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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”