Thursday, May 31, 2007

Reflections on a burgeoning cultural trend

I was watching the news tonight, and realized that wow—green is mainstream. Take Going Green, NBC 4's eco-friendly (nightly, I think) news segment (while you're there check out the related blog, The Green Room…it's actually very well done). Astounding. When did it become cool to be environmentally conscious? Don't get me wrong—the more the merrier—it just seems like I'm witnessing some sort of a cultural awareness setting in. An awareness that no city (or person, or creature, for that matter) is an island, and that everyone is a part of the—okay, I know it's really cliché, but I blame that on Disney—circle of life.

"This we know — the Earth does not belong to man — man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the Earth — befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life — he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."

Beatiful, very true words. Although they are very widely attributed to Chief Seattle, that speech was actually written in 1971 by screenwriter Ted Perry. (Thank you Snopes!) Are your illusions shattered? I hope not. Because that doesn't make the words any less true. And no, that's not my photograph, that's a Morgue File special.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Update and Wildlife, too!

So here's an update on our veggies: everything is growing very well! It looks like there are some flower buds beginning to form on the Gypsy Bell Pepper (I have to wonder—isn't it a little early for that?) which is very exciting! Also, the cherry tomato that is in a hanging basket (the farmer's market one) has fruit set, and they're getting bigger every day. Only problem is—it's so darned root-bound that it dries out every single day, since the entire pot consists of nothing but a net of extremely fine roots. However, we've been watering it every day, and it seems to be doing fairly well.

In other news, apartment living bring some interesting perks. On the light outside our front door, we have a nesting pair of Barn Swallows. We can't yet tell if there are any occupants (eggs or baby Barn Swallows) of the nest, but the adults are very attentive. Every time we open our door and the swallows are out there, they swoop, and then perch a safe distance away on our kitty-corner neighbor's light. They're definitely keeping a very watchful eye on the nest. It's so cool to hear them chirp and chortle to each other in the evenings as they settle in right outside our apartment. Of course, the one drawback is that we are getting quite a pile of Swallow droppings on our front door mat. But I certainly feel that it's worth it to be able to observe these beautiful birds. They have fascinating habits, too. For instance, they seem to pop in and out to check on their nest throughout the day (in between they are out catching bugs) and sometimes as many as three at once will fly up our hallway to the nest.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Green Food

No, I'm not talking about Wheat Grass, or even about lots and lots of salad (although there's nothing wrong with salad…) Instead, I think that as someone who tries to be socially and environmentally responsible, eating more organic and local food is one huge way to make a difference. That, and I also happened to notice this great TreeHugger article on just this subject. Not really about gardening, but still totally in line with my green leanings. Check it out! It's cool and has lots of links to other resources, like where to look up your local farmer's market, and how to can or preserve the food you buy/grow. Canning is tons of fun by the way!(Plus makes great personalized, inexpensive gifts for friends and family—who can resist a jar of homemade blackberry jam?)For more on canning, this site has links and info. And remember to check out the USDA for info on safety and the best way to preserve anything from meat to peas to peaches. They have a pretty good search function if you can't easily find what you're looking for on their site.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On a Budget

Okay, so before I go any further, I thought I would explain our ugly—and yet beautiful (I just love green, growing things)…container garden. You see, when we moved to an apartment, we wanted to continue our vegetable gardening. And yet, that many good-quality (of an appropriate size) containers, that we may or may not use for more than one or two years didn't seem like a sound financial investment. And so, I made a foray over to Garden Web home of all things garden (including about a billion message boards) and took a look at how other people do it.

I found this one person with an absolutely astounding 5-gallon bucket garden. This thing was massive. And, according to everything people said, the size was just about right for…say…a tomato plant. Aha! Looks like a job for Freecycle, we thought to ourselves. Several posts later, and voila. There you have it. And yes, those are old kitty litter buckets holding the pepper and tomato. Conveniently enough, when I explained what we wanted the buckets for, we had some offerings of old plant pots as well. and that, folks, is where the hanging baskets came from.

For potting soil, we have packing peanuts in the bottom (not biodegradable cause that would, in fact, kind of defeat the point…) to lighten the pots, since it is, after all a balcony and we were worried about how many heavy wet-dirt-filled buckets it could hold. And we put both potting soil we had from a while ago, old, recycled potting soil—this stuff is great— as well as some "garden soil" with manure picked up at home depot… and boy does that stuff stink. Anyways, there you are. We shall see how it goes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Photographic Evidence

Here is a picture of our hanging basket with leaf lettuce. (At left)

Also, a photo of the majority of our veggies (above) — from left to right, they are as follows: Roma tomato, Patio variety tomato, Gypsy bell pepper, Lavender Touch eggplant, and a pot with some Green Crop bush beans.

The bottom photo (at right)contains (from left to right) snap peas, 3 Bush Crop cucumbers, a pot full of herbs(rosemary, oregano, sweet basil, lemon balm and spearmint in the middle—for juleps) and a pot of radishes on the far right.

Starting out

Well, after a trip to Behnke's Nursery we have a fairly full balcony of veggies. We've planted two tomatoes, one bell pepper, an eggplant, a pot of bush beans, a pot of snap peas (hope they bloom soon!)and some sald greens and herbs. Oh! I forgot the pot of three cucumber (bush variety, according to Behnkes) plants and the pot of radishes. In addition, we have a hanging cherry tomato plant (we snatched it up at the Takoma Park Farmer's Market last week), a hanging basket of salad greens (two arugula plants and some other salad greens started from a seed mix, and a hanging basket of leaf lettuce. Ah, and I mustn't forget our dish garden of herbs. Hopefully, I will post pictures of our setup soon.