Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hope, Despair and Garlic Mustard

Today was my first big garlic mustard pulling day of the season. Hopefully most of you are familiar with this European culinary plant gone nasty invasive species. If not, you can learn more about why it is important to remove garlic mustard from your property at

Many municipalities actually have ordinances about removing it and other invasive species as well. In Hartland we are instructed to put in plastic bags to be picked up with the garbage. You don't want to compost it as the seeds don't die and then get spread around to make more garlic mustard!

The first garlic mustard pulling day of the year brings out the optimist in me. I look out at the garlic mustard plants popping up over my 1.5 acres and actually believe that this year I will be one step closer to eradicating it. Without needing to look, my fingers find the bulge on the stem where the plant branches out. I grasp, wiggle and pull straight up. Pure satisfaction with every pull. This plant is so easy to remove that toddlers can help. I pull another, then another and pretty soon I am clearing a noticeable section of my treeline. As I pull I discover ferns, jack in the pulpit and wild ginger and I imagine that I am freeing these woodland flowers from a greedy captor. By this time I am hooked. I know I should get to my other tasks for the day, but, I tell myself (over and over), "I'll just finish this section, then I'll stop". I've read that if you pull all your garlic mustard for 7 years, you could actually eliminate it from your yard. This is because the seeds can stay dormant that long. This doesn't take into account seeds blowing in from your neighbors yard, but this morning I choose to ignore this. Every spring, I ask my family, "Doesn't it look like we have less this year?" They all know that I need to hear only one possible answer so they tell me "Yes, Mom", but I can see in my 11 year-old daughter's eyes that we are only staying slightly ahead.


Later in the day I stopped by Courtney's house knowing that she might be able to relate to this insane spring optimism. Instead, I found her in a state of garden despair. She had been clearly working hard in her gardens and was defeated by the weeds that were spreading everywhere despite her annual attempts to rip them out. "I'm ready to sell my house and move to an apartment! What is the point?", she told me. I've been there. I've said the same to my family, although this despair usually doesn't hit until July. I'll walk out to my gardens and tell the weeds they've won and I just don't care- and for the most part I let them take the lead for the rest of the summer. It was a shock to face up to this possibility in April. Green gardening and lawn care really is more work. We need to give ourselves credit and some understanding for all those who reach for the Weed-be-gone. It certainly would be easier to squirt something toxic at those devil weeds rather than spend the afternoon on my knees with dirt under my fingernails. But, now that we know what we know about these chemicals in squirt bottles, we really have not other choice. So, at least for this month I push the possibility of despair aside and decide to make pizza.


Garlic mustard came to this country as an herb. When you pull it, you can certainly smell the garlicy aroma. I'd like to believe that those European settlers would have chosen to leave it behind if they knew what would have happened to our Wisconsin woodlands, but of course they just wanted dinner. In the spirit of the saying "If you can't beat them, join them" I decided to use this stuff for its intended purpose and made pesto. You can follow your favorite basil pesto recipe and substitute all or part of the basil with garlic mustard. If you don't have a recipe, check this one out from Monches Farm.
Last weekend I mixed some with cream cheese and made a yummy spread for crackers. Tonight we had garlic mustard pesto pizza. I know in my heart that I can't get rid of this stuff, but in the meantime I'll enjoy it!

If anyone else has good Garlic Mustard Recipes, please share!

My Little Green Machine

Today is the last day of our April Challenge to green our lawns, so I figured now would be the time to leave you with what I think is a huge piece to the green lawn puzzle: re-thinking how you mow your lawn. Three years ago after our hand-me-down electric mower started showing signs of revolt, we bought a Brill Luxus reel mower (pictured above). Since the cute little green machine has arrived in my life I have enjoyed quiet, gas-smell-free, fear-of-losing-a-limb-free mowing. Yes, it takes a bit of muscle power, but I can really use the exercise (seeing as how I don't exercise on purpose, like, ever). I'm sure you've all heard it before, that mowing with a gas mower for one hour produces as much pollution as driving a car for 200 miles. So, when I'm using my little reel mower I'm not only getting exercise and listening to the birds sing, I am also feeling smug about my eco-saintliness at that moment.

That's a wrap for my two cents on the April Challenge. We hope you will join us during the month of May when we sort out the eco-logic of laundry. As laundry is hands down my favorite chore (would I even call it a chore?) I am quite looking forward to the month of May. Now I'm off to mow the lawn. With my cute little mower :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Soil Test

"You are what you eat". I remember that health message being taught to me back in elementary school and find myself repeating it to my own kids now. Of course, the same goes for all living things, including grass. A plant will be as good as what it gets from the soil in which it grows. I know this in my vegetable and flower gardens. I spend a large percentage of my gardening efforts enriching the soil by composting my kitchen and lawn scraps, adding wood ash, coffee grounds and other treats for my green friends. I know that a healthy soil is one that is alive and dynamic; full of micrororganisms, worms and other critters. Over the years, I have watched my veggies grow better and bigger as my soil has improved. So why have I been so resistant to paying attention to the soil in my lawn? This month's challenge has lead me to examine my feelings about fertilizer. 

The usual way to give nutrients to a lawn is to by a bag of standard fertilizer and apply it seasonally according to a prescribed schedule. I have been resistant to do this for a number of reasons.  A trip to Pewaukee beach in July to see the neon green algae bloom is all the evidence I need to know that too much of this stuff is ending up in our waterways.  It turns out that algae loves phosphorous too. Since the lakes in our area are such an important ecological and recreational asset, I have a hard time justifying my lawn at their expense. Some lake communities (town of Oconomowoc is one) have banned the use of phosphorous based fertilizers for that reason. 

The second reason is my aversion to chemicals in general. This isn't really fair when it comes to fertilizer. Natural or organic fertilizer can be just as harmful if applied incorrectly or in excess. All fertilizer is more likely to wash away into our waterways if applied just before a rain. This goes for synthetic chemical fertilizer, the trendy corn gluten, and good old cow manure on a farm field. Once it gets into the lake, the algae enjoy it just the same, gobbling up the oxygen in the water as they grow.

The third reason that I have been fertilizer resistant is that I like to believe that I can create a closed ecosystem-that if I do it right, I shouldn't need outside help. I know that grass clippings are a good nitrogen source for the soil so we mulch them back into the lawn as we mow. I'd like to believe that if I keep my grass healthy by mowing high and watering deep, it won't even need extra fertilizer like all those "drug addicted" lawns down the street. However, I am beginning to think that grass is a bit greedier and demanding than I thought. The weeds that are moving in are more flexible and are willing to put up with a more meager diet. My picky grass is getting run out of town as it waits for its gourmet meal. That does raise the question of whether or not I want such a snooty guest in my backyard, but for now I've chosen to keep at least some of him around. 

I have been hearing more and more about "Responsible Lawn Care". Can I use soil additives (and, gasp, maybe even chemicals) in targeted, small amounts? The first step is the soil test. 
What does my soil offer? Since I know that soil is the foundation to plant growth, its time to find out. If there are deficiencies, I am willing to fill in the gaps. 

Today I went outside and collected four samples of soil from my yard. The soil is mixed together and after a little air dry, will be sent off in a little bag with $15 to the Waukesha County UW Cooperative Extension for the test. In 2-3 weeks, I'll report back on the state of my soil. Will I learn that I have been withholding important nutrients from my lawn? Or will I learn that my grass has all that it needs and should stop letting all those dandelions push him around? I am hoping that it is the first since the second possibility implies that the weeds may need to be dealt with by other means, and I am just not ready to go there. 

To request your own soil test kit, call 262-548-7775 or

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Safe Lawns on WI Public Radio

On my way to work this morning, I caught the last minute (as usual) of another potentially interesting segment on WPR. A representative from Safe Lawns was on with Joy Cardin discussing how we can take care of our lawns in an environmentally safe way. He also said he was going to be giving a seminar in Madison in August (check website with upcoming details). I haven't listened to it yet, but I plan to. If you weren't listening to the radio at 6am, check it out at

Great paper source

In my quest to find cool paper envelopes for an upcoming project I stumbled upon this amazing web store (which, while on the internet, is located in Sun Prairie, just outside of Madison), called The Paper Mill Store.  They have any kind of paper you could possibly imagine, but the great thing is you can search by environmental attributes, like recycled content, tree-free paper, FSC certified, non-chlorine whatever.  But then it gets even cooler.  After I ordered my cool envelopes I got this e-mail from them:

"Your order will be processed and shipped... using 100% renewable energy through our purchase of wind power credits.  Our use of wind power avoids introducing 341,445 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.  We also offset 100% of the CO2 produced by shipping to your location, avoiding an additional 230,000 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.  As well, your order will be shipped to you in our 50% recycled shipping boxes, which we have specially made to reduce our use of energy, natural resources and to provide a sturdy box. "

Amazing!  And this is a paper company!!  

This makes me very happy and cheery.  Usually on Earth Day I get bummed and gripe about how people get all jazzed for one day and then forget about the environment for the other 364 days.  But today, and mostly because of the above e-mail I think that maybe, just maybe, things are really changing.  Maybe businesses are getting the picture.  Maybe.

Cool reusable bags for bulk items

I came across these cool bags on the Craftzine blog today.  What a fun way to load up on bulk foods (flour, oats, nuts, etc) without also loading up on plastic bags.  Plus, they are made by an artist in British Columbia... not in some sweatshop overseas.   (For some reason the photo won't post, so follow the 'cool bags' link to see the bags.)

Forsythia is in bloom! That means it's time for corn gluten meal!

Last year my sister gave me a bag of corn gluten meal since she had ordered too much for her lawn. So, I applied it last fall to my lawn, and, according to the bag, now that the forsythia is blooming it is time for the spring application. Corn gluten meal is an alternative to nasty pesticides for reducing the amount of weeds in your lawn. It only works on seeds, not on established weed plants, but it is supposed to slow the spread of weeds throughout your lawn. I try not to stress about my lawn, but I'll admit that for a couple weeks in May when dandelions are running riot across my front yard I feel like a "bad homeowner". Which is annoying because our standard of "good homeowner" seems to be a surreal green lawn, weed-free thanks to annual applications of toxic herbicides. Anyway, the corn gluten meal is my small attempt in trying to curb the dandelion's quest for total lawn domination. If you want to read more about the stuff, click here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

This is what happens when you are married to an engineer

After tidying up the garden post-winter I was left with piles and piles of dead stalks, branches, leaves, and the like. Our house is on a normal village lot, less than a 1/4 acre and therefore we can't really hide our big pile of sticks and stalks. Nor do we want to haul it to the yard waste site because a) we have a small car and it would take many trips and to get it there (not to mention getting a messy car) and b) I'm a bit of a compost freak so to part with all that carbon rich matter is just too sad. So, what to do with my pile of sticks and stalks (which can't be added to the compost pile as is, because they are just too big and would take forever to break down)?

Enter my lovely engineer husband who made this super cool pedal powered mulcher. You stick in the sticks (hee, hee), pedal away and it turns the unruly sticks into a lovely pile of mulch and you avoid using a polluting, gas-powered chipper. Plus you get super toned legs from the process (I did most of the pedaling yesterday, but had my husband pose for the pictures as my legs are still winter white. Vanity. Pathetic.)

At the end of my pedal workout, we had a great pile of mulch, perfectly sized for adding to the compost pile or for adding as mulch around plants or trees. It's not the prettiest mulch, sorta looks like straw, but I consider it perfectly fine backyard or veggie garden mulch. Free and functional.

For those of you (fellow engineers and geeks) who want more details on the pedal powered mulcher you can check out this video on You-Tube. The video was for the Specialized Bike sponsored contest "Innovate or Die" where they asked people to enter ideas for cool pedal powered things. A great little contest. The Innovate or Die site takes a bit of time to load, but once it does you can view the winners of the contest. Very, very cool.

Oh! On a related note, I heard from Jill that Be Fitness (I think) in Delafield is now using their exercise bikes to power some of their facility. This amazes me!! So unbelievably cutting edge. Jill, if I am getting the details wrong please let me know in the comments :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Green Garden Parties

If you can't make it to the Green Garden Party hosted at Good Harvest Market (see Kris' post below) you can schedule your very own, free party at your house.  Meribeth Sullivan, compost guru, recycling specialist, master gardener and very cool person does these parties through the county for residents in Waukesha County.  So, be the first person on your block to host a Green Garden Party in your backyard... you'll learn a lot and have a lot of fun.  You can schedule a party or find out more information by calling the county at 262-896-8300.

Free Seminar

Want to learn more about how to have a green, healthy lawn? Check out this free presentation at Good Harvest Market April 19th. Go to their website for more info on Earth Day activities! I want one of those soil kits.

Free Workshop: 'Green Garden Party' 1:30-3pm
By Maribeth Sullivan, Master Gardener & Recycling Specialist. 
Learn about grass-cycling, composting, organic lawn care, rain gardens and much more. Soil kits will be available, as well as a door prize drawing. Seating limited to first 35 attendees

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Are You a WIld One?

I remember the house in our neighborhood that went wild. I remember my parents complaining every time we drove past and muttering "when are they going to mow their lawn?" What we all didn't realize at the time was that they weren't being lazy or trying to irritate the neighbors, they were creating a prairie. Years later, they had what looked like a nature preserve with paths us kids yearned to explore. Even my parents had to admit it turned out nice. 

While not everyone would want to turn their entire property into a prairie, each of us can find a corner or two to create a more natural landscape or choose native plants and trees that will attract birds and wildlife. One way to deal with the lawn dilemma is to simply have less of it. 

Wild Ones is an organization that helps those who have an interest in natural landscaping connect with each other and learn how they can create beautiful and natural landscapes, even in urban and suburban neighborhoods. Unfortunately I don't see a chapter listed in the Lake Country area, but there is a chapter in Menomonee Falls. Their website includes tours of member's properties this summer including a Hartland household. You can find good info on legal issues, choosing native plants and educational conferences.

Here is the Mission statement for Wild Ones
Our Mission
Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. Wild Ones is a not-for-profit environmental education and advocacy organization.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Just in time for the end of my Yogalaties (Yoga and Pilates) class-its raking and de-thatching time. With proper body mechanics, this is the ultimate core workout! If you are like me and all my neighbors, you have spent more than a few hours in between April Showers raking your lawn. 

This year's early snow trapped extra leaves on my lawn and kept them there snowfall after snowfall. As a result, my lawn has a bad case of "spring hat head". It is funny how spring yardwork can be so invigorating, when the same task becomes a chore a few months later. The blisters and the sore muscles are welcome when it means I can get outside with only a vest. It is also so satisfying to see those tufts of dead grass accumulate in the leaf pile and watch the new grass stand up ready to reach for the sun. Even my 4 year-old noticed this transformation while helping me today and told me, "Mommy, I love you for making our lawn look nice". Really-she said this! 

When you have a big lawn like I do, there is also lots of time to think about thatch (and whether you really need to have such a big lawn that takes so long to rake!). So I decided to look up this spring raking ritual to see how important it really was. Turns out it is more than just an excuse to get outside. I think it is pretty obvious that matted down leaves aren't good from healthy grass growth. From what I read, thatch (if too thick, over 1 1/2 inches) also prevents water and nutrients from getting down to the soil and grass roots. Too much thatch can be a sign of over fertilizing. You can use a machine that does the job as well as the "Rakalaties" method.   The coolest thing I read was that in a healthy lawn, the microoganisms and earthworms in the soil take care of the job for you and then give you free fertilizer! They munch it up and decompose it and turn it back into nutrients that your lawn needs. Once again, Mother Nature does a better job and takes things full circle. 

Ode to my new Rain Barrels

I have decided to broaden this months theme to include all sorts of yard greenness, not just the lawn. This way I actually have more to contribute as my general lawn care method involves mowing when the grass needs it and, um, yeah, that’s about it. So I’m getting a bit liberal with our "green your lawn" theme. Last week I finally got something I’ve been coveting for years… a real, fancy pants rain barrel. Two rain barrels, actually. We have tried assorted rain collection things in the past… from a bucket under the rain spout (filled up way to quick, lovely habitat for mosquitoes), a cement cistern by the front door (terrible idea, it has now been converted to a planter box, for which it is much better suited), an old water softener barrel under the spout (functional, but really, really ugly) and a very ill-advised experiment involving an old water heater which I will spare you the details of. So, these fancy pants rain barrels have been a long time coming. We have paid our dues and now we have finally entered the realm of upscale rain collection. I am way more excited about these than any rational person should be, but I know from our assorted rain collection experiments that watering your garden with rain collected from our roof is one of life’s simple pleasure. There isn’t the guilt that comes with turning on the house on a 90 degree day after 3 weeks with no rain. You begin to feel like you actually made the water yourself, it feels that self-sufficient. Anyway, I can’t wait to hook these up to our downspouts and I look forward to years worth of smug and happy garden watering.

After reading this post I’m certain you are jumping up and down, raising your hand, yelling at the computer, “Courtney! Courtney! Where can I get a super cool, fancy pants rain barrel?”. Well, dear readers, I suggest you hurry up and get in touch with Robert Frost at Someday Gardens in Jefferson and he can hook you up with a rain barrel. Last year they ran out, much to my dismay and summer-long sadness. They do cost a bit ($125 a barrel, which includes delivery), but I think it is well worth it because they are so sturdy and look great (I realize this is subjective as some people might not think an old whiskey barrel in their yard looks ‘great’ but beauty is a) in the eye of the beholder and b) more than skin deep… and both sayings apply here). There are other, cheaper options available, like plastic rain barrels, but I don’t know of a local source. Does anyone know of a source for local, plastic rain barrels... one where you don't have to be a resident of Milwaukee county?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Green Lawn Care Guides

You may have realized that we haven't posted much about green lawn care yet this month. Courtney and I have been busy with the upcoming Local Food Fair, but the real reason is that I don't know much about this subject. I want a lawn free of thistles (some dandelions must stay so my kids can make me necklaces) and chemicals, but have only limited experience and and even less success. I am hoping that all our blog readers will have lots of advice for me. We have followed much of the Green Lawn advice (mow high, water less often for longer, aerate, overseed) and I'll be sharing what I know about this. However, I think it is time for me to become a bit more educated about the topic. I found the following guides on some of my favorite websites. Lets all learn together! 

New American Dream has a downloadable lawn care guide and resources for products

Greater Milwaukee Resources for Natural Lawn Care Includes resources, healthy lawn kids, healthy lawn challenge and the very cool idea of signs you can put in your yard to let your neighbors know it is chemical free!


Great Lakes Great Lawns publication: I have this guide and it is good and easy to follow. Looks like there is also a video


Monday, April 7, 2008

Even More Local Foods Fair

We are on a roll. I am getting very exciting (and hungry) with all the folks signing up to have a table at the Local Foods Fair. Here are a few more who confirmed today

High Cross Farm: CSA that delivers all over our area and wool (gotta check out the cute photos on the website!) Kath will also be providing a second presentation about all the nutritional benefits of  "super foods".

R-Farms: Pasture raised meat (beef, pork, poultry) and eggs and some fresh seasonal produce. Sells at the farm and Dousman Farmer's Market. No website, contact info:
W394 S4398 Hwy Z 
Dousman, WI 53118
(414) 881-2098

Tina's Friend, Gene, the honey guy Well, that is what I am calling him until I know if there is another name. Not sure if there is business name, and I don't really care as long as I know how to get more of his delicious raw honey when I run out!

The reasons to attend this fair, just keep growing!

More Local Foods Fair

As promised, here is some more about some of the info you can pick up at the Local Foods Fair in Hartland on April 13th (see previous posts)

Mason Creek Winery: Handcrafted wines made right here in Lake Country (all grapes from US, some from Hubertus and Chenequa)

Battle Creek Beef and Bison: Naturally raised beef and Bison south of Oconomowoc. Baby Beef and Bison Day is fun family event held every Memorial Day.
Prairie Hill Farms: Grass fed beef, pastured poultry, rabbits, lamb and free range brown eggs. Located in Palmyra.

LotFotl Farm/CSA: A new CSA that farms on land at Michael Fields Institute in East Troy

Someday Gardens: CSA in Jefferson County and rain barrels

Saturday, April 5, 2008

How did I get the idea of a local foods fair?

"How did you get the idea to have a Local Foods Fair", the Waukesha Freeman reporter asked me this week. I answered some generic answer about how it wasn't only my idea and how it was a growing trend across the country. Afterwards, though, I thought more about this question and realized the answer was more complex than this and went way back. 

At first I thought of reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Mineral last summer and the "local eating challenge" that my friends and I undertook.  I thought of how I gather my family's food from a mixture of conventional grocery stores, natural grocery stores, CSA's, farmer's markets, buying clubs, direct from farmers and from my own backyard. I occasionally decide that this is ridiculous, that I am not European and should simply shop at one supermarket and stop wasting my time running all over just to feed my family.  I thought of the first CSA I participated in back when my husband and I were first new parents and eating a lot more take out pizza's than fresh vegetables. I thought of growing up near Madison and the Madison Farmer's Market that folks go to just for the experience, even if they don't need to buy any food. Then I arrived at my childhood and realized where it all began.

I grew up in a country neighborhood where everyone had two acre lots and big gardens. There were a ton of kids and we all played and roamed from house to house and yard to yard. During the summer we happily helped ourselves to the bounty from these backyard gardens. We knew where to find the best raspberries, the best peas, the best cucumbers. We ate tomatoes whole and wiped the juice on our sleeves. We found exotic caterpillars while we ate blackberries. Our parents didn't seem to mind that we helped ourselves and I wonder know if they planted extra for our "yard snacks". knew where to find the most incredible apples, but we hardly dared as that neighbor would come screaming out and chasing after us if we tried to take even a windfall. I swear she must of sat at her window, watching and waiting for us. Of course, it was sometimes worth the risk.  We also ate things that grew wild in our lawns and woods. I am not sure how we knew that they were safe to eat or yummy and I am not even sure what most of them are today. We munched on clover, "sourgrass", and "Indian gum" and sucked the nectar out of "buttercups". 

So I realized that "eating locally" was how I grew up. It is part of me and I've probably spent my adult years, searching out ways to bring this experience back. Going to the Supermarket would be a lot easier, but finding all the yummy food in your "neighborhood" is so much more fun. 

Where is the Local Foods Fair?

If you are from the Hartland Area, you likely know Hwy E (North Ave) and Hwy K. Lake Country UU church is at the intersection. This is North of Hartland near Arrowhead High School and across from Swallow School. It is a round building.

If you that means nothing to you, you can go to and click on directions. 

Friday, April 4, 2008

Local Food Fair

We interrupt our April Challenge to let you know about the upcoming, super-cool, Local Food Fair at noon on April 13th at the Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church in Hartland. Eating locally has become the hip and eco-stellar thing to do, but if you don't know where to get your food locally, what's a person to do? Enter the Local Food Fair where we will have representatives from local CSAs, local food stores, and local plant growers who will help you learn more about how you can eat locally this spring, summer and fall. Some of the highlights of this FREE event sponsored by the Green Sanctuary Committee of the LCUUC include:

  • A presentation by Terry Vlossak, the owner of Full Harvest Farm, LLC about how choosing locally grown food is good for your health, the local economy, Wisconsin farmers, and the earth.
  • Maggie from Maggie's Herbs and Heirlooms who will have her catalogs available and who will be on hand to answer your questions about how you can grow your own food this summer in your very own backyard. Heirlooms... so cool!
  • A representative from Good Harvest Market in Waukesha will be showing off some of the local products that their store sells.
  • A kids booth will let kids taste some fabulous Wisconsin foods and ask them to guess where in Wisconsin those foods come from. Plus, kids will get to check out how some of those foods are grown.
  • Information about area Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSAs). This is the time of year to sign up for a summer CSA share and enjoy local, delicious produce all summer long!
More information booths and participants will be revealed over the course of this week leading up to the event. Check back here to find out more. And tell your friends! Tell your family! Tell your neighbors! We hope to see lots of people at this event who are looking to make this summer their healthiest, eco-chicest summer ever. Yes, eco-chicest. I think I just made up a word and will be using it liberally throughout this blog from here on out. (Actually, a quick google search shows that no, I did not make up a word, and that other people have used it before... so I'm not totally out there I guess.)

The Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church is located at the corner of Hwy K and Hwy E in Hartland.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Challenge - Green Your Lawn

As the snow receded slowly over the past week it uncovered a well-hidden winter secret in my front lawn. Something (I'm guessing a mole or some other cute digger-animal) had a very fun winter digging a serious maze of tunnels just under the grass. My lawn looks a bit like a miniature construction site. I'm considering putting some toy trucks out there to round out the effect. I realize that most people would cringe at the sight of this newest development, but it sort of makes me smile for two reasons. One, I love the fact that animals like to call my yard home, it means they are finding food to eat and that it is free from nasty pesticides. Two, since the critters have done half the work already I figure this is the perfect excuse to finally dig up the rest of my front lawn and replace the whole thing with a lovely garden (something I've been dreaming of since they day I moved in 6 years ago).

Perhaps I'm starting this whole "green your lawn" challenge off on the wrong foot, but I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my lawn. I understand it has a function, especially with kids in our not-too-distant future. A lawn is good for picnics and games of tag and bocce ball and for laying on to gaze up at clouds on summer days. But then there is the mowing and the two weeks in May when I am embarrassed by our lawn because of the riot of dandelions partying it up. I'm beginning to realize that my lawn messes with my head. It makes me think about my role in the neighborhood vs. my role on the planet and then it makes me wonder why on earth these two roles are opposed. Suffice it to say, I need this "green your lawn" challenge as much for practical reasons as for psychological reasons.

So, here we go! Over the course of April we will share ideas for eliminating the need for toxins in your yard and ways to make your lawn and your lawncare routine green. I see good things for us in April!

Reusable Bag Winner!

Congratulations to Earthbound Spirit who is the lucky winner of our March drawing. She will get the two reusable bags made from upholstery remnants which were featured in our March 1st post. Thanks to all the commenters in the month of March, we really appreciate the feedback and ideas. We hope to do more giveaways in the future so stay tuned :)