PLANET GARDEN: Eco-Friendly Resource Guide

Planet Garden Fall Gardens

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on July 20, 2009

Fall Gardens
Since we are now in the mid summer season in our lovely hometown, many friends are looking forward to back-to-school lessons and fall gardens. My most memorable fall gardening experience was when I planted a long row of soft Butter Lettuce and watched it grow waiting for a nice harvest. When that day came I went to the garden and saw every last head bitten down to the ground. It’s a bit embarrassing to understand that just like me, wise deer waited for the perfect harvest moment, however the early bird caught the worm and they happily enjoyed a row of tender garden butter lettuce. Although the vegetable garden had a pioneer dressed woman mannequin, metal pie pans, a plastic owl, inflatable snakes and assorted other deterrents, it was a favorite place for deer to find tender fall greens.

This year in the community garden we are looking forward to many varieties of fall lettuces, collards, turnips, cauliflower, purple and green cabbages and cool weather veggies. Because we are an organic practices garden, there has been some loss over the summer like 4 rows of beautiful summer, crookneck, zucchini and acorn squashes to very “hungry caterpillars.”

Even so, last Saturday morning at the Bluebird Summer Harvest Celebration there was a table filled with beautiful tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, herbs, flowers, cucumbers, beans and more to share with over 40 families that came by after signing up at Taste of Thomaston. If you would like to join the community organic co-op for garden veggies and breads, just stop by and sign up this Saturday at the Bluebird Market.

You will enjoy a free Community Wrangler Breakfast each week and in addition to the local farm fresh eggs, buttered grits, sliced Georgia tomatoes, watermelons and more, we will now have homemade butter with Busy Bee local honey for toast. At the Cooking Demonstration last Saturday, we made homemade butter and everyone enjoyed it so much, it will be served weekly free of yellow dye and other additives.

Cathy, from Bread of Life, gave us a canning lesson and a wonderful demonstration and tasting on how to make authentic high protein count bread dough for Mediterranean Focaccia with fresh veggies from the community garden. I have heard many local gardens are producing abundantly with home kitchens active as canning centers. It is prudent to plan now for a bountiful fall garden for your family in the cool autumn weather. Everyone is invited to Adopt-a-Row in the community garden at no cost to local residents.

Next Saturday, Aug 1 will be a community yard sale at the Bluebird Market called Yardcycle and all are welcome to upcycle by selling unwanted items. When we act together in green ways that add up to life changing benefits, it’s such a simple thing to enrich our lives. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at http://www.yougottabekidding.org and http://www.bluebirdmarket.com.

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Planet Garden Bring an Organic Apple for Your Teacher

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on July 20, 2009

Bring an Organic Apple for Your Teacher
There will be Lesson Plans, activities, brochures and loads of Green classroom and Homeschooler supplies for Green & Healthy Teacher Development as a free community service this Saturday at the Bluebird Market. If you have sustainable living materials (like old gardening magazines, etc.) to upcycle for Teachers, please feel free to drop them by the Bluebird Market before Saturday.

If you want to say Welcome Back to your favorite teacher with a sustainable living gift that brings strength to our local economy, Bluebird Market will have locally grown organic apples, Apple Salsa, Apple Chutney and Apple Cake. James Family Farm Orchard Apple Pies sold on Local Harvest are fortunately available locally at the Bluebird Market.

Last spring I learned about an effort called Edible Schoolyards. This initiative aims to bring foods for quality sake rather than convenience and is parallel with the Slow Food Initiative. One local school that adopted whole foods Edible Schoolyard practices is the Barnesville Street Montessori School. Students learn how to grow from seeds, tend, harvest and cook the fresh organic veggies. Being registered with the Farm to School nationwide initiative, I totally support green and healthy local foods for our children.

When my son, Frank Mason was young we had a fun contest at our farm. We hooked up the hose pipe in the summer, invited children over for a swimming party, and made whipped cream pies for throwing. The children lined up in two rows and had a bell to ring on a table if they knew the answer to a trivia question. The winner had the fun of throwing a pie. When it came to the question, “Where do hamburgers come from?” it was Frank Mason’s turn and his answer loud and clear as he hit the bell first was Burger King! Everyone laughed but the answer we were hoping for was beef cattle. It was clear learning more about how agriculture works would be beneficial.

Because we are so grateful to our local educators, this week we are celebrating teachers who are dedicated to enlightening our children for bright futures. One State of Georgia EE resource service is http://www.greenandheathy.org.

Planet Garden Save Your Seeds

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on July 20, 2009

Save Your Seeds
Now that harvest time is in full swing and we are enjoying baskets of home grown veggies and fruits, it is time to think about perpetuating your produce. In addition to being prepared for possible seed shortages, my advice is save your seeds because you are delighted with the veggies and would like to grow them again next year.

The seeds that will again produce just like the parent are non-hybrid, self pollinating heirloom seeds like Beans, Chicory, Endive, Lettuce, Peas, and Tomatoes. You can also save many heirloom flower seeds such as: cleome, foxgloves, hollyhock, nasturtium, sweet pea, and zinnia.

For most vegetables, fruits, beans, and flowers you can simply scoop and dry the seeds. There is a special fermentation process to save tomato seeds available via email bluebirdmarket@gmail.com It is important to make sure the seeds are dry and the best place to place them for storage is in a paper envelope placed inside a canning jar with a tight lid. Store in a cool, dark, dry place or in the refrigerator or freezer. It is helpful to place a cloth bag filled with ½ cup of dry powdered milk underneath the envelopes in the bottom of the jar to keep the seeds dry. They will keep from one to 5 years depending on the variety.

Brandywine tomatoes, lemon cucumbers and Blue Lake green beans are 3 varieties that store well. Some seeds have a tendency to cross pollinate and are difficult to save like cucumber, melons, squash, and pumpkins.

Before you plant your saved seeds next year it is wise to test them by placing between wet paper towels in a plastic bag for 2-14 days depending on the seeds. Keep in a warm place until you determine if they will germinate properly.

Enjoy heirloom variety veggies at the Bluebird Market where growers plant according to taste and nutrition, rather than the vegetables’ ability to hold up to rough harvesting equipment, long distance haul trips and warehousing.

On July 18th the Bluebird Market will have a Summer Harvest Celebration. In addition there will be a free canning class and how to bake authentic Mediterranean breads like Focaccia. Saturday July 25th is Green and Healthy Teacher’s Day and on Saturday August 1st the Bluebird Market invites you to participate in Yardcycle, a community yard sale. Each Saturday there will also be a free community breakfast and free storytime for children.

Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at http://www.yougottabekidding.org and http://www.bluebirdmarket.com

Planet Garden Colors of the Wind

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on July 20, 2009

Colors of the Wind
Because of the generosity and vision of concerned citizens, just this year the parking lot of the former RC Cola Building has been excavated and row by row, with the help of many friends, like 4-H members, turned into an abundant community garden. Now the earth is producing so many veggies it is like an ever-flowing spring. We are so thankful that this week we are having a Summer Harvest Celebration, like Thanksgiving in July. Aren’t we fortunate America’s founding fathers paused in the middle of their new land struggles to gather together and celebrate gratitude for the abundance of their harvest?

When I focus on the riches all around us, they suddenly begin to multiply and turn what we have into enough and even more. People come by for garden veggies and somehow we always have more than enough to share. Often I can’t even count everything I am thankful for. I find I’m happiest thinking about everything I have rather than making to-do lists that lead to discontent.

So in honor of giving thanks in July we will celebrate the wonderfully connected experiences that we have shared together while planting a community garden. Even with a cost to the Bluebird Market organizers, artisans, growers and shoppers in the summer heat, the aim of this worthwhile effort has everyone inspired and participating week by week steady as rain. Patience and steadfastness brings hope of a brighter future and growing businesses for our hometown is worth it. We are so fortunate to be developing an online network customer base for our market growers, bakers and artisans.

We will have gratitude centers this week at the Bluebird Market to honor our harvest abundance with the theme song Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas. We will also make homemade butter to flavor our “5 Kernels of Corn” Pilgrim dish.

When I see everyone coming by the Bluebird Market to buy local it is so encouraging that not only are we finding healthy fresh or homemade items but, even more impressive, we are finding value in what we have right here in our hometown. We are showing how we appreciate each other’s talents. It is a validation of our collective shared experience when we support each other’s local businesses. All of this helps to boost each other in our community and inspires me to be more thankful every day.

Because of the success of the victory garden and the Bluebird Market, this week we will sing and celebrate with a summer harvest thanks giving. We are so appreciative for each person who has helped in any way the community garden and buy-local efforts. Celebrate our summer harvest and the riches all around us in gratitude and paint our hometown with the colors of the wind.

When we act together in green ways that add up to life changing benefits, our lives become like an ever flowing spring of enrichment. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at http://www.yougottabekidding.org and http://www.bluebirdmarket.com.

Planet Garden Such a Simple Thing

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on July 12, 2009

Such a Simple Thing by Patti Robinson
It’s so nice when a song about jasmine and a curtain blowing in the breeze brings to mind everything I love about summertime in Georgia. A summer breeze is such a simple thing but doesn’t it feel wonderful on a hot day when the wind cools us off. We have had a busy summer but not so hurried that there is no time to just stop and breathe in simple things like ripe watermelons and ceiling fans. When I think about moments that are the most memorable and meaningful in my life they are rarely complex. Most often it is the simple purity of an unexpected kindness or a beautiful vista that causes me to catch my breath. Just a few simple words at a precise moment can have more power than speeches of rambling complicated persuasions. One time I was driving my son when he was still in a baby carseat and we were going to the farm from Atlanta. Somehow without realizing it I took the wrong turn on the Perimeter and before I knew it we were on another Interstate and I was so lost. It was upsetting and so I called my husband and said I am so lost I can’t even tell you where I am to try to find the way. He encouraged me a bit and I gave him some landmarks and where I had taken turns and he directed me on the way to go and said you will be here soon. It was a simple wrong turn but continuing on the wrong way would have prevented us from arriving at our chosen destination. My son said the simple words, “You can make it, Mom.” How sweet to hear that somebody believes in you. Those are the simple things that sustain us. Like the motto we had with the Tiger Cubs, “Keep it simple, keep it fun.” It has been said that all big ideas can be written on a napkin. If it takes more, it is too complicated. So what can we add to raindrops on roses and bright copper kettles? I have a friend that said to me she just had a bubble moment. I didn’t need to ask her what that meant because for me it’s when the whir of life fades and a crystal clear moment will float forever. When I think about going green, it is such a simple thing. It’s like a bubble moment that brings us into an action that really is not difficult at all. Nothing complicated or unmanageable. The very principle of green is simple and sustainable and do-it-yourself. The key to green is the power of one does make a diference. Small simple things add up to a way of living and collectively have a tremendous impact. Like buying local. If we all redirect a small amount one-day-a-week to local people, the impact would be life changing for our community. And recycling. Not recycling really does add up to wastefulness that no responsible citizen would advocate when there is a simple alternative. That’s why the fun State of Georgia recycling campaign is called You Gotta Be Kidding.org. It’s such a simple thing to recycle rather than Tommy, the non-recycler’s, idea of moving us all to another planet after we trash this one. When we act together in green ways that add up to life changing benefits, it’s such a simple thing to enrich our lives. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at http://www.yougottabekidding.org and http://www.bluebirdmarket.com. Follow us at twitter.com/bluebirdmarket.

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