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Archive for the 'Gardening' Category

Highways

Monday, October 1st, 2012

So I’m picking up apples. The old tree, the centerpiece of my yard, had produced a small number of mature apples for the first time in a very long time. This was probably because I’d watered that side of the yard before they banned sprinkling this year. I decided to take a break. I sat down under the old apple tree, sweat sliding down my forehead. I looked down. The hose I had used to attempt to keep my plants from desiccating in the summer heat snaked through the grass in front of me. Upon it, ants weaved to and fro avoiding the long trek through the jungle of grass which would otherwise be their path. I had a moment where I considered the intelligence of these insects and their use of the hose as sort of a superhighway and then it hit me.

squirrel highway in the sky

No, it really hit me. An apple had dislodged from the tree. As if it had been guided by the most perfect aim of a human hand, it landed squarely on the crown of my head. I was stunned.  I saw stars.  Far from considering Newton’s laws, the first thought which crossed my mind was only an idiot would sit under an apple tree that was dropping apples.

I thought of this place. This is a view from Google maps. It’s not easy to tell what you are looking at. It’s a metal pipe. As I recall it was about six feet in diameter and at its highest point over the water it was about twenty feet down.

the pipe

It’s not far from the place I spent my “Harry Potter” years. My parents moved there when I was eleven and until I moved away for college I spend countless hours in the swamp surrounding this area. This shot was taken in the winter and it must have rained a lot. This image gives you no impression of how lush the swamp was. It was filled with marsh marigold and smelled of skunk cabbage. There were reeds that made perfect spears. Not the kind that would do damage but the kind young boys would spend hours hurling at each other because they might as well been made of Nerf. I must have crossed the pipe hundreds of times. At first it seemed scary. Measuring it now it appears to be at least 160 feet long. All I knew then was once you were about halfway it seemed like you were a long way from anything to hang onto. It’s funny how later on we used to run across it. There was probably a good 12 inch “path” on top where you could get good footing without sliding. I vaguely remember one of my crazy neighbors riding a bike across at one point. I only fell off of it once. It was a very windy day. I was leaning into it and then it suddenly stopped. I readjusted my balance only to feel another large blast and I realized I was going over. I landed on my feet though and had I not sunk a good foot into the muck I imagine I might not have walked away from the fall.

Looking at it on Google, there is a house in what used to big a large open field on the other side. In the early summer I can remember spending hours picking and eating small wild strawberries from one end of the field to the other. They were sweet and busting with flavor unlike the seedy tasteless variety that grow where I live now. Later it was in that field I experienced what I consider to be my first ‘real’ kiss.

I have an iPhone I used when we wrote our game but I also have a Samsung Galaxy S2 which I use as my phone. I find it surprising one of the things I enjoy about it the most is sitting outside this summer listening to audio books. Recently my wife and I were out in the back yard late in the evening listening to Ready Player One written by Ernest Cline and narrated by Wil Wheaton. In these times where everyone is so involved in copyright legal issues, it struck me how you could write a book like that and not have to worry about it but if you tried to make an actual implementation of the OASIS much less a movie of it, it would be nearly impossible. The book is completely full of references to copyrighted material.

Anyway, it got pretty cool out. I ran a long extension cord out into the yard and we plugged in some electric throws to keep warm. It got pretty dark. When we decided to go inside I picked up the extension cord and commented to my wife how cold and slimy it was. As we got up toward the garage and into the light I realized the extension cord was covered in slugs and my hands were covered in slug slime. The slugs had found the electric superhighway through my yard.

Oh, I almost forgot. Something to make you say awww…

Free Water From The Sky

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

“This year is going to be different”, I thought to myself as I put in my tomato plants a month earlier than normal. Yeah, it was different alright. The last nine years we haven’t had a significant rain in July or August. This year we went nearly 90 days with only a quarter inch of rain. It’s not like it wasn’t in the forecast. We found ourselves glued to the radar many times as it passed north, east, south or west of us. Sometimes it would split or fizzle out just as it got near. I know it’s been nine years because we had our apple tree trimmed that year and I haven’t had to shovel apples in the fall in that long.

Indiana Drought map

Check out this picture of Morse Reservoir in this article from NBC.

I really miss the smell after a rain in the summer. Before they banned sprinkling I would run it when we sat out just to get that smell. It’s pretty bad when you are out there with a hose in your hand trying to decided what lives and what dies. Then yesterday it rained. It wasn’t a lot, maybe a third of an inch but it was more than we have gotten in the last 9 Julys put together.

Notice how dry the ground is in front of my tomatoes

I love tomatoes and the last couple years were pretty disappointing. This year I went a little overboard. I went in to buy Better Boys, one of my favorite varieties. Having trouble finding them I asked a clerk and not paying enough attention, I came home with Big Boys instead. I kept them and went back for Better Boys, an Early Girl, and a Cherokee Purple. I don’t think I’ve ever put in more than six plants and this year I have ten.

  

(Part of) Today's Harvest

I know weather isn’t climate but after nine years of thinking it would go back to what I used to consider normal I’m thinking next year I really need to go to some sort of container / drip system or full hydroponic. The tomatoes are doing fine with lots of watering but I buried them deep and got them in early. The squash and cucumbers have been struggling. I gave up on the raspberries completely. The birds started to get the blueberries so we netted them. For days afterward we would come out side to realize a bird was trapped in the netting. I have no idea how they were getting in.

It was a good year for these.

I don’t know if it was the hot dry weather or the fact that we left them on the bush for so long because it was too hot to pick them, but the blueberries are like blueberry flavored sugar this year.

This is an interesting article about using fungus to make crops more resistant to heat, cold, drought, and salt.

Another surprising thing about the drought was our peaches did well. The tree must have very deep roots.

Yummy!

We have been so busy the last couple of months. We had some rush jobs on a couple of web sites. One was pretty complicated. We also did an SQL Express database in C# that generated charts in a couple weeks. It’s nice to kick back and the weather today is beautiful.

 

Kicking Back.

Speaking of beautiful.

And something to make you say awww…