Archive for February, 2009

Have a Blessed Lent

February 26, 2009

I perhaps haven’t made it clear that I’m a protestant.  Let me make it clear: I’m a protestant. 

Still, I am moved to take part in Lent this year, in part because of this article: http://blog.beliefnet.com/crunchycon/2009/02/giving-things-up-for-lent.html#more

What has happened to our culture in the US?  We have become so shockingly selfish.  Our politicians, whether we like it or not, have tons of people on staff who make it their job to discern what we actually want (and then ignore us entirely).  Our politicians were trying to sell the extremely unpopular stimulus bill to us by saying “Don’t worry, we’ll borrow the money and YOU won’t have to pay a dime.  Feel free to have a wonderful spending venture that your kids will pay for later on.”  What you should notice is what your politicians didn’t say.  They didn’t say, “Hey, this is going to be a rough one, we all need to stick together, make sacrifices, and pitch in to help each other.”  You know why they didn’t say that?  Because they think they know us well enough to know that we are too freaking selfish to do anything for anyone else.  OK, you don’t like Bush.  OK, Obama is the most wonderful being to set foot in our galaxy since Jesus himself.  Don’t you feel just a teency tad bit selfish stealing from children?  I mean, is that what we’ve come to?

I think a little Lent would help all of us.  I am going to give up eating out for Lent.  We are also giving up cable television and giving the money to charity.  If there were children starving in other countries before this economic insanity, I’m sure charities are going to be strained after it.  Take a moment here and think of something you can give up for 39 days in order to help someone else for a change.

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In Hiding…

February 25, 2009

One thing about me that is seriously strange is that I am somewhat supersticious.  I’m a follower of Jesus, which to me means that I ultimately believe every action in our world is under control of the supernatural.  However, if I have a series of rotten (unlucky?) events, my first instinct is weirdly superstitious.  That is to say, if everything I touch seems to be blowing up, I tend to just stop touching things.  I have had a series of these kinds of days, and so today, I find myself reluctant to do anything.  While this self-imposed exile is rather a nice mini-vacation, it has the ugly consequence of leaving me with six days of work to cram into four or five days.  So, this time, I’m forcing myself to blog and hoping I don’t break the computer.  So far so

OK, just kidding there.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

February 21, 2009

My husband told me he heard this on NPR  (got to wean him from NPR…).  There is a glut of milk.  In the middle of this crazy recession, there is a glut of milk.  Rather than allow milk prices (which are SUBSTANTIAL, btw) to drop to meet the glut, our fun government is going to use tax dollars to help these farmers.  See:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/02/business/02dairy.html?pagewanted=2

Meanwhile, local dairies are talking about how the government subsidies hurt them.  See, the government forces price fixing.  If a local dairy like Mallorie’s (http://www.malloriesdairy.com/) can produce milk for less than the enormo-conglomerates (I’m sure this would be a word if I were president), they have to raise their prices AND give the surplus to the government.  The government then gives that money to the enormo-conglomerates in the form of subsidies.  In effect, this makes small dairies subsidize larger dairies.  That STINKS!!

Look, I don’t know about your family, but my family is BROKE.  I can promise you I’d buy more ice cream if more was on the market cheaper.  The government just bought a ton of milk powder from these dairies.  Well?  There are starving kids in Haiti!  Let’s give them some milk. 

Good heavens!!  Only a group of complete dunderheads like we have in our congress would do something this stupid.  In case you’re thinking I’m railing against one party or another, I’m a third party lunatic.  Although, full disclosure is that I think big government requires serious stupidity.  The reasoning behind this policy is that we have to keep a stable food supply, so we have to keep ALL farmers in business.  As usual, a policy that makes sense in the abstract is totally useless in practice.  The actual application of this policy ensures that we have expensive dairy products during a recession, while at the same time, we are being taxed to throw the dairy products away. 

Visit Mallorie’s website and they give some ideas on what people should do to REALLY help local farmers.

Hydroponics Store

February 18, 2009

There’s this local hydroponics store.  I discovered it in my quest for cheap vermiculite.  The guy who’s usually at the counter is pretty knowledgeable about gardening.  So, I was unprepared for my last trip to the store…

I was looking for “EM”.  Effective microorganisms are a component of bokashi composting.  I wanted to try bokashi because of something I read in Solomon’s book (Gardening When It Counts).   Solomon talks about how we don’t have certain nutrients in our soil because we start out lacking these nutrients, then our livestock eats plants grown without those nutrients from the soil, and then we use manure from the livestock that lacks those nutrients to add nutrients to the soil.  Pretty basic, huh?  Well, doesn’t it make sense that if we utilized bokashi composting, we could re-add nutrients that come from other areas?  I was thinking I would try it and see if it helped the nutrient levels in my soil.

OK, I called the hydroponics store and the guy said, “Oh yeah, we have effective microorganisms.”  So, I made the trek with both kids in tow to the store.  Apparently, the guy who is usually there is out getting surgery.  The guy at the counter takes me over to the shelf and points at these pill jars and tells me, “There they are.”  I know this is incorrect (there are only two companies that make EM in the US), so I ask if the owner is there.  Out comes this guy in a leather jacket.  After a short discussion about bokashi composting, with me asking about it and him saying, “Is that the stuff where you can turn the composter?”  I figure out that this guy is not growing veggies with his hydroponics set up.  Then he reverently holds up the pill bottle and says, “This is the stuff that makes the forest alive.”  I’m thinking, “Wow, he’s selling poop in pill bottles.”  He wants ten bucks for the bottles of forest life.  I make it clear that I’ll think about it.  For all of thirty seconds while I roll out the door…

The moral to the story is, do a bit of research BEFORE you go to the store.  Sometimes the pot head idiot behind the counter will sell you anything and you won’t end up with what you wanted and you will usually pay far more than it’s worth.  At least you’ll have that fuzzy warm feeling that comes with buying forest life, but I highly doubt you’ll be able to use it.

Field Trip to a Sustainable Community

February 13, 2009

We actually had a chance to take a quick field trip to Pringle Creek Community.  It’s a planned sustainable community.  I was actually pleasantly surprised.  The last “sustainable” community I visited boasted 3 bedroom, 3k sq ft houses on half acre lots (lame).  This community is obviously attempting to make small houses in small spaces with large open spaces all around it (which are, incidentally, beautiful).  It’s completely tree enclosed, which makes it feel hidden, which I thought was very appealing.  In all honesty, I suspect they will have a hard sell as most people that I know who espouse the “green” “sustainable” philosophy seem to believe they shouldn’t have to actually live what they believe.  In any case, this isn’t a political post, this is a picture post.  Check out the community pics:

Here is the landscaping.  While it isn’t edible (darn it!!), it IS local and will not require tons of resources to keep it alive year round. 

            

The roads are made from recycled materials that apparently filter water as it goes back into the local creek (NICE!)

    

Here is the totally EMPTY greenhouse.  I sent them an email and apparently they are planning to fill it soon and I might be able to help with that!  Very cool!  They will be growing lettuces and attempting some miniature citrus trees.  The choices that were suggested in the email suggested to me that they are truly attempting to make this a self-supporting community.

      

Frankly, if the idea of a self-supporting community is feasible anywhere, here, where we have a our fairly moderate climate (maritime, if you’re a Steve Solomon fan), is the place.  So, while I know most of my readers would never be able to consider such a thing, if you are interested, please contact:  mckenzie@pringlecreek.com.  It should be a fun experiment and I’ll cheerfully pass along information as I get it on this idea.

As a side note, the adorable boys in the picture will NOT be included with any housing purchase and that should make the community that much more sustainable.

Another Cool Blog to Read

February 10, 2009

Look, if you’re into backpacking, you should really have this blog linked.  Also, if you’re REALLY into cooking, you should have this blog linked because it is (IMHO) the definitive cooking blog in the area of campfire-type cooking. 

We love to backpack, hike and generally goof around in the woods.  I typically find myself making minute rice and canned chili, or canned spaghetti sauce and noodles.  It’s absolutely wonderful to find all these awesome ideas!!

http://onepanwonders.com/

Good and Bad News About Peas

February 8, 2009

I tried to put peas out spectacularly early this year.  The local extension said I could direct sow peas as soon as the soil is workable in the end of January.  If you’ve been reading, then you know that I started peas indoors on January 2nd.  Doesn’t this remind you of that Mervyn’s commercial where the woman is sitting outside of the store chanting “Open, open, open…”?  That is SO me. 

I only grew very few peas last year, but I got quite a harvest out of them.  I decided early on that I wanted to try growing only heirlooms this year.  The varieties I wanted to try are: Alaska (the earliest peas of them all!), Sugar Ann, Blue Podded, Russian Sugar, Oregon Sugar Pod II, and Cascadia.  I started a half dozen of each variety.  According to the packages, the average germination date was supposed to take 14 days.  The Alaska’s (the earliest of them all!) were NOT the first to germinate.  The Russians were.  (Those Ruskies!!)  We planted these peas on the 2nd, they germinated on the 8th.  A bit less than the 14 quoted days I’d say.  The Alaska peas germinated the next day, alongside the sugar ann’s.  The blue podded peas weren’t started until the 14th.  They also germinated within a couple of days.

I’ll start with the bad news.  I have lost the wire-ish thingy (to use the technical term) that attaches my camera to my computer.  I will at some point in the future do a post dedicated to helping confused gardeners identify the kind of peas they have. 

The good news is that my germination rate was great.  AND after a week in the garden, all plants are doing nicely.  A few words about the various varieties.  I absolutely love the Russian and Blue podded peas. 

Because the Blue Podded peas are the kind of peas that don’t have edible pods, we probably won’t grow more than a half dozen of these at a time.  My hubby is not a pea lover (yes, he’s picky, but of course, he married me!), so the best I can hope for is to add these to soups and to dry them for pea soup.  These plants are absolutely beautiful!  They have little streaks of purple running through the leaves.  It’s supposed to produce purple flowers, too!  I’m so excited.  These are going to be just lovely. 

The Russians are also beautiful plants.  There is a stripe of pink that goes through the vines and onto the leaves.  It’s supposed to produce mauve and purple flowers. 

I guess I can be open minded and say these could still disappoint me, but WOW!  These are turning out just great for now. 

The cascadia’s are very dainty looking vines.  The Alaska’s are turning out huge.  The OSP’s didn’t have a great germination rate compared to the others (60%). 

OK, more at the end of the season on the productivity.

Lettuce Hates Me

February 3, 2009

This is a story of unrequited love.  See, I could eat lettuce once a day.  I have been known to make a lovely green salad for breakfast.  I enjoy most veggies (minus brussel sprouts, of course, which are more of a secret government experiment than a food), but I love lettuce.   Lettuce, on the other hand, hates me.

I’m not sure why, but most of my gardening pals grow tons of lettuce.  During this part of the spring, all of my gardening peers start their succession lettuces.  The lettuces in their gardens enjoy relative success.  My succession lettuces last year succeeded more like the original thirteen colonies (as in, declared war…).  It was really horrible to realize that my lettuces preferred suicide to my company in the garden.  My gardening pals then will pat me on the back and say, “Wow, and lettuce is the easiest thing to grow, too.”  Sigh…

I wish I could blame this on bad seed, but I can’t for more than one reason.  I buy my seeds at great places (heirloomseeds.com and rareseeds.com***subliminal messaging, you are feeling sleepy, go buy alot of stuff at these places and tell them to give me a substantial finders fee***) and I choose my varieties well.  Even the best seed distributors and varieties still will have duds from time to time, but I typically have a 93% or higher germination rate.  After this point, my baby plants will get a really good look at my mug and then within a couple of weeks they will stubbornly stop growing or fall over dead.  This is not very flattering!

So, this year, I’m going to outsmart those wily lettuces!!  I planted them myself, but I’m going to have my garden helpers tend them.  I must tell you that if this experiment is successful, I will probably try to push the hubby for a facelift, you know, for the sake of the garden.  I’m sure I’ll get a denial for that expenditure, because (you wretched lettuces!!) HE actually likes my face!