Saturday, April 23, 2011

We survived Earth Day 2011!

Yesterday we spent the entire day using as little electricity as possible. This is difficult when you live in an old historical stone house with few windows, and especially difficult if you an artist like my husband. Poor Jeremy spent the day following the best spots of light around the house with his latest page of comic book art, sketching here and there and being a general good sport of it. The morning brought about an amazing reintroduction for me... Gardening books! Sure, I borrow the occasional library book, but it had been so long since I'd sat down with a stack of gardening books to research something in particular. Yesterday's topic? Potatoes. I read about how the Shakers grow theirs, how the English Victorians grew theirs, how they're conventionally grown and how best to grow them organically. What an adventure!

After breakfast, I sat on the front porch sorting, cutting and prepping seed potatoes for planting. This is our first year planting potatoes, so hopefully this goes well. We'll be doing ours in straw and trenches.

I spent the rest of my day outside in the rain. I laid out where our pumpkin mounds are going this year (marked by white plastic buckets in the photo below). I planted twenty-five 3 year old asparagus crowns and I dug four of the eight trenches for our potatoes (and those we're donating to Project Grow). I also mapped (and then re-mapped) out where we're going to plant our fruit trees. Unfortunately the best area is currently dominated by several huge multiflora rosa monsters. You know the type - the intimidatingly large flopping mounds of 1/2" thick vines covered in big nasty thorns. They look like skulking beasts just waiting for you to turn your back... *shudder*

I may have a gathering some time soon where I invite our friends out with their loppers and trimmers and hedge cutters and chainsaws. We'll provide beer and potluck while they help us clean up all of the multiflora rosa thickets. You would not believe how overrun our poor antique orchard is by invasive plants. I was looking, the other day, at one of the geriatric apple trees and realized it has rose vines growing all the way up through its crown. That's at least 25 feet! I'm a fan of roses, and of rosehips of course (both for myself and the critters that eat them) but the trees are suffering greatly because of these beasts. I'll leave a few thickets around for the rabbits and voles to hide in, and I'll leave them along the fence because it deters the dogs' exploring, but other than that they have to go.

Anyway, by the evening we were totally bored. We realized too-late that our oil lamp wicks were both too short and we didn't have enough oil anyway, so we lit candles and ate sandwiches for dinner. After that we played scrabble, and I finished the game with six points less than Jeremy which is a serious improvement on my typical scrabble score...

I admit we did cheat a bit. Shortly after we'd been electricity free for 24 hours, Jeremy turned on his studio lamp and did some more work on his latest comic book page. Obviously I can't begrudge a man his job.


  1. Good for you! I confess I honored Earth Day more in the breach, unless seeding the grass in the rain counts.

  2. Impressive!

    Oh, and I'm sure the sheep would love to help some with those rose vines. They like anything viny. Just make sure nobody (especially lambs) gets tangled. That's less of a concern with polled sheep, but it's still a possibility especially if they're woolly. You can toss the cut vines to them over the fence, but they will probably walk around with them stuck in their fleeces that way. Might make for some hilarity, though . . .

    Thinking of you and Ingrid as the time draws near . . .