It's the soil

One raised bed was the site of my experimental Phacelia tenacetifolia cover crop / layered mulching trial. The other raised bed is much sandier and has had mulch added and dug in with no cover crop. The cover crop area is naturally much more clay-like. Water has been on the same soaker hose, though the sandier soil gets the far end of the hose and the clay soil gets the near end, if there's a difference. But look at the difference in productivity! These pumpkins were planted at around the same time with seeds from the same package.

Clay soil with cover crop wins by a huge margin!

House update III

Here's a photo-journal of my kitchen odyssey to date

Juli and Martha helped me pick colors last week. I'm not trying to make any particularly bold statements here.

Bathroom walls: MS162 Waning Moon semi-gloss

Bathroom Trim: MS043 Gray Harewood semi-gloss

Master BR walls: MS312 Diving Board eggshell (a pale blue)

Master BR trim: MS064 Chamois Cloth

Kitchen Trim and Cabinets: MS197 Cocoon semi-gloss (the nice sage green that I wanted from the get go instead of the after dinner mint green I have now)

Kitchen walls: MS138 White Calla semi-gloss. I still need one more gallon of this in a eggshell or more matte finish for use in the adjoining room.

I also purchased a sink, tile for the bathroom floor from Cal Tile in Torrance along with matched grout for the tub/shower and a sanded natural color grout for the bath floor.

Alex will be done with the bathroom and give it a final seal on Saturday.

Kevin may have primer on the walls by Saturday, so the dusty part of the job will wrap up soon.


House update III

Things are moving along at the house. I've been taking photos regularly in order to show the transformation. However, my computer access is limited since the whole house is sheeted in plastic. Kevin's doing things that I would never imagine doing and getting them done quickly.

I selected a sheet flooring for the kitchen and asked Lowes to send an estimator over. That will happen early next week. There's some help Lowes can give me with procuring the flooring without the regular 21 day lead time. At this point they could be in to install late next week or early the following week.

I need
baseboard and molding
a sink (I'll go with a ss sink with integral deck mount faucet)
counter top (inexpensive but perfectly serviceable laminate for $100)
flooring for bathroom (tile?)

Alex the tile guy is ready to go on Monday.

Oh, and I'm working 65 hours this week at my regular job and my car is in the shop until next week to the tune of ~$1600. Life isn't slow.


House update II

Kevin was on the job about 7:45 this am

I have a sheet flooring selection from Lowes and will get them to install. Something like $2.50 for the sheet and $1.67 to install per square foot.

Rough electrical will complete after Kevin has framed in some of the new parts. He says Wednesday.

Alex the tile guy gave me a great price of $900 for the tub / shower. I may want to put in floor tile as well, but my preferred floor tile is rough. I'm concerned about trapping dirt in the tiles. Check Cal Tile Center, 5108 W. 190th Street Torrance, CA 90503 Tel. 310-698-4586 Fax. 310-698-4587 for better selection.

Recent pending home sale of a 3+2 bath house + 2 car detached garage a couple blocks away is not encouraging: $328k. It was advertised as needing TLC, however. Still the second bath ought to be good for a lot of extra $$ that I'm not seeing in the $328k price.

New color on cabinets will be a cream color.

Laminate countertop for $100 from Lowes. I can screw up several times installing it myself for the minimum cost of the install. Will ask Kevin to do it.

Drop in sinks w/o faucet holes not available at Lowes off the shelf. It may be more cost effective to re-route the plumbing to standard undersink style given the special order cost of some of the sinks. Plus will do away with need to run special dish washer water line. Need decision soon on this.

Need to pick wall / ceiling color for bath and kitch.


Beautiful Long Beach Landscapes

An article at the LA Times home blog shows how the City of Long Beach is addressing water use concerns - with free landscape makeovers to much drier gardens. link and link

There's a BLBL demonstration garden, some example projects, and other helpful links.

House update

Plumbing is done. PeterClarkePlumbing.com completed this job on time and on budget. I did not put in water lines for a dish washer. I think I will do that, but leave them dry so that there's room for expansion later. For hard to find plumbing parts, I have to recommend Reback's Plumbing N' Things, 14617 S. Western Ave, Gardena, CA, 90248. 310-324-4877. Peter referred me to Reback's. If you ever want to know where the good stores are, ask someone in the trade.

Rough electrical is done. Gene from local firm 1-Stop Electrical is doing this work. Gene is timely, reliable, and honest.

Monday the real demolition starts - both kitchen and bath. Kevin Janek will do the heavy lifting. Kevin and I seem to have a good rapport.

Today I met with Alex the tile guy and he gave me a good price estimate for retiling the bathroom. He can start after Wednesday.
Alex Hernandez
MGC Granite
562.480.3673 (cell)

I've purchased a basic tile from Home Depot and some fancier trim band tiles. I hope that together it's the right choice - not too fancy and not too basic. Alex will put in an integral niche and shelf for soaps, etc.

In the past week I've purchased a new medicine cabinet, bathroom vent fan, and wall mount range vent, all online. Most of my purchases for stuff like that have been online, and it's been a good experience so far.

Still to do:

find trim that I like

find sheet flooring for bathroom

find adhesive tile or sheet flooring for kitchen

Pick countertop for kitchen. HD says 1-2 weeks after they measure they can deliver a laminate countertop that I can drop a sink into. It's more expensive that I thought, however.

Pick paint colors for all over


Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) Program

Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) Program
“Be a part of the solution, not the pollution”

1. The concept - Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) & parkways utilize CPR© for the garden to prevent wet & dry-weather runoff:

• Conservation of (a) water, (b) fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides (water pollutants), (c) energy (moving water around the state is the #1 user of electricity), (d) and gas-powered machinery (air pollutants) through use of native & and climate adapted plants.
• Permeability increased, utilizing materials for a driveway, walkway and patio that allow water to percolate into the soil.
• Retention devices like rain gardens, rain barrels and rain chains as well as bio-swales, creek beds and dry wells.

2. Attend a free public workshop:
You’ll learn essential info from landscape pros, receive free tools, get info on incentive programs and make good use of Surfrider’s OFG blog with do-it-yourself steps: www.oceanfriendlygardens.org! When you make changes to your landscape, we will post your before-and-after pictures.

Hawthorne Workshop
Hawthorne Library Meeting Room, 12700 Grevillea Ave., Hawthorne, CA
Sat., Oct. 17, 1pm-4pm, Refreshments Served
Registration starts a ½ hour ahead of time. Space is limited.
Register today: 310-371-7222, ext. 200 or www.sbesc.com (“workshops”)

Note: OFG workshops are offered to residents in the following cities (though Surfrider members and volunteers who don’t live there won’t be turned away): Carson, Culver City, El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lomita, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, West Hollywood, Torrance, and several unincorporated communities in LA County (Topanga, Baldwin Hills, Athens.)

3. Garden Assistance Program (GAP) – volunteer!
The GAP is a hands-on program, applying what you learn in the OFG workshop to people’s landscapes. We ask those we help to work with us to help others. See the blog for more details. Volunteer with a Surfrider Chapter OFG GAP by contacting OFG Program Coordinator Paul Herzog: pherzog@surfrider.org, 310-439-2500.

4. Tool donations
We’re looking for shovels, picks, rakes, spades, hand tools and more. We’ll pick them up from you.


Car cast

From my brother via email.

If you like NPR's car talk and Adam Carolla (formerly of Love Line, The Man Show, 97.1 FM talk, etc) you may like CarCast- Adam's relatively new podcast about cars, etc. Listened to the episode with Jay Leno and found it pretty interesting. More testosterone than NPR with Adam's brand of humor...
Good times!



The great Lair mushroom hunt

When I was at Lair of the Bear, I went mushrooming with Amy BeberVanzo. Here's a nice photo of her posing by road marker 5N67 - the farthest afield that we roamed (near 8000' elevation).

A year or two ago she found Porcini mushrooms just off a nearby access road. We didn't have luck finding any Porcini, or delectable mushrooms of any kind. The best we found was "edible but inconsequential" (Orange Peel mushroom) and "thought to be edible" (puffballs). We did have a great time walking and exploring and I came back with these amazing pictures. Thanks, Amy!

This is a marmot. We were somewhere around 7500' elevation.

There were a couple of this golden hued mushroom that glowed like a leprechaun's pot of gold.

I found a few of these slime molds too. They have a very short life span. VERY slimy!

Orange Peel mushroom.

Termites were swarming a fallen log and a dead tree


The insides of the puffballs go from looking like a soft, ripe cheese to looking like this as they get progressively riper.

Do you know what this is?

Here it is again. Now do you know?

Yes, I know it's not a mushroom. Later I'll have to post about all the flowers that I couldn't identify without help.