My Hugelkultur

After dreaming of having one since I first learned about permaculture last spring I finally built a hugelkultur! It’s basically a big pile of rotting wood covered in rotting leaves, dirt and compost. The wood is supposed to act like a sponge, to keep the soil moist and healthy. It’s not the prettiest thing but I was happy to have a place for all the baby tomatoes that kept popping up in my garden!

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I built it on a whim one day while my baby slept and my toddler played nearby.  It did what it was supposed to as far as giving my baby tomatoes a place to grow.  Unfortunately I didn’t have much of a gardening budget at the time so I used a super cheap “fence” and T posts.  The deer were able to push up the fence to come in every few weeks and eat whatever had grown.  The wind knocked the poor fence over a few times too.  Plus my husband hated the whole thing.  It was a fun experiment though and it felt good to break ground on what will someday be a new garden bed!

Why sustainable and joyful?

12440606_10154161360189203_5728918624181701933_oA while ago I got to thinking about what it is that I really want in life.  What do I truly value that should be my guiding mantra?

Living a life full of happiness always seems like an important goal! Even if that happiness isn’t being felt in the moment, I want to strive to have a high level of contentment and lots of moments of pure joy. Who wouldn’t, right?

I am a person who can tend to be a little serious and definitely INTENSE at times, so a reminder to always seek joy is a good thing for me.  I want to laugh from my belly everyday.  I want to take time to play. All too often at the end of a long day at home with the kids I realize that although I may be content with the day I didn’t take the time to be silly and really PLAY.  Tomorrow is a new day though, and I hope I can approach it just slightly differently…

The drive towards sustainable living is something that just keeps building in me.  It’s one of those things where the more you learn the harder it is to ignore.  According to climate change researchers, “Reducing consumption and achieving more sustainable lifestyles represents the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions”.  This idea is so powerful yet most of us struggle to minimize our own consumption.  It’s also the source of so much of the seriousness that keeps me from being more joyful.  Like everything REALLY does matter!  Because if one person can do something different one time it MATTERS. And if I can inspire ONE person to do something in a way that is better for themselves it can make a difference!

Somehow I’ve never outgrown the idealist part of myself that emerged as a teenager  and won’t stop believing that change is possible. I think the belief that every little thing matters is what makes that sort of belief at all possible.

Because it DOES!  Anytime I think about a choice for myself I think, what if everyone made this same choice? How would it affect things?  Would it make the world healthier and happier or not? You know, the whole butterfly wing thing just keeps me driven.  If I can’t imagine and do it myself how could I expect other people to do it?

Of course this tends to lead me into perfectionism at times… but that has gotten much better for me over the years!  I allow myself to make mistakes and to occasionally not separate out the compost from the trash.  But it kind of hurts me to do that!  It’s just part of who I am I think.  I NEED to take it seriously.

I also want and need support in trying to live this way.  To live better and to love the world better.  I want to create a place where people can come together to discuss ways that they are working towards consuming less and striving for a more minimalist approach to life.  Once you start opening your heart and mind up to questioning the status quo and trying to live mindfully (rather than mindlessly consuming  mainstream values and habits) it is hard to unlearn and unsee the truth.

So, I’ve created a Facebook group to support these goals.  It started out as a place for friends to support each other on our KonMari journeys but has evolved as we have evolved.  Using KonMari to get in touch with what REALLY matters and sparks joy in life is an AMAZING step.  But let’s keep putting one foot in front of the other as we move towards our visions of living simple happy lives filled with joy where we are truly AWAKE to our affects on the world around us.  What’s working for you?  What’s challenging?  Let’s talk!

Here’s the link to my Facebook group if you want to join!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/911904772224158/

 

(Source on causes of climate chage) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114193245.htm

Leaf blowing in suburbia

My family lives in an area that is considered “semi-suburban”.  When we look out off our deck we see the forest and mountains in the distance and it can feel like we are out in the middle of nowhere.  We have enough privacy that laboring during my son’s birth on the deck all day seemed perfectly normal and private, but that’s another story for another day!

In fact, we often don’t see other people, except for a few cars driving down the dead end road.  But on a beautiful day we hear the almost constant hum of leaf blowers.  What is this?  It was a strange sound to me when first moving here from the city as leaf blowing was hardly a thing in Maine when I was growing up.  What happened to raking?

After having our back yard cleared of bramble and invasive plants and replanted we got an education in what this blowing is all about.  We couldn’t resist the offer from the landscaper to sign up for weekly yard maintenance.  And it is glorious.  A team of people come and mow, weed wack and then clean it all up with their magical leaf blowers.  But, now I’m part of the problem. But wow it’s nice to have this taken care of when you have small children and don’t want to spend hours mowing with your small but eco friendly electric mower.

We decided to forego the service as it moved into fall and the grass slowed it’s growing.  But now the blowers are out in full force all around us.  Echoing through the meadows, over hills and down streams.  They are calling out the siren song of those who want every leaf removed from their lawns and from their property.  Because leaves are bad?  Or useless?

When I started my garden I found a big pile of decaying leaves beside the road on our lane and counted myself quite lucky to have found such good organic material to build my soil with!  I mulch it with my mower and add it as part of my “lasagna gardening”.  It’s great!

This year I took my crazy nature loving self a step further and asked the neighbor’s landscaper to blow all of the leaves they were clearing into the wooded area between my lawn and the road.  My hope is that the extra organic material will act as a mulch to help to slow the growth of invasives plants in the area I cleared out there.  I also love that the leaves will provide a home to lots of little creatures like caterpillars that will become butterflies in the spring!

I recently learned that worms aren’t actually native to the US and that prior to 1600 they wouldn’t have been found here.  At that time the layer of leaf litter in the forests would have been about a foot deep as the other bugs that break it down work slower.  The faster decomposition of ground covers, along with the destabilization of the natural ecosystem due to the presence of humans and overpopulations of some animals, such as deer, could definitely be a part of why so many of our forests are covered with invasive bushes and vines that are choking out the trees.

So, yeah, let’s keep trying to create closed systems in our yards and use the gifts that are right in front of us.  Those leaves can be better used than just being sent “away” for composting.  They also are just lovely dipped in beeswax and taped to the window, you know, if you’re into that sort of thing.