Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Farmer's Vacation

Saturday night we returned from a very unsustainable but nonetheless enjoyable vacation in Orlando, Florida. My database administrator husband was going to a conference at Orlando Conference Center, so the kids and I decided to go along for the ride. Perhaps in another sustainer's confessional post I'll share all of the sustainability sins I committed on this trip, which included allowing my kids to sample and throw away mounds of food at the complimentary breakfast bar, using far too many disposables, splurging on the hotel room A/C and watching a lot of cable on the huge TV in our room. Oh, and spending gobs of money at Disney World. The experience definitely made me wonder what travel will look like in a sustainable world. I seriously doubt the Oil Driven Tourism of the modern era will be possible as oil becomes more and more limited. That's a bit sad for those of us who grew up enjoying this kind of travel, but on the other hand, the possibilities of a less plastic travel experience are exciting.

I did have fun collecting seeds from various tropicals in the hopes that I could experiment with growing some of them indoors, starting with the dried black seeds of a potted schefflera in front of my hotel. If I knew more about grafting, I would have perhaps attempted to clip some tropicals here and there to grow my own trees back home. I got the idea from a friend who said his wife's Swedish grandparents clip branches off of trees when they travel and then graft them onto their own trees when they return home. They are growing oranges from California in Sweden as a result of their secret snipping. I'm so jealous.

I admit I was very uncomfortable leaving my plants unattended for over a week. Before I left I watered my vegetable sprouts heavily, mostly by filling up the flat bottoms with excess water and then closing the usually-open greenhouse door (although I didn't zip it for fear that the plants would overheat). My plants have really been babied -- they're used to being misted, turned to toward light and otherwise pampered every few hours, so I was worried they'd be dried up by the time I had returned. On the other hand I was hoping that the lack of pampering would be good for starting the hardening off process.

Now that I'm back in Wisconsin my life is as exciting and hectic as ever. Here's a short list of some of the things that have happened in the last week and a half:

  • My luna moth eggs from Moth #3 hatched a few days ago! They are tiny little guys but they are doubling in size just about every day. I've been feeding them white birch leaves harvested from my in-laws' tree. I've tried to feed them some other types of tree leaves, but they seem to go for the white birch only. They are still living in a plastic take-out container until they are big enough to put in an aquarium. Will post pictures soon. I find it interesting that there are two kinds of caterpillars -- some are more black than green and some more green than black. I have no idea why.

  • Despite the fear that my houseplants would wither in my absence, they seemed to do well without being misted or watered for almost 8 days. I am officially hardening off my vegetable seedlings from the east-facing greenhouse in my kitchen in a shadier spot in my backyard. It's exciting, but a little sad -- my house is nearly empty of plants as I get ready to move them outdoors, and I miss them being in my kitchen! I am keeping a few things indoors, i.e. the flats of spinach I have growing on my kitchen counters.

  • I've got several projects going at once in my yard -- one of them involved taking two of the cherry tomato seedlings planted in February (they're tall -- maybe 18 inches to two feet!) and planting them in hanging baskets upside down. I'll have to explain that idea at a later date, but let's just say I invented my own version of the "topsy turvy tomato planter" and I'm optimistic that it's going to work out well. I might even try my technique with other plants, maybe strawberries or spinach.

  • Yesterday while weeding one of my square foot gardens I found a single morel mushroom growing amid the weeds. Steve took several pictures (I hope to post them soon) and then we put a large mason jar over the mushroom to let it grow a bit more before we decide whether we're going to saute it in butter and enjoy or figure out if it's worth learning the complicated process of propagating this delicacy.

  • I got some fun mother's day goodies, including three books on composting (The Complete Compost Gardening Guide, Worms Eat My Garbage and Let It Rot! The Gardener's Guide to Composting), a really nifty, super cheap hand-crank paper shredder I hope to use to shred newspaper for composting and a wooden mortar and pestle for making hummus and other similar foods by hand. I may write reviews of these things once my gardens are planted, the mulch is spread, and I have more time on my hands.

  • Now I have tons of catching up to do. My hardwood mulch from Mavroff the Mulch Man in Waukesha was delivered on Monday. 8 cubic yards! That is one big mulch mountain on my driveway. Between that and my unfinished daylily removal project, unplanted gardens and the rain moving in tonight, I really need to get my act together. Back to the gardens!

    1 comment:

    1. BE VERY, VERY, VERY CAREFUL !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Morel mushrooms seldom grow in a person's back yard. You may have found what's commonly called a FALSE MOREL (semi-toxic).