Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hydroponics Worked for Me

A few hours ago, M wandered into the basement and found a big spot on the floor very wet. No, not the sump pump failing, not the basement walls leaking. The ceiling up there was wet, too. A large section was wet--beams were soaked, and probably a 30-square-foot area of ceiling was soaked. The only thing we could find leaking was the threading on one of the fixtures that feeds our washing machine. That's it. Just a steady little drip where the sealant on the thread of a fixture had a hole in it.

M didn't think that little drip could account for so much water in the basement, but we wrapped a washcloth around the pipe, and after 5 minutes, the cloth was soaked. So in just a few days of us not looking into the basement, the steady little drip, drip, drip of the water had run down the hose from the fitting and through the floor into the basement.

*sigh* Seems to me we shouldn't have a leak in something that was just installed last summer. But what do I know, right?

Anyway, a quick trip to our local hardware store, and we THINK we may have the little hole plugged. But who knows? Maybe it'll turn into one of those cartoooney things where you plug one whole with a finger and a new one forms, so you plug that one with another finger, and then one starts in front of your face, so you plug that one with your tongue, and then everything explodes...

Nope, turns out the fix didn't explosions, no new leaks, just the same old leak... *sigh*, wait, I just received an update--it didn't work because M missed a spot in his patching. So the water's turned off again.

Come to think of it, if it weren't for the damage to the floor/ceiling, we could use this as a basis for a hydroponic lab ;)

I think I'll go take a nap. It's exhausting, being supportive. :D

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In the Garden of Eden

To quote M, “RacOONs!”

They ate quite a bit of our ripe sweet corn. Last night, apparently, during or after the rain. So much for squash leaves keeping them away…

And cabbage worms overnight have decimated our broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower plants.


These critters have to cross several acres –and maybe even the busy highway--to get to our garden. Looks like our plan for next year is to build a fence instead of raised beds…
Of course, M likes the idea of an electric fence. Call me crazy, but I’m not real keen on the idea of an electric fence taking up the backyard, where I’ll always have to mow along and where we always have to go to dump our compost…and, you know, with planning a family, and all…an electric fence as soon as you step out the back door. Yeah, gotta go with my wife veto power on this one.

* Stringham high: tomato plants so productive that their falling from the weight of the tomatoes
* Stringham low: cabbage worms and slugs
* Stringham super-high: March 2010

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away, Come Again in...5 Days

Two weeks without rain. For days and days, they promised us rain. We watched the skies, hoping for it from the dark clouds that hovered over us, the gray clouds that skidded over us, the blue-gray clouds that skated around us. It never rained. Our strawberry plants started to wilt, our fruit bushes started to crinkle. The plants all started looking the worse for the wear.

I consulted the weather: possibility of thunderstorms on July 4, 20-40% chance of rain (depending on the day I looked). This would never do. And we're going out of town this weekend for a week. So the plants will have to be watered. Two days ago, we started. M watered the garden with the hose. I filled a 5-gallon bucket and the 2-gallon watering can and put them in our small gorilla cart and pulled it behind me all the way over to the orchard/berry patch, sloshing water out of the bucket and into the cart and over the sides of the cart. Over four trips, I lovingly watered every strawberry plant--all 133 original plus the new plants started from runners.

Last night, M fertilized some of the garden plants that seemed to be nutrient deficient. I watered the fruit bushes and trees, the boxwoods, the magnolia trees, the maple saplings--again, 3 or 4 trips with the 5-gallon bucket and the cart. (M was using the watering can, so I had to carefully pour the water from the bucket around every bush and tree.)

Today, July 4, I consult the weather when I get up: Thunderstorms, 90% chance of rain. No thunder. No storms. Rain the whole ever-loving day. So far, 10 hours of it--nice and gentle. Perfect for plants. I have discovered the Crawfordsville rain dance--water your own damn plants. When Mother Nature lies down on the job, take matters into your own hands. Then M.N. wakes up and makes good on her shirked duties. I love her, but sometimes she's a real bitch.

* Stringham high: Rain
* Stringham low: Rain, so no good fireworks displays tonight.
* Stringham super-high: From our yard, we have an excellent view of ANY fireworks that might be set off up to 25 miles southeast to south to southwest to west of us. Only the immediate east and the north are limited, because of the trees.

****Disclaimer: The title of this blog links to a page that I found accidentally. I agree with most of what it says, but I have to add that the bits about Native Americans unfortunately lump all NA's together, completely disregarding the fact that the NA ways of life were varied, including hunting-fishing, hunting-gathering, farming (plants), farming (livestock), farming (plants and livestock), and others besides. (And yes, of course, some NA societies/groups lived as the author of the linked page states.)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Crikey! Let's Go on a Backyard Safari!

We've had a few encounters with native fauna this week. As we were weeding near the house last weekend, M uncovered a black snake that was about 10-12 inches long. It scurried away from us quickly...right into the crawlspace under our bedroom. Oy vey.

A couple of nights ago, M saw two deer in the beanfield behind our house. I scrambled over to take a picture or two. They certainly weren't afraid, that's for sure. They were about a hundred yards away, and they never got spooked by me walking out the back door and standing there, taking picture after picture of them for 15 minutes or so. (For those who are curious, god picture exists. It was sunset light, and the camera either gave me a nearly black photo or a picture of brown blurry masses--think Bigfoot with antlers.)

Last night, I heard some more scrabbling in our kitchen drop ceiling. Yes, we have a few mouse friends up there. Actually, judging by the very high-pitched squeaks I've been hearing this week up there, I think one or two have set up house and started a little family. I tell you, EVERYONE is having babies... Heh.

Today, on his daily rounds through the garden and the "orchard" and the sunflower patch, M has been waging a crusade against Japanese beetles. We'll see if he has any luck.

And on his walk through the sunflower patch, M was startled at the sight of a very large black snake. Oops. He came running into the house to ask me about the venomous snakes we have around here. I had to assure him that though it was large and startled him, it was no threat. Alas, no picture. I'm not sure whether the snake had the chance to "run away" before M hightailed it in the opposite direction. And no, I absolutely cannot blame him. I know they're good at keeping the rodent population under control. I know they're not harmful to humans. But that still doesn't mean I want to see it or be anywhere near it. Perhaps its the instinctive distrust of snakes in our own little Eden? ;)