Monday, July 26, 2010

vertical tomatoes

I don't remember whether or not I shared this, but after a couple of years of sad garden results I finally tested the soil.  pH was neutral (very near 7), phosporous ok, potassium ok.  But nitrogen was so low as to be almost unmeasurable by the kit.  D'oh!

I have been laying on compost this summer, and will winter the chickens over the garden later this year.  Both of these should increase Nitrogen for next spring.

So I don't expect much from the garden this year.  But I did want to share my experiment with vertically growing tomatoes. Here's a bit of scribble I emailed to my father about the experiment:

I think it's a promising idea;  I got it from the Square Foot Gardening guy.  It's basically a way of increasing density in small plots.

When/if we get any fruit I'll support those vines with additional sisal.

Theoretical benefits:

  • Since they are vertically planted,  other/lower plants can be planted on the sun-side.
  • The majority of the plant is held up out of reach of ground-level bugs and standing birds.  I trimmed the leaves about 1' up to minimize rot/mildew from watering.
  • no rot induced by fruit laying on ground 
  • toms appear to enjoy growing vertically;  not bushy/hunchbacked like when I grew them in cages. They aren't hard-tied to the verticals at all;  just guided alongside the vertical with loose sisal loops.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Smartphone, again

You may remember (or have suppressed) my ancient smartphone geekout.

Since then I swapped to a WM Dash I got for $4 off eBay.  :-)  They thought it was dead but it just had an alarm bug which I fixed and patched.  The hardware is fantastic BUT:

  1. google Tasks cannot be synced yet.  Boo!  Tasks are essential to my PIM life.
  2. WM calendaring is awful on smartphones and Today screen hackery doesn't get me where I want to be.  PalmOS PIM handles this nicely.  Interestingly, the Calendar on the older Treo 600 is better (IMO) than that on the Treo 650.  {After writing that sentence I found freeware KSDatebook, which duplicates the functionality of the old 600 calendar.  Perfect.  Kerbillions of useful, free apps is one reason the old PalmOS rocked. "Yeah, there's a free app for that."}
So I am using the Treo 650 at the moment.  If Google ever publishes the Tasks API I might swing back to WM earlier. My old (pre-Dash) WM phones are sealed in bags in my bug out gear.  They have wifi and miniUSB charge ports, which makes them more useful in emergencies IMO.

tree down

Part of a tree is down in the back yard this AM. No damage at the moment.  Will post more as I get it figured out.


Ok, got it largely sorted out.  Redbud had some trunk rot, and half broke off.  I used my small electric chainsaw to hack up everything of appropriate size in order to make working room and get the limbs under COR 7' specs.

The fall didn't destroy anything, but the remaining trunk was revealed to be hollow and dead.  Called a couple of tree companies to come and estimate the rest of the removal of the 36' tree before something bad happens with the remainder of it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

great weekend!

Visited a local poultry breeder just south of Quinlan.The wife took a liking to this turkey hen:

I liked the naked neck chicken in the lower left of this pic:

Yes, they're supposed to look like that.  They are heat-tolerant, good layers, and have good personalities.  Dear Wife says "no, too ugly."  :-(  Good thing she gave me a second chance when she met me...

On the way to Quinlan I saw my first Porsche Panamerica (turbo, even) in the wild.  It was interesting, not nearly the ugly beast the automotive critics have been whining about.  I rather liked it.

Sorry for the indistinct pic but he was making rapid progress in the left lane. I think this was on Hwy 80.

On the way back we swung north to Greenville where I bought my first new motorcycle and first new car.  The old city square appears to be dying off.  :-(

Then went and visited some small towns that feed Commuinity ISD:  Nevada, Josephine, Copeland.  Excellent night drive, but the rain and lack of lighting made it a bit stressful when facing oncoming.


Spent a bit of time with the chickens, who are developing into recognizable hens these days.  This pic is from a day or so earlier but they didn't change much in 48hrs.  :-)

This is them today enjoying a dustbath in a cool patch of dirt under the bushes:

No, they're not dead or injured.  Just piled up and playing in the dirt.