Saturday, August 20, 2016

2016 Garden


2016 was kind of a mad year for gardening for me. Work and life conspired to keep us from getting the garden in until late this year. As a result, when we went looking for plants the 2nd to last weekend of May, things were pretty well picked over. We had already decided to downsize the garden this year, eliminating the one long, skinny bed where we haven't had much luck of getting anything but weeds to grow. We also decided not to plant onions. We do love our home grown Candies, but onions are cheap and easy to get at the grocers so better to devote the space to other plants.

No pictures this time. I didn't get any when the garden was new and pretty and now it is sad and droopy.

We planted 2 cherry tomatoes and 4 basil plants in the small bed near the garage. My beloved SuperSweet 100s are loosing favor with me now. The tomatoes are consistently small and tend to fall off the vines before I can pick them, making for a lot of cleanup. I just pulled the SuperSweet to give the Sunsugar more room. As in years past, the yellow Sunsugar cherry tomatoes are magnificent. Lovely, large tomatoes that tend to stay put until you pick them. They are sweet and delicious in salads or just for snacking. One plant is PLENTY for us with some to share. Next year I think I will just put the one Sunsugar and basil plants in this bed.

In the long bed I planted 3 Early Girl, 1 Mountain Fresh and 1 Supersonic tomato. The Early Girl closest to the garage didn't produce much and has already died off. I don't think it got enough sun there. That is where we usually plant onions so may have to think of a more shade tolerant plant to go there. The other 2 Early Girls are still producing abundantly. The Mountain Fresh produced nice, flavorful tomatoes, just not many. It has already died off. The Supersonic is a new one to me. It produces fabulous beefsteak tomatoes. The biggest problem I'm having is the weight of the tomatoes breaking the stalks. Otherwise, loving this one and will look for it again.

The big bed had a zucchini and a yellow squash which produced adequately but not as abundant as some years. We didn't even get one monster zucchini this year!

I planted 2 rows of kohlrabi. I haven't planted kohlrabi in years and it is a pleasant addition that I intend to keep going forward. I need to thin the plants better next year since these seem crowded. I thinned them a week or two ago and the bulbs are finally starting to get bigger.

4 jalapeno peppers for C's hot tooth.

4 San Marzano tomatoes. These were a happy find that I had never seen before. While I should have only planted 3 (4 is too crowded and has effected production) the tomatoes I've gotten are wonder. Nice meaty plum tomatoes, perfect for drying. I'm sure they would also make fantastic sauce. Will look for these again next year.

I had to go with Black Beauty eggplant as we could not find my favorite Dusky's anywhere. They are not producing well, we've only gotten 3 or 4 so far. The round, deeply lobed eggplants they yield are difficult to peel and loaded with seeds. I may order Dusky seeds and start my own next year just to be sure we can get them!

And finally bell peppers. I couldn't find my favorite Red Knight and King Arthur peppers so we went with Flavorburst and Bell Boy. The Flavorburst are a medium sized, thin walled pepper that matures to yellow. They are pretty good, but nothing to write home about. The Bell Boys are just starting to come in. These are a nice, large size pepper, medium walled and that mature to red. The plants are quite full and loaded with blooms so I'm hoping for a decent crop yet.

The size and variety of plants in our downsized garden worked well. I was able to keep up with weeding (love my hula hoe!) and, except for the plum tomatoes, everything had the space it needs. And we still have plenty of veggies for us. Hopefully next year we'll be able to start earlier again.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Jawbone 6 month update

I've been wearing my Jawbone Up3 for about 6 months now and wanted to post an update. I went back and re-read my initial thoughts and much of my feeling remains the same.

I wear the tracker all the time, except when charging and showering. It does seem to be somewhat water resistant as the recent super hot weather have resulted in some pretty sweat-intensive workouts. I remember having some irritation from the band the first few weeks, particularly at the metal contact points. When that happened, I would switch to wearing the band on the other wrist until the irritation cleared up. This only lasted a short while and I've had no problems since. This tracker is so small and lightweight it is really easy to wear all the time.

The step and workout tracking works very well for me. The app provides good statistics and feedback on how I'm doing. Every Monday I get an email summary of the past week's activity and sleep records. I also discovered that by going to the Jawbone website I can download my statistics to a CSV file to see even more data. Year to date I've taken 1,644,937 steps (yay me!!) but I can see I am inactive far more than I am active (ugh). I love the inactivity reminder, especially on work days when I find I'm focused on projects for long periods of time and easily lose track of how long I've been sitting. It's a good reminder to get up and move a little. Now that we are walking most every day, I hit my 10,000 step goal at least a few times a week.

While I guess it's not super useful, I still dig the sleep tracker. It's interesting to see the statistical quality of my sleep compared to what my impression of the quality of my sleep is.

I've been most disappointed in the heart rate tracking. Jawbone has been saying since well before I bought my tracker that on demand heart rate tracking would be added in a future firmware update, but this still hasn't happened. The band is supposed to monitor your resting heart rate periodically throughout the day when you are still. Some days it takes many readings other days it takes very few, regardless of my activity. I find this annoying as it makes the statistics less accurate.

Battery life is also a bit disappointing. I get about 4 days on a charge before having to recharge which takes at least an hour. The app is also pretty draining on my phone's battery so I tend to only sync my band two or three times a day.

The final disappointment is the physical condition of the band after 6 months of use. The tracker unit is metal coated in black paint. The paint is wearing thin across the face making it look shabby. And then the band broke this week. The silicone split about half an inch from the head of the tracker. My guess is because my wrist is a little small there's probably a stress point there which resulted in the break. The band is not replaceable, the tracker is integrated into the silicone band and Jawbone won't replace it because I purchased on open box item. Fortunately I was able to glue it back together with super glue and it seems to be holding fine.

I will continue to use my Jawbone as long as it holds up, but I wouldn't buy another one. At least not of this model. I'm looking into a tracker with a replaceable band that would also have a display so I don't have to sync up to my phone to see updates. I've found one that looks promising and I'll be sure to post if I make the switch.