Sunday, May 28, 2017

@#$%^& Woodchucks and Rabbits

They are everywhere this year.  Last year they wiped out my beans.  This year I am trying something different.

I bought some party cups and cut the bottoms out of them to make miniature "tree tubes"  The most effective way to cut the bottoms out of the cups proved to be cutting the opposite side of the bottom with a utility knife while "cradling" the bottom with my thumb and the first knuckle of my index finger.  Then spinning the cup with my left hand while holding the knife and right hand steady.
Fifty of these cups cost $2.  That works out to four cents each.
I beat the rain.  I don't need the rain to get the seeds to germinate.  There is plenty of moisture in the ground.  I need to beat the rain because I cannot till the ground for three days after a rain lest I turn it into adobe bricks. 

Before tilling.  The snow fence and livestock panels on the left side of the frame will be used to support the pole beans after they emerge.

After tilling

Twenty inches between knots.  Four seeds every twenty inches.  The seeds at the knots get a "tree tube".

After planting and "tree-tubes"
I am pretty sure these will stop the rabbits from mowing them down to the ground.  I doubt that they will slow down a determined woodchuck. That is why we test things.  I would love to be wrong about the woodchucks.

Why randomizing is always critical
Good problem solvers ALWAYS randomize.  They don't just randomize when it is convenient because it is rarely convenient.

By protecting every 4th seedling I did not randomize.  Random means "without discernible pattern." Cover-one-skip-three-repeat-till-the-end is a pattern. The casual observer might think, "Hey, that is an even better cross-section than randomizing.  How could that possibly cause a misleading result?"

I noticed as I was placing the seeds I would put four or five in my hand and then start just after the knot and finish at the knot.  I wanted to evenly space the seeds so I treated each segment separately and I only started with four or five in my hand because I did not want to spill any because that attracts birds.

When I plant large seeds by hand, my thumb glides over the seeds and tends to pop out the largest one first.  Then the next plumpest.  The most shriveled and runtiest seed is the last one to be planted.

I was coupling the potential vigor of the seed with its position relative to the knot by unconsciously selecting the worst seed for that position I intended to cover with the tree-tube.  The issue would not be solved by planting the first seed next to the knot.  That would simply skew the results in favor of the tree-tubes.

I will leave the experiment the way it is.  The depredation of the @#$%^& woodchucks and rabbits will likely overwhelm the coupling effect of my seeding.  Time will tell.

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