European lawns

Gardening, Random Fun Stuff, Travel By June 21, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

On our trip I quickly realized something amazing. The thing that I have been referring to as a polyculture lawn exists in Europe. They just call it a lawn there.

Okay, okay, I didn’t see all of Europe. I just saw Paris and a good chunk of Southern Ireland, but everywhere we went I saw lawns thriving that looked exactly like what I’m shooting for with our own lawn, blends of grass and clover and flowering ground covers (mostly English Daisy, a ground cover I became so enchanted with I ordered seeds for it it include in our own lawn, hopefully it will grow here). And it wasn’t just in casual locations, even the lawns in the gardens of Versailles were polycultures! In a place where they meticulously trim hundreds of boxwoods into intricate patterns and stately mazes, they are not compelled to make sure nothing but grass grows in their lawns.

It was so prevalent, I wondered if it was intentional. Do all European grass blends come pre mixed with clover and English Daisy? From Blarney Castle to the Jardin des Plantes, polyculture lawns were everywhere we went on our trip. Do Europeans think our monocropped lawns are ridiculous when they come here? Do they notice them at all? I don’t know, but I took a ton of photos to show just how lovely it can be, and to give anyone who doesn’t totally get it an idea of what I’m going for. Enjoy!

Polyculture lawns in Europe

A lawn at a playground near the science museum in Paris.

Here's another lawn from around Paris.

Here’s another lawn from around Paris.

Here's another from around Paris

Here’s another from around Paris

Another Paris lawn in a public garden.

Another Paris lawn in a public garden.

From a distance, the species variety is hardly noticeable.

From a distance, the species variety is hardly noticeable.

This lawn was at a park near Baby Kennan's home in Paris.

This lawn was at a park near Baby Kennan’s home in Paris.

Here's a lawn near some castle ruins in Ireland. Freja loved picking the flowers out of the lawns.

Here’s a lawn near some castle ruins in Ireland. Freja loved picking the flowers out of the lawns.

In this charming photo of my kids, Freja is showing off a bouquet of English Daisy she picked out of the lawns at Blarney Castle. Don't ask me what Elijah is doing. He's weird.

In this charming photo of my kids, Freja is showing off a bouquet of English Daisy she picked out of the lawns at Blarney Castle. Don’t ask me what Elijah is doing. He’s weird.

At Blarney Castle (which was surrounded by beautiful, impressive gardens you could spend all day in), many of the lawns were full of what I think were ramps! There was an intoxicating floral garlic smell everywhere that wasn't so much Italian restaurant as much as maybe allium garden? I don't know, it's hard to explain but it was nice.

At Blarney Castle (which was surrounded by beautiful, impressive gardens you could spend all day in), many of the lawns were full of what I think were ramps! There was an intoxicating floral garlic smell everywhere that wasn’t so much Italian restaurant as much as maybe allium garden? I don’t know, it’s hard to explain but it was nice.

Here's a closeup of that same lawn.

Here’s a closeup of that same lawn.

Back in France, here is a lovely lawn on a hillside at the Jardin des Plantes, which was the site of Louis the XIV's green houses.

Back in France, here is a lovely lawn on a hillside at the Jardin des Plantes, which was the site of Louis the XIV’s green houses.

The closest thing to an American monoculture lawn we saw in the entire trip was this hunk of astroturf on the first level of the Eiffel tower. Probably the football fields they were readying for the European cup too, but we didn't get a close look at those.

The closest thing to an American monoculture lawn we saw in the entire trip was this hunk of astroturf on the first level of the Eiffel tower. Probably the football fields they were readying for the European cup too, but we didn’t get a close look at those.

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Back from Europe!

Gardening, Random Fun Stuff By June 19, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Note: I wrote this post a week ago, but failed to post it. I think I’m getting the hang of a schedule here and will be back to posting regularly soon!

Hello everyone! First off, I want to apologize for not having any posts while we were gone. I had every intention of scheduling a series of posts to go up while we were gone, but I just never got around to it. Can you all forgive me? I hope so, because I have a ton of awesome homesteading and environmental stuff to talk about having to do with this trip!

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Whats rocking on the homestead – a May update

Gardening By May 16, 2016 No Comments

I apologize for the lapse in posts, it’s been a very busy May between finals and homestead projects and some social engagements and getting ready to go to Paris to visit the surro family next week. But I’m back on the wagon now and promise that I’ll try to keep things going while we are in Europe for two and a half weeks. In the mean time, here’s a quick update on what’s happening here on the Rocking Homestead. This will be a lazy post, because I’m still very busy.

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Rocking Hugelkultur Beds

Uncategorized By May 2, 2016 No Comments

Hugelkultur inspired raised beds for the small suburban homestead

This spring one of our big homestead projects were permanent, raised, hugelkultur beds. Hugelkultur is a German practice of basically burying a whole tree in a garden bed. Generally it’s done by digging a shallow trench, putting in the cut up tree parts in there, and then burying them in a 6′ mound. It creates a large berm in which you plant. This is great for a big property, but it doesn’t work so well for small suburban lots like ours, so I had kind of ignored it until a peer in my Horticulture program showed me the hugelkultur raised bed he made. That’s when I started looking into it more.

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Cradle to Cradle: RTH April bookclub selection

Book Club, Climate Justice and Environmentalism, Random Fun Stuff By April 28, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

cradle to cradle

Do you guys ever read a book with ideas in it and think, “Why the hell aren’t we already doing this if it’s so simple?”

That was my over all impression of Cradle to Cradle. And The Upcycle, which is the sequel that I went ahead and read as well because Cradle to Cradle was short. You didn’t have to read the sequel if you didn’t want, but if you liked Cradle to Cradle you would probably like The Upcycle so check it out.

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Nitrogen is nitrogen is nitrogen … right?

Climate Justice and Environmentalism, Gardening By April 25, 2016 No Comments

Often in conversations about the benefits or problems with Organic agriculture, you hear a common refrain. Nitrogen is nitrogen is nitrogen, organic opponents proclaim, the plant doesn’t know if the nitrogen is synthetic or organic in origin, and it uses it just the same. This is said to make the case that it doesn’t really matter what kind of fertilizer you use, it’s all the same to the plant in the end. But this perspective is missing a big chunk of the picture. It is certainly true that a plant doesn’t know the difference between synthetic or organic nitrogen, but to say that means all nitrogen sources are exactly the same is straight up false. Agriculture, and gardening for that matter, is not just about the plant. And the plant is not the only thing that the applied nitrogen interacts with.

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Direct action support

Activism, Climate Justice and Environmentalism By April 21, 2016 Tags: , , , , No Comments

A while back I talked about the importance of activism to making a difference for climate justice, and I promised I would address the topic of how to engage in activism if marching on the streets holding signs isn’t your thing. Today seems like a good day to tackle that subject. There are lots of options, but the one I want to look at most closely is direct action support.

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Lets Talk Mulch

Gardening By April 18, 2016 Tags: , , , , 1 Comment

Lets Talk Mulch

Mulch is one of the most important things you should be doing in your garden. If you aren’t mulching, you need to be, no excuses! Mulch is vital to keeping your soil and your plants healthy. It can keep moisture in the soil, prevent erosion, add nutrients, stimulate healthy micro flora development, discourage weeds, boost harvests, and even gussy up the looks of your beds, depending on which mulch you use. It’s pretty much awesome. But mulch is also complicated, at least, picking it out is, and often that can stop people from choosing a mulch. I’m far from an expert, but I’ve picked up a thing or two in my decades of gardening and months of working towards a degree in horticulture, so maybe I can help you sort it out.

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Can we talk about GMOs?

Climate Justice and Environmentalism, Gardening By April 14, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

Having trouble with the GMO debate? Me too. Lets talk about it.

The point when I first made up my mind about GMOs was in a college biology class in 2010, when a student brought up GMOs in class, and the professor said that we should be very concerned about GMO technology, indicating that it was a troubling practice that we should all be wary of. This same professor had discussed other crunchy philosophies with me that I felt on the fence and maybe a little skeptical about, such as vaccine refusal and raw milk, and I felt pretty confident in the things she said about those, vaccines are safe and effective, raw milk is a waste of money, etc., etc. So when she straight up said in class that GMOs were bad, I figured that sealed the deal. I became pretty hardcore in my opposition to GMOs.

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Spring on the Rocking Homestead

Carpentry, DIY, Gardening, Home cooking By April 11, 2016 Tags: , , , , No Comments
Jeremy was very detailed about installing these beds close to perfectly. They do look amazing.

Jeremy was very detailed about installing these beds close to perfectly. They do look amazing.

Its spring time, which means of course that we are very busy here on the Rocking Homestead. There is a lot to plant and build this year, and I’m towards the end of my semester so I’m looking at finals. To add to that, my climate activism has been very busy of late, and we’re planning for a trip to Paris to visit our surro family out there (I can hardly believe baby Kennan is 9 months old already!). I’m trying very hard not to slack on the blog, but there have been a couple of weeks that only had one post. I’m sorry. There’s just so much to do right now!

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