Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Fine Line Between Reduce, Re-use and Recycle, and Hoarding

I come by it quite honestly. Legend has it that my maternal grandmother had repurposed gallon glass pickle jars full of saved bread clips, because you just never know when you might need to secure a bag or two. Grandma was born in 1916, farmed, lived in a small town, and lived through the depression and the wars. She had every reason to stockpile things that could be re-used.

My dad has spent many, many hours over the last few years reorganizing his garage. Everything is now in it's place and properly labeled. This includes bins full of every size imaginable plumbing connection (he's a pipe fitter by trade and understands that a plumbing emergency might require a specific size elbow), electrical marettes, golf balls (yes) - anything that may have a valid future use. Organized for re-use. Not reduced.

Reusing is good. Keeping things out of the landfill is good. Not having to buy a new one when this old one will do is good. But, when does that good intent cross the line? When is it a problem?

This is the question I'm asking myself now, as I sterilize years worth of bedding plant containers and other pots that I've 'saved' along the way. I can't be sure how many summers they represent but judging from the price tags still on them, they represent quite a nice chunk of change.

I'm finally going to reuse them, as temporary homes for all the lovely little seedlings I've started. But once those seedlings are planted in their forever homes in my garden, what will become of these pots? I expect that they will be saved again, for another 'future' use.

The seedlings are doing alright, though I believe I've been over watering them. The earliest germinators - sunflowers and pumpkin - aren't thriving. Luckily there is plenty of time to start more. We are technically still 6 to 7 weeks away from frost free nights.

The morning glory are thriving, and I still haven't killed the cucumbers. 

I'm slowly able to tell the herbs from one another. Cilantro and Sage both germinated well. The thyme and oregano seem to be lagged. 

I need to figure out the best practices for transplanting the peppers and tomatoes. I'm thinking they should go into larger, deeper pots now so they can establish good strong roots. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A sudden urge to write

I'd been writing educational content as my day job for the last couple of years, and found it almost impossible to do any writing for myself. Changed jobs last fall, and haven't written anything in months. This morning I have a sudden urge to put some words on paper, so to speak.

I think a lot about actions that I can take to reduce my own, and my family's, carbon footprint. I know that my activities are but a teeny drop into a global bucket, but truly believe that if we each made a little more effort to change our own behaviour, and spent less time criticizing others on the globe, we'd all be better off.

And so, one of the actions I've chosen is to try to grow my own vegetables this year. I try every year, of course, because I really love gardening. But this year I'm going further. We installed some grow lights: fluorescent tubes (LED at 6500K weren't available) with the right color profile, 8 ft. of shelves to hold 4 seed trays, and an ever growing collection of seeds to try.

I started the first two trays about 10 days ago, with some freshly purchased seeds (cucumbers, sunflowers, morning glory) and decided to try germinating the packs of seeds I'd found around the house on my organizing spree in January. Much to my surprise almost all of them have germinated, even seeds that I've had for at least 5 years.

Trouble is, I didn't record what I planted where. I can tell that the cucumbers have germinated, but I don't know which are the English and which are the pickling. And, frankly, I think some of them are actually buttercup squash. I know that the sunflowers have germinated, and expect I'll soon be able to tell the dwarf from the giant, but not the red from the gold. I suspect I won't be able to tell the peppers from the tomatoes for a while.

As the seedlings have outgrown the small seed pods, I've moved them over into 2 inch pots, and replanted in the smaller cells. I've now got some spots with slower germinating seeds from round one growing with the seeds planted in round two.

And my collection of seeds has grown. Each trip to the hardware store brings a new batch. This week, as I was leaving from having my hair cut, I noticed the store next to the salon sold seeds from West Coast Seed. I now have another dozen kinds of (organic and open pollinated) seed varieties to try.

If each cucumber seedling grows up to produce even one cucumber, I'll be ahead of the game financially. And if they happen to be more productive than that, then you all may be hearing from me. Need zucchini?