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L'air du vinaigre

Hey kids! Would you like your house to smell like vinegar? Have I got the recipe for you!

We had a surprisingly good tomato year this year in our garden. This is extra amazing considering we had a massive hail storm in early July which reduced many of our plants to sticks. The tomatoes bounced back and, boy howdy, did they produce. However, the cold descended before all the tomatoes could ripen. So, we had lots of green tomatoes and didn't have the heart to toss everything on the compost pile.

Our Jeans Keep Us Warm

Garage Ceiling Insulation

A few years ago we insulated our home's attic which made a huge difference in our heating bills. At the time we didn't insulate above the garage because I thought it was unconditioned space. But, the walls between our kitchen/living room and laundry room are poorly insulated - allowing lots of heat transfer between the house and garage. That makes the garage "indirectly-conditioned space" and in dire need of insulation.

EcoMommyo Reads Michael Pollan's "Cooked"

Cooked by Michael Pollan

Oh how I wish I was a highly paid journalism professor at UC-Berkeley. Then I would be blissfully unaware that people have accents in this great nation of ours and have long Sundays of no errands to stand around watching meat braise. AHHH, that would be the life.

Instead we ate leftover fish tonight and roasted vegetable salad and cleaned a few more things out of the refrigerator. Now I'm sitting here watching Glee, thinking about eating graham crackers for dessert and reveling in the fact that we got EcoBaby to eat brussel sprouts. Life's little victories.

Why I Garden #38

Olla and encircling root bowl

A tale of a full moon, a hard frost, green tomatoes and eight dirty ollas.

Why I Garden #37

Purple Asters - Machaeranthera bigelovii

Folks around Santa Fe call these flowers Purple Aster when they pop up in late summer / early fall. Apparently Aster bigelovii has quite a few pseudonyms including Bigelow's Tansyaster, Sticky Aster and more scientifically Machaeranthera bigelovii or Dieteria bigelovii var. bigelovii. Regardless of what they're called we have a few of these self-seeded native wildflowers growing in one of the beds around our home.

A Riddle Hovering in the Garden

Hyles lineata - White-lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth

Our garden attracts a good variety of insect pollinators, including our honeybees. For the past week we've had a new variety of showy, large moths in the garden. They flit about like hummingbirds and are bold, relatively unbothered by human attention. A quick 'Net search revealed that our garden guests are Hyles lineata, the White-lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth. Of course, now I need to check the tomatoes for hornworms.

Don't Kill Your TV

Recycle (Don't Kill) Your TV

Recycle it instead. Yes, we FINALLY got rid of the big old CRT TV. We had added a digital converter box and kept on using the old, but functional, tube TV for years. A good friend pushed us into the digital TV era with a hand-me-down, but quite decent LED digital TV (I'm not a luddite, really!). This left us with an electronic white elephant to kill recycle.

Standing on a Carbon Sink

Installing a Douglas Fir plank floor

This might just look like a new wood floor to you, but it's also a carbon sink. In our search to replace our heavily worn carpet and vinyl flooring we looked at many options, finally deciding on locally harvested and milled Douglas Fir. I've always liked the feel and look of tongue & groove wood floors and this was a reasonably priced, local option for us.

A Long Road to Recycling Carpet

Carpet Pad bales

Out with the old, in with the new. We've replaced much of the flooring in our house (more on that here) and removed some very worn carpet. Before ripping out the carpet, carpet pad, cactus-like tack strips and hundreds of staples and nails I looked into recycling the old carpet. It turns out that you can recycle carpet (at least some kinds) but as usual for us, it required an extra effort.

Why I Garden #36

Tomato plants after hail storm

Hail! Ugh.

One week ago a fierce thunderstorm hit our neighborhood and it started with a vicious hailstorm. I was in the middle of a project and could do nothing to save the tender annuals in our garden. While the corn survived, most of the chiles, tomatoes, beans and squash were shredded. Many of the perennials are already looking better, but I still need to decide what plants will be replaced this season.

I'm thrilled to have the precipitation, I just wish it had all come as rain. Ugh.

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