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.

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