vacation

Vacation Woes & Garden Envy

Two aspects of gardening we don’t often discuss, but I know exist. At least they do for me.

Recently I helped out a fellow gardener by harvesting some of their crop while they were out of town. Didn’t have to ask me twice. Free bounty? Count me in! However, I was reminded of what it means to be a gardener on vacation.

Weeds. And lots of them. The longer you enjoy your time away, the worse your garden woes at home. Especially after a big rain. Yikes. My back hurts just looking at all the weeding that needs to be done! Every summer the same thing happens to my garden. I’ve resorted to covering most of my beds with heavy black paper to ease the burden, but invariably there are weeds. Usually in my peanuts–about the only crop I grow over the summertime, due to the heat.

But the good news? The bounty was some of the best I’ve seen in a while.

Look at the size of these eggplant plants! They were over three feet high. And take a gander at all that bounty! If you recall, my eggplants were a measly 18 in. tall. “Shrimps” by comparison.

But my envy didn’t stop there. The jalapenos were also amazing and abundant. And tall. Way taller than my plants. In fact, all of the plants were bigger than mine. I’m not sure if his plants are organic or not, however I do know one thing. I’m jealous!

However, looking on the bright side. I do get to enjoy the fruits of his labor–literally. The eggplant was delicious, as were the peppers!

Composting on Vacation

I think I’ve come up with a new invention.  I call it the Travel Composter.  Not sure if it will take off or not–maybe needs a catchier title–but I think it’s a great idea nonetheless.  It occurred to me over the past summer (past, as in, my kids went back to school today — yay!). Yes, well it occurred to me that everyone should have a Travel Composter.  Easy, odorless, compact and storable (or packable) this item is a must for eco-minded people.  Think of the guilt it would relieve!

And I am so all about relieving guilt.  No room in my life for the emotion, at all.  But this past summer, I felt it–to the core.  Gut-wrenching, heart-aching guilt.  Can you imagine? There I was, clearing the dinner dishes while on vacation and–as is my habit–automatically went for the kitchen composter to deposit my food scraps.  Ouch.  A kitchen composter that wasn’t there. 

Well of course it wasnt.  It was at home.  I was on vacation.  Staring at the plate of leftovers, my first instinct was to return them to nature.  My gaze drifted outdoors.  I’m in a rural setting.  No one will notice.  Maybe the wildlife will enjoy them. 

On second thought, maybe not.  If gone uneaten, they might cause an unsightly mess or worse–a stench.  Then of course there’s my husband.  If he saw me toss the scraps outdoors he would not be happy.  Nor would he let me keep them until we returned home.  Already tried that and it didn’t go over well. 

Trust me.  It’s never good when your husband spies you stashing away leftovers in a Ziploc bag.  “What do you think you’re doing with that?”

Wasn’t it obvious?  “Um…taking the leftovers home for the compost pile?”

“No, you’re not.”

What?  Why not?”

“I’ll not have my car smell like garbage number one and number two, you’re not saving the planet by taking them home.  They’re biodegradable.”

Hmph.  Doesn’t he appreciate the fact that I’m environmentally conscious?  That this will serve a higher and better purpose as organic fertilizer than it will as building supply for the local dump?

Not when it stinks up his car, he doesn’t.  Though he does have a point.  Is it worth ruining the interior of an automobile for items that will biodegrade anyway, no matter where you deposit them?  But what about the bottles, jars and cans we had to throw away?  The place where we stayed had no recycle bins, no options for guests to do the right thing. 

I have to admit, I was bothered.  It wasn’t right.  It’s too easy to accommodate individuals such as myself.  We only ask for a separate container.  A bin, a bag, heck–I’ll drive my trash to the corner if you’ll point me in the right direction!

But alas, there was no such offer.  Which is sad.  While I don’t like anyone being forced to comply with recycle standards and practices (I’m a Libertarian at heart), I would like to see them offer the same.  It would keep the skip in my step, the smile on my face, not to mention the guilt out of my heart.

On a brighter note, there are some companies out there doing the job I wish I could have done.  One of the largest in the Southeast happens to be GreenCo.  This company works the greater Atlanta area by taking food waste from not only restaurants and hotels, but grocery stores, colleges, hospitals–all sorts of places!–and hauls it to their area facilities.  Once there, they turn it into organic fertilizer which they sell to retailers who in turn, sell to the public.  Talk about full circle–the public who made the waste can then re-use the waste.  Ingenious!

Isn’t it nice to know someone out there cares?  Sure does relieve the guilt I feel about not doing so myself.  Perhaps I should restrict my future travel in Atlanta to these green-minded organizations.  At least I’ll feel like I’m giving back, literally.

How about you? Are you doing your part to recycle? Do you know of any companies who are?  If so, let us hear about them!

p.s.  Go ahead and feel free to take my idea for the Travel Composter, too.  Really, I don’t mind a bit.  Just get out there and make a difference (and earn a mint in the process! :))

Vacations and Gardens

They sometimes don’t mix.  Unless you plan accordingly, vacations can wreak havoc on a garden.  Shoot, even when you do plan accordingly they can shower your garden with weeds and bugs, slugs and grubs.  The mere thought of leaving my garden for a week at a time gives me the heebie-jeebies. But hey, I’ve got to live, don’t I? 

Yes.  More than live for my garden, I’ve got to traipse across the wilderness, scour new horizons in search of greener grass and bluer skies and drag my kids alongside me.  My heart soars at the sheer whisper of exotic destinations and far off places. 

Until they introduced those intrusive body scanners, anyway.  Ick.  Unfortunately, body scanners and groping TSA agents are not the only things capable of making one mutter, “ick.”  No.  Vacations away from your fabulous and fertile garden can make you turn away in horror, too.  Just look at what happened to Julie’s gorgeous greens. 

She wasn’t gone for long.  It all happened so fast… 

It’s enough to make a girl want to up and quit this whole garden experiment, toss the newfound joy aside like an uncomfortable pair of heels.  They’re scuffed.  It will take effort to refurbish them to their original shine.  Is it worth it?

Chin up, ladies–of course it’s worth it!  You’re a gardener now.  You must understand that Mother Nature likes to toy with a gal, test her fortitude and make sure she’s worth those glorious tomatoes she’s perfected over the centuries. After all, once she’s entrusted you with her precious commodities of fruits and vegetables, she’ll expect you to perform in turn. 

And perform you will.  As Julie has proved with these lovely near ripe tomatoes.

Just look at these budding beauties.  Kinda makes it all worthwhile, doesn’t it?

P.S.  Remember:  Mother Nature does this all day long, all by herself.  You’re included in the growing process at her whim.  If she wants your garden to grow, it will.  If not, oh well.  One only has to consider my compost pile tomatoes to be sure this woman knows how to garden. (Yep.  This plant is growing completely unaided in my compost pile.)

Then look at my corn.  Granted this shot includes only a few stalks flattened by wind–but trust me–there were more.  My husband claims I need to plant more rows, shorter rows, insisting a denser planting formation will protect the interior stalks leaving only the outer corn susceptible to annihilation.  (Apparently men from Ohio know a little something about growing corn.)  Fine. I’ll take it under my cap and consider it.

 

Next season.  For now, I suggest you take this as a warning–in case you had any doubts about the ferocity of Mother Nature’s temper.  Not sure what I did to deserve this, but don’t think I didn’t fight back and right those stalks at once!

I can be impossible, too. 🙂