Coffee Break [23/3/20]

It can be a struggle to get through the second half of the day.

Who am I kidding, the whole day is a struggle lately. We could all use help staying relaxed, focused, and productive. Are you desk toy folks? I personally always liked a neat, clean desk with no clutter. If I needed a distraction I doodled, or checked GroupThink. And most desk toys don’t seem much like toys to me.

Looks like something from a Steampunk Cracker Barrel.

I don’t really get it, but I could probably be persuaded. What, if any, desktop friendly entertainments do you like. And why?



  1. I’m on my second latte of the day. I have enough Nespresso pods for like 2 months, so I’m good there. I also made myself a homemade egg McMuffin, which was delicious. I need some good old fashioned plastic Kraft singles to go with it though.
    I bitch about this on Twitter a lot, but Mr. McGee likes to ‘dry’ out his used coffee grounds because he thinks that they ‘weigh too much’ in the trash. He’s working Australian hours (6PM to 2AM EST) so I came downstairs to that mess this morning.
    At my office I have a stress ball that’s in the shape of a tooth from my dentist. Kinda wish I’d brought it home.

  2. Steampunk Cracker Barrel. I literally LOL’d.

    My main source of entertainment while doing my work from home routine is tunes. If I’m not working, then it’s all kind of up in the air. However, considering the time of year, Mrs. Butcher and I have started seeding for our garden. Germinating four different types of tomatoes and peppers, a couple types of eggplant, and parsley. By the time the weather moves beyond overnight frost range, these will all be ready to transplant. We’re direct seeding most of the rest of the garden when it gets a little warmer. Starting with the cold crops (peas, cabbage, etc) and doing the rest later.

  3. Sounds like too much nitrogen in the soil. If you’re using animal manure and/or grass clippings for mulch, then your soil is probably out of balance. If you add more potassium and phosphorous (such as bone meal), while avoiding nitrogen-rich mulches and fertilizers, that can help. Also, if you plant squash, such as butternut, that can hoover up a bunch of nitrogen as it grows.

      • Along with this: “Also, if you plant squash, such as butternut, that can hoover up a bunch of nitrogen as it grows.” Corn is also a nitrogen-suck, so you might even try planting two of “The Three Sisters”
        I would just stick with the *two,* though, because legumes are “nitrogen fixers,” which means they help to store it back underground–balancing out the other two😉

        The reason why so many farmers in the midwest use so much Anhydrous Ammonia is because they’re trying to put nitrogen back *into* their soil, to grow more corn. Because the fact that many no longer rotate crops like our grandparents did (Corn one year, then alfalfa, then wheat/oats, etc) means a LOT of nitrogen has been stripped out of the soil.

        • It’s more or less a salsa garden. Lots of pepper varieties and tomatoes. But a few years,ago he started doing sunflowers. Could that be it do you think?

          • I’ve got nothin’ there. Not aware if sunflowers are a nitrogen fixer. My guess is it’s the grass clippings, particularly if you’re using them as an organic mulch, and not balancing it out with wood ash or bone meal. We ran into a similar problem with one of our gardens but throwing a bunch of wood ash in there each winter helped quite a bit.

              • Yup, exactly that. If you’ve got a fireplace or wood burning stove, just put that ash in the garden rather than throwing it out. If you have some hunks of charcoal in there as well, that’s a bonus. It slowly adds to the soil over time, while also serving as a means of absorbing water to keep the plants with a steady supply during dry periods. This was a common technique used in Inca planting fields.

  4. Probably not with the sunflowers, they do well with ‘maters😉;

    Sunflowers & tomatoes: great companions

    But, if you’ve mostly just been growing members of the nightshade family there (Tomatoes, Peppers, & Potatoes are all nightshade-adjacent), it’s entirely possible that you’ve simply depleted the soil in that area of the potassium & phosphorus–like BBTM said, *and* you could well be out of whack with your calcium levels, too (bone meal or lime would help with that, as would crushed eggshells).

    If you’ve been getting a lot of blossom-end rot in the fruits that *did* set (even/especially if the rot happened when the fruits were small & green!), I’d suspect that your calcium miiight be off.

    Depending on shutdowns & so on, it may take more time** to get a soil sample tested through your state’s Extension Services, but it’d DEFINITELY be worthwhile.
    Iirc, aren’t you in PA?
    If so, the “Soil Testing” section on this page will help explain how/why to get the test done;

    And here’s the directions on how to *do* the sampling–looks like it costs $9.00 or so😉😁

    Once you do the test, they’ll tell you what’s low/missing, and then you can simply add nutrients.

    Once the nutrients are added, I’d start doing some additional plants in the garden, too, to drop good stuff back *into* the soil in the future.
    For example, some peas/beans to help fix Nitrogen back into the soil. If your soil is too alkaline, you could add coffee grounds to bring back some acid, etc.

    And then remember to rotate your plantings–even in your garden! I’ve typically done a variation of square-foot gardening–
    Simply because it’s easy to remember where I planted things one year, and rotate them a few feet over the *next* summer. I.e.,if I plant tomatoes in spot A one year, and have 3 other things,they go in spot B, C, and D in subsequent years, before they go back to spot A.

    The distance doesn’t need to be *far*, just a few feet over, but it can also help with keeping soil-borne pests like blight settling in super-hard.

    I dunno if you like reading gardening books, but this one is one (along with the Square Foot Gardening one!) that I’ve found useful:

    It helped me to understand rotation in a garden better, and I liked it too, because I tend toward organic gardening, too.

    Good luck & happy gardening!😁

    (**or also, possibly/conversely less, since extension services might be open & only dealing with a few farmers to help!😉)

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