Progress: Gardening

Garden after a month

Starting with seeds, I’ve grown romaine lettuce, spearmint, cilantro, chives, shelling peas, lavender, and basil to eat- then morning glories, cardinal creeper, and sweet peas to look at. In a couple weeks, I’ll inherit peppers and tomatoes (thanks, dad!). I definitely made mistakes during planting, but my sprouts have turned out to be very forgiving.

To improve in the future, I need to separate seeds when I plant them to make transplanting them less traumatic (for me, anyway), and also to have a better idea of what’s what, and what’s where. For instance, it appears that spearmint has invaded three of the pots, and there are two things growing in the lavender pot, and I have no idea which one is lavender. I’d also like to turn my garden towards more substantial food production, but I’m glad I got herbs and garnishes in now.

One happy side effect of this was getting introduced to a big, supportive group of garden bloggers. Thanks for the comments and suggestions from all of you! Typically when I wrap up a monthly goal, I only post sporadic follow-ups. Gardening being what it is, I’ll continue posting about it frequently, even though I’m shifting focus now.

In May, I’m going to practice local activism. I’ve got the Eco-Summit on Saturday, and I need to become more informed about local politics and sustainability groups, to see how and where I can get involved to advocate my cause- and what kinds of causes are good to advocate.

I’ve never been much for causes. I’m typically quite content to educate myself independently about an issue, decide my own course, and only discuss it with close friends or when somebody else brings it up. I don’t get out and try and change things much, I don’t join groups, and this blog is really the furthest I’ve gotten in trying to convince others to reexamine their own lives. See now, I don’t even talk about that here- I just offer examples of my own changes, and don’t make the leap to advocacy.

Leadership by example is well and good, but I need to start taking bigger leaps. Plus, in order to actually live more sustainably, I can’t just change the way I do small things. I need to work to change the way wasteful systems around me work. A group at MIT published a study on carbon footprints of Americans recently, and concluded that even if you’re doing all you can to reduce, you’re still, on average, emitting so much more than any other country- because of the way our lifestyles are arranged at all levels.

“There’s a certain amount you can do as an individual,” said Timothy Gutowski, the MIT professor of the mechanical engineering class who lead authored the paper, “but if you recognize this is a system-wide problem, you need system-wide attention to the problem.”

That’s going to mean cleaner power, say, solar concentrating power plants plus wind. Better transportation options need to speed to market, probably smaller electric vehicles and smarter mass transit options. Materials like cement and plastics need to be made with far less energy. Cities will have to be redesigned to reduce the need for commuting. More efficient ways of transmitting, storing and using energy at the grid and home levels need to be mainstreamed. What we eat will have to change; the challenge will be making the future food taste as good as the corn-based delicacies that populate our menus now.

Now greenhouse gases aren’t the only measure of sustainability, but they’re a good, quick reference. So if I’m gong to do this right, I need to try and change somethign else besides me, personally. Activism it is.

I’m going to start tonight by having a sit-down with my house mates about how much electricity we use. Wish me luck.

2 Responses to “Progress: Gardening”

  1. 1 Jaynee May 5, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Egg cartons! Pressed paper egg cartons! They’re the best. Drop 2-3 seeds per cup, and voila. When transplanting time rolls around, just cut them apart and put the whole paper cup into a pot. Water will soften the paper and roots will grow right through.

    Now, if I could only get Costco to sell eggs in paper, not styro!

    Hugs and congratulations!

  2. 2 virescent May 5, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    That’s a great idea, thanks! I’ve heard the same about cardboard tubes, but egg cartons have built-in bottoms.

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