Monday, May 18, 2009

The Heat Is On

The weather is once more being seasonably unseasonable. After having days last week where the high didn't exceed 50 degrees, today it was already up to 95 by noon. Nice and toasty. The weather people are predicting that it will continue hot and dry until Thursday night. Then we're supposed to have at least a few days of more normal weather with highs in the low 70s.

Yesterday was yet another "plant in Mom's garden" day. We got the tomatoes and peppers planted and covered from the wind. This evening it will be time to put in the radishes and beans and melons and ... Plus hook up the drip system for the rest of the stuff so it will survive the next few days. All that will be left to plant after that is squash and cucumbers and carrots and turnips and a few afterthoughts like rutabagas, etc. Then it will be time to settle down to the ongoing battle with the weeds and weather and .... All that just harvest tons of yummy things.

I am always amazed by the amount of biomass that can be generated from a given plot of land with the addition of a bit of water, a little fertilizer, and a lot of sunshine. Plants are amazingly efficient converters of solar energy into biomass. It also amazes me that with correct farming/gardening methods, the same plot can remain productive year after year. Of course, that means that you have to remove a lot of biomass produced by the weeds that have settled in from last fall to now. One of the rules of thumb this time of the year is that if it looks really healthy, it must be a weed. The desired crops haven't had a chance yet to really settle in and establish themselves in the pecking order. And because of the prevailing winds on the plains, weeds are *always* reseeded every year as the seeds get blown in from hundreds of miles away.

In other business, I had a meeting this morning with representatives of the engineering firm putting in an underground gas storage field about 20 miles from here. It is interesting how they take an old played out oil field (about a mile to mile and a half under the surface), seal the drilled entries, and then pump gas into the cavity under high pressure for storage and load leveling in pipelines. What makes it more interesting out here is that a variant where they wash out a salt dome formation (at the same depths, but with no oil) and then use it as an air tank. They use the wind turbines to compress air into the storage area when grid demand is low and then use the pressurized air to run turbines to generate power when demand is high. Storing anything at several thousand psi is always an interesting engineering problem. Requires a fully stratified geology and some pretty good ideas of the structure of the strata.

Well, time to get cleaned up since I am back from Mom's now. I left this in an open window before I mosied over to work on the garden, and just spotted that I hadn't posted.


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