Lauren Ritz

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since Aug 18, 2018
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Recent posts by Lauren Ritz

Tiny improvements make an enormous change over time. I love watching your progress.

Raised beds are used for a number of different reasons, but one of their main drawbacks is that they lose water more quickly than in-ground gardens. Water evaporates from the sides as well as the top. The sides tend to hold heat so they can be excellent in cooler areas. They can be fabulous for absorbing excess water if the soil goes down to the ground, so flood mitigation is one advantage. They are easier to plant, tend and harvest because they're higher, but also more difficult to maintain the shape without external supports.
2 days ago
I did sweet potatoes last year for the first time, and when I harvested I discovered an astonishing root mass--not a lot of tubers (I wasn't watering too much) but a great deal of root, some of it half an inch to an inch in diameter. Whether it went deep, I don't know, but this year I planted a bunch of sweet potatoes just to improve my soil and get organics down there into the straight sand. If it works, I'll do a new area every year.
In winter nature obligingly puts water into a soil bank for us. We then go in, till, and all that water evaporates into the greedy air.

I'm in the first stages of this process. I'm scattering plants around the yard willy-nilly, with the hope that some will thrive where they're put--or at least seed before they die. If they die, I'm not going to replant those items in that area. Last year's parkstrips were under thick mulch and only watered for five minutes every other week. Everything did great (watermelons, sweet potatoes, sunchokes) so last fall I put woodchips on a good part of the yard and garden. Trees are planted on location, grown on their own roots, and surrounded by plants for shade when they're young. I'm also using ground covers where they'll actually survive, and using chop and drop rather than weeding. This area of the yard has direct west exposure, so I'm doing small mounds of wood debris around the west side of the baby trees for additional shade and to maybe keep the soil a little cooler. The leaves of the ash are enough to cover a stripe of the main garden every year, and that area lies fallow for a full year. Other than that, leaves lie where they fall.

It'll be interesting to see what happens to the life in the wood chips when the full heat of summer hits. Will it survive? Retreat deeper into the soil? It will also be interesting to see how different areas react to more or less water. In the parkstrips I noticed that some areas dried out much faster (irrespective of sun exposure) while others remained wet even for the full two weeks. Probably soil differences, and I see no reason that the rest of the yard would be any different. Once I have the "dry" areas identified, plants will be shifted based on drought tolerance.
2 days ago

Linda Lee wrote:Suburbanites are the wackiest.  I truly don't understand their war against nature.  I can understand all the reasons people above have given and they make sense!  But the suburbanites we live around are just unfathomable.  Living in Utah there is just constant watering plus the more they water, the more they have to mow and then all the fertilizer they use so that the grass gets a preternatural AstroTurf look and of course that causes more mowing.

Hey! We're neighbors! Also Sandy, Utah. My neighbor across the street just added on an addition and the yard was torn up. I talked to him about my plans for the yard (trying to give him some options) but what does he do when he has his yard back? Sod! Bleh.

Per Sandy City codes 70% of the area visible from the street must be "lawn or equivalent," unless you're going xeric (which they don't bother to define). Most people don't read the codes, they just do what they're told and it becomes habit. The yard came with grass, they'll leave it grass because it's familiar.

I got tired of the subtle bit and buried 2/3 of the yard in wood chips last fall. I'm in the process of landscaping that now. The areas that are still grass I'm slowly transitioning to yarrow, which won't need so much water in the summer.
1 week ago
The little things (like aiming for what you want to hit) are often overlooked. "If you aim for your foot, you can't be blamed for not hitting the stars." For the most part, people aim for their foot because otherwise they could be held responsible for missing.
1 week ago

Greg Mamishian wrote:

Greg Martin wrote:

Greg Mamishian wrote:This is my kettlebell workout routine..
I've become quite proficient at it
and have worked my way up to 2KG.

Teheheā€¦.but have you mastered the yelp at the end!!!  

I'm also a karate master.

Now do the same workout on the other side. :)
1 week ago
I don't know if this is going to make sense in context, but here goes.

Many years ago I discovered that I could fall into any kind of dance or martial art and do it well, simply by determining what you might call the center of gravity for the activity. Latin dancing the focus is low and toward the back, into the hips, and a very tight focus. Tango it's high and forward, in the chest, and broad. Ballet is high and forward, almost up into the throat. Martial arts were the same, and really any activity. If you're carrying buckets your focus is going to be very different than if you're pushing a wheelbarrow or throwing 100# bales of hay.

So by observation, the focus of the activity should never be on one side or the other--it should always be centered. It should also never be down into the legs, as this puts the focus too low (and split) and you're likely to go off balance. Carrying buckets the focus is low--if your focus is high you're more likely to injure your back. Pushing a wheelbarrow your focus is going to be high and forward, probably right under the diaphragm. After a while it's second nature to create the right focus for the activity, and you're much less likely to be injured.
1 week ago
So...what is your body trying to tell you? Likely the injury is a compression injury, if it can be mitigated by stretching (the pillow), which makes sense if it happened while sleeping. Make a small roll of fabric (maybe an old t-shirt?) and tie it under the arm and around the shoulder to hold it in place, then try to use the arm (gently). Does it make a difference to the range of motion? Is the pain different? In different places? Adjust accordingly. Essentially you've created a splint that holds the shoulder in the correct (non-compressed) position.
1 week ago
One ibuprofen will put me out for the night, so I don't take anything for pain unless I have a full day to recuperate.

A few weeks ago I turned too fast (trying unsuccessfully to get to my landscaping before the electrical team could rip everything up) and it wasn't until I stopped moving that I realized something was wrong. By the time I got back into the house I was limping, and when I sat down it turned into what felt like a major and ongoing cramp in my calf muscle. I immediately wrapped it and kept heat on it for a while, until the cramp went away, then walked (carefully) on crutches for a few days.

My suggestion would be, listen to what your body is trying to tell you. In my case, after the initial injury phase the cramp was worse when I put my weight on my heel--i.e., when the muscle was stretched. There was no pain in ligaments or tendons, although they did stiffen up after a few days of not being used. Strange as it may seem, I wore heels for a couple days because when walking in heels most of the weight is on the toes. The incident certainly drew attention to the oddities of the way I walk, because I often walk toe first on one foot and heel first on the other--of course, the heel-first foot was the one injured.

Similarly, when I throw my back out I look at myself in the mirror. Almost invariably one side will be lower than the other. I wear a shoe or a slipper on that "low" side, which evens things up and allows the muscles to heal without being strained every time I move. Interestingly, the "heel" and "toe" sides match up with the low and high sides when I throw my back out. I also have a rather high bed I can roll out of either onto my knees or into a crouch, making it easier to get out of bed if my back is messed up.

Pain can usually be mitigated or avoided altogether by simple precautions and preventative maintenance, making pain medications unnecessary except in extreme circumstances.
1 week ago
This year I did several of my garden areas under woodchips. Everything was planted into the soil under the woodchips, except the potatoes which were placed on the soil under the woodchips. It doesn't appear to make a difference.

The onions are thriving, as are the potatoes. Peas not so much, but I think that's probably quail pressure. The quail seem to love my gardens for some odd reason.

The wood chips welcome mushrooms, but also other pests. Earwigs and roly-polies have made themselves at home, as have spiders and other predators. Some of my plants aren't thriving because of the pests, but I expected that. It's not precisely the wood chips, but more of a side effect that will moderate over time. The gophers have also made themselves at home, which is a more serious problem for anyone trying to grow root crops.

Last year I did another area under deep woodchips and had none of these problems, but I didn't plant root crops.

If it were me I'd keep a pile of woodchips, and use them when necessary to either fill in or hill the potatoes. Whatever you have a use for. I would put on another thinner layer of chips in a year or two, when the current batch is almost broken down, for mulch and water conservation, and repeat the process.
1 week ago