Sunday, November 4, 2012

No Wonder My Tomatoes Were Crap

Yes, that is a tomato worm.  And, yes, it's as big as my freaking femur!  Nobody tells you they blend so well.  I found three of these when we ripped the tomatoes out a while back.  I'm sure there were 276 I didn't find.  Bastards.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Selling the Beast

The time has come to say goodbye to the Beast.  It's up for sale!  As soon as I take some more pictures, it will be on E-Bay. 

It runs well. In the last 2 years/5,000 miles have done the following:

New all-terrain tires.
New exchaust from headers back done by OC Muffler.
Rebuilt transmission and new clutch by Chino Hills Transmission.
Upgraded standard brakes to power brakes, new lines, new front calipers and pads.
Replaced fuel tank, fuel lines, fuel pump and fuel filter.
New starter, battery and ignition switch.
Have new rag joint, not installed, but will be included in purchase.
Replaced front u-bolts.
Replaced mirrors with stock mirrors. (One's in picture have been replaced)
New rear shocks.

Problems: Leaks oil (but, it is a Scout, so there you go), speedometer/odometer non-operational

Why am I selling it you may ask...because I'll be getting one of these (mom, don't look):

Going to have a hell of a time getting 3cf bags of compost in the side saddles, but where there's a will, there's a way.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Spurs 3, Manchester United 2.  First win for Spurs at United in 22 years.  I need a beer..

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Vegetables Are Irrigated

Unfortunately, they're nearly dead.

I do not say that due to my inability to water by hand, which I am incapable of doing in a consistent manner.  No, we have entered our Southern California "Autumn".  I say this because our day time temperatures still hover around 100 F (38C), but our nights are dropping into the 50's F (10's C).  This means my peppers have given up hope (although I have one plant that has a few clinging to life) and the tomatoes have said adios.  Perfect time for me to get the irrigation done.

I plan on sowing a lot of seeds directly into the garden as opposed to starting them indoors and then moving them outside.  As such, it occurred to me that a pure drip system may not work as half, if not more, of the seeds will never get water.  We don't get rain, so just get that thought out of your head right now.  The only water I get is what California steals from Arizona!  Ok, Arizonians, put those weapons down.  They're crazy, you know.

(As a complete aside, my boss at work has a son in college.  This particular college requires them to take a 5 week course studying abroad.  Their choices?  Czech Republic, Italy, Hong Kong and...Arizona.  Yea, they're out there.)

I decided to put some sprayers out instead of drip emitters.  Unfortunately, these aren't cutting it.  Notice the streams above?  Makes a nice set of stripes.  Not what I'm looking for.

I also set a row of 360 sprayers down the middle.  Unfortunately, again, not what I had in mind.  They spray fine....about 3 inches.  You unscrew the top to get more spray.  At inch 4 the top popped off and I got a face full of water.  A very Three Stooges moment.

So, I'm going online to to find something that might work better.  I've always had good luck with them.  I'm not linking, as they don't pay me.  And, I'm lazy.

I also ran into a problem from my last post.  You may remember that I linked into the wrong side of the zone I'm tying this irrigation into.  Now that I've linked into the correct side, I've realized that I didn't bother capping any of the sprinkler heads I'm no longer using.  Think Caddyshack.  Yea, it was that bad.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Always Know Your In Hole from your Out Hole

It comes in handy in many aspects, especially irrigation.

Here's the veggie garden.  Don't mock it, we're starting small.  Plus that bed on the left until a week ago had no soil in it.  Progress, baby.  As you can see there are two pvc pipes sticking straight up above the backs of the beds.  Many moons ago, I hooked those into the existing zone, since the zone was no longer needed.  We removed the big patch of grass this sprinkler zone had been watering, thus a free zone.  It's now the veggie zone.  One problem.  I turned the valve on and water came up from a missed sprinkler head 20 yards away.  That will not due.  No water came out the pipes it was supposed to come out.

As I said, it was many moons ago that I did this so hell if I remember what was where and why.  I couldn't have forgotten to hook the line in before covering it with, well, everything.  Could I?  (My wife would say, "yes".)  I found the line from water bubbling through the ground and dug it up.  Hole where a shovel pierced it.  Maybe that's the problem.  Fixed the line and another geyser coming out of the ground a few feet on.  I dug that up.  I found this:

Aha!  Now I remember.  This is where I hooked into the existing line.  The pipe going out the top leads into the garden.  I hooked into the line to the right.  Unfortunately, that's the outgoing!  The incoming is the one on the left.  Hells bells.

Easily fixed.  Now, I have water gushing from the spots it's supposed to.  Now to do the rest.  It has been so ungodly hot, though, and this took hours to figure out, that the rest will be done later.  I hate living in the desert.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I'm Sure I Screwed Up Something

Tomatoes are coming in.  Damn, that pictures blurry.  Anyway, about 1 out of 4 are doing this while still on the vine.  Don't you worry, I still eat them.  Certainly doesn't look very pretty, though.  I water fairly religiously deeply every three to five days.  Three days recently as we've topped out at about 104 F (40C) for the past week.  Doesn't affect (effect?, ah too late to look up which is correct) the taste.

Anyway, things have been busy at Turling Castle.  Tomatoes ripening, peppers ripening (sorry, no pictures of those as I've eaten them all) and the basil bolted.  Son of a...after about two weeks in the ground!!!  Is basil suppose to flower right away?  I'll have to look that up.  In the meantime, I'll be looking for a split tomato soup recipe.  HA!  Get it!?!?!

Oh, boy.  Go plant something.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Found My Thrill...On Blueberry Hill

Ok, so I don't have a hill so much as a patch of dirt, but you get the drift.  We have been moving forward at a tortoise-pace; however, if you remember that bastard won.

We planted some blueberries a couple of week's ago.  It's ok that I didn't take pictures and post back then, because they look exactly the same!  We got them two weeks ago last Friday bare root and put them in the ground Saturday afternoon.  Since then?  Bubkus.  

We planted two varieties, as I found out AFTER buying the first ("Misty") that they need a companion plant for cross pollinating.  Dear Big Box Store that is something good to put on the sign to sell blueberries!  Because, then I would have bought two.  Instead, I mail ordered the other variety ("Nelson").  Those would be the sticks.

I also read that blueberries like a slightly acidic soil (pH between 4.09 and 5.0).  Now, I have no idea what the acidity of my soil is.  So, I dug out three holes two feet in diameter and a foot or so deep.  I then filled the holes with 50% peat moss and 50% garden soil.  The guy at the nursery, who admitted he never planted a blueberry in his life, said that would work.  And, he must know.  He had a name tag for crying out loud.

Lastly, I understand blueberries need a winter window of six weeks with 36F or less.  Yea, I live in Southern California so that's not happening.  We'll see if they survive without that.

I'm sure hoping those are buds.  I'm not sure at what point I say these things are deader then a door nail.  I'll give them two more weeks.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dear London...

...on behalf of my countrymen, please accept our deepest apologies.

A view of the newly constructed McDonald's restaurant at the Olympic Park

Apparently, McDonald's is the only vendor allowed to sell brand name (whatever the hell that means) "food" at the Olympics.  This monstrosity seats 1,500.  Welcome to fat city.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lesson Learned

DO NOT stand downhill while applying fish emulsion to your plants from a 5 gallon bucket while barefoot.  You will sleep on the couch.  Write that down.

Friday, May 25, 2012

French Vegetable Gardening

I recently purchased a book called The Art of French Vegetable Gardening.

The books been around a while (nearly 20 years), as I'm always late in my reviews, but it's still new to me.  Anyway, the point of today's quick post is not the review, we'll do that next week, but to point out the timeliness of Tatyana's visit to the Heronswood Gardens over at MySecretGarden.  She's posted pictures of the potager garden today which fits right in with the book I'm reading.  Anyway, head on over there and check out the pictures.

Below is a sample.  Thanks to Tatyana for letting me swipe it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gophers: Can't Live With 'em, Can't Kill 'em...Oh, Wait...

...yes, you can.  And, here's how.

I had me, wait for it...three gophers at once this spring.  I have no idea if gophers are like birds and only spawn a certain time of the year, but it certainly seems that way.  Anyway, I had one in three of the four corners of the yard.  The trap I use is a cinch trap.  Works like a charm.  I nailed the first two in the same day.  Set the trap in the front about 11 am then went back out around 2 pm to a varmint.  Moved the trap to the other side of the yard then went back out around 6 and got a second.  Supremely easy.  Here's the third.  And, don't panic, there aren't any pictures of dead animals.

Here's the utensils.  Cinch trap is second from the right.  Gloves are for the fact that the trap is a bugger to set.  The trowel and weed puller are for finding the holes.  Got it all together?  Good, off we go.

Below are the telltale signs of gopher problems.  Mounds of dirt.  That, you didn't make.  Now, if you have kids it's entirely possibly random mounds of dirt could be their doing.  In which case, flatten out the mound and come back the next day to see if it or any others have appeared.

This particular hole was on the side of a hill, which I found makes it extremely difficult to dig out as the hole wants to collapse.  As it's hard to tell which direction the tunnel goes, I start poking the weed puller into the dirt until I can find which way it's running.  It's pretty easy to tell, as you can see, the puller goes in right up to the handle when you've found the tunnel.

Using the trowel dig it out.  I don't have any pictures of that, as I was digging and am not talented enough to photograph myself digging.

When you're done, the hole should look like the above.  Stick the weed puller back down in there to make sure it's a tunnel and not just a deep hole.

When that's done, set the trap.  There are instructions that come with it, so I won't get into that here.  I will point out that step one is to put on gloves.  Put.  Them.  On.  The spring mechanism is strong and when you get your finger trapped in a sprung trap it hurts like hell.  Hurts more like purgatory with the gloves, so wear those.  If you have gauntlets, more power to you.  Now, from the above picture you get an idea on how it works.  There is a small trigger that the vermin's nose hits which springs the trap and "cinch's" (get it?) it's neck in the end that's laying on the trowel.

Then it's quite simple.  Stick the business end of the trap in the hole.  And, you're done.  One thing to consider, though.  The hole needs to be big enough for the trap to actually be able to close.  Otherwise, it gets hung up on the dirt and the little bastard gets away.  If it's difficult to put into the hole, use your trowel to widen the hole.  Don't dig, just stick the trowel in there and pry on all sides until the hold is wide enough.

As you can see, I speak from experience.  First attempt the hole was too small.  Trap got hung up.  The little terrorist then moved into the lawn, so I had to have a second go.  I'm not sure what happened with the second go, but...

...I needed a third go.  That was the charm.

The trap is reusable and runs about $15 USD.  To get the gopher out, just start to reset the trap and it will fall right out.  Be sure you're above whatever you want to dispose it in before doing this, though.

And, there you.  If you're from, put my check in the mail.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dear Arsenal...Lasagna, It's What's for Dinner!!

Final game of the Premier League season tomorrow at 7 am PDT.  Our beloved Tottenham Hotspur take on Fulham at home as we sit in fourth place.  Arsenal sit right above us in third.  A win by us combined with anything other then a win by Arsenal put us third.  I expect both of you will be watching!!  And to all the Arsenal players out there, I understand lasagna is a fantastic pregame meal.  Eat up, lads!

Also, it appears Fox is putting a game on nearly every channel it has on cable television (although, surprisingly not on FOX).  Spurs will be on Fox Soccer Channel, but the following channels will be showing games, as well:

  • ESPN2 (not Fox) -  Manchester City v. Queens Park Rangers
  • FX - Sunderland v. Manchester United
  • Speed Network - Chelsea v. Blackburn Rovers
  • Fuel TV - Swansea v. Liverpool
  • FSN - West Brom v. Arsenal (come on Baggies, win your last one for Hodgson!)
  • Fox Soccer - Spurs v. Fulham
  • Fox Soccer Plus - Stoke v. Bolton
  • - Everton v. Newcastle
  • Fox Soccer 2go - Norwich v. Aston Villa
  • Fox Soccer 2go - Wigan v. Wolverhampton
And, for those of you outside the U.S., yes, we have a lot of freaking TV stations.

P.S.  Also, Premier League executives, the final matches on Mother's Day?  Really???  Throw a brother a bone!!  Do you know how much of my Father's Day I now have to trade away to get the game on in the morning.  Crikey!  Yes, I felt an Australian saying was appropriate.

P.P.S.  For those of you unfamiliar with the lasagna reference, several years ago going into the final game Spurs sat fourth and Arsenal fifth.  Spurs lost, Arsenal won resulting in a flip-flopping of positions knocking us out of Champions League qualification.  It was blamed on bad lasagna the night before, although that's probably a load of hooey and in ten years it will be said we were attacked by ninja's, I'm sure.  So, let's just get that ball rolling.  You heard it here first:

Headline for May 8, 2006:

"Spurs Attacked by Ninjas!  Lose Fourth to Arsenal!"  Story at 11!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beam Me Up, Scotty, There Be...Vegetables!

I have joined the 6-week challenge over at Nerd Fitness.  Great site, by the way, run by a guy with the world's greatest Lego collection.  Anyway, in this challenge each participant needs to choose four things that they are going to complete in the six week period.  Three need to be health/fitness related and one "other".  Mine are:
  1. Start a vegetable garden and harvest something for full points.  This will be tough in only six weeks.
  2. Run a mile in under 12 minutes.  I have no idea if that is fast or slow.  For all I know, I can walk a mile on my hands in under 12 minutes, so if I do it easily with time to spare, then I'll knock it down to 10 minutes.
  3. Eat no processed foods.  Harder then you would think.  I'm doing just ok on this one.  Bread, obviously, is a killer, but having the willpower of a goat in a house full of treats for kids is taking its toll.
  4. Pay off a significant amount of debt.  On track for this, although I was kind of needing an expected bonus to accomplish the amount I chose and in looking at the calendar I think it's going to come a few days after the challenge ends.  We'll see.
I think you can guess what the topic of this post is going to be.  Yes, boys, girls and dogs of all ages, we have vegetables.  In the ground even!!

In order to be able to harvest something by June 11th, the end date of the challenge, I needed to get stuff in the ground.  I planted two types of tomatoes:  a Mr. Stripey, which is a yellow and red striped large tomato, and what was labeled a Sandwich Tomato.  Hey, it was a big box store, I'm surprised they just weren't all labeled "Tomato to Eat".  I also plopped in four green bell peppers and some sweet basil.

So far so good.  They've been in the ground since Sunday and nothings dead, yet.  Going to have to start referring to me as Farmer Turling soon, me thinks.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Bookstore I Could Die In

A converted theater in Argentina.  Brilliant.  Link is here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our Three Hour Pet Turtle

No, he didn't die.  As the great Sting says, "if you love somebody a turtle, set them free."

My wife and son were driving back from the store, when my wife, using her catlike reflexes, missed crushing the little guy to death.  Don't ask me how in the name of all that is good and holy she saw this thing, but she did.  Then, her an my son walked back down the street to pick it up.

My son immediately took to the internet and deduced that it was a Red-Eared Slider freshwater turtle.  Unfortunately, with our current lifestyle, we have a no pets policy, which went over like a fart in church with the kids.

My wife took my son over to the local pet store to ask about the turtle.  It honestly couldn't have worked better, as the clerk was pretty straight forward about how difficult these little guys are to take care of.  I think the clincher was when I explained to my son that it's not like a dog, and he can't take it out and play with it.

So, with heavy hearts we took the little guy over to a park a mile or so away.  It has a large lake and is currently inhabited by a number of, you guessed it, Red-Eared Sliders.  I'm not saying anybody had stolen him from there, but that's quite a coincidence to find him in the street.  Anyway, good luck.

And, don't let the garbage fool you.  It's a really nice lake.  Garbage is one of the joys of suburbia.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Next Time You Think Something is Too Hard...

...or will take too long, or your team has just lost their 900th game in a row and dropped to fifth behind Newcastle watch this.  Then, shut up about it.  And do it.  Or deal with it.  If this guy can do this, you sure as hell can pull some weeds or silently curse Harry Redknapp and the FA for firing Capello.

Yea, he's using his feet.

Thanks to Kari at The Village Carpenter for this one.

New Hardiness Zones Are Available

They're here.  Just punch in your zip code.  And, apparently, I've moved.  I was 11b, now I'm 10a.  Crap, how do I break it to my 11b plants that they're all going to die?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day: Yea, We're a Little Early

My son's class heads off to the Chino Wetlands every year to celebrate Earth Day.  There are a number of educational activities they partake in, but his favorite is that he gets to bring a plant home!!!

I/we have no idea what kind of tree it is.  They told the Boy, but he doesn't remember.  If we can't figure it out, it will get planted as far away from the house as humanly possible.  All I need is an oak uprooting the foundation.

Here we got it planted into a larger pot.  The pot is probably too large, but it's what we had.  Unfortunately, we're also fresh out of fertilizer, so it will be getting that this weekend.  In the meantime, lots of water as we're suppose to hit 95F (35C) this weekend!  Welcome to a Southern California (inland) spring, bouts of hotter then bejeezus followed by winter like rain (which is due next week).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Subversive Plot and Watch More TED

I love TED.  It's addictive.  Below is a clip I hope you'll find interesting.  It's a talk given by Roger Doiron.  Here's his bio:

"Roger Doiron is founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International, a network of people taking a hands-on approach to re-localizing the global food supply. Doiron is an advocate for new policies, technologies, investments, and fresh thinking about the role of gardens. His successful petition to replant a kitchen garden at the White House attracted broad international recognition. He is also a writer, photographer, and public speaker."

I think one interesting (frightening?) note is that in order for the world's population of an estimated 10 billion people by the century's end to be fed, the world will have to produce more food in the next 50 years then in the previous 10,000 combined.  We can't even make decent food now, how on earth are we going to do it on that large of a scale?

I'll tell you how, we're going to grow it ourselves.  I'm heading out today and planting something.  Ok, I'm pulling all the weeds first, but damn it, then I'm planting something!!  Who's with me?!?!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Nice Spring Day

We had a rare occasion at Castle Turling this past weekend...a significant amount of time with nothing to do.  So, we took advantage and spent some time relaxing in the backyard.  I grabbed the camera and snapped a few pictures of stuff coming in.  Yes, we have a few things in dirt here.

The wysteria that I spent three years trying to kill before giving in to the losing battle is marching on as it continues its takeover of the patio cover.

Sweet Mary of Jesus is there ANYWHERE the damn weed don't grow?!?

On the left is a Kalenchoe and on the right is an, err, Pinkus Plantus.

My little row of daylillies.  I grew these from seed, at least I think they were seeds, there is probably some other name for them.  However, once I put them in the ground...BOOM...dead.  All went brown.  I went to tear them out and found some of the tiniest points of green coming through, so I left them.  Look at these soldiers coming back, now.  I'm so proud.

The previous owner planted irises.  I dug up most of them and gave them back to him (he is my father-in-law after all), but seem to have missed a few.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Orange Tree Dilemma

Ok, maybe dilemma is too strong a word.  No, actually, it's probably not strong enough.  This damn little tree has caused me too many sleepless nights.  I sit at my bedroom window staring out at it willing it to grow.  Ok, I made all that up, but it's still pissing me off and forcing me to never buy a fruit tree from a big box store (rhymes with Rome Repo) again.  Anyway, my little orange tree is still alive, but now it's spring time and it's doing this:

Everywhere.  All over it's little tiny trunk it's sprouting spuds.  Now, I'm not sure if I should peel them off and force the little bugger to put its energy into the couple of trunks it has or let it run its course.  Keep in mind two things.  First, when I say trunks I mean one main trunk and one Tyrannosaurus Rex arm that I consider a trunk.  And, second, I have the patience of a four year old on Christmas Eve, so I'm not really wanting to wait for it to put out 900 spuds and in six years for it to widdle itself down to its three favorite arms.  So, perhaps, you can see my dilemma?  Too scrape or not to scrape?  That is the question.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Time: Time for Work

Spring time here, like all other places I'm sure, means one thing.  Work.  And, unfortunately, the bad work comes before the fun work.  This is why:

Yea, baby.  Those be weeds.  And, a sage in the background that needs to be trimmed back.  Actually, it needed to be trimmed back six weeks ago.  And, yes, that weed in the front has gone to flower.  That's how I roll.

You see, living where we do, we get a lot of weeds.  I mean A LOT.  There is a field directly behind our house that is a la naturale.  So, every California weed known to mankind blows into my yard.  I can't bring myself to pull them in the winter for a couple of reasons.  First, I'll just need to pull them again in the spring, thus doubling and/or tripling my work.  Second, it's cold in the winter.  Yes, I live in California, so we have "winter", but we're also "weenies", because we only have "winter".  Plus, I had other winter time things I was working on.

Normally, for my weed chores, I'll use this for the majority of the stuff:

It works pretty good on stuff like this:

Not so good on grass, though.  And, it seems I have a lot of grass growing in places it shouldn't.  Kind of like hair when you hit 40.  Anyway, with grass it tends to leave it like this:

Yep, it just scoots along the top.  Scoot being the technical gardening term used by master gardeners everywhere.  So, the grass I'm going to need a different tact for.  Unfortunately, grabbing and pulling leaves most if not all the roots, so that defeats the purpose.  But, I have a plan.  I concocted it while driving home from work.  So, it's bound to work.  And, no, it does not involve chemicals, as I don't put that crap on my yard.  It involves a stick.  And, a lot of duct tape.

Ok, I'm kidding about the duct tape...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Fireplace, Part I

It's time to start working on the fireplace mantel again.  I won't tell you how long it's been, but it rhymes with "tree deers".  Here's where we stand.

Except for the actual fireplace, all the tile and woodwork I did myself.  The wood is black walnut.  You're probably asking, "what the hell is going on with the top?"  Well, I'll tell you.

We don't plan on mounting a television above the fireplace.  BUT, never is a mighty long time, so who knows what will be going on years from now.  The top is for television mounting.  It will be covered (we'll get to the plan in a minute), so what you're seeing now will be hidden.  A television can be mounted in the middle, a hole cut in the panel that will be in place and the wires dropped down the open section in the middle right down into the current top of the mantel.

There is a one inch gap there, although it's a little tough to make out, that wires can fall into.

In the mantel piece above the fireplace, I've placed a panel to allow access into that area.  Below is with the panel removed.

The wires can then be dropped down the pillar on the left side and come out along the outside where a cabinet could be placed housing all of the television accoutrements.

That's where we're at so far.  Next up is going to be the upper mantel.  It's going to look like a smaller version of the bottom section and will go all the way to the ceiling.  Below is my high tech, super CAD drawing.  Yes, Virginia, pencil and paper still do exist.

I'm still a little concerned about the proportions.  As such, I decided to transfer the dimensions for the upper pillars to a piece of plywood.  That's below, although a little tough to see.  I never said I was a photographer.

I'm going to cut this out and put it up on the mantel to see if it looks alright.  One thing I don't want is for the top to appear heavier then the bottom.  I'm sure there's some math I could bust out in order to accomplish this, but I'm a simple guy and holding a piece up should suffice.

This template will also serve as a building diagram.  Plywood is cheap.  Walnut is expensive.  This way I can cut the pieces and fit them directly to the template.  No measuring.  Less fractions.  The world is a better place that way.

As the two of you will also notice, this post is labeled part I.  Stay tuned.  I would say "next up is...", but I haven't gotten that far, yet.