Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Planters from Recyclables

Last summer I planted my first garden in a space I shared with my roommate. It wasn't much of a garden - my section was poorly planned and yielded little more than two bell peppers and a handful of herbs before I killed everything with neglect, but it was fun and I learned a lot in the process.
Over the winter I moved into my own place which has little in the way of garden space so I started growing stuff inside. Most of what I planted was originally kitchen scraps so I'm calling the whole thing learning experience. So far, so okay.

I had a few planters left from my old place and I bought a couple more at Canadian Tire and Halifax Seed but the cost adds up pretty quickly when you're trying to grow a bunch of different things so I repurposed some containers I had lying around into new planters. By which I means I dug a bunch of shit out of the garbage, poked holes in the bottom, and went to town.

This stuff doesn't look great but it is functional. Some things are, of course, more functional, or easy to work with, than others. And that's why I'm sharing my insight with you, gentle reader, so that you may learn from my weird mistakes and enjoy the piece of mind that comes from not paying for stuff you can make yourself out of garbage.

The first thing I tried was an ice cream container which was the best of all of them. The one I used was made out of that plasticized cardboard stuff so it was really easy to poke drainage holes in the bottom. Since this was my first one, I underestimated how many holes I needed to poke in there though so I did end up with a bit of a drainage issue. My advice: poke a shitload of holes. Poke holes in the sides. Since the material is coated in plastic it has no natural drainage or absorbency.

This was the end of a celery I bought at the store. This container worked really well actually until I left it too close to the baseboard heater and it basically melted. I think it was too hot for the celery also and it died. So, yeah, don't do that.

I would not recommend soup cans. They are the most customizable, but the hardest to work with. I did not know this, but apparently the bottom end of the can is way thicker than the top, and cutting drainage holes is really hard. Yes I tried a can opener. I ended up using a nail and another can to hammer it in (I don't own a hammer for some reason). The garlic is okay with all that, though.

Milk cartons are about the same as ice cream containers in terms of ease of use, plus they usually come in fun colours, but you have to be really, really really careful when washing them out because milk ingredients seem to get caught in the corners super easy and then make life miserable for everybody.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Worlds of Science Fiction (Part 1)

One time when I was up home (New Brunswick is "up home" for me in case anybody was wondering), my mom gave me a stack of books she said were mine and needed gone out of the way or whatever. I gladly accepted them coz I was pretty much starving for reading material. So I got them home and started looking through "my" books, which included Gravity's Rainbow (not mine), The Golden Fleece (not mine), The Complete Memoirs of George Sherston (I have no idea who that is), The World at War (also not mine) and other weird stuff. In my mom's defense, she has a very small house and twice as many people live there than do my apartment.

One of the books she pawned off on me was The Worlds of Science Fiction, a collection of short stories which I have never seen before but is still a fairly apt assessment of my tastes. I love short stories since I am really busy and have a hard time getting through a whole novel. Lately, I get about half way through a book and then have to take it back to the library and then put a hold on it and then forget to check my e-mail and then the hold expires and so on and so forth.

Anyway, short stories. The highlights are below.

"Evening Primrose" by John Collier is the best one so far I think. It's about a guy who gets tired of dealing with regular life and decides to move into a department store. He hides during the day and dicks around writing poetry and hiding from the night watchman after hours. Then he discovers that there is a society of really creepy people who have been living in the store since the Great Depression. It's really surreal and bizarre and sort of funny and makes me want to read more of John Collier.

"Babel II" by Damon Knight is about a dude who, while selling photographs and models to an interdimensional alien, inadvertently triggers an event which renders all humans on earth unable to understand one another. The story really gets into detail the problems that would ensue in such a scenario (for example, all airplanes are grounded because they have no radio communication). I liked it because it presented me with an idea that I hadn't really contemplated before and I had no idea where the story was going.

"Memento Homo", about an elderly spacer on his death bed, was a nice read and I got really excited because it was by Walter M. Miller and he's a really good writer. "'All You Zombies--'", about a time traveler who is his own mother and father is a weird enough idea that I spent a lot of time thinking about it and discussing it at work, but I got really annoyed because it's by Robert A. Heinlein and I really don't like his writing.

The other stories I read so far are nothing really to write home about. I'm only about halfway through the book now and will post again when I'm finished.