Monday, March 31, 2008

Garden Plans

Where we are:  we have 3 square foot gardening boxes, 2 X 8 feet each, for a total of 48 square feet of gardening space (although some squares have beneficial flower plantings in them).  We have a producing orange tree.  I have a pot of herbs.  I also have a nice lavender bush, which is useful if not edible (we didn't care much for lavender tea).

I took a look outside today to see what we can do with a minimum of money invested.  I'd like to see us put in 2 more 2 X 8 boxes, and a 4 X 6 box.  That would increase the raised planter growing space to 104 square feet.  Those beds will require lumber and a soil mix.

We need trellises for tomatoes and cucumbers.  Our CSA is providing us with tomato starts.

I want to tear out the berry bushes (they produce very little) and put winter squash in that bed (not a raised bed) as winter squash stores well.  That bed is about 15 X 5 feet, and could produce a lot if we also use trellises for the smaller squash.  The bed needs to be dug out; in addition to the berry bushes there are quite a few established weeds in the bed.  It will need soil amendment.

Along the side of the house is 3 X 18 bed that I intend to plant as an herb garden.  A friend has some basil starts for me.  I've moved to using fresh herbs exclusively, and want basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, cilantro, Italian parsley, and perhaps a few more.  I'll put lemon balm and mint in pots.

I have a north facing bed against the garage; It needs some sort of barrier as it is level with the small bit of grass out there.  I could use retaining wall blocks to build a small raised bed, 14 X 1; the question is what exactly could I grow there?

I have plans for a shaded/woodland garden in our secluded side yard.  I haven't thought much about edibles yet.

Since we have a CSA share this year my goals is to grow the things I know we eat a lot of, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuces, and other greens.  I probably won't try to grow potatoes or carrots this year.

Once we get things going I'll start thinking about edibles in the front yard!


I've been scarce, especially on this blog.  I needed to step back and determine just exactly where I stand in the whole compacting/Riot 4 Austerity.  I think I put it all out there and then freaked out a bit when I realized what I had committed to.

I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person.  Baby steps aren't my kind of thing; I want to jump in with both feet and do it all perfectly the first time.  When I stumble, as we all do, I feel guilty.  Too much guilt, and I feel deprived.   It's not healthy.

So here I am again, promising myself that I will do my best, but not expect or even seek perfection.  I've been quietly working toward my R4A goals, and I've been mindful about my purchases.  I'm ready, finally, to start sharing that with everyone else again.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Fever and Sunday Ads

It's a little chilly for late March here in the near desert.  Still, today's paper was brimming full of ads, and many of them were advertising garden furniture.  I'll admit it; I sat and drooled for a few minutes, dreaming of comfortable padded chairs with matching ottomans and small tables designed to hold glasses of iced tea while one sits on the front porch and watches the leaves sway in the breeze.  Except, the advertisements have nothing to do with front porches.  This is patio furniture they are selling, or deck seating.  It seems America loves to decorate outdoors as much as we love to decorate indoors, but it is back yards that call us.

I love my front porch.  It is the perfect place to sit and have a mug of tea on a cool spring evening, or fresh fruit on a hot summer morning (before the temperature climbs to 110 degrees and we hide inside until darkness begins to fall.  In the afternoon the porch is bathed in glorious golden sunlight; at sunset we watch the deepening blue of the sky and delight in seeing the crescent moon beyond the tree tops.

I suppose I get spring fever just like most everyone else.  I want to be outside, and my porch is one of my favorite hang outs.  I must admit that sitting on a cushioned chair sounds lovely, especially with my feet up on an ottoman.  I do have a small table out there, but I'd have to move a succulent to find a place for a glass of iced tea.

I looked at the ads, and thought about all of the things the stores were selling, all designed to make me think that what I have isn't good enough, or that I could create a space for "outdoor living."  After all, my faded, sun worn folding chairs don't make my front porch look like an outdoor living room.  It looks like a porch.  The old rocking chair, with its peeling paint and faded cushion, is past the point of shabby chic.

This is reality, however.  New stuff requires raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, and transport.  It gets old and faded soon enough.  Certainly, there is furniture out there that is locally made from sustainable materials, but that isn't what the big boxes are peddling.

I swept the porch, took down the pine cones, and rearranged the chairs.  That's all it gets for now, unless I find something I can repurpose.  I do have a big rolling metal cart/shelf thing that might look nice holding plants on the porch.  But I'm not buying a single thing for the porch.  You can't buy porch culture; you can only live it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Getting Personal

I haven't blogged much lately. Heck, I haven't written much lately, unless one includes the multitude of email messages that fly out of my fingers daily, and all of that Enki work I did in February.

I'm stuck again. Not at a loss for words, but not sure where to direct my energy. There are so many homeschooling blogs out there; what purpose does mine serve? Other people write far more eloquently, persuasively, humorously, etc. about the green movement (or downsizing, or peak oil, or whatever particular niche of the green movement they are part of). A cooking blog is out; again, there are thousands of them, and I almost never bother to take pictures of my food, much less post them.

What I see, when I look at that paragraph, is disintegration. A pulling away from the wholeness that is me in an attempt to find an audience. The thing is, I don't need an audience. I need a vehicle for expression. To me, there is a big difference.

The reality is, I am claim many titles. I am an environmentalist. A home educator. A mother. A cook. A crafter. A gardener. A friend. A person. Well-rounded, I think, although I am definitely a generalist and not one who specializes (hence my love of all crafts rectangular). I enjoy many things, but there are few things that I am truly passionate about: my love, my children, and life itself. My vehicle for expressing my passion is (mostly) words, spoken or written. So, perhaps I would say that words are also my passion.

When I break my writing into pieces I lose my voice. When I try to be whatever I think a reading audience might want, I lose my authenticity. A comment about how personal a specific blog post was sent me scurrying away from those parts of myself that hadn't been sanitized for the blogging public.

When I reread my blogs (oh yes, there are many, including some that no longer exist), I see the evolution of my thoughts, the changes I've made in how I do things, and the ideas that come to me only when I write. There are boring posts, silly posts, and occasionally, profound posts. I claim the profundity, because I myself am deeply moved by my own words as I reread them. At times, wisdom flows from my fingers, wisdom that I did not recognize until the words were written. I believe we are all wise (and also all foolish), and I will not pretend that I am not at times moved by my own writing in order to preserve some notion of humility.

Of course, the words only reveal the wisdom that comes from living, from being in a moment and realizing the beauty in it. A capacity that we all have and that we all can share. We can all move past information and into experience. I'm tired of the information age, and my opinion is that we risk losing experience and authenticity in the midst of so much information.

All of my other blogs are turned off for now. I decided that I would write one place for awhile, and Red Dirt Life is the one blog that best encompasses the wholeness of my life. I thought about keeping it private, but my writing connects me to some people with whom I might not connect much otherwise.

Expect the personal. Expect the profound, the silly, the boring, the mundane. Know that I am a human being whose expression comes through words. I may not always be eloquent, but I am striving to always be myself.