Monday, October 21, 2013

The Right Thing to Do

The maple tree in my front yard has turned a gorgeous shade of orange.  We are at peak color in my area, which means in another week, the yard will be full of leaves.  I'll rake them and heap them in my vegetable gardens. 

We are planning to put our house on the market in March.  A few people have asked why I am bothering to put leaves on vegetable beds I won't use.  There are two answers to this question:

1.  March is 5 months away.  A lot can happen in that amount of time.  It is possible we might not move, but more importantly...

2.  I am a long range thinker.  I put organic matter in the soil because it is the right thing to do.  I planted fruit and shade trees in my yard for the same reason.

Not since I was a child, have I been a "what's in it for me?" person.  I plant trees because even if I do not get to see them grown into maturity, someone else will.  It is the right thing to do.  There was one living tree in my yard when we bought our home 9 1/2 years ago.  Now there are seven trees.  This "I don't get to see the benefits of it" mindset that so many of us Americans have has got to stop. 

I amend the soil in ground I may not work because as the steward of this small patch of ground, it is the right thing to do.

I honestly believe that if we all started thinking long-term, instead of short-term, we can change how we live.  We'll be happier, healthier, and more satisfied. 

If we do move, new people could cut down all the trees, dig up all the gardens, and start using loads of fertilizer and herbicides.  That would be their choice.  I refuse to make my decisions based on what someone might do and instead, I make decisions, based on what is right.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stocking Your Pantry

I'll admit, I'm a prepper wannabe.  It probably started when I began reading the Foxfire books over a dozen years ago.  My paternal grandmother had a giant freezer in her basement and lots of canned fruits & vegetables on the basement shelves.  I remember visiting in late summer and watching her can corn and then I'd see that corn get brought out for holiday meals.  My mom told me all about growing up in the mountains of West Virgina, poor, and her mother getting large bags of flour, sugar, beans, etc. One of my aunt's built a large separate root cellar in addition to the one in her basement.  Both are filled with summer fruits and vegetables.

My mother was not and is not a pantry filler.

I've been keeping a pantry and separate freezer with 2-3 months of food for a long time.  I started doing so when we bought a home in a small town 16 years ago and everything was a 30 minute highway drive away.  I started gardening then, as well, mostly to make and then can salsa.

As the years passed and I paid more attention to the aftermath of service disrupting disasters, I realized that keeping a pantry full of food and essentials to last a week or two was a good idea. There are lots of news stories on keeping an emergency fund in the bank, but not much about keeping an emergency supply of food, water, medicine, etc.

Slowly that two week supply of necessities has become a 2-3 month supply.  At my best, I have had 4-5 months of food and water on hand.  I am not ready to devote time and money into a one year supply like some people have.

My sister lives outside Salt Lake City, in a culture that does not find food storage at all odd or doomsdayish.  She's bringing me food grade buckets and gamma lids at Thanksgiving and I'm geeked out about it.  I buy rice, flour, and sugar in very large quantities and this will be a much better way to store them and not worry about critters getting into my food. I've never seen a mouse in my home (thanks to my cat, I'm sure) but ants and other bugs sure like my place.

My best advice to someone wanting to build their pantry without spending a lot of money would be to change how you shop for food.  For example, the next time you buy spaghetti, instead of getting one package, get two.  If you need oatmeal, and it is on sale, get two containers.  Second, learn to cook a few more things from scratch or from their raw or dried state.  Dried beans are cheaper than canned.

Visit your local library and find books on cooking from scratch and building your pantry.  The internet is also full of ideas for where to PUT a pantry and what you should have in it (food that you'll actually eat).  Mine is in a large closet in my basement, maybe yours will be on shelves over your washer, or in a drawer under your bed.  Everyone's pantry will look and function differently.

Building a pantry will give you a cushion and you'll feel more in control when money is tight or the power goes off. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall/Winter Garden in a Coldframe

My fall/winter garden
This is my 4 x 8 foot cold frame, planted with salad greens and some peas.  The peas are to fix nitrogen into the soil that the salad greens gobble up.  Plus, I'll probably get a handful of pods to use in a stir fry.

I planted Buttercrunch lettuce, spinach, and rainbow chard in August.  It got very dry and hot and I forgot to water for a few days and the spinach was toast.  Replanted it and 2 weeks ago, planted more lettuce, spinach, and chard. 

Since the rest of the garden beds (I have over a dozen) have been put to bed for the season, and all of that produce has been put up, it's been nice to go out and pick a fresh salad.  A little basalmic vinegar and some croutons and I'm in heaven.  Last year I had fresh salad until January when the temps finally got cold.  I'm hoping to be able to say the same this year.

In November, I'll plant some more spinach and chard.  Those plants will sort of hibernate until late January/February and then they'll take off and I'll have fresh greens again by March.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Harvest is Done!

About 100 jars of canned garden goodness has been put up.
As of last week, I finished freezing and canning all of the garden fruits and vegetables and got most of the garden clean-up done.  Then my family went on a weekend vacation to relax.  Weekend vacation meaning we went tent camping and hiking for three days. 

In year's past, I have pressure canned green beans as well as carrots, but this year, I only canned the carrots and ended up freezing 50 meals of green beans.  Seems my family prefers their beans a smidge more al dente than canning achieves. 

In my pantry, I made applesauce, apple butter, apple jelly, grape jelly, raspberry jalapeno jelly, raspberry syrup, mulberry syrup, carrots, orange rhubarb jelly, hamburger dill pickles, and a  million jars of salsa.  The freezer is full of shredded zucchini, apples for baking, green beans, cilantro, chives, spinach, and swiss chard.  The basement laundry room is full of over a dozen spaghetti squash. The only thing left to do is to continue cutting and drying herbs.

Luckily for our families, they'll be getting some garden goodness for Christmas this year, as they do every year.  We love that we can turn a simple plant into a delicious treat for someone to enjoy.

Most of my canning recipes are from the Ball Blue Book.  Simple and easy to follow.  If you don't have a canner, you can always just use a tall pasta pot with a folded dish towel on the bottom to set the jars on so they don't break. You don't have to spend lots of money to try out canning.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fall is Here

Summer ends with Labor Day, at least in my mind.  Waking up to 46F temperatures on the 1st day of school made today feel like fall.  Tonight's dinner of paella will feature vegetables from my gardens: tomatoes, squash, green beans, carrots, peas, and onions.

Cooking in the fall is easy.  I just walk out to my gardens, pick what's ready, and the meal practically makes itself.  It's a cook's dream to have freshly picked, organic food, just footsteps from the kitchen-for pennies.

With my kids in school all day, this leaves me space to get a lot of canning and preserving done.  having six hours of uninterrupted time is great.  In the fall, I usually pack those six hours full.  I'm always a bit annoyed when I need to get canning done on the weekend because it means I will have people underfoot and asking me questions while I'm trying to cope with peeling and seeding 30 pounds of tomatoes. I work better alone.  :-)

This is the time of year for harvesting and drying our hops that we use in our home brewed beer.  Also this fall, I'm going to attempt to make my own hard cider.  I do not have an apple press so I can guarantee there will be cursing as I try to squeeze apple chunks through cheesecloth.

This weekend, I'll likely do a big push to get much of my canning done for the season.  My tomatoes look like hell-they have late blight this year-and I'm hoping the fruits ripen before the plants completely die.  Unfortunately, this area is prone to that damn soil spore.

My paella:

I don't make a "real" paella as the rest of my family does not care for the browned crunchy bottom, so it's more a "rice with things" as Mark Bittman says.

2 cups rice
3.5 cups broth (you can use water, but it'll taste better with broth)
1-1.5 cups of veg

I brown an onion and some garlic in olive oil, dump in the veg to saute a bit, then the rice until it gets glossy.  Add in HOT liquid and bring to a boil.    Cover, lower the heat and 30-40 minutes later, it's done.  Season to taste.  You probably won't need salt if you use commercially made broth.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Prepping for Extreme Weather

Last week, severe thunderstorms and six EF 1 and 2 tornadoes went through the area where I grew up in the middle of the night.  Through Facebook, I learned which friends and family had minor damage to trees and homes and which had homes that are probable tear downs (my husband's childhood home is half-gone).  My parents were without power or phone for 4 days and relied on their neighbor's generous sharing of his generator to keep their refrigerator and freezer running.

Many people had chainsaws, generators, and pantries with enough food to last them a few days.  A whole lot more of my news-feed was full of people who didn't have cash and therefore couldn't buy things at gas stations that had no power or people who had streets blocked and were out of milk (or whatnot) for their kids.

We just do not prepare in this country.  We are so used to just hopping in our cars and picking up items at the store and turning on the faucet and having clean water or flipping the switch and having light.  It is important that we pay attention to major disasters and learn from them so that when a summer storm blows through, we still have enough water and food to get us through at least 72 hours.

Our family's portable disaster kit.

In our basement, I keep a small Rubbermaid container with enough food, water, and other supplies to get us through 72 hours.  There are also blankets and pillows to make it as comfortable as possible.  If there were some sort of chemical spill, etc. that required us to leave with just minutes to spare, my kids know to grab this tub, along with a few other things we keep in different rooms in the house. Also, keep some cash in small bills.  If the power goes, stores can't use credit.

Each of our cars has a mini version of this tub with a blanket.  Several years ago, motorists were stranded IN THE CITY on the interstate for 12 hours in a blizzard.  If that's me, I want to have a blanket, food, water and a bucket to pee in.

It's important that if you haven't already made an emergency kit for your home and cars, that you do so.  The government cannot respond to everyone equally in a disaster and your preparedness may make a huge difference in your comfort level. 

Learn more at for what you should have on hand.

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's been awhile since I blogged and this is why...

I've done a lot of blogging about how my plan is to live in the country, on some acres of land, with animals, growing my own food.  I imagine quite a few of us that strive for self-sufficiency feel the same way.  All the while, I've been honing my gardening and simple living skills in my suburban home and yard.

This Spring, my husband and I made the decision to put our home in the suburbs up for sale next March.  Our middle daughter will be graduating in the spring and our youngest daughter will be entering high school in September 2014.  My husband finally finishes his graduate work next May and when our middle daughter goes off to school, we will need to cosign on a second daughter's student loans.  If we want to make a move, this coming spring is the best time for us to do so financially (barring any crazy fluctuations in real estate and interest rates).

But here's the kicker: we are going to move INto the city.  That was so not my plan.  I had a vision in my head for years of how and where I would live once we moved again and moving into the city was not part of that vision.

You have to understand the following about me: I am not impulsive, I am careful, and I research.  Once I knew we would be moving soon, we started taking more overnight trips into the countryside so that we could get a better idea of how that would feel and how practical that would be.  We also did the same and spent time in large cities: Chicago, Seattle, Milwaukee, Austin...and the thing is, while I like the idea of living in the country, I really don't much care for it after all.  When given a choice, I almost always want to do things in the city.  This revelation surprised the heck out of me.

Moving into the city will help us walk our environmental talk more, as well.  There are no transit options in our suburb and no one is much interested in carpooling, so my husband drives 5 days a week, the 12 mile, 30 minutes to work, alone. The fact that we had a fuel efficient vehicle still didn't make up for the fact that that's a lot of carbon from his commute.  We've since replaced our Toyota with a Prius due to the car getting totaled in an accident 2 weeks ago (not our fault and we're okay).

We will live close enough to the university so my husband can walk, bike, and/or take the bus to work.  We will also be closer to everything that we drive to at night and on weekends.  We hope to rarely use our car and get rid of our second vehicle.

Chances are, we will be moving into a smaller home with a smaller yard.  This does not bother me in the least.  I've never understood why people need 2000+ sq foot homes.  They probably just have too much stuff, frankly.  As for my yard, well the city is full of mature trees, so finding one with enough sunshine for a big garden may be problematic, but I can grow fruit trees, berries, and salad greens in shade and part sun.  A smaller yard just means I will definitely be getting rid of the grass. See my post here of why I hate lawns.  Moving into the city also means that I can have chickens.  My suburb does not allow it.  Our city council is full of people pointing out that animals belong in the country, completely missing the irony that we eat food and dogs and cats are far more of a nuisance than 2 chickens.

So with this new plan of ours, I've thrown myself into updating the house that I updated 9 years ago after we bought it.  Everything has been painted.  Light fixtures have changed.  Those ridiculously dinky household projects like fixing a piece of molding is getting done.  This morning I sanded, primed and painted our ugly ass basement vanity.  So many little stupid things to get done, but things I'd want done anyway.  It's kept me fairly busy since April.  Plus, I've still been gardening and preserving.  I'm always busy in the summer and fall, but I'm especially busy this year. 

I'm excited for a new challenge.  I've never Urban Gardened/Farmed in a limited area and I can't wait to try.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Eating from my backyard starting on June 1st has been a giant bust.  Our spring has been colder and wetter and more overcast than normal which means my gardens are way behind.  As I type this, it is overcast and cold on my girls' last day of school-a heck of a depressing way to start the summer.  I've amended my original intent to eat out of my backyard for just some of the day or part of a meal-I've been limited to salads now that the asparagus is done.  I am so sick of salad.  I may have some strawberries soon, not many, but at least it's a fruit.  I've been relying on rhubarb for fruit.  I still have some fruit and veg that I canned last year but I'm down to just a handful of jars.  I can see why people used to call spring the starving months.  Sigh.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Busy Spring

My suburban homestead last May

Due to the extra long winter, I have been incredibly busy this spring, which explains my absence from blogging.  Happily, everything is green once again and my gardens are ready to go.  If you want to see more frequent pictures and postings, like my Facebook Page: Happy Goddess Gardens

We will be putting up rabbit fencing and electric fencing this weekend.  I live next to a very large city park that consists of more than baseball fields and playgrounds.  There is also a large natural area and some acreage that is farmed.  This means I get to see lots of wildlife, even in the city; however this also means that a 30-40 head herd of deer like to mow down my veggies if I don't keep them out, hence the electric fence.

This year is a "step back" year for me.  We plan to put our home on the market next spring and move into the real city around here.  My husband is tired of the commute and wants to walk or bike to his university office, and I want chickens.  Next June, our 2nd daughter graduates from high school and the next fall her younger sister starts high school, so it's a good time for a transition.

I had thought I wanted to live in the country on acreage but after spending a lot of time this past year in the country and in large cities, I realized that while I love the idea of country living, the realities of it would likely drive me bonkers.  I'm not ruling it out as a future possibility, though.

So "stepping back" means I'm going to let my garden and yard be for now.  I'm still planting an obscene amount of plants in my gardens and I'm still going to preserve what I can, just no new improvements.  I'll save that for the next place.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April Has Been a Bust

So far April has been a bust for gardening.  In past years I have already gotten all of my flower and vegetable gardens weeded by now and my seedlings have several sets of real leaves on them.  Not this year.  I forgot about my seedlings in the basement and they dried out so I had to start again a few weeks ago.  Winter held on longer than usual and spring decided to arrive, not with sunshine and warmth, but rain and cooler than normal temperatures.  Walking in my yard is like walking on a wet sponge. 

My winter work is done: mending is done, sewing is done, closets are purged.  If I take up my knitting needles again, it will be to jab one in my eye.  I want dirt under my fingernails and sun kissed cheeks. I want to wear dresses again without freezing.  I want to open the windows in my house and get some fresh air in this place. Sigh.

This late spring has me worried about my eating local from my backyard challenge.  If things keep growing at this rate, I'm going to lose a lot of weight because all I'll have to eat are salad greens and herbal teas. 

I want to turn off my furnace and get rid of my electric blanket.  I want to sleep with my windows open even if it means I sneeze for hours because of my allergies. 

But most of all, I want to be able to lie in my hammock at the end of a long day working in the sun and take a nap.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Taking Back the Suburbs

There's a lot to hate about the suburbs: large housing developments built on good farm land that now just grow herbicide laden lawns that serve no purpose, winding meandering streets that make it impossible to walk or drive in a straight line and that come to abrupt ends in a cul-de-sac (I live in one), or even the fact that walking anywhere is the exception and definitely not the rule.  People in the 'burbs sure love their cars, and the bigger the better!  It's no surprise that the people are also a bit bigger.

But the suburbs also tend to be where the newer, better schools are.  The cities and neighborhoods just look "prettier" than their city equivalents.  Living in a house, with some lawn, in a safe, HOA approved landscaped home is to what many of us Americans aspire. By living in these neighborhoods, we also only have to come into contact with people who look like us and talk like us and worship like us...unlike the city where you have to learn get along with everyone just because you live in a more densely populated place.  Different is scary and bad to most of us.

Anyway, I try to buck the traditional trends in much of my life.  Actually, I'm a big fan of tradition, but I like to put my own twist on it.  I've been a stay-at-home mom, housewife, homemaker, whatever label you want to put on it, for most of the 21 years I've been married, very traditional.  However, I still do what I want.  I choose to be home for reasons that have changed over the years.

One of those reasons is gardening.  I love to grow my own food.  I love to farm my yard.  Many people may see what I do as a hobby; it's no hobby.  I am dead serious about what I grow.  Living in the suburbs has shown me just how radical this is.

We lived in a small town of about 3,000 people for about 7 years.  Having a large vegetable garden was not seen as anything other than reasonable there.  Every other house had at least a few pots of cherry tomatoes if not half their lawn tilled up each spring.  Neighbors shared extra produce (zucchinis at church were avoided by most of us, tomatoes always got taken).

Where I live now, very few people garden on that scale, if at all.  I'm the only one sharing any garden produce (at least in my little neighborhood).  Not complaining, that's just how it is.  People rip out fruit trees for being "messy" on a regular basis.  However, I think I've been doing it long enough here (9 years) that it probably no longer seems weird to my neighbors (plus they get free salad).

We may move in a few years, which makes me a bit sad.  I've put a lot of work into my yard and gotten a lot of food from it.  The soil has improved and there are LIVING trees in my backyard now (none when we moved in).  My city does not allow backyard chickens and I want a couple of laying hens.  I either become a guerrilla chicken farmer (breaking rules goes against my nature) or we move.  Changing the ordinance here is not possible, no council members are willing to sponsor that change. People are afraid of a couple of chickens but everyone owning big barking crapping dogs are a-ok.  Stupid if you ask me, which they didn't. Sigh.

So I will continue to take back what I can from my neighborhood and change my own little part of suburbia to something more sustainable and natural.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Now that I've written about my personal challenge of only eating locally, it's time for me to start figuring out just how I'm going to do this.  So far, only my 16 year old daughter is willing to go along with my scheme.  In a way, this may make eating my backyard easier-less competition for food?

I have started tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, herbs in my temporary greenhouse.  I have greens coming along in my coldframe.  I have seeds for black beans, kidney beans, summer and winter squash, peas, green beans, carrots...I have a lot of seeds.  My asparagus bed ought to be brimming with spears in late spring.

The grains will be the kicker for me.  I do a lot of baking.  I learned that the co-op sells flour milled from wheat grown in SW Wisconsin, which will be great.  I'm hoping I can find oatmeal there as well as I love oatmeal for breakfast.

Local dairy products are NOT hard to find here in Wisconsin.  the parents of two of my piano students own a local organic dairy, with a store that sells milk, ice cream and other products.

Meat shouldn't be tough, either (though I don't eat much).  We already buy our beef from a local farmer who raises her herd on grass. Eggs will have to be purchased from the farmer's market-my city does not allow backyard chickens (don't get me started on that).

However, I plan on most of my food coming from my backyard.  When I eat out, it's my goal to only eat at places that are locally owned-not chains-and if possible, places that source ingredients locally.  I don't eat out much, so this shouldn't be too much of an issue.  When I travel, same rule: eat only at locally owned places.

I think this challenge also means, no coffee, no chocolate. 

I have a decent personal library of gardening books.  Time to start rereading them for more nuggets of information, especially herbal teas.  If I can't have coffee, I am going to "need" a hot beverage each morning; it's part of my routine. 

A big reason that I want to try to eat out of my backyard is because I think that at some point in the future, the oil "bubble" will burst and costs for everything will rise.  Food is shipped to stores from thousands of miles away and stores only have 2-3 days of stock on hand at any given time.  If I can figure out how to grow enough food to fully sustain myself throughout at least part of the year, I'll feet like I've got a handle on sustainability and self-reliance. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Eating from My Backyard

This year, my plan is to eat only locally grown food or from my backyard.

Yes, I eat from my backyard every year, but this year I plan to challenge myself.  From June 1st until September 1st, I plan to only eat what I grow, what I can purchase at a farmer's market, or food made locally.  I haven't yet decided what "locally" means. 

Already, I've come up with exceptions: I plan to keep using salt and spices.  I am not planning on giving up my daily habit of coffee (I'll just need to buy beans roasted locally).  Since I am the one planning this challenge, I get to decide the rules.  Wine and beer...we grow our own hops and make our own beer, but we buy the grain and yeast.  If I buy wine or beer, is it good enough if the beer is local or do all of the ingredients also have to be local?  Chocolate is an import.  If I buy organic, fair-trade, is that okay?  What about when I travel or am a guest in someone's home? I'm sure I'll have a complicated system of logic by the time I'm done.

Basically, the point of this potential exercise in eating locally isn't to deprive myself of foods I like.  The point is to see how easy or difficult it is for me to find the food I eat on a daily basis, locally, and to supplement what I cannot find, with the next best alternative (organic and fair-trade).

There have been numerous books where the authors have been militant about only eating from their backyard or watershed or within 100 miles.  My focus will be more on where I can find the regular stuff (like flour and oatmeal). 

I have my cold frame planted and seeds started.  It's snowing right now and June 1st seems a ways off, but I'm sure I'll be cursing myself for not planting a bigger variety of food when that day rolls around. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Adding to My Garden Library

For my birthday this year my parents gifted me with cash.  This presented me with the problem of what in the heck I was going to buy as I was instructed to not use it to buy groceries or other household necessities which is sadly what I usually do with gift money.  I am not a shopper by nature.  Going to the mall and wandering about in that stale air and artificial light is a special form of torture, quite frankly.  If I'm at a store, it's because I need something there.  I'd rather be outside hiking about or tending my many gardens.

Which, is what I decided to do with the money.  Spend it on some garden reference books.  Technically, this is not a purchase of need, though I'm not sure I spent it in the manner my mother intended, though the pair of jeans I bought to replace some worn out ones probably counts.

This year, I plan to grow herbs for teas in my old strawberry bed.  I've wanted to have a tea garden for years but just never got around to using my herbs for anything other than food and bath salts.  So I found a couple of books on it and a book on permaculture. I ordered Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung, Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, and The Vegetable Gardener's Guide to Permaculture.  My hope is that I can take away some useful knowledge from these books, especially the permaculture one.  I have tried to read Bill Mollison's permaculture books many times but have found them tediously dry and dull, which probably says more about my scientific aptitude than his writing since his books are incredibly popular. 

It'll be a few days before I get my hands on the books and I'm excited to read them.  We still have a lot of snow outside and with high temperatures hovering around freezing we'll have that snow for awhile.  I'm itching to get out into my backyard and do what I love: grow more food.  So until I have more than my coldframe, hoophouse, and small greenhouse to tend, these books ought to scratch that gardening itch. 

Thanks, Mom.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Patience and Change

A gardener spends a lot of time waiting.  Waiting for snow to melt. Waiting for the ground to thaw.  Waiting for the last frost.  Waiting for seedlings to emerge.  Waiting for rain.  Waiting for sun.  Waiting for the harvest. Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  You will become a patient person if you tend the soil or you will not succeed.  Plants emerge, grow, set fruit, and die on their schedule, not yours.

I began growing vegetables years ago because I wanted more control over my finances and what my family was eating.  Let me say that again:  I wanted more control.  It is humbling to learn how little control you have over plants.  Early blight, late blight, Japanese beetles, drought, too much rain, floods, the neighbor's dog, those damn urban deer-all of these factors seem to have it in for the gardener's best plans.

So why do I even bother?  I lost an entire crop of tomatoes to blight a few years ago.  I wanted to give up growing tomatoes as that was the second year I'd dealt with that disappointment.  The following year I did not grow a single tomato plant and bought my tomatoes at the farmer's market.  I grew more green beans, and salads, and peppers.

But I missed the tomatoes.  I missed seeing the plants weighed down by fruit.  I missed walking 20 feet out my back door and 20 minutes later having bruschetta or salsa or a really kick-ass grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. 

So I tried something different the next year:  instead of buying my tomatoes as nursery starts, I started them from seed (there's that control thing again).  And something amazing happened:  I had the healthiest tomato plants in my entire gardening career.  And the best tasting fruits. And more kick-ass grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches.  And bruschetta on a whim.

As gardeners, we have to be patient.  We also have to be open to change.  Two qualities that many of us struggle to cultivate.  But if we aren't patient, if we aren't willing to try new things, we won't succeed.  In gardening or in life.

And so I wait...until next week to plant my tomato seeds.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Go Outside!

I am outside a lot.  I live in Wisconsin, where it can get frigidly cold in the winter (that means a high of 2F sometimes).  This does not stop me from going outside.  You learn to layer clothing and be safe or you become one of those people who complain about the cold to everyone, whenever you can.  If I hated it like some of my friends do, I'd either move or stop complaining.  I believe the saying is "shit or get off the pot". 

I enjoy the changing elements.  I like to be able to successfully adapt to weather and still do what I want to do, outside.  Being outside makes me feel as though I am living and not just existing.

I need to get a few things at the grocery store today.  The weather is sunny and it's about 17F and windy.  I'll bundle up and walk just over a mile to the store, maybe stopping at the library on my way home.

I wish our society walked more and drove less.  We'd be more connected to nature and to each other.  We'd probably be less depressed and less medicated, as well.  We are made to be physically active, not to sit on the couch for hours watching TV or hanging out on social media sites.  When we don't spend at least a 10 minutes outside each day, our physical and mental health suffers.  I think that gyms/athletic centers/DVDs are great tools for being fit and healthy, but if you aren't spending some time outdoors, it's not good enough.  I really think being active outside is more important than going to the gym for overall health.

Time for me to bundle up and head to the store, on foot, with the sun and wind on my face.  Hopefully you can spend a bit of time outdoors today, too.