Hippo @ Zoo

Hippo @ Zoo

Friday, May 20, 2011

How to make cheapo Roundup

Some parts of the yard are sprouting weeds, so I looked online to see if there's a cheaper and safer alternative to Roundup. There's a ton of recipes for weed killers, and this is the one I tried:

2 cups vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 Tbs dish soap
2 Tbs salt

Yes, salt is bad for the soil, but try to spray the leaves of the weed and grass should grow back quickly.

Does it work? Well, here's some pics.

12 hours later:
48 hours after spraying:

Roundup is about $10 a gallon, but this recipe makes a whole lot more for less cash. I like it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why did I buy poop?

I've learned that lawns should get a hit of fertilizer before winter. I picked out a cheap organic lawn fertilizer at Home Depot. It's a 36 pound bag of Milorganite for $13.
The Good: The package says it is only good for 2500 feet, but on the recommended spreader setting it did my front and back yard twice.
It's cheap.
No need to water it in. Just put it on the lawn and walk away.
It contains iron, which provides greening without extra growth.
It spreads well, without clumping in the spreader.
It's organic.

The Bad: This stuff stinks. Really bad.

The Ugly: It is made of treated sewage! From Wikipedia:
Milorganite is the trademark of a biosolids fertilizer produced by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. The name Milorganite is a contraction of the phrase Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen, and was the result of a 1925 naming contest held in National Fertilizer Magazine. It consists of activated sludge followed by heat drying and pelletizing at the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Ew...... I used a bare hand to throw it on Kat's roses. :(

Anyway, hopefully it works. It's cheap & organic, so even though it is gag-me-gross smelling, I'd be willing to buy it again if the lawn comes up greener.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Reviewed: EcoSmart weed killer vs White Aster

White Aster.

It's a perennial flowering plant that can grow a couple feet tall. Bees like it. It is endangered in Connecticut. In China, it has a history in cough medicine. In my lawn? It's a common weed.

Since it is perennial (comes back year after year), letting the winter cold take care of the problem wont work. It will be here in the spring. It spreads by stolons and rhizomes, so lack of seeds doesn't mean it's not spreading.

I decided to use EcoSmart Organic Lawn Weed Killer
('kills weeds, not lawns!")
It was $10 at Home Depot for one gallon. This was enough to spray almost my entire front yard (the back is fine). The nice thing about this product is that it has NO smell! The color was kinda disturbing, as it looked like I was spraying liquid rust. This is due to the primary ingredient being iron. It is rusty! Iron is toxic to broadleaf weeds like dandelions, but actually provides a quick green up for grass. So if you accidentally spray the lawn, no worries. :)

The down side to this product is the trigger. About a quarter or the bottle through, and my hand was hurting. Also, I can't seem to find it online anywhere. The EcoSmart site still shows many products, but not this one. Their weed and grass killer is listed, but I wouldn't want to try that on my front yard....

Results are still out on the Aster, but EcoSmart took out the dandelions in under 24 hours. I checked today, and everything broadleaf I sprayed was a brown wrecked mess. The Aster has turned darker. I'm hoping it'll die soon. I'll edit this for the results.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Need a kitten? Yes they're organic.....

No good deed goes unpunished.
I picked up a stray kitten from Home Depot's garden, and thought I would do the nice thing and give it a home. She thanked me by popping out 7 kittens on Kat's birthday. 3 all black, 4 a mix of black & white. Anyone need one (or more)?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Honest Opinion: Prius review, from a gearhead

Gah, I know; I'm now one of those people. Bearded, hemp wearin' (& smokin'), soy mocha frappuccino drinking, green party voting, tree huggin, carbon footprint asshole.

Only, I'm not.

This is a review of the 2007 Toyota Prius hybrid as a used car, from the perspective of a guy that owns a 15 mpg Firebird with no emissions equipment. It'll be fun. :)

The Story
Back in June, my Alero was making a grinding noise on the way to class. No big deal, I thought, I'll just have to pay to have the rotors replaced. Again. I thought my previous rotor scrubbing trick had worked (see blog post from early June), but oh well, I'll just pay out the cash for new rotors. So we watched our films and aI went to leave. As I get to the car, What? Why is the lug nut lose? Well, it turns out the lug (wheel stud) had come with the nut, and was just sitting in the wheel. Odd....
So I drive home, taking the service road, and going through Forrest Park in order to keep the speeds down. But the grinding gets worse. Unfortunately by this time it is pouring rain, and the streets are starting to flood. By the time I got to north Midwest City, I had to pull over. First for the grinding noise sounds like the wheel is going to fall off, and second, the street is covered with moving water. I wait and hour or two, Kat comes to get get me, and we see that two more lugs have broken off, leaving 2 bolts holding the wheel on. I have about 3 miles left to go..... We towed it. Long story short, there's a 2000 Olds Alero in Pull-A-Part if you need anything. Anything but wheel studs.
So, i missed work and class the next day while Kat & I did a frantic internet search for cars. Her dad had recently bought a 2010 Prius, and it was working out great for them. I always thought they were too expensive for the size (and ugly), so I hadn't been interested before. After checking things out though, it seemed to be the perfect car for us; 4 doors, working a/c, comfy seats, great gas mileage. After seeing a $2000 discount, just for being outsiode the OKC area, we drove to Arlington, TX to pick up an '07 Prius the next day. Yes, we're nuts.

The Review
As for the car, we are happy with it. As far as looks, I think it has gone from way-ugly, to just a plain looking economy car. Sure, it's a little funky looking, but that is due to aerodynamics, and chosing function over form makes sense here.
Is it dog slow? Yes. It has a 1.5 liter four cylinder with a whopping 76 horsepower. That is half as much as the 1953 Corvette, itself a slow car. However, with it being such a light car, the power is actually adequate. It is slower than the Alero, so I would put its speed about the level of a Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, and other micro cars. Is it dangerously slow? Nope. I've yet to find an on-ramp that I couldn't get up to the speed limit before merging.
Hadling is better than the Alero, about comparable to a 4th generation Camaro, but with better steering response. The steering is electrically controlled, so it is fast and light, yet lacking in feeling. It takes some getting used to. The suspension will flop through a corner, but it won't lay on its side like the Alero did.
Braking is also different. It has regenerative braking that uses brake heat to transfer electricity to the battery. Seriously. The initial "bite" is quick when you step on the pedal. Just a centimeter or two and the nose dives and the car comes to a stop rather quickly. But, if you have to make a real emergency stop, the small rotors and hard pads show themselves to be merely acceptable. When they wear out, I'd be getting some better replacement parts.
The interior is nice, but full of plastic. I don't care, but some would like a more "higher-end" design. I think it is fine, full of storage and purpose. The seats are way comfy, and hip/shoulder room is generous. Surprising for a Japanese car sold in an obese country. Headroom is good, but I wouldn't want to be any taller than 6'3" as a driver. About 6' or so is all you can be to sit in the rear seats comfortably. The sound system is good, but nothing special.
Ergonomics are....... odd. The CD player/radio took several minutes to fumble through to figure it out. The shifter is located on the dash, and the parking brake is the old-school foot activated type off to the left of the footwell. When parking, everything is normal until it's time to turn off the car. Then, even though I've been driving it for 6 weeks, I have to consciously look at the shifter, realize there is no "P" on it, push the "P" button above the shifter, step on the foot brake, push the power button to turn off the engine, then pull the square plastic brick of a key out of the dash. I still don't have it down entirely.
It is generally quiet (amazingly quiet when driving with the engine off), but some people do complain about road noise. Since I do a 30 mile one way commute each day, I'm going to look into a suggestion offered online: Mr Gasket G-Muff. It is a spray on sound deaden-er (I didn't know that was how you spelled that...). It is available online for $10.

Overall, we are very happy with it. Four doors, working a/c, super comfy, and it's reliable. The mpg is just a bonus. So far, my average with the car is 46.7 mpg. That is lower than the all highway trip from TX where it did 51 mpg, but still very nice. Oh, and I figured out a way to drive to work that takes the back roads. The speed limit is 40 to 45 the entire way. At that speed the car puts up 65 to 70 mpg. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Old-School Organic Bug Killer

Two years ago, Kat & I and friends Misty & Ben attended a garden show at the Will Rogers Exhibition Center. I picked up, for a dollar, a small plant with unusual leaves. The gal selling them said it was a Shoefly plant, and was an annual. I figured what-the-heck, lets try it. The plant took off and grew to be about 2.5 feet tall with lots of leaves and light purple trumpet flowers.
Later in summer it put on spikey orbs which would later open to reveal seeds. We saved a pod for next year.
I was curious about this thing, so I Googled it. I found that it is native to South America, and was used 100+ years ago as a natural pest control. I was curious about this thing, so I Googled it. I found that it is native to South America, and was used 100+ years ago as a natural pest control. So I followed the directions, which are here:
Grab a handful of leaves and stems.
Mash them up.
Add milk (I used about 3/4 cup Braum's low fat)
Let sit for flys to ingest.Right now I've got this container sitting out back on the grill shelf (don't want the dogs getting into it). I'll take another pic tomorrow with the results.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Clover update

A few weeks back I posted about "growing free fertilizer" in the form of nitrogen fixing through clover. Kat bought me some seeds on Amazon, and I decided to test a small patch before dumping it all on the yard. Well, it has started to grow in....

This is a patch in the backyard that Max had dug, so there was no digging involved. I tossed out some compost from the previous year, and watered daily for about 10 days. Then about every other day. Depending on the heat, it should be about twice a week now. Unfortunately, the nitrogen fixing won't start until next spring.
Speaking of last year's compost though....
I had thrown a gourd into it last fall, and by the time I was planting my raspberry bush, the gourd had decomposed. I didn't think anything of it until a strange plant started growing next to the raspberries. Eventually it took over and I found out what it was.

Looks like we'll have some fall decorations again.....