Wednesday, July 21, 2010

plastic bag necklaces!

I wanted to make some lightweight necklaces for summer and I remembered intending on expanding upon the braided plastic bag idea a while ago. This is a small collection I came up with for Old Hollywood.

Monday, July 19, 2010

putting two and two together

see these sprouts- aren't they pretty? like you could toss them in a salad or something, right?

this bunch is what came out of about a two foot by six inch wide bed this morning. this is what I must contend with every day. it is my arch nemesis, the morning glory. I've been pulling morning glory sprouts from every corner of the garden except one, the far west side of the bed that holds the lavender. I thought it might be okay to let it grow up the fence a little.

but then I figured something out. the seeds form after the flowers bloom and drop off. If I let any of the vines mature and flower, I'll be in the same boat next summer. above is the tangle of vines, right after I ripped them from the fence.

the reason I don't want morning glory in the garden can be seen above. it twists its way around everything, smothering other plants. it spreads its seeds and grows voraciously. if I left it alone, the whole patio would be covered in it.

here are the dried seed pods, ready to shed their seeds.

and here are the seeds! I hear they make a popular recreational drug. check out this video to find out everything you wanted to know and more about taking morning glory. I am not telling you to take morning glory seeds, this is strictly for informational purposes.

so anyhoo, back in early march when b and I were preparing the yard, I pulled a bunch of dried vines off the chain link fence on the west side of the back patio. it was a warm day and a lot of nasty dust was flying off the vines. my arms started breaking out in hives- a few small ones at first, and then they spread way up the length of my arms, creating giant, raised welts. I came inside and washed, then put on long gloves. I continued to pull the vines even though the rash kept getting worse- I was really into doing yard work! finally after some time I had enough, came inside and showered. later that night as I was trying to go to sleep, I started wheezing. I had asthma as a child, but it's been gone since I was in my 20's. the only thing that usually brings it back is exposure to an unusually dusty or cat hair-ridden house. the next day I went to an herb store and found some natural remedies. the wheezing continued for well over a week until it gradually subsided.

I had seen a lot of brown, bell-shaped pods flying off as I was pulling the vines and I assumed that whatever vine they came from was the one that caused the allergy. the patio was full of the pods and I got rid of as many as I could.

flash forward a few months and I discover a vine with seven-point leaves that has a sticky, spiky stem, and it gives me the same reaction as I had in march. only now I am more careful when handling it, putting on the long gloves right away and avoiding prolonged exposure. I assume that this is the same vine that had bothered me in march (the patio has a lot of different vines- each fence is covered with a different one, and some creep in from other yards) but I still hadn't made the connection with the seed pods. in the meantime, I've been trying to trace the genesis of the morning glory's immense power to spread. it wasn't until I pulled the vines off the fence today and discovered the brown pods below that they indeed belonged to the morning glory, not the noxious, itchy weed. the itchy weed had attached itself to the morning glory and I missed it in its brown and shrunken state. luckily the itchy weed doesn't spread as voraciously as the morning glory or I'd be in trouble.

evil weed! bad, bad!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

what's going on in the garden

this was our first zucchini, which I picked in early July. I was really excited to be able to grow my own, since it's one of my favorite summer vegetables. I have fond memories of picking squash in my mom's garden and barely being able to keep up with the yield.

the fruit shown above was actually the second zucchini in the garden. the first was coming along, but failed to mature, remaining skinny and yellow. I didn't realize at the time that this was a sign of squash boring worms, which attack the stalk. I pulled out the biggest plant first, as shown above. you can see a mealy orange material coming out of the base. that's the rotten stalk- sort of the plant's innards. I left the two other plants in the garden for a few days, then yanked them too. I figured it was better to get diseased plants out of the garden sooner than later. they grew so big and strong, it was sad to see them go. being a first-time gardener, I didn't know what to expect when planting the small starts, underestimating how big the plants would get. I think overcrowding them in the plot probably made them susceptible to disease. early on I was watering the patch steadily through the day for fear that the plants would get too dry. then I found out that it's best to give the garden a good soaking (really wet!) in the morning. that's what I've been doing and the garden is steadily improving.

east side of patio. wandering jew, strawberry, cutting from stonecrop and fava beans. the beans are staying on the less sunny side of the garden, as I found out they're a cool weather crop. doh! not sure why the garden center sold them to me.

lemongrass- a lovely addition to the garden.

big, potted plant that the neighbor gave me before she moved out.

compost- such a fun project! I've done a ton of reading on how-to, and it seems to be coming a long okay. b drilled holes in the bottom of the bin- it was here when we moved into the apartment. I compost all my fruit and veggie scraps, tea loose and bagged, egg shells and small chicken bones. I'm careful to rinse anything that's an animal product as the scent can attract critters. to that I add garden clippings (careful not to add invasive weeds which can sprout in compost) and unbleached paper. covering it with the white screen has helped immensely. at first it was attracting fruit flies and fleas. then when the houseflies came, it was too much for me.

look how big the tomato plant is getting! I created a simple tipi for it out of garden sticks. I transplanted the smaller of the two tomatoes to the space where the zucchini had been. it established right away, benefitting from a couple of days of rain.

my first tomatoes! this is more than exciting. fingers crossed.

tabletop- two basil plants, avocado sprouted from seed and rosemary. over a month ago I thinned out the herb patch, as the basil was overcrowded. the four small plants I pulled out are doing really well.

I also pulled one of the small hot pepper plants, as it was also overcrowded in the section that has the tomatoes and the green beans. lesson learned- give your plants space!

I ate my first eggplant today- so good! I maybe picked it a little early, but what I'm learning in gardening is that there are no mistakes. it's impossible to know what's going to happen until you do it- so everything you do, whether success or failure, is an opportunity to learn.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

i teach classes

I finished teaching my first semi-private class today at Brooklyn Design Lab! I did an Eco Jewelry Design class, in which I asked the students to bring in any old jewelry parts they'd like to reconfigure into new designs. I was so lucky to have two such amazing students, who were both quick and eager to learn. I brought along a bunch of old parts myself including pendants, beads and clasps, plus waxed cotton cord and copper wire to join it all together. I taught the girls macrame, lashing, slip knots, jump ring manipulation (tricky if you've never done it) and a bit of wire wrapping. here are some pics from today, the second day of a two-part class.

sofia and nusheen, wearing the necklaces and bracelets they made the first day.

sofia's charm bracelet

along with her macrame and chain bracelet!

nusheen's charm bracelet

nusheen's macrame ring!

If you'd like to schedule a class contact Amy at BDL. Adults and children are welcome.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

summer sale

hey kids! I marked a BUNCH OF STUFF on sale, just for you.
(because I care.)