my father dropped off the returned items at my place this morning on his way to market basket for a supply run. i called him up while he was still shopping to let him know the 50W solar panel had already been delivered at belmont today; he said he'd go check it out afterwards.

i received e-mail from the previous ebay 50W solar panel seller. ebay has a 30 day return policy on most items, but requires you to negotiate with the seller to reach an agreement before ebay will step in. this particular ebay seller - identifying herself as emma - doesn't seem to want to give me a full refund. already she twice suggested i take a partial refund (of just $5, when i paid $30) and keep the panel which doesn't even really work. today she suggested i sell the panel at my "local second hand store" and then she'd refund me the difference. i think she's just trying to run out the clock so she won't have to honor the return agreement, but i just have 2 more days left of negotiations before i can officially ask ebay to step in and refund me my money.

i made a scrambled eggs-korean kielbasa-homemade sauerkraut lunch along with some loose leaf rooibos tea. learning from my mistake last time, i used a mesh tea ball infuser to hold the tea so i don't drink a mouthful of leaves with every sip. it worked surprisingly well, and there rooibos was strong enough that i was able to reuse it and brew a second glass.

after lunch i biked down to amazon drop off center in central square to return the adjustable gooseneck led grow light that arrived on saturday. i used to be able to drop off amazon returns at the nearby UPS store, but nowadays ever once in a while a package has to be returned at the drop off center. i don't mind, it's an easy ride via bike, and i don't return things all that much.

today's temperature was in the lower 60's but when i came back from central square i was hot enough that i stripped down to just a t-shirt and jeans as i went out again, this time to belmont, where i planned on doing some yard maintenance (should've done it yesterday), but also a chance to see the new 50W solar panel.

i knew my father had been home because the solar panel package was no longer on the front steps. i was surprised he didn't set it up, only took it out of the box to inspect it. size-wise, it has 16 (4x4) monocrystalline cells, so roughly half the size of the 100W panel we have outside (9x4). i brought it into the sunroom where it was large enough to prop against the edges of the window frame. i rummaged through the cable box and found a short length of 10 AWG wire to temporarily connect the 50W panel to the CMG controller attached to the 35Ah harbor freight deep cycle battery.

when i measured the 50W solar panel with the multimeter beforehand, it read close to 18V. however, when i connected it to the CMG-2420, the controller read 12V. that's when i realized the controller voltage shown is actually for the battery, not the solar panel. to see that, i needed a wattmeter to be connected between the panel and the controller (unfortunately my father took the spare wattmeter to the cafe to work on the wiring).

that made me suspicion though, so i went to the basement to take some readings of the 62lbs. solar charged 85Ah duralast deep cycle marine battery that we use to run our water barrel pump. the wattmeter, the controller, and the voltmeter all read around 13V. when i probe the wattmeter source (input) connector, it read 13V, just like what it said on the display. however, when i disconnected the wires and measured them directly with a multimeter, it read 20V.

the temperature in the grow room isn't that high (68°F, just a few degrees higher than the rest of the basement) but it's the elevated humidity that makes it feel uncomfortable and hotter than it actually is. the oscillating floor fan helps a little, but the humidity still heightens a faint mildew smell. just have to run the diffuser some more to mask the odor. i noticed a second jasmine has started to show yellow leaves at the bottom; i ended up raising it a bit higher, maybe it just needs more light, because it can't be the temperature or the humidity, which is ideal for jasmines. my father had also set up a folding table so we can have something to work on.

the most important thing i had to was to sow some grass seeds on the front and back lawn. with rain coming later tonight and into saturday, it's the perfect time. the center patch of front lawn needed the most help, most of it turning yellow during the late summer drought. i was hoping it'd come back but most of the grass there was already dead. i raked in a bag of top soil then hand sprinkled grass seeds into the mix. this was from a bag of generic brand (OSJL) seeds i found in the basement, not sure if they're even viable. if nothing grows after a week, i'll know my answer and need to go out and buy some fresh seeds. afterwards i watered the area with the wall faucet, before i decided to switch to our rain barrels, since they'd fill up anyway once it started raining, so better to use as much as possible. besides, it's all free anyway, rain water pumped via a battery charged from the sun. i wasn't sure if it was possible, since i had to connect two hoses together that started from the other side of the house, but it worked flawlessly.

next i started patching all the bald spots in the backyard. all of them came courtesy of my sister's dog peeing on the lawn, a patch of yellow for every place she went to the bathroom. i first raked the areas with a cultivator just to clear out the dead grass and loosen the dirt, then i added either some top soil or compost, before sowing the grass seeds, mixing everything together, then watering. i also had a bag of leftover commercial grass patch mixture (a combination of fertilizer, newspaper pulp, and seeds) that i used to patch a few larger spots underneath the maple tree. like the grass seeds, i'm not sure how viable this patch mixture is. i ended up using about a fifth of our rain water supply.

my yard maintenance wasn't only solely about lawn care. i also cut down most of the goldenrod flowers. i noticed bees had stopped pollinating them, which was a good sign that the flowers were going to seeds. i had to throw them away before that happened, to keep the goldenrods from spreading everywhere. the only patch of goldenrod still around is by the southern fence between the two flowering trees. i pruned back the ground ivy growing beyond the brick border edge. finally i stapled back the wire mesh underneath the eastern wooden fence door, which has a tendency to fall off every so often. the mesh is there to prevent animals from crawling underneath the door (mostly to keep out rabbits).

there's still a lot of activity in the backyard this early in october, before we've experienced our first frost. temperature has gotten cold at nights on several occasions (upper 30's) but enough to kill the plants. the daytime temperature is dropping, but only to around the 60's, and the sun - though getting lower everyday - still feels plenty warm when shining directly.

hyacinth beans are one of the plants that seem to be doing well this late in the growing season. a lot of the magenta-colored pea-style flowers have fallen off, leaving behind a pod that will hopefully produce some viable seeds for next season. cherry tomatoes are still growing, i pick a few to eat whenever i go out into the backyard. elsewhere, bigger sized tomatoes are on the vine, very slowly maturing. if we do get a frost, we'll collect all of them and let them ripen indoors.

the big hydrangea bush growing in the southeastern corner of the yard is most likely a bigleaf hydrangea, based on what i've read. bigleafs form next flower buds late in the growing season. so far i haven't seen any flower buds, but some new lateral buds might be potential candidates. this year we only had a single flower because the season before the plant didn't grow many stems, and only one seemed to have survived into this season. bigleaf hydrangeas will only flower on old stems. [editor note: i discovered that hydrangeas form flower buds at the stem tips. i was looking in the wrong area. i'll check again next time.]

of the 8 mason jar solar string lights that i ordered a few weeks ago, 3 of them leaked water and shorted out the lights even though they're advertised as waterproof. now it appears another outdoor jar is leaking as well. they're cool products, but could use some work in the quality control department. so now only half of the jars are working outside. even then, i'm still tempted to get some more, maybe from a different vendor, but i think it's all the same. i still haven't properly tested the lid to see where the water is getting in. i may be able to fix it with some waterproof silicone lid rings.

it was nearly 5pm by the time i left; if i stayed a little later i would've met my parents coming home. traffic was congested but it wasn't a problem on the bicycle. i kept passing the same car as they sped ahead of me, only to stop at the traffic light, while i continued to pedal forward.

i had an uninspiring dinner of soup from a can, since i didn't have time today to get groceries. i'll do that tomorrow, still not sure what i want to make yet.