Blogging was simpler when the kids were super-little. These days, there are so many things going on that I know I shouldn’t write about for the general public, and then I’ll start idly telling some charming little anecdotes and suddenly I’ll realize: “hmm, the girls probably don’t want me to write about any of that, either.” So I just started writing, then paused and eliminated several paragraphs. Oh, well.
So. . . nature! Here’s a loose collection of things we’ve been up to.
We’ve been doing a bit of foraging lately with help from a book called Northeast Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Beach Plums to Wineberries by Leda Meredith. Here are a few items that have made their way from our neighborhood into the kitchen over the last few days:
That’s–clockwise from the right–an apple that J filched from someone’s yard (“there were SO MANY just on the ground, rotting, I don’t think they’ll use them all or miss one”), raspberries from the prolific bushes that our neighbor planted between our houses, purslane (which I’ve mentioned before), and well, I don’t know what the heck that top item is, but J said it was okay to eat based on the book, so I threw some leaves into last night’s salad and I remain quite well, thank you.
Today I had big plans to try to do some tree and shrub pruning. We have some that have gotten entirely out of hand.
The bad news is that, after checking my Picture This app to identify some things and Googling for advice and watching YouTube videos, I learned that now’s not the best time for most of my pruning. I did a little bit of pruning and marked my calendar for the best times for different plants instead. The good news is that in my search, I stumbled on PlantAmnesty and their helpful video on what not to do when you prune (hint: exactly what we’ve been up to), so maybe we can try to do better. I also just find it generally amusing, like when they say that their mission is “To end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs” and they share a “Gallery of Pruning Gone Bad” to which we are invited to “gaze with horror.” The only bummer is that they are based in the Pacific Northwest, which is sad because they’ll occasionally just rejuvenate a tragic yard out of the goodness of their hearts, and I’m sure we’d be great candidates if only we were local to Seattle.
Meanwhile, Cute W has ordered a new kitchen gadget: a Vitamix Foodcycler. We have tried and failed to be good composters. For a while we had one of those tumble-the-barrel composters, but our proportions were always wrong, and after too many discouraging and smelly results, we gifted it to someone who was more competent than us. We tried just creating a compost patch in the back of our yard, but it attracted skunks. Finally we seem to have found a solution that is perfect for the well-intentioned folks who have slightly more disposable cash than basic composting competence. This thing is really easy. You collect food scraps in a bucket, and there’s a lid that you can close over it so it doesn’t ever get smelly (below, on the right, you can see the bucket without the lid–it’s very handy to have next to you as you’re cutting veggies for dinner). When the bucket is full, you put it into the foodcycler, close it, and press a button to run a cycle in which the items are chopped, dried, and converted into fertilizer-ish stuff that looks a bit like mulch or dirt (there’s a sample on the left) that you can add to your garden or wherever. We tend to run it once every day or two.
It’s reduced our waste by a lot without skunks or smelliness. So: yay!