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Garden Growing Wild

inspiration patterns Nov 12, 2021

Deep down we all know when our surroundings feel "right." When our house or our landscape or our town feels peaceful and coherent or discordant. 

We know when we walk through nature it feels calming, and all too often man-made things are unsettling. 

In his book A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander lays out over 200 hundred patterns that can help us make things that are more peaceful, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.

One pattern jumped out at me straight away when I picked up this book at my Permaculture Design Course 18 years ago. 

Garden Growing Wild. 

In this pattern, Alexander lays out a vision for a different kind of garden than we are used to. A garden which uses natural principles to grow and maintain itself. A permaculture garden. 

A garden which grows true to its own laws has a life and a magic of its own. It does not need constant tending, but is arranged so that the natural processes support what is growing there instead of threaten it.

We can choose plants and place boundaries in such a was that the growth of things regulates itself. This takes a bit of forethought and design.

A garden growing wild is more stable and healthier, requiring less time and chemicals. It also creates a more profound experience for the gardener, who becomes an occasional participant rather than enslaved by the garden. 

This pattern was my inspiration for my garden at the Williams Street Farmhouse, my urban homestead in...

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Is trick-or-treating just about the candy?

Uncategorized Nov 02, 2021

I know I'm not the only mom who struggles with all the candy my kids get from trick-or-treating. And yet we do it anyway because it's so much fun. 

I also know a lot of people who don't hand out candy because they know it's not good for the kids. But they are also missing out.

So how can we make trick-or-treating less about the candy, and more of a fun experience for both kids and adults?

 

Here's the thing... trick-or-treating is an opportunity for neighbors to connect over something fun and lighthearted. Across political and social divides. In a time that is more divisive than ever. 

It's an opportunity for people to be creative with their costumes and decorations. It's a time for people to try on a new persona. It's an opportunity for people to be silly, fun, or mysterious. 

For kids, it is an opportunity to get creative with their costumes. To me, it is super important that I don't just buy them the ready-made costume or make one for them. They need a chance to put something together themselves with their imagination. They might need help with supplies or execution, but the idea comes from them. 

It's an opportunity for kids to be out after dark, running around the streets having fun. It's exciting to see what costumes other kids came up with and to see their friends all dressed up. 

It's an opportunity for kids to go up to their neighbor's houses, who they may or may not know. To meet them and see a glimpse of what their house and...

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Getting fired up about goals for the garden and life!

I wrote out my big, overarching holistic goals for my life this morning and I'm on fire! 

I am currently walking my students through the process of Goal Articulation in my Green Thumb Course. 

Articulating your goals on paper helps you to create more deliberately. It helps inspire you, motivate you through the hard work, and gives you purpose in your garden. It gives you direction for the decisions you need to make. 

I like to revisit my goals often, to keep me focused, and also to re-evaluate. Is this still important to me? What is true for me right now? 

So yesterday I sat down in front of the wood stove with a pad of paper and a pen and got to work. I even got the boys' input on what is important to them (friends and experiments, as it turns out.) 

As I worked it, I got more and more excited. Can I really provide for 75% of my needs?? What does that mean? What are my needs? It sounds thrilling and challenging. 

When I finished and read over what I wrote, I got a little tingle up my spine. My whole body said, YES! This is what I want! 

Here's my big, overarching holistic goal: 

Our home is a beautiful gathering space filled with love, light, and laughter. It is surrounded by gardens which provide abundant food, medicine and beauty which we share with others. We grow, forage, and barter for 75% of our needs. 

We tend the land we are on as if it were our own, and for future generations who may live here. Within the fenced garden...

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Tips and Tricks for Growing Tomatoes in Cool Climates

Uncategorized May 21, 2021

Growing Tomatoes in Cool Climates

Everyone wants to grow tomatoes, right? There is just something about homegrown tomatoes that is so.... delicious! Then why is it so difficult here! People spend more time and money trying to get tomatoes than any other crop, but they still don't always do very well! 

Tomatoes are finicky. They prefer temperatures between 70-85° during the day and 59-68° at night. Temperatures outside of this range can prevent blossoms from setting fruit, and can cause deformities in the fruit. Green tomatoes will not turn red unless they get enough daytime heat. The plant itself can survive in temperatures as low as 33°, but starts to show signs of stress below 50°.

The average high temperature in South-central Alaska in the summer is 65°. The average low temperature is about 49°. Some tomatoes are more adapted to cool weather and will set fruit in lower temperatures. Stupiče, Oregon Spring, Glacier, and Gold Nugget are a few examples of cool-climate tomatoes that can be grown outside in a warm microclimate. I have had great luck growing tomatoes on the south side of our house. 

If you have a greenhouse or tunnel, you might have temperatures too hot when the weather is at its best. Use a thermometer that registers minimum and maximum temperatures so you can make sure you are within the desired range. You may need to increase ventilation during the day and find some way to retain heat for the night.  

The easiest way to...

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There has never been a more powerful call to garden.

Uncategorized May 01, 2020

One of the scariest things about this pandemic is discovering how fragile and unprepared our medical system is. And we are also finding out how fragile and broken our food system is. Climate change has already caused floods, droughts, and other natural disasters causing major crop failures.

Now, with COVID-19, we may be facing very real food shortages in this next year. Many of us have seen the empty grocery store shelves and realized that the food does not spontaneously reproduce.

 

We cannot depend on the system to save us when we get sick or feed us when we are hungry. It’s time to take responsibility for ourselves. We are learning so many things about how to keep ourselves healthy. We can also learn to grow food for ourselves.

But getting into the garden is really about more than just growing food. In this time, we need the grounding, the beauty, the connection, and the empowerment every bit as much as the food.

We have been given the opportunity to completely reimagine how we live on this earth. and one of the most powerful shifts we can make is from consumers to producers of our food. If we all grow just a portion of our food, there will be enough for everyone. It will take pressure off of the strained food supply. The earth will be able to breathe again.

Walk with me into the garden and begin to grow! Join my online course or one of my new bite-sized workshops, designed to get you growing fast!

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