Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Obama's State of the Union address 2012

listening to Obama's State of the Union speech. Wow! What an orator! "Each time I look at the flag, I remember that our destiny is stitched together like that 50 stars and 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This country is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other's backs. And if we hold fast to that truth in this moment of trial there is no challenge too great, no mission too hard. As long as we are joined in common purpose  as long as we maintain our common resolve our journey moves forward, we have hope and our Union holds strong...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Six Fast Ways to Kill Weeds

I like to read about non-chemical (organic ways) to deal with weeds. This seems quite useful.
By Janelle Sorensen
Sunday, June 21, 2009
It’s summer time and the weeds are growing like, um, weeds. Instead of reaching for a toxic chemical that could be harmful to your family or pets, try one of these easy natural ways to kill weeds quick.

1. Use mulch to smother weeds. Covering garden soil with a mulch blocks weeds. Use two or three inches of shredded bark, wood chips, straw, cocoa bean hulls, gravel or rocks. The mulches will also keep moisture in the soil so you'll have to water less frequently.

2. Douse weeds with boiling water.  Weeds, like humans, will burn if exposed to boiling water. This method also kills weed seeds.

3. Soap weeds to death.  Mix 5 tablespoons of liquid soap (such as dishwashing liquid) in one quart (4 cups) of water in a spray bottle. Coat the weeds with the soapy water. Works best on hot days.

4. Pickle weeds with vinegar.  Pour household vinegar into a spray bottle and evenly coat weeds with it. U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists recently confirmed this in tests. Vinegar is really five percent acetic acid in water, and it burns the plant, especially on sunny days. For extra strength weed killer, look for pickling vinegar, which is nine percent acetic acid. Don't get the vinegar on your garden plants, as it can kill them too.

5. Give weeds a stiff drink of alcohol. Mix one to five tablespoons of alcohol – depending on how stubborn the weeds are – with one quart (4 cups) of water in a spray bottle. Shower weeds with the spray. Don't let the alcohol get on garden plants as it may damage their leaves.

6. Don't let 'em sprout!  Use corn meal gluten as a pre-emergent herbicide and fertilizer. Corn meal gluten prevents weeds from growing, then breaks down to provide nitrogen to your plants or lawn. Use it on lawns or established perennial beds, as it won't kill already growing plants. That does mean, of course, that it won't work on already existing weeds.

Monday, January 23, 2012


I had the most vivid dream this morning. I think it came after I woke up at 3am to pee.

It felt so real. It first started off as a conversation with a visitor friend from Singapore. He was asking me to take him to the airport or something.

I think my mind was trying to work out the angst of dealing with this visitor who in real life stayed at my place til past 3am for three nights.

The 2nd phase of the dream was for me much more intriguing.

I was on a high top of a building. And I saw this naked woman running towards me. She had auburn hair and very nice breasts. It was Fiona from Maldives 2010 dive. This might have been a way of my mind to process a bizarre scene I saw at Chelsea Beach - there was this sunbather who was spread eagle topless. She wasn't pretty or anything but she and her friend were fairly brazen.

Anyhow my friend Fiona in the dream was hawt. Apparently she had been conned and the thieves had taken her clothes after drugging her. I bought some clothes for her but at the back of my mind I was worried in the dream that she had been raped and may have contracted HIV.

Strange dream but a good one.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ranunculus Flowers

My order from Garden Express arrived today. I purchased 1250 ranunculi  corms (bulbs) for $193.

I love raunculus flowers. Absolutely love them. They come in a rainbow spectrum of colors and shades and because they are relatively cheap- you can plant them en masse.

The effect is stunning to behold.

The problem is that if I plant them straight into the ground now (in January to March) here in my Melbourne garden, most of them will only spring up after Winter - in September, October and flower in November- which in effect means that they will only get one month before they start wilting in our hot Spring sun.

The raunculies need a cold start - 4 to 8 weeks of cold weather - to shake them out of their slumber. That's why they will only spring up after  June.

But there is way to trick them.

What you have to do is to place them in the fridge (not freezer) for 4 to 8 weeks before planting them in mid-February. The NZ website advises 4 weeks. The US site recommends 6 - 8 weeks.

If I can recall correctly, we left our batch in the fridge for one month
The plants will be fooled into thinking that winter has come and gone and that Spring is now in season. They will start growing and in 10 - 12 weeks-  flower in May, June.

The ranunculus being a Mediterranean spring flowering plants will tolerate our Winters easily - so long as they don't get frost. They tend to die back in our warm Spring when the weather gets hot and will not tolerate temperatures of 26C+.

I'm going to try and jump the gun and start planting them in mid-Feb so that I can have a longer flowering period. I have done this before successfully - but iirc I planted them in March.

Place them in an area which receives full sun and has good drainage - like a slope or a raised garden bed. Like most bulbs, they do not tolerate soggy ground.

They require to be planted about 4cm into the ground about a thumb length size down.

Fertilized them to help them flower. Add all purpose fertilizer when you plant and supplement it with half strength fertilizer every two weeks thereafter. I like to use a spray on liquid seaweed fertilizer. Its easier.

The reward is that while everyone else's garden is gloomy and grey, my garden will be bursting with color. How fantastic would that be???!!!

You should also cut the flowers for display indoors. Apparently they seem to like it and will produce more flowers.

If you don't wish to place them in the fridge you can still plant them in March to May - the problem is that the plants will start flowering in late Spring, early Summer October/Nov. And the plant will start wilting in November when the Australian weather starts warming up (if not earlier).

This is a photo taken back in 2002. The ranunculus flowers make an exceptional mass display.
If you intend to keep the ranunculus bulbs, stop watering them in mid-Summer. For best results, pull them out of the ground and store them in a dry and cool place.

They can be delicate to grow outside: a wet, windy spring will damage flowers badly, while hot, dry conditions will cause foliage to yellow prematurely and restrict flowering.

You might like to read through some of the literature regarding ranunculi but you have to remember that their tips are more applicable for people in America and England.

You can also save the seeds of the ranunculus for planting. I did that once but unfortunately I made the mistake of covering them with a top layer of topsoil. Apparently its best to place them on top of the sawdust mulch and water them in.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Abalone Diving

Every Summer when the weather gets a warmer in Victoria we go diving for abalone. And spear fishing too. Our favorite spot is Back Beach 16 in Rye. Its near the entrance in the Port Philip Bay area - plenty of rock pools, mini bays, and kelp forests - and the water is pretty clean here. This part of the coast faces the Bass Strait. Swim out and if you don't bump into Tasmania you'll end up in the South Pole not long after. The water temp is still pretty chilly 13C - 18C because of this.


We found this beach - Dimmicks Beach - off Pearse Road, not far from our usual hangout. Its got sandstone reef flats that extend 50m out to the open sea like a big submerged tabletop. As the tide is receding you can see the sandstone reef flats being exposed by the riptide. The conjunction of tidal surf in the dropoff causes whirlpools and massive swells.

But Rye Beach 16 is still a very nice beach.

The Park Rangers and Marine Park Inspectors are very enthusiastic about their job. Each time that we go, morning, noon and night, we've been checked out by the inspectors each time we come back to the carpark. I suspect that a neighborhood coastal watchdog service monitors all the Asian men divers who go to the area. The fine for illegal catches is $10,000 and confiscation of your means of transportation.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Descent 2

Alone in a sea of strangers
Trawling through the babel of voices
I feel confusion
I feel dread
A rising tide of madness confronts me

Then I descend to the depths
And the black beast does not follow
I hear my breath
In the stillness of the ocean womb
I feel my senses align
Alone in the depths

Down in the deep depths
I find the solace I seek
In this silent world
So alien to humanity
I am at peace.