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Presidents’ Day was established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington. In 1971, the holiday was moved to the third Monday of February, from the 22nd, Washington's actual birthday. This was done in an effort to create a uniform holiday practice that would provide three-day weekends for American workers (Uniform Monday Holiday Act). While the holiday is still officially known as Washington's Birthday, it has been referred to in more general terms as Presidents' Day since the 1971 Act came into effect.
Remember your first garden? The many trips to the garden supplies store were like shopping for the first day of school. Everything is new, yet untouched and ready for endless possibilities. These are the tools of creativity; your creativity. It is almost as thought the tools themselves will ensure success.
Then there are gardening books and magazines. We do our homework, research everything, plan the garden row by row, learn about the proper mix of soil for each plant, all the while imagining a fully realized harvest, the mind skipping forward in time to reveal the dream.
For the gardener who starts from scratch, with no previous introduction to the art of tending the fruits of the earth, what comes next usually is a series of awakenings, or reality checks and adjustments. The real learning takes place in the garden more than in preparing for it. After a season or two, the gardener throws away the instructions manual and works directly from the experience at hand. This experience is not so much about the harvest itself as it is about the logistics of gardening.
In time, one finds rules and a rhythm that harmonize the garden to one’s values and lifestyle. This is true of everything we do around the house. Here are a few tricks of the trade from seasoned gardeners and homeowners who have sought this harmony.
I’m not paying the dump $5 to dispose of my compost!
Susan McIntosh, of Maine, says, “I was paying $5 or more for 15 garbage bags. I used these when cleaning the yard and weeding. In essence, every time I bought a new box of bags, I was paying the dump $5 to dispose of leaves and twigs and weeds. I was buying compost on top of that. My garden was impeccable. My practices were not. The next season, I invested a few hundred dollars in a good compost bin. I stopped buying garbage bags for the yard and I stopped buying compost. I made my own.
House for sale, with swing – must buy garden equipment too!
Fred and Mary Leonard, of the Texas Hill Country, were downsizing. They put their house on the market. It is during a conversation with their real estate agent that they had a unique idea. “We have always gardened,” says Mary. “One of the very first things the agent said was that our yard and garden were a great selling point. We sort of knew this already, but the more we talked about it, the more it felt like all right, let’s really sell all of it then. We are downsizing after all.”
“We talked with our agent,” continues Mary, “And told him we wanted our buyers to be first-time home buyers, a young couple just moving out of an apartment maybe, who have a dream of gardening, but do not have their own equipment. We want to include our lawn and garden equipment with the sale of the house. We have taken good care of them. They are in top shape. We are downsizing so we don’t need them. Let’s sell our house to young gardeners with a dream.”
They advertised mainly in garden supply stores and magazines, listing tools and equipment for sale and playfully adding “Comes with the house and garden.” It was June. The house sold before the end of August. The newlywed couple who bought it (just as they had hoped) was thrilled. To them, the seeder, garden seat, weed mats, hose reel, lawn mower and multitude of gardening tools were the best wedding gift. It made them feel at home more than anything else. The Leonards made it a point to leave one more item behind, the Cedar Porch Swing.
Garbage bags are a waste!
Denis Beliveau, of Louisiana, will tell you right out that he feels, “Garbage bags are a waste!” One day, Denis looked inside the garbage pail before taking the bag out to the curb and realized nearly everything in it was far from being biodegradable. “My youngest daughter was looking for an idea for a project at school at the time. I suggested she and I would find ways to eliminate the kitchen garbage pail. I admit that at first we both thought it was impossible to actually eliminate it, but the more we discussed it, the more we challenged each other.”
The Beliveaus took this one step further. They purchased a worm bin for composting right in the kitchen. This added a whole new dimension to the school project. Putting food items in the worm bin instead of the garbage was easy and it was fascinating. The greatest challenge was how to eliminate non-food garbage. They were already recycling cardboard and plastic, but realized that such items as bread bags were not recyclable. “It occurred to my daughter (she is the smart one) that the real problem was packaging, so we decided to eliminate non-recyclable packaging simply by refusing to purchase food and other items that came in it. It was not that hard and we soon found that we were also making smarter food choices in the process. Katy was thrilled and her project was highly acclaimed.”
The moral of these creative accounts is simple: The best rules are the ones that create harmony… and they do so because they take root as we seek a more natural flow and because they are shaped by our values.
The weekend is a good time for grazing. This is a summary of some of the delightful Blog articles I have been reading during the week. I invite you to graze through these, and also through the archives of the creative writers who wrote them.
Food canning equipment, tool carts, compost bins, growing kits, cider and fruit presses, the Squeezo Strainer, food dehydrators, juicers, smokers, cold frames, greenhouses and so many more innovations contribute to making our lives organized and healthier and to turning our homes and properties into an oasis where the living is good.
All of these things exist because we are creative and because we have a unique ability to adapt to our environment. In truth, foodies, homesteaders and gardeners who write about their experiences are telling the ongoing story of our inventive spirit. On their pages, every tool and appliance is like a paint brush; ready to express a new vision.
You can access the entire Weekend Highlights series to date by clicking on that category in the sidebar at left.
The author explains, “I’m a DIY kind of gal. I’m an architect, but I would really rather be a farmer. I guess I take the DIY notion fairly seriously in that I moved our family out to a farm for the love of fresh vegetables… I am the first woman in six generations of my family who has plucked a chicken, plowed a field or shot a raccoon…in other words, if I can do it, anyone can.”
The sidebar offers thought-provoking quotes. “The word agriculture, after all, does not mean ‘agriscience,’ much less ‘agribusiness.’ It means ‘cultivation of land…” The Art of the Commonplace: Agrarian Essays.
A Books/Links Page offers resources for managing the garden, harvesting, preserving and, as the author puts it, “Managing your life (okay, I exaggerate).”
We jump in on April 30, with the article titled, On Year-round Harvests. “We ate our last potato last night. It was a huge Red Norland, a ‘spooky’ potato (according to the eight-year-old)… That last potato got me thinking about staples and seasonality…” Many questions arise that will make the reader think as well. Among them, “Are the items destined to be eaten in the same form as they’re harvested?” Like roots spreading out, this question offers natural ramifications worth considering.
We so often go through life almost blindly, not questioning the value of our actions over time, and the value of change. The garden demands questions, many of which also apply to other areas in life. We should stop and ask more often, “Now, what do I want to make of this?” In many cases, I suspect the answer points to fresh, new soil. [Read Full Article]
Next, we check in on Honey, Harriet and Goatman Dave at Emerson’s Acre, who surprised me this week with an article titled, Always Listen to Your Granny.
It so happens that would be yours truly. I will say no more, because credit is due where credit belongs…
“I have taken Granny’s advice,” explains Dave. “In the evening, when I get home, after I’ve kissed Samantha and the girls, I take a few minutes and spend them out back with Honey and Harriet… In an earlier post about the goats and the ridiculous games they put me through with necessary tasks like changing the batteries on their collars or trimming their hooves… She gave me this advice…” [Read Full Article]
We must follow-up on a story posted by The Pocket Farmer last week. As promised, the author kept a watchful eye on the “Special Delivery” so that she could keep readers up to date on the tribulations of a couple of urban geese.
One Left Behind begins, “In Nature, an egg that doesn’t hatch with the others is a liability… It would be folly for a mother to risk her whole brood for the uncertainty that one unhatched egg represents… in the grand scheme, one egg left behind is business as usual… in fact, this was a very successful hatch. Six babies alive and well! … On a whim, as I went home that night, I collected the egg and brought it home with me…” As you might imagine, I had to read further and I am sure you are curious as well. [Read Full Article]
Mother’s Day is Coming at The Middlest Sister and since it indeed approaches it makes perfect sense to conclude this week’s review with her clever visual Blog. “Just a warning,” observes the author, “So this doesn’t happen to you, too!” [View Post]
Thank you for stopping by to read this Weekend’s Review. Please take a moment to leave a few words on the Blogs you enjoy, if you feel so inclined that is.