Back to the Garden (+ the Littlest Permaculturist)

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Today was the first day I really dug my hands into the soil for quite some time.  I’ve been putting it off for a few reasons — mostly because of the weather, but also because I’ve felt conflicted about whether or not I should invest the time when we will hopefully be moving in the next couple of months.

However, the soil still calls asking me to dip my hands in, refresh my immune system, and connect with the Earthly energies.  I couldn’t resist.

A lot of today was just clean-up.  I was very pregnant last fall and didn’t get the beds taken care of the way that I should have.

There were also little surprise tasks like baby garlic plants ready to be separated and begin life anew.  Hopefully somebody will be able to harvest these culinary delights in the fall!

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Permaculture for Urban Homes and Small Spaces

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One of the best things about blogging is discovering a new community of people with shared interests and goals.  One such kindred spirit is Mari of the blog Gather and Grow.  She is a fellow lover of permaculture and has graciously shared some great tips and inspiration for many of us who are interested in being more self-sufficient but feel limited by the space constraints of the urban environment.

Whether you live in an urban environment, or on many acres of land – I think you’ll find something useful here!

Permaculture Strategies for Urban Homes and Small Spaces

Permaculture designers love challenges. After all, permaculture is not just a set of organic gardening techniques, but a toolkit, a decision-making process, for designing sustainable human settlements. And one of its fundamental principles is: “The problem is the solution.”

What if we apply this principle to a challenge that many of us are all too familiar with: living in small urban spaces with little or no access to actual soil on which to grow food? Permaculture and gardening books present pictures of lovely, lush farm landscapes and large suburban lots overflowing with greenery, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens, perhaps even with small livestock. But what do you do if you live in an apartment, or have only a postage-stamp-sized bit of yard by your front door?

The permaculture answer: you can still do a lot. In this case, seeing the problem as the solution means turning the seeming constraints of an urban environment – the density of buildings, people, and resources – to your advantage, and doing things like intensive planting, vertical growing, and maximizing solar exposure in- and outdoors. Here I present ideas and strategies first for the apartment dweller, and then for those who do have yard space but it’s limited. Continue reading

Forest Farming, Inoculating Mushroom Logs, and a Surprise

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Recently I attended a weekend workshop focused on forest farming.

I can hear you ask, “What’s forest farming?”

Well, it’s the process of growing non-timber forest crops beneath the canopy of an established forest. In this way, forest farming is a form of “productive conservation” – you’re reaping benefits of crops grown in the forest while protecting the land from destruction. Examples of non-timber forest farmed products include: maple syrup, medicinal plants, mushrooms, nuts, ornamental woodland species, and fruit. (Learn more here.)

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Simple Summer Living

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Summer is in full swing.

My breakfasts are full of local berries,

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and my little urban yard brings a plethora of goodies. It’s pretty amazing what can fit in a small space when you fill it to the brim!   It’s certainly not a garden of perfect little rows, but it is producing a lot and no space is lost.

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Where do your strawberries come from? Plus: How to Freeze

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So now that you’ve made a delicious strawberry crumble from your fresh berries, what will you do with all the rest?

Make ‘em last the year!

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Why is it important to do this?  There are a couple of reasons… Continue reading

deliberateLIFE – eMagazine Review

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Recently, I received a request to take a look at a new virtual magazine called deliberateLIFE.  I wasn’t sure whether I should accept or not as I already have plenty on my plate at the moment, but when I went to the website and found their manifesto, I decided it was worth a try.

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It’s International Permaculture Day!

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Happy, happy International Permaculture Day! !

Have you been doing anything to celebrate (maybe even if you didn’t know it was today)? Continue reading

Farm to Table Through the Year – Free Ebook!

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Today I’m happy to announce the debut of a new ebook, Farm to Table Through the Year: 12 Months of Fresh Food From the Garden.  This helpful book is a collection of growing tips, recipes, and inspiration for each of the 12 months of the year.  Continue reading

Interview with Montana Solar Creations

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Today I’m happy to share an interview with an inspirational woman who happens to be a sponsor this month.  She owns a fabulous small business called Montana Solar Creations and blogs about natural living, too!  Be sure to visit her Etsy shop and read more on her blog. Continue reading

Homemade Yogurt in a Crockpot – Four Steps

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Yogurt is an excellent way to promote proper functioning of your digestive system. As long as you’re eating yogurt that has live active cultures, it contains probiotics (aka beneficial bacteria) that help to balance the microflora in your gut.  This makes digestion easier and helps keep your system moving regularly.

Making your own yogurt ensures that you know where your milk came from, and also reduces your reliance on continually buying hundreds of little yogurt containers.  By knowing where your milk comes from, you can be sure to choose milk from grass-fed cows.  Not only are grass-fed cows generally living a higher-quality, free-ranging life where they are eating what they should be naturally (i.e. grass and not corn or soy which also increases your exposure to GMOs), but grass-fed cows also produce milk that is more nutritionally dense.   For example, most grass-fed cow milk contains nearly 5x more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an unsaturated fat that may help with heart health and assist with weight loss. Continue reading