Tag Archives: green

A video lesson on catching chicken.

I have officially signed up for another year working out for my uncle on Purring Dog Farm and I still don’t know why I participate in the ritual masochism.  It’s going to be my fourth year and the farms fourth year as well.  The only difference between this year and the past few is we’ll have a few interns on hand and I’m actually going to be scoring some college credit as well.

I’m making this my goal for the week, even though it’s going to take a summer.

A taste of Tennessee.

Where else can you release a batch of homicidal chickens out to get eaten by coyotes?

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Organic American Spirits Win: Hipsters rejoice!

I was completely unable to retire my burning desire for Camel Lights. Spirits regardless of their eco creds gave me a headache and always seemed to last long enough to get about 2 minutes late to every class.

I’m brooding. I haven’t had a cigarette I can remember smoking in the last 12 days so I felt it was a good time to do a sustainable tobacco update. When I started doing a little online research my fellow members of humanity began a campaign of disappointment. I found a few articles that actually addressed “eco-friendly” cigarettes, but when I heard the arguments against them I was dumbfounded. I’m used to anti-smokers hurling featherweight complaints but to actually berate a product for being “more ecologically friendly” seems to me to be a new low.

Should Cigarette Companies get to Market Eco-Friendly Products?

This was a main question that I encountered during my reading and honestly it was infuriating.  I’m not mad that a movement has started to bare companies that greenwash (claim to have sustainable credentials that aren’t viable) their products.  We are at the point now though where the term “green” has been slapped onto everything from diapers to private jet companies (http://www.flygreenjets.com/ I kid you not)  so to me picking on cigarettes as an argument for ecological growth seems wasted. A pack-a-day habit, still doesn’t compare to the drive down to 7-11.

America’s most sustainable smoke

I do, however, have an update that is valid to the sustainable cigarette topic.

This brand is leading the pack in terms of eco-marketing. The next best step is to grow your own!

The Canadian company du Maurier released a new packaging around 2006 that was considered “more environmentally friendly” but like a trusty steed, good ole American Spirits still hold onto their mantel with the release of the 100 percent organic cigarettes.

A Few of the Haters: There are definitely valid arguments below about environmentally friendly truths, I just don’t like to be singled out. Smoking may kill polar bears, directly or indirectly, but I’m guessing the nickel-metal hydride batteries popped inside any Toyota Prius probably aren’t too for the environment either.  And unlike RJ Reynolds they won’t give a full list of their ingredients.

http://redgreenandblue.org/2009/06/28/eco-friendly-cigarettes/

http://www.eco-friendly-promos.com/2009/07/07/sustainable-cigarettesfriend-or-foe/

http://grassrootsgourmet.net/2009/04/21/organic-cigarettes-saving-your-american-spirit-one-puff-at-a-time

http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/businesspolitics/tobacco-industry-latest-to-make-ridiculous-eco-friendly-claims/864

Tobacco Ingredients for the Curious and Masochistic

The biggest surprised encountered during my search today was how easily RJ Reynolds offered up their ingredients and how exhaustive their list was.

The chemicals from all those truth commercials

Weekly step

From now on I’m going to find one “greenwashed” product a week to highlight and avoid.

Just a little more potential greenwash: Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage

Planning a Garden and Mother Earth News

El Nina is still pitching a fit and her tears keep landing in Oregon leaving us with soggy soil and an unpredictable frost date. The problem isn’t just for the gardeners but this year some food banks are losing their steady supply of fresh veggies once donated by thriving community gardens.

But here just like the rains we must be relentless. Northwesters either develop ways to cope with cabin fever or move to California. My way is usually a dose of medicine and a few good words with my computer but lately my heads been freezing on me, a savage and unpredictable wave writers block.

Reading the anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories wasn’t  enough to inspire me to do much more than watch an episode of house. Alright, two episodes. But thanks to a brief spell of A.D.D. I found myself browsing the cyber pages of Mother Earth News and before I knew it I had subscribed.

With prices dropped to $10 a year I had a hard time refusing the offer of the magazine that more than once I considered paying full price for.

I started to look over my purchase via their online copy and ended up discovering a garden planner program and decided to give it a test run.  I had already made a few garden maps earlier this year and took the opportunity to recreate one of them on the garden generator.

The program has a very easy to use interface and makes planning  out a garden child’s play, think Farmville. Reading the back of seed packets becomes worthless because the Vegetable Garden Planner is made to automatically show the spaces needed between plants. Navigating the Flash based software is similar to using a paint program and if a user can work their way around a word processor this shouldn’t be anything too technical. It isn’t as full functioned and intricate as auto cad and after the 30 day trial it becomes a $25 a year convenience after the first year.  For now though this is the perfect way for the lazy gardener to map out their yard in the least painful way.

This weeks step will be to scour my new copy of Mother Earth News, sustainability doesn’t always gotta mean sacrifice 🙂

Links:

Community Gardens Battle Relentless Rain

Vegetable Garden Planner

Dandelion coffee and the act of foraging.

A pest to some but to others, includeing medieval nobility, dandelion has proved its worth as both a medicine and a food.

I’m a junkie there is no doubt about.  When I wake up two things cross my mind usually, do I have to move and if so, where’s my coffee!?!  Lately the morning miracle nectar has been giving me some stomach problems and I’ve been forced to reduce my ravenous thirst to just a cup a day. This is not good.
Instead of getting multiple cup boosts throughout the day I’m stuck with one drink and a day full of yawns. I have heard that you can make a coffee substitute with the roots of dandelion and yesterday when I was weeding the thought had hit again, providence. I finished up hoola hoeing my garden and then moved up towards the dandelion weeder.
My neighbors probably didn’t understand the desperation that filled my act of weeding.  People are used to seeing me out in my garden and even in the light rain it wasn’t anything abnormal. But the time and patience I took to preserve the dandelion roots while pulling them out would peg me as a lunatic in some circles, but to me I was just prepping another cup of brew.

After being roasted and ground the dandelion root looks more like tobacco than any sort of coffee.

After collecting and roasting the dandelion roots, they were ground into a fine powder and brewed like coffee. I took a sip of the black “coffee” and was surprised. It was a little lighter in color and tasted slightly burnt to the everyday coffee drinker. Unfortunately this coffee alternative is caffeine free, something I was hoping wouldn’t be the case, but a little online looking it confirmed it. Although the chemical support isn’t there I was still a thousand times happier to drink this mix than to attempting decaf.
I’m realizing this post sounds more like a confession about caffeine abuse than any sort of statement about the earths long term preservation but I assure that is not the case.  My hunt for dandelion root is one of the first acts of foraging that I have carried out.
This is the initial way humans used to gather food. Before restaurants and grocery stores, before even farming, there was hunting and gathering.  At this point human populations lived based on what nature provided, not on what could be done provided despite  nature. Although this was a great way to make sure that the land remained strong and the earth healthy, it wasn’t the best way to ensure a future. Some would argue we evolved, others would argue we devolved.

When the flavor ihit my tongue I couldn't have been more upset. It wasn't bad, and actually, the acrid root tea actually tasted like tea. I wouldn't drink it normally but in 1858 I could see turning to this in a pinch.

The main benefit to gathering food is that it doesn’t require an agricultural system that rearranges the landscape to make certain food stuffs available.  The flip side is that a long time ago many tribes figured out that about 30 people are perfect for living off the land in most areas (StuffYouShouldKnow pod casts are my source for this).  If a tribe grew much bigger than this it became more difficult to support.  If we all tried living off the wild now I fear we would overwhelm it.
But when there are opportunities to harvest from the wild instead of buying from the store I still plan to take advantage of them. And instead of throwing my dandelions in a garbage can or even a refuse bin I’m going to eat the suckers. Not only are dandelions completely edible at some point of the year, but revenge against weeds has never been below me, ask the corn.

The recipe I used to make the “coffee” was from ehow.com

How to Make Dandelion Coffee

This weeks step was to take up foraging.

How to Build a Bookshelf for almost nothing

I was in an all too familiar of a situation and one I’d prefer to never be in again. I was broke, bored and had nothing to do except contemplate my situation. My room was a grotesque vision of toppling piles of books and dirty laundry that made you wish you were overlooking a murder scene. Action had to be taken, something had to be done.

My day had shifted and for a reason unknown making a bookshelf seemed like the perfect project to get through the afternoon.
A few cinder blocks would make the foundation and extra boards we had around the house would make perfect shelves. Since for many levels I was using half cinder blocks I used a wall as back support to keep the whole makeshift mess from falling over. After over 6 months of testing the bookshelf has stood up to everything a bookshelf can have thrown on it(sometimes literally) on top of being an impromptu workbench.

DIY Bookshelf

The Frankenstein's Monster of bookshelves, a makeshift bookshelf is an easy and practical way to recycle bad boards and leftover cinder blocks.

Seed Savers Exchange: They’ve Arrived!

It's finally time to get some seeds in the ground and they have just arrived! We're still at risk for frost here so at least for the time being it's going to have to be an indoor operation to get this years crop going.

With Seed Savers Exchange giving a quick delivery I have finally gotten to start planting my garden, indoors albeit.

I’m working as a goal this year to reduce my food budget by planting a sizeable garden that will keep producing until the end of the growing season.  The little parcel of land that comes with the townhouse we are renting doesn’t get enough light to really be of much use for food production of any scale but for $35 and 6 hours of volunteer work I have been able to secure a community garden spot within walking distance of my house.

To get seeds to turn into transplant vegetable starts doesn’t take very much I have discovered. A cold fluorescent light hanging from the ceiling on a chain gives an adjustable height light source that will cost less than $35 dollars for the whole setup.  I bought start-up trays with covers that provided extra moisture for plants and a spray bottle to occasionally blast them with mist.

A Compact fluorescent light, a tray or even yogurt containers and some potting soil is the recipe to and early garden.

This year when I planted my seeds I didn’t even cover them with soil in their trays. One of my eccentric professors, Elizabeth Howley, explained to our class that the soil is really just their to provide even moisture to the seeds. True to form the germination rates have been nearly one hundred percent for me so far.

These trays and optional greenhouse covers can be purchased almost anywhere this time of year.  Just stumble into any store with a garden center and look around.  Prices for the trays wont be more than a couple of dollars.

My step for this week is to create a detailed plan to reduce my food budget for this year.  To start working towards this I have mapped my garden and will need to make a crop schedule.  I have bought a few varieties of storage onions and garlic that should last in storage and I have started succession planting greens for early spring.

Overwintering: The Year Round Experience.

Black opal

I bought this African Blue Basil last year. After waiting for seeds to be produced for the entire summer, I learned that this plant is a hybrid and has the reproductive potential of two mules. With a little cloning this plant has lived on the last three months in my bedroom.

Looking out the window I can finally see the sun’s arch reach over the neighboring apartments, a signal of the approaching spring. Pretty soon gardeners all throughout the Northern Hemisphere will be elbows deep in dirt preparing for another year of foodstuffs.

This year, instead of heading to the nearest Home Depot for the cheapest seeds I can find, I’m utilizing one of the coolest concepts that I have heard of in a long time. I am buying my seeds from a company called Seed Savers Exchange(SSE).

So what I’m buying brand name seeds?

The Exchange realized that as agriculture become more standardized the plethora of seeds that were saved within families for generations were being lost.  The mechanical mass extinction event was taking place and the exchange felt it had to act. The company started an exchange based seed bank.  Members throughout the world share their seeds with the company and other members around the world. Through the organization members are encourage to either buy and sell with each other. SSE also sells to the general public although it only offers an sampled selection of the vast variety of seeds at their disposal.

The seeds they save are all heirlooms, meaning they have been reproduced continually for at least 50 years.  Although these seeds are going to prove to be more expensive than my old shopping habits, I’m going to be winning in the long run. Since all of these will be non-hybrid plants, the seeds will be viable for saving and hopefully regrowing next year.

This weeks step is to buy heirloom seeds.

Seed Savers Exchange