Growth

Over the next few weeks I’ll be giving the blog an overhaul. I will be marrying all my passions into this one space, combining them together to create something I think we can both be proud to be a part of. If you scroll down to the right I have added a link to The Organic Sister. She has been fundamental to my personal growth which has allowed me to make positive changes in my life. I believe that growing isn’t limited to food production, that just like the plants we nurture we all need to strive to be the strongest, healthiest and most productive we can be. And we do that by nurturing our whole selves, not just one small portion.

I want to bring that to others.

Twice this week I have have seen the term “Renaissance Woman”. As someone that has a strong belief in looking at the signs I realize that the term is what I was looking for, the reason that I am the way that I am. That I can’t sit still or stop learning, exploring and being pulled in a thousand different directions by things that stir my interest. I just always thought I can’t leave well enough alone. That perhaps something was broken or wrong within me that wouldn’t allow me to just “be”; be content, be done with school, be focused on minimal things.

I get very animated, loud and talkative when I get going on a subject. I have this overwhelming need to learn about everything, accomplishing something – like when I wanted to make yarn, even though I hated to knit and bought a manual spinning wheel and did it – gives me a feeling of satisfaction. Even if I never pick it up again – I sold the wheel- I know how to do it. It’s very freeing to feel that independence.

I want to bring this feeling to others.

I love to cook, I love feeding people. There is a pure satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment in and of itself when you fill a wanting belly with wholesome, healthy food. It grows exponentially when you show them how to do it for themselves. The food we eat literally makes up who we are. It is so vital and necessary and so very, very poorly used. I have learned a lot over this past year eating a mostly Paleo diet. While I’m not right where I want to be with it (who is anyway?) I have grown -and shrunk! -30lbs! – and will continue to mold myself into the person I am meant to be physically. My lack of health before this journey was abysmal but I now possess more tools and a healthier immune system than ever before and it will only continue improve.

I want to help others find this.

So be on the lookout for a new look and feel to the site, the name might change – that’s still up for debate- and the look will I’m sure. There will be growing pains and things I do wrong. But the feeling and vibe should finally come together the way it’s meant to.

Until next time- With Love and Light to Grow

 

 

 

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Gasp! What is this?!

Some of you might be having a problem with  your plants right about now. It’s hot, humid and the perfect breeding ground for these little beasts is your lovely, well watered garden veggies.

 

I haven’t checked on my tomato plants for a few days and went out today to pinch off suckers. There are a few flowers out there and I’m very anxious to get into these heirloom Mr. Stripies that are supposed to be producing by now. These caterpillars I have ensconce themselves in the leaves by folding them over and sealing them with silk. Then they have a nice little cocoon that’s shaded and made of everything delicious to eat. I had quite a few so I picked them off with the leaves they inhabited and ground them into the cement.

Left caterpillar. Right caterpillar encased in leaf.

Sounds pretty harsh? Not if you want to salvage defenseless plants. I’m what you might call SUPER old school when it comes to gardening. I do not add anything not-organic or edible to my beds and I don’t use any, at all, ever chemical (even *organic*) over the counter sprays. I could probably soap up the plants but again, if I wouldn’t eat it I won’t spray my plants up with it either because no matter how biodegradable or non-toxic. Its not food and it WILL be absorbed by the plant and introduced in the fruit. Especially when introduced into a small biological environment like a raised bed or Earthbox (the latter is what I’m using for the toms).

My other issue is the basil. It is still prolific, shooting seed tops almost daily and has good hearty growth but has some yellowing leaves. This I believe is caused by over watering in a pot. It’s raining like a madhouse here and even poured today (after me watering it yesterday, doh!) so I’m going to move it into the covered porch (the only outside non-rain place) and see how it does.

 

How “green” are you?

Last week I posted a link to a survey. It was a survey I created based on a class I am taking on Sustainability and Conscious Living which is the first course in my Urban Farming Educator certification. It wasn’t required for the class but I felt the information that I had gotten through research on the “current social ecological meaning of the term ‘green'” warranted a little social media surveying.

How “green” are you?

I’ll leave the link open for a time to continue to collect data if you’d like to submit your answers. Right now, as if this post, I have 68 anonymous respondents. I feel confident publishing the statistics because when I posted my results to the class I had only 24 and even tripling the number of participants, the percentages stayed relatively the same.

The research I collected from Buildipedia and Environmental Leader both stated that what “green” boiled down to was MONEY. Builders, car makers, electronic producers, really everyone in businesses and corporations has decided that using the term “green” will help their bottom lines. Perceived and real cost savings outweigh our need to do what is right. I felt there was truth in that, I know that many people say they are “green” but their actions belie that statement. Or they want to be green but there isn’t products or services that measure up to conventional. I was curious how accurate these reports were in the general population.

Here are the results and below my conclusions.

Question 1. On a scale of 1 to 10 how important is it for you to be “green” versus saving money in your purchases? (10 being extremely important and 1 being not important at all) Here I allowed the respondent to manually type in their response, I felt that it would take more thought to write a number than to choose from a list. I used to fill in those bubble surveys to make patterns, too.

RESULTS

1= 1

2= 0

3= 5

4= 2

5= 13

6= 6

7= 18

8= 13

9= 2

10= 7

With one person not giving a clear numbered answer.

My Findings – Right off the bat, I see that the majority of persons have the consciousness of being “green” and consuming products that correspond to that way of life that corresponds to half or more of the importance of the purchase they are making.

That’s huge! That right there should signal that we are at a socially responsible point in our society where even considering a “green” purchase. Which does correlate to other data, that “green” items are in higher demand and people are willing to pay for them. But let’s check out the rest of the survey.

 

Question 2. If presented with 2 products both from the same manufacturer and costing the same but one says “green” and the other does not, how likely are you to purchase the “green” product?

Response
Percent
Response
Count
Very Likely
85.3% 58
Neither Likely not unlikely
13.2% 9
Unlikely
1.5% 1

My Findings – Again, we’re doing great, a huge number of you will choose a self-proclaimed “green” product over a conventional one. That’s good, and again it goes with reported trends of “green” products being in higher demand, but let’s go further.

 

Question 3. You go to the store to purchase a specific product yet while you are shopping see a similar product labeled “green” for a small amount more, would you purchase the “green” product over the one you initially intended to buy?

Response
Percent
ResponseCount
Yes
64.7% 44
No
4.4% 3
unsure
30.9% 21

I don’t know why that charts are messed up and I can’t fix it! apologies!

My Findings –Here is where I start to see a dip in the trend. I worded these questions deliberately similar. From Question 1 we know that being “green” rates pretty high over saving money according to respondents, and from Question 2 we see that they would purchase a “green” product over an identical conventional one of the same price. But once the price changes, and the “green” product costs more, I start to see a less enthusiastic commitment to “green”.

 

Question 4. Which is more important to you, saving money initially on a purchase or spending more now with the promise of savings over time? Why? Again, I allowed respondents to write out their answers, I will include a few of the responses here.

Results –

Saving more money now – nearly 30%

Saving more money down the road – nearly 50%

Unsure/unclear – 30%

A few random responses-

-“There is more to it for me than just saving money. The product must have minimal natural ingredients and work effectively. Some I will pay more for just to support it.”

-“Savings over time but we can’t always afford to go that route if the price now is substantially more than the other product.”

-“I like to say over time, but if its more than double the price i will have to go saving money initially.”

My Findings – I could have made this question a bit clearer. I had in mind a larger purchase such as a car or home or large appliance purchase, something where you are promised savings over time like lower gas or utility charges. BUT even these results show that people are willing to spend more money, at least that’s what they say, according to Question 3, that isn’t always the case and from the last question’s results I question the truth to Question 4’s responses. Not to say they’re lying but maybe they’re just not telling themselves the whole truth.

 

Question 5. Would you be satisfied with a consumable product that was labeled “green” if it did not work as well as a conventional product? (such as dish soap, paper products, etc.)

Results-

yes because being “green” is more important
13.2% 9
yes because of another reason
4.4% 3
no because I feel it’s a waste
44.1% 30
no because it doesn’t really matter as long as I get the best results
2.9% 2
no because of other reasons
10.3% 7
maybe
25.0% 17

My Findings – This was the clincher for me in the survey. It really showed that saving money was more important than being “green”.

When we have gotten used to things like optical-brighteners, oil strippers, toxic human waste absorbers, parabens, etc. the transition to natural products can make us feel that they are letting us down. 100% recycled toilet paper isn’t as soft as the kind injected with deodorants ad chemical softeners. Natural detergents are gentler than their conventional counterparts and it might take a little extra scrubbing or soaking to get things as clean as you would otherwise. Rechargeable batteries might need to be changed more frequently.

But if we’re to really, truly, embrace being “green” we have to take the good with the bad. We have to expect some level of change in our thinking from easy, fast, quick because the”green” alternatives are just as good or better than the conventional ones, they’re also different. And different can be good we just have to shift our thinking that the green in our wallets isn’t more important than the green of the world.

I think that overall, we want to be “green” we want to be ecologically minded in our purchases but when it comes down to parting with our hard earned cash to do so, we get a little wavy in our commitment. Not saying this is true for everyone but the larger picture of the market trend reports in addition to my survey results show that it seems to be the case.

What do you think about my research and conclusions?

Treated vs. Untreated wood and beyond

We were sitting outside Lowes yesterday and right before me sat stacks and stacks of landscape timbers, both marked treated and unmarked (which leads to assume they are untreated). I hear a lot of debating going on about which is better with folks on one side arguing that it’s not as bad as you would think and the others saying that treated lumber is the Devil.

But I want to take the argument of the chemicals involved a little further than the traditional conversation of “Will it leach in my garden?” Some people feel uncomfortable thinking that their edibles will be contaminated beyond what nature intended and choose to not use treated lumber for their outdoor projects while others argue that they prize the durability of treated lumber and the health risks are minimal and/or exaggerated.

Point 1There has to be a factory to get the treatment into the lumber. Factories are going to have run-off. They’re going to have chemical waste. They have to have containers that will hold the chemicals, machines to inject the wood. There is going to be scrap wood from errors in runs. There will be hazardous trash. There will be people working in the factories exposed to these chemicals. (Check out this report, This and This.)

And that isn’t even taking into account the factories that are in charge of making the chemicals, transporting them to the factories and the whole slew of environmental impacts that surround that hot mess.

Point 2- The chemicals have to go somewhere. Whether we’re talking about man-made non-organic chemicals or those extracted from organic sources and concentrated, the fact remains that chemicals  have to go somewhere. It could be in your garden, your water supply, the air you breath, those chemicals -just because they are no longer present in direct contact with your plants or in high concentrations in the lumber – do not cease to exist just because you can’t see it or test for it. So, they’re somewhere doing God knows what to something.

That’s just science. And yes, I realize that over time chemical compositions will break down but the essence of the chemicals used to treat wood are to resist that decay.

Point 3- Wood was made with the intention to rot. That’s just nature. Wood is a strong, hearty, renewable resource with a shelf life. This is the basis of our entire eco-system, that nothing, at all, ever, is expected to retain it’s original composition for more than it’s intended time. Rocks erode, water is in a constant cycle, and wood was made to rot and decay. Once we start changing the components of a material so that it’s fundamental properties are forever changed, we have introduced something into our environment that was never intended. The basic cyclical nature of these things is compromised and the strain on that cycle can cause it to eventually break.

The land was made to renew. The area where a wooden house was built a thousand years ago, battered by weather, worn by use and eventually rotted into rich humus, mixed into the existing earth providing fertile area to use for crops or for the forest to reclaim to provide new wood for later generations to use.

Wood treated with chemicals to lengthen it’s life cannot ever  be burned without creating toxic waste. It will, eventually, breakdown with the toxic humus mixing into the earth, the shards thrown into hazardous landfills or irresponsible people casting it into city trash where it will be burned, releasing carcinogenic chemicals into the air supply.

We have taken an extension of our Earth and made it harmful to everything and everyone. Why? So we can edge gardens, sit on decks, hold up mailboxes and a slew of other conveniences and not have to be bothered with the natural function of the material we use.

The next time you are shopping for wood consider looking for a local mill that specializes in naturally resistant wood like cedar or oak. The expense out of your pocket might be greater for these woods but otherwise the cost is just too high.

The Narnia House

I’m starting a new project- A block suburban house sitting on 1/3 acre built in the early 1980’s. It has some mature landscaping, sandy soil and a lot of potential. I’ll be transforming it from “just another house” to a working example of edible landscaping and conscious living both inside and out. Over the next few weeks I’ll be creating a Landscape Design Plan and starting plans for the inside of the house.

Some things I will be considering and possibly applying

-Changing the lighting inside and out to LED

-Installing a greenhouse

-Replacing current plants with edibles/adding edible plants and trees

-Creating outdoor rooms for public, private and service areas

-Installing solar drying lines

-Creating a multi-season planting guide for maximum harvest yield

-Making raised beds, dedicated compost area and worm house

 

I’ll post pictures and plans as I have them. This should be fun.

Busy

I have been working on quite a few things lately that have kept me away from posting and social networking. I got The Right-Brain Business Plan ebook and have been slowly working on creating a business plan. I just finished my last assignment for my last class for my AA degree and will be taking the final over the weekend. Four years for a two year degree but I am done Huzzah! (now to finish paying for it LOL) I have also embarked on a new journey with a new school and am nearly half way through a certificate in Landscape Design. I’ve been sewing up quilts and other things for a fundraiser for my autistic son’s medical care and service dog. And this is mostly in between homeschooling the kids, doing chores and running errands, reading for pleasure (because I need a break!) and getting in the occasional shower.

A huge heat wave came by and my poor wee plants in the window got char-broiled. I’m still debating on trying again or waiting until the summer heat is a little less intimidating. I have been having issues with the heat mat, too. The point of that confession is that even if you have a lot of experience, things still go wrong.

I’m planning to start posting regular, making myself a schedule and all that. I’m hoping to do a workshop in a few weeks for backyard chickens. Just need to shore up my confidence and find a place first.