Saturday, January 31, 2009

A little late or a little early

I'm cleaning out some old files, and today I ran across this link (here), that, amazingly is still live, to a little spot by our local ABC news about Pat Whetham's Organic CSA farm. Now it's late to be posting it for last year, but for the coming season it's spot on!

Time to be signing on for a share is coming up in your neighborhood, and here in Genesee County, Michigan last week Pat wrote to her mailing list about the series of organic gardening classes she's offering right there on her farm. She's an expert at organic farming and gardening, having done it for many years and being integrally involved in the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance (MOFFA). She was even an organic inspector for certifying farms at one time, which looks like a fascinating kind of a job.

a small cheap pleasure

Flowers from the sprouted top of a daikon radish. A pretty little reminder of life in the dead of winter. And free.
Everyone knows about sprouting the discarded tops of root veggies, so I won't go into the how-to. Just a reminder to do it.
(For a larger picture, click on the photo.)
Just look at the fine veining of color in these delicate petals. Lovely.

I feel really kinda strange, watching young bloggers who are discovering thriftiness and "making do" for the first time. Everyone is saying "green" now, and the three R's - reduce, recycle, reuse - suddenly trendy in a big way with mainstream Americans. I hope it's not a passing fad, to be thrown in the rubbish bin when the economy picks up again.
On this subject, AOL just ran a feature about the top 25 thrifty ideas from its subscribers, and except for the one about grinding your own meat, I have to admit - I already do all of those thrifty things. Thriftiness is a way of life around here. I'm so hip (she said with an ironic sigh.)
But in the end, I say about this sudden trend of 'frugal living made cool', more power to 'em.

Friday, January 23, 2009

a helpful hint for frozen worm bins

My garage is pretty cold, even though it is attached to the house. I overwinter some marginally hardy potted plants out there, and, because my house is smallish, I also keep my worm bin just outside the laundry room door that opens to the garage.
I've harbored feral cats out there, with food and water and shelter from the wind, and learned that if the cat water has a skim of ice in the morning, the temps are dropping pretty low outdoors.

Well, this winter, the outdoor temperatures are frigid. BRRRR. Subzero and I mean Fahrenheit. No cats in the garage this year but my worm bin is still out there and after those subzero days in January 2009, I have been worried about the little guys. Anyone want wormcicles? I don't even like the image in my brain!
Not a big deal in the Karmic rotation (perhaps), but I'd still feel guilty if the little creatures froze solid.

My herd survived below freezing during winter 2007-8, in contrast to the instructions from every vermiculture authority I've read who say they start disappearing? what? around 40-something degrees.

Anyway, this winter My Experiment in Worm Survival has earned Positive but Surprising Results that I'll share with you now:

My bedding-food mixture was questionably stiff, and I thought I might be begging worms from the worm guy at the Extension again come spring (if his worms survived, that is), but last week a light bulb clicked on over my head:
I put a trouble light in the bin.
One light bulb, a few inches above the surface of the contents revived my bin and upon scratching the surface of the thawed bedding-food mass (they don't like light), I detected a lively red worm.

A caveat or two: The bedding is shredded bills and other paper, a fire hazard if it came in contact with a lightbulb. So I kept the lid propped open a tad for ventillation with one of my old cat towels barely covering the gap. Don't need to burn the house down for a few worms. Be thrifty, but be wise.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Butterfly or moth?

Not any species I recognize, but that's "art" for ya.
Finally got a chance to paint some sealer on my latest mosaic garden stepping stone.
What'dya think? Can't wait to put it outdoors.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Planning the veggie garden in the depths of winter

CSA farmer Pat writes today that she is busily reading her seed catalogues and planning this year's vegetable planting. The eternal grounded optimism of people who are connected to the earth is ever so comforting and inspiring to born cynics like me.

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." - Albert Camus

It is zero degrees Fahrenheit today, but I can feel the real world stirring, thanks to Pat.

The time is now to read the CSA contract, and to mail our downpayment for our half a working share, and although Herb retired this year and the economy, especially in Slow Motion Katrina'd Genesee County, Michigan is looking like the first hill on a roller coaster to many of us, we can't lose sight of the fact that "this too shall pass" and summer will come, and we need to do something to keep our world, from our backyard to the whole nation, on the right path toward sustainability, community, and good health.
Thanks, Pat, For doing what you do.

Here is a good interview with Ken Meter on local economies and sustainability that I hope you'll watch: