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Seattle Fling 2011

Garden bloggers meet in Seattle in 2011

Our Sustainable Home & Landscape

Jan over at Thanks for 2day is asking us to write about our current and or planned efforts to garden and live sustainably by April 15. There are prizes!  And a chance to learn more about each other, and more ways to live a greener life. Check out Jan’s blog for all information and don’t forget –  Earth Day is coming up – for the 40th year!

I have been documenting, to some degree, our attempts to live more lightly on the earth beginning with a couple of my first posts about Changing One Thing, and switching to cloth grocery bags; and our changing our Christmas lights to LEDs. Since then we have changed many light bulbs to CFLs and replaced our old (29 year old) washer with an energy and water efficient front loader. I now also use the Quick cycle for many types of laundry which uses less electricity and means less wear and tear on the laundry. During as much of the year as possible I use the solar clothes dryer out in back, but I confess that I do still use the electric dryer for several of our New England months every year. We also had to replace our old refrigerator with a more efficient model.

The biggest energy saving project we completed last year was an efficient heating system using propane gass instead of oil. This was a major investment, but it did away with electric water bills as well as oil for heating the house. Part of our heat is supplied by our woodstove. Local wood! We recycle glass, paper, plastic and everything else we can think of. Of course.

I told my husband that I didn’t see how we could join the 10% challenge and lower our electricity bill by another 10%, but he said Yes, we could!  So, there are more CFLs and a new tighter more efficient door in our future. I have solar LED lights out in the garden.

That brings us to the garden which has always been an organic garden. No chemical fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides. I make and use compost. The chickens help by providing us with manure and bedding, as well as eggs. The only other soil amendments I use are  greensand, rock phospate and lime.

We live on 60 acres of woodland and field. Lots of natives to maintain the local ecosystem, without any effort on our part. I have planted some natives, but it is because I want plants that will do well in our area, without a lot of effort on our part. We have been working slowly on eliminating some of the lawn – my husband is all in favor of lessing the lawn mowing effort.  Henry doesn’t mow the field (in the interest of less effort?) until the meadow larks and bobolinks, should there be any, have raised their young.  Can you tell we are not in favor of unnecessary effort?

We are at the point now when the garden is coming to life. Today a friend dug up a Larch (Larix) seedling from his land and gave it to me.

We planted it in back of the Cottage Ornee. We haven’t done much cleaning up back here, but the soil is quite good. We dug a wide hole so the shallow spreading roots would not be crowded and watered the young tree well. The Larch, a deciduous conifer, is a remarkable tree.  The needles turn gold in the autumn and then fall. In the spring they appear in tender green bundles along with the tiny pine cones. The tree is very tall when mature, and very beautiful at every stage.

Scillas and Glory of the Snow

The grass around the newly planted larch is beginning to bloom with scillas and glory of the snow.

Rhubarb shoots

The rhubarb is well up, and the first fine leaves of spinach are up in the herb bed in front of the house. I can see the leaves of the lilacs and roses starting to open and all manner of perennials and herbs are making their presence known. I walked through the garden today with my daughter who was visiting, and working with us on a DVD project for our big upcoming Family Reunion. She was doing all the work but needed us for historical background. Later, friends with their year old daughter joined us for lunch and conversation about Water. Andrea works for the Connecticut Watershed and our daughter Betsy works for the Mass Water Resources Authority – both of them concerned about and working to protect our water.

It struck me as the glorious sunny day progressed that while I work to make the garden, and our household, as sustainable as possible, I am sustained by the garden in turn. The garden feeds our bodies and souls, with vegetables and fruits, beauties for the eye, a sense of our connection to all living things from the weeds in the lawn, to the birds and bugs of the air. The garden is a safe playground for grandchildren and all the friends who visit here, a delightful underpinning for our sustaining family and community life. The Annual Rose Viewing is coming up!

Don’t forget to visit Thanks for 2Day.

6 comments to Our Sustainable Home & Landscape

  • What a wonderful post, Pat! I agree that the garden sustains me more than what I give to it in return. The great thing about this meme is that it has reminded me of some steps I have taken in recent years–like replacing incandescent lightbulbs–as well as given me some new ideas to implement here. And I do love my solar dryer:) Besides saving gas, this is one household chore I’ve always loved, but yes, it’s a little difficult to use in January and February.

    How fortunate you were to get a larch seedling. Last week’s MG class covered trees, and the larch was mentioned by our speaker as a beautiful but underused tree in the landscape. More of us should consider planting one.

  • Hi;
    Love this. I am ‘sustained’ by my garden, as well. It’s nice to meet another gardener who seeks ways to to live harmoniously without creating tons of unnecessary hard work. :)

  • Pat

    Rose – As I read the sustainability posts I’ve also been reminded of the tiny steps I take every day – and occasionally stopping to hope they add up to a significant response to the environment. I am going to do a posting specifically about the larch soon. It is a beautiful tree.
    Kate – I’m trying to do less, with less, including less effort. Thanks for visiting.

  • I love our larch tree, it’s my favorite. It’s growing right along the side of our pond. I keep looking for seedlings nearby, but have never found any. It’s a golden joy in the autumn, so beautiful.

  • Thanks for an inspiring post. Gardens do sustain us, don’t they? Great to see your photos, hear what you’re up to. I think I’ll go turn off the heat cycle on my dishwasher and order a few more native plants. :)

  • Pat

    Kelly – We are lucky to leave near Nasami Farm, the propagating nursery for the New England Wildflower Society. They have every kind of beautiful native for the garden.

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