…just one word…Plastics

I scroll down the Greenhouse Megastore webpage to buy a gigantic 24’x55′ sheet of UV tolerant plastic for our eco-friendly, “green,” sustainable hoop house, and Dustin Hoffman appears to me, poolside in the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” receiving the secret to success in modern America.

  • MR. McGUIRE:  I want to say one word to you.  Just one word.
  • BENJAMIN:  Yes, sir.
  • MR. McGUIRE:  Are you listening?
  • BENJAMIN:  Yes, I am.
  • MR. McGUIRE:  Plastics.
  • BENJAMIN:  Just how to you mean that, sir?
  • MR. McGUIRE:  There’s a great future in plastics.  Think about it.  Will you think about it?
  • BENJAMIN:  Yes, I will.
  • MR. McGUIRE:  ‘Nuff said.  That’s a deal.

The movie was about questioning the values of society and the company man, but plastic still means garbage to me, as well as phoniness, lifeless conformity, materialism, and corruption.  The Bearded One adds that it also means clean, safe, hygienic survival.  I laugh nervously.  I need to get over it.  A quick walk around the farmlet and I am prepared to be a little more honest.  Plastic is with us and we love it.

Garbage can plastic

We are not about to let any good plastic get away.

Wood pile tarp

Clear barn roof

We also love “plastic” baling twine.  It’s some kind of polymer, I feel sure.  It’s orange and extremely strong and durable.  We buy it in enormous spools, and we use and re-use it.  Plastic isn’t BAD, is it?  It’s an oil product and therefore a part of our planet’s ongoing focus on resource depletion and environmental stewardship.  But I’m old enough now where I know cutting all plastic out of my life just doesn’t make me or the world better.  Am I rationalizing?  “Is plastic natural?” I ask the Bearded One.  “Is a 2 by 4 natural?” he replies.

Twine trellis -- raspberries, marionberries, and boysenberries

We no longer need chicken wire for the hoop house because the orange twine will do just fine.  The fancy greenhouse plastic cost $200, which was actually a bit less than I thought, so we are still hovering in the $500 range for our 30’x10′ hoop house.

The doors are in now, too.

I jumped the gun on the planting last week.  It’s still too cold.  It was 28 degrees on the deck this morning, and we’re still using the space heater at the kitchen table.  We’re not only an “outlying area,” according to the weather people, we are also the Convergent Zone.  Yep, the Convergent Zone is our property.  Neighbors have commented how the temperature dips when they walk past our place.

Outlying animals

So, as sunny as it has blessedly been a few days this week, I’m still just weeding and sifting moss out of the soil.  I did put in the sweet peas like I said I would, though.  I’m considering laying a plastic sheet over them at night.

Like I should have done with the poor asparagus.  But I still had plastic block back then.  The news is that our asparagus has drowned.  We planted the gnarly, octopus-shaped root clops in the two inner circles of the Rings Garden two years ago.  The male spears and female ferns came up last year in late March.  This year, I waited and waited, and no little purple spears.  Asparagus likes it dry.  We are just too dang wet, especially since I didn’t cover the bed over with tons of straw like I did the first year.  Honestly, though, I only planted it because Barbara Kingslover did in her funny and useful book and website Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  Asparagus is a rare perennial vegetable, but neither of us has ever craved it.

Live asparagus roots look a lot like this, but this one is dead.

The hoop house plastic should arrive within the week, and I’ll be able to plant practically anything!  This makes me happy, and I will embrace the plastic film with my whole heart when it arrives.

It was our younger Twenty Something daughter just two weeks ago who used the word eyesore regarding her fears about all that plastic, and so we’ve been pondering how the plastic will wrap around the ends with little if any cutting and nailing on the arch itself.

Low tech model of hoop house plastic

Our Twenty-Something son called this week from college to tell us he’s changing his major from Architectural Engineering to Civil Engineering.  He wants to be outside, not inside, he said.  He used the words environment and water systems, and I think he even said ecology.

I feel proud and a little goofy.  I want to walk him out to the hoop house and show off our cutting edge ecological miracle.  Focus on the superb do-it-yourself, low-tech solution to no sunlight.  Help point him forward into his newly chosen field.  “I want to say one word to you.  Just one word…Plastic.”

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7 responses to “…just one word…Plastics

  1. Christine Widman

    Dear Christi,
    Couldn’t wait to read your entry today for an uplift as we are so B&B busy that I need all the energy uplift I can get. And your philosophical ponderings about plastic truly “made my day.” I think about this kind of thing all the time and always decide that I want to stay in the moderate “convergence” zone – moving toward union. Extreme rights and lefts take me off the main road – the road of quiet joys, simple pleasures, peace basically.
    So hurrah for your plastic hoop house – which is actually quite elegant in its great usefulness in keeping your baby seeds safe and warm until they become yummy vegetables to feed body and soul.
    Your blog feeds my soul and – by the way – I LOVE asparagus…so I’m a little
    :-(( that your plants drown in the NW rain.
    Christine

  2. Am I posting a comment now? I loved this one about plastics. You wrap your stories up so well. Okay, I could make that into a pun, couldn’t I? – wrap – plastic. Always fun to see what you and Keith are up to.
    love, Mom

  3. Well now that was a delight! I agree with Christine, above…I think about these kinds of things all the time. Apparently someone in the plastic industry is too since I just bought ECO plastic sandwich bags for Bob, which are less plastic used in them. I always try to search for the best ECO buy when I can…love your Farmlet!

  4. Plastic…so many uses. It would be difficult to live without it. There are plastic parts in the dryers that we build, in the cars that we drive, in practically every industry including medical. The main concern that I have is not just environmental, it’s also social…our society seems to be moving into an attitude of “everything is disposable”. I mean, convenience is great, and practicality too, but what about the skills that are being forgotten. Weaving, basket making, cabinet making, rug making…the list goes on and on. I don’t want my children and grandchildren (someday, I hope) to grow up in a disposable society. I want them to make use of plastic, but not to the exclusion of everything else. This was a very thought provoking “issue” Christi! Thank you.

    • Thanks for the great comments Kathie, Christine, Suzanne and Mom! Kathie makes a great point about the disposability attitude. And I hadn’t seen Christine’s metaphor in the convergent zone as a moving toward union. Nice. 🙂 I might yet plant some more asparagus, Christine…but it does need to be seriously pampered to flourish here. Suzanne, I’ll look for those ECO bags, and Mom, that’s a wrap.

  5. That straw bale twine is nasty and breaks down within a couple years and all over your “organic farm”. It was better off when they used wire to bale straw.They do make expensive natural hemp or canvas tarps that are tough and last years longer than plastic. Not sure how well it is for covering green houses. Plastic should not be used for disposable materials. I’m working on it myself, am I rationalizing?

    • Hi Jim. Our baling twine seems to be lasting decades, and the plastic for the hoophouse is specially made for the purpose and has lasted beautifully for two years. We’ve been told it will go 6 in this climate. I understand the aversion to plastic, though, believe me.

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