Native Garden Project Finished- Woohoo!!

I had a date this morning – with 40 bags of Grade A cedar mulch.  Fortunately I didn’t have to tackle it alone.  My husband opened and poured while I raked and spread.

Just to recap………

This is what we started with about 6 weeks ago.

This is what we started with about 6 weeks ago.

Next came a back wrenching day with the sod cutter that gave us this….

After setting border

After setting border

Then the native plants were in place and the soaker hose laid down….

The trial run was a success.  Even, drippy moisture.

The trial run was a success. Even, drippy moisture.

And today- ta da!!!- mulch!!

The plants are young and it was almost impossible to get the 3" depth the landscaper suggested.  And we should have evened up the surface a little more.

The plants are young and it was almost impossible to get the 3″ depth the landscaper suggested. And we should have evened up the surface a little more.

Here are a couple of closeups….

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Ozark Bluestar

Ozark Bluestar

Here is the complete list of natives we planted: purple muhly grass, prairie rose, hibiscus, penstemon, goldenrod, coneflower, blue sage, joe pye, bergamot, beautyberry, false indigo, Ozark bluestar and prairie blazing star.  And of course, an Eastern redbud tree.  I don’t expect any blooms this year, but everything is still healthy after being in the ground almost two weeks.

So…..on to the next project.  No rest of the wicked.  Since we still had a LITTLE energy left after laying the mulch, we cleaned the old mulch and inches of spilled birdseed out of the old beds next to the patio and spread mulch on them.  Oh, did I mention that we only used 29 of the 40 bags.  There was no way we could have used them all – and I cut down the number from the 50 the landscaper told me to buy.  Then around to the front yard where I planted this is my grandmother’s old washpot.

I lovethe tall Spike in the middle.  Behind it is aspargus ferns, Black Dragon for contrast, impatients and Moneywort.

I love the tall Spike in the middle. Behind it is aspargus ferns, Black Dragon for contrast, impatients and Moneywort.

My husband cut the seat out of this old chair in the large bed in the front.  I zip-tied a basket with coconut husk liner, but ran out of potting soil.  I’m not sure what I’m going to plant in it.  There’s  not much to choose from for shade plants.

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This should be really nice with plants “growing” out of the seat.

Speaking of potting soil, I’ve never really found one I like that will hold moisture.  I found this at Organics OKC.  Pricey, but hopefully worth it.

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Lots of good stuff in it. Should have for $18 a bag.

I’m off to email my native plant images to Habitat Hero in Colorado.  Although Oklahoma doesn’t have a local chapter, they are interested in native gardens everywhere.  Susan J. Tweit is one of the founders.  She’s been my inspiration.

So,what else is on the list….vacuum, clean bathrooms (ugh), laundry, fresh sheets on the bed, work on baby quilt….refill tea glass, lay down, turn on Netflix, watch episode of Foyle’s War.  Yeah, I like that list better :).

Simple blessings to all!

 

 

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De-Plasticize Your Home: Know The Codes

More reading on my part regarding the abundance of chemicals in our lives.  This time the culprit is plastics.  When it was considered the newest miracle product of  the 1950s, our grandmothers still largely bought and cooked fresh food: fresh produce, meat from the butcher, and stored left overs in those cute little glass refrigerator dishes that go for a premium at antique stores these days.  Today, most of our food comes pre-packaged in plastic.  And what we don’t consume at one meal, we store in plastic in our plastic refrigerators.

Plastic has changed.  Different plastics serve different purposes and are made from different chemical resins.  Some are stable, some are not and leach into our food.  It’s also in our shampoo bottles, our flooring and our kids’ toys.  Plastic is pervasive, but you can educate yourself and learn which ones to avoid.

We’re all familiar with the recycling code on plastic containers.  That cute little green triangle with a number in the middle.  That number indicates the kind of resin used to create the plastic. 

PET OR PETE (POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE), ALSO KNOWN AS POLYESTER

Typical uses: water and soft drink bottles, prepared salad and spinach containers

Health and environmental impact: intended for single use; plastic can break down and host bacteria; potential to interfere with reproductive hormones

HDPE (HIGH DENSITY POLYETHYLENE)

Typical uses: opaque milk jugs; cereal box liners; liquid detergent bottles; most shampoo bottles

Health & Environmental Impacts: low risk of leaching

PVC (POLYVINYL CHLORIDE)

Typical uses: plastic wrap, cooking oil bottles, toys, plumbing pipes, window and door frames, insulation

Health & Environmental Impact: known as the “toxic plastic”; can cause endocrine disruption, reduced sperm count, testicular atrophy and liver cancer

(Run Forrest, run!!!)

LDPE (LOW DENSITY POLYETHYLENE)

Typical uses: plastic wrap, grocery, garbage and sandwich bags.

Health & Environmental Impacts: not known to leach chemicals

PP (POLYPROPYLENE)

Typical uses: yogurt and margarine tubs, microwavable meal trays,  fiber for carpets, wall coverings, vehicle upholstery

Health & Environmental Impacts: hazardous during manufacture but not known to leach chemicals

PS (POLYSTYRENE)

Typical uses: styrofoam cups, clamshell containers, foam meat trays, plastic cutlery, electronics packaging and insulation

Health & Environmental Impacts: eye, nose and throat irritation; stored in body fat (ooohhhh), can cause cancer to production workers, harmful to marine life (this type of plastic makes up the majority of the huge garbage islands floating in global oceans)

PC (POLYCARBONATE), PLA (POLYACTIDE) AND OTHER PLASTIC NOT INCLUDED IN THE CATEGORIES ABOVE

Typical uses: baby bottles, some reusable water bottles, stain resistant food storage containers

Health & Environmental Impacts: BPA-containing polycarbonate causes endocrine and reproduction system disruption; impaired neurological functions; cancer; cardiovascular system damage; early puberty (OMG), obesity (crap!); chemotherapy resistance

Well, Forrest, I’m about to catch up with you.  Good grief.  In my disgust, I am looking for ways to relieve my household of the abundance of plastic.  I quit drinking out of plastic cups a long time ago, but still have them around and my husband uses them all the time.  Just about all the food I buy, even the organic potatoes and apples I bought today, came in plastic bags.  The trays our treat-ourselves-once-a-week rib eye steaks come packaged in are absorbing plastics that are then stored in our body fat.  And I’m really going to start checking for #7.  Scary stuff. 

So, in the spirit of less plastic, I splurged and ordered some reuseable produce bags to use at the grocery store instead of wrapping my fresh produce in plastic and then bringing it home.  Here they are, from Amazon.

I bought 2 sets of 5 at $11 each.  Perhaps a little pricey, but washable and should last a very long time.  They were transparent enough so that the checker had no problem identifying the contents.   Now I just need to find some alternative storage solutions for leftovers.

Comments anyone? 

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

White Christmas and Spring Planting

Wow!  Its been a heck of a day here in central Oklahoma.  Lots and lots of snow – well, at least 5 or so inches, a lot for us – and blizzard winds.  Here’s my front porch.

I’m SO glad our son made it home from Norman last night before the sleet started.  It would be awful for him to be stuck down there by himself for Christmas!  We had to cancel the trip to Texas but its nice to be home with a fire in the fireplace, grilled cheese and hot cocoa. 

 

We’re so entrenched in winter here right now, but what did I find on the coffee table?  A seed catalog I got a couple of weeks ago and haven’t had a chance to look at yet.  My raised beds may be full of snow right now, but there is a seed budding deep in my spirit.  A need to start planning for next summer’s vegetable garden. 

I’ve missed looking out my kitchen window and seeing food growing.  I have been thinking back to my first adventure in sustainable gardening and have to admit I made some mistakes.  I learned that I don’t need to plant 4 square feet of lettuce for just me and my husband!  I learned that squash needs a bed of its own.  I learned that okra needs to be planted earlier.  I learned not to plant tomatoes in black plastic pots.   I learned that I need to plant a LOT more purple hull peas if I actually want to harvest enough to eat.  

There are things I wish I had planted last year that I didn’t and will definitely plant this year – bell peppers and maybe some chile peppers.    I’m not ready for the heat of summer but I am ready for some fresh veges again. 

Something else we need to do is get that guttering in place so we can actually hook up the rain barrels we traveled 75 miles to buy because no place in this big huge city we live in sold them!  We also need to build a cover for the patio to shade the west sun that beats down on the house now that the old overgrown, out of control trees are down.  

But right now, the wind is blowing to beat the band, its cold as  (you fill in the blank), White Christmas is on TV, the fire is roaring and I think I need to sit down and look at that seed catalog! 

Lagging Behind

Wow, its been two weeks since I posted anything. 

We finally got the kitchen all put back together this weekend.  The cabinet doors are back up and everything is back in the drawers.  It was really a pain with everything in laundry baskets in other rooms!  Having to track down a clean towel or some tool.  Things were starting to pile up on the counter tops because I didn’t want to trek back to the baskets! 

I really need to do better about getting back to the original purpose of this blog which is to share my passion for local foodways and living a life of purposeful simplicity.    I also vowed to start taking more pictures in order to share what is going on here but have fallen short there, too.   So, in the spirit of renewed purpose, here is my new license plate. 

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Congrats to the organizers of this year’s Local Food Fair!  It was a great event despite the heat. 

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The garden is waning.  I pulled up the last of the cucumber vines after a farmers market vendor told me that when the cukes don’t fully ripen on the vine, continue to grow but stay yellow on the ends, the vines are old and done for.  So out they went and in went more okra seeds.  My okra is growing well, putting on lots of new leaves but no blooms yet.  I should have planted sooner according to another vendor so next year I will!  Trial and error seems to be the theme this year.  I’m learning a lot about what not to do!  Still have some squash but it is just about done, too.  I am getting a few pea pods and will plant a lot more of them next year.    The sweet potato vines are going crazy and I’m anxious to see what’s going on under the surface.  Think I might have to do a little exploratory digging to see if I’m actually growing anything but vine. 

I’m on Twitter now, as are lots of the local food folks around here, so I hope to be better about following that crowd and learn whatever they have to teach about eating local!

Keep it simple.

No More Guilt!

I have a collection of canvas bags that I like to take to the grocery store.  I was really good about taking them actually INSIDE the store with me when the enthusiasm was new.  Now they get taken out of the car for one reason or another and not returned or I forget to take them inside with me and am too lazy to walk all the way back out to the parking lot to retrieve them. 

So I end up taking home yet another group of white plastic bags and toss them in the recycle bin.  Better than nothing, right? 

I don’t know how many of you are crafty out there – as in arts and crafts, not sneaky little boogers.  But…today I ran across a website, http://www.myrecycledbags.com.  I think the original link was from Tiny Choices – another site in my weblog that you should really read on a regular basis.   Anyway….this woman crochets reusable shopping bags from strips of cut up plastic bags of all shapes and sizes.  She has instructions on how to make the strips and patterns for the bags.  Now it takes about 40 bags to make 1 bag, but what a great way to use them up!  I haven’t crocheted in years but I just might have to give this a try!  So now when I forget to take in my canvas bags I can go home guilt-free knowing that soon something good will result from my forgetfulness. 

I added the link to my weblog.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Keep it simple.

Natural Home Cleaning Link and Other Ramblings

Found a great new website and just quickly wanted to share the link.  This particular link will take you directly to the author’s page on natural house cleaning tips.  Lots of information there I didn’t know about.  http://www.thegoodhuman.com/2007/11/05/the-natural-way-to-clean-everything-in-your-house/

In the new garden bed, the lettuce is just beginning to peak its little green shoots above the soil and the swiss chard is sending up little red/green spikes.  The strawberries survived the frost last week.  The plan is to get another bed planted this weekend but we have slight chances of rain.  We need the rain but I also need to get my broccoli in the ground!  The plants are starting to loose the bottom leaves, turning yellow, and they desperately need to get into the soil!  My tomato seedlings aren’t looking any too healthy, either.  They are getting really leggy and limp.  They are still putting on new leaves, but are laying down in the seed tray.  I’m new at this.  Help!  How big do they need to get before I can plant them?  I think it is still a little too early to put them out, but I don’t know if they are going to survive at this rate.  I don’t have them under grow lights so maybe they are having to work too hard for light.  I don’t know.  Would appreciate any advice.

Tomorrow and Saturday is the OSN Annual Conference.  I am really looking forward to getting out of the office – which has been a really negative environment lately – and getting around people who are into sustainability and simplicity.  Something positive for a change!   I can really use the encouragement and all the new knowledge I’m sure I’ll walk away with.  There will be a delegation from Greensburg, Kansas there and lots of great topics on individual and community sustainability. 

Another thing I’m looking forward to is the next gardening club meeting.  The topic of discussion this month will be local food and how to make the community more aware of what it is, where it is and how to get it.  Followed by a yummy potluck dinner, of course.

Our dear friends from Colorado will be in town for their annual Spring Break visit next week!  Waaahooo!!!  Can’t wait to see their smiling faces. 

Prayers for Natasha Richardson’s family – she was one of my favorite actresses.  Really a sad thing. 

I read a thought provoking comment on www.farrfeed.com today.  It was in response to a new marketing campaign to bring more tourists into Taos, NM.  One commenter said that one of the major problems in America  is marketing in general.  We are what we are told to be.  As an example, he referred to his wait at a doctor’s office.  They were holding a free clinic for low income citizens and he noticed that all the kids there for the free services were talking on cell phones and listening to iPods.  “Homo Consumerus”.  Well said. 

Keep it simple.