Friday, February 15, 2008

What Else Did you Bring Home from the Grocery Store?

With headlines touting BOTULISM and ECOLI does one even know what they are bringing home from the grocery store? In the several weeks I have found:
  • a twig within a loaf of bread, the only affordable brand of bread my grocer carries that does not contain high fructose corn syrup
  • an inidentifiable foreign object in a package of raisins
  • and finally this morning, my daughter comes to me with a 2" long piece of what appears to be nylon fiber found in the national brand of jam that claims its got to be good.
I will tell you this -- its so not good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Great Wall of Tomatoes - Part I

The great wall of tomatoes is a wonderful thing. I had my husband erect a trellis for me several years ago that borders the broadside of my neighbors silver-blue garage. The great wall of tomatoes is 30' long. For years I have successfully grown my tomatoes here, spaced about a food apart. While reading as much as I can on permaculture, I discovered that this IS permaculture -- I just didn't know it at the time I created it. The silver-blue garage on the north side of the Great Wall of Tomatoes creates a microclimate by reflecting the sunlight, so I am able to sneak in my tomatoes in April and sometime grow them well into November (we are a zone 6, expecting frost till April 30). To the south, my tomatoes are protected by a windbreak comprised of the shed and our parking area. I have grown my tomatoes with basil between them and this year I plan to also grow them with carrots, basil and the occasional naturtium tucked between the plants. Okay...only another 5 months before I can post a picture of The Great Wall of Tomatoes bursting forth with beautiful red fruit.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today's Post-Consumer Blow-Out Sale

also known as...CURB SHOPPING. Now there was a time where I wouldn't have been caught DEAD picking through someone else's discards but that time was long ago. Way back then I wouldn't buy generic groceries or buy anything second hand. Now I will only buy what I cannot get free (via curb shopping, freecycle, etc.) and I will buy new only as a last resort. This morning we pulled a coffee table and a piece of styrofoam insulation that I have already installed in the north wall of the attic. The coffee table has a whoopsie spot on the top but no problem I think I will paint it off white and antique it with stain and ta da!!!! We also got an underthebed plastic storage container with a broken lid that we will use to start seedlings in. Now I tried to get a love seat. It was beautiful, colors that matched our living room, no stains, no rips, just perfect, but I could not jam it in the back of my truck. We tried. It amazes me what people throw out.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Dancing Butterfly Takes Flight

With the heat wave here in NJ (okay we're talking 60s but STILL its February, usually our coldest month) I could not help but wallow in the mud. Yup, it is wet and deep. As Sunflower rattled off her favorite poem (Mud by Polly Chase Boyden)...

Mud is very nice to feel
All squishy squash between the toes
I'd rather wade in wiggly mud
Than smell a yellow rose
Nobody else but the rose bush knows
How nice mud feels between the toes

I began my first intentional ventures in permaculture. First I relocated three shrubs that I think are a honeysuckles or perhaps euonymus under the maple tree. The maple is actually in my neighbor's yard but space here in NJ is tight. The birds love this plant. Well they don't care much for the plant but they love the berries. The more I look at this plant, given to me by a friend, the less I am sure what it is. The spot where I have put them in on a steep slope and I am hoping they will help control our yard eroding onto my neighbor's fence.

Then I moved three lilacs, one of which is white but I cannot remember which one, to screen my front porch.

Finally I dug up 6 spiraea japonica 'neon flash' and used them to create a hedgerow between my front yard and that of my neighbors. Again, hoping to control erosion with this more than anything else. Until I determine the usefulness of this plant, if any, they will remain until I scavange something with which to replace them.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Birth of the Dancing Butterfly

Ten years ago when I bought this house I was by myself and I had never even owned a shovel. I had a dirt and a dream so I mail ordered a bunch of flowers I liked, and knowing nothing planted them in the front yard which I had managed to entirely flip over the sod and created a mucky mess. My dear plants were not growing fastenough so I bought a lot of things marked invasive and agressive because I thought they'd fill in quickly. I spent the next 6 years experimenting and propagating and soon discovered that I could grown not only flowers, but my own food! I began experimenting with veggies as well and even started to do some intensive raised beds. Since we are homeschoolerd my 4 kids do a lot of garden centered projects to keep us out doors as soon as the weather is over 50. So last summer I stared to take out and freecycle anything that was strickly ornamental and did not benefit us or some creature we like in some way and began making plans to replace them with usable plants. My lack of trust in the food supply, the growing grocery bill, and that I just plain love to be outside compelled me to plant more food plants. Besides, I just couldn't understand for the life of me why the cost of apples from New Zealand were less in my local grocery than apples grown here in the US. My garden style has never been to line up my plants like little soldiers all in a row. While working in my garden to tear out some overgrown coreopteris, I watched a tiger swallowtail seem to dance with the other butterflies in the garden. It was the male butterfly aggresively defending his territory but didn't they look beutiful engaged in this wild flurry of color? Then I received this vision: TheDancing Butterfly. My garden would become The Dancing Butterfly, that is, I would aggresively defend my territory, my little spot on this planet, with a look of beauty and grace, just like the dancing butterfly.