Lost in the suburbs

On the weekend my 1000w bulb went out, leaving my grow room in the dark, and I spent a fairly miserable rainy afternoon on Sunday trying to track down a new one. When I first set out, I was confident that it would be just a quick trip out to the hydroponics store at Applewood Plaza off Dixie Road, and when I got there I was dismayed to find that they had changed their hours and were no longer open on Sundays. I drove around a bit, and finally found a phone booth at a nearby gas station. I stepped out into the pouring rain and into the booth, only to find myself ankle deep in water. Grimacing at the cold water soaking my through my socks, I quickly looked up “hydroponics” in the yellow pages, and picked up the phone to make a call. No place to put in a quarter. I could hardly believe it, a phone booth that didn’t take money! It accepted phone cards and credit cards, but no coins. Frustrated, I tore the page out of the phone book, and ran back to my car in shoes that were now squishing water.

The next hour and a half was spent driving around Mississauga, cursing bad roads and depressing suburbs, frustrated that every hydroponics store I stopped at was closed on Sundays. Most of them were tucked away in seedy industrial buildings with taped up windows, and looked disreputable. What’s with Mississauga and Sunday shopping? Am I to believe that every hydroponic marijuana grower is in church?

By 3:30PM I was extremely grumpy. I stopped at a grocery store to find a REAL phone booth. I struck out on my first call — Happy Girl Hydroponics in Kensington Market did not have the bulb I needed in stock. Pretty much fed up by now, I called 411 for the number of a store in Toronto that I recalled seeing during an internet search – my last try before giving up, and going home. Bingo! Bustan on Harbord Street, right beside Wonderworks and the Toronto Women’s Bookstore – just east of Spadina – had it in stock, and they were open until 5PM. I jumped in my car and drove all the way back to Toronto, braving bad visibility, slippery highways and kamikaze truck drivers, to land safely in front of their store.

I was well taken care of at the end of my miserable journey. I left there with the proper HID metal halide bulb, and a few other things as well, including a really neat 65watt full spectrum compact fluorescent bulb that fits into regular light fixtures. It works beautifully to light up the dark side of my grow room, so there’s no need to buy an expensive light mover now. I also left there with a ph pen and a hard-to-find bottle of Superthrive. The owners, Nurit & Harley, spent a lot of time with me explaining the different products, and when I described the semi-hydro method of growing orchids, they promised to look into perhaps stocking up on Prime Agra, which I have had no luck finding in Canada so far.

I finally got home at around 5:30, soaking wet but finally content. After an afternoon fruitlessly scouring the suburbs, my quest ended, close to home after all. Yes, there are good reasons to live right smack in the middle of a big city, and this is one of them. 🙂

Raccoon raid & orchid miscellany

I watered and fertilized my orchids last night with Dyna-Grow “ProteKt” and “Bloom”, and I tossed a few crystals of epsom salts in the water as well. I write this for my own benefit because my record-keeping is at best, haphazard. Next time I get the urge to give them the epsom salt treatment, I can check the date on the blog to make sure it’s been at least 4 months.

Why epsom salts? Mostly because I read on a forum somewhere that the plants like it. I like epsom salts in my bath water too.

Most of my orchids are in semi-hydro, though I’ve repotted all my phals in New Zealand sphagnum moss because none of them were happy. More than half the blame for that can be laid at the doorstep of that destructive racoon, who couldn’t be convinced that those were roots, not fat grubs. Since the only healthy phal I own is in moss (and was kept indoors under lights all summer), I decided to see if changing the medium would give the poor beaten-up and broken things a boost.
Don’t get me wrong, semi-hydro works great for most of my orchids. The phrags and the zygos love it. It’s just the phals that aren’t thriving in it, for me at least. I’ve heard the same from a couple of other people.

Speaking of raccons, Laird had a heart attack the morning of the day I arrived home. He walked into the kitchen and the dog food was knocked over, and what little was left was all over the kitchen floor. Once this evidence of a midnight racoon raid registered, he raced to the back porch to check my orchids. They were untouched. Obviously the F.B. (fat bastard) gorged himself to the point he couldn’t be bothered with mere flowers. Laird’s first act of the morning was mopping up the back stairs, as the wretched creature had left a trail of pee all the way down and out the door (the door he had pried open the night before).