Archive for the 'gardening' Category



This Is Mint, Right?

It looks like two different things based on the baby ones, but I swear the tiny ones came from a mint packet (they’re at least sprouting where I put the mint packet seeds, I will not say correlation is causation) and the big stuff smells like mint.  Point is, is this going to end badly?

Here’s what has been growing in the pot, along with some new shoots:

mint

And here are the new shoots on the other side of the pot that might be from the mint seeds I planted a couple weeks ago:

maybe mint

I don’t know what to think.

The basil is doing well, so I’ll hold on to that.

new basil

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Quick Updates

I’m home sick today, so with the woozy and the drugs, I’ve only got a little focus left.

Gardening:  I might have planted mint with my oregano, or I might not have.  The things coming up don’t quite look like what’s there.  My basil is definitely basil though and it’s pretty happy.  It’s rained so steadily this month that I’d thought everything I planted a couple weeks ago drowned, but something’s coming up out on the balcony.  It’ll take a few days to figure out what it is.   The hydrangeas from last year survived!  I need to plant more things.

Recycling:  No word from the management on my letter yet.  I’m visiting tomorrow to bring it up.

Biking:  Rain.

There’s probably more but unnnnnnnnggggghh.

Oh yeah this is pretty awesome, perhaps you read about how the EPA does its job now.   Also I signed up for paperless bills and 100% renewable energy from Dominion, it’s official.  Oh, and I bought plane tickets to New Zealand for this summer.  See I bet there’s a lot of stuff like that, but right now I need to go be pitiful closer to the OJ.

Hey yeah it’s Earth Day tomorrow.  If I shake this cold, I’ll be watching The Day After Tomorrow in celebration.  Actually probably will if I still am sick, too.  Woot.  Have a good one.

Let’s Pretend This Was A Learning Experience

Today I took my first good look at my former garden in months.  I covered it with some leaves last summer, to keep the soil um…clean?  warm?  I don’t know, I have no idea what I’m doing.

A bunch of my pots exploded after water caught inside them iced, there are leaves everywhere, and everything’s dead but the rosemary.

broken swan pot

Sigh, so sad.

I suspect also the hydrangeas are just hibernating, because I will miss them if I don’t think so.  I have a lot of cleaning up and gluing together and planning to do to try this gardening thing again.  I better start with some introspection, though, since I don’t think I was very successful at continuity last year.  By that, I mean I got distracted a lot and my food died.  But, let’s pretend I drew a few useful lessons beyond “pay attention”.

1) Pay attention.  Gardens are everyday things, both to keep track of what’s growing, what needs to be planted, what’s ready to be harvested, and who needs water or more sun or whatever.  As a corollary, 1A) Plants mature at their own pace, not yours.  Especially if you have no idea what you’re doing, and haven’t tracked the growing season and conditions and such- your salad greens could be ready ANY DAY and if you forget about them, or don’t want a salad that day, too bad.  In conclusion, I should probably ask someone who knows better what things look like when they’re ready to eat.  I guess I expect my tomatoes and spinach to keep growing bigger until they send me an email or something.  (“Re: Harvest me!”)

2) Make sure the pots drain.  Otherwise rain will drown your food and/or flowers.

3) I would like more flowers.  I very much enjoy flowers.  I should grow more of them.

4) Protect your plants from animals, because opossums are horrible garden thieves, and they are all over the suburbs here.  Netting is a good start?  I don’t know.  Opossums are crafty, they could probably get through nets.

5) If you have compost, use it.

Pretty sure that’s it from last year.  After I clean up, and it’s reliably above 40 degrees at night, I look forward to a successful and salad-green filled spring.

‘Tis the Season

It’s already the end of November?  When did that happen?  I would feel lazy if I remembered October at all, really, but this comes as a surprise. So, here you are:

Giving in 2008

It’s a good year for solemn gift guides.  Glitz and extravagance seem tasteless beside rising foreclosures and hunger in the US, plus who has the money to spare these days anyway?  But all this crisis makes it a great year to focus on the purpose and meaning of gifts-another silver lining in the garbage bag containing the international economy.  Basically, making it about money and stuff this year is finally tacky!  Gauche!  Passe! Sooo 2007!  Thoughtful is so In right now.

FIrst, the general approaches:

1.  How you buy it is as important as what you buy.  Start your shopping at thrift and consignment stores, handmade fairs or websites, and fair trade shops.   Etsy is an incredible handmade resource for items beautiful and practical- browse it, support small businesses, and I bet you’ll find something suited for every taste, from bizzaro to cutsy to classic.  You know the arguments for buying fair trade and used already.

2. Do you have friends with skills?  Commission them (the earlier the better) to make your relatives pottery or jewelry or scarves or whatever their specialty is.  Do you have skills?  Give your dad a year of cheerful IT help.

3.  Give time and attention, even if you don’t have giftable skills (or skills you want to gift…).  A year of monthly dinners together.  A year of regular phone calls to relatives far away (ones that actually care to hear from you, for sure).

4.  Do they already have everything?  Give to a charity they (and you) support in their name.  CharityNavigator.org sells gift cards that recipients can give to a charity of their choice on the site (they can research the efficiency and work of the charity at the same site, too).

5. Are you one of those aunts who always give the nieces scented candles/bodywash/bath froofy-do?  I am not here to judge you, but make the candles beeswax or soy wax and the bath gunk biodegradable, if you must continue in this vein.

Ahh.  Enough generalities, now specifically awesome gifts:

1.  Fair Trade Piggy Banks! Saving is cool again.  From Ten Thousand Villages, piggys and elephants and cats. From One World Projects, various pigs and owls. You can search for more online also, but check the creds of the Fair Trade projects you buy from.  In the same vein, with less adorableness, Elders: your young’uns may not understand what a 401K is if you start them one this year, but they’ll thank you with genuine feeling later.

2.  Coffee.  Specifically, coffee from Mesa de Los Santos, a Colombian farm that helped pioneer organic, shade grown, fairly traded coffee.  They’ve grown organic for over 100 years, built a school for their worker’s kids, and reforested their fields, earning a Bird-Friendly certification from the Smithsonian, USDA Organic certification, and a BioLatina badge.  There’s a personal connection, too: my GF is from a branch of the family that’s owned the farm for four generations.  As to the taste, I do not actually drink coffee- but I still enjoy this stuff black.  Still, don’t take my word for it:  reviews (and online ordering forms) are here and here and here.

3.  Gift certificates to local, organic restaurants.  Self-explanatory, no?  Give the gift of a night far away from your loved ones.

4. Potted plants or Garden Tools/Seeds/Composters.  Scale this one to the gardening level of the giftee.  Apartment-dweller or college kid?  Potted plant(s) (or tree!) with very specific instructions.  Do they have a few flower beds?  Vegetable seeds and maybe some books on growing your own food.  Do they always bring up how they grow their own tomatoes?  Up their ante with a compost bin and a thoughtful little charcoal-filtered kitchen bucket for food scraps.

5. Classes.  Vouchers or promises for fencing lessons, sewing classes, cooking classes, metalworking lessons, language tutoring, and basically any other skill you can think of are useful, and not just for delighting your curious and adventurous loved ones.  Sign them up alone or do it with them, for some quality time.  Added benefits: surely a trained cook will make you meals in gratitude?  Worth a shot (fencing lessons are less useful for this reciprocity principle).

Anyway, now you know what my family’s getting for Christmas.  I wish you a stressless holiday full of delicious smells and guilt-free giving.

PS. If none of this does it for you, check out these ideas from CNN/Oprah and HuffPo.

I Wish This Was A Review

A thoughtful commenter on this blog tipped me off to Restaurant Eve earlier this year.  Not that it’s a secret, it’s got four stars from the Washington Post and was featured in Food & Wine magazine.  I was obviously too busy making myself (organic!) mac and cheese to pay attention, oops.

But now I know!  I know, and I desire.  This place is run by a lovely chef/manager couple, is named after one of their kids, and has lunch and dinner and prix fixe menus I’d like to drool on.  Topically, though, they buy local, cook seasonal, grow vegetables, and compost!  They even want to start selling you cooking oil for biofuels. Yeah, doesn’t it sound wonderful?

Anyway, this is not a review because it’s anniversary-after-you-win-the-lottery expensive.  They have a really inexpensive lunch menu, actually, but that’s only Monday-Friday, when I work.

I am saving up for you, Restaurant Eve.  I hope to dribble red wine on your organic cotton napkins one day soon.

Check out the profile on the place and their new garden in the Washington Post today.

Enough Castigation, On to Vegetable Pics

My tomatoes are gone, but my red pepper was ready a few days ago.  It had a weird gouge in the side, but we washed it up, and it tasted good with a (store-bought arrrrgh) tomato, olive oil, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Meanwhile, my carrots have nice bushy tops, but apparently their tops are way larger than the carrot bit.  Happy to report they taste like carrot, though they are only half-bite sized right now.

Here is my “still life with tiny carrot”.

Guess they need a few more weeks.

Progress: All Washed Up

So this month I was supposed to be reducing my water usage and refining my relationship with what I wash down the drain, aaaaand.  Well.  I’m taking shorter showers now!  But I started biking in to work, so now I take two showers a day.  I am switching to biodegradable soaps and shampoos, but that I was already doing anyway.  My friend made a rain barrel!  But I haven’t changed the way I water my plants or wash dishes.

I’d say my progress this month ranked about as low as February, when I failed utterly at composting.  But in February, I had tried, and failed.  I didn’t try very hard this month.  For instance, these are the things I should have tried:  I could collect pre-shower water to douse my plants.  I could brush my teeth from a cup of water, instead of letting the tap run (works while camping in Wisconsin.  I could do Navy showers- getting wet, soaping up with the water off, then rinsing.  While I can’t in good conscience shower less while I’m getting this much exercise morning and evening, that would at least minimize the extra-shower harm.  I could also find a low-flow showerhead.  May I mention that I hate that idea?  But I should try it.

Ok, I didn’t take my challenge seriously enough this month.  No excuses, really, but some pretty exciting other stuff did happen the past few weeks.  Which might explain why I’m recapping July in mid-August.

Anyhow, I’m fixing this lack of focus this month.  For the remainder of August, I’m regrouping.  I’m slipping on my vegetarian pledge, I haven’t harvested my successful compost, my garden is being ravished by displaced woodland creatures, I have a huge pile of sewing and mending to do, and I still haven’t checked to make sure the Eco-City Alexandria thing got through City Council a couple months ago.  So, for the remainder, I’ll work on getting back into those monthly grooves.

I’m already revisiting biking quite successfully, that is one area I can feel good about.  I actually look forward to my ride to and especially from work, which is not something I was expecting.  I rode with traffic on busy streets for a bit today, and I’m pretty sure I obeyed signals and followed road rules well.  Washington Area Bicyclist Association has a handy table of cycling ordinances for MD, VA, and DC.  Note that In Alexandria, cycling on sidewalks isn’t allowed, which means I need to rethink my morning detours.

I’m getting distracted from this endeavor, so a month of catching up with myself is needed.


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virescent.blog (at ) gmail.com

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