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Cliff's Grower Log -- May 2005

May 6

I now hold a record. It must be a record. I hold the record for the shortest lived hoop-house. This requires an explanation.

Last evening I had a goal to complete the two dome shaped hoop-houses. But after fixing bikes, then riding around the neighborhood to test out the bikes, taking to friends, etc., I was running a little late. I decided to get the plastic up on one.

It's not too much work. The plastic is already cut to size. The hoops are up. All I need to do is put the plastic over and secure it down. So, I got busy. As I was working I noticed a huge black cloud forming in the distance. There was the occaisional lightning, but it was so far away no thunder was heard. My plan this year is to use large rocks rather than dirt to hold the plastic down. (Don't you love "free stuff"? I do.)

Now the wind was starting to pick up. I could see that our huge purple cloud was taking direct aim on my patch. I got the plastic put in place. I cut the access hole, went in and made final preparations, including the removal of the "wall of water". This was a great idea. A hurricane won't knock down a wall of water if it is installed correctly. The seedlings love them until they outgrow them. My life has been peaceful these first 10 days of the season.

I finalized the hoop-house just as the first drops of rain were coming down. Lightning cracked, and this time it wasn't so far away! I made one last sprint around the yard, gathering tools and putting them away in the shed. Then one last sprint to safety, into the garage and then the house.

I was in the house for about 10 minutes. During this time the wind rushed through like it has so many times before. My wife and five kids, now accustomed to this ritual, settled in to watch the hoop-house be blown away while they enjoyed a bedtime snack. Truly, I thought it would hold. "There it goes!", said my wife. "Rats!", I muttered. I was now in my sock feet. No time to put shoes on, so I peeled off my socks and ran out into the storm barefoot. "I'm going to make this one last more than 10 minutes!"

It's always the "backside" that blows out. The front holds, but the wind pushing it down causes the back end to bow out and become dislodged. And, in my rush to finish things, I hadn't secured the back end as well as I should have. I grabbed the furiously flapping plastic, which wasn't easy, and wrapped myself in it like a blanket, and sat down on the ground. The front of the HH was pushing down toward the ground, just inches from the 981 Zunino. I looked at it and thought, "I'm doing this all for you, buddy." Then I realized that I had forgot a key item. I hadn't secured my centerpost to the rebar support pounded into the ground! Without this, the HH simply isn't going to hold for long.

Well, as always, the storm passed quickly. I have rebuilt, again.

May 13

Wow, what a week. We've had rain and cold for the last week. Not much is happening in the patch and there hasn't been much to do, just keep them warm overnight. But today, Friday, is sunny and finally the hoophouses will warm up. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice as well, and then we will go back into a rainy pattern.

So far the leaders in the patch are the 874.5 Dief and the 753 Pappas. But all the plants are doing well. The squash... the squash, make me want to become a full-time squasher. Both 898 descendant plants are doing well. The Zunino looks good. The Tanner is still a little behind, but it was the last to go out, and really hasn't seen ANY heat in a while. The next big thing is going to be getting these plants to fall in the right direction!

May 17

Still no pictures... it hasn't stopped raining since... March? The storm we had last night was truly unbelieveable.

I'm beginning to see the big picture. We have a severe drought for 5+ years. Then I buy a nice Mustang Convertible. Since that time in January there have been about 3 days where the weather has been good enough for me to take the top down on the way home from work. Our drought has reversed itself in a big way. What power I hold!

May 23

I've actually had these pictures for a few days, but just now am I getting around to putting them up. Taken on May 19:

981 Zunino
Looking great! This is perhaps the first time I've had a color plant do well.
891 Tanner
The smallest of the bunch, but no real problems. Maybe it's a little pale.
500 Beauchemin
753 Pappas
The largest plant overall. I've got high hopes for this one. Actually it doesn't appear to be the largest at the time these were taken. Of the three original sections, the Zunino, the Pappas, and the Dief have the upper hand at this time.
874 Dieffenbaugher
Looking good, although since this photo was taken, the plant seems to have suffered some heat damage. (Nothing major.)
681 Beauchemin

So far, there are no major problems with any plant, and all the plants are leaning in the right direction.

May 26

Thursday morning pictures!

First, to break the monotony of small, boring plants...

981 Zunino
Great leaves! A little heat damage on one of them.
891 Tanner
Still small, but doing fine.
500 Beauchemin
Again, a little heat burn. If we get into a long stretch of 80's, I think I will cut some good size holes in the hoophouses.
753 Pappas
Lowrider! Ready to rumble! LO... RI... Duh! I think I have a nickname for this one.
874 Dieffenbaugher
Lots of leaves, but they are small. Not liking the heat.
681 Beauchemin
Looking good! It will be interesting, finding out which of these plants produces the best GREENIE!

May 31

So far, so good. A few days ago I stirred a small handful of amonium sulfate into the soil around each plant. Now they are growing like crazy! Leaf size has doubled. All plants look great and are leaning in the right direction.


Cliff Warren