Thursday, May 14, 2009

Various and sundry things

My big potato plant has flowers now. I know it's way to soon for any potatoes so I don't know why it's flowering already. This is one of the potatoes that I started inside in a peat pot and that may be what people where talking about when they said that potatoes do not do well when started inside. The flowers are pretty though.

Update on the self-watering, wicking experiment. It's been 2 full days and the wick is still wet and although the soil is not dried, I am not confident that enough water is moving across the wick. I must say though, that the day before yesterday was hot, 80+ and sunny and the fact that the wick did not dry may be proof that indeed, there's plenty of water moving. I still think that a wider piece of cloth may deliver more water.
Interesting thing about capillary action. The reason water moves is that water molecules are attracted to water molecules and that is why both the wick and the soil must be wet when you first build a system like this, or when you build a self-watering container (or sub-irrigated container as I and other people preferred to call them). So the water molecules in the soil pull the water molecules on the wick which pull the water molecules from the bottle creating a flow. There are more things under heaven and earth that are dreamt of in our philosophies indeed!

Last, here is where I am on the road to Ollas (for slow-watering purposes)

I have taken 3 pottery classes now and I finally began to understand centering the clay and pulling the clay up into a tube. I say I began to understand, which is to say that I still have some ways to go before I can throw an Olla. I think next class, I will learn how to fire this cup and a couple of bowls that I've made.
Much like capillary action on water, learning how to throw pottery has attracted a desire to make my own potter's wheel since the ones I use at school cost about $1200 dlls.!!!!!!
I've seen several designs online for wheels and I just have to decide which one is simpler. Also, I want to build a kiln that uses wood because A) I am very scared of propane B) I want to fire my own stuff whenever I want to.

Over and Out.


  1. On the potatoes: I thought the sign that potatoes were ready to harvest were that the flowers were gone and the stalks were turning yellow and withering? Not that the plant had started to set flowers? But I have never had any luck with potatoes at all, so I could be wrong.

    On the pottery: Great job! I can't believe how good your stuff looks already! But I do recommend that you attend a woodfiring or three before you decide to build yourself a wood kiln. There is a great amount of thought put into their design (how they draw & circulate heat), and they are sooo labor intensive - one must be continually (every 5 minutes) shoveling wood in for over 24 hours. This is why they are usually community-based firings. I would go with propane myself because you can just go out and raise the fire every so often and sleep a bit while it "cooks"!

    A thought on the wicks: You could make sure the wick would stay wet by raising the bottle and putting it on its side, so the water wouldn't have to fight gravity on its way into the pot.

  2. Diana,
    You know, I just knew the kiln was going to be hard. After I posted this, I found a website where someone built a kiln with bricks and she talked about how long it took to preheat the kiln (3 hours!).

    Funny you mentioned the height of the water bottle. I was just thinking last night about building a little wooden contraption to raise the bottle.

    And of course, you are right about the potatoes, I should have looked it up before I posted.

    Thanks for all the tips!