The Sandhill Crane family in my neighborhood has delighted me for years. They take leisurely strolls right down the street, usually Mom, Dad and the spring chick. My next door neighbor with their wide lakefront vista and groomed yard hosts the hilarious flying lessons each summer. It looks like a fun lesson too , not just for for the young crane but the whole family. all three jump into the incoming breeze off the lake with much calling and flapping of wings, encouraging those exciting first air born moments for the chick. To witness this family ritual is an honor.
My exquisite 11 year old stepson, who frequently (and unknowingly) teaches me some of the bests of lessons on life and love, interrupted my shower the other morning yelling something unintelligible. I of course bend my wet head out and yell back “WHATTTT????” and all I hear is sentence fragments that sound like “rain!!! on the patio!!!!” How can it be raining, I mused..what the heck is he saying? I rinse far more quickly than I had planned to muttering something like “this better be good”
The previous day his mother and I had a scare. He’d fainted at his track meet. We’d been separated for 3 months. Couldn’t even speak without anger so we’d quit trying. She’d let me know about the incident that of course you want to think was “nothing” but we couldn’t help being worried. He’d had some heart problems as an infant and the Doctor referred a cardiologist, and neurologist. Scary specialties for anyone and specially so for an 11 year old boy. It was time for a truce. It was time to be mature.. it was time to draw together and be together. They came to me after the Dr’s appointment. Seeing me lit him up like a light. I’d stopped at the store to get ingredients for chili, his favorite. He was so thrilled to know the little basket of flowers i bought were for him. Hugging him hard and breathing in his boyish smell, so sweet, brought such an overwhelming rush of love to me. His mom came to us and we folded her in and it was all so right.
He and I spent the evening together, while his mom attended a birthday party. We talked the dude stuff we always do, laughing, remembering, and loving each other. When bedtime came, I layed awake for a long time praying. Feeling such love for both of them, letting go of worry, trying to let go of fear, wanting guidance to the right path.
Wrapping a towel around me I head out of the bathroom to see what the heck is on the patio and why the heck its so important to interrupt my shower musings. I see them from the sliding glass door in my bedroom. Its the Sand Hill Crane Family and they are…visiting. Their spring chick is almost as tall as the female. They stand right outside the screen enclosure and look in, right at me it seemed. I get a rush of pleasure like i always do when I see them but also because I’ve never seen them THERE before . I’m wondering why. The number 3 hits me first. I feel this visit is to me, to show me something, something they know about family. I feel the awe of it. I pull my boy close and we speak in low tones and reverently, we marvel at this little miracle of sorts, and enjoy watching them for several minutes. They leave slowly but with lots of noise as is their habit. I feel blessed and answered.
“You know? ” he says musingly, I look to him waiting for something poignant, “I’m Starving! ” He says. We laugh and off we run to make some Saturday morning soul food: pancakes!
Since this article was written in October last year, I’ve relocated. There is a newer post on my Spring Earth Box HERE
Another note is that when I visited my old house the other day where the below project was undertaken, I was amazed to see lettuce growing EVERYWHERE! I had let a couple of the plants go to seed and boy did they seed! There was romaine in every sidewalk crack and covering the area where the old earthbox project lived! Scroll down for more about the October planting.
The Earth Box Project Lettuce is growing nicely. The first photo shows the Earth Box, 10 days after planting tiny fragile lettuce seedlings. The second photo shows the lettuce thriving 8 days later. At this rate, I should be eating my first salad in a week!
A comment I received on the original Earth Box Article asked if I’d ever tried the “Grow Box.” I followed his link and found that the grow box is very similar to the Earth Box, with a few improvements. A larger water reservoir, and the water fill area is actually part of the box, rather than a standpipe. Looks like a nice improvement and the price is about 10 less than the Earth Box. You can check it out here. Just checked out this site for updates and I’ll tell you one thing folks.. the price on the Grow Box is pretty good. Just sent a friend to their website to buy one.
Since writing this post, I’ve found a home made variation that is very intriguing! Ray Newstead, an heirloom tomato grower found the Earth Box not quite strong enough to support some of his larger tomato plants. He set out to create a variation. He calls it the “Earth Tainer ” tm. Here is a link to the detailed building plans on his website here. It looks strong and fairly easy to build. Check it out ! I can’t wait to build one! Here is a photo of an Earth Tainer TM Farm.
Just booked this site for a October midweek excursion to Ft Desoto. It’s waterfront and pet friendly. Can’t wait to be here. Weather should cool down enough for a great fire, look forward to catching some fish and enjoying some quaility time with Tucker my Border Collie.
I bought my first earth box a few years ago. Since then i have planted it several times and I’m always amazed at the speed at which things grow, and the crop yield from vegetables, tomatoes and peppers mainly. The Earth Box is a hybrid hydroponic system, utilizing both soil, and an undersoil water resevoir. It is always watered from a tube inserted into the water resevoir. The results always amaze me.
I’ve often wondered why the earth box folk, never modified or enhanced their original creation. So I decided to try some experiments with some inexpensive plastic pots, within pots.
Wow.. i was on to something! Results were totally amazing. Of course I now WISH I’d documented it with some pictures, but alas, i didn’t have the foresight to forsee this moment. However I am going to start documenting my current earth box crop:fast growing Romaine lettuce (planted 10 days Ago.)
Home Depot, supplied the romaine, tiny ones in the 6 up container. They are considerably more robust, 10 days later, very fragile when i planted them. They’ve actually withstood quite a bit of rain and all that comes with it, and hardened up nicely.
Here is a first of shot so you get the gist of it.
The tall plant in the left back is a jalapeno pepper plant, planted at the same time. I figured it could stay through a few lettuce crops. I plan to photo the box every 7 days to document its growth speed so stay tuned!
Gardening in Florida! Fall, is really our best growing season. I anticipate it as much as i anticipate spring. So many garden plants are burdened by the heat at this time of year, and a lot we are saying good bye too till they surprise us next spring.. I will miss my caladiums!
I’m dying to know other earth box fans out there. And I’d love to share my earthbox variation with you! In the mean time while i’m setting up the experiment, you can follow the real earth box “Project Lettuce” to see this concept work! We’ve only got the wire frame (from my summer tomatoes) to measure by at the moment, but i shall fix that!
Looking forward to getting to know some new friends that love plants and gardening. I occasionally post gardening articles Here