Saturday was absolutely lovely, hot sunshine so we actually had the umbrella out in the garden. I settled down with a good book and spent most of the day on Mars.
Anyway, down to the plot late afternoon and watered the greenhouse, collecting another half a carrier bag of tomatoes as I went. Got a few courgettes as well off the plot. This year I’ve been sensible and we only have a few courgettes. I must admit they’re not my favourite vegetable so growing them by the ton seems a bit daft.
Having fed and watered the greenhouse, I decided to do some weeding. Perhaps it was the effect of my MP3 player being loaded with high energy music but I got all the deep beds weeded and the carrots and parsnips. The parsnips are looking very good so I’m hoping for a nice crop after the first frost. That assumes we actually get a frost.
Normally I’m quite staid on the plot listening to radio 4 and quietly chuckling to myself at the comedy but today it was Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix interspersed with Enrico Morricone’s great theme to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It’s fine until I sing along and then the rain is guaranteed.
The carrots are looking better now as well, the ones in the half barrel very much so. I thought I’d see if I could get some longer than my normal ones – we’ll see if the theory pans out later in the year. The swedes, however, seem to have either been slug food or swamped out. This year I’m just grateful for any crop.
Sunday started with rain. I knew it was too good to last and with severe weather predicted for Tuesday it looks like I was sadly right. So I decided to swap the graphics card over which brings me to the next topic.
Cleaning Your Computer
I know many of my readers are not technical geeks so I hope this tip is of use. We tend to ignore our computer, it sits under the desk and whirs away doing its job. The whirring sound is actually a cooling fan that stops the chip inside from over-heating. In my machine, as many others, there’s a second fan keeping the inside of the case cool as well. The power supply pack also has a fan and on mine so does the graphic card. All these fans not only draw air through the machine but bits of dust and fluff.
This dust and fluff can reach levels where it causes short circuits, jams fans and I’ve even seen a machine burst into flames.
First of all disconnect your computer from the various wires, they always look like spaghetti junction behind, noting what went there. Most modern plugs are colour coded and can only fit one way. Never force a connection, if it doesn’t go easily chances are it’s not positioned correctly.
Having the box away from the wires run a vacuum cleaner hose over it. A crevice tool will concentrate the suction giving a better result. Concentrate on any vent holes in the case and near where the power goes in the power pack fan.
Next you need to be brave and take the case off. Usually this is held on by screws at the back. If the side panels come off seperately, do them one at a time. Use a brush tool on your vacuum and suck up the fluff. Gently go over the circuit boards, cleaning the dust away, You will see at least one fan which is sitting on the chip. Pay special attention to this. A broken fan will allow the chip to overheat in minutes and possibly kill the computer although most have an automatic shutdown.
My chip fan was disgusting, not just dusty but stuck to the blades with gunk. It was screwed to a metal block very similar to an old fashioned car radiator and doing the same job. This is called a heat sink and takes the heat from the chip to the fan. I unscrewed the fan from the heatsink and carefully scraped the blades and the fins of the heat sink, sucking away the bits with the vacuum.
Screwed everything back and replaced the wires but I wasn’t quite finished. I vacuumed the back of the monitor – you might notice they have ventilation holes and dust gets into them as well and then the keyboard. With this I turn it upside down and tap it, then a little shake and tap again. You’d be amazed what falls out.
Ideally you should do this every six months to a year. I’ve a bit of software on my machine that tells me that it is now running cooler and the fan isn’t working so hard either.
Stocks and Sweetcorn
While I was playing with the computer, Val was sorting out the freezers. We have three and the chest freezer was emptied and she took stock of the contents, We still have last years runner beans, broad beans and 30 portions of sweetcorn left, I think I over produced a bit!
The sun came out in the afternoon so I dropped down to the plot and watered the greenhouses then I took a look at the sweetcorn. A lot of the cobs are just coming ready and I think they need to come off over the next week. Last year some were left on too long and became a little tough,
Six cobs came home with me and they’re not bad at all. There are a few undeveloped kernels but not too many and they’re wonderfully sweet. One cob with dinner and the rest were blanched and frozen within an hour of being picked. There’s a ‘few’ more to come!
I had a call from my pal Dave Hampsey of the National Vegetable Society. He’s been to Bangor university where they are devloping and trialling blight resistant potatoes. Apparently there are over 30 new varieties in the pipeline, which is good news. The bad news is that there are two nasty strains of potato blight and these are cross breeding. So goodness knows if varieties like the Sarpo Mira will stay blight resistant in years to come.
This year has been the worst since 1864 for blight due to the weather and normally resistant strains of potatoes have collapsed under the blight. Apparently farmers have sprayed 14 times and still lost the crop. One chap expressed concern to Dave that the potatoes in store would be rotting. Judging by my experience so far this year, not an unreasonable worry.