Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Greening - Arizona State Parks Face Closure..

...due to budget cuts

Dear Folks,

We all have our pet or favored public services. One of the top reasons for living in Arizona are the state parks - it wouldn't be as lovely a place to get out of the house or take the family to see nature in some of its best areas without our state park system.

The current budget crisis in Arizona may disproportionately cut the state parks budget to non-existence. This is not - they-won't-be-open-for-a-year type of cut, but one which would necessitate the selling off of state park land to the highest bidder

Can you just imagine a McDonald's corner eatery in a residential development in place of Boyce Thompson Arboretum? Or, the formerly-public-state-park Kartchner Caverns State as the centerpiece to a gated community? Or a Wal-Mart and strip center in your most favored camping area?

Go to the advocacy page of the Arizona State Parks Foundation page for information.

The is a charitable group supporting the Arizona State Parks system.

Do what you can to keep the legislature from cutting the Arizona State Parks out of the picture, now and forever.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Greening: Your 32 Cents Worth of Choices!

Dear Folks,

You can't talk to a friend or family member, read the newspaper, or watch nightly news without sad economic facts: lost jobs, people losing homes, cuts in government budgets, which affect everything from library hours and locations to food programs, to police, fire and child care services to name just a few examples.

Human nature being what it is we want to blame someone for the mess, but who? Well we all have some responsibility in it by how and where we choose to spend our money.

"We have met the enemy and he is us". Pogo (comic strip) author, Walt Kelly, first used the quote on a poster for Earth Day in 1970.

32 Cents is the difference between how much of your hard earned dollar goes into the local economy versus "somewhere else." The national average (according to the bean counters) shows that for every dollar spent at a big chain store, 13 cents stays in the local economy funding public programs (via taxes) and paying your neighbor's grocery bill (via jobs) (and the other 32 cents goes "somewhere else"), while 45 cents stays in your local economy when you shop at locally owned and locally sourced stores.

When interviewed recently many shoppers had similar thoughts..."it's a nice idea but not practical"..."I need the convenience and better prices."

Keep that in mind when discussing who is no longer employed, when so and so can't find a job, and why there are now 10% less police or fire personnel around. Keep that in mind when the government is thinking about raising taxes to compensate for the reduced taxes into the government coffers.

Do you know where a large portion of the ‘somewhere else' that your shopping dollars goes when sent through the big chain stream? How about Asia, and overseas in general.

Take a few minutes on your computer and really do some price comparisons. You will find that your local farmers market food supplier or your neighborhood dress shop have comparable prices and great customer service.

If we are part of the problem than we cannot point fingers at ‘someone else' when we have some control over choices.

Recently Mayor Gordon of Phoenix had a request of the citizens. Pledge to try to do one-third of your shopping at locally owned and locally sourced stores. Can you do that? Can you make a difference in your community? 32 cents worth? Yes you can!

The money adds up — even if you are on a really tight budget and you spend $20 dollars at locally owned and sourced stores - do some math 20 x .32 = $6.40. How many people in your city here in the valley? Phoenix? Mesa?

Some recent (2007 or 2008) real estate estimates put the population of Phoenix at around 1,429,637 with approximately 481,000 households. Mesa at around 478,014 population and 170,023 households.

Some more math:

$6.40 x Mesa households 170,023 = $1,088,147 = if that household spent that same amount of money each month the figure would be $13,057,766 per year.

How about Phoenix with 481,000 households x $6.40 = $3,078,400 - and if that amount is spent locally each month the figure for one year would be $36,940,800.

That is a lot of jobs and employment whether working for a company or self-employed (like a store owner), or the services of police, fire and library, or education and child care. It is the difference between something as simple as a city parade or Christmas lights or something more serious and needed like support for child care and domestic violence centers, or whether your neighborhood park can be kept up, and jobs!

All from spending 32 cents differently!

First google Locavore for your community, then also search for "local first" for your community.

According to Kimber Laning, founder of you can also look up two other organizations nationwide for locally owned businesses in your area.

Business Alliance of Local Living Economies (BALLE)
American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA)

Find and support local farmers, restaurants, service suppliers, and stores.

If you are an independent store or service owner find your local business support group and join them -- today!

If we and our shopping choices are part of the problem, we can also be part of the solution. How can you make your 32 cents work better for your community, neighborhood and ultimately, you and your family?! Isn't making more local purchases a 'stimulus plan' with immediate impact?

While going through your holiday and New Year's preparations, don't forget to donate to some of the local charities - any amount is always welcome and helps your neighbors, friends, family and ultimately your community. I also have a list of some of my favorite national charities in the side bar here on the blog.

I will be blogging more but for the best wishes of the season, I like KEZ 99.9's humorous holiday greeting airing on the radio now during their Christmas music programming:

"Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, a Krazy Kwanzaa, a Tip Top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan"

And a very Healthy and Happy New Year to you all!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

P.S. Last Year I did the 12 days of Christmas which actually begins with Christmas Day, and this year it was my intention to re-post links to them leading up to Christmas, but I ran out of time! You can find them by going to the search bar on the blog here - Enjoy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Year's Day - Plant Potatoes!

Dear Folks,

My New Year's Day tradition is to plant potatoes, below is a collage of how we set this up in a raised bed.

This is the easiest way to plant potatoes for easy harvesting. Some folks have also used chicken wire tubes or old tires. Any of these concepts work okay.

You can try your hand at potato growing with store bought potatoes which are trying to sprout or have 'eyes' projecting out. Cut the potato into sections with 2-3 eyes per section, let dry on the counter for a couple of days and plant on January 1st. (In the picture you are seeing the 'seed potatoes' I save in my crisper drawer from the prior season growing.)

The most important thing to understand is that the growing potatoes must be covered at all times. Solanine is a toxic chemical reaction to sun light turning the skin of potatoes green and it CANNOT be cooked out.

Continue covering the potatoes as they grow to the depth of the raised container. Plan on harvesting in late Spring.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Achieve greater success with edible landscaping in the desert with my reminder subscription service - just $21/year gives you very detailed planting, harvesting and using tips several times a month, including more information about planting potatoes as above and other edibles.