Friday, June 20, 2014

2014 Garden

Here is this years garden. I do try to change up parts of it each year for some really good reasons. One of them is I don't want something akin to a monoculture. Pretty much every thing would die after a while because you're creating a nutrient desert which is not healthy long term. Different plants use different a slightly different set of nutrients. Basically by switching everything around a bit it will enrich the soil.
This is the Wisteria. As you can see it's doing a really good job of providing leaves in this its second year. Probably about five years, or so, from now the tree will flower.

 The rose bush to the left is getting ready to bloom. Note the lettuce, it self seeded. Make sure you get heirloom seed varieties. Hybrids aren't designed to sprout like this.

Going to have quite a few Cosmos and I think I have some other flowers mixed in. 

 Here are some more of the Spirea's. Note the potatoes. What potatoes are great for in a garden is fixing nitrogen. They also do a great job of further breaking up the soil and aerating it to a depth of a foot and a half. Partially because of the potatoes is one of the reasons why the soil is so rich after three years. I do of course bury most vegetable trimmings also. One of the things that is great about potatoes is that they show heat stress than almost anything you can grow. If the leaves are wilting you'd better start doing some extra watering at night and keep a closer eye on the rest.

The strawberries are looking good. Found an issue with the last fruits where the ants were coming to eat them on the plants. I don't play that so I doused the plants with cayenne pepper. Let's see the ants eat that.

I need to harvest most of this garlic. It was planted last year and it's still growing now. When the ends of the stalks are yellowing it's time you can harvest.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Energy usage updates

   I'm looking over last years propane fill ups. I decided to mark them out on a set of yearly calendars. Pink highlighter dots are indicating each of the refills.

   Last year on April 29 they filled it up, had to call them six weeks later to refill the tank which they did on June 12th. That length of time was 6 weeks 3 days and 86.1 gallons were delivered. He slightly overfilled it that time, it's a 100 gallon tank and you can by federal law put in 80 gallons. As I recall the tank was actually in the last couple of gallons and the pilots kept going out.

   This year the last spring fill up was May 5th. Tomorrow is 6 weeks 3 days and there is 15%, or 15 gallons in the tank. Basically we can go for at least one more week, or maybe slightly longer before the tank is pretty much empty. I will be shutting it down once it hits 5%, or 5 gallons on purpose. I'm usually paid far ahead on the propane but the high rates earlier in the year killed my balance forward.

   If you have not done so you need to do a water heater wrap and that's what has made the difference this year. We're looking at a difference of about 15% which is a big drop. Of course during this time of year the furnace isn't part of the energy usage equation except for I think four days total and it didn't run much then. I'm loving the ability to see the difference in such a manner. It really lets you know that you're doing things right and making some headway on your energy savings goals. I'm going for 30% in energy savings this year which is about $850. We'll see if we make it but it looks like we're well on my way.

   It might be a while yet until we're able to do some more energy efficiency upgrades. That's something that takes money we don't have right now. Among the coming upgrades next year are two tankless water heaters and siding the house with polystyrene insulation. I'm expecting a further usage drop of about 20-30% winter of 2015-2016.