Monday, March 28, 2005

Curb Appeal; Guest Posting

Thursday through Sunday, I went up north to my cousin’s place in Darrington to help him put some curb appeal on his place before it goes on the market. The soil up here isn’t really soil so much as it is ground up glacial rock flour left over from when the glaciers retreated back up the mountains not so long ago in geologic time. Any water that precipitates quickly percolates and it’s hard to get anything but moss and sand trout to grow in the sandy native soil so he had 25 yards of good topsoil delivered and we’ve been putting in a front yard.

Off to guest poster Steve:

My house is in Darrington, which is about 75 miles North by Northeast of Seattle and is rural in every sense of the word. I’ve lived here since 1999 and have mostly enjoyed it but I decided that it would be in my best interest to move closer in towards Seattle, where I work and enjoy hanging out a lot more than I do up in the woods with the Coyotes and Sasquatches. For that reason I decided that putting in a lawn and ‘prettying up’ the front of the house would probably be a good idea – street appeal is a big deal when selling a house – or so I hear. Currently there is just a big patch of weeds occupying the places where a front and back lawn would go.

Hi MomLike Scott said the soil around here ranges from sandy to rocky, with a few variations in between. The local plants do pretty well in this soil but domestic grass will absolutely not grow – I’ve tried to get some going and it won’t germinate in the nutrient free sand. Paying 700 plus dollars for the dirt I need to cover the front yard is an absolute necessity. While I was at it I got a few yards of gravel to cover my driveway. This happened on Thursday the 24th and Scott and I played around with trying to spread out 25 yards of soil with shovels and rakes for about half an hour before we decided we were being silly and we should wait for the machinery I had rented to show up the next day.

Dirt Delivery:

Friday the 25th was ‘Bobcat’ day. The guy from the rental place came out with the machine (an Ingersoll/Rand Excavator), gave Scott and me a 5 minute class on which controls do what, and drove away. Scott and I then proceeded to make a mess of my back lot.

Bobcat Delivery:
For those of you who haven’t operated any equipment with tracks on it, like me before Friday, I offer a word of caution: Tracks dig up the turf something terrible if you aren’t careful. My plans to delicately spread the topsoil over the front yard soon turned in to a big mess, but the dirt got spread out relatively evenly after probably twice as much time as it should have taken me.

Spreading It Around:

Scott had fun tearing apart an old compost heap, and digging up old tree stumps (from when this area was nothing but cedar forest). .When all was said and done on Friday we were looking at maybe two hours of raking and fine tuning in the front before we were ready for the next step.

Spreading It Around More:

[Note from Scott; Fun is the word for it. Every scoop of the bucket was about two wheel barrow loads of soil. I've been having fantasies of renting one of these bad boys for my own use around our place. I could redo the whole garden area, putting in real raised beds and putting into service the area the the top of the garden that is currently a useless steep sided dome covered in black berries.]

Gravel Spread:

We awoke on Saturday to find that it was raining. No work was done outside. Instead we played Battlefield Vietnam on a LAN and drank coffee.

I'd also like to add to what Steve said about it being really easy to mess up your lawn with one of these. Digging holes in the ground - easy! Tearing out stumps, fence posts, etc. - easy! Terrorizing small animals - easy! Putting the dirt back in the hole, smoothing everything out, and making it look like a tractor hasn't been tearing around the yard all day - not so easy.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Across the street from our building at work, they are currently tearing down the circa late seventies, early eighties era shopping mall and replacing it with big bog stores like PetCo and Ross. For the past few months the area directly across the street has been covered with compression plates and several few of compacted rock, and in the middle of it all, an out house, nothing else, just an Port-o-San potty. The only other thing in the whole several acre area is… another port-o-potty. Why? Will someone someday drive up to the geographically isolated potty, use it, and then drive away? Are there union rules about how many potties you have to have and they stuck the extra one out there to just have it out of the way? Is it for when you want to go out of your area and use the potty way far away so as not to have any coworkers actually see you in the entrance or exit? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Today. May be....The day

...that we actually attach the molding to the wall. What do you think?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

March 20, 2005
Seeds in trays:
Corn (85), Showing: 0
Tomatoe Seedlings: 22 showing at 3 inches
Snow Pea Seedlings (55): 5 showing
Pole Beans, 100 in trays yesterday
Onions, 100 planted yesterday

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Rain Rain Take a Hike

Well, its Saturday (S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y ai yai yai...), I had big plans for spending raking and tilling and planting, but its raining to beat the band, alternating with irritating drizzle. I got my onion starts in the ground and rake grass clumps and root balls out of the potatoe beds, but it was not use. I did take my snow pea seedlings outside so they would get more light and be encouraged to GROW.

Question; I'm planning to leave at least two eyes on every sections of the potatoe starts I got at the gardening store. Does it make a difference one way or the other if I cut them all up now or wait until right before I plant them?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

More Questions

OK, so I'm going to plant my onions three inches apart and my potatoes about a foot apart. When you say I should mound them, you mean I should heap dirt up around the stalk of the plant after it pops up, right? Also, when I cut up my starter potatoes, I'm planning on leaving two or more eyes per peice. Sound about right?

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Faye's Halloween costume that she wore to the office last year

The Faye's birthday cake that Eileen made for her birthday today

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Weekend Spent in the Garden

Both Saturday and Sunday I got some serious time put in on the garden. All the beds have now been spaded and tilled. We're getting dangerously close to getting the cold crops and start into the ground.

Mom rakes up after the tilling.

Update on the War on the Blackberries:

Friday, March 11, 2005

Well, Blogger won’t let me post comments on other people’s blogs but I can make posts on my own still, so I’ll do my saying here:
Happy Birthday to Beth, Happy Birthday to Beth, Happy birthday Beyy-eth, Happy Birthday to you.
Congratulations on the employment Keith. The dollars a temp job earn you spend just as well as those brought in by permanent full time work. Now you can think about the garden and the pine nut for a few months before starting your searching activities again.

Mobile Sprout Lab

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Tomato Babies

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

More Progress Made

Today my co-conspirator Thomas and I got bed number four and about a third of bed seven spaded. The map (see below) is nowhere close to scale. Bed Four is about 4 by 5 feet. Bed seven is about 150 feet long. We worked the shovel (or in Thomas' case there was a lot of squealing, eating of grass, serious waving, and a few uncontrolled rolls down the hill) for several hours and then headed back to the house. The several hours part could not have happened without T's Mom who showed up with snacks, toys, and the inexhaustible ball retrieving labrador.

We also got about a hundred corn seeds pushed into the dirt of little plastic cups and got them situated in a protected place. The last productive thing I did was to move four or five 10 gallon containers of dirt onto the South facing deck in anticipation the tomato plants that will either come from the seeds I planted or more likely as starts from the store.


Sunday, March 06, 2005

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Today I started into the gardening season. I got about one third to one half of my beds spaded and started my seeds for tomatoes.

I want to do a ‘real’ vegetable garden this year – one that will provide a bounty of food that we can put up or freeze and enjoy throughout the year (Basically, I want a truck garden like Keith’s). I plan to grow tomatoes (I got seeds for Beefsteak and sweet cherry varieties), potatoes (reds), carrots, corn, beans, Peas, pumpkins, and lettuce. The general plan of attack will be to get the ground broken up and my seeds started in-doors in the next couple of weeks, and then put the cold soil crops like the peas and lettuce in the ground. Then plant seeds in the ground for things like potatoes and corn. I’m using the vegetable plot at my parent’s house rather than breaking ground on our property because theirs has much improved soil, gets better light, and is much closer to being ready to go. My dad was a prolific gardener until about the time I started middle school at which time he became more interested in long distance running and going to law school. He broke ground for his garden at about age 30, so its apropos that I pick up where he left off I supposed.

The crude map below shows the bed scheme Dad laid out. I plan to follow it. The slope of the hill runs gently from the top of the map to the bottom and true North is about where North by Northwest would be on the map. I think he laid the rows so as to take advantage of the sun as it travels East to West rather than worrying about erosion.

The plan as it is now is:
Bed Number: Plant:
1. Lettuce at top, beans on the top side, tomatoes on bottom
2. Peas at top, Beans on bottom half
3. Lettuce at top, beans on the top side, peas on bottom
4. Pumpkins or maybe water melon
5. Corn on left, carrots on right
6. My mom has flower bulbs planted here
7. Potatoes
8. Corn on left, carrots on right
9. I don’t know if I’ll get around to putting this one into use

I’m curious to know what people think. Are there considerations regarding light, water, etc. that I should take into account? Yummy crops I forgot to include or consider? I plan to try keeping my tall crops to the West so as to let the shorter plants get more light. Should I swap around the corn and potatoes so the corn won't overshadow the beans and peas? Should I move all the beans to the left of the peas?

Upper Beds

Upper Beds Take II


Lower Beds

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Ice Man rides on….

Three things for me to be happy about today:
1. Finding five bucks in my jacket that I put aside to pay my coffee dues at work but can now claim as my own
2. Singing along with AC/DC at the top of my lungs in the car
3. Homemade chicken noodle soup and cheesy quesadillas

Long after Nirvana and Sound Garden drove the last nail into the coffin of speed metal, and Metallica sold out, you could go to a little single story cinder brick building in Longview, called “Bart’s Fine Dining” in Longview and take a little trip back in time to when the hair was big, and high top sneakers, knee high white socks, and a skin tight jumpsuit wasn’t unusual attire for the bar band rocker. Sadly, now, Bart’s is closed and the acid washed jeans wearing clientele have had to pack other venues to hear bar bands blast the hits of the 70s and 80s – songs from groups like War, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, and Poison mixed in with Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

When we used to go there in the mid nineties it was half out of genuine pleasure at hearing the live bands and drinking the cheap booze and half to laugh at the weird time warp of spiky haired mullets, big bangs and big shoulder pads, and the “dancing.” Any time we went we could be guaranteed the reassuring presence of the Ice Man. I’m not sure if we called him that primarily because he fetched ice for the bartenders or if it was because he never spoke or looked at you, and had an almost reptilian stillness about him. He always dressed in white tennis shoes, black jeans, and a black concert tee shirt for a group like Anthrax, Iron Maiden, or possibly even Dokken. I don’t think he had to pay a cover charge and I can’t ever remember him not being there. He stood against the side wall where he could see the stage and also down along behind the bar to keep tabs on which bartenders needed another five gallon bucket of ice fetched from the back room. His place in the room reflected his social status in that he was more than a patron and less that an employee. If the band was really rocking he’d throw up what I’ll dub the “modified eddie” (thumb, index finger, and pinky extended, middle and ring fingers retracted against the palm) or kind of hop from side to side and hug himself but mostly he his stared into space like he was hearing music none of the rest of us were privy to.

Eventually life just moved on and I stopped going to hear bar bands. I now have a mortgage, student loans, a wife, and a kid – as Zorba would say “Wife, house, kids, the full catastrophe!” Bear in mind those are Zorba’s words, not mine. As I said, Bart’s is now closed. The other day I was wondering what might have become of Ice Man. Then Saturday I was driving along a long straight stretch of Pacific Way. Coming towards me was a quite used up looking Ford Taurus sedan in what was probably originally a teal hue of some variation. As it got closer I saw, scrunched down behind the wheel so you could barely see him, one wrist draped over the top of the steering wheel, with the other arm propped up and slowly twirling a drumstick, in big black wrap around shades the Ice Man. Ice Man rides on….