rotten wood is easier to find than soil
Wednesday, June 29 2011
With the wall built on my new garden plot, I still needed to build up soil behind it to make something of a raised bed. Unfortunately, though, when it comes to soil up on Hurley Mountain, the pickings are thin. I made several forays out into the forest along the stick trail to gather topsoil that had washed down onto the trail from the forest above (it tends to collect in leaf dams trapped by the sticks along the trail's downhill edge). But I couldn't get more than about ten gallons of dirt that way before gathering all that could be gathered. Eventually I moved on to gathering rotten wood from downed trees, stumps, and trees that had rotted where they stood. Hollow stumps are still one of the best places to gather thick dark topsoil; what with the generations of squirrel nests they've sat beneath, they're the closest thing to pre-populated compost bins as can be found in nature.
Today I finally took delivery of a USB WiFi dongle that was both compatible with Backtrack Linux/Aircrack and equipped with a detachable antenna. (It's based on the Ralink RT2870 chipset.) I hooked it up to my antenna-rotator-mounted 24 dB parabolic dish to see if I was had the capability of cracking a wider range of WEP-protected routers, but the results were disappointing. I only found one new router whose signal I could receive with a signal stronger than -80 dB, but I couldn't get any IVs from it. Part of the problem is seasonal; summer foliage weakens signals. In the late fall and winter I've actually been able to surf the web via a router that were two miles away across the Esopus (that was back before WEP became ubiquitous), but behind the leaves I can't even get a beacon from any of those distant Esopus-valley routers.
The new garden plot today, photographed from the solar deck. You can see the rounded tomato patches at either end and the dark forest soil I added today. In the foreground is our perennial patch of Tiger Lilies. Click to enlarge.
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