Saturday, September 26, 2009

End of the Season

Almost everything has been pulled up from the garden. The only thing that is left is peppers. I would say that the garden was a success - at least tomato-wise. Thanks to Bill for making it happen. We're considering putting in some lettuce to see what it does over the next few weeks, but mostly we're done for the year.

All in all, I can't say that we saved any money by having a garden this year. Bill had many more peanut butter & tomato sandwiches (yuk)than he would have otherwise, and we've got some dried herbs.

Next year, fewer tomatoes, more bell peppers, broccoli and sweet potatoes.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ode to Squash

We had our first garden casualty - if you don't count the cilantro eaten by the critters, that is. Bill pulled up all of our zucchini plants this evening due to a white, moldy issue on the leaves. We had tons of blossoms but no zucchini ever made it past the 2" mark. I'm disappointed since the kids seem to love it so much.

We do, however, have a buttload of tomatos. We've eaten a couple of the Golden Jubilee already and used a few of the grapes in a 'stir fry' kind of thing that we put over pasta. The Mr. Stripey's are turning out to be exactly what I read they would be - a waiting game. There is fruit but nothing is near being ready to eat.

I'm planning to harvest worm castings very soon as I've got about 2 inches of castings in the bottom of my 'high tech' container (a bin from Big Lots). Stay tuned - I'll post pictures of the wondrous worm poo.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Garden Update - I can't wait to eat!

Cayenne Harvest

This is our first pepper that's ready to eat. We've got several varieties - this one is a Cayenne.
Just in time for Fajita night! Bill will be the only one trying these peppers.
Here's what the pepper will go on - Pollo Adobado from Dos Hermanos, our local Mexican grocery. YUM!
Careful, Bill!
Is that a little sweat I see beading up on your forehead?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


There pictures were taken a little over 2 months after we started the garden.

Future Mr. Stripey Tomatoes (Hopefully)

Bell Pepper

Golden Julilee Tomatoes

Baby Zucchini

Cheyenne Pepper

Another Bell Pepper

Small Planters

Main Garden


Here are some pictures that were taken on June, 20, 2009 of our first garden. It was a little over a month since the plants were put in the ground.

Main Garden: Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper, Golden Jubilee Tomato, Mr. Stripy Tomato, Yellow Grape Tomato, some other hot Pepper, some other type of Bell Pepper
Small Planter: Basil & Sage

Farthest Planter: Thai Basil & Bell Pepper
Middle Planter: Jalapeno Pepper & Cayenne Pepper
Nearest Planter: Greek Oregano

There is also a small planter not in the picture that has Thyme.

Some more pictures are on the way (assuming my camera still works)

Monday, June 29, 2009

I've picked Sage, Oregano and Basil to take to coworkers tomorrow and I'm thrilled that I have enough to share. The rest of the harvest is still weeks away, but herbs make me feel good. I made a little bouquet and tied it in my window so that my kitchen will smell good, too.

I also cooked lentils in the rice cooker tonight! It was so easy that I wish I'd known about it years ago. 2:1 water to lentils ratio, salt, a titch of olive oil and you're in business. Lentils are like a blank canvass - you can season them any way you like. Of course I made way too much so there's some frozen -- probably have to do soup with them because they'll be mushy.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

I'm obviously going to write about things other than our green efforts here. That's okay with you, right?

A few months ago, I had a thought that went something like this: I have, over the years, challenged and stretched my mind and accomplished much more professionally and academically than I ever thought possible. I wonder what would happen if I stretched my body in the same way?

Today is one of those days when I feel like this was the stupidest idea I've ever had. Today, I feel like after 42 years -- most of it spent being overweight -- I might as well sack up and accept that my body is truly not my friend. Hiking in Yellowstone is no more an option for me at this point in my life than is becoming a brain surgeon. The time has come to pay the piper and I have successfully destroyed my body. I may become healthier, but I have to admit that there are some capabilities that I no longer possess.

Which pisses me off greatly.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This has nothing to do with gardening....

but I saw this driving down the road one day and thought, "Tigger died on the cross for your sins". I had to go back and take a picture. I figured this is a safe enough place to post it since you probably all know that I'm sorta sick and twisted anyhow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Week 2 Shopping Trip

- Bag of organic Romaine lettuce
- 3 cans of organic Garbanzo Beans
- 1 jar of tahini
- 3 limes
- 1 lemon
- 1 bag of Terra chips
- Gallon of milk
- A really small piece of cheese that was $27.99 a pound
- 1 red bell pepper (grown in Canada)
- 1 quart of Michigan strawberries
- 2 pounds of marinaded skirt steak from Dos Hermanos
- A bunch of cilantro (Dos Hermanos)
- A package of whole wheat pita bread
- 2 bunches of organic bananas (grown in Ecuador)
- A loaf of 3 seed bread bread from the Food Co Op

Total haul: $80

Realization of the week: In order to eat locally (completely) someone living in Michigan would have to give up a LOT of stuff. Mangoes. Avacado. Bananas. I'm thinking this is more of a guideline than a rule.

Thar's FOOD in that thar garden!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Michigan Produce Availability

One task on the "To Do List" complete - Go Bill!

Michigan Produce Availability available from the Michigan State University Extension Service and the State.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

1st Shopping Trip

Grocery shopping is part of our regular Sunday errands so we hit the Whole Foods today. Can I just say that this is much harder than I expected it to be? I knew it was going to be more expensive to eat local/seasonal/organic foods and, to some extent, I knew that it would be a challenge to come up with tasty meals day after day within those guidelines. What I did not expect was so many choices of eggs that fall in that category. Free Range: okay that seems good. That means that the chickens weren't locked up in a tiny cage to lay eggs. No antibiotics: Also good. Fertilized: What th'.......? Whole Foods was kind enough to provide commentary on this subject. "Don't be afraid of finding a baby chick when you crack the egg" (that's a relief). Fertilized means that the chicken was actually in the presence of a rooster when your eggs were created. I'm thinking that chickens that are getting laid must be happier than chickens that don't and thereby lay better eggs.

My other big realization is that you can't automatically assume that just because something is the Whole Foods brand that it's any higher quality than a popular brand. For example, we usually buy Honey Nut Cheerios. The WF brand's label read exactly the same as the Cheerio's label, only WF brand was cheaper and came in a bag rather than a box with a bag liner (reduced waste = good). The real pisser came when I ran in to Hiller to grab a lemon that we'd forgotten at WF's and found the same box of Honey Nut Cheerio's for $2 cheaper than either the bag or the box at Whole Foods. So I got it too. So much for reduced waste, huh?

Poor people will never be able to eat well. For $110, here's what we got to feed our family of 4 for the week (obviously we'll use some stuff that we already have on hand).

2 lemons
1 box of Honey Nut Cheerios
2 bunches of organic bananas
1 bunch of Michigan grown asparagus
1 bag of fresh green beans from somewhere (Mississippi maybe?)
2 containers of organic blueberries
1 quart of Michigan strawberries
4 peaches
1/2 pound of pine nuts
2 boxes of whole grain pasta
a nice huge hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano
1 bag of Honey Nut Oats
2 bags of prepared granola
1 box of Kashi oatmeal
1 box of Kashi waffles
1 gallon of skim milk
1 dozen organic, grain fed, free range eggs
1 six pack of Oberon (my FAVORITE beer -- local to boot)
1 six pack of Edmund Fitzgerald (another Michigan beer, bought as a gift)

All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with the haul. I'll be using some of our basil and a little rosemary to make asparagus pesto for pasta tomorrow night. Past that, I have no idea what's to eat.


If It's Yellow -- and other bathroom greenery

During our transition to Michigan from Tennessee, the lot of us stayed at a hostel at my church in Memphis. Known as somewhat of a 'hippie church' in the community, we weren't surprised to find one of the bathrooms at the hostel labeled with a sign like this:

I have to admit that I avoided that bathroom for the 3 1/2 weeks that we were there. 3 years later, we employ this technique in our upstairs bathroom. The downstairs bathroom where mosts guest would go stays pretty consistently flushed. I would estimate that we started letting the yellow mellow about a year ago (Bill?). We've not measured the difference in our wastewater consumption, but I'm putting that on the 'To Do' list today.

Tree Hugger also recommends using the Navy Shower technique to save water: where you turn on the water only to get wet at the beginning and rinse off at the end. All lathering is done with the water off. Many shower heads are even equipped with an on/off switch to make that easier. Of course, the water conservation technique that we most prefer is the one where you shower together. Saves water AND starts the day off right!


Saturday, June 13, 2009


I did quite a bit of research on worms before jumping in, but everything I found seemed to be much more complicated than the approach of a friend of mine. She bought a small plastic bin and filled it with shredded newspaper, credit card bills, or whatever she had shredded. She puts in kitchen scraps and adds bedding when she remembers to. The worms live under her kitchen sink and could go for a really long time with no attention at all. Being a person who gravitates toward the path of least resistance, I liked her plan better than the ones I found on line.

Here's my worm bin. I may have to 'upgrade' the bin to something bigger depending on how much we actually produce to feed them. You can see small clumps of the worm 'castings' in the close up pic that the worms brought with them from their previous home. I added in the tops of about 3 carrots and a few bell pepper scraps today - all cut as small as I had patience to cut so that they are easily processed by the worms.

If anyone has advice on how to make this work best, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Stay tuned for more exciting worm news!


What We're Doing

Bill and I have talked on and off about urban farming and and other sustainable agricultural practices since we moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan from Tennessee 3 years ago. We have finally made some movement toward seeing what we can realistically do since we a) both have full time jobs; and b) have limited money and land available. In the spirit of the "Couch to 5k" running program, we've decide to take slow, incremental steps in hopes that we won't bite off more than we can chew.

From my perspective (Bill you can chime in with your own notes on why you want to do it) I resent like hell the idea that I've been duped in to living in a way that is neither healthy nor sustainable. I believe that the media and poverty played a huge role in that and in my opinion, that is just not acceptable. I was raised almost completely eating processed foods: Koolaid, Froot Loops & instant mashed potatoes. Granted, I've not fed my family in that way for many years but we still have a long way to go before I would be comfortable saying that we have a healthy diet. I'd like to improve that.

So what are we doing?

1) We've started a small vegetable garden in our back yard. Tomatoes, peppers, zuchinni and several herbs.

2) I've got worms. Literally. Under my kitchen sink. Hopefully they'll make some yummy compost and worm tea to help the garden.

Next step (in my mind) is to learn more about local food sources and how to live off of what is available seasonally. We have a deep freeze so there is plenty of room to freeze for the off season. Another "To Do" is to visit the local Food Co-Op and figure out how that works in to the plan.

By the way, did you know that there are vendors at Farmer's Markets who buy their produce from major distributors? How many people have made a commitment to eating local and think they are doing so by going to a Farmer's Market? Duped, I tell ya.