All Things Green

Over the past year I have pondered the massive amount of information (both good and bad) on global warming, living green, sustainable living, minimalism and the zero waste lifestyle.  The amount of information can make your head swim.  I have heard and read comments such as “I don’t have time for all of this” or “My life is in overload already, I can’t deal with one more thing.”  It is true that trying to live in a sustainable way can seem daunting.  The simple task of trying to avoid plastic seems almost impossible at times.  So what can we do  in the 21st Century to decrease our impact on the environment for ourselves and future generations? How can we carry out these personal, as well as collective goals, without our heads exploding from information overload? I would like to offer a few suggestions that have worked for me and may help you as well.  The number one item on the list has to be – SIMPLIFY your life.  This probably sounds odd considering the goal is to live a greener, gentler life in a very consumer driven and eco-unfriendly world.  I live on the less is more principle, which is: the less stuff the more time, the less stress the more peace, and fewer distractions, more creativity.  Less is definitely more in my book.  This is commonly called minimalism.   The bottom line, it’s okay to be picky!  I choose to have quality over quantity.  I would rather have five items that I love, than fifty that I do not.  This can be applied to anything.  My first thought goes to clothing, my drawers and closet used to be stuffed with who knows what!  Now I have thinned out to what I use and love.  I have shifted my purchasing power from inexpensive clothing items to well made, earth friendly items that I love to wear.  The same can be applied to any purchase, but it requires knowing yourself.  Anything we have a passion for can become an area where we becomes collectors of “stuff” and that makes life … busy.  Second, I am “picky” about how I spend my time.  I have given myself permission to say no to invitations that do not fit into my lifestyle and goals.  Less stress needs to be viewed holistically.  How we interpret and react to stressors makes all the difference in our mental and physical health.  Identify what causes you to feel “stressed out” and develop a strategy on how to cut, or drop the causes.  Stressors that cannot be changed need new coping mechanisms.  Developing strategies for managing life’s challenges can be as simple as getting enough sleep, exercise, eating well and meditation.  If life has become unmanageable reach out to others and seek professional help.   The third point is less distractions.  I LOVE to play video games, watch YouTube videos and search the internet for interesting information.  I also love the creative side of me that is competing for time with my other distractions.  I self limit my distractions so that I can allow my inner creativity to surface.  The result is an amazing feeling of accomplishment and well-being.  I love to express myself in my garden, sketching, and creative writing.  Playing Fallout or Mass Effect is amazing fun but it never satisfies my soul like creative expression.  At this point you may be asking yourself  “How does this relate to living green?”  I’m glad you asked!  Living green is living in a way that is gentle toward yourself, others and the earth.  Reducing excess creates that gentle lifestyle that makes room for a fuller life.  You may not be making your own toothpaste (yet) ;o) but you can decrease by eliminating overconsumption and excessive distractions that make living a greener life difficult.  Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

Peace & Love

donna

Beating the Heat

 

Last weekend (6/46-27) we had record-breaking heat for June. In Southern California June usually brings with it morning fog that burns off mid-day. We used to call it June-gloom… used to that is until our new weather pattern set in (I refuse to say we are having a draught!) for good it seems. Now we have two seasons Hot and dry and cool and dry. So what is a gardener to do? Last weekend I watched as my poor garden was being burnt to a crisp! Our back yard garden has its own climate zone, it is hotter in the summer and cooler in the winter. FORTUNATELY my hubby had finished the trellis system the weekend before and I happened to have some shade cloth left over from last summer’s scorching heat. So the garden only suffered a few scorched leaves-no plants were lost… so far :0P

Another way to beat the summer heat in the garden is to mulch as heavily as the plants will tolerate.  I put a layer of mulch followed by a layer of woodchips.  Mulching helps keep the ground temperature cooler and prevents evaporation of precious water.  The cooler ground temperature keeps the roots cooler and helps the plant deal with heat stress.

Although some gardeners would suggest planting further apart to prevent plants from competing for water, I disagree for the following reasons the first is that the less exposed ground there is around a plant, the cooler the ground is and less evaporation occurs. Secondly when plants are planted closer together they tend to shade out the weeds which also compete for water and nutrients.

The Haps! (in my organic garden & places elsewhere)

Daniel creating a trellis, so that we can grow up!

 

Hello everyone,

Long time no blog.  My best friend Ange would start her blog posts with “The Haps.”  Ange passed away from breast cancer three years ago.  I know she is smiling down on us with two thumbs up ;O)  Our organic garden is  progressing well (despite the slow start this year.)  We are working towards treating a permaculture garden.  Some of you might be asking yourself “What’s the difference?  Well that is a long and complicated question.  Google defines permaculture as:

per·ma·cul·ture
ˈpərməˌkəlCHər/
noun
noun: permaculture
the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

This is a very abbreviated definition of the concept of permaculture.  Daniel (my husband) and I are working on creating a self-sustained garden and our lifestyle in general.  I will publish a blog post on permaculture.  In La Crescenta and most of California has had CRAZY weather this spring.  El Nino passed us by, so we got very little rain.  It has also been down right hot.  The past two days have been 98 F, which is closer to our July, August, September and part of October temperatures.  I am so grateful to have my “Honey Do”Daniel to do the heavy labor.  He is so sweet and never complains.  Of course as he said today “I get the most benefit from the greens you grow” and I have to admit he is right :oP  I’m working on getting more greens in my diet.  As someone who eats a plant-based diet, it is crucial to have an adequate intake of leafy greens.  Our oldest son Daniel-Mark has become a gardener as well.  He loves to help out in the garden, but makes a hasty retreat when it is too hot.

The biggest fans of our warm (HOT) weather have been the pumpkins of course, followed by the tomatoes.  The raised beds that I planted at the beginning of Spring have started to take off and grow finally!  Besides being partly shaded, my mix of planter mix was off.  I did not have enough vermiculite and lighter mulch in the mix and the soil become compacted quickly.  Live and learn!  My winter garden will have a re-do as I refresh the soil.  I guesstimate is that I mixed- 1/2 heavy compost 1/4  vermiculite and 1/4 Dr. Earth planter soil.  The upside is that it holds moisture very well :o)  and a positive attitude is exactly how you need to look at gardening as well as life.

I started a MeetUp  group a few months ago and it has grown.  Check it out it’s Crescenta Valley Organic Gardening http://www.meetup.com/Crescenta-Valley-Organic-Gardening-Meetup/ .  Our group is focused on education as well as sharing our resources.  Our group’s goal is to help gardeners set up and develop thriving gardens based on organic and permaculture principles.

Thank you for dropping by, see you soon!

Donna

Spring has sprung!… I think?

Well so far all that El Nino has meant for Southern California is an early spring.  We have had temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s, so it feels like early summer.  All winter we have worked on various projects.  Our daughter Rebekah got married so we converted our garage into a studio apartment which resulted in a huge clean up of the garage and yard.  We have built a herb spiral and three new planting boxes in the front yard.  This February we planted six grapevines two blackberry and one apricot.  I hope to find another avocado tree to plant before summer.  I had a fun time planing a box with my grand-daughter Belle, we enjoy gardening together.  Now she has her own little planting box, but very big aspirations.  In a 3′ x 3′ box she has planted giant sunflowers, a watermelon,  green beans, lettuce, carrots and a tomato.  We shall see how it goes!.

I have added some important ingredients to my soil preparation this year.  We have been getting the free mulch that the city offers from their free-cycling centers.  To the free much I have added CBC rock dust, Elemite rock dust, Mycorrhizae inoculate, perlite, my home-grown mulch and worm castings.  I use the not till method, so I add the soil on top of the existing soil in the garden beds.  In the container beds I refresh the beds because the tend to sink about one to two inches each season.

I continue to have some broccoli, rappini, cabbage, kale and cabbage in my beds.  It is a little heart breaking to have to cull most of it to make way for the spring/summer planting…. but oh do I love those flavors that will come out of the garden.  I have chosen heat tolerant species for the back yard this year.  The long hot summer last year was stressful for everything except my pumpkins, corn and green beans.  This year I have expanded the garden to the front yard as well which gets dappled shade during the afternoon which will be helpful for the veggies that don’t like it too hot!  I am going to post details on the products I am using as well as the seed choices for this year in upcoming posts so stay tuned!

Donna~

Winter Garden

2015 hallmarks my first winter garden.  I have planted cabbage, carrots, beats,  kale, sugar peas, broccoli, rapini, spinach, bok choy, and brussel sprouts.  So far everything is growing great!  My cherry tomato plant from last spring is still hanging on for dear life and producing some tomatoes here and there and much to my great surprise I have some volunteer potatoes popping up in the side garden.  I found that when I transplanted the seedlings from the greenhouse to the garden I put a walnut size dollop of worm castings with them and it really helped given them a good start.  I believe that it helped cut the transplant shock.  I have given them a dose of fish and guano fertilizer about every two weeks since it has gotten cold, I usually fertilize weekly.  We have very poor soil here and I am still in the soil building stage.  We live in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest and our soil is mainly sand, rock and gravel.  I plan on planting berries and more fruit trees in January.  Another baby step towards sustainable living.  I am hoping to get the grey water system set up before spring.  We have had consistent rain, which has been great, I have not had to water often, but this is unusual for our area of Southern California.  We can thank the rain to El Nino.  I continue to build Olla’s for the garden and all the tree’s and hope to have an entire system by summer.  I am almost finished with my BSN so my entries to my blog should be far more consistent and interesting!  Thank you for stopping by and seeing what is going on at Our Harvest Home 🙂

T w i t t e r
F a c e b o o k