Tuesday, August 19, 2008

cover crops, rain barrels and shady cloth

we have for several days been blessed with on again off again rains with several good strong drenchings. some folks are already wondering when the rains are going to stop?*&@!? these such folk are clearly not farmers or gardeners. where as i am hoping it sticks around for the week. our poor land needs this rain, we've been in deficit for such a long while.

hey is this wise guy squash bloom throwing me the finger? hmmmm.

the ground is wet and the soil is ready to take seed. there is more rain expected in the coming days. you don't have to twist my arm, i am taking advantage of the weather. walked into the garage today, reached into my seed stashing mailbox and pulled out two pounds of the low growing good bug blend from peaceful valley farm & garden supply.

the good bug blend is a great mix of flowers, and herbs and even some veggies designed to attract all the good guys to your planting areas. most folks might plant this out in the spring but down here in texas, it's a good fall planted blend. nope, it's not fall yet but i figure with this wet rain it might just have a chance and truly benefit the fall garden.

here's the peaceful valley chatty chat about the good bug blends.

Beneficial insects are a natural army of pest control allies and it is important to provide them with suitable living conditions if you expect their help. In order to reproduce, beneficial insects need nectar and pollen. If they do not find these in your field (and they are very particular. Ñot just any flowers will not suffice), they will leave and may not return. We pioneered these seed mixes for beneficial insect habitat. We designed our mix to include plants which are proven hosts to specific wild as well as introduced beneficials, such as predatory mites and wasps, ladybugs, lacewings, syrphids, tachnids, predacious beetles and many more. Good Bug Blend has been field-proven for over a decade in large and small scale growing areas. Since the mix blooms nearly year round, Good Bug Blend should be planted in areas which can go a little wild, such as field borders, ditchbanks, fence rows, etc. Generally, you need to plant only 1-5% of your land with this mix for good results. Drill or broadcast seed at 10-15 lb/acre (1 lb/1,000 sq ft) in any but the coldest months of the year. Large scale growers: if you are planting in fall, add vetch at 5 lb/acre. If you are planting in spring, add 10 lb of buckwheat and 10 lb of cowpeas/acre. (See Cover Crop Seed section). Blooms begin 45-90 days after planting and will continue for years. Our mix contains crimson, rose and sweet clovers, subclovers, alfalfas, gypsophila, eriogonum fasiculatum, white alyssum, nasturtium, yarrow, carrot, dill, daikon, celery, radish, fennel, caraway, chervil, coriander, and more.
sounds good enough to eat right? yeah well it is and i do pick from it. i also think this is going to be a big big big hit with the chickenchicas.

the girls have adjusted daily to the sun's seasonal transition. i was up and out before they this morning and i gave them a hard time about it. it was about 6:30am and they were awake but still hanging out on the roost.
still sleeping..... hmmmphf

i turned on their radio, kept the volume soft so as not to disturb the neighbors and walked into the garage to get the clippers in order to prep a morning treat for the chicas. i returned with the goods to find only ms. freckles ready for the day. saffron and alfie were sleeping in. it's raining today chickenmama, why not? i let them be but as soon as i opened the door to the run, inspiration grabbed both alfie and saffron and they were down in shot to investigate the goings on. silly wabbits.

right now the ladies are enjoying a morning taste of
pleasant greens including basil, red shisu, grass clippings, oregano, parsley and thyme. they were all over it, especially the red shisu. i don't know if it was the color that proved most attractive or the lemony flavor but they were chasing each other around for it. opera kitty had a grand ole' time just watching them do their thing. he had his nose right up to the run but the girls paid the poor boy no mind.

opera was soon occupied with my removal of the coops shade cloth. with the days growing shorter and (fingers crossed) our heading into a cooler part of the season, i figured now was a good time to let in a little extra light. everybody enjoys pretty sunshine, especially my girls. as soon as the shade cloth was dropped to the grass, opera was inside rustling around. he soon settled inside his little cocoon to take a short rest.

remember this idea? the rain barrels on the tires idea? yeah well some ideas are better than others and this idea, not so good. once full, the barrels began to resemble the leaning tower of pizza. i just let it go for a while as they seemed to be holding steady but once full they leaning looked a bit more precarious and i thought what if a kitty or creature were passing by when this baby decided to go over? that would be bad.
i'm not going to risk it. so i wrestled with the barrels and finally got them both to ground level. much safer now but heavy as all heck.

the good news is that we've now got four full barrels on reserve. that's an easy 240 gallons of water ready for the taking, no chlorine,
au natural from the sky. the off news is that they are now on ground level and bit harder to draw from when the reserves run low. i may, in the near future have to craft a special support platform for each. it's all about taking advantage of gravity baby.

because of all this rain, i've fashioned an extra super downpour catchment system here you can see opera kitty modeling so that you might best understand the scale of the project. it's really quite simple. i've gathered my galvanized tubs and set them under the gutter. the massive downpours cause the water to jump right out of the gutter. i'm going to have to take the gutter down, add a support and rehang so that the weight of the water does not cause the gutter to dip down which is what's causing the spill over.

you can see the girlygirl's radio here too. i've bungied to a horizontal coop support, nothing schmancy.

i've then piled up a bunch of my garden burlap to soak up any extra water that may escape my ingenious catchment system. again opera kitty felt it important for you to have an idea of scale. the water you see in the tubs is from today. we've had a couple of good rushes.

all in all though, the girls coop has remained perfectly dry. so though it may not be the most beautiful system to date, it is working. and when the sun comes out, i simply hang the burlap on the line to dry, use the water for plants or bird/creature water bins and wallla! good as new.

making bread today - oatmeal honey - mmm mm mm

i'm on a clean the house roll. i've swept, mopped and now i'm going to do the 7 month flea treatment. i'm going to employ the power of enforcer flea spray for homes. i last treated the home late december and it really did the trick. it's been 8 months now so i'm a month behind.

the wet weather refreshed my mind actually. it was during a wet spell that the leaping giants took hold of supercat and me. i probably brought them in. later i learned that around here, they jump through the screen windows - clever buggers that they are.

no it's not totally organic.
it's an orderless liquid with pyrethiums and an egg development inhibitor called nylar. i tried and tried and tried to keep things completely organic on this front but nothing worked. i'm telling you, i think fleas have been around as long as dinosaurs, alligators and any other amber fossilized creature. they just are tough to beat but this stuff has really done a great job.

i follow the directions to a t and i keep all creatures including myself (after i finish spraying of course) out of the house until the spray is completely dry and then some (as instructed). i've still got the upstairs to do but that is a much smaller area compared to the downstairs area.

i did spray the yard with beneficial nematodes earlier in the year and i do believe it's also played a large part in our flea free environment. the vets around here are constantly urging their clients to treat their yards with beneficial nematodes so there must be something to it. and the bummer is that it's always flea season here since we don't get long freezing temps.

before the sweeping and the mopping and the spraying, i hit the studio determined to clean at least half of the old projects lying around out of the house for good. it's not uncommon for artists to want to keep bits of past projects around just in case the materials become useful in the future or for some sentimental "i worked really hard on this" reason.

as of late, i've wondered why i keep any of that stuff at all. i never design something the same way twice. i never use one design in space for a different show in the same space. it's just not me and frankly i would find that boring and not at all stimulating. so i'm recycling a good bunch of it. there's quite a few boxes outside just now filled with old papers, and plots and process work.

i pulled what might actually be useful for future reference but the rest - gone baby gone gone gone. and there's more that needs going, i'm just going to wait another week before burdening the recycling folk with more stuffs. it feels good to see it going.

there's a whole lot more recycling to be had in this home of mine. i've got a good number of books that could be donated to the library and clothes that could be donated to a local shelter or hospice facility. there are some books i just can't let go of, those i turn to and read over and over and over, but most i read once and that's it. i should probably think about a yard sale in the not too distant future - lighten the load - live even simpler and in turn not buy anything to fill the space just set free. i want to stop that stuff cycle.

craigslist has worked very well for me but i think it might be nice to just get it all together and meet a few folks along the way. it's interesting to see who buys what.

i had to use the dryer today, with the rain and all the outside line probably would not have been very successful. haven't used it much though so i figure it's not so bad, just be good about it when you can and go from there.

now i'm rambling. time to go. chow!

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