Saturday, June 21st, 2008
10:41 pm - Another Project and a Garden Update  
You couldn't have two more pleasant days to start off a summer than the two we've just had. Absolutely gorgeous. The good weather motivated me to actually do some stuff around the old homestead. For one thing, I finally solved a problem that has been vexing me for years. For some odd reason, whoever designed this place decided not to put any first floor windows on the south end of the house. That means there's only one window in the back room, which also happens to be the only window on the first floor that is big enough to hold an air conditioner. In summers past this has meant that even on nights with perfectly pleasant sleeping weather outside, it gets stuffy and uncomfortable in there because the window can't be opened because it's all that's keeping the a/c from falling out into the back yard.

One possible solution would've been to spend $400 on a roll-around a/c like the one I have in the office. The exhaust vent for one of those allows the window to be opened or closed as needed. I did briefly consider that, but money's a bit too tight right now.

So, let's do a little overthinking, shall we? The first hurdle is that if I were to raise the window, the a/c would fall out. That's never a good thing. But all the window is really doing is using the lower ¾" of the sash to provide mechanical support for the a/c. So I don't need the whole window sash to do it, just the bottom inch or so, or something similar. Fortunately, I have plenty of scraps of ¾" plywood down in the basement. I cut a 1¼" wide strip to the width of the window opening plus an extra half inch on each end. Then I rabbeted the excess to fit snuggly in the slots that the sash rides in. Slide it into place and Bob's your uncle. No more falling out of the window.

It Works!There's still another difficulty, though. The window opens, but the screen won't fit with the a/c there, so any bug with a fascination for light bulbs or a thirst for my blood could just fly on through. That one was easy. Got a little 10" high expandable screen from the Depot for $5 that fits in the opening almost perfectly. If anything it's a little too snug. The gap is apparently just a hair under 10". It took a little effort, but I got it to fit.

The last thing to deal with was the space between the two sashes, the place where one usually stuffs a strip of foam rubber to fill the other gap that insects can get through. The problem is that the foam doesn't really stay put when one of the sashes moves, so I needed something else. Again the Depot came through. I got one of those self-adhesive strips that you stick on the bottom of a door to block drafts. It was $2. I cut it to fit, and stuck it to the top of the lower sash. It's sort of like a big windshield wiper.

So it all worked. There's fresh air in the back room, and I only had to spend $7 instead of $400. Yippee!

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Most of the garden stuff has gone well, except that the muskmelon plants died early on, which seems odd. I planted them at the same time as the tomatoes, which are generally regarded as the delicate snowflakes of the vegetable garden. The tomatoes are doing fine. They're at the stage where I needed to do something about supporting them. I planned to go with cages, but when I looked to buy some this week, I couldn't find any at the usual places. The Depot and Wal-Mart had 'em back in May, but they were sold out. I even tried Job Lot, but no luck. Then I had a V-8 moment. I live in what passes for farm country in Rhody. There's an Agway three miles down the road from me. They had great huge piles of tomato cages, and much cheaper than what I remember the Depot charging for them. Whoot!

The only other edible I planted this year was a pot of basil, which is growing like a weed. There's already more than enough growth to harvest some of it. Pity I don't really use basil that much, but if I need any I'll be ready.

It was a really good year for the tulips, and a few even lasted into June. I cut back the dried up foliage the other day, and today I dumped mulch over them to wait for next year. The pansies are still going great guns. Now I wish I'd planted some daisies as well.