Friday, August 28, 2015

The Little Surprises of Remodeling

Warning: Some of the images featured below may give you the creeps.
I've just been reading "The Coddling of the American Mind" in the Atlantic (recommended read) and don't want to get in trouble for grossing you out.

It's construction season in my neighborhood and the rodents have been shaken loose from their usual hidey-holes. They've been freed to boldly go explore the strange new worlds of the nearby neighbors.

Or not. Princess has been busy doing her part to reduce the rodent population, one small death at a time. She stays very local (probably less than one-half acre), but she is both persistent and fast. Actually, she's mostly just persistent.

It's not because we were out of town and she wanted to welcome us back that she's been after the rodents. Nah, it's what she does and who she is. The good news is that, while she is focusing on ridding the 'hood of rodents, she can't spend a lot of time hunting birds (more about that later).

Princess' Most Recent Rat
Alameda County Vector Control Services has ideas to help prevent rats (big mice) and mice (cute little rats) from infesting your home. Some of the ideas are obvious; other, such as screening off your crawl space with galvanized mesh, I wouldn't have dreamt up on my own, but can really make a difference. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Freebies from Annie's

Freckles (?) Pineapple Lily

Annie's Annuals allows those with a small bit of oomph and entrepreneurship to collect free, high-quality potting mix. Yes, free, except that you have to shovel it yourself (and unlike horse manure, this stuff is heavy) and you can only get to it on Wednesday mornings.

First come-first serve. And plan ahead - like late winter or so - if you don't want to be disappointed. 'Cause once the gardening season heats up, so does the competition. On a nice clear day in January, however, it's just you and the pile.

And a few plant labels, an occasional plastic pot, old root balls, and once in a while, a surprise (think Cracker Jack®, which apparently still exists after 120 years).

The last time I went shoveling, the mix included a mystery bulb. I threw it in the green bin and then felt badly. So I fished it out, tucked it in a pot and ignored it.

Pineapple lily. Definitely a pineapple lily, although, based on the photos, not one of those that Annie's grows. A wandering pineapple lily? If so, it now has a home in Oakland.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

When Friends Give You (#2)...

Finial for the top of the trellis

Copper tubing, make a trellis for those unruly vegetables.

Leftovers from an ancient plumbing project can be surprisingly useful. It took some fiddling around to make the pieces fit together, but I had enough extra joiners and fittings to waste.

No soldering, necessary. Waterproof epoxy (the kind intended for plumbing) should hold it all together. Trust me, I've done this before and it lasts for years.

Yeah, the trellis appears a bit wonky, but with the long side sitting a little deeper in the dirt, it will all level out. The third leg, offset at a 90 degree angle, helps with stability.

Thank you Dick Holmes!