Category Archives: Sustainable Living

A Seasonal Offering

This week we added a delightful garland of leaves that Ariceli gathered when she walked her dog in the morning. She took a bright bagful home and sewed them together with a sharp needle and coarse thread (very fine twine would work too), taking one wide stitch through each leaf so they lie flat against the string. The cool, rainy weather has kept the colors vivid so far, but I’m also experimenting with an old technique I recalled from childhood. I’m pressing colorful leaves dry between newspapers, then ironing them between two sheets of waxed paper. I’m pretty sure I wrecked an iron or two with something similar involving melted crayons way back when, so this time I’m using a sheet of packing paper on top to keep from getting wax all over the bottom of the iron. Right? Continue reading

Posted in fall/winter crops, Gardening With Children, Health & Wellbeing, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Self Soothing With Bread

As a single person, I tend to share and freeze much of what I make since I can cook faster than I can (or should) eat. Sourdough breads are especially welcome since they’re not only tangy, chewy, and toothsome, but they also remain fresh far longer than most yeast breads. If an aging loaf starts to get a tad tough, a few moments in the toaster restores its texture. Even truly stale sourdough makes fabulous French toast and bread pudding. Sourdough is also the simplest and most forgiving form of artisan baking. If those goldrush miners kept sourdough productive in primitive wilderness camps, you can easily do it in a modern kitchen. Continue reading

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Battling Weeds With Rodents And Beetles

Once summer harvesting ends, cool season cover crops can restore soil health in the veggie patch. Deep mulches of compost or aged manure can nourish tired beds, but cover crops can do even more. Where new beds or lawns are planned, cover crops can eliminate the need for destructive tilling, acting as living mulch to restore soil fertility and reduce winter erosion. Recent research shows that cover crops can also reduce weed seed numbers by providing cover for seed-eating beetles and rodents.

Ick? Not really; both critters consume significantly more weed seeds when cover crops provide shelter and protection from predators. Purdue researchers found that when beetles and rodents had cover crop protection, the weed seed burden was reduced by as much as 400% compared to fields without cover crops. Surprisingly, the soil cleaning effect continues even when rodents eat high numbers of the beetles. Continue reading

Posted in fall/winter crops, Garden Prep, Soil, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Weed Control | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Homemade Biscuits And Standby Soup

Last week I had a request for tall, curving branches needed for an art project. It turned out to be an annual Day Of The Dead display at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Each year, a remarkable artist, Araceli Cruz, weaves magical displays combining memorabilia with leaves and flowers under arching branches. This year, Araceli will work with the Friday Tidy to create an outdoor version at the library, which we’ll decorate with garden gleanings, from empty bird nests and fallen foliage to seedpods and bundled twigs. I think this charming, loving tradition will become part of my own gardening style, combining as it does the natural and ephemeral, the spiritual and the down-to-earth in the deepest way.
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