Saturday, February 9, 2008

February 9, 2008

Well, I did a ton of spinning my wheels today.  I was very active, but nothing got done.  I went to Home Depot and looked at their wood and shop lights.  I'm trying to build my Build-As-You-Grow potato bins this weekend.  I am also going to set up my grow station because as you could see in my February 8 post, my broccoli and cauliflower are very very leggy.  They may be able to be salvaged if I burry them to where the stem splits into leaf branches.  I'll see if they can hold out til I get dirt and then plant them immediately.

Anyway, at Home Depot I find the lumber's expensive, so I decide to go to a local lumber yard to get a better deal and selection.  I head over to the lights and find one, just one option for my 28 inch space.  They have a 24 inch two-bulb, 20 watt T12 fixture, but it doesn't have blinders on it to disburse light and it doesn't hang from chains to adjust up and down based on the growth of the plants.  Further, since it's 20 watt and T12, I'm limited to 20 watt bulbs.  Further, since I'm stuck at 24 inches, the bulb choices are even more limited.  I'm trying to figure out if I should spend twice as much for plant lights or just use two different regular bulbs.  I'll research it and let you know what I found out.

So my plan is to install it on the lid of the cavity and put the shelf about a foot below it. Here is the cavity I've decided to use.

The only use for that space currently is the cold-air return for our furnace directly above it.  The top area above that hand-carved walking stick is where the seed growing setup will go.  To raise and lower the trays, I'll just use books and other stuff to get it within an inch or two of the lights.  Certainly not the best set-up, but I'm stuck with what I've got to work with. Maybe I'll work on that project tomorrow after my bins... which leads me to the rest of my story about the shot day.

While I was looking at Home Depot for lights, finding out that I was severely limited by my 24 inch space, my kids were getting antsy, in a hardware store with exploding flourescent light bulbs all around.  Needless to say we went home and dropped off the kids.  After calculating the materials I needed for my bins, I figured 10 foot 2x6s (cheaper than 1x6s so I am going strong and cheap) have less waste.  Unfortunately there's no way 10 foot boards would fit in our minivan.  So I go over and borrow my brother's truck, talk to him about the garden and jump in the truck.  As I'm doing so, he says, you're good, you've got a full tank.  WRONG.  First trip is to the gas station.  I call my wife and have her call Dunn Lumber to see how late they're open. Another half hour. Great.  Ok, race there, call them and figure out what I'm getting rather than standing at the counter.  They're incredibly helpful. 

After hearing what I was doing, they said instead of using their construction grade Pine/Spruce/Fir (PSF), which is pretty but definitely an indoor wood, I should use Douglas Fir.  It's actually $1 cheaper per board but much more resilient to rot and weather damage.  Unforunately that store doesn't carry Douglas Fir, their other store does.  It's equally distant from my house, they too closed at 5, so I'm out of luck today.  I called them and they've got tons of stock and I'll go tomorrow at 10. 

Good thing my brother doesn't need the truck so I'll keep it overnight.  Tonight I'll check Lowes for their lighting department choices.  I know gardening can be a ton easier than this, but I do enjoy a challenge.

I checked Lowes, and although their lighting department looked better than HD, they didn't have anything remotely workable for my needs.  Their 2 foot stand alone unit was only 17W T12, so it wouldn't throw off enough light for growing plants.  Oh, and their commercial one that was 20W T12 (just like HD's stand alone) didn't have a cord or a shut off switch.  The electrician there at 8 PM was helpful enough to tell me just how easy it was to wire a cord to the commercial one, but he was stumped as to a switch.  I was the one that came up with the idea of a surge protector with a switch, or better yet, a timer.  Looks like I either find a 4 foot area to set this up or settle for the HD one.  Sigh...

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