Green Rascal Design


Garden Resources


We're making a small addition to the Green Rascal Design list of services. Over the weekend we went around our little borough and plastered some fliers on power poles - strategically placed where 1) lots of people pass by or 2) some edible plants would be a nice addition to a yard. Yes, we're on a mission to help people in our neighborhood grow their own food.

Everyone always says they don't have time to garden and it's so much work. Even after we've gone through the calculations to show how worthwhile it is from a financial standpoint to garden, I still get this complaint. So today I'll try and provide some resources...
pink ladybug
actual pink ladybug on a parsnip
Apparently this little guy is special. He's not red. He is pink. Parsnips attract these special pink ladybugs from hundreds of yards away according to some online source.

There are 500 kinds of ladybugs in the US alone, so I guess this isn't so surprising. But I felt like sharing. I couldn't get a picture of the baby praying mantises that were out last week, so maybe this is compensation for that.

Also, I figured I'd share pictures of the bounty we've reaped so far this year:
7 jars of strawberry, and 6 jars of raspberry jam
raspberry vodka and strawberry wine
There is more jam in the fridge - being consumed regularly around here.

The raspberry vodka is simply one 750ml bottle of vodka, 3 cups of raspberries (in our case both red and black raspberries), and 2 cups of sugar. It will sit like this for the next 3 months until we strain out the fruit.

Yes, that's a washing machine...

The strawberry wine is a much more complicated matter involving yeast and that fancy contraption you see bubbling at the top. In about a month it will be strained and tasted. It could take up to a year before being ready, but we'll see.

The purpose of these photos today - for this special Sunday edition of Rascal Scratches - is not only to make up for the fact that I should have shared them yesterday, but is also in reaction to something somebody here saw in the Wall St Journal this morning about the definition of a real gardener.

Somebody in my tai chi class asked me yesterday how the garden is doing. When I started rattling off all the stories it seemed like she was in total disbelief because I also stated that we do almost no weeding. This story in the WSJ just reminded me of my classmate and all the other friends we have around who still buy into the notion that you need to spend hours and hours working on your garden to make it beautiful and useful. My pictures above (and elsewhere) should show that you do not need to spend much time working in the garden to get rewards.

I also occasionally post different photos on the Green Rascal facebook page.

I suppose it's one of my missions in life and this business to get people to be better stewards of the Earth, and those who write articles about spending 4 hours or more weeding every week, and comments such as those referring to the WSJ article, deeply disappoint me. Clearly Permaculturists need to do more educating...

the CSA


So yesterday I managed to finally get out of the house after a long weekend of too much heat and sinus congestion. It was CSA day, and I can't miss it. Plus the hubs took the day off so he could go to the farm with me and see what all the fuss is about.

It's our second CSA pick up of the season. We got collards, salad greens, tatsoi, bok choi, broccoli and a cucumber this week. Then we took a walk around the farm to see how they do stuff. It's very neat and organized. They essentially grow organically even though they haven't gone to the expense of becoming certified. So instead of chemicals, they use fabric bed covers to protect the crops from insects and pests. It's a pretty big farm, and it seemed like tons of work. Good thing they got the high school kids helping out!

If you haven't tried a CSA, I recommend it. We paid about as much as we'd spend at the grocery store in one month, and we'll get a small share of whatever the farm produces for the next 24 weeks. It's organic, and much fresher than what is at the store.

Not knowing what we'll get every Tuesday is the biggest hurdle. We have had to stop planning out meals for the week and go back to being creative. Mostly its my creativity. Well, actually all of it is my creativity. But I don't mind McGuyvering dinner most nights. It's more fun than reading recipes out of a book. Probably in a couple months I'll feel differently, but for now it's good.

Last night we made some kind of burrito things with two collard leaves standing in for the tortilla. It was pretty good! Thanks Henry Got Crops!
Chris with Pumpkin and Clover
Clover's colors
Clover is getting brown gills!
So I had the hubby hold the fluffs for today's pictures because it's just easier.

That's the theme for the week. I need easier! It has been super busy here and with home stuff. We got a new efficient dish washer installed. I got it at Mrs G Appliances just before all the prices went up! (I highly recommend them.) Also, the mini-split heat pump was delivered on Wednesday. I managed to get it to the backside of the house and covered up before heading out to my networking event. We don't have anybody scheduled to install it because the install quotes we got were sky high. But the packaging for the two appliances went into the chicken cage to serve as perches for a while. They're nice little pallet type things, and the birds seem okay with them for now.

I went to the DCN Networking event on Wednesday night, and got to hang out with at least one person (guess which one) I have already met out networking. It was fun, and I may go again if they have more events.

Add to that our CSA orientation meeting last night... We're really excited to be joining the CSA. The Farm manager is really upbeat, and she's the kind of girl you'd just like to hug. She answered a lot of questions. We came home with a couple pieces of paper with info on them such as the types of vegetables we'll be getting and when they will be available. This all starts around the 4th week of May depending on the weather.

I also sent out a check to join the cheese CSA which partners with our CSA. I love cheese. I really love goat cheese. I can't believe I waited so long to make a decision on this. But the other CSA members who had the cheese share last year and were at the meeting last night just raved about the cheese, so I pulled the trigger on that today. mmm, goat cheese...

Nevermind our own garden is more or less flourishing here. Lots of berry bushes have made it into the ground. The asian pear tree was also planted finally. And the hubs is now the plant guru at his workplace too. I think it's pretty funny. But he finds these interesting things about plants and is always dying to share what he's learned. For instance, last night he made me watch a video that looked like an old episode of Grizzly Adams, but was really from 2000 or so, about this guy Sepp Holzer, who has lemon trees growing in the Alps. If you know anything about lemon trees, you know they usually don't grow on mountains. Somehow he makes magic happen. Now we're contemplating going to Austria to visit the Kremeterhoff (not sure about the spelling) sometime.

And I'm all about sharing this stuff too, so now I'm off to find links... weeeeeee.

Happy Friday. Have a good weekend!
cuddly chicken
Pumpkin really likes to cuddle
Please excuse the pajamas and morning hair... The hubs took this picture of Pumpkin stretching her neck out against my head and the chair this morning, and I've been sharing it all over. This is the best picture of how cuddly they are!
lap chicken
Clover, the lap chicken
Clover actually likes to cuddle too, but she is shy about having her picture taken while she's letting it all hang out.
Eggzy badge
Also, yesterday I discovered Eggzy in my Springwise RSS feed, and it was like the heavens appeared! We have too many eggs, and until now I haven't known what to do with them. Well Eggzy made it easy. They provided all the rules (laws for local egg selling) and some neat tools for managing egg counts and such. We started an egg stand today. While it's not beautiful yet, I'm sure it will be very helpful in the future! It's very exciting.

We have also been working on the environmental systems here. Currently we have oil heat and it's killing my soul. I intensely dislike oil in general, and the boiler here is ANCIENT. The efficiency is on the floor, and I'm here freezing my butt off all the time. This is in addition to having no air conditioning. The AC thing is somewhat ok because the cross breezes we get are pretty good, but sometimes it does get pretty darn unbearable in the summer. So we're thinking of just providing a boost to the system with a mini split heat pump. I had someone here on Tuesday, and their estimate is going to be crazy I believe. But it's just to find out how much we'll save by getting a unit ourselves and having a couple pros out to help us. We've done TONS of research on this, and it is time to pull the trigger. :)

The only other news around here is the continuation of networking efforts all over the place. The Power Lunch Project get-together at Houlihan's on Tuesday night was a lot of fun. The appetizers were plentiful! Then I had a coffee break with a TPLPer yesterday - technically not an official TPLP coffee break, but it still counts.

That's all the news that isn't! Have a good weekend. We will be digging out sea buckthorn bushes and planting lots of berry "bushes" in their place. Hey I like dirt just as much as the next chicken, haha.



When hubs and I went to the Grid Philadelphia magazine release party for their March issue (which contains my story on page 30), we met the subject of their cover story about Fracking in the Delaware River Basin, Iris Marie Bloom. Since then I have been receiving daily emails about the fight against unusual natural gas drilling practices. Here is part of today's email:
DRBC just granted a 30 day extension to their March 16th public comment deadline.  That's terribly short, considering the outrageous violations of environment and health going on.  But it's great to know we've had an influence:  New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Army Corps of Engineers ALL voted for the extension and only Pennsylvania voted against it.  The more progressive Commissioners proposed 45 days (thanks to your voices!) but New Jersey opposed that and cut it to 30 days.

A second New York Times article confronts industry denial head-on, confirms the shocking PA policy that allows gas drilling waste to be used as brine to tamp down dust on roads and de-ice roads; and as salt to de-ice roads.  That means it goes straight into streams, rivers, aquifers, estuaries, our drinking water.  This second NYT article confirms that toxic radioactive waste is classified as "residual" not "hazardous" due to a dangerous exemption.  And it shows the rampant disregard for public health which results from the revolving door between government and industry, especially in Pennsylvania.


ACTION A = CALL GOVERNOR CORBETT!  His phone number is 717-787-2500.

When [Iris] called Weds. afternoon, his office said they were getting plenty of calls from "the other side." If you can speak for an organization, please do.  Please demand he vote to maintain the moratorium on gas drilling in the Delaware River watershed! Other demands: remove the exemption that allows hazardous gas drilling waste to be treated as "residual" waste; extend the moratorium statewide; stop selling our state forests and parks. Be kind to whoever answers the phone, but don't mince words either.

ACTION B = CALL / WRITE PRESIDENT OBAMA:   His number is (202) 546-1111.

ACTION C = Don't feel like talking to any government officials right now?  Fine, just hit this link from Clean Water Action:  

In a few seconds you can write your U.S. Rep. and Senator to DEFEND the Environmental Protection Agency against right-wing attacks at this crucial time.  We need the EPA fully funded and strong.  They are just beginning to step up to regulate the gas industry a bit more aggressively and their ability to curb air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions must be expanded, not curtailed.  E-actions like this are something Clean Water Action is great at, so please do it, thanks!


Thank you for sharing. I send out emails about this stuff, but that gets old for the recipients, and I feel weird about it. I've already commented on the document several times and written to my senators, etc. Anyway, pass on the word. If you drink water or eat food grown in the Delaware Valley area, your health depends on it.