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Why I Garden #1

Delicata Squash, Amish Paste Tomatoes and Purple Pod Beans

Delicata Winter Squash, Amish Paste Tomatoes and Purple Pod String Beans.

Trade your Car for a Bike?

Team Wonderbike

That's the proposition from the folks at the New Belgium Brewery (makers of Fat Tire Ale). If you will donate your car, sign over the title to a charity, and give it away completely ... the New Belgium Brewery will give you a custom-fitted commuter bike. Wow! Now you have to commit to riding the bike (and not driving a car) for a full year, submit a video or letter application, but that's about it. If you're ready to give up your car completely go to and go to the Bike Trade section of the website for more info.

Use a Reel (Real) Mower

Reel Mower

I am in the process of establishing a native grass (buffalo and blue grama) lawn in part of my backyard. Beyond the weeding of undesired plants and occasional watering I have been reintroduced to mowing after several years. Because I'm working to reduce my ecological impact I decided to go with a Reel (not "real") Push Mower. As I am the power for this mower it needs no fuel (other than a good breakfast for me) or electricity to run. Well, after a few weeks of mowing I can tell you about the pros and cons of using a reel push mower.

Food Fresh from the Farm

Farmers Market Apples and Peaches

Supermarkets have become strangely fantastical places where fruits and vegetables are always in season and always available. Unfortunately, the fruits and vegetables are rarely truly fresh and the varieties have become very uniform across the nation. Of course, fruits can't be picked when they're fully ripe if they must be shipped hundreds or thousands of miles. Many heirloom vegetables, especially tomatoes, don't ship well at all, so the supermarkets only stock the types that can withstand early picking and long-distance trucking.

Fresh from the Tap

Drinking Fountain

How is it that so many people want water from their beer from a tap, but they want their water to come in a bottle? Well, folks who know and love beer extol the quality and flavor that comes from a keg rather than a bottle. I'll talk about beer another day, but interestingly enough, water from the tap also has advantages over water from a bottle. Water from a municipal tap is tested more often and more extensively, it is from nearby source(s), uses no packaging and is radically cheaper than water from a bottle.

Bicycles for Transportation

Schwinn Speedster

I'm a bit of a cycling fan. Not fully over the edge, mind you, but I'm enthusiastic about bikes. I know that biking is inexpensive, great exercise and one of the most fun ways to get around. But not everyone I know is completely sold on the idea of bikes as a form of transportation. Here's a look at ways to make cycling a practical mode of transportation.

Pick your bike:

Line Dry your Clothes

Clothes Line

This idea is so simple that it didn't occur to me until I moved in to my current house. I had used a clothes dryer for years out of habit and inertia until I moved into a home with a clothes line. After buying a package of clothes pins I was ready to dry my clothing the simplest, cheapest and best way I have found yet. Of course, my grandmother has been drying clothes on the line since before I was born, but some things are rediscovered by each generation.

The advantages to line drying clothing are straightforward and numerous.

Food from the Backyard - Edible Weeds

We all know how important eating fresh greens is, but those bags of "mixed greens" in the grocery store can be a bit pricey. Well, of course you can grow your own salad greens, but sometimes nature provides fresh greens in unexpected places. For instance, your front lawn.

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