Saturday, May 25, 2013

In Search of Green...Gardening, Part 2, Weeds & Pests

Earlier this year, I stumbled across a lovely little bookshop in Ann Arbor called Crazy Wisdom Book Shop and Tea Room where I came across a book about controlling weeds without chemicals. Yep. A book about weeds. I gleaned a few things from it and I've already put weed prevention fabric on top of the soil in the raised beds (cuts out light, one thing weed seeds need to germinate). I've also been on the hunt for some more eco-friendly alternatives. Through my research I've decided that I need corn gluten to prevent seeds from sprouting and I need to see if I can find an eco-friendly mosquito repellant as well as an animal repellant. I found what I needed online but the cost of shipping 25 pounds of corn gluten was astronomical. Looking online I found that I can get these products from Home Depot, if not in-store then I could have it shipped to my local store for free if my order was over a certain amount. I was excited and last Tuesday my husband and I headed to our local store in search of eco-friendly products. In order to look for these items, I had to go into the weed-prevention section and as I was standing there looking...I did find small bags of organic plant food but no corn gluten or animal repellant...I became aware of the smell of these products off-gassing into the store. I found nothing as far as weed prevention goes but I did find some organic mosquito repellant in body spray, a fogger and a lawn spray so I scooped those up and headed out into the garden section to continue my search. Giant bags of grass seed and lawn fertilizer dazzled my eyes and the chemical smell of the fertilizers filled my nostrils and I became aware of a burning in the back of my throat and a nauseous feeling in my belly, most likely caused by the sinus drainage created by breathing in the fumes. It took several hours for these feelings to dissipate and my resolution to not purchase these products was fortified. Next stop: Ordering what I need and having it shipped to my local Home Depot for pick up!

In Search of Green....Gardening Part 1, Background

It's that time again! Time to plant the garden! With high hopes we would go to our local nursery, walk around for an hour picking out just the right tomato, pepper, squash, plants as well as whatever seeds and perennials caught our fancy. We would come home and spend the long Memorial Day weekend frantically tilling and digfing and planting and watering. We would step back with a sigh of satisfaction and look at our lovely garden and dream of the beautiful, fresh veggies we would harvest and enjoy. Our vegetable garden consists of a raised bed in the back corner of the house that was created when the previous owners added on a family room at the back of their rectangular ranch house. My husband created it using three rows of those man-made, interlocking landscape stones. In it we always plant 4 tomato plants on the left which give us enough tomatoes to eat and share and the larger, right side is filled with strawberry plants, lily-of-the-valley, asparagus, mint and basil...if the basil is a perennial and came back. It's a hodgepodge that is slowly being taken over by grass and some viney thing with white trumpet flowers. I've never done much with this plot as far as weeding goes as I was always busy trying to keep up with my perennial beds and I didn't really do much in the gardens in June and July as it was too darn hot! Two years ago our son had the idea of building two raised beds out in the middle of the yard so he and my husband built those with 1x8x10 pieces of wood and we filled that with topsoil. Our son learned a valuable lesson here: He was very anxious to get the beds finished so he insisted that the topsoil be delivered even though it was very rainy that week. For those of you who don't know, it is a bad idea to work in the garden when the soil is wet as it creates major clumps that can be as hard as rocks to break up. So the soil has been crusty and clumpy for the past two years. And, did I mention, full of weed seeds! We have been composting for many years now and have two compost bins that are full, especially since we have been eating mostly vegan since last September. We never use pesticides or non-organic fertilizers or weed preventers and have been pretty unsuccessful in our crop yields. We had some beautiful acorn squash last year but I kind of lost my enthusiasm when I cooked one and tried to feed my daughter a cooked worm in hers....I don't think I cooked another squash that summer. Our strawberry crop looked amazing until something took all of the green strawberries...I'm guessing a chipmunk or small, red squirrel. It was very discouraging but, as the Spring comes each year, our hope sprouts anew and we step into the fray once more.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I'm Back!

Hello, it's me! I know it's been awhile, but somehow time just flew by and here it is, 2-1/2 years since my last! I hope this finds you happy and healthy! I have so much to share that it will take me awhile but at least I will have something to say and I promise, I will post at least four times a week. I hope you find this interesting and inspiring! What have I been up to? Well in May 2011 I finished my yoga teacher training so I've been teaching yoga once a week at my favorite yoga studio as well as managing their website! Last September my husband and I made a life-changing decision: We went mostly Vegan. What does 'mostly Vegan' mean anyway? After reading Joel Fuhrman's book Eat to Live, I realized that he was right, those chronic diseases we live with every day--heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes--need to be treated as if they were emergency situations rather than just coexisting with them. We become complacent with these illnesses and accept them as part of our lives. We went on his most extreme, 6-week program and miracles happened: Hub lost over 30 pounds and I lost 15. I cut my Metformin dose in half. My long range A1C blood sugar dropped to 5.8. We were feeling great! After the 6-week program, we began eating more animal products, mostly dairy, and that sweet addiction, white sugar, began to creep back into my diet. The pounds crept back on and my blood sugar levels and cholesterol went up. I couldn't get myself motivated to exercise. I was in a bit of a funk for most of the winter! So here we are in the last half of May... #vegan #JoelFuhrman #yoga