Category Archives: Gardening

Sprinkler Valve Leaks – How I Repaired and Replaced them

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My neighbor and I have been chasing down the root cause of the water leaving out from the water meter into the street. It’s a serious offence now we’re in a serious drought here in California. We originally suspected that it was coming out of his main faucet. The water company (San Jose Water Co.) came out to inspect in the summer and fixed some gasket. Now it’s happening again. I then noticed that water was leaking out of my sprinkler valve. So I decided to fix it once and for all. I thought it was a simple task of cleaning the diaphragm. After I opened it it, I determined that the diaphragm was pretty worn out. Upon checking out the price of the diaphgragm (~$8) and comparing it to a new valve ($14), I decided to replace the entire valve instead. No sense replacing a sub par parts when I can get a brand new one. The challenge is to adapting the valve to the copper piping as PVC pipe is much easier to work with. Then I discovered the adjacent value was leaking very badly too. And it got more interesting…
Check out my video how I got the valve(s) replaced here:

A Volunteered Sweet Potato Flower In My Garden

One of the funnest things about gardening is that you often find things that surprise you. Sometimes they are bad (like pests) and sometimes they are simply pleasant.

Two weeks ago, I discovered that there is a sweet potato growing in my raised garden – a volunteer. Its vines are growing all over the raised bed. It must have stayed behind from last year’s harvest – a pleasant surprise.

A couple of days ago, I discovered that it actually grew flowers. See below picture:

Sweet Potato Flower
Sweet Potato Flower

For a tuber plant like the sweet potato, flowers are almost redundant because most people grow them out of “slips” or slices from the “eyes” of the potato. But I like the way it adds the white and purple color to my raised bed.

There are just a couple of months left before the weather gets too cold and the day gets too short to grow something like a sweet potato. But I probably keep it as long as I could. The potato leaves makes a healthy green sauteed dish too.


Plant vs. Mushroom

For several months, my indoor Bromeliad plant has been attacked by mushrooms attaching themselves to the wall of the outer leaves. The mushroom seemed to grow overnight and would create a black spot on the leaf surface, making the plant look like a Dalmatian. According to what I read, cinnamon powder can be used to keep the fungi out. So I spread the cinnamon powered around the soil of the plant. For two weeks, I had not seen any mushroom growing until today. This little sucker seemed to pop out of the seam around the plant overnight. I recorded a video here:

Buried Bokashi Revisited

I was curious about how long does it take for the Bokashi turn into a full-fledged fertilizer. I dug out one buried Bokashi that I buried 3 months ago and another one 2 months. Below is a video for it:

Conclusion: It’s about 3 months when the Bokashi is fully composted at this time of the year.

My “Puppet” Trellis System with PVC Pipes – How I Built It

I have been challenged by the difficulty of trellising container tomatoes this season. I want to have a trellis that’s easy to assemble and disassemble when the season is over. I don’t want to spend a lot of money and yet not having it too aesthetically challenged. I built a simple trellis system using the leftover 1×2 wood. I called it “puppet” trellis because it looks like a controlling mechanism for a puppet. It worked well when staked in the ground. But for the container gardening, the ground is normally hard cement. I decided to try building the “puppet” trellis with PVC pipes and stake the pipe into an old umbrella base. I recorded a video of my “Puppet” trellis system here:

It’s possible to build the base of the trellis with more PVC pipes. It will be one of my future projects.

Drip Irrigation Pipe Leaking – How I Fixed It

I noticed my drip irrigation pipe was leaking a few months back. I was too lazy to fix it but now we are in a middle of severe drought in California, I thought I should take care of it to avoid wasting our precious water. Here I recorded a video on how I fixed it:

Here are the lessons I have learned:
1. 3/4″ PVP pipe is NOT exactly 3/4″, neither are 1/2″ and 1″ pipes or any of the PVC pipes. In fact, the 3/4″ pipe has an outer diameter of 1.05″ and inner diameter of 0.82″. The number represents roughly an average of the inner diameter and outer diameter, depending on what type of PVC pipes (Schedule 40 vs. thicker Schedule 80). See here for the actual measurements.
2. PVC pipes are very inexpensive and easy to put together like Lego blocks. The 10′ 3/4″ PVC pipe cost me just $2.50. This gave me lots of ideas how to use it for other purposes. See future blogs on the other uses of PVC pipes.