Oil in the Gulf

With heavy hearts we mourn the folks who lost their lives in the oil rig explosion last week. One event can change the lives of so many.

So now the lives and livelihoods of shrimpers, oystermen (which I come from a family 0f), and fishermen are in jeopardy.  They’re trying to get as much as they can out of the Gulf for business, for food.  The lives of  turtles that swim to our beaches to nest; the birds that feed in our wetlands and over the Gulf; the oyster reef we’ll be helping to restore this summer are all being changed.  Our property values, waterfront businesses, eco-tourism are all in danger from this tragedy.  This spill is heading our way.

I am not mad or angry or outraged by what happened.  Accidents are just that.  No one (that we know of so far) planned to explode the oil rig, kill people and watch an unknown amount of oil spill into our Gulf.  I am in shock, however, that it took until today for the plan to start that would keep the oil from spreading farther north.  The news report I watched online said they’d burn a little to “test” the plan but won’t burn during the night.  Meanwhile, winds are picking up heading north and we’re in for storms this weekend.

Today, I’m totally saddened to watch this oil drift toward my home.  I pray it never makes it but the burn could take a long time and some of the oil would come ashore somewhere.  I read it’s less than 20 miles from our coast and closer to Louisiana’s wetlands.  The soot and ashes will go east toward Florida’s white beaches leaving them with a potential mess to clean up as well.

I wonder what kind of plan is in place for shoreline cleanup.

Our Trip to Montgomery AL

We took our first trip to Montgomery since moving to Alabama last summer.

My husband had some business meetings so we tagged along.  In addition, we stopped and checked out some local food businesses such as the Conecuha sausage company.  They have samples in their gift shop; the boys tried them all.  I’m not much on sausage so I left the tasting to the experts.  When we got to Montgomery we had lunch at the farmer’s market then headed off to sight-see. 

Between the two days we spent there we did the following: saw the Capitol, visited the First White House of the Confederacy, watched the Montgomery Biscuits’ ballgame after eating dinner at Dreamland BBQ (the chicken BBQ potato was great), birdwatched, checked out the old towne section of the city, visited the Civil Rights Museum, ate at Martha’s (and I hope you do, the next time you visit Montgomery), hung out at the Hank Williams museum and made a pilgrimage to his gravesite. 

Dexter Ave Church sign

Dexter Ave Church

my boys and I near the Capitol building

Gary and the boys with the Biscuits' mascot: Mo

Hank Williams statue downtown

outside the Civil Rights Museum

MLK Jr home

Oyster Gardening in Mobile Bay

Last weekend I learned how to be an oyster gardener along the Mobile Bay.

The oyster garden restoration project is getting underway and I’ve signed up, with some interested 4-H families, to participate.  I’m armed with oyster cages, some measuring tools and knowledge.  I just need to find a location for the garden.  There are specific areas in the Bay that are designated legal for these gardens.

What we’ll do is collect 100 oysters from the Auburn Shell Lab folks who will distribute them mid-June.  We’ll separate them into the 4 cages and hang them in the Bay water from underneath a pier.  Each week, until November when the oysters are collected by the  Auburn oyster garden staff, we’ll check on the oysters.  Our duties will be to measure the oysters, shake the cages to allow predators to drop out, clean the cages of barnacles and replace them in the water.  We have to report what we’ve done and the data we’ve collected.  The plan is that by November the oysters spawning activities would have produced more oysters that would have set on the existing shells and grown along with the larger ones.  When they’re collected in November they’ll be put into the restoration reef somewhere else along the Bay.

We need to find a pier.  I’ll be heading out along Scenic 98 next week to scope out locations and knock on doors.  Hopefully someone will let our 4-H group use their pier for an underwater garden location.

In a few weeks we’ll head over to the Auburn Shell Lab on Dauphin Island to investigate what they do there. 

Check out the website for the project: www.oystergardening.org.  Be sure to watch the video and the link for adopting an oyster garden.  Thanks

Container Vegetable Gardening

I went to a meeting in Silverhill with my friend Glenna.  The talk was given by a Master Gardener on container and raised-garden vegetable gardens. 

It was really fun to listen to her presentation and I was getting excited about the prospect of gardening.  We rent our home so I can only commit to container gardens.  Mostly I have no luck.  Last year I think I planted too late.  And when we moved, I left some of my plants with a friend, but brought the broccoli with me.  Unfortunately, while it had done so well in FL and I was looking forward to it’s first fruits, it was eaten by caterpillars shortly after we got here.  

We did have a great container herb garden.  For Father’s Day the boys bought Gary several herbs, pots and potting soil.  We had a motherlode of basil, thyme, rosemary, dill, mint, and cilantro.  We grew red peppers as well.  We didn’t do much with the peppers; they were supposed to be mild, but turned out otherwise.  By the winter they had dried up and the seeds burst out.  I put them in the woods along the back yard.  Maybe we’ll have peppers back there this year. 

So anyway, I learned about composting, replanting, distance between plants, mulch and soil.  After the talk she gave out free plants.  I received a tray of 6 crooked neck squash, 6 cherry tomatoes and 6 Early Girl tomatoes. 

The next few days I set to work figuring out what to do with these plants.  I found some pots and replanted and while shopping, decided to add more.  So now I have a patio-vine tomato plant, 6 crooked-neck squash, 6 cherry tomatoes, 6 Early Girl tomatoes, string beans (I have one large plant; the others never grew), and 6 spineless okra.  Our herbs are thyme, rosemary, cilantro, mint, and basil.  All of these are in containers.  I had each 6-pack in one large pot and now I’ve been separating them into other pots so they have more space around them.  I think one more pot will do and they’ll all be at a breatheable distance from each other. 

I have lots of flowers on these plants.  Over the weekend I found a few cherry tomatoes sprouting,  and yesterday I found each squash plant has approximately 4 flowers on them.  They’ve gotten really big. 

I tried lettuce but found I planted it too late.  It should be harvested right now.  I know better for next year.  That was one thing I found really interesting was the planting dates and harvest dates.  I found a planting “wheel” on www.al.com that I’ll keep for future planting reference.

I’m looking forward to harvesting these vegetables.  This is really a lot of fun, and great therapy.  I get to spent useful time outside with my plants.  I love my vitamin D.

This fall I’m teaching/leading some 4H-ers in a Junior Master Gardening program.  We need a location for our garden.  I can’t offer my yard only because we’d only get container gardening; most other families don’t have the space.  I’ve heard of several possibilities of local property we could rent or borrow.  I like free so we’ll push for the borrowed land use.  Wish me luck and stay tuned for gardening updates.