Kena Landry

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since May 17, 2018
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Recent posts by Kena Landry

Lovely! Turning most of our driveway into a garden has been the best decision we've ever made.

And yes, if you dry then roast the dandelion roots (nothing scientific - I just popped mine in the oven when I was roasting some veggies), then grind, you can infuse to make an ersatz coffee. Pretty nice with milk and honey, actually. It's quite labor intensive to dig the roots for a single cup, but if you're going to dig them anyway, there is a nice poetic symbolism about eating the darn things.
3 days ago

L Allen wrote:But I definitely still want to do it because, for instance, even killed-bacteria fermented hot sauce is tastier than non-fermented any day

Yeah. I'm not eating food because of the probiotics - the bacteria are a nice bonus at best.
4 days ago
I've started exploring lacto-fermentation, but I'm quickly running out of fridge space to keep the end result from over-fermenting once it's done.

I'd like to explore canning to make some of my fermentations shelf-stable (at the cost of some probiotics and texture, I know.). I've found clear information for sauerkraut from a reputable source ( but not for things like fermented carrots or mixed vegetables.

Any ideas? Personal experience with that?

I guess, historically, that people had a root cellar or an uninsulated attic to store their fermentations over longer periods of time.  But for me, in my current setting, the "long term storage" of ferments is essentially null (It's not like I'm in the habit of losing cabbage or carrots in the fridge. They practically last forever in their natural form.)
4 days ago
Like Sonja, I like the concept of permaculture challenges, but find it impractical to actually document the process just to get a badge.

Often, the amounts/sizes required are unrealistic for a small urban setting. ( I don't have 150 sq. feet of vegetation to chop & drop, even though chop & drop is part of how I garden already).

Or I'd have no need for the end result, which would be a waste of resources. Ex: I am skilled in most textile arts. But I won't make a project just for the sake of it if I don't have a need for the end result, and especially if I need to buy material for it. I am already trying to work through my endless bin of discarded "broken beyond repair" clothes, so there's plenty of projects in my pipeline already.

Or I get started and then think of pictures when it's too late (hello, sauerkraut. By the time I thought of the BB, half the jar was in my stomach )

That doesn't prevent the BB challenges to be inspiring. I just chip at those challenges in manageable bites for me, adapt in ways that make sense, and have no need for external recognition.
Here's what we've done to ours:

- Consider that whatever grows in the lawn counts as a lawn. Mow regularly. Only remove what's prickly (thistle, etc.).

- Top dress with good compost and overseed with a mix of hardy grasses and clover (This is what we use (it's in French, but there's a complete list of the grasses included)) and let survival of the fittest determine which grass will takeover. Repeat yearly.

- Examine where the grass doesn't grow at all (too much shade, too dry, too compacted) and turn those into plant beds or mulched areas, and use plants adapted to those conditions. In heavily trod areas, use cement/rock steps of some sort to spare the ground from over-compaction and damage. Kids adore walking steps, especially if you space them apart so that it's a slight challenge for them.

- If you feel the need to remove weeds, treat that as a harvest. Dandelion, violet greens, young plantain leaves, wood sorrel can all be eaten (we've been having those in our daily salads, soups and green smoothies all spring). Dandelion root can also be made into faux-coffee (I pick some up every spring to keep our perennial dandelion sort of under control. It still constitutes a good portion of our lawn, but I don't want it to overwhelm everything else), and it's a very potent compost addition.

Our lawn won't win any suburb "keeping up with the Jones" contest, but it doesn't require any watering, it does fine in all conditions, and it's a lot more resistant to pests than single-species grass.
1 week ago
Up to a certain point, the problem is structural, so the solution is probably structural as well.

Ask for bulk options. Pester companies you buy from for more sustainable packaging. Try no to look just at the price of the product, but also the cost (in time, "karma" and, in your case, actual dump costs) of taking care of the packaging. And when you find an alternative, tell your main brand why you're no longer using their product.

Pestering feels like a drop in the sea, but it eventually changes things. My grocery store used to over-package all their vegetables, including things that made no sense (plastic wrapping a turnip???). Everytime I saw a clerk in the produce section, I'd tell them politely "What a shame I can't buy this produce. It looks lovely but I don't buy things that are shrinkwrapped. Will you let your boss know, please?". Every single time. And I'd get the same lame excuse that wrapped veggies last longer, that customers find it cleaner...

Two years of this... and a few months ago, they figured out a less wasteful solution to serve vegetables unwrapped (they are in bulk boxes with a lid, which keep them fresher I guess? With tongs to serve ourselves.).

I'm sure I wasn't the only one, but with enough people letting them know that it's hurting their bottom line, companies DO change. And when they do change, they change not only for ourselves, but also for all the others who couldn't be bothered about the environment.

2 weeks ago
The back area (with the composter) is mostly shade (hence the mulch in lieu of grass). We might have some shade-loving fruits some day, but probably not much of a yield. We do eat the violet leaves though, and I'm hoping to add shade-loving medicinal/tea plants.

But the rest of the yard is decent, sun-wise. Enough to get a good yield on tomatoes. And our deck gets a lot of sun, so we can have containers that move depending on the needs and seasons.

We also have a balcony upstairs that gets full sun all day, so that could be an option for growth some day (but water access is a challenge, so we haven't exploited it yet. I might have to run a hose up the wall some day.)
2 weeks ago
As you can see, we use edges a lot. Actually, with the yard being so small, we have to use every bit, and make it both ornamental and practical.

For fruits, we have:
- grapes
- strawberries (wild and standard varieties)
- aronia
- amelanchier (serviceberry)
- elder
- blueberries
- black currant (not producing yet)
- wild raspberry (not producing yet)
- haskap (not producing... Ever? )

For vegetables, we have two main raised beds (both 3 feet deep - 18 feet in length total). I am also starting to add the brick half-circles along the neighbour's fence. They will hold a combination of perrenials and annual veggie plots.

Along the side of the house are strawberries and a few medicinal/ornamental flowers.
2 weeks ago
A quick tour of my tiny urban yard. We live in a post-war house, so our goal was to respect the spirit of the era: victory gardens, resourcefulness and a very "cottage garden" approach.

2 weeks ago
I grow day lillies in the narrow inhospitable border between my house and the neighbour's gravel parking.

This is very poor compacted clay, and they still manage to thrive and suppress weeds. I give them zero care or watering, and some get stepped/parked on each year, and yet they spring back to life the next spring.

Day lillies can be eaten as shoots, and they make abundant foliage and very nice flowers. They do spread though, so you will have to think about providing a barrier alongside your fence, or get varieties that are not too agressive.
3 weeks ago