I Heart Strawberries






No, life is not a bowl of cherries.

Sometimes it’s a bowl of strawberries.

I feel a bit greedy harboring lethal thoughts about the gang of squirrels which has been spending recent days making trip after trip to and from my strawberry patch. On one hand, I have lots of berries in my freezer and in jam jars. On the other hand, I’m afraid those squirrels are going to tell their friends and those friends are going to tell their friends, and one day I’ll look out the window and the garden will be simply swarming with little furry flick-tailed thieves.

A major tenet of pest control is avoiding habituation, which means don’t let the critters get started or they’ll never stop. I’m imagining generations of this squirrel population passing down the location of my strawberry beds as part of their familial lore.

In the end, I suppose I’ll just let them be as long as I’m getting my family’s share first.


Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms, Ganoderma lucidum, have been used for centuries to promote health and longevity and are known as” the mushrooms of immortality.”

I inoculated several oak logs over a year ago and put them in a shady spot behind my compost bin, partially nestled into the soil. They just began to fruit this spring.


They’re shaped differently from the reishi I cultivated by smearing some spawn onto the surfaces of a huge oak tree that fell in our yard. According to what I’ve read, these differences are caused by being different strains and/or by differences in temperature, humidity, and light.

The picture above was taken about a week or two ago. Below is what they look like today, slightly larger and beginning to develop the characteristic kidney shape of the mature reishi:


The reishi I grew on the oak stump that fruited last year is just beginning to fruit again this year. I fear for the longer term production on that stump, however, because the stump has been overtaken by another type of mushroom, a white/gray/brownish shelf mushroom I haven’t been able to identify. I’m posting a picture here and I’ll post it again on our FB page to see if anyone can give it a name. Holler if this looks familiar to you, mushroom people:


When I harvest the reishi, I’ll dry it and use it in tea and make tincture out of it.

I love mushrooms.



Trench Composting: I’m Sold, See What You Think

When I first tried trench composting; that is, digging a trench, filling it with compostables, and covering it up, I didn’t know what to expect.

I didn’t know if I would have trouble with varmints. I did have some minor digging, but that was solved by planting a little deeper. I also didn’t know if anything would grow there–would the composting process rob the soil of nitrogen?

Let’s take a look and see what happened when I planted tomato plants and transplanted some lettuce seedlings and spinach there:


Yowzer! Giant green things!


IMG_3617Stout tomatoes.


A leafy explosion.

For contrast, I want to show you the neighboring row where I planted tomato plants the very same day:


What a difference! The spinach is too crowded, but that alone doesn’t account for the size difference. They were planted at the same time as the ones in the first bed.

While it’s not a scientifically controlled experiment, I’m convinced of the value of trench composting. Are you going to try it? I can’t wait to do this all over.

I’ll let you know if I come across any issues. The major one so far is that the trenched spot starts out as a mound and ends up as a valley once the materials decompose. It’s mainly cosmetic since my beds are already slightly raised. I haven’t had any problems with water trying to drown anything in these low spots. It may even act to concentrate rainwater and keep the beds hydrated.



Misadventures in No ‘Poo


Ever since I stopped using shampoo, I’ve tried several different approaches to having presentable hair: apple cider vinegar rinses, brushing it out with a natural bristle brush, and essential oil-baking soda scrubs.

After giving up on baking soda after hearing it was too harsh for hair, I’ve relied on hot water and vinegar rinses almost exclusively. It does a pretty decent job; no itchy scalp or horrendous hair. The best was the time I washed my hair with an egg. Sure, I smelled faintly of egg, but, surprisingly, my hair felt more like it used to after shampoo than anything I’ve tried.

The other day, though, feeling like trying something a little different, I decided to wash my hair with mayonnaise.

I realize what that sounds like. I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise in general, and mayonnaise on hair? There is an ick factor. Why not, though? I thought. I’d already cracked a raw egg on my head. How bad could it be? After all, mayo is just egg yolk, oil, and vinegar, right? Lots of people clean their skin with oil–maybe I could clean my scalp with an oily, eggy condiment.

I did not google this, by the way. It was my own little brainstorm. Bear this in mind.

So I scooped out a bit of cold mayo, plopped it on the top of my wet head, and started squishing it in. Trying not to think about potato salad, I kept squishing and massaging it into my scalp. After what I figured was an acceptable amount of “washing,” I began to rinse it out.

At least I tried to rinse it out, but the mayo wasn’t going anywhere. The shower smelled like a club sandwich. My hair felt like salty, mayonnaise-y ropes. I made the water hotter, hoping to melt it out. Nope.

More washing, then a vinegar rinse. A little better? Another vinegar rinse. More rinsing. My hair seemed borderline okay. I towel-dried it and went to bed. Maybe it would be all right in the morning. I went to bed.

In the morning my first look in the mirror, never the best one of the day, was startling. I’d forgotten about the last night’s “treatment,” and what I saw looking back at me through bleary morning eyes was eye-opening. Arching out around the sides of my head were greasy locks of horror. My first thought was: ponytail, but I knew even a ponytail was no match for this ‘do. The thing would probably have stuck straight out the back of my head like the flame behind a rocket.

What could I do? I didn’t want to give up and pour on the shampoo. I also didn’t want to entertain my kids with my hair disaster. Cruel, I know, to deprive them of such prime fodder for future jokes at my expense. They’d already had too much fun with the fact that I’d requested the mayonnaise jar from the refrigerator the day before.

I did what I should have done in the first place; back to the egg. I stuck my head under the tub faucet, cracked one of our hen’s eggs on my head, scrubbed it around, and rinsed. The rinse water ran white. My hair began to feel like hair again. Hope. I toweled off my hair and hoped for the best.

Unbelievably, one egg took out the mayo, gave me clean hair, and saved the day.

Later, searching for mayonnaise hair washing, it turns out to be a treatment for dry, usually curly hair, and is followed by a good shampooing.

Moral: When going no ‘poo, hold the mayo.