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Archive for March, 2010

Ambient Weather WS-1080

After years of wanting one, today I finally ordered a ‘real’ home weather station.

I’ve had some small wireless La Cross indoor/outdoor thermometers for years, but they only monitor indoor/outdoor temperature and, the most recent one, indoor humidity.  A major disadvantage of these inexpensive transmitters was the inability to get an accurate reading when the sun would shine directly on the outdoor sensors.   They are also a bit limited in their range.

The weather station I just ordered is an Ambient Weather WS-1080 Wireless Home Weather Station w/ Data Logging.

It outputs to a  touch screen panel or to a computer for display and logging of in and outdoor temperature (with highs and lows), in and outdoor humidity (with highs and lows), rainfall  (1hr, 24hr, week, month, etc), windchill, dew point, wind direction (displayed on a compass), weather forecast arrows, alarms (including storm warnings), plus more.

One of the coolest parts is the ability to log the data on a PC.  I can also publish the data to a website or upload to a number of online community weather monitoring sites, if I so choose.

This seems like a pretty complete package for my needs and budget.  I ordered the Ambient Weather WS-1080, which includes the panel and the four sensors for $99US.  I also added an SRS100LX temperature and humidity radiation shield for an extra $39US.

Optional Solar Shield

This should provide me with a good base to learn about weather logging.  I can’t wait for it to arrive.

I ordered it from Ambient Weather.

Related links:

Weather Underground

Ambient Weather

Direct link to the WS-1080

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Blueberry blossoms- How long do they last?

The Chippewas have already started!  It looks like there’s going to be dozens of blossoms in the days and weeks to come.

While this is exciting, the situation is bitter-sweet.  I don’t have another variety (required for pollination) anywhere near ready.   The Dukes are the closest and they are just now starting to set buds.

 Gauging off the Chippewa’s progress, the Duke won’t be blooming for another three weeks.  Hopefully the warmer weather we’re expecting this week will give them a boost, but it’s still going to be close.

I’m sure glad we added the Dukes.   Especially since the transplants still aren’t showing any signs of life.  I’m not sure if this has to do with the damage they endured this winter or if it’s just still too early.

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Here’s a great blueberry resource from Michigan State University.  Well worth a read if you are looking for information on blueberries. http://www.blueberries.msu.edu/

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Just a couple a random thoughts as I relax and enjoy this beautiful rainy day…

Springtime lawn destruction: Where’s the logic in ‘rolling’ the lawn?

Over the last few days at least three of my neighbors fired up their riding mowers and dragged a large, heavy lawn roller around their properties. 

As I watched, I asked myself if I should plan on doing this, also?  Then the aspiring Permaculturist in me spoke up and shouted “Heck no!”  They are destroying the wonderful, airy growth zone in their lawn.  The precious, non-compacted space that took nearly three seasons of  ‘being left alone’ to create.  A precious place where tiny organisms can thrive, where rain and dew can be more easily absorbed and where the grasses’ roots can breath and expand.

Needless to say, I quickly banished the idea of crushing my lawn from my mind.

Container Sizes:  How important is it and what is the impact of under-sized containers?

With the abundance of successfully sprouted pepper, tomato, and various other veggies and herb seedlings, I’m left scrambling to find suitable containers to transplant them into.  I have about six, thirteen-inch containers for the some of the tomatoes and peppers.  This won’t be enough for the number of starts I would like to keep.  I have over a dozen peppers I would like to keep, since both of my sweet and hot peppers are mixes.  I have no idea which varieties I have going.   Maybe mix packets weren’t the best idea for a first-time container garden.

My question, what is the risk in planting peppers or tomatoes in smaller containers?  I have a number of  eight inch glazed ceramic containers.

In my quick research, everything I’ve seen talks about the ideal size containers.  None listed the consequences of a slightly undersized container.  Will the plant be smaller and the fruit not as abundant, or will the plant die off if it crowds itself and gets root bound? 

Time will tell, and so will I.  After all, that’s why I write Spisblog’s Journal.

 

Growhouse update:  Death sentence for unattended seedlings?

Before leaving the seedlings unattended in the growhouse I wanted to monitor the temperatures throughout the day to see how the temperatures change and to confirm that the poor little seedlings don’t get cooked or dehydrated.

Yesterday was a beautify day to monitor this.  It was a partly cloudy, breezy day in the mid-fifties (F).

About mid-morning when the internal temperature in the growhouse reached the low fifties, I moved the trays and strawberries in.

One of my key concerns with this growhouse is the lack of a vent flap or any easy way to allow heat-buildup to escape.  This proved to be a valid concern.  Within a few hours, the internal temp was climbing into the mid-eighties.   To regulate the temp, I would frequently open and close one of the zippers to allow the breeze to cool the internal temp.  With a little practice, I was able to keep it hovering in the mid-seventies .

While this was fine for a Saturday that I was home, this isn’t an option during the work week.  I need to find a better solution or the seedlings will cook.

My plan is to cut openings at the top of the side walls and line them with self adhesive velcro.  This way I can make an adjustable gap in the velcro, allowing for the excess heat to vent.  This will also provide for some airflow through the greenhouse, which will also help with condensation.

Seeing it’s raining right now, this sounds like a nice project for tomorrow.

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Fort Wayne Tincaps logoWith opening day for the Fort Wayne Tincaps less than two weeks away, It’s time to refresh my play-by-play baseball scoring skills.  

While there’s a scoring sheet included in the programs handed out at the games (at least for the Single A Tincaps), it doesn’t provide for full at-bat statistics.

The thing I like best about full scoring is the ability to look back and read the score card and understand the detail behind the boxscore.   I think this skill is nearly lost in this technical age.

A few years ago, I was re-introduced to baseball scoring while perusing one of my favorite blog sites, Chistopher Swingley’s “Swingley Development” .His site is a very good resource for learning to score baseball (and many other cool things).

Christopher offers some fantastic resources!  He offers, free of charge, a number of printable scorecards for both baseball and softball, an example of  a fully scored card, and a top-notch inning-by-inning tutorial.

My personal favorite is the “Scorecard with pitching statistics in black” .

Related Links-

Swingley Development

MLB Baseball Rules

Fort Wayne Tincaps

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 After several weeks on a rainchecked backorder, my growhouse finally arrived! 

I purchased it from the local DoItBest hardware store.  It’s a “Grow It 4 Tier Growhouse” from Gardman USA, Inc. of Kennesaw, GA.

We’ve had some cold nights and breezy days lately.  It’s nice to finally get the plants out in the sunlight and not have to worry about the windchill shocking the starts. 

This growhouse is larger than some of the others we’ve seen in the big boxes.  It measures approximately 2’3” x 1’7” x 5’3”.   The steel tubes and plastic frames are nice and sturdy.  The wire racks fit a little loose, though.  To remedy this I attached them to the cross bars with quick ties.  The whole unit, with the zipper front pvc cover, seems like it should hold up very well.   The sturdy pvc cover will get stored during the summer months so we’re hoping to get years of service from it.

I love shopping at the locally owned hardware store instead of the big box stores.  It’s close, owned by someone in my community, and is staffed by people who really care about their customers.  I’ve also noticed that, while they carry a smaller selection of products, those that they do carry are often higher quality.

If I’m looking for something obscure that they don’t carry I can talk with the owner (who’s always there and usually offers to help me find what I’m looking for) and he’ll search his system for me and order it in, if I’m interested.  No deposit required, just a gentleman’s agreement that I’ll come and get it when they call to tell me it arrived.  When I pick it up, I can write a personal check that they gladly accept without asking for a driver’s license and phone number.  If it’s Saturday, I can do all this after enjoying a bag of fresh popped popcorn. 

It’s personal service and respect like this that helps keep merchants like him in business and customers like me happy.

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Cherry Tree

The last two evenings we’ve had nice weather here in NE Indiana.  With temperatures in the mid 50’s F,  not wanting to waste this unseasonably fine weather, I spent some time caring for the maples, arborvitaes, and flowering cherry trees.

It felt so good to get my hands in the soil again; breaking up the crust of last year’s wood chip mulch, loosening the soil, pulling clumps of grass that have grown up through the mulch and laying a fresh layer of cypress wood chip mulch.

Not only am I making the beds look nice, I’ve preparing them for the nitrogen fixers I’ll be planting in the months to come.  It looks like these poor trees have been neglected for years.

Maples-

Some of the maples still had the original landscape fabric that’s probably been in place for twelve years now.  The mulched tree ring around the trees are still the same size they would have been when these trees were originally planted. 

I’ve been removing all of the landscape fabric or (worse yet) heavy plastic the previous owner used throughout the landscape.  I’m also expanding the tree rings to be more in scale with the tree’s size. 

Two of the maples (which both had landscape fabric) had very bad scars from sun-scorch on their trunks.  They were pretty well healed, but on the advice of the tree trimmer who helped with the willows, I wrapped both trunks with a paper tree-wrap.  He told me this would help them finish healing.

Arborvitaes-

The five new arborvitaes have wintered over very well.  They were planted in the heat of late July last year and shed quite a bit in the fall.  I was concerned about their surviving winter, but all five are doing great.  They already appear to be growing this year.   They each got a cardboard ring (to suppress the grass) and a fresh layer of mulch.  I’ve seen the bunnies under these trees a lot this winter. After close inspection, they didn’t appear to do any damage.  I wonder if they were just enjoying the tiny pine cones or just using them for cover.

 Flowering Cherry-

The flowering cherry has issues.  It has a bad case of bacterial canker.  I’m still researching this problem and am trying to save the cherry, if possible.  To give it a fighting chance I’ve worked in a 1/2 bag of Miracle Grow garden soil into the heavy clay soil to help loosen and aerate it, mixed in some coffee grounds for my worm friends, and provided a protective layer of cypress mulch.  While prepping the soil I noticed that the tree was also planted too deep.  I dug around the root crown, with the hopes this will help the tree  breath better.  I’ll be keeping  a close eye on this tree this year.  I would prefer to treat it through environmental changes rather than chemically, but if a copper treatment is required, so be it. 

Hopefully it will make it through.

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Cat Grass

Gunner's wheat patch

 

With all of the garden and landscape preparation that’s been going on around here lately I figured it was only fair that we plant something for kitty to enjoy. 

While at the local hardware store a few weeks ago I picked up some Livingston Seed Co. “Cat Grass”.  Come to find out, it’s just Triticum aestivum, also known as common wheat or bread wheat. 

Years ago, I grew oats for another long-haired cat I had. It seemed to help her pass fur balls.  With Gunner’s heavy spring brushing just around the corner I figured I would give this a try to see if it helps with the digestion of loose fur he swallows during grooming. 

After planting it, I kept it in the fridge germinator for about a week to let it grow about four inches tall before setting it out for him to enjoy. 

It took him a few days to realize that it was meant for him.  Once he figured that out he hasn’t looked back.

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