Friday, June 20, 2008

A Short Essay on Spaghetti Squash

An easy to grow squash with an excellent yield. It may require a bit of training to keep this giant in it's own row, as it will shade a considerable area when full grown. Spaghetti Squash will root along the vines every foot or so where they touch the ground and send out tendrils to climb up anything it encounters on it's quest for more light.

Will seek out sunny locations and water. The fruit will become heavy enough to damage the climbing vine if it is not supported by nylon ties, trellising or cages. Will attract sugar ants, Japanese beetles and your normal squash bugs. I have yet to see significant damage done by any pests to these plants.

Tender vines should be handled with care when training. Protect it from frost like any squash. Can be sprouted indoors and transplanted outside after all danger of frost is past. Germinates in less than a week, should be transplanted as soon as cotyledons are free of the Testa(seed coat) and no later than emergence of first true leaves. Transplanting too late may result in stunted growth or plant death due to damaged root system.

Spaghetti Squash, like most squash, have very shallow root systems that are easy to damage during transplanting or cultivation around the plant. However, weeding is not a big concern around these plants as they tend to shade out anything growing in their path.

The leaves seem to come in a general three lobed shape, more pronounced amongst the younger leaves and more rounded in older growth.They are typical of squash, having a long petiole and a short main vein that splits into many Lateral veins.

Harvest is typically 100 days from transplant to mature fruit. Spaghetti Squash are monoecious, that is to say they have separate male(staminate) and female(pistillate) flowers. The flowers are easy to distinguish from each other, as the female flowers will have a miniature fruit at the base(inferior ovary) and a stigma inside the flower itself. The male will have only the anthers and no immature fruit at its base. Spaghetti Squash flowers themselves are edible and can add a decorative touch to salads.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

It doesn't pay to recycle... because people suck!

Everybody see the dump truck buried in my driveway? Ever seen gravel make wake like water? God damn it...

Okay, here's the story:

Yesterday, as we were coming home from our errands, our little old lady neighbor had visitors walking around on the side of the yard picking up branches from her tree. The storm had caused the tree to shed a bit, it needs to be pruned rather badly. As we passed by them, they gave us the dirtiest look imaginable! Expectedly, we were confused but paid it no mind.

Well, it turns out we hadn't picked up everything we needed while we were out and I jumped in the vehicle and headed back for the missing items. Upon returning home, a City Service Vehicle was parked in our driveway and my wife was standing in the doorway chatting with a strange man. A very worried look was on her face.

It seems that Terry L. Dendy from the City of Manchester Health and Codes Department was a Zoning Compliance Officer sent out to investigate a complaint dealing with our Lasagna Gardening project. He hadn't heard of the technique but stated that we were welcome to speak with the Director, Paul Guess, and discuss things with him. Terry's job was to simply follow up on the complaint regarding our paper-products in the yard. According to city codes, paper products are not to be left on a property within city limits, because of the potential for them to be blown onto another resident's property.

We showed him that the cardboard in question was not only held down by 5 gallon buckets, but garden staples as well. The fact that the cardboard was quite obviously set out in an overlapping pattern and a obvious garden bed shape also was of no consequence. Regardless; we were in violation and had ten days to correct the situation or further action, i.e. fines and court dates, would be taken against us by the city.

After discussing it with Paul on the phone(who had actually used Lasagna Gardening before), we came to the conclusion that if we covered the cardboard up within the alloted ten days, they would have no complaint. Terry was very agreeable to this solution as well and said he would follow up with us when the project was completed. All in all, both were professional and courteous in acknowledging that normally this wouldn't be an issue, but SOMEONE complained to them and made it an issue.

Alright, so the plan of action was to cover up the cardboard with dirt and finish the beds earlier than we expected to. After some running around to construction sites today and calling multiple topsoil delivery services, we finally found somebody to dump a truck load of dirt onto our property. Our plan was to then wheel-barrel this dirt into the garden beds, covering the boxes. Problem solved, right?

This picture was taken from my back deck. The driver and I had discussed where he'd best be suited to dump the load. We agreed that going through the lawn would be a bad idea, as a 24 ton truck loaded with dirt would likely become mired in the soggy soil. Of course, we thought, the driveway would obviously stand up to the weight of the truck much better than the soggy lawn. So he backed down the driveway, clipping the sugar maple in the background and the pear tree in the foreground, and began dumping. When he had dumped half his load and needed to adjust, he found that the axles were below ground level...

The moral of this story? Don't try to recycle because people won't understand and will trigger endless amounts of frustration, and money, for you when they bitch about it. The truck load of dirt was $250, I don't know how much it will be to fix the potholes in the driveway. I have more pictures of the damage. If you'd like to see them, comment or message me some how and I'll send you the lot.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


This sucks... the doctor made me wear it. It's connected to this.

And now, blog surveys while I whimper in pain.

Quiz Result Provided By:

What Inuyasha Couple Are You?

Hosted by Anime. Done right.

Quiz Result Provided By:

What Is Your Ideal Sword?

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What Inuyasha Human-Demon Mix Are You?

Hosted by Anime. Done right.

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What Inuyasha Hero Are You?

Hosted by Anime. Done right.

Quiz Result Provided By:

What Inuyasha Villain Are You?

Hosted by Anime. Done right.

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What Division Are You In?

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Quiz Result Provided By:

What Personality Problem Are You?

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Quiz Result Provided By:

What Bleach Character Are You?

Hosted by Anime. Done right.

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What Bleach Character Are You?

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Quiz Result Provided By:

Who Is Your Naruto Fighting Partner?

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Quiz Result Provided By:

What Darker Naruto Character Are You?

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What's Your Naruto Team?

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What Hokage Are You?

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Quiz Result Provided By:

What Naruto Guy Are You?

Hosted by Anime. Done right.

Quiz Result Provided By:

What Naruto Character Are You?

Hosted by Anime. Done right.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Free seeds, Seed trading and gardening catalogs.

Image source: offers free tomato seeds and free variety seed packs, mostly flowers, via self addressed stamped envelopes along with growing tips and tricks. will send you a packet of seeds for SASE as well. This year, they gave me some Sweet Peas, just like my grandmother used to grow on her fence!

Ed Hume Seeds offers free seeds for their "Plant A Row For The Hungry" program. Last year they gave me carrots. I haven't received this years packet, but that won't stop me from donating my extras to our local shelters.

Burt's Bees used to offer free seeds via an electronic form on their site, but due to popularity has run out of free seeds. I feel happy and partial responsible for this, due to my posting their link on wikiAnswers regarding free seeds. I did my part to fight Colony Collapse Disorder last year and I'll increase my efforts this year. They sent me a nice packet of wildflowers while they still had some left.

Biblical Gardens also offers free seeds to anyone willing to send them a letter. The varieties are based on those plants that appear in the bible, of course, however I've never received anything other than Shasta Daisies from them as their supplies seem highly limited.

GardenWeb has an excellent seed trading forum which frequently has SASE seed offers along with rare varieties of plants for trade.

Dave's Garden is another excellent forum for seed trading, growing information and occasional liquidation sales from name brand companies. It's nice to pick up a few seeds for next to nothing when a company is simply trying to clear out old stock, eh?

Last but not least, you could always join the Seed Savers Exchange. Membership isn't required to order from their website or from the catalog they send out for free, but it is to gain access to their seed trading album. Personally, paying a membership fee to gain access to anything "free" isn't worth it. The purchasing catalog is great though, with an excellent variety of heirloom and certified organic seeds or transplants.

Obviously, these are not all the resources out there, just the ones I've personally used and confirmed to be authentic. A note however; most of these people are giving seeds away from their own gardens or from donations, try to send them some of your own saved seeds at the end of the season. Let's keep the cycle going and make sure everyone will have enough seeds next year!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My beautiful seedlings

Planted on 12-11-2007
Row Variety Days to Germination Days to Transplant Days to Harvest
(1) Beefsteak Tomato Unknown 4-6 Weeks 80 Days from transplant
(2) Baby Beefsteak Tomato 6-12 Days 4-6 Weeks 75 Days from Transplant
(3) Bush Celebrity 6-12 Days 4-6 Weeks 67 Days from Transplant
(4) Marglobe VF 6-12 Days 4-6 Weeks 75 Days from Transplant
(5) Italian Market Wonder 6-12 Days 4-6 Weeks 75 Days from Transplant
(6) Costoluto Genovese 6-12 Days 4-6 Weeks 90 Days from Transplant
(7) Nicholson's Yellow Cherry 6-12 Days 4-6 Weeks 75 Days from Transplant
(8) Ararat Flamed Cherry Tomato Unknown 8-10 Weeks 65-70 Days from Transplant
(9) Caribbean Red Habaneros 10-21 Days 8-10 Weeks 90 Days from Transplant
(10) Biker Billy Jalapeños
11-18 Days 8-10 Weeks 66 Days from Transplant
(11) Tabasco Peppers 14-28 Days 8-10 Weeks 120 Days from Transplant
(12) Hot Pepper Mix 14-21 Days 8-10 Weeks 70 Days from Transplant

Alright, I know it's been awhile since I've posted a blog and I've yet to respond to a few of the emails I've received; but in my defense, I've been busy. Please be temporarily sated with this and the slew of pictures I've uploaded to my Myspace account.

I've moved most of my weblog over to Blogger, and hopefully this will alleviate the problem of Yahell eating comments and blog posts. If you find a blog entry where the images aren't working, please message me and let me know. I'll fix it ASAP. I'll continue to blog on Yahoo! 360° until they shut the service down as well as post everything new on Blogger.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My "Biker Billy" Jalapeños. I loved these things!

Monday December 24, 2007 - 03:05pm

My "Biker Billy" Jalapeños. I loved these things!

Biker Billy Jalapeños: Worden-TN_7A Strain

Scoville Units: 4,000-10,000 conservatively
Harvested on 08/08/2007
+95% germination rate
24 seeds per packet
1st generation from seed

Full Sun - 11 to 18 days to germination

Start indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost or direct sow in deep south 2-3 weeks after last frost. Sow seeds or transplant seedlings 12-18 inches apart. Harvest 66 days after transplanting. Plants grow up to 24 inches tall with fruits measuring over 2 inches at the shoulder and over 3½ inches long. When fully mature, fruits will be glossy red and extremely hot.

CAUTION: Wear gloves whenever handling peppers or seeds and avoid contact with skin. Discard gloves after use. Failure to follow these precautions may result in serious chemical burns due to capsaicin exposure. Wash exposed areas throughly and soak in milk. If pain and heat persists, proceed to the nearest hospital.

The following is my record of the experiment used to determine "days until germination" and "germination rate".

Biker Billy Jalapeños (TN Generation 1)
Grown during 2007 from Burpee Transplant

  • 08-08-2007 - Seeds harvested from mature peppers and dried.
  • 12-03-2007 - 24 Harvested seeds selected for germination experiment. Seeds folded into a paper towel. Paper towel soaked in distilled water. Moistened paper towel put into a zip-lock plastic bag. Bag closed and marked with date and experiment data. Experiment placed on top of refrigerator.
  • 12-14-2007 - 7 of 24 seeds show germination: Radicle visible outside of seed coat.
  • 12-15-2007 - 9 of 24 seeds show germination. +33% germination established 1 week and 5 days after initial sowing.
  • 12-16-2007 - 11 of 24 seeds show germination.
  • 12-17-2007 - 12 of 24 seeds show germination. 50% germination established 2 weeks after initial sowing.
  • 12-18-2007 - 16 to 17 of 24 seeds show germination. Radicles becoming tangled and difficult to visually count. Germination count unclear, between 16 and 17 radicles visible in strong back-light.
  • 12-19-2007 - 17 of 24 seeds show germination. Visibly germinated seeds marked with black fine point permanent marker on outside of zip-lock bag.
  • 12-20-2007 - 18 of 24 seeds show germination. Additional germinated seed marked marked with black fine point permanent marker on outside of zip-lock bag.
  • 12-21-2007 - 23 of 24 seeds show germination. Additional germinated seed marked marked with black fine point permanent marker on outside of zip-lock bag. seeds shifted during marking and radicles damaged. Experiment ended on 12-21-2007, 2 weeks and 4 days after initial sowing. +95% germination reached at end of experiment.

As many of you may or may not be aware, there was a drought here in the southern states during the growing season of 2007. The plant used for this experiment was the only Jalapeño in my garden that survived that drought. Due to stresses on the plant, the peppers became exceedingly hot and apparently drought tolerant. I had no weed problems, no disease problems and no pest problems on this one plant in my entire garden. It was grown in a mixture of potting soil and peat moss(to preserve the little moisture it did get) within a 5 gallon bucket with drainage holes drilled in the bottom. In the worst part of the heat and drought, I placed this bucket within another bucket to preserve more fluids and prevent burrowing insects from infesting the roots of the plant.

This gorgeous plant died at the first frost. I had intended to bring it inside prior, but my schedule did not permit leisurely digging in the garden. I collected quite a few seeds from this plant which I will be opening for trade in a few weeks. I'm watching the newest batch of seedlings from this plant very closely to determine viability.

Trippy Video

Sunday December 23, 2007 - 08:40pm

Trippy Video


Do not watch this video while drunk, stoned, high, tripping, etc.

The Gift: My sister's first movie

Wednesday December 19, 2007 - 03:58pm

The Gift: My sister's first movie

If the family resemblance doesn't give you a clue, my sister is the mermaid. We're all very proud of her. Her two scenes are rather short, but at least she can say they wouldn't have left her on the cutting room floor in her first movie appearance, eh? How many actors can say that?

Jess, here's to seeing more of you in film... uh, I mean that in a family friendly way, not a family making way. Yuck, incest. *laughs*

And a good time was had by all...

Monday December 17, 2007 - 08:58pm

And a good time was had by all...

This is Monkey, he's a truck driver. It's not often I get to see Monkey, but his schedule permitted him to visit between drops. He arrived at about 7:00 in the evening at the local truck stop and I was sent out into the bitter cold to fetch him.

Yeah right, Tennessee cold is nothing like what Monkey has been recently facing. Minnesota, now that's cold. Michigan is freezing right now too. He must've brought some snow with him, because we received our first dusting this last weekend as well.

We proceeded to wine and dine our Monkey; Corned Beef Brisket, redskin potatoes, cabbage, onions and a side of sour kraut served with a fine "Roseycheeks" table wine from our local winery. I had warned him to bring an appetite, and as usual, he did not disappoint! After we had all had our fill and the wine was gone, Monkey brought out his two folders of anime and we whittled away the night with Gundams and assorted AMVs.

The picture you see above is one of two taken that night. This was after dinner and wine had set in and our Monkey was becoming acclimatized to his surroundings. The first picture was, uh... a bit too much smile.

Thanks for stopping by, man. I really did enjoy the visit and I hope the feeling was mutual.


P.S. He's single at the time of this writing, ladies. He's a nice guy with a good job... and he's straight! How often do you find that? *laughs*

Happy Holidays from the kidlets.

Wednesday December 5, 2007 - 10:02pm

Happy Holidays from the kidlets.

[Poll taken from original blog, non-functioning here]

Are the kidlets cute?
  • 2 votes for: Yes, absolutely.
  • 0 votes for: Nope, hideous little monsters.
  • 1 vote for: Why is that girl's hair so short? What's up with the sweat shirt and shorts on the boy?

One-gallon clear plastic jugs: Gardening use number one.

Wednesday November 28, 2007 - 09:23pm

One-gallon clear plastic jugs: Gardening use number one.

Okay, this is part one of my series on how useful one-gallon jugs can be. Be they milk jugs, water jugs or whatever kind of clear plastic one-gallon jugs you have lying around; here are some wonderful ways of recycling them. Enjoy and I hope this helps out a few people.

Plant pot and dirt scoop from a one-gallon jug.

I did this last year and my scoop is still going strong. My plant pot is showing a little wear and tear around the handle from exposure to the elements, but I could still throw some dirt and seeds in the bottom. If you use this plant pot indoors it should last you a good long time.

Step 1: Get a one-gallon clear plastic jug. Wash and rinse out the inside to remove any residue from its previous contents. It doesn't need to be bone dry, but a good toweling off will help with your grip as you proceed.

Step 2: Get a good pair of kitchen of gardening scissors. Try to make sure they are good and sharp with a prominent point at the end. They don't need to be heavy-duty, but it is going to be cutting through plastic.

Step 3: Cut the corner opposite the handle off the jug. Starting from half-way up the jug, make an incision in the corner opposite the handle of the jug. Circle around towards the top from your initial opening, cutting around the top of the jug and avoiding cutting into the handle or the opening in the top. Bring the scissors back down to meet your original incision and free the scoop from the jug.

Step 4: Poke drainage holes in the bottom of your planter pot. Using the pointed end of the scissors, poke a series of holes in the bottom of the planter pot for excess water to drain out.

Congratulations! You now have a planter pot and a scoop to fill it with dirt! To use your scoop, place your thumb in the hole and splay your fingers along the backside of the scoop. It works like a charm and makes digging dirt out of potting soil bags simple. The planter pot with its convenient handle is great for seed starting or culinary herbs.

For those of you doing Yule shopping... or Christmas, I suppose.

Monday November 26, 2007 - 02:25pm

For those of you doing Yule shopping... or Christmas, I suppose.

Basic Instructions

I am amused. Are you? For all of you out there would believe we pagans don't celebrate "The Holidays" as you refer to them, consider that most of us don't need a reason to celebrate.

True, I don't celebrate Christmas per say, but I do celebrate Yule. The Winter Solstice falls within a week of Christmas, so I'll decorate a Yule tree with my family and attend parties towards the end of December. Most Christmas traditions originated from pagan roots anyways, so why should I bother suppressing an inclination to have a happy holiday? Just because my holiday isn't the same as yours doesn't mean I can't enjoy it with you.

The other bonus of being an Eclectic Pagan is that I dictate my own belief structure based on research and appropriate content. I do what I like because I know what it means. I like what I do because it means something to me. Besides, my kids enjoyed decorating the evergreen we dug up(which we'll be planting in the yard). Okay, so they didn't decorate it; my wife and I did. They enjoy eating the popcorn garlands and candy canes when we're not looking and watching the flashing lights during the ensuing sugar high.

Yeah, our ornaments are edible, inexpensive and our tree is very much alive. *chuckles* Did you know that "Yule Tree" is a lot easier for a three-year old to pronounce and remember than "Christmas Tree"? Heh, pick and choose your battles, eh?

EDIT: I'm including this video here due to the horrific tendency of seasonal shoppers to over-burden themselves with debt. Enjoy, and I hope it makes your skin crawl.

Entry for November 25, 2007

Sunday November 25, 2007 - 07:56pm

Please repost this bulletin to reach a broader range of potential witnesses

This is my Step-Father David. Last night, November 24th 2007, he was beaten and left for dead.

According to what he was able to recall, he had gone out to drink at a strip club somewhere in the vicinity of South Saginaw, Atherton Road, and Dort Highway. While there he met Doc, whom he hadn't seen in ten years. David proceeded to become intoxicated and Doc offered to let him spend the night at his house so he wouldn't have to drive home drunk.

They went to Doc's house and decided to go back out. They headed out to an after-hours club were David was in the racial minority. At some point, Doc pulled up to a Chase Bank ATM and said they needed money.

David refused to pull money from his account. Doc responded by saying that his "posse" would kill David if he didn't give them some money. David refused again and the group, excluding Doc, began assaulting him inside the vehicle. Early into the fight, he suffered a blow to the head with the butt of a gun, splattering blood on the inside of the vehicle.

After neutralizing three of his assailants, David was finally rendered unconscious and left for dead in the middle of the road. He was found at 6:00am today, November 25th 2007, by a stranger and taken to Hurley hospital. Hurley refused to admit him and had him sent home. They did not treat him or contact police upon his arrival.

Today, David is back in the hospital. He is becoming more confused and has suffered more extreme injuries than were previously assumed. He is developing amnesia and may have internal bleeding and long term head injures. His eye-socket was damaged as well.

If you have any information regarding this incident, please report it to the Flint police department 810-237-6800 210 E. Fifth Street Flint. MI 48502 and My Profile, Jessica's Profile or Tracy's Profile in the comments section.

Below are relevant details of the incident as we know them right now.

"Doc" - Black Male 45'ish possibly lives over on Atherton and Saginaw area in a house. Called for assault after being refused money, stayed in the car during the assault. Vehicle: New Cadillac, possibly black.

Assaulted at a Chase Bank ATM inside the vehicle and was dragged out in front of the ATM. Possible video evidence from ATM can be recovered.

8 assailants were waiting at the ATM when David and Doc arrived. David claims he took out three attackers before being subdued. He says that one of the attackers took a blow to the head as a result of being thrown to the ground and did not get back up.

Jessica posted:

*sigh* My stepfather is an idiot. He went out yesterday night to a titty bar in flint. afterwards he got mugged by the people he was with. His face is all kinds of messed up. Broken bones, severed arteries and a concussion. He also has amnesia. My mom doesnt need this stress. So please keep her in you thoughts and prayers. Oh and him too. So let this be a lesson to you. Dont go to titty bars in flint then ride around with random people you dont know. Its a really stupid thing to do. And dont drink if your on meds for mental disorders.

Tracy Posted:

David was assaulted Friday night in downtown Flint. 8 black men jumped him and left him with a cut head with an arital bleed. He has a concussion, fractued eye orbit and many bruises. I will post his pictures on my site be warned the pictures are not pretty. He is confused with intermittant amenisa.

Waiting for the next new moon.

Saturday November 24, 2007

Waiting for the next new moon.

Well, the growing season is coming to a close and my Yule tree has been decorated. My Luffa gourds did well.

Samhain was a bit uneventful this year. There was no great feast with friends and family, just a corned beef and a few side dishes. The kids dressed up and went door-to-door with Azalia begging treats.

All in all, relatively sedate. We've all been busy here in our household, hence my absence from the virtual world. Don't fret though, I've ignored the real world too.

Currently, I'm trying to figure out why my body keeps deciding to go haywire. I went to the emergency room last month because my body simply decided to go on strike. I stood up and paid the bill at the register. I had to correct the waitress on the amount of the bill, she hadn't added the correct amount of tax, and walked back to the table. I began to speak to my wife and... ended up catching myself on a support beam as my body tried to lose conciousness.

There's more to that story but the short of it is, I ended up with a couple of days in the hospital in the cardiac ward and they never found out(or at least they didn't tell me) what the hell happened. Since then I've had frequent dizzy spells, light-headedness, fainting spells, headaches and occasional bouts of confusion where I just can't seem to think. Fun fun...

Anywho, I'll be planting my seeds(which were free from Winter Sown Educational.Org) come the next new moon. I'd been reading something regarding moon phases and planting, so I'll give it a shot. I believe the theory is to plant fruiting vegetables when the moon's gravitational forces will be increasing and planting root vegetables when the moon's gravitational forces will be lessening. A kind of plant high tide/low tide thing. *shrugs* If it works, great. If not, I don't think I'll be able to tell the difference anyways.

Wisdom I live by...

Tuesday May 22, 2007 - 06:55pm

Wisdom I live by...

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

"Panta Rei Ouden Meni." Translated from Greek: Everything flows, nothing is static. ~ Heraclitus

Reality is based on Truth.Truth is a matter of perception.

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." ~ Aleister Crowley.

"Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem." Translated from Latin: Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. (All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one.) ~ Ockham's Razor, Friar William of Ockham.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." ~ Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.

"I am in no way shape or form your controller, creator, instructor, or master unless you let me influence you." ~ Chad Alexander Worden, Book of Shadows.

"For every action there is an equal an opposite reaction." ~ Sir Isaac Newton, Newton's 3rd law of motion.

"Know Thyself." ~ Socrates

"You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, but they'll always flock to bullshit." My Grandmother used to say the first part, but the second part is all mine.

"But the possession and enjoyment of all rights are subject to such reasonable conditions as may be deemed by the governing authority of the country essential to the safety, health, peace, good order and morals of the community. Even liberty itself, the greatest of all rights, is not unrestricted license to act according to one's will. It is only freedom of restraint under conditions essential to the equal enjoyment of the same right by others. It is then liberty regulated by law." ~ (Crowley v. Christensen, 137 U.S. 86, 89 [1890])

Polyphemus Moth?

Friday May 4, 2007 - 10:00pm (CDT)

Polyphemus Moth?

So I was sharpening my knives in preparation for skinning squirrels tomorrow and decided to test the blades by carving up a pickle. I go to the knives' drawer and glance at my window box of Garlic and see this huge moth! The wing span had to be between six and seven inches. I took about fifty pictures, because my digital camera sucks, and ended up with three good shots. A quick Google search later and I spot my Moth! Antheraea polyphemus, commonly known as the Polyphemus Moth.

By the look of its abdomen, I'm guessing it's a female looking to lay its eggs in my pear trees. Since I'm not really expecting either tree to fruit this year anyway due to the pruning and freak frost we had, I'm not as worried about the larva crawling all over my overgrown pear trees. I might want to look into pest control for them if it gets to be a problem, or if they find their way into my garden and decide my tomatoes might taste good. Pity, I keep finding all these cool looking bugs that are interested in consuming all of my crops. First my giant slugs, now giant moths. *sighs*

I didn't see these guys last year, so maybe they aren't that big of a problem. According to a few internet searches, they're actually starting to get kinda rare. Again, a pity. We had all kinds of neat butterflies and some unusual wasps and hornets last year. They were everywhere, but very docile. My wife was the only one to get stung, and that's because she stepped on one. Otherwise, we could walk through them without batting an eyelash. I was worried that the kids would get attacked, but we had no problems at all. If they return this year, I'll take some pictures.

I have sprouts from everything I started inside a couple of weeks ago. I'll put up pictures soon, I promise. Most of the seeds I recently started inside I received for free from WinterSown.Org. Again, even if you don't get some free seeds from them, send them what you don't use this year. Any extras you have lying around would probably help these people out.

I transplanted my Lemon Balm from a tall salsa jar to a gallon pot today. The transplant was a bit rougher than I would have liked. A few of the smaller plants lost some of their root systems. Fortunately, Lamiaceae is a forgiving family of plants. Even if the smaller plants don't have their root systems, they can propagate via stem cuttings. Like Ground Ivy and Peppermint, Lemon Balm will set root where ever the stems touch the ground and give rise to new plants. Highly aggressive and invasive, just like all mints. I'll give my Lemon balm a few weeks to recover inside under the grow lights before I move it outside to begin hardening it off.

For those who don't know, I've been sick for the past week. I had some interesting fever hallucinations during the night in the earlier part of the week. I'd call them fever dreams, but I wasn't asleep. They weren't visual hallucinations mind you, only mental trips. Nothing spectacular, just a system for not getting lost in the desert when in a large group searching for something or someone. Yes, my hallucinations are rather unusual when fever induced.

Other than that, a rather "run of the mill" week.

Yes, I'm still here... just been busy.

Thursday April 26, 2007 - 10:00pm

Yes, I'm still here... just been busy.

Okay, so I've ignored the virtual world for a little while now. Forgive me, I've had a busy schedule. I would have warned someone, however it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to request permission. Besides, did anybody really care that much?

Well, I finally received and planted my Garlic from Burpee on or about the fourth of April . I think they sent me something like four bulbs of Early Italian. Honestly, I don't think it was worth the price. My local grocery store sells what looks like the exact same thing at four for a dollar. *shrugs* If they turn out well, I won't rag on them further.

About a week after planting my Garlic, we had a freak frost that killed off nearly everything in the area. My pear trees probably won't produce this year, but since we pruned them anyway, I'm not terribly concerned. The Garlic appeared to die and the onions went on like nothing happened. Maybe three days after that, the Garlic shot right back up and has been doing fine ever since.

I didn't have enough room for all of the Garlic in the front garden, so I bought half a dozen window boxes and planted some more in there. I have three boxes inside, in the windows, and three boxes outside on the deck. Four plants to a box, with the leftover 2 dozen in a pair of over-large black pots. It's a good thing I like Garlic.

My grocery store onion that sprouted and the wild garlic/onions that I transplanted are beginning to look like they're going to go to flower soon. While I'm intending to let them, because I don't intend to harvest anything major from them this year, the plants I bought from Burpee will probably get their blooms snipped off in favor of producing bigger bulbs.

Everything I had started from seed, except the Marigolds, died last week. I'd been trying to harden them off to get them ready to transplant outside and made the mistake of mentioning that I didn't know what I was going to do with twenty-four Habaneros. They all died that night, thus solving my problem, eh? Oh, and one of my Potato plants died too... sort of. It dropped all of it's leaves, but has healthy(small) tubers and some green stalks.

I started some more plants inside. I want to give them every advantage I can. I have six of each of the following growing inside under three grow lights(Yeah, I bought another so that the seedlings would stop leaning towards the window): Leek, Merveille des Quatre Saisons(A french heirloom lettuce), White Pumpkin, Orange Sherbet Melon, Campbell's 1327, Pikalot Hybrid Cucumber, Grape Tomato, Bush Champion Cucumber, and Luffa Gourd.

I received the Lettuce, Melons, and Tomatoes from WinterSown.Org. Yeah, the free seeds thing really paid off! Actually, they sent me a whole bunch of seeds that I'm going to be growing this year. If you didn't send in your SASE by now, I'd advise you do it soon. The heirloom tomato varieties alone are worth it. As a bonus, they send you some interesting growing information as well. A big kudos to these people and try to send them some seeds from your own produce this year, to keep them serving the public good.

Free? I think I can afford that.

Tuesday April 3, 2007 - 11:42pm

Free? I think I can afford that.

Are you wanting to garden this year, but the prohibitive cost of seeds is keeping you from your dreams? Look here, my friends!

That's right, free seeds. Send your self addressed stamped envelopes to these wonderful people, and your seeds this year are at next to no cost. I mean, come on, three stamps? Pfft, potting soil costs more.

Alright, so it's not completely free and effortless, but you do have to admit that this is a pretty cool thing for somebody to do. The websites are also full of growing information that you'd have to look up otherwise.

An interesting side-note on the Biblical Gardening site, the Shasta Daisies being offered are good companion plants for roses, among others. They attract beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and praying mantises, which will consume any insect pest problem your plants come across. Also, since they are a member of the Chrysanthemum family, they could possibly be ground into a natural pesticide! And all that for free! Well, sort of free.

So grab your expensive gardening equipment, your special growing mediums and fertilizers, etc... 'Cause you're not gonna have to pay for your seeds!

Dude, where's my Garlic?

Monday April 2, 2007 - 11:53pm

Dude, where's my Garlic?

Well, I spoke with Burpee over the weekend as to where the hell my garlic is and when to expect my live plants. The live plants are still going to be held off until the beginning of May, even though it's been in the 80 to 90 degree range for the past month.

They were nice enough to send me conformation of shipping on a package via UPS in my email. Of course they didn't say what it was, just that it was shipped today and is expected to be here on the 4th. Maybe my garlic? Wouldn't that be nice!

Azalia and I dug, cleaned, dried and ground a whole bunch of the wild garlic(at least that's what ShAkEs tells me they probably are). It has a rather potent smell once ground, but is very pleasing while it is being dried in my dehydrator. Mmmm... Garlic. The vampire population in my area will avoid my house for quite some time.

I used a bit of this new garlic powder in our Sunday dinner after we finished the visiting Azalia convinced me to do. I met two of Azalia's old high school friends and one of their mother's. Nice people, though I did get ragged on a bit for my very carefully cultivated accent.

I have a very obvious Michigan "non-accent" with an occasional Canadian "Eh?" If that's not amusing enough, get me either drunk or passionate(angry, lusty, over-joyed, etc.) and I slip into my Scottish Brogue. Now, technically I am Scottish, but I don't really have a basis for the accent since I've no one from my childhood who actually spoke with a Scottish Brogue. It's few and far between when it happens, only a few people have ever actually heard it and I can't slip into it consciously. I wish I could, I can't roll my "R" worth shit when I use my stage voice.

Anyways, yeah... I did stuff in the real world this weekend and ended up ignoring my computer for the most part.

Messaging in Yahoo! 360 might need some adjusting...

Friday March 30, 2007 - 02:16am

Messaging in Yahoo! 360 might need some adjusting...

Did anyone else notice that you can write more in a comment on someone's blog than you can in a message to them? I know that Yahoo! discourages giving your email address to anyone in a 360 message, but shouldn't that be incentive enough to increase the character length allowed? It's odd, 4000 characters for a "comment" seems a bit lengthy, but 2000 for a message seems far too short. I'm long winded, I need my space.

I doubt I'll see any action taken on this issue by Yahoo!, but honestly I'll simply find a way around it. I'm not that private of a person, I may just say the hell with it and post my messages on blogs and tell people to email me at my Yahoo! address, which is the same as my Yahoo! ID of course. Yeah, really hard to figure out. Privacy, anonymity? Bah, what're those good for?

Still no garlic in the mail today, just bills. Azalia and I did go out and buy another grow light for the seed starting area. I'm curious as to how many I need to hang before my seedlings stop leaning towards the window during the day. Habaneros and marigolds are looking great. Chamomile and pennyroyal look about the same, but they're significantly shorter.

Finally got some more peppermint tea. I ran out this week and had been feeling run down without my dosage of Green Tea and Peppermint caffeine. I think I was going through caffeine withdrawl, which would explain the grumpiness.

My blood pressure has been up lately too, or at least I hope those spots I see that look like bugs darting out of my field of vision are due to my blood pressure... I've a thing against sleeping in an area I know is frequented by insects. I keep a clean house, or as clean as you can with two toddlers running around, so I don't think any bugs have moved in. I've just had a lot of visual oddities lately and I'm thinking I need to go back to the doctor and have my blood work finished.

I finally found out where Green Tea comes from, Camellia sinensis. I want one. I would save so much money if I could grow that stuff myself. This and some peppermint, which is already in my yard, is all I need for my caffeine fix. I might fiddle around with getting one and having it as a potted plant, but there are some that are winter hardy to zone 6. I like those odds.

Hmmm... I'm getting that delirious feeling again. Maybe that means I really do need sleep on occasion?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I have my onions. Where's my garlic?

Wednesday March 28, 2007 - 10:17pm

I have my onions. Where's my garlic?

Well, I finally received my onion plants in the mail from Burpee. Didn't really have much information in the box. I didn't really need two bunches of onions if I'm going to be planting them 5-6 inches apart in a garden that's only 5x10, and I want other plants in there too.

*shrugs* Well, shit happens. I planted the rest of them in a pot to keep them moist and happy, because they sure as hell don't look like they enjoyed the trip. After putting them in the ground, they did seem to be doing a bit better. I enjoyed planting them and really wish we'd have had the time or energy to dig the really big garden we wanted.

Hell, by the time we learned how to effectively use the damn rototiller, we had to take the bloody thing back to the co-op. Fifty odd bucks plus tax for one day, though we picked it up on Saturday and didn't have to return it until Monday. If I had a shed, I'd have just bought a nice one with our tax return. Too bad buying a shed would've eaten a good chunk of our tax return...

My Habaneros have finally sprouted. I'm looking forward to putting those in the ground too. I'll enjoy doing it... and I have more seeds to sprout and need the space they are occupying, along with the marigolds, chamomile and pennyroyal.

You know, I'm really lamenting my Father-in-Law blowing us off last weekend when he said he'd come over with his rear-tine rototiller and help us. I'm paranoid enough as is without someone giving me lame excuses on why they can't show up after they gave their "iron-clad" word. *shakes his head* I really don't have anything against him. We have a difference of opinion when it comes to religion, but who the hell cares? It'd be nice if instead of excuses, he just gave honest answers. A simple, "No, I don't want to" is a helluva lot better than beating around the damn bush!

Sorry, too many webcomics about teen angst lately... and where the hell is the garlic I ordered at the same damn time as these limp excuses for onions! Is it too much trouble to package shit together? *grumble, grumble*

Slug control information: How I lost my organic gardening bragging rights...

Monday March 26, 2007 - 02:38pm

Slug control information: How I lost my organic gardening bragging rights...

Well, it was a exhausting weekend with the front-tine rototiller we rented. Azalia and I have two beds prepared, minus the plants, and most of our wild roses in the ground.

The automated watering system is in place and seems to be working just fine, though I might need to check the last fifty feet of soaker hose on our roses. The test runs on the timer went off without a hitch, 6:00am to 6:15am watering schedule seems to be adequate to hydrate for a whole day in 90 degree weather. Good thing too, because it's going to be a hot summer from the looks of things.

Well, I wanted to go all organic with my garden by including pest control with companion planting, non-toxic natural compound fertilizers and pest sprays, paying attention to placement of gardening beds, intergrated pest management with natural predators, etc., but I have a big slug problem.

When I say big, I literally mean BIG SLUG problem. I have six inch long slugs crawling all over everything. They're awfully neat looking from an esthetic point of view, but they are voracious omnivores. I've seen these things devour a can of tuna fish, that I set out for one of our neighborhood cats, in minutes! I really don't want to kill them off, but it seems like the best idea if I'm going to keep my garden.

I ran a search on slug control using organic means and found tons of information, for example:

  1. Controlling your watering schedule to prevent having damp beds in the evening when slugs are active will reduce the number of pests you find in your garden. Water in the early morning(6:00am, maybe? Heh heh.) and your garden should be dry by the time slugs become active.
  2. Slug traps. There are a lot of different types of these devices. Beer traps are just jars or bottles of beer with an inch or two of beer left in them. Bury these up to their neck so that the slugs can easily climb into them. Slugs are attracted to the sugars and yeast-water , they fall in and drown. Another effective trap is based on slugs' need to be cool and moist during the day. An overturned flower pot, wooden plank or board, pieces of melon or fruit rind or even that thing your gutters' drain onto make great hiding places for slugs. Turn the tables on them by leaving these things out in your garden in the evening, and then pick them up and scrape the slugs into a plastic bag in the morning. Dispose of your slugs as you see fit, far away from your garden.
  3. Sand, grit, ground glass, lava rocks, etc., really anything that has a very coarse and sharp surface will do to reduce slug population in and around your garden. Because slugs propel themselves along using a soft membrane(their "foot") it is incredibly sensitive to lacerations. Imagine if you walked on your tongue and then got a whole bunch of paper-cuts on it, you'd avoid walking in that area again too! The added effect of this is it will result in dehydration and death to the slugs.
  4. Speaking of dehydration, salt, caffeine(powder or specially designed liquid caffeine sprays) or anything else known to dehydrate plants and animals is incredibly effective on slugs. Ever dump some table salt on a slug and watch it melt? Oh yeah, slugs avoid dehydration because dehydration is death. Slugs are primarily water, I'd give you the exact percentage if I had it, and must avoid dehydrating elements in the soil and on plants. Seaweed, which is both high in salt and when dry is very coarse, makes an excellent barrier to slugs. Just remember that when it rains or when you water, you'll need to reapply your dehydrating elements. Also, certain dehydrating elements will effect your plants too, so be careful not to over use this technique.
  5. Supposedly, Garlic is an effective slug repellent. I've not found this to be 100% accurate, as my slugs will eat onions, chives, garlic or any other member of the onion family just as readily as anything else. High concentrations of garlic extracts may prove to be more effective with direct application.
  6. Copper fencing or copper foil makes for an interesting slug repellent. According to recent studies, copper reacts with the mucus secreted by the slugs' membranes and creates an electric current! Ha! Electric fencing against slugs! Unfortunately, this is not a very cost effective pest control option for large gardens as copper is not cheap. For me to fence my garden beds with a six inch copper strip(the smallest recommended amount, with an inch or so beneath the surface to prevent burrowing underneath the copper guard) would run me nearly $400. No, as cool as this option is, I'm far too cheap to go this route.
  7. Another recent finding suggests using Iron Phosphate mixed with a slug bait. Upon eating the mixture, slugs stop feeding and die within a week due to starvation. How this works, if it works, where to buy it locally, etc., I don't know. I've only found it online at a few places. Search this one out yourself, I'd try it if it were easily obtained locally. I want to be able to go in and complain at someone if I have problems with a product, and this option isn't available in my area yet.
  8. I've heard of other various homebrew mixtures: Ammonia and water sprayed on slugs, oat bran baits, certain plants(Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Wormwood, Mints, Tansy, Oak leaves, Cedar chips), and others. I've seen people use these with and without success.
  9. Predators. Toads, snakes, centipedes, birds, and many others all eat slugs. Encourage your garden to be a habitat for these creatures and you should see a reduction in slug populations. The gardener's best friend is the toad. No other creature eats more pests in and around your garden. So when you're out and about and see one of these amphibians, escort him to your garden and encourage them to make a home of it.

As you can see, there are a few options out there to preserve your organic gardening project. I, however, am lazy and cheap. I went to my local Wal-Mart and picked up a 2lb. bag of Ortho Bug-Getta. Cheap, easy and highly recommended to me.

So, I've lost my organic gardening bragging rights. Oh well, I'll plan more diligently next year and try to incorporate more of the above options into my beds.