Debbie Ann

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since Jan 23, 2021
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Recent posts by Debbie Ann

And now, I present the flip side of the coin..... here in my little area of the country, high desert in the southwest, I have yet to see ants doing any good in my gardens. They have often killed many of my flowering shrubs and tomato plants by nesting in their roots. Don't exactly know how that works but it does, fairly often. I watch for a plant suddenly, in the case of tomatoes, or slowly, for lots of flowering shrubs, declining and.... if more water or fertilizer in a week or so doesn't help I immediately dig it up and find ANTS in and around the roots are the culprit!!! It happened again just this week!! If I dig them up and pot them up I can sometimes save them. I have had ants crawling up some of my tomato plants, drilling a hole in the side of the trunk and then hollowing out all the soft tissue from inside quickly killing the plants. No aphids involved. In the end, ants are only doing what is best for them and we are not their concern!

And Ben Zumeta, I have enjoyed your post very much. It is profound and intelligent. But when I changed the words from 'ants' and 'insects' and 'animals' to HUMANS and read it again.... well, I had to chuckle at that. Sure gives us something to think about! It's still pretty profound!
11 months ago
Hi Jan,
I'm not sure if you will take this as good news or as bad news. But according to all the so called experts online.... gophers are very solitary creatures. They generally stake out a territory and don't interact with another gopher except to mate. So all those many holes you see are probably just from 1 or 2 animals, each in it's own little spaces.  

I've been in your shoes before and watched them pull down entire rows of peas and beans and lots of other stuff just like you have. And I cried too! I tried all the silly ideas online that didn't work, short of building Fort Knox out of hardware cloth. But then I learned it is very easy to trap them. I used to get 3-4 a year and now I just see one.... maybe every 2 years. I can usually get rid of it in just 2 to 3 days. It's not hard at all.

I've noticed a few people here that have had the same problem and they can't bring themselves to trap them. They just continue to suffer. But I'll tell you I'm pretty old and if I can do it so can pretty much anyone. It's sad but it's not gory  or anything. And I can honestly say that I believe the 'experts' are correct. It was always just one lonely gopher doing all the damage each time.

I would just go to a fresh, new hole and dig a slightly bigger one there, about 12” deep and 12” in diameter to locate his/her tunnel underground. Sometimes I'd find 2 tunnels, sometimes just 1. I use my spade to make the tunnel hole(s) just a little bit bigger for about 6 inches, big enough to slide the trap in so I can just see the back of it. The little traps just cost a few dollars each. I always use some vegetable oil on the parts of the  trap that move to make it extra slippery so it springs fast. And I tie a string to the trap which is tied to a stick or rock so it is easy to pull out when the deed is done.

The first year I did this the little fink would just cover up the trap with dirt over and over again and mock me. So  I learned to do one more thing that no one online ever mentions that makes it work well. Throw it's favorite vegie in the big hole for bait which is almost anything in your garden Leave the hole open and walk away. It will notice lots of fresh air in it's tunnel and come along to block it up and won't be able to resist your fresh bait. It will try to push past the trap and, let's say it's really quick!  I've had a few that were a little harder to get but, like I said... it just takes a few days. I had one that wouldn't go into the trap at first and he kept covering it with dirt.  So I checked on it every hour, cleared the dirt and reset the trap. By the end of the day he must have gotten frustrated and made his fatal mistake.

It is doable! I'm proof of it. And I wish everyone a long life and happy gardening.
11 months ago
Hi Maruf,
Your project looks AMAZING! I keep looking at your pictures in astonishment! We had a heavy snow here this past winter and I had a couple of dozen large limbs come down off my juniper trees. So I am letting them dry out and planning to build several shade structures in my gardens that will be similar to what you are building. But they will be tiny compared to your project. And it is not so important that they be structurally sound because they are only for shading my plants.

I can't address most of your questions but I do know a bit about 'green' wood. I have the limbs all leaning against my garage drying out and several of them are twisting and bowing as they dry. That's what wood does.
I have built lots of stuff out of lumber over the years. Back in the day, like 50/75 years ago they used to cut the trees into 2x4s, 2x6s etc. Then they banded them together and kiln dried them for several days. Then they were placed in a building (still banded) where they would continue to dry out and cure for a few months. So the lumber we bought back then was fully cured and most, but not all of it would remain pretty straight.

They stopped doing that decades ago. Over the years they have cut back the curing time even more. Now when I look at lumber at the store I'm pretty convinced it was probably a growing tree a week ago. I pick out the straightest board I can find with the straightest grain to bring home but within days it is starting to warp badly! Now whenever I buy wood for a project I bring it all home and place it on pallets in a really tight pile in the sun, under a tarp. I place a lot of heavy weight on it, cinder blocks and bags of concrete and let it continue to cure for as long as possible before I use it.

That's about all I can tell you. I hope someone comes along soon to give you lots of great advice because I would really like your project to be successful! It's amazing! If our ancestors could find a way to do it so can you! Please keep us posted on your progress.
Signs that you are a permie with health issues?... Signs like these???
When one of my tenants tells me again that she thinks the toilet in the main bathroom just  might be stopping up... and I'll get to it as soon as I can.
And all my clothes seem to have turned into rags and I just can't keep walking around with maybe a bit of my butt hanging out (not cool, I'm pretty old) and …. I'll get to it as soon as I can.
And spring is almost over and I still haven't done my spring cleaning and do we really need to be able to see out the windows and I keep putting it off..... Really, the garden is so beautiful when your IN it!
And did I sit down and pay all the bills this month? Did I forget to make that doctor's appointment for a checkup? Do I really have to paint the front of the house that's showing bare wood before it gets too hot for paint to stick? And does my truck really need to have an oil change right now?
And I sent a note to my local nursery recently and asked if they will have anything new this fall that I might like.... and they had the nerve to write back to me and say why don't you make us a list of what you want and we'll look into it! The Nerve!! I don't have time to write a list, dozens and dozens of plants that I am hoping for!! Can't they just read my mind? I think I need AI for this!
When what's really important is that the last of my 50+  tomato plants are becoming pot bound because I haven't planted them yet! And I have to harvest all my peas every day so they will keep producing!! And the artichokes are going like gang buster this year and it takes a lot of time to harvest, process and cook them!!! And the chard and the beets and the sorrel and the something else that I left to over winter are all going to seed right now and the seeds must be saved!!! Now!!!  And I have things to water!
Health issues include mental health! And I think I have a problem. I think I have become an addict! Maybe someone needs to stop me now! I think I'm losing it! Totally! Is there a 12 step program for this?? Anyway, happy gardening everyone.
11 months ago
This might also help you to understand a little bit more.... and confuse you at the same time! Aren't I talented!! Let me use a good example first. Let's say you're taking your kids out on a boat. Because you are all safety conscious and you love your kids you are going to put them in life vests. You are not going to put a tiny little kid in a huge extra large  vest because he could just slip right out of it. That is not helpful. You are going to put him/her in a vest that fits well and will save their life.

We do the same thing with electricity. Light fixtures use very little power. Back in the day most fixtures used 60 or 100 watt bulbs and I'm guessing that the new LED lights use much less. Haven't worked as an electrician since 2000 so I don't know for sure. Anyway, let's just say you have an average of 5 100 watt lights on most of the time. 5 x 100 = 500 watts which is not much.  

You want to protect those small, flimsy lights that use very little power with the smallest breaker possible. Smallest is 15 amps. Just like putting your kids in a small, snug life vest. If you put that circuit on a 100 amp breaker it will never see a problem and trip. A 14 gauge wire will simply melt and your shed will burn to the ground before a 100 amp  breaker will trip. This is why.

Here's the confusing part.... try to follow me... O.K.? First.... Watts divided by voltage equals amps. That 500 watt lighting circuit (all lights are on) divided by 120 volts equals just 4.1 amps. Very little. The smallest breaker you can put it on is 15 amps. Now for the fun part. No offense to anyone but I used to always think that guys just made this way more complicated then it had to be just to confuse people like me! Again, no offense.
1. A breaker is only designed to handle 80 percent load at any time. So a 15 amp breaker will only hold 12 amps for extended periods (using 14 gauge wire). Like I said, they made it far more confusing than it has to be.
2. A breaker does not trip because it gets hot. It trips when the load is over 80 percent. The bigger the load is, the faster it will trip. If the load is suddenly 16 amps it will trip in a couple of minutes and if it is 20 amps it should trip instantly.
3. Let's say one of your light fixtures shorts out and starts to burn. It burns off the wire's coating and the hot wire touches the ground or neutral. (Because they are all contained in one sheath close to each other for just this safety reason) When the hot wire touches the ground or neutral wires it starts to suck down all that power from the hot wire, far more than 12 amps and the 15 amp breaker will trip in just a few minutes and hopefully stop the fire from getting worse. It will never pull enough power to ever trip a 100 amp breaker. Your shed will burn down first.

Lots of appliances use 10 to 14 amps (check out you appliances.... remember.... watts divided by voltage equals amps. So most receptacles in kitchens, laundry rooms, sheds etc. use 12 gauge wire on  20 amp breaker which can hold a load of 16 amps. (80 percent) Most dryers use 24 amps and are put on 30 amp breakers.(80 percent) Etc.

Your electrician did the right thing under most circumstances. You can add receptacles to your lighting circuit (using 14 gauge wire) or lights to your receptacle circuit (using 12 gauge wire) now that you know how it works. Oh, and happy gardening everyone.  
1 year ago
Hi Saana,
Most people know them as 'railroad ties'. Just type 'railroad ties' into your search engine and look at the images. Originally those were the 4 inch by 6 inch by 6 foot pieces of wood that  made the railroad tracks the trains ran/run on. Back in the day they were always soaked in tar or creosote. But  they began making the same things without the creosote years ago using pressure treated wood. All the big box hardware stores carry them now. Pressure treated is usually soaked in a type of copper solution instead. Not quite as nasty but I would still not use them for a vegetable garden. Since my water came off a shingled roof I couldn't use that for  vegetables anyway so the garden ties worked well. And the ties were probably 20-30 years old so I suspect most of the copper solution had leached out of them long ago.
Here, I found them free on Craigslist. Always looking for free stuff to recycle into something new. In the past I have done some small, temporary projects once using old cast off gutters and once using 6 inch pvc pipe that I cut down the middle lengthwise.  All depends on what I can find for free. I came up with the idea by researching "crazy, whimsical aqueducts" and looking at hundreds of images. You could even do something similar by lining the ditch with heavy plastic and lining over that with rocks to stop erosion. Lots of luck with your project. Happy gardening.
1 year ago
The people that previously owned my house just let the gutters drain from the house onto the driveway which went down to the road and was totally wasted. I wanted to use as much of that water as possible to replenish the front yard, flowers and trees. We used to have really intense monsoons that would easily create big ruts in the dirt so 2 years ago I built an aqueduct. I used an old bucket which I painted green as the starting point and made big grooves in some old garden ties (free) (no creosote) to divert the water in several directions. Drilled small holes every foot or so to disperse the water evenly. Some are layered, one above the other on a slight slope, and a simple hole drilled in each which drops water down to the next one. I can adjust the amount of water each section gets by simply placing a small rock over a hole if needed. Worked well when the deer ate all my new plants in one section and I simply stopped the water from going that way for awhile. Very little maintenance. It's easy to walk over and now the bushes are so big in the summer that you can't even see it. But I did have my roof re-shingled that year so I don't put anything edible out there, just pretty stuff.
1 year ago
Repeat.........Everything Steve Zoma said!****************!!!***********
1 year ago