Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sweet Success

Awhile back, the good folks at Little Homestead in the City asked their readers what their Achilles heel was, what thing just wouldn't grow for them as hard as they tried. I responded that my growing nemesis is poppies. Breadseed poppies, oriental poppies, California poppies... They would not grow, try as I might.

Until now. Oh how blissful to see the bright golden face of this flower on my morning trek around the garden. Even though they were planted only as a last ditch effort to cover my infamous patch of dirt that was supposed to be loaded with the ornate heads of breadseed poppies at this point in the season, perhaps I've finally properly aligned myself with the Spirit of Poppy.

Armed with some new tricks from an online gardening pal of mine, I shall try the breadseeds and orientals again next year...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Colors of Hope (and another Urban Homesteader Idiotic Moment of the Day)

We have here, folks, just a glimmer of hope right at the moment where I've finally hit the wall. Worries, doubts, and mistakes all kept me up far too late last night, unfortunately casting a bit of a pall on the wonderful impromptu visit by my brother and his girlfriend. You see, I planted a bunch of Johnny Jump-Ups in my patch of dirt early this spring. Not one came up, or so I thought. In actuality, I probably yanked them all, thinking they were weeds. Now there's one lone JJU blooming in my patch of dirt. Moral of the story? Always know your seedlings.

Now, back to cursing incompetent eBayers, cringing at the newly emptied emergency fund which had barely gotten off the ground before it had to be used, sighing over the empty bed which was supposed to be filled with peppers, recovering from pregnancy-induced vertigo every single time I stand, and trying to make the argument for homebirth to The Husband. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Family Time

On a whim, my brother's coming from Indiana for a visit. WOOT! I'll be away from this old hunk of metal for a few days to accomodate.

The picture is my brother with The Bean at about 2 weeks old. Yes, that was the last time I saw him. 2 years ago...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Review: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

I really didn't think this book was going to be much of an eye-opener. As a bonified nature lover and parent, I know just how important the connection between child and wilderness is. I see it every winter when my children are forced indoors for most of the time and at the 4th of July celebration when my 2-year-old's greatest joy is not the fireworks but catching lightening bugs. But this book wasn't just about that connection and how it's being lost, it was about revolutionizing our country, our culture, our way of living to guarantee the health of our children and ourselves. Louv runs the gamut, sharing conversations with parents and children, teachers, scientists, environmentalists, experts in child development, and religious leaders alike. Each of these conversations serves to further the main theory of his book, that children today are growing ever more disconnected from nature.

The book is split into seven sections. The first four were exactly what I expected of this book, discussing the importance of nature to human health, the factors that have led to the distancing between children and nature, and a why a reunion is in order. There is much discussion of forts, tree houses, childhood obesity and ADHD. These first sections can be summed up by this quote: "To take nature and natural play away from children may be tantamount to withholding oxygen." (pg. 108)

The last three parts of the book were very enlightening for me, though. Despite my personal involvement in the back-to-the-land movement, it's been a long time since I've looked at the movement nationwide, let alone globally. Louv's encouragement for the "zoopolis" was refreshing, and he agrees with scientists who now advocate corridors for wildlife travel/migration rather than isolated pockets of habitat. The author even touched on the fact that many environmentalists see only the problem of overpopulation when they look at children and therefore disregard the needs of our little ones. His take on this matter was encouraging for a soon-to-be mother of four.

There is an extensive discussion of education reform in the book, and I wholeheartedly agree with Louv's assertion that parents alone cannot solve this problem. I did, however, find it rather interesting that he never mentioned homeschooling as an option for providing children greater interaction with nature throughout their school years. He mentions very briefly at the end of the book that one of the families he had discussed throughout homeschools, but that's it. There is no probe as to why they homeschool or whether or not this form of education is more or less likely to produce nature-deprived children.

I was also a bit disconcerted by the fact that there was no discussion of how parents should go about enacting change in their local school systems. Perhaps it wasn't the intent of the author to encourage such a thing, but I felt, after reading the portions on nature and education, that making my parental voice heard even before my children enter the school system was not only what I wanted to do but what I had to do as a mindful parent. If anyone has any ideas or stories to share on this matter, please comment or contact me.

Overall, the book was an easy read. I didn't find it to be depressing, as many "child deficit" books can be. The author sprinkled stories throughout the facts and studies, making it enjoyable and heartening. I don't plan to add the book to my personal library, but I would recommend everyone (not just parents) check this book out from their public library.

What's Blooming in My Garden-- July 21, 2008

So much is blooming this week. This is the time of year when everything starts to come at the same time. I LOVE it! So many "mini suns" gracing my garden with their happy faces.

The first of the German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), one of my favorites. Such cheerful flowers, and there are so many uses for it! I love a good multi-tasker in my garden. :)

A dwarf sunflower (Helianthus anuus). I'm not sure what variety this is because I seeded it from a sunflower border mix. It's the first sunflower to bloom in my garden though, so I will be saving seeds from this one for sure.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Can you tell that the bees love the borage (Borago officinalis)? This grows a little wild in the strawberry patch.

Another sunflower of unknown variety. It's absolutely GORGEOUS though, with purple tipped foliage and these insanely dark-colored flowers. Yum.

The delicate blossoms of 'Kentucky Wonder' beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), as beautiful as any ornamental.

Rudbeckia hirta, Black-eyed Susan, getting started.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Independence Days Challenge--Week 7

1. Planted: Transplanted a Concorde grapevine that was withering in its pot under the summer heat.

2. Harvest something: Raspberries, blueberries, raspberry leaves, lavender.

3. Preserve something: Dried lavender and raspberry leaves for later use.

4. Prep something: Dried the raspberry leaves to use during my pregnancy.

5. Cook something: Made scalloped potatoes for the first time. I can no longer find the link to the recipe I used, but it was basically just potatoes, onions, cheese, and milk. I added just a bit too much milk, so it was runnier than I'd have liked. The kids ate it up though. Score!

6. Manage your reserves: Used up potatoes that were on their last legs for the recipe above.

7. Work on local food systems: Nope.

8. Reduce waste: Nothing beyond the ordinary composting, eBaying, and Freecycling.

9. Learn a new skill: Nothing.