My Garden: planting from compost sprouts

It’s spring again in Texas, and I’ve clearly learned nothing from the failure of my garden last year. The only thing I grew successfully was a few good bell pepper plants and a whole lot of mint. Mint, mint, mint. I mean, I love mint in my green tea in the summer (it’s one of the natural coolants that I recommend if you are giving up antiperspirant), but the amount of mint I have had in the last year is ridiculous. After I planted it initially, I had a lot of people warn me that I never should have planted it in a garden because it would take over. They were not kidding. That stuff pops up in the weirdest places. Like growing out of the side of the raised bed:

Mint growing from side of raised bedWeird.

Most of my herbs came back: parsley and two kinds of mint, as well as the strawberries from last year which are now putting out little flowers.

The minute it got warm outside about a month ago, I was out there planting seeds and watering things again just like I hadn’t killed nearly a dozen plants last year. Some time last November I planted kale and swiss chard seeds by haphazardly throwing them into the ground willy-nilly, because they were supposed to bloom in the cooler weather (it doesn’t get cold here until late December/early January — this year it was February). I thought the seeds had died, but suddenly sprouts appeared a few weeks ago and now I have some pretty decent sized plants!

Swiss Chard April 2013
The thin little shoots are leek sproutlings that I got from a neighbor, they were initially sprouted for our elementary school’s community garden and there were extras.

Leeks April 2013

The rest of the garden has evolved from another odd spot: compost sprouts.

First of all, my compost bin is not so much a bin as it is a circle of chicken wire at the side of the house that I dump things into and turn with a shovel every 10 days or 2 weeks. More accurately: I do it when I remember.

I add things to it, but it’s more of a random compilation than a science. Because I do tend to, um, leave it alone a bit too long, when I do turn it I often find little sprouts in the mishmash. For example, some kind of root vegetable that had gone bad and was tossed into the compost bin had a full 6-7 inch plant growing from it. A head of garlic that sprouted was also almost 4 inches tall in there. My mother was visiting one day and found a huge collection of squash sprouts. Unfortunately, the squash died when I tried to transplant it to the garden. But the mysterious root vegetable is now nearly a foot tall!

Sprout from compost

And the garlic is looking pretty healthy too:

Garlic from compost

Just yesterday I found some other tiny thing in the compost and planted it as well.

I have no idea what that thing is either. I guess we’ll see when it starts sprouting something!

If I don’t kill it first.

How about you? Have you planted anything yet? Do you also raid your compost for sprouts, or is that just me?

7 Quick Takes Friday #48

— 1 —

The weather last week was warm and sunny for a few days, so of course I started planting things. Because I have such a great record of success with gardens. Of course, this week it’s been in the 30’s at night. So I’ve probably already killed everything.

— 2 —

I almost did an “All the Drama on the Internets” about Marissa Meyer eliminating working from home at Yahoo, but there wasn’t much drama in that there weren’t many differences of opinion, that I could tell. Everyone was pretty united in thinking that what she did was a bad idea and sets us all back as women in the workplace.

— 3—

You might have noticed that I frequently run advertising for ThredUp, which is a way to buy used children’s clothing online that is similar to a consignment sale or shop, only online so you don’t have to leave your house. You can also sell your used children’s clothing the same way, they send a bag to your house and you fill it up and get credit for clothing in the future. It is a very green thing to do, and you know I love consignment sales. I’ve heard really good feedback from others, but I’d actually never tried it myself. Last night I placed my first order. I’ll be letting you know how it goes, I am excited to receive my first box!

— 4 —

Speaking of advertising, now is the time to purchase advertising on this blog! If you purchase an ad now, you can get 10% off the cost by purchasing 3 months at a time using the promo code 3MonthsOfFun. If you are a fellow blogger, consider purchasing a 125×125 spot to run during Blissdom! Here’s the size of a 125×125:

Conscientious Confusion - a blog about living consciously

— 5 —

Are you on Vine yet? I am, but let me tell you: I am terrible at it. Terrible. I like the people who do stop-animation with Vine. Super cool!

— 6 —

Blissdom is next month but I’m probably not going to conference because it costs money. However, I do live 45 minutes away so if you’re a blogger who is attending and would like to get together at a local restaurant, I bet we could get a group together! Email me!

— 7 —

I have noticed that Facebook click through rates for this blog are pretty terrible. I’m not going to close down the FB page, but if you’re looking for me, I’m mostly on Twitter. Or you can subscribe to receive my blog posts via email or RSS.

Well that’s all for this week, be sure to visit Conversion Diary for links to more 7 Quick Takes Fridays.

To Do List 2013

Happy New Year! As you might remember from previous years, I don’t do “resolutions” but I stole the idea of a yearly To Do list from Jennie. Much more satisfactory. Here are mine for 2013.
    1. Finally make those reusable snack bags.
      I bought some nylon fabric and coordinating cotton probably almost a year ago and still haven’t attempted to sew snack bags out of it. I had some awesome Snack Taxi snack bags for years and this year they both went MIA. I am ashamed to say that I am using plastic baggies more now, and I hate it. I need to just sit down at a few naptimes and sew some seams to solve this problem.
    2. Print family blog books.
      I have a woefully neglected family blog that I go and back-date-post so that my children will have some semblance of a scrapbook type thing for our family. In 2009 and 2010 I used Blog2Print to print books for the year and they turned out very nicely. All this year I have had “2011 blog book” on my To Do list. And lookee here, now I have “2011 AND 2012 blog books” on my To Do list. I really need to do this, it’s ridiculous. I think the amount of editing it takes is a little intimidating.
    3. Meal planning.
      I hate that this shows up every year. I hate meal planning for picky toddlers that can’t have soy or dairy and won’t eat meat or beans. I hate planning and planning and still going over budget and me being the only one that eats anything I cook. That is all.
    4. Patch some giant holes in our walls.
      When we moved into this house over a year ago, the baby gate at the top of the stairs was installed backwards, so we had to rip it off and re-install it correctly. Then the screws fell out of the wall and we had to re-drill. What is left is a horrible, horrible mess. I need to get some fine sandpaper, some spackle, and the original paint from the walls and repaint it. What has been stopping me is 1) the idea of going to Home Depot and tracking down some moron who doesn’t understand what I am looking for, and 2) digging through our 800 cans of paint in the garage to figure out which one matches the stairway.
    5. Repaint other messed up paint…or do something about it.
      When we moved in last year, the painters put latex paint on top of oil-based paint in our living room, which is a big no-no. As a result, pieces have been flaking off or been rubbed off. I have no idea how to fix this, but someone should. SOMEONE.
    6. Do something about the front yard.
      We have giant bushes covering up our porch and half of the bushes are dead, it looks terrible. My first impulse was to rent a chainsaw and go at that stuff but I don’t think Christian was super excited about that idea. Also, whatever it is needs to be pretty much FREE.
    7. Go to the dentist.
      Without dental insurance since I quit my full time job in 2011, and having moved to the suburbs away from our former dentist practice (it was just a dentist-in-a-box anyway), I actually have not had my teeth cleaned or looked at since I was pregnant with Little Lady. I really need a teeth cleaning.
    8. Take Little Sir to the dentist.
      Oh geez. I am dreading this way more than going to the dentist myself. Mostly because it is bound to be super expensive to go to a pediatric dentist without insurance. I freaking hate going to doctors that I feel are unnecessary so that they can tell me or my children that “everything looks fine”. And that will be $1,000, thank you very much. uuuuuggh.
    9. Try again with the garden.
      I have to keep trying, I guess.


There you go, I’ll do posts about any of these things that I accomplish and update you again at the end of the year! What’s on your to do list for 2013?

To Do List 2012: How did I do?

Oh look, it’s almost 2013! Time to look back at my To Do List from 2012 and see if I accomplished any of it.

1. Eat better.
To make this a little more measurable, I’ll just say that I want to get back to eating at least 5-7 whole fruits and veggies per day.
Sort of done. I have been doing a lot better as far as cutting out the extra sugar and carbs but I’m probably still not up to 5-7 veggies a day. Mostly because I give all the fruits and veggies in the house to my kids, and there are rarely any left for me. Those things are expensive! But I am still drinking my NingXia Red, which is packed with antioxidants, so I think that helps.

2. Resume meal planning.
I did pretty good with this probably 6 months out of the year, off and on. ¬†At one point, I got depressed about how much money we spend on groceries and stopped even trying. Then we found out that Little Sir is dairy and soy intolerant and that threw another wrench in the planning because I can’t use Food On The Table or eMeals since they all contain dairy ingredients that I can’t always substitute. I am currently off the wagon. This is going to show up on the 2013 list again, dang it.

3. Regular exercise.
I want to aim for 3 days a week.

Oh thank God, one that I can actually cross off the list. Thanks to becoming a Lagree Fitness instructor at Ultimate Pilates Plano, I am now in better shape than I was before the kids. I actually do have six-pack abs, not lying. I would love to take pictures but that seems really indecent for a family-friendly blog. OK, I did take pictures in the mirror once but I haven’t shown anyone. However, this is not bragging because it is very hard work and continues to be very challenging. It’s not like I am saying “oh look, I have magically great abs! Whee! Be jealous!”. Nooooo, I write routines that are specifically heavy on moves targeting my transverse abdominal muscles and my obliques, and I do those routines for 50 minutes, at least 3 times a week. And I must mention, I teach these routines in my classes so if you want to work on your post-baby body like I did…you know where I am!

4. Attempt monetization of this blog
“Attempt monetization” is not a very measurable goal, but let’s just say I’ll research and apply for some ad networks and work on ways that I could increase my readership. Such as participating in blogger link-ups.

First of all, I would like to give yet another shout-out to my wonderful sponsor Tanya of Happy Feet, Healthy Body who has an Etsy shop selling handmade bath and health products that are completely free of toxins but also provide the natural healing powers of essential oils. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing her products! She has an excellent headache remedy and an amazing lavender lip balm that I use every night. And if you are in the Dallas area, she can even arrange for local delivery rather than paying for shipping.

I feel like I have done some positive work in this direction. I have also joined up with a number of other green bloggers via The Green Sisterhood and some closed Facebook groups. I actually don’t participate in a ton of link-ups, but that is because I am very picky about my topics and I don’t do a lot of giveaways. I feel like I am heading in the right direction and I’m looking forward to 2013!

5. Start potty learning with my son
This is pretty much done! Now that we’ve addressed the stomach issues of dairy and soy intolerance and provided both negative and positive incentives (positive alone did not inspire him), he has very few pee or poop accidents. Well, thank goodness that only took about 7 months.

6. Decorate the kids’ rooms
I think they look a lot less bare now. I put the animal and letter decals up in my son’s room and hung his name picture and handprints, and he accumulated a number of additional toys and books to fill up some of the extra space. I put up a lovely tree decal in my daughter’s room and bought some curtains. She also got a bookcase with bins like brother’s and a bureau for her clothes. I am sure I could do more but there’s not a ton of space. I like what we have right now!

7. Plant a garden
Hahaha, that was pretty much a failure except for the bell peppers, but there is a good reason that I didn’t specify that it had to be a successful garden. I ended up getting enough bell peppers that, when chopped, fill up a plastic baggie (I know, PLASTIC, I lose my green cred yet again) in the freezer. That is a significant crop considering how small they were. But they died in the snow on Christmas Day, so that’s done. Since we have such a nice raised bed setup now, I’ll try again next year.

Need feedback: Future posts?

If you haven’t been following this blog long (and a lot of you are new, thanks to Green Sisterhood, CottonBabies, and Dallas Moms Blog – hi! welcome!), you might not have noticed that since my last BlogHer, I’ve really been trying to focus the intention of this blog to be less random stream-of-consciousness, Jenny’s-personal-thoughts-about-today and more eco-friendly and green. More Pin-able and less philosophical. Which is a smart and noble endeavor, I believe, especially since I really want to grow my blog to something more than 50 people that I’ve met IRL at some point in my life and who think I am weird enough to be amusing.

But then, things like last week happen. Where I have a lot of random thoughts in my head but none of them are relevant to my green living endeavors or long enough to be an entire blog post. In fact, a lot of them are probably bemoaning the ways I’m failing and can’t seem to gain traction. So I just don’t post at all. How is THAT helping my blog? To not post? Probably not much.

Yet, I have a lot of random things to share, which I often do on my blog’s Facebook page (make sure you’ve “Like”ed me!).

  • The defeat of Proposition 37 in California and what does that mean for our ability to be conscientious consumers? I think I am too unhappy that this failed to see a way out right now. The truth is, Prop 37 failed because a lot of big corporations have a lot of money and they had the advertising and lobby power to convince people in a tight economy that their overall health and ability to be informed is going to cost them too much. When the opposite is true. It’s another case of Big Corp and Big Money winning and I am just so dang sick of being optimistic about that battle when it seems unrealistic.
  • What is going on with my garden: it is actually currently producing a fairly good crop of tiny but healthy bell peppers! I think I will collect the entire crop, chop them up and freeze them, and make a stir fry. For one person. I already made these cute bell pepper eggs once. Only the pepper was so small that I made a little flower with all the rings instead…it’s hard to describe and I didn’t take a picture. Sorry.
  • Free shipping with Shaklee. I buy some of my green cleaning products from my friend Jessica’s Shaklee business, as you will find out if I ever finish my “Green My Routine: Cleaning” post. That’s going to be a long one.
  • Going dairy and soy free, in addition to already being vegetarian. OK, it’s not me that’s dairy and soy free, it’s my son. Since we’ve taken him off dairy and soy his potty training poop issues have suddenly improved. It’s been almost 5 days since he’s had a poop accident. But, since he already refuses to eat meat of any kind or beans of any kind, removing dairy and soy presents seemingly insurmountable obstacles when it comes to his nutrition. He’s already in the 40th percentile for weight. Shoot me now. I have no idea.
  • Giving my children salmonella by mistake. It wasn’t actually me, but our stupid backyard chickens. I swear, sometimes I consider cooking those chickens for dinner and I don’t even eat meat. I believe what happened is that my children’s sippy cups came into contact with the chicken poop that is EVERYWHERE in our backyard because those stupid birds are aggressive poopers. As in, you leave something out there for 5 minutes and when you come back there will most definitely be poop on it. Aggressive pooping. So we have confined them to an area of the yard. Pictures to come. And maybe I should blog about the salmonella you can get from backyard as a cautionary measure for other potential chicken owners? It’s just all so embarassing.
  • Operation Christmas Child. It’s a worthy cause, we are excited about it. I took an emergency trip to Target and Whole Foods to get a ton of suitable and conscientious items and then we left our stupid box at home so we might have missed the deadline. Nice.

So maybe some of those bullet points deserve their own post but I’m feeling overwhelmed. Help me out. Which would you like to hear more about? And thanks for hanging in there with me!