Black King Pansy

I figured this flower is pretty enough for its own post.

Black King Pansy

It is called a Black King Pansy.  I bought the seeds at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  This is the first time that I have grown pansies from seeds, and this flower is well worth the effort.

-Joshua

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Wordless Wednesday: Getting Ready For Fall Planting. 

Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Saturday Ramblings: Washer, Raised Bed, Seeds

Repairing the Washing Machine

We have a Kenmore 110 series washer.

Over the last week and a half I have been working at fixing our washing machine.  It came with the house and I believe it to be around 8 years old.  It is a small machine and not very nice, but I hoped to save money by repairing the machine rather than replacing it at this time.

For about a week before the machine broke, it had been acting up.  A couple of times it didn’t drain fully, but I was able to unplug the machine to reset it and cause it to drain.  On the day it stopped working, it seemed to have been trying to drain all night.  Since the washer was full of water, I deduced that the drain pump must be broken.  I attempted to take the whole thing apart, which was rather difficult due to some corrosion on the spanner nut holding the drum in place.  I ended up having to tip the washer on its back and then I was able to easily remove the pump.  There is a plastic piece in the pump that moves water and it had broken off of its mounting.  I ordered a new pump off of Amazon for around $26.

Two days later when the pump arrived, I immediately put it into the washer.  However, this didn’t fix my washer.  In fact, I started to have another problem.  I could hear a whirring sound, but I wasn’t sure where it was coming from.  I had heard a sound when the pump was broken, but that was different because that plastic piece was bouncing around everywhere.  My dad kindly came over to help me take the washer apart the rest of the way.  Removing the spanner nut from the drum was impossible by myself.  There was rust and gunk that caused it to seize up.  I had to hold the drum still while my dad used a hammer and chisel to bang on the nut to loosen it.

Eventually, we found the pump was still attempting to pump even though there was no water in the machine, and it had been unplugged for days.  I ended up realizing that the control card for the washer had failed.  It seems that the integrated pressure switch failed and the control card thought there was water in the washer and was constantly telling the pump to run.  Since the pump was constantly running that is why it broke, so the broken pump was a symptom of the real issue.  My dad found a refurbished control card online for $88 that I ordered.  I had to wait 4 days for the card to arrive, but it fixed my issues.  My parents and in-laws were kind enough to let us use their washing machines for the week and a half we didn’t have one.  It is great to live by family when you have problems with things.

For $114 and several hours of anger and frustration, I was able to fix my washing machine.

While taking apart my washer, I found that it was filthy.  We had been having clothes get black streaks on them while in the washer.  I think they had been getting under the agitator and there was nasty black stuff under the agitator.  Another dirty spot was the outside of the drum.  The drum is the place where you put the clothes in the washer.  That rests inside of an outer drum.  Between those two drums must stay damp on a constant basis because there was mold on the drum.  I cleaned the entire washer really well while I had it apart.

If you have the time and any mechanical abilities, I would recommend at least taking the top off of your washer to see how dirty it is.  You might be suprised at the dirt lurking in your washer.

 

Raised Garden Bed

On Saturday I built my fourth raised garden bed out of cement blocks.  This time I bought the smaller 6x8x16 blocks.  They are 11 cents less per block and a fair bit lighter.  It was easier for me to move them around and made my back hurt much less.  My last bed kind of sagged, but this one was much more level.  Unfortunately, I ended up with some large gaps between the bricks somehow.  I am not happy with how it turned out so I didn’t take any pictures.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

On a better note, my Baker Creek seeds arrived today.  So while I have an ugly garden bed, at least I will have some nice seeds to put into them.

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These are a large portion of the things I plan to plant this year.

Atomic Red Carrots

I bought these merely for the looks.  I think they will be fun to grow, and the reviews say they taste good.  I enjoy growing plants that are outside of the norm, especially when it comes to color.

Nasturtium Dwarf Jewel Mix

My yard needs color in the worst way.  There is so much brown dirt everywhere.  Nasturtiums grow fast and do not need good soil.  As a plus the flowers and leaves are edible.

Tomatillo Purple

Tomatillos make a great addition to hot sauce and salsas.  This year I want to make purple hot sauce and purple salsa.

Bean Red Swan

Last year I grew purple beans and they did very well.  To mix things up I decided to go with red.  The pictures I saw looked more of a dusky pink than red, but I am sure they will look great growing and should make some good pictures.

Wagner blue green tomato

I had to have these after I saw the picture in the catalog.  The color is striking, and I cannot wait to see what they look like.  Bluish tomatoes with bright green flesh will be striking in salads and cut up on my plate.

Squash Desi

I need a squash that I can put in a raised bed.  Since these are bush squash, I am hoping that I will be able to grow them in a raised bed.  I know I won’t be able to get many plants in, but it will at least be something.

Green Copia Tomato

Another tomato bought just for the looks.  I almost rarely grow normal red tomatoes.  I can buy those in the store; I want to grow something more striking and visually interesting.

Black Hungarian Pepper

These were the genesis for the purple salsa idea.  They are supposed to be a mild pepper like a jalapeno.  I am looking forward to the purple salsa.  I wonder if I will be able to find anybody who will eat it outside of Lynn and I.

Tom Thumb Garden Pea

These are small plants that I can put in pots around my yard.  I think I can also grow them in the cement blocks that make up my raised beds.  These are an experiment to see where I can get them to grow well.

I still have a few packs of seeds on the way.  Now I have to control myself and be patient for a bit longer before planting all of them.  I don’t want to be too early and have nothing grow.

-Joshua

Hibiscus Cookies

One of the things I want to do in my yard is grow mostly edible plants.  I still want to have some flowers and plants that will look nice in addition to being edible.  This year I planted Thai Red Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, it is a type of hibiscus plant with edible flowers.  The part I planned to use is the calyces, that is the part of the flower that the petals come out of.  The calyces are often used in teas like Red Zinger, and provided a tart citrus taste.

hibiscus plant

To harvest the calyces I wait until the the petals have dried, pull the petals out, and then take off the calyces.  Then I put the calyces on a paper towel until they are fully dried out.

I didn’t want to plant to many of them the first year since I didn’t know how many flowers I would get, so I ended up not planting enough.  I needed something to use the flowers I had and found this cookie recipe.

To make the hibiscus tea that was used in the cookies and frosting, I put the dried calyces in some cheese cloth and put them in boiling water.

flowers in cheesecloth

The tea was a dark red color and was very tart since I allowed it to brew for quite some time.

hibiscus tea

The cookies didn’t take on the tart taste of the hibiscus tea, but did have a hint of the taste.  The frosting ended up a nice pink color that Lynn wants to use when frosting our daughter’s birthday cake.

cookies

-Joshua