Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Review: The Bucolic Plague

I wanted to like this book.  I really, really, really did.  Perhaps, that's why I was disappointed.  I still did enjoy the read, I guess it was just not what I was expecting, and that failure to meet my expectation eventually let me down.

Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge are a couple from Manhattan.  During a trip to upstate New York, they stumble upon a small town called Sharon Springs.  In that town is an old farm called the Beekman Mansion.  The estate was created in 1802 by a local merchant and farmer, William Beekman.  After falling into disrepair, as so many of these places seem to do, it was available for sale when the two drove by.  On what was described as a whim, they purchased the farm and began plans on renovating and making it a second home.  After a time, the boys decided they, although it reads as though it were mostly Purcell, want to turn it into a full time home and need to find a way to make the farm self sufficient in order for that to happen.  Both have full time jobs in New York, Ridge with Martha Stewart and Purcell as an ad executive, so would be leaving substantial income and opportunities behind in order to accomplish this.

Now, that's where the story for me takes the turn I wasn't expecting.  I thought it would be more along the lines of hours of toiling in the soil, restoring the home, before and after pictures, etc.  Instead, it really is the memoire it is described as and spends much of its time on the relationship of Ridge and Purcell, the business aspect of what they are hoping to do, the characters in Sharon Springs and Martha Stewart.  There's lots of Martha.

The two also have a show shown in the US, I'm not sure if it's shown in other parts of the world, called "The Fabulous Beekman Boys".  The show follows there lives as they try and make the Beekman Farm become the self sustaining business and home they want it to be.  This book was written prior to that show, so don't expect tidbits of filming and the like.  I guess you can consider the book part one and the show part two of their journey.

Overall, I did enjoy this book.  I would recommend this book to anyone.  Keep in mind, that this book is more about following dreams and the stresses related to trying to start a business while balancing your personal life and not going bankrupt.  It is not what I would consider a farm or garden book.  And, I think that expectation is what led to my disappointment.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And, I Know When It's Done...


These are the pot onions.  No, not onions you smoke, onions I'm growing in a pot.  For Christ's sake, pay attention!

The largest one in the top picture is about two inches across.  However, from reading other blogs, I'm finding out size doesn't matter.  Although, my wife....anyway, back to the onions.

How in the name of all that is good and holy do I know when they're done?  I looked for one of those little plastic pop-ups like you get in a turkey, but no luck.  Apparently, these are the "gardener" variety, where you're suppose to know what you're doing, as opposed to the "greenhorn" variety, where you're utterly clueless.  I think the greenery is suppose to die back, but then I read about bolting, which I still have no idea what in the hell that is.  It has something to do with tastes great, less filling tastes crappy.  I'm pretty sure lightning might be involved.

Then there is a whole drying process, which is another post, I'm sure.

P.S.  My previous post on my trip to see Spurs play in San Jose is by far my most popular.  Thanks to the newsgroups that posted the link.  But never fear, faithful few, we're all about the plants here.  With a little Spurs thrown in for comfort.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Finally. Game Day.

Yesterday was the day.  It has felt like years since I first purchased the tickets to see our beloved Tottenham Hotspur take on the San Jose Earthquakes.  The day started, yesterday, with a 4 am wake up call, followed by a six hour drive north to San Jose.  The game was originally scheduled for 7 pm, but was picked up by ESPN (as you all know, since ALL of you watched it) and had to be moved up to 1 pm.  Apparently, we weren't the only peeved Spurs fans trying to check into the hotel early.  We navigated our way to the stadium with plenty of time to spare.

Starting line ups.  It's not a very big stadium, so yes we were that close.  We sat in the section reserved for Spurs fans, but it honestly seemed like we took up half the stadium.  Attendance was 10,700, which apparently was an all time record for San Jose.

Unfortunately, we decided to bring our small camera, with two kids and all the attachments they require, we thought it would be safer.  Needless to say, the pictures could have been better.

During the game, these chaps below stood the whole time and sang.  It was all fine until about the 80th minute, when a few drunken San Jose supporters realized their team wasn't going to get slaughtered and began singing back.  I have no idea what they said, but our boys started in on their sisters.  It was all downhill the last ten minutes.

The game ended 0-0.  We had one disallowed goal for an offside call.  Spurs were short about half their starting line up, as World Cup players were allowed to skip the trip.  San Jose had their full squad as they have, well, no one that played in the World Cup.

The fun really began, though, afterwards.  While at dinner, I overheard someone say, "aren't those soccer players outside?" (were in America, deal with the word)  I turned around to see Robbie Keane, Jermaine Jenus, Tom Huddlestone and Alan Hutton.  After throwing the baby across the table, she's rubbery still, she was fine, I sprinted outside as they were getting a cab.  Just in time to say, "Robbie Keane!" and have him turn around, shake my hand and say, "how you doin', mate?"  Then, off they went in a cab.  But wait, it gets better.

We decided to head to the Fairmont Hotel for a drink only to find that was the hotel Spurs were staying in.  See, this drunken problem is paying off finally.  We walk into the bar and the first person I see is...head coach Harry Redknapp.  My son (yes, I brought my son to the bar, shut up) quickly grabbed the pad of paper from his "Spurs Starter Pak" he got at the game, and I walked up to Harry and said, "Coach Redknapp?"  He then started in as if I was a long lost relative with the how are ya's.  We asked for an autograph, and my son got his first Spurs autograph.  As we were looking at his autograph, Harry walked over and struck up a conversation with my father-in-law.  But wait, it gets better.

Next up, Younes Kaboul.  We spotted him in the lobby and my son got his second autograph.  He seemed like a nice guy, as I was completely taken aback when he was asking where we from and asking about the area.  I didn't expect a conversation!  But wait, it gets better.

Next up, Vedran Corluka, Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar!  There in that order below.   Our three Croatians.  Hopefully, you realized the short one is my son and not Croatian.  I'm terrible with remembering to take pictures, but we remembered this one.

My wife now has a crush on Niko.  Need to remember to leave her at home next time.

Lastly, our backup goalkeeper, who is our starting keeper on this tour as Horelio Gomes played in the World Cup, was Carlo Cudicini.  He was hitting on a woman and her daughter, so we had to wait politely a little while for this one.  Again, no picture.

All in all, a fantastic time was had.  Almost time for the season to begin.  August 14th.  Mark your calendars.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

If You Want to Part the Red Sea...

...walk while holding the hand of a two year old.  I don't have any gardening tonight.  We went to our city's "Concert in the Park" which featured an 80's tribute band and me sneaking proper beverages in through coffee mugs.  Works wonders.

I did notice on the walk home, though, that as long as my two year old daughter was walking, very slowly I might add, people actually got out of my way.  They walked in the street, on the grass, on the dirt, wherever she wasn't.  I might be on to something here.  I'm pondering renting her out by the hour.  Sign up in the comments.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

They Bloom?

Mother In Laws Tongue.  They bloom.  Who knew?  Ok, ALL of you, I know.

It's in there.  In the middle.

P.S.  This probably isn't fantastic news if you're English, but for an American Spurs fan it is.  Fabio Capello was kept on as England coach, so Harry Redknapp was signed to an extension today that will keep him at Spurs (yes, I know "loosely") through 2013.  I think that calls for a drink.  IG?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Irrigation Update

We made some progress on the irrigation for the back planter this weekend.

We were able to replace ten sprinkler heads that spit out 510 gallons per hour ("GPH") (10 heads, .85 gallons per minute) with four drip lines (soon to be five) totaling 30 gallons per hour.  I actually had to walk out and count the number of emitters right now, as we have 1 GPH emitters on most plants, with some soaker hoses on others (I guessed 3 GPH on the soaker hoses, they aren't very long).  That's a 94% decrease in our water for this area.  Granted, it will increase as we put in more plants and they get bigger, but I don't believe we'll surpass 200 GPH for this bed.  We plan on packing a lot of plants in there and making them as drought tolerant as possible.  This is where we put the Jerusalem Sage and Lion's Tail.  That potato vine in the background of the bottom picture doesn't have any irrigation going to it at the moment.  I may add an emitter as it gets hotter, but we'll wait and see.

For full disclosure, I went to Toro's website and looked at what they said the output of a 180 degree sprinkler head was, as all 10 of ours were that.  I may even be low, as our sprinkler heads were at least 13 years old, and I took the specifications of the latest and greatest.

Running all of the drip line took about three hours.  It probably could have taken a little less, but it was hot, so there was beer involved.  And, there aren't any leaks, so that shows you how damn easy it must be if a drunk can do it!

Being in Southern California, water is our most precious resource, in my humble opinion.  I've even done some research that shows it doesn't pay to recycle paper here, because of the extraordinary amount of water it takes to turn recycled paper into another usable product.  Apparently, to remove all of the toxins in the dying, bleaching and whatever else they do to it process.  I'm not done with that research, yet.  Another post.

In the meantime, I hope you'll be motivated to at least look into drip irrigation.  I'll even be happy to come out and help.  For a price, of course.  Unless you're in London, in which case I may come out for Spurs tickets!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hopefully, I Learn from My Mistakes

Jury is still out on that.  I'm the slow one in the family.  However, as people pointed out in a previous post where we planted impatiens along the edge of the lawn, impatiens like shade.  Something that spot only received at, well, night.

We dug up the twelve impatiens we planted a couple of weeks ago and moved them to the front walkway. This spot gets early morning sun and is in the shade by 10 or 11 in the morning.  We're hoping these fill in nicely.  I would have had a good lead in had Holland won today since these flowers are a mixture of orange and white, but it was not meant to be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Big Max!!

No, I'm not referring to whatever you might think I was referring to.  Although, it would qualify.  HA!

Big Max, the pumpkin, went into the ground yesterday.  I would have posted it yesterday, but the whole "No card" fiasco continued.  And, yes, it already has damage from the god damn snails.  The last time I saw this was when we planted hostas at our Huntington Beach house.  The snails ate it to the ground in three days.  I need to consult the internet, books and my local yogi to figure out a cure.  I was thinking of sitting next to it and crushing whatever came near.  Then, I realized we saw a bobcat a short time back and decided that wasn't the best course of action.  Maybe I need to buy a rifle.  My son and I are archers, so I could get them with that, but I digress.

Big Max takes about 120 days to mature (grow? escalate? what's the right word here?).  That should put him (I'm going with this one is a Maximillian and not a Maxine) right before Halloween.  This three bucks is going to save me $80 at the pumpkin patch.  The best thing about this when we bought it was the pumpkin seeds were still on the leaves!

I picture some poor employee from Village Nurseries sitting in the back glueing all of the seeds to the leaves.  It would have worked beautifully if I had actually noticed them AT the nursery.  Needless to say, this thing has quadrupled in size in the week we've had it.  I understand that a single vine, and we have three, can take up to 500 square feet of space.  We've put it in an unused corner of the yard where, with a little persuasion, it can grow into a large uninhabited space.  I would have taken a picture, but there are far too many weeds that need to be pulled before that happens.  We're hoping to get four or five pumpkins.  That will give us one for my son, one for Kiki (previously known as Bananas, but she renamed herself), one for McKenna, and then one each for family friends, Aidan, Colin, Kyren (I completely spelled that wrong), Drew, Colin, oh crap, it looks like we had better get more.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jerusalem Sage

I'm stretching the most recent acquisitions, as we are quickly coming to the end of our planting season.  Once the temperatures start getting into the mid-90's F (35 C), we'll stop planting until the fall.  Unfortunately, in our first season of plantings, we didn't get nearly as much accomplished as we had hoped.  Plants are not inexpensive.  Neither are kids.  Unfortunately.

Anyway, staying on task, next up is our Jerusalem Sage (phlomis fruticosa).

After searching through my photos, I realized I never took a picture once it was put into the ground.  Being the ingenious fellow I am, I realized there's enough light to run out and take a picture of it.  Only to be met with "no card".  No card?!?!?  What the hell does that mean???  Obviously, that called for a call to my wife, who's much better at these things then me.  I'm met with "I moved it to the other camera and I have that with me."  Crap.  I could wait until tomorrow to post this, but I am an American and delayed gratification is not something we are good at, so I'm posting it in the pot.  It looks the same in the ground.  Except, of course, the flowers are starting to bloom.  You'll survive.  Somebody told me that anticipation is the best part.  They were an idiot.

Anyway, Jerusalem Sage is native to the Mediterranean.  They get about four feet high and wide, and they have furry silver leaves, which I believe means they are somewhat drought tolerant.  That's good, since it was planted in the bed that I thought was watered significantly more then it really was.  It's a dog eat dog world at Castle Turling.  Bright yellow flowers bloom throughout the spring and summer months.  We put this right next to the gate that leads to the community path right behind our house, so it should be a nice lead in to wander up the small staircase to the gate.  Again, a picture would have been spectacular right here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lions and Tigers and...

...ok, just lions.  Lion's Tail, that is.  Leonotis leonurus.  I almost bought it just for the name.

Native to southern Africa, it will get substantially bigger then the two feet it is now.  It will get large tubular orange flowers that look like, well, a lion's tail!  HA!  These gardener's are so clever with their naming.

After this one was in the ground for a couple of day's, though, it looked like this.

One sad lion.  The moral of this story is to WRITE DOWN your irrigation schedule and don't rely on the memory of the man who goes for a run and forgets to put on his shorts.  Long story, different post.  I swore this bed got water three times a week only to see that it was really one!  No wonder nothing was growing with the temperature now creeping into the 90's F.  Never fear, all is well once again.  And, no, I still haven't written down the irrigation schedule.  Baby steps people, baby steps.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Have a happy and safe 4th of July everybody.  For everyone outside the US, happy Sunday, I guess.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mother In Laws

As in Mother In Law Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata).  Native to West Africa.  We have found that exposing them to sun makes them more yellow.  These two get about four to six hours of sun per day, so they're a little greener.  We had two.  Now, we have three (one is hiding).

Back in January, these two were one.  We decided to split them, for a couple of reasons.  First, it was getting too big for the pot it was in.  Second, this particular plant was in the garden and planted by my in-laws.  It was not in a good spot, and was not happy.  After a few years, it only had about four spindly leaves (I think those are referred to as leaves, although, I'm sure there is some technical term for them).  We yanked it out and potted it.  The second reason for splitting was to return a part of the plant to my in-laws out in the Temecula Valley.

For the longest time, these two looked terrible.  I thought we had done something wrong, since all we did was yank it out of the pot, my wife grabbed one side, me the other, and we pulled.  Split.  One in a new pot, the other back into the old pot, both with all new soil.  Then today, I saw this...

New growth!  Holy crap, we did something gardening like!!  Only one of the two pots is showing spuds, leaflets, or whatever they're called.  However, the other pot looks healthier, so I'm guessing new growth is just around the corner.  We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief now.  Next up for splitting this fall...our salvia.  I'll have to post pictures of that soon.  It's the size of a fully grown polar bear.  It's truly huge.  In the meantime, we will simply enjoy something that actually appears to have worked.