Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Green Living Tip for Garden Seed Starting. A Micro Greenhouse.

In the spirit of reduce, reuse, and recycle, here’s a great tip for gardeners looking for an easy way to start seeds indoors. It’s a micro greenhouse.

Most grocery stores sell prepared cakes and pastries which quite often are packaged in a food-safe plastic container with a see-through raised lid. Although I don’t usually buy a lot of prepared foods, I do occasionally enjoy a single layer carrot cake from my local Hannaford Supermarket. Even though the cakes are tasty, I always felt bad because it seemed like such a waste to toss such a sturdy container in the recycle bin after its first and only use as a cake pan.

This spring, I had an idea to try to reuse it as micro greenhouse to start some basil seeds for an herb class I was teaching. The solid black plastic base worked great to hold the soil and the clear lid made the perfect greenhouse enclosure to keep the soil moist and the seeds warm. It was a great success.

Here are the super easy directions to create your own.

  1. Buy a cake and enjoy it with your family and friends
  2. Wash the empty cake pan and remove the sticker on the clear plastic lid so the sun can shine through
  3. Fill the bottom with soil
  4. Plant your seeds and water them in. You can poke or drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage if you'd like
  5. Secure the clear plastic lid back on top creating a ‘greenhouse’ environment for your seeds
  6. Place your new portable micro greenhouse on a sunny windowsill or under a lamp to grow
  7. Monitor and water when needed
  8. Transplant seedlings when they no longer fit under the ‘greenhouse’ lid
  9. Enjoy

The photos here show the cake when I bought it, the washed pan with soil ready for planting, and some green onion seedlings I started. As you see, I had to buy three of them to take the photos. I called it research, but enjoyed the cakes all the same. Its a great way to reuse everyday items in new ways to reduce garbage and go green.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day, The Day of Heroes

Today, June 6th is the 65th anniversary of World War II’s D-Day. In the early pre-dawn hours on this day in 1944, American soldiers boarded ships anchored in England’s southern harbors, knowing that in minutes they would be crossing the English Channel bound for the uncertain shores of Normandy France.

Many of those soldiers were young, just barely men, yet embarking on a man’s journey that would shape the world’s landscape forever. My father, David Vautier was one of those men. He was headed for Omaha Beach. Still a bright-eyed teenager, and invincible as teenagers often believe they are, I doubt he had any idea what lie ahead for him in what would become know as one of the bloodiest battles of the war, Bloody Omaha.

By the grace of God my father made it to the beach that day and survived the longest day of his life. The steep cliffs of Hitler's Atlantic Wall must have seemed insurmountable after enduring the trek across the flat sands riddled with fallen companions. I once asked him how he managed to survive. “Thin dog tags” he said. “What do you mean thin dog tags?” I asked. He took a deep breath, looked over at me with a certain resignation clearly visible in his aging blue eyes and replied “Very thin dog tags. I kept so low and close to the sand on that beach that the only thing between me and it were my dog tags”. Surely an answer that only another soldier could possibly understand the full weight of.

D-Day was a day of Heroes and my father was one of them. As I comfortably sit here today, in my safe surroundings with many of the luxuries we American’s take for granted, I reflect on his heroism, and the heroism of those who stood shoulder to shoulder with him in the landing boats yet who never even made it to shore. I am grateful. I am grateful for the soldiers of the Great Generation who paid for my freedom with their service and their lives. It is a debt I can never repay.

My father passed away in 2006. It is especially difficult as I watch the History Channel’s D-Day programming and out of habit, or out of love, I reach for the phone to call my Dad and ask him if he was in that town, on that road or in that photo on the show. I now see the spirit of him in all the faces of the soldiers who fought that day, for they are all heroes, each one.