Planter Boxes

So, Missy and I are going to try to raise vegetables this summer. However, we’ve got kind of a tough yard – mostly shaded, pretty rocky. The only real flat spot has the boy’s playscape on it, though once they get a bit older, I think we’re having a bonfire and converting it to a garden.

So, our only real option left has been to build boxes and do some intensive container gardening. As it’s not yet May in Connecticut yet, we’re not completely behind the times. So, here’s today’s batch:

Planter Boxes for Veggies

I designed them to use standard 8′ lengths of lumber without much waste. The planting portion of each box is 7’x1’x1′, which let me use standard 8′ lengths of lumber. The sides are 1/2″x6″ roughcut from a local lumber store that sells them cheap in 16′ lengths. I cut a foot off of each board, and used that to make the ends of the boxes. I also cut a 2″x4″ into 1′ lengths and used that, with another 2×4 on each side, to brace the bottom of the boxes. Each box has a 4×4 at the corner, cut to fit a slope. I’m lining them with 5 mil plastic with some drainage through holes in the boards, and once they’re full of dirt, we’ll put in a soaker hose for watering.

The installed prototype is here:

Planter Boxes for Veggies

Missy started seeds this weekend, and I’ve got another 4 or so boxes to build. I think I’ll do an Instructable about putting the boxes together when I do the rest of them. Until then, it’s store-bought fresh veg.

Life lesson #2 – Dad is fallible

Man, I love to go camping. One of the joys of fatherhood to me has been teaching the boyos the ways of the backpacker – tread lightly, leave the woods cleaner than when you arrived, and sleep outside as often as possible. We try to make at least 7 outings a year (April through November). I’ve pulled chocks about midnight on one full-moon November night thinking Jake was too cold. And we’ve done the “roughing it” out of the back of the car with the Cub Scouts, who are surprisingly hesitant to go backpacking.

Tonight (I’m blogging from my iPod touch while the boys sleep) was supposed to be our triumphant return to the woods for 2009. Melissa had a supper group of girls coming over, so I called up the DEP, and got the permit for Peg Mill, their favorite spot. Loaded the bags, last night, picked up the kids after work, and stopped for stove fuel on the way to camp.

Thought everything was wired. Last night I’d checked and rechecked all the gear – stove, replaced the filter in the water purifier, made sure we had the match container. I was set.

So, we hike back into the woods, set up shop, and commence to camping with about 45 minutes of effective light left. I got the tents set up, arranged stuff to start supper, hung the bear bag, and life was good.

Until I went to start a fire in the fire ring.

Turns out the match container was in the bag. Just NO MATCHES.

Oh fudge. And I did say fudge.

So I put it to the kids. We had just enough time to pack up and hike back to the car, or, I coils try to start a fire with the magnesium fire starter and a can opener. Against my better judgement, but with the kids enthusiastic, we voted to stay.

First attempt almost worked, but I wasn’t quick enough getting enough tinder on the fire. Second attempt was thwarted when Jake dumped a handful of twigs on the flame, smothering what I’d been slowly working. Third attempt failed because I didn’t have enough twigs handy. Fourth attempt failed – well, probably because it was supposed to.

We had supper of apple sauce and chocolate bars.

As we watched the last of the light fade (new moon is F’n dark), it hit me that I’d been collossaly dumb the couple of times I’d had either twigs or the limited amount of paper or cardboard burning. Instead of trying to light more twigs, I should have started the fracking stove. Or lit the candle lantern. Or done Something instead of trying to light uncooperative twigs.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve got to wonder if I ought not just try to spark the stove tomorrow morning instead of worrying about shaving magnesium with a k-ration can opener.

Man, sometimes I’m dumb. Like collossaly dumb. Hopefully the boys take away that dad is fallible. But that it’s wrong to quit trying.

Ps- the breakfast got cooked – one spark and the stove roared to life. But we did stop for second breakfast with the runners from the church.

LATE ADD: For the record, we survived


Stupid wired after late swim

Y’know that endorphin buzz one gets after a good workout? Keeps me awake when I work out at night.

This week’s been very, very good to me. Actually, the last two weeks have been great. I’d gone off about the Houston runs – man, that’s still a high.

Monday, I was on travel but still managed to squeeze in 7 miles in the rain at BWI. If you’re ever staying near the airport, there’s a GREAT trail that runs around BWI. Part of it goes right under the flightpath for one of the runways, and it was great watching the SWA flights drop out of the scudding clouds with huge trails of vapor blowing off of their wings, woosh overhead, and go land. It might feel like riding a bus when you’re in the airport, but it’s still amazing that those things can fly. Witchcraft, I tell you.

Yesterday, I didn’t sacrifice a workout. My flight got in just early enough that I was able to head over to the base pool to get in a good 35 minute workout – turned out to be about 25 laps at 70m/lap – just over a mile. Today, the best laid plans of running to the pool at lunch were turned over. But, things worked out anyway – I went back to the Y for the first time in a while and did 2300 yards in less than an hour, which may be my longest swim workout ever. I started with 250m of breaststroke, followed by a monster set of 20 laps (1000m) crawl, complete with flip turns. Caught my breath for a while, then set out to do another 10 laps easy – long, strong strokes, slow follow-through, easy breathing, and upright turns at the end of each length. The 10 felt good, so I did another 10 without stopping, finishing the last lap with an all-out, supper in the back of your throat sprint.

I’ve got a run (possibly) scheduled with the neighbor tomorrow at 5 AM. ‘cept he’s on TDY working 6P to midnight this week on short notice, so I’m guessing he won’t show. Wonder if I will. It’s also Bring A Child To Work day – Jake’s finally old enough to go, so I think we may have to put the bikes on the back of the car and let him take a quick spin around Jamestown on the way home and demonstrate “fringe benefits”.

Y’all rock. I cannot wait for Mooseman, even though my training hasn’t been what I hope it would have been. June will be all about endurance, suffering, and repentance.

Semi-regular rant – Early April 2009

1. I’m a huge believer that for the 21st century the internet and ubiquitious free or cheap access is as critical to national success as was America’s roads infrastructure was to the US’s dominance of the last half of the 20th century. And I think it makes even more sense for the government to do it than it did with the roads, as access to the internet is critical to freedom of expression, organization. all that fun stuff that is in the Bill of Rights.
So, with trillions being doled out, what’s a couple of hundred billion to begin connecting municipal internet efforts, revive muni-wifi, or maybe even hold some spectrum to build out publicly owned WiMax? Just a thought.

So far the Obama administration has offered $7.2 billion in grants to be doled out by two separate federal agencies to give to companies to build out networks in “underserved” areas. The whole process is mired in semantic debates over what “broadband,” “unserved” and “openness” mean. Incumbent players such as AT&T and Verizon are complaining about onerous openness requirements and are threatening to not even apply for the funds — these are the folks who have done everything in their power to suffocate innovation on the net and in the wireless world. [From National Broadband Plan? Dream Big, Feds, Very Big | Epicenter from]

2. I’ve been running. Running is good. Running with the wife is better. Got in a total of 18 miles over the weekend with my soulmate. Love to run. Need to do more.

Springtime – Time to think about camping again…

ThinkGeek never fails to amaze:

Tauntaun Sleeping Bag

[From Tauntaun Sleeping Bag – Will it Become Real?]

It looks like the boyos and I have a potential date for the first camping trip of the year in about 3 weeks – Missy’s got supper club, and we’ve got warm weather and worms to dunk. Cannot wait to sleep in the woods again.

Training has been good this week – on schedule for the first time in a while. Great run on Tuesday – finished 4 miles in under 8:00/mile. I was spent at the end, but for a change of pace it rocked. Nice to know I’m closer to being able to hang with the fit guys at work.