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Archive for the ‘Gardener’ Category

Just before Christmas, Aurora’s Brownie Troop made coupons as Christmas gifts for their mothers and fathers. The coupons read:playing near the CT river New Years

  • This coupon entitles you to 1 big hug.
  • This coupon entitles you to 1 set table: knives, forks, spoons, napkins and even beverages.
  • This coupon entitles you to the last cookie, serving of ice cream, bit of chocolate milk, you name it and it’s yours.
  • This coupon entitles you to 1 story read by me.
  • This coupon entitles you to have me pair all the socks in a load of laundry.
  • This coupon entitles you to one boardgame played with me.
  • This coupon entitles you to 1 chore: pick up the living room, vacuum, wash the counters, you name it, I’ll do it.

Cuba Gallery: Winter / lake / nature / landscape / mountains / trees / hills / water / beach / photography / New Zealand
The girls enjoyed decorating the coupons and wondered how their parents would react to each one. The activity was a success. The Brownies liked the idea of giving their mothers and fathers time, affection, labor, indulgences and activities.
As the new year approaches, I wonder about gifts for the planet. Pledges and promises of conservation, awareness, protection and stewardship are the valued gifts we need to shower upon our Earth. Think about our beautiful planet, then think about your place in the world. How can you make a difference, what can you do to make the world a better and healthier place? Once you have settled on your pledges, go out into the woods, stand by a river, sit on a beach, visit the natural setting that inspires you to pledge your allegiance to the planet and say those pledges out loud. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • I pledge to use less water.
  • I pledge to hold a year-long litter cleanup campaign: When I see litter I will pick it up.
  • I pledge to become a member of a local or national environmental organization, Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund.
  • I pledge to learn more about an endangered animal and will tell others about it.
  • I pledge to reduce my use of plastics.
  • I pledge to learn the definition of sustainability
  • I pledge to buy local foods.
  • I pledge to learn the real story about global warming.
  • I pledge to grow a least one type of food, tomatoes, beans, corn, spinach, lettuce, this year.
  • I pledge to use less fuel.
  • I pledge to recycle.
  • I pledge to stop drinking bottled water.
  • I pledge to hike trails, canoe on rivers, walk beaches, kayak on lakes, summit mountains. I will enjoy and appreciate our natural resources and natural settings.

A Day Without Plastic

21 Practical Ways to Help the Environment

Climate Change Kids Site

CT River New Years

Sustainability

100 Ways to Save the Enviornment

Globalwarming.org

Sustainabilityinstitute.org

50 Ways to Help the Planet

50 Quick, Painless Ways You Can Help the Environment Today

Happy New Year from Barking Frog Farm

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Friday Photo

swiss chard

We are still eating Swiss Chard out of the garden, anyone else?

 

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Sharing apples with a bear

highland hillA few weeks ago we spent the weekend in New Hampshire with the Morrissey family. We stayed in a house that has been in Miriam’s family for over 100 years. It felt like I spent the weekend living in a museum—old photos, antique furniture, a dated kitchen and an old apple orchard. It was great. The apple orchard had a variety of apple trees, most of them had already passed their due date. But one tree was chock full of apples ready to pick.

bear scat, we think

Bear scat, we think

While checking out the apple trees we also noticed scat (animal poop), a couple of different kinds. We all agreed that some of it looked like bear scat. Then Dave noticed claw marks on the tree trunk and half eaten apples on the ground. A bear was also enjoying the apples.

We brought home 4 bags of apples and made 2 cases of applesauce with them. I love a complete circle—the kids saw the apples growing on the tree and being eating by wildlife, they helped me harvest the 4 bags of apples, we cut them up, removed worms and bruises, cooked themapple orchard in New Hampshire in a pot, put them through an apple mill and served fresh applesauce with dinner—from tree to table.

Bear scat

Applesauce

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Saving Seeds for Next Spring

 

Leopard lilly

Aurora's seed saving - Leopard lilly

 

I have always loved to look at plants. New plants just poking out of the ground in the spring, established plants happily soaking up the summer sun and mature plants getting ready to spread their seeds to the autumn winds. For months I have been watching plants develop seed pods and now I am watching the seeds drop to the ground or take to the air. It is time to stop watching and start collecting. Aurora loves this activity. I showed her the seed pods of one variety of lilly in our garden, a half an hour later Aurora had a bag full of seeds. (If anyone would like some of these seeds let me know.)  I like the idea that I can bridge this fall and next spring with this act. A little bag of spring, with its promise of life and beauty, holding us through the cold winter.

 

Phlox in October

Phlox in October

 

The International Seed Saving Institute has great information about seed saving. They have a page called Basic Seed Saving. Check it out.

International Seed Saving Institute

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

 

Aurora with Phlox Seeds

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When I was a child I found a green caterpillar with white things attached to it’s back. I don’t know how I found out that they were wasp eggs, but I did. I felt such sorrow for this caterpillar, I wanted to take the eggs off. Save the caterpillar. When Stephen and Aurora show me caterpillars they have found in the yard I sometimes think about the unlucky caterpillar of my childhood. Then, a few weeks ago I learned the real story of this plump green creature. And the real story strikes me as a combination superhero comic and mother nature balancing act. The caterpillar is really a Tomato Hornworm and he is after our tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes, but mostly our tomatoes. The egg layer is a small braconid wasp. I know she is really just looking for food for her hatchlings but I can’t help thinking she is on my side. I imagine her flying on patrol in my garden, watching over the growing red fruit. Maybe even a small SW (super wasp) on her chest. So tell your kids the story of the fearless little wasp who rids the world of the giant green tomato eater. Explain that she lands on his back and lays eggs that will hatch into larvae and the larvae will eat the hornworm from the inside out. It’s gross enough and unbelievable enough to capture any kids interest. Funny how a little new knowledge can change a story.

http://www.vegedge.umn.edu/vegpest/hornworm.htm

images of tomato hornworms

http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~news/story.php?id=2255

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Morning Glories…next year!

Morning glories growing in my vegetable garden.Every spring, since I picked up a copy of Sharon Lovejoy’s Roots Shoots Buckets and Boots, I have had ambitious plans for Morning Glories to reign in my garden. I want them to cover the fences of my vegetable garden and to climb on the lattice and chair on my breezeway. For the kids, I envision them spending their summer days playing in a lush tent or teepee covered in heart shaped leaves and flowers of the most remarkable blue. Summer is waning and I do have morning glories in my garden. They are traveling along a fence and wire in my vegetable garden. These industrious plants, whose site makes me smile every time I visit my garden, give me hope that next year I will have more vines in my garden and a teepee for Stephen and Aurora. Hope springs eternal.

Links for garden plans:

http://www.kidsgardening.com/growingideas/projects/july04/pg1.html

http://www.naturemoms.com/blog/category/gardening/page/2/

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All winter long my kids ask me to buy strawberries when we go the grocery store.Local fruit and yogurt for a morning treat. My reply is usually “those are laboratory strawberries they don’t taste like ‘in season’ strawberries.” I did cave one time when the giant red berries were on sale. The kids all agreed that they didn’t taste as good as fresh strawberries. So we made a deal, when a fruit comes into season I will buy it and buy it and buy it and they will enjoy it and enjoy it and enjoy it. T,hen we wait until the next season or we will eat frozen fruit that we put in the freezer when it was ripe in the garden. In order to fulfill my part of the deal I spend a lot of time at roadside stands and farmers markets. If you are interested in finding local foods in your area check out www.localharvest.org/

The kids and Dave have their favorites. Dave wants lots and lots of blueberries and Local fruit with cereal. yogurt. That’s his summer dessert. One morning I offered Stephen some cottage cheese, blueberries and peaches. He loved it. The next morning he asked if he could have some of that “summer breakfast.” I think that name will stick as well as the practice of eating in season fruits  and vegetables.

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