I tried to find my recent article in the 2011 Sustainable Santa Fe Guide (about the blessings of bike commuting), but it’s not online yet. Here’s last year’s article in the same annual magazine published by the wonderful youth and staff at Earth Care International.
My younger son goes to a cool school called Little Earth. Tonight they had me as the first speaker in their series of practical talks for parents and educators. I called my presentation “Garden Design with Children in Mind,” and I focused on five garden components that students of all ages love.
1) The Bean Tipi, an edible playhouse made out of scarlet runner beans and five-to-ten long sticks, posts, or poles.
2) The Sunflower House, a playhouse (or tunnel) made out of mostly giant sunflowers, that teaches kids of all ages about microclimates and makes for a nice afternoon snack in the fall.
3) Edible Plants, these are very important in a children’s garden for a wide variety of reasons.
4) Sheet Mulch, an easy way to build soil, suppress weeds, and harvest rain in the soil, it uses cardboard, manure, and straw as its main ingredients,
5) Worm making, no kids garden is complete without a compost pile, and no compost pile is complete without worms.
I plan to elaborate on each of these in the coming weeks, so please stay tuned.
Had a blast taping two radio shows this week. On Thursday, Kate Manchester interviewed me for her Edible Radio program. She’s the publisher of Edibles Santa Fe, a magazine for Santa Fe’s local-food movement. Please keep an eye out for my article in the Fall edition. (It’s about cold composting.) Kate’s a great interviewer and an awesome magazine publisher. I’m not sure when the show will air, but I’ll let you know as soon as it’s linkable. Please check out Kate’s work here: www.edibleradio.com and www.ediblesantafe.com.
Six or seven weeks ago our friend Jobyl gave us a fully compostable potato chip bag. Dutifully, I tossed it into the sink-side “fly proof” kitchen scraps container, which takes an almost daily trip to the compost pile out back. The bag was so brightly colored and so extremely loud when crinkled (or even touched), I felt a little guilty when it came time to dump the stuff. It just seemed like I was putting something very, very wrong in our sacred pile of soil food. Later, along with the coffee grounds, smushed fruit, soggy rice-crackers, and all manner of muck, the Sun Chips wrapper popped out and onto the pile. Quickly, I covered it up with nearby compost.
We had various vague notions as to how to proceed with our months-long goal of increasing the size of our chicken coop. In the end, we wanted to create an almost invisible fenced area under an existing evergreen tree right outside our chickens’ 110 sq. ft. abode. Whenever we let the chickens range free, if they were not in our compost pile, they were typically kicking around under this one tree next to their coop, a tree that we can easily see from many parts of our backyard. If successful, the project would not only add 50% more square feet to the coop, but it would also do so in a visually appealing way. Just as the functionality of our backyard is paramount, aesthetics are equally supreme for us—in part because we do not see the sustainability movement happening if it is seen as anything other than beautiful.
As you may have already read, I spent a heap of time this spring double digging our garden beds. Following John Jeavons’ techniques (described in “How to Grow More Vegetables”), I mixed wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of homemade compost deep into the soil. Although I never got the six-pack abs that I had hoped to gain from all of the upper-body exercise, I’m happy to report that the work itself has paid off.