Friday, August 20, 2010

A Day Brightener

Working in any industry where you provide service is difficult. Frankly, there are people you just can't seem to make happy regardless of how hard you try! It is so nice to hear words of praise and thanks from our customers. I can't even begin to express how much it means to us when you kind-hearted folks go out of your way to show your appreciation.

A few days ago I got a early morning voice mail message from a customer out at Dakota Dunes. This woman had moved into her home several years prior and it had another company put in her sprinkler when the house was built. We serviced her sprinkler for the very first time this year.

She called because she was watching her sprinkler run and was so delighted at it's performance that she was compelled to call and say thank you. Among her comments were "our yard looks fantastic", and "I never knew what a good sprinkler head looked like", and we are "thrilled, amazed and very, very happy".  If that wasn't enough to get me good and awake to start my day, she ruined my mascara with her next comment - "May the Lord bless you and your crew for all the good work you do for people".

Let me tell you, she may feel blessed to have a well-adjusted, well-running sprinkler, but we were even more blessed that she took the time to thank us for it. To her it was a simple phone call, but for me, it made my week.

If you have someone who helps you out whom you appreciate - let them know! You will both feel better for it.

Thank you, Siouxlanders, for your calls and notes of thanks. We wouldn't be who we are without you all to support us!

Have a super weekend!

Keep it Green!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Highlights from the Jensen Garden

Greetings from the mosquito capital of the world! Okay, that isn't any official title, but if you have spent any time outside lately you certainly know what I mean. I am starting to think that something along the lines of a bio-hazard suit is the only way to avoid getting eaten alive. Bug spray doesn't even seem to stop the little buggers.

Someone asked why I didn't post a garden update for July. The answer: Embarrassment! On our first garden blog I admitted to being a neglectful gardener - you remember that, don't you? Our garden is a haven for weeds this year. Between the rain storms and the humidity encouraging rapid growth and the realities of being hard-working folk, we just couldn't keep up. Next year we will return to the newspaper and grass clippings method of weed control. It is biodegradable, ads nutrients to the soil, is very cost effective and reduces the weeds by at least 75% if you do it correctly. It takes a bit of effort to get this accomplished in the spring (which was the problem this year!) but we were very pleased with the results the season we did try it.

The picture in the upper left is what our garden looked like after the storms on Sunday the 8th of August. Flattened. We should still be able to harvest the corn that was ready, but the garden is in a sad state. I am very thankful that this is just a hobby and not what provides our income. It was very happy to see the acres of corn across the way from us were mostly still standing, just a few around the edges were down. We were disheartened at the sight of our little plot, I can only imagine what farmers go through when their entire livelihood is destroyed by a single storm.

In addition to weeds we had to contend with a fungus that took out the cucumber plants. This is the third year in a row we have had this issue with the cucumbers. Apparently the fungus is remaining dormant over the winter and reawakening to attack mid-summer when the plants are just starting to produce. It is a cruel fungus, killing off the plants just as your mouth is watering for fresh cucumber! According to the experts, this problem is called "brown spot" and should be treated weekly with copper sulfate. We have been directed to treat the soil with copper sulfate this fall after the plants are out of the ground to prevent it from returning next spring.

Among the weeds, fungus and bugs and a nibbling ground squirrels we have had some great garden successes. We have a TON of tomatoes this year, which is always a good thing - few things taste better than a fresh garden tomato. We harvested a few record-sized vegetables, which is exciting. One of them was a two pound, 8" long potato:

Another was an almost foot long yellow pepper:
And the last giant vegetable of the week was a 4x4 red pepper. You won't find them like this in the grocery store!

These are the finds that keep us going back day after day; fighting the weeds, mosquitoes, fungus and critters that want to gobble up what we are trying to grow!  It makes it all worthwhile when you find an exceptional vegetable to share and enjoy.

So that is what is going on in our garden. How about you?

Have a super week!

Keep it Green!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Smart Irrigation Month Finale

Smart Irrigation Month has zipped right by, much like the rest of the summer! We have had the weirdest weather here in Siouxland this summer. Heavy rains coupled with days of fast-drying heat. This was a great summer to show folks the usefulness of a rain shut off device! I have had calls from customers thanking me for explaining the benefits of these devices and installing one on their system. Not one customer has regretted having one installed.


Following is our last installment from the Irrigation Association for Smart Irrigation Month - (The words in italics are from me)

Water Wisely

Today’s irrigation systems include sophisticated controllers that allow you to easily adjust watering schedules to fit different needs.
  • Get in the zone. Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and soil in that section. Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.  (This is where Smart controllers really shine with zone by zone precision controls)
  • Consider soil type. Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.  (The clay soils of Sergeant Bluff are going to hold water much longer than the sand soils of Dakota Dunes)
  • Don’t send water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings.  (I don't care how much you water it, concrete isn't going to grow! Keep it on the grass!)
  • Water only when needed. Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.
  • Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool — typically between the evening and early morning.
  • Water more often for shorter periods. For example, setting your system to run for three, 5-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff.
  • Adapt watering to the season. Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. Or invest in a smart controller so your system can make these changes automatically.

Smart Irrigation Month is over, but that doesn't mean you should stop being a smart consumer. Take care of your sprinkler and your mower. Your yard will thank you by staying green, lush and healthy AND need less water!

Have a super week!

Keep it Green!