Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never actually participated in any Earth Day events as an adult. I remember when we were in school, we would talk about things like planting trees and recycling…but that was a long time ago.

So later today, I’m going to go downtown (maybe I’ll finally even get around to taking public transportation…) and check out the goings on. It’s sponsored by the Environmental Services Department of San Jose (I didn’t even know we had such a thing, but it’s pretty cool).

The festivities include a bike ride with the mayor(!?), a tour of Adobe’s Green Headquarters, live music, a farmer’s market, and a bunch of other cool stuff. So I’m going to go check it out. I’ll restrain the urge to buy stuff, green or not, unless it’s something that I need – which I doubt. I’ll be sure to report back on what I see and learn.

In early celebration, I planted some seeds today. I should confess here that I often get carried away. Moderation is not a word I seem to be able to understand or embrace. So my idea to grow a tomato plant on my balcony has grown to sprouting sunflowers, garlic, kidney beans, red, green, and chili peppers, pumpkins, flax, mustard, cumin, and potatoes from stuff lying around the house.

I had a Meyer lemon tree from last year that I didn’t kill (also a Confederate Jasmine, but it is not meant for eating). Apparently these are both drought tolerant, since they survived my five week trip to India with no watering.

I planted seeds that I bought from the store for lettuce, radishes, beets, water melon, coriander/cilantro, and dill.

I bought seedlings of eggplant, tomato, oregano, and rhubarb. Also a catnip plant for the cat. I had to put it out of his reach, because he likes it too much.

I haven’t got around yet to the spinach, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, peas, cantaloupe, asparagus, carrots, strawberries, ivy gourd, corn, bok choy, basil, oh my goodness, can I get mini pear and orange trees? I have decided that it would be unequivocally unfair to try to keep a chicken on the balcony, and unsafe to start a beehive there. I’m not kidding though, when I say that the thoughts crossed my mind.

I’m not sure the “food” seeds will actually produce food. But it’s not really costing me anything to conduct this experiment, and the plants are at least soaking up some CO2, right? I am wishing I had more sunny balcony space…

It’s always fun to watch how super cool plants actually are. Every time I plant a seed and watch it sprout, I briefly entertain the idea of becoming a botanist. I realized that when a kidney bean sprouts, the two halves of the bean actually become the first two leaves of the new plant. IT”S SO COOL!!!!!!

I’ve been resisting the urge to go out and buy all sorts of cool pots and containers, and have pleasantly surprised myself with the solutions I’ve come up with. I had a bunch laying around, which I used, but I quickly ran out of actual planters.

We buy rice in 20 pound sacks. Side note: I’m actually not sure how long we’ll be doing that, since the stores around here have actually started rationing the rice to one bag per customer, per day. We’re stocking up while we can. There’s somebody in this house who would be very cranky if they didn’t have their rice (and it’s not me…).

Anyway, the rice sacks are made of a sort of woven plastic. I’ve been filling them with soil, punching a few holes in the bottom, and planting right in there. They’re lighter to lift than a heavy ceramic pot, and they seem to be working fine so far. And instead of buying new pots, with all the attendant resources that would be devoted to it, I’m keeping something which I don’t even think is recyclable out of the landfill, and using it to produce food, meaning I won’t need to buy my next eggplant from the grocery store, reducing all the resources required to produce and deliver that to me. I'll pause to remember that every time I buy less, I save money too!

Hopefully some of these little darlings will even survive my brown thumb long enough to give us some food!

Happy Earth Day!

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