Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day was last Friday, April 22, so I thought I'd throw up some pictures of our backyard herb garden for the occasion. One of the benefits of living in Alabama is that you can get a nice house on a quarter acre in town for a lot less than the cost of a one bedroom condo in L.A. The only drawback is that also comes with a few crabby neighbors that complain if you don't mow the grass, and call the cops if your dog gets out of the fence and runs through their yards. Most people are cool though, plus Alabama doesn't believe in property taxes, so it's easy to be a squatter. We'd rather have stupid kids than property taxes here. We do tax groceries, because the poor should pay for government. The grocery tax hasn't made a dent in the obesity problem anyway.

If you live out of town, then you can afford a bunch of land, so the neighbors aren't a problem, and you can have farm animals! Farm animals aren't allowed in town, but I love the idea of having chickens. A lot of people have horses out here - crazy, right ? All the cool little girls in Alabama have a horse and take riding lessons.

Anyway, back to our back yard - the dogs love it (2 of the dogs love it, the other dog loves to sleep on the bed), and there's room for a little herb garden and a compost pile (which fertilizes the garden). My garden is kind of a mess. I don't really know what I'm doing, so I was especially pleased when some seeds I threw in the ground early March actually grew. Alabama is warm enough to have two or three growing seasons if you're ambitious enough to take advantage of it - cool crops in early spring, hot crops through the summer, then cool crops again in the fall. My garden doesn't have the best location - there are a lot of trees around our back yard, and the house shades the back yard in the afternoon, so the garden really only gets three or four hours of good sunlight each day.

Last fall I scattered some cilantro and swiss chard seeds in the garden. The swiss chard was great last year and sprang to life this spring too, but the cilantro didn't do much until this spring when it popped up and went crazy. They're both great in pesto and in beans with rice.

Cilantro From Garden
Swiss chard From Garden

I also scattered some broccoli, carrot, and leek seeds in March. The broccoli is growing like crazy, and I think the carrots are doing ok (it's either carrots or weeds - I'll find out when I dig them up next month). I think it's actually summer squash (probably from seeds left from last year's garden) growing where I planted the leeks, so I don't know what's up with that.

Broccoli From Garden
Summer squash From Garden

I stopped by Home Depot the other day too, and bought some tomato and pepper plants - 16 plants for about $7! Jalapeno peppers did great in the garden last year, but Joanne hates jalapenos, so the neighbor and I were constantly eating them. This year I got some banana peppers - which should be more mild for Joanne, and cayenne too - we'll see how those do. I had a few bell pepper plants last year, but they didn't do well. I also tried egg plant last year, but some beetle munched most of it - I was too lazy to try to figure out how to defeat the beetle.

Pepper plant From Garden

Of course owning a house is not very Earth Day green. When we first moved to Auburn we lived in a big apartment complex. The complex consisted of several buildings along a loop road on wooded land by a big pond - pretty nice. Our building had eight two-bedroom apartments that the complex management kept in good shape. The house we live in now probably has about the same carbon footprint as the whole building we used to live in. At least we recycle and compost and try not to run the air conditioner or heat or set the thermostat as high or low as we can stand it (Joanne hates me for that). Plus I bought (actually it was a gift from mom) this funky little mechanical lawn mower with the blades that spin when you push it. I love that little mower even though I only use it once a month or so, because I actually like the look of the yard with the wild flowers and weeds and uneven growth, but sometimes neighbors complain about that. The soil is mixed with clay around here, and there's a lot of shade, so the grass doesn't get high in our yard anyway. The neighbors with the manicured, irrigated, chemical treated lawns bless us with the noise and pollution from their two-stroke mowers and leaf blowers every week, and we don't complain (except on the bLog!).

HBO is going crazy advertising for Lady Gaga's Monster Ball Tour that they somehow get to broadcast from Madison Square Garden. I'm almost tired of seeing her breasts and ass ... almost. I wonder if Gaga cloths would be comfortable for programming?

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