February 19, 2013

Fruit Tree Guilds: Sustainable Functional Landscape

Ok, here are more of my notes on Fruit Tree Guilds. So sorry if it's not 100% coherent.

I read a cool book last year about having your own homestead and making your yard functional--ok I read a few. But I can't remember any of them by name, except Gaia's Garden. However, I ran across a fun idea: building an ecosystem for you plants and fruit trees to help sustain each other. This means not just having a vegetable bed or strawberry patch, but putting things together to help balance out each other. So adding comfrey, clover and stawberries and marigolds beneath your apple tree can help every plant take care of eachother. It's companion planting on a large ecosystem scale!

I already posted a little on companion planting, but this is about Fruit tree guild info I've found and hope to implement this summer when I buy a few trees for my less than 1/4 acre. :) And this is also why I'm building a chicken tractor, to help take care of weeds and have a more natural functional garden/part of my yard.

 Here's an article I found to help summarize what a guild is and why...

What is a permaculture guild?

A permaculture guild is a carefully assembled selection of plants (and animals), typically gathered around a central plant.
If you don’t like to be restricted, you can choose a central selection of plants, say, fruit trees in a mandala garden.
The supportive plants are selected to enhance the self-sufficiency of the central plant by reducing the work needed to manage it and/or improving its yield.

Why choose to grow plants in guilds?

Each plant needs at least 4 things: Nutrients (mainly Nitrogen), Mulch, Pollination, Protection (from pests and competition). It’s only natural that each plant we choose should not only serve as food, but also provide a surplus of at least one service to the guild. Some, like comfrey, provide many.
Here's an example...

The main benefits of permaculture guilds

1. Easy picking

Plants that love to grow together often complement in taste, too. Dill, grown under apple trees provides a habitat for predatory wasps and also tastes great with apples.
Marigolds, grown with cucumbers deter nematodes. They also make for a nice salad together.

2. Source of nutrients

Nitrogen fixing plants (clover, lucerne, lupinus and other legumes) transform nitrogen from the atmosphere into ammonia, the source of nitrogen that is readily available for other plants to use. Nitrogen is the main nutrient that plants use.
Animals help to fertilize the soil as well. A chicken tractor is one example.

3. Act as mulch

Many plants that grow low to the ground can be used as a living mulch. They retain moisture in the soil, prevent soil erosion, deter weeds and generally have all kinds of benefits. Excellent examples are clover (which also fixes nitrogen and thus can be used as a green manure), spinach, strawberries, …
Additionally, every plant that sheds its’ leaves in the autumn also contributes to the mulch.

4. Provide shelter from extreme weather conditions

Nitrogen fixing trees, such as tagasaste or acacia, interplanted with fruit trees, not only provide the nutrients and mulch, but also reduce frost dangers and provide shade for sensitive trees (like citrus)
Strong trees, like poplar, also provide shelter from damaging winds.

5. Control pests

Introducing and encouraging helpful animals greatly reduces our work and provides many benefits in the long run.
Ducks are ferocious snail and slug eaters. As the great Bill Mollison put it: “You don’t have a slug excess, you have a duck deficiency.”
Beneficial insects can be encouraged by planting a few insect hosting plants: buddleia, salvia, … This will also increase the numbers of insect eating birds. Remember, some insects are voracious predators in their larvae stage.
As already mentioned, marigolds deter nematodes that often damage tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants.
Other plants can be used for trap cropping. Geraniums are used in rose gardens, because they are toxic for Japanese Beetles, a costly pest that feeds on nearly 300 plant species.

6. Enhance flavor

Some plants (e.g. herbs) actually improve the taste of those that grow around them.

7. Serve as a safety net

By growing many different plants in the same space, we guarantee ourselves at least some yield, even if some of them don’t live up to their potential.

Are guilds the same as companion planting?

No. Guilds can also be observed in nature. An example is the White Oak guild. Companion planting, as the name suggests, is a type of planting (actually a form of polyculture), used in gardening and agriculture. Guilds can be thought of as an extension of companion planting.
Probably the best known companion planting technique is The Three Sisters. It consists of corn, which provides the support for climbing beans, which fix the nitrogen for the squash, which in turn serves as a mulch. This type of companion planting was pioneered by Native Americans.

Deciduous Guild (eg. apples, plums, pears, peaches)
Require coldest places, will tolerate heavy soils, will tolerate windy positions (esp. peaches and nectarines). Once established are most tolerant in wet/dry fluctuations.
Support species include comfrey, clover (white, red, subterranean), parsnip, spring bulbs, violets, borage, phacelia, yarrow, forget-me-nots, goldenrod, nasturtium, tansy, alfalfa, vetch, cow parsley.

Here is one helpful Chart from Gaia's Garden book, but i saved a larger comprehensive one as a pdf.

And A Chart for edible weeds:

Greenreads: Nourishing Traditions, Sprouted Grains, Deep Nutrition

So our Nourish section of this blog is based on our perspective of healthy eating: real food in it's most natural state (least processed etc.). No, this isn't vegan, paleo, atkins, etc. A lot of it is actually in-line with the Weston A. Price Foundation and this book. This book is great because it explains the pros and cons of foods and why, along with recipes to go along.

There are some great lists of good, better, best type food options to help you decide with sweeteners, which oils, etc. are the best options. They also include what cookware is best to use and why and what ways to cook to preserve the most nutrition. And that's the key: how to maximize nutrition to nourish your body...and not just feed it. White flour and sugar alone will not sustain you. But, everything in moderation also.

This book explains the nutritional content of whole grains, but also explains that ideally they should be soaked or sprouted. Why?  This means the seed isn't ready to bring on new life, so the nutrients are not readily accessible. There is phytic acid which keeps nutrients from producing new life. Once the seeds have been soaked in water, the phytic acid is reduced, so the seed can start to pull out those nutrients needed to grow new life (picture springtime when the rains fall and seeds are ready to grow).  We harvest foods that are living and eat them because they go bad and die, right? And you are what you eat, right? We eat the grains when their nutrients are most readily availble, because they will be nutritional powerhouses for us. And I think when we don't, over time we could develop digestion issues if we are not careful.

Here's another good book that explains the following: seeds, grains, beans, etc. are in a dormant state.
This book also advocates easting probiotic-rich foods. You may think of yogurt with active cultures, but there are so many more options if you're willing to try some other areas of interest. (I'll post on my cultured food adventures later) Other foods along this line are traditional saurkraut and kimchi. Or water or milk kefir. Whey is also pro-biotic rich (this is the liquid you can strain from yogur

You can read more about Weston A. Price and the research he's done on the Foundation's website.
Here's a great article to summarize his findings and provide a good list of foods to eat, foods to avoid, and nutrition myths explained: http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/principles-of-healthy-diets

Here is another book along the same lines, though I haven't read it all yet.

Greenreads: Raising Baby Books

When I was pregnant with my first kid, I got a few library books to learn about how to be more "green." Why?  Well, I was reading about detoxing and the effect of too many chemical and foreign substances on the body, over time. Well, did you know Utah has horrible air and that alone contributes to many respiratory issues, along with many other health issues. (side note)

So here is the first book. And honestly, it's been so long since I read it, but I remember it was a great introduction to making better and more informed choices about products we choose to use and give our babies. Now the great thing about these books is that they give you options and help you think about areas of your homes and about a variety of products and then you can choose how much to detox. You can go full-green eccentric, or just carefully start to implement greener options over time.

I think if I were to reread these again, I'd still have good insights learned to be able to implement, but I'd also feel like been-there-done that for a few areas. IT's a good balance and something you can always improve on. So why not grab one of these, or other options, and just take a glance if you have some spare time. Learn how to be more "green," step by step, because it's a healthier way for yourself and family.

And I think this second one even had a few homemade baby food recipes, which was kind of fun.

8 Facts on Why Not to Leave Your Car Running

There is a blog for Utah Moms for Clean Air. They have facts about how horrible the air is in Utah with all the inversion. It has been so bad this winter!

Here is a site to put in your zip code and see the scorecard of air quality.

Here are some quick facts and tips about why you shouldn't leave your car on:

1. Driving warms the car faster than idling
If your concern is not the health of the car, but simply your own creature comforts, Bob Aldrich of the California Energy Commission points out that “idling is not actually an effective way to warm up a car — it warms up faster if you just drive it.”
The coming electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf, will incorporate a wonderful feature that allows the owner to use a cellphone to tell the car (which is plugged into the grid) to pre-warm or pre-cool the interior. No idling necessary.

2. Ten seconds is all you need
Environmental Defense Fund, which produced the Idling Gets You Nowhere campaign, advises motorists to turn off their ignition if they’re sitting stopped for more than 10 seconds.
“After about 10 seconds, you waste more money running the engine than restarting it, said Andy Darrell, deputy director of the EDF Energy Program. “Switch the car off at the curb, and you’ll be leaving money in your wallet and protecting the air in your community.”

3. Idling hurts the car
According to the Hinkle Charitable Foundation’s Anti-Idling Primer, idling forces an engine “to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance and reduce mileage.”
The Campaign for an Idle-Free New York City points out that idling causes carbon residues to build up inside the engine, which reduces its efficiency.

4. Idling costs money
Over a year of five minutes of daily idling (which causes incomplete combustion of fuel), the “Anti-Idling Primer” estimates that the operator of a V8-engine car will waste 20 gallons of gasoline, which not only produces 440 pounds of carbon dioxide but costs at least $60.

5. Idling in the garage can kill you
Idling a car in a garage, even with the door open, is dangerous and exposes the driver to carbon monoxide and other noxious gases. If the garage is attached, those fumes can also enter the house.
6. Block heaters beat remote starters
Lori Strothard of the Waterloo Citizens Vehicle Idling Reduction Task Force in Canada says, “Remote starters can too easily cause people to warm up their cars for 5 to 15 minutes, which is generally unnecessary.”
A block heater, which is designed to heat the engine and can cost under $30, on a timer set to start one to two hours before driving, does the trick in very cold climates.

7. Quick errands aren’t quick enough
Natural Resources Canada points out that leaving your car idling while you’re running into a store on an errand or going back into the house to pick up a forgotten item is another way to waste gas and pollute both your town and the planet.
“Leaving your engine running is hard on your pocketbook, produces greenhouse gas emissions, and is an invitation to car thieves,” the agency (PDF) says.

8. Idling is bad for your health (and your neighbor’s health)
According to Minneapolis’ anti-idling ordinance, “Exhaust is hazardous to human health, especially children’s; studies have linked air pollution to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease, asthma and allergies.”

Goodreads List 2013

This year we are trying something different. We will post a theme each month. Then you can choose which books to read. Then post a little blurb about which book you read so we can share what we are learning.

January - Spiritual
Pick a spiritual book...maybe this one you can choose to read on Sundays throughout the year, to set-apart Sunday as a day of rest from your other books and busy mindset. Let it be anything uplifting.

February - Recipe Book
Try some new types of recipes. God fing a great recipe book and share with us what it is and some of the recipes you've tried and liked.

March - Classics
Pick a classic. Choose from any of the well-known authors of the past: Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Stephen Robinson, etc. Try this list of must-read classics.

April - Spy/Action
Warm yourself up this chilly spring month of showers with a good adventure.

May - Hobby/Craft How-to Book
Have you been wanting to learn something? Go check out a book at the library and try to make, build, create something.

June - Book Club Recommendation
Ask your library or neighbor about a favorite book they suggest you read. (You can refer to our Greenreads list for greenread recommendations)

July - Patriotic
Go check out a book about the civil war or revolutionary war era or about the people involved in those times.

August - Sci-fi/Fantasy
Try something new and interesting for your imagination.

September - Biography
Pick someone to learn about. Try a poet or author. What about a past President or ruler?

October - Halloween
Find something in the Halloween spirit; not too dark, but filled with mystery and surprises.

November - Poetry
Go check out some poetry books. Read classics like Emily Dickenson or Robert Frost. Or try humorous ones like Shel Silverstein.

December - Christmas
Go find something in the Christmas spirit with an uplifting message about the true meaning of the Christmas season and giving.

February 7, 2013

Why See a Chiropractor?

We've never really saw or thought we needed to see a chiropractor before, but we started looking into it because we'd heard various accounts of people getting better from random ailments because of a chiropractor. Are you one of the many people who think chiropractors only work with back problems or similar things? OR like me who worried that once you see a chiropractor they're going to try to milk you of your money to get regular visits and make your body dependent on needing to visit them regularly. Or that the art of chiropractic care is "bad," like popping knuckles (supposedly)? Well, it's not. And the pop you hear is just the trapped gas...not bone. They answer to these questions is to figure out what chiropractic care is and maybe try it.

I at one point in time thought all of these things. And I still don't like that appointments cost money and frequently aren't covered by insurance. But...I've been learning a lot about chiroprctic care and learning which things are true and which are silly. IT's amazing how simply understanding the body a little better hasgiven me a greater appreciation for what chiropractors do. If you're not very well versed in the fact that your spine is also where all your nerves pass through, then you're probably sceptical about chiropractors.

My chiropractor considers himself a Dr., who uses chiropractic care to help with the body on a whole. Alinements of the spine are to help correct many problems all over the body, that many times begin with the nerves. He's helped people with allergies and ailments that related to their nervesbeing pinched because their spine was out of alignment. That's actually how it all started. A man helped someone who was deaf from birth get his neck straightened out, and by doing that, the part of his neck that was pinching the nerve going to his ear was no longer a problem and he could hear. Now that's not everyone's problem who was deaf--sometimes it's cause is from other sources, but it was the problem in this situation.

But we've had great sucess with Paul's neck and sinus problems. We've been seeing the chiropractor for the last 5 months.  Paul's neck was way out of whack--three inches forward from where it should be. The x-ray guy at another place said Paul's neck couldn't even scan properly because it was so far forward. (Must be all the computer/laptop work he's done for the last decade...pulling his neck forward). So he's been training his neck forward and getting regular adjustments. And guess what? His sinus problems have been severely minimized these last 3 months. We'll keep you posted on further updates, but so far we're really happy about it and his neck is corrected one inch . Now just two more to go. And we'll see how he fares this summer with his sinus issues. As for me, I'm trying stuff for digestive issues and a weak left ankle--pronation.

Here are two awesome photos about what nerves are related to what parts of the spine. Where do you typically get pain in your back and neck? Look it up on this chart and see if it relates to other symptoms you experience.

My chiropractor does is holistic and performs simple muscle testing to check the basic points of your body's systems for weakness: sinus, emotional, stomach, intestines, thyroid, etc. So sometimes he'll check and tell me my adrenal gland is off and will present some options to fix that underlying problem. He advocates good nutrition as the main problem most people need to start with. Afterall, if you're not putting the right fuel into the vehicle, how can you expect the vehicle to run very long, or well?

And here are some paragraphs I took from my Chiropractor's website that I like: (this isn't an ad for him)

Many people think chiropractic is about bones, especially spinal bones. But the fact is, we're much more interested in nerves. In particular, the nerve messages that travel between the brain and the body and from the body back to the brain.
Any type of disruption can distort or disturb the integrity of the controlling and regulating messages from the brain. The result can be ill health. Because the nervous system controls every cell, tissue, organ and system of your body, chiropractic care can help a wide variety of health problems.
Pain is a symptom. A signal. A sign. Pain is no more a problem than a traffic signal or your alarm clock announcing that it's time to start the day. If there's a problem, it's the meaning we attach to the pain.
When we meet patients who are in pain, besides being compassionate, our first thought is that they must have exceeded some physical, chemical or emotional limit to which they can no longer adapt. So, while we're interested in the pain, we're even more interested in what was the underlying cause of the pain. Plus, what should the patient do to avoid this in the future?
If you know someone who is shopping organically and reducing their dependence upon processed foods, but not getting regularly adjusted, they may be overlooking a key point.
Let's say you go to your favorite supermarket for your weekly shopping. And because you've wisely shopped the perimeter of the store where the fresh foods are, you return home and put things away in your fridge.
But you overlooked one little detail. It's not plugged in! So the fridge has a major subluxation at the electrical outlet.
In the same way your fridge cannot preserve, protect and prolong the vitality of your foods without a properly functioning electrical system, your body cannot properly digest, assimilate and eliminate foods with a subluxation interfering with your digestive system.
So it doesn't matter how healthy your organic food choices are, because your body won't be making the most of those healthy choices.
Your nervous system runs the whole show. If it doesn't work right, you don't work right. And if you're not working right you can't fully benefit from organic food, gym membership and other healthy habits.

Greenreads: The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast

The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast: Breads, Pancakes, Waffles, Cinnamon Rolls and Muffins
This is a fantastic book on learning about making and using natural yeast--sourdough.

It tells you how to make a basic starter. And there is a helpful chart for troubleshooting. They also include how to easily convert regular recipes for sourdough. What I'm really interested in is the use of natural starter, instead of commerical yeast. It looks like the ratio is 1/4 cup sourdough start for every 2 tsp. commercial yeast. (at least for his sourdough start, which is 100% hydration--this means equal parts water to flour ratio.

Anyway, anyone interested in sourdough should get this books. It's only $12 at Costco right now and Caleb Warnock is from Utah...I'm not sure about the other author.

Stay tuned on our nourish recipe blog for recipes with this starter and a Sourdough 101 post if you want to try your own. They make it pretty easy. We've already made pancakes with it.

FYI, my mom got me one of Caleb's other books. It's helpful for thinking of other self-sufficient ways of life, though it's not very in-depth, so you'd have to go do your own further research on particular aspects you're interested in. But it's a great start to thinking about other ways to be more self-sufficient.

Event Notes: Real Food - Food Storage Notes

KerryAnn, from cooking traditional foods, had a food storage webinar I listened to about how to store real food that you eat regularly....now this is based on a real food diet (not processed foods). She's gone through two years of food supplies due to job loss and has experienced many week long power outages. She also has been cooking with real food for many years.

Here is an outline of her recommendations for real food storage.

First she said the rule of three (have three ways to do/get each of the following things):
1. Cook (oven/stove, Dutch oven, grill, etc.)
2. Heat and cool
3. Water
4. Clean (self, clothes, dishes, bathroom, etc.)

Then she gave per person serving recommendations for food storage you regularly rotate (real foods/whole grains...this isn't for people who want to eat lots of processed stuff) which are surprisingly similar the lds food storage calculator:
Grains- 200-300 lbs/adult male (freeze bulk grains for 72 hrs before placing in buckets with oxygen packs...to kill bugs. Though lds.)
Water- 1 gallon a day/person (including cooking and hygiene needs)
Legumes/beans- 80-90 lbs/adult male per year (freeze 72 hrs prior to placing bulk in buckets)
Fruit- 1-2 servings per day/person
Veggies- 2-4 servings per day/person
Fats- 14-16 qts/person (freeze animal fats and include variety: coconut oil, butter, lard, etc.)
Salt- 8-10 lbs/person (use real salt, not refined white salt)
Sweeteners- 35lbs/person (honey, maple, Rapudura...variety is good)
Meat- 400 lbs/person
Dairy- waxed cheeses are great to store.
Eggs- best to have chickens if possible, but if not your can use chia or flax seeds as baking alternatives.

Then she touched on other items: (but I was more interested in hearing this real food twist on food storage for this particular post)
Condiments -- fermented mayo, ketchup, sauerkraut, etc.
Seeds (to plant or sprout...depending on season)
Extra clothes
First aid
Other gear, etc.

I will be posting a more in-depth Food Storage 101 handout later. These are just my notes from this event.

Funtastic Friday: Shelf Liners to Jewelry Organizers...

So, I've been pinning ways to organize jewelry on Pinterest for quite some time now...always thinking, "I'll get to organizing my jewel, that's crammed in a tiny jewelry box, someday."

Well, that someday has come! I found some cute shelf liner paper at the dollar store and thought I'd try it out in my kitchen. It was perfect and cute, so I bought a big thing of it at the local grocery store and redid my kitchen drawers, shelves, pantry, etc.

  I also did a wood-looking swatch under the sink, which looks great, I think.

Then I got paper-happy and put it all over my old ugly white dresser Paul doesn't like. He did say this was a step up (but I'm sure he'd rather see it go).

But, doing the kitchen shelves made me pull out the old shelf liner stuff we had in there before that is somewhat foamy and not adhesive at all. It moved around a ton. So I up cycled! Talk about inspiration. It reminded me of lace, and I had pinned a laced background in a frame for hanging earrings.

And voila, after reusing an old frame I had laying around and stapling the old dollar store foam shelf liner on the back, I now have a great way to see all my earrings. And talk about a sceptic...my husband thought I was so weird being a frugal junkie. But now he actually thinks it turned out nice and he doesn't mind looking at it...which is huge!

Now I just need to figure out how to hang my necklaces, bracelets and headbands. :)

P.s. the sticky shelf liner paper doesn't stick to chipboard stuff...but it sticks great to the shelves and is super easy to peel off and put back if placed down wrong.

Funtastic Friday: Homemade Cleaning (part 1)

So, I have officially decided to do projects on Fridays. And who really can do a whole lot of projects with two or more kids to take care of, right? But...where there's a will, there's a way. So I created a Pinterest board with various things I want to do this year. And those are what my Fridays are for. The key is doing things together with others. Our kids play together and we attempt to do a project. Sme projects may be split into multiple parts. Some Fridays we may have to cancel or be ok not getting anything accomplished, but hey...we shoot for the moon and at least land among stars, eh?

So I've made some more reusable snack bags with my sister for one Friday and some flowers awhile back with her too.

But my first official one was attempting air fresheners with Rachel.

Equipped with various jars, we made a scented baking soda powder in a jar with paper topper we poked pin holes through. I used vanilla in mine and sprinkled it n the carpet. smells heavenly!

Then we made citrus infused vinegar in jars for scented vinegar to clean with. I continue to just stuff my orange peels in there whenever i eat another. it will just keep infusing as it sits over time.

We also made gelatin filled jars with essential oils in them. I don't think they add much to the air's scent though. We'll have to see about this one.

I will leave comments on each pin we've done about their success and failure.  This is the fun part about these Fridays...we have fun trying crafts and new adventures, fully understanding that some may not work out and that there are no set rules to these activities. But we have fun.

Stay tuned for our next adventures...DIY wood blocks for kids.