming Mars.

Games That Didn’t Get Played:  We really only offered the three games. Everyone was looking forward to Terraforming Mars, so that’s what we played.

The small crowd  had fun late late late into the night. I think I wound up making finger sandwiches for the group sometime around 11pm.

In Terraforming Mars you play as a corporation that is working to make the conditions on Mars habitable for humans. Players receive cards each turn that represent actions, events, or building projects. You can do almost anything from bombarding Mars with asteroids, to building domed or underground cities, to encouraging forests or microbes or predators or pets. It seems even on Mars, people like their pets.

I like it for a lot of reasons — It scales well to different numbers of players. There are interesting decisions to make but not so many that the game bogs down. The artwork is good. The cards carry through on the theme extremely well. It’s a very highly regarded game on BoardGameGeek, and it’s easy to see why.

Thanks to everyone who played!

Container Garden Update — September 4, 2017

-A.J.

Despite the dry summer, the tomatoes, as a group, are late:

(L-R) Roma, Old German, Black Krim

(L-R) Roma, Old German, Black Krim

A closeup, looking down on the Romas:

170904 Roma

The Wednesday harvest. Mostly Oregon Spring. On the top right are Black Krim, bottom right are Cherokee Purple:

170904 harvest

Many of the Carmens will likely get harvested this week:

170904 carmen

For the Minnesota Midget melons it’s a race between ripening and the “funk” taking over:

170904 melon

The Trombonico didn’t do well this year. I get the feeling that bugs were attacking the fruits just for the moisture. It was that dry here. This week we chopped out all but the greenest growth with the hopes of getting fruit in the next few weeks:

170904 zucchini

And today we transplanted most of the winter veg (Arugula, Dill, Spinach, Mache, Chard, Winter Cress, Winter Density Romaine, Joi Choy, and Cilantro):

170904 winter veg 2

Some of the Romaine, Arugula, Joy Choi, and Bright Lights Chard went into the recently vacated Tomatillo EarthBox. The Tomatillos are now roasted, buzzed up, and frozen for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.

170904 romaine, joi choy

Most of the rest went into the salad table:

170904 salad table

Everything is still a little floppy after the transplant. I’m guessing it all perks up by the end of the day today.

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — August 20, 2017

-A.J.

Fall is approaching. There are lots of tomatoes but they’d better hurry up!

The Romas. To be fair, we harvested the 8 ripest fruits last night, so these are all leaning green:

170820 roma

This is going to be the biggest Black Krim we’ve ever seen:

170820 black krim

This is our first year with the Old German variety. This one is close to ready, it’s supposed to get some amount of red to go with all that orange:

Continue reading Container Garden Update — August 20, 2017

Container Garden Update — August 13, 2017

-A.J.

It finally rained last night after fifty-five days of no rain. Today was cool and drizzly, but it was a good day to get out and do some heavy pruning on the tomato plants. The harvest, including ripe Oregon Spring, Roma, and Black Krim tomatoes, tomatillos, and cucumbers. The green tomatoes for our pet store guy:

170813 harvest

An overview before the pruning:

170813 overview before

After pruning:

170813 overview after

Tomato alley:

170813 tomato alley

We harvested about 1/3 of the basil a couple of days ago. The plan is to harvest about half of what’s left tomorrow. In previous years we’ve waited too long and the basil got sort of bitter. We’re not going to make that mistake this year:

170813 basil

The Carmen Peppers are having a good year. We didn’t cage them and now they’re all threatening to flop over. We had to insert tomato stakes and run twine around everything to prevent disaster:

170813 carmen

Tomatillos:

170813 tomatillo

The seedlings got too much water and not enough sunlight. Some did ok, but we’re having to start over in many of the pots. Even without the shade cloth some of them are looking pretty leggy, so shortly after this picture was taken I moved them to a sunnier spot:

170813 seedlings

The Minnesota Midget melon plant has… melons!  They’re bigger than baseballs, but smaller than softballs. Hopefully they’ll ripen before the frost gets to them:

170813 melon

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.