Gardener's Grapevine 2011.12.28

Written by David Green.

Christmas has past and as I clean up the mess from a large family meal and gift exchange free-for-all, I realize how much post holiday waste is generated.

I have noted before that I am not an over-the-top “green” person, but I am environmentally conscious about my carbon footprint. If it is within our ability to reduce, recycle and reuse, shouldn’t we?

I read this week that not all wrapping paper can be recycled because it’s coated in plastic to make the iridescent patterns and colors. My daughter did point out that it usually says on the paper products if it is recyclable.

The reason I am into recycling is because in order to keep our water supply and soils uncontaminated so we can continue to garden, we have to be conscious of what is happening beyond our own little plot of land. I know of people who will dump anything down the sewer drain just to dispose of it. Does it ever occur to them where that goes? Gas, grease, oil, etc…where do they think this goes?  Is it out of sight, out of mind?

Well, with all this thought of recycling comes thoughts of my terrific husband of 26 years lugging a trunk load of paper and cardboard up to the recycling center. Having to work after Christmas does have it’s advantages when everyone else is at home.

My uncle Dwight Houttieker loves the outdoors and particularly gardening. For Christmas he received some great gardening books and spent a lot of his holiday learning new techniques to use in his garden. Gardening books are a great present and they keep on giving long after the holiday. We had a great conversation about greenhouse gardening and the different ways we’ve seen to start your garden early using temporary green housing techniques such as PVC pipes bent to shape a support and heavy plastic sheeting to cover the supports.

It is always nice to talk with other gardeners, especially if they are avid readers. You get ideas and information that you never thought of before. A friend from northern Michigan told me they start plants early using milk jugs. They cut the bottom out of them and put them over the plants while they are small. As the weather warms they gradually take the caps off, then cut the top of the jug off leaving the base as support for the plant. They have had extremely good success with this technique and due to an extended growing season they have more produce.

My aunt and uncle have a lovely enclosed porch they don’t use in the winter and my uncle is going to try using it as a greenhouse to start his plants early. He told me that he has so much more time since retiring and so many ideas on improving his garden. Maybe that is what I need to do…retire.

Unfortunately, gardening takes money to purchase what I need and I’m not old enough for Social Security. Life is so not fair! Guess I’ll keep dreaming of a day when I have unlimited time to play in the dirt. Until then, I will keep reading and picking other gardeners’ brains for ideas.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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