Another scorcher coming up here in East Texas.  With all the hype and BS about “climate change” we should be in the middle of a desert by now.  But, lo and behold, just two days of 100+ temps likely this summer – and that’s counting today.  This is a  first couple of weeks of August phenomenon for the 15+ years we’ve lived here.

Prepping: Heat and Plants

A lot of plants can do OK in heat. But, not all. 

Tomatoes, for example, seem to thrive into the low to mid 90’s.  But they also stop fruiting, when too hot.  This is why it’s important in the spring to get your plans in early – as soon as frost danger subsides.

This winter, we’ll (again) be starting seeds in January on a heat mat (the waterproof, made-for-gardening variety) in the greenhouse.  Then, setting the plants out in soil when they are a few inches high.  Properly-timed that would be the day after the last frost.

Never seems to work out right, but farming is like gambling without money.

Keyword “Famine”

There are two ways to look at the data-slurry posing as “the news.”  One way is to take whatever the mix of social media, the mainstream media, and all challengers dish-out.

The other way – which we wax-on about over on the subscriber side – is becoming a “self-directed information consumer.”

You figure out what your personal risks are – and then you focus on developments related to  that risk.  Then skip all the hype about everything else.  Most of it in un-actionable, anyway.  Most “news” is militant recruitng of people with nothing better to do, monetizations and setting up click-bait, anyway.

We like the DuckDuckGo news search tool more-so than Google (whose engines DDG parses).  Seems to be “less agendized.”

We like one or two keywords searches related to our threats to existence:  “Health”  “Food” and “famine” being among the ones we look at almost daily.

Eyeing the Food Front

On the surface, recent stories like U.S. farmers to harvest record large corn crop, second largest soy crop: USDA, would seem to offer the insight that prepping-types shouldn’t worry too much about caloric outlooks.

But the total amount of food out there is only one part of the food equation.  The other?

Control.  We were able to keep our cache of a “few things” mostly topped off over CV-19 panic early on.  But the view ahead is murky.  Due in part to the continuing rise in both cases and deaths into the fall and winter ahead.

Most parts of the country have one or two growing seasons:  Along the Pacific Coast, there’s mainly one until you get down into California.  Where you can get two and sometimes three crops.

South Florida is very rich – and many people garden effectively year-round.  But we don’t trust the look of the La Palma volcano.  Chicken-hearted, we reckon.  But that outlook got us to the 70’s.

Prepping the Garden

Whether the cause of food failure is weather – or potentially economic – a lot of preppers have laid-back a plan to recover buying “prepper seed vaults.”  The idea is you can always put in a little vegetable patch and “get by.”

That – sadly – is a  lie.

There are a lot of trip-wires involved, not the least of which is gardening takes time and energy, it’s largely influenced by weather, and there are so many natural pests out there it will make your head spin.

Above all, though, a lot of soils will not support a good robust crop without “soil amendments.”  This can be “compost” and “compost tea” if you’ve been working at things a while.

In our case, we add a 4-5 foot thick layer to our composting of leaves every year.  The 10-year old well-composted leaves (when dug out from now 4-5 feet down) would likely be OK.  But, once again, an amendment like lime might be needed to “sweeten” things up a bit. Leaves can be acidic.  And that still leaves the key nutrients question.

So, in the “prepping gear” you might want to include several “soil test kits” in addition to your “seed vault.”  And on top of that, a bag or three of?

We opted for a 33-pound bag of it.  Because if all this “cultural warfare” crap going on is “successful” we can foresee an internet-free world where most infrastructure collapses. We all go back to 1890 lifestyles.  Great for climate, though, huh?

With a world in collapse, we’d like to have a veggie tray and some pickles for such an occasion.  And maybe a few hundred pounds of sugar to try some home made distilling ideas….

How to Buy Fertilizer

There are three main chemicals in fertilizers and the easiest way to remember them is “N-P-K.”  N is for Nitrogen, P is for phosphorous, while the K stands for potassium.

The bigger the number, the more of that nutrient is present.

Problem is (and this is why “triple-13”) is a good beginning choice, it’s easy to “burn plants” by applying too much of a good thing.  We will be buying a prepping bag of “triple-20” as well (20-20-20).  But the bigger the number, the higher the risk of burning.

A Seed-Buying Warning

I mentioned on the Peoplenomics site this weekend that painting the Ure mail box white was one of my September projects ahead.

Our mailbox – presently being black – has made a fine toaster-oven out in the hot Texas sun this year.  None of the late-season seed orders were worth a damn.  Abysmal germination rates.

Seeds that are getting over 120 in the warehouse, shipment, or storage are not what you want.  Stored and moved at 75 or cooler is ideal.

When we get into mid October, or so, when temps moderate – that’s the time to order seeds.  Just remember, that’s too late for a fall or winter garden except maybe if you live in Homestead, Florida, or so.

Shop Notes:  Lazy Squaring

I happened to be setting up an outdoor table for our fall garden seeds this coming week.  That meant building some table legs.

Not hard work at all, but where a lot of people run into the ditch on a project like this is getting everything lined-up square.

It occurred to us a long-time ago that we could use the table saw fence as a “helper” on such projects:

Works like a charm.  And if you have adjustable ripping wings, you can (depending on saw, of course) support things up to 2-3 feet wide.

One of these days, some metal pins and some squaring guides will be added to the big shop table.  But the table saw works so that project keeps falling down the list.

On a different project, though – one where I was cobbling something up in a hurry with 1-minute epoxy – I didn’t notice that there were a few drips into the miter channel on the saw top.

What followed was a 10-minute “chip-it-out” session with an old screwdriver and mallet.  There went all my “time savings.”

Wood Mold

Notwithstanding the heat down here, it was possible to get a couple of hours worth of shop play-time in Saturday thanks to the Swamp Cooler.  But, therein lies a tale…

Evaporative coolers take hot dry outside air and through evaporation, cool it down (though with higher humidity) which kept the shop in the lower 80’s most of the day.  While outside was running 98-99 F in the afternoon.

One unintended consequence of using a swamp cooler in a marginal climate, though, turns out to be wood mold.  Take this piece of pine, stored near the chiller, for example:

If you look close, you can see what look like “dot marks.”  Turns out, these machining marks from the mill are where the mold seems to set up first.  A powdery gray surface mold on some other areas, too.

Doesn’t hurt the wood, shoret-term anyway.  A single light pass through the surface planer takes it right off.  But, that burns through one of those N-95 masks we’ve been saving.  With the big built in vac system, who knows whether its dangerous?  This is not the time to take chances with anything…

Wood Storage

There’s a simple solution to wood mold:  Don’t store wood in the higher humidity swamp-cooled shop.  Except, that when storing wood outside, you can’t usually find room under cover for a dead vertical, or flat lay-down.

Things get propped up:

Now, a reminder in Outlook goes off every couple of weeks reminding me “Turn outside wood over.”  Sometimes I do it…

End for end and over.  So far – knock on (you-know-what) that seems to be keeping the wood ready.

An even easier solution?  Order material only as you’re really going to use it.

Ah, but who doesn’t over-order lumber?

I’ve found I can almost  depend on myself to over-estimate my project completion rate by 50-percent.  Seems to depend on how many cups of coffee I’ve had in my comfy 70-degree office.

With the shop into the low to mid 80’s – and I swear the smell of the sulfurs of Hell outside in the heat – the project completion rate falls though the floor.

So off to tackle that…  Wait…how about one more cup?

Write when you get rich,