June, 2012

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Growth spurt

Friday, June 29th, 2012

After coming home from being gone for a week, we thought the changes in the garden would be significant, but we weren’t prepared for this.

The beans have gone crazy, nearly filling their hoop houses. The cucumbers have tons and blooms and the starts of fruits.

The watermelon plants have expanded to the point that you can’t even see the circles in Squashville where they are growing. (It’s hard to remember how it looked just 8 weeks ago.)

And we were shocked to come home to watermelons the size of grapefruits. It won’t be long until we have some to eat.

The tomatoes are continuing to thrive and put out new fruits. Most aren’t ready to eat yet, but we did have our first cherry tomato. Yum.

And Brad harvested the shallots.

Perhaps most surprising of all, the tatsoi and lettuce are still going strong and haven’t gotten bitter.

Everything seems happy in the 100+ degree heat. And on the weather front (ha ha), the monsoons have started.


Oh, deer

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Sunday night, our lovely little herd of deer nearly wiped out one circle of squash. So Brad has upgraded Squashville accordingly.

To market, we go

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Our lettuce and tatsoi are really thriving, producing more than we can eat. So we decided it was finally time to make an appearance at the local farmers’ market, as growers this time. (We’ve been working with the market here to help with marketing and try to increase the emphasis on fresh, local produce, not much in demand in our community. We never thought we’d sell there, but what better way to help the market grow.)

Saturday morning, we harvested. Then we began the process of triple-washing, spinning, and packing the greens. We’ve had lots of experience doing this before, but never in our house with our produce!

When it was all done, we had 15 bags of lettuce and 5 bags of tatsoi, plus a few extra bags for ourselves. Amazingly, we still only harvested about half the bed. We sold most of it and gave the rest to friends.

Our lettuce is really delicious, despite the fact that it’s been over 100 here (unusually hot). Most other folks here say their lettuce has gone bitter. I attribute our success to the fact that our lettuce bed is in the afternoon shade (and covered and gets a lot of water).

The rest of the garden is doing well. Brad harvested almost 9 pounds of hardneck garlic, and the shallots will be ready soon. The tomatoes are thriving, and we have little pea-sized watermelons. I love summer!


Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

So the insulation is in.

The material for this is Icynene, apparently not made of soy as I’d thought, but rather from castor oil. It’s “low emission” and creates a tighter air seal than most anything else.

It’s water-based, and they spray it in with a tube. It comes out at 140 degrees, which made a hot day even hotter. (The truck the guys came in has a trailer with a big air conditioner in the back. Brad thought it was for the comfort of the installers, but it turned out it was actually for the material.)

It sprays on pretty thin and then quickly expands. Kind of like Crazy Foam. Once dry, it has the consistency of very dry angel food cake.

On the walls that are double (or will be), they foamed in about 5 inches, which is less space than we have, so no trimming was needed. On the walls that will get adobe though, they needed to trim off the extra. Here’s what that looked like.

When they were all done, they left three giant bags of trimmings. We’ve been brainstorming what we might do with those. :)

Alien life

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

We get some weird bugs here. Shortly after I took this picture, this thing flew. It looked like a small bird.

Ice cream across the border

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Brad and I have been to Mexico many times. Strangely, though, we haven’t made a trip south of the border since we moved here. Too busy? Too close? I’m not sure, but this week, we finally made a short visit to Agua Prieta (AP). It’s a very easy trip over, and we went between errands in Douglas and Bisbee.

Agua Prieta is just across from Douglas, AZ where we grocery shop, go to the farmers market, etc. It’s a much bigger town than Douglas and has many more stores, restaurants, and facilities. A lot of the architecture is quite nice, and it reminds me of “colonial” cities in other countries. Lots of beautiful churches. It is also very clean.

It’s not a tourist town, and we didn’t seem to attract any particular interest of folks. There was no one asking us for money or anything else.

We went, walked around for a bit, had lunch, and then found an ice cream parlor! (Ice cream is something that is sorely missing in Douglas or anywhere else around here.) We’re looking forward to going back, especially since we’ve learned that there is a baseball team there.

On the way back, the trip through the checkpoint was pretty quick. The US Border officials pretty much hassled everyone, making TSA look genuinely friendly, but I guess that’s the world we live in. For now, anyway.

So for any of you planning to visit, bring your passport, and we’ll take a little trip to AP.

The thrill of dry wall dust in the air

Monday, June 4th, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update on construction, and we’ve been busy.

Since finishing the stucco, we’ve concentrated on the inside of the house. We completed finishing the vigas, got the door frames in, and redesigned the fireplace setup. Most significantly, electrical and (rough) plumbing are now pretty much done. We have working lights and switches and wires everywhere. Lots of decisions to make about what kind of lights, what goes where, and which switch controls which thing. Lots of pulling wire.

All this is is in preparation for having the foam insulation sprayed in. (As you might remember, the ceiling and double-framed walls will have insulation blown in to make the house super-insulated against both hot and cold weather.) We have an appointment to have that done the week after next.

And so where does dry wall come in, you ask? Well, before foaming, we are dry walling in the window wells so that they can be foamed in tight.

They look much more finished and very nice this way.

After the foam, the next steps will be to start framing in some interior details like closets (yay!), a window bench seat, and the kitchen bar. Fun stuff.

The first tomatoes

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

My poor babies

Friday, June 1st, 2012

I went out to the garden this morning to find that all the leaves on the new baby garbanzo plants had been completely munched. Not sure if it was the quail or something else like insects. (I’d made cute little scarecrows out of old CDs, but they haven’t deterred the quail.)

So today, Brad built the first of our mini-hoophouses. This idea came from our friend Edwin. Here is a marvelous post on how to make these as well as some of the challenges of farming here. Because this design is round and low to the ground, it is relatively wind-resistant, an important consideration here.

Oh, and yes, this is another bed. We harvested the first round of garlic and replanted the bed with garbanzos.

In the meantime, the tomatoes are thriving, and there is more lettuce and tat soi than we can eat. It is lush and delicious.