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Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Denette and I were at Avila with the kids a few Sundays ago, whiling away the day in the sun and the water. As we left, we noticed the Avila Farmers Market was getting rolling, so we decided to visit.

We were kind of disappointed. The market is more fun than functional, with only about six stands of produce vendors And only one fish vendor. Yikes.

However, among those vendors were two gems:

  1. Our friends at Wind Dance Farms make an incredible organic olive oil that they grow just down the road in Avila; they alone are worth a trip to the market
  2. Chaparral Gardens, which makes the best vinegars I have ever tasted. Bar none.

The iPhone camera just would NOT focus!

The owner was selling some organic mixed greens, and I wanted a salad when we got home so I bought some.

Then I sampled his vinegars.

Sold.

We came home with the Pacific Spice Vinegar, which starts off sweet and finishes with a beautiful hot spiciness. We went right home and had it on our salad.

SO good with the Mt. Olive spicy olives and the CG vinegar...I feel a habit forming.

Then I proceeded to put it on everything else until it ran out.

In a week. Yep, it’s that good.

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CalpopsGarzasWash08www.montereybaycnps.org/

Let’s do it. Get rid of the grass, at least most of it and plant fire resistant, drought tolerant, disease and bug resistant, sexy, wild, natives.  Native fire resistant plants are a real asset to your yard anywhere in California. Did you know that a watered apple tree or Indian Hawthorne burns better than an unwatered Ceanothus, and with just a little water Salvias (Sages) are harder to light than a watered fruit tree?  This and much more information about fire prevention  provided by Las Pilitas Nursery. Easy fixes for high risk fire areas.  Here is a picture of a garden landscaped with fire retardant plants.garden-tour-2

Plant natives grapes which are fire resistant make a beautiful arbor or barrier and you can eat the grapes.  fire_562s

Plant natives to attract bird, butterfly and hummingbirds.  Milkweed is the only plant the monarch uses and it also attracts swallowtails.  butterflyweedThe natives  are very low maintenance. They can be very showy and spectacular like our California Lilac,  Ceanothus, left, Ceanothus_L.T.Blueor low and inconspicuous like Pacific Mist Arctostaphylos, right.images Pacific Mist loves coastal sandy gardens where it grows one foot high and 6-8 feet across. Then there are the fragrant varieties for your smelly garden. California Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii) center.  Thumbnail pictures from Las Pilitas.

a494-1

And so many sages.  This one is called Hot lips and hummingbirds love it. large_salvia

Natives have everything you need for a carefree spectacular garden.   Save money on water, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, save time, mowing, weeding, hedging, spraying, and the energy savings in hard labor are all good reasons to Go Native.

By planting natives and getting them established, which does take a little time in the beginning, you can just let them do what comes naturally and leave all the work to them.  There are perennials which come back every year, annuals that reseed themselves, hardwoods, softwoods, bushes and trees for the layered effect.   There are many varied reports on  deer resistant natives.  You will have to check with your local extension or neighbors on what works best in your area.  I think the general consensus is they love roses and if they are hunger they will eat anything.  So, this one is up to you.

Check out the gardens below.

nativeplantswww.thedigeratilife.com/…/

p_ng_mass_bl2www.cnps-yerbabuena.org/…/local_gardens.htm

gardenwphttp://tinyurl.com/ctx8l4

This is a very good site.  Full of fun facts and information.  It is hosted by Randy White. The site below, Food Not Lawns, is just a little off subject. I just thought I would put it in here to give you something to think about.  It is well worth a look see.  You can’t help but learn something.

flores_food_not_lawns_1

http://www.foodnotlawns.net/

I have taken you on quite a tour and it is just the tip of the iceberg.   If you just want to get started a good place to start learning about natives is at  the California Native Plant Society.  They have field trips to local areas and a great list of nurseries that carry native plants.   One nursery on the list is Las Pilitas.  It has an online Landscape and  design plan.  You just answer some questions about your planting area and it will tell you what plants to plant and where. Also, a must read on fire prevention.

And now that you are thinking about Going Native you can also start thinking about what you are going to do with all the extra time and money you will have after planting a native garden.  The time you save you could spend oh, I don’t know, sleeping, surfing.  Kowabunga.

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Apparently, so many people are interested in buying locally-grown produce that even the big guys like Pepsico, Foster Farms, and ConAgra have taken notice. They’re releasing marketing campaigns that tout their “local” credentials. You can read the whole NYT article here.

What do you think?

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The whole shebang

Container gardening can be very practical and fun.  I do container gardening because I rent.  Which means when I move my plants go with me. I have a yard the size of a VW beetle and it is jammed packed with potted everything.  I plant for food, smell, looks and love.  I plant herbs for medicine rare and common.  I have fruit trees in pots.  Ready to go!Black, stripped, variegated, running and clumping bamboo for looks.  Ginger, comfrey, borage, violets for all those reasons.  My potted veggie garden this year is a Cherokee purple tomato.  I put my basil right in there with the tomato and everyone is happy. I have onions and garlic in a window box planter. And the parsley is very happy in with the clover, chia and alfalfa. I grab a handful of this and mix it in the blender for a green smoothie.

I use anything and everything for a container.  Standard pots, clay, plastic bags, wooden boxes, anything that will hold dirt.  Anything you can put  drainage holes in can become a potted garden.  I have wheel barrels, teapots, wastebaskets, woven baskets, laundry basket, window boxes, water buckets, and even plastic bags.  I put bulbs in the laundry basket and then bury the basket.  Easy to dig up the bulbs and deters gophers and what not from eating my bulbs.

Tempest in a teapot IMG_0484I use good organic soil, compost, mixed with a lot of coffee grounds I have collected from coffee houses. Coffee grounds make great drainage and the worms love it.  Keep the soil light and airy and enough holes so the plants are never sitting in water.  Only marsh plants like wet feet.

Container plants typically use more water than plants in the ground.  I noticed clay pots dry out faster than plastic pots and a North wind sucks the moisture right out of the air.  Dry on top means could use some water. I like to put an indicator plant, like violets, in with the plants. Violets are pretty, and have shallow roots so when they start to droop it means my pot needs water.

Hydrangerous...

Have to keep an eye out for root bound.   Root bound plants do not take up water because it is so dense.  I had a hydrangea in a pot that I watered everyday but the leaves still drooped saying, I am thirsty.  I took it out of the pot. Yup, it was root bound and the roots were bone dry.  It was dying of thirst. And I don’t know what happened to all the dirt. I think the plants eat it.  So just watch you leaves.  They will tell you what they need.

Feed a good organic fertilizer, worm tea is the best, perhaps every other week during the growing season and then let them rest during the fall and winter.  No fertilizer.

Trees especially citrus are great in pots. They have dwarf and semi dwarf varieties for just such occasions.  Fruit trees like apples, apricots, plums, etc are fine in a pot too.  They just will not form a taproot so repotting and clipping the roots occasionally may be necessary.  Grapes and berries are great in a container just put them in a cage or trellis them. I have honeysuckle growing outside my window for the sweet smell. I strung three fishing lines from the pot and attached it to the overhang. Smells great, and makes a dense barrier for privacy or shade. You can cut it down to nothing making it easy to move.  Put your big pots and trees on wheels if you can. Easy to move around.IMG_0473

A pot garden for asparagus, rhubarb and Aloe Vera can go anywhere you do.  These things take time, 2 or three years, before you can harvest, so you don’t want to be starting them new each time you move.   And make sure you never turn down or throw away anything that you can put a plant in.  When all this stuff starts growing it will make babies and you will need to put the babies in something. I once used an old pair of work boots to transplant some starts.  It worked fine and looked kinda of cool too.   Keep all your thirsty plants like parsley, cilantro, and basil in a separate pot from your dry plants like sage, rosemary, and fennel.  It’s a water thing.

I have some 20-year-old plants in containers I have hauled all over hell’s half acre.  I may be an extreme case but I don’t think I am alone.  Do you have a unique or unusal container you would like to share? inch by inch

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Hi all!

It’s been three weeks since we planted, and the garden is officially taking off! Here’s a list of everything we put in the ground:

I finally got Denette in a photo!

In the big bed:

  • Tomatoes
  • Anaheim chili
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic

In the right bed:

  • Carrots
  • We were also going to plant leaf lettuce where the spinach is, but the spinach will not die

In the left bed:

  • Sugar snap peas
  • BeansThe garden is UP!
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber

In the mound:

  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pumpkin

Out of sight:

  • Potatoes

Since water is the next big issue on the horizon (if it isn’t here already), we’re looking for ways to conserve water. The straw keeps the soil moist and, as a side benefit, it keeps the birds off my shoots until they’re hardy enough to resist—I hope. We already lost a couple of pea sprouts to a perceptive winged assassin before I laid the straw down. But that okay, because I left the packet of pea seeds outside to help identify where the seeds were—and all the seeds in the packet sprouted. Now we have more sprouts than we know what to do with. Anyone want some pea starts?

We also started a small container garden, to see how much someone living in an apartment might expect to produce. Right now we just have a single tomato plant, but we’ll expand this week.

We’re going to be covering the summer planting in detail in episode 5, which I should have done in about a week. Wish me luck.

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It’s bike month!

Denette handed me this flyer today.

Photo 377.jpg

SLO Rideshare has done an awesome job of putting this together. I don’t know about you, but riding to an outdoor screening of Ratatouille with the kids sounds, well, perfect.

And the timing of bike month is kind of perfect, too. I’ve been thinking about riding again for a number of reasons, fitness and kid time among them. I even unburied the bikes from the storage shed. And uncobwebbed them. And undusted them. Now I just have to reinflate the tires.

Then there’s the serious repair. So I’m going to take them to the bike kitchen at Mission Meadow Park where someone knowledgeable can perform magic and make them rideable.

And I’m definitely doing the Errands by bike day on the 23rd.

How about you? Are you a biker?

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This is the first paragraph of wikipedia’s definition of planned obsolescence:

Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence[1] is the process of a product becoming obsolete and/or non-functional after a certain period or amount of use in a way that is planned or designed by the manufacturer.[1] Planned obsolescence has potential benefits for a producer because the product fails and the consumer is under pressure to purchase again, whether from the same manufacturer (a replacement part or a newer model), or from a competitor which might also rely on planned obsolescence. [1] The purpose of planned obsolescence is to hide the real cost per use from the consumer, and charge a higher price than they would otherwise be willing to pay (or would be unwilling to spend all at once).

I had a 1940-something Maytag wringer washing machine that I bought  in the 80’s at a garage sale for $5.

I used it for the next 12 years. The only part I had to replace was the motor belt that would wear out. Our local appliance dealer had them in  stock. Planned obsolescence was NOT the marketing strategy  for this company in the ’40s.

I dare say the opposite strategy was the intent. The idea back in the beginning  was to get people to buy their product. Innovation was key; that and offering a product that filled a need. One of the main selling points was longevity for both the product and the company that was selling it.  Start-up companies had to  build a reputation and a name for themselves. Quality, durability, and reliability were the hallmarks. Maytag has been around since 1911. To write this post I checked out the History of Maytag, which was very interesting. F.L. Maytag had a great philosophy and created quite a few firsts for his company.

Quality and trust were paramount. Fredrick Louis Maytag 1909 said, “There is a factor that can not be measured in dollars and cents…the spirit and love that a true craftsman holds for his job.” If this is any indication of what it takes to be a success—and Maytag was very successful—I am hard-pressed to find anything comparable in today’s marketplace.

I am reminded on a daily basis how planned obsolescence plays a major role in my life, a constant reminder of things that just give out or give up, just quit or malfunction because of some minute computer chip, glitch, or flaw. I can not reasonably expect that my laptop, or even my stovetop,  is going to behave in a reliable manner given all the variables that sustain it.

When I was using the old Maytag washer I always had several spare belts on hand.  If one morning I needed to change the belt it was not an event that involved calling or making an appointment with a “genius”, getting into my car and driving somewhere, find and pay for a parking space, wait until my name is called only to learn that they will have to keep it for a week to “reprogram it.”

If I needed to change the belt I went into the junk drawer where the belt and pliers were. I loosened one nut, slid the old belt off, put the new belt on, tightened the nut, put the pliers away and I was good to go.  The part cost me $2.59 which I had on hand and 15 minutes of my time.  It was as good as new.

Why can’t today’s products and  technology make things that last?    Why does it have to be sooo expensive and so hard to maintain and keep up?  I had to throw my first laptop away because the screen started to get lines in it.  The hard drive was fine.   It would cost over  $800 to replace the screen.   I replaced the whole computer.  I could change the spark plugs, oil and pretty much maintain my vehicles which made life a lot easier and less expensive for me.   Now I can’t even find the spark plugs on the newer vehicles and it takes special computerized equipment I don’t own to talk to the on-board computer to find out where the spark plugs are.     I have a 1982 Toyota pickup. It runs great. Everything works great but it will not pass smog.  Why?  The one and only  computer chip that sends air to the carburetor is broken.  The chip cost $230 and the labor is $200.   I can’t do a thing about this.  It cost me $90 to have a mechanic tell me what the problem was.  The State says throw the truck away.  It is not worth fixing.  Again, what a waste.  But that is what planned obsolescence is all about isn’t it?   I grew up with an old saying you do not hear much anymore, Waste not, want not.  It made sense back then and I think it still does.

A disposal, throw-away, get-a-new-one mentality,  is what is making the world go round.  I think I liked it better when things were built to last, workers were proud of their work, and companies planned on being around as a trusted reliable source of goods and services for a long time.

To add insult to injury I tried to extend the warranty on my new computer. The company said no, you missed the one month window to renew.  We don’t want your insurance money.  This does not give me a lot of confidence. They know something I don’t.   They know I will be back in 3 years to replace this one.   I will have to pay 4 times as much for a new computer instead of them repairing the old one on my extended warranty.  In the mean time every upgrade, download, which I don’t want or need,  causes a chain reaction which causes more bugs, and more upgrades and things just get worse instead of better.  Not like replacing a worn out belt and making it as good as new.

Like I said at the beginning. And then, of course, there’s…

Style obsolescence

Marketing may be driven primarily by aesthetic design. Product categories in which this is the case display a fashion cycle. By continually introducing new designs and retargeting or discontinuing others, a manufacturer can “ride the fashion cycle”. Examples of such product categories include automobiles (style obsolescence), with a strict yearly schedule of new models, and the almost entirely style-driven clothing industry (riding the fashion cycle) and the mobile phone industries with constant minor feature ‘enhancements’ and restyling.

Don’t get me started on the switch from analog to digital.   This stuff drives me crazy.

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All right, gang, we’re back with another jam-packed episode!

One of our goals has been to make this into a collaborative effort, and it continues move in that direction. Jeff Jensen, my friend from High School (that place I went to nearly 20 years ago!) sent me some music to include in this episode, and I’m thrilled to add him to our growing collection of great artists. (Now if only I could get Fear Factory. What, not the right tone? Okay, fine.)

It’s also really cool to see the progress we’ve made on both the filming and editing front. We’re actually improving. Although we can only improve so much with me in front of the camera….

This episode sees us doing a little catch-up to get on schedule with the seasons: we pack the summer garden tearout in with the what I call a “winter garden medley”—photos of the garden as it grows over three months. Now our filming schedule will only be a month off instead of six….

We also take a trip to Mt. Olive where I learn a LOT about organic farming, and, inspired by their worm bins (200 tons of compost?! Seriously?!), I set out to build my own.

Join us! And let us know what you think!

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And what a beautiful weekend it was for shooting scenes and planting veggies!

First, we prepped:

  • We soaked the beds thoroughly
  • I tilled to loosen the dense loam
  • We sprayed worm “tea” (read: poop) on the soil and then tilled it under

Then we planted:

Lots o' bounty!

As you can see, the right-hand bed still has some hangers-on from the winter planting. We’re going to make the plants in this bed multi-seasonal.

The mound in the middle is comprised of a) my failed composting efforts and b) my successful (though unintentional) greenhouse efforts: the little cantaloupes had started in the “compost” so I just transplanted them to the mound. I’m a genius (also unintentional).

potatoes-day-1

Finally, we planted some potatoes, some already started—again, from my composter-turned-greenhouse.

Now we water, we weed, and we wait for the sweet, sweet rewards!

How about you? Have you planted your summer garden?

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Habitat For Humanity Wins The Green Business Award!
San Luis Obispo County Green Award 2008

This is a great place to shop. I got a 12 foot metal pole for our clothesline for $4.30! Bathroom fixtures, lighting fixtures, paint, tools, hardware, nuts, bolts, screws, tile…oh my!

Even kitchen sinks.

Very helpful, friendly volunteers, and even customers, seem glad to help a damsel in distress, which would be me. I am trying to put together an outside antenna contraption and don’t know what the heck I am doing. So, if you are in the market for a project and need some materials I would give the ReStore a look see. I like to know where my money is going and this sure makes me feel good when I spend it here: all the proceeds go to building green Habitat for Humanity houses.  They provide a great service to our community and, well, look they won the Green Business Award for goodness sakes. The press release is below (with links from lil’ ol’ me).

Habitat for Humanity is one of six businesses to win the Green Business Award from the Sustainability & Resources Committee of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, for the environmental benefits of our ReStores located in San Luis Obispo and in Templeton.

Criteria for selecting award finalists include long-term environmental benefits, project transferability, environmental leadership, creativity and other considerations. Members of the Green Awards Committee include individuals from the City of San Luis Obispo, SLO Air Pollution Control District, Ride-On, SLO Regional Rideshare, SLO County Agricultural Commission, The Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County, Integrated Waste Management Authority and SLO Chamber of Commerce.

‘We are truly honored to win this years Green Award,’ states Penny Rappa, Executive Director of Habitat. ReStores help the environment by reducing the amount of usable building materials dumped into our local landfill. ‘Since the opening of the Templeton ReStore in January of 2005, and San Luis Obispo ReStore in October 2007, we estimate over two tons of materials have been diverted from the local landfills annually,’ states Rappa.

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are building material thrift stores, receiving and selling new and used building items. ReStores provide an opportunity for the public to donate building materials and to buy quality building materials at very low costs. Doors, windows, cabinets, sinks, light fixtures and other building supplies are given a second life. All proceeds from the ReStores are then used to build new Habitat homes in San Luis Obispo County.

Habitat of San Luis Obispo is in the process of completing four homes within the City of Atascadero, with a home dedication planned for December 13, 2008. Plans are also in motion to build four similar homes within the City of Grover Beach in 2009.

Habitat for Humanity of San Luis Obispo County has built simple, decent housing in Paso Robles, Cambria and in Atascadero. HFHSLOCO was established in 1997, as a non-profit organization and an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. All donations to the ReStore are tax-deductible.

The ReStores are open Thursday through Saturday from 9:00am to 3:00pm.
For more information on what building materials the ReStores accept and sells please call: Templeton 434-0486 OR in San Luis Obispo 546-8699.

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