Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lettuce Success and Other Ramblings

Our lettuce experiment turned out to be a success. I was told by multiple people on gardening forums that you cannot grow non-bitter lettuce in the heat of the summer, even in the shade. I will concede the fact that this summer has been pretty mild as far as high temps are concerned, we will see what September brings. I have never been able to grow non-bitter lettuce in August before, but this shade grown lettuce is delicious!

The trick is to keep it watered and keep it out of direct sunlight. This area gets dappled sunlight in the morning and at the end of the day. Most of the day these beds lay under the shady protection of two massive oak trees. You have to harvest the lettuce very young so it doesn't go bitter.

We selected heat tolerant varieties for this experiment. Lettuce seed is so cheap you can sprinkle a handful of seed every time you harvest your lettuce. I want to put in more lettuce beds on the deck. At our consumption rates, these beds only supply about two salads each a week.

I have seen many of these spiders around this year, way more than I have seen since we bought the house around three years ago. I guess it is my fault for playing Barry White albums on repeat in the garage. This scary looking spider is in the orb-weaver family (Araneidae) and is called the Spined Micrathena (Micrathena gracilis). It is also known as the "CD spider" due to its habit of building webs that look like CD's hanging from trees in the woods. Despite its menacing appearance, it is completely harmless to humans. 

This species is called the "Eastern Needy Tomato Gobbler" (daralis complainiface). This garden pest will consume every ripe tomato in the garden if you do not take adequate steps to remove it. The most effective methods I have found are luring it away with dark chocolate or telling it there is a buy one get one free sale at Earth Fare. If the tomato gobbler ever feels threatened, it will sit down on the ground and cry. Be careful when approaching this creature, its bite has been known to hurt a little bit and it will try to get you to take it out for ice cream.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Very Addictive Yard Game

 Here is a DIY, fun backyard game that is easy to make and a lot of fun. Drunk people friendly!
One of my co-workers told me about a yard game she and her husband recently made. I thought, man that sounds cool. A few internet searches later and I was at the big box store.

The material list is pretty small and it should only take you a day to make it. If you have a power sander it would only take a couple of hours. Here is what you will need.

8 - 2x4x8's Make sure they are as straight as you can get. I had to pass up the cheap ones.

1 - Pack of 120 grit sandpaper. We used 8 sheets. If you have a power sander use it!

I had some scrap 2x4's and plywood laying around so I made a base for the game. You could use pretty much anything that is flat to play on.

After getting my ass handed to me on reddit, I suggest you use a miter saw to do this work. Table saws are very dangerous and I have been very lucky over the years.

You could set up a system using a stop so you would not have to mark and measure each board. Hindsight 20/20 and all that jazz, this is what I did. Starting from one end, measure and mark a line at 10.5 inches. Continue marking the board every 10.5 inches. You should get 9 pieces 10.5 inches long out of every board. 

 You should start to accumulate a pile like this. I am glad I choose the more expensive wood. These blocks have a nice red color you do not get with the cheap 2x4's. The hardest part is sanding the edges. You need to make sure every edge has been taken down a little so the blocks will move freely.

You can see my advanced sandpaper technique in the top of this image. I wrap a piece of sand paper around a scrap piece of wood and start sanding. I had four people help me sand these, and it still took many hours. I plan on making and selling these soon, after I invest in a power sander. =)

I had some scrap lumber laying around so I made a heavy duty base for the game. It is important that wherever you play the game, it has a flat level surface.

It is nothing fancy just some 2x4's and some scrap plywood. I made it 21 inches square. I used a can of old spray paint, and it turned out pretty nice.

Here is the end product with a wine glass for scale. A full size, backyard Jenga-like game. This was definitely the hit of the party. I had corn-hole, ladder-ball and a pool table, but this game got the most use.

If you want one, and don't feel like making it yourself, send me a message. I am taking orders. This would be for local pick-up only, it would cost way to much to ship this anywhere. If you are in the South-West Ohio, Cincinnati / Dayton area, let me know if you want one.