i had a big to do list for today: call the belmont tree warden to inquire about a new sidewalk tree; plant my seedlings (long overdue), do my 2020 taxes (deadline in a month); clean the fish tank; add new vegetables to the sichuan paocai jar; cook the bacon outside; propagate my overgrown umbrella plant; get groceries; figure out what to make for dinner; adjust rear bike brakes; spring cleaning; caulk the bathroom window.

i made an almond milk matcha latte for lunch. i'm not loving the almond matcha latte. i can really taste the bitterness of the matcha, which whole milk does a better job of neutralizing. the one good thing about almond milk is it froths so much easier than whole milk. almond milk also doesn't have the fat content of whole milk, which can curdle if the whole milk is bad or heated too much. unfortunately i have two cartons of almond milk, will be drinking it for the next 2-3 weeks, or basically the rest of march.

in trying to eat healthier, i found a hearty soup recipe that involves cannellini beans, quinoa, and kale. i don't have to be a nutritionist to know that's healthy. so while browsing the online market basket circular looking for what else to buy on my grocery supply run, i called the belmont highway department to ask about a replacement sidewalk tree. the person i spoke with said due to the pandemic, once again the town wasn't planting any new trees this year. he asked if it was to replacement a tree the town had removed. i said yes. he told me in that case our address would automatically be on the wait list for a new tree. typically they wait a year before planting, to allow the old roots to decay. he said either we could wait until the town eventually plants a new tree or we could plant one ourselves, though he didn't give too much details. he patched me over to one of the secretaries who took my info and put us on the tree wait list if we weren't there already.

around 1:30pm i left the house for market basket. i came back half an hour later and immediately started on my soup recipe since it needs to slow cook for about 6 hours. i basically just threw ingredients into the slow cooker. the recipe called for poblano pepper, which i'd never used before, and i was expecting it to be hot, but i tasted just like a green pepper. i also blended half the beans (2 cups) with half the vegetable stock (2 cups), for a thicker soup.

bean quinoa kale soup
(6 serving)

3/4 cups tri-color quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn
1 tbsp italian seasoning

2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups cannellini beans

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups cannellini beans
3 cups kale, chopped

fresh ground pepper

blend 2 cups beans with 2 cups vegetable stock (to thicken the soup). add everything (except remaining beans and kale) to slow cooker for 6 hours low heat. final 30 minutes cook on high heat and add remaining beans and kale. add salt and pepper to taste.

i started planting my plant seeds around 3pm. i picked out the seeds i wanted to plant, and then divided them up by amount of time required for indoor growing. many of the perennial flowers need 8-12 weeks of indoor growing before the last frost, which for the boston area is around april 15th, so just 4 weeks away. for those plants, i should've planted them back in february, some as early as january.

i filled the 2 long 36-cell seed starter trays i got from OSJL last week with dirt. one tray will be half rudbeckia "sunset cherokee" (18 cells) and half rudbeckia "goldstrum" (18 cells). the other tray will be half delphinium "fantasia mix" (18) and half verbascum snowy spires (18). after soaking the trays with water from the bottom up (and wetting the top with a spray bottle), i began planting the seeds. verbascum seeds are tiny, like poppy seeds. the packet was only supposed to contain just 15 tiny seeds but there were about twice that amount. the seeds were weird, they crumbled easily for some reason, don't know if that means they're bad seeds. i tried to be careful not to crush them when i planted them. as for the delphiniums, i don't believe they're actually perennial delphiniums but are instead annual larkspurs. i won't know until they germinate. the seed packet is a few years old so i don't know if i'm even going to get 18 of these plants. rudbeckia seeds were also tiny, and sparse too, just 40 tiny seeds per packet. i had enough to occasionally plant 2 seeds per each cell, increase my germination chances.

for vegetables i like to use 16 oz. plastic cups with drainage holes i create using a flame heated awl. it can be dangerous working with an open gas flame and a hot metal tool. another trick is to rotate the cups as soon as i melt the holes (4 cups at time), otherwise occasionally the molten plastic will stick together and i can't separate the cups anymore. i do 3 drainage holes, but if i'm feeling generous occasionally i'll do 4 holes. in years past i'd use a black sharpie to label the cups, but they're very hard to see. this year i'm using a white metallic permanent paint marker, and they'd much easier to read, and i don't have to worry about accidentally rubbing off the labels. i also labeled the seedling trays, used a black sharpie and wrote on a piece of packaging tape, stuck it to the base this time and not the lid, learned that lesson the hard way.

for the cup pots, i decided to plant the following: tomatoes "cloudy day" (new blight resistant variety) (8); eggplants "ping tung" (8); ground cherries "aunt molly" (8); tomatoes "super sweet 100 cherry" (4); eggplant "shikou" (4). the "shikou" eggplants were purchased back in 2019 and i only had 5 seeds left, don't know if they're going to germinate. i could only plant as much as 2 plastic cafeteria trays can hold, as the other trays are at my parents' place.

when i went down to the basement to took for more trays, i discovered some old seed starter trays. there was a long 36-cell tray but it was in rough shape, the plastic yellowed and brittle from being out in the sun. it was also missing one of the trays, just a single 18-cell tray. there were also two smaller 12-cell trays that were still good enough to use, just needed to be washed. in those i decided to plant nigella (12) and chinese asters "giant perfection" (12). i have an abundance of nigella and aster seeds. i'll start some indoors, but i may also grow some outdoors.

finally i found a small tray that can hold 7 16 oz. pots. i decided to plant some hyacinth beans. i had enough beans that i planted 2 per pot. 5 of the pots used beans that looked good, while 2 of the pots used bold beans, trying to see which ones will germinate. it may be too early for beans especially if they want to vine. worst case scenario, i relocated them to the belmont grow room as they wait for the weather to get warmer. 7 pots may not be enough, i may plant some more if these successfully germinate.

after planting the seeds in the 16 oz. pots, i covered them up in plastic wrap and moved them to the guest bedroom, one of the warmer rooms in the house. from past experience i know they don't need any light to germinate, just some heat.

i was finally finished by 8pm, 5 hours later. tired, hungry, thankfully the soup was ready. it didn't look all that appetizing, the quinoa looked like tiny worms, the kale turned brown from being in the slow cooker for so long. it was only later did i realize the recipe said to put in the kale 30 minutes before finishing, which explained why their kale looked so green in the recipe photo. the soup tasted okay, but the overall flavor was italian seasoning since i added a heaping whole tablespoon worth. i also had to add a good amount of salt since the soup was a little bland. salt and a lot of pepper. it's definitely filling, the combination of beans and quinoa and kale for additional fiber, i just had a cereal bowl worth and that was enough. i'll be eating this for the rest of the week. one thing i can do to improve the flavor is to cook some bacon and add the chopped up bits into the soup.

i tested the luxauto grow light i bought back with me yesterday. suspended from the wire shelf in my closet, it seemed blindingly bright. if i'm going to turn my closet back into a grow room, i may need other options. this grow light is powerful but i need quantity over quality. i saw on amazon 8 banks of 2ft led grow lights for $70. i may get them for my grow closet. the only thing i don't like is i can't adjust the height.

the daikon radish and carrots i bought from chinatown on friday for my sichuan paocai jar have turned soft, meaning they're about to go bad. that i means i have to use them up by tomorrow. i made 9 cups of brine (added 3 oz. of salt by weight) so it can cool overnight and be ready in the morning.