Garden update

We are still about a month away from our last frost date, but I’ve gotten massive amounts of work done already.

Without really thinking about it too much, my husband and I are edging closer and closer to a more or less sustainable lifestyle. I guess the goal is to produce as much of our own food as possible. If we can’t or don’t grow it, then we try to buy local. (You may remember the Great Strawberry Jam Festival of 2008.) I’m willing to make a carbon footprint for a few things, like coffee and tea, but the list gets smaller every year.

This year’s veggie garden in 350 feet long and 6 feet wide. So far I’ve planted potatoes, onions, garlic, two kinds of peas, lettuce, spinach, horseradish, and rhubarb. Waiting on deck for the days to get a little warmer are the seedlings that I’ve been pampering: cucumbers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, a couple kinds of flowers, and pumpkin. The pumpkin is allegedly a variety that you can actually cook. I’d love to make this year’s Thanksgiving pies from scratch this year. (Most of this year’s seeds came from High Mowing. I recommend them with enthusiasm!)

The tomato and pepper seedlings from Seed Savers should be here soon. When they go in, I’ll plant the squash and bean seeds. Oh, and I planted a cover crop (green manure) of red clover. After that is tilled in, I’ll replant with a mixture of red clover and buckwheat.

We also have wild berry bushes growing on our property. These are mostly left for the birds to eat, I’m trying to tame them a bit into hedges this year and fertilize them. Maybe next year we’ll ask the birds to share.

What else? I have a bunch of herbs…. this afternoon I am going to experiment with propagating lavender. And we are still trying to figure out if this should be The Year of the Grand Chicken Experiment.

The more we do this, the more fun we’re having. I’ve had to unlearn some consumerist habits. For example, when I realized how many different kinds of seeds I’d be planting this year, my first inclination was to drive to the store and buy row markers. Silly me. When I thought about it, I realized that a) that would be a waste of dollars and fuel, and b) I could make the things by myself. I’ve been chopping a lot of wood this year, so I’m more comfortable with both axe and hatchet. I took a very dry maple log and split it into about 50 rowers markers. It was very easy to write on the smooth wood. At the end of the season, I’ll use them as kindling. Also, instead of buying plastic cups and pre-packaged dirt to start seeds in, we saved up egg cartons and used a mixture of composted dirt and worm castings. 

How is your garden doing?

Revolution & Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the spectacularly-talented author of Heart-shaped Box. This is not the kind of book I normally read or recommend, because it’s considered “horror” and I am a weenie. But Toddly liked it so much, I had to give it a whirl. To my shock (not my horror) I loved it. Trying new things can be a little scary, but that’s the only way to grow.

Anyway, Joe and me have more in common than you might think. We are both rabid supporters of independent bookstores. We proudly shout our indie support from the tops of the barricades.

Joe has declared March to be “Love-Your-Small-Bookstore Month”. I second that motion.

Will you please join us?

Visit the closest indie bookstore to you this weekend. (Don’t know where it is? Indiebound will find it for you.) BUY A BOOK THERE. Buy a cookbook, or a book that gives spring cleaning tips. Buy a book for a child. Don’t know a child? Buy a book that explains how to make one. Buy something off the IndieNext list, ask the booksellers what their new favorite is. (Booksellers are wicked smart, you know.) Buy a book to help you understand the economic crisis, or cats, or the history of cod. (Yes, I’ve read that one, too. Fascinating.)

Indiebound makes many convincing arguments why we should be buying local. “Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43. Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors… Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint….More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.”

Here at the Forest, we’ve had our eyes opened to the importance of shopping local. Because of that, we’re in the process of changing all the bookselling links on my website. Here’s a sneak preview, from the WINTERGIRLS section of the site, still under construction. What do you think?

A Saturday morning in March is the perfect time to join the revolution. Give a shout-out to your favorite independent bookstore in the Comments section!

13 days til WINTERGIRLS comes out…