Thursday, June 17, 2010

Variety as spice...

I've been glad to have Amaranth take care of the blogging for the past few days.  I got too hot when I was burying the lines for the pump and I haven't had a lot of energy.

One nice benefit from having the extra pump is we have twice the water pressure we had before so the tank is filling faster which means we can water the plants more thoroughly.  It's tough at the end of the dry season.  I start to get a little burnt out on watering.  Much of the watering is done by timers at night so we can spread out the usage over 24 hours instead of having to do it all during the day.  It is better to water at night because the plants process water at night with less evaporation for chlorophyll-making during the day.

This morning I repaired a watering system for trees below the chicken pen.  I had them all nicely mulched but the chickens removed it scratching for bugs.  Just as I finished our friend, Tom, who gave us the parrot, stopped by to see how the parrot was doing.  He was surprised that the parrot was liking life in the cage and had adopted Amaranth.  Chico doesn't like men.   My sore finger can testify to that.

At noon, friends, Kate and Greg, stopped by for lunch and brought lots of bakery goodies as a tribute for the repairs I did for them.  After lunch I worked on a pressure washer Tom had dropped off. It had been sitting for quite a while and the carburetor was plugged.  I took the carb apart, cleaned it and reinstalled it.  It started on the second pull.  I also fixed the all-important pressure relief valve.  It opens up with the build up of too much pressure.  If it doesn't open you're in for big trouble.  Something pops or blows.  The problem was someone had taken it apart and reassembled it in the wrong order.  I'd never worked on one like this but I'm good at puzzles.  I reassembled it in the sequence that made sense. It worked.  In troubleshooting, I usually study it to find the logic that went into it's design.  When I understand that the solution is clear.  Works for me.

After I got the pressure washer working I decided to give it a test drive on the bricks in front of the cono.  In no time they looked clean and new.  They tend to build up a coating of moss which can be very slippery when wet.  Just one more thing ready for before the rain begins.  The rain began on June 18th last year.  I know were getting close to the 18th, although I never am sure what day or date it is.  I usually get the year right around May or June, although not always.

After I pressure washed I finished up with some watering of trees.  We have one called "Hands of Buddha."  It's a citrus and the fruit looks like a couple of hands praying.  It's supposed to be delicious and we watch each day as it's first fruits ripen.  This year many trees will be fruiting for the first time.  Two Kumquat trees are full of fruit too.  We also have a Blue Banana from Brazil that's nearing readiness.  These bananas taste like vanilla ice cream when frozen.  We also have red bananas and some other variety I'm not sure of.  There are so many delicious varieties of bananas that you will never see in a market in the U.S.  We've been tagging the plants recently because we have too many to remember their names.  I've been planting for years and usually I just plant things and forget their names.  I got it because I liked it so when it flowers or fruits I'll be happy.  No name necessary.  Many of our tropical fruits are named differently in other countries which adds to confusion too.   I learned from local folks how to crush the leaves and smelling them to identify some trees, especially citrus.  They can tell the difference between a grapefruit and a lime or an orange just by the smell of their leaves.  Cinnamon leaves smell wonderful and make a great spicy tea.  Their bark is the source of ground and stick cinnamon.

When I first came here there were loofah vines growing.  Loofahs are those sponge like things you use to scrub up with in the shower.  They grow like cucumbers on a vine and when dried the skeleton is used as a scrubber.  I hadn't seen any in years.  I'm not sure why.  I got to thinking about it and asked around.  A month back my neighbor located a vine and brought me seeds which I planted.  I planted the vine at the base of a tree for support.  It's vigorous and happy.  Maybe that's why people got rid of it.  How many loofahs can you use?  We'll give them as gifts with some of Amaranth's home made soap.  You can eat loofahs when they're green like a cucumber.  Scrub a dub on the inside and the outside.

I planted Valerian seeds someone asked me to start for them.   You can make a calming tea from the roots and that's where Valium originated.   We also use passion flower leaves for a sleep aid.

The water tank is 5 inches from full and will fill tonight.  I rest peacefully when the water situation is under control.  It takes vigilance.  We never take water for granted.  Eventually we'd like to drill a well.  We had tests done and there is good clean water from 26 to 50 meters.  The problem is finding a company who can install the well correctly.  We had a friend who payed 26,000 dollars for his well.  It wasn't sealed right and it keeps filling with mud during the rains.  It costs him 1000 dollars to have someone clean it on a regular basis.  We've checked out other companies but haven't found one we have confidence in.  I may end up doing that myself too.

Well, it's 10:06 PM and I'm missing out on some good dreams.  Bye for now.  Wally

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