Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hosed Hoses

Weather: Hot and dry and late afternoon winds; last rain 6/7. The early warm weather seems to have hatched the locust borers earlier; more trunks have died than usual and earlier in the year. The cool month that followed nurtured the catalpa flowers. They’ve been opening everywhere in full heads, not in the partial ones that survived late frosts the past few years.

What’s blooming in the area: Catalpas, hybrid and pink roses, Dr. Huey rose rootstock, yellow potentilla, Spanish broom, sweet peas, Japanese honeysuckle, silver lace vine, broad leaf, weeping and Arizona yuccas, daylilies, red hot pokers, datura, hollyhock, pink evening primrose, larkspur, blue flax, Jupiter’s beard, purple salvia, Shasta daisy, yellow yarrow. Peas for sale in local produce stands.

Beyond the walls and fences: Showy milkweed, tumble mustard, tufted white evening primrose, velvetweed, scarlet bee blossom, alfilerillo, purple mat flower, bindweed, silver leaf nightshade, fern leaf globe mallow, gypsum phacelia, yellow sweet clover, scurf peas, purple loco, alfalfa, wild licorice, fleabane, goat’s beard, plains paper flower, Hopi tea, strap leaf asters, native and common dandelions, brome, cheat, rice, needle and purple three awn grasses.

In my yard: Dorothy Perkins, Betty Prior, rugosa and miniature roses, vinca, Maltese cross, snow-in-summer, coral bells, golden spur columbine, smooth and purple beards tongues, Johnson’s Blue geranium, Rose Queen, Rumanian and annual blue salvias, catmints, bachelor buttons, Ozark coneflower, chocolate flower, coreopsis, blanket flower, anthemis, white yarrow.

Bedding plants: Pansies, wax begonias, snapdragons, marigolds.

Inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, hummingbird in her nest and other small birds, geckoes, cabbage butterfly, bumble and small bees, hornets, ants, mosquitoes.

Still having problems with mosquitoes. Some may have hatched by the river with the hard rain a week ago, but I’m still checking every place water accumulates. Usually we get heavy rain later in the season, apparently after their breeding season.

Weekly update: Political commentators feign surprise that people are so angry with American corporations they’re willing to vote for Donald Trump. One wonders if they’ve ever tried to do anything more complex that download apps to their smartphones.

It isn’t outsourcing that’s the problem. It’s the need to increase profits every year on a basic product to finance bonuses for management. Cheaper parts are substituted and quality control doesn’t exist. The adoption of the one and the elimination of the other add to that internal money pool. Just try to find a decent hose. Those managers, of course, have professionally installed systems and undocumented yard men maintaining their grounds.

When I started my garden years ago I looked for soaker hoses to lay in the bed. The first ones were flat with two water channels and holes every few inches. If you laid them face down, the water didn’t travel very far; if you laid them face up, much of it disappeared before it could fall to earth.

Then I discovered some made from recycled tires. They were essentially porous, and water wept through. If you ran them long enough, water seeped to both sides.

With time, the insides seemed to silt up, but I don’t know if that was from dirt, calcium, or other particulates in my water. All I know is less water got through.

After a few years, the ones I bought had random large holes - not because of a plan, but because the manufacturing process degenerated. That kind of hose requires consistent pressure. When there are large holes, no water accumulates to exit the small holes. They delivered less water than had the flat two channel ones.

For a couple years, I couldn’t replace broken hoses and hobbled by. Then I discovered someone’s new idea: a flat plastic hose encased in a fabric sleeve. While the water was supposed to seep through the fabric, it tended to exit through the seams. They sent water a bit farther, but only worked on flat ground. Dead spaces appeared wherever the ground rose slightly.

Then someone found a cheaper way to make them, with two seams. Less water got out, but they still functioned. Last year they found a cheaper connection. One split soon after it was installed. They must have also changed the stitch length creating the same problem the larger holes had created in the weeping hoses.

This year, the connectors simply leak. I bought a few in spring as a reserve. By the time I realized the problem it was too late to return them. I ordered some more, this time a different brand. When they arrived I tested each one. They all leaked. I shouldn’t have to establish my own receiving inspection station.

The ground squirrel has destroyed hoses, but I can’t do anything to replace them.

The regular hoses that transport water to the soakers have their own problems. The connectors used to be brass, or something that looked like brass. Usually they were OK, but some leaked as soon as they were connected to something. It wasn’t the washers. They either weren’t truly round or truly the size they should be. Just a little out of spec didn’t matter as much as the accumulated cost savings per unit.

Then they started substituting plastic. They start to leak after a few years, but when you tried to remove them, they destroyed the end of the hose they were connected to. I think it has something to do with the different rates of expansion between the two kinds of material. I know it means, when one hose fails, I often have to buy two new ones.

Now, none of this is life threatening, except of course to my plants. But, when a corporation becomes so callous to the effects of its cost cutting, it undermines trust in all corporations, and, as we’ve seen this year, that distrust spreads to all institutions that support those corporations.

As they say, all politics, and all economics, is local. And in my case, local means my garden.

Unfortunately, the well-being of my plants can’t be the basis for my vote, because unlike someone like Biden, no one running for office this year seems to have a home base: one lives in a hotel or on his golf courses, and the other probably hasn’t had a permanent home she personally maintained since she moved into a governor’s mansion.

My choices come November are as bad as my watering choices this summer.

Photographs: Taken today in my yard, 12 June 2016

1. Dr. Huey rose rootstock climbing high in black locusts that have been killed by locust borers.

2. Catalpa flower head.

3. Weeper hose I bought this week as a substitute for what I wanted. It produced water when it was coiled up. It remains to be seen if it delivers anything to the ground.

4. Weeper hose with large holes that send sprays everywhere. They may be what’s breeding my mosquitoes.

5. Fabric hose that waters about 3" on each side. This area died when a hose stopped delivering water. So far, only pigweed has germinated.  The lines are spaces in the fence.

6. Hose new this year, that began leaking a day after it was tested and installed.

7. Hose connector leaking in same general area, this time on a regular garden hose.

8. Fabric hose releasing water.

1 comment:

Margot Williams said...

Just discovered this site today as the result of a Google search on Hymenopappus, and wish I'd discovered it sooner. Great writing, pithy commentary on the times in which we live.