I went to work today without yesterweeks high expectations and decided to clear up the pile of media samples that had been accumulating behind my desk for the last few months. It’s what I do when there’s nothing better going on. It’s tedious because we don’t USE the results for decision making; the media is used the same day it’s made, so there’s no opportunity to catch a bad batch before using it. The samples do serve to build up a story of what the normal pH and EC ranges are; the idea is that we have to know what’s normal to understand when something’s not normal. But it’s also tedious because by the time I hit the doldrums enough to process soil samples, I have stacked collection of sample boxes built up like a proverbial brick wall. Uninspiring.
But sometimes boredom breeds a more creative solution, and this time I decided I’d use the zillions of samples to come up with a simpler methodology of testing, one I could hand off to the nursery that makes the soil, so perhaps those samples could stop coming to me.
And he wasn’t the first to comment about the mud pies as I stood stirring water into the stubbornly dry media. Usually the comments are around cups of coffee because the pH measuring usually involves rows of white plastic cups, but this new method did away with the cups and filter papers, hence the mud pie analogies.
“Yup,” I advised my co-worker. “Tell your kids to go into science so they never have to stop playing in the mud.”