One of my favorite things about a weekend away is coming home and checking out what has been going on in my garden:
This PNW weather has definitely been a learning experience for me. I never would have guessed that at the end of July I'd only just be harvesting my first zucchini, and still holding my breath for the tomatoes to ripen... I'm still waiting for the fruits of summer, but I just started planting for fall -- some more kale, cabbages, brussel sprouts and celery root.
I'll post pictures of the new plants later, but for now there are some zucchini and eggs waiting to be eaten!
Monday, July 12, 2010
I have considered myself to try to live "green" as best as possible for several years now, but this past year I have learned a lot and made many changes, with even more slated for the summer. This comprehensive post was inspired by hip mountain mama's anniversary give away. So, in no particular order, just as they pop into my head, here's a little run-down of my doings so far and plans for the summer.
- I am growing my largest garden ever this year! I've gardened some in the past, but have moved so frequently it's been hard to keep up with consistently. But now my yard is a patchwork of garden beds, and it makes me so happy! I wake up in the morning and first thing go outside to see how my plants are doing. I'm growing tons of greens, onions, tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, cucumbers, three kinds of berries, grapes and so much more. I am so happy to be able to pick produce from my yard and make a meal. And my current project is planning out my fabulous fall and winter garden.
- As of three months ago, I have chickens!! Their eggs are so delicious, and they love wandering around my yard and pecking at bugs and slugs. They also love flying over the maze of fencing I've put around the garden and eating all my kale. :( But I just don't have the heart to clip their wings.
- I don't own a car and so I ride my bike to work, or take the bus. This probably would not have happened if I hadn't moved to Portland, OR last fall! Sometimes I really miss having a car (biking to get groceries in the rain), but ultimately it's worth it. I've found that I feel a lot better emotionally and physically from getting that exercise every day too.
- Hanging my laundry out to dry. I used to do this all the time when I lived in AZ, but over the rainy Portland winter I've been slacking. Now that it's (finally!) summer I'm hanging my clothes on the line again, and will rig up a rack or line inside for this winter.
- I'm jamming and canning! I usually make a couple batches of jam in the summer, but this year I'm way more ambitious. I've already made lots of strawberry jam, and up next are blueberry, blackberry, and plum. I'm so excited to make pickles and can tomato sauce, and I'm also going to learn to ferment!
- I've been greening my personal care products -- hardly ever wearing make up and going no poo. Next up: homemade toothpaste and deodorant!
- Gifts: so far this year all the birthday gifts I've given have been handmade by me, or purchased from local artisans or farmers.
- I've eliminated all foil, paper towels and disposable plastic bags/wrap from my kitchen, except those pesky plastic produce bags. I often remember to take my own containers to the store for bulk goods, but not always. Also, my boyfriend is a chef and is very picky about his produce. He doesn't like it in cloth bags instead of plastic. Of course, harvesting more veggies from our gardens is helping with this issue!
- I've been doing this for so long that I almost forgot to mention, but of course I frequent the farmer's markets and buy almost everything organic at the store. I struggle to make it fit into my Americorps budget, but I really try to make buying local and organic a priority.
- I write letters and call my senators about environmental issues that are important to me.
- I do pretty much all my clothes shopping, and most home goods shopping at thrift stores. The only things I don't buy used are underwear and socks. I started doing this long ago for budgetary reasons, and the fact that I appreciate vintage style. Now, I do it for my pocketbook and the earth! I love giving a second life to used items.
- I've dropped my showering to every other day (for the most part) and use an adjustable low-flow showerhead.
- I moved a few months ago, and just the other day thought about the fact that the water is really hot, and perhaps we should turn it down... When we looked at the water heater, it was set to 160!! We quickly turned it down to 120. I will be interested to see how much of an impact this has on the bills...
- I use baking soda and vinegar for all household cleaning purposes.
- Of course, my job is environmentally friendly as well. I work with a fantastic nonprofit called Village Gardens. We work in two low-income communities to empower community leaders through gardening, skills training and leadership. I spend a lot of my time with the two children's garden clubs and in the community gardens. Check out our new blog and facebook page for pictures. I truly feel honored to work with such an amazing organization. Our latest venture is to open a non-profit, community run, local, healthy grocery store in an area that currently has no grocery stores. It's going to be awesome!!