Make the 1% Pay Their Fair Share In Taxes

If you haven’t already seen this, please take the time to watch this video about fair taxes. If you have seen this video, sign the petition (below) and pass it on.

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KC Eat Local Food Expo: Review

Last weekend I attended the Kansas City Food Circle’s Eat Local Food Expo, which was held in the Johnson County Community College (JCCC) gym. As the KC Food Circle says, the Food Expo is a great place to:

Meet and buy direct from local organic and free-range farmers and vendors. Snatch up early seedlings, fresh greens, free-range meat and eggs and get our free Directory of local organic and free range producers. You can also get info on farmers market and CSAs.

That’s exactly what I did. :D

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Once again the Expo was terrific! The Expo was well organized, just like previous years. The tables were set up in a large rectangle, so that you could walk around the perimeter, and look at the booths on either side of you. It was also easy to look across the gym, to see what was over there.

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EatLocal-4I was able to pick up two blueberry plants ($25 a pair) and a gooseberry ($8) from Bear Creek Farms. The plants are two years old. It was a really great deal and I am really pleased.

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I can’t wait for next year, when I get enough blueberries to stuff myself and make jam.

The next KC Eat Local Food Expo will be held a week from this coming Saturday.

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Saturday, April 12,  2014 * (9:30 am – 2:30 pm)
MCC – Penn Valley Community College
Physical Education Building / Gymnasium
3200 Broadway, Kansas City, MO 64111

Here’s a link to the Expo Flyer (PDF).

I have been there before. It is really easy to get there, and there is plenty of parking. You should go!

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Time To Order Seeds!

Close-up of Vier vlinders op bloemen, Paulus Knogh, 1747 - 1802;  paper, h 276mm × w 205mm;  www.rijksmuseum.nl
Close-up of Vier vlinders op bloemen, by Paulus Knogh, 1747 – 1802;
paper, h 276mm × w 205mm;
www.rijksmuseum.nl

Time to order those seeds!

It is definitely Spring, and planting time is just around the corner. This week, I got busy ordering new seeds and sweet potato slips. This is what I am looking forward to planting.

Seeds

affiliate-link-badge3bThis year, I purchased my seeds from Botanical Interests. I have grown their seeds before, and always found them to be reliable. Plus, they have those cool packets with beautiful illustrations and useful information inside. I ordered my seeds yesterday, and are going to arrive tomorrow!

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Italian Large Leaf Basil (Ocimum basilicum): This is the basil that you are probably most familiar with. It’s an annual, so you have to start it every year from scratch.

5021p-Basil-Lemon-Mrs-BurnsMrs. Burns Basil Lemon  (Ocimum basilicum citriodorum): Surprise! Lemony basil!

 

 

 

6078p-Lemon_Balm-OrganicLemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): I grew this last year and loved it. It doesn’t look like it survived the Winter, so I thought that I had better get some new seeds going.

Lemon balm is sort of like mint, only lemony! It is terrific on eggs, chicken and pork chops. It is also good in iced tea.

5037p-Oregano-True-GreekTrue Greek Oregano (Origanum heracleoticum): I’m sure that you know what oregano is. But, did you know that it is perennial?

 

 

 

0135p-Gourd-LuffaLuffa Gourd (Luffa aegyptiaca): Believe it our not, Luffa is edible! I happen to be allergic to squash, so I am hoping that luffa will be a good substitute.

To eat the luffa, they are harvested when they are young, or about 6-inches or less. To make the luffa “sponges,” you grow the gourds until they harden completely. When the gourds are dry, you simply break off the shell and collect the seeds for the next year.

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Prairie Splendor Seeds (Assorted Genera and species): This is a blend of native wild flowers, including annuals, perennials and biennials. I really love all of these flowers. The butterflies and birds seem to like them too. This looks like a great way to plant some of everything without having to purchase each seed variety individually. After all, I only have a few gardens to plant.

Sweet Potato Slips

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I have grown sweet potatoes for the last few years, but I wasn’t really happy with my results. I think that it is related to the heavy clay soil that we have around here.

This year, I purchased sweet potato slips from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

I am going to try out Sweetie Pie sweet potato, which  was developed for clay soil. This is what the website says about them.

A brand-new variety selected by Doug Jones at Piedmont Biofarm in North Carolina. Orange fleshed, heart-shaped leaves. The Sweetie Pie produced plentiful, hefty roots in poor-quality clay soil where other varieties faltered. Sweetie Pies are a great choice for sweet potato pie bakers!

I am really looking forward to trying these Sweetie Pie sweet potatoes out! They don’t yet have a picture for their seed catalog. Maybe I can send them some photos of mine in the Fall. :D

porto-rico-sweet-potato-slipsI am also going to try out the Bunch Porto Rico sweet potato. It was developed to grow as a bunch or clump, instead of the usual vine. That sure would be a great space saver. This is what the website says about the Bunch Porto Rico sweet potatoes.

Bunch Porto Rico is a great variety for folks with not a lot of space for a plant known for its sprawl. Short compact vines produce roots with a copper-colored skin and a light red flesh. Popular for baking.

I plan to grow 6-slips of each variety. This time, I will grow them directly in the ground, instead of experimenting with pots and lasagna gardening. I had terrible yields with those two experiments. The first time I grew sweet potatoes, I grew them in the ground, and had great results. I hope to have good luck this time, too.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange sells a wide variety of sweet potato slips, for only $10.00 for six slips. Larger quantities are also available. Slips will be shipped to me in late Spring.

 



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Slash Your Grocery Bills With Hydroponics- Guest Post

This is a Guest Post by Chris Wimmer of CaptainHydroponics.com. I thought that he had some interesting ideas about growing food hydroponically for not much money. I hope that you find his article informative.

Slash Your Grocery Bills With Hydroponics

About the Author: Chris is an urban hydroponic hobbyist who uses hydroponics to maximize his 400 square foot yard and extend the short Chicago growing season. Chris blogs about his hydroponic experiences at CaptainHydroponics.com. You can e-mail Chris with your questions at chriswimmer@captainhydroponics.com.

A great way to reduce your grocery bill is to start growing some of your own produce.  While most people would assume this would mean planting a garden in your backyard this summer, I would like to suggest you create a hydroponic garden which can be setup inside or outside allowing for year round growing. 

save money

So what is hydroponics?  In Latin it means “working water” but a better modern way to explain it to a friend is gardening without dirt.  The dirt is replaced with an inert medium such as rockwool or coco coir.  The plant is fed nutrient rich water directly to the roots which allows the plant to grow bigger, faster, and healthier as it doesn’t need to search for nutrients in the soil.

 Ways you’ll save money with hydroponics:

  • Seasonal pricing: There’s nothing worse than being on a tight budget and going to your favorite supermarket or big box store, to find out that tomato season just ended and now they’re double the price. Growing in your home, shed, or greenhouse with hydroponics means there are no more seasons!
  • Less waste: How often do you buy produce, only to forget about it or have it start to rot a day or two after you buy it? We’ve all had this happen. With hydroponics, you won’t waste the food anymore. You can harvest as the plant matures – fresh from the twig, vine, etc.!
  • Focus on high priced produce: Since you probably won’t be able to grow all the vegetables you need, focus on the expensive ones.  Herbs, salad greens, and tomatoes are typically the most expensive per pound produce you’ll find at the store.  Skip growing potatoes, carrots, corn, and onions as they are usually super cheap year round. 

hydroponic tomatoes

Set up your own inexpensive hydroponic garden:

While you can spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy out of the box system, you can buy and build your own for less than $50 and if you are creative you can probably do it for less than 20 bucks.

If you are interested in building your own system, I’ve provided a step by step guide to a homemade hydroponic system.  This setup can support those expensive herbs, salad greens, and tomatoes (just add a trellis).  I purchased all of my supplies at Home Depot and Amazon.com but if you have ever had an aquarium there’s a good chance you already have many of the items on the list.  The key is to be creative!

This system can be used inside or outside but given one of the key cost saving comes from growing ‘out of season’ produce; you will need a full spectrum grow light to grow indoors during the winter.  Again, lighting systems can be expensive to buy but I created a DIY grow light for $10.  If you use CF bulbs it will only cost a couple dollars to run your lights all year.

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Lack of Empathy Causes…

Empathy-Obama-Quote-lg-web

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Natural Effect OR Green Washing?

I picked up a bagel with cream cheese this morning. And What do you know? I found a tiny example of either The Natural Effect or Green Washing, or maybe both.

natural-effect

I wondered how much renewable energy Kraft actually used to produce this cream cheese. So, I tried to find out. The package says to go to creamcheese.com, which I did.  I couldn’t actually find a single fact about renewable energy on that site. Additionally, the one video that might have told me something about using renewable energy to make cream cheese didn’t work.

Natural Effect OR Green Washing?
Do you think labeling cream cheese with "made with renewable energy" is the Natural Effect, Green Washing, or Both?
 
Cream Cheese?
Would you buy cream cheese because it was "made with renewable energy"?

 

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KC Eat Local Food Expo This Saturday

This Saturday is the first of two KC Eat Local Food Expos is being held in the gym of our local community college, Johnson County Community College (a.k.a. JCCC). Below is their flyer.

Attending the Local Food Expo is a terrific Independence Day Activity for the whole family.

I have attended the Expo several times and loved it. The KC Food Expo is a terrific place to learn about local food producers, purchase locally grown food of all types, including veggies/fruit, dairy, meat and grains. I have purchased locally grown and cured bacon and locally grown bulk wheat.

The Expo is also a great place to learn about gardening and farming. That is also where I learned about Aronias and purchased my first two bushes.

I hope that I have time to attend the one this Saturday. If not, maybe I can make the one in April.

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Signs Of Spring In My Office

It has been very dreary around here. It snowed just a few days ago and rained hard last night. Today is another grim-looking day, with a wan light trying to break through a blanket of grey clouds.

So, to lighten up your mood, here is another Sign of Spring for you to enjoy…this time in my office window.

LiveForEver

Photo #1: My Live-for-Ever plant has been looking pretty dead over the past several months. It is mostly dead and dried out branches.

Photo #2: But what’s this? Down in the dry crusty soil there are new green babies sprouting from the dust of their parents.



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Artist Skeptical of Climate Change Action

Photos of Isaac Cordal’s sculpture “Politicians Discussing Global Warming” (among others) are making their way around the internet, even as we speak. Perhaps they are going viral…

This particular sculpture is part of his Follow The Leaders installation, and is/was in Berlin, Germany back in 2011. It’s a pretty accurate statement of how things work, if I don’t say so myself.

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You can see more of Cordal’s work by clicking here. You can also read more about Cordal’s work here.

 

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Spring Gardening Wish List

Spring-Wish-List-3-12-2014Affiliate Link3cHere is my Spring Gardening Wish List. It’s that time of year again. Time to get out into the garden. Here are a few tools that I could really use right now.

1.  I have no idea what the condition of my soil is, except that it is mostly clay. This Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Soil Test Kit has everything that I need to test pH and NPK. I can do up to 100 tests!

2.  I really need a new Dramm 13864 Kaleidoscope Rain Wand 16-Inch Length with Touch-N-Flow Valve, Green. I already have an old one, and love it! I am looking forward to purchasing a second rain wand. I especially like that I can adjust the type of spray and it has a little lock to keep the squeeze trigger open, for spraying the water. I also like that I can put the nozzle right under the tomatoes, to keep the spray off of the leaves. :)

3.  I could also use a Hydrofarm CK64050 Germination Station with Heat Mat or two. I have always wanted one with a heated mat, so that I can get my seedling off to a faster start.

4.  A Fiskars 9424 Garden Bucket Caddy. This could really make my life easier. All you have to do is attach it to a 5-gallon bucket. I’ve got plenty of those. I bet you do too.

5.  And several Smart Pots 10-Gallon Smart Pot Soft-Sided Container, Black. I have several things growing in several 20-gallon smart pots. I have reviewed them previously, and you can read that here. At first, I didn’t like them. But after I saw how well things grow in them, I became a convert. My fig tree really loved its smart pot. The smart pots also made moving my large  plants a breeze. All I had to do was put them on the moving truck. Aand viola, plants moved to a new home lick-ity split.

I am looking forward to getting a few more smart pots. Ihave  a rhubarb to transplant into one, from the garden. I have three Aronias, but I would like to expand my collection. They love the smart pots, so it would be great to start the babies in small smart pots (i.e., 2 to 5-gallon sizes). And, finally, I would like to add a few blueberry plants. Last year, I planted two blueberries, but only one survived. The survivor needs some friends to pollinate it and help it to bear more fruit than if it was alone.

What is on your Spring Wish List?

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