Saturday, December 29, 2007

Another Unknown Soldier


Gratuitous cat photo.

More figs were pruned today.

"Vancouver" found variety. As noted before, possibly Brunswick/Magnolia/Dalmation. Pruned to spurs of 1-2 buds of last year's growth. These may actually be spurs of the 2nd part of last years growth, that responded to pinching by branching. In most cases, I removed 6 inches to one foot of growth. I could not help but leave a couple of embryo figs, despite thinking that the breba crop did not amount to much. Live and learn. I'm aiming for a 'bowl' shaped tree with an open center.

Lattarula/White Marseilles etc. this is also pruned to spurs, more or less. The aim here is for a more "fan-like" arrangement since this tree is near the house.

All of the fig trees got a couple of big handfulls of crushed eggshells for calcium, scattered on the ground.

Pruning Grapes

Here is the arbor before pruning. I read that it's necessary to remove 90% of the previous year's growth. These vines are Interlaken, Canadice, and Venus.

After. For the most part, all 3 vines were pruned to spurs. In most cases, to 2 or 3 buds per spur. That meant that more than 90% of last year's growth was removed. I keep debating, am I leaving too much? Am I removing too much? Since this year the vines were amost too crowded, I should not leave more now than I did last year.

Similarly for this Price grape. There were only a few bunches of grapes this year. I don't know if I am using the right method. Plus, the squirrels (furry little Satans with paws) chewed off most of the flower buds along the top, which is where most of ther flower buds were.

After. Most of the remaining vine is pruned to spurs. There is one cane left along the top as well. I couldnt decide which method was better. Maybe I'll pay more attention this time.

Plus, I need to add a chicken-wire top, or something, to thwart the furry little beasties in their develish missions.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

More Unknown Soldiers

More unknown soldiers. On the reverse, the caption "Ft. Benj Harrison 9-24-10. Getting ready for inspection. Frank." Postmarked 9/27/1910
This is about actual size as displayed on the blog. Clicking on the photo enlarges it. The preserved detail on these old photos can be impressive.
How many of these men went to their deaths in unknown battles?

Planning and seed orders

Tonight I browsed the "Totally Tomatoes" website and placed orders for the seed varieties that are listed below.

They didn't do so great in 07. Too cool and rainy. Maybe I didn't give them enough of an early boost with warmth and plant food (fish emulsion). Maybe I'll try the 'wall-o-water' again. It helped in 06, but at one point I thought they were getting steamed, and it was complicated making sure that I had them open on sunny days. Here is a photo, including the 'wall-o-water's, from 4/16/06. Spring really does happen, I just need to remind myself of that sometimes.

Better Boy Hybrid Tomato - 75 days- This has been one of the reliable ones.
Black Krim Tomato - 69 days - Tried Black from Tula and Cherokee Black in 2007, good tasting, not so productive.
Lemon Boy Hybrid Tomato - 72 days - My all time favorite, have to keep trying.
Ponderosa Red Tomato - 80 days - Childhood favorite. Who am I kidding? I doubt that this will perform in the Pacific Northwest. Still, all it takes is one tomato.
Super Sweet 100 Hybrid Tomato - 65 days - Ning's favorite and the best growing cherry in this yard.

This year I'll try some peppers again. They don't usually produce until late summer or fall. Maybe try the 'wall-o-water' method.
Bulgarian Carrot Chile Pepper - 65-68 days - Never tried before.
Cayenne Long Red Slim Pepper - 75 days - This does 'ok' in my yard, 2 years running. But only a few peppers resulted.
Hot Portugal Pepper - Early ripening at 65 days. Worth a try.

Sunny Delight Hybrid Squash - Some variety to keep things 'fresh'

I did check out some other web sites, but none had the "Lemon Boy" tomato seeds. I suppose that I could have tried 1- or 2-year-old seeds, but didn't want to take the chance on these favorites.

I may also dig out old seeds and see if I can grow some varieties that I grew before. Viability-wise, they should be OK. I suspect that I can locate some old seeds from past years, and would like to try again.

Other Garden Chores today

1. Emptied the 9 month old compost container. Filled it with the summer cleanings, which are mostly from the chicken coop. Not that compost bin is ready for winter chicken coop cleanings.

2. The compost was layered on the chinese chives which have been growing in a 1/2 whiskey barrel for 2 years.

3. More was layered on a rhubarb plant in the front yard, and on some Chinese chives in the ground in the front yard. As these become more established, I am hoping that they are more vigorous and need less care than the containerized plants.

4. Pruned Tree Peony. The buds are swelling, so it was easy to see where to prune.

5. Chopped garden bed cleanings. Most were gladiolus and crocosimia stalks. These went onto borders without further processing. The Tomato plants went into the bottom of the compost bin that will be blessed with chicken coop materials through the winter.

Fig maintenance and garden bed cleanup

Today the worlds stopped a little, and I did some garden maintenance. It might be a bit early for pruning the figs, but I think it should be OK. All of the beds are mixed function, so even though this is the 'fig bed', it also contained the tomatoes, is bordered with strawberry plants, and contains some ornamentals along one side. In 2008 I think I'll remove some of the ornamentals, and grow fewer tomatoes. They did not do as well this year. Today, I removed the dead tomato vines, removed the posts, pruned the peonies, pruned the figs, and pulled a few weeds.

This Hardy Chicago fig made some puny attempts at figs in 2007, but it was too small (2nd season). I pruned for shaping, to keep it small and open.

This petite negri fig didnt make many brebas. Last year I left a fair amount of growth in hopes of a good breba crop. Today I pruned more aggressively, to maintain small size and open form. The hope is that without brebas, the main crop may arrive a little earlier.

Bathroom. Removal of shower stall.

"Rambo of the bathroom demolition"

Shower stall "before". That saw made a big difference - it let me cut 'surgically' through nails and a few boards, and the result was faster, less tiring, and more intact framing to reuse. I still have all 10 fingers - I counted them.

1/2 way there. All of the exposed 2X4's were cleaned up and are now sitting in the basement where I hope they'll stay dry and straight. They will be re-used in the framing later.

Gone, except for the pipes. I'll have to learn how to cap the source, then remove them.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy Hens

The white blur is chicken wire. They are quite happy, clucking actively. They like their dry house and their nutritious diet.
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Master Bathroom Project. Demolition.

Today my brain went on strike. I couldn't work (it was my 'day off' but I almost always work the whole day from home). Just couldn't. So, I pulled up the particle board layer from the master bathroom floor, removed some drywall, removed a wall that had separate the bathroom from the 'empty space', removed part of the wall separating the bathroom from the closet. Here is the result. Nice, from the bedroom you can't tell there is anything different.
The yellow part is the backing and framing that i did in the guest bathroom. this area will be used for the new shower location.
The 2X4's are salvaged for framing. These are nice, already aged and cured, straight, and of course, the recycling is environmentally friendly. Since they started out as framing, they may even be the right length for their new location. Maybe.
The particle board and mold are gone. The sub floor is soft around the toilet, but it will be relplaced anyway becaues the new floor calls for 3/4" outdoor grade plywood and a cement backerboard. The old subfloor is 1/2 inch indoor grade plywood. I'm very happy about getting rid of the mold.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This photo from December 17, 2005. This year it's not frozen yet. Looks like SO FAR it's a milder winter.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

It's amazing to have so many people look at this blog from all over the globe.

Vintage Photo. Brothers?

I don't know who they are. The photo was in Emma Herrman's collection from Quincy, Illinois. They look like brothers.

Master Bathroom: Floor plan before & after

Here is the "before". The layout is cramped and awkward. There is no exhaust fan. I don't know if the outside wall is insulated. The window is in an odd location, in the corner behind the door - you can't really look out of it. The shower is dark and cramped. There is no tub.

The closet and 'empty space' will become part of the floor plan for the larger bathroom. The 'empty space' was created by changing the floorplan of the original guest bathroom - click on 'bathroom project' for details of that remodel. Even though this space was 'cannibalized' from the other bathroom, more efficient use of that bathroomn's space meant that no meaningful loss of floorspace occurred and the overall feel is much more roomy.

This is the new layout. The door will be a pocket door, which will create more wall and floor space for both the bathroom and master bedroom. The toilet will have a bit more space, and since the shower will have a glass wall, the visual space will be more opened up there as well. I'm hoping that there will be room for double sinks and for a spa tub, although when the space is opened up we'll draw the plan on the floor to get a better feel for it.

By having a towel closet in the bathroom, there is less need for the linen closet which is going to be taken over to replace the lost bedroom closet space. There will also be cabinets in the new closet with space for linens.

Other improvements not seen on the drawing will include an exhaust fan. It's hard to believe that a window is OK for code instead of a fan. Who opens the window in the winter? Plus, a window doesn't really exhaust either the humidity or odor, very efficiently. Possibly a radiant heat floor, or heated towel rack.

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Overwintering. Dark, cool & dry vs. light, not as cool, and not as dry

This dracaena and trailing pelargonium are overwintering, dry, dark, in the garage. It is attached so doesn't freeze.
The brugmansia overwintered in this spot last year, same garage. The cannas were dug up this tijme because several died or did very poorly with overwintering outside last year. Some pelargonia and zantedeschia are overwintering in this situation as well. The more tender zantedeschia dont survive winter here, but take to the dry/dark/cool method very well.
This is the spare bedroom that, until a month ago, had a carpeted floor. You cant see the spot here, but there is a 1X3 foot plywood patch on one side. The rest is a nice hardwood oak floor, full thickness tongue and groove oak. I need to get saucers under a couple of pots (as soon as I finish this posting). The cacti (Epiphyllum and a coujple of opuntia) should be OK here since they have wintered for several years in the room. The citrus are a bit anemic but as long as they survive, that's OK. There is also a small brugmansia - we'll see how it does, a cavendish banana - last year it died down to the container, and I would like to keep more of it alive if possible. An aloe, and two gingers are also present. the gingers may be OK outside or in the garage, but i wanted to see if I could maintain them green for a head start next year.
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Master Bathroom Remodel: What lurked under the vinyl flooring.

Arrgghhh. This is the part that is fun+horrifying. After removing the cabinet and toilet, and pulling up 2 layers of vinyl flooring, this is what we see. I'm not actually too surprised, the other bathroom also had some significant mold problems in the floor. Note to myself: don't even ever THINK about using particle board in bathroom or kitchen flooring. It composts in there! Actually, once this layer of particle board was removed, under it was another layer of linoleum flooring which appears undamaged. I will need to replace the drywall and subfloor anyway - as with the first bathroom, the entire subfloor down to the joist will be replaced with outdoor grade plywood then layers of polyethylene to seal, then backerboard, dryset, and tile. All of the drywall will be replaced as well, since the room will be reconfigured and only a fraction of the original walls will remain in place and that fraction will have to be pulled out for new wiring and plumbing.

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Master Bathroom Remodel. The Beginning.

View from master bedroom. The closet will be annexed to make more space in the bathroom, and the entrance will be at about the middle of the current closet door. Conveniently, this will free up solid oak flooring from the closet to used for a patch in the spare bedroom, where plywood was used for a prior patch and the whole mess covered with carpeting. A linen closet will be converted into a walk-in closet for the bedroom (later) so there will not be net loss of bedroom closet space.

The original shower doesn't look too bad, but the newer shower will be a little larger, have more glass for additional light, and will have a ceiling light.

The new toilet will be in the same location, but the sink location will be moved. In its place there will be a narrow linen closet and, at least in the current plan, a jetted tub will occupy the part of the counter space where the current sink is seen. Given the low profile of the tub and the replacement of the wall to the right of the toilet with a glass shower enclosure, the space won't be as claustrophobic.
View from the original shower. The tub will be under this window. In the current plan the new window will be wider and lower, possibly a green-house-type small bay window, and the tub will be under the window.

Today I had no ambition at all. After a few hours of "homework" from work, I didn't feel like working any longer, wasn't in the mood for a nap or reading, and didnt have the mental acuity to study. So I started demolition. Closet shelves were removed, sink, counter, and toilet are gone, shower door is gone. I didn't want to mess up the houise with drywall dust, so I stopped there. With the closet doors closed and bathroom door closed, you can't tell that anything was done.
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Friday, December 07, 2007

Elephant Ear vintage photo

I think this would be Colocasia esculenta. no details on the location of the photo, or the lady in it. Probably from 1920s, I'm guessing.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

ginkgos in fall

This big ginkgo tree is about 6 blocks away fro our house. She is female, leaving a few fruits to be picked up by the ginkgo enthusiast. No time for that this year. I still have a number of seedlings in need of homes.
This tree was waist high when planted here last year. It has had a slow start, groing in pots. Probably about 8 years old, planted from Quincy seed and grown in a flower pot. About 1/2 of the growth has occurred since planting in the ground last fall. Posted by Picasa

chicken headquarters

This is the inside of the egg house. The chickens like the end booths, and dont ust the middle one.
The house on the left is new. Ning and I built it 2 weeks ago. the siding and doors are from a single sheet of 4 X 8 siding. The chickens like going in and out, and they are protected from the rain.Posted by Picasa