Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Garden Help

For months I have been following several bogs devoted to gardening.  This one entry is a good one to get you started thinking of what you need for you own garden in terms of space. 
But it doesn’t have to been even this much space.  You can even do container gardening which can produce a lot for people living in an apartment or smaller space.  You can do a Google search on container gardening and get a lot of hits.  If you go to YouTube you can see several gardens that are growing on balconies all over.
Now is the time to start thinking about it.  In the months to come the seeds planted will start coming up and seedlings will be available at stores everywhere you go.  If you have ever tasted a tomato fresh off the vine, I think you will agree there is nothing quite like it.
Good gardening.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Portable Greenhouse

I may have mentioned in a previous post about the portable greenhouse that I am using to start my seeds.  I have it set up in the basement with a grow light that is on a timer set to be on for 16 hours a day.  I also have a seed starter mat that a friend of mine loaned me to warm things up a bit.  You can get the greenhouse and the mat at Amazon.com  and grow lights are available through the web on a variety of sites.  Most of them hang over the plants and are raised as the plants grow.  But since the greenhouse has several shelves and putting it on top would mean the plants on the lower shelves would be in shadow, I mounted mine vertically behind the greenhouse on the back of a desk made from plywood that I built a while ago. 
I have many things coming up now.  Every month there are new things to be planted and it is exciting – at least to me – when they come up.  I am careful to keep a log of what I have planted and when they sprout so I know which seeds are good.  There are templates one can print off at a craft site I found that has all kinds of things for keeping track of your garden items.   I have printed off a whole lot and put them into a three-ring binder in which I also put in the receipts I got when ordering seeds and plants, along with pictures of the garden at different stages during the growing season.  This way I can tell what is working and what is not.  Believe me, this is not a totally new thing – most of the garden “how-to” articles suggest this.
If you are doing seeds, this is one way to do it if you don’t have a sunny window to put them in.  I do, but don’t really have the space for the amount of seeds that I am starting.  In addition, and probably most importantly, I have three hungry cats who would munch on the plants if I didn’t watch them like a hawk.  This method works very well so far and I am looking forward to the time that I can transplant all these ‘babies” out into the garden.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Gardening has become an obsession.  All I want to do is think about, read about, and work on and in my garden.  There are a ton of sites out there on the web about gardening and now the adult school catalogs are coming out and courses on gardening are available for sign up.  I don’t know whether this particular plethora of information was available in the amount is is now, but more than likely I am aware of it because I am paying attention to it.
According to the National Gardening Association (NGA), an estimated record 91 million households participated in one or more types of DIY indoor and outdoor lawn and garden activities in 2005. In 2006, homeowners spent a record $44.7 billion to hire professional lawn and landscape services. Taken together, these figures represent a dramatic increase in gardening interest and expenditures.
So what does this mean?  To me it means that more and more people are becoming aware and concerned about how their property looks or beginning to take a positive role in their surrounding environment.  Even our First Lady has a very large working vegetable garden that provides much of the food the White House eats.  Many of the people, according to the same article, are young and involved in the hobby which includes vegetable gardening as well as organic tending to the property plantings. 
I take that as a good thing.  As more people become aware of the fragility of the environment in which we live and the need to be more responsible with it, the more care they will take of it.  I hope that means there will be a trend toward healing the Earth and doing things in a way that conserves natural resources rather than just uses them up.  Does it help in my obsession?  No but it does provide a welcome community for me to join.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Technology, Ain’t it Grand

My husband is finally working on finishing up the bathroom remodel after it has been in a state of flux for a year or so.  I won’t get into that for now, suffice it to say that I am thrilled.  Anyway, last night we went over to The Home Depot to get some things and look around for supplies to do the work.  While we were there, my husband and I found pretty much all we were looking for but now have to sit down with the measurements and determine how much we need.  There is an awful lot of stuff that is needed and as we walked around, I decided the best way to catalog everything was to take pictures of the price tags and the samples of the items we wanted so we could get a better idea of exactly what we want.  It was quick and easy and now we can sit down with pen and paper and figure out what and just how much we need along with how much it will cost.
Technology allows people the ability to do things that previously were done with pencil and paper and maybe do it a little better.  Sure we could have taken out the pad and started writing things down, but when it comes to remembering the shape of things, or the way things go together, a picture is just so much better.  Today most phones have cameras on them and taking a picture is just so simple and fast.  I can just take all these photos and put them onto a document and put it into the file along with all the other idea photos in there.  I just love it. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Herbal Remedies

Today, while researching natural remedies for colds, I came across a site that has a list specific remedies to help.  Over the last few years, I have become more and more interested in natural remedies over Western medicine.  To me the drug industry is just trying to separate you from your money and get us hooked on different pharmaceuticals.   Yeah, for cancer and serious illnesses I am certainly not going to refuse drugs, but I would investigate natural substances to supplement.   I think we as a nation take way too many artificial medications and that it will ultimately cause a decline in overall health over the next generations.
That being said, for the common cold I have heard many people tell me that they are taking antibiotics and I am horrified.  A cold, or even the flu, is a virus; everybody knows that.  An antibiotic, like its name suggests, kills bacteria and will do nothing to help a cold or even the flu.  I think a doctor who prescribes antibiotics for a cold should have their license revoked.  Maybe if a serious cold or flu has caused a bacterial infection then it would be okay but the doctor should really do a blood test to determine if bacteria are present.  Trouble is that most blood tests for those purposes take a long time to culture so some doctors just figure it’s benign enough to do.  Not so!  I don’t have a medical degree, but I do know that antibiotics kill EVERYTHING in your body including the good bacteria that help digest food properly, and not having anything is not good and can lead to other issues. 
So in the future instead of subscribing to the theory that you need to take a score of chemicals to run your life, look toward nature and see if there is something that can help with a minor cold or ailment.  I think you will find that being gentler on your body with the use of natural herbs and plants is better in the long run.  Stay healthy out there!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Miniature Garden

A little while back, I saw a video on YouTube about miniature gardens.  I suppose it was a recommended video because I have been looking at YouTube quite a lot for different techniques on gardening.  From the time I saw that video I was hooked and had to have one of my own. 
There are two sites that I found that specialized in miniature gardens, there may be others.  One is located in Washington State called Miniature Garden Shoppe and the other is located in Illinois and that one is called Two Green Thumbs.  The first one is where the video I saw originated from and I went there to look at what they have to sell and most of the items were out of stock.  I suppose this is not the season for doing this kind of thing, but as a lot of these gardens are inside, I thought maybe I could get things.  But the hobby combines two of my favorite things; miniatures and gardening.
So I spent a few days after I went on the web and didn’t really find anything, searching locally for some plants and a container.  Since this isn’t the season for planting, there were not many to choose from and I ended up with a serving container and two small plants.  The third plant I found in my garden.  I think it is called Sedum and I saw it in many of the pictures and on one of the sites.  It is a fairly invasive plant in the garden and it certainly has invaded mine, but it looks nice in the miniature garden.  Let’s hope I keep it alive on my desk at work.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Community Gardening

My mother paid me a visit the other day and I showed her the progress I was making on my gardening.  I took her down to the cellar to show her the portable greenhouse with the seed starters and explained my schedule of when to start the seeds and finally showed her the new raised beds in the vegetable garden.  She remarked that I was taking after my grandfather and reminded me that he was big on gardening.  It appears that my grandfather started a series of community gardens back during the Great Depression to help the people in the neighboring streets who were having trouble feeding their family.  He provided them with seeds and taught them how to grow their own food.  He even received a letter of commendation from President Roosevelt for his efforts.
Community gardening, especially in areas known as Food Deserts – areas that don’t have access to fresh food – is getting more and more popular these days.  As you may know, I read The Garden Report every day and pretty much every day there is an article about some municipality here, in Canada, or in the UK, that are starting community gardens to help the poor.  It not only provides fresh, nutritional food for people, but it allows them to gain a sense of accomplishment being able to sow seeds and realize a large bounty to help feed their community.  Aside from the nutritional aspects, community gardening also gives something back to the environment especially when the gardeners begin to practice sustainable gardening utilizing mulching and composting.  Once they are proficient at saving seeds, they not only save money but provide a way to perpetuate their efforts.  It is important that children understand where their food comes from and that it take a bit of nurturing and work to grow something edible.  Food is not just there, it takes a little work; a good lesson in patience.  I would venture to guess it also helps to reduce violence and perhaps even a better respect for each other.
It doesn’t even take acres and acres of gardens for urban gardeners either.  A small garden can be achieved on the balcony or roof of a city apartment building.  I came across a video the other day that explain sustainable gardening in such a spot and it was really interesting to see.  I think with a little guidance gardening can provide so much to people even in the worst of situations.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


So last year I before I took my leave of absence to work on a political campaign, I was diligently going to the gym and trying to at least keep somewhat fit.  I stopped doing any kind of exercise after it started getting dark in the morning and I couldn’t ride my bike.  I was working all kinds of crazy hours and by the time I got home not only was it dark but I was exhausted.  Now that I am back on a very regular schedule, I signed up for the gym.
My employer provides an on-site gym and you would think that I would take advantage of it without a second thought.  Let’s face it.  Like half the population out there, I am lazy and hate to exercise.  But I have been trying to lose this winter weight and get in better shape (aren’t I ALWAYS), so I decided I needed to get back into the gym.  I also have to keep up the exercise on my bad knee and not undo the great outcome from the physical therapy I had last year.
My first time is next week.  I need time to get back in the routine of things and I am giving myself a little “me-time” before jumping right into it.  I have to set myself up for this and arrange the schedule in my head to make room for this.  When my brain is engaged, my body will follow?  One can only hope…

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Usually I don’t go in for strange types of game meat.  Sometimes I will eat venison if someone gives it to me, but I have never made it myself and I don’t hunt so I am not experienced with different kind of animal meat.  Last night, my husband suggested we put a bear sausage in the spaghetti sauce that I made for dinner.  A friend of his is a hunter of sorts and had caught a bear and gave him three different flavored sausages over the holidays.  I had put them in the freezer and somewhat secretly hope he would forget about it.   The three we received were Italian, Hot Italian, and Cajun.  Since I was doing spaghetti, I used the Italian one.  I have to say it was not bad.
Once I got over the thought of eating bear meat, I didn’t mind it.  After all most of us eat pigs, cows, sheep, fish, and chickens so what is do different about bears, deer, and other things?   I don’t like the thought of hunting necessarily but if you are hunting because you are going to eat it then I guess it is okay.  A coworker, who is also a hunter, said that one has to be careful with eating bear because you can get very sick if it not prepared correctly.  Since I am just fine this morning I guess it was made right.
I tend to not think about where my food comes from when it is meat, and for a while I was a vegetarian, but that ended when I met my husband.  He is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy and I just could not get him to eat tofu no matter how I disguised it.  So I went back to eating meat but I do try to make sure it is the best quality I can buy and doesn’t have all kind of unnatural things in it.  I guess you can’t get any more natural with something that roamed the forest but if I start scratching my back on a tree I am going to have to have a talk with someone.

Monday, January 9, 2012


This weekend I experimented by not carrying a purse.  Sure I like bags and I sure have enough of them, but over the last few years, I have been in situations where carrying one has turned into a hassle.  For example when you go to an event, one is stuck with carrying it around on your shoulder or finding a place to stash it away.  I had been leaving it in my car for the most part and carrying essentials in my pocket; often though women’s clothes don’t have pockets which infuriates me to no end, so I purposely shop for those that do.  At any rate, this weekend I decided that I was going to try not carrying it to the point that I left it at home. 
There were a few times that I felt as if I had forgotten something and I found myself wishing I had it, but they were few and far between.  I think the thing is that one has to plan on what to take with you.  It was a casual weekend and you can really fit a lot into jeans pockets, so for the most part it was okay, There was one event that I had to get dressed up for and I found that I was able to carry what I needed in the pockets of the suit I was wearing.
I really like the feeling.  It was liberating, and I think I am going to do it more and more. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gun Control

I urge you to see this video and then think to yourself about how you feel about guns.  Innocent people are affected everyday by guns.  People who didn’t do anything wrong.  People who have families and friends who love them.

Monday, January 2, 2012


As you may know I put my greenhouse together a while ago and over the holiday planted some things that were to be started indoors in January.  I know it was a little early last week, but I couldn't wait.  Yesterday when I went do to water, I noticed my first sprout!  My geraniums are starting to come up.  It is very exciting!  Today I ordered more seeds; both annuals and perennials from a new source.  I hope these come up as it should save us a ton of money as we usually spend quite a bit on annuals for the one garden bed and out front.  My husband mentioned that he wanted to get a planter for the front porch and put annuals in that as well.

I feel that I am almost obsessed with this gardening thing and I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  I think it is a good thing as I have been reading a lot of beneficial things from doing gardening not to mention the good health from eating home grown vegetables.  I look at the Garden Report, which is a collection of many articles about gardening and have found many things that point in very positive directions about the benefits of having growing things around you.

So this is one "resolution" that I will have in 2012 that I think I can absolutely stick to, and that is to have a great garden and a healthy start to better nutrition with fresh, homegrown vegetables.  I am very lucky that I have the space to do this, but most anyone can do some if they have a windowsill or a patio.  There are a number of blogs that specialized in Urban Garden so that if you don't have a lot of space you can too enjoy the benefits. So happy gardening!