Saturday, March 26, 2011

Everbody Hold Hands and Sing Kumbaya

Sam has been spending lots of time recently studying for her test and has left me to my own devices. I have been passing the time reading lots of gardening blogs. I have also been reading books about garbage production, oh the exciting life of a college professor. The Naturemill has been working great producing good compost in about a week. However, just the two of us have to maxing it out each week. We have been questioning what will happen when the temperature gets warmer and the garden starts producing vegetables. One thing that keeps popping up on the internet blogs are the benefits of vermicompost. So lately I have reading up on worm composting.
Things you might not have known about composting red worms:
- If you cut them in half they do not grow into two worms
- Worms lay cocoons which can contain 2-10 eggs each
- Worm populations can double in 90 days
- Worms can eat half their weight eat day in garbage
- Red worms are not ground dwelling, they live on the decomposing forest floor
- Cardboard is some of a worm's favorite food
- Worms don't actually eat the decomposing material, they are after the bacteria decomposing it
- Worms can climb, can they ever
I bought a pound of red worms and built a worm habitat from an old rubbermaid container. I threw them in and the next morning, WORMS EVERYWHERE! They had climbed out of the container and were all over the garage floor. It's ok, Sam just rolled her eyes too. If you were ever interested, it takes about an hour to pick up 1000 worms. Back to the handy dandy internet. Turns out this is very common the first night. The worms are dehydrated from their travels and not used to their new habitat so they run away. I managed to collect most of the escapees, although I am still finding mummies in weird places. After adjusting their food a little everybody calmed down.
One of a thousand or so red worms pooping black gold in the garage.
After more research the rubbermaid tubs work, but aren't ideal. The air flow is too limited for really good production. With some of my birthday money I bought a Worm Inn. It is a breathable bag with a zipper mesh top and drawstring bottom. Food goes in the top and the finished castings are harvested from the bottom.
I had an extra garbage can that already had a hole in the side that has now literally become a can of worms.
The flow through design means everything is continuous. The worms work towards the top into the new garbage so there isn't too much sorting from the bottom finished material.
The worms eat lots of things that can't go in the Naturemill like cardboard which help to further decrease our garbage production. They love damp cardboard.
Pretty nice. This is now my composting corner of the garage. Once the worms get settled and up their production I have a competition in mind. I'm going to keep track of input and outputs from both systems to see which works better. Two to three pounds of worms should have comparable throughput as the Naturemill.
I never thought I would have a can of garbage eating worms in the garage.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Peas Please

Can you believe we hit 80 degrees in March. It was a great weekend to work outside getting the yard and garden cleaned up. Some garden items are running ahead of schedule like the peas and garlic, and some is moving slowly like the greens.
Garlic is already hand high.
I started about a hundred peas in root trainers the first of march. After three weeks they are busting at the seams. Bed size currently has onions in half and peas scheduled for the other.
Root trainers are pretty easy to use and produce deep roots. Since transplanting the onions was kind of a pain so I might be using these next year.
I built a modular PVC system to use as a trellis. As the peas grow a can add another level to keep them supported. When it gets warmer the pvc hoops will be removed.
The peas aren't quite tall enough yet to reach the trellis. I think by the middle of this week they will be hanging.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pink and Done!

This weekend was Kelly's Party. It was pretty easy to spot with all the pink-haired people milling around! The total raised from going pink and bald was $2140 as of today!

Kelly went first, followed by her dad, brother, and several other relatives. Actually, she just shaved off the top at first.

I went under the clippers a little later.

I went for the mohawk first. I thought I might as well take advantage of a unique situation and go with a unique haircut.

That's a pink mohawk!!
Towards the end of the night, Kelly shaved it all off.

I love this girl. As if the pink mohawk didn't say that already.

This was the pile of hair at the end of the night. This brings whole new meaning to "Locks of Love".
Here's a fairly odd couple. John came straight from a school function, still in his suit.

John being attacked, I mean, hugged by Kelly. Don't let him fool you, he enjoyed it.

There was a random guy we met who was at the bar. He was so inspired by everyone that he came down for a mohawk and his family even donated!

All of the girls at the end of the night. I love this picture. Shelley sold her amazing granola and for the last month, she donated $3 from each bag to the cause. Her total: over $200! That's a lot of granola!

Here was the bald group at the end of the night. Clearly, there are a lot of people who care about Kelly!

I kept the mohawk until Monday. Kelly came over and helped me finish off the mohawk. First, we cut off the last of the pink. Hmm, that is an "interesting" look.

All gone! It's going to take a little getting used to. My head gets cold pretty easy, but it is much faster to get ready in the morning.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Let's Talk About Your Priorities

Because if you weren't at the Beer Kitchen on Tuesday, we have a problem. Tuesday, besides Mardi Gras, was all hands on deck for Boulevard and Christopher Elbow's chocolate ale. Ok, a little back story. The San Francisco/Kansas City chocolatier Christopher Elbow teamed up with Boulevard to produce a very limited run of chocolate ale, released on Valentine's Day. It was a huge hit and sold out immediately. Well, as these things go Boulevard had a few more kegs than they let on and have been strategically releasing the remaining few. So thanks to the Kansas City beer blog for posting the good word, the Beer Kitchen in Westport had what might be the last four kegs. This week at 6pm they were tapping the last four kegs Monday through Thursday. The Monday opening was kind of a disaster with way too many people. Word went out Tuesday that tickets would be issued starting at 5 for the tapping at 6. This is serious stuff and I put out the call, meet at the beer kitchen at 5 or before. Luckily our friends have their priorities in order and most showed up between 4:50 and 5:00. We all got tickets and it was well worth the wait.
Sam, pink hair in all it's glory enjoying her first taste.
My ticket to the show.
It had a strong smell of dark chocolate and less chocolate in the taste. Overall, very good, very unique, delicious, and well worth the trouble.
That's right, like you were taught in chemistry. Waft that chocolate.
Hey, camera phones aren't that good. But you can almost taste it.
My excellent camera skill, from the third grade academy.
Shelley selling granola to the waitress. Although the waitress was a little upset that ur bacon me crazy was all gone. Come to think of it, since Shelley has been making bacon granola she does smell better.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Only Road in South Dakota

How to get from Rapid City, SD to Kansas City, head east, when you hit a town, head south. So the end of last week I went to Rapid City for a conference at the South Dakota School of Mines. The airport only gets 4 flights a day and my departure choices were a bit limited. Saturday morning it was foggy and apparently in Rapid City planes can't land in fog. Planes land at night just fine but don't ask them to land in the fog. All flights were canceled on Saturday and the ones on Sunday were full. The best they could do was a flight Monday, no thanks. I attempted to rent a car. Car rentals in South Dakota are individually owned and no one wanted to rent me a car that would leave the state. Luckily Hertz had one Arizona car that someone returned there, awhile ago. At the window they had a sign that said "ask us about our GPS units." I asked and the agent said "oh that, we don't have GPS." Well I asked. I loaded up in the world's oldest rental Toyota Camry and headed towards home. I stopped for a coffee and some novelty post cards and hit the road. I managed to get 5 miles before getting pulled over. The police officer kindly told me I was doing 5 over the speed limit, which had gone up anyway, I think it was the Arizona plates. After asking me where I was going he reminded me to be careful when I got to Sioux Falls (on the other side of the state) because then the speed limit goes back to 65. Well, 11 hours later I got to sleep in my own bed.
Rapid City airport when I got there. I guess an hour beforehand was more than enough.
Since security is only open sometimes.
A fairly typical resident.
I stopped by Wall drug to use the bathroom. It was pretty quiet. I passed on a well-priced stuffed buffalo.
I case you wondered what South Dakota looks like in March, here it is.
Keep telling yourself that.
Concrete tepee.
Sunday I worked in the garden planting onions and leafy greens. It is still a little cold so I picked up a light to try and keep them from freezing. The light was a little more than I expected and we might get a visit from aliens tonight. I think a tarp is in order to block some of the light.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pink You Say

Last night the team went to work on Sam's hair and succesfully produced cupcake pink. Her hair will stay pink until Kelley's loose your hair party in a couple weeks. Tomorrow she has a structural engineering conference and will forever be known as the girl with pink hair.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In Like a Lamb

With Sam studying for her structural engineering test and me with class and traveling, nothing much is doing on the home front. I am being very diligent about seed starting so hopefully we get some more production from the garden. A few early things were started a month ago but the bulk of the starting happened this weekend. The peas are in root trainers and the rest of the seeds went into coconut fiber mulch. About half of the flats are vegetables and the rest are flowers. We are trying out one of the beds for cut flowers this year. The cucumbers were very eager to get going. These were last year's seeds that produced loads of cukes. I took this picture in the morning, by the time I got home they were pushing against the lid. Last summer we planted three plants, this year the plan is 12. I have a feeling that pickles will be in everyone's christmas presents next year.
March 1st, the month old babies spent the first day out in the hoop house. This bunch has lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, green onions, and small regular onions, along with a few herbs. Maybe next weekend I will get around to planting this bunch. I need to pick up a lightbulb before they stay out overnight just in case it gets cold.
Last fall we cut down a load of trees shading the garden. With the increased sunlight I figured a sixth bed was in order. After work today I hauled dirt and amended the newest hoop house. The first hoop house has pvc mounts to the frame, for this one I got lazy and just stuck
everything into the ground. Hey my lack of effort paid off, it works just as well and can be removed whenever. I will probably de-engineer the first one also. The front half of this bed is scheduled for about 80 pea plants in a month and I will need to construct some supports. I am thinking pvc and netting. Thanks to everyone that has donated. Sam got to $1000 pretty easily and tonight is going pink. It looks like $2000 won't be much of a problem and she will end up bald on the 12th.