Onions and Leeks on the Rise

Green Inside and Green Outside

Green Inside and Green Outside

Check these babies out.  I planted these almost six weeks ago, leeks on the left, onions on the right.  I got a great yield–all but one cell has sprouts.  I have had to clip them a few times–that smelled good.

Last year I planted leeks because my seed packet of onions only had a few seeds.  They worked so well I decided to plant both this year.  So far I have been pleased.  The onions I did manage to get last year grew well and were tasty.  I look forward to eating them once they mature.  That is a long way off, but I am patient.  Gardening seems to require patience.

As you can see through the window above, things are getting green out there.  I will plant in a couple of weeks.  I still need to edge the garden beds and pluck some weeds, but I will be ready in time.  The sooner I get plants in the ground, the sooner we get to eat fresh vegetables.  Although we had frost the past couple of mornings, summer is just around the corner.

The peppers (from seeds I saved) so far are duds, as are the cherry tomatoes (two years old) but heck, something will grow.  I am so ambitious that I probably have too much to fit in our garden space anyway.  I can hardly wait to get my hands dirty and plant more seeds.  I get giddy just thinking about it.

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More Than a Woman

Yesterday, April 28, was Equal Pay Day, the day in the year when American women’s pay catches up to American men’s from the previous year.  It takes almost five months into the year before the wages paid to women equal those for men for the 12 months of the year before.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Vermont women earn just over 81% of full time working men.

In 2007, the last full year for which information is available, American men earned an average of $14.75 per hour.  American women?  $12.05 per hour.  That’s a big difference.  The median national weekly earnings for men was $766.  For women it was $614.  In Vermont those weekly earnings were $767 and $625.  Not quite as big a disparity but a disparity nonetheless.  (You can get this and lots more information from the Highlight of Women’s Earnings in 2007 report.

Not only did the notice of Equal Pay Day come my way today from a colleague, but I also happened to notice a poster, which I had seen before but never really looked at closely, that broke down average earnings, separately for men and women, by degree attained.  Vermont’s Commission on Women reports, in its January 2009 Status of Women and Girls in Vermont report, that women with a Bachelor’s Degree earned an average of $31,770 while men earned an average of $46,933.  That is a difference of over $15,000.

That isn’t fair.  Maybe there is, as some claim, more an explanation than one can see on the surface, but that still isn’t fair, and I don’t buy that it can account for the gap.  Vermont’s Commision on Women has also put together a brochure on equity in the workplace.  This isn’t something that I see every day.  It isn’t something that affects me regularly, at least openly.  But it bothers me.

I have seen many women who do a better job than men.  And I know that not all women get paid less than men.  But it is hard to keep from noticing and wondering and questioning what the heck is up with this gender earnings gap.  April 28 is awfully late in the year to be catching up.  Equal pay by New Year’s Eve.  That would be a little more my speed.

Packaging

I recently ordered some syrup. I’m talking flavored syrups to jazz up my espresso drinks. I like to add some flavors here and there, mix it up a little, go for something different. I know some folks are purists and just don’t like to add flavors. I can go with straight up but I also like to add some zing. I was out–I had been for a while–so I ordered some more from Amazon.

When you order from Amazon, as you may know if you have ordered from Amazon, you often have the choice of getting things from outside vendors. I had lots of options, and I went with the two syrups I wanted from two different sellers. I received them on the same day.

I received a bottle of Monin hazelnut syrup from CoffeeAM. It was just what I ordered and was shipped intact. It was packaged well, in fact. I can’t imagine it would have broken. The packaging was pretty cool, actually. It was a self-inflating tube of plastic. The problem is that it was all plastic. Plus it was packed in polystyrene peanuts–more plastic.  Here is what it looked like:

Glass in Plastic in Cardboard

Glass in Plastic in Cardboard

I received a bottle of Monin coconut syrup from Boba Tea Direct. It also was packed well enough that it would have taken a lot to have broken. Again, I was impressed by the packaging–even more so than the other shipment. This was all paper packaging. There was no plastic except the tape on the box. It looked like this:

Glass in Paper

Glass in Paper

The prices on the two bottles were about the same. I only ordered from two sellers because they were not both available from CoffeeAM and the hazelnut syrup at Boba Tea Direct was a lot more pricey (not sure what that was about). But because of the paper packaging, rather than plastic, I will order from Boba Tea Direct in the future. The bubble tube was cool, but I can’t toss that in the compost bin, or even recycle it. The world could use a little less plastic. It isn’t huge, but at least I can take one small action.  You?

Tomatoes Up

I planted tomatoes in foam cells a few days before we went away for a few days.  I was hoping they would be popping out of the dirt when we returned.  They were not.  They were still buried.  Pokey seeds.  I was worried they might be duds.  The next day was eight degrees plus.  They started to rise then.  I guess they like it hot.

No peppers have risen yet.  I planted those at the same time as the tomatoes.  Pokier seeds.  The leeks and onions are doing fine, curling all over.  I had to give them another haircut tonight.  That smelled pretty dang good.  In two or three weeks I will plant all this stuff in the ground.  I am looking to plant other things earlier–peas, lettuce, carrots maybe.  Pumpkins.  We’ll have to see about the weather.

I planted an oak tree from an acorn with the children last June.  It was a father’s day gift.  I never planted it and then winter came.  I thought i would plant it this spring.  When we returned from our trip it was dried out.  I thought watering it would help it bounce back.  It isn’t dead but it is still pretty limp.  I guess you shouldn’t treat your trees like dirt.

The tomatoes are pretty wiry at this point.  I’ll need to bury them deep so they grow well.  I decided not to repot them this year to see what happens.  I thought maybe I wouldn’t lose as many that way.  Last year I repotted once, the year before twice.  I’m all about efficiency.  I still need to prepare the garden.  It is in pretty good shape but the lawn keeps encroaching.  Too bad we can’t eat that.  Tomatoes are tastier.

Things are greening up all over the place.  I am again amazed at how winter turns to spring and then all of a sudden it is summer.  I can’t imagine ever getting tired of that.  I say “wow” a lot this time of year.  I watched a vulture swoop low over the field tonight.  My son and I said “wow” together.  It was in the eighties again today.  That is a wow in itself.  We watched snow fall last month.

So things are growing.  Hopefully I can translate that into some food and some beauty in our garden.  I can almost taste the tomatoes and lettuce and onion sandwiches on homemade honey oat bread with Cabot extra shart cheddar cheese.  Oh crap, I just drooled on myself.  Keep growing tomatoes.

Earth Day at Disney World

We took a fairly last minute family trip down to Florida this week.  We had only planned it a week out.  This made for some good pricing for us.  We stayed at Disney World resorts.  I had never been there and, although I probably would not have picked that place to visit, with all the beautiful places in the world waiting to be visited, I am glad I went.  We happened to be there on Earth Day, which felt like living irony.  Disney World is one of the last places I might think of as embodying the spirit of Earth Day and I was on the lookout for how the two might meet.  I did find a few things.

Disney World promotes that the place offers lots of shopping.  On its constantly looping television channel a perky young woman asks “Like shopping and dining?  Well you’re in luck, cause there’s tons of it.”  Oy.  Our excessive consumer culture thrives there.  All that shopping means tons of one-use bags, of course, but Disney is trying hard on that front.   They really are pushing the cloth totes they have available at every check-out counter.  Apparently they have a goal of eliminating plastic bags altogether.  They still need to work on not selling lots of plastic crap, but getting rid of plastic bags is a good step.

We flew into Orlando.  From the airport we caught a bus to our resort/hotel.  We visited the Magic Kingdom theme park (I still can’t get used to calling it a “park” which to me means a green space to take a walk or to have a picnic) on Wednesday;  we took a bus to get there.  We checked out other sights by taking other buses or the monorail.  We didn’t get in a car until we got back to Burlington and drove home from there.  Granted, Disney could have worked to place more things closer together so walking is more of an option, but that buses transport visitors, rather than personal cars, is pretty big.  They have limited parking, and the bus system really is convenient (I was wishing that our own public transportation system in Vermont could be so easy and reliable), so they got that one right.

On Earth Day itself, there was some kind of Earth Day themed event, although I never saw what it was.  I did see the parade/street party which, I have to admit, was pretty spectacular.  It was a show of shows.  The announcer at one point reminded everyone that it was Earth Day.  It wasn’t much but at least it was an acknowledgment of the day.  “Who wants to be Green?” he shouted.  A limp cheer rose from the crowd.  It was better than nothing.

The Magic Kingdom does have recycling bins.  They sell too much bottled water, but at least those bottles can be recycled.  Since many places I visit simply don’t offer the option of a separate bin for recycling, it was good to see.  At one point while I was standing at a curb, a man passed me and said “excuse me I just need to toss this,” then reached over the popped his empty water bottle into the trash.  It is one thing to offer a recycling bin, and another to overcome the general apathy against using them.  People need to drink water, and lots of it on a hot day in Florida when they are walking far more than they typically walk, but bottled water just isn’t the answer.

One way Disney addresses this is by offering a plastic reusable mug.  We purchased a meal plan that included a mug for each of us.  We could fill it with hot or cold beverages as much as we wanted.  This included water, but also soft drinks, coffee, tea, juice.  It was a good deal, financially, and they must save tons (literally) of waste with those mugs.  They probably save a lot of money by hauling less trash and by purchasing fewer disposable cups.  That one seems a win win.  Even if one does not purchase a meal plan, the mug can be had for $15.  That would pay for itself with a few drinks.

There were a few other things, like the towel policy that most hotels have adopted these days, so I have some optimism.  Disney has a long way to go (do they need to leave all the doors open at the shops when it is 80 degrees and the air conditioner is running?) but they have made some visible steps to cleaning the place up.  Waste costs, in money, time, lost opportunities, clean air and water.  Disney has moved forward in reducing some of this waste.  I applaud that.  I hope they continue to move forward, as they have a large, captive audience.  If they can get millions of people to at least think about recycling and to stop using their cars, if only for a few days, they can make a difference.  Imagine what they could do if they leveraged themselves fully.  Solar panels on the Magic Kingdom castle anyone?

Wild Leeks

Not far from our house there is a spot where the wild leeks grow like gangbusters.  This time of year they fill the woods, not only with their bright green leaves but with their fragrance.  Running past I can smell the odor of onions.

Yesterday I ran past and, inhaling one of the sweet smells of spring, said aloud, “Look at all that food.”  The green stretched across the floor of the woods as far as I could see.  It really was a lot of food, and almost no one would eat it.

I thought about this as I ran.  I also thought about the bash we would be hosting later in the day.  Then the two thoughts merged.  I was planning to make potato salad once I got back.  The recipe I had found called for onions and garlic.  The merged thought consisted of substituting some wild leeks for that onion and garlic.

And so on the way back past that spot in the woods I veered into the trees.  I brushed away the dry leaves, dug my bare fingers into the cold earth, and dug up some food.  They are small, not at all the supermarket version of leeks.  They are more the size of scallions.  I carried them lightly in my left hand as I ran slowly home.

The potato salad came out great.  It was one element of a fine pot luck dinner.  The problem, as I discovered/realized when evening came and we got to the business of cleaning up the final bits, was that it never got put out.  We simply forgot about it.  It sits in the fridge still, waiting for a diner.  I was going to have it for lunch but we still had some guests who spent the night.  I forgot again.

I need to head back over to the leek patch before long to harvest some more of the tasty little plants.  Spring doesn’t last long and soon they will be swallowed by the rest of the undergrowth.  They aren’t as tasty later in the spring or in the summer.

I will grow my own leeks in the summer but they don’t offer quite the same feeling as picking food straight from the woods.  Of course, that doesn’t matter much if I leave whatever I make sitting around uneaten, now does it?

Alien Invasion

When I started this blog on WordPress it was because I had a blog elsewhere and decided to get a little more serious.  A few years ago I heard about this new social networking site for folks with an environmental/human rights/do the right thing in the world bent and it seemed as good a place as any to explore the world of blogging.  It served me well for a while but I needed a change.

I still have an account on the site (you can see it here) and I occasionally check it.  On a whim I typed “UFO” into the search tool and learned that, apparently, there was a UFO at Obama’s inauguration.  Whoda thunk?  There was a whole discussion around this event.  If I only checked my account more frequently I might have a part of that important online communication.  Too bad for me.

Here is at least one of the version of the video: