- 107 :: choosing furniture with versatility in mind. I wanted two chairs for sitting in front of our sliding door...that could also be moved outside...or into the living room for extra movie-watching seating...two chairs...not six. I held out until we found them.
- 108 :: looking up...drinking it in...grateful to be a part of nature.
- 109 :: choosing a fully compostable wallet this time.
- 110 :: going through my closet as the seasons change...noting what got a lot of wear, caring for what needs a little extra care (mending, cleaning, storing) + letting go of what no longer serves.
- 111 :: appreciating what someone else is letting go. I loved seeing this interaction. They were happy to know their things were appreciated, and she was happy to have these preloved books (+ that they cost way less too).
- 112 :: using up my shoes all the way + then getting them to where they can be turned into something new (sports courts, bags or new shoes). We took these shoes to the local Nike outlet.
- 113 :: keeping cool with open windows rather than depending solely on heat/air conditioning for temperature regulation.
- 114 :: giving our strawberries space to grow. Yes, we have to dedicate space to them, but they come back every year + bring us such joy!
This week's everyday climate action seems to have a theme of connection. The more connected we feel to the land, our food, our things, the weather and, most importantly, to each other...the more we will be motivated toward climate action. Slow down. Move in closer. Take notice. Connect the dots. Let it sink in deep.
"Gone to seed" is an expression that often takes on a negative connotation. I always sort of wondered about that, because...wouldn't we like a least a little seed for next year? But also I get it. The first time I grew broccoli, I totally missed the chance to pick + eat it...the florets flowered + it didn't really seem like food anymore. But there was still beauty to be found in those tiny, little, yellow flowers I didn't know broccoli turned into. :)
We had a very rainy spring, and didn't end up getting out there to pick all of our plantings before they turned into things less edible...things I would have never experienced otherwise. The bok choy flowered + I decided to leave some of it for beauty's sake rather than pulling it all in shame.
The rain had me hesitant to plant our tomato starts in the waterlogged ground. Time passed + volunteer tomatoes grew from last year's dropped tomatoes without planning or permission. They are bigger + so much more robust than the starts that waited out the weather indoors. None of the pepper plants that we started from seed indoors flourished. But there are pepper plants growing in our garden too. We found parsley last week...fragrant + tasty. I don't think I've ever planted it before.
I may not have been the most tentative gardener this spring + early summer, but nature has always been the best gardener anyway. Flowers and recognizable plants have developed from what may have been deemed weeds as smaller sprouts. Seeds of past flowers + fruit have planted themselves. We will be eating their fruit soon...I have no doubt. I've decided to take pleasure in the surprises instead of dwelling on missed opportunities. Sometimes I just need the eyes to see it that way.
The sun has been shining + the rain has been falling + the seeds are starting to turn into food in our little spring garden. I can't tell you how excited I was to add this extremely local, zero-waste color + flavor to the quick meal we ate last night.
The radishes + chives were the perfect addition to this what's-left-in-the-cupboard meal. Our go-to parmesan pasta got a little upgrade from a packet of miso + it was delicious. Sitting in the sun on the back step was the perfect compliment.
Miso Pasta ::
box of your favorite pasta
packet of miso
whatever extras are on hand, we used radishes + chives from the garden this time
Boil pasta + drain all but a little of the pasta water (maybe 1/4 cup). Mix miso packet into the pasta until well coated. Top with other ingredients + enjoy.
It often happens that I don't really think about our garden until it is too late to plant a spring garden or to start tomato or peppers from seed. I'm ok with it. We happily support local farmers' efforts + enjoy all the spring goodness anyway. I don't put too much pressure on myself to do all the things or to get anything perfect. But...this year I did happen to think of my garden in February...and I did something about it.
I didn't spend a whole lot of time considering the best way to do things, but I did trust the knowledge that I've gained over the years (which gives me the courage to try new things too). Instead I made quick decisions + bought seeds. I also bought a calendar book that I'm dedicating solely to the garden...in order to implement a system...in order to make next time less daunting + to have something to rely on. I chose the simplest book that I could record everything I need into...one month per spread. I thought that seeing the whole month at once would be helpful. The less information I record, the easier it will be to reuse..and the more likely I will be to reuse it.
I'm not really concerned that next year the first will be on a Tuesday instead of a Monday. The first week of April will be the same no matter the date.
Similar to my menu system, I want to minimize the start-up effort that induces dread when considering a task. My notebook will have rough dates for when to buy seeds...how + when to start them (including what supplies I need)...when to plant various things...and what extra things to think about when (including compost application, bed repair and rain barrel installation). Since all of this depends on our region, it is helpful work to have done + recorded.
The key will be to look at this calendar each month. I wrote into my regular planner to look at the garden calendar on the first of each month + to fill in key tasks + considerations.
I added a pocket in the back for empty seed packets. These have lots of information on them (like when the seeds should emerge) and remind me exactly what I bought.
Again, flexibility is key in the garden. One week of rain turned into two right when I should have been planting my spring seeds. The ground was soggy + waterlogged for days after that, so we were a little late in planting. Oh, well. We'll see what happens + appreciate the hard work we did to try. I'll keep watering our little tomato and pepper plants. We'll see what thrives and what doesn't. It's ok. We all tried our best.
It feels good to have committed to planting some possibility...to tend it...to have hope in the future. We planted bok choy, radishes, spinach and beets. We weeded the beds and cleaned leaves + debris from the strawberry plants. Pollinator + butterfly seed mixes were planted for the birds, bees and butterflies we hope to see again soon. Possibility looms + we wait with humble expectation. It feels good to hope.
Last evening we experienced a new kind of abundance in the garden. We had a swarm of about a hundred dragonflies swoop + zoom over our garden for an hour or two. They were apparently feasting on our plentiful mosquito population, which we were happy to share. :) What a magical sight (after we realized that they weren't some other big, gross bugs)!
This morning, I experienced a different kind of abundance out there. Sungold tomatoes are ones that always grow best for me where we live. When I've tried larger varieties of tomatoes, I was lucky to have a few make it to a full, juicy, red. Sungold are plentiful enough to share with the squirrels + chipmunks...to eat as many as we want fresh...and to preserve enough to last all year.
I planted four pepper plants this year. The jalepenos (there are three of them in that bowl) + the one that grows these red ones have been the stars. Both have provided throughout the summer. Today there are enough to enjoy fresh, to share + to preserve.
I wasn't sure we were going to get any cucumbers this year, but a few of them have finally shown up. They haven't all been very pretty, but they make delicious pickles. I've used my quick, easy pickle recipe + added a piece of jalepeno to each jar instead of the pepper flakes. Yum!
Thoughts I had while picking + eating these strawberries from our garden:
-I don't care that it hasn't stopped raining. I really want to eat some of these for lunch.
-A penchant toward questioning the meaning of life may be extinguished by eating strawberries.
-The verse...Taste + see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)...might have something to do with strawberries.
-I wish I could share one of these little treasures with each of you, because then you'd all be convinced to plant some of your own (if you don't already). ;)
Have I convinced you yet? :) If you have access to a sunny patch, plant strawberries. :) It doesn't take much effort or expense...they start like the picture on the left. (Look for strawberry starts in the early spring.) We've even gotten a few strawberries off these starts.
Next year, those starts will have sent off their shoots + filled in + will look more like the picture on the right. All it takes is watering them every so often throughout the summer. We don't cover them with straw or anything during the winter...though it might be a good idea in places where there is more snow or much colder temperatures (though we do get a few feet of snow at a time + very cold temperatures too).
These plants produce fruit for three or four weeks + look pretty the rest of the time. I think they would look nice in a front yard or as ground cover on the side of the house too. I feel like it's totally worth it to devote a little space to strawberries.
If you have to wait until next year to plant those starts, look for a U-pick farm in your area. In less than an hour you'll have enough deliciousness to eat to your hearts content + also to make some jam + to freeze some for later in the summer.
These strawberries are nothing like the ones in the grocery store. They are much sweeter + softer...which is probably why they wouldn't travel well from field to store shelf. I love them straight off the vine...or as a part of my very favorite lunch...with homemade yogurt + granola (homemade or from the bulk bins).
When there are too many to sit down + eat right then (because there will be more to pick tomorrow)...I really feel rich + freeze some. The frozen ones make amazing smoothies or ice cream treats later in the summer!
When Jo ate her strawberries, she mused, "I wonder why more people don't grow their own strawberries!" And I said, "I'm writing a post about that right now!" :)
Today looks to hold a full schedule of rain + darkness. I was planning on tolerating today + looking forward to warmer temperatures (but also more rain) tomorrow. But this morning I decided to get out in our backyard + see what I could just (as Josef Albers said) open my eyes + see.
Rain was just starting to fall + the low light makes for beautiful photos. Isn't that just sort of the way? Sometimes the bleakest circumstances allow beauty to stand out in all its garish glory. Things we may not have taken notice of under normal circumstances conjure deep feelings. This plant weathers the winter + all of the squirrels that share our yard (note the acorn top) + persists with greater strength year after year.
Last year, I thought this plant had died, so I dumped it out + repurposed its pot. Instead of dumping the dead stalk, I planted it where it dropped. I'm a pretty lazy gardener. This year it is a lovely mass of green + flowers. Sometimes a little space + time works unexpected magic.
I thought this bed of strawberries was winding down after a number of years of producing, but it's looking pretty promising. I honestly do nothing for these treasures, besides watering them a bit. Sunshine + rain + plant power know their own way.
These chives have been seasoning a lot of our meals already this spring + offer the best flowers too. I think those white bits are the seeds forming. These flavorful beauties will multiply endlessly, if we let them.
I can't remember if this is brussels sprouts or cauliflower, but either way, I'm not sure it is going to actually provide before it gets too hot. Gardening offers lots of opportunity to practice not being a perfectionist, to temper our expectations + to realize that we are not in control. I tried something new. I'm learning. I am completely at peace with whatever happens here.
On my way back inside, I noticed these last two mangos sitting out to ripen. Spring is a terrible, beautiful testing ground...cold + frost + rain + clouds + sun. Somehow delicate seedlings break ground + fluffy bumblebees reappear + mangos juice drips down our chins + we feel the sun on our shoulders again + we see that life is good.
One great thing about having a garden is that it lets us in on when foods are in season in our local areas. We've moved around a lot, so remembering when we picked corn or blueberries or apples when I was growing up in Michigan does not exactly inform when I should be looking out for them here. Missing these treasures once at the U-pick spots also clues me in.
It's possible to find strawberries, tomatoes + apples year round these days, but eating fruits + vegetables in season is a whole different experience! Summer crops get all the glory, but spring has some pretty great offerings too! Asparagus, greens + peas make me feel thirsty for green on my plate...and chives + radishes are coming out of our own garden right now.
This meal tasted like spring on a plate + I didn't want to forget it, so I thought I'd record it here...
Spring on a Plate (serves 4)
1 cup dried brown rice
asparagus, woody ends removed + sliced
4 Tbsp butter
1 lemon, juiced
fresh chives or green onions
cayenne, salt, pepper flakes
Cook rice, adding asparagus stalks to the cooking pot for the last 8-9 minutes of cooking time. Add asparagus tips for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time. The asparagus will steam on top of the rice (do not stir in). When all of the water has evaporated, remove pot from heat + stir in butter, peas, lemon juice + seasonings. I used salt, cayenne + pepper flakes. Garnish with chives, radishes + nutritional yeast. Enjoy! :)
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time