In Search of the Lean Six Life

Smarter, not harder. Preferrably A LOT smarter.


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When Your Garden Abruptly Ends

You eat weeds.

It’s what you do.

Dandelions for Dinner!

Dandelion greens and crowns for a side with dinner, and roots to roast for tea.

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And Just Like That, We’re Done

Today I Learned … don’t ever, ever trust the weather forecast.

It said the low would be 32 overnight. Everything in my winter bed is hardy to 28 or so. Says I to myself, if they are wrong by a few degrees, no big deal. I chose not to cover the bed with a row cover.

I chose poorly.

They were wrong by NINE degrees. The outdoor thermometer says 23 F. The bed survived one night at 26 with really bad burns on most of the kale. I can’t even bear to look at it today.

*sobs*

Well, next year by this time I will have a low tunnel installed over the winter bed, with actual greenhouse film covering it so I can leave it in place during the day. (The doubled row cover blocks too much of the weak fall sun.)  No experience is ever wasted if you learn from it, right?

Right?

*sobs*


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Green Tomato Salsa

A.k.a., what to do with all the unripe tomatoes when cold weather hits.

Chop green tomatoes. Add diced garlic, diced red onion, hot peppers (another “harvest before it freezes outside crop”), and cilantro (also salvaged pre-freezing weather). Let stand for a few hours, stirring occasionally. Add additional seasonings to taste – more of any of the ingredients, and / or salt, pepper, lime juice. Whatever you like, it’s your salsa after all!


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The Reveal

Two days ago, the forecast called for temperatures to drop into the 20s. In fact, the low hit 16 at my house. I had only two layers of row cover on my winter bed… Each layer is maybe good for 4 degrees, so it might not have been enough protection since I’d prepared it for “just” a low of 20.

Last night the temps reached 26. To be safe, I left the cover on all day yesterday. I finally removed it today, once the temps had warmed above freezing.

Voilá!

Winter gardening - following our first hard freeze

The beets looked pathetic – we’ll see if they bounce back in a few days – but everything else seems to have survived ok! A few burned leaves here and there, nothing life threatening! Much better than I was hoping for, given how cold it really got.


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The Official End of… Wait, What?

November 10, and we still haven’t had a serious frost in my immediate area. (Average date of first frost locally is October 15.) Got close a few times, but even my cherry tomatoes and pepper plants are clinging to life.

No more. Tonight, the temperature is forecasted to drop as low as 20. According to the radio reports, “Gardening season is officially over.”

…or is it?

Meet my winter raised bed! This is my latest (and so far, most serious) attempt at a “four season harvest”. Blame / credit goes to Nikki Jabour’s book The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, which I found particularly inspiring as fall reading.

I planted the bed with cold hardy crops – shorter greens (like spinach and upland cress) on the edge of the bed, taller plants like kale and leeks in the center.

I’ve engineered wind breaks to help protect the box further – wind burn being even more damaging to plants than low temperatures – and tucked it in for the night with a double layer of row cover.

The pea gravel anchoring the fabric edges gave the tightest closure we’ve ever achieved. Landscaping staples always seem to leave slack which eventually loosens in the wind and allows deadly drafts.

Here’s hoping for mid-winter bounty!

P.S., the full list of plants is as follows: spinach, upland cress, beets, turnips, radishes (including daikon), lettuce, leeks and kale. I also planted carrots but they failed to germinate.


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Because Somebody Should, and I Can

A friend mentioned to me last week that the vast majority of roadway litter is fast- or convenience-food related. After picking up two bags of garbage in a thirty-minute walk today, I am inclined to agree.

Roadway Litter Seems to be Primarily from Fast- or Convenience-Foods

The irony was, most of the litter I collected was in front of a waste management facility offering residential and commercial trash removal. Most of the garbage had been in bags. The former owners had been trying to do the “right” thing – reusing plastic grocery bags to throw away their trash. But, by whatever means, the bags ended up on the ground outside the waste management facility, where weather degraded and shredded the plastic, spilling its contents everywhere.

Which got me thinking: what if every man, woman and child in the U.S. used reusable packaging for their food just once? That would be over 325 MILLION pieces of garbage that didn’t get thrown away in the first place.

OK, ok, I know realistically that everyone would still throw away the next piece of industrial food packaging, and we’d be back to square one.

But what if some people cut back on food packaging several times a week, by reusing water bottles or buying more food in bulk and repackaging it themselves in recyclable containers?

What if some people opted out of the fast- and convenience-food industries altogether?

What if some food manufactures started packaging their products in containers that were biodegradable, compostable, or able to be repurposed for an entirely different use?

Or what if more people just picked up litter from the roadsides and in the process, inspired others to do likewise? I know my two bags don’t make a “real” dent in the litter problem, but somebody should do something. And I can.

Not Bad for Only Half an Hour … Oh Wait, it is Bad