Networking

Just had the best day tossing ideas around with Mary Saums and Deborah Adams. We shared news of our writing life, our personal life and our personal priorities. The reason behind this visit is that Mary had planted the seed of a possible joint venture. We three have a lot in common, being writers, women, and wives who believe strongly in personal responsibility, especially where it pertains to sustainable living. We decided the thing we most cared about right at this very second in our lives was our personal responsibility for the Earth and how we could make changes in our lives to help live sustainably.

Most of us live a little above our share of the carbon footprint we’re entitled to here in the United States. We all enjoy the lifestyle, but how many of us are truly aware of what each day’s activities use in terms of resources?
I thought I’d share what I tote up living on our eight acres back home outside Houston. I eat mostly local food, use renewable energy for electricity in our home, drive less than 150 miles a week, drive a high-efficiency car, fly 4 – 10 hours each year, and recycle everything that isn’t nailed down. Despite this the footprint calculator tells it would take 4.2 Earths to sustain us all if everyone lived my lifestyle. That is really scary since I know most who live in the area around me use far more resources to sustain their lives. NASA needs to go out and find a bunch more viable planets to keep us all in cars, convenient good things to eat, and A/C!
So is my lifestyle choice of having a large garden, getting my meat from local producers (Pastured beef and poultry) and writing books a valid one even though it takes so many resources to live this way? I think so. Certainly as valid as those neighbors who commute an hour each way five times a week to produce widgets of one sort or another. I provide food for my family, some for friends and neighbors, and hopefully produce a book a year for the public’s reading pleasure.
My goal is to get my footprint down to three Earths by the end of the year. I may have to whack off half the house to do this, but I’m game.
Now if only my tomatoes would look anything like as healthy as Deb’s.
Happy Gardening!
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Hurry Up and Wait

How many of us set goals, and then race through our days striving to reach those goals so that we can set newer, better goals toward which we can strive?

I used to be very goal oriented. I truly thought I could accomplish anything, 1 – 2 – 3. Next!
Then life showed me how it really goes. Moved to Texas. Married. Had children. I was 30 before I finished my first book, 40 before I completed my Master Gardner certification, and 50 before I had the time to put in my first honest-to-gosh kitchen garden.
Gardening has taught me a new outlook on life. I have to wait for everything. Wait for the seed catalogs to be posted. Wait to make up my mind what kind of vegetables to plant. Wait for the seed to come in the mail. Wait for the seeds to sprout. Wait for the seedlings to be robust enough to plant outside. Wait for the plant to fruit. Wait for morning to come so I can pick the vegetables and fruit at just the peak of flavor…then wait all day for my husband to get home so that we can cook dinner together. (Getting a few weeds and new pages for the work-in-progress out of the way while I wait…Blogging occasionally when volunteer duties allow.)
Philosophy of the second half of my life: Wait to hurry rather than hurry up and wait.

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Where Art Thou, Free Water from the Sky?

The temps here in southern Texas have reached the high 90’s and we know Summer is upon us. I confess I don’t enjoy this part of our weather. In addition, the humidity is high, although not as high as it might be — no rain for four weeks helps in that respect. The garden, however, needs water. So I’ve rigged up a water catchment system off the barn roof. Thus far I can catch 100 gallons per one inch of rainfall in the spare horse trough I have placed under one of the four downspouts. In addition, I have a 50 gallon barrel under the eves of the house. I use three gallon cat litter jugs to empty as much of the water between rainfalls. This makes me feel very good about the water I’m using on the garden. Let happy, however, about the amount of busy work involved in this. I had explored a water catchment system over a year ago, but never got it built. I can see that time — and my tricky shoulder — demands that I get to this project.

Here are the links to the plans…hope to have pictures sooner rather than later. For those who don’t feel like exploring a 500 gallon system, look at this system which is a bit more attainable.
Happy Gardening!
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Alien Tomatoes

This week I am planting the last of my spring tomatoes. I found an amazing variety of tomato — the Vorlon. This variety is named for an alien species in one of my all-time favorite Science Fiction shows, Babylon-5. Can’t help but wonder what would happen if I planted them next to the Vulcans? (Or, as my good friend,Deb Adams, suggested — put the Vorlon tomatoes next to the Carbons and see if we don’t get Shadows.)

My next chore will be to assess the compost and turn the heck out of it because I will need to top off the beds currently planted in onions and garlic and get summer cover crop seed planted before the high heat takes over.

Just finished a combined business trip to the University of Central Florida’s Inaugural Book Festival and visit with my Florida cousins. What a wonderful time for a trip to the sunshine state! Glorious weather, beautiful beaches, and long talks with people who have known me since birth. Can’t imagine a nicer way to spend a weekend.

Happy gardening!

Julie

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