14 July 2014

The Roots of a New Idea

OK.... so.... on a lighter note than I've been using lately...

I'm thirsty.  Like, all the time thirsty.  I've had diabetics watch me chugging water, and tell me to slow down.  For the record, I'm not diabetic.  I'm just the thirstiest person I've ever met.

Water is great.  Cleaner water is better, of course.  Still, who wants to drink just water?  It's unhealthy to drink more than a gallon or two of plain water per day.  I used to do that, when I distilled water for a living, but it flushed nutrients out of my body and caused issues.

Enter the juices.  Variety is the spice of life, as it were.  So when I go to the grocery store, I look at various flavored drinks, mostly aimed at children, distilled and spring water, and fruit juice.

The trick with fruit juice is that many of them are loaded with extra sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), extra acids (citric is a huge one), and other additives.  I'm not afraid of some additives, but most of the things added to fruit juice destroy the taste.  Ignoring the health implications of various additives, particularly HFCS, fruit juice that has added sugars just doesn't taste right.  And the additional acids?  Orange juice is already highly acidic.  Why add more acid?  Some brands of orange juice literally burn when I drink them.  So I don't.  And apple juice... whose bright idea was it to add two kinds of acid to apple juice?  And whose idea was it to then label it as "100% pure apple juice"?  Seriously?

So I read the ingredients list.  One thing I've found that I want to share is a brand called Simply Orange.  They make the purest, yummiest orange juice that I've found.  They also make other juices and juice mixtures (like orange and banana, if you can believe such a thing).  Another brand I've found that's pretty good is Mott's Apple Juice.

Note: I'm not being paid by either of these manufacturers.  I simply want to share them with everyone.  Added sugars and other ingredients are a significant factor in the health crisis that goes largely unreported in this country, mostly affecting young people.  When I find something this good, I want to get the word out there.

Anyway, dietary considerations aside, let's get on to my idea, which has nothing to do with nutrition.

In searching for juices that were consumable in large quantities, I found a brand I didn't know (Mott's), and it was being sold in small child-sized bottles.  I saw an opportunity to try it without having to buy a whole gallon, and found the small bottles to be convenient, in addition to the juice being better than most other brands.

As I stared at a bottle I as about to throw away, I was hit with an idea.  See if you can see where my thinking was headed:

This was the empty bottle.  It's made of plastic.  I've been thinking about "green" things lately, like alternative energy, rooftop gardens, and reusing packing materials.  It occurred to me... I could cut off the top of the bottle and use it for a teensy planting pot.

I've also been thinking about growing baby plants.

So I cut off the top just above where the label is, and I removed the label just for aesthetics.  I washed out the bottle because I didn't want anything growing on the residue of the juice.  Then, I purchased a small bag of potting soil.  A little soil in the bottle, followed by two seeds from an apple, and I had myself a cute and obviously homemade potted plant.  Or what WILL be a pottled plant once the seeds sprout.

Of course, I'll need to wait a while before the seeds turn into anything beyond the barest of plants.  Longer still until they need to be transplanted.  Still, that gives me time.  I hope to move soon, and to have more room for the plants with which I wish to surround myself.  Apple trees are often bearing fruit during their first decade, so I might get some fresh apples from these guys.  I also hope to plant some orange seeds, but those are trickier.  I'm not sure how well they'll do in the climate where I live.

But even if I raise them as indoor trees, keeping their size small and using "grow bulbs" to provide the sunlight they might not always get, they'll be plants, and the benefits are numerous.

For one thing, there's the aforementioned fruit.  If your trees bear edible fruit, then planting them is worth the effort.  Also, they provide oxygen.  Not a lot, individually, but if you surround yourself with enough plants, the slight elevation in oxygen levels might be beneficial.

Other benefits are less direct.  For example, if you're surrounded by plants, you'll need to provide sunlight for them.  While direct UV can be harmful in large quantities, it's a simple fact that for people who don't have certain rare conditions, more sunlight has benefits.  We didn't evolve in air conditioned interiors with window shades  We evolved in the open.  As our ancestors left the more heavily wooded areas, we also lost the ability to produce certain vitamins without sunlight.  Also, more exposure to sunlight can sometimes help with conditions such as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a form of depression that affects many people.  Also, for many people, being surrounded by plants offers some emotional boosts simply because they're surrounded by plants.

I'm looking at you, Druids.  And Buddhists.  And Celts, and Native Americans, and hippies, and children, and Cajuns, and botanists, and librarians, and farmers, and the list goes on.

So this little pot of "gold" holds what I hope to be my future - a future wherein I'm surrounded by plants, some of them feeding me, some of them looking pretty, but all of them green and alive and happy (to the extent that plants can be said to be happy).  And if that small bottle holds my future apple trees, what should I do with this?

That's a one-gallon bottle that previously held spring water.  I had saved them for various reasons, and then a roommate threw most of them away.  I kept one that I had dried out and was using to store coins that are older than I am.  (Apparently, my age is the marker some of my friends use to define "antique").  I kept another for storing pennies to use to decorate a kitchen floor or something similar.  Perhaps a desk top.  In this case, though, I think it will make a nice pot for a plant that's too large for a hand-held bottle.

I'll post more such ideas as I come up with them.

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