I don't have air-conditioning in my house, my company's offices have no A/C, and quite a number of our friends and family members and neighbors live without A/C, too, along with most people in the world. This is a fine thing in terms of the environment, and in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts hardly heroic. But these last few days of heat have made us think about extreme weather conditions and how to manage without A/C. I found a short "keeping cool" list in one of my early books, [...]
While I still appreciate native species and have even used native honeysuckle colors on my newly painted house (there's no simply way to decorate than to work from nature: soft or vibrant, subtle or stunning color schemes are readily accessible). But since writing the paean below I have learned that they can be overwhelming, too. Not the way invasive species are overwhelming - where you watch them grow and fear for your life and house foundations. But once a native plant is really at home and happy you may find [...]
I belonged to a community garden as a teenager in Palo Alto and had an allotment in London, so it's easy for me to see the story behind this story in the New York Times. Things don't always work perfectly between people, even in the garden. (Remember that the Biblical creation story is set in a garden?) While we start with good intentions and visions of melons and mesclun, other things can interfere--not only weather and weeds but work and domestic pressures. I remember, guiltily, the inconsistent attention I gave [...]
I use straw bales for insulation against the back of my house and then mulch with the damp, dark straw in the spring, but in a quest for mesclun seed, which I think I can still plant, I found an amazing account of gardening in and on straw bales--two seasons of vegetables on a very much raised bed. Not for city gardeners, but what a fascinating thing to try.
I was doing a little weeding today and under the cauliflowers found a lot of reddish plants that I realized were young amaranth plants, small because they're shaded by the cauli leaves. I count on the amaranth to reseed itself every year. It grows to six feet and has strange dangling furry red flowers and looks quite weird and wonderful with the sunflowers (which also seed themselves). But when I saw all those small plants massed in the shade it struck me how much like Swiss chard they look. I [...]
Tom's home from college and full of ideas for making our lifeways sustainable. "Aren't they already?" people ask, thinking that because I've written several books about eco living I must do things perfectly myself. But I'm a working mother and an American to boot, and definitely not perfect. I don't do much driving, but I fly a good deal and that's about as energy-intensive as you can get. I'm an adept vegetarian cook, but I don't cook very much these days--especially in the last month, because I've had a severely [...]