Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tomatoe disease

Checking on the garden this afternoon, I found brown/black spots on the lower leaves of my tomatoe plants. I think it's either bacteria spot or bacteria speck. Either way both can be treated the least that's what I found on the web. From the Kansas Status University Extension site:

"Copper-based fungicides, including basic copper sulfate, copper hydroxide, and copper resinate, may be effective in suppressing bacterial speck and bacterial spot. Make applications at the first sign of leaf spotting or at the time of first blossom. Continue applications at 7 to 10 day intervals."

Now to figure out if any of that is organic, and if not then what is that can help control it.


Friday, July 25, 2008


Yep, you guessed it. I picked my very first grown myself carrots and they were amazing. Sweet, tender, and flavorful. Carrots will definitely get a bigger space in next years garden.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What are my goals and where am I at right now.

I want to document where I'm at currently, so I can look back on it later and hopefully see how far I've went.

Being green - My desire to be more green comes from several sources.

I've always felt a certain connection with nature, but I'm not exactly the nature type. It's more that when I'm outside, even just mowing, I feel a certain calm and well being. I'm happy to be alive type of thing. So preserving that nature is important to me. Over time I've waxed and waned in my green-ness, but have decided now to make a concerted, sustained effort.

The second reason is it's scary what our Earth could become if a larger number of people don't start caring about and doing something about what impact they have on the Earth.

A desire to remove as many chemicals from my life for health reasons are another part. I am very sensitive to a number of chemicals, artificial ingredients, perservatives, etc. I also have quite a list of environmental allergies. Between the 2 I can be pretty miserable. Environmental allergies can be easily managed with allergy medication and can be reduced by exposure over time to the allergens. Not so with chemical sensitivity, the more you are exposed the worse the reaction (for me at least). Choosing green products reduces the number of chemicals exposed to myself and family. Plus it's good for the environment.

What have I done so far for being green:
  • Started curbside recycling again.
  • Using less AC that previously.
    • I'd have it around 80-82 for me, as I tend to like warmth more than cold. However, the rest of the family doesn't feel that way, so we're working on having it at 74/76 consistently. Which is better than the 68/70 we did last year.
  • Line drying the laundry.
    • When I started this a month or so ago, everyone complained greatly about how stiff everything was. My response was if I wash it, then it is lined dried, if you wash it then you get to decide how to dry it. There is much less complaining now, but still a few "why me" looks when a towel resembles a piece of cardboard. However, Katydid, hung out laundry the other day when she did towels, a first.

Working toward simplicity
I didn't know that simple would make me happy. When I started reading blogs a few months ago, I found myself being drawn to blogs that were about living a simpler life. At the time I didn't know why. But the more I read, I found myself looking at my life differently. I even started looking at housework and cooking differently. I hate housework and cooking, so it was quite a surprise.

What I have done toward simplicity:
  • Joined the pinkeep/needlecase swap at down-to-earth, to work on my sewing skills
  • Using simpler/greener methods for cleaning
  • Started gardening again
  • Working on getting debts paid off

Coming out of the closet

So I left my blog up on Thaxiss' computer the other day. Not that I had been hiding it, but this is just in the baby stage, and it just hadn't come up. He mentioned it yesterday that he liked it, and especially me using Thaxiss for his name, as well as the name of the blog.

So it started a conversation about the changes I'm working on. The conversation really helped me think about my goals and the path I'm walking down at the moment. I think the biggest thing about my changes is the speed at which I'm moving....very, very slowly. This works for me. In the past (for lots of different things) I always tried to do big changes. Big changes are much harder to maintain.

I've gardened years ago, but when re-starting this spring, I stuck to one 4 ft by 4 ft square foot garden. It was hard, especially when thinking about all the stuff I wanted to grow. It's been successful for me, and when I think about whether a large garden would have been one, I think answer might be only partially. I have the feeling that the weeds would have been more successful.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Red Tomatoes!!!

Wednesday, July 16, I had my first red tomatoes, 2 cherry tomatoes, ugh I forget the type I planted, I'll have to look at the stake in the garden. If I would have thought about it, I could have taken a pic, but alas they went too quickly into my mouth. Should I have, I grew them and there will be plenty more the plant is bursting with green ones and still more flowers.

Why is that veggies from your own garden taste so much better? Lack of chemicals? The emotional attachment to what grew from your efforts, so fresh it's still sun warm? Probably a bit of it all.

I had quite an argument with Katydid last night. She takes looooonnnnnngggggg showers, and trying to reduce as I am I just couldn't take it any longer. Mind you I've made comments before, but never actually been upset with her. Even with a low flow shower head she is probably using close to 40-50 gallons of water per shower. YIKES! And she seemed so unconcerned about it. I suppose typical teenager response. She says that since she doesn't turn the water on all the way, she's using less, but I don't think it's going to be that much less. We decided that I would check our water meter before and after her next shower and see exactly how much she uses.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July

Not doing anything special today. Slept in late, really late. Thax had to work, as did Bitbee, tho Bitbee was excited to work, Thax not so much. Bitbee works for the Iowa Democratic Party, they had first asked for people to volunteer to be in parades which her and a couple others did. Then to try and get more they decided to pay them to be in the parades. For her the money is just bonus. She got to talk with Senator Harkin at last night's parade and the picture she got taken with him is now the computer background pic. As she put it, Senator Harkin is to her as celebrities are to most people.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Independent Days Challenge

I'm not going to officially join the challenge, it's been going for 9 weeks already. But I'm going to try to do each one of these each week.

The challenge is:
1. Plant something. Obviously, those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere and having spring are doing this anyway. But the idea that you should plant all week and all year is a good reminder to those of us who sometimes don’t get our fall gardens or our succession plantings done regularly. Remember, that beet you harvested left a space - maybe for the next one to get bigger, but maybe for a bit of arugula or a fall crop of peas, or a cover crop to enrich the soil. Independence is the bounty of a single seed that creates an abundance of zucchini, and enough seeds to plant your own garden and your neighbor’s.

2. Harvest something. From the very first nettles and dandelions to the last leeks and parsnips I drag out of the frozen ground, harvest something from the garden or the wild every day you can. I can’t think of a better way to be aware of the bounty around you to realize that there’s something - even if it is dandelions for tea or wild garlic for a salad - to be had every single day. Independence is really appreciating and using the bounty that we have.

3. Preserve something. Sometimes this will be a big project, but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t take long to slice a couple of tomatoes and set them on a screen in the sun, or to hang up a bunch of sage for winter. And it adds up fast. The time you spend now is time you don’t have to spend hauling to the store and cooking later. Independence is eating our own, and cutting the ties we have to agribusiness.

4. Prep something. Hit a yard sale and pick up an extra blanket. Purchase some extra legumes and oatmeal. Sort out and inventory your pantry. Make a list of tools you need. Find a way to give what you don’t need to someone who does. Fix your bike. Fill that old soda bottle with water with a couple of drops of bleach in it. Plan for next year’s edible landscaping. Make back-road directions to your place and send it to family in case they ever need to come to you - or make ‘em for yourself for where you might have to go. Clean, mend, declutter, learn a new skill. Independence is being ready for whatever comes.

5. Cook something. Try and new recipe, or an old one with a new ingredient. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do with all that stuff you are growing or making. So experiment now. Can you make a whole meal in your solar oven? How are stir-fried pea shoots? Stuffed squash blossoms? Wild morels in pasta? Independence is being able to eat and enjoy what is given to us.

6. Manage your reserves. Check those apples and take out the ones starting to go bad and make sauce with it. Label those cans. Clean out the freezer. Ration the pickles, so you’ll have enough to last to next season. Use up those lentils before you take the next ones out of the bag. Find some use for that can of whatever it is that’s been in the pantry forever. Sort out what you can donate, and give it to the food pantry. Make sure the squash are holding out. Independence means not wasting the bounty we have.

7. Work on local food systems. This could be as simple as buying something you don’t grow or make from a local grower, or finding a new local source. It could be as complex as starting a coop or a farmer’s market, creating a CSA or a bulk store. You might give seeds or plants or divisions to a neighbor, or solicit donations for your food pantry. Maybe you’ll start a guerilla garden or help a homeschool coop incubate some chicks. Maybe you’ll invite people over to your garden, or your neighbors in for a homegrown meal, or sing the praises of your local CSA. Maybe you can get your town to plant fruit or nut producing street trees or get a manual water pump or a garden put in at your local school. Whatever it is, our Independence days come when our neighbors and the people we love are food secure too.

Farmer's Market

Stopped at a farmer's market tonight. I've been to all of them at this location this year. It's nice seeing the different veggies and fruit each vendor has had. You get to know the vendors, they get to know you.

The bread guy, who we've bought a different kind of bread each week, gave us a free loaf this week. Not sure if he remembered us, or he heard me say to Thaxiss, "Which bread do you want this week?" and figured that were going to buy a loaf from him every week, or he just picks x number of people to give a free item to each week. We were the only ones at the stand at the time, which usually isn't the case so maybe it was just situational. Whatever the reason, the result... all natural, local made garlic focacia and sourdough bread will be enjoyed this week.

I've been thinking about the veggies/foods we eat and it's pretty limited. Same things over and over, not much of a rotation. So I have decided that I will buy and prepare at least one never tried before food each week. For the rest of the farmer's markets season, it will be a new veggie or fruit each week.

This week is turnips. I've never eaten a turnip, nor had Thax. I also have absolutely no idea what to do with it. So I'll be searching the net a bit later for how to fix the turnips for tomorrow night's supper.

I have also found a place to purchase fresh eggs, and we stopped there and got eggs tonight as well. I very productful local eating endeavor today.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The First Post

So, I think that if blog my quest for a "simple" life, that it will help me. So here is this blog. I have been working on this simple thing for just a few months so far, and I find myself confused a lot of the time, yet small little things do help me remember that my small steps I'm taking do add up and will make a difference in my life.

Today I had a little success. Everything I wore to work today had been line dried. The last month I've been working on line drying more things. But working full time it requires more forethought. I have to either remember to put a load in before bed, to then hang out before work. Or get up early enough for a load to wash and for me to hang it out before leaving in the morning.

Now a wash load only takes 30 mins so how you say can I not have enough time in the morning. Well it's simple. 1) I hate mornings 99% of the time. My brain doesn't really wake up until 10-ish regardless of when I get up. 2) My morning routine has been simplified for many years. I can get up, shower, get ready and leave for work in 15 minutes if pushed and in 30 minutes easily.

Hanging out a load adds 10-15 mins to my morning routine. I'm hoping to get faster at hanging out laundry as I do it more, but for now, it's 10-15 mins.

But still it was a nice feeling when I realized that I was wearing all things I had line dried.

More later.