Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

I Dream of Chickens

Lately I have been fighting the urge to steal some of the adorable chicks that hang out down by the guards house at the entrance to the area where we live. Partly because they are just so cute, and partly so that I can expand my self sufficient empire to include egg production in addition to my other attempts of food production.

This interest to grow my own vegetables started innocently enough with a few plants on the terrace (currently they are sadly just surviving rather than thriving plants..), but has little by little grown into a greater want to actually be more self sufficient. To be more exact, I want to get “back to basics”, to learn more about how to actually grow my own food, raise my own chicks and simply to be aware of what I put in me as well as how much effort actually goes into producing what you eat.

After months of googling and trial and error on my terrace, I decided its time to get some proper books on the topic. Since my sister was buying some holiday reading for her trip over here, I decided to put in a small order as well and decided on two books, “The Backyard Homestead” and “Homesteading” – Both comprehensive books on how to turn your little lot of land into a self sufficient paradise.

“The Backyard Homestead” seems absolutely wonderful. I read a few pages on Amazon via their excellent “Look inside” feature and that was the one I also started skimming through as soon as I got my hands on it. And just like the back cover already demands you to, it seems to be a fabulous all-round guide to putting “your backyard to work”, almost however small it is.

From its claims that a quarter of an acre could actually give me 1,400 eggs, 50 pounds of wheat, 60 pounds of fruit, 2,000 pounds of vegetables, 280 pounds of pork and 75 pounds of nuts, I am now greedily eyeing up our garden to see where I could set the chicks up and where I could hide the pigs so that our landlord (or our lovely little jealous dog Sofia) wouldnt be too upset about the new family expansion.

I guess all I need now is a supportive partner, and at least a quarter of an acre of land to get this little project off the ground. Judging by the teasing I am getting about this, I think the quarter of an acre of land will be the easy part…

New Years Resolutions

2010 was a year of changes. The biggest changes came from me changing my work as well as us changing the country and continent where we live, but along the big changes there were also a lot of other small things that changed. I purged a lot from my life (mainly in the form of foods); I reduced my drinking, I ate less sweets and sugars, I stopped drinking coffee, I reduced my intake of white flour and fast foods, I stopped drinking diet sodas…

I also added a lot to my life (partly in the form of foods and partly in the form of adding new habits to my life); I started walking 30mins almost every morning thanks to Sofia, I started eating linseed/beepollen/fresh fruits/protein powder, I started sleeping at least 8hrs each night, I started drinking lots more tea, I started working my lats more (pullups!), I started working on my emotional responses to everything that happens as well as dealing with frustration in a more productive way… The list goes on and on and on.

Change can be difficult and possibly much less fun than just sticking to what you know and enjoy, but it can also be very rewarding as you see how well you do and how well you feel following the implementation of the changes. Most change comes from yourself and from within, you have to want to change, which I guess I did since I managed to include so much into my past year. But most of all Id like to thank my lovely J for all the support he has given me in going through with it all. x Anyways, here is my list of new years resolutions for 2011:

1. Eat Clean

Eating well and with the aim of eating as healthily as possibly will be my top goal this year. This resolution gets the first position since it is almost like the main idea from which a lot of my other resolutions have arisen from and in the end this resolution will help me achieve many of my other resolutions.

During the last two quarters of 2010 I have been massively inspired by Oxygen Magazine as well as Tosca Reno‘s ideas about eating clean, so this year I finally feel ready to grab the bull by its horns and to finally start to eat according to her advice. I will start slowly, doing my first week of clean eating from the 10th January till the 17th January to see how it goes. If it goes well Ill keep going for another week but adjusting for any learnings and improvements I have found during my first week of clean eating.

If all this goes well I will do two more weeks of clean eating in February and a full month of it during March 2011 in order to celebrate the month when I turn 30!

2. Cooking more

In order to support my clean eating I want to cook more. I want to reduce my intake of preservatives, sugars and food additives, chemicals and colorants in general and clean up my diet. I have already started slowly with this, Ive made my own strawberry jam last year but want to make papaya jam and try making a chutney as well this year. I havent yet tried making my own cordial but that is also on the list of things to do this year.

3. Handicrafts Galore

I started knitting again last year, and I really want to keep this up. I am currently knitting a bedspread (yes that’s right, I started with a “small” project – a 1.2m x 1.8m bedspread…) but Id like to make myself a knitted scarf as well by the end of this year. Something to keep here at work for moments when the air conditioning goes mad..

Id also like to buy an electronic sewing machine… I am not yet 100% sure what I would do with it, but I think all that would dawn on me as soon as I got one… So gotta keep my eyes on Craigslist to see if I could find a cheap one on there. I also want to go to more garage sales and flee markets this year. Didnt manage many last year, and I bet Costa Rica is full of treasures…

4. Keeping Fit

This goal is divided up in to three separate sections: Light, Medium, Hard. Just to keep me challenged throught the year.. 🙂 Having been inspired by Jacqueline Kothbauer’s goal of 150 work out sessions a year, I have also tried to set up quantifiable goals so I can actually properly make myself accountable for my actions… Let me run through them one at a time:

Light: A 30 minute morning walk five days a week (preferably mon – fri) will be my aim for all this year. That means 260 tmies 30 minutes. Maybe a bit ambitious but my little lovely doggy Sofia will definitely support this resolution! Any extra weekend walks will be a bonus (both for me and for Sofia!)

Medium: I will try to go to the gym five times a week as well for a minium of 30 mins. I havent decided yet how this 30 mins will be divided up between aerobic exercise and weights training, but I definitely need to add more weights to my sessions this year. I would ideally like to be able to do 10 pull ups by the end of the year (I can currently do about 1 and 2 semi ones or three semi ones or.. well you get the point, not that many) and to do 3 x 12 sets of proper sit ups (properly using and targeting my “dead zone” as my pilates teacher calls it).

Hard: Put all this together and use my improving fitness level to surf better. (And hopefully also dance a bit.. The hard part with that will be finding a place where I can practice my belowed Salsa en Linia over here.) I would also like to lower my fat percentage.. I just need to find out what my current one is and then burn fat to reach my ideal level (which I assume will be around 15%)

5. Improving my Patience

This one is a difficult one. Then again, I have already improved it massively during this year and I think I am definitely better at it now than I was even just a year ago. But I want to be even less influenced by external factors and not allow them to stress me, frustrate me or make me feel like I have “ants in my pants”..

6. Heirloom Gardening

I want to do much more gardening this year. And I really have to remember to water my plants twice a day instead of my miserable “every now and then” strategy that has been predominant over the last few months.

Really got to change that if I want to actually get any tomatoes from my poor dry plants on the terrace. (I might post a picture later on of what they look like now.. Just to turn the usual idea of before – after pictures on its head)

Anyhow, this year I want to get my hands on some Heirloom Seeds (as well as a proper gardener hat like this guy has in the image from Rare Seeds) and plant real vegetables, mainly tomatoes and zucchinis. Yum, yum, yum!

(This resolution is actually just a way to practice before doing it on a bigger scale once I have a little farm…)

7. Improve and excel at work

This year I want to be able to show great numbers from my work. The first year I feel has just flown by and I dont really feel I have had the time to properly perform, mainly since everything has just been kicked off, its been slow to begin with, we havent had the right partners to work with etc. But this year I want to be able to show great KPIs from my work and to really begin to build up my professional reputation over here.

And I think I should stop here, otherwise a year wont be enough for all of my ambitous goals and plans, and most importantly I do want to leave something up to chance and let life surprise me.

My Zuccini Empire

My lovely little surprise gardening project is coming along quite nicely out on the terrace. I started off with planting cherry tomatoes, chives, spinach and zuccini, but since I forgot where I planted what, this has now turned into a bit of a guessing game. Thankfully one of the zuccini seedlings came up with a piece of the seed on the leaf, so that was easy to identify. I now have four zuccini seedlings, a few cherry tomato seedlings and a few chives reaching for the skies out on the terrace. Unfortunately the spinach has not yet gotten to this stage  in its life cycle, and is still hiding away under the soil. But quite exciting to see how the zuccini seems to feel very much at home out there. I wonder how long it will take till we get to see the first little zuccini start growing?

My Pineapple Plant!

Our new pineapple plant, Costa RicaYesterday J got me a fantastic Pineapple Plant! Since I haven’t managed to take a picture of it yet, you will have to make do with this one I found on the internet. I promise to change it as soon as I take one of the real thing. (change done 🙂 my plant on the left, stand in image on the right)

But how mad is this plant! I have never seen one before, so I am pretty enchanted by it. Apparently it takes about 2-3 years for a plant to bear fruit, so I have to say that I am pretty pleased that EPA had done most of that work for me pre purchase and I can just jump straight into being the proud owner of a fruit bearing plant (even if the fruit is just a small pineapple at the moment). I do wonder how long it will take for it to become 2kg of delicious fruit so I can use it in my morning shake?

So as you can see, my little private Garden of Eden is flourishing. I made a few small mistakes with the Coriander, so that’s gone, and I really need to learn more about my Aloe plant as its looking a bit soggy at the moment (too much water?), but my basil is almost 1metre high and the thyme is a true conquistador of space and already in need of its own flower pot I think. Its so much fun to see how all these plants seem to adore our terrace with its abundance of sunshine and rain.

This weekend we also picked up some seeds so that we can start growing some vegetables from scratch. I have high hopes that the tomato, coriander (I decided to give the coriander another chance), spinach, squash and carrot seeds will like their new home and provide me and J with some delicious ingredients for my next vegetable quiches. (Already got the mini quiche oven forms sorted, now I just need the ingredients to start growing..)

My Inner Gardener

My “Inner Gardener” is dying to get out.. I can feel her trying to weed her way out into the spotlight. She is dying to bask in the feeling of accomplishment in the aftermath of a successful pruning operation or simple cultivation experimentation.. Unfortunately my everyday self is failing her miserably.

A few weeks ago we set out to implement our own little herb garden on one of our terraces. We ventured off to EPA early in the morning and picked up rosemary, coriander, thyme, basil and four different chilli plants along with all the necessary tools for setting up a herbal headquarters.My Two Lovely (Still Alive) Basil Plants

So far all went well, after all, I am pretty good at the spending money bit. The replanting also went well and actually, the first few weeks have generally given us much pleasure and enjoyment from our own herbs while cooking.

Sadly, the coriander plant started to look a bit pale within a few days already. The latest update on poor Miss Coriander is not good. The poor thing is about to whither away, she has already lost a lot of colour and this morning I noticed that actually, I think mould is setting up camp… Not good…

Unfortunately I am a terrible apprentice of Tethys and have forgotten to water my lovely herbs on various occasions, resulting in the rather whithered look of most of my plants at midday today when I popped by the house. Thankfully I did have time to attend to them and I hope I was not too generous with my little red watering can this time, provoking the opposite effect on the poor dehydrated lives.

I have been really keen to expand my garden by adding tomato plants to it as well, but when my colleague today reminded me of the fact that she has some small plants for me to have whenever I want to, I did feel a bit worried. Would I be able to take on even more plants? Will I be happy to take on this risk of possibly having even more dead plant souls on my conscience than what I have at the moment? (Please forgive me “San Fransisco” and  “San Diego” for failing you at the age of 8 and leaving you out in the scorching sunshine with no water…)

Then again, my Inner Gardener would love the opportunity to possibly be able to harvest my own tomatoes. Imagine, I could have lovely, ripe cherry tomatoes, freshly picked each day from my own little garden… Hmmm… I think its time for me to sit down with my Inner Gardener self and have a little chat to see how we can make this work, since after all, I am quite keen for my Inner Gardener to succeed as well as for me to get some fresh cherry tomatoes to put in my salad..