email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Flowerbeds

I have tried perennial beds of flowers in small groups, perennial beds of flowers in larger groups, and annuals grown from seeds under lights.  I'm trying something new.

I have 6 flower beds.  The oldest one had perennials that have mostly died out.  The 2nd was for annuals.  The 3rd was perennials that have never grown well.  The 4th, 5th, and 6th are newly edged areas where there used to be a ridge.

The soil in the last 3 is dismal.  Rocky, gravelly, clay, 1/2 sunny.  One got Spring bulbs and daylilies and annuals throughout this first year for them.  One got scatterred seeds of wildflowers and nothing much bloomed.  One was left unplanted because I intended to transplant an invasive purple lychimastia there and never got around to it.

That's one reason I bought a trailerload of compost 2 days ago.  The worms will bring the compost down into the soil, and nutrients will leach down from above.  I am spreading compost around o the new and old beds whenever it isn't too cold out.

So I ordered a packet 500 sq ft of perennial and annual wildflower seedss for the large bed that do well in poor soil.  I have some existing plants the same as in that mix to transplant.  The compost will help.

The second smallest bed gets no help.  If the Lychimatia doesn't survive transplanting there, good riddance and I will try something else (I already thought I had killed them once).  I'm giving them a last chance where I can mow around to control invasive spreading.

The 3rd bed is the Spring bulb and daylilly bed.  It is about 400 sq ft and I will cover that in 2" of compost and then 2" of shredded woodchips leftover from a tree I had removed.  THe bulbs will appreciate the nutrients from the compost as it leaches down to the roots over Winter, and the woodchips will supress weeds and won't bother the Spring bulbs.

That leaves the older 3 beds.

There isn't much left of the oldest 75'x8' perennial bed I planted and added to over the past 20 years.  It needs a whole new start.  I'm going for a cottage garden!  That is one that has a LOT of various self-sowing annuals and some long-lived perennials.  From organized patches of matching flowers, I am going to randomness.  Sometimes you just need to change things.

The 2nd oldest flower bed is becoming a tomato bed next year.  Tomato soil diseases accumulate and fresh soil is good every few years.  I dumped 16 buckets of compost there 2 days ago.  Over Winter, worms and rain will leach and move the compost into the existing soil.

The 3rd oldest flower bed needs the most care.  The original perennials never grew well and grass took over several years ago.  I'm covering it with 2" of compost and a layer of that brown paper that is used to pack stuff from Amazon.  I plan to make that an astilbe bed.  There are a few astilbe flowers there and the like the conditions.  I found a reputable seller that offerred bright red astilbes in bulk at a good price.  Something like 45 seedlings to full the 60 sq ft space (18" spacing).  I love Astilbes!

Come Spring, I'll cut X's in the paper cover to plant the Astilbes.  The paper should decompose in Summer.

Lastly, I took advantage of the 55 degree weather to pull up all my soaker hose.  They were slowly getting buried by pant debris.  They broke in pieces.  Well, it was cheap stuff.  Next year, I will buy better.  Drip irrigation really DOES water the yard better.  I just need to get better quality drip hoses.

Always looking forward to Spring for new and better flowers and supports.




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Yardwork

I'm still doing some yardwork.  I wanted a trailerful (about 2 cubic yards) of compost, but getting replacement tires for the trailer in December really set me off schedule.  But it was scheduled to reach 55 degrees today, so I decided it is never too late to put compost around..

The trip was a comedy of errors!

First, I carefully placed the trailer hitch on the back of the car.  I put the tarp to cover the trailer in the back, a rake to level out the dumped compost in the trailer, and lots of bungee cords to hold the tarp down.  Off I went.  Do you notice something I missed? I had to return for something I forgot. 

The trailer...  Yes, I actually forgot the trailer.  Backed the car out of the driveway and drove away... 

Back home, attached the trailer, got to the nursery.  Set my tarp to be held down in the front of the trailer by weight of the compost and ready to fold over the top  to keep stuff from blowing out.

Went inside and placed my request for 2 cubic yards of compost.  Gave the clerk the coupon I had for $15 off a $75 dollar order.  Now, I knew the 2 cubic yards only cost $35.99 each, so I needed to spend $3 and change to use the coupon.  But there is always something cheap to buy.  Spend $3, get $15 off...

I should have known, when the clerk walked off with the coupon, with a puzzled look, something was wrong.  Something was.  They claimed it wasn't their coupon.

I am sure it WAS.  I clipped it out of the gardening section of the newspaper, and (moreover) I wouldn't have if it wasn't that one nursery I go to.  Anyone else, I wouldn't have bothered!   But I clipped the coupons out so carefully, there is no mention of the company offerring the discount.  

I was annoyed enough to want to check.  But NATURALLY, all the old newspapers  (where the ad the coupons were clipped from) were in the recycling box picked up yesterday!

But, on the other hand, I wanted the compost, would have bought it without any coupon, so I just made a slight joke about uncertainties of ads and paid for the 2 cubic yards of compost.  Then went out back to the trailer.

Where I suddenly realized the the covering tarp was set up sideways!  And the guy was there with a cubic yard to dump.  I had to wave him off for a moment, while I adjusted the tarp to fit the right direction.

So he dumped the first cubic yard.  1/3 of it stuck in the bucket-loader.  It had been raining the day before and everything was wet.  He shook the bucket, but stuff was still sticking.  So I showed him my rake and started loosening wahat was left.  I got most of it.

The next bucket was way overfilled.  He was trying to make up for the sticky compost I didn't get in the 1st.  Nice person.  I think I ended up with 2 cubic yards.

So I started to drive home.  After I reached 50 MPH, I realized the trailer was swaying back and forth.  I pulled over immediately.  Such swaying usually occurs when the trailer tires are mismatched in air pressure or the load in unevenly spread in the traile.

But I had specifically checked the air pressure in the car tires and the trailer tires.  And I had spread the compost evenly inside the trailer.  Since the trailer tires were new, I was worried that one wasn't holding air, or I had failed to tighten some lug nuts.

I checked and everything seemed right.  So I put the hazard lights on and set the cruise control to 35 mph while I drove home.  Moat of the time I could drive on the shoulder of the road.  (And rehearsed what I would say to a policeman if I was pulled over...)

Fortunately, it was all back roads the last 2/3s of the drive and I got home safely.  So then I had to disconnect the trailer from the car so I could put the car in the garage.

BTW, the car is a 2005 Toyota Highlander, 26,000 miles and garage-kept).  I obviously don't drive for the thrill of it, LOL!

But after unlocking and unlatching the trailer, it wouldn't release from the car's trailer ball.  That's happened before.  I just have to kick it a couple of times.  But when I did, it WASN'T usual.  The front of the trailer went right up in the air (and of course the back down to the ground.

Oops, I seem to have spread more weight of compost toward the back of the trailer...  The comedy of errors was continuing.   With less than my full weight on the front of the trailer, I could push the front down.  I'm guessing it took about 125 of my 170 pounds to do that.  BUT doing that, I couldn't also put anything under the back end to hold the trailer more level.  I tried adding a few cinder blocks on the front, but I sure wasn't going to get to 125 pounds.  And I couldn't lift the back of the trailer at all! 

I could have asked a neighbor, but that's not me.  The one I would have asked was gone (no car in the driveway).  Besides, I love a challenge...

The first challenge was to loosen the tarp folded under the back of the trailer (pinned down by the weight of the trailer).  My shovel was enough of a lever, so while I stood on the shovel handle, I removed the bungee cords back there and pulled the tarp edge out. 

That allowed me to fold up the tarp to expose the back.  I use my riding lawn mower to haul a 3'x4' yard cart.  I used to shovel material from the trailer to the yard cart and then haul the yard cart to the back yard and shovel it back out again where I wanted stuff.  I learned it was easier to use the yard cart to hold buckets that I filled up from the trailer and then manually dump them where desired. 

So I shoveled out the back foot of compost into the buckets, set the buckets into the yard cart, and drove them to the back yard where I dumped them to where I expect to plant tomatoes in a new place next year. 

And as I shoveled out the back 1 foot part of the compost, the trailer gently settled forward onto the front support.  That was a relief!  But it also meant that the amount of compost I shoveled out filling the 8 buckets in my yard cart weighed about 125 pounds.  Since the trailer is 8' long the compost weighed 8x125 pounds or 1200 pounds!  I did NOT realize how heavy the compost was. 

With the back foot of compost removed, I was able to remove the back of the trailer for easier shoveling.  It was late in the day, so I only got to fill up the yard cart buckets 2x before sunset. 

I secured the tarp over the compost so that rain wouldn't wash any away and went inside to clean up.  Wile  was dogn that, I considered why the trailer had started swaying while I drove home.  

There are 2 possibilities (at least).  One is that the trailer tires say to be inflted to 45 PSI and the car tires are inflated to 32 PSI.  I don't think that matters so long as they are the same on both sides.  Uneven pressure on one side would make a swaying, but that wasn't the case.

The likliest thing is that I pushed the compost around in the trailer wrong.  The trailer tires are in the middle of the trailer.  I'm thinking that if too much weight of the compost was behind the tires, it may have caused the problem.  In past loads, the trailer has never tipped up at the front before.  So if the weight is behind the trailer tires, that may have caused the rather scary swaying. 

In the future, I will make sure to keep most of the weight in front of the trailer tires.  I was good at geometry in school.  I can picture the trailer as a triangle of 2 middle tires and a front trailer hitch.  That seems more stable than having the weight behind the tires.

I've always said I try to learn something new every day.  This wasn't exactly one of the things I wanted to learn, but sometimes negative things are educational too. 

Now I just have to empty the other 90% of the compost, LOL!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Assorted Things


1.  Got the trailer tires replaced.  It was hard work.  The tires were never removed since the trailer was bought in 1992.  One tire failed at the sidewall from simple age.  So I decided to replace both tires.  Removing the lug nuts was really hard.  And (naturally) the last one was nearly impossible.  I had used Liquid Wrench rust loosener all over the bolts several times. 

The manual car lug nut wrench was short and not much use.  I have an air-powered impact wrench, but it couldn't move the nuts at all (baffled why it didn't work).  I had to position the manual lug nut sideways and stand on it to move the nut 1/4 turn, and repeat it dozens of times on each nut.

I finally got them all off and the old rims removed.  I had special-ordered wheel on rim replacememts for 3 day delivery.  It took 3 weeks.  But I got them*.  Putting the new ones on with cleaned nuts was easier (soaking the nuts in vinegar loosens rust and an old toothbrush got into the inside threads of the nuts). 

* If I had ordered them through the local tire store, they would have done the whole replacement themselves for the cost of the tires.  But they said it would be a week.  Given that the trailer store took 3 weeks and I had to do the work myself, that was a bad decision.  On the other hand, *I* did the work and I have the pride of doing it...

2.  The 2017 gardening catalogs have arrived.  I looked up the companies at Garden Watchdog, a site that evaluates garden catalog companies.  They have a Top 30 list, and I love those, but most don't sell veggie seeds. But they also keep ratings on the catalogs that DON'T make the Top 30 list.  So I looked up some of those.

Some negative ratings don't apply to what I buy.  If negative ratings apply to purchased plants and not seed packets, that doesn't bother me.  So I took the catalogs of Territorial Seed Company, Johnny's Selected Seeds, and Burpee.

Burpee seems to be declining in quality lately and the seed prices are rising.  So * made a list of desired seeds from Territorial and Johnny's.  I did the Territorial catalog first and got an almost complete list.  Then I started a list for Johnny's.  After 6 equivalent (or identical) seed varieties, it was clear that Territorial (with a better review rating) had lower prices, more seeds, and similar shipping costs.  So I am ordering from Territorial this year.

And it is a big year for ordering.  I have lots of veggie and flower seeds that last more than just a few years (kept in vials in the basement refrigerator) and I keep a list of them including the year of purchase.  Many seeds were just too old this year (even refrigerated) and needed to be replaced.

I'm ordering 2 dozen seed packets this year.  Many more than usual (last year was only 5 packets for seeds I had run out of). 

I'll place the order tomorrow (2017).

3.  I have terrible static electricity in bed.  I have a central air duct humidifier.  It helps "some".  I bought a room humidifier for the bedroom 2 years ago.  It also helps "some".  And this year it has become annoyingly loud.

Well, one solution is to get rid of synthetic sheets and blankets.  I discovered that all my shhets and blankets were 50% polyester.  I changed everything.  I now have all cotton.  From the waterbed up, I have a cotton blanket, a cotton sheet, a cotton blanket, a cotton sheet, a cotton blanket, and a cotton sheet.  Just FYI, you NEED layers between a waterbed and you.  Water steals warmth.

And I have a cotton sheet and a cotton blanket above me.

It took some effort.  Originally last week, I was sleeping between two 750 count Egyptian cotton sateen sheets.  I hated them.  Heavy, rough, and frictional.  Trying to drag one sheet over the other as I tossed and turned at night was like dragging sandpaper over sandpaper.

I like "percale".  It is smooth and slidey.  But what I read about percale said it was 50% cotton and 50% ployester.  And I didn't want polysester because of the static.

So imagine my surprise when I was in Bed Bath & Beyond and saw 100% cotton 350 thread count percale sheets!  Hurray!  And in bright red (everything I found earlier was dull earthtone).

The percale sheets were still a bit stiff, but the adverts said after washing, they soften.  Well, my 30 yer old percale was sure soft.  So I've washed the new percale sheets 20 times.  Just kept the washer setting on "superwash" and kept resetting it to there before the rinse cycle. 

The sheets are softer, but need more washing to soften them further.  2017 project, but they are sure less staticy than the old polyester sheets or the newer sateen cotton ones! 

4.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Brambles Be Gone

I had arranged for a person with a serious brush-cutter to come and cut down and remove the 1/8 acre of trashy undergrowth last month.  When I called to see why he hadn't called for a day to do th work, he said he was in the hospital with appendicitis.  No more hard work for him this year...

I expressed my sympathy.  I had the same operation at 18, so I knew how he felt. 

But that didn't solve my problem.  I need those brambles removed.  And he was the only person I could find willing to do a "small" job.

I guess I am going to have to use the gas-powered steel-bladed I've had sitting around for 3 years.  It scares me.  The instructions suggest that using it can injure the operater unless used perfectly and with fancy leggings to clog the blades.

Lovely...

On the other hand, most injuries are caused by carelessness, and a certain level of fear is a good protection from carelessness.

Those brambles have to be eliminated.  I want that part of my yard back!  They grew when I cut down a few tall trees that were blocking some sunlight to my veggie garden.  It's the Law Of Unintended Consequences".

Improve the sunlight to the veggie garden improved the sunlight to the rest of the backyard.  And apparently, the brambles were just WAITING for a little extra sunlight. 

I have 4 specimen trees waiting to be planted in there.  They will grow to about 20".  Not enough to shade the veggie garden, but enough to shade out the brambles again... 

The weather forecast suggests warmer than average temps around Christmas here.  I hope to take advantage of that to cut down the brambles.  After that, I can mow them.  The terrain is uneven back there, but a regular old manual rotary mower I have can handle it.  Push the mower, tilt it up on the back wheels, lower it down on the bramble shoots and move on.  It will take an hour a day for a week, but that should kill all the brambles.

If not, I'll keep doing it.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Last Gardening

I've done about all I can do outside until about March.  The ground finally froze (it got down below freezing for several full days and nights).  The surface will thaw and refreeze for a few weeks, but I can't do anything useful with that.  I thought I was done 2 weeks ago after I cleared off all the garden debris and filled the framed beds and planted 250 daffodils.

But I discovered that 450 crocus bulbs that I ordered last year and never got around to planting because I wanted to make wire cages to plant them in to protect them from the voles and squirrels were still solid and seemingly sound after sitting in my garage for the whole year.  So I set about planting them everywhere I could think of.  Some 150 went into a bed I plan to move hostas to next year.

Most ended up in containers, though.  I used to grow Yukon Gold potatoes in 4 large plastic bins, but the grocery store started selling them, so I stopped.  I just buy them now.  That gave me 4 bins.  And several years ago, the County switched from hand-carried recycling bins to bigger-than-trash-can sized ones, so I had 3 of the old ones.


I filled them all with 4" of topsoil/compost mix, planted extra daffodils, covered those with 2" of soil, planted crocuses on top of that and added another 2" of mix on top of that.  So I have about 100 daffodils and 300 crocuses in 30 sq ft of those.  Hopefully they will grow and I can reharvest them in Late Spring for more permanent locations (in wire cages for the crocuses).

I don't know if they WILL grow after sitting around for a year, but I know for SURE they won't if not planted.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Solstice And Gardening

One of my favorite days of the year!  It is the most natural holiday I know.  The days start getting longer.  It means the next season is Spring.  Spring means light, warmth, and gardening.  And I am planning a lot for next year.

25 years ago, I was deeply into perennial flowers.  I bought from an online place that sold 3-packs for $5 and planted a dozen here and a dozen there, etc.  Some perennials aren't very long-lived; they kept dying out slowly and there would always be holes in the flowerbed.  And even at 3 for $5, they aren't cheap.  My flowerbed is 75'x8', so 300 perennials would cost $500 and half died out after 3 years.  And perennials only flower for a few weeks.

So I switched to annuals after I retired.  Annuals flower all season, they are available as seeds, and they are easy to grow.  Planting each year is a bit annoying, but I have time and 40 sq ft of lighted shelves (a 5 shelf 4'x2' rack with 4 4' fixtures in the basement).  Plus a 4 shelf 3'x2' stand at the southern-facing deck glass doors upstairs for germinating seeds that want warmth.

Anyway...  I can grow a lot on annuals from seeds.

But I still want some more permanent plantings.  I discovered "cottage garden" planting this past month.  It's a combination of long-lived perennials and self-sowing annuals.  And you plant stuff at random.  No big patches of one flower here and another there.  The idea seems to be that what thrives thrives and empty spaces self-fill.

We'll see!  I am going to give it a try.  Large portions of my flowerbed were flowerless last year, so most of it needed to be re-done anyway.

I have a large serious roto-tiller for work in large areas.  But this will take some detailed tilling.  So I bought a 10" wide electric tiller in September.  My first attempts using it were dismal!

The grassy weeds wrapped around the tiller blades.  10 minutes tilling meant 10 more minutes cutting and pulling grass off the blades.  I learned to use my string trimmer to cut the grass tops off and rake them away.  Then use the tiller to chop up the soil.  There were still roots that wrapped around the tiller blades, but easier to remove.  Better than manual shovel work, anyway!

I have a catalog from a company that offers a wide variety of cottage garden plants and seeds.  It is from 2011 (I keep interesting catalogs), and I have arranged to get a 2017 catalog in early January.  I have some long-lived perennials that will suit a cottage garden (coneflowers, goldenrods, daylilies), and I will be ordering seeds of self-sowing annuals when the catalog arrives.  I may order a few plants for which growing from seed is very complicated.

And I have 2 planting areas in the middle of the yard that I didn't do anything with this year.  Nice edged areas I can mow around to control invasive flowers.  I want one to be for Lysimachia ‘Firecracker".  It's invasive.  I tried to kill it for 2 years and it keeps coming back.  So next Spring, I'm going to transplant it to a 10' edged circle and mow around it.  That should stop the "invasiveness".  It's annoying but lovely.  Purple foliage and bright yellow flowers most of the Summer.

The 2nd edged area will be a wildflower patch.  I scattered seeds from a packet I bought last Fall.  The instructions said to raked the soil roughly, scatter the seeds and smooth soil over them lightly.  I got a few flowers, but not many.  Most are perennials that need 2 or 3 years to flower, so I will give them time.  

But another old catalog I have offers high-quality seeds suited for scattering on bare ground in Winter.  That's actually the way they normally grow, so I'm going to give that a try.  And they offer a flowering enhancement packet for $10 to give some flowers the first year.  I'm going for 2 of those.

The 3rd edged area is mostly planted already with caged tulips, caged hyacinths, and lots of daffodils.  I added 2 dozen daylilies, some common and some fancy.  

This year, I thought I would remember exactly where the tulips and hyacinths were.  HA HA HA!  Next Spring, I will mark the spots with landscaping flags so that I can plant flowers in between the spots.  I want no spot to be un-planted if I can manage it.  The bulbs like to stay dryish most of the year, so I need to plant Summer flowers that don't mind dry conditions.  So I may plant 200 marigolds of various varieties among them.  They like hot dry conditions too.  The point being that I will never deliberately water that 3rd edged bed.

They will do fine with normal rainfall, I just won't add to it.

A cottage garden bed, a wildflower bed, a purple Lysimachia bed, and a Spring bulb/Summer annual bed...  Should be a good view from the deck!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Trailer Tires

Some things are just frustrating!  One of my trailer tires went flat 2 weeks ago.  It was just rubber fatigue.  They are 20 years old.  There are cracks on the sidewall.  So...  time to replace both of them.  I called a tire store and they were all snooty about "trailer tires".  They want to sell you high-end all weather tires for cars.  They said they could special order them for $150 per tire.

So I went to a trailer company.  THEY were overwhelmed by putting snowplows on trucks, but did have a combination tire and rim available for $120 each and they had 5 of my size in stock.  I said OK and drove right over.

They didn't have 5 in stock.  In fact, they had none.  The person I had talked to was embarrassed.  Her computer said they had 5 and they didn't. 

I mentioned to her that I had worked for a tire store once and as assistant manager (responsible for tires among other things, we came up one tire short in inventory check and they took that out of my salary.  She was amazed but apparently that doesn't happen these days.

So I had to special order 2 tire/rim combinations for delivery last  friday.  Prepaid with an assurance that I would be called immediately when they were received.  Guess what didn't arrive Friday?

So I asked about the next delivery and that was Monday.   On Tuesday, they were still unloading the truck into the storage area.  Sure to have it complete Thursday.  But certain my tires were on the truck. 

Haven't heard from them yet.  Tomorrow I'm calling again.  Fortunately, my need for the trailer is not urgent.  But I hate unsettled matters.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Spring Bulbs

I always order too many Spring bulbs.  I'm overly ambitious (well, that's better than being underly-ambitious), and estimating the number needed is always tricky.  So this year I had ordered bulbs to add to an existing bed.  Some of the same 2 varieies I planted last year to enlarde the are, and a new variety for a 3rd section. 

It turned out that the additional bulbs of the existing varieties used up all the space and I had 150 of a 3rd variety to plant.  "Somewhere"...

I love daffodils!  They are truly perennial.  There are hillsides in Washington DC where Lady Bird Johnson had them planted in the mid 1960s!  Nothing bothers them.  Voles and mice won't eat them, insects don't bother them, and their spot would have to become either a swamp or a desert to kill them naturally.

But they are just combinations of yellow, orange, and white.  So they can be a bit boring.  I wish some geneticist would make daffodils as colorful as tulips and hyacinths.  But they haven't, and some daffodils are getting better over the years.  Some have fancier flowers, some have contrasting colors, some bloom earlier or later.  I have to admit they are pretty good plants.

But still, I had 150 of 'Hillstar' to plant "somewhere.  Where, where, where?

And it hit me.  The front border of my main flowerbed has always been a problem.  Nothing I put there seemed to last.  My last attempt (planting alternating blocks of yellow and purple crocuses with a space left every foot for Summer annuals didn't work.  The voles ate them all.  And I have tried some perennials that never seemed to look right and died anyway.  The soil seems fine, BTW.

AHA, space to plant the Hillstars!  The planting was relatively easy.  My drill auger went down easily into the soft improved soil.  But still, it meant kneeling down to set the bulbs in the holes, backfilling with 50/50 topsoil and compost mix, sprinkling some 2-6-6 slow release organic fertilizer, raking over the augered-out soil across the top, and watering deeply to hydrate the bulbs so that they can slowly grow roots over the Winter before blooming in April. 

I came up 8' short of the border!  Darn.  But I ordered another 25 and they arrived in 3 days and I got THOSE planted.  Which left me with extra bulbs of Hillstar and one other from the main bed. 

Before I explain what I did with those, I should mention that I had 500 crocus bulbs I never got around to planting last Fall.  I intended to make wire cages to protect them from the voles.  But by the time I finally made cages for tulips and hyacinths in the main bed and got them all planted last year, the ground was frozen and I was worn out digging in the bad soil (rocks, tree roots, clay).  The tulips were buried in wire cages and in great soil and came up wonderfully this past Spring.  I never saw a hyacinth.

Because of that, I carefully dug up one of the hyacinth cages.  No easy task.  But I finally cleared off the top of one and the tops are hinged with wire so I could open it.  I pulled out several.  They were hard and healthy, and had roots growing.  Why they didn't send up shoots and flowers is a mystery to me, but I rebuyied them and will hope for blooms next Spring.

So I just set the boxes of the crocuses in the garage and left them.  Last week, after most of my regular garden shut-down chores were done, I thought of those crocuses.  I brought the boxes onto the tool bench.  There were  few leftover hyacinths.  They were like paper husks, utterly dead.

But the crocus bulbs were all hard solid and no signs of mold.  Well, I hate to waste living things.  So I thought of what I could do to give the crocuses and leftover daffodils and chance to live. 

I keep stuff.  Not "hoarder keep stuff" just useful stuff.  So I looked around.  What I wanted to find were cat litter boxes.  Something shallow to grow the crocuses in and harvest the bulbs next Fall when I found a good place.

What I realized was that I had 3 old recycling bins and 4 old storage bins I used to grow potatoes in.  I used to grow Yukon Gold potatoes in them before they became readily available in the grocery store.  And they were filled with rich soil!

So I wheelbarrowed all of them to my patio.  The cinder block wall is a perfect height for gardening work.  I dumped all the soil out into 35# kitty litter tubs (very useful as buckets),  put 4" of soil back in the recycle bins, set in the extra daffodils and added 2" of soil and sprinkled 2-6-6 fertilizer on top.  Added another inch of soil and crowded in crocus bulbs 2" apart.  Covered THOSE with 3" of good soil and sprinkled on a slight amount of fertilizer.  Added another inch on that. 

I filled 7 tubs and used up 300 crocus bulbs (of 500).  Watered them well. I'm hoping for a great container display in Spring and to be able to plant them someplace permanent next Fall.

I STILL have more crocuses.  I will be planting them in 6" black pots just to see if they grow.  I'll stick the pots in my veggie garden to give them some "normal" temperature and rain/snow.

Hope springs eternal...conditions. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Difficult Errand

I have a watch that is 50 years old this month.  It was a gift in 1966 when I was 16.  It is the only wristwatch I have ever owned.  It was one of the earliest cheap digital watches.  I love it! 

It doesn't do anything but tell time.  Well, I mean it shows the day with a line over a row of letters and there is a smaller number for the date.  And if I press an awkward button, the date goes away and shows seconds.  And another push shows m/d/y (12 8 16).  But that's all.  No timer, no weather, no footstep count, no anything else. 

I have to have the battery replaced about once a year.  Any jeweler will do it for about $10.  It requires  weird tool to get the back off or I would do it myself.

So I went to me usual place to have the battery repaired.  There was no jewelar there.  There was no building.  The spot had been scraped clean.  Wow!

So I went to a new place I had found called "Bulbs & Batteries".  Their watchpin removal tool was broken.  Well, I needed to buy some groceries and I knew there was a jeweler nearby, so I did my shopping and stopped there. 

Oh boy, was I surprised!  They wouldn't replace a digital watch battery.  "You need to return it to the manufacturer", the store manager declared!  "Otherwise, the circuits will get shorted out".  I pointed out that the watch was 50 years old and the batteries had been replaced many many times with no ill effects.  He replied that "That's why the battery only lasts a year, it gets shorted - a battery should last 5 years".   It was a high-end jeweler (Jared's) and he looked down his nose at me (and my watch) as if I had walked into his cocktail party wearing dirty gardening clothes.

Well, Exxxcccccuuuuuuujse Meeee!

So I stopped at the last place to replace my battery.  It had only lasted 6 months, so I was doubtful about the freshness of their batteries, but a working watch is worth a few dollars.  They were closed.

At home, I looked up the manufacturer of the watch (Phasar).  They are long since out of business anyway.

The next day I went back to the place that was closed.  They were happy to replace the battery.  By good fortune, they had a new employee, so the main person was explaining about changing watch batteries.   I couldn't have asked for a better refutation of the Jared guy's claim...

She explained the watch back removal tool to the newbie and demonstrated how it worked.  She explained how to insert the new battery without shorting it or the circuits, she showed  a small insulating collar to prevent that.  She mentioned "these old digitals are long-lasting" (so she recognized it's age).  She even mentioned that batteries in new watches last several years, but after some years of corrosion and dust; last only a year.  So much for that snooty Jared's guy's claim...

But upon replacing the battery, the display was pale.  She said they could try cleaning it, failing that, finding a replacement circuit insert.  But I would have to leave it and they would call with an estimate.  She showed me the watches they sold, but they were all analog.  And they were all a bit too fancy and "jewelry".

I don't wear a single piece of jewelry.  I'm not a metal kind of guy.  Even my watchband is velcro...

So I left it with them went home, and looked at cheap digital watches on Amazon.  They all displayed Too Much Information at once.  And that means ALL the info is small.  I don't want to have to put on my reading glasses just to see what time it is!

So I was sad.  First, the watch means a lot to me personally.  I am a dedicated watch-wearer.  It has gone everywhere I have for 50 years.  It has been through below-zero Winter camping, it has gone into Canadian lake water when a friend tipped the canoe over, it has gotten me to countless meetings on time over my career, and it has reminded me when to stop working outside and go inside to feed the cats.  It has reminded me when to turn on the TV for Specials I wanted to see.

How much more can you ask of a watch? 

So 2 days later, when the jeweler called (VM message) and said I could pick up the watch, I was worried.  I assumed they could get the part to fix it.  But I had a pleasant surprise when I arrived.  The watch was suddenly just fine.  The display was strong.  No reason, it just was. 

Hurray.  But gosh, that sure was a lot of effort to find a place that would replace the battery!

BTW, seeing what the watch back removal tool looked like, I went to Amazon to see what one costs.  The jeweler charged $15 to replay the battery.   The battery itself costs $3.  Guess what, the watch back removal tool costs $3 at Amazon. 

I think I'll buy one. 

And I'll NEVER shop at Jared's...


Friday, December 2, 2016

Thanksgiving Dinner

Before and after shots...

Smoked turkey thigh, corn on the cob, mashed sweet potato with honey and butter, tossed salad with italian dressing, asparagus with cheese sauce, assorted garnishes, and wine and a Cavebear Sling (1.5 oz gin, 1 oz of lemon juice, fill up glass with ginger ale over ice)...

 After...
Good holiday meal for oneself...  A bit late posting, but I enjoyed the meal.