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Archive for the ‘sustainability as survival’ Category

So I made a trip to see a curious creature this week-the garden center ( This was after having made an online order of seeds and starters).  I am happy to report that I stuck with my initial garden plan!  This year will include two types of potatoes, pole beans, bush beans, a lettuce mix, snap peas, a basic herb selection and two types of sunflowers.  Ok, I fibbed, I threw on a small and charming rhubarb start because I dream of one day making a strawberry-rhubarb pie from scratch!!  It is with this desire of “from-scratch” that the garden center becomes an odd concept in my mind.  Without them where would I begin as a Hopeful Gardener?  I think maybe a seed swap or a neighbor with a prolific garden?  Maybe scavenge from a wild version (that’s assuming I know what I am looking at) ?  I certainly see the irony in my comments on a resource I so clearly must take advantage of.  As I browsed the massive selection of seeds, soils, sprays, plants, gloves, tools and every decorative garden stake known to man I began to note the sterility, tidiness and not to mention extravagant selection and required consumption in the modern gardening experience.  How is it eco-conscious to buy plastic bags of fertilizer every season?  Or a new set of plastic tools?  The ultimate silly that I recently laid eyes on was the plastic compost tumbler.  When I saw this product all I could imagine were people buying it with the best of intentions to begin composting and having it sit outside with a handful of rotting vegetables in it for the next few years, the novelty of it having worn off and the plastic with us forever.  Naturally there is a place in the world for businesses to offer gardeners and farmers the tools to do their craft.  At what point are these offerings keeping gardeners isolated from or even working against their purpose to cultivate and enjoy the world around them?

In this second year of my established garden I have worked very hard to not require a “tidy” garden from myself.  I have avoided artificial mulches, fertilizers and the overwhelming desire to weed like its going out of style.  When I fertilize I enjoy using Dr. Earth products.  They create organic products and much to my enjoyment only allow their products to be carried at independent garden centers (however I get mine at an Ace Hardware- not a chain?)  I discovered how effective it is to re-use and re-classify materials I already have for gardening.  This has significantly cut down on what I need to go and purchase new.  The most obvious example is the re-use of containers for planting-although I do use some of the old plastic starter plant containers to transport mulch and compost to different beds.  I treat my garden tools well and I don’t get hooked on garden gadgets.  You really only need a certain number of tools to do most garden jobs and a little research will save you money.  I will admit, the closest to “gadget” I get is my bulb planter.  Since bulbs are some of my favorites to cultivate this tube with teeth is indispensable when I am digging 60, four-inch deep holes into the ground as the bitter November winds blow.

A peak of green from a mysterious bulb...

One of the best gardening moment I had so far actually happened today.  I took some composted mulch I have been working on for a year and a half and spread it around my garden bed.  This pile was partially in place when I moved into my house and I amended it with  kitchen leftovers and cover soil from when I took out a number of fabric weed sheets.  Since the bottom of the pile was a bit of a mystery and the top was less than carefully planned I waited two winters while I turned and observed.  Today I laid it around my new bulbs and hardy perennials, mostly as a mulch and hopefully as a mild compost.

Funny enough I plan to go to the garden center this weekend and buy the bags of soil I am going to use to start my vegetable garden.  The goal is to get what I need and get out (a good goal to have at any store!)  Until my dreams of self-sufficiency and homesteading more fruitfully blossom I will admit that a Hopeful Gardner has to start somewhere. The important thing is that I finish in the garden bed, not at the check stand 🙂

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As I gradually experiment with the intellectual, emotional and lifestyle changes associated with an eco-conscious life-yes, I have officially decided that this is my new “green” descriptive but my blog name probably won’t change for a while– I try to remind myself why anyone is or would be interested in this life.  It’s not only about maintaining and hopefully improving a damaged world but also understanding and creating a sustainable life as a survival tool.  A question that has interested me for many years goes along the lines of, ” If everything were to rapidly begin falling apart tomorrow, what do I know and what can I do to survive? ”  Before I continue, I am referring to an economic disaster that changes the face of our everyday lives, not necessarily nuclear war or zombies although its good to try to be prepared 🙂  Here I introduce a new category for future posts, Sustainability as Survival.  Yes, this sounds ominous, but I was fully inspired by another book I am reading called The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen.  I admit that I first assumed it would be another thin guide to the charm of chickens and what you can grow on a patio.  While both of these topics are discussed, the authors forge ahead with each subject as a facet of the concept of homesteading.  Homesteading (to myself) being a way of life that emphasizes self-reliance and ingenuity rather than consumption based beyond the home and passive reliance on resources controlled by others.

One section of the book that really caught my interest was about how to construct your own stoves and other heat appliances.  I have been introduced to an item they call the “Buddy Burner.”  It is cardboard that has been curled and stuffed in a shallow can then allowed to soak in wax until you have a kind of high-powered candle.  A simple concept that when read emphasized my lack of knowledge about basic and intermediate levels of living.

The broad range of subjects, overall tone and emphasis in important details makes this book such a standout and a truly useful resource for anyone considering a more independent eco-conscious life that can easily translate to help in a (possible) time of hardship.

Ruminating on this question of long-term survival can seem depressing, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to post this.  However, the “green” or eco-conscious movement begs this topic to be considered.  Why else are people wanting to learn how to live without plastic, grow their own food or power their own homes?  The more I write about and research the concepts of sustainability, the art of homesteading, a lifestyle that emphasizes reduced consumption and advanced self-sufficiency the more I understand the essential connections amongst these topics.

What do you think of sustainability as survival?

 

At the end of the day...

 

 

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