Raspberries and Spinach

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

We spent Memorial Day weekend trying to get all the plants in the ground. My husband started all the plants from seeds beginning in February. Some of those original seedlings traveled from Key West all the way back to our home near Pittsburgh encased in wet paper towels and held in plastic containers in our luggage. All survived the journey.

Today, I put out all the plants we were unable to get into the ground, including tomatoes and zucchini ready to bust out of their pots. Our mail delivery woman decided she would take them all.

We froze another 16 bags of spinach on Saturday (bringing total to 28). You can read about my freezing process in my blog from last week. That’s probably about all I’ll freeze this year. Many of the plants have already gone to seed. But some of the older variety of flat-leafed spinach are resisting our heat and dryness and still putting food on the table. Last night we had a big pot of steamed spinach. We may have another couple of weeks to enjoy those fresh treats.

Robert created a 25′ x 4′ spot to plant 11 raspberry plants. We have several varieties and five of them may be providing fruit by June.

Four more tomato plants went in bringing total to 14. He saved back four more from the give away table, which he’ll plant this week.

It’s been back-breaking work in the heat, but we’re hoping it rains today. The thunder is rumbling outside as I write this blog.We’ve been recycling all our water to use on the plants, but we’re still having to water (sparingly, of course).

Joyce, our mail deliverer, offered to pay for the plants. I told her our payment was giving these plants to a good home. It’s good to eat local even if the seeds sprouted in the Florida Keys!

I’m printing this one out and heading for the store. It’s good advice and easy and much cheaper. Plus it’s better for the environment – particularly those of us on septic tanks.

Kana's Chronicles

Here we are—the second installment of do-it-yourself products on my money-saving mission for the household… We got off to a small-scale but sparkly start the other day with DIY jewelry cleaner, which did an amazing job without the gagging sulfur-smells of commercial cleaners. And that actually raises a point I hadn’t addressed before. I’ve been focusing on the money-saving aspect, but the products we’re starting to make for ourselves are indisputably healthier to have around the house, and eminently more ecologically friendly than the chemical compounds we’ve been in the habit of buying before.

If we handled our household cleaners with the same care with which I was trained to treat chemicals in a microbiology lab, we’d have a thick notebook of MDSD (Material Data Safety Sheet) information, and the number of Poison Control programmed into our phones! “Harmful if swallowed,” “Irritant to Eyes,” “Corrosive,” “Flammable,” “Harmful Vapors,” “Possible…

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This is very inspiring!

wvfarm2u

by Roanna Martin

Steve and Sunshine Vortigern are passionate about eating great food and sharing it with the world. This passion undergirds and fuels their work- and can be tangibly felt at Round Right Farm.

These two art majors from California are now in their 6th season as CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture)  farmers, and they love the challenge of coaxing vegetables out of the rolling terrain of Terra Alta. In addition to producing and delivering 150 boxes of vegetable shares to six locations every week in the Morgantown and Bruceton Mills area, they sell at Morgantown Farmers’ Market on Saturdays and spend two days a week at the Oakland, Maryland Farmers’ Market.

Operating a CSA helps cash flow at the onset of the season, and having CSA members also spreads the word about local food. Round Right CSA members have a lot of options- they can customize their shares, and…

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It is imperative that we all become water-conscious while we still can. It’s our most precious commodity and we squander it, abuse it, and poison it daily.

The Ωmega Man Journal

Conserving water makes sense on many levels. It saves money, it is better for the environment and it helps people become more self reliant and better prepared for emergencies. The less water you use the less we take from the environment, the less we need for day to day use, the less we need in an emergency, the less we need to have stored or our stores will last longer and finally the less water we have to pay for (pumping, treatment, water bill).

There are many suggestions on how to use less water, I will not come anywhere close to a complete list. The first step to water conservation is being aware of how much water we are using and then searching for ways to use less. The two general types of changes people can make to conserve water are behavioral changes and changes from investing in new equipment/technology.

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What’s Your Carbon Footprint?

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

I challenge you to take this eye-opening Ecological Footprint quiz to take that will tell you how many earth’s it would take to offset your carbon footprint. I’m at 3.3!

I could stop traveling. We probably need to install more water-saving devices in our home. We have an oil furnace but this past month we installed an energy efficient heat pump that will be our primary heat until it goes below 20 degrees. Then the oil furnace will kick on and do the rest.

We eat seafood, but we grow our own vegetables and preserve as much as possible. Our waste management provider does not offer recycling but we have a large basement so every six weeks or so I load up the truck and head to the recycling center with all our paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and aluminum. I’m always heartened when I go because there’s usually a line of cars in the bin area unloading their bottles, cans and newspapers. Even if our waste managers aren’t being responsible, many individuals are.

Let me know your score or if you don’t want to share your score, tell me about ways you’ve cut down or plan to cut down on your carbon footprint.

I’m happy to reblog this thoughtful piece. Love to hear from you on this topic.

BATSHITE

All right, environmentalists: I think it’s time for us to come clean.

We don’t belong to a select club of pious treehuggers. We don’t live at the top of an ivory–er, green–tower, studying the unsustainable masses below with disdain.

We don’t have perfect environmental records. We’ve engaged in all kinds of unsustainable behaviours in the past. Even since the day we realized how urgent humanity’s environmental problems are–and started trying to persuade others to be more green as a result–we still do things that are harmful to the environment.

We’re hypocrites.

And we’re not the only ones. Take the Occupy Wall Street movement, for example–it’s full of hypocrites. Occupiers criticize corporations, yet they also support them, by using smartphones sold by corporations, wearing clothes made by corporations, coordinating through corporate-owned social media, etc.:

And don’t worry–just because I’m the one currently pointing this out doesn’t mean I think I get…

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Five Ways to Go Greener

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

The Sierra Club  offers five simple ways to make a difference in your lifestyle. I’m posting them along with a few of my own. It’s always good to be reminded that we can make easy changes in our ongoing efforts to live greener.

  1. Keep your vehicles tuned up – A well-tuned car burns less gasoline. Change your oil every 3,000 to 4,000 miles and when the air filter is dirty, spend the money to ,change it! It will make a difference. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can improve a car’s gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
  2. Keep the tires properly inflated – US DOE claims you can improve gas mileage by 3.3 percent with properly inflated tires (appropriate tire pressure for your vehicle can be found in owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb). Besides, keeping those tires at the right level will make them last longer, which is good for the pocketbook and for the landfill.
  3. Use “air-dry” on your dishwasher – What a waste of energy to use the heat-dry option when you wash dishes. Depending on your dishwasher, you use 15 to 50 percent less energy by not using heat to dry dishes. Towels work just fine!
  4. Low flow faucets and aerators – This might be a difficult one for most of us accustomed to as much water pressure as we can stand. However, the Sierra Club says  if every U.S. household installed just one, it would save more than 60 billion gallons of water annually. That’s a lot of water not going under the bridge.
  5. Lessen your driving time – Consider biking, walking, and carpooling whenever you can. If public transportation is available, use it. I live in a rural area, eight miles from the nearest store. I keep lists of what I need, so when I go out during the day, I’m going for more than one thing. If I discover I’m missing a crucial ingredient for a recipe, I change plans or I improvise. No impulse drives to the store for me!
  6. Use fewer paper products – I buy cheap dish towels and washcloths and reuse, reuse, reuse. They don’t take up much space in the washing machine when I’m doing towels. We also use cloth napkins at every meal, but we keep track of who uses what and reuse them for several meals before washing. Unless it’s a picnic away from the house, we don’t use paper plates or cups either. I buy very few paper products.

What things can you add to this list?

P.C. ZICK

Live from the Road is now published and on May 23 and May 24, the trip is free.

All you have to do is go to my amazon.com page, and click to order the novel for your Kindle, i-pad, i-phone or PC. Get the book now for a great Memorial Day read about how the Mother Road changed the lives of four modern day female Jack Kerouacs. Remember May 23 and May 24 the book is free on amazon. The regular price is $3.95.

Overview:

Meg Newton and Sally Sutton seek a change in the mundane routine of their lives. “Is this all there is?” Sally asks Meg after visiting a dying friend in the hospital. That’s when Meg suggests they take a journey to discover the answer. Joined by their daughters, they set off on a journey of salvation enhanced by the glories of the Mother Road. Along…

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Spinach: From ground to freezer in a few short steps

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

We froze twelve bags of spinach this morning – each bag contains two servings. Before we started the process, I had to seek out several sources to be reminded of how to do this correctly so spinach tastes almost fresh when thawed.

Four days ago, my husband picked the spinach. He waited for a dry day and picked late afternoon. The spinach was very dry, and he packed it in a grocery bag. He removed all the air before tying the bag shut. Then we placed it in a second bag and put it in the refrigerator. He did three bags this way. We couldn’t get to the next step until this morning, but because the spinach had been put away dry and without air, it was as fresh as when he picked it. It’s preferable to freeze right after picking, but if that is impossible (as it was for us this week), this is a good alternative.

Here’s the steps to preserving as much of the vitamins and taste as possible. Last year our frozen spinach tasted “almost” like we’d just picked it.

  1. Wash the leaves – Put the leaves in a sink of cold water and carefully wash off all dirt and grass. Put in colander to drain.
  2. Chop the leaves – I didn’t do this last year, and I was sorry. While the spinach tasted great, it was a bit stringy. I chopped them into about 1-inch squares.
  3. Blanch – Bring a big pot of water to boil and place one colander full of leaves into the water for two minutes.
  4. Ice water bath – Submerge in ice water for another two minutes.
  5. Place in colander in a large bowl or pot and let drain for a few minutes.
  6. Put into freezer bag that is labeled and dated.

One colander full equals two servings and fits perfectly into the sandwich bag size freezer bag. It’s fine if some water is in the bag – it’s probably better for the spinach. Last year we ended up with nineteen bags which lasted us until March.

We’ll probably get another dozen bags before the spinach growing season ends in the next few weeks. However, my husband is concerned because our weather has been very hot here in western Pennsylvania the last few days, and he believes the spinach could bolt and go to seed.

Time will tell, but at least we have those twelve bags of spring goodness ready to devour on a winter’s cold night in January.

Sounds good, but is it something that would be sustained? Lots of waste going on in offices. I would hope at the very least there’s recycling occurring.

News and Recent Events

Composting in an office environment might sound taboo to some, but it provides a valuable opportunity to save costs, bring co-workers together for a common purpose, and cultivate resource-rich materials. The many benefits compost offers such as the satisfaction from cultivating it, and seemingly magical properties has earned compost the nick name “Black Gold”.

The accumulation of waste produced over the years has been growing to the extent that options to store trash in landfills and transport it from city centers are becoming very limited and extremely expensive. In 2010, over the course of just one year, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash. Only 30% of this was recycled or composted, but there is potential for about 95% to be recycled or composted.

Jules Miller, a manager at Verdantix which is an independent analyst firm focusing on energy, environment, and sustainability is working to close this gap…

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