Thursday, February 12, 2015

Daily Doin's, First Week Of February

Here I am with another "mixed bag" of stuff to talk about this time.  My back is acting up so I did not get out and do much during the nice warm spell we had.  It hacks me off.  But it's my own fault.  I've started going to the workout center with Hubs, and I've been using the weight machines.  Then I come home and pull up carpet or scrape on the glue on the floor or whatever.  Or I go out to the garden and do something.  I think what did it was that we planned to go to the dump to get rid of our old carpet and pad, and I wanted to get rid of all those old industrial rubber-backed carpet tiles we had from the new floors in the bottom level and that included some that we took up in the kitchen.  I got the bright idea to use them in the walkways in the garden and then after I had them all down I read that rubber, as it disintegrates, puts some pretty nasty stuff into your soil.  You know, as I think about it, I'm not sure even cardboard is all that safe.  After we all use it in our gardens for twenty years or so, then they'll come out and tell us they use arsenic to make it or something.  I know that anything that's in the soil ends up in your garden stuff and therefore in your digestive system so I decided I'd better take those carpet tiles up.  My back started aching about halfway through and I ignored it because I wanted to get it all stacked where Hubs could load it up.  I should know better than to ignore it when my back starts talking to me.  It knows how to scream.  I spent my days just dinking around and doing what I could carefully do, and it's getting better.  It never entirely goes away.  I have learned to live with it.

By the way, I ought to mention that I talked Paula out of laying down old carpet in her garden because it seems the woven part underneath never disintegrates, but the top surface of the carpet does.  Consequently you have strings embedded into the ground wherever you have it and if you ever have to till there, you'll get those strings all wrapped around in your tiller.  I've used carpet in the garden walkways before and I know from experience that the Bermuda grass will grow right up through it.  I took mine up before it got any further than that, but it was muddy and nasty and a lot dirtier job than it had been to take up off the floor.  Not doing that again.  I have started to wonder if all those schools and municipalities that are spreading shredded tire material on playgrounds are going to end up in trouble with the EPA someday.  You know how it works, we are allowed to do something or use something for twenty years or more before The Powers That Be find out it's harmful in some way.  I can't see how it could hurt to use wood chips on a playground.  It would certainly keep wood chips out of the dump.  In my childhood we played on dirt and grass.  What's wrong with simple dirt and grass?  Oh, I guess none of those people who cut the grass want to dodge the swings.

Hubs loaded up everything in the back of the truck Tuesday and I rode with him to the dump.  I'd never been to The Osage Landfill before.  The first thing that stuck out like a sore thumb was that it no longer costs $16 no matter what you have.  It's $36 minimum and if you look like you have more than the minimum, they weigh you.  I was flabbergasted.  The people ahead of us got weighed.  They had bricks in their truckbed.  We weren't weighed, but were charged "the minimum", which I thought was kinda maximum.  I'll tell you how old I am.  I can remember when going to the dump was free.  And you could actually get out of your vehicle and look around, pick up and take away anything you found you could use.  My little Grammy, Susie Peabody Britt, would go to the dump JUST to find things.  I might've found some other ways to get rid of that stuff had I known the price had gone up so.  One time I got rid of a lot of old tile by advertising it on FreeCycle or on Craig's List.  Although Craig's List is getting kind of scarey these days.  I've been debating on whether to have a garage sale to get rid of the rest of the stuff I have that I don't want, and I could've probably given that carpet and pad to someone, same for the carpet tiles.  All it takes is a sign that says "FREE" and stuff walks off your driveway practically on it's own.  I'll do that next time.  We can get trash pickup here, but it was $25 a month last time I checked and usually we don't have that much trash.  We burn anything that's paper and that cuts back on the volume immensely.  So also does the fact that I use all our newspapers as a weed barrier under mulch in the flower beds.  I wash and save cans and use them in all sorts of ways.  I reuse plastic tubs either in the garden or for food storage in the freezer.  Our neighbor Joe keeps a dumpster outside of his place of business and gave us a key for that, and we might put a bag or two in there about once a month.  More often if I've been sorting through stuff.  The secret to not having much trash is in not bringing it home from the grocery store.  Or wherever.

Did you know that if you have a Homeland Grocery Store "savings card", you can get gas cheaper at certain service stations?  Hubs saved 17 cents a gallon on gas today at Casey's gas station by presenting his Homeland card with his credit card.  We didn't know a thing about this till someone at the workout center told Hubs about it.  This is a pretty good deal since Casey's listed price for gas is competitive with other service stations.  Hubs likes to go there because they aren't selling the "blended gas".  He thinks that stuff damages your vehicle.  If you have a Homeland store where you are, ask them if this is something that's available in your area.  In fact, any grocery store that has a card that you have to sign up for (it's free), in order to get their specials might have something like this.  Doesn't hurt to ask.  These savings cards are a way for their Marketing people to see what people buy, and I assume there are studies done on the data, such as how many people just come for the specials or whether most people also buy other things when they buy the specials, and so on.  Those marketers are always snooping into our spending habits and trying to figure out what's the best way to trick us into spending more than we want to or less than we think we are getting.  But the thing about trickery is that sometimes you can make it work FOR you instead of against you.  Just try to be smart about it, is what I'm saying.

I planted the Red Russian Kale out in the garden and some of the Bloomsdale Spinach in the herb garden on Sunday.  Even though we haven't had much rain lately, the soil is still moist and it has become so soft and loose that it was a joy to dig in.  I credit all those wood chips and leaves for that, partially, and the other part is the population of earthworms that has increased since we stopped tilling and since I started burying the contents of my compost bucket instead of throwing it in the compost bins, which draws the rats.  Because of the rabbit that I saw in the garden last Friday, and since they're in the back yard so much, I put the "rabbit guards" over the new transplants.  The rats will just go through the spaces in the wire.  I guess I should've had Hubs use hardware cloth instead when he made them for me.  So far, so good, though.  And now with this cold weather coming back, I've covered them with vinegar bottles. 

There is evidence of the presence of a rat in the drawers of the workbench in the garage.  I don't keep  anything edible out there, and normally we don't have a problem unless one of us leaves the garage door open.  So now I have to dump out the drawers that contain my canning tools and sanitize everything with bleach before I can gear up for canning.  Yuk.  I don't think the rat is still in the garage, as I left my bag of birdseed on the floor and there are no holes eaten out of the corners of the bag.  So the rat may have run out when we had the door open to the driveway, or maybe it was that dried-up rat "shell" I swept out a couple of weeks ago.  I hate rats, they are so dirty.  They have no bladder control and so they pee a little with every step they take.  {{{shiver}}}  So, much as I dislike using D-Con, that is one place where I keep a little bag of it in a plastic coffee tub lid on the floor, just in case.  Usually that is the only thing that would be edible that I leave in the garage.  I have since packed that birdseed into several ice-cream tubs and put them in the pantry.  We have baited the trap out in the garden a few times in the last 30 days and we haven't caught anything except for an occasional scared-spitless bird.  Maybe we are on top of the rat population for now.  That will change as soon as the ranchers around us start doing their 'controlled burns'.

I caught an episode about propagating plants on Growing A Greener World a couple of weekends ago.  This show comes on our educational station on Saturday mornings around 11am.   It's possible to go to their website and watch the program in its entirety but I have trouble with it buffering.  Either my provider doesn't have enough gig or my computer doesn't, I don't know which.  It's HERE if you want to try.  But anyway, I learned a couple of things about the process that I hadn't known before.  One thing was that the young woman being interviewed said you need to "nick" the bark of the cutting a little, and that makes a sort of a healing process start, which encourages root growth.  It also helps the cutting to absorb more of your rooting hormone.  She also explained that, in order for a cutting to live through the period during which it has no roots, it needs to be kept at the same humidity that it was before it was removed from the mother plant.  In her case she kept her cuttings inside and just misted several times a day but it's kind of inconvenient for me to be misting that often.   Those of you who've been coming here for a long time know I use Paula's system of rooting things in a shaded spot outside under a jar but if the weather is warm this just will not work.  The heat builds up in the jar, even if you paint the jar white (and yes, I tried it), and just cooks the little cutting.  Last year, or the year before, I tried sticking the cutting into a pot of soil and then putting a jar over the top and I saw a lot of mold.  So this time I thought I'd try one of the vinegar bottles I'd been cutting apart, planning to use the tops as cloches out in the garden and the bottoms as flowerpot drip trays.  This is some kind of little vine I found in a bag of leaves.   

I'm having the same problems with my some of my seedlings this spring as I had last spring, though not as widespread.

I've thought about it and done some looking around on the Internet and I think it's a form of damping off, resulting from keeping the peat pellets too wet.  As you can see, there's some kind of green stuff growing on the mesh stocking that holds the pellet together.  One of these looks like it might go ahead and develop some leaves, even though the cotyldons are gone, so I transplanted it into a cup.  I always peel that stocking off the pellet, even though you're not supposed to have to, and even if it's not gross like some of them get.  Getting the moisture just right with a peat pellet seems to be a challenge for me.  When peat dries out, it gets dry as a bone and then it wants to float on the water rather than soak it up.  So I've been making sure things don't dry out and I've probably taken that a little too far.  Last year I thought it was over-fertilization and maybe it's that this year, too, as I've been using Miracle-Grow in the dropper bottle, diluted in the water.  But it says on the package that it won't burn plants.  Oh, and don't re-use the pellets that have not developed anything.  That's just asking for trouble.  When I've finally given up on germination, I peel off the stocking and crumble the peat pellet into the next potting soil mix to go into the oven.  I tried baking the pellets for reuse, and I wasn't very happy with how that turned out.  Tried wetting down with peroxide and that wasn't satisfactory, either.  I think I have one more year's worth of new peat pellets and then I will not buy any more. 

I'm having situations where the seed just is not germinating at all.  Most of my kale varieties germinated great and have really thrived.  But the Blue kale has so far given me only one seedling.  And I've planted it twice now.  *Sigh*. On the up-side, the red cheese pepper seed that I planted 23 days ago is finally germinating, and the seedlings look good. 

Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug.

A link to a podcast done by Margaret Roach and her interviewee Mya Thompson about The Dawn Chorus HERE .  I was reminded of the Cornell Lab ornithology site by Lorraine on one of her blogposts.  I like how Mya describes some of the bird calls.  For instance, she says the Black-Capped Chickadee says "Hey Sweetie".  Heh.  And she mentions that the sounds of the birds that you hear will often remind you of your childhood.  I can agree with that.  The robin's song takes me back to the old farmhouse near Leanna, KS (on the line between Allen and Neosho counties, between Chanute and Humboldt), where we lived until I was seven years old.

Well, this is about all I can come up with this time, and I'm sorry if it's not all that interesting.  Not much going on right now.  Till next time.....   Rock on.  xoxoxoxo

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