Starting this spring I have been experimenting with using a reel mower to cut my grass. With all the rain we have had I have been using it just about every weekend and it’s been a lot of fun (and a lot of work).
The obvious benefit has been not spending money on fuel for a traditional gas lawn mower. Because this type of mower takes considerably more effort I have also gotten a nice total body workout. Additionally it is much easier to store, and can even be kept inside your home as there are no hazardous materials involved.
You can plan what you are going to do next weekend, next month and even years into the future…but life sometimes takes a turn that wasn’t in the plan… as it did for my family last week when my husband, Kent, had a mild stroke.
It was a ‘small’ stroke from the doctors perspective, and he has a very good prognosis for full recovery, but we are now reviewing all our plans for the next few months, canceling all the bike rides, hikes in the mountains, road races, and even trips to visit people in the short term. Kent is living at the rehab hospital for 2-3 weeks while he re-learns how to use his left arm and leg. People have warned us that it might be months before he is able to do some of these things again.
Cucumbers, Lettuce, Basil, Spinach, Broccoli, Thyme, Parsley and the very first tomatoes have arrived! Ok… so there are way too many cucumbers and the spinach and broccoli “bolted” which, I think, means they had shoots that flowered before they really had much in the way of spinach leaves or broccoli heads (very small). And the tomatoes are so close together that they are smothering each other. The corn only provided a few stalks, which are not pollenating so we won’t see any corn this year. The pole beans are so full of beetles that are barely any leaves left.
But… it is pretty cool to make a whole salad for dinner with fresh greens from the garden. I’ve been giving away cucumbers as quickly as I can. Kent is going to try making pickles. My sister Wendy made a great ragout last weekend that included basil, thyme, and parsley from the garden. And I’ve been eating Romain and some of the mesclun and cucumbers in my sandwiches and salads.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog on the seedlings that I started for garden this year (Seeding the Summer). Well, the little plants are now in their summer home in my small corner of the Shaker Community Garden plot. The picture on the left gives you some idea of the size of the whole garden. There are about 28 plots, mostly 20′ x 20′ and some 10′ x 10′. I have two 10′ x 10′ plots, which seems like plenty of garden for basically two people.
At the end of last summer, I was not sure I wanted to start a garden again this year. Last year started off only ok. Most of the plants that I started from seed died early, but there was some good early success with corn, tomatoes, rhubarb and squash — see “My First Garden
But by the late summer when most of the tomatoes would have been ripening the whole upper valley got hit with a blight that killed off both tomatoes and potatoes. I think I only got 2 or 3 ripened tomatoes before the blight hit. I grabbed a few more green ones that eventually ripened on the windowsill. I got quite a few ears of corn before the deer found them.
Over the last week I have had an opportunity to watch two movies and a TEDprize presentation about America’s un-sustainable food industry: “Fresh
“, “Food, Inc
” and Jamie Oliver’s TED prize
acceptance video. I wasn’t seeking out information on food … but they all presented themselves in the last week so I felt it was time to talk about it.
I found both of these movies provide a great insight into how our food is created and brought to market. Yes, they are both a little depressing with pictures of chickens, pigs, and cattle that are never given more than a few inches of space in which to move around during their entire life … but the uplifting part is there is something we can do about this. Most of us can choose which foods to buy at the grocery store.
For Christmas I received two books that I have been enjoying related to sustainable food, gardening, cooking and green kitchen products and processes. The first book is called “The Green Kitchen” by Richard Ehrlich. It is based on a column in the “Times of London”.
This book has great tips on everything from taking advantage of local foods and seasonal foods, to energy efficient cooking tips, energy efficiency appliances and green cleaning tips. The bulk of the book are recipes with pictures (which is imperative in my opinion). The dishwasher in the house I am currently renting is pretty much useless, so the section on hand washing dishes and when dishwashers are more beneficial than hand washing was particularly interesting to me.
Ok…maybe not my very first garden, but the first one that ever produced anything edible.
My family probably thinks I’ve gone off the deep end because I’ve made everyone of them look at my corn stalks and little green tomatoes. I can’t believe there is actually good food growing in my garden — and I planted almost all of it and weeded it myself.
Well, the rhubarb was already there and grew on its own. And grew and grew. We have had stewed rhubarb, rhubard crumble, and a couple of strawberry rhubarb pies. I have 3 more bags of rhubarb in the freezer. Ideas?
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Once a year the TED conference brings together some of the worlds most ‘fascinating’ thinkers and gives them 18 minutes to speak on their subject of interest. More and more of them are focused on sustainability, renewable resources, and general green topics. Here are some of the recent talks that I really liked:
Shai Agassi talks about his bold plan for the electric car. He believes his company will be instrumental in created an oil-free car industry across the US by 2020. In his vision this can only happen with all electric cars (hybrids are not good enough) and renewable energy sources creating that electricity.