Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Are You Bagging It ?!

Okay, this isn't exactly a "gardening"  post - unless you count the world as our home garden - which I do.  This is a plea, a serious plea, to your most conscious self.

Wouldn't you love to do one simple thing to make the world a better place?
Then, I want you to make a new resolution or reinforce an old resolution or adapt a not-so-great habit.... all to the good of the world. Our world. Your local, personal, living garden.

Come on - we've all been shopping constantly for the last month (or at least it seems like it). Gifts, food, more food.....

Did you get it in plastic bags?

Now, right off, if you ALWAYS used your own shopping bags (and not just for the grocery store or farmers' market), give yourself 10 stars and forward this blog post to someone else who needs encouragement.

If you are like me, you used your own shopping bags for almost all of your grocery shopping, but got a little lame on those quick trips to Target and other stores.         Uh-huh.

And what about the daily newspaper? Does yours now come wrapped in a nice plastic bag... or two?

So... not so perfect... BUT!
Did you take those plastic bags back for recycling?
I can't tell you how many times, I (strongly) suggest this to friends, who then tell me they don't know where to take the bags. WHAT???
So here it is.  

#1.  Read your newspaper bags.  What do they say?
Yeah. They say:
www.plasticfilmrecycling.org for more info.

And here's what that brought up for my zip code:

One hundred and sixty six places in Virginia Beach (a dozen of which are stores where I normally shop in a month) where I could deposit my saved newspaper bags. And I can recycle any other CLEAN plastic bags from shopping and packaging.


You've seen the recycle bins - probably walked right past them. Maybe you even put bags into them. (Go, you fabulous person, you!)

LOOK! Here's two - right outside my Sandbridge Food Lion!
And I can't tell you how delighted it makes me when those bins are practically overflowing.  (Plus, if you use any store's recycling, please do make a comment on any survey or comment card that you appreciate this service! Let them know!)

I'm also a BIG fan of Target's recycling efforts and I tell them so.  The recycling center at the Red Mill Target used to be over at the customer service center where no one could see them.  Now they are right at the exit, next to the in-store Starbucks (a business in whose stores, I regret to say, recycling seems to be a thing of the past).

How cool is this? Even cellphones and ink.

Now if everyone would just Learn To Read and stop putting trash into every single container.... (does this make anyone else get steamed?)

My beloved girlfriends have given me several fabulous shopping bags made of parachute silk type material - they roll up to nothing and fit in the bottom of my purse. Those have made all the difference.  Sure I still take my own giant bags to the grocery store, but now I have a bag for those quick trips into stores that used to mess up my "no-impact" efforts.  It makes life easy.
B.B.Begonia Bags @ Amazon

The real bottom line?  

We need to stop our reliance on these stupid plastic bags.  I can follow the trash trucks down Blackwater Road and see light-weight shopping bags flying out of the top and all over the fields.
If Kitty Hawk NC can stop using plastic bags, so can Virginia Beach. And Norfolk. And Chesapeake. And everywhere else.  Overall, Americans at least try to keep plastic bags in the trash stream - as opposed to countries with no reliable trash pickup at all - but they escape. And, no they do NOT decompose.


The answer is to stop using those bags. 
So, make a new resolution. Reinforce your intentions!
And... Thank You.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Persimmon Bliss!

Behold my favorite of the winter fruits!  Persimmons!

For years I grew Asian Persimmons (Diospyros kaki). 'Fuyu' was my particular favorite, crispy and sweet - no waiting around for frosts to soften both the texture and the astringency of the skin.  I loved them, still do but we lost our trees, split in storms when fully laden with fruit.

I'm not good at thinning. There, I've admitted it. Mind you, I took hundreds of green persimmons off those Fuyu trees. But there were hundreds more. As they ripened... I watched the branches bend and I knew those fruits should go, go, go.... but - dang! - I wanted those persimmons. So, when the storms hit the tree cracked and split. My just reward.


Meanwhile, back at the back of the ranch, my small grove of native persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) was growing quickly.

They started out as seedlings the size of chopsticks. Too small to sell when we closed our nursery. Now, six years later, they are over my head.

Take a tip: There is nothing in gardening as satisfying as growing a tree. Especially a successful fruit tree. Each becomes a pillar of the garden, an anchor in the landscape, more than one gardener's mortality - an inheritance for times to come.

This year, I have "more than enough" small, sweet native persimmons.  I even offered to share. (Okay, maybe not very loudly.)

And another experiment is in the works.  At the same time, I planted my own seedlings that are crosses of D. kaki and D. virginiana.  So far, no fruits. It will be interesting to see what shows up. Will they be smaller or larger? Astringent or sweet?  Alas, by the time these trees fruit, it will likely be up to the new owners of this farm to decide their merits.

As I said, trees go beyond the original gardener - they are an inheritance passed on to future landowners, hopefully gardeners themselves.

“Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity.”

― Thomas Jefferson