Sustainable SW Blogs
As we approach the shortest day of the year most people’s attentions have turned from gardening to other indoor activities. The plants too have turned inward during this time of cold and limited light. If you had the foresight to plant winter greens in a cold frame or greenhouse you’ve probably noticed that not too much is going on right now. The reason for this is because we are in the Persephone Period.
Coined by Elliot Coleman, the Persephone Period is the time of year when there are fewer than 10 hours of sunlight during the day. The following is an excerpt from his book The Winter Harvest Handbook that describes the origins of the Persephone Period:
Humans have long had their own way of understanding the changes in day length and its affect on agriculture. Early Greek farmers, whose practical experience added mythical stories to astronomical fact, knew intimately that the power of the sun and the length of the day are the principal influences on agriculture. They created the myth of Persephone to explain the effect of winter conditions. As the story goes, the earth goddess Demeter had a daughter, Persephone, who was abducted by Hades to live with him as his wife in the netherworld. Demeter would have nothing to do with this and threatened to shut down all plant growth. Zeus intervened and brokered a deal whereby Persephone would spend only the winter months with her husband, Hades. Demeter, saddened by her daughter’s absence, made the earth barren during that time. On our farm we refer to the period when the days are less than ten hours long as the Persephone months.
Depending on your latitude the Persephone Period can be longer or shorter compared to other places. Here in Santa Fe it lasts from Thanksgiving to January 14th whereas in Maine it lasts from November 5 to February 5 . While the plants may not be doing much right now there are still plenty of activities for the gardener to attend to.
Clean out and fertilize the garden- If you are like me you may or may not have gotten around to pulling the dead plants and spreading manure after the harvesting is over. It’s never too late to take advantage of a warm day to reset things and allow nature ample chance to replenish the ground.
Water the Perennials- While we have been blessed with a series of light snow storms this year it is important to get out 1-2 times a month and check the soil around your perennials to make sure it is still moist. Bulbs, trees and bushes use these months to grow roots and can be set back if they are allowed to dry out. In addition moist soil will protect your plants from deep freezes. Wet soil will freeze into a protective block around roots and keep them safe when the thermometer plunges into single digits and lower.
Get set for next year- Now is the time to peruse those seed catalogs that have been showing up in the mailbox. Look at last season’s notebook and think about what new varieties you would like to try next year. Go over your tools and equipment and repair or replace the broken stuff. Collect supplies for starting seeds. In just a few months it will be time to start the new planting year and there is nothing that helps with the winter blahs as much as having a flat of fresh starts in the window or under lights.
While we are in a time of well earned rest and recuperation right now, before we know it the plants under glass will be kicking back into high gear for early spring salads. Then the snow will be melting and the first sprouts of spring will be tentatively poking up outside ready to start all over again.
We at Home Grown New Mexico want to wish you a a happy holiday and wonderful winter! Take this season to re-juice up for the next growing season. I know we are.
Next year we will have many exciting new classes/events coming and would love your input on what you might be interested in learning, so feel free to tell us. Leave your comments below on what you would like so we might consider them!
Earlier this week I accomplished my goal of circumnavigating Turtleback Mountain on foot. The trip was a total of thirty miles and took me just under six hours to run. It is bittersweet to complete this task. I immediately registered for a 100k race (62 miles) in Arizona this Valentines Day. Wendy has signed up for a 50k section of the race (31 miles). I'm also planning on incorporating new routes around Turtle Mountain as part of my regular trail runs. I appreciate all the positive support from our local community. Special thanks to Kyle & Jeannie for riding around on their fat tire bikes the same day and helping me plan the route.
Last week I popped into the Phoenix Scottsdale area and experienced the maturation of this process, an entire city built after the invention of the strip mall. Few things existed outside of one. The city boundary marks the start of a world that requires unusual behavior and odd senses, acculturated knowledge with no root in wisdom. Not nature made it requires knowledge that is learned, mimicked, taught, and never intuited as it contains no life. the man made city sprawl is entirely dependent on humanity: landscapers, builders of all variety, cashiers, cops, accountants, hairdressers etc., ad infinitum, busy themselves to support the prop.
Luckily I was staying with lovely people, good friends who showed me some gems, things to enjoy while in the maze like the campus swimming pool. We enjoyed a lovely hike on a little mountain that touched the city's edge. But for my sensitive consciousness this city was tough to bear. I experienced genuine shock every day, like when I found a store in a mall called Its Sugar. The sign may as well have read "Get Cancer Here." I found a shop that proudly boasted it's sole purpose, to develop your image. You can be a brand.
So why is all this a problem? Live and let live, right? Simple. When we hitch ourselves to what is not real we miss the real and even destroy it along with ourselves. What is real is what is living. You can notice the real because it needs no prop to hold it up like the mall with its hundreds of workers making sure the lights go on, the water drains, and the gas heaters ignite. The cost for the prop, be it mall-sized or city-scale, is life itself. Built out of the real, made from what had been self generating until we threw it out of balance by way of our pillaging, the prop is flimsy. It can't support us. We support it. It has a nature of depletion and a rhythm of pillaging. The real has a nature of nourishment and a rhythm of savoring. Hint hint. Once lost in the artificial, common sense wilts and goes away and people do strange things. For example, when the prop causes harm: cancer, diabetes, depression and the like, rather than change the prop, we make pills to help ourselves adapt to it, a behavior that indicates that the common sense is gone.
Remarkably this entire stunt is also the prison of it's inhabitants who work their lives away to hold it up even though the prop does not belong to them. It belongs to 1% of the population who hardly participate in it. The workers return the money they earn working for the prop by buying the goods they need from the prop, things that had been free in their natural form, before they were contorted into products at the cost of life.
What to do? As I type this I know that Dubai is working on the largest air conditioned mall in the world and China is gearing up to produce even more smog so that every household can have its share of cheap consumer goods. But still there is something to do. We can reconnect to what is real and connect back to common sense. It is our only guide, the only sense that can map a way out, our tap root. Separate from life we are marooned and we will die. We're dying now. Connected to life and we are the recipients of all of life's knowledge, bounty, and support. We thrive. There is still time to choose, maybe.
It is time for radical measures. Quit the job that asks you to compromise what you know to be right. Better yet, refuse to work at all. Take your life back and give your time finding an authentic way to contribute to something that is a match for your view of this world. Say no to what sucks and say it loud. There is so much that sucks! See where radical decisions lead you. You don't know where you'll end up if you've never tried them out. You may be surprised. Trust something larger than the mall. Trust life. Do whatever it takes. What you need to do is probably something no one has done yet as few things that have been done have worked. The scale of the next important change will be individual as well as large. Prepare to stand by what you do. Support everyone who seems to be doing the same. Find them. Find your common ground. Find your common sense. Oh yeah and have fun. Purpose certainly beats working in a cubicle.
Today I'm excited to announce a second book that I contributed to titled, Maker Pro: Essays on Making a Living as a Maker, edited by John Baichtal and published by Maker Media. This fun and inspiring book features essays by more than a dozen prominent and up-and-coming professional makers (see below list). Each essay includes advice and stories on topics such as starting a kit-making business, taking a hardware project open-source, and plenty of encouragement to "quit your day job." This book is a reference for anyone who dreams of turning a hobby into a small business, and features stories from well-known professional makers; it will turn aspiration into inspiration. Maker Pro is available for preorder so pop over to Amazon and put it in your wish list.
What's inside. . .
1. Wendy Tremayne, "The Art of Unemployment" 2. Adam Wolf interviews Emile Petrone 3. Joe Meno, "I'm not a Maker, I'm a Builder" 4. Jimmy DiResta, "Making It" 5. Michael Krumpus, "The Power of Constraints" 6. Susan Solarz, "Have Maker Spaces Made the Traditional Artist Studio Obsolete?" 7. Rob Klingberg, "Pick Your Maker Sherpas" 8. Alex Dyba, "Evolve with the Maker Scene" 9. Adam Wolf, "Hacking Brick & Mortar" 10. Mike Hord interviews Zach Smith 11. Mitch Altman, "Make a Living Doing What You Love" 12. Eri Gentry & Tito Jankowski, "Hacking Biology" 13. John Baichtal interviews Chris Wang 14. David Gauntlett, "Making Things is Even More Vital Than You Think" 15. Andrew Huang, "Soylent Supply Chain" 16. Sophi Kravitz, "Quit Your Day Job"
Once each year I lead a group of less than a dozen people on a special three day retreat that is modeled in the tradition of Sufism. This year's retreat will be held in the picturesque village of Monticello, NM (population 25) on the OHM lavender farm. The land is sprawling and vast inviting walks in pristine nature and quiet moments in exceptionally beautiful settings from patios to nooks that peek out onto fields of lavender.
Why retreat? In the Sufi view all knowledge can be obtained from within. Because our acculturated life is not in the rhythm of the soul, retreat uses the practices of contemplation, meditation and silence to point to something living within us. The reward for going within is understanding, the discovery of inner wisdom and peace.
This desert retreat is an opportunity to charge a promise, make a wish, let go of something, ask a deep question, usher in the new, make ready for change, and process what has been.
If this speaks to your soul send me an email, there is exactly one spot left! If your on Facebook, the details can be found here. Here's the short of it...
Sufi Silent Retreat Led By Wendy Jehanara Tremayne January 30, 31, Feb 1 Monticello, New Mexico $150 retreat fee plus housing $30 per night Each retretant is responsible for their own food, each casita has a wonderful kitchen!
Turns out one of those mini propane bottles is the perfect size for 4" flue pipe to fit over. Notched out a plug for my front vent, welded on the hot plate, and added the chunk I cut out of the front of my stove to the back side for an extra heat shield. 52,67,30,0,C
Witness (from the Greek) - martus: 1 one who is a spectator of anything. 2 to give testimony of an observance or faith. 3 those who after his example have proved the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by undergoing a violent death (martyr).
Believers are all obligated to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. Most of us will probably never experience intense persecution let alone martyrdom because of our faith yet martyrdom is anything but extinct. Estimates are that more people died for the cause of Christ in the last century then in the preceding nineteen centuries combined. One reliable estimate indicates that currently a minimum of one thousand Christians lose their lives in martyrdom each day. Some estimates are considerably higher. However, without a powerful spiritual awakening it is clear that should persecution break out in North America (such as being experienced by our brothers and sisters in China, Sudan or Iran) the majority of Christians here would never dare witness to anyone again. How can I be so sure? The fact is that the number one reason that Christians in the west do not witness to the lost today is that we are concerned about our social standing and how others will view us if we tell them about Jesus! Do you think we’d stand up for Christ if prison or a guillotine might be the end result? The obligation is not excused because of a mortal threat. - Eric Barger
Contributors include myself, Sousan Abadian, Christopher Bamford, Mary Catherine Bateson, Robin Becker, Rabbi Olivier BenHaim, Orland Bishop, Ruth Broyde-Sharone, Adam Bucko, Cecil Collins, Apela Colorado, Paul Devereux, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, Lee Irwin, Kane Mathis, Dena Merriam, Deepa Patel, Yuval Ron, David Spangler, Bisan Toron.
The Seven Pillars: Journey Toward Wisdom eBook is available now on iTunes (book section) for download to computers and ipads. Through iTunes you can also have it sent as a gift for someone you love (next to download click drop down menu).
(image: sample page from The Seven Pillars: Journey Toward Wisdom)