Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Pumpkin Tree

I have some Long Island Cheese Pumpkin seeds that I saved a few years ago. I don't really have a good spot to plant them, but this year decided to put them in the bed with the quince tree.
As you can see, the pumpkin vine has climbed into the quince tree, so yesterday when I went around the corner of the house, I saw a pumpkin hanging from the tree -- a very amusing sight. You can also see a quince fruit on the branch the vine is weighing down. This is the first year I've had quinces.
I've since propped up the branch with a bamboo tripod; hopefully this will keep the branch from breaking under the weight of the maturing pumpkin. I'm debating whether I need to put some kind of net on the pumpkin -- I've heard of melon growers doing that when growing melons on a trellis.

This is the other largeish pumpkin growing in that bed -- in its proper place on the ground.

The pumpkin vine is also trying to swallow the porch, competing with the New Dawn rosebush for "Audrey Two" status.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fun with Tape Loom

A few years ago I bought a treadle tape loom from David Hoffman of The Joyner's Shop. The loom is a replica of one at the Landis Valley Farm Museum. I had to tweak it a little -- namely, sand down the sides of the rigid heddles a bit -- when the wood swelled up with summer humidity, but otherwise it's a lovely loom. I didn't use it much the first year or two that I had it, but this spring I've been weaving on it a lot more. Weaving on the loom goes quickly compared to a hand-held rigid heddle loom, since it has treadles.

The tape you see in the first two pictures is woven with 8/2 cotton. I've also woven a wider strap using cotton carpet warp (blue and yellow design), and wove some narrow tape using the leftover thrums from my dishtowel warp to weave matching loops for the towels.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rain Barrels -- Installing the Plumbing Fixtures, Part 2

Ok, where was I?

The first picture to the right shows the fitting (a 5/8" male shank mender) that will have a hose connecting my two rain barrels. We left that fitting off Dad's, since he only has one rain barrel.

The next five pictures show the fitting that will connect the downspout to the rain barrels, along with a screen to keep large debris out of the barrel. I'll put some window screen in the screen to prevent moquitos from breeding in the barrel.

One of the barrels we got had a square indentation instead of the round one seen below; we'll use that barrel as the overflow, and fit the downspout into this one, as it was easier to cut the hole for the downspout fitting.

1. Mark the cutting line
2. Drill a pilot hole
3. Cut the hole, filing if necessary

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Is Dirt the New Prozac? Or, Why Gardening is Good for You

Apparently, a common soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, may relieve depression.

And here I thought I was just getting depressed because I was looking out the window at all the weeds.

Seriously, gardening does make me feel better. I think it's mostly the act of moving one's body around that breaks the mind out of that merry-go-round of obsessive thoughts and grumbling. Works most of the time for me, any way. Sometimes I'm so wrapped up in a train of thought that it doesn't work, but I haven't been that upset in a long time.

It's mid-summer, and it's been oppressively hot (near, and occasionally over, 100) during daylight hours, so the garden's been neglected aside from occasional forays out to pick ripe veggies. We did get a break in the weather today, though -- it was 83 degrees when I got home from work, so I did about 20 minutes of weeding (my limit for myself, so I don't do my out-of-shape knees/back/etc. too much damage), and made more progress than I thought it would. No, didn't remember to take any pics. It's mostly black-eyed susans in bloom right now anyway, with a few smatterings of yarrow.

With any luck I'll be able to get back out there through the weekend and restore a little order. I need to pull out the bean plants and prep those beds for some fall leaf vegetables; I left for vacation in mid-July and forgot to tell DH to pick the beans while I was gone, and they stopped producing. I intend to plant spinach every year, and every midsummer it's so hot I can't contemplate that much work outside. We'll see.

We gave the house a bit of a cleaning last weekend, too, which helps when one is confined inside due to either hot or cold weather. Few things are more annoying than being stuck inside a dirty house. Still have too much clutter, but at least there's less dust and dog hair.

Hm, organization. Can you see a theme here?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rain Barrels -- Installing the Plumbing Fixtures, Part 1

We got a start on the rain barrel project. They're not deployed yet -- we still need to pour a small concrete pad and build a platform for them so we have some water pressure (gravity). But it's a start.

The first thing we did was to install a PVC elbow for an overflow tube. Here you see Himself filing the hole a little, as the keyhole bit (next picture) cut a hole slightly too small for the PVC elbow. That's not a bad thing, though -- the threads on the elbow cut into the plastic of the barrel, which makes for a good fit. We screwed in the fitting, backed it out, applied caulk (we went with T Rex caulk, which is supposed to be very strong) and then screwed it back in.

The next step is to install the drain. We bought one 3/4" male (i.e., with threads on the outside) boiler drain per barrel and used a forstner bit to cut the hole. The drain fitting is brass, so it cut very nice threads in the plastic when we screwed it in. Again, unscrew fitting, apply caulk, and screw back into barrel.