Friday, March 2, 2012

More plants and food: happiness, sadness, and hilarity

My Independence Days update has mostly to do with plants this week, because this week has been big for my little world of plants. First of all, since I've been feeling so down this week I decided to do something within my power to try to improve our situation at least a tiny bit. So I do what I usually do: I planted. I've been thinking that I needed new dirt (expensive!) before I realized that I have a few pots in the garage with dirt. It's already been planted in at least once, and it was hard, but it should be ok. I added my last little bit of bagged dirt on top to get some fresh nutrients for my seeds and sprinkled some oregano and thyme seeds in the pots. Covered with old plastic bags, they should sprout in a few days.
At work, I started some seeds (using the last of the dirt I keep there) for two tomatoes. I don't have big pots for them yet, but I can at least start them in my old, saved-up yogurt containers. The most important thing is getting them started so that I can have them producing for as along as possible.
And my jalapeno plant started putting out new flowers! I have no idea if it will actually fruit again, but wouldn't that be lovely?
We have a lot more space at work now because on Wednesday I finally had to give the Botanical Gardens their plants back. It wasn't nearly as many as I was thinking (about six orchids, one of which I killed, one begonia, one enormous old jade, one vine, one amaryllis--which bloomed the day I gave it back!--and one palm tree stem, because I'd killed that too) but it does make a huge visual difference since several of the plants were so big. I'm trying not to be sad about it. I got really attached to some of those plants, particularly the begonia and the jade. But I do have snippets from each of them (in the case of the jade, if all the starts I have turn into full plants we'll have about ten of them) so they're living on in my office. And I got to impress the botanist with my skill at nursing the begonia back to health. :)
Besides, this just means that I have more space in which to put my own plants. The top of the reference shelves are free, the top of the microfiche cabinet, and I've scoped out some new places in which I think it might be ok to put plants. So we'll see just how much produce I can grow in a library! My peas are shooting up quickly, already wrapping little vines around the cages, and my bean plant has two full leaves with more on the way.
The hilarity with my plants is because of the process of returning the jade plant. Just so you understand, this plant is taller than I am. (Which, admittedly, isn't very tall.) It's rather wide around, and it's very fragile. Jade plants don't normally live for the 35+ years that this one has, at least not in, er, captivity. It's starting to rot in places (normal for its age--I was worried I'd done something wrong!--it just needs to be pruned back) and the new branches are putting out roots to indicate that it would like to be lots of little plants rather than one large one. (That's pretty much exactly what the Botanical Gardens lady told me.) So moving it, even just to the other end of the building, was difficult. We couldn't carry it, and neither of us had a hand truck to use. (Ours is filled with boxes of books, theirs had gone mysteriously missing the day before.) So she grabbed the wheeled platform out from under one of their garbage cans and we had to move the jade onto that. Then I pushed, and she pulled, and we started it moving. But the pot is not as large as you'd expect for a plant that size, so we were sort of crab-walking it through the hallways. I mentioned that I felt like one of those characters in a cartoon who tries to hide behind a plant which they move around for cover. (This might have popped into my head because I'd re-watched "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" the day before.) On top of all of this, because it is so fragile, any bump in the path (like the rug in the library to capture dirt and snow) shook the plant and dead leaves and rotted branches would rain down on us. So we left a very clear path in fallen plant detritus behind us. We were both laughing most of the way up the hallway. And I got a few new branches to start in water as new plants as a result.
As far as food this week, my feeling of poverty really came into play there. I really did my best to look through our stored food to see what we could/should eat. Thankfully, this is resulting in a couple of wonderful things. The first: my birthday dinner. We had everything we needed (except the mushrooms) for moose stroganoff, which Shane makes and I love. So that's what I requested. I made the sour cream for it on Wednesday evening, for which I'm feeling rather proud. (Shane laughed at me, because his recipe calls for canned cream of chicken soup. "Why bother making sour cream when we're using preservative-laden canned soup?" Answer: "Because I can!") We ate salmon, and we have many more yummy (and frugal) things on our list, like moose roast. I made graham crackers, I made yogurt, I made apple scones. (I probably won't be making those last again. They were all right, but just all right.) Finally, I made zucchini brownies for a charity auction at the Pub. I actually found the recipe because I was looking for a brownie recipe without butter! (Other than what we have in the butter dish, we're out.) At some point, I'll have to make them for myself so I can actually tell you if they're good or not. The batter was certainly yummy.
One more sad thing for food: we're running out of usable potatoes. They're still technically edible, but at this point they're all sprouting and getting soft. When they start, the sprouts start to eat up the sugars in the potato so they're not as good. It also uses a lot of moisture, so the last time I made baked fries they turned out very dry. I pulled the last few ones I'll want to use (for some reason, the blues seem to store the best, with the whites a close second and the reds dead last) and have them sitting (de-sprouted) with our apples so that they'll keep a bit longer. The rest can cannibalize each other (seriously, the sprouted roots are latching onto the other potatoes) and I'll plant them as soon as possible this summer.

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