April 16, 2010 Comments Off on Friday Garden Lust
This Friday has been dubbed garden lust day, so named because I wanted to share some lustful garden items.
I badly want a vertical garden somewhere in my house or outside. I haven’t figured out the logistics t for actually doing it, but it is in the future. These awesome pictures are from Flora Grubbs They even sell DYI trays for a vertical garden, but the are $100 and I am hoping I can do my own, all. by. myself.
I particularly love spring because it is a time when everyone thinks they are a gardener, including artist which creates cool garden inspired products. Just today I found some really interesing garden themed things in Etsy shops, not too mention today’s Etsy’s front page has a cherry blossom theme AND a gardening theme, garden is so fashion. Click on the picture to go to the artist’s shop on Etsy.
If only my wrist were small enough to fit in such a thing, I would be super stylin’.
Who doesn’t need a bell jar really, and it’s multi-purpose as you can use these for little seedlings or cookies, and both of those things are quite delightful.
And lastly, I found these spoons, I love anything that involves metal and rudimentary typewriter font. The seller also offered a purpose for them, marking your herbs. I’m sure your herbs would be the belle of the ball with these announcing their presence.
April 14, 2010 Comments Off on Sorry Monsanto et al. You Can’t Play in My Sandbox
I’ve been stuck inside lately because pollen and I are having a rocky relationship, and I feel like crap. The only thing I can muster garden wise are dreams of delicious summer vegetables like tomatoes an cucumbers. The summer didn’t creep up on me like spring did, and summer vegetables will tolerate the roof a little bit better, so I have time to let my conscience dictate my summer plantings down to the seed. How could I be having a moral dilemma over a seed? Well seeds are the beginning of life and the power of our food systems. Seeds are from simple but they are the linchpin of our industrial food system, as seeds and thus plants have been genetically designed by humans, often in the form of hybrids. Now on the surface these genetically modified foods seem pretty great, because they make plants resistant to all kinds of things and can grow in areas that it might not do well in normally. The end product is generally bigger food and more of it, meaning more to feed all the people that are eating the food from pretty much everywhere. People can really go back and forth about organic farming vs regular industrial farming and the role of genetically modified foo just read the comments of this Boston Globe Article and you will get my point. Anyway like all things local food you have to draw your line, and what I really care about is that genetically modified seeds reduce biodiversity and put everyone at risk. For example if 98% of our corn in the same and corn is in so much of the food eaten by Americans, and corn gets a disease we will be up a serious creek with a fractured paddle. It also doesn’t allow evolution to do its thing by weeding out the weak and creating naturally resistant plants, and that just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Just like it doesn’t make any sense that farmer can’t save their seeds , because often genetically modified seeds are owned by the company that makes them and even if the farmer wanted to save seeds many hybrids won’t have the same yield the second year anyway, because like a mule they are workhorses that can’t reproduce.
SO in my own little act of defiance(waves flag) I am getting my plan on for summer and unlike spring I am going to start my summer vegetables from seed. Because I have a worrisome personality that is delightfully paired with a guilty conscience so I am making sure that my seeds are open pollinated and have no genetic engineering juju going on . It’s important to me that I plant diverse species to support the biosphere.I am getting mine from a company called Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and they even encourage seed saving! I am fortunate to have them only 40 minutes away from I live, and a vendor at the market sells them on Saturday. However they sell their products online and have a super awesome catalog (also available online) that has great stories and descriptions of the seeds. There are also tons of resources online for finding places that sell heirloom/heritage and non GMO seeds and techniques of savings seeds. Even if you don’t won’t go out of your way, local food is becoming the hot new thing and many large retailers carry heirloom varieties, just be sure not to be confused by organic seeds in that they may or may not be genetically modified,the guarantee of organic means that they were grown in an organic way.
Buying heirlooms for me is my own little way of telling Monsanto and other giant seed companies (are there any others?) to F*** off, even if do still wear cotton, which apparently Monsanto owns all the seeds to as well, who knew?
April 9, 2010 Comments Off on Cost Comparison: Hamburger
Since I can’t get my act together and finish my post on my moral conscience and seeds, I figured it would be a good time for another ever so chic and awesome cost comparison. I think meat is the biggest investment in eating sustainably, as it is markedly more expensive than regular meat that comes from a factory. In addition to the price it is insanely hard to figure out what exactly is what it says it is, what is marketed to you, and what is actually going to work for you. I went through some of the basic on meat that I have figured out here, but I still have a lot of information to cycle through yet. Sooo today we are going to look at hamburger, because hamburger is pretty general , and I have yet to learn different cuts of meat and really can’t figure out which one is more valued by people, chime in if you have any insight.
Harris Teeter(Chain) Ground Beef 16oz: $4.79, Price Per Serving(PPS) $1.20
Ground Sirloin Beef from Reids(Local Grocer) 1 Pound : $3.69, PPS $.92
Ground Beef – General from Reids 1 Pound: $ 2.29, PPS $.57
Ground Beef from Wolf Creek Farm, no antibiotics and grass fed 1 pound: $5.38, PPS $1.34
Ground Beef from Polyface Farm grass fed on a biodiverse farm 1 pound: $ 6.99, PPS $1.74
Price Winner: Reids regular ( factory) ground beef at 57 cents per serving.
Food for Thought:
I wasn’t really surprised at the price difference between meats, the operating cost for wolf creek and Polyface are much higher than a feedlot if not just for the land their cows graze on, and are no doubt ultimately happier on. I was surprised about how close in price the Harris Teeter and Wolf Creek was, for 14 cents more a serving you could be eating meat that is probably better for you, no its true grad fed beef can be lower in fat and have higher levels of CLA and omega fatty acids.
Another major issue that makes me eat sustainable meat is that I want the animal that I am eating to have been treated well throughout its lifespan from birth to slaughterhouse. This is something that is really important to me, but not important enough to stop eating meat. Like all thing you have to decide if healthier food and ethical food outweigh the increased cost for your family, and if you have the resources to do it. A good suggestion if you want to start somewhere but don’t have the money is simply by reducing the amount of meat you first and then see what you can afford. You’ll notice that I included a per serving break down, which for meat is around 4 oz, and that’s what you should be eating at meals. We are very socialized to eat more and I noticed how small the 4 oz portion looked to me when I started eating it, which I had to do, because I couldn’t afford to buy sustainable meat and eat like a carnivore. Now after diligently cutting my meat portion down, I don’t notice as much and I try to eat slower to savor things, I can’t stress enough how better but less quality is the way to go.
Happy Hunting… I mean shopping!
April 7, 2010 Comments Off on School Lunch Isn’t a Revolution Its a Caveat
School lunch has been getting a lot of press lately, what with blogs getting on the news, national television networks making a show, and practically millions of foodies and localvores twittering about it. Making school lunches more nutritional and fresh is great, kids will no doubt be healthier from eating at least one healthy meal a day and is an ok start to the problem, but the problem with school lunch is school lunch is not THE problem. THE problem is complicated and a combination of two big problems, one involving the industrial food complex and the second involving the state of education in our country. They pretty much intersect somewhere in the middle so let me explain.
Over the last 50 or 60 years our food system has changed, going from one that relies of small farmers to a system where our food comes from a factory. This didn’t happen by itself, the aftermath of WWII helped, clever marketing helped, lots of money helped,increase in production and lowering cost helped, and a rapidly burgeoning culture of immediacy and convenience helped. So our food now primarily comes from a handful of corporations. Most Americans are eating cheap and factory produced food, that is why schools are serving this food and kids are eating it. So “fix” the industrial food complex and you effectively fix school lunch. The change needs to happen first because schools don’t operate to harm children ,at least in most cases, the limiting factor of healthy food in school is availability of resources. These aren’t necessarily monetary resources, even if school got more money for healthier food, that food would still come from a factory, schools and everyone else have very little access to an infrastructure that would support fresh healthy and local food on a large scale. Some areas are lucky enough to have coop or distribution hub that serves restaurants and organization, but most are not. Many would ask why food needed to be local or sustainable to be in schools, the simple answer is they don’t, but in a perfect world, more money kept within a community means more taxes and more money for schools, not to mention more jobs and ethical treatment for animals and people. So in recap fix factory farming , fix schools to provide better food, fix unhealthy eating for kids,and it will all support the community and schools are all about community right?
This brings me to the second big problem. So say in fantasy land all schools in America start serving “healthy” food not even sustainable but healthy food. This would ahelp a lot, but I really think that the reason that kids are eating the way they are is because schools no longer create children or adults that actively engage critical thinking, question asking, and problem solving. The reason that the our current food system is what it is today is because too many people forgot to ask the simple questions of Where does my food come from? and What is in my food?And plenty of those people already ate healthy, but this didn’t really roll over to a healthy practice in life. Giving kids healthy food but no curriculum to create a knowledge base about nutrition in food, probably won’t change a whole lot, especially when almost all public school children go home. I myself was a vegetarian for 4 years as a young child, but I still went on to eat all kinds of stuff and eat primarily unhealthy. When I look back on the reason why I chose not to stay a vegetarian, it is mostly because of bacon and steak, but the second reason is that I had no real understanding oh what food is and what is meant in relation to myself. My parents didn’t talk to me about it even though we had a garden I was involved in and my school definitely NEVER talked about it. Although I am pretty lucky that I had the base I did because it allowed me to get to the point I am at now, trying to eat sustainably. So changing the food in school might make an immediate change , but may not have the momentum to change the overall life of the student.Most public school children don’t even know a potato or carrot grows in the ground, will this knowledge change if a child is eating a fresh carrot or mashed potatoes instead of french fries, maybe but not definitely. However take that student , who is eating healthy food, and actively engage them with curriculum and conversation about food and how it works for their body, where it comes from, who it comes from, and they will be able to make informed decisions. Now to be fair none of this will be achieved until curriculum in schools in general is changed pulling away from test driven information and moved more toward the ability to acquire knowledge and ask questions, so that is THE problem that has to change first in order for kids to eat better. Recap: Make general curriculum more engaging, make food and nutritional curriculum more engaging, change food in schools, make healthy children who will turn into adults.
So just fixing school lunch is really like giving the beast haircut when you really need to chop off its head, but hey at least it will look prettier and that is improvement after all, and sometimes improvement is better than nothing.
April 4, 2010 Comments Off on National Botanical Garden:Part Two
More asparagus because I loved it so much
Outdoor succulent garden.
Most things are still absent leaves in the outdoor garden, but things are making a comeback.
More orchids because they are pretty , and people like pretty things.
I really wish I lived in a place where this hung from the trees, it makes everything seem old , hot , and southern… kind of like Bon Temps.
The ever elusive dinosaur.
I wasn’t overall impressed with the outdoor gardens, but maybe that would change if I visited in summer.
So many begonias!.
This a really tiny succulent garden, you can see that the tags were bigger than all the plants.
And some 4 leaf clovers for good luck!
April 3, 2010 Comments Off on Adventures in the National Botanical Garden
April 2, 2010 Comments Off on Know Thy Plant: Sedum Reflexum
I didn’t do a lot of container gardening last year, I limited myself to just a few decorative pots in the yard, nothing as extensive as a garden that is limited to pots. However I did learn a pretty useful thing last year and thats that the success of container gardens is entirely dependent on the gardener to do everything for them, this is because plants are selfish! In order to limit stress and a sense of defeat you really have to know a little about you plants. Potted plants can be flexible in the sense that you can have different types of plants growing in the same place, but don’t make the mistake for putting them in the same pot. Plants have 3 basic needs , light , water, and fertilizer, if you give them the right amount of these things you will be the king or queen of the garden, give them too much and you get to be the plant executioner. Last year I was excited to do my pots and planted things together with much regard for their needs, I learned the hard way and I was pretty upset when I killed at least one of everything in every pot because of my watering, not to mention how much money I wasted killing plants. So that’s why I introduce this series, that I will call “Know Thy Plant.” in an effort to learn and share what a plant actually needs to succeed. So know thy plants people and be a matchmaker, put plants together that need the same things or one of them will die(they don’t get the luxury of divorce.)
First up is : Sedum Reflexum (SR)
I decided to start adding more succulent into my rooftop garden, because while many don’t flower consistently or bear fruit, they add a lot of green and color. They are also super drought resistant and can handle heat and as you know my roof will be a second circle of hell in summer so if everything else dies then I will at least have these guys and they are pretty spiffy.
I’m just going to make these post simple as you can google SR and find anything you ever wanted to know, but you probably don’t need to know all those things and you will find some pretty interesting results from a search on succulents, plus why spend more time in interweb lala land than needed(seriously it took me like 5 google pages.) So here are its selling points:
-It is ground cover but can most definitely be kept in pots,sometimes for the betterment of other plants, because it can take over.
-It likes sun, but is known to tolerate part shade. They can actually burn if it gets too hot hot. I’m not worrying too much about that because my garden will get a reprieve in the morning
-Plant in well drained soil, it can be moist but shouldn’t be wet. Water more in summer , less in fall and infrequently in winter.If you think you have killed it because you forgot to water it, try watering it still as there is a good chance it will come back up. You can also fertilize the soil, but make sure you use a succulent fertilizer or something that is nitrogen poor.
-It is deer resistant.
-It can winter over outside.
-You can propagate by taking a stem with or without roots and plant it in soil with top sticking out, just be sure to make sure t stay well watered for the first couple of weeks. This is actually how most succulents propagate.
Here it is being a good big brother plant by shading the broccoli which can’t tolerate the hot afternoon sun.