Category Archives: Gardening

Everchanging And Portable Flowering Wine Barrel

If you’ve considered a half wine barrel as a planter for flowers, you may be concerned with the weight and therefore difficulty of moving you’re oak planter. Let go of your concerns because we have an almost magical half barrel idea for you.

Take note that using this idea will likely make your planter last forever given certain care is taken or you use a Decorative Planter Barrel.

Portable potted planter

Inside magic

This is simple but a great idea nonetheless. First, you need a genuine oak wine planter barrel, either new or used. Next, purchase wood chips to fill about half the barrel. Acquire multiple flowers at your nursery or garden center and you can either place the flowers in another planter or leave them in their original existing plastic containers.

You can use the chips or add more to fill around the potted flower containers so as to keep them secure. Water them as you would normally. That’s it. Now, you have a barrel that you can move around and add, subtract or change flowers without having to dig them out. It’s almost magical when you’re able to make changes and nobody knows how easy it was for you.

Moisture

It should be also noted that since you won’t be watering this barrel’s soil, the construction of a used barrel will dry up and become somewhat wobbly as the staves condense and pull apart. There’a an answer to that though with – as we mentioned above – the Paso Wine Barrels Decorative Half Planter Barrel. Because it has tightened bands, stain, sealer and varnish, they don’t tend to dry out as quickly as standard used barrels do. Also, they are reinforced with an interior band allowing them to sustain many years not being moist.

If you decide on the used barrel, you might want to spray it with a garden hose occasionally or each time you water – keeping the wood from drying out will allow the barrel to stay tighter.

Now it’s time to have what your friends, neighbors or cohorts didn’t figure out – an almost magical everchanging and portable flowering wine barrel.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Fresh Lettuce Right Outside Your Door

In a garden, what a garden
Only happy faces bloom there
And there’s never any room there
For a worry or a gloom there

Lettuce in a barrel

Believe it or not, this oh so positive refrain comes from the ‘Beer Barrel Polka’ (Roll out the barrel) and I couldn’t agree more.

What’s more positive and fun than a garden at your footstep. Lettuce is one of the fastest growing plants in a garden. In fact, their cousin the spinach, grows a bit faster. Here’s what you do to have pest free lettuce and spinach in three to seven weeks. Why the wide spread? Read on.

Start with a quality barrel

First, purchase a wine oak half barrel from a reputable source – like Paso Wine Barrels. I mention reputable, because so many garden centers, especially the notorious big boxes, offer barrels that for one, aren’t wine barrels and sometimes aren’t even oak … plus they want to fall apart.

Not to toot the horn, but places like Paso Wine Barrels offer fresher and usually better looking half barrels along with decorative types that are reinforced and sealed, making them last almost forever. Still, regardless where you purchase the barrel, unless it’s sealed, you might want to go ahead to add a sealer – both inside and out. You don’t have to do this but we recommend it for a longer lasting barrel.

Half barrels

Pssst … I know where you can get authentic genuine quality wine barrels.

Next, drill a half a dozen or so holes in the bottom of the barrel for drainage – this is a must. Find a small hole saw or large drill bit to make the holes. Make sure to place a sheet of weed barrier cover over the bottom of the holes. Place about two to three inches of small rocks on top of the barrier underlayment as this will offer proper drainage. The underlayment will help keep dirt and soil from draining out the bottom of the barrel holes.

Now add a mix of dirt, garden soil and compost if you have it. This gives the necessary nutrients for the garden lettuce and spinach. We use only organic seeds but regardless, purchase seeds from your local nursery or garden center and plant them a couple inches apart. The seeds should be covered in no more than a half an inch of soil.

Voila! Lettuce at your doorstep

Water as recommended but don’t be too concerned with over watering because for starters, you have drainage and two, plants like these need regular watering. Mulch around the plant if needed to keep in the moisture, but check with a local Master Gardener and/or the American Horticultural Society for more information.

In any case, seedlings should sprout within a handful of days and you should have a bunch of little plants within the first couple weeks and about seven weeks later, you will be eating fresh leafy garden salads.

If you want to up the ante so-to-speak, purchase small plants from your local nursery. When you plant them, make sure you compress and compact the soil around the base of each plant. In a few short weeks, salad days are back! As Martha Stewart interminably says: ‘It’s a good thing.’

Set your planter with lettuce and spinach near your back or front door, but make sure it has shade. These leafy vegetables usually don’t do well in sunny hot climes and tend to bolt when extreme heat hits them.

Lettuce in a barrel

Again, please be cautious what kind of barrel you use. I’ve seen some dilapidated barrel at certain garden centers which will remain anonymous that have poor excuses for barrels. They may have an eclectic look but won’t last long and may not even make it home without falling apart.

Okay, it’s time to get out there, have some fun and roll out the barrel with some fresh greens …

Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun
Roll out the barrel, we’ve got the blues on the run

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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What To Do With Half Wine Barrels

“I give you one health in the juice of the vine, The blood of the vineyard shall mingle with mine; Thus let us drain the last few drops of gold, And empty our hearts of the blessings they hold.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Used Half Wine Barrel

And what a wine barrel holds is up to your imagination.

The popularity of Paso Robles, which is now known as the number one wine region in world, has brought about empty wine barrels that need repurposed. Obviously, with a lot of barrels including half barrels rolling out of Paso Wine Barrels, there are folks who know what they want. However, for those that may need an idea or bit of information on how to use the half barrels, here’s a few thoughts on what you can do with a half barrel. Okay, maybe more than a few thoughts.

Sometimes known as a planter barrel, actually half barrels are occasionally used as tables or table ends. Whether you have a Decorative-type planter barrel or a more eclectic old used half barrel, that have a more rugged yet whimsical appearance, these half barrels have found their way into homes, offices, warehouses, commercial and industrial buildings as well as yards, atriums, courtyards, entry ways or any of assorted locations.

Half barrel - outside table

By the way, it’s not uncommon to use plastic or composite style barrels instead of the more authentic looking wine barrel – and we understand if you’re trying to save a little money. However, we’re talking about original former wine barrels that have produced some of the greatest wines in the world right here on the California Central Coast.

The more common use of a half barrel, regardless of its conditions, is as a planter.

Planter

Whether you’re a wine lover or not, wine barrels offer the big advantage over planting in mother Earth, with the adaptability of moving them; bringing them above ground and to the fore; and, maybe the biggest advantage, keeping your flowers, plants, herbs, vegetables or fruits away from pest.

Maybe the easiest things to grow and promote a plant above ground in a used half barrel is shrubs. Still, regardless of what you plant, these steps can apply.

Please note, as with anything you plant in a barrel, unless it will be indoors, we suggest the barrel have a handful of small holes drilled in the bottom of a half barrel. Also, you need to place a layer of ground cover fabric at the bottom of the barrel to prevent pests and weeds working their way up from below, plus it will keep roots from growing through the holes. You can also add a short layer of small rocks or pebbles on top of the fabric – figure one to two inches deep.

Place the barrel where you want and fill it about half full of soil (a mix of compost, potting soil, dirt). Move some of your soil to the sides and put your shrub in the middle, using the soil pushed aside to fill in around the shrub or plant. The barrel should have at least four inches of space between the soil and the top of the half barrel. Be aware that you can add more plants and more soil but being able to move the barrel in the future becomes harder to handle.

Barrel with rocks

With your soil mix, never go higher than about one inch from the top of the barrel. Be sure to water right after planting, ensuring the ground settles properly in the barrel. Be sure to tamp down the loose dirt. A good gauge of how much water to use is watch when moisture comes out around the bottom of the planter barrel.

Flowers can be done the same way and again, you can add more than one but remember to leave plenty of space between the plants so they have room to grow. Herbs are the same way and depending on what kind of herb, some can really become large plants, although because the barrel places restrictions on growth, they won’t tend to grow quite as large as normal.

Be careful

A tale of caution. Some of the barrels being sold at the big box stores are more worn and less likely to last very long. If you can, you should sand them down and maybe put sealer on so that they will last a bit longer. Again, some stores have whiskey barrels which have been used so much that they come apart very easily. Regardless, sealer is a handy addition especially when it comes to keeping away mildew. A customer who is a master gardener, told me if you don’t want to use a sealer, spray the wood with cider vinegar. It will kill any fungus that may be left over from residue wine.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of sealing your barrel, Paso Wine Barrels has completely prepared Decorative-style barrels – both half and full that are sanded, stained, sealed and then varnish to give a more finished look. That will allow the barrel to last as long as needed while still offering an quirky and capricious appearance.

Half planter barrel - Marilyn Monroe Rose

Another insiders note for those you don’t have proper equipment and tools – hardware stores often have a rental fee system, so you can work your barrel anyway you want including drilling holes, without ever having to purchase tools and accessories.

Some time in the fall, when most plants stop growing or die – unless you live in climes that aren’t severe – you can take your old plants out and replant with fall flowers and herbs. Also you can plant a small Christmas tree – that’s something I’ve done in the past.

Trees can be fun

Which leads me to trees. You have to somewhat careful what kind of tree you want, because the half barrel planter will restrict growth to any tree. Smaller trees or dwarf trees are more ideal but again, because the development of the trees roots will be bound up, a lot of trees you plant will in affect be smaller than normal as a dwarf tree is.

I have a grapefruit tree that is in its sixth year and it can produce a couple dozen fruit. Here’s another insight that may help you. I didn’t want to over water the grapefruit because of the condensed area, but a couple of years weren’t very prosperous because the fruit would fall off before it could develop. I watered much more and the tree flourished. The point of the story is, because the bottom has drainage, you really don’t have to worry about over watering.

If you want to bring the soil up near the top, then use some mulch, so the top of the soil doesn’t dry up. Check with garden clubs or find a nearby master gardener for more information regarding care and what plants work best locally.

Another idea is you can purchase a used full wine barrel and cut a hole in the top and place a tree in it. Unless you want to move it with forklift, don’t fill it more than halfway with soil. Even then, you will need a handcart to move the barrel and tree. Some folks like to shift around trees in their yards and this is a great way to do it. It also looks cool when you change up your yards look.

Full Barrel with black hoop bands

Notice the logs underneath the barrel. Keeping the barrels off the ground can add extra years of service.

Regardless if it’s a full or half barrel, you might find placing logs, bricks or another hard surface underneath, could prolong the barrels for many years.

Note: I’m not a master gardener – although my uncle was – just someone who has been involved with gardening for quite awhile. If you want more precise information regarding tips on what you need to know about gardening, there are books galore and of course, as I suggested earlier, contact your local garden club.

Let this whole barrel thing be fun

Whether you want the grace and elegance of a decorative planter barrel or the obtruse but unique and eclectic old used containers, all styles of oak barrels will offer beauty that can only be had by the pureness of a oak barrel that used to produce great wines.

Less expensive than terra cotta planters, wine barrels in half or full form, are a great way to set off your yard, home, business or any place for that matter. For visual ideas on what you can do with a used wine barrel, Pinterest has dozen and dozens of pictures > go here.

Enough information, now it’s time to go out there and take advantage of the unique and distinctive look of a wine barrel. However, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me here on the blog, email or the several dozen other electronic ways to get a hold of me.

Thank God there is still something simple and solid, yet pure and real like a wine barrel.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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All About Lavender

What is the fascination with lavender and why do we celebrate it? The purple colored ornamental flower has been used as a herb, for ages. How far back? To the beginning of time? Here’s a quick rundown on the amazing and ageless plant.

Lavender field

Lavender fields are a common sight in places like the California Central Coast

Lavender, which technically is called Lavandula, is a part of the mint family. Personally, I know of these plants having grown mint as a guard of the vegetable garden since it discourages pest – they are invasive though. The lavender isn’t as invasive and brings in beneficial insects while turning away unwanted pests. In fact, grow them around fruit trees, because they attract good bugs and deter the bad ones.  The plants are usually perennial, so you plant and leave them – although they do need trimmed in late winter or early spring. Once established, they grow for years with little care.

Origins

The name comes from the Latin word lavare which means ‘to wash’. The plant supposedly originated in the Middle East around the Mediterranean region, which may be why it does so well here in California. The plants can take harsh dry heat in the summer, yet withstand frost in the winter. Lavender is sometimes considered a drought tolerant plant and you can find it growing in the wild on the Central Coast of California.

As most of us know, the lavender fragrance is one of its biggest attractions. However, most importantly, the oils from this potent herb have been utilized since the beginning of time and later found their way into the Bible when Mary Magdalene cleaned Jesus’ feet. The medicinal uses of lavender’s antimicrobial essential oils are legendary. In China, it is utilized for almost anything to do with medical use due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Lavender flower

Healing properties

The popularity of its essence is used for soothing herbal baths and the aroma has been said to be an aphrodisiac. Another use of lavender is as an insecticidal along with deodorant and disinfectant – potpourri has plenty of lavender in them. Part of the liquid generated from the plant is about one third of a type of alcohol that is non-toxic to humans, yet an antiseptic, but repels bugs such as mosquitoes and lice.

Still, its properties allow chefs around the world to flavor their dishes with both a great flavor and scent. Now, folks add lavender to enhance vinegars, honey and a host of other foods and fares. Far-reaching eats and drinks can be found with lavender including cookies and margaritas.

There are countless uses for lavender. And to help feature the soothing miracle herb, there are lavender events all-around the United States and many of them are here in California. They often will have exhibits featuring how the plants are cultivated and dried, along with how the oils are extracted.

Come see the magical herb

One of the fastest growing purple-shaded events is the Lavender Festival presented by the Paso Robles Main Street Association and the Central Coast Lavender Association. The annual celebration is located at the City Park in Downtown Paso Robles. This year you can enjoy the festivities on the second Saturday of July between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.

Lavender Festival

Central Coast Lavender Festival

There are a plethora of lavender products and along with them, the associated arts and craft products you see at any Central Coast fair, including wine barrels and half wine barrels. Come on out and have fun finding out the wonders of lavender. As always, Downtown Paso is filled with gourmet restaurants and of course dozens and dozens of tasting rooms.

Additional sources: The Lavender Lover’s Handbook, About.com

Au revoir,

Daryle W. Hier

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Wine Barrel As Rain Barrel

Everyone wants to be green – whatever that truly means – and one of the many ways to be thrifty, conserve and smart is to use a barrel to capture rain. Here in California, water is somewhat of a hard commodity to acquire, so folks in these parts are looking at how to capture rainwater to use in gardens and keep their green areas, well, green.

Wine barrel as rain barrelTo that end, have you ever thought about using a wine barrel as a rain barrel?  The obvious advantages of rainwater include that’s it’s free, but also the fact is rainwater can actually help improve the health of your gardens, lawn and trees. Rainwater is naturally soft and devoid of minerals, chlorine and other chemicals found in water produced from treatment plants such as city water. And did you know that during a one-inch rain event, over half a gallon of water can fall on just one square foot of roof? Yes, you read that right, just one square foot!

So what are you waiting for? Wine barrels as rain barrels is not a novel idea as people have been doing this for centuries. However, now that water rates have skyrocketed along with the idea of using safer rainwater over that of city water – it has become more popular than ever. Plus, a wine barrel will hold 500 pounds of water – that’s a lot of natural pure rainwater. On a side note, keep in mind old oak wine barrels are being used for so many other reuses, that they are becoming harder and harder to find.

Q: When does it rain money? A: When there is “change” in the weather.

Capture Kits

As far as how you can capture rain and use it as water for your gardens et al, there are several kits out there that you can do on your own. These do-it-yourself kits range in price from $20 all the way to well over $100. It all depends on how sophisticated you want to get and whether you can afford to make sure it’s self contained. Note that all these kits require you to cut into your drainage down spouts.

Rain Reserve's Complete Rain Barrel Diverter Kit  - Oatey's Mystic Rainwater Collection System

Rain Reserve’s Complete Rain Barrel Diverter Kit (top) and Oatey’s Mystic Rainwater Collection System (bottom) offer two different approaches to rainwater collection.

The lowest priced kit I found is made by Oatey called the Mystic Rainwater Collection System and the unit simply hooks to your downspout and a diverter hose goes into your barrel. You will have to figure out how to drill a hole in the top of the barrel and seal it if possible. These units usually don’t go for more than $40.

A more middle of the road kit that I personally thought was about right is Rain Reserve’s Complete Rain Barrel Diverter Kit. It’s a closed system and has a trick reservoir that will send water back to the downspout when the barrel is about to overflow – that way water doesn’t spill willy-nilly all over the place. A bit pricey, running up to $100, yet evaluated with other similar units, nothing compares to the quality.

The other way to go is shine the wine barrel and buy a all-in-one plastic barrel with the kit to go with it. They can be found for as much as $300 but I found one on Amazon for about $150. It isn’t as cool or natural looking, but is still does the job.

No gutters? No problem

Roof valleyNow some of you might be saying: Hey, I don’t have any rain gutters or downspouts on my home. This isn’t high tech but here are some tips.

Spray your roof with water – or watch the water running off the roof the next time it rains – note those points that are the heaviest. Another way is to look for where your roof comes down a makes a V – they call that a trough or roof valley – see the illustration above. An old fashion idea is to put a rope or chain on your roof on an angle and water will follow the rope – see where it comes off the roof and place your barrel there. With all these ideas, remove or cut the top of your barrel and place it where the heaviest drainage areas came off the roof.

By the way, there are kits that can add a second or even more barrels to your collection system.

One last add. There’s a company called RainSaucers and they sell a device that can be attached to the top of a barrel. To describe what they look like, imagine a dog shield collar – you know, those ridiculous things you put on your dog so they don’t gnaw on an injured area. Another description would be they look like a satellite dish. It widens the catch diameter immensely so you can place the barrel anywhere you want.  See video below for more info on RainSaucers.

Leakage

Now as far as another possible situation you could run into, some people might find they have issues with their old used wine barrel leaking. Here are a few different ways to solve this problem. First, take your barrel and fill with hot water – remember, these barrels may have been sitting outside drying up for quite a while. Once you’ve filled it up, keep water in it for the next couple of days. It should allow the oak to soak some of the water and naturally seal itself.

Another way to resolve leaking is if after you’ve tried keeping water in it and the barrel still leaks, use barrel sealing wax and while it’s full and leaking, take the wax and press it in to the crack or cracks that are leaking. Some folks will mark where the leak is, empty the barrel and proceed to heat the area and then press the wax in as tight as they can. You can use paraffin or bees wax.

Still a third way is to purchase a pond liner. They are heavy-duty rubber liners that you can press into the barrel and then cut the excess. I’ve not done this but have used pond liners in the past for a small waterfall and they last forever and are tougher than Kelsey’s nuts. Yes, this operation requires you removing the top of the barrel. Do this by removing the bands from that end of the barrel. The staves will pull apart a little bit and you can then remove the head. Be very careful not to let the barrel fall apart. It can get ugly.

Looking good

A last thought. These rain barrels don’t have to be eyesores or not meshing with the rest of the house and/or outdoor area. If you sanded, stained and sealed the barrel and then put a nice varnish on the outside, it would last much longer … indeed, they might never dry out. Plus, it would look great! Hmmm, I might know someone who does that – click on that barrel at the bottom of the page.

Rainwater_harvestingIf you research rain barrels at all, you’ll find an endless amount of information and products. If you want to stay natural, a wine barrel is the best way to go and what the heck, they look cool too. Consider the idea of decorating the used wine barrel – bring out your inner artist.  Or again, make it easy on yourself and purchase a Decorative Wine Barrel. One last item you might forget is a bung – don’t want to lose half your water.  If you missed it, I just wrote about a beautiful high tech bung plug now available.

As always, if you have a question, feel free to ask below, email me, give us a call, message me or the forty other ways people can contact me in this ever advanced modern era.

Now don’t dally, get yourself a wine barrel and rainwater harvesting system and make your garden happy, plus maybe you’ll save a buck or two along the way.

“Let the rain wash away, all the pain of yesterday.”

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Do Grapes Flower?

Never let it be said that I’m any kind of expert when it comes to the world of winemaking.  I’ve always made sure whenever possible to remind folks about my constant learning – my knowledge of vines and wines before I moved to the Central Coast was close to nil.Dork

Still, I’ve come a long ways and have had the ability to see and be apart of the entire process of grape growing and winemaking. Yet, I’ve never really thought about whether grapes pollinate because: well, I’ve never really seen anything resembling a flower on a grape vine before. So the question: Do grapes flower? Well, actual grapes don’t flower, but of course the cane’s shoots and therefore the initial buds and vines do flower … but you might never see it.

My father and I are helping a widow – and friend – care for her tiny vineyard (see more here). We had to figure out how to turn the water on for the drippers and while I was looking at the tiny clusters on the vines, I noticed they looked odd. I didn’t take a long time to study these somewhat wrinkled berries as I was busy trying to get the timer working.

Afterwards, I was back on my computer looking for answers to what might have been a problem with these little crinkled grape clusters. For mid-spring, we had an unusually hot week here in Paso Robles with temps in the 90s including one blistering 98 degree day plus, I was worried due to the fact the vines hadn’t been watered in almost two weeks.

What are those tiny things?

Maybe not watering that long did affect the vines but regardless, a long story short, the mysterious looking clusters were without a doubt flowers I was peering at. Grapes don’t have a long flowering period and in fact the whole thing can be over and done within a week’s time, however, these were flower buds, indeed readying to be grape clusters.  Yeah, I’m a dork.Grapevine flower buds

It may appear naive and somewhat silly to consider it a surprise that grapes flowered, nevertheless I had never seen them and don’t recall anybody telling me the process. I asked a couple friends here in Paso but they were not sure about flowers so I’m not the only one who is uninformed about the development of a grape.

The dilemma is the tiny grape clusters and their flowers. The understated if not downright obscure flowering of a blooming grape vine is vague and almost indistinguishable from the early grape cluster stage. It should be noted like many fruit, these tiny berry flowers usually self-pollinate and fertilize themselves. Also, bud break off the new shoots in North America usually occurs in March and takes almost two months before the flower clusters begin. Obviously, in the Southern Hemisphere, the calendar would be inverse.

There you have it. You may never see this almost minuscule process, but it is certainly not insignificant. Depending on the particular varietal and climate, this very short course of action takes place in April and May. Yes, there is a smell; so, if you ever are in a vineyard during spring, take a whiff and check out flowering on grape clusters.

And you’re now smarter than I was.

PS: Check out our May Special – Get the world’s best with an incredible value if ever there was one.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Here Is The Big News!

As we noted before, our first big appearance was this coming Saturday at the Park in Downtown Paso Robles. There we were going to announce by far the biggest news in a our very short history. Here’s that announcement.If Your Waiting For A Sign This Is It

PasoWineBarrels.com will be significantly reducing their prices on all Decorative Wine Barrels by up to $150! This includes our half barrels such as the Planter Barrels and Hose Holders.

Why

The price reduction was in part brought on by a couple of main reasons. First, we’ve been working hard to reduce the time and labor put into each barrel, plus our own experience throughout the process gave us the ability eliminate unneeded procedures. Second, influenced by our just deceased best friend Luis Nunez, who felt the price point was a bit high, and having polled different friends and cohorts, we found the new prices to be much more inline with what folks were willing to invest.

The new prices are listed below:

The the biggest percentage drop is the Decorative Wine Barrel, which was reduced 20%. The most significant overall dollar reduction is the Decorative Glasstop Table, which plunged $150.

There is still room for more discounts depending on quantities ordered and whether the barrel is supplied by the customer or not – please contacts us for questions or details. Other reductions in price may occur periodically with specials or other possible unique deals that may be presented.

Here to stay

These prices are permanent as this is not a special. At some future time when the market dictates and cost change, these prices may be altered, but for now, this reduction will stay in affect until further notice.

So there you have it. We certainly had wished that our number one fan Luis, could see this but he knew that we were reducing the prices and I’m sure would have had a ball helping us sell our barrels, which he loved with a passion.Go Ahead It Will Be Fun

Now go ahead, quit procrastinating because we’ve given you every reason to purchase one of these incredible products. You’ll have fun with an extraordinary barrel that will always be talked about.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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