Ben Meadows Blog

2009 Revision of the Munsell Soil Color Chart

We finally got our hands on the new 2009 revision of the Munsell Soil Color Chart. We had heard of the changes, and couldn’t wait to see them for ourselves. They’ve made some pretty interesting upgrades. First up is what is now included:

  • A new high value, low chroma White page for light colored materials.
  • Popular 10Y, 5GY, 5R, and 7.5R charts for various soils (some with more global relevance)

More importantly, the color chips on the 2009 Munsell Soil Color Chart are now flush with the page. That means no more chips falling off and cleaning the pages is a lot easier (new water resistant pages help too). These improvements really make them much better than the older version.

We were kind of surprised that they changed the color of the binder to black. Everybody knows that a Munsell Soil Color Chart binder is blue! I guess it’s the dawn of a new age in soil classification.


Clean that Backpack Sprayer

While filling my bird feeders last weekend, I heard some salty language coming from my neighbor’s garage. Naturally I had to take a peek to make sure there wasn’t an engine block resting on his toes or some furry unwanted visitor snuggled in his hay bales. It turns out that after spraying his flowerbed in August, he left his backpack chemical sprayer pressurized. A few of the softer parts looked as though they’d recently housed small but damaging firecrackers.

The lesson here is to always clean and depressurize your sprayers after use. My neighbor was only out a few dollars in replacement parts, but his job was delayed a day.

To clean your Backpack sprayer you should:

1) Depressurize the sprayer
2) Empty leftover material into a proper storage container
3) Flush out tank with cool water, mild detergent or a neutralizing agent according to manufacturer’s instructions.
4) Empty tank and flush again. This time pressurize the tank and pump the water or cleaning solution through the sprayer to flush the pump, reservoir, shutoff handle and extensions. Nozzles should be removed when flushing the pump system. Clean nozzles before replacing.
5) Empty Sprayer and dry completely with a clean cloth or by hanging upside down with the filler cap removed.

Not only will properly cleaning and storing of your sprayer ensure it will be ready for next season, failure to do so could void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Construction Site Water Pollution Final Rule

From the EPA:

November 23, 2009
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued a final rule to help reduce water pollution from construction sites. The agency believes this rule, which takes effect in February 2010 and will be phased in over four years, will significantly improve the quality of water nationwide.

Construction activities like clearing, excavating and grading significantly disturb soil and sediment. If that soil is not managed properly it can easily be washed off of the construction site during storms and pollute nearby water bodies.

The final rule requires construction site owners and operators that disturb one or more acres to use best management practices to ensure that soil disturbed during construction activity does not pollute nearby water bodies. In addition, owners and operators of sites that impact 10 or more acres of land at one time will be required to monitor discharges and ensure they comply with specific limits on discharges to minimize the impact on nearby water bodies. This is the first time that EPA has imposed national monitoring requirements and enforceable numeric limitations on construction site stormwater discharges.

Soil and sediment runoff is one of the leading causes of water quality problems nationwide. Soil runoff from construction has also reduced the depth of small streams, lakes and reservoirs, leading to the need for dredging.

More information:

Eyewear shades

Last Friday a customer called in asking what the purpose is for the different shades and colors on safety glasses and sunglasses. That’s a good question. We polled a few of our eyewear suppliers and found these answers:

Amber or yellow –Enhances contrast in good light (as most shooters are aware)
Gray/Smoke/Espresso – Best for outdoor work in sunlight
Vermillion/purple/red – Enhances contrast, especially from fluorescent or halogen lighting
Cobalt/blue – Provides infrared protection so they’re good for metal or glass-blowing furnaces. They also help in sports by intensifying yellows and softening other colors
Indoor/Outdoor – These are mostly clear, with a slight gray tint. Best for jobs where you’re going back and forth between indoors and out.

Hope this helps!

Thanksgiving Recipes II - Pumpkin Cheesecake

Almost forgot one of our favorites here:

Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 3/4 cups crushed ginger snaps
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons bourbon, if desired
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs

Heat oven to 325°F. Grease 9-inch spring form pan.
Mix cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and the melted butter. Press crumb mixture in bottom of pan. Wrap foil around outside of pan to prevent drips. Bake crust 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 5 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate about 5 minutes or until completely cooled.
Beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in brown sugar and 2/3 cup granulated sugar until smooth. On low speed, beat in 1 egg at a time just until blended. Gradually beat in flour, allspice, ginger, bourbon and pumpkin until smooth.
Pour filling over crust. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes or until set but center still jiggles slightly when moved. Turn oven off and let cheesecake remain in oven 30 minutes.
Run knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.


Hori Hori Knife

We recently added the new Hori Hori soil knife to our product line. As soon as we received our first shipment, I ordered one up for a field test. I’ve bought a number of similar knives over the years, but most seem to grow legs and walk away and I was conveniently in need of a new one.

The blade was durable enough. I confess I don’t use these as much for digging as I do for sawing through tough roots. The cutting edge worked it’s way through cedar and young maple roots without a problem and assuming I ever get around to planting bulbs, I suspect that the graduations on the blade will prove helpful. The sheath is a big upgrade from other models I’ve had as well. It actually fits and I’m pretty sure it won’t fall apart.

All in all it’s a good tool, and like all similar knives, it really feels good in the hand. Now let’s hope it doesn’t walk away too.

Thanksgiving Recipes

Here at Ben Meadows we’re used to taking customer phone calls about clinometer repair, auto levels, microscopes and stuff like that. Lately though, we’ve had a few people asking for Thanksgiving recipes. Imagine that!

We polled our crew, and here are a few Thanksgiving recipes from members of the Ben Team. If you’re looking for something new, give one a try. You'll note that we stayed away from the main dish. We're pretty sure that one is covered.

Basic 7 Layer Salad (very easy and very basic)

Cut up lettuce at the bottom of your dish
Thinly spread with mayo or a similar product
Layer on:
Green pepper, diced
Green onion, diced
Celery, diced
Peas (prefer frozen)
Put more chopped lettuce on top of that with a fairly good layer of more mayo. Top it off with shredded cheddar cheese and crumpled up bacon or bits. (I fry a whole package of bacon extra crisp and crumble) and if you like you can also add sliced hard boiled eggs.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Potato mixture
3 C. canned sweet potatoes – drained
½ C. milk
2 eggs
1 stick margarine – softened (I usually only use about ¾ of a stick)
½ C. sugar
1 t. vanilla

1 C. brown sugar
1/3 C. flour
1/3 C. margarine – softened
1 C. pecans – chopped

Mix potato mixture together with electric mixer. Spread into a buttered 9x13 inch casserole dish. In a separate bowl mix the topping mixture. Add topping mixture. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Free Shipping?

Well, not exactly, but it’s like free shipping. We’ve recently launched a unique new “product” called Ben’s Shipping Deal. The concept is pretty simple – just purchase Ben’s Shipping Deal once for $39, and you won’t pay ground shipping fees for almost any orders for the next 12 months. Of course there are a number of terms and conditions that we describe on the web site, but for most of us it’s a darn smart idea.

We got the idea from some customers who were putting off restocking their tree marking paint until someone had a promotion. And now? They’re saving $20-$40 each time they order. Most importantly, they can order whenever they want.

Pretty cool!