Front yard, view from the street. Backyard/garage – patio

A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us. . . . What I am saying is that if we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. We will begin to understand and to mistrust and to change our wasteful economy, which markets not just the produce of the earth, but also the earth’s ability to produce.- Wendell Berry

Yesterday, Jules bought some huge clay pots to use in one of the beds around the cob oven. He’s going to be designing a bed near the cob oven that will have some interesting features. One feature is the clay pots that will help conserve water. The porous clay pots will be filled with water, and semi buried in the soil and, thereby, self watering the bed. This simple method of irrigation has been used for hundreds of years.

The buried clay pot or pitcher method is one of the most efficient traditional systems of irrigation known and is well suited for small farmers in many areas of the world. Buried clay pot irrigation uses buried, unglazed, porous clay pots filled with water to provide controlled irrigation to plants. The water seeps out through the clay wall of the buried clay pot at a rate that is influenced by the plant’s water use. This leads to very high efficiency, even better than drip irrigation, and as much as 10 times better than conventional surface irrigation. This method is also very effective in saline soil or when saline irrigation water must be used. It has proved useful for land restoration in very arid environments.
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Pot irrigation
Clay pot irrigation
Pitcher irrigation (Peace Corps)

The past few days feels like we are in the month of “June Gloom.” Gray, cool mornings, by lunch the sun has burned through the hazy fog and then by dinner the fog starts to slowly roll in from the coast.   This morning it’s been misting heavily for several hours. With this sort weather you have to keep a watchful eye on the garden for any signs of mildew or fuscilium wilt. Just in case, we have neem on hand for any signs of an outbreak.

Yesterday, Justin finished brewing a 30 gallon batch of biodiesel and that should suffice for the whole the month of May to fuel the diesel suburban. The brewing started several days ago; but, when the oil wasn’t getting hot enough, something was wrong with the water heater. So, he had to empty the water heater of the oil and it took two days to track down the newelement.

The guys also been busy with building projects and garden plantings.   Jules is busy with many projects. One of them is working on some funky, but functional, gates made out of old bed frames and chair backs that will add a quirky touch to the backyard. It’s fun to see the yard transform daily.  There are so many ideas and plans, but we just have to take things a day at time, focusing on feeding ourselves and supplying our clients with produce, herbs and edible flowers.

We, however, will not get around to planting and designing a few spots in the backyard. These places will have to wait until after we get the roof fixed. Why spend time planting and erecting trellises and what have you when, in a couple months, it may have to be moved or somehow protected.   So the entire driveway and north side of the house will remain un-landscaped until the roof work is completed.

I don’t know if it’s the spraying of effective micro organisms, or application of organic fertilizers, but there some huge leaves and flowers in the garden. Walking past the front yard the other day while returning from our neighbor’s house, I remarked to Jordanne, “is it just me or does it seem that the leaves, flowers look exceptionally huge?” She gave me an affirmative reply. She, too, thought certain plants in the yard looked a big large. Could be a combination of things, better soil, cooler temps, just the right application of mulch/fertilizer?

Jordanne has been busy on the phone/email inquiring about dwarf nigerian/pygmy goats in the area. There have been a few promising possibilities.   We have shifted our search from pygmies to perhaps purchasing a dwarf nigerian goat. They are about the size of a shelty dog (miniature Lassie) and ,of course, are better milkers (if we ever wanted to go that route)

With my recent order from Mountain Rose Herbs, we now have a 1 lb block of beeswax that can be used to make a variety of natural care products. Besides the usefulness, this block brings back a whole lot of memories of the many, many years of Jules’ beekeeping as a hobby and business. People can’t believe it when I tell them we had 10 hives at one time here in Pasadena. Of course, that was when a nursery surrounded us on two sides so there were no neighbors to complain. Now the nursery has been replaced by a private school and the back area by the garage is now home to chickens, ducks, rabbit and our tabby cat, who hangs out there most of the day.

Thanks for all those who expressed their positive opinion about the bookmarks. The bookmarks, I am happy to report, will continue to be a feature on this journal when time permits.


Knowledge Gained, Wisdom Lost

We now live in a world where we are inundated with more information, on a daily basis, than we can possibly process. It is an over-communicated environment. There are so many unwanted messages bombarding us, that often the ones we want get lost in the noise. The average person can now communicate faster, with more people—without thinking—than ever before. Information has become disposable. It doesn’t matter whether you are connected to the Internet or not. We get hit with it at every turn. At work. At home as we try to relax. And at all points in between. So what about it? What are we doing with this information? Is all this information really doing us any good? Are we living happier lives? Are we experiencing fewer problems? Are our decisions better? Are we any wiser? History tells us that we haven’t learned much in spite of all we know. The situation changes, but the problems remain the same. Clearly, we need to do something better with all of this information. T.S. Eliot posed the question: “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
… You can talk beautiful ideas, but if you don’t put it into action, it is as if you know nothing. Ask yourself, what did I learn today? How would I do it differently? and How do I transfer this lesson to my own life? Then, apply it. You then begin to live intelligently. To live with understanding. To live with meaning. To live with wisdom.
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[ Walking the talk, this is the ultimate task in the journey. We hope that through this journal we not only provide you with information, but, instead, spur you to act on that information because, otherwise, this information is lost….]
Toxic Plastics

Patricia Hunt, Ph.D., now at Washington State University in Pullman, noticed that chromosomal errors in the mouse cells she was studying had shot up—from 1 or 2 percent to 40 percent, as published in the April 2003 Current Biology. Hunt traced the effect to polycarbonate cages and water bottles that had been washed with a harsh detergent. When her team replaced all the caging materials with non-polycarbonate plastics, the cell division returned to normal.
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[ Over the years we have, are still trying to, eliminate plastics from our lives. Unfortunately, stores like Trader Joes aren’t selling their juices in glass bottles any more (sure, there are a few, but not like before). Instead they are plastic now.   It’s tough these day to find items bottled in glass. Everything is turning to easier to handle, light weight plastics. ]

Kimberly-Clark clearcuts ancient forests to manufacture Kleenex tissue products.
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[ If this makes you cry, then bring out the hankies. Remember those? Use the old fashion cloth hankies instead. The ancients trees will thank you. My grandmother gave us a bunch. They sure come in handy and best of all, they don’t make your nose all red.]
Study shows Americans sicker than English

White, middle-aged Americans – even those who are rich – are far less healthy than their peers in England, according to stunning new research that erases misconceptions and has experts scratching their heads.
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No Comments

  1. JBB says:

    Another advantage of cloth handkerchiefs is that they don’t disintegrate with heavy use (as, sadly, I proved at a memorial service recently).

  2. Lisa says:

    Ilove the hanky idea. I got several from my Mother-in-law. Thanks for making me rethink my life each time I read your journal. It can be a lonely road…

  3. Joanne Poyourow says:

    Anais – please post more about the clay pot project, I am very interested. How big are the pots (could you take a photo?), and where did you get them? I presume they don’t have a hole in the bottom, and no glazing, thus I wouldn’t have a clue where to get something like that.

  4. Anais says:


    You can use pots of all sizes and unglazed pots can be found at nurseries/home centers or pot outlets (do a google search for retail or wholesale pottery sellers in your area)

    e.g. http://www.arizonapottery.com/Item.asp?IID=1717

    You are right, look for the pots that have no holes and no glazing that will allow the pot to weep water.