Archive for April, 2008

I Staked The Peas

staked peas

Thanks for the advice, Heather! I’ve got them on chopsticks right now, but they’ll grow to about 30″ tall, so I need to find some bigger chopsticks.

In the background you can see my new purple hydrangea. I hope that one day it will grow into a bush. For now, it looks lovely in one of the pots the Gentleman Friend’s mother gave me. (I keep wanting to abbreviate him as “the GF”, but I don’t think that sends a clear message. I’ll type it out until a new, more graceful euphemism is found.)

Garden photos update here. It’s been very cold the last few nights, so I moved most of the sprouts inside for the time being. I think the spearmint has invaded my basil. Also, I started soaking cilantro seeds this evening. This summer is shaping up to be pretty tasty.

Here’s something I’ve learned: Next year, I should plant the seeds individually in small containers to sprout next year, so they transplant neatly and painlessly. I need to dig up the ones I’ve got going and replant them with more space. Since they’re germinating together in little planters, their root systems aren’t neatly separated, and I’m afraid the transplanting shock of pulling their roots apart will anger them. I’m especially worried for the kalanchoe- will he be ok if I dig up the morning glories from all around him, then fill in the hole with new potting soil? Or will he become my first victim of the season?  Only Time Will Tell.

I’m It

Katie at GardenPunks tagged me to answer a few questions, so here goes:

What was I doing 10 years ago? What does one do in middle school? I was probably reading.

My To-Do List For Today: Work, taxes.

What I Actually Did: Work, taxes. Living the life!

Snacks I Enjoy: Goldfish (the cheese crackers, not…ew), all cookies that don’t involve marzipan and/or marshmallow

Things I Would Do If I Were a Billionaire: Quit my job like whoa, distribute funds until I was a just a comfy millionaire, get a house in Alexandria with a yard, go back to school full time.

Three of My Bad Habits: Nail biting, going out with wet hair, napping during classes.

Five Places I’ve Lived: Richmond VA, Charlottesville VA (count this a few times since I moved around like 8 times while I was there), Alexandria VA.

Five Jobs I’ve Had: Jiffy Lube Technician, Waitress at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House, Waitress at a Chinese Restaurant, Research Assistant in Metallurgy lab, Patent Examiner

Five People Who Write Interesting Blogs That I’d Like to Tag (no pressure, dude):

I’ll do one- Lynn at I’d Type A Little Faster. She’s writing a book!

Garden: Third Week

So far, everything except the sweet peas has come up from seed. Those I planted a full inch deep, just like the packet said, so I’ll wait a little while before I start worrying. The shelling pea plants are growing the quickest.

spearmint sproutI’m rather suspicious of my success. All I did was collect dirt, pots, seeds, and water. I didn’t even get drainage in most of the pots right, so they’ve flooded twice with the heavy rains the past couple of weeks. And for this, I am rewarded with perky sprouts? Just get a load of that spearmint sprout. He has no idea what he’s getting into. Clearly unprepared for, and unconcerned with, the ravages of my attention. I want him to grow quickly, so I can make tea of him.

I have discovered an effective method for curing the impatience between planting and finding green things: go away for the weekend. Plant Thursday night, make some plans, come back Sunday, and voila! No chance to spend the weekend avoiding one’s phone and staring at dirt, plus rewards when you return.  This has been keeping me calm, anyway.

Eating these guys is the next step that I’m very excited about, but the next actual step is transplanting. I started my seeds close together, like the package said, so I’ll need to thin the morning glories and climbers especially, and the hidden kalanchoepeas, also- there’s one guy who’s struggling in a small pot with two other thriving pea plants. The kalanchoe is now hidden in the glories, but he appears to be doing well. I assume he’s a bit confused about all the (living) company these days, but soon he’ll be moved to safety.

My Gentleman Friend’s wonderful mother gave me a gigantic stash of planters (with a huge spiky bromeliad bonus) this weekend, which is going to make it possible to separate things the way they should be (and decorate my bathroom). For now, though, more photos of the garden tonight are here. I have romaine lettuce, maybe!

I’m also looking for good homes for a few morning glory sprouts. They’re probably best in pots, since they tend to grow quickly and consume yards and native plants otherwise. Want one? or six?

I Love The World

As long as I’m playing with new media forms here, this ad for the Discovery Channel is pretty sweet, and sums up my feelings quite nicely. Boom-di-ada, Boom-di-ada.

Also, check out the new flickr feed (which is going away once I figure out how to post a photo feed from picasa albums).

Eco-City Alexandria Charter

I was walking through Old Town yesterday, on the way to get my mom a fairly-traded mother’s day gift, when I saw a flyer for the Eco-City Alexandria Summit.  Well, well!  The city is working with the local campus of the Virginia Tech graduate program in Urban Planning to create a plan for future sustainable development, and that’s the grad program I’m interested in attending, so apparently the stars are aligned well lately. Except the fair trade store was closed for the evening already, so one star was AWOL.

The process has already begun the planning stages. Good summaries and some interesting documents are already posted at the website. Community leaders got together to discuss some ideas in March, and the Summit is a chance for local citizens to make commentary and add to the outline. It will be held Saturday, May 10, at TC Williams High School, from 8:30 to 2:30. Breakfast and lunch are involved, and registration is free, though they want an RSVP to by next Friday or Saturday- they’ve asked for “Friday May 3”, but Saturday is May 3rd, so.

I had plans to be in a sewing class the 10th, but this is more important- especially since I fancy myself a local sustainability blogger. I’m going to have to expand “local” to actually include more than my back deck. I’m pretty out of touch with local goings-on. Apparently they’re announcing the Environmental Charter from the March Eco-City meeting at the Earth Day celebration today in Ben Brenman Park (on Duke St, across from the ugly library)? I didn’t know we had an Earth Day celebration, so I should probably pick up a local paper or read the local county website ever.

But I know now, I’m signing up today, and I’ll report back. Thus begins my descent into local activism.

(I am a little afraid of being an “activist”. Why can’t growing my own food be enough? But I know it’s not enough.)

Photo Albums: Garden, Growing

I thought I had plans last night, but I’d gotten the date wrong. Magically, then, a free evening appeared, which I spent playing with my plants on the deck. I put in Spearmint and Romaine Lettuce, and I’m soaking Sweet Pea seeds. So, to date, I have grown from seed:

Edibles: Shelling Peas, Chives, Basil (purple kind), and Lavender

Flowers: Morning Glories, Cardinal Climber, Kalanchoe (by accident)

I also bought a hydrangea bush (which is unhappy, see– the leaves are getting brown and curling up at the edges, and the flowers are drooping- am I over-watering? Or under-watering? Or does it want sun?), and a Rosemary tree.

Oh, and I finally hooked up my composter the night before last. The excellent Biking person gave me a couple jars of good dirt from his yard, so my starting cultures would be good, and so far nothing smells funny. The housemates have all been instructed in the proper use. I still need to weather- proof it better, but it’s happily reducing food scraps as we speak.

Pea PlantAnd now the albums: first, of my garden from the night of it’s inception, so you can trace the sprout progress. Also, my peas are growing in fantastic folds, like the one to the left, and these others. And it is really amazing how tiny mint seeds are– compare that to the others I’ve planted.

So far, I’m getting seeds from the grocery store. It’s Whole Foods, and they have a little gardening section, but any ideas on where else I could look for stuff? Their selection is rather limited, and the only other place nearby that carries seeds is Target. The hardware store is pretty far away. Also, I’d like to branch out into the mysteries of plant cuttings (har!). Advice, and bits of your plants, would be greatly appreciated.

Photo Albums: Coral Reefs

For all the pictures I post here, I have many more I’d like to share- so here we go. First up, the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef display at the World Financial Center. I got to see it over the weekend. It was tucked beside a staircase, and I wish the WFC people had at least finished painting the drywall before they put it on display. Maybe a decent coat of blue paint to get us in the mood? But the crochet/coral forms were really cool, and that’s what I was there for. Some of them were made of yarn, and some of trash- plastic bags, magnetic tape, fancy pop-tab additions, jelly fish with bubble wrap tentacles, and so on.  Also, I get why they were behind glass to discourage this particular urge, but some of them looked so soft and nice to touch, or play with…

Next time: obsessive documentation of my sprouts growing.

crochet reef

PS:  Back story on the HCCF here.

Earth Day: Media Aftermath

I’ve finished my organic vegetarian dinner (don’t be impressed, though, I had a chicken sandwich at a national chain for lunch), and I found a few new colors of hydrangea and mint seeds at the Grocery tonight: good earth day.

I’m impressed with the media: they managed to be breathless about the Democratic nomination and the importance of Earth/Going Green/Climate Change simultaneously. With all the coverage today, though, the best article on the subject was published Sunday.

The NYT Magazine carried an article by Michael Pollen (author of “In Defense of Food” and “An Omnivore’s Dilemma”) on why personal sustainability matters. Sure, it’s easy to win my affection by talking about gardening and Czechoslovakian revolutionaries, but his article touches on more than that. Give it a read, if you’ve ever felt like you can’t do anything about climate change, or need a refresher in today’s sea of greenwashing, or even if you’ve got that notion that only the free market can deal with climate change effectively.  Something for everybody, and well-written, to boot.

From the article (after his request that, as a first step, people attempt to grow something edible):

“[G]rowing even a little of your own food is, as Wendell Berry pointed out 30 years ago, one of those solutions that, instead of begetting a new set of problems — the way “solutions” like ethanol or nuclear power inevitably do — actually beget other solutions, and not only of the kind that save carbon. Still more valuable are the habits of mind that growing a little of your own food can yield. You quickly learn that you need not be dependent on specialists to provide for yourself — that your body is still good for something and may actually be enlisted in its own support. If the experts are right, if both oil and time are running out, these are skills and habits of mind we’re all very soon going to need. We may also need the food.”

Also, he mentioned that Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House! Imagine that! Reagan took them right back down, which doesn’t surprise me even a tiny bit, sigh, but they were up there once, and that’s shocking. Why does that have to be shocking?

And in a quick 180, worst coverage of Earth Day goes to WorldNetDaily News. Well, “News”. Their contribution was an article about how uppity women who insist on working out of the home are one of the biggest threats to the environment out there. Maddening, if it weren’t so originally perverse and totally laughable. Found the link through Feministing, who has an excellent response.

Spread the Earth Day Love

I’m back, and I’ve got a few changes coming here for you soon.  Photo Albums!  And such!  But today, it’s Earth Day, and there’s some love to be sharing.

My plans for Earth Day were mostly to trick people into drinking some organic wine and watching The Day After Tomorrow (still the best climate change movie ever produced, ever, sorry, Gore.)  Well, some aspects of that would have involved more necessary trickery than others.  I’m having a hard time finding anyone who finds that movie to be as much of a work of genius as I do.  But given school and work, film and wine will need to happen later on.  I’ll definitly pet my sprouts, though.  That should be plenty earthy.

For a small celebration, though, I want to share a few links to blogs I’ve been reading and enjoying.

A More Perfect Market had a recent post on the problems of landholders cashing in on their forests- the ‘greenies’ and government are making it harder for them, and who’s it helping?

Bean Sprouts has a recipe for Goat Cheese and Roasted Vegetable pasta.  It’s part of her eating-vegetarian challenge.  Since goat cheese is delicious, how challenging can this be?

At Climate Progress, the talk is usually wonky and political, but for Earth Day they’ve posted a discussion of why we shouldn’t focus on saving the planet, but instead on saving ourselves (massive weather changes being way more damaging to people than the huge spinning ball of molten rock we’re allegedly concerned with).

Crunchy Chicken is doing a lot of good work, all the time, but the one that catches my eye is her series on highly attractive men on the environmental movement. This time, it’s Guillermo from LocalHarvest, a website dedicated to local farming. Good pic(k).

Eco Samurai is brewing beer at home for all the environmental, and delicious, reasons.

Eco Warrior collected some interesting ideas for making planters from things that aren’t planters.

Garden Punks has a great series of instructions and photos from their most recent garden design. Rather inspiring, but I’ll have to be content with rearranging my planters in attractive groupings for now.

No Impact Man gave a wise commentary on the recent and possibly counterproductive debates between some climate policy types (including Nordhaus and Shellenberger, who wrote “BreakThrough”) on Climate Progress.

People and Nature has collected a list of things to do outside, especially with kids. Makes me want to find a child to make go outside. In the legal-est way possible.

There’s plenty of Earth Love in these parts- well over 24 hours worth.  Fortunately, when you’re a sustainability blogger, every day is Earth Day (cheesy grin).



New Links

I put up a bunch of links to blogs I’ve enjoyed earlier in the week, and they deserve some introduction.  I’m on a vacation in NYC right now, though, so a specific list of all the things I love about these new guys will have to wait.  For now, check them out for yourselves while you miss me, and I’ll be back next week with photos of the crocheted coral reef.

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