Tuesday, July 16, 2013

XTREME Hardening

If you have ever started seedlings indoors, you may be familiar with the concept of "hardening off" the plants.  Or maybe not.  Hardening off means basically "training" the plants to live outside, by doing small things like brushing the baby plants with your fingers to simulate wind and encourage strong stems, putting them outside for a bit longer every day, etc.

The first year I planted tomatoes I did zero hardening off.  I just planted them outside on a warm day and they all did splendidly.  Last year I did some hardening off but quite honestly it didn't seem to make a difference.

This was the year of XTREME hardening off.

I accidentally started my tomatoes almost a month late, at the end of April.  Once the seedlings were about 2 weeks old and the sun was getting too high in the sky to really provide much light into my kitchen window, I decided to do an experiment.  I put them in a mini-greenhouse (basically just a metal frame with a clear tarp overtop), inside which pretty much all of the plants got scorched and a few completely burned to a crisp.  Okay, 2 down.

Within about a week it got too hot to even have a greenhouse at all so I just started leaving them outside 24/7.  It wasn't freezing anymore and even if it got a bit too cold, this was going to be the tomato year for survival of the fittest.

Nobody froze thankfully, however they did all blow out into the yard during a particularly windy day and another couple of plants were lost.

After I potted them into their grownup homes, it rained HARD for pretty much a solid week and ended with a magnificent hailstorm.  I sat in my living room, helpless, as they got pummeled.  After the storm I went outside and discovered that while they were all quite mangled, nobody had died.  And a week later, those mangled plants had developed ridiculously thick, strong stems and branches, at least tripling in size.

I was discussing my accidental method of hardening off with a plant scientist friend, who confirmed the hardening off myth:  "I have always figured if they aren't tough enough to handle the elements, I don't want them anyway." 

So there you go, Saskatchewan home gardeners.  My XTREME hardening experiment of 2013 has appeared to be very successful.  Don't be afraid to throw those babies outside in a thunderstorm; it'll only make them stronger.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Quiet People

I love quiet people.  I am a quiet person and I can tell you from experience that quiet people are often misjudged.  I think I even misjudged quiet people including myself until I read Quiet (which I will say once again was life changing and should be required reading for all humans) but it turns out that quiet people are the best.

Quiet people are not necessarily shy, they just don't feel the need to talk all the time.  Because think about it, most of the people you know who are loud really only need to say about 1/3 of the stuff they say (if that).  The rest is fluff, and sometimes fluff can get annoying.  Nothing drives me crazier than being in a meeting with a person who keeps reiterating the same point over and over and over and wasting my time.

What can you say to annoy and insult a quiet person?  "Why don't you TALK MORE?"  Please.  Would it be socially acceptable for me to say to you "Do you EVER shut up?"  Listen up, loud people:  quiet people will talk when we feel it's important to do so.  Otherwise, we don't feel the need to contribute to the fluff.  We just want to get this meeting over with so we can get back to work.  We're not dumb, we just don't have any questions at this current time.  If one comes to us we'll ask you later, because asking in front of this group of 30 people would be a waste of time when it doesn't pertain to everyone here in the first place.

I'm always mildly insulted when someone comments how surprised they were that I "spoke up."  "But you're so quiet!" they say incredulously.  PEOPLE.  Quiet people are not doormats!  Let me say one more time, we just don't feel like talking all the time and the amount of talking a person does has absolutely zero correlation to their intelligence, assertiveness, or courage to speak their mind.

I think my favourite thing about quiet people is our ability to shut down an obnoxious situation without saying a word.  I've witnessed many a loud person annoyingly trying to get a rise out of a quiet person who barely responds, at which point the loud person sees that the situation is futile and backs off, embarrassed.  This past week some annoying loud dude I'd never met before came into my office asking for help with something, while trying to flirt with me and tease me.  Over the course of 3 minutes he called me a "f*ckin' liar" and "extremely unhelpful" among other things to try and get a rise out of me, but I just ignored all of his comments, acted like nothing weird was happening, and as he left he sheepishly said "I was just joking, you were very helpful, thank you."

Before fully accepting and embracing my quietness (and even in my daydreams now) I wanted to be the girl who was super quick on her feet and could come up with an immediate snide comeback to obnoxious jerks like the one described above.  And even telling people this and similar stories, they always suggest things I could have said, because doesn't not responding mean I was okay with the situation?  No.  Wrong.  My not responding made the situation super awkward and made the guy feel like a jerk, which was exactly the outcome I wanted.  I didn't achieve it through a snappy comeback, but I still achieved it.  And I guarantee he'll never try it again.

Maybe there is such a thing as "too quiet" but I bet most of the people you think are too quiet actually aren't.  Stop and appreciate the quiet people in your life.  Watch them work their quiet magic on all the loud assholes who try to walk all over them or get a rise out of them.  Be glad that they aren't wasting your time talking just to hear their own voice.  Don't be surprised when they express their opinion, expect it.  And please, please never again ask a quiet person "Why are you so QUIET?"