I looked at the calendar a couple of days ago and realized March is almost here. Since March is always so busy, I planned to get all of my garden equipment in shape by the end of February.
The last big project is the rotary tiller — its carburetor needs work.
I’ve rebuilt a few small engine carburetors in the past. I’ve even done a couple of auto carbs years ago, so I have a good idea of what it’s all about.
I’m convinced that anyone with a mechanical aptitude and the ability to follow written instructions, can do this job. It takes a positive attitude and some time.
For those who have no idea where to start, I put together a summary of the steps involved. It may convince you to take your equipment to the shop instead. On the other hand, it may inspire you to take the plunge and give it a try. Remember, if you can’t get it to work, you can always take it into the shop later. In the meantime, it will give you a chance to try something new– and an excuse to use that new tool set you bought.
I did catch a little break — February has 29 days this year. That gives me an extra day to finish repairing that tiller before my deadline passes.
Not long ago, I came home with a bag of carrots from the grocery store. It was disappointing; every carrot in the bag was bitter tasting. This reminded me of the experience I had many years ago as a new gardener.
Back then I had a plan to grow enough fruit and vegetables to last through the winter. I grew carrots, cabbage, onions, apples and some other produce I wanted to put into storage. I built a small storage space and carefully put my produce away.
All of the fruit and vegetables I was storing had similar storage requirements. They needed a temperature around 32 F and fairly high humidity. It made sense to me to store them all together in the same space.
Later in the winter I took out some carrots to use. They all had that bitter, almost soapy flavor. Later I learned that apples give off ethylene gas. The ethylene caused the carrots to form chemical compounds called terpenes. Those terpenes were the source of the bitter flavor.
Somewhere along the line, the carrots I bought this week must have been exposed to ethylene; probably from apples in a cooler.
That’s a good reason why you shouldn’t store apples and carrots together in the same refrigerator drawer; especially if you don’t plan to use them right away.
Ground Hog Day is here already. Most people probably look at this day as a quirky PR stunt dreamed up by the city fathers in Punxsutawney PA. In Howell, they have Woody the Woodchuck.
I’m not sure, where or when Ground Hog Day got started but farmers in our area used to use this day as a reminder to check their hay and livestock feed supply. If the storage bins were more than half-full, then they were in good shape until spring. If not, then they would need to think about buying more feed because they might run short later on.
This all fits in with phenology, the science of observing natural events in the environment. Phenologists record the dates of things such as when certain flowers bloom or when crickets first start to chirp in the spring.
Information like this, logged over many decades, may show certain trends like earlier blossoming of spring flowers. Date like that could indicate a trend toward a warmer climate.
I remember when I was a little boy listening to farmers saying they needed to plant corn when the oak leaves were the size of squirrels ears. If you look at young oak leaves in the spring, you’ll notice that is just about the right time for field corn to go into the ground. The corn planting date changes somewhat from year to year depending upon weather conditions and that is reflected in the growth rate of oak leaves.
A well-known practical use of phenology is the timing of crab grass control. The blooming of forsythia is the signal for applying crab grass herbicide.
I wonder if professional phenologists argue that Ground Hog Day isn’t really phenology. It probably doesn’t matter too much since meteorologists have already gone ahead and claimed this as their special day.