The Sustainable Home Front Welcome to the first edition of Urban Sustainable Living the ezine. I've recruited a diverse group of people to shere their knowledge and experience with you about all things sustainable. You'll find articles from them below. You can also meet them on my message board. I have also uploaded some great new videos this month. You can find links below. Please check them out and share them with your friends.
I have found myself watching the television news lately about the financial collapse like it is some sort of natural disaster, and take great solace when I get out in the garden on these crisp autumn days. The stories from my grandparents about the great depression are very much ringing in my ears and the importance of gardening and sustainable living becomes more important as the financial crisis continues to shake itself out through the global economy.
There's lot's to check out this month and please remember to forward this e-zine along to anyone that may be interested. Feel free to comment on the new message board and share what you have learned to help inspire others.
Thanks you all,
Patti the Garden Girl
New Garden Girl Videos Now online!
Check out my brand new Fall Asian Garden video on Fine Gardening Magazine's Blog.
This video shows me turning over my garden beds and starting my fall crop of Asian Greens. I love Asian Greens and here I am planting a Siamese Dragon Mix. Fall and winter doesn't mean the gardening season is over. Check out Eliot Coleman's book Four Season Gardening for a lot more on cold weather gardens.
I grew up in the high desert of Albuquerque - that translates to very little rain. I can well remember watching my mom mound the dirt around the cucumber plants to help retain water. I can also remember complete strangers showing up at our doorstep to praise mom for her beautiful gardens. Now a lively 85, mom is still gardening. I inherited her love for dirt and plants, and the anticipation of things to come runs through my bones.
I've had a tiny apartment garden that was pretty successful. I even had a secret compost pile hidden near the apartment manager's office. Late at night, I would sneak out, dig a hole behind the overgrown hedge, and bury my kitchen scraps. This composting was so much fun - partly because it was clandestine, but also because it produced beautiful soil with very little effort.
Now I live in the country, and gardening in the country is a whole new ball game. I have ample space to try 20 varieties of tomatoes instead of just growing one tomato in a container on the porch. There is room for pumpkin vines and giant Jerusalem artichoke plants. Strawberries share space with sage and thyme. It is all so lovely. But here is the rub: Living in the country means living with wild animals and wild animals are very interested in my garden.
My country garden has been raided by: raccoons, possums, deer - white tail and axis, a porcupine with a penchant for Mortgage Lifter tomatoes. Tallulah - my yellow Labrador retriever, and most recently, some really dedicated earthworm-loving armadillos.
So my gardening questions have evolved from, "What varieties of lettuce I should plant this fall," to "How can I create an organic garden that provides food for my family and keep out the __________?" (Fill in the creature of your choice.)
To me, part of organic gardening means seeking peace with nature. I've come to the place where losing some plants to the local animals doesn't devastate me. I built a garden that has a good fence, and rock bottom to help keep out those armadillos. Gardening in the country is a delight. However, I never imaged my biggest challenges would be the wild animals that I love. I just don't love them in my garden.
I have found that there is a gift in these garden visitors. Their destruction and persistence has caused me to talk with neighbors and gather the local wisdom. Lots of people have had successful gardens here, and I now have the regular opportunity to talk with them about what works, what they tried, how they managed the land and the creatures. By reaching out, I have become a better gardener and made new friends.
******** Cynthia McKenna is a therapist and Episcopal priest. When she's not working, she can often be found in her vegetable garden, water garden or relaxing with her three cats and three Labrador retrievers.
Welcome to the Apocalypse: Even P. Diddy Can't Fly His Jet These Days
P. Diddy, aka Sean Combs, doesn't have the money to fly his private jet these days. Diddy is a victim of the high cost of gas. Clearly the apocalypse is truly upon us, when rich guys are upset and suddenly have to fly commercial. Diddy begs the next president to do something as his lifestyle has been so drastically changed.
"Gas prices are too motherf******g high," he ranted to fans in a recent YouTube video, which was shot by a member of his entourage as he wandered through an airport terminal.
"As you know, I do have my own jet, but I've been having to fly back and forth to LA pursuing my acting career. Now, if I'm flying back and forth twice a month, that's like $200,000, $250,000 round trip. I'm back on American Airlines." Even
An interesting take on the effects of Peak Oil on all of us.
When we found out that I was pregnant with our son, my husband and I lived in a school district that was known not for its prestigious awards and accomplishments, but for its bumbling mistakes and embarrassingly low graduation rates. We knew immediately that we would not be sending him to the public schools if we hadn't moved by the time he was five, but we weren't sure what we *would* be doing. We didn't give it much thought until well after he was born.
Two years later, Junior was amazing us daily with his ability to understand learn and mimic. We thought we had a genius on our hands, but what parent doesn't? We started thinking about the options we thought we had-Catholic school and private school. We hadn't really "heard" of homeschooling yet-it was mostly in one ear and out the other when we heard the word. One day while speaking with my mom, she mentioned that she had considered homeschooling my sister and I when we were young, but had allowed her family to talk her out of it. Looking bad, she wished she had at least given it a shot, since the public school system hadn't done wonders for Sis and me. I got to thinking about it and I hit the internet that evening.
WOW was all I could say! There was SO much information out there; I didn't even know where to start reading about it, much less doing it! I read as much as I could, soaking up testimonials, studies, analyses, message board posts-everything. I started talking to Hubby about it daily, quoting this and that at him, and overloading him with information. He basically told me to back off, since he couldn't even think straight with so much at once (what can I say, I tend to hyperfocus J )!
We temporarily dropped the topic when we transferred to Florida for work right after Junior turned three. We were there for two and half years, enough time for Junior to be in daycare for the very first time (another bad experience, story at eleven) and for him to enroll in *gasp* Public School. Unfortunately, Hubby and I were both working full time and needed to remain that way, so we didn't have the option of homeschooling. I had "worked on" Hubby since discovering homeschooling and he was s-l-o-w-l-y coming around to it, especially when he saw Junior reading at four-all from what I was doing in the evenings with him.
Junior's Kindergarten teacher was wonderful-thank you God-so he did as well as I could expect. He was actually pretty bored, since Teacher said he didn't leave Kindergarten knowing anything more than what he knew going in-he was already at a first grade level. She cried when we pulled him at the end of February to move home to Ohio because she was losing her best test scores in Junior and had just received a new student who only knew the letter "X" and the number "3".
Since we were moving near the end of the school year and because Ohio's compulsory attendance age is six, we decided that we would "try on" homeschooling that March through that August and see what we thought before we decided whether or not to enroll Junior in public school. I only needed to work two days per week at that point due to Hubby's better job, so it worked out perfectly.
The rest is history J we love it so much that we wouldn't think of doing it any other way, even if I had to back to work full time. There are a number of things that we really see as being the BIG reasons that we, as a family, love homeschooling. First, we live on OUR schedule, not the schedule of some random, make-it-all-fit, stressed out administrator. Hubby works third shift now (as do I, on my two days), so this is a biggie for him. Junior and I are NOT, I repeat, NOT morning people, so this works out so well for us I can't even tell ya. Next, we can progress in each individual subject at the rate that is best for Junior, not the rest of his class. He excels in reading dramatically, so he's reading the same books that the fifth grader next door reads. He can stand in front of our family picture collage on the living room wall, knowing the age of one person in each picture and figure out the rest. *I* can't even do that without some serious brain crunching. He can follow a recipe by himself, figuring out doubling or halving as he goes. He's very uncoordinated, however, so the simple P.E. stuff is more his speed. His handwriting is a lot like his daddy's, too-almost scribbles-so getting him to write is an exercise in extreme patience, and even then it's iffy. Finally, our third main reason that locks us into homeschooling forever is that he's not learning how to gun someone down at school, how to most efficiently get through the metal detector lines, or how to get through life doing the bare minimum, which is the philosophy most schools teach these days, however subconscious it is.
If you haven't made the decision yet to homeschool your child(ren), please note: The style, the curriculum or where you fall on the school-at-home (classic) to no-structure-at-all (unschooling) spectrum is not the most important part of your decision. Homeschooling is about you and your children doing what is best for your family. Some families even go back and forth, doing public school some years and homeschooling other years, depending how the needs of the family. And that is the best part of homeschooling-the freedom to do what is best for you and yours.
The Chicken, a domesticated bird, yesterday, today, and the role it may play in our future.
Frederick Dunn, Of Fred's Fine Fowl
As I'm writing this article, Oprah Winfrey is having a discussion on her program, regarding the label "free range" and where your food comes from. Chickens among other farm animals are in the main stream media frequently these days. Knowing where your food comes from is key to modern health and animal well being.
It's important, in my thinking, to understand how the chicken has made almost universal contributions to human well being, throughout history and nearly every culture of the world. They are in our language, consider how often a term, relevant to chickens, is used in everyday speech. Like it or not, the chicken is apart of us.
In this country (the United States), there has been a profound rise and fall, in poultry management and related poultry/egg health and nutrition through the years. Like anything else, when money drives the machine, surpassing all else, something will suffer in the end.
Though I will focus on chickens in this and articles to come, the underlying theme is, locally managed smaller flocks are as always, healthier, happier and more sensible regarding animal and human well being. Around the turn of the century (1900) somewhere around 40% of American families, or more, had backyard farm operations on a large or small scale. The casual observer knows, that rural America is dotted with one decaying farm after another, no longer worked. Large scale industry and importation have taken the place of the local family farm.
Patti Moreno and others have it right, use everything you have available and reduce waste. Urban "Sustainable" Living, has a place for the domestic chicken (gallus domesticus) and it's relatives. It would be naïve to assume that everyone could be sustained by moving to the country and returning to the traditional family farm. However, what can be done, is bring manageable portions of agriculture to your own backyard. This is the current movement for the domestic chicken as well and it's exciting to see how many people are interested in bringing their food resources home "to roost".
Consider the chicken's life in large scale industry, as compared to small scale micro-farms. This would not and could not, be for everyone everywhere. But won't you take a moment and learn about what the chicken really is and the contribution it has, does, and can make in modern American society?
If you own cable than I am sure you have seen it. The show follows as someone, usually a new family, buying a house, re-designing and cleaning it up and then re-selling it at a profit. They never actually show someone selling the house, just a realtor telling the person, or victim, what they think the house is worth.
The show is produced by R.J. Cutler of Actual Reality TV, basically is a slow motion car crash of the current American economic collapse. What I really challenge the producers, but more importantly the sponsors of that show is to show me what happened to those people and houses. I bet it is safe to say that there were many unhappy endings involved.
Hey RJ, maybe you should do a show called "BailOut" and it is about how we the American people put together a class action suit demanding our 700 billion back from you and the Discovery Channel network and your sponsors. You know, something like a tobacco lawsuit, because you probably new that people were getting into trouble and this would surely lead the economy into crisis.
This type of programming, and they have produced dozens of spin-offs, worked hand in hand with wall street, selling a giant pyramid scheme that has blown up in all of our faces. So write your congressman and ask them look into weather or not the Discovery Channel hid the true facts of what happened with their people and homes on "Flip that House".