my original plan was to take the bus to belmont on this rainy day, but my father called me around 11am and said he'd give me a ride. it still wasn't raining this morning, but by the time he came, a drizzle had started and i could already see people with umbrellas walking outside.
first thing i did when i arrived at my parents' place was to go out into the backyard and see how much rain we'd collected so far. the gauge indicated 1/6th full so there was some ways to go but this rain forecast looks to be with us for the next 2 days, so there's no doubt the barrels will be filled by then. i love watching rain coming from the downspouts into the rain barrels. if i could, i'd install a webcam so i could watch it remotely. next time i should record a very short video of it so i can watch it whenever.
for lunch my mother made wonton soup. we seem to have an inexhaustible supply of it, but judging from the box in the recycle bin, this may be the last of it (we buy these bibigo-brand from costco). i added two teaspoon of hot chili oil i got from chinatown on friday. it made it look like the kind of wonton soup i'd find in chongqing, but the oil itself wasn't that spicy, more for show.
since it was rainy outside, i did some indoor gardening tasks:
i fermented the long beans. when i pulled them out of storage in the fridge, some of the older batch had already grown moldy and rotten from being kept too long. after washing them, i put the older batch into a quart jar while the newer larger batch into a larger jar. i then filled them with water and poured it out to see how much brine i'd need to make. it was exactly 1500ml, but i boiled 1600ml in the electric kettle so i could have a bit more. i poured the boiling water into a large stainless steel pot and added 64g (4% ratio) of simple table salt. i then left it to cool before adding to the jars. i also added some rock sugar, sichuan peppercorns, and a dash of baijiu.
i sorted the collection of seeds. the foxgloves i used a fine sieve to strain the seeds (like dust) from the husks. for the japanese giant red mustard i used a large strainer; these were left on the plant too long and many of the seeds had either fallen off or eaten by birds. fortunately there's enough in the raised beds that they're now self-sowing. finally the cilantro seeds, which just needed to be put into a container and have some dried stems/leaves removed.
i put the extra schlumbergera cactus leaves into small jars with some water so they can grow roots. all of them are christmas cactus leaves, only one is a thanksgiving cactus. this is good, because i only have a thanksgiving cactus, been trying to get a christmas cactus as well. once they've properly rooted, i can either repot them or grow them hydroponically.
i put my garlic harvest into a large plastic "drip" tray and put it down in the basement, the coolest part of the house. this way i'm hoping they'll get proper air circulation and can keep longer. i'm still deciding whether i should continue growing them or not. they really take up too much valuable space, yet at the same time they're easy to grow, now that i've figured out how to grow them best after 4 (?) seasons.
my father went down to the basement and saw my hydroponic mustards for the (?) first time. when he came up he said they looked a bit yellow, which could be an artifact of the lighting. but when i went downstairs to check, sure enough, they were yellow. he thought maybe the grow light was too close so i raised it up, although grow light damage normally looks like burnt edges, not yellowing.
later i went downstairs again and decided to unbag one of the hydroponic mason jars. the yellowing became apparent: the water line was below the net cups due to evaporation. it wouldn't be a big deal if roots were growing into the water, but none of that had happened yet (although the mason jar mustard with the least water did manage to produce a thin single strand that made it to the water).
so i ended up making some more fertilizer solution to add to the 3 jars. i made 500ml, to which i added .68g of maxigro (should've been .635g but my precision scale doesn't reach the thousandth place and i couldn't get an accurate drop with the provided scoop). i had some issue with the pH meter, it had a tendency to travel the reading, so either the number keeps dropping or keeps growing. i solved it by recalibrating it in the neutral pH buffer solution (pH 6.86), which then gives a fairly accurate reading (for a short while at least). the EC meter is way more stable.
the nutrient solution in the mason jar was pH 6.5 at 788ppm. the tap water by itself was pH 8.8 and 100ppm. after i added the fertilizer, it was pH 5.6 and 980ppm. the pH was on the low side, so it was an opportunity to use my pH up solution. i added just a drop and the pH went up to 5.9.
there was a lull in the rain in the late afternoon so i went out to take photos and then do some weeding.
after dinner i went back outside to admire the bitter melon trellis with the edison led string lights. by that point - despite all the rain - the rain barrels was only at half capacity. i'm not worried that we won't fill the barrels, but a little surprised given all the rain that'd been falling since then. but this slow and steady rain is the best kind of rain, since it means the ground has more time to absorb rather than have all that water just pour into the storm drains.
my father gave me a ride home. my upstairs neighbors were still home, they don't leave until tomorrow. jeff sent me a text early this morning saying they were going away on a 2-week vacation starting tomorrow afternoon.