Keyhole – The Smarter Garden

Is it a coincidence that I hear about an entirely new gardening concept, from two different people, within two different contexts, in the span of a day, and the same person gets mentioned as the expert on the subject?

I think not.

Keyhole gardening. I’ll be adding it to my sustainable gardening repertoire. Keyhole gardens are built where water is scarce, where people don’t have abundant food sources at a local grocery store that they can easily waste choose from, or where land is locked in perpetual drought conditions and food cannot be easily grown.  They are named for the shape — which looks like a keyhole from above.

Texas Co-op Power Magazine: Keyhole Garden

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Keyhole Garden – An Infographic

For those of you not yet familiar with the keyhole garden, this infographic shows in simple form how to build one and (generally) what to plant in it.  I love coming across nice little “packages” for otherwise complex things.  And I love to share.

My own keyhole garden is about to get replenished with several bags of garden waste stolen from other neighbor’s trash piles.  It did its job serving as nursery to fruit tree saplings during the hottest months of the Texas summer; I seldom watered them.  Now that the trees are nestled in their permanent homes, it’s time for the keyhole to start feeding my family.

But first! Stealing is high on my agenda.

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Remembering Roi, The Sweetest Dumb Ole Cat I Ever Knew

Before we had kids, there were the cats.  They were the first and only non-human animals that lived with us until just a few weeks ago when the bunnies came to our home.  Japanese Bobtails were a breed known for their intelligence, powder-puff tails, and regal personalities.  I chose these kittens because of their different pet dander — they didn’t seem to aggravate Hub’s animal allergies.  I in turn would have some lovable animals at home again while I studied engineering, to dote on while he was away most of the time working on contract assignments.

That, and it was love at first sight.  (Allergies aside, he really had no say in the matter.)

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Top Ten: Why Virtual is the Word for Public School

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”  ~ Sydney J. Harris

This post has been a long time coming.  Over two years ago, we made the decision to break tradition (yet again) and switch our kids from our district brick-and-mortar school and into the virtual world for public education.  With the previous year being with only the middle schooler at home, the other three remaining at their elementary school, this year they all came over.  What a journey it’s been.

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Making Milk

Vegan Pancakes, October Captured

“If we can live healthy, productive lives without bringing harm to others, why wouldn’t we?” ~ Jenny Brown

In my household, pancakes are the Elixir of Life.  The quickest of the quick breads, an energy-sucking oven not required.  I like to nibble on them at odd times of the day — not just for breakfast — and since they have the added bonus of being crumb-free, the kids can eat them at their desks.  (Without syrup, of course.)

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What's Up, Doc?

This is the Post Where I Show You My Buns

The semi-lazy, outdoor days of fall are fully underway.  Now that we are spending 100% of our time at home during the week — school, work, chores — we take as many breaks as possible to soak in the sun and revel in the cooler fall temps.

The fruit trees from the keyhole garden nursery finally made it into the ground.  It only took me a year-and-a-half to get it done, but our property — already replete with dozens of trees — just acquired three more fruiting variety:  a Satsuma tangerineNavel orange, and a Pomegranate.  This is the beginning of (what I’m hoping will be) an espalier grove.  More hole-digging, first.

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Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

Do you remember the Hummingbird post from a couple of weeks back?  One of the birds already had a band on her foot, you know, the barely visible band with even less visible teensy numbers and letters etched on it.

We received a post card about her:  

“The hummingbird you adopted last Saturday at GCBO was originally banded at GCBO last fall on September 11, 2013.  This is a significant recapture, because we get very few of the same from year to year.  Congratulations on your very special bird!  Just think how many miles she has flown! “

The children clamored to look at a map of North America, did some quick head math.  Wowza.  That’s 20 miles per day with a 500-mile non-stop trip across the Gulf of Mexico…at least twice.

She’s no WyldStyle.  That chick earned a new name from her young sponsor:  Magellan.

We are now down to maintaining one feeder (of the three kept during fall migration).  Though the swarms and “Hummer Warz” are gone for the year, we still watch a migrant here or there, happy to find a feeder all to himself.  By December, we’ll begin hosting some of our cold weather variety, like the Rufous Hummingbird from Christmas which started it all.

Do you maintain any bird feeders?  

Do you keep nectar feeders up during the winter?

Mud Sand Pies

Beaches and Birds

“We sit in the mud…and reach for the stars.” ~ Ivan Turgenev

Twenty years together is a milestone for a married couple, but it seems like yesterday that he and I made the transition from friends to lovers.  Where does the time go?  Oh yeah.  I forgot about the four kids we threw into the mix.  That really eats into the daytime hours.

The first week of October in Houston, coupled with even the slightest drop in temperature (woke up to 58, a high of 82 today!), gets us itching for one of two things:   camping or beach going.  As it may be another month before the mosquitoes will even allow us to camp comfortably (i.e., they are completely gone), we opted for the beach instead.  The kids, of course, couldn’t wait to put their little toes in the Mississippi silt Galveston sand.  Mom and Dad had other plans; we wanted a few fall migratory birds for our list.

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Butternut Squash, September Captured

“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.” ~ Samuel Butler

Speaking of fruits, the squash, for me anyway, screams autumn! And not in just a jack-o-lantern of way. A perpetual squash-something-or-rather can be plucked from our fridge here through January.  They’re cheap to buy, easy to grow, [most] can be stored right on the countertop or in a cool basement or garage, and their flesh adds vital winter nutrients and texture to just about any cooked dish.  My absolute favorite squash recipe is Curried Butternut Squash Soup.  I like to keep some on hand for those comfort moments where others might lean on a Starbucks latte.  It just feels like a warm hug in a mug…without all the nasty stuff or a long wait in the line.

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