Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Potato Towers

     This spring I decided to try a new potato growing method called potato towers. You make a round cage out of wire, run straw on the outside and fill the middle with dirt. You lay down 1 ft. of dirt, a round of potato seed, 1 ft. of dirt- etc. until full.

     The potatoes grow out sides through the straw, and in the fall you destroy the whole tower and get 3x the potatoes per square foot you would of putting them in the ground, without all that nasty digging business, which I abhor.  In the very top I put a zucchini plant to maximize my "pounds of produce per square foot" and because you want something that likes lots of water and will die before you want to harvest your potatoes. Plus chocolate zucchini cake.
     My only change and recommendation is to run a 4 ft. section of perforated field tile (capped on the bottom) through the middle for super easy watering and maxing out the benefit (potatoes per gallon) of the water you are using. They are hard to water without going way overboard to get the sides soaked. Unfortunately I thought this after we set them up fully, and by popular vote they were not tore apart and rebuilt. I get a solid F on water conservation with this design (which is not mine at all by the way, Google 'plant towers' for tons of info).

     Here is one complete, with the second cage started and Zak being my ever faithful assistant. David of course believes he should get some credit since he did most the dirt hauling from the truck to the cages, but I don't see him in any photos and therefore cannot fully prove he exists. 

     Milo also assisted, in his usual fashion by digging a hole nearby and remaining fascinated by it for the remainder of the day.

     And then here is a totally gratuitous picture of Harley and Possum playing on the bed because they are horrifically cute and I can't find my pictures of my successful and now-potato-laden towers and will have to take another one tomorrow. Or next month since it took me that long to write this blog post on the subject (Blah! Shearing Season Madness!)   

     Oh, and lets have Faithy too, because you need epic cuteness to make up for lacking a decent "after" photo where one should clearly exist. Plus we can't have everyone else and lack Faithy, that is madness beyond the scope of Shearing Season blame.

     (This photo was to capture her "innocent" face while sitting in the midst of destroyed tissue that she is totally "innocent" of destroying.)

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Tunneling Twosome

     About a month ago I took in a little foster dog named Possum. Possum is a very unique little dog, and probably the most aptly-named dog I've ever met. Possum gives new level to the words sweet and tolerant. He has the million-mile-an-hour tongue and the desire to belong like I've never met before. He wants to be part of a pack, part of a project, part of a family. He wants this like he wants air. He's desperate to be part of something and he injects himself into everything with wild abandon for fear of loosing his place.

     Then there is Harley Longdog. Harley is just... Harley. He's a certain kind of happy-go-lucky, goofy, mildly slow minded individual that you just can't help but love to be around. He just takes the world as it comes, trodding along to the beat of his own one-of-a-kind drummer. Since no one else really hears or understands Harley's drummer (often we say, "Well, you can't blame him, he's got a dent in his head") he pretty much does his own thing and plays by himself, though he has tons of friends (dog and human) and is a key member of a 4-dog pack, he's still kind of a loner, doing his own thing in life.

     So when we brought Possum home a very quick friendship developed. Possum doesn't care if Harley's drummer has gone mad, because Harley thinks Possum is a great part of his crew, Possum can belong to Harley. This gives Possum a place to belong and a friend, two things he wants more then anything in the world. And it gives Harley a close friend and tunnel digging minion.

     One of Harley's early tunnels, it's about 6-7 ft. long and  deep enough to sink past your ankle and completely break it if you try to sneak into my yard at night. He spent months on this tunnel, working tirelessly and coming inside for naps, then demanding to go back out and get to work. Yes, the other dogs do think he's insane.

     This is one of their early large tunnels together, it circles both trees and is full of smuggled socks and destroyed toys, the first one Harley started storing things in.

    With the help of Possum they completed this smaller tunnel in about 40 minutes on a Longdog whim to celebrate a lovely day.

     Their largest tunnel to date is growing to span the width of my entire yard, roughly 150 ft. in a more-or-less straight line. It's a work in progress they keep returning to. I think they get bored with it's excessive length.

     When I go out in the yard Harley immediately drags me over to check out his latest tunneling leg. He prances along, tail and head high, a foreman showing off his latest magnificent project. As you walk the length of it he will occasionally nose an area to indicate buried treasure (generally a gutted toy, a sock, or a highly prized pair of stolen underwear). Most of his tunnels are large enough he can get down in them and walk along, but the one above was a more hastily dug project, only about 4-6" deep.

     Possum prances behind him, delighted with his friend, and their shared project. I don't think he knows why Harley does it either, but he doesn't care. He's having a blast.

     As the tour goes along Harley will usually bark and Possum to go "de-sod the 7th quadrant" or some such silly thing and Possum will excitedly prance off to do exactly that like it's the best thing in the whole world, taking grand joy in every moment.

     I asked him once if there are really quadrants, if this is actually a planned project with a goal in mind. He just laughed and said he's not sure, he just goes and starts digging in a random place and that turns out to BE the 7th quadrant. "He's a genius isn't he? Don't you just love him?" Possum will say, obviously already convinced himself of the answer, while watching Harley bury a pair of underwear it took him 3 weeks to smuggle into the yard.

      "He is definitely something. Not sure genius is the word."

      "You just don't see it yet. Wait till we're done. Genius is definitely the word."