Black From the Pot: Driving the AlCan in Winter

We headed out of Dillon, Montana in the morning and made our way up I-15 through Butte and Helena, both pretty mountain towns.  Someday, I’d really enjoy staying and exploring when the weather is more conducive to doing so.  Lots of mountainous winter driving with hills and turns until we dropped down from the hills towards Great Falls, then straight north on flat land towards Shelby and the border.  Mostly flat landJust before you get to Shelby is a small canyon that the highway dips down into before climbing back up which the Marias River flows through.  It wasn’t horrible when we went through but if the weather had been icy, may have been some trouble.

Last glimpse of blue skies, heading into the storm

As we continued north, we could see the cold front to our west that had been threatening.  It felt to me like we were racing against some really bad weather, which we were.  We made some last calls to family before we entered Alberta, Canada and garnered international rates, then went through customs.  I made a point to be sure the guards had a look at Moonlight’s papers this time.  I spent good money to make certain she had them, dammit!  LOOK AT THEM!  Which they did and we began our 1,900 mile trek across Canada.

It was starting to get dark as we got underway again but didn’t start looking for a place to stop until around midnight.  We saw the town of Leduc, which had some motels listed on Yelp but it seemed too far out of our way to consider stopping.  I found one that had been rated with 5 stars just outside of Edmonton, so we went there.  We were tired and agreed to the $100 deposit, since we didn’t have enough on our credit card to use it, then went to our room.

Moonlight did NOT approve

It stank like ancient chain smoker with stains and burns on every surface, but we took showers and tried to sleep.  After an hour and a half nap, we both woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep so we packed up, and got our deposit back and left.  What a nasty place.

Cigarette burns

We drove on for another few hours and then stopped in the parking lot of a large convenience store/truck stop in Whitecourt, where we fell asleep for a few hours in our seats.  We woke up, I went inside to use the bathroom and bought hot coffee while Robert walked Moonlight, and we traded places so Robert could sleep a little while I drove.  It was pre-dawn and the traffic was heavy with many pickups and semis heading out with us to the oil and gas fields, which got lighter as the day got brighter and we made our way towards Dawson Creek, the “official” start of the Alaska Highway.  Along the way, we passed over Pink Mountain, the nefarious bane of our journey south.  In the light of day, it almost seemed like a smallish hill.  But we know better, don’t we.  Yes.  We drove on and stopped at Sasquatch Crossing where we saw a truck with it’s blinkers on and a couple of people walking back towards the lodge.  They were actually from Indian Valley, close to Anchorage, and their truck had broken down.  I hope they made it to where they were headed to down in the Lower 48, the opposite direction we were headed.  If they had been interested in going back, we could have offered them a ride.

Slipping between two storm systems

We spent the night at the new Motel 6 in Fort Nelson, where there was even a little, snowy dog area in a corner of the lot for Moonlight to potty in.  It was comfortable, and we slept so very, very well and soundly that night.

Much better!

We sure did need it.  The only trouble we had was the light switch for the bathroom had been connected to the fridge, so we had to pour out the milk I had been keeping for our coffee.  It was almost gone by that point but still somewhat annoying.  Which brings us to the subject of what we’d been eating on this trip.  Well, tamales from Texas, of course!  Back in Arizona, we bought one of those plug in coolers for our food.  We had milk, eggs, cheese, hotdogs and 5 dozen frozen tamales that my father in law had bought us before we left Houston.

Plug-in cooler

The tamales stayed frozen, for the most part, since the cooler was well packed, but as we traveled on, the other things got used up and so they started to thaw after we left Colorado.  During one of our stops in Idaho for fuel, I saw a little portable oven that is apparently popular amongst truckers, that gets plugged into your 12-volt cigarette lighter like the cooler, and bought it along with some aluminum pan-type inserts.

RoadPro 12-volt oven

I tried it out with some hotdogs first.  After about 20 minutes of driving, we started to smell the hotdogs so I picked the cooker up off the floorboard by my feet and opened it up in my lap.  Hot water from condensation in my lap!  But then it was cold water.  Yuck.  But we had hot hotdogs! Then we had hot tamales.  And hot tamales.  And hot tamales.  We had tamales for three days.

Hot food while you drive

It was a very long day, preceded by a very long night, preceded by a string of very long days, but since we no longer had our travel trailer to sleep or eat in, we were compelled to keep going.  That takes coffee, and lots of it.  Whether in the form of those bottles of Starbuck’s chilled mochas bought at the store or steaming hot, black from the pot at a lonely lodge along the highway, caffeine is the fuel that keeps the weary traveler alert and content enough to keep driving on.  Coffee and cinnamon rolls.

There are two places we stopped at where they make their cinnamon rolls fresh every day, and they aren’t too far from each other.  Plus, they’re both really good! The first we came to was the Tetsa River Lodge, where they have a great little ad in The Milepost for the “Cinnamon Bun Centre of the Galactic Cluster”.  The coffee was amazing as well, and we had a nice chat about Trump with the owner.  The next place we stopped at was at Double G, where we got more coffee and more cinnamon rolls!  Yay!  Robert took photographs of the old lights above the fuel island, he’d been wanting to since we’d passed by on our way down, so I’m glad he had the opportunity to do so.

Robert taking pictures before going in and finding fresh cinnamon rolls and coffee!

Backstory:  In 2010, when Robert and I were traveling up from Alabama so we could live together as man and wife, finally… we stopped at the Double G for breakfast one morning.  We enjoyed a wonderfully delish meal but the proprietor was super cranky so we ever afterwards called him the surly cook. He wasn’t there this time, but a super friendly younger guy was there with the coffee and rolls.  Apparently, the old guy is the owner and spends the winters down south now.  I’d love to go back through in the summer while he is there just to see if his attitude is any better.

Folded Mountain

Another long day and driving and driving.  Moonlight is starting not to like going for rides in the truck.  Even if she gets to look out the window and bark at the locals.

Wood Bison

We spend the night in Teslin at the Yukon Motel.  It’s older but clean and quiet, so we wake up in the morning ready for strong coffee and a last, great push towards home.

We make stops to fill up the truck with diesel at every major town along our way, because you just don’t know who’s going to be open this time of year.  It’s the 23rd of December and there might be folks out visiting family.  So, stops in Whitehorse, Haines Junction and Destruction Bay before we make our way up towards the Alaska-Canada Border, where the guard on duty on the U.S. side gives Moonlight a biscuit and talks about bushwhacking on his off days to a local lake in the area.  It’s remote forest, what else is he gonna do when he’s not working?  We totally get it.

The sun is going down as we cross into Alaska and is full dark by the time we get to Tok.  I briefly consider going into the RV campground to retrieve the stash I hid there but there’s no way I’d be able to with all the snow.  We continue on, keeping ourselves going with music and conversation, already planning our next adventure.  We know we’re going to do this again and we outline some of the changes we’ll make and ways to do things better.  We pass familiar landmarks in the darkness, a faint green glow to the north, not enough to really call it auroras.  We pull into our driveway at 1:22 am on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve.

What a trip!

Life Begins at Conceptualization

I’ve been kicking around the idea of making a coloring book for grownups, or mostly grownups, featuring a character named Granny Greenjeans with a beautiful garden that features Cannabis cultivation. I would like it to double as a guide to uses of the plant as well as the major breeds/strains. I’m pretty damn excited about this project! I’ll let you know how it’s going in a few weeks.

The Stag of the World

“Summer Deer” by artist RLoN Wang

The Stag of the World has mighty trees for antlers,

His hooves step lightly among the stars.

His black velvet nose points to the future while his tail flicks at the past.

In his right eye is the rising sun, also setting in his left.

His fur catches our lamenting like dew.

He knows, in time, balance will come.

Night will fall.

A bird will call.

Peace to all.

 

Goodbye, Trailer. Hello, Winter

I need to write about the last month before it all fades away into the black hole I tend to get in my memory.

We had driven from Houston to San Antonio, where we stayed for three days with my best friend from high school, Anne Marie, and her husband, Harry.  They had a buddy who was interested in buying our travel trailer but who ultimately had to decline due to the quickly approaching Christmas holiday.  Understandable.  We still came out ahead since we were able to enjoy a very nice and unhurried visit with our friends.  But we had to get going to stay on schedule, so left and made our way towards El Paso, across the bottom of New Mexico and into Arizona.

A view out the truck window at Juarez from the U. S. side

Neither Robert nor I had ever seen saguaro cactus in real life…they are a trip, with their “hands” in the air, big as trees.  We would love to come back and take pictures with them, but since we were actually in a bit of a hurry by then to sell the trailer and they don’t grow to the north of Phoenix, where Prescott is located, we had to pass them by.  Unfortunately for Moonlight, another thing that grows down there is grass that produces caltrops-like burrs that stabbed and stuck to her paws.  Every time we stopped for her to go potty, she stepped on a few, even on the sidewalks.  She was most unhappy.

Put your hands in the air, like you just don’t care!

Robert had made an advertisement for the trailer on Craigslist while we were still in Texas, so he started getting texts and calls about it a couple of days before we even arrived at our friend Sue’s house.

Robert in our very clean trailer, ready to show to prospective buyers.

We wound up selling it to a young guy with a little family who wanted to park it out on his lake property.  Cool beans!  We lined up a uhaul rental trailer for our return trip back to Alaska and managed to transfer our entire household’s belongings into the compact 4×6 space and the back of the excursion.  Robert packed it in such a way that it would be easy(-er) to offload some furniture I wanted to give to my eldest daughter, as we would be stopping by again to see her, the grandkids, and my son in Grand Junction.

The Electric Igloo going off with her new family. I hope they love her as much as we did.

While staying with Sue and her husband, we also were able to meet with Joe and Bobby, also from Anchorage, and have a nice dinner out, all together.  Being involved with the Chugach Gem and Mineral Society has brought us some wonderful friends.  Good times, indeed.  Sue took us to a really cool junk shop near her house, where I picked up a sad-looking trumpet for $25.  Not entirely certain why or what I’m going to do with it but I used to play in middle school, so I bought it.

Of course we HAD to stop here!

After saying goodbye to Sue, we headed on to Durango, Colorado where we stayed a very pleasant night with our friend Rose, who used to be an antique dealer and whose lovely home is full of interesting curiosities and brimming with beautiful artifacts.  Just the kind of place that gets a couple of collector’s such as ourselves’ hearts beating faster, and in such gorgeous surroundings!  We both are anxious to return to the southwest area of Colorado someday soon.

Instead of taking the more direct route of Highway 550 north from Durango to Montrose, Colorado, we opted to stay out of danger from avalanches and a lack of guardrails and go up and around into Utah through Moab.  What an interesting place.

Decent into the Moab area

There were orange sandstone formations, including an obligatory arch, waves and ripples and humps of stone.  Another place we intend to investigate more thoroughly in the future, by jeep, if at all possible.

I don’t know what this is but there’s a hole at the bottom

 

There’s a hole in this one, too

A short visit with Josh and his girlfriend over dinner, then on to secure a hotel room before meeting with Katie to give her a little round antique table and hope chest that had belonged to my Grandmother DeRuiter.  I would have liked to have brought them up to Alaska with us but there are already two chests in this house.  Besides, Katie needs more room for hope right now, so I lovingly turned the heirlooms over to her.  The next day we were scheduled to leave on our trip north, but little Erabella had been sick that night so Katie and the kids stayed home and we visited a little more.  We left Grand Junction around noon and took I-70 west towards Salt Lake City, Utah.

The entire corridor from Provo through SLC to Ogden must have used to have been so incredibly beautiful, set in between two mighty and picturesque rows of mountain ranges as it is, but now is so built up with ugly beige buildings, businesses and subdivisions that it’s hard to see the appeal to warrant such sprawl.  A thin but noticeable brown cloud of pollution hung over it all.  We both really dislike having to go through mile after mile of intense traffic, but once you get through it into Idaho, a deep sigh has usually dispelled the aversion.

The ‘burbs of Salt Lake City, Utah

We had radio to listen to and cell service, however, and we learned that there was a winter storm barreling down from the northwest which we were on course to intercept unless we tried to race it and get into Montana that night.  We debated whether to chance spending the night in Pocatello, Idaho or try to get over the passes before the storm got worse.  Being the navigator at that point, I suggested we try slipping over before the worst of the storm hit the passes, and Robert agreed.  So we drove that night until we got to Dillon, Montana where we got a room and slept in a bit that next morning.

The last leg of our epic road trip was nigh; Montana through Canada to Anchorage.  In three days in the dead of winter.

Texas

We’re about to leave Texas today, after having spent the last month here, mostly camped out in my in-law’s driveway.  We would come inside every morning to enjoy coffee and breakfast while still having a getaway for privacy or just to be out of their hair.  There were friends to visit and family to catch up with, places to reminisce over and I have to admit I’ve been able to sooth my yen for good BBQ.  We’ve enjoyed some very beautiful and sunny weather along with famously torrential rains and thunderstorms.  Now, it’s actually getting COLD at night!  So naturally, it’s time to head back up north, right?  Our adventure is coming to a close, due to some obligations I have to take care of in Alaska.  Plus, we’re running out of money.  For now.

Mack the horse getting his hooves trimmed by Tommy the farrier.

 

Grapefruit tree at the In-Law’s

The travel trailer has kept us mostly dry, mostly warm and was an excellent place to lay our heads at night or have a quick potty break and a snack.  Our very own hidey-hole that could be pulled along behind the truck and available to us at any time we desired to stop.  This entire trip, and this trailer in particular, has been an experiment to see if we could do it or even if we even LIKE having an RV.  We do.  We want to do this again.  Unfortunately, it won’t be with this particular trailer.

Beautiful Texas pine trees remind me of Art Deco paintings.

After having such a misadventure with the icy mountain in Canada, we won’t be towing the Electric Igloo back to Alaska with us, not in January!  So, we’re opting to sell her and just rent a little U-Haul trailer for our stuff and go back that way.  10,000 pounds of toyhauler is too much weight that could pull us all down an icy hill with it if things go sideways.  Plus, the wear on Babe the Expedition has been a non issue so far but why push it when there’s the very real chance we could find ourselves in -40 (and more) cold temps?  Better to let the home on wheels go, and live to RV another day, another way.  At least Robert and I are still friends and loves after living in such close quarters for the last three months or so.  We can do it.

Today, we’ll continue on through El Paso, Texas and then across New Mexico.  Tomorrow we should be in Phoenix, Arizona and up to see our friend Sue in Prescott, where we have an add up on Craigslist for the trailer.  After visiting a few days and repacking our belongings, we’ll meander our way up into Colorado to see the kids and grandkids before traversing Canada, to home.  Somewhere between here and the border we’ll need to find a vet so Moonlight can get her health certificate paperwork updated for a smooth crossing in and out of Canada.

But we’re not done yet.  More adventure awaits, we can all bet on that!

Sunrise at Seabrook Sailing Club house

Boobies

“Today is the first day I’ve gone braless in public without the security of a sweater or my wool shirt, mainly because it’s just too hot here in Colorado to wear them.  I did feel self conscious because I’m not very small chested but I was assured by my daughter and husband that I would be okay and that I didn’t look terrible. And I was okay.  At $20-50 a pop, I think I’ll quit spending money trying different styles and just let it go.”

I wrote the above on November 8th while in Grand Junction, Colorado.  I had been feeling some painful “hot spots” in my right breast and thought I should probably just go without wearing one any more.  I spent most of the trip from Anchorage to Michigan with no bra and was very comfortable, especially with my cozy sweater over all for a layer of camouflage.  Since wearing a bra again, my ladies were NOT happy.  I would guess that if a man were made to wear a jock strap for hours on end, day after day, his balls would probably feel about the same.  Or not.  I don’t have balls so I don’t know.

So, it’s been a few more weeks and everything is settling down and I feel pretty comfortable.  The pain is gone and as far as I can tell, nobody really gives a damn what my boobs are doing under my shirt.  I felt so self conscious about it, I still do, but it’s getting easier.  I think mostly it was other women who I was concerned I’d see unkind looks from but so far I haven’t seen anything.  Not one look or sidelong glance.  I’m glad, too!   I know what I would have to say if I ever did have a disapproving look directed at me and that would be a faux sad sigh and “Doctor’s orders.”  Which isn’t entirely true, but neither is it untrue.  I’ve had some scary incidences which resulted in a biopsy, and more recently having to “stay after” a mammogram and have an ultrasound done.  I asked the doc if there was anything I could do to keep my breasts healthy, specifically regarding bras because they seem to bother me, and she said that if I’m comfortable, I could consider not wearing one.  Among other things, of course.  But, you know.  I’m cleared for public flopping.  Just one more piece for my eccentricity puzzle.

Ramble On

After spending almost two weeks in Colorado, we woke up this morning with chilled toes and cold noses, the rest of us being ensconced within our layers of flannel and wool.  It had been warm during the days, well into the 60’s, and only recently dropping into the 30’s at night, but last night hovered close to freezing temps.  Time to move on to our next destination, Texas.

While spending time with family here on the Western Slope we had also taken a weekend trip to my old stomping grounds of Colorado Springs, on the Front Range.  Here we spent time with my good friend, Jennifer and her boyfriend, Taylor, and drove around like tourists looking for yard sales in Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.  Robert enjoyed the many fine examples of neon workmanship announcing the presence of dining rooms and motels, and some not so fine remains of what had been beautiful signs that had been allowed to rust and decay.  I had some issues finding my way around town since some landmarks have been replaced by new growth, but by the end of our stay I was getting my bearings again.

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Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep on the way to Colorado Springs on Hwy 50

Our trip had another purpose, and that was for us to reconnaissance a possible suitable route through the mountains.  The last time we had come to Grand Junction to visit, we took Highway 50 over Monarch Pass on our way to Texas.  This is a daunting idea with such a heavy trailer, especially after our experience with the Pink Mountain Debacle.  Long and steep is the approach to the pass, with many curves, and the off side is brutal on brakes.  I used to visit my Dad when he lived near Crestone in the San Luis Valley and I would take a less traveled road which I remembered had more gradual grades and a lower altitude pass, Highway 114.  So we checked it out on our way to the Springs, sans trailer, and it seems to be our path of choice.  We’ll head south through the San Luis Valley and over towards Raton Pass, another area of concern, but after that we’ll be on (mostly/comparatively) flat land.  The caveat being, we need to leave before any precipitation hits those mountain passes, because if it gets snowy and icy, we’ll need to go through Utah and down to Arizona instead.  So far, so good…fingers crossed!

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A view of South Park from Wilkerson Pass on Hwy 24

After our visit, we took a different route going back to Junction, taking Highway 24 through South Park and meeting up with I-70 at Minturn.  Just outside of Minturn is the abandoned mining town of Gilman, where we stopped to take some pics.  I reckon the stream flowing below the mine has got some placer gold in’t.

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Gilman. I’d pan that.

There was another couple also at the pull off, who asked where in Alaska we were from (our license plates are a conversation piece, we’ve found!) and we told them and lo and behold, they were from Alaska originally and just moved down here a couple years ago!  I didn’t get their names but the guy is a two time Iditarod musher.  Yeah, because who else do you meet on a secondary road pull off, but an Alaskan musher?  Sorry, guy.  I wish I had asked yall’s names!

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Mushers gonna mush

Yesterday, we went grocery shopping and sanitized our freshwater tank, today we’ve rinsed and filled the tank with good Colorado water and I’ll be packing up for an early departure in the morning.  We’ve both had such a good time in Colorado, it seems a shame to leave.  We’ve had fun spending time with our little grandchildren and the kids, as well as with friends.  However, the nip in the air is undeniable, and there will be Thanksgiving dinner with Robert’s family in a couple of weeks, so it’s time to ramble on.

Grand Junction Junkin’

Yesterday, Robert and I drove around Grand Junction, Colorado looking around at some of the many late autumn yard sales in town.  We’re really here to visit my older two kids, Katie and Josh and the grandbabies Bella and Bo, Katie’s children.  But while we’re here, we may as well see if we can find some goodies to pick up and sell on ebay.  Robert’s favorite!

One of the things I’d found is an old tea tin from England commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II filled with old buttons.  Inside, there were a couple of tags from a farm in Farnborough, Hampshire, UK.  I’m still researching the tags and wrote an email to the farm, whose name they are stamped with, to see if they know what the tags were used for.  It is now a B&B and perhaps someday we’ll take a trip and stay there a night.

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“Farnborough House, Netley, Hound Rd.”

edit*  I have since found out that these tags were used as dogtags by British soldiers during WWI & II and are made of vulcanized asbestos fibers.  These two aren’t sporting the information normally required to be used by the military, however.  Perhaps they really are someone’s dog’s tags.  A dog named Winnie?image

Anyway, we’re at it again today, having a bit of fun driving around and seeing what treasures we can dig up locally.  Plus lunch with the babes and who knows what after that!

THE DIRT FARMER’S GUIDE TO SOIL GROWING

 

This informal guide is to help anyone who is interested in growing their cannabis, tomatoes or most any other plants in soil.  I will not be going into plant training techniques or lighting requirements, as I only have rudimentary experience with both.  I will be sharing what I have learned from growing vegetables, and that I have applied to growing cannabis.  I’ll also share a couple of recipes for a complete soil that (presumably) doesn’t need added fertilizer.  I am not an expert!

So!  I like to start with a bag of Fox Farms Ocean Forest potting soil.  It’s what I like, you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to.  It’s just what has worked for me, but any decent bag of soil will work.  My only advice is to not get your soil from the grocery store, but from an actual garden center or grow store.  This, because time after time I have gotten a bag of Black Gold from Freddy’s and wound up fighting fungus gnats.  They can be a bitch to get rid of!  They harbor fungus in their tiny guts and the larva eat the tender roots of your seedlings.  Nasty.  Now, I pick up FFOF at the grow store (Far North or Southside Garden Supply) and haven’t seen a gnat yet.  Knock on wood!

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Never fear, the babies in the front row recovered and are now in flower! The funny little bud-plant to the right is a beautiful plant vegging out in my greenhouse these days.

I germinate my seeds or plugs (clones) in smallish pots placed in rectangular trays, perhaps half gallon size, and then transplant into “big girl” sized pots which are at least 3 gallons.  When I do this depends on a couple of factors.  The first one being, “Do I have the space for these large pots?” which is a dance I have to deal with in our small house/museum.  The other is how tall the plant is in relation to the pot.  Ideally, I try to transplant when the plant is twice the height of the pot.  This might run the risk of the plant becoming root bound (roots compacted tightly in the pot) but I’ve not had too much of an issue.  Usually, the roots ARE wound up in the pot a bit, but this helps to keep dirt, etc. in an easy to manage package when pulling the plant out of the old pot and they quickly spread out in the new, roomier pot.

IMG_1432These are the amendments I use to give my plants a little boost of some of the nutrients (nutes) they need to stay healthy.  The Azomite is the most recent addition and has trace minerals, the bone meal was left over from planting peonies (for root growth…how could it hurt?), and the epsom salts and crushed eggshells are from growing tomatoes…magnesium and calcium.

I crush my own eggshells from my own hens, but store-bought eggs will work just fine!  After using the goodies inside the eggs, wash them out with water and place them, open side down, on a paper towel to let them dry for a day.  Then put them in a ziplock freezer bag and crush them with a rolling pin.  Voila!  Easily absorbed calcium for your plants.  I use the thicker freezer bags because otherwise, the shell fragments will cut holes in your bag and you’ll end up with a powdery mess on your counter and rolling pin.

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Crushed, dried eggshells

The pots I use for late vegetative and blooming stages are larger and are at least 3 gallons, made of hard, black plastic and sit on individual round trays to contain water overflow.  There are different grades of plastic, some leach more chemicals into the soil, but for the most part, grow stores all sell the best pots for growing.

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Wash your brand new pot with soap and water, and if you’re reusing old pots, do that PLUS bleach. Rinse well!

As you may have guessed, I do go around to the different stores around town for the things I need.  I get organic soil amendments from Alaska Mill and Feed, soil is usually less expensive at Far North on Boniface, I like getting most pots from there as well but Southside now carries sturdier pots and trays and they’re right down the street from my house.  Plus, they have free compost tea when you bring your $1 jug in for refills.  Hydroponic Jack’s has a great variety of bottled nutes but you have to ask for the price as they don’t have the prices on the bottle/package.  Even Andy’s Ace Hardware has been carrying a limited array of grow supplies, but they’re expensive and can be had at a lower price across the street at Southside.

When you have your soils, amendments, pots and happy, growing plants ready for transplanting, pick a roomy table inside and cover with newspaper to minimize the dirty mess you’re about to create.  And it will be messy!  And you will feel like you just created something amazing when you’re done!  Or, if you’d rather, pick a pretty day outside.

 I start by filling up my pots about 1/3 of the way up.  Then I sprinkle the amendments I wish to use on the surface of the dirt, then mix it well into that dirt at the bottom of the pot.  I do each pot roughly the same way.  The reason I do it this way is so by the time the roots have grown into this enriched soil, the plant is at a point where it’ll require the extra boost of nutrients and minerals, late veg into flowering.

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A bit of soil on the bottom with Epsom salt located at 12 o’clock, eggshells at 3, Azomite at 6 and bone meal at 9 o’clock, roughly.

After everything is mixed in well, I fill the pot about 2/3 up with soil and water it just until the excess is running out of the bottom of the pot.  I don’t want all the goodness to get flushed out right away!

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Root ball

After you’ve got your pot readied with damp soil, use your hands to scoop and dig a hole big enough to set your plant down into.  Damp dirt is more easily packed to form the walls of your hole than dry dirt but try not to tamp it down so hard that the roots have trouble expanding.

When you’re good and ready, take your dirty hands and hold the stem of your plant in one hand while holding the pot in the other, and tip it at a 120 degree angle.  That is, to the side and slightly upside down.  Give the pot some good squeezes while pulling the plant out of the pot and the entire plant and root ball should come sliding out.  As it slides out, follow the momentum of the root ball with your wrist and gently let it swing free or the stem could be injured and be bent.  Or, as the plant starts to come free, tip it back upright and continue freeing the root ball from the pot that way.  As you become more adept at transplanting you’ll develop the technique that works for YOU.

After you have set the plant into the hole, press down on the root ball to give the roots good contact with the soil.  Sometimes you might feel little pops when doing this…it’s some of the roots breaking.  Some might disagree with me but I don’t think this is an issue.  I feel that it helps open up the mass of roots and encourages new growth.  But that’s me.

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Freshly potted pot plant.

Then, fill the pot the rest of the way with soil, pressing lightly so there’s not so much settling of dirt as you water and the plant grows.

As your plants go into the flowering stage and the weeks of bloom, you may wish to explore the many different brands of liquid and powdered fertilizers, nutes and additives that are out there.  There are so many different brands and types that it can be overwhelming, stepping into your friendly neighborhood grow store.  Don’t feel shy about asking the employees there for some direction, or Googling what you need but be sure to look at a few different search results.  I’ve had good results with Happy Frog tomato fertilizer and Iguana Juice along with (free!) compost tea.  And if you don’t want someone else’s compost tea, you can make your own…there are tutorials for that on youtube!  The world is full of different paths and options!

The guideline for fertilizers is NPK, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.  During vegetative growth, you’ll want a fertilizer with more N for lush leaves.  During bloom, you’ll be looking for fertilizers with higher P and K numbers for roots, thick stems and fat flowers.

There are many different recipes for “hot” soil that people have developed so there’s no need to add additional nutes to it.  At all.

 

Andy’s Super Soil

“It a can be a hot mix so let it compost 4 weeks before using.

Mixed with 6-12 bags of dirt: worm castings, granular Azomite, ground oyster or crab shells, guano, fish bone meal, blood meal, dry humic acid, humus, epsom salts, dolomite, kelp, Great White or other beneficials like Robes from Alaska Jacks…it has 37 different beneficial microbes… mix it in the bottom for potted plants or amend your garden soil with it… and don’t use it to fill your potted plants only in the bottom your plants will grow into it without burning.  Add a diluted soil mix to fill the rest of your pot.  All these items should be OMRI listed and you will have a 100% organic garden…. only thing I’ll add all summer is some molasses and Carboload by Advanced nutrients to some waterings to feed the beneficial microbes.”

 

Here is another, from this informative thread: https://www.icmag.com/ic/showthread.php?t=258168

 

3 gal dirt / earth / topsoil / nursery soil (unfertilized)

1.5 gal coir

2.5 gal peat

3 gal aeration (chunky perlite, lava rock, permatil, etc.)

1 gal EWC (earthworm castings)

 

Basic Amendment Recipe:

 

1/2c alfalfa meal

1/2c dry molasses

1c kelp meal

1c blood meal

1c bone meal

1/2c seabird guano

2tbsp Sul-Po-Mg

1/2c azomite

1/3c dolomite

1/3c gypsum

2/3c oyster shell flour

 

1/4 tbsp BioVam

1/4 tbsp BioAg Vam   * I am not familiar with these last two products but I’m sure Google is.

 

I hope this helps in some way if you plan on or are curious about growing in soil.  I enjoy it, it’s very forgiving and I love the therapy of getting my hands dirty.  Good luck!

Thinking the Unthinkable

Right now we have a problem, and I’m trying to stay positive despite it, but losing ground fast.  We had set out on this journey to have an epic adventure, which if you’ve been following us, know we’ve been getting it in spades.  What we have not gotten so much of is that stuff you need to have to buy fuel, food and electricity….money, which we had planned on making by buying fun little things that we could pick up for cheap and sell on ebay and also fit into a flat rate box.  If it fits, it ships, right?  Unfortunately we’ve been finding very large things for cheap, like $50 antique console radios and $40 vintage gas stoves, etc.  Really great stuff that some elbow grease would make beautiful and useful again but would have to be carted around with us for weeks or months until we could bring them to a more marketable city or even bring back with us to Alaska.

I think we’ve done a pretty good job of not being overly extravagant with our eating habits but it continues to be our greatest expense.  I had been careful to pack as much as our fridge and freezer could hold but since coming back into the lower 48, I haven’t been as diligent about keeping the larder stocked.  I find myself in a cycle of running low on supplies, then not replenishing our stocks due to financial concern, to then not having any prime pantry items and winding up going out to eat, resulting in spending twice as much (at least).  So, having identified the issue, I know what I need to do to correct it.  The wolf isn’t at the door but I’ve heard him around 3 am, howling in the neighboring pasture we’re camped out by.

So with these factors weighing down on us, we’re starting to consider selling our abode either before we leave Grand Junction in a couple of weeks or after we get down to Houston where my in-laws live.  I’m confident that our fortunes will change for the better after we get down to Texas, so the question now is, Will it make better sense to keep it to live in even though we can’t get it to the farms and into neighborhoods where our bread and butter lies?  (See Robert’s post all about this very subject here:  http://www.novioljourneys.com/?p=293)  Or should we cut our losses and get a couple thousand dollars from the sale of it and start anew with something smaller?  We truly love and feel comfortable in the Electric Igloo but perhaps we should downsize even further to something more maneuverable and economical to tow.  I think we’ll begin to have a clearer picture of what we ought to do in a few days.

On a happier note, we’ve been spending precious time making memories with our grandchildren, Bella who is 3 1/2, and Bo who is 2.  They are busy and fun, but Grandma and Grandpa know that their own child rearing days are over.  We are exhausted.  But so, so happy.  Relieved to be able to have our own peace and quite afterwards certainly, but happy.  See?  I feel hopeful again already.