2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Paperwhites at 14 days

Pretty Pictures

Queen’s Day shenanigans in Amsterdam this past May, 2012. Revelers wear orange as a national color.

Ok, all you blo…

Ok, all you blog readers should dial in because Infamous is going throw some serious horticulture at you soon. ┬áSo stay tuned… maybe there will be tulips.

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Black Eyed Susan Vine

Black Eyed Susan Vine

We have been growing a good garden plant for a few years now. It is commonly called the Black Eyed Susan Vine. Many gardeners grow the plant known as Black eyed Susan which is like a daisy with orange petals around a brown center. That plant is a Rudbeckia species and is completely different, botanically from the vine by the same common name.

The vine is called

    Thunbergia alata

and it falls in the plant family Acanthaceae. All the members of this family have petals that are united more or less at the base into a roll or tube. The BES vine has the petal bases joined and a simultaneous color change to a purple-brown. The petals at the mouth of the flower are lobed so that they appear to be five separate petals. The color tones vary depending on the variety from yellow to deep orange.

The care of the BES vine is very easy. In our part of the country, they are put in after danger of spring frosts and grown as a summer bedding plant. If you are lucky enough to be in an area that has no frosts, it can live for a long time as it is a frost-tender perennial. When I planted them in the spring they were about 6 inches tall. By this week, when they were pulled out, one of them had climbed up to my second story deck and run along the railing spindles for about 6 feet. They do not get too weedy or anything, they are nice cheerful plants. They flower very well if they get enough sun. They can take full sun as long as they do not dry out too much.

As far as decorative value, they do well on a fence or trellis. They would stand out well when grown with a complementary color in the blue tones. A suggested combo would be ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glory and the orange Black Eyed Susan vine. Happy gardening!

DMC Memory Thread

Butterfly done in stumpwork with memory thread in the wings and antennae.

I recently tried a new product from DMC which is a wired thread that you can couch down to make an element in embroidery. Here is a photo of a recent project that I made using butterfly wings assembled with Memory thread.

Book Review: The Convict and Other Stories by James Lee Burke 5*/5*

I usually do not like short stories except when reading magazines, but The Convict… has changed my mind. This collection of stories is fantastic. They are war stories, prison stories, and slice of life stories. They really capture whatever scene the author is exploring. Burke is a fantastic writer. I really enjoyed reading his collection and will read more.

James Lee Burke is a famous writer who has a series of detective stories set in the New Orleans area. His main character is Dave Robicheau, a homicide detective. I am embarking on a read of his books now starting in order with

    The Neon Rain

. My summer reading of them will take me through fall.

fertilizer? Let’s get some basics here

An alert reader heard about a friend who was trying to feed her plants necessary nutrients using the sports drink Propel. Propel had a small amount of potassium in it and I suppose, the person had heard that potassium was good for plants. I have to admire the creativeness while discouraging the idea for being impractical.

This has led to some ideas about blog posts regarding fertilizers. I have touched on some aspects of plant food in other posts, but this Propel question must lead to a better understanding on this blog. This may take a few days so hold on and let’s get started with Nitrogen before we get all the way to Propel and her Potassium.

Let’s do a little review of plant food. The first and most important plant nutrient is water. I think we can all agree that we can control the growth of plants and even their life by controlling water. This concept is so basic it is often overlooked as a crucial tool for growth and development. I say this not as an aside, but as a concept in plant nutrition before we get to the stuff you can buy in a bag. Remember, the water is the most important. Now here we go on the stuff in the bag.

Mostly what we talk about when we say “fertilizers” are the big three macronutrients, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. These three, in that order, are listed in a standardised format on all plant food labels. There is a good reason they are in that order; they are listed in order of their importance to the plant.

Let’s look at some characteristics in the soil of these three elements. I say elements because they are indeed elements on the periodic table of chemistry. Nitrogen (N) is used in the largest amount by the plant, then Phosphorus (Ph), then Potassium (K).

Nitrogen is the cheapest nutrient in most fertilizers, and will do your plants the most good. Nitrogen is water-soluble in soil and must be constantly resupplied to give your plants the food they need. Since it is water-soluble, rain will wash it away down into the soil and your plants will be sad until you give them more. Natural soil has various amounts of it and it comes from decomposing humus on the forest floor. As animals and plants rot away, the N is released and set free for plants to eat up. Also, rainwater contains small amounts that constantly feed earth’s plant cover a little bit. In a few plants, (mostly in the pea family) Nitrogen fixing bacteria take atmospheric N and convert it into usable N in the roots.

Commercially available animal manures or chemical fertilizers will give your plants the most improvement due to their Nitrogen content. Differences in the rate of release of N in different formulations can impact the growth of your plants. Let’s take the spectrum of N sources and look at their release rates. The most classic chemical source of N is Urea. Urea is named for urine (duh) and in the dry pellet form available in bags. It is relatively high in N (about 33% plus or minus a bit) and is immediately soluble in water and thus available to the plant. If you use too much, you will form a water solution with specific gravity higher than the juices inside plant cells. This can pull water out of the plant cells and burn the plant. You want to use this form of N sparingly and dilute with a lot of water. All the N from urea will go into the water and feed your plant and begin washing away. This gives a big quick burst of N and then nothing as the N washes down deep in the soil. If I were using this form of N for my plants, I would use it sparingly but frequently.

Nitrogen also comes in chemical fertilizers in forms called “WIN” which stands for water insoluble Nitrogen. WIN is a very good thing in fertilizers because it time-releases the N and constantly feeds the plants a little at a time. This is very good because it does not run off and cause pollution and your plants can happily feed on just a little N all the time which they really like. It is created by coating the little round balls of fertilizer with a slow dissolving coating. Sulphur coated urea is a common version. The fertilizer bag will say what percentage of WIN is in the mix. The more the better. The fertilizer manufacturers want as little as possible because it is an expensive type of N. Usually a fertilizer mix will have a little uncoated urea for a quick green up and then some WIN to keep feeding all season long. This is my favorite type. No need to keep applying it since the little prills are timed-release. This gives Infamous more time for blogging.

Another version of timed release is the use of natural animal manures. They contain Nitrogen bound up in the organic material of the manure. The manure has to be worked on by microbes in the soil before the N is released so by necessity, it comes out slowly, kind of “timed release” in a natural way. The only drawback is that manures are usually only about 2-3% N whereas you can get up to 33% in chemical urea. You need a whole lot of animal manure to equal a chemical product. It is also pretty expensive comparatively. On the plus side, you will probably never burn anything, so that is something. Any of you gardeners out here who are overly enthusiastic and tend towards a heavy hand, should probably use manure.

Well, that is all today about nitrogen. Tomorrow will be Phosphorus and then Potassium and finally Propel water. I guess wacky ideas about gardening can lead to good ideas for blogs.

Book Review Daemon 3/5 *

Daemon by Daneil Suarez

I wish I knew how cool this book was but I don’t. It has many elements making it a great story. It has a hell of a yarn to tell, exciting characters, lots of suspense and a compelling reason to get to the end and find out what happens. The only thing wrong with it is you have to know a little about computers and networks to appreciate the situation and I know about what an average person knows. In this cyber crime novel, an evil genius tries to take over the world by networking all the computers and making them its minions. It is a pretty good story with lots of characters although some of them seem a little comic book-like with super muscles or brains or insane bravery. I just could not understand much of the story due to techno babble. The author tries a little to have some explanations by having one character explain the computer content to another character but it was still way over my head. I’m not sure if some of this computer stuff is possible or if this is largely a work of fiction. I assume it is a fictitious situation but if it is techno fact, we are in a lot of trouble.

One interesting thing about the story, is that it has made me realize just how many mundane activities are electronic. From garage door openers to swipe key cards, maps on GPS and cellphone apps, all are electronic and vulnerable to the daemon. So much of our lives are no longer based on mechanical tumbler locks, or paper records written by hand. The only thing the Daemon could not control were the simple things like that.

Overall, you will enjoy this book more if you like sci-fi and have some computer knowledge. It was a decent read, but I could not appreciate the more technical aspects.

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