Monthly Archives: March 2011

This how our space is shaping up

This is how our patio is shaping up. I added some “shelves” to bring the plants up to where the sun will hit the plants directly. Hopefull that it all works out. Cool weather plants I think we will do well with, it’s the sun loving plants re: tomatoes that I am not sure if we have the correct exposure.

Speaking of cool weather, shade tollerant plants, our loose leaf lettuce has started srpouting.

3 is the magic number

We are a little family of three and are a perfect 3 legged stool. We need and rely on each other to be our best. When these little cosmos seeds broke through our daughter said it looked like the three of us.

And a few days later.

We are gonna replant in a larger container and keep the little “family” together.

What is Monsanto?

I got a text from my sister asking that very question. Monsanto has been a topic of discussion around our house for a while, even our daughter can give a pretty good anology as to why we don’t want to support companies that are owned or connected to Monsanto.

Monsanto is an agriculture company that has most of americans eating food produced from thier genetically modified seeds, grown in soil that is filled with it’s patented chemicals. The seeds produced from Monsanto plants can not be used in the next growing season, making the farmer or gardener go back to the company and buy again. It seems wrong to me to take something that is natually sustainable, natural un-modified seed have the ability to grow plants from that seed line for years to come, but Monsanto makes it so you have to go back to them, give them more money for more seeds. I do not begrudge Monsanto for wanting to be the only game in town, but it’s not like they are selling widgets. They are feeding our country, and want to feed the world (and not in the 80s version of providing food to needy folks for free) they want to own the market, THE FOOD MARKET.

I don’t want to support a company who will sue local farmers who don’t buy Monsanto seed or use their chemicals on their crops when Monsanto seeds from their neighbors farm blow over to thier land. In lots of ways I can’t avoid Monsanto, but in one way, in my garden, I can get away from their gentically modified hand. I can also support companies who believe that natually ocurring seeds and food should not be patented, life shouldn’t be something you need to patent like a widget. That’s why we are making the choice to buy our seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange…this is their Safe Seed Pledge:

Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners, and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we will not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately people and communities.

I want to say, that what is imortant to me, may not be important to you. I am not here to try and convert anyone, or make a pitch for anyone else to make these changes.

I am off to water my non-Monsanto seeds.

Seeds, glorious seeds!

A combo of buying seeds at the Coop and mail order directly from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, I think we have a good variety of seeds, some for cool temperatures, some that do well in the shade, and some that need sun and heat. I am hoping to keep enough active interest to keep interested.

I am looking forward to planting more seeds this weekend. We started some onions, which had sprouted in the bag, so I am looking to save those for seed to start onion sets for next year (I am planning on a next year). Got one container outside with lettuce seeds. Started the Cherry tomatoes and cosmos inside.

This weekend will get the carrots, roma tomatoes, spinach and butter crunch lettuce, peppers, and some herbs started. I decided to do the peppers in the topsy turvy planter. I have read that they do better in that type of planter than the tomatoes. We are trying to use all the space we have available.

Been waking up in the middle of the night thinking about all this. Will the tomatoes get enough sun? Should we raise the table higher? Needless to say, I am very excited about the idea of feeding my family from just a few feet away.

Local Yolks

Funny thing about local eggs they aren’t that super yellow color. At first I thought maybe the eggs were bad. Nope, just nautrally different due to their diet.

Homemade bread

I love the 100 mile diet, but know that we can’t do everything within 100 miles. We found flour made at a mill less than 100 miles away, Big Spring Mill, so we made bread.

Madigan has some dough of her own which got mixed and mixed and kneaded and turned into a crispy flat bread.

Looks like bread inside and out.

Let the planting begin

After finding seeds (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange) and soil (Baccto) that, as far as we could see, were not connected to Monsanto, I committed us to container gardening. We are going to try onions–from sets, carrots, lettuce, basil, parsley, cilantro and tomatoes from seeds. We are also going to plant some flowers. We worked a little on the space today, got some seeds in egg cartons and really enjoyed going from the planning on doing this to actually getting started.

And yes, I know we have Styrofoam egg cartons…we are doing what we can where we can. -1 for Styrofoam, +1 for re-purposing…it’s a push.

We also got ourselves over to Ikenberry’s and picked up some burger, sirloin tips and local eggs.

3:19 am is the perfect time to blog

We continued our effort to buy local.

We tried the stew beef from the Wright Brothers, (Moneta meat as Boomer calls it) and it was great too. I have started getting milk and butter (from the grocery store) that is made down the road at Homestead Creamery. The milk tastes great, which is saying alot, since I really don’t drink milk, and the butter is awesome. At Ikenberry Orchard I found flour produced at a mill in Elliston, VA which means I could make bread from the 100 miles around us. I feel if we are trying have at least a little part of our meal local, once the farms start up and farmers markets kick in, we will be able to do full meals made from local ingredients, that were produced less than 100 miles from our home. It warmed this hippy mother’s heart to see Madigan check the box of pasta, pointing out it was from Greensboro (we have a map with the 100 mile radius, you can find your 100 mile radius here) we gave it a pass since it was distributed from a company out of Greensboro.

When we started not shopping at Walmart we felt better. Walmart may have the “lowest prices” but at what cost to us as a family, communities, employees, the world? We stopped being consumers of convience when Boomer became an official celiac. Going to the coop, natural food store and 2 grocery store is a necessity for us. So the thought of driving an hour to Staunton to buy beef, pork and chicken knowing we are supporting what we believe in with our $$ is worth it.

A dream of a Monsanto-less container garden…we are working on it. Buying seeds from a Virginia company-$1.99 package. Potting soil not owned and opperated distantly by Monsanto–$25.00 for a 50 lb bag. Being able to do something that seemed near impossible–priceless.

Composting is still up in the air. We have discovered that we can fill a 5 gallon bucket with fresh food scraps in 2 weeks. I do lots of peeling. If we had a yard, it would be a different story. Fruit Flies and Maggots, that might be the deal breaker for me. Since we have such limited space, having containers of varying degrees of the natural process of food breaking down into humus (ie: fruit flies and maggots) I am not all in. It does put the whole landfill problem into perspective. That’s 10 gallons of just fresh food scraps a month just from our little family, and nothing with animal products in it. No packaging, boxes, plastic bags, water bottles, diapers and all the other stuff that is trash. Oh what’s this hippy to do?