Sunday, March 31, 2013


I just finished watching a fantastic film called Farmageddon:
I'm realizing that part of my process of coming into low-impact living means doing my research about what systemic problems there really are, informing myself, and sharing that information.

I began this process with a vague overview of what is going on systemically, but my major instigators were cost, freshness, and nutrient density. The only produce I thought I had around was a No Frills (pretty pathetic). I was starting to understand that I needed to put my money where my mouth was (quite literally) and purchase at small organic markets, farmers markets, and co-ops. I researched Foodshare and currently purchase their organic food box weekly–I get beautiful organic produce for market price or lower. I am slowly shifting my food dollar purchases to organic. I am asking questions about GMO's. Slowly, I'm shifting my purchasing dollar away from big agribusiness and into shorter supply chains and farmers or producers who I can actually speak to. I'm reading labels (i still make some shelf-stable purchases)–making sure my  dairy isn't American (to stay away from Bovine Growth Hormone), staying away from lecithin (soy), canola, soy, and corn (most GMO), and obviously, the shorter the ingredient label the better. And this summer, I plan to preserve the most food I can so that I buy the least amount of canned product as possible

Starting this blog was a way of almost keeping myself in check, but I realize it can also be a tool for sharing information and inspiring others to make small changes.  We are all empowered to make out own choices. We can all put our money where our mouths are, even if it's little by little. We can all become a little more aware. Each choice we make can spread slowly, but exponentially, if we decide to speak to those who care to listen in a kind and understanding way. A lot of little choices add up. WE have the power. Empower yourself.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Independence Days"

I bought a book a few weeks ago at the Canadian Organic Growers Conference called "Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation" by Sharon Astyk

Catching the worst cold I've had in years has confined me to my house for the day so as not to contaminate anyone I come near.  But it has allowed me to read.

A few things in the first few chapters of this book really struck me:
"Do now, do today, with all our hearts, the things we should have been doing "anyway" all along"
I realized that I have been seeing this everywhere. People engaging in direct action; movements like Occupy; small community-based restaurants and stores like Karma Co-op, The Depanneur, Creme Fraiche Market Cafe; the ever expanding list of farmers markets in the city–people are taking up arms and "doing what they should have been doing 'anyway'".
It is in everyones best interest to support local organic food systems that don't put huge emphasis on oil (approx. 35% of our fossil fuels are used in food systems).
It is in everyones best interest to lower their energy consumption because climate change is a thing.
It is in everyones best interest to grow their own food because our soil systems are becoming so degraded they are leaching nutrients like never before.
It is in everyones best interest to waste less food so that there is more for the impoverished (we have no food shortage, we have food wastage–we throw out approximately 1/3 of the fresh produce we buy).
It is in everyones best interest to support local organic food systems instead of major corporations to combat the massive economic and social inequities that our current system has created.
Start growing your own. Start small. Build as you can. It's worth it for all of the above reasons.
And hey, I guess I'm doing this in a way with creating my own social enterprises–creating the jobs that I think are missing, engaging those who need it, working from the ground up instead of waiting for the government to implement curriculums that reflect our current social and economic structure.

"It was a process of unlearning all the things that society had taught me"
I feel like this spoke the words that I've been thinking about the last few months.  So much questioning has been happening, a desire to get rid of all my 'stuff', to grow my own food, to make healthy body products, to cut my consumption.
It is just an unlearning.
I take comfort in that.

Perhaps this is why I got sick. To reflect. To further question. To slow down and remember the important things instead of getting swept away in paperwork and "busy-ness. Who knows.  Whatever the reason, I'm grateful.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Low-Impact Living

I heard from my friend Andrew today about an event going on at University of Guelph, Sustainability Week.  He was mentioning that there was a panel on "Low-Impact Living". The phrase sounded totally appropriate and so I did a little looking around and found this fantastic resource on anything and everything Low-Impact!  It is a British site so some of the resources are irrelevant for North Americans (like workshops) but the general information is beneficial nonetheless.
Have a look around! Be inspired!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Major Garbage-Saver

Last month I took what I thought was a scary plunge and purchased a Diva Cup:
But, in fact, it wasn't that scary.
And, in fact, it's the happiest decision I think I've ever made to do with a time in my life that I've always hated.
It's not a difficult product to use, it just takes some tries to get used to.
I save so much garbage every month. SO MUCH GARBAGE!
I am not worried about being caught off guard–you don't have to keep a supply of products in a bag in case of emergencies, just a single small bag.
I don't need to worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome (I mean REALLY)
And I'll save a whole whack of money over the course of my life.
All in all, I am the least embarrassed and disgusted by this body process that I have to live through every month than I ever have been in my life.  The Diva Cup feels like the most natural process I could ask for. I hate my body less during these times. And I'm cutting down on my consumption and garbage production significantly.  I have no reason not to say DO IT any more. I'm a convert. You should be too.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fruit Fly Compost Bin Infestation Stopped

Traps on top of the bin without opening the bin: fail.
Traps inside the bin: bad plan. 

What I ended up doing to end my fruit fly infestation was opening the bin every once in a while, letting the flies fly out, then closing the bin and putting the traps right on top. I trapped a dozen or so the first night. Yay!

On an unrelated note, I made a delicious pie crust with spelt phyllo the other day as an experiment.  It was super successful and delicious!  Instead of a proper dough crust, I just layered strips of phyllo with melted butter brushed on between layers, baked it for about 10 minutes before putting in my filling and voila!  Simple and delicious wheat free crust!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fruit Leather/Crackers

Seeing as my worms were needing a break from feeding, when I made a new batch of juice, I tried to think of another thing to do with the leftovers.  And I remembered my friend erin telling me a recipe for a fruit leather-y type thing.  So here is my attempt: 

I spooned some chia seeds into a small bowl with some water (about 2 tsp of chia with 1/4 cup water) and let it make it's gooey magic (technically, chia is mucilaginous, but you know, ooey gooey works too...) for about 5 minutes:

While the chia goo-ified itself, I spooned the leftovers of my apple, orange, beet and ginger juice onto a tray that I had lined with tin foil:

I then mixed the two together on the tray and flattened it out along the tray, pulling out any seeds or big chunks as I went.

I put in in the oven at the lowest heat (on my oven 200) for about 2.5 hours then left it sit in the oven as it cooled for another hour or two. I peeled the dried fruit off the tin foil an put it in a tupperware to store and munch on over the next few days:

They're somewhat of a cross between a fruit leather and a cracker.  I think they would be pretty tasty with hummus or guacamole or maybe a yoghurt dip too.  Yummy food made from "garbage bits"–fun!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sore Throat Tea

I wore up today with a super sore throat and difficulty swallowing.  I made tea with it and have been drinking it all day.  Sage is a cooling herb and somewhat anti-inflammatory and it seems to be working it's magic pretty well. 

Other things I've been doing to help speed away this cold:
–chopping up cloves of garlic and swallowing them raw with a little water (at night and in the morning. This is an effective deterrent before getting sick but since I wasn't resting and was going full throttle the last few days, my body couldn't heal itself)
–taking a tablespoon of half honey half fresh lemon juice as a sort of throat-coat (also good as a replacement cough medicine)
–And sleeping as much as possible! Taking lots of naps!!  Being kind to ones body and taking the subway instead of biking. Getting a ride instead of walking.  Cutting down on active forms of yoga. This is the most important.

All the tea and garlic and vitamin c in the world aren't going to heal you if you don't slow down.  What generally works for me if I feel an itch in my throat coming on and the hints of a cold coming, lots of vitamin c, fluids, garlic (as above), echinacea and a good nights sleep.  It usually kicks the cold before it even shows up. My body reminds me of this very dramatically when I am going too fast and forget to listen. Thank you dear body.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Re-growing and Sprouting Fails...

So it seems that my regrowing cilantro attempt didn't work....

I wasn't sure what happened... It was very happy in the water but once it got into soil, no dice... After researching I learned that cilantro hates to be re-potted...  Oops!  I'm sure this could work with other herbs though.  Or maybe just keeping it in water.  Trial 2 at some point, I'm sure!

Luckily my lettuces are doing well!


Also, my chickpea sprouting didn't work.  I realized after my attempt that I had initially put the beans in boiling water and then let it sit to soak as per the instructions on the bad.  I wasn't thinking of sprouting at the time so didn't think that I was "killing" the beans.  Next time I will just let them soak and then see if they sprout.

On the plus side, this was the first time I had used dried chickpeas to make hummus and WOW!!  The texture and flavour are INCREDIBLE!
I will never again buy canned chickpeas.  The soaking and cooking process is totally worth the extra little bit of work.  Nevermind how much cheaper it is to buy beans in bulk...

Lots of good learning happening!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Homemade Vitamin C–Success!

Today I took my dried orange peels and made them into an edible powder.  They had been hanging for 3 weeks and seem completely dry:

I threw them in my magic bullet and ground them up a bit at a time until there were no large pieces.

I'm storing the grounds in an old empty Vitamin C container as it is a darkened plastic.  Any herbal remedies you make with fresh herbs should be kept in darkened glass so that it doesn't go rancid.  Seeing as I'm feeling a cold coming on, it's perfect timing for me to take some of this!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Paid Gardening Work!

My quest to rethink my ideas about money came to a test when I realized that I might need to get a part-time job to supplement my teaching income.
I considered going back to my old job at the little independent tea shop I used to work at, but then reconsidered.
Why not work at something that doesn't seem like work?
That is one of my passions and will also allow me to grow my skills?
And I fell into working at the Backyard Urban Farm Company.
It will be part time and subject to the amount of clients they get this season.
But I will learn.
Meet others excited about urban farming.
Develop a support structure.
Expand my awareness of available resources in the city.
I'm excited.

If you're also excited, they're currently raising money to build a greenhouse to grow seedlings in, keep a pop-up shop open for the season, and build and staff a demonstration garden to spread the word about urban farming.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Compost Bin for my Studio

I was chatting with some studio mates today and there is a bunch of us who are excited to do some guerilla gardening out in the train tracks behind the old loft-ish space that houses our shared studio.  I'v been wanting to build a composter since there is no green bin (OR RECYCLING) pickup in industrial areas (ridiculous!)

I found this site and am excited to make a giant compost for us!  There is a bunch of pallets in front of our building just waiting to be used:

Spring Equinox excitement!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Drying Organic Carrot Tops

Totally edible.
Totally full of carrot-y deliciousness (when they're fresh).
Dry out the tops, put them in a jar, add them to salad for a little carrot flavour throughout the season if you can't eat them enough raw
(If you don't even eat them raw, do it!  Add them anywhere you would add spinach)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mites in my worm bin

I opened by worm bin the other day and was surprised by a bunch of fruit flies and little buggles crawling around.

I discovered the little crawlers are mites.  The ones I had in my bin are reddish and slow moving, which I learned are not predatory. They thrive in damp conditions (which I keep finding is the case in my bin!) So I'm not feeding as much, have added some dry soil, and am trying to keep my bin open for a while each day.

The fruit flies:
I've set up 2 traps like one I learned about from a juice bar owner a few years ago.  I put some apple cider vinegar in a small mason jar with a drop of dish detergent, cover it with saran wrap with a small corner uncovered:
Yay learning curves!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wonderful Film

I watched a wonderful film today about urban farming.
It's called Edible City: Grow the Revolution
Inspiring. Thought provoking. Have a watch.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Plot Planning: Genus Separation

In planing my crazy plot, one larger than I've ever planned before, the first step I needed to take was to split up all the seeds I acquired into families, or genus.  The ones I seem to have acquired are:

Perennial Herbs:
Korean Mint
Oregano (cutting from my mum)
Echinacea (to buy seedling)
Lavender (to buy seedling)
Rosemary (from last year)

Annual Herbs:
Dill (saved seeds!)
Basil (to buy seedling)

Perennial Plants:
Rhubarb (to transplant from my grandma's house in April)
Raspberry (to transplant from my mum's house in April)
Wild Ginger (to buy plugs from Richter's Herbs in April)

Tomato (chitting potatoes as we speak)
Caynne Pepper (to buy seedling)

Onion (upstairs roommate has sets)
Chives (cutting from my mum)

Beta Vulgaris:
Swiss Chard

Beans and Peas:
so many kinds!!!

Summer squash
Winter Squash

Cruciferous Veg/Brassicas:
Baby Brassica Salad Mix
Bok Choy
Watercress (perennial)


Annual Flowers (to attract the polinators!)
Morning Glory

And my major experiments:

Amaranth (for the grain)
Callaloo (for the greens)


The reason I started with this was to ensure "crop rotation" for the future.  Basically this just means, don't plant one family in the same place you planted it last year.  Each family sucks up specific nutrients from the soil so, in order not to have to use pesticides, Organic farmers use crop rotation to keep their soil happy and healthy.  

I also did this to make it easier to plan my plot.  I'm going to be experimenting with companion planting this year but keeping families together allows for ease of watering (ie-lettuces like to be sprayed on, roots and fruits like a deep water with no water on the leaves) 

This year will be a grand experiment in having a massive kitchen garden. I'm more interested in variety then monocropping my whole plot and my friends keep dumping seeds on me, which seems to be supporting that plan! Step 2 soon!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Little Winter Kitchen Lettuce Garden

I decided that to tide me over until I start planting (really only just a few weeks–wee!) I would try doing a little window lettuce and herb mix. I made up a "planter" out of an egg carton lid, and sealed the side latch holes with some folded and taped tin foil:

I filled the canister with damp triple mix with a little extra nitrogen (coffee grinds) since there's some brassicas in my lettuce blends and they suck up lots of nitrogen. I then sprinkled the seeds into their bed and covered then with a sprinkle of  more soil. I put them in my south facing kitchen window and will mist them with water every morning.

Let's see how this goes!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Starting Tomatoes!

Seed starting makes one realize that spring is literally just around the corner, amazing!

After a job interview with the Backyard Urban Farm Company (doing amazing things with raised beds here in Toronto) and the sun shining on my face, I decided today was the day to start my tomatoes! Here's my setup:

I've been collecting paper egg cartons the last few weeks–they're the perfect size to sow into.
To plant in, I added triple mix, a little bit of coffee grinds and some eggshell, just for a little extra boost:

1). Fill the carton holes and moisten the soil with some water.  Spray bottles are the greatest for this.
2). Take 2 or 3 seeds per carton hole, cover with a sprinkle more of soil, just to cover the seeds, gently tamp down the soil and spray again with some water.
3). LABEL YOUR SEEDLINGS!  Egg cartons have handle middle bits to write on
I'm doing a dozen Organic "Smurf" cherry tomatoes (they're blue!) from Tournesol, a dozen Amish Paste tomatoes from Richters, and then trying 4 of each Ground Cherries, Black Krims (grew them last year–beautiful tomatoes), and Organic Yellow Perfection that I got from friends.

4). Cover your egg cartons with a layer of cling film until they germinate.  At that point you will take off the cling film.  The layer of plastic keeps the moisture in enough for the seeds to sprout and do their magic!

I'm lucky enough to have a big south facing window in my apartment; hopefully it will get enough sun to start all my seeds!  If need be, I have access to a greenhouse with my plot at Scadding Court–I'll let you know how this all pans out.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Celery Sneaky Success!

So it seems that my celery has snuck up on me and is actually starting to grow!  I assumed that it wouldn't as it's been about 2 weeks of no action but here it is, wanting so badly to grow and nourish me:

Also, here is my lettuce doing it's thing after a few weeks.  It's so exciting watching this grow! Almost as exciting as from seed; almost more so since it's regrown! My new plans to speed up the growing process are leaving a few small leaves on both my lettuce and celery to speed up the growing process from the get-go, like this:

What a fun new hobby!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Inside your new worm bin

To start a worm bin:

1). Shred a bunch of newspaper or cardboard. Avoid the glossy paper.
The worms need a "browns" as well as "greens" (your veg).

2). Add some soil.
The worms need some grit to help with digestion.

3). Spray with some water until moist, not soggy (worms don't like swimming!)

4). Add your new herd of Red Wiggler worms (new friends!)

When adding fruit and veg, hide the food under the bedding to avoid fruit flies.
Only add raw food scraps from prep, not leftovers.
Limit citrus (makes the environment too acidic)
Mouldy fruit/veg is ok, worms like to eat it!
The smaller the pieces, the faster you get compost, so cut things up

If bedding dries out, spray with a bit more water.
More likely, if it's getting damp, add some more dry newspaper shreds and leave the bin open for a while to breathe a bit. You can also add more airholes.

**Worms can eat 1/2 their body weight in food each day.
**Start slow and if you start seeing moisture/mould, stop feeding for a while or feed less.

Here's how mines looking after about 2 weeks:

I've been having problems with moisture under my cabinet so when I'm cooking, I just leave the bin open.  I'm already seeing sneaky bits of lovely compost!  It really is quite magical.  Makes you not fear death so much, either.  All those decomposing nutrients can get reused, rebuilt into new, growing beauty.  A fascinating process, composting.  I highly recommend this, even if you just have a tiny bin.  Gives you wonderful perspective on a process happening all the time under your feet in that boring, inert "dirt" you stand on all day.  Well, under that concrete more likely...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Worm Bin Construction

When I headed up to Seedy Saturday at the Brickworks, I picked up a pound of Reg Wiggler worms from Cathy at Cathy's Crawly Composters
I had gotten some worms from friends a few weeks ago but my bin was getting too moist–I eat too much veg so they couldn't eat it fast enough–so I picked up some more.

Think you don't have room for a bin?  Here's where I put mine in my kitchen.
 I know others that just have a bucket on top of their fridge, one under their sink; totally doable.
Basically, I had to paint mine black because the flat ones that would fit under my cupboard were clear plastic.  Spray paint didn't really stick so I just used matte wall paint, 2 coats.  There were great instructions on how to build your own worm bin in this book
and it's a great resource for me in my journey.  I'd highly recommend it.
But basically:
-Drill multiple 1/16" holes in the top lid as airholes
-Drill 1/16" air holes along the top of the side walls (and bottom as well if its a deep bin)
-Drill larger holes in the bottom of the bin for drainage
-Put a 2nd lid on the bottom to catch any drips (the 2nd bin can be used in the future to migrate the worms, I'll post about that when I do so)
Voila!  Worm Bin!
What to put inside tomorrow...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chitting Potatoes

I've been saving organic potatoes with prominent eyes for a few weeks now.
Any time I buy potatoes, I set aside one or two in an old egg carton in a place without direct sun and let it do its thing. I'll put aside the ones already starting to chit (those little green bits you see), or ones that look like they might soon.

Moral of the story is, when you have potatoes that are starting to grow, don't throw them out, chit them!  Each of those little eyes has the capacity to grow a bunch of beautiful potatoes, and while you're waiting for them, you get flowers too!  Planting I will explain soon but in the meantime, set them aside to chit and get excited.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Warkworth Maple Syrup Festival

I went today to Warkworth for their maple syrup festival today.

We stopped by our friend Derick's petting zoo; I cuddled one of his rabbits, my friend Erin was followed around by their llama. We listened to the ducks chat and got nibbled on by ponies.

At their town hall we met a wonderful woman named Maia.  She made beautiful hanging ornaments from grapevines and milkweed pods and acorns and birds nests. She told us stories and smiled beautiful smiles.
She also had preserved herbs and veg in salt.  It was a great recipe that I'm going to try in the future, my own variation.  To give you an idea:
-1/3 sea salt, 2/3 fresh veg and herbs
-dice small and pack into a sanitized jar
-use instead of stock, as a spice rub on meat, or any other place you need extra flavour.

We took a busride to the sugar bush and had some taffy on ice (now THAT'S some of natures real candy).

I went for the most amazing walk through the woods with Erin, a beautiful woman. She told me about mushrooms, we touched trees, picked some dogwood, laughed, noticed deer tracks, and got back just in time for the last bus ride back to town.  She seems to be turning into a bit of a mentor for me, something I'm realizing is very important to have, in all parts of my life.

Morals of these stories:
-Get out to nature when you can if you live in a city.  Just walk.  Look.  Breathe.  It will help.
-Find a mentor.  Someone to talk to. Someone to ask questions.  Don't wonder why, just do it.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Evergreen Brickworks

I went to Evergreen Brickworks today for Seedy Saturday and the farmers market.
With the excitement of spring-like weather I decided to bike the 10km over there from my house, forgetting that trails along the Don wouldn't be clear yet...  At least the 1.5 hour bikeride where I got fully lost was full of lovely people helping give me directions, lots of sunshine, and reminders of how much I like cycling.

But HOLY MANICOTTI, the brickworks is absolutely wondrous. I just got the most brief look at the place but it was so inspiring.  A few things that stuck out:
-Waste baskets labelled "Compost", "Recycling", and "Landfill" (WHY DON'T ALL GARBAGE CANS SAY THAT??)
-the amazing children's area with wood fire, instructional compost piles, a crazy tree branch hut and more super fun things
-a pathway paves with bricks donated from various places–mismatched beauty!
-the benches made from large branches laid on their side with bum grooves in them :)

In any case, not even close to the tip of the iceberg but, needless to say, I'll be back there soon to investigate more!

One of the fun things I decide to do, though, was grab a piece of sage out of their massive bushes they had by their bike locks.  Sage goes berzerk crazy so one small branch will definitely not be missed. I found one with roots on it and asked the plant if I could take him home with me.  As crazy as you might feel, think about how much you would like it if someone just ripped off a piece of you and trekked you across the city...  

The way sage spreads is pretty cool. Other ground covers like thyme do this too. As the stems grow and get heavy, they sort of drag along the ground and grow new roots along what is near the soil. This is where I got the piece I took from. Here he is:

I'm going to plant him tomorrow when I get a chance and let him start making a most beautifully fragrant bush so, so soon! I can feel spring coming!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Arts and Sustainability

I started a business running dance and creativity workshops in elementary schools three years ago, with a major revamp to the structure this past summer: 
It's important to me.
Creative dance connects people to their bodies in an age of disconnect.
Creative dance creates community, promotes co-operation, and practices team-building.
Creative dance promotes empathy, understanding, and self-awareness.

But I'm also becoming more and more interested in other sides of self-wellness:
Connecting to nature,
Realizing our place in the cycle of the world, not at the top of a non-existant pyramid,
Understanding where the food that nourishes us comes from,
Understanding that things take time and you can't rush them without consequences,
Taking time and care to feed our bodies with nutritious food that will literally fuel us.
This is the Urban Organic Homesteading Experiment side.

But I had a meeting with the Program Director at Arts For Children and Youth today.
One of the things we spoke about was my interest in sustainability and food.
She suggested creating workshops that merge the arts and topics in sustainability.
How had I never thought of that?

I'm coming to realize that a thing I want to do is build awareness about subjects that are life-changing and important.
I'm coming to realize that perhaps the side of me that always shied away from the word 'activist' because of the very specific image I had in my head is coming around and expanding her view. 
I'm coming to realize that I'm beginning to advocate for mind-body health, wellness, and awareness.

Maybe the answers aren't changing what you do completely, but changing how you do the thing you do already.  Maybe that's innovation.

I'm not sure how these things I'm doing are going to support me but I trust that they will, somehow.
Things will work out because I will make them.
I will support myself,
Meet people,
Be excited,
Be passionate.
Let's see how this all pans out.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Garden Preparation: Part 1–Soil Supplements

I moved to this new apartment this past November, a big reason why being the giant south and west facing yard that surrounded the house.  My upstairs neighbour tried planting some things last year, with not much success.  She didn't supplement the soil at all and discovered it must be lacking.  After asking around for natural ideas, I've been collecting things for a few weeks to add to my soil when the time comes for planting.

I've used these in the past as a slug deterrent and it's pretty great.  Crush them around your plants and it hurts their bellies so they don't come near.  Bonus, they're also a great source of calcium and a little bit of nitrogen, so they're great natural fertilizers as well.
 Used coffee grounds:  
These are a great source of nitrogen (one of the main ingredients you'll find in all commercial fertilizers).  Nitrogen is essential to plant growth, and is difficult to pull out of the air, only done so by nitrogen fixing plants like beans and peas.  So, save up those coffee grounds and save some money on fertilizer!  

Blood Meal:
I had been given some by a colleague 2 years ago and have used a bit of it in the past.  Now I know what its for: Nitrogen!  I'm going to add that to my saved up supply of coffee grounds. I'm a much bigger egg eater than coffee drinker.

I came across this article and congratulated myself for being on the right track:
All the knowledge that had been passed down to be from friends and farmers was, in fact, ways of adding macronutrients to my soil. The macronutrients are:
  • N, Nitrogen
  • P, Phosphate
  • K, Potassium
  • Mg, Magnesium
  • Ca, Calcium
  • S, Sulphur
I've got the Nitrogen and Calcium covered, what else did I need?

Wood ash:
I've been hunting around for people with fireplaces...  Tricky in the city, but I'm on the lookout for this natural source of Potassium!

Epsom Salt:
I'm going to wait until I test my soil but Epson Salt (Magnesium Sulphate) is a good source of both Magnesium and Sulphur.

Banana Peels:
I just read about this today and am going to figure out a good way of saving up some banana peels for the spring as a natural source of both Potassium and Phosphorus.  I'll let you know how I decide to do this!


On an unrelated note, I'm quite proud of the soup I made up today!

2 medium organic onions
5 cloves Ontario garlic
3 organic potatoes
3 organic carrots
2 bunches of kale stems (totally useful after the kale was made into salad a few days ago)
2 small stalks of organic broccoli
organic chicken broth
3 tbsp Thai Kitchen red curry paste
3 tbsp tahini
fresh ground pepper to taste
fresh parsley ripped on top

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Regrowing Store-Bought Cilantro

My roommate had some cilantro that was going mouldy in the fridge.
To my delight, it still had the roots attached!

1). I separated out the mouldy bits and fed them to my worms (I should start documenting that too--soon!).
2). I took the fresh bits and hung them to dry so no more food would be wasted.
3). I cut off the roots with about an inch of greenery still attached. I put them in some water in my windowsill to make the roots happy again and help grow out some new shoots.  Every morning I've been replacing the water. Here they are after 3 days:

Looking ready to replant with new happy little shoots appearing!

4). I planted them in some potting soil to keep feeding us until they can go outside in the spring! More free food!
--Buy herbs with roots still attached when you can. Make the roots happy in water for a few days before you replant them.  But REPLANT THEM!  Stop spending money when you don't need to!
--Keep cleaned plastic yoghurt, sour cream, and cheese containers as you eat throughout the year.  These make great planters if you punch holes in the bottoms with a knife or scissors.  They're also great when you start transplanting newly started seedlings from their initial trays (more on that soon!)  If you're not a fan of their look, get crafty and paint/collage them! 
--Keep plastic pots that you may have bought seedlings in in the past. 
--Keep toilet paper or paper towel rolls. These have the benefit of being plantable! They decompose right in the soil! How freaking cool?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sprouting Chickpeas

I've decided to try sprouting chickpeas to make raw hummus.

Sprouting beans and peas makes the mineral and vitamin content more easily assimilated by our bodies, as well as makes them more digestible.  Our diets are severely lacking in mineral content because of our conventional farming methods. (More on that in another post! Been doing some interesting reading!) Sprouts are a great way of starting to access these essential nutrients in a natural (read-not as a supplement) way through our diet.  Sprouting is also a wonderful way of getting some living food into your diet in the depths of winter-my body's been craving it!

So, trial 1: Chickpeas.

Step 1: Brought chickpeas to a boil and then let them cool and soak in the pot for 24 hours
Step 2: Rinsed and drained them in an old salsa jar with cheesecloth over the lip, tipped on a 30ish degree angle on a tea-towel to allow for drainage and air flow.
FAIL (it seems to not drain properly and stays far too moist on the inside, with condensation collecting on the upper side of the jar),

Solution 1: My friend Devon suggested just hanging them in cheesecloth.  Oh, creative brains that have never done things before! Sounds like a great plan.
Solution 2: I've also heard of the just having them sit in an uncovered colander...

I'll let you know what works for me in a day or two!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Stolen Phone

My phone was stolen two nights ago.
I wasn't angry.
It's just a phone.
It felt quite natural that someone might want my things.

Instead of speeding off an buying a new one immediately, I questioned my desires for new technology. I'm on the way to luddite-ness when it comes to technology, give me the thing that will do the most basic version of what needs to be done (phones should call people and send text messages and hold phone numbers–that's all, right?) but I still rely on them.  I don't pick up texts the second they come in, and I certainly don't spend an evening virtually talking to others when in the presence of friends. But here I am, phoneless, anxious, and thinking of alternative solutions.

I'm getting a friends old phone for free.
No new phones will have to be made,
No packaging to dispose of,
No shipping,
No money to change hands.
I need it for my business and to contact people.
But I will not let it run me.
I will not continually check it to see if I've gotten a text when I'm alone.
          (I will accept and settle in my aloneness)
          (I will set aside time for it like I do for emails)
Disconnect to reconnect.
To self.

I'm a believer in our connection to nature being intrinsic to our humanity.
But nature is also ourselves.
Grow food,
Be with friends,
We're part of a cycle.
We're part of many cycles.

The last time my technology got stolen I was in Europe:
Rail Pass,
Video Camera.
I almost wished I didn't have all that stuff.
And then it was gone.
And it was ok because it wasn't me throwing it away.
It was stolen.
And I wasn't really that upset.
What followed was the most life-changing experience I've ever had.
          (but that's a different story)
And this time, again, I don't really care.
And I'm excited to think about the learning that is about to happen...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Homemade Vitamin C

Today I decided that instead of composting my orange peels from juicing, that I would dry them out.
I have a piece of twine tied to 2 hooks in my wall in my kitchen–a great out of the way drying method.
I've been doing some reading and have heard that orange PEEL has lots more Vitamin C than the flesh, as water doesn't hold it as well.  So I'm hanging it to dry, and then will blend it into a powder, save it in a jar, and use it whenever I need a boost!

I made sure my oranges were ORGANIC and washed them well.  The last thing you need when your immune system is feeling a bit weak is upping the load of pesticides in your system!


This is the juice I made with those oranges:

4 organic oranges
half a head of organic celery
5 organic granny smith apples
2" piece of fresh ginger
approx. 2 cups of flat leaf parsley


I've been making approximately 3 servings of juice at a time, for time-saving purposes.  (about 20 minutes plus washing up)

Obviously it's ideal to juice daily to preserve all the enzymes in your fruit and veg but the way I figure, even if the juice has been in my fridge 2 days, it's still fresher than anything I can get in the grocery store!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Regrowing lettuce from a stump!

The other day I came across this article:
And I tried regrowing my lettuce from the stump.
Trial 1: FAIL
Trial 2: HOLY CRAP AMAZING SUCESS! (this photo is from day 4)

The difference?
I cut off the dried out bottom of the lettuce before placing it in water with the 2nd.
Step 1: cut a small slice off the bottom of a robust head of organic lettuce that you've already enjoyed
Step 2: place it in a small dish of water, water no higher than the main stump part
Step 3: refresh water every day
Beauty :)

New Goals

I have made a choice.
A difficult choice.
A crazy choice?
The best choice.

I have decided to dedicate myself to making tiny changes daily to make my life more the life I want to live.
No more excuses:
"I'm renting my place"
"I have roommates"
"I don't have enough space"
"I don't have time"
"I don't have the cash"
From myself especially.

I've started, recently, making these changes and it feels amazing.
I'm more real.
I'm more me.
I love myself.
I love my life.

But the questioning is difficult.
It's taken me about 5 years to get to where I am today.
With a LOT of:
Hard work,
Meeting People,
Life Coaching,

Most recently, since I volunteered at the Guelph Organic Conference ( in the beginning of February (holy, only a month ago!!) I have begun questioning all my preconceived life values:
What is my relationship to work?
What is my relationship to money?
What do I really NEED?
Who do I want to spend my time with?
What is BUSY?
What is work?
What is art?
What is folk?
Who do I want to be?
How do I want to spend my time?
You know, the easy questions.

In that time I decided that in order to answer these questions, I want to create a community around myself so as not to lose my mind.
I want to meet people.
I want to talk about ideas.
I want to learn.
Maybe I can even inspire small changes in others.
And so here it begins.