Archive for June 2009

Sunny Solar Fun – Shower Under The Stars

Solar Shower

Solar Shower

A solar shower is a fun, practical and a highly efficient, money saving device for summer. Over all, just a nice way to cool off at the end of a hot summer day. For the past several years we’ve hooked up a sort of half-assed outdoor shower by connecting a hose to our kitchen sink and running out the window to a shower head attachment. This year I decided I wanted to build a solar heated outdoor shower. I searched the “net”, found several plans but nothing that met my requirements of cheap and easy to build. So I designed my own plan using only material and building supplies we had laying round, as you see it ain’t pretty but it’s practical. Plus there is nothing like getting naked on a hot summer night, showering under the stars. Ah, now that’s the life…

What’s the buzz? A bunch homeless bees!

What's the buzz

What's the buzz

I witnessed my first honey bee swarm today. MadJack and I were sitting at the picnic table in the back yard enjoying the beautiful day, when we heard a massive buzzing sound; looked up and saw thousands of bees swirling in the sky. This activity continued as the bees started to collect and settle on a tree branch high above our dog Cody’s house. I ran inside and grabbed the binoculars to get a better view of this phenomenal site. As awesome as this event was I still found it a bit frightening even though the bee swarms are usually not aggressive. Apparently bee swarms are homeless bees seeking a new hive. Per the experts, swarming is an instinctive part of the annual life cycle of a honey bee colony. It provides a mechanism for the colony to reproduce itself. The tendency to swarm is usually greatest when bees increase their population rapidly in late spring and early summer. When honey bees swarm they will settle on a tree limb, bush, or other convenient site. The cohesiveness of the swarm is due to their attraction to a pheromone produced by the queen. The swarm will send out scout bees to seek a cavity to nest in and will move on when a suitable nesting site is found.

A swarm in May – is worth a load of hay.

A swarm in June – is worth a silver spoon.

A swarm in July – isn’t worth a fly.

How Do Your Tomatoes Grow – A Good Idea or Just A Fad?

tomatoesYou see all sorts of planters these days for growing tomatoes upside down. You see them on TV, magazines and stores. They seem to be a hot selling item, but are they a good idea, or is the whole idea of growing tomatoes upside down just a fad? Growing tomatoes upside down according to the experts has many benefits: no need to stake your tomato plants; fewer problems with slugs and other soil based pests; soil borne disease is significantly reduced because you can use fresh potting soil; weeds are almost no problem; and air movement around the plants is improved, so you get good pollination, and few problems with rot. I have my fingers crossed hoping they are right because this year instead of the traditional method, growing tomatoes in the garden, I decided to grow my tomatoes upside down. There’s no need to purchase a pre-made growing kit, I used several 5 gallon buckets, drilled a 2 inch hole in the bottom of the bucket, filled it with soil (a mix of purchased garden soil and my own compost soil), put the lid on and turned the bucket upside down. Using the hole in the bottom of the bucket dig out enough soil for you tomato plant roots to fit in and carefully slide your plant into the hole. Fill any space between the bucket and the plant with soil or use some newspaper to fill any gaps. Next, turn your tomato bucket right side up and hang secure location that will allow your tomato plant to get lots of sunshine. Don’t forget to give your plants plenty of water, enough to reach the bottom of the bucket.