What is this blog and/or any mention of The Ever-Growing List? Explanation.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bathroom Before & Afters!

I've been working on my house for a couple of years now, trying to DIY everything. It's a very satisfying journey in many aspects, but you rarely feel as if something is complete-complete. However, my bathroom transformation is basically done, sans finding some good artwork!

Sometimes I stand in the hallway and take it all in with this little voice inside of my head going, "Yes! YES!" I replaced what needed to be replaced and kept what could stay (for now!). I recently put down the new floor (TrafficMaster Allure, Pacific Pine) and replaced all of the hardware, which pulled it together. Feels good.

Here are some before (circa 2010) & afters.



Before (*eye twitches*)




Couldn't afford a new cabinet/mirror... no problem, just covered the crappy side with some contact paper and created an entirely new look for about $3.

Frosted window film for privacy, A+. My house gets rather dark, so keeping heavy curtains off certain windows really opens up and brightens areas. There is a frosted contact paper (which I did try), but it's cheap & looks pretty awful. Upgrade to Artscape quality window films; you won't regret it! I have another of their patterned films, and it's beautiful.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

2013 Tomato Review

I've not a lot to admit to when it comes to the way I've chosen my seeds the last few years. I'd grabbed whatever looked decent and had a reputation for putting up a decent fight in my zone. It's not hard to grow tomatoes in New Jersey, after all, so it was easy to sow the usual and reap in the delicious, delicious rewards. But hey, what about a little risk, eh? It was time to branch out.

After doing some research, video-watching, and review-reading, the experiment eventually came down to these varieties: Rutgers, Better Boy Hybrid, Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, Big Rainbow, and Mortgage Lifter, all of which were from Ferry Morse Seed Company. I planted other varieties and vegetables, too, but for now we'll concentrate on these.

The Seeds
I have nothing but the highest praise for these seeds and will be purchasing from Ferry Morse from now on! The germination time and succession rates were the best I've experienced bar-none. Every single one of my peat pods had two or three strong tomato sprouts within a relatively short span of time, which is quite impressive.

It wasn't long before I thinned them out (you can see some of the sorry siblings whose lives were taken for the good of their brethren below) and put them in cups under some lighting. Even if you don't have fancy lighting, just a basic lamp like this *does* help. This one came out of one of our sheds. I'm pretty sure it hadn't been used in the eight years since I've been here.

You, uh... you can't see it, but they are mostly arranged by how each plant was named: presidents, founding fathers, constellations, fictional characters, friends, and inventors! Benjamin & Franklin were 2 of my favorites! Respect your plants.

By the time they were ready for transplanting, I had 140 tomato plants. I gave about 80 away to other people, planted in my own gardens, and put some in my front yard for the neighbors to take. It was a success, as they took all of my extras. And now they have yummy tomatoes, as well. I love that! Sharing is caring, folks!

Transplanting was as it always is minus the addition of red plastic mulch, which is said to possibly produce higher yields. It's still a bit controversial, but I thought... why not give it a shot?

Very soon after outdoor transplantation, still early.

I'd say it did produce more than my usual amount. As for specific numbers, I just didn't pay that close of attention. The tomato supply was aplenty this year... well, that is, before the groundhog got in.

I lost half of my crop to that groundhog over the course of three days. THREE DAYS! Annihilator! But I suppose groundhogs have to eat too, and there was plenty to share!

And then, the first harvest!

My favorites from best to worst: Better Boy (delicious, traditional, split resistant, weighty), Big Rainbow (sweet, split resistant, weighty), Rutgers, Black Krim (meaty, interesting, good balance of sweetness), Cherokee Purple, and lastly was the Mortgage Lifter. They all have their own definite and distinctive tastes; some you'd be more partial to than others. Of course, these are all tomatoes used for different purposes--some great for sandwiches, some for salads, others for sauces and chutneys.

I was most impressed with the Big Rainbow fruit. The last one I've pulled from my garden looked like a peach upon opening, and it tastes nearly like one, as well! It's the kind of tomato you can bite into and not have any sort of sour reaction. My early Big Rainbows were quite small and always purely yellow or orange, but they tasted like candies fresh off of the vine.

I will likely grow Big Rainbow, Black Krim, and Better Boys next year, but I will move on from the others to experiment with new varieties next year.

Bonus: Monsieur Mustachio Tomatooooe and his family (Ms. Tomatooooe, Peregrine, and Snippet, respectively) made an appearance!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Garden, My Garden!

Prepping for planting, pH seems good-to-go for most of my vegetable beds/plots!

This year I'm concentrating mostly on different varieties of tomatoes while just growing one variety of other vegetables. So far, tomato-wise, I've started Black Krim, Rutgers, Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, Big Rainbow, Better Boy Hybrid, Big Boy, etc.. I've switched seed companies, as well. Ferry-Morse is this year's experiment. I've heard they germinate well, and so far, so good!

It'll be an adventure either way, and hopefully at the end of the growing season, I'll have made a few crock-pots full of insanely awesome chili with some really fun tomatoes and consumed many tomato sandwiches!

This year I've also decided to go ahead and try red plastic mulch. I'd read about it in one of my gardening books before but wasn't sure if it was worth it. There's research suggesting it produces higher tomato yields, around 20% or so. How could it hurt to try? I ordered this pack from Amazon, and I'm excited to see if I notice a difference. Last year produced a fair amount of fruit, but it was less than the years previous. We'll see!


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