Friday, November 26, 2010

farmer fred, just may have something...

(and not to imply i dont learn a lot from him)
on december 7 2009. we received, what i believe, was a 100 year storm here in diamond springs.

on that day we received over 12 inches of snow. not earth shattering, but here at 1900 foot elevation, and supposedly below the snowline - it was a bit much.

well, if you recall, we had some severe tree damage across our half acre.

we lost one full oak tree and another oak tree saw 3 of its major trunks (out of six) snap from the weight of the snow. a lesser, tree in the front yard also lost a limb. that tree is a japanese maple that had good symmetry and fall color. the tree was in a challenging place, as it had to endure full southern and western exposure.

not a good thing for a japanese maple, but she seemed to endure the heat ok; up until that point.

the limb was obviously weakly attached, and it snapped off and pretty much ruined the symmetry of the entire tree.

the point of this post is pretty much one-fold. take a look at the photo and you will see severe bark defoliation as a result of sunburn on the trunk, just below the location the branch was broken from. prior to breaking off that limb offered enough canopy cover to shade the trunk from the sun.

having listened to the farmer fred (kfbk and kste garden guy on sundays 8:30 -12) for years and hearing the pro's, cons and arguments about the merits of white washing the trunk of a tree to reduce sun burn - and just recently hearing his talk with annalisa stewart, who maintains white washing isnt proven to do anything but paint a tree white - i believe there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to suggest that whitewashing is probably worth the effort.

i would bet there would be an even chance that sunburn would not be as severe. i even offer, if sunscreen is proven to reduce skin sun damage, why wouldnt the same logic flow on trees. paint or sun screen, offers a thin layer to which the rays of the sun hit first, reducing damage to whats underneath. seems logical, but at best - all i have is anecdotal evidence.

one downside, i wouldnt like to have a whitewashed trunk in my front yard. in addition, the lack of symmetry probably will result in the tree getting pulled. it is a focal point in my yard and the way she looks now, is not helpful. i was hoping the tree would push another limb and recover, worst case, i dig it up and plant it in the backyard.

to paint or not to paint - well, i'm thinking i'm back in the painting camp with farmer fred.

Monday, November 22, 2010

got my first 2011 seed catalog today!

got my first seed catalog for 2011 today. totally tomatoes, still looking for tomato growers supply and a couple others - but its looking up!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

when shredders devour themselves

these are the parts, i had to replace on the shredder. somehow one of these guys decided to come loose, and pretty much made the device pretty lethal for all things down stream. these parts are the flail portion of the shredder and are pinned to the flywheel - which is the working end of the device.

october glory maple

the picture isnt as vibrant as the real thing, but its still not bad.

black gold - at least the start of it

what you see here, is the makings of the best stuff on earth - or i should say from earth.

well, i decided i have to completely re-rig my compost system.

it turns out this 2 bin system, just didnt have the capacity for the yard waste i was able to generate in a year. this came apparent late in 2009, when i was cleaning out my garden beds. so, that fall - i ripped out the bins (which are real cool and made from recycled plastic - i bought it about 10 years ago at my last house).

so i did the pile thing and didnt shred the garden waste last year; i just kinda chopped it up and let nature takes its course.

i dont have the time to manage the compost pile, so it never warmed up too much. i added dr earth compost builder - and it didnt do much, but relieve my wallet of $10. as fall kicked it and temps cooled, i will be building a new series of bins.

i have been noodling on it awhile and after referencing an online guide:

and farmer freds blog and radio show,

it looks like i will have a 4 or 5 bin system. at this point, i am planning each bin being 4x4 in size, possibly 5x5 depending upon a few factors i am still working on. that would mean a series of bins 20-25 feet long. a monstrosity, for sure, but with some careful landscape planning and i believe i will be able to mask the bins.
this may be overkill, but with a low compost management time, i would bet 4- 5 years should be sufficient to generate compost the slow way. so the way it will work, will be thus - bin 1 will receive all green and brown for 2010. that pile will move to bin 2, in 2011. bin 1, will then take 2011 stuff. each year, the piles will move up 1 bin, and by the time a pile finishes up in bin 5, it should be black gold.

good compost, like fine wine, cant be rushed, and given more and more trees getting larger and generating more leaves, every year- size will matter for my composting. so to make room for the new bins, i had to haul out all of last years compost pile and while i was at it, i figured it would shoot it thru the shreader this year. and the pile you see here is only the pile from last years goodies. shreding of this years garden commences this week.

Monday, November 1, 2010

i am a bit less organic today....

its been over a month since i last posted. i would LOVE to say i was diligently working at bill birds rental assisting him in his painting chores - but to tell the truth, between scout stuff, work stuff and other stuff, i have gotten about zip done around my house this past month.

my last post showed the rating of several types of tomatoes, and between now and then the garden moved into steep decline and i started to pull out the remnants of the plants. as i started to shred the plant remnants, my shredder began to shudder and made moves that any break dancer would be proud.

the sound - oh the sound - it reminded me of an engine coming apart. i was able to shut it down and the flail parts of the shredder decided to disintegrate and actually punched a hole in the chute housing; i am glad i wasnt downrange of the dismemberment of the shredder. so $150 in parts on order later and my garden cleanup tasks are on hold.....

now for why i am less organic. if you recall a previous post:

it was april 2009 and i decided to go organic for grass fertilizer. it was the right thing to do. now, 18 months later, i have changed back to 'best turf supreme'. why? you ask? well they started showing up about 10 months ago. 'they' are worm castings. not a bad thing at all, and in fact i welcomed them. from what i have learned from farmer fred's radio and the organic advocate steve zion, worms and the resulting castings are a real indicator of a well balanced soil eco system.

'GREAT!' i thought at the time. well several months later and an increasing volume of castings and i am finding - at least for me in my turf areas - castings just arent going to work out.

really -its me, not you; mr. nightcrawlers. as referenced in my april 2009 post, i am anal for a lush green, leave it to beaver style front yard. and in my zeal for that lushness, i used the dr. earth lawn fertilizer. and it did its job. the lawn responded and so did the crawlers. castings pushed up daily. the subterranean bulldozing - which they do - left an uneven lawn. worst of all - when enjoying the lawn, you would leave it with mud spots on ones derriere.

not cool. i figured i could live with the inconvenience of the castings. but as time went on and it continued to get worse and worse. there is no way i can get rid of the offending critters; however my hope is a return to a fertilizer based upon salts will diminish their numbers and will, hopefully, get my lawn as green as i like - sans the mud spots.