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This is Eric, AKA boatgeek coming to you again on tape delay.  I won't be here today, but please give special mojo to whomever is up in the morning to post this.  I'll also be around on Monday to answer any questions you might have.  

Our topic today is tagged on to the DailyKos GreenRoots, a week of green-themed diaries from all over the community.  At the risk of treading on Frankenoid's toes, we're looking at growing a greener yard.  Heck, your yard is part of your home, right?

(Special notes by CodeTalker:)
Remember, please don't tip the SMHRB "Tip Jar" - save your mojo for the author later on!
Also, let's be thankful that exlrrp's recent health problem was successfully overcome, and he's still here with us - it was too close for comfort - I hope he'll drop in and tell us more about it.

I'll preface this by admitting right out that I'm a hardass when it comes to gardens.  If it doesn't like my climate or it dies easily, then we have an opportunity to plant something else.  I'm also lazy, so I especially like solutions that involve less work.  Those often end up being cheapest over the long run, which plays into my inner cheapskate as well.  So with that said, take what I say below with a grain of salt.  If you don't like it, don't do it.  I promise not to come to your house to complain. :)

Without further ado, here are boatgeek's five rules for a greener garden:

  1. Put plants in appropriate locations.  A rosebush or a lawn isn't going to do well in heavy shade, and a hosta isn't generally going to like full sun.  You might keep plants alive in spots they don't like, but it will be far more time, energy, and work to make it happen.  
  1. Rethink the lawn.  Lawns can consume huge amounts of fertilizer, water, pesticides, and time.  Where you can, plant ground covers that require little maintenance, like creeping thyme, sedums, or many others.  If you need an open space for kids or pets, consider tearing out the lawn and covering the space with cedar play chips.  These give a nice surface for running around and look tidier than standard wood chips.  They're also generally made from trees that were cut down for other reasons, so you're recycling a natural material.  If you want to take out the lawn, it's pretty simple to sheet mulch it away.  Lay down several layers of newspaper or one layer of cardboard over the entire area, then cover with 3-4 inches of organic material.  You can even plant new plants in the mulch.  

If you do keep your lawn, water as little as possible and use a mulching mower to cut down on production of scraps.  

  1. Please don't use herbicides or pesticides.  They're meant to kill things.  Even if they don't kill you, they're bad for everything downstream of your garden.  Pull weeds by hand or with any of a variety of nifty tools.  Done right, you can extract a dandelion from a lawn without anyone noticing the difference.  If you use RoundUp, you'll see a brown patch there for a month.  If you provide a dense ground cover, it's also harder for weeds to get a footing in your yard.  Boiling water and/or a propane torch will also take care of weeds coming up through your pavement.
  1. Use native plants.  Native plants require the least care and feeding and generally provide better habitat and food for your local fauna.  Just because a plant is native doesn't mean that it needs no care at all, or that it's suited to any site in the garden, but it does mean that if the plant is sited correctly, it will need minimal care once it is established.
  1. Plant a tree.  It doesn't really matter so much what kind, just put in a tree that meets the needs of your yard for shade, fruit, beauty, animal habitat, or all four.  It'll improve your life for years to come.  Make sure you water the tree for the first year or two to help it get established.

Here are a couple of sources for more information.  These are Western Washington-centric, but you can probably find location-specific info at your county's cooperative extension.

The Plant Answer Line 206-897-5268 or hortlib@u.washington.edu has reference librarians standing by to answer your questions.

The Garden Hotline 206-633-0224 is run by Seattle Tilth, another great local source for information.  

Finally, here's a couple of photos of our yard:

This was supposed to be a more thoroughly researched diary, but my time suddenly disappeared today.

And now the floor is open for questions, accomplishments, and horror stories.  There's a great group of professionals and amateurs who can help with most any topic!

If you are interested in environmental issues, please join DK GreenRoots, a new environmental advocacy group created by Meteor Blades. DK GreenRoots is comprised of bloggers at Daily Kos and eco-advocates from other sites. We focus on a broad range of issues. We alert each other to important eco-stories in the mainstream media and on the Internet, promote bloggers at one site to readers at other sites and discuss crucial eco-issues.  We are in exciting times now because for the first time in years, significant environmental legislation will be passed by Congress.  DK GreenRoots can also be used to apprise members of discussions and strategy sessions happening in Meteor Blade’s Green Diary Rescue thread, which is also our workroom.

Originally posted to SMHRB on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 05:59 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  PLEASE - read but don't tip this SMHRB comment! (5+ / 0-)

    (SMHRB is not supposed to tip or be tipped)

    (From CodeTalker)
    boatgeek composed this diary as part of The DK GreenRoots Eco Week effort. There are more great diaries for you to read already posted, and some that are due to be up today, so please check them out.

    The latest available full schedule for DK GreenRoots Eco Week is here.

    Special thanks to Land of Enchantment and all the others who have worked so hard to get this effort done. THANK YOU, ONE AND ALL!

    (LoE - I hope you'll comment on this and add the names of the others who deserve credit, as well as any notes you'd like to add. AND, I hope your shoulder gets better soon - I know how hard you've worked this week, and I for one am grateful! THANKS - John)

  •  Good morning and welcome everyone! (24+ / 0-)

    Once again, we have an "absentee" diary up thanks to boatgeek, who wrote this in a hectic week during which he's had to go away BUT he'll be back soon, and I hope you all remember what went into this and tip him accordingly.

    Also, watch for a special Green comment from Milly Watt today - she's been real busy this week, so I hope she had enough time to compose and post it!

    I'll be here for a few hours, then Claude will be taking over while I go enjoy some quality time with family. I hope you ALL have a great weekend!

    "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
    Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
    www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

    by CodeTalker on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:05:14 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the diary, boatgeek. (25+ / 0-)

    I have been working to add native plants to my garden. they require less water and less care. Dad and I have also been working on our sun room. We have painted the ceiling, and we are about to plain all the trim. You can see that it has been primed here:

     title=

  •  Nice greenie diary, boatgeek, even if you (18+ / 0-)
    aren't here this morning. Loaded with good information and wonderful pics!

    Greetings from the Great State of Maine. (Hmm...doesn't someone else use that line?)

    It's wet and foggy this morning because that seems to be the perpetual spring and summer weather in the northeast these days. Groan. But I think I'm seeing some light come through the clouds now so maybe it'll burn and we'll have a decent Fourth.

    Oh yeah, Happy 4th of July everyone.

    As I post this, I'm watching a pretty good sized flock of wild turkeys foraging in the orchard behind my house--looks like 2 big toms, 2 full-grown hens, a couple of jakes and 12 chicks.

    Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects. -Herodotus

    by TerribleTom on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:08:31 AM PDT

    •  Good morning Tom! (13+ / 0-)

      Are you ready for that move to Maine yet? Although I've never been there, my SIL is proof that it's a great place to grow up, and the fresh lobster, etc, is among the best anywhere.

      Enjoy - and LMK when you've got something done for your own turn at the wheel here - and welcome aboard the Guest Host madhouse... I'm really looking forward to your effort, you always have something solid to contribute, and I appreciate it.

      "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
      Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
      www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

      by CodeTalker on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:15:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ‘morning, CT. Yep, (13+ / 0-)

        I’m splitting time between Virginia and Maine these days—kinda moving incrementally, if that makes sense. At the farm in Maine now for two weeks.

        Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects. -Herodotus

        by TerribleTom on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:19:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My project this week: preparing for the ice age (15+ / 0-)

          Well, not exactly the ice age--more like the next big ice storm that knocks out utility power for a week in the middle of winter. Not very green or Fourth-of-Julyish, is it?

          Except for yesterday, it rained all week here in the boonies of Maine and I had to scrap plans for mowing, bush whacking and firewood cutting. So I took up an indoor project that I've been putting off for years: Installing a panel with a transfer switch to help make using a portable generator during emergency outages more convenient and much safer.

          Voila:

           title=

          As background, I already had a small sub-panel that powered the furnace, well pump, sump pump and hot water heater. Since it already had three of the things I wanted available in a power outage, I replaced the sub-panel with a transfer panel and moved a few selected circuits from the main panel to the sub.

          [Another part of my finagle involved rewiring the hot water heater back to the main panel. Not only are they power pigs that'll kill a small generator, but I have dual HW systems and can always get hot water from the furnace. I only use the electric hot water heater in the summer when the oil/hydronic heating system is off.]

          My new transfer panel isolates and feeds 7 circuits: refrigerator, furnace, well pump, sump pump, living room (read: TV and Internet), hall/stairwell/misc. lighting and the garage. You flip the switch to the right and those circuits are on grid power. You flip it to the left and they’re connected to the generator.

          I also added a light and receptacle next to the transfer panel so I can see what I'm doing once I fire up the generator and cut over to generator power.

          So no more extension cords running through windows for me (and I vigorously deny ever having illegally back-fed a generator through a dryer outlet...giggle). My genset now plugs right into a proper generator inlet and feeds those 7 circuits almost automagically. This turned out to be a good rainy day project.

          For those who like to look under the hood:

           title=

          No, that stuff isn't out of level; I'm just a crappy photographer.

          Notes:

          It’s a Reliance transfer panel that you wire yourself like an ordinary sub-panel. (In truth, it is really a Siemens sub-panel of a type I’ve wired a couple of times before.) It costs about $120 which is about three times more than the Siemens sub-panel without the manual transfer switch links, but still not all that exorbitant.

          Even though you have to wire it entirely yourself and supply the circuit breakers, etc., I much prefer putting in a clean ‘emergency services’ sub-panel over those so-called "pre-wired" gizmos that hook into your main panel. Not only do those pre-wired shiny objects end up costing more and limiting your flexibility, but they don’t save all that much time (if you’re reasonably competent at wiring, that is). But worst of all, they leave your main panel looking like a plate of day-old spaghetti. It might just be me, but I hate, hate, hate ugly rats’ nests in electrical boxes. YMMV.

          Approximate DIY cost:

          Transfer switch/panel: $120
          Circuit breakers: $50
          Generator inlet: $47
          100’ wire (10AWG Romex): $70
          Odds and ends: who knows, but not much. (Had a few parts on hand in my junk bucket.)
          So about $300 total.

          Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects. -Herodotus

          by TerribleTom on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:22:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nice work, Tom - looks like Navy or A/F wiring (9+ / 0-)

            I love to see a nice neat panel - got spoiled by my old boss and the guy that rewired Mom's house; both were ex-Navy electricians, known for their neat and tidy layouts. My own panel here still looks like the proverbial rat's nest for the most part, as I've never rewired most of it, so you can tell my work from the previous...

            My buddy has wired a number of generator manual switch panels, and your work gets a high grade from him, too.

            (Not that I'd ever back-feed my own generator thru that "spare" electric dryer outlet since I replaced the dryer with a gas model, mind you; I just don't have all the parts to wire my own panel yet, is all)

            "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
            Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
            www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

            by CodeTalker on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:36:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Strac job, dude (8+ / 0-)

            Strac is an Army expression meaning straight up, well done,ready for inspection.

            I have to go the other way. The idiot who wired my service panel wired in a plug socket so that you can unplug three circuits from the service panel and plug them directly into a generator. I'd post a picture of this if I had one, I'm sure you could use a good laugh. I still haven't eliminated that yet but the 3 or 4 times our power has gone out, once for 24 hours, Ive just gone the extension cord route for the refigerator. We have a woodstove for heat and you can ccok on it too. Dewalt Battery power lights work real well, we always keep em plugged in

            I'm throwing in a picture of my service panel, without dead front in the interest of generating a few laughs. This picture is AFTER I spent several hours correcting the more major defects and I have at least 2 more days of work to make it close to right. Thats the way working on my house goes---you hae to spend 2 days fixing whats there before you can spend a day adding somthing new

            Good job, Tom! I can see you know your stuff
            Photobucket

            Happy just to be alive

            by exlrrp on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:55:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  LOL! Thanks for the pic. (8+ / 0-)

              Yikes! Believe it or not, I've seen worse.

              I don't know much of that army terminology (was altogether too successful dodging the draft during the VietNam era), but I think the Marines would say that panel is "unsat", eh?

              The funny thing about it is that, IMHO, doing neat panel wiring doesn't actually take any longer than creating a rat's nest. In fact, once you have stuff running every which way, you end up working against yourself and that takes time too.

              FWIW, I think it's a matter of adhering to a systematic approach of laying in the grounds first, then the neutrals and finally the hots, using a consistent routing scheme.

              I actually have two "styles" which I'll call "tight-and-square" (the transfer panel above) and "looped" (used more often for large and busy main panels). With the former--best for smaller sub-panels, IMO--I wire bottom-up, with the lower branch circuits put in first and the service feeds put in last.

              With the "looped" approach, the service cables are installed first (too hard to manipulate the big conductors later when the box has a bunch of smaller wires in it). After laying in the grounds, I pull all the wires to the bottom of the box on their respective sides, trim them off there and then loop them back upwards to their points of connection. (This works well when most of the circuits enter at the top of the box as appears to be the case in that panel of yours.)

              A good rule of thumb: measure once, cut twice. Yeah, I know that sounds ass-backwards, but it works well in wiring to cut wires a little long and then do final snipping in place.

              Glad to see you're back and blogging in one piece, man.

              [If you ever get around to reworking that panel, let me know if you need any advice, although I'd imagine you have a pretty good idea what you're doing.]

              Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects. -Herodotus

              by TerribleTom on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:39:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks Tom (8+ / 0-)

                You shoulda seen it before I fixed it, at least partially. I have no idea what was in the guys mind who wired it originally (probly dope!) but the real surprising thing was that they even got the electricity turned on in the frst place.
                Where I spent most of my days (CA) you can't get the power turned on without an inspection sticker. Anyone looking at this knows it wasn't inspected.

                When I started, 3 or 4 of the circuits had as much as 6 extra feet of cable in the box (no, I'm NOT kidding) As you can se, there's few cable clamps and whats there is what I added.

                I'm going back and redo it all, or maybe I'll die first and the next guy can figure it all out.

                I say again: the guy who put this house together should be restrained from ever using even the most basic tools---by force if necessary.

                Happy just to be alive

                by exlrrp on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:59:26 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I must quibble... (18+ / 0-)

    (since you're stepping on my toes ;^D)

    I believe that one should follow the greenest possible practices, but that sometimes chemical solutions are appropriate.

    If, over an extended period you've tried every green method possible but the problem still exists, then it is appropriate to reach for the bottle of chemicals: e.g., bindweed eradication (I've pulled and dug all the roots I can, but now is the time to use the Roundup on that which is persistent in re-emerging.  Boiling water or heat doesn't reach deep enough to get those yard-deep bindweed roots).

    It's rather like using antibiotics -- sometimes they are needed, but not for every case of the sniffles.  The problems we have with chemical use in the United States is that it's been seen as a one-answer-fits-all for every garden ailment, not that all chemical uses are inherently bad.  I mean, vinegar is a chemical.

    And, like refusing to have one's kids immunized, letting one's own weed or insect problem fester can spread the problem to one's neighbors.

    Falme away!

    •  I, for one, won't be flaming... (10+ / 0-)

      There's still some RoundUp here somewhere - after all, there are a few places where it's still better than other choices.

      I do try all the "greener" alternatives first, but if none of them works I'll still apply the 'cide.

      "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
      Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
      www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

      by CodeTalker on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:39:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Our green solution: goats (12+ / 0-)

        We just got two goats to clear out shrubbery/weeds and they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

        Our place is over run with box elder, blackberies and other invasice species. These goats LOVE this stuff, they eat it up, literally.
        friendly, nice, and our other animals love em. The pitbulls think theyre great. I think the goats are starting to think theye dogs, one of them was chasing the frisbee

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:00:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  prohibited by ordinance here. (7+ / 0-)

          I already checked.

          Although I have a couple of friends who are next-door neighbors in an older part of town -- one of them has a stipulation in his deed that the other has an easement to drive cattle across his property.  There have been threats to acquire some cattle especially for purposes of exercising that right.

          People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

          by dsteffen on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:34:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The deed to my house in (now) suburban (9+ / 0-)

            Virginia actually has listed the number of goats, sheep, chickens, dogs and rabbits allowed. It's only a 3/4 acre lot, so no horses or cattle. (What, no limit on the number of junk cars??)

            Of course, it also has a clause that says the property can only be conveyed to a person or persons of the Caucasian race. There's a covenant against Jews, too. Even though those are holdover provisions from 1951 that, obviously, have no legal effect, I'm tempted, if I can find the time, to file a suit to quiet title in order to officially remove the clauses from the title abstract.

            I'd cost me $50 in filing fees but I may still do it just for the heck of it. I dunno, worth it? Maybe not.

            Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects. -Herodotus

            by TerribleTom on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 08:24:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Deeds can be interesting. (6+ / 0-)

              We bought a house in Iowa a number of years ago, and when we got the deed it was crazy-thick.  It turned out the land the subdivision was on had been part of a parcel of land involved in a legal dispute that had gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

              Apparently the state had granted a riverboat company right to alternating sections of land along the Des Moines River to sell as a means of funding development of river transportation in Northwest Iowa in the 1830's.  It turned out not to be feasible because the Des Moines' water level in that area was just too low most of the year to support river traffic, and company pretty much just folded up and went away.

              Then in the 1860's the state granted the railroads rights to alternating sections along the rail routes, and those alternating sections overlapped with the riverboat company's alternating sections and all of a sudden a group popped up who claimed to hold the rights to the defunct riverboat company's land grants and filed suit claiming that they might still decide to develop river transportation and therefore still held legal right to the land.

              Anyway, a very detailed narrative of all this legal wrangling was incorporated into the deed.  Made for interesting reading for several evenings.

              People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

              by dsteffen on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 08:47:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Can you rent goats? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CodeTalker, boatgeek

            Some people will rent goats and/or sheep (at least around here) - they get free grazing, you get clear fields/shorter grass.

            Get your DemocracyFest tickets, today! http://www.democracyfest.net

            by mataliandy on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 11:38:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  LOL (7+ / 0-)

          at your frisbee-chasing goat. I like that image.

    •  I flame not (9+ / 0-)
      That's a nasty one, choosing between the lesser of two evils.  I can totally understand the choice.  

      The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. -Mark Twain

      by boatgeek on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:20:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You can get Roundup to work on Bindweed? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      claude, rincewind, Frankenoid

      I was under the impression it was a lost cause.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 10:36:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, it will work... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        claude

        eventually.  The problem is the huge root complex -- one spray is not all it takes.  Also (and this is just my opinion, based on nothing scientific at all), I think Roundup may work too fast, so that not enough make it all the way down into the roots.

        In any event, what you're trying to do is exhaust all the energy stored in the roots, which actually are rhizomes capable of storing energy and generating a new plant.  The roots can spread yards wide and deep, and can generate a new plant up to the soil surface from waaaaay down deep.  However, the more often it has to do that the more the rhizome is depleted.

        On that theory I'm trying brush killer instead of Roundup -- it works more slowly.  I've also dug out a whole shitload of bindweed root; I've been at it for months in a new planting area.  But the desireable plants are now getting too big to dig around, and I'm tired.

    •  Vinegar (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CodeTalker, boatgeek

      For many plants, once you've pulled out as much as you can, pouring vinegar and/or salt water onto any little stubs/root filaments that remain can do wonders. This can even work on small stumps, if you make some notches or holes in the top of the stump. I haven't tried it on big stumps, but I imagine it may work for those as well.

      Get your DemocracyFest tickets, today! http://www.democracyfest.net

      by mataliandy on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 11:36:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My lawn is just a collection of local weeds (16+ / 0-)

    Morning,all
    My yard and property are one massive battlefield of invasive species, all bent on world domination. This includes blackberries (several kinds,)box elder, scotch broom, poison oak.
    I don't seed my "lawn" but I do water it in the summer, I like it green. Our water comes from a spring that feeds a tank so the overflow would just go on the ground anyway.(the overflow feeds into our pond)
    Good diary, bg, nice pictures

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:34:54 AM PDT

    •  Welcome back from the other side James! (11+ / 0-)

      I'm glad to see you here, and hope you make a full recovery, my friend.

      My lawn looks the same way - about 50% weeds - but as long as they're green...

      I did spray a few times, years ago - mostly weed 'n feed types, but that only made the lawn DEPENDENT on the products, I'm convinced, and i gave it up when I began to understand the impact...

      Now, I'm just happy to have green all over; it took years of working organics into the dead zones to get things to grow. I still seed areas that I can scrape bare, but I no longer aspire to a "suburban" lawn, just a healthy one.

      "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
      Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
      www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

      by CodeTalker on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:43:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  'morning, exslurp! (11+ / 0-)

      Yeah, I won't be falming either, within reason.

      I guess any advice has to be tempered by reasonableness and local conditions, eh?

      Along the same lines, while saving water is a laudable objective, I don't feel any compelling need to cut back much on use at my farm here, except during the rare times the water table is low. Sure, it saves a little electricity to run the well pump less, but my semi-artesian well has a huge available supply now as a result of the spring thaw and natural runoff, so what's the harm in sucking some of it up and putting it back into the lawn and garden?

      I'd feel differently, of course, in many parts of the west or in areas that process potable water where it is in the least bit scarce.

      It's good general advice but for me? I dunno.

      Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects. -Herodotus

      by TerribleTom on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:49:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  East Coast is definitely different for water (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CodeTalker

        Even in supposedly rainy Seattle, we have a major dry spell in July and August, so unless you water your lawns, it turns brown.  Not so much back east, where you have regular rain to keep the lawn green and growing.  

        The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. -Mark Twain

        by boatgeek on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 09:03:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  HaHaHa! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          boatgeek

          Whatever gave you THAT idea? We may live in the "Lake Effect Snow Capital" of the US, but we have had dry spells and brown lawns in the summer as long as I can remember. Even this year, one of the wettest so far in years, I'm sure my lawn will be at least partly brown in another month - it looks so strange to see it all green now!

          And I'll let my lawn go dormant and get stressed from lack of water rather than water it - I can remember several times in the last 10 years when we were on water restrictions and asked NOT to water the lawn, too.

          It happens here, just like everywhere else.

          "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
          Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
          www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

          by CodeTalker on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 10:27:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe a different climate? (0+ / 0-)

            I'm remembering the year I lived just outside DC in Maryland.  It seemed like there were near-daily thunderstorms dropping a little rain on the lawn.  I know we never watered the lawn and I also never got a break from mowing.

            The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. -Mark Twain

            by boatgeek on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 05:10:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Just a quick run by .. (15+ / 0-)

    I cannot stay.  I will check in later this evening. I am participating in a virtual quilt retreat with women from all over the country.  It started yesterday afternoon and goes through tomorrow night.  Our focus is sewing for the troops.  I'll be working on a QOV (Quilt of Valor) today.  QOVs are sent to central distribution points and given to injured troops coming in off the battle field. The quilt is theirs to keep, to remind them of the love from home that is always there, even if it's from someone they don't know.  We use one member's blog to chat throughout the retreat, updating our progress, laughing, remembering, sharing - it's a lovely way to spend a holiday.

    Just wanted to stop and say good morning this wonderful Independence Day.  While I will never condone war, it was a war that gave birth to this country.  Can you imagine what it must have been like to be a soldier in George Washington's regiment at Valley Forge?

    I am grateful for the freedoms and opportunities this great country of ours affords me, and for the hope that we will soon be able to bring all Americans into that fold of equality which now separates them because of a simple term - "marriage."

    OK - I'm corny, and I'm a believer in my own way, so -  God Bless America!

    Hugs all around.  Great diary boatgeek.  Beautiful irises.  I'll have to take some pics of my tomatoes in hanging baskets.  I've got tons of blooms and a few tiny fruits.

    ((((((((((Be well my friends.)))))))))))

    Peace.

    PS:  CT - I haven't forgotten the wonderful, long e-mail you sent me.  I've been collecting my thoughts on how best to share my story. ((((((( CT & Mrs. CT)))))

    •  Thanks, dear. (8+ / 0-)

      And you ARE a dear, corny and all - but I echo that, God Bless America! If it wasn't for them fighting and dying, we wouldn't be here, and this country wouldn't be great. No matter how bad the faults of America are, it's still founded and built on the best of ideals, and I'll always stand by them, and I'm willing to work to make it better. God bless America - we owe everything to those who went before us, dedicated to the ideals we all stand for, willing to do whatever it took, making all kinds of sacrifices, so that their descendants could have the opportunities we enjoy.

      God Bless America, indeed! Happy Fourth, everyone!

      "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
      Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
      www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

      by CodeTalker on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:26:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Damn, boatgeek, I come in here... (13+ / 0-)

    ...as an escape from what I am actually supposed to be doing, and you guilt me with a SMHRB about gardening.

    **sigh**

    OK, so long, I'm going out to the yard where I've got to move a rather daunting pile of university farm compost from where it is now to the back yard to Mrs. dsteffen's butterfly garden, which is undergoing extensive renovation due to having originally been planted with apparently ambulatory varieties that have been wandering around and re-arranging themselves for the past several years.

    Been dry for the past couple of weeks, the mulch cover long-ago decomposed and the ground is hard as a rock out there.  Mrs. d has dug out the plants she wants to replant and now I get to till a bunch of compost, peat moss, and manure into the concrete-like soil and get a fresh start.  

    Wish me luck.  Happy 4th!

    People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

    by dsteffen on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:12:15 AM PDT

    •  Well, good luck then! (7+ / 0-)

      That worked for our spots of dry and hard soil - I even raked all the leaves I could over one spot for years, and ran my mulching lawn mower over the piles to chew them into little bits that could be turned under. Soil like that NEEDS organics - I can't wait until my "mulch" pile (really a low spot that I've piled about 6 feet high after all these years, with trimmings and clippings) finally begins yielding that rich, dark stuff - it's practically worth it's weight in anything when I think how much this place will benefit from it.

      I even bought a small chipper last fall, because I get so many branches and things, and we've made a few cubic feet of mulch already. It should even begin to pay for itself in, oh, say - twenty years? (kidding - I only popped about $90 for it)

      "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
      Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
      www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

      by CodeTalker on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:32:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reprieve! (7+ / 0-)

        It's started raining.  

        Now the decision -- tackle one of the multitude of "inside" projects, or loiter around the blogosphere all morning?

        My mulch pile is much smaller, and suffers from not being turned as often as it should (the Mulch Fairies who are supposed to be coming in overnight and turning it have been falling down on the job...)  I want to look into some of those barrel apparatuses (apparati?) for compost.  I saw one at a garden center yesterday but compost would need to be literally worth its weight in gold to justify the price they wanted for that puppy!  I'll have to look into some of those used steel drums the fly-by-night recycler has dumped the toxic waste out of into the nearest gully, pressure-washed and slapped a coat of paint on, and is selling as re-conditioned, cheap.

        People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

        by dsteffen on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:50:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I never get any sympathy (6+ / 0-)

      My garden chores/needs seems to be never keeping up with all the weeds and "stuff" growing up.  All I ever seem to do is cut stuff back.  Stuff I want to plant barely stands a chance because of being crowded out.  And hereabouts, most folk are desperately trying to get anything to grow.  So I get no sympathy about wearing out mowers and weed whackers and so on.  (And it's really a mess now, because I'm not using that stuff cuz of the shoulder...)

      The river always wins. -- Mark Twain

      by Land of Enchantment on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 08:44:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good green morning! (18+ / 0-)

    We recently moved in to the house we've been building for the last year and a half.  So our yard is still in building site mode (mud or dust depending on the recent rainfall) and we definitely need tips on landscaping -- thanks boatgeek.

    While our house isn't certified as a green building by any organization (e.g. LEED), we put a lot of green features into it.  Every room has natural daylighting with windows, skylights, or solar tubes.  We avoid air conditioning by maximizing cross ventilation and relying on our Pacific NorthWet climate.  Our heat is a ground source heat pump feeding water-based radiant floor heating. We tried to use "green" materials. Our countertops are recycled glass in concrete. Our wood floors and deck are from sustainably grown wood. I'll tell you more when I guest host SMHRB in the future.

    Here's a peek into our kitchen.

    kitchen

    Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    by Milly Watt on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:14:22 AM PDT

  •  couldn't agree more, boatgeek! (11+ / 0-)

    My yard is about as natural as it gets  ;>  I do own a sprinkler, but it's only ever been used for small persons to run through.

    I planted a row of hardy raspberries along one property line, and inherited an ancient wild grapevine that totally covers the back-neighbor's chain link fence. I have a "volunteer" silver maple in the side yard -- it was 6' tall when I moved here 22 years ago, it's now at least 50' and shades over half the yard. He's kind-of messy, the seed-spinners go EVERYWHERE (I've had 'em try to sprout in my windshield!), and I've been told it's not a strong or long-lasting type of tree, but birds and critters love him and so do I. The only thing I do to the berries, grape and maple is mow over the runners/sprouts and try to keep 'em contained.

    Things I've planted:

    A lilac that I 'rescued' and transplanted (with permission) when the house next door was torn down;

    A bed of day-lilies from a friend's thinnings;

    3 snowball bushes a neighbor gave me when she moved;

    A patch of golden-glow from another neighbor, they're taking over my only dampish shady spot and crowding out...

    A clump of monkshood I dug up from the woods behind my mom's house, primroses from the golden-glow neighbor, and wild ferns;

    And my only "store-bought", a miniature rose -- it's not really thriving, but it keeps surviving the winters and gives me a few blossoms every year.

    No pesticides, no fertilizer, no watering; it suits me just fine.

    I haven't done veggies since I've lived here; between not-great soil and utility stuff crisscrossing everywhere I'd have to do raised beds... maybe next year  ;>

    One Nation, (still) Under Surveillance

    by rincewind on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:59:22 AM PDT

  •  what beautiful flowers in your garden (9+ / 0-)

    do they attract hummingbirds? i love watching the birds.

    our organic garden is aided by native lizards, that love to eat the slugs. we also toss bird seed in the garden areas, cause the birds love the slugs too. :)

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 08:21:57 AM PDT

    •  Hummingbirds (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CodeTalker

      We do have hummers, but mostly coming to the feeder and the backyard plants.  They really like the alstromeria (aka Peruvian lily) and the honeysuckle.  We think they have nest(s) in a birch tree in the neighbor's yard across the alley, and they live here year-round.  

      The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. -Mark Twain

      by boatgeek on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 09:07:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We don't get hummers in the city any more (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boatgeek

        I don't know why, but my friends out in the country get loads of them, and they're not that shy, they'll fly right by your head if you sit still. We sit on their front porch and they'll swoop in, diving and fighting to get at the nectar, and continue their dogfights into the nearby trees and beyond. Very territorial, he tells me. And beautiful - only goldfinches hold my attention as long as them, because of their rarity here.

        But we used to see a lot more birds before now, it seems. Plus, the city of Auburn started scaring away their huge flock of crows (I think Discovery or someone did a feature on it a couple years back) - it measured around 40,000 crows in full bloom - yes, I said 40,000! They used to nickname some of their streets "White Street" - because of the color changes that 40,000 roosting crows can effect when they gather!

        Well, they were at least partly driven out, and some of them came here - we often see flocks of hundreds of crows, and whole squadrons will swoop into our yards, fighting and arguing - it's fun to go outside and "squack" at them, and watch them look around to ID the source of the calls, then take off together, moving down the block - but I think they drove some of the smaller birds away, too. It's too bad - we love birds, altho my SO can be frightened of some of them - an old phobia from youth, something about an Aunt's parrot, I think.

        "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
        Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
        www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

        by CodeTalker on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 10:39:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Natural succession (6+ / 0-)

    Nice stand of foxglove, Boatgeek.  In our construction site, I'm watching natural succession at work.  And almost first to show up in the disturbed ground were foxglove. I have no idea where they came from since they weren't here before excavation and I haven't seen them anywhere else in the neighborhood.

    Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    by Milly Watt on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 08:44:49 AM PDT

  •  Home repair tools I added to my kit (6+ / 0-)

    A small 9 LED light flashlight makes peering into dark spaces BRILLIANT!

    A very short handled Philips screwdriver.

    I wish I had bought it two days earlier when I was using the flashlight to look for ways to loosen an overly tightly screwed in VGA plug. . . .and finally saw there's a place for a Philips-head screwdriver............The short handle would have been easiest tool to use.

    Ah, Generals are always fighting the LAST war, eh?

    Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

    by LNK on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 09:03:47 AM PDT

    •  My latest tool (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CodeTalker

      I saw a 14" plane on the rack at the thrift store for $15.  It's easily a $50 tool used, and $200 or so new.  I didn't have a project for it at the time, but it loos like it';ll get used on the fence.

      The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. -Mark Twain

      by boatgeek on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 09:08:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I got my electric plane that way (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boatgeek

        It's great - just wide enough for doors and similar items, about 2" wide cut, and about 12" long for accuracy. Fairly easy to adjust depth, but the cog belt broke and it took me a while to find replacements - I got two, always a good idea when they're a scarce item, IMO. I can sharpen the blades myself, but you have to go slow and carefully when doing that, as you can ruin a blade quickly if you grind it wrong! It gets a lot of use at times, and at times it's been worth its weight in gold.

        "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
        Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
        www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

        by CodeTalker on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 10:42:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Question about windows....electric? (6+ / 0-)

    Are there windows that can be opened and closed by remote-control buttons?

    Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

    by LNK on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 09:05:47 AM PDT

  •  Morning, all. My decks halfway done. Got the (6+ / 0-)

    foundation finished, just need to put in the steps, railings and of course, the redwood deck.
    Took the design to Home Depot and Lowe's for a bid on mat'ls. Lowe's wasn't even close. When I told em HD bid they threw up their hands and said they couldn't compete with that price, lol.

    Have a happy 4th all.

    BTW, if you want a tasty side dish for your BBQ _ Buy a pkg of frozen Mac n Cheese, put it in a BBQ safe container, and cook it on the BBQ with the top close. Some hickory or mesquite chips are a good, but not necessary addition. Voila! Smoked Mac n Cheese!

    Palin/Sanford - 2012(delete) Limbaugh/Bachman - 2012

    by hideinplainsight on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 09:37:04 AM PDT

  •  I have a question. Do you talk about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CodeTalker, Leo in NJ, boatgeek

    (a) household items like ... dryers?  I've heard they are really easy to repair and I have a problem with mine.  Might be a good place to start using my handy mojo.

    (b) Do you talk to noobs?

    •  Sorry for the late reply alliedoc... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leo in NJ, boatgeek

      I was away at a family gathering...

      a) yes, I repair my own appliances, and have done dryers several times - they actually ARE easy to fix.

      b) anyone who asks a question here is welcome to an answer - I'm still a noob in many areas myself!

      You can write me at my sig email and I'll be happy to help you out (we keep emails out of public view, so don't worry about privacy), or post another reply here - I'll be happy to help if I can!

      "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
      Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.
      www.caringbridge.org/visit/brittany

      by CodeTalker on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:46:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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