Gardening in the Blind


Organic farming
November 5, 2011, 12:24 pm
Filed under: Farming, Green
image

Harvested tomatillos before the storm

Organic farming has been researched for years.  The findings are the same everytime.  The produce is more nutritous, uses less fossil fuels and has a higher soil quality.  So why, if so much better, does it cost more to prove you are responsible.  The people who use more fossil fuels, trash the soil and grow seeds that are genetically modified don’t have to pay extra to farm as such.  What is wrong with this picture?

Bioscience magazine published an article back in July entitled “Environment, energy and economic comparisions of organic and conventional farming systems”.  This article is documenting a 22-year study that found organic farming produces the same yields of corn and soybeans as conventional farming, but uses 30 percent less energy, less water and no pesticides.  This study blows holes in all that is stated about reasons why people don’t use organic farming.  If the yeilds are the same or better, why not?  Just make it pass the first four years when the soil is being built back.  I would think you would eventually save a lot of money by not purchasing and dispersing chemicals on the land that ruins the soil.  This study is a review of the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial, the longest running trial of its sort within the United States.  I urge you all to google it to learn more (Click Here for the Rodale Institute Site).

I have a dream.  Not an earth shattering dream, but a dream nonetheless.  Let it be free to farm organically and charge people for conventional farming.  Maybe then people might learn to appreciate the soil and environment and saftey
of produce.



Planning has started
September 29, 2010, 2:46 pm
Filed under: animals, Green, Reuse

My garlic chives going to flower!

As the nights are crisper and the leaves start falling, that could mean only one thing.  Thoughts for next year and thoughts for the winter project.  Now this has been mainly home renovation, but this year I am adding something new to the list.  One thing that can green us up a bit.  So, inspired by an art installation in Cambridge, MA I have decided to learn about and build a methane digester.  Why you ask?

Hopefully through research and luck, I want to build a methane digester to power a light in the chicken coop.  This entails not only adding something new to the coop but also adding a use for the dog poop I get mulitple times every day.  It is always said that every animal needs to have a purpose.  This will get the dogs in on the game. 

It is funny how things end up going in a full circle when you are trying to learn to be more self-sufficient.  I want to take this time to learn as much as I can on doing things for myself and not relying on others.  I am making the most of our little “homestead” in the burbs.  So when the day comes that we can have a larger area, we will have a jump start!  So here is to the poop and light and everything nice!



Mallow facial anyone?
August 19, 2010, 8:41 am
Filed under: Green, Herbs

Mallow flowers from my tall mallow

Continuing with my herb usage, my new herb this year is mallow.  Again one of the reasons I picked mallow was the name.  I love saying it.  It just rolls off the tongue.  I didn’t know what it was to look like, but I did read that this fun herb also was good for the skin.  So I set out to see just how to use this herb.  And what I found surprised me – in a pleasant way of course. 

Mallow is a good moisturizer as well as an excellent mask for black heads and acne.  I put some large leaves in my blender with mineral water and created a green goop.  Then I placed it on my face and let it dry.  When I rinsed it off, my skin felt so soft I wanted to do the entire body in this mask.  Maybe next year I might be able to as I have been told a lot that it will spread.  I only hope so as I have it planted in the worse soil I have and it is thriving!

Scratch another item off my grocery list!



Ready, Set….Use
August 18, 2010, 9:00 am
Filed under: Green, Herbs, outdoor gardening

My soapwort is spreading out!!!

I think I am a little too excited over this little thing.  I grew a new herb every year because I read something about it that makes me want to have it.  Last year was soapwort.  Three things enticed me with this…1. The name-it sounds so cool yet maybe a little exotic.  2. The looks-I am a sucker for different shades of green and white and lastly 3. It is useful.  I am finally able to utilize the useful part since it is growing up so fast.

I went outside and picked about a cup of leaves and placed them promptly in the pan on the stove.  I then added about 3 cups of water to the leaves and brought the whole thing to a boil.  Then turned off the gas and left it to cool for the night.  In the morning I lifted the leaves out of the mixture and poured the water into a couple of containers.  It seems that I had hair rinse.  One more thing that I could scratch off the grocery store list.  Wow is my list shrinking…(well not really but it there is one less item on it)



Chicken Update – 16 days old
June 5, 2010, 3:51 pm
Filed under: chickens, Green

16 days old

When getting the chickens I knew I wanted to make sure that they ate organic feed.  It was important to me especially knowing that once they started laying eggs I would be eating some every once and a while.  It was not as easy to come by as I first thought it would be.  Apparently the organic movement really hasn’t caught on to main stream chicken raisers.  I finally contacted an old CSA that I was part of.  Many Hands Farm I knew would be organic.  Matter of fact the women who owns the farm is heavily involved in NOFA (Northeastern Organic Farmers Association).  She, of course, did and sold me a bag of starter. 

16 days old

While I was there, we were discussing chickens.  She asked me why I wanted to make sure it was organic.  I explained to her that I grew up with a lot of allergies and my parents always purchased organic foods.  I also explained how I go out of my way to make sure I don’t use any chemicals on my yard/food.  She was really impressed.  She said that it is very few second generation organics that she meets right now.  Later she went on to say that the bulk of the people who come to chat with her are first time organics.  She was a little worried that they would move on as soon as the fad wore off.  I told her not to worry.  Once they taste the food that is local and organic how could they possible go back to the pesticide laden food.  She smiled and nodding in agreement. 

Afterwards it got me thinking.  Is this just a fad?  Let me know what you think.

The chickens are growing leaps and bounds.  I just can’t believe that they can grow so quickly!  Today I just decided to take the big one and opened a window.  It was too hot in the room.  Although they didn’t seem to mind it, I need to get them use to what the temperatures will be like when they move outside.  Also I needed to be able to walk into the room without sweating so much!  Hope you enjoy the update.



On the way to self sustaining
February 14, 2010, 9:37 am
Filed under: Green, Herbs, Indoor Gardening, Reuse, Seedlings

Dried Herbs

 

I still have this need to sell stuff out of my garden in order to pay for the seeds.  It didn’t happen last year, although I did get around $50.  This year I am going to try harder!  I am trying something new.  I am taking matters into my own hands.  I have really high hopes.  I created an Etsy shop – www.starlite101.etsy.com in order to sell my dried herbs.  So far it has been a no go, but I did get someone at work who wanted Oregano.  That is a plus!  I have started my jar to see what I will get by the end of the season.  Between selling both fresh herbs during the season and dried herbs off-season I am eager to see what will come of it.  

One of the purses I have made

 

In addition to selling my dried herbs, I am also selling purses from discontinued memo samples from work.  I am going to keep this money separate from the herbs, but it will be applied to the garden as well.  If you have any more ideals please let me know.  I am going to try everything including selling some perennials (Thanks Shelly for the idea last year!).  

I am in hopes that I will have some really healthy basil and cayenne peppers to sell around planting time.  They might be too big for people though.  They are growing like a weed!  My lavender and Rosemary have been slow to germinate, but have started growing as well.  Cilantro is almost to the point where I need to trim it!  The same is true for the arugula.  Very exciting stuff happening in my basement this winter.



Comet Replacer
January 18, 2010, 5:44 am
Filed under: cleaning, Cooking/Canning/Drying, Green, Herbs

The perfect scrubber

I am trying to replace all store purchased cleaners with my own.  It is a very slow process.  This has found me frustrated and exhilarated all at the same time.  So, after many renditions of scrubber, I have finally found one that I like, and it is easy!  Having all the herbs that I do, I have decided that I need to make sure that they work for me.  Given this, I have chosen to put Rosemary, Thyme and Sage into my scrub.  This is what I have done: 

Placing equal parts dried rosemary and sage leaves, and 1/2 part thyme in my mortar, I grind until fully ground.  Next I add 1-1/2 parts baking soda and mix well.  I top with some unground rosemary for more scrubbing abilities.  My choice of rosemary, sage and thyme is an easy choice.  Rosemary is a natural antibacterial herb.  Sage is antibacterial and antifungal.  Which leaves thyme.  Thyme is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.  So, I have triple antibacterial, double antifungal and a dash of antiviral.  All important elements when dealing with dishes.  I place in a jam jar with a cover and use when needed.  Perfection at its best!