Gas station without pumps

2022 March 17

More March blossoms

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:48
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Last week, I took a number of pictures of plants in my backyard. I have a few to add this week—mostly from the front yard.


OK, this one is inside in the bathroom, but I can’t resist including a picture of the orchid, as it has unexpectedly survived since 2019 and even more unexpectedly has bloomed again.


The birds of paradise are a bit past their prime now, but their spiky shapes make for nice shadows on the wall.


Another view of the birds of paradise.


We still have oxalis, of course, though mowing the front lawn got rid of a lot of the flowers.


There is also some sort of short daisy in the front lawn.


The nasturtiums have started climbing the front railing, but they seem to have a lot of some sort of insect on backs of the leaves and on the stems—unlike the nasturtiums in the back yard.


We still have a few agapanthus left (planted by previous owners over 35 years ago), but the gophers got most of them a couple of years ago, which is why I scattered nasturtium seeds where the agapanthus used to be.


The corea has really taken over this raised bed. We tried kangaroo paws there once, but they did not survive (the water table was too high). The raised bed itself has pretty much rotted out and everything is held together by the corea roots and stems.


In the back yard, the crab apple has started to bloom.


Another crab-apple blossom, with some moss on the branches also.


One or two clusters of blossoms have started on the pear tree in the back yard, but I don’t expect full bloom for another week or two—most of the branches are still bare.


What lawn would be complete without dandelions?


This calla lily is not one I planted, but I’m perfectly willing to have such hardy volunteers in my garden, as I’m too lazy to do any real gardening.

2022 March 10

March blossoms

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:33
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I posted about my tomato plants in November, December, January, and February—surprised about them hanging on so long. For March, I have no fruit on the plants, but there are plenty of blossoms.  Lots of other plants are blooming now also, so I took a few pictures of other things in the garden—I didn’t try to take pictures of all of them (like no agapanthus or birds of paradise).


A few of the tomato blossoms.


The Christmas tree has gotten a lot of new growth—almost all one side, despite our rotating the pot 90° every three days.


The borage is always popular with the bees, and it seems to bloom almost year round.


A closeup of the borage buds and blossoms—sans bee.


Oxalis is a common weed here and takes over the lawn—it tends to be very wet and sticks to the inside of the lawnmower.


Self-seeding nasturtium has taken over the raised bed (after I put in a lot of effort last summer to try to remove all the blackberry vines). The wood for the bed is rotting away (it is over 30 years old), and I’ll have to decide this year or next whether to rebuild the bed or just let it slump into a slightly raised mound.


The nasturtiums have just started to bloom—I expect a much more impressive display in a month.


In addition to oxalis, the back yard is full of wild onions. My wife occasionally uses them in cooking, but they get hard to find after I’ve mowed (I’ll have to ask her if she wants any harvested before I mow this afternoon).


Here is a closeup of one of the wild-onion flower stalks.


The plums are in bloom now (the first of the fruit trees in our yard).


Here are more plum blossoms with a leaf bud.


Calla lilies and nasturtiums both grow like weeds, but I deliberately transplanted these calla lilies from another part of the yard a couple of years ago, as there was nothing growing by the back fence.


Here is a closeup of the calla lilies.


The bay laurel tree is in bloom also, though it is easy to miss that, as the flowers are tiny ones at the base of the leaves.


Some of the flowers grow in somewhat larger clusters.

We are still having a dry year: 18.46″ rain so far since October  1, while a “normal” year would have 24.78″ by now.  The reservoir is at 90% of capacity, though so the city has enough stored for a year anyway. We hand-water a number of our plants every three days, mostly using grey water from the kitchen.

2021 June 27

Volunteer potatoes

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:59
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This Spring, when I was turning my compost from the compost bin, I came across a few potatoes that had sprouted, so I planted them in the garden behind the compost bin and pretty much ignored them (maybe remembering to water them once every couple of weeks, which is not really enough for potatoes in the California drought).  When the plants died, I dug them up, generally getting one or two potatoes per plant.  Today I dug up the biggest of the plants and found that I had gotten a pretty good yield from it:


The nineteen potatoes here are the ones that were big enough to be worth cooking—there were another dozen or so tiny ones that I’ll probably replant.

For volunteers from the compost bin, these potatoes look surprisingly good. I think I’ll try taking a number of the potatoes that are too small to cook and try starting more plants from them in a planter that is just deep enough. I should then have another crop around September.  I might even make a point of planting a few of the tiny potatoes at the end of each month so that I’ll have a continuous crop (at least until we get a hard frost, which probably won’t be until December).

2021 January 9

One week into new quarter

We’re one week into the new quarter (10% of the way through!) and the course is going ok. Most of the students have finished the first-week lab, which consists of installing a lot of software and soldering headers onto a Teensy LC board.

The software they had to install was

Of course, each piece of software has its own installation idiosyncracies, different on Windows, macos, and Linux.  Some people even bumped into some problems because of running old versions of macos or Python (which were luckily cleared by upgrading to slightly newer versions).

The soldering was a bigger problem, because many students plugged in their cheap irons and left them on for a long time without tinning the tips.  The result was a sufficient build-up of corrosion that that they could not then tin the tips—even using a copper ChoreBoy scrubber to clean the tips didn’t help in some cases. In the in-person labs, I often spent most of the first week labs cleaning soldering iron tips that students had managed to mess up, but I can’t do that online.  This was not such a problem last quarter, as most of the students knew how to care for soldering irons from the first half of the course, but it may be a bigger problem this quarter, as most of the students have never touched a soldering iron before.  Some of the ones who are living here in town may be contacting the lab staff to see if they can get access to tip tinner or get some help cleaning their irons.  Those further away may be buying tip tinner on their own—I had not included it in kits, because I nad not expected so many to need it and it costs $8 apiece.

Grading is going fairly well.  My grading team and I have had two Zoom meetings so far (for Homeworks 1 and 2) and I graded Quiz 1 by myself, so we are keeping up with the grading.  He have Homework 3 and Prelab 2a (there is no Prelab 1) both due Monday morning, and we’ll try getting them graded Monday night.  We’re having to do most of our grading in the evening, because one of the graders is living in China, 15 time zones away, and none of us in California is an early morning person.

In other news, I’ve finally finished clearing the blackberries and ivy from behind the garage (a project I started about 2 years ago).  I’ll probably find some more when I cut back the kiwi vine (an annual winter project, in addition to frequent minor pruning during the summer).  I think I either need to get some female kiwi vines and an arbor for them or uproot the male kiwi.  There is really not much point to having just a male kiwi intent on taking over a big chunk of the yard.

There are still a lot of blackberry roots out there that will sprout new vines.  I’ll try uprooting them where I have access (not where they are coming through the cracks in the concrete), but I’ll probably have to do a monthly sweep of the yard to remove blackberries for the rest of my life in this house.

2020 November 16

Rosemary plant

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:35
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A month ago, I got a sprig of rosemary from the garden at the Food Bin (with their permission) to make my sourdough focaccia. I took a larger twig than I needed, so I stuck what was left in a little glass jar with water, to keep it fresh for later recipes.  After a few days, I noticed that it had started to sprout roots, so I left it in the jar for the roots to grow bigger.  My wife occasionally replaced the water in the jar, to keep algae from growing on the roots.

The twig continues to flourish on the kitchen windowsill.

After a month, the roots have gotten quite long, so it is time to transplant to a pot.

I sifted some dirt from where the compost heap used to be to fill a 4″ pot, and I planted the twig. In the Spring, after the roots have had a chance to grow into the dirt of the pot a bit, I’ll either transfer to a larger pot or plant the rosemary in garden. I know rosemary grows well here, as I used to have a couple of fine rosemary bushes in my raised bed, but they were crowded out by the bay tree.

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