Here are eighteen tomato seedlings I transplanted over the weekend into some leftover bins I had squirreled away in the greenhouse. We’ve had hit-or-miss luck with about half of the seedlings so far; half of them died off completely and the other half grew out of control. These are now under a growlight up in the new bathroom, and hopefully they will develop quickly with more room for their roots.
This is the first weekend I’ve had the rain barrel set up on the southeast corner of the house (where the majority of the runoff from the main roof empties out to the driveway.) I set it up and we left on a weekend where Maryland and D.C. saw some of the worst flooding in five years. When we got back on Monday night, the barrel was full and the overflow was shooting out of the side where I hadn’t plugged one of the threaded valve openings.
Tuesday I returned to the barrel with a handful of 3/4 PVC fittings and pipe length, and rigged up an overflow valve that empties into the driveway. The next project is to install the second rain barrel underneath the first to catch the overflow, and then rig up an overflow drain on that second barrel. That’s going to be trickier, because the second barrel is cheaper and lacks a threaded outlet at the top like the first barrel does, so I’m going to have to get creative.
Plus, the gravity platform I put in is not sturdy enough (it needs cross bracing) and needs a stronger platform to carry the weight of a full barrel.
Our house is coming up on its centennial in just a few years. At the turn of the century, this whole area was still sparsely populated with gentleman’s farms and vacation homes for Baltimore’s wealthiest residents; The track for the trolley from the city is still embedded under Frederick Road in front of our house. From our back windows we can see Summit Mansion, one of the largest of the local mansions, whose frontage was subdivided into our current neighborhood in the early 1900’s.
When they put these houses up, the practice of home insulation was still in its infancy, and I’ve been playing catchup for the last sixteen years. With the weather in the teens overnight, I’ve been concerned that our seedlings will get frostbitten in the basement once they’ve grown large enough for me to take the covers off, so I figured I’d make a plan to move them upstairs. The best location I could find was in the den, on the cabinet under Finn’s gallery wall, where there’s lots of natural light during the day and several available plugs for the lights and the heaters.
I built a frame out of scrap wood for the grow lights so that the fixture sits directly over the trays and put some plastic down on top of the cabinet before getting everything situated. Once I’d moved the old light fixture up and plugged it into the timer, it refused to work, so I picked up a new one from Lowe’s and wired the plug into it from the old one.
The new covers are excellent. They give the plants tons of room to stand up, and they feature two vents on the top to let the condensation out. By Sunday evening, everything was standing tall and enjoying the new location.
Other than that, and a bunch of chores and other small projects around the house, I did absolutely fuck-all this weekend. I’ve made it through a bunch of minor quests in Fallout 76 solo and participated in one event with a bunch of other random players, but I got absolutely smoked in a cave by a giant mutated turtle trying to complete a major quest and spent the rest of the weekend licking my wounds.
Sadly, two of my beautiful Chef’s Choice tomatoes developed blossom end rot over the weekend, so I have to use my spray and hope I can save the rest of the fruit. Clearly there’s more research I need to do on what needs to be added to the soil to prevent this; it’s been a year-over-year problem that I haven’t licked yet. The other plants look extremely happy, however, and there are dozens of cherry tomatoes growing ever larger on the vines. I’ve been extremely aggressive at pruning the plants back this year, so walking in to the greenhouse and seeing 1/4 of the volume of plants vs. last year is still surprising.
My Fuji XT-10 apparently doesn’t like my new iPhone for some reason—or from what I’ve been able to find out, the Fuji app on the phone doesn’t like to talk to the camera. My iPhone 6 worked fine, albeit slow, but I could at least fire up the wireless connection on the camera and quickly transfer images to my phone. From what little I can glean, Fuji doesn’t seem to give a shit, there are issues with iOS 13, and there’s no telling when it’s going to be fixed.
Here’s your humor for the day:
This is a cover of an Interpol song that, in my opinion, improves upon the original. And everything on that Interpol album is pretty fucking tight to begin with. You may have issues with Hazel English’s voice but I dig it.
I’ve got a batch of Shiner Bnock-Off in the fermenter waiting to be kegged this weekend, but both my kegs still contain the remainders of the last two batches I brewed. This means I need to drink through the rest of them in a hurry—Darn. They feel empty but I’m still able to pull beer out of them. I ordered a session IPA kit from Northern Brewer on Monday but with the delays in fulfillment and shipping I don’t know when that will get here.
Yesterday I put the seedlings outside for a couple of hours in the shade to start hardening. They got very leggy until I adjusted the lighting, so some of them are taller than I’d like; when I went out to check on them there were several that had blown over in the breeze. It’s overcast today so hopefully they’ll do a little better and stay upright. The goal is to get the soil bins prepped over the weekend and have the seedlings ready to go by late next week. I’m also thinking they need to be transplanted into bigger starter pots so they get more nutrients while they’re hardening—some of them are a little wilty, which is concerning me.
The front porch continues moving slowly forward. The patch next to the front door is 90% complete and the hole that claimed my thumb has its second skim coat of mud. Jen and I tried to hang one of the headboard panels last night but we could not find a way to get it to stay up without flopping out of place almost immediately. I’d built an 8′ brace for Jen to hold, but what I realize now is that we need three of them about six inches longer so that they’ll snug the panel up against the ceiling until I can tack them in place. The big thing right now is to get everything cleared out of there so that we can work without tripping over furniture or air conditioners or other junk.
So, the plants were doing fine up until the night before I came back from Ohio, when something descended on the plants in the darkness. Much of the topmost foliage on five of the ten plants was completely consumed by something that left big round black poop on the tables below. I did some reading and found some references to tomato hornworms, which I guess makes sense. The girls were able to harvest more fruit before the disaster but we did lose some ripening fruit as well. This could have also been due to the mice I’ve been trapping every week, who are jumping up onto the containers and chewing at the low-hanging fruit. I’ve put out two different types of traps baited with peanut butter, and they seem to be taking their toll on the population but there are always more where they came from. It’s clear I have more research to do as well as some serious varmint-proofing.
Cabinets for the bathroom were ordered the Wednesday before I left for Ohio, and should be delivered sometime in the next three to four weeks. I have more woodworking to do on all of the trim throughout the room, including some very tricky angle work on the back door/window area where two sections of crown moulding come together at the top. I have to pull off two precut pieces of casing and cut two new ones 1/8″ higher so that they line up with the top of the window moulding, which will help align the crown moulding. There are some sections that need some trimming above the closet door, and once that’s done I can permanently install that trim. Oh, and I have to find someplace to put the cabinets when they’re delivered. I think that treadmill is going out on the front curb this weekend…
Finally, I have to troubleshoot my $20 router table to allow for the super-wide bit I bought for the threshhold plates. I think I’m going to just widen the hole with a Dremel and lower the bit below the deck height; the only alternative is to build up a taller cutting surface with scrap wood, which is a janky solution at best. The threshhold plates are sort of the keystone for a lot of the moulding in each room; I can’t permanently install any of the moulding without setting them in place.
© 2022 Bill Dugan