Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Greening - Ideas Whose Time Has Come -- Again

Dear Folks,

Greetings from the far east valley where the grass is crunchy and soggy! (After winter rains clear out, you can usually count on clear cold nights, meaning probably light frost.)

We received just under 5 inches in the storms which ‘visited' us this week.

One of the last times I recorded near that amount of rain in a short period of time was a 24 hour period in July 2008, where I measured 3.3 inches of rain from July 10 through the 11th.

Needless to say, you can shut the automatic watering off for about a week right now and save money and your plants. Use the water meter to check when next to start watering again, we are going to be having "intermittent sun" instead of rain for the next couple of weeks, according to the current long range forecasts.

. . .

Back to today's topic

Greening - Ideas Whose Time Has Come -- Again!

--Do What You Do Best!

--Grow a Community, with a Garden!

--What resources do you have in abundance--Use them!

Folks, when times get tough or challenging, history shows us how resourceful people can be. A bad day makes us sit back and take stock of what we have and what we can do. Today's post is a bit lengthy, but I think you will find it interesting and hopefully helpful as you look about for things to do.

First, ponder this bit of wisdom.

Sue McPhail, APR, President, Ideaology, writes a daily Monday-Friday email ‘idea' using a great/good thought from a famous or popular person, she then expounds on what that thought means and what you can do with it. Although focused on corporate / company ‘culture' for making the companies better, I think this idea from last week is something we can all identify with personally and within our community.

Turning to Farming in Detroit

"The greatest thing is, at any moment, to be willing to give up who we are in order to become what we can be." -- Max Depree

A native of Michigan [Sue writes], I've watched Detroit grapple with its identity for the past 30 years. I believe that the fastest path to success is building a future around what exists in abundance. I've been troubled as the city sought to redefine itself as a center for motion pictures and air travel. The bottom line is simple -- what Detroit has in abundance is water and fertile land.

So, today, we present Ideaology's Good Thinking award to millionaire John Hanz, of Detroit, who has pledged $30 million of his own funds to transform Detroit from an urban wasteland to fertile farmland. Hanz isn't whistling Dixie, he's hiring full-time workers at this very moment to bring his ideas to bear. Have a look for yourself.

If you don't think it's viable, look to the east and you'll see Ontario, Canada's fertile crescent where most of that nation's crops are grown. Come on. It's not that hard to envision: vacant, fertile land, great transportation, abundant water, lots of labor. It's good. In fact, if I were back in Michigan, I'd be calling Hanz to see how I can help make this inventive idea reality. You grow, guys.

The most difficult part of this idea is giving up the notion that Detroit is a center of manufacturing; that it is the automobile capitol of the world. Who cares. Imagine it as a Sonoma or Salinas. Could be breathtakingly beautiful, serene, profitable and amazing. All you have to do is give up your vision of factories, abandoned homes and crack houses. Put me in coach, I'm ready to play.

What can Ideaology do? Innovation is not an end product, it's a way of thinking and acting that results in an ongoing flood of uncommon, profitable ideas. Ideaology creates the climate in which ideas flourish. Call 248 879 9129 to engage us.

Sue McPhail, APR, President

Max Depree is an American writer and former CEO of Herman Miller, a leading manufacturer of office furniture. He is best known for "Leadership is an Art." Named a member of the Fortune Magazine Hall of Fame, Depree also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Business Enterprise Trust. In 1996, the Max Depree Center for Leadership was formed in Pasadena, CA.

--What resources do you have in abundance--Use them!

Like John Hanz, can you see what your family, neighborhood, community has in abundance? We may not be millionaires like Mr. Hanz, but we all have something to contribute to our family community.

If your apartment complex, dormitory, street or neighborhood were a mini-village or town, what would each of you have as a product, service or skill that would be useful to everyone? Think of it this way — do you know your neighbors? If there were a major emergency you would turn to each other because they the closest.

--Do you have extra time and like to be outdoors? Check out — A non-profit all volunteer organization dedicated to eradicating invasive plants from our desert environs.

--Do you have extra garden produce and not interested in selling it - give it away! To neighbors, senior or crisis centers (call first).

So what will ‘giving' something ‘get' you? Years ago when I volunteered my extra time in the office of a charity, I learned soon-to-be valuable skills which I in turn used in my career choices. I also met many interesting and great people. Networking at its finest!

--Do What You Do Best!

Are you good at organization, details, quietly working behind the scenes. Those who only sit and wait provide an invaluable service and support to the ‘action'. Can you knit, grow tomatoes, cook simple meals - fast?

--Grow a Community, with a Garden!

Nothing is more precious to people and places which are challenged, than food and water.

If you do not have a garden of your own, find a community garden, or start what I like to call a neighborhood garden. If you can't use all the bounty, share it. Learn to can (really easy, and not as scary as you may think) or freeze the extras for later.

A neighborhood garden is a way of developing a mini-community. Each neighbor grows what they are good at, then they get together and share the bounty at each seasonal harvest. (This works for apartment buildings as well as student dormitories - you need a sunny balcony or patio to make it work.)

You can begin with nothing more than a large pot (try for 2 foot wide diameter), good soil mix, lots of sun, proper water and package of seeds. Maintained properly the pot garden can work for you from season to season, all year long here in the valley.

Do you have horrible soil - my friend Kathy has her own dairy goat herd and is more than happy to give away great manure, which can be mixed into poor soil and used in the garden or containers (add some vermiculite or leaf compost to keep the mix loose).

Do you own or know someone who owns empty lots or land? Can it be made into a temporary or permanent garden?

Do you know you can legally use gray water from washing machines and non-contaminated (like toilet) water sources to water fruit and nut trees? It is important to make sure only environmentally safe soaps and cleaners are in the water.

Mesquite trees are an important way to reclaim land using things like gray water. There is a mesquite project whose aim is to reclaim land and also provide a source of food in Arizona. Mesquite is an ancient native plant source of flour from the pods and beans. Mesquite honey and wood are also by-products of growing these desert-adapted trees.

Desert Harvesters promotes the project and can even arrange grinding parties with their huge mill on wheels for those already growing mesquite.

If you have never tried using mesquite flour - contact or find Arizona Mesquite Company at one of the local farmers markets to try their tasty foods and buy the flour. Desert harvesters also teams up with local farmers to produce special events like a mesquite pancake event with Crooked Sky Farms in Glendale last fall.

NOTE: I have a concept in mind to assist low income home owners to reclaim their back yards for an edible garden beginning with mesquite trees and gray water. The idea would also help provide necessary shade in the summer. Contact me if your organization would like the details.

So folks, what can you do with your own skills and resources to enhance your life and the life of your neighborhood and community?

Happy gardening,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady