The sad garden season continues...

I pulled the cages from around 4 varieties of potatoes, where the tops have all died back.

Red thumb did fairly well, with little damage.

Purple Majesty were really hard to spot in the soil, and probably half of them had some sorts of nibbles taken out of them. I found slugs on one, so those are a likely culprit.

Nicola was a "free sample" where I only got one seed potato to try. It's a long season variety, so it shouldn't have died back yet, but I still got 4 nice tubers from it, and 2 that were nibbled by a vole.

Sierra, a yellow fleshed russet, should have been later in the season as well, but I think it just got too much shade to produce as well as I would have hoped. There were only a couple of munched tubers, but they were all smaller than I would have hoped.

I still have about 10 more varieties, several that are still growing strong, to harvest. I also have 4 large cages that I used to grow a mix of everything that started sprouting in storage this spring.

It certainly looks like I have a bit of a learning curve left when it comes to pest-proofing my spuds.

The greenhouse

I've given up on any hope of a real summer, and put the last side on the greenhouse. I left one side off, to help vent it through the heat of summer that never really arrived. I still have to trim some of the plastic, and attach some more cinch strap, but it is basically done.

My property came with two of those 10'x20' canopies that people park their boats under. Within a year, the tarps covering them completely disintegrated. I dismantled the frames, removed what rust I could, and painted the exposed metal with rustoleum. I went with a heavier woven poly to cover it, in the hope that it survives wind storms a little better. The poly is attached to the metal frames on the end with wiggle-wire and attached to the wood with roofing nails through cinch strap.

On the entrance end, I framed in a storm door and a low window with an automatic opener.

At the opposite end, there is a high window, with another automatic opener.

For spring through fall, it will receive water from the drip system, but in winter we will hand water. Over the coming weeks, I also want to figure out how to hang an inner tent made out of row cover, which should give it several more degrees of frost protection. I've been in several commercial hoophouses, that have done this, and it has greatly extended their growing season.

In the summer, I'll put a thermostatically controlled box fan or two in the windows, and in the winter, I'll put a small heater in there on the really cold nights, just to keep it above freezing.

I really hope it survives the windstorms.

A ripe tomato!

In our best years, we get our first ripe tomato in early to mid June. our worst year so far, we got our first sungold on July 4. This year it took till August 10th. It looks like a few more are atarting to turn color.

Drip system

I think it might be time to upgrade my drip system, instead of just adding more and more sprinklers and emitters. The new sprinkler that I installed at the end of about 10 feet of 1/4" tubing, connected to the end of the main line, is just dribbling away. It's got about a 3 inch radius, not the 7.5 foot radius that it's supposed to have. I've also noticed that many of the other sprinklers, sprayers and dripline are putting out a lot less water than they are supposed to.

Garden pictures

This year we're actually on time with most of the gardening chores for once. It's really a combination of several things that has gotten us here:

- We're both recovering from injuries, so we aren't trying to fit in backpacking and kayaking trips at every opportunity.

- We have a much improved selection of tools, and have learned how to use them.

- 6 summers of bed prep is finally paying off. We are also building new beds around the inside edge of the fenced lawn, not just out through the garden gate. More beds give more options.

- Straw and landscape fabric mulches. We covered several beds with straw overwinter, and there was virtually no weeding in those beds this spring. We also got landscape fabric down between all the beds.
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Red-breasted nuthatch nest

When we bought our house, it came with a few decorative items that were hanging on the walls; one of there was a basket near the back door. A few weeks ago, when I was walking towards the door I noticed a bird flying away from it, leaving the basket swinging. When I looked in the basket, there were 5 little eggs in there. Over time, the mamma bird got used to us using the door, and got stubborn about staying on her nest. About a week after I spotted the eggs, I got a peek into the nest and there were two very nekkid chicks in there. For the last two days, the mamma has stopped sitting on the nest at all, which isn't surprising as the two chicks take up most of the space. It's a good thing that all 5 eggs didn't hatch. She spends all her time fetching food for the little things. Whenever we walk by, the cheeping starts, and their mouths open skyward. It's not going to be too long before these little guys are leaving their nest.


Coming back from facebook

I resisted using facebook for a long time, but so many of my friends were using it that I decided to give it a go. The really addicting and cool thing about it is that "everybody" seems to be on it, and I've gotten back in touch with several old friends that I haven't seen in decades. It's posting character limit is designed for quick posts, which removes any pressure to post only things of substance. You just don't feel stupid for posting simple one-liners.

But there is no substance there. All those advantages are also big disadvantages. If you want to post anything of substance, you have to add a comment to your own original post. But as soon as a couple other people comment, your first comments disappear off the default view of the wall.

Most of those old friends have grown differently than I have, with wide ranging values. I don't really want the drama of posting anything that might be controversial to any of those old friends. The point is to be in contact with them.

Speaking of "friends", what is it about all these people coming out of the woodwork with friend requests, and no message telling me who they are and why they want to friend me, or why I would want to friend them back? Some guy whose name sounds kinda familiar, and lives near my old hometown, has sent two requests with "Hi David" as the message, and nothing more, even after a message back to him with "Who are you?" after the first attempt. I don't feel any sense of loss, since his wall is full of right wing nutjob posts about Sarah Palin and Glen Beck.

Then there's the well covered problems with how bad facebook's user interface and privacy records are.

There is an upcoming protest day on May 31 to delete your facebook account, but I'm not going to participate in that. What I am going to do is greatly reduce my posting over there to the quick one-liners that it is good for. I'll use it to stay in contact with friends, and avoid friending anyone that I simply don't want to be back in touch with.

I'm going to go back to blogging on my own website for any general interest stuff. My cooking and recipes posts will go on my recipe website, and my gardening posts will go on a new gardening website.

As for LJ, this is where I'm going to start posting more friends-only stuff. Even though I know few of you in real life, my LJ friends more closely match my current values than the wide variety of RL friends that I link to on FB.

I will also be posting public copies of some of the posts to my other websites, or links to them, and I'll do the same on facebook.

So, I'm back now.

Winter quarter classes

After having the worst professor of my life during fall quarter, things are looking better for winter. To start with, winter is hibernation season, so I'm taking evening courses so I can sleep in. I decided to take another woodshop class and two of the graduate level electives from the MES program. The problem with taking the graduate level courses, is that you can't register as an undergrad till the first day of class, so I had to register for other classes with the hope that there would be open spots. I made it into both of them! The teachers seem great so far.

Machiya I: The Traditional Japanese House - Daryl is a great teacher that I've had before. He really knows his stuff

Conservation and Restoration Biology - The prof is the lead scientist for the habitat science group at the DFW.

Global & Regional Climate Change - The prof is a hydrologist with the department of ecology, so it should be interesting to look at the issues from his perspective.