Monday, January 30, 2012

What to do with old cotton or wool rugs? Recycle it in your garden!

I love old wool and cotton rugs.
  you know the ones... beautifully patterned and threadbare? No way any thrift store will take them and no way to display them in your home anymore...they are just too far gone.
And too heavy to pay to take to the landfill, let alone add another 'thing' in the deep caverns of our precious mother that could be useful...but how?

Well, one way is to use them for mulch. Yep, that's right, mulch.
Stay with me here...

Need a pathway, but don't want to dig up the sod, or pay for gravel/sand?
Ok, cut up the rug, literally.
 I have to be clear here, it MUST be natural fibers.
Wool or cotton only.
  I also must add...old wool or cotton clothing can work just the same, be sure to overlap. Think about it....covering the ground with your fasvorite old sweater, the one that needs to be buried!!!! Give it a nice place to carry on in another useful way.
   I have quite a few work sweaters that I really need to repurpose, maybe you've seen me wear them, and were too polite to tell me. Thank you for giving me the time to work it out.  Winks.

Yes, cut it up, lay it out in the pathway formation you like. Over time (a long time-years) the rug will break down and add back to the soil...and will not add to landfills.
Here we go back to arborist wood chips...if you have any, or can get some, lay 4-6 inches over the path/rug and it will stay weed free for years!
This is no different than burlap coffee bags. 

I know, it sounds crazy, but I've done it so many times and it's amazing, listen, I have lots and lots of land to cover, so I need to reach outside the box and I am always trying to use what I have, rather than buy more!
I've also used old canvas tarps. They work great. The only thing that has ever been able to push up through after a few years, were the woodland hyacinth...oh my goodness, don't get me started on those!!!! Wretched little beasts!

Now, we are not talking about using this in Edible gardens, however, this could be used in any area that you want to eliminate lawn, the downside is that the rugs are too thick to dig a shovel in to plant anything, unless of course you pile soil over it and are creating a 'berm' effect, of at least 12 inches deep or more.   Keep this in mind as you decide where to try this.

Don't be afraid to experiment.   Maybe I'm not the first one to have ever tried this, but I've never heard or read about this anywhere else...I learned by trying, and have used this technique for nearly 15 years, never to be disappionted.

See ya in the garden!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ciscoe Morris visits Village Green Perennial Nursery

April 15th 1-2pm
Village Green Perennial Nursery
10223 26th Ave SW Seattle 98146

Oooh la la!
Join us for some springtime garden talk and plenty of laughter!

Spring flowering perennials...such as 
Anemone blanda
bleeding hearts
groundcover dogwood
hardy geraniums
and so much more!

plus soil amendments and fertilizers
Hendrickus organics
Yelm worm castings

Put this on your Calender now!
Street parking ONLY. This will be a full house!

Art camp, summer garden day camp

Experience a whole new kind of Summer Art Camp! Not only will your children return home with beautiful handcrafted clay sculptures, miniature gardens, paintings and collages, they'll always remember spending three days in nature surrounded by trees, songbirds, chickens and flowers.

Our Garden Art Activities Include: Drawing, Painting with Watercolors, Sculpting with Clay, Collage, Sun-print, Wire Garden Ornament Sculpture, and Planting Miniature Gardens.

Get inspired by the colors, textures and sounds of Village Green!

Art and Gardening materials included.
Please pack a lunch and plan for the weather.
Ages 8 - 12
Wednesday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Session 1: July 11 - 13
Session 2: July 18 - 20
$250 per session, per child


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sheet's easy!

 first season, a few shrubs

 first year, no color on the house yet!

 3rd year, good soil and worm poo!

This garden is south/east facing and is situated between 2 driveways. It's hot and dry.
I planted as many drough tolerant easy care plants as possible, and keep them mulched well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hellebores, winter's lovely gift

I love Hellebores. I just love them!
I love the dark thick foliage that reminds me of a giant hand spread out, ready to point you in the direction of the hosta's and Trillium that are sleeping alongside somewhere, under the leaf littered loamy soil.

The flowers that emerge in January are tightly curled and look like small roses, with a giant star setting off the flower bud.
The colors range from cool lime greens to, dark, moody aubergines that fade to dusky antique shades, and everything in between.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A feast of tarts! Homeschool mom's dream!

 Here we are, back home in Seattle after the most amazing trip of my life. (the kids agree-theirs, too!)
Ok, let's get just to the point, the FOOD in France was beyond delicious.
   We ate croissant every day- I mean- when in France do as they do! I'm not referring to the croissant we are used to here in Seattle, I'm talking about the light, flaky, buttery yumminess of a croissant. A slight hint of salt, as well as light mellow sweetness. Are you salivating yet?
I am. It's just not the same here. I am on the hunt for croissant and baguettes that even fall in the realm of 'good' here. I'm now officially a snob of some foods and beverages. I admit.
  Espresso... being from Seattle, you'd think we would be a shoe in for a good shot of espresso. The rich creamy texture, somewhat frothy on the top. Low acid, full flavor. I'm now much more of a snob when it comes to a good shot of espresso. I have had some good coffee here...but it's harder to find.

 I now share the satisfaction of a good cup of coffee with my teenage daughter. She quickly adapted to the rich creamy shots of espresso, having never been a coffee drinker. She found enjoyment in what she always thought was horribly bitter. She started with espresso, and now, at home, can't find the 'right flavor'....I understand her dilemma. We commiserate together, and search for that simple pleasure.

 As we try to accept that we are home now, and things are the way they are here, we try to re-create the flavors at home. We want to continue to eat the foods we so enjoyed while we were in France.
We don't want to let the trip slip away, only hazy memories. Food really can capture a moment in time and inspire memories. So we cook, or more accurately... she bakes. 
   Baguettes are definitely in a category all alone. She keeps trying. Although the loaf is good, it has not achieved baguette status, but will make great sandwiches. She tries again. I love that she can just keep trying, and not get discouraged.
 The entire inspiration for the trip was a 4 day cooking class in Agen, with Kate Hill and Kate McDermott (Art of the pie-Seattle). It was like being in the presence of not just one Julia Child, but 2 Julia's. Just like we've been told, it is true....the food was prepared as food should be... With love and BUTTER. 
 The essence of food.    Slow food. Real food. Farm to table. The traditions and direct relationship of people with the land are things I knew in my heart, but somehow I have a much deeper understanding now, thanks to the Kate's.
 We learned all manner of kitchen wisdom from the Kate's....salted butters, lard, cream, cheeses, foie gras, flour... all the way to butchery. The hot water and cold water crust recipes, as well as the tart recipe have proven to be the most used recipes in our repertoire right now, and I could not be more delighted! Sweet and savory options....Fear not the crusts, and go forward.
Johanna has been experimenting with her new love...Baking. Every mom's dream, a child who makes entire meals and dessert. To feed the whole family. 
 To perfect the tart was the first goal. And try as many times as we need to get it right. Scrumptious!!!

 How lovely to open the fridge and see creme fraiche on the shelves, drawers full of Swiss chard in bright rainbow colors, red onions in piles in a bowl waiting for their turn to be caramelized. Pine nuts, kalamata olives....these are not foods I tire of easily. I feel great comfort and satisfaction in having them around, knowing we will combine them to create a savory feast.
It is true, once you taste something so good, there is no turning back.

This is a common thread in my life. I am living a life that is full, joyous and abundant. I have faced fears and am gaining my strength and courage in myself, there is no going back.  I will continue to seek balance. We are meant to enjoy life, there is but one loaned to us for such a short time. Eat well.

Sheet mulching/deep mulch

New Garden beds over existing lawn. Skill level...Easy.
Have you been wanting to start a garden in an area of your yard, but it feels too overwhelming and have no idea where to begin? Do you have too much lawn to mow? Want to get rid of some of it? Do you want to grow food and flowers? Growing perennial flowers is essential to healthy vegetable gardening, as the bees rely on the food source and the wasps that are attracted to the plants are a predator to many of the bugs that attack vegetable starts....more on that later! It's really quite easy, but it does take some effort. Are you in? Willing? Then let's go!! 
                                                                                   Gather materials...this can take time, and that's ok.
  •  Look around and see what you have to work, concrete chunks from an old sidewalk or patio, wood rounds (preferably small diameter)
  • Cardboard with tape and staples removed
  • shiny pages, the chemicals in the inks are not what we want for the gardens.
  • Fallen leaves-there should be plenty in the neighborhood, ask your neighbors-leaves (not all leaves are equal-see below) are a treasure trove of nutrients. You can also get free 
  • Wood chips from a tree service, call ahead and have a place ready where they can dump and you will get all the free mulch you can handle.
  • *fertilizers (organic) with high nitrogen, blood meal is great, bat guano, or fresh 
  • chicken manure if you have chickens-we're not planting right away, so there's no risk of burning the plant roots.
  • I also LOVE to use KELP in this procedure, the soil benefits are spectacular.

1. Choose your location (think big, don't limit yourself!) I like to use a garden hose to determine the border and have a visual aid for what the garden will look like.

2. Mow or weed whack the area you've chosen (very, very short...leave the clippings for extra nitrogen)

3. lay a heavy dose of nitrogen (fertilizer and or manures) over the entire area you are planning to use as a garden, this will heat up under the layers we are about to put on the new garden and be ready in spring...patience.

4. On the chosen area for the new gardens, lay out cardboard so that it overlaps, or newspaper in thick layers, also overlapping, to prevent weeds from pushing up through. You are laying the paper or cardboard over the existing mowed lawn, and over the fertilizers.

5. Water the paper or cardboard to keep it from flying away. This is the stage where you can start heaping on the raked leaves. Birch, maple, oak, alder are the best leaves for this project.
You can also pile on any small branches and wood chips,( not bark a mulch....which is not a useful garden product, as it repels water....don't get me started) You want the top layer to be at least 6 inches deep, more if possible. This will get the underground soil food web something to work on over the winter.
Come spring, you will be amazed at how loose and workable the ground is. You can expect to be able to stick the shovel in, right into the paper/cardboard dig a hole, add fertilizer, soil amendment and plant whatever you were planning to put in the garden.