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May 2012

Lawns, gardens, fields getting a good drink

By Mike Thayer

Boy were we in need of a good rain and Mother Nature has delivered. 

My rain gauge broke so I can't give you an exact amount of rain that we've received here in the Coralville area over the last 12 hours, reports are around a half inch.

This rain was my kind of rain, not a big storm, a gentle/steady rain that you can sleep to....  We'll see the benefits immediately.  The grass that was starting to brown will green again, the gardens will perk up and the farm fields will take off with another round of aggressive growth.

Things were getting pretty dry in the Akdeniz Garden, despite some thirst quenching done with rain barrel water.  The barrels were emptied earlier in the week and the lack of water was evident in my roses, whose leaves were starting to curl up.  The surface soil in my vegetable beds was getting powder dry, but I held off on using city water yesterday with rain in the forecast.  Plants aren't real keen on city water, it should be a last resort.  It's also not good to water too frequently or not long enough, as it doesn't allow plants to develop a deep root system.

Tip:  If you have to use city water, put it in buckets or watering cans a day or two before use.  This allows some of the chemicals to dissipate.  Plants don't need chlorine or fluoride. 


Another rain barrel installed at the Akdeniz Garden

New_rain_barrelI purchased another rain barrel for the Akdeniz (Thayer) Garden, this one being an upgrade from the 50 gallon capacity model I purchased last year.

With the dry conditions we've had over the last month, I've already gone through 50 gallons of rain barrel water this growing season in preventing my vegetable beds from getting too thirsty.

So adding to the *arsenal* if you will, I installed a more decorative 75 gallon model purchased from Sam's Club.  It didn't take long, about two hours, clearing the desired area; tamping the dirt down; putting in some sand and dry setting a few layers of brick for a foundation (this elevates the rain barrel up high enough to fit a bucket under the tap); cutting the gutter to fit.  I then installed the tap per the directions and that's it - a rain barrel to aid in watering the yard and garden. 

The total cost was $80, so this thing will pay for itself before the summer is done - provided we get enough rain of course.  My gut (and it's substantial) is telling me we're in for a dry summer.

The benefits of adding a rain barrel to your landscape are many.

  • You get to water your garden using a free source (once you're recovered the cost of the barrel), you'll greatly reduce your water bill.
  • You get to water your garden using a natural source, it's much, much better for your plants than tap water - they don't need chlorine or fluoride.
  • You're not unnecessarily using conditioned water that's made uniquely for your family 
  • You decrease wear and tear on the household water infrastructure as well as public works

50_gallon_rain_barrelDid you know that during the summer months, nearly 40 percent of the monthly water bill for some families can be attributed to watering the lawn, the garden, washing the car?....  Yes, you can even use rain barrel water to wash the car.

Next up on the list of things to do, installing a pump to the spicket!  

Here's a picture of last year's installation, it's a 50 gallon barrel, this one paid for itself last year.  This was purchased at Menard's for around $55, the cost for concrete block and some bricks was around $20.  We didn't have to water our vegetable garden or flower beds last year using the household outdoor faucet.  In between rains, this baby did the trick.


Chicken: It's what's for dinner!

By Mike Thayer

It's Memorial Day Weekend, the official kickoff of grilling season in Iowa! 

Let's kick things off with a recipe with a kick!  It's a great recipe rub for chicken.

Mike's Spicy Chicken Rub

1 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Turkishusaflags This is a great dry rub with a little influence from Turkey.  Apply it to your favorite cut of chicken for grilling.  I usually put it on about four hours prior to firing things up.   

Grilling tip:  Take your meat out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to grilling, it will cook more evenly and have better flavor.

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A fantastic day to garden

By Mike Thayer

Akdeniz_garden_roseWhat a  beautiful day!  With a cup of hazelnut flavored coffee in hand, I've already done some light weeding and surveyed my vegetable beds in the Akdeniz Garden. 

Last night's rain gave everything a good drink and the moisture makes weed pulling so easy.  Later today, my family will be enjoying a wonderful tossed salad using a variety of lettuces I harvested.

I planted quite a few cold tolerant crops earlier this spring along with the lettuces.  Onions, radishes, spinach, peas, chives, dill, shallots and garlic are all coming up nicely.   The green onions are tasty, they'll go nicely with today's salad.  With the warmer weather we enjoyed in March, I even pushed it a bit putting in parsely and cilantro which is all really starting to take off in growth.

Akdeniz_garden_spring_peasLast weekend I was busy planting seeds.  With germination times of about 7-10 days, the possibility of one more late frost before my Mother's Day rule was no longer a concern.  I put in pole beans, bush beans, black-eyed peas, okra, squash and a variety of cucumbers.

I also had time this morning to check out our grapevines, cherry tree and pear.  The frosts took the fruit flowers to task and it doesn't look like we'll be enjoying very many cherries this year.  We won't be enjoying any pears either.  The grapevines though look promising.  Clusters are forming, but they're too small at this point to determine how robust they'll be.

The weekend weather will be great, now it's time to go out and put in some starter plants.  Cherry, roma and beefsteak tomatoes as well as eggplant and a variety of peppers.

That's what I call going green.

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Barbecue Sauce, an American Flavor Tradition

It's grilling season, BBQ season, it's time to fire up the smoker, the gas grill, the portable Weber, rub two sticks together, it doesn't matter - put some meat on the fire!

And what is the most popular accompaniment for a plethora of meats cooked in the great outdoors? No silly, not ketchup, its barbecue sauce!

To read the rest of Mike Thayer's Yahoo Contributor Network article:  http://voices.yahoo.com/barbecue-sauce-american-flavor-tradition-11300048.html?cat=22