Well, like it or not the weather is moving into cooler temps again. That means its time to start thinking about the winter.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Well, like it or not the weather is moving into cooler temps again. That means its time to start thinking about the winter.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Pagan calendar beings with Yule (December 20-23) around the Winter Solstice, as the days begin to lengthen we are reminded of the rebirth of the God from Dark King of the Underworld to Child of the Sun. We then move into Brigid's Day (Feburary 2), a celebration of Brigid and the Three-Fold manifestation of the Goddess as Maiden, Mother, Crone. Next comes the Spring Equinox and Eostar (March 20-23), this is a time of fertility where the young Sun God is first reunited with the Goddess returning from the dark of the Winter. Then on Beltane (May 1) the God and Goddess come together in marriage, and the Goddess with child, this is the origin of the may pole. On Litha at the Summer Solstice (June 20 -23) the Sun King meets the Goddess as the Queen of Summer, the union of their love becomes one, and the Sun King begins his trip towards death and his kingdom in the Underworld as the days become shorter. Lughnasad (August 1) is a harvest celebration, where the Corn King is sacrificed in wake of the Sun King. This is followed by Mabon at the Fall Equinox (September 20-23) to announce the depature of the Sun King to the west and hail his transformation into the Lord of the Shadows or the Horned God. Finally ending the Witches' year to begin the new year is Samhain (October 31) which marks the death of the Lord of the Shadows and his rebirth in the womb of the mother. This day also celebrates the Crone figure of the Goddess, and is a night for feeding our ancestors, letting go, and magick.
And so for this Lughnasad we shall be having a feast and a circle led by Flora.
"This is the wake of Lugh, the Sun King who dies with the waning year, the Corn King who dies when the grain is reaped. We stand now between hope and fear, in the time of waiting. In the fields, the grain is ripe but not yet harvested. We have worked hard to bring many things to fruition, but the rewards are not yet certain. Now the Mother becomes the Reaper, the Implacable One who feeds on life that new life may grow. Light diminishes, the days shorten, summer passes. We gather to turn the Wheel, knowing that to harvest we must sacrifice, and warmth and light must pass into winter." ~ Starhawk
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The moral of the story is that my destination, Ratto Farms, lies a mere 15 miles from our house outside of Portland. Growing up in Rural Idaho, I was 10 miles from the nearest town, 15 from a slightly bigger one that actually had a grocery store, and almost 30 from Boise itself. Back in the day I would drive fifty-some-odd miles regularly to go to school and visit friends, and generally lead a social life that a somewhat awkward queer teenager is expected to lead.
And it didn't mean anything to me. It took some time sure, but it never felt like a trip. But yesterday was an expedition. Renting a car and driving a WHOLE 15 miles seemed enormous. Not to mention that it took almost a WHOLE hour to get there.
Part of a dedicated bike economy and culture is a re-localization of people and places. Riding out to Sauvie Island is 40-miles round trip and is an all day trip in my mind. Even going downtown from our home at 34th, can seem like a trek, and is only done for special events. It just amazes me to think that once upon a time a two-hour ride was normal for me. While now I being to squirm after 20 minutes in a vehicle.
I have gotten to know my neighborhood and most of the SE more than any other place I have lived, including my home of 18 years. When riding I am more cognizant of my surrondings and their changes of place. Distances all seem much greater, but that is because a mile means more to me. Not only in energy expended, time in travel, but also as something to be reconigzed not simply driven by.
In conclusion I am blessed to live in a city which is still quite human in scale.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Tour de Coop is coming up again, and this year we're one of the stops! Our girls are already fat and happy and the yard is shaping up nicely to look really really good by the time the tour happens.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
This is an explication about my feelings about Earthy Day. There is a lot to be said about its origins and current effectiveness in actually changing public consciousness around environmental concerns. That is a good conversation but there are other issues too. Some of those issues are the reason why the Environmental movement stumbles so often.
It all comes down to politics. Maybe you remember PETA using models (scantily covered by leaves of lettuce) to advertise that they would rather be naked than wear fur. This is a noble sentiment, but it trades off the exploitation of animals for women.
Recently while attending an Earth Day celebration here in
But for as much as a love that community of hippies, neo-luddites and primitivists, permaculture activists, back-to-the-landers, urban farmers, and all things sustainable, I am not welcome into that community. So my excitement for these topics is always tempered by the knowledge that my body and my identity aren’t as warmly welcome.
To out myself, I am a queer gender-queer transdyke. I do not try to pass, and so I often do not. Perhaps my sense of unease in this community is caused by their own unease with my identity. And that is the problem. They may have good politics around environmental concerns but are bad on issues of diversity.
On Saturday I saw a crowd of white, mostly young, middles-class, cisgender, and heterosexual people claiming to try to save the world and all its inhabitants. So there are issues around cultural appropriation (see emphasis on Native American culture and Eastern spirituality); around race (
In a sense this is a call to all environmentalists to check their politics and their privilege. If you hope to save the world you need to include everyone, and most of the world is not white. If you want allies and progress everyone needs to be included, accepted, and welcomed. Simply diversity statements do not cut it. Unless you can make a culture that is inclusive Earthy Day will remain an event for the privileged.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Because Fauna and I are great believers in permaculture models of gardening and agriculture, we would be remiss to not at least mention the importance of natives in any landscaping environment.
Recently we purchased several salal starts, a blue elderberry, wild ginger, uva ursi, and lupine. Salal is a native to Western forests and thrives in the undergrowth and produces a good amount of edible berries . Although more native west of the Cascades, sambucus curelea (blue elderberry) is drought resistant and its berries are known for their medicinal use in preventing sickness. The uva ursi (Kinnickinick (sp?)) is also a native to the West and is a natural estrogen aiding in women's health. Lupine is just pretty, but again because it is native to the West handles acidic, clay soils quite well and is fairly tolerant of a variety of conditions.
The moral of the story here is that native plants are truly wondrous creatures. Many gardeners, whether of ornamentals or produce, overlook the value of native plants. Natives are more adapted to local conditions including environmental and pest factors. Research also shows that there are many edible and medicinal uses for natives as well. The dominance of non-native species in any urban landscape is more of a testament to economic decision rather than ecological ones.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I write this sitting outside on our back table watching the chickens decide if food is really worth the cold, so let me say that they are quite a bit bigger now. Two months old in fact with all their real feathers, in fact now they are no longer chicks but pullets (yes chickens have angsty hormonal teenage years too). When we first got them (two from the Urban Farm Store, one from Naomi's) we kept them inside a scavenged carboard box making sure they were plenty warm. Although I see my breath this morning they are big enough to be in their coop without much worry about their comfort. All three breeds were selected for cold-hardiness, good nature, egg-laying, and of course beauty. Their adult colors are showing up, but I would reccomend checking back in a few months to see how beautiful they really are.
These chickens are my pride and joy, and so far some of the best pets I have ever had. As Ms. Fauna and I are concerned with urban self-sufficiency raising chickens was an obvious first step in ensuring a healthy supply of protein. Note however, that just because this is a cool fad right now in PDX, don't get chickens unless you can commit to them for at least 10 years. I would be quite saddened if our fair city becomes overrun in wild chickens just because people realize they are a chore.
But for now *bok bok bok*!
Monday, April 12, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
undesired areas. While some are truly pernicious, most are simply under utilized. Living in a urban environments limits ones ability to collect wild mushrooms, herbs, and edibles, but there still is a free abundance for anyone that looks. Weeds are plants you just haven't met yet, and eaten. *nom nom handshake nom*
Dandelion is a well known weed that has many uses, medicinal and edible. Its good for greens when young (less bitter but older plants are good for a hearty stew or stir-fry), and coffee like tea can be made from the root (simply clean it, cube it, and then bake it in oven until dry, crush it up and steep). Purslane also provides nice greens and micronutrients not often found in traditional vegetables. Plantain is a known herbal medicine that can be used as a general anti-toxin against a host of ailments, and the leaves are a good source of B1.
Our first foray into this world of foraging was with little bittercress. It grows as a small cluster of stems with one large leaf surrounded by several leaflets, and when in bloom one shoot with multiple flower heads sticks straight up. The roots are shallow, and it is ubiquitous in Portland. It is an edible microgreen with a flavor like a nutty spinach. To prepare it I simply washed the greens thoroughly and removed the roots (although they probably are also edible, I just was lazy about washing the dirt off) Later this was cooked into a stir-fry and it was delicious.
All those bare spots in our garden growing weeds, are just growing another source of nutrition that requires some simple harvesting. Although I wouldn't recommend taking edible weeds from anther's yard due to possible contamination by herbicides or other chemicals. Also, make sure you know what you are eating. Posting on facebook after the fact is not fail safe method.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
So this past year we made a valiant effort at attempting some winter gardening. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are blessed with fairly mild, albeit rainy, winters. This means a couple of things for the home gardener. 1st it is possible to grow greens right into the depths of winter and root vegetables through into spring again. 2nd with the help of some kind of cold frame or Remay covers, gardeners can get and early start with seedlings for the summer. And 3rd it is possible to grow some vegetables through the winter where they begin to fruit in the spring well before anything else.
The picture above is a case in point. Here we have a purple sprouting broccoli. This plants requires about 120 days before it fruits. It is a hardy winter annual. The best thing is to plant it early in the fall so it has time to put on some vegetative growth. Through the winter it will lie dormant, and in the spring as we can see Purple Broccoli Head! Overwintering vegetables, including many brassicaes and root vegetables, allows for an early harvest in the spring.
This year was an experiment. We did not have cold frames or Remay, planted late in the fall, and did not actively tend to the plants over the winter (Both Fauna and I had some wicked SAD this winter(Oh Portland)). And despite many losses still have a few plants of cabbage, broccoli, and quite possibly kohlrabi. Only time will tell how big our spring harvest will be.
1. If you are under a pine tree either be diligent in clearing needles on have the garden covered. Pine needles suffocate the plants, retains excess moisture during wet winters, raises the soil acidity as they decompose, and provide excellent habitats for slugs over the winter.
2. Plant early in the fall to overwinter. Greens will not survive the winter, uncovered, if it is really snowy but will grow through the fall providing fresh leaves. Plants meant to overwinter need time to put on vegetative growth to survive the cold.
3. Take care of the plot. Sure winter is a hard time to have much energy to go outside into the cold, but annual vegetables still need some care. Make sure they have adequate water if they are covered, keep pests (especially slugs) at bay, and harvest when applicable.