Summer in Seattle is short and can end abruptly. In the last week, we’ve gone from days in the 80s to barely hitting 60, with lots of rain to boot. The change in weather has impact on many aspects of our greener living plans.
First, the positive. It sure is easy for us to collect and store rain water. As you can see in the photo, we’re diverting the rain water off our greenhouse roof into our rain barrel. With just one day of rain, the first barrel is pretty full. We’ve ordered an additional six rain barrels, which will bring the total to 10. It won’t be hard to fill them all up. As you can also see in the photo, the barrels are not yet connected. This is one of the many items on our fall to do list.
With the onset of rain, our outdoor clothesline is out of commission. During the warmer weather, we had been doing a great job of using the clothesline. I’d say we dried about 50% of our laundry on the line each week since putting the line up. This percentage will likely come down with the end of summer, though I did buy an indoor clothes rack from Ikea. I can’t do as much on the rack as I did on the line, but maybe I’ll be able to do two out of six loads on the rack. We’ve also been doing many more cold wash cycles, to reduce usage of our hot water heater. Laundry day has historically been our worst electricity usage day of the week, and our efforts have helped us smooth out our usage spikes, but we haven’t made much significant progress in bringing the overall electricity numbers down. As you can see here, we have a slight year over year drop, but with all the changes we’ve been making in how we use electricity, I had been hoping to see more. The only thing that makes me not feel terrible about our slow progress last month is that we spent half of the month home on vacation, which means we had a whole lot more days in the house than during a typical month, and we always use more electricity when we are home.
With the colder weather, we recently turned the furnace back on. For me, 62 degrees in the house is just too cold. We’ve programmed the thermostat to be 68 degrees when we are home, 60 degrees when we are away, and 62 when we are asleep. We’ll play around with the numbers and schedule to see if we can reasonably bring furnace usage down a bit more. So far, I’ve resisted turning the thermometer up to 72 and have found that the more time I spend outside gardening, the more 68 feels nice and cozy when I come back indoors.
Even though the weather has changed, I’m continuing on with my fall gardening. I replanted, in the rain today, the first of the three lettuce boxes I have in rotation. I cut and come again harvested the first box for nearly two months and recently found that the latest batch of lettuce was starting to have a bitter taste. I’m definitely becoming spoiled when it comes to having perfect lettuce. I pulled out the old lettuce, threw it in the chicken coop, and then replanted with an heirloom lettuce cutting mix. The second of the three lettuce boxes is ready for harvesting, so the timing for the replant was just about right on.
And finally, colder weather allows for more indoor projects, like baking. Like many other gardeners this time of year, I have too many zucchini. I only have two plants, but even two plants produces more than we can deal with. Next year, I will only plant one zucchini plant. I did find a good chocolate zucchini bread recipe. If you’ve got some extra zucchini on hand, give this one a try. Chocolate makes everything better . . .