October Goals Update 2018

Adios October! And oh my goodness there are only 2 more months this year! However, I feel like we have made the most out of 2018! So, we are ready for November!

1. Expand the garden- ✅it happened! It has been cleaned out and the chickens and ducks have been enjoying getting to run through it! I loved the layout of it this year!

Our October Garden

2. Fix the camper- ✅We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! I catch myself thinking about the fun that we had this summer often!

Picnicking in Yellowstone!

3.Travel out west- ✅ We did it and enjoyed every single stop! I loved hiking the trails and still think about how we packed a lunch, went on a long hike and then ate our lunch while watching buffalo and wild horses in the distance! 🌏💚

Old faithful!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat ✅ There was grass patch in front of the garage that was begging to be returned to nature. So, we did! Everything has slowly died off, but I have saved so many seeds for next year! I’m hoping to add more native plants!

Milkweed that I saved from a lawnmower!
Seeds that I will be using next year!

5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We are up to 4, so I think we have a good chance of making it!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- I gave away an old Halloween costume and spent tons of time working on our composting program for school. Between phone calls, meetings and emails I have a lot of time wrapped up in it!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  This month I participated in a seed swap to give out our seeds that we have a lot of and make room for new varieties! Oh, and the Mr. fixed my phone case that I accidentally broke. Yay for a resourceful spouse!

8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are looking great! They were repotted and put outside to get used to the weather. They are starting to lose their leaves now! They are preparing for winter!

9. Build a pizza oven- ❎ we are not doing this one this year. We are trying to figure out how we are going to change up the backyard next year! (We have an interesting plan for next year!)

10. Grow different produce- We have grow so many different plants! Huge gourds, different melons and glass gem corn! I just enjoyed some kale and broccoli from our garden just last week!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- October was also a rainy month, but we still produced enough power to keep our bill at the $5 connection rate!

12. Work on garden cart sales- We sold our Blacksmithing and sewn crafts at a local craft show and had a great weekend!

I am pretty proud of the steps that we are making towards achieving our goals! And, I have a list of close to 30 different goals that are on the chopping block for 2019!

Are you thinking about next year already? Anything that you think we should give a try to?

Keep blooming friends! 🌱

Composting at school

The time has finally come! It was not a well loved idea throughout our county, but change is hard. (Especially if you have not composted yourself before!) I know that we need to teach these youngsters how to compost and be less wasteful, and I’m proud to say that there were many learning moments!

First up was setting up the bin! The location had already been suggested by our composting guru/consultant. I just had to put the bin in place and stake it down. The county that I live in waste management actually donated 2 of these bins to our school!

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Set up and ready in the new location! 

Then, I put some newspaper down to keep the grass from growing in there, a few leaves that were right beside the bin and next up were some leaves. It was topped off with a touch of compost from my bin to get it started!

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All ready to start composting! 

On Wednesday’s lunch shift I went down to the cafeteria to sort out our third grade’s leftover lunches. And here is what we noticed:

1. Kids took straws even if they had no intention of using them. (And extra straws!)

2. They take stacks of napkins, instead of just 1!

3. Some kids didn’t even touch their whole lunch! As in nothing at all!

But with all of that said, we composted 5.44 pounds of compostable materials!  Then, I added the sawdust to keep any smell from developing.

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Our first pile added to the compost! 

Next up, I put the buckets next to my car to clean out and bring in more saw dust to start the whole process over again on Wednesday next week!

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Our compost buckets ready to be washed! 

Overall, the process went well. The student compost volunteers did such a great job of telling the other students what can be composted, and the cafeteria staff have been so kind to allow us to come into their space and start something new!

It is awesome to see kids get so excited about composting and reducing their waste! We definitely need to teach them young! 🌎💚♻️

Greening up the school!

This has been a pretty great week at school! In case you are just stopping by, I am a third grade teacher and teach all of the regular curriculum and squeeze in Earth friendly lessons along the way.

Last year we were able to start a cereal bowl recycling program and recycled a grand total of around 500. More teachers have jumped on board and now we are recycling more!

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So far 446! (Since August!)

We have had a paper recycling program going on since I started teaching at the school that I teach at. However, last year we only had one out of many cans recycled due to contamination. So, this year we changed up the program, added more guidelines and it is going so much better! After sorting through it, I only had to pull out a few crayons, glue sticks and gross tissues.

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Almost 90 pounds! 

Last year I started begging about wanting to do some composting at school. I was told no, but persisted. Then I started a neighborhood composting program with my son this summer to learn more and practice mixing the browns and greens. Then, revisited it with my principal and composting guru and now we will be having waste free Wednesdays with our grade level. I can not even tell you how happy my green heart is!

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One of our new compost bins! 

Speaking of composting, we are up over 900 pounds here with our neighborhood program and have a goal of 1,000 pounds before we go on winter break. I hope that it happens!

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Getting closer! 

And lastly, we finally had to take out the trash. This is only bag 4 for the whole year! We might just reach our goal!

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Bag 4 for the year

So, pretty great progress this week! I have so many ideas that I want to do in the future! I love the feeling of hard work paying off and being given the chance to prove that I can do something! Here’s to teaching some 8 year olds how important this Earth is!

Honey, compost and outdoor school

This week was a busy one! All week I drove to the next county over to go to outdoor school and experience it with students from our school. We had a great week, despite the rain and muddiness! The hikes were my favorite part!

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The sun did manage to shine one day! 

When I got home, we spent one whole evening spinning and filtering some honey from our hives. It turned out a beautiful dark color and has a delicious taste!

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Beautiful capped honey! 
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Slowly filtering! 

Since it seems like the only weather we have anymore is rain, compost pickups are always rainy. I’m so lucky to have a great worker who doesn’t complain about getting rained on during pickups! Look how many pounds we have collected so far:

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Over 800 pounds so far! 

Even though that weather was not ideal, I was able to find a few sunshine rays that allowed me to release a few butterflies this week! 1 boy and 1 girl so far!

When  I was rushing out of the house earlier this week and I found this lone leaf in the driveway:

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❤️

I feel like the Earth was sending me some love back! We are pretty committed to each other! 😆

Wherever you are, whatever you do, try to bloom where you’re planted! 🌱❤️

Canning and back to work

Last week was a long one! Going back to work means prepping for a new school year and SO many meetings. (And sitting in seats made for 8 year olds during those meetings!) I am absolutely exhausted by the end of the day! But, everything will be ready by the first day for my students!

I have been able to get in the garden several nights this week and had a few nice harvests! I need to make so much more out of tomatoes!

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Nice harvest right out of the yard! 

We also had our stand set up this weekend! We had lots of customers!

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Our tiny produce stand 
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All of the tomatoes still left after the sale! 
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Some salsa ready canned and delicious! 

We finally had to take out the trash. Our goal for the year is to only make 6 bags, so I am thinking that we should be ok!

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Bag 3 and both dogs made it in the picture! 

We also did the compost pickup today. It takes a lot of scrubbing and cleaning, but we only upcycle unwanted containers for the compost. The regular buckets are from a company’s laundry detergent and the left are kitty litter containers.

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Upcycled and ready to be used! 

And check out how much we have composted so far:

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717.24 pounds!!!!

And last, but no least, we found 13 more monarch caterpillars that we will be raising and releasing!

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So many babies! 

And our last 2 were ready to be released on Thursday! 1 girl and 1 boy! (The girl flew away immediately!)

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This handsome fellow even posed for me! 

I’m looking forward to getting myself back in the work routine and hopefully having a great school year! Keep blooming! 🌱❤️

Certified wildlife habitat!

One of our goals for the new year was to turn the front lawn by the garage into a wildlife habitat, and I’m happy to report back that we did!

The check off sheet for certification:

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Food, water, cover, places to raise young and sustainable practices
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My rough draft last year
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After lots of hard work getting rid of the grass
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And this week!

And now all of the requirements:

food: we have raspberries, lots of pollen and nectar, a walnut tree and sunflowers for both pollen and nectar as well as seeds

water: we have 2 bird baths and a tiny pond back by the garden

cover: we created a small brush pile and we have a wooded area and tiny pond

places to raise young: we have milkweed for baby catapillars, pond, bat house, pollinator hotel and trees for the birds

sustainable practices: we capture rain water, use lots of mulch to reduce watering and keep soil from eroding, reduce watering, plant lots of native plants (and plan on adding more every year!), hand pick weeds and invasive plants/insects, reduce lawn area and compost like no one’s business!

 

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We started many native plants indoors last winter (coneflowers, milkweed, yarrow, bee balm)
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I keep seeing beautiful cardinals enjoying the seeds
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Not Native, but a polllen and nectar source
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Nasturtiums and the pollinators are enjoying the blooms now
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Echinacea
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Black eyed Susan (a Maryland favorite!)
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Another variety of black eyed Susan with a native bee
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Birdhouse gourds volunteered to come up here
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Upcycled bamboo sign post
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The solar lights along the walkway

It is far from perfect, but I plan on working on and adding to it every year. My husband enjoys not having to cut the grass in that area anymore and the wildlife have really moved in to this area! I see so many different birds, lots of different bees and beautiful butterflies flitting around. Plus, with more birds, I have had less issues with some insects in the garden! I’ll post a picture of it at the end of the season! Keep blooming friends!

 

 

June Goals Update 2018

Happy July all!! June was a fun month of finishing up school and traveling! Plus, the garden is taking off!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– ✅it happened! Everything is growing pretty well and I’m hoping that I get a great harvest!

2. Fix the camper– We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! We are going to update it some more, now that we lived out of it for 2 weeks!

3.Travel out west- We did it and enjoyed every single stop! (And the last blog posted was all about our adventure!)

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. We are finally starting to see what we envisioned! The pollinator hotel is being used, and flowers are blooming!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. Bag number 2 was just taken out!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I didn’t do a big do-good gesture, but the boy’s composting service has kept around 220 pounds of food waste out of the landfill!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- this month we were able to pick up some pallets and the Mr. turned them into compost bins that the chickens gladly turn for us! Post will come later on how to make them!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! The little sprouts are starting to look like trees!

9. Build a pizza oven– I do believe that we are putting this off for another year.

10. Grow different produce

I am proud to say that the Tennessee dancing gourds are growing, along with the apple melons and all different kinds of tomatoes! I also was able to pick up some ground cherries at a local nursery!

Genovese tomatoes

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- May was a nice solar month, despite lots of rain! 1.47 MWh and just the connection rate for an electric bill! (It’s around $5)

12. Work on garden cart sales– I am hoping to be able to put something out for sale this weekend! We will have garlic, eggs and some birdhouse gourds! That cart is too pretty to not be used!

Last month things grew so well while we were out of town! I hope that your gardens start to produce some fruit and veggies for you! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚