February Recap:

AKA, The Floods!

[Quick Note: I’ve resisted doing monthly updates thus far, for fear that they would be boring and/or self-centered. However, since this blog is aimed at connecting, and teaching, I’m thinking now that it’s silly to withhold relevant updates about my garden/life. After all, that’s how I’ve learned from others! I am trying to figure out how to balance life in the garden and life outside of it, and even if you don’t have a garden you may still find insights about life tucked in here and there. Hopefully.  If nothing else, it will at least serve as a record for me, and perhaps give me/you ideas to elaborate on for future posts (e.g.  Grape Pruning, see below).]

It Began With a Bug

February began with me curled in a ball. From a stomach bug, not from the weather. January was so bitter cold at the beginning that I was SURE Feb was going to suck—after all, the only thing good about February is my birthday on the 2nd and after that it all goes to crap. 😛 At least that’s been my mindset for the past few decades (give or take a few years).

But then it got warm-ish. We had only ONE morning of snow flurries in February, and it turned into rain by the end of the day!

In fact, by the end of February it was very warm (historically speaking)–similar to last year actually–and VERY rainy (which did NOT happen last year). Highs were in the 50s and 60s and down came the rains for several days in a row…

The lowest spot in the yard is right under the grape arbor, on the sidewalk.
Maddy was kind enough to dig us a few holes, which held the rain water nicely! >.<

then last Saturday (the 24th) the skies opened up and threw down a frightening deluge–complete with LOUD thunder–on an already-saturated ground. We got some water in the crawl-space basement, but being on a hillside meant the rest of the house was pretty safe. All in all we were fine.

Signs of Progress?

Mr Grant continued work on the second bathroom.

Maddy makes sure her boy is OK while he crawls under the floor installing plumbing

So the yard went from: Frozen Brown Ground at the beginning of January, thanks to free-ranging chickens and sub-32F temps, to…Soggy Mud Pit complete with construction dump by the end of Feb.

The chickens are helping with the bathroom construction

Seriously, it was/is a mess out there! Between the mud, rain, and debris I have been keeping the chickens within the run more. Otherwise, I constantly have to worry about them eating Styrofoam or plastic… >.< or going through out sand pile that we need for tiling the shower!

I’ve also had to hold off on starting seeds indoors, because the house is turned upside-down, with a few key places now serving as tools & parts storage instead of seed-tray setup. *pouts*

If I sound crotchety about all this, just know that I’m actually a lot better than I used to be during the month of February! Thank you essential oils!! (more on those later!) 😀

The chickens weathered the cold like champs in Jan, and other than scrambling to thaw out their water daily, we had no problems. In February it was smooth sailing, except I started to wish they cranked out more eggs–now that word has gotten around at work how delicious they are there was a spike in demand! I had to raise the price to be more competitive, but it all goes directly back to the ‘egg and feed’ fund for the chickies and if we have profits it’ll go towards the garden/homestead! The week of Valentine’s Day I didn’t get any fresh eggs because they were all promised to customers, including the regional VP of the company (whoa, my eggs are famous!?) haha. Definitely a good problem to have.

Signs of Spring! (Already!??)

All the warmth and rains also brought bulbs peaking out! I don’t believe our Rosemary is very happy (or even alive haha) after 5 degree January days, but the pansies have rebounded from last fall, and the random daffodils, hyacinths, allium, and tulip bulbs I tucked in the soil here-and-there have emerged; in fact, neighbors across the street already have daffodils blooming!!

Lavender foreground; Garlic chives & bulbs coming up in the background, along with dead rosemary stems
Cornelian Cherry aka Cornus mas starting to bloom – 2/28.

I’ve also seen Cornelian Cherries emerging, though they are one of the earliest bloomers usually. My garlic chives, also somewhat randomly placed—this time by Mother Nature’s devices—are also popping up everywhere. This stuff is prolific, and I really only use about 3 pieces of it a year! Heh. If anyone has any recipes let me know!

Even the rosemary was not as well-used or well-preserved as I would have liked. Some days I feel like I am just stockpiling herbs in the garden just to say I have them. Just to prove that I can grow them successfully. There is a definite gap between my garden and my culinary incorporation….All in good time. But hey, if you have any amazing recipes that use fresh herbs (especially oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, chives, dill, basil, mint or lemon balm, let me know!)

Even in the rain and cold this lavender looks amazing! That yellow truck sets it off well! 😉

 

My Phenomenal Lavender does look, well, phenomenal!! Normally a fan of bright, vivid colors, I find myself really enjoying the silvery blue/green (‘sage-colored’ if you will) foliage that has persisted through this cold, and warmth and rain. Now in year 2, it remains to be seen how long-lived it will be (lavenders tend to be short, 3-5 year perennials in these parts), but in the meantime I appreciate its presence in the garden!

Winter Cleanup

Another benefit of warm temps was the opportunity to poke around and clean up the garden without freezing and/or having to wear 50 layers! I cut back liriope (ground-cover in between the sidewalk and the road) and tall grasses, and even thought about planting kale. I haven’t cut the rosemary down because I’d like to see if any part of it comes back. It probably won’t but…. It’s worth experimenting. A good rule of thumb in gardening is, if you think it’s dead, wait til spring. My mother once made this mistake with her Butterfly bush (buddleia), which is The midwestern Comeback Kid if ever there was one! She thought the shrubbery skeleton of sticks was done-for (and who could blame her!?) and pulled the whole thing out of the ground before the end of winter. I have a mini, 2-3 ft one out front right now that is indeed nothing but sticks…except, with this warm spell, little silvery-green leaves have popped out along the stems and random intervals! Hydrangeas can be like that here too…it’s because they can bloom on old wood; Crape-myrtles are similar, and you never know because they are borderline growers here (similar to butterfly bushes, and rosemary). It’s not quite a warm enough climate–or rather, it often gets too much winter cold in Louisville to have a crape-myrtle survive without some extra protection. When we had the Polar Vortex winters of 2014 and 2015, many homeowners saw those trees die back and regrow from the base or not come back at all! Butterfly bush has a similar MO, either sprouting back from stems that look long-gone, or rejuvenating from the bottom.

I also made time to prune back the mature grape arbor!! Ever since I’ve been around it (the vine was planted long before Mr Grant ever got the house or I got involved), I’ve tried to figure out what to DO with the tangled mess of vines. Grape vines are such weirdos that even in the height of summer they look like crusty, old, dead wood. The bark is exfoliating, you know, peeling, and the thin stems are very bendy! The best way to tell if it’s REALLY dead is to lightly bend a stem: if it breaks off in your hand, it’s dead. If it gives and flexes some, let it be!

Anyway, I can go more in depth on another post, another time. But the exciting things are this: last fall we FINALLY re-built the crazy leaning structure (also a relic from former owners), and in doing so, shifted and thinned out some of the grape. I am just happy I remembered to prune it this early in the year (again, thanks to warmer temps!!) I historically didn’t get around to it til the grapes had come out of dormancy, so any time I tried to cut living vines back they would ‘bleed’ or drip sap for DAYS. It was weird. Not life-threatening, especially to such a large vine, but unnerving to me and certainly not the healthiest practice for the plant. So kudos to me for finally getting on the right schedule!

My peach tree has buds, as of ~2/26!

Non-Garden Achievements

Mission Accomplished…for now…mostly. Close Enough. 😛

I do have to say I felt pretty successful last month. I raised money for Charity:Water for my birthday this year, something I get the urge to do every so often (I think the previous time was when I was in California, broke, and learning about permaculture for the first time!). I also made it to the rank of Senior Star with Young Living Oils! That source of income has been an unexpected blessing within the past 6mo, and a fun motivator this winter! Also, the oils themselves have made a NOTICEABLE difference in my moods and energy levels. Between all that and the warmer temps I have been able to break out of the usual Winter Blues. Though I haven’t been able to start peppers, I don’t think I’d started them by this time last year either, and everything turned out alright; there’s always next month! I’m trying not to sweat the small stuff. Other than that, building a new bathroom is quite an achievement (ok it’s not done yet but he got a lot done and I helped!), not to mention PLANNING A WEDDING.

Mr. Grant has finally gotten on board helping Wedding Planning, and I am happy to report that he had no idea how much work and politics was involved! Haha. We also got out and did more swing dancing than we have in awhile, thanks to Mardi Gras and Valentine’s celebrations (3 times that week alone, each with a live band!), and attempted to get back into shape, not only for the looming Derby Half Marathon (or Mini as it’s called in Louisville) but also for the wedding—now only FIVE MONTHS AWAY! Did I mention wedding planning?? >.<

Since apparently this year February Showers have brought March flowers, I wonder what March will bring?? (probably snow, with a vengeance!)

5 Ways To Improve Your Life Through Community

aka, WATER THAT GARDEN! 😉

I’m really proud of myself. For the latter part of December, I actually spent time thinking about my resolutions, goals, and projects for 2018. Yes, in December! Not February, not January, but BEFORE the end of the year! I even spent time on Dec 30th logging my accomplishments for 2017, and making The 2018 LIST: transferring projects that I still wanted to get to, and adding in new ideas and aspirations. I know, it’s now February and I am just now getting this on record. BUT it’s still a huge step of success for me! And I am attributing that to three things:

  • BULLET JOURNAL! I started this in Jan 2017 (before I started this blog!) as a trial and stuck with it all year, improving as I went. When the end of the year hit, I had a goldmine of information about what worked, and what I was thinking throughout the year. I’ve always been a fan of recording and storing memories, but it’s usually only for memories’ sake, to be able to go back and look at when I am feeling nostalgic…Never before have I been this organized or systematic about gathering information in ONE place, in a way that I can reference it easily (all because of the index)! I quickly got over the ‘perfectionism’ streak of trying to make gorgeous Insta-worthy layouts, like you see on YouTube. I just made it work for me and I’m sooo happy I did!
  • Mr. Grant – This guy. <3 ! He’s constantly pushing/motivating me to be less theoretical / daydreamy, and do more Planning and Executing. He’s truly a major reason why I accomplished anything last year. And he actually got MORE into Bullet Journaling than I did–believe it or not–about halfway through the year after I bought him a journal to try out. Now we have ‘bullet journal dates’ where we work on them together ^.^ So in many ways, he’s been a huge supporter, motivator, and accountability partner. And now he’ll be my life partner! He’s Officially my Fiancé now! Yesssss!
  • This Blog. Yeah, believe it or not, even just posting a few posts throughout the year, having the blog on record, and specifically THIS post about Resolutions for 2017 helped me feel more accountable and also served as a reference that I could refer back to for motivation. And luckily, I have all three of these things for this year! 🙂

That said, I still came away from my 2018 Planning Session feeling like it wasn’t quite wrapped up. I didn’t have a catchy phrase to remember it by like I did in 2017 with the 4M’s (Move, Make, Measure, Manage). I just thought, “Maybe it’ll be the year of More: move More, make more, measure at least as much, and manage…to be less grumpy and more happy.” Lame, right?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to want to improve on the year before, but I think we can do better than that! But I didn’t really have any great epiphanies…

In all honesty, getting engaged on Dec 31st (Literally the day after my planning session!) kinda threw my ENTIRE year plan off. Now, I’m accounting for wedding planning, with things such as growing my own bouquet, naturally dyeing favors, and oh, yeah, time for the wedding itself and honeymoon–to cut into my already busy schedule of completing the listed projects and goals! 😛

However, now that I’m past the initial stress of “OMG I’M GETTING MARRIED AND I’M SUPPOSED TO FIGURE EVERYTHING OUT ASAP!!” I’ve been able to revisit this Resolutions quandary. It didn’t hit me ‘til the last Sunday in January that I’ve got my focus for the year:

   –    C O M M U N I T Y    –

 

Introvert though I am, the older and wiser I get (just turned a year wiser yesterday! 😉 ), the more I recognize the power of having people you can count on, and the truth in that old adage,

“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”

 ~often attributed as an African saying

So I’d like to present my (fledgling) research on community, a.k.a.:

5 Steps to a More Successful Life

1. Find Your Communities

Not just groups of people, but groups that involve relationships. Not simply, “I’m a member of such and such group/club” but also, “I know these people” because of the time and energy spent together. There are five types of communities that I’ve seen (inspired from the community-building website  called Feverbee).

5 Types of Community:

  1. Interest   –  These are your hobby clubs with focuses like: technology, stamp collecting, swing dancing, fitness, etc.
  2. Action  – They are Purpose-Driven groups, like GreenPeace,   the Cultivators for the new Waterfront Botanical Gardens (<–check it out!!), Permaculture etc.
  3. Place  –  These are specifically linked to a location, whether it is a city, a watershed, a region, etc. Groups like: NextDoor, Yelp, Louisville Loves Trees, which is part of Louisville Grows, etc.
  4. Practice –   Groups practicing specific skillsets. They include AutoDesk edu community, Ravelry, Sojourn (or other Church/spirituality groups), ToneItUp, etc.
  5. Circumstance  —Those who have been through certain events, usually hard times with you, whether it was High School or college (lol), a job, or groups like breast cancer survivor groups and A.A. meetings.

The first step is to Find Your People. This is just the first step, so it doesn’t have to be PERFECT yet (or ever!). Follow your gut. You know what you like, what you stand for, what you practice (or want to!); now you just have to get out there and find groups of people who already feel/do the same!

I remember the feelings I’ve gotten in my guy every time I found a group that ‘clicked’ with me. With Swing Dancing, I was literally jumping up and down at my first exchange (and didn’t even look out of place!). When I found the Ravelry (knitting) website, I was so psyched to have more people to talk to, and more patterns to explore. With the Permaculture group, I initially got hooked in San Francisco, but I knew I was onto something good here in Lville when Ray handed me 2 free comfrey plants and told me to plant them and pass it on.

2 . Diversify Your Community Stakes

Don’t just put all your effort in one basket. (Sound familiar?) Some groups come and go, and some require involvement than others; it’s nice to be able to ebb and flow within a few groups, depending on the pace of your life’s seasons.

And even though it may seem like some of those 5 categories are the same thing, they have subtle shades of variation. Each type of community is likely to have its own emphasis and/or measure of progress. And it’s good to get a mix of each.

From a pdf on FeverBee:

“Each community types changes the balance of discussions, activities, and content in a community: Action on milestone; circumstance on support; interest in bonding/depth of passion; place on local issues; practice on domain of knowledge.”

See, most company organizations are going to rely more on mission statements and would fall into the Action category, driven by purpose and measured by milestones achieved. Likewise, a Breast Cancer survivor group or an AA meeting is more interested in metrics of how many they’ve helped, and how well they’ve supported each other. Your ‘place’ community could be as simple as the neighborhood block party you help with every year, or as official as the town hall / city council to which you are elected.

Pro tip: It doesn’t mean as much (to your life or theirs) if you just show up to these events anonymously, and don’t know anyone’s name (and/or no one knows yours).

The best options for you will probably be the Hybrid ones that overlap categories, which luckily happens often. For example, you may be part of a group that shares a purpose to improve their place and thus practices based on their interests, like Louisville Grows or Louisville Loves Trees, which are both local initiatives to help their city (#3) become more garden savvy, and leafy and generally more Just (#2), and they attract like-minded volunteers/gardeners (#1) with garden classes (#4). See how they are similar, but there are subtle differences? (Isn’t diversity such a beautiful patchwork gradient?? Also sounds like the Permaculture Principal #8, Integrate rather than Separate )

Now, that doesn’t mean that everything is so nicely intertwined, nor is that a bad thing if it isn’t. In fact, Innovation can thrive at the edges of two disparate circles (Permaculture Principle #11 !) You can find places like The Park, shared workspaces that share the common link of general Practice, but may have a wide range of Interests and Action/Purpose. Sometimes it can be refreshing to get that change of scenery, and stop getting mired in the politics of your own passion to be able to get perspective from others’ views and missions. Sometimes in fact, it’s critical to get outside of your own common circles to understand other communities and their struggles and strivings. That is how we learn new things.

I’ve personally seen that #2 (purpose) and #5 (circumstance) provide the strongest ties for finding and retaining friends. My closest friends are the ones that went through my weirdest and worst periods with me, and then still stuck around for the good parts! But of course ANY can be strengthened and bonded. If you work in a place where you feel purpose-driven, and constantly get to practice what you preach, you may create the environment for Circumstance, where people go past becoming mere coworkers and become trusted friends and advisors on matters outside of work. But that does take time…

3 Plant the Seeds of Community

You have to start by showing up. And you have to be reliable/trustworthy.

“Some people get what they want.

Those are the people who show up to get it.”

-Antonio Banderas, in Take the Lead (2006)

But showing up is only the first part. Like the first step, once you find your community, it doesn’t work if you just hover in the chat rooms (or facebook groups, or against the wall at dances) and never engage, and likewise if you showed up to a running club and didn’t run you wouldn’t get much training! Once you get there, you have to make an effort! You have to GIVE. And some take more effort from you than others. Not every Group I’ve joined has been that instant warm-fuzzy feeling of YES, I BELONG HERE. With some, like the Cultivators and Sojourn, I was initially introduced, brought along (somewhat reluctantly), and then felt a pull in my gut that said, ‘Stick with this, it’ll be worth it,’ even when my socially-awkward self was internally whining ‘but this is really haard!’ (and also, ‘that’s what she said.’) 

Maybe you’re an introvert (like moi) and that is a big scary thing to just show up. Ok, start with that; just give your presence. If you looked at my community involvement now, you may not believe it, but trust me, I know what’s it’s like to be scared terrified in the beginning! I suppose we all have that to varying degrees; it’s hard to be vulnerable, and to wonder if you’re going to fit in, or suck terribly, or if your interests actually align with others’.  People are difficult creatures to work with! (said the introvert haha). But you’ve gotta plant those seeds, by physically planting yourself and your own two feet literally into the community. Then if you want those babies to grow, you have to keep coming back and watering, fertilizing, adding in your own special sauce…

4. Water that Community (Garden)

…And know that it takes time and care to grow. As mentioned in the definition of community, I don’t want to stop at saying “groups of people with commonalities.” The key to vibrant, strong communities are strong relationships forged because of those commonalities. This kind of thing doesn’t happen overnight. Skills, relationships, and determination all take time to grow. Now that I’m past the majority of my twenties, I have so many examples of this in my life; dancing is probably the best one. NOBODY is GOOD at dancing when they first start. Not even me! 😉 Some people, like Justin Bieber, seem to have an uncanny sense of rhythm from a young age, but even then, it’s only a tiny seed… until it gets watered with consistent practice over time. The theory of 10,000 hours to become an expert (popularized by Malcolm Gladwell) is a great metric for the ‘practice’ community—you may complete that in under 10 years or it may take you a lifetime! But it’s DEFINITELY going to take you at least…10,000 hours [of deliberate practice] to become an expert  really good, at anything! Be patient! The good news is, the better you get, the more fun it gets! (And the more confident you feel asking those advanced dancers and getting to know more dancers!) I’ve seen dancers who go crazy with workshops and get in 10 months the skills I got over 4 years! So they get to enjoy it more, sooner.

You may recall thinking, college was hard; or at least your teen years–now THOSE were hard! Perhaps even some parts of your childhood too, because those were all times when you were building these skills (social, physical, emotional, mental, etc) to be able to work in and with these communities. And that is the ultimate success in our world, right? Your child assimilates into society “successfully” by being a good coworker, a good friend, a good citizen, and a purpose-driven being, right?! Well now that you are no longer a child, it’s time to put those acquired skills to work. Once you’ve gotten over the fear of showing up, and getting involved, it’s time to work in some active participation, with your own unique opinions and talents…and who knows, maybe even leadership? Then eventually, heart. Because, just like a seed needs soil, water, light, and care, 

your communities need your presence, participation, leadership, and heart. That is the goal: invest your heart in your communities and they will reward you with a greater harvest than you could possibly grow yourself.

5. Harvest. Rinse, & repeat

August is gonna be great, this year especially! (That’s when I’m getting married!) Granted, it’s always a bit of a weird month, where we are finally starting to really see the fruits of our labor in the garden, literally, but then people are saying, plant for fall now! Harvest and replant! Even though it’s still 500 degrees outside, you need to be planning ahead for the cool season and the one after! It’s a weird clash of enjoying the labors of the past, fully feeling the present (heat), while simultaneously focusing on the future. Cuz you know that if you aren’t saving some seeds or planting anything after that summer crop, your garden has no future.

Luckily, if you even save a fraction of your seeds, or only plant a few varieties, you can still swap your seeds and crops with your neighbors (whether they are next door, the next city over, or gathered from the internet fb groups!) and leverage your efforts to greater effect. You don’t even have to know each other in some cases. Seriously, this year I discovered a seed swap through Instagram, where one kind lady orchestrated the sending and receiving of seeds amongst/between anyone who wanted to join. How cool is it when technology works for us like that??

There is a time to sew and a time to reap. Putting in time within community groups is like setting up passive income: if you put in the effort up front to create a product, with some luck and skill (and marketing) you can get sales, and maybe even “go viral” and let other people fan your flames and buy your product without active effort. Like royalties on radio hits. Anyway, once you’ve put in the work you can reap the rewards and reinvest them back into the community to keep others afloat. If you save the seeds all for yourself but then never plant them, you’re not doing yourself or your community any good.

Or consider this analogy: It’s like people are logs. In order to build a strong raft, you have to work together to build that raft, to tie and strengthen/tighten the ropes/bonds until they will hold everyone in to work as a unit. Then you can just float along, holding each other up. If someone’s string breaks off or a log breaks down, you can work to restring the connection or attach a new log. Does that make sense? Maybe I should just stick with that timeless quote…

  If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Ironically, I didn’t really save many seeds last year. I am by no means an expert on this list. I’m still going through it, learning by doing or forgetting to do, haha. But I like this, because it’s simple enough that I think you could repeat these five steps the rest of your life and still get something new out of them every time.

SO TO RECAP:

2018 is the year of Building COMMUNITY. Go find your people. All kinds of different people. Plant many seeds of community and water them well. Stick around to find out which ones germinate, grow, and produce. Then harvest, rinse, repeat. And if you happen to see me struggling in my garden this year, just remind me… to get out my watering can. And save a few seeds for next year. 😉

Top Ten Reasons to Embrace Diversity: Part 4

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN….!

(cue 80’s song with guitar and flashing lights) 😀

Where were YOU during the Solar Eclipse?

This summer, I kept hearing about a solar eclipse happening, and about how Kentucky was a good viewing spot for it…at first I didn’t think much of it, but eventually I got on board with the hype. It sounded exciting! With a bit more digging, I discovered that it was Southern ky in the ominous-sounding PATH OF TOTALITY, but Louisville was going to get roughly 95% eclipse. Shoot, that’s better than some of my grades in school! Sounds good to me! Continue reading “Top Ten Reasons to Embrace Diversity: Part 4”

Top Ten Reasons to Embrace Diversity: Part 3

“Plant a tree and you have to take care of it; plant an eco-system and it will take care of you.”

I’m getting to the point where I feel like I’m repeating myself, but that’s actually not such a bad thing, I’ve learned.  I had a bit of troubling deciding which order to go in for this Top Ten list, because most of these qualities are not hierarchical–one is not necessarily more important than the other. And they definitely overlap, which again, is not a bad thing! In Permaculture (and in life) they call this Redundancy, but the difference between normal life and permaculture is that Permies believe Redundancy can be beneficial! In fact, everything from the webbing of a tiny little spider to the social networks we build in our lives benefits from having multiple strands, elements, points-of-contact, or components. However you label it, I think you’ll find that it’s true: a spider stands a much better chance of catching things in its web if it creates a patchwork of strands rather than a single line, and it is a stronger, better web if it has multiple beginning points fastening it to other elements (such as a tree, bush, light fixture, etc). And we all know the value of having a good network or community of people who can support us in times of need (who we can then turn around and help in times of plenty!).

Remember what we’ve talked about so far:

Diversity offers us:

10 =  Different Perspectives

9 = Greater Learning

8 = Mimicking of Natural Ecosystems

7  = Pest Control

6  = (Greater) Productivity

And…..

Continue reading “Top Ten Reasons to Embrace Diversity: Part 3”

Top Ten Reason to Embrace Diversity: Part 2

Last week was a hard week…

If you follow me on instagram (if not, you’re missing lots of pretty botanical photos… 🙂 ), you may have seen a post about flower therapy and a hot bath. Indeed, that particular day I was dragging and completely forgot that it was swing dance night! (a.k.a. Thursday for you non-dancers) Mr. Grant graciously reminded me he was DJing, and so, in spite of my moping, I made an (usually large) effort to be there. I like dancing, but it’s tough to convince myself to go at the end of a long work day when all I want to do is avoid people. But more often than not, people are just the cure I’m in need of–whether I like it or not.

Continue reading “Top Ten Reason to Embrace Diversity: Part 2”

Have Some Ever-bloomin’ Patience, please!

I get it, you want a low-maintenance yet beautiful landscape. Unlike me and my fellow co-Horts, you don’t want to spend your whole life in the garden, you’d just like to have a nice place to relax at the end of a long workday, without mosquitos, where the lush greenery and colorful flowers make you feel at peace—oh, and ideally, a set up that makes your front yard look like something out of a Southern Living or Better Homes & Gardens Magazine. Amiright? 😀

I totally get it. I’m not here to crush your dreams, really. I want that for you too! …but can we talk about what it actually takes to get that luscious, paradise yard? Can I give you a little advice on how to go about achieving it, or at least  what NOT to do in your quest for a private backyard oasis?

The Scene

Continue reading “Have Some Ever-bloomin’ Patience, please!”

The Doing is the Thing

Or: Get Past the Language (& on to the Good Stuff!)

I’ve always liked and excelled at learning new words, from the obscure ones like ‘sesquipedalian’ and useful ones like ‘sycophant,’ to simple everyday words like ‘vicious’ (Thank you 6th grade English teacher Ms. Bruner! :-D) When I took a Buddhism class in high school, the only way I aced it was by making charts of all the strange words in our book (everything from Dhatu to Vipashyana!) and breaking down the literal and broader meanings. I actually wish I’d figured out that strategy sooner than senior year, cuz I’m sure I could have used my strengths as linguist to help tackle my weaker subjects…

Luckily (for me at least), just about every new activity has new vocab.

But when you’re just starting out, (and if you’re not a language nerd like I am!) unfamiliar jargon can be daunting when you’re first starting out, causing some would-be fanatics to turn and run before you can say…‘pusillanimous!’

I’ve come across two possible ‘vicious vocab hiccups’ that seem to slow me down: Continue reading “The Doing is the Thing”

Permaculture: A Personal History

It’s very hard to answer that pertinent question, “What is Permaculture?” and that other one, “I mean really, what the heck are you on about?”

And since I attempted to be very brief in my last post, as a reward I’m letting myself loose on this next article regarding my two favorite subjects: Permaculture, and me. =)

WARNING: This Post Contains Length. And pictures! 🙂

To look at me today, you might not immediately think “hippie.” (I clean up well!). But once you hear me talk about my interests, you may shake your head and think, “Well, at least if the world goes to crap and the zombies show up, now I know who to go to for veggies & survival skills.” (admit it!) …Although I still don’t know how to knit socks—yet.

Then again, maybe you’re already a fellow gardener, and you’re like, ‘yeah, yea, I’ve heard of permaculture, I get it. It’s basically just sustainable gardening! But—not to be a jerk—but, no, it’s NOT just gardening! It is, in the words of my permaculture teacher Kevin Bayuk: Continue reading “Permaculture: A Personal History”

Permaculture Fast Facts

+ quick resource list! (sprinkled throughout, but also more @ end of post)

Perma + Culture – the word comes from a mash-up of ‘permanent,’ and ‘agriculture’ (some would say  there’s also a separate emphasis on ‘culture’). You know the “Slow Food” movement? Now everything has ‘slow’ in front of it to signal deliberate, careful practice. Same idea here: it’s not just culture or agriculture, it’s a more permanent, lasting, purposeful way of doing both those things, and more.

Official definition (from the “Designer’s Manual” by Mollison):

Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their own food, energy, shelter, and other material and nonmaterial needs in a sustainable way.

Continue reading “Permaculture Fast Facts”