San-D Van Pilot Appreciation Day
Saturday, September 23, 2017

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Grass update

Well, it's hot, so the grass is not doing all that well.

There is still green under all that straw, but I'd like it to be spreading, and it's not, much.

Now, like all the oldtimers that are intimately familiar with the rock and gravel that's underneath the grass, I had assumed that all the water was wicking right down through it, and draining away.

However, Reid and I went out early one morning right after the sprinklers had stopped and dug a few strategic holes, and it looks like that's not the case.  At 70% of nominal run time, it just isn't penetrating very far into the dirt.

So I've changed the watering strategy.

Zones 1 and 2, out on the Southeast corner, which are not used much, will not get very much water. I'd like to keep it alive, but I'd rather have flourishing lawn on the areas we use most for kiting and landing and tearing down.  The only operations that really take place out there in that area are generally the result of a mistake, or a flush cycle, with multiple people landing at once.

Zones 3,4,5 and 6 will get a heavy soaking on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Zones 7,8,9 and 10 will get a heavy soaking on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Everything gets an equally light sprinkle on Sunday.

The idea is to use about the same total amount of water, but get it deeper, where we'll lose less to evaporation, and the roots have easier access to it.  It's an experiment. We'll see how it goes.


Gopher Blasting:

The gopher blaster is working. It makes a loud noise.  It's more work than you'd think, because gophers block their tunnels, so you have to dig a hole to access their tunnel, and make sure there are no obstructions with the rest of the tunnel.  When it works right it's spectacular; dirt fountains up from multiple holes, sometimes from holes you didn't see under the grass. Echoes come back. When it squibs due to not having an unobstructed tunnel, it's still loud, but you don't get the earth moving.  I'm looking on the internet for an auger to go on an electric drill. Then I can probe to find the tunnel, drill a hole without having all the dirt fall down inside, and increase my chances of a good bang with less work.

The Gopher Blaster goes through oxygen pretty quick. Dan tells me it's $20 or so for a refill. I was paying ~$8 a pound or so for the gopher pellets, so I think this may be a wash in terms of cost.


Future plans:

When it cools off this fall, I want the club to rent a vibrating roller and flatten the LZ.  This should kill a number of gophers all by itself.  Having the dirt too compacted isn't good for the grass, I'm learning from my reading, so then I'd like to "vertically mow" the lawn (this slices the mat of grass roots vertically, making it easier for water to penetrate) plug aerate the lawn (pulls plugs out of the grass mat, allowing water to penetrate) and very lightly mulch the entire lawn. 


Thanks so much for your efforts Tim! I've read the deep watering is a good idea in highly stressed areas so it will be interesting to see of this new strategy helps.

thanks for the scientific approach.  I believe the grass is the club's biggest expense, thanks for your efforts to maximize said investment.

I made a small earth-auger by welding a 2" x 2" square of 1/8th inch steel plate onto the end of an approx. 2-foot long piece of rebar that fit into my drill.  It gets rounded off pretty fast by abrasion, but cheap and easy to fabricate.

Gophers are so destructive and hard to control, it must be very satisfying to watch their tunnels explode!  :)

DHG have a Killer Machine is a carbon monoxide device that kills gophers, ground squirrels, moles, voles, rats, prairie dogs and other burrowing rodents and pests.  (( foul taste fume from engine pumping into hole and let they died in hole )) then fill up with gas chamber use cyanide-base pesticide )) when you need killer machines then DHG will be there any time   (( warning the cyanide fume  will smell  when any Pilot landing )  then do not fly to landing  for 6 hours after apply killer machines is operator into gopher's hole ! 



Carbon monoxide will certainly work.

I don't think cyanide pesticides are a good idea since the LZ is in a percolation basin used to recharge the aquifer. Putting even trace amounts of cyanide into the drinking water seems to me like a bad idea.

It's not clear to me why you'd need to use cyanide after the CO has killed the gophers.

However, if you want to kill gophers using carbon monoxide, I certainly won't stand in your way.

There's plenty in the LZ. You can kill 'em all day, every day so far as I and the state of California are concerned.



We can just feed them some moldy rye and see what happens.