Monday, July 20, 2009

Filamentous algae?

So everybody got pretty excited last week about a big black glob floating out in the Chukchi Sea. If you didn't read the article, here it is: No one had seen this type of thing before. Wainwright hunters called it "thick, dark and gooey."

Had my 5 year old niece been there, she could have told them what it was. While she was visiting, it was her job to clean that "thick, dark and gooey" stuff out of the fish pond. She put her little hand into the water and started pulling---kind of like mozarella cheese after a bite of pizza. It pulls and pulls until it finally lets go and you have a fist full of algae, which we put on the other garden plants for a little organic fertilizer.

So the questions that everyone is asking are: why was there 15 miles of it and why had no one seen it before? I can only tell you my experience. When my pond is getting too much sun, it grows like crazy. It would fill up the whole pond if I would let it. In fact, I think it kept my fish warm during the winter last year, because they snuggled right down into it. So what do I do about too much algae? Duckweed. I cover my pond with a weed that floats on top of the water and blocks the sun from getting to the algae.

So my solution for the Arctic Ocean warming and the increase of this filamentous algae is duckweed. Duckweed is the solution, since there isn't any ice to cover the surface of the ocean any more. One problem though. Duckweed doubles in size every 48 hours or so. At my house, we dip out the duckweed and feed it to the worms---who love it. Recently my husband decided that there has to be another solution. He found a recipe on-line for duckweed soup*. You mix it with broccoli so that you can't tell which is duckweed and which is broccoli, I suppose. Anyway, the health benefits of duckweed soup is that it prevents farting!

Now there's a green alternative. Put duckweed in the Arctic Ocean and then harvest it and ship it to the cows. The cows will eat it and will, in turn, stop farting their methane gasses into the atmosphere. See? I have it all solved! :-)

*If anyone out there has actually tried duckweed soup, please let me know! :-)

Fresh pee?

Okay, so it didn't work. How would anybody ever have known? But I had to try it.

I had weeds at the bottom of my garden. What to do? I knew if I mowed it, it would just turn to grass. I don't want grass to take care of. So last summer I tried vinegar. That just slowed those tough ol' weeds down, but didn't really phase 'em. Everywhere I turned for help, they just told me to use poison to kill them. Poison? That was not what I wanted on my property and leaking into the ground water. So I had just the thing: Pee. I knew from experience in our last house that when my dog peed on the grass, the grass died in perfect round circles creating a psychodelic grass pattern in the yard. If it worked for dog pee, why not try ours? It just so happens that I have a 5 gallon bucket in the basement that collects our pee and then runs into the forest. Why not take that free pesticide and pour it on the weeds at the bottom of the garden?

It was a nasty smell as I brought the 5 gallon bucket outside into the air. My sister and nieces were there to bear witness, but soon disappeared inside the house holding their noses and screaming! Since I wanted the 5 gallons to reach the most possible weeds, I thought it necessary to dip the pee out of the bucket and put it into the water can. Now that was almost more than even my nostrils could bear. But I continued on my mission! Water can after water can, I spread that pee out. Now my witnesses were on the upper deck trying to tell me---with their noses plugged---that I've stunk up the whole neighborhood and that we were surely going to have bears coming to smell the curious new oder. I just assured them that this was my way of marking our territory and now they would know not to come around.

When I was finally done, I stood back to admire my work and to watch the weeds die---especially where I dumped the dregs. Did you know that if you let pee sit long enough it turns into a white globby geletin? It was gross.

Well, it's been two weeks. Nothing. Not even a dead leaf. The clovers have taken over. The grass is growing better than ever. There are even flowers growing there now. So what went wrong? I went to my book (yes, that's a real book) and I learned something I wish I would have remembered the first time I read the book: urine looses its acidity the longer it sits. So how long had it taken us to fill that 5 gallon bucket? Must have been months----long enough for that pee to turn into fertilizer, 'cause I have the prettiest patch of grass/weeds in all of Eagle River.