Monday, February 28, 2005


My apology to Jenn, Ilona, Kathy, girlgonegardening and Megan for not acknowledging your comments. I've almost completely neglected my blog (I didn't see your comments until only last Friday, headslap) as I'm singlehandedly trying to tile our entry, living room, dining room, kitchen-breakfast nook and washroom about 950 sq. ft. worth. This is only a 10 year old home but the construction work was extremely shoddy. The floors are warped and very uneven with dips and high spots-it wasn't so noticeable with carpeting. The carpet hid cigarette butts, nails, wire insulation, clumps of spackling and even a all purpose knife blade.The plywood subfloor under the carpeting looked like they left it out in the weather for at least 6 months. Some of the nails have popped so I'm screwing the plywood down and when I do the ply is so punky that I almost drive the screws completely through! So after screwing down the ply I pour some leveling cement then screw down another layer of 3/8 ply then some thin set and the cement backerboard which needs to be screwed down also. So far I've completed about half of the living room and that's all! I must have driven about a million screws and pounded boxfuls of nails. I hope this is all worth the trouble. And I gotta get this done before the spring planting and pruning just around the corner, yikes!

I left comments to your comments but I don't see them on the blog. Maybe it takes some time for it to be published?

Thanks again for the suggestions and comments.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Caffeinated slugs and snails

I read last fall the University of Hawaii agricultural research center discovered that caffeine was toxic to slugs and snails. I decided to test this discovery by buying the cheapest brand of coffee and scattering the unbrewed coffee grounds around and on the lettuce and chinese mustard cabbages they seem to love.

I can't say it worked very well. Some of the lettuce leaves and cabbage stalks were chewed and I found no evidence of dead slugs (we have no snails).

Maybe I'll have to brew the coffee and use it as a spray. I wonder if tea would work? It seems that the caffeine in tea differs from coffee caffeine. I love coffee but can't drink it anymore because my stomach gets uspset but strangely enough I can drink any amount and strength of brewed tea and my stomach doesn't object. Soft drink manufacturers must use coffee derived caffeine for colas and other caffeinated soft drinks because caffeinated sodas also bother my stomach.

I should just spray the little buggers with some Mountain Dew. Or maybe I'll try some dissolved no doz.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Growing fruit cont'd.... Apples

Our grocery store brought in some delicious New Zealand apples a few years back. I think they were called Pacific rose and Southern rose. These were about the best apples I've eaten. Unfortunately the store has not been consistent in bringing in these apples on a regular basis.

There are so many apple varieties listed in catalogs I wish I could sample them all before committing to growing a tree or two. Unfortunately the local u-pick orchards haven't planted very many interesting varieties but they are starting to grow more of the heirloom apples. In the local farmers market I see the usual suspects, macintoshes, yellow and red delicious, wine sap, criterion etc. I saw some Pippin for the first time and Northern spy but the price was too exorbitant for me to try. I did buy some Black Arkansas for the first time on someone's recommendation. It was a pretty good apple with a lot of flavor and dense flesh which I prefer but not as good as the rose apples from NZ imho.

Looking through the catalogs I decided to buy an Opalescent because I saw a gardening show on growing apples and this was highly recommended as being one of the best eating apples as well as one of the most beautiful. I also bought a Roxbury russet because the russets were described as nothing to look at (rough scabarous skin) but a delicious eating apple. Both of these are heirloom apples. My thinking is that if they've lasted this long they must have something good that recommends them. The trees arrived bareroot, all of a spindly three feet tall so I have a long wait before we see some fruit. All I have to do now is to keep the rust and mildew diseases at bay and the deer too. I later read that apples are one of the most difficult fruit to grow requiring an intensive regular spraying schedule. What have I gotten myself into now? I hate using pesticides but I guess I'll have to spray if we want any fruit. Hopefully there are some natural organic sprays that won't be so biologically toxic.
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Location: Zone 6, New Jersey, United States

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