Urban Adaptation

Sustainable urban living, rural dreams, and daily change for a homemade life.

Posts Tagged ‘gardening

Winter’s coming

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Okay, okay – I know no one really wants to think about this yet (sorry!), especially since fall is barely upon us.  But by planning now for what needs to be done to have a relatively comfortable winter, it’s possible to save a bunch of time and headaches.

Depending on situations, there are a lot of ways to prep for winter.  My list isn’t actually that long right now, and some items are more necessities than others, but I want to get a clear idea now of what I want to do and need to do as the days keep getting shorter and cooler in this neck of the woods.

The biggest things for us right now is planning to keep comfortable.  It gets cold here, and this apartment is neither well heater nor well insulated.  This year, we want to start prepping for the cold early by caulking and insulating the windows and doors, and looking into low-cost, energy efficient heating solutions that we can try.

The next big thing is cash flow.  I’ve got some savings, and although I’ll still be making enough to cover basic expenses, my income is about to drop off a bit more.  While we haven’t exactly been spending the big bucks, some further belt tightening will be in order to ensure that we stay in a relatively comfortable financial position.  I haven’t been as tight about spending as perhaps I could be, and a few tweaks will make some difference in our cash flow, so that’s in the works right now.

Also this year I’d like to get a plan in place for growing some more food.  In the past, I’ve missed deadlines for planting seeds, and wound up buying a few starter plants here and there.  This year, I’d like to know what needs to be started when, and come up with a better plan for how to fit things in better outside, and make the most of the available space for a bit of food production.  There are limits, of course, but getting the planning startednow should help to really get some good use out of what we’ve got.

Finally, this year I’d like to keep a better eye on what I eat.  From a health standpoint this makes sense, but also from a financial one.  I have a lot of food stored here, and given the relatively high likelihood of moving sometie in the near-ish future, I’d like to start working through what I’ve got here.  I’d also like to set up some easy to follow menus.  I get sidetracked a lot during the week, which wastes time and, in a lot of cases, food.  Knowing what I can make with what I have on hand seems like a good way to use up food I’ve already bought and improve our diet.

These are the big ones for now, although I’m sure there are other projects that will come up, and other things that need to be done.  For now, I’m going to sit down with a seed catalogue and start planning out when to start planting some seeds, and where they’ll wind up down the road.

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Written by Jenn

October 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Local foods

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Today, I went with a friend to her mom’s place an hour away so she could leave for vacation – I brought her car back, and will be driving it while she’s away, mostly so the battery doesn’t die.

Her mom has a garden out back and they rarely if ever use all that they produce.  So, after hearing that I love garden-fresh produce and have an idea how to use it, she gave me a few things to bring home with me.

Fresh garlic scapes (some of which got used in fried rice tonight).

Rhubarb.

A jar of her apricot jam, canned from the apricots that grow on the tree in their backyard.

I am delighted beyond belief.  I love rhubard, scapes, and jam in general, but the fact that it was local (albeit with a bit of driving on my part) and grown in the backyard of someone I know is a really nice feeling.  Tomorrow, there will be scapes in my omlette, jam on my toast, and rhubarb crisp for dessert, and I will enjoy it all immensely.  So excited!

Written by Jenn

June 17, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Posted in Eating well

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Upcoming projects

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Since I seem to be surprisingly productive recently, I’m hoping to get a few more projects off the ground soon.   Admittedly, I also need to work on the dissertation more, since it has been lagging a bit in the post-wedding exhaustion, but I’d like to get a few additional projects off the ground.

Container garden – my patio is in a rather questionable state.  I recently got rid of a pile of stuff from it – chairs and plant stands and general crap dropped by the neighbours, oh my! – but it still needs a whole lot of work.  Ideally, I’d like to pick up some extra seedlings to go along with my lone basil plant (which has sadly been besieged by bugs).  I have the pots for them, and although they could use some additional soil and a way to get them a bit more sun, I think this is a reasonable project, especially since I’ll be staying put for the rest of the summer.

Worm composter – I think (and hope perhaps somewhat too desperately) that I may have found a local supplier of composter-appropriate worms. Assuming that I’m not wrong, I’d like to start making my own compost.  Traditional composters aren’t typically allowed outside my building, but I could probably start a worm composter outside and then move it inside without anyone really noticing.  And, given that I need to beef up the soil for my much hoped-for container garden, a worm composter would come in rather handy on that end too.

Kombucha – I’ve only found one local supplier of the SCOBY needed to make kombucha, and their products are a bit on the expensive side.  Happily, I’ve found online instructions for making my own, and as soon as I can find a bottle of raw, organic kombucha, then I’m going to give that a try at home to see how it turns out.

That’s probably enough for now, since the death of my productivity usually comes when I have too much on the go at once.  But it’s nice to have something akin to a plan ready to go and specific things to work on over the next little while.

Written by Jenn

June 16, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Progress

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In terms of work, I’ve managed to accomplish a few things these last few days despite the exhaustion and general craziness.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel like much, but each step is one step closer to getting the dissertation – the biggest project in my life right now – finished.  Most recently I’ve managed to get my dissertation surveys reevaluated and rewritten.  They’re now much stronger, and I feel far more confident in them than I did before.

But there are other recent victories as well, victories that come from not wanting to put my life on hold, and from realizing that I have dreams of a life beyond the PhD and all of what that usually entails.  I don’t know that I’m in a position to have everything that I want right now.  That’s okay, really.  But I want to start taking these small steps towards the life that I really want, and start remodeling the life that I have now into something that more closely matches what I’d like to have someday down the road.

I’ve been spending more time recently thinking about little ways I can make changes, bit by bit.  There’s a tendency to start off trying to do too much, but making small changes is far more sustainable from a personal standpoint.  Even focusing on small changes, a fair amount has been accomplished over here.  In the last few days, I’ve worked my way through:

– Perfecting yummy homemade potato and pasta salads (rather than buying them from the store)

– Learning to make proper homemade fried rice, shrimp with broccoli, salmon burgers and sweet potato fries (so good to know exactly what’s in what I’m eating, and saving us the cost of take-out)

– Creating homemade iced tea and sugar syrup (to give The Boy something other than the high-fructose corn syrup laden stuff from the grocery store)

– Planting basil (and soon other herbs) to use in my kitchen

– Shorter showers at cooler temperatures

– Decluttering the apartment further (need to make room for The Boy, and also my much-hoped-for solar oven, fiddle, and futon)

– Riding my bike around town for errands rather than taking the bus

– Getting a sourdough starter ready for breadmaking

– Picking up my guitar again, and spending time playing it in the evening

In some ways these seem like small victories, but in some ways they don’t.  They’re small steps, sure, but they’re small steps all in one direction – toward a more sustainable life right now, and towards the life that I want.

Next up?  More recipe experiments, a worm composter, and a bike trip to the new farmer’s market this Friday to check out local options for tasty things.

Written by Jenn

June 14, 2010 at 8:37 pm