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APRIL 25, 2009   

Planting peas, harvesting bricks

It was sunny and warm all day today—perfect for outdoor activities. First I went to the West Side Market and stocked up on lunchmeat, cheese, bread, veggies and fruit, all of which we'd cleaned out of the refrigerator before leaving for the Grand Canyon two weeks ago.

When I got back I had to eat some of this good stuff, of course, but before too long I went out to dig in the garden. A couple of weeks ago I'd planted lettuce (Mesclun salad mix) seeds in containers. The seeds have sprouted and are about an inch high now. So far so good.

Pile of bricks in gardenToday's project was to plant sugar snap peas. I dug a trench along the west edge of the garden and put up a bamboo "fence" for the peas to climb on. One section of soil hadn't been used for planting before. I knew this because about eight inches underground I hit the layer of bricks and constructions debris that is what's left of the apartment building that used to be on the site.

The pile of bricks you see here came from less than two feet of trench. After pulling out the junk I smoothed out the dirt and dumped in a bucketful of compost. I soaked it down with a watering can. Then I plunked in a pea every 2-3 inches on both sides of the bamboo divider. Finally I smoothed a thin layer of compost + sand over the peas.

Peas planted along bamboo divider in gardenWith water, sun and time this spot will become a bushy green source of sweet and crunchy peapods. I'm guessing that most will be eaten right on the spot, never making it into the kitchen.

How does your garden grow?

From the indispensable VeryShortList: news of a free timeline-creation website called Timetoast.

Here's a timeline that will track the progress of my garden this year.

Last year I tried making a diagram on a piece of cardboard, which helped me remember what was where, but I neglected to note when I planted things.

This year I hope to do a better job using Timetoast.

It's extremely easy to use, allows you to add notes, links and photos, and if you choose, to share your timeline on the web. It reminds me of another powerful, free, online information-sharing application I like called VoiceThread. What they do is quite different, but the simple, easy-to-use approach and Flash interface seems similar.

Timetoast can be a powerful educational tool, giving students an easy way to transform their research into web-accessible interactive timelines. I plan to have my Web Publishing I students use it when they look up the history of the World Wide Web. The best thing about a tool like this is that it makes it easy for students to get their work actually onto the Web. They immediately are using the Web, not just learning about it. I'm excited to give it a try in class.

The application, developed by Daniel Todd, is only a year old. I expect that updates will add needed features like the ability to customize the look of your timeline (color, font size and style, etc.). It's frustrating that every timeline looks alike. Still, it's a great little application. Try Timetoast yourself.

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