Friday, November 13, 2015

Earth to Paris - The Ocean

The #earthtoparis tag is trending, so is the desire for the human species to continue to exist on this planet. I recently saw a series of videos that draw a new perspective. Mother Nature doesn't need us, we need mother nature. You can see what I mean here with Harrison Ford narrating The Ocean.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Earth to Paris

The #earthtoparis tag is trending, so is the desire for the human species to continue to exist on this planet. I recently saw a series of videos that draw a new perspective. Mother Nature doesn't need us, we need mother nature. You can see what I mean here

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A literal explanation of how I got here today

I had an epiphany this week, a sudden realization about how I got myself into the Edgewood College Sustainability Leadership Masters program.

We have a lot of reading, as you can imagine. A feeling of familiarity with this week’s concepts started as I read through “Getting to Maybe:” (Westley, et al) with it’s opening message of “Assume hope, all who enter here.” It grew as I read through the very practical ideas and solutions in the “Sustainable World Sourcebook” (Sustainable World Coalition). But it was while reading through “Sustainability Design” (Van der Ryn, et al) that the epiphany erupted from subconscious and I realized why I’m in the program today.

Many of you know I grew up on a farm, but did you know that my parents and their parents were fully entrenched urban dwellers? Back in 1976, it was pretty much on a whim that my folks bought a farm “to raise you boys in the country” as my mother later explained their idea. They would never describe themselves as hippies, but they were “back to the landers” and my early childhood reading consisted of a steady diet of Mother Earth News, architecture books about Frank Lloyd Wright, design books by William Morris and Charles Rennie MacIntosh, and most importantly, the Whole Earth Catalog.
I read the Whole Earth Catalog cover to cover (and if you’ve ever seen it, that was no small feat for a 12-year old). It was that AMAZING publication where I learned about the Peace Corps (and applied at age 14 not knowing the college graduate requirement), Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti (where I first learned about natural building systems) and the concept of local economies (and immediately created a club with my cousins and brothers to create our own curency). This is also when I began collecting poems about rain, and today have a collection of more than 500 poems.

I now realize that it’s no surprise, and in fact, simply one more plot on a long-drawn trajectory, that I’m in the program - and glad to be here indeed.

Friday, September 4, 2015

What's with this (crab) apple tree?

I was at a meeting today and noticed a beautiful crab apple tree with apples on the ground under it.


Had to take a closer look, and this is what I found.

Large apples on the same branches as small crabapples.

What's going on?

This does not appear to be grafting magic, because apples and crab apples were growing on hte same branches!

Can anyone shed some light on this wonder?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Welcome to the plant zoo

There are a few corridors at work that have wonderfully large windows overlooking lush gardens with flowers, shrubs and trees. I was walking through one of them today and discovered new signs, stuck on the windows, just in front of each type of plant. AND, they have QR codes if someone wanted to learn more about what they saw. Here's what it looks like walking past the plants and signs. Neat idea and nice use of mobile technology.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Chickens discover gooseberries

This weekend I harvested gooseberries and learned several things.

  1. One variety has thorns, one has less. The thorny bush is scheduled for departure this autumn. I have visions of using layering to propagate a living edible hedge around my community garden that may have holes big enough for ground squirrels and rabbits, but may deter deer!
    This variety seemed to produce slightly smaller berries, many more berries and ripened before variety #2.
  2. The other variety is not quite thornless but awfully close, had larger, fewer berries and ripened later than it's thorny cousin. I hope to again use layering to propagate a few more of these and add them to the front yard. It wasn't nearly as painful harvesting this variety.
Gooseberries ripen and then fall off the bush as easily as mulberries do. This means there were a lot on the ground. I scooped up many of them and fed them to the chickens. The girls seemed to love them!


Friday, July 31, 2015

A Good Farmer's Husband (and the inherent perils)

Guest post this evening—this is Jay, Josh's husband. Josh is off on an adventure that I'm quite sure he'll blog about soon. In his absence, I've had a couple of small projects he asked me to do, including harvesting the garlic in the front yard and hanging it in the garage to cure with the rest he harvested and we hung together, and picking the remaining pea pods. I did that earlier in the week.

I noticed the grass was getting long in the back yard (the only grass we have). Josh does most of the mowing—heck, he does most of the outside stuff. I am the "yes dear" with the outside projects. That is, Josh says, "Let's build an orchard in the front yard." "Yes, dear." "Let's build raised beds in the back yard." "Yes, dear." "Let's add two hugelkultur beds in the back yard." "Yes, dear." And I jump in and help. I help with preparing beds and planting in the spring, and harvest in the fall. Josh does most everything else.

Anyway, I thought I'd be a good husband and mow the back yard while he's gone. While I was mowing, I noticed the ever-present Creeping Charlie was encroaching on the asparagus beds. So I circumnavigated each bed, pulling it up. Between the bed and fence it was so thick, I literally rolled it all up from the dirt like carpeting.

Then I checked out the hardy kiwi Josh planted, for which we built the trellis. I saw that it was doing a great job of vining on the asparagus, shown right. I teased it apart from the asparagus (no small feat!), and trained it up on the wires of the trellis.
Hardy Kiwi and Asparagus at war

Much better
Nettles, right?
I then continued weeding around the beds. When I got to the east end of the beds, I grabbed a weed and tossed it behind me. It felt little thistle-y. Within moments my right hand started stinging. What the...! I ran into the house and washed my hands several times with dish soap. Must have been nettles.

OK, now the Farmer's Husband knows what nettles look like. Be careful with nettles. No more nettles stings. [Yeah, I probably should have warn gloves.]

I come back outside and continue my weeding. A few seconds later, "ow, OW. OWOWOW!" I got two bee stings, one on the back of my left hand, the other above my left elbow. I went in—again—and washed, and checked for stingers. I didn't find one.

I went back out again (can you see it coming?) and got stung AGAIN by a bee—this time below my left knee. There must be a beehive on the east end of the asparagus beds. All bad things happen on the east end of asparagus beds. I took a Benadryl.

I'm attempting to NOT have my lesson be to avoid doing yard work. :o) However, we will need to do something about the bees, I think.

So, I have a lightly stinging right hand, and three stinging welts. What an adventure! However, it's very gratifying to see the kiwi vines getting trained on the trellis. I can't wait for Josh to post pictures in the future when it's really established in a couple of years. Fresh kiwis here we come!