Today I was eyeing the plants at my grocery store. We all know not to ever expect much from the grocery store plants, as they’re usually completely neglected, dry, and limp looking if not half (or totally) dead. However, the grocery store plants are the closest and easiest for me to get to, so I like to puruse and sometimes get a spectacular find.
However, that’s not what got me thinking today. What got me thinking, was the urge I have whenever I see a half dead plant. I know from discussions on the forums that these urges are natural for us that have gone beyond the occasional gardener to the obessive gardener.
It sounds bizarre for those of you who aren’t constantly picking through and checking on their gardens, and looking for seeds of bizarre and exotic plants. But I liken it to the cat lover who can’t help but rescue a stray cat. I can’t help but want to rescue the poor neglected plants. I can see their beauty through their browned and wilted leaves, I know that just with a little TLC they could flourish.
That doesn’t mean I save every plant, however, but I sure want to. Perhaps that’s why every inch of available windowsill space is covered with little (and some not so little) plants. Almost every plant I’ve bought has been an attempt to save its life, save for a few here and there.
I have to stop myself some times and realize, that while I hold a plants life as extremely important, sometimes my need to eat is a little more important than a withered and dying aloe that I’m positive would live 100 years if just given a little care now.
Guest post by Emira Mears
Sometime around last weekend the lilac in my backyard burst into bloom. Since then we’ve been enjoying stunning cut blooms and scent in the house. As I was bringing the cuttings into the house, I was reminded of last year around this time when I made my partner go out under the cover of night stealing blooms from alleyways for me (none of the neighbours I was friendly with on the block had lilacs).
Perhaps as evidenced by my willingness to push someone into theivery, lilacs are among my favorite flowers/plants, and when we found this house last summer the large health lilac tree beside the garage was among the “pros” on my feature list (it kind of made up for the very bad wall to wall brown carpeting). In fact, last Spring, when we were beginning to think about buying a place “must have, or have room to plant” lilac tree was on my list of qualities that would make the ideal home. And I’ve been looking forward to this season when I would get to experience its blooms since last summer.
Funnily enough though, while I’m certainly enjoying, it is no longer really the centre of the garden the way it was when I first identified it. As I continue to put work, thought and plans into the garden I’m finding that I’ve got so many favorite corners that delight me in slightly less ostentatious ways. Everything from my well monitored seeds in the veggie garden, to the successful reclaiming of my rosebushes from an aphid attack occupy my gardening thoughts deflecting my past obsession with the showy splendour of a lilac in bloom. I think I like it better this way.
While they are probably meant for kids, these paper model projects featuring assorted plants, insects, and organisms are fun projects for any age. Models include your standard garden fare; lady bugs, and butterflies but take learning about the ecosystem of the garden to another level with nematodes, bacteria, and more.
Projects come with simple and advanced models, which means you can adapt them to your skill level. New designs are added regularly — if you’re creative (or nerdy) enough you can keep building and eventually create your own 3-D paper garden diorama.
Guest post by Renee Garner
Words like hyperaccumulator and phytoremediation sound like something straight out of a 1960s Sci-Fi movie and hardly verbs describing gardens. But when the conceptual, and socially minded artist Mel Chin creates a garden, you get these lengthy words among others.
Mel Chin is a Texas born artist now living in North Carolina; and when he plants, he plants for good. In 1990 Chin began working with the United Stated Department of Agriculture’s senior scientist, Rufus Chaney, to plan, sculpt and garden Pig’s Eye Landfill in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Together they assessed hyperaccumulator plants, which absorb heavy metals through their root systems and store them during the growth process. The heavy metals in this case are zinc and cadmium, and the project is called “Revival Field”, not “Revive James Hetfield.” The ultimate transformation occurs through phytoremediation, or the transference of the metal laden dirt to ore quality metals (harvested through the plants for reuse) and revived, healthy soil.
The Minnesota test site lasted 3 years, and while the trial run was productive, the soil was still somewhat polluted, and not yet reusable. A second garden was planted in Palmerton, Pennsylvania and another has been installed in Stuttgart, Germany. Ongoing tests are run for productivity, as other plants are researched for affective levels of metal accumulation.
Apparently, Chin always knew the plants were up to something.
Guest post by Emira Mears
Try saying that three times fast. TrugTubLove. TrugTubLove… Anyway. Gayla’s post about Lee Valley got me to thinking about my last Lee Valley impulse purchase. I had stopped there on my way back from picking up a load of compost, and tried very hard to restrain myself from making too many luxury garden purchases. Afterall, while so much of what is there is truly wonderful, nifty and swell really: I don’t need it. I manage to get by in the garden with my second hand tools and bits and pieces borrowed and acquired from here and there just fine. Still, nice shiny new things are always alluring.
Somehow, in spite of my resolve, I managed to justify the purchase a red plastic tub. How? Well you see, ever since we bought our place and I got to work on the garden I’ve been scrounging the house/thrift stores/garage sales and the like for a good all-purpose garden bucket. Something that I could use for both a 30 minute weed session, or to transfer compost around with me while planting bulbs, etc. Growing up, my mom had a bucket that she called the “weed bucket” that was just such a multi-use item. It was made of galvanized steel and though I haven’t seen it lately I bet she still has it. I ended up sans bucket and making due with cardboard boxes for small jobs and the wheelbarrow for larger ones last year, but kept on the look-out all winter. As nothing had materialized and because no matter how much I try, my resolve at Lee Valley is really pretty minimal, I caved and bought one of these Trug Tubs. And I have to say: I kind of love it.
I’ve used it for all kinds of gardeny things, like:
- Repotting plants at the office (I brought down a load of potting soil from home to the office in the tub and voila!)
- Soaking my bulbs before planting them
- Carrying transplants from one part of the yard to the next
And I’m sure I’ll get up to much more with it over time. What I like about it is that it is a big enough size to hold a whole lot of weeds, a good amount of dirt, etc. but it is not so big that I overfill it to the point of not being able to carry it (the kind of thing I’ve very likely to do). The fact that it is flexible means that I can often carry it around with one hand while carrying tools, etc in my other hand and as a neurotic multi-tasker that makes me very happy.
So yes, it is plastic, it is undoubtedly not something you have to spend $40 on as other thing will do, but as my one big garden “tool” purchase for the year so far, it has been pretty darn satisfying.