Sunday, March 06, 2011

My utterly uninteresting Saturday afternoon

I pulled a half-inch mesquite thorn out of my heel a little while ago. Got ahold of it with the nail clippers, because the tweezers couldn't hold a grip, and pulled it out. The damn thing kept coming and coming. Hurt like hell. Apropos of nothing, but I thought I'd share.

Today wasn't as productive as I'd hoped it would be, but I feel strangely compelled to share. Today I spent a significant amount of time working on fence repair. Shifting soil and drying wood over the past seven years has resulted in several panels of our privacy fence coming loose from their support posts. This is problematic because A) we don't want those panels falling, and 2) we don't want the dogs getting out. Additionally, more than a few of the vertical fence slats have rotted through around the nails, and have become loose. Armed with a spool of 16 gauge wire, I set about tying up all the loose lumber. Not an elegant solution, I know, but buying a bunch of new fence slats isn't in the immediate budget. As for the fence panels coming free of the posts, I'm thinking seriously long wood screws are in order. Our clay soil is shifting, and the posts are pulling away from where they once were. It does indeed pose a challenge. Ah, the perils of home ownership.

Once I finished my temporary repairs to the fence, I turned my attention to my grape vines. I've got them growing over the dog run fence, and in all honesty, they haven't done as well as they should, mainly due to my inattention. I cleared a lot of dry grass and dead sedges away, then pruned back some overgrown honeysuckle--both Japanese and coral variety. Then I tackled the grapes. The first on my list were two Fredonia grape vines. I chopped away a LOT of these, as they always seem to grow where I'm not training them, and not grow where I am training them. I've now got a whole bunch of hardwood cuttings between 8" and 18" long, so if anyone wants to try their hand at rooting them, give me a shout and we can work something out. Next up were my muscadines. I was happy to find that the one vine I'd tried layering last winter had put out a significant root mass in the plastic soda bottle I'd used as a makeshift pot. I cut the vine from the main plant and it is now transplanted into a larger pot sitting on my front porch. I followed that up with setting several more vines into soda bottles filled with soil to promote layering for next year. I've found I like muscadines a great deal--the nutty grape flavor appeals to me--so I want to establish some vines in Columbus and Bastrop at my relatives' places. Unlike other grape species, muscadines won't normally root from hardwood cuttings, so the layering method is necessary. The muscadines really ran wild last year, and I felt sick as I cut back many, many strong, healthy vines to bring them under control. I didn't get any muscadines last year, probably because I didn't add sulphur to the soil as I had in year past. Muscadines like soil that's mildly acid, yet the Houston black clay here east of Interstate 35 is alkalai. The sulphur counteracts that. Lowes and Home Depot apparently don't carry Dispersul any more, so I picked up a small bag of granular sulphur from the Plant Haus. It's only enough for one application, but that'll be enough for now. Hopefully, I'll get a good crop of grapes of all type this year. Eventually, when The Wife and I purchase some rural acreage (that's the plan) I'll be able to plant some wine grapes as well and enjoy a little bit of everything. But muscadines and Fredonia grapes are what I have now, so I'm making the most of it.

Now Playing: Dire Straits On the Night
Chicken Ranch Central

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