Life by bike

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The city of Groningen, The Netherlands shows what a city that is designed for peace and enjoyment looks like when pedestrians and cyclists are at the center.

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Weed(ing) and the yard

I started my day with weeding.  It was thrilling to begin the process of clearing out weeds, limbs, and fallen leaves in order to begin the creation of the backyard garden.  Image

The turquoise platform has been engulfed by tiny  yellow budding weeds which provided a nice place for butterflies to feast!

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The expanse between yards is over-grown with shoots from trees and shrubs and weeds intermixed with english ivy.

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The expanse between the two houses after some weeding and trimming of the brush, Georgia red clay was exposed.   Soon it will be covered with mulch as the garden begins to take shape.

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The platform is freed on one side from weeds and from above as the limbs have been trimmed.

After a few hours, the backyard is more approachable.  Stay tuned for this journey towards a total transformation!

Versatile Vinegar

At the beginning of the year I made an orange-infused vinegar cleaner solution to use around the house.  I love it!  It cuts dirt, grime and grease and leaves a nice aroma after its use.  To investigate the uses of vinegar, I decided to poke around on the internet for a comprehensive site; click here.  It’s not fancy or flashy but lists in detail uses for vinegar in the garden, the home, pets, health, laundry, automotive, and cooking.  It also offers easy recipes to meet your needs.

Here’s fun video from Olivia Cleans Green on how to make a vinegar multi-purpose cleanser for your home.  Not sure if you’ll have more delight in watching her or in the fact that using vinegar to clean will reduce to toxic load at your homestead.

  • 1/2 cup distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 tsp dish detergent
  • 10 drops of an essential oil of your choice

Put all into a spray bottle, specifically in this order.  If you add the dish detergent first, you’ll have a new kind of party.  =)

Euphorbia

Euphorbias are quite intriguing.  I first encountered them when I lived in Seattle, as they were a staple in front yard gardens.  Undeniably each time I walked past one, my hands on auto-pilot, reached for a squeeze.  They look like friendly space creatures.  Here’s a link to a photo gallery of “Don’s Hardy Euphorbias”: 

http://www.euphorbias.co.uk/page5.html

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Hugelkultur

I received an email from Paul Wheaton of a permaculture workshop he did in Missoula on building a hugelkultur.

Here is a short video from the workshop.  The general idea is that if you build your raised bed with a lot of wood, you should be able to go the whole summer long without irrigating or fertilizing.

His Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp_IObIkInQ

Here is an hugelkultur article he wrote:  http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/

You will find fantastic images on his website.

Home Composting

A benefit of gardening is that it can incorporate home composting.  Composting closes a loop in the food chain and is a huge step towards increasing personal and family sustainability practices.  Making leftovers useful by giving nutrients back to the earth.  Ready-made systems are available so home gardeners only need to decide which system is best suited to their eating habits and space.

Composted material, also known as humus, is dark, nutrient rich and earthy smelling.  Humus is perfect for soil amendment because it enhances soil structure.  humus enables sandy soil to hold more water, and clay soil to drain more water.  Improved soil provides a home for bacteria, fungi, and earthworms, allows for better breakdown of its components and carbon sequestration.

Common home composting systems include worm bins, food digesters, tumblers and bins of various other configurations.  Once gardeners begin using a system, they will quickly begin to receive the benefits of home composting with nominal effort.