Monday, February 21, 2011
When I took the dogs for a walk today it was 68 degrees and there wasnít a cloud in the sky. Later on I took them for a ride to drop off a library book and a basket of old newspapers for recycling, and we had all the windows on the car down. In all the running around I did today, I noticed that I was almost the only one who was willing to breathe the outside air, even though the temperature is in the 70ís and itís as nice as it ever gets.
This after noon I spend an hour and a half digging up a big bag of weeds Ė sand burrs, nut sedge, thistles, some kind of fleshy plant that grows tall and fast, and some native plant that has tiny blue flowers all over it. It turns out that is about the same effort as walking according to Spark People, but I was bending over and kneeling down several hundred times, and I ended up totally shot and plenty sweaty. I looked at the thermometer (which is in the shade) and it was 77 degrees where we live at 3:00 today.
Some of the grape plants were a little wilted so I put two buckets of water on them, and another half on the new peach tree. Then I noticed that the new tree has a bunch of buds and a few tiny leaves and blossoms just starting to open. The same thing is happening with the old lemon tree, and the lime tree is going to have a bumper crop this year if they donít all fall off for some reason. It looks like the peach tree did, where the peaches look like bunches of grapes they are so thick. I took a picture of the lime tree for an easy way to make a blog. It is supposed to be an ever bearing tree and does have fruit all summer, but it had a poor crop last year. Someone recently asked me if citrus fruit has variation in yield from year to year, and I didnít know a definitive answer, but the peaches and grapefruit both seem to pump out the fruit every year. The avocado tree had seven avocados the first year, none last year, and I canít tell about this year yet. The lime tree was a massive bearer up to last year, when I pruned it back severely, and neither the lime nor the lemon produced much fruit. The lime was worst Ė only a few limes.
Whatever the answer is, it looks like we can expect a lot of limes this year.
The picture was too small, so I cropped it to let you see the buds and blossomes a little better.
That didn't work either - I'll try this:
Friday, February 18, 2011
Yesterday I weighed in at TOPS again. Two weeks ago I had gained a total of 7 1/2 pounds in one week. Last week I lost only one, and was in jeopardy of losing the KOPS statue. This Thursday I weighed in 8 pounds lighter, for a net three week loss of 1 1/2 pounds. That was an example of the damage I can do to myself if I eat in restaurants too often. I frequently find that nothing on the menu is something I would eat at home, and have to make some sort of choice. I did that at Dockside - ordered a light beer and onion rings. Then later, in bed, I worried about the salt in the breading, and was a pound heavier the next morning, but it still turned out all right.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
The first picture shows how the tension in each wire is controlled - the anchor is well above the ground level, and all you need to do is use a piece of steel pipe to screw it further into the ground to take up any slack that develops. Of course, I don't want to pre-tension the wire by much because that uses up some of the yield strength - just enough to get both strands tight. At the other end I ran a piece of wire through the top hole, around the outside of the post, and then through the post again. That gave me two wire to hold the post vertical. It wasn't until today that I realized that the other end isn't really stabilized by the wire tensioners, and I think I will end up with one more anchor. I may also bring the outermost anchor in closer to the post because it takes up a lot of room. The two end posts are 40 feet apart, and the braces add another ten or twelve feet.
The BW didn't realize how much room it would take, and I'm a little irritated by the end cables. I need to find some way of marking the boundary that shows above ground level. I also may tie cable to the stakes in the ground and the top wire, and do away with the 8 foot stakes that are only one foot in the ground. They are sort of far from the vines, and might be too thick for the vines to grab. Time will tell.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I spent almost three hours finishing this simple trellis. It's hard to see because the wire cables aren't very large, and the grape plants still have about a foot of shoot above the original vine. I will eventually prune them to get a vertical trunk and two shoots at both three feet and five and a half feet. There is room for four five foot long shoots from each of the four vines, and the stakes are there just to train the trunk. I will take them away in two or three years, when the vines start bearing. The next trick is to keep them from dying, and the trick after that is to keep the birds from eating them all. There are grape nets for sale, but I'm not rushing into anything yet.
I do recall the struggle to harvest cherries before the birds ate all of them, but we never used nets on the trees. My baby brother used to sit on the back porch with a BB gun and try to scare them away, but it didn't work very well.
If what I read is true, each vine should yield 60 to 80 pounds of grapes. Based on the two concord vines we had in Indianapolis, I can believe it. I suspect we will be able to use and give away all the fruit if it happens.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Yesterday I took the dogs for a walk at 11:00. It was 40 degrees at 8 AM, which was well below the 48 predicted low. Today it was 38 degrees at 8:00, which was even farther below the predicted low. I think the St. Pete Times has a new weatherman, and he might be still learning the business.
Today I bought the materials to make a trellis as described by the Ison's Nursery - wire cable for a single strand across the posts, three treated 4 by 4 posts, four 2 by 2 by 8 feet stakes, and two screw in anchors and two cable clamps to tie the ends of the cable to the anchors. I managed to get everything in the Dodge, which makes a better truck than the Camry, carry everything around to the back of the house, dig the holes, set the posts using a carpenter's level, and bore holes through all three posts at about six feet height. The treated 4 by 4's were heavy, but I didn't want to wait until they dried out because the vines are growing straight up pretty fast, and the will fall over if I don't get something for them to hold themselves up.
Then, I decided to let the posts settle until tomorrow to finish the trellis, and to look up other people's versions of what the trellis should look like. It turns out the the consensus seems to be using either a three wire or two wire arrangement, and only one place (which I hit on by accident) recommends a one wire trellis. Since I need to decide when the vines are young how many branches to keep, I think I'll split the difference and use two cables, which means I need to go back to Ace Hardware and buy more wire cable, anchors, and cable clamps. That's just as well, because I want to buy another wood bit. The 5/8 inch bit I used today lost it's temper some time in the past, and I had to put a lot of pressure on the drill to get it to make a hole.
I was totally shot and stripped down to a t-shirt by the time I finished, and when I put down "general farming" on the cardio look-up page, the number of calories they came up with were more than I had eaten all day. It's no wonder I was tired.
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