Friday, April 22, 2011

Dreaming of Spring Gardening

Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival

This post is part of the Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction. Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!

Note from Erin: this post was written a couple of weeks ago for inclusion in the blog carnival. Things are looking a little different in the back yard right now. Watch for an update post coming soon!!

Well, so this is what my backyard looks like right now. (As you can see, the Spring Indicator is still standing. And yes I DID manage to catch a chickadee on the bird feeder with my Blackberry camera, go me!!) Anyway. Snow. SNOW!! I've had enough of it.

Over the last few years, I've been making some conscious efforts to "eat local". Food transportation costs have always bothered me. Why should I eat an apple from another continent when we're so close to one of the biggest fruit-growing regions in Canada? And I've promised myself that as the growing season gets rolling here in Southwestern Ontario, I am going to make more of an effort this year to bypass the grocery store produce section and buy directly from the farmers...we have so many great farmer's markets around here. But what could be more local than my own back yard??

Those lovely raised beds back there are all filled up, just waiting for warmer weather to come. I'm so excited about gardening this year! Last year, I planted seeds and seedlings then went away for seven weeks, and came home to a ridiculous jungle. Hopefully this year I'll be able to maintain it a bit better as it goes along.

Last year, we were signed up with the Fertile Ground CSA, which was completely and utterly awesome. But we're not doing it again this year, the hope being that with TWO raised beds, we can produce enough veggies on our own to keep us going without the CSA share. I'm planning to grow tomatoes (heritage varieties, of course, obtained from the Little City Farm seedling sale), various greens (lettuce, spinach, tatsoi mustard, rapini), green beans, zucchini, leeks, green onions and "lemon" cucumbers. Maybe carrots, if I have enough room. And possibly some other things that I'm forgetting at the moment. I'm also planning to dig up the sod next to the garage on the left there, and make that the new spot for the herb bed...they didn't do so well last year hidden away behind the hop trellis. Oh yeah, we're growing hops again, too. That's what the pole on the right is for. Local hops for the home-brewed beer, yeah! And I'm really, really hoping that the asparagus I planted last year delivers a few spears this spring.

I've also been learning how to do some basic cheese-making at home. I've been enjoying some amazingly delicious homemade cottage cheese lately, and hope to perfect the mozzarella-making technique. My eventual goal is to make a completely homemade pizza...just need to get some local flour for the dough, and make a simple margherita, with tomatoes and basil from the garden and homemade mozza. It's going to be so awesome. And you can't have any. Well, maybe if you ask real nice...

Earth Day Blog Carnival - Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt JunctionVisit Monkey Butt Junction and Child of the Nature Isle to read all about the Earth Day Blog Carnival.
Going Green in 2011 - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses the way she and her family are going “greener” in 2011.

Our Greatest Teacher - Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares her experiences with her children and nature, their greatest teacher.

Dreaming of Spring Gardening - Erin of the Waterloons talks about the ultimate in local food, her backyard garden.

Earth Conscious Minimalism - Nada at miniMOMist thinks minimalism can help you save the world — as long as you don’t just toss everything in the trash! Check out Her list of places to donate (bet you haven’t thought of them all!).

Blessings to the Earth - Amy at Anktangle believes that a simple act, such as being intentionally grateful for our food, is just the catalyst we need to bring about large-scale change.

Eight Movies to Inspire Change - Mrs Green at Little Green Blog shares her top 8 movies that have inspired her to take action to make the world a better place. She’d love to hear your suggestions to add to her viewing list!

Can I Have a Green Period Too? Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the environmental impact of switching to sustainable menstrual products, along with offering a great Mama Cloth giveaway for anyone interested in making the switch (and for those who already have and want to increase their stash!).

An Eden to Call Our Own - Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how learning to care for the Earth starts in her own garden.

Elimination Communication - Melissa at the New Mommy Files discusses the environmental impact of diapering, and why elimination communication was the best choice for her family.

The Living Earth: A Meditation in Science and Reverence - Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante asks you to pause to wonder at the blessing of the fact that our living planet is here at all.

Earth Day Anthem - Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro created a poem in honor of Mother Earth, women and nurturers everywhere.

The Plasticity of Compromise - Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how she is working to compromise on healthy family living and avoiding plastics whenever possible.

Earth Day Resolutions - Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares why she has decided to make Earth Day resolutions, what those resolutions are, and how they are a step up from her current efforts at green living.

Is it time for you to say “Enough!”? Mrs Green at My Zero Waste asks you to rise up and say ‘Enough!’ on Earth Day.

Homeschooling with the Earth - Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares her desires and dreams for Earth-based learning and the ways her two young children have already started a natural curriculum.

Beyond the Green Sheen - Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction offers some advice on how to avoid greenwashing and make purchasing choices that really have a positive impact.


  1. Isn't it crazy to think how far some of the food in our stores has to travel!? Here on Guam, we have mangoes lying on the ground in public parks, and mangoes from Mexico and Ecuador in the supermarket. It's downright sad when you really think about it!

    Many good wishes for your lovely garden!!

  2. Wow, you have some great ideas going on in that back yard. Homegrown hops, now there is something I never would've thought of! We have started looking to purchasing organic local everything, and are slowly transitioning away from things that aren't grown right here at home. I'm looking forward to the new seasons as they approach. As things become available at our local Farmer's Market, we will be stocking up and preparing things for our freezer (I'm a huge fan of freezer cooking!). I can't wait to see how your garden grows, Mary Mary Quite Contrary!

  3. wow, cheese making? that's awesome. You have so many special plans and I feel totally elated when I hear about all the delicious things people are growing at home. Eating local produce is SUCH an important thing to do and will be increasingly so and I think growing your own will be a matter of survival. Great stuff!

  4. I'm very impressed with the cheese making! We're going to need to create raised beds... We have too many animals in our yard for a regular garden area :-) Happy Earth Day!

  5. Oh my goodness - homemade cottage cheese sounds amazing! Do you have techniques or resources to share? :)

    I will be gardening for the first time this year (also in Ontario! Hi neighbor!) and I SO do not have a green thumb, so it should be an interesting prospect :) But am very much hoping it will work out. I look forward to following your experiences!

    Thanks so much for the inspiration this Earth Day (and crossing my fingers that we won't get any more snow!!)

  6. @Kelly Maybe next time I make a batch I will try blogging it. It's super easy! Slightly outside the focus of this blog, but what the heck, eh?

  7. Sounds like your garden is going to be flourishing this year. It's so wonderful to eat home grown food - I find something extra special in using our few home grown items. And yeah there's nothing so local as produce from your own back-yard! I look forward to seeing more photos in the summer months.

  8. Although we do not have snow on the ground, I have not been able to start my garden due to a recent surgery. It depresses me. I want to be able to eat home grown this year in the worst way and to teach my little one about it as well. Love that you are making cheese. I adore my home made cream cheese. Nothing better than that!

  9. I can't wait to see how your garden turns out! My partner and I are toying with the idea of doing a CSA share this year for the first time, but I want to know that the food will all be used up and not go to waste (since I also have many vegetables growing). I haven't tried making cheese yet...sounds great! I'm definitely jealous of your pizza plans. =)

  10. I'm totally excited for my garden this year too, even though we're in an apartment right now and all I have is an Earthbox, a grow bag and some other thing. Still, every little bit helps! I've been contemplating the idea of making my own cheese too, but haven't worked up the nerve :)'re awesome!

  11. This is a great post for the Earth Day carnival. "What could be more local than your own backyard?" is right! I'm also looking forward to another year of gardening with the kids. I find that if they grow it, tend it, pick it, and help cook it, then they're much more likely to eat it. I love having kids that will fill up on snacks they picked themselves in the yard. I'm trying to add some more staple items like more types of lettuce and some things to can.

    Will you share your beer-making and cheese making recipes, please? I'd love to hear about it.