Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Food Not Lawns discussion (chapters 1 - 3)

Food Not LawnsWelcome to the first installment of the Food Not Lawns book club discussion post!

Let me first, right off the bat, state that I find this book both alternately inspiring and annoying. What do I find annoying? Mamble like the following:

"In the garden, by stepping outside economic and social constructs for a moment to envision ourselves in the cradle of nature, we can get to know the ecological self."

That kind of yammer just bothers me. And most of the exercises she suggests seem contrived. Particularly the water sports one. I don't envision myself cradling that one.

That said, I will ignore this kind of language and hooha and try not to let it distract me from the task at hand: discussing the actual content. Since this book's format is quite a bit different than the other ones in the book club, I won't be breaking it down by chapters, but just discussing a chunk of the book as a whole and throwing out questions where I see fit.

Okay, let's begin.

Lawns. Big ass lawns. Why do we have a culture of lawns? Well, the 18th century French aristocrats thought it good fun to rub it in the faces of the peasants that they were so darn wealthy than they could just grow grass. Not something functional, like food, but big swaths of green, grassy goodness. That cultural ideal has continued to modern America where a beautifully manicured lawn is equated with wealth and status.

I think of it as those covenants against laundry lines. Growing food, raising chickens and hanging out your laundry = poverty. Austere, pristine grassy nonsense = wealth. Put it another way, 58 million Americans spend about 30 billion dollars every year to maintain more than 23 million acres of lawn. Oh yeah, and use around 270 billion gallons of water a week. That's right folks, we're talking billions to maintain grass.

Let's not forget the incredible amount of pesticides and fertilizers being doused on those lawns that, ultimately, run off into the groundwater, evaporate into the air we breathe or run out into our waterways, poisoning our fish and aquatic life. The gas mowers, edgers and blowers don't exactly help either. Even if you don't water or fertilize your lawn, you still are preventing all sorts of habitat for critters by keeping a lawn.

So, what's an environmentally conscious citizen to do? Well, aside from the obvious alternative of returning the lawn to its natural habitat (by growing native plants and using permaculture techniques*), grow some food!

What to do if you don't have a lawn? Well, you have a couple of options. You can see if you can use a neighbor's lawn, rent a plot in a community garden, volunteer at a local farm (oftentimes they'll offer free produce to volunteers), garden in pots and containers, use the roof, depave a sidewalk or driveway, or (the most radical) take over a vacant lot.

If you do have the space you have some alternatives such as growing in raised beds, vertical gardening (growing up), or just reshaping your yard to take advantage of microclimates, rainflow and runoff and all sorts of other permaculture techniques*.

One of the discussion points in Chapter 3 is water-wise gardening. The author discusses mulching, irrigation, contouring and graywater. I'm a little unsure of the whole graywater thing as I believe it has to be done carefully (graywater can quickly become blackwater) and there are legal issues to be considered. She is extremely cavalier about this aspect, so tread carefully on how you want to proceed with using graywater.

After reading these sections are you inspired to tear up your lawn? What about the community aspects of growing food? Would you be willing to share you lawn with the neighbors for growing food for the community? Do you know your neighbors well enough to ask them to share their yard?

What about some of the suggestions she has for contouring your yard to grow food? Had you thought much about that when considering growing food before or was this new information for you?

Would you be willing to install some sort of graywater and/or pond system to irrigate your food crops or does it seem like too much work or too risky? What about rainwater capture?

Ok, that's it for now. The next book club post will be in two weeks.

*Ms. Flores goes into permaculture techniques in depth in the first section of the book, but I won't cover it here because I like to keep things somewhat briefish.


Jenn said...

My book should be arriving tomorrow... and then I'm going to be in Yosemite and Harbin for the better part of the next week so I plan to read this then. Along with 20 other books. I should skip Harbin and just lock myself in a carrel at UCB.

Claire said...

Oooh, that book sounds interesting! If a little pretentious in spots!


Anonymous said...

The part about lawns reminds me of Michael Pollan's "Second Nature." He goes into great depth at the beginning of the book about the American lawn.
As someone with a big ass lawn, I'm trying to figure out how to change it... Imagine how much food I could grow on almost 2 acres... but we just moved in 6 months ago, so we're planning. I should pick up a copy of this book.

Matt said...

Personally, I read this book because it was so hyped and I was disappointed in it. I thought "lasagna gardening" was a much better book. As is "gaia's garden". I guess if you didn't know already that lawns were a problem this book would be a good entry point to help someone come over to the good side.

Sorry Crunchy, I just had to stop lurking to say that.

Anonymous said...

Lets see....

Lawns: I had a lot of grass when I moved here, now it's almost gone. I have a few grassy paths that I have to cut, but that's it. It's all vegetables, fruits, herbs, native shrubs, and a few ornamentals. I'd share space with a friend, if I had a friend that needed garden space. And if I needed garden space, I do know my neighbors well enough to ask them to use their lawns. I do know that I've had former neighbors that were a bit unhappy to see my grass go. It was so tidy.

Contouring: Not new info. I've seen it used places. I like the info in _Gaia's Garden_ (Hemenway), which I think is one of Flores sources. I've been experimenting with it and I think it's worth doing.

Gray water and run-off from the roof: I'm experimenting with hand washing clothing right now and using the gray water to water ornamentals (that's how I'm justifying having them). I use rinse water from vegetables, water while I'm waiting for it to heat, and any other clean water I can collect for vegetables/fruits. I can't quite get myself to use the laundry water for food. I work with toddlers and they get "substances" on my clothing. I'd like to get rain barrels to collect water. I want it for a back up source of water. Ponds are nice, but I think I'd have problems with the neighborhood wild life.

Just saw Matt's comment when I re-did the word verification, and I have to agree-this is book is kinda "light" on the gardening methods. More for sparking interest, and more from an activist perspective.

Sonnjea said...

We're in the process of letting the front lawn die so we can replant with drought-tolerant southern-California natives. We use shower warm-up water to water ornamentals, but no other graywater at this point.

I am friendly-ish with my neighbors, though not so friendly I'd ask to use their yard -- but friendly enough to share mine, if people were so inclined. I do keep grass in the backyard for the chickens, and the backyard is also where I do all my food gardening. I've never really though of using the front yard for growing food before. I may try contouring, though. And, though it never rains here, I'd love to do a rainwater capture system

Green Bean said...

I'm not reading the book. I've always gone back and forth on it but so many of the reviews are like yours and my list is so long that I've never found the time to pick it up.

I'm not scared of greywater but maybe I should be. I'd love to have one of those ponds for filtering greywater but my yard is beyond small. My husband is going to work on something where the bath or washer water is routed to the sprinklers.

Anonymous said...

I read this book last year (or was it the year before?) so we'll see what I remember....Lawns: We have a huge "lawn" so teh first thing I did was fence off 3/4 of it and put sheep on it. As a spinner and a knitter having my own sheep was a good thing for me. I haven't needed to buy yarn for years (though sometimes I wish I could). I've torn up large chunks of the remaining lawn and we are on the 10 year plan to get rid of all of it. This year we installed a greenhouse and enlarged the garden on the west side of our house. We'll continue enlarging until there is no more left. We have a circular driveway so the half circle between our drive and the road are targeted to become a dye garden and an herb garden next spring (can only do so much at once you know). I've noticed this year that a lot of the houses with big lawns in my area are not mowing this year but are instead being hayed by local farmers. Good move in my opinion, probably not suitable for every neighborhood though.

Water cachement: I love water reuse systems (grey and black) and I lust after some of them, but for my area they aren't terribly necessary We divert the gutters to dump out near out well head (as well as the sump pump) so all the water eventually makes it's way back down to the well, and I think I've had to water the gardens maybe twice since may anyway. We'd just be asking for a big bug problem if I had any more water hanging around than I already do (water tanks for the sheep and wading pool for the geese). So though I admire the systems and might actually put one in anyway regardless of my need for it, it's low on my priority list (I need a rot proof roof first). I would be nice to have a pond for the geese, especially if it was grey water filtered with reeds and gravel etc. but That's really low on the priority list.

ali said...

I read the book a while ago and loved some of the ideas but wasn't that impressed with the book as a whole. That said, I have since put up a rain barrel and have considered putting in a pond with laundry gray water...don't know if I will ever follow through.

We just moved onto a 3/4 acre lot within a midwest subdivision. Most of our neighbors do the Scots fertilizer program or have companies come out and spray pesticides and fertilizers. I planted clover. Our lawn definitely sticks out, but I can't justify the environmental repercussions of treating the lawn. It is bad enough that we mow it with a tractor mower. I have carved out areas that I am letting go natural and then adding fruit trees and bushes. So far we have seen snakes, toads, tree frogs and lots of birds move in. I am trying to talk my husband into honey bees for next year.

Anonymous said...

I only use graywater from washing dishes right now (wash in dishpan; dump on garden). I keep thinking about getting a siphon so I can use bathtub water on the garden in the two-three months of the year when we water.

I couldn't even read this whole book, I thought it was really irritating.

Theresa said...

So far it sounds like I made a good choice when I got Gaia's Garden instead.

Our lawn is too big. When we bought the house 5 years ago there was no landscaping and so we just planted grass seed. We hadn't had our enlightenment yet. But just this weekend husband and I were just discussing which parts we will leave un-mowed from now on. We don't water it and we're getting tired of mowing it. The neighbors won't like it - they mow in between their trees for heaven's sake!

Unknown said...

Shoot - I'm still number 2 on the reserve list for this book. But I'm going to try and keep up so I'll know what's going on when I finally get my hands on the book!

Anonymous said...

I read this book about a month ago and was disappointed. It did make me think in places and, indeed, have an ah-ha moment about a potential vertical gardening area; and this was my first reading exposure to the basic plant structure of a permaculture garden. But the tone, verging into way to flakey for me, was offputting, and the community organizing stuff was also too basic for me; it seemed better suited to somewhere like a university town than a regular suburb. The organizing stuff would be helpful though I think to someone with not much experience or looking for different ideas or even maybe a young student (middle school-ish) or a parent working with that age group.

We have a small, small front yard and a somewhat larger back but it's an old suburb with small lots. We garden in the back and haven't taken full advantage of that space yet. We mow (with an electric mower) but don't worry about what grows in the lawn as long as it's green.

I agree that the section on grey water is rather cavelier and did not inspire great confidence. The grey water becoming blackwater is an important point; I think some of my mysterious plant deaths of last year had something to do with grey water that was no longer grey. My yard is too small and close to neighbors to install an approriate vegetative filtration system for a real grey water system. We're working on rain barrels but need to make structural changes in the guttering before we can install them.

Oldnovice said...

I've enjoyed the read, and the book came from the library in time to make the discussion.

There ARE a few things that won't be implemented here, but there are ALWAYS things suggested by activists which won't be implemented. For instance, we're not gonna do any ponds here. We have (pretty much) a typical suburban lot, which has zero room for ponds. My two 5-gallon buckets (which I use to collect rain) already have mosquito larva wiggling about.

I saw myself in the author (having been there, done that in the SDS during the 60s), and disassociated myself from her fervor maybe just because I'd already encountered that fervor.

If the remaining chapters encourage the activism suggested by the first 3, I'll prolly give up the read.

That said, I agree philosophically with everything the author says so far, and intend to turn at least my BACKyard into garden eventually.

Sharlene said...

Okay I have to ask- how on earth would one get away with having a front yard food garden instead of grass in the suburbs? Is California the only place with home owner associations that would have massive hissy fits if this was attempted? This is one of the many reasons I am hoping to move out to the country before the end of the year.

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

I might do a pond or greywater if I had more land or knew something about plumbing. In the spring before my rainwater tanks fill up I save shower-warming-up-water and put it on the seedlings.

My rainwater system isn't perfect, but here's pictures if people are curious:

Anonymous said...

We tore up our lawn years ago. One side of the sidewalk is a flower garden, that looks a little like the Addams family garden most of the year, but in spring time is really nice. The other side of the sidewalk is all raised beds and a tree. We love it! No mowing, even our tiny postage stamp yard.

Anonymous said...

I'm also curious (as someone else mentioned) about implementing a front-yard garden in a neighborhood with a homeowner's association. We live in a compact, planned community of mixed townhomes, attached homes, single-family homes, and commercial space. For the most part, I love it, as it's easy walking/biking to playgrounds, nature areas, or shops, but our HOA is kind of strict. Basically, the HOA is in charge of all the yard spaces visible from the street, including people's front yards. I got around this with my container garden and rain barrel on the back deck (we have no backyard), but I'm afraid of the battles I'd face if I dug up the neighborhood-provided shrubs in the front and planted some herbs or tomatoes there. I'm pretty sure I signed some kind of document when we moved stating that I wouldn't do that. Plus, we pay mandatory HOA fees for maintenance of that front-yard space. basically, this book doesn't apply to me at all. I feel like this book must only apply to people living either in older suburbs/semi-urban neighborhoods, or to people living in the country.

maryann said...

I didn't get the book to read because of some mixed reviews I read on it. We have about an acre in CT, lots of crab grass and weeds. Each year I work on removing one section at a time. I have perennial gardens for the birds, butterflies and now 5 bee hives of bees, 6 raised beds for vegetables, an herb garden, 2 pear trees, 3 apple trees, 3 elderberries, a cherry, blueberry, raspberry and strawberries. This year I've talked the hubby into adding another blueberry, a peach and a plum. We plan on leaving a patch or two for play areas but my goal is to get rid of as much lawn as possible.
oh, for watering, we are on a well and I won't use it for watering, instead we have 8 rain barrels that are used for watering the veggies and fruits as needed. For anyone looking to convert the lawn, may I suggest small areas at a time, you tend to underestimate the work in converting the lawn and removing the grass. The raised beds are great and much easier to maintain than the standard rows.

Robj98168 said...

I like what Ms. Flores has to say
about community and food. Sad to say would not go over with my neighbors. The city I live in does not and probably wont have P patches. As for myself The change has already started in the front yard- planting boxes are slowly taking over what use to be the yard.

Unknown said...

I've actually spent the last 24 hours in a state of suspended anxiety. We are renters and it is in our lease ot maintain the lawn, we mow very occasionally to keep our gas use to a minimum, just cutting often enough so we don't get complaints from neighbors. While away hiking last week three neighbors took the opportunity to contact our landlord who is now swearing he is going to change our lease if we can't keep the place up to the standard of the neighborhood. This is in fact all about status - he was shamed by his neighbors (he is working abroad temporarily) and now feels he needs to save face by threatening us. In the mean time we have a square foot style garden in a side plot where veggies grow - and I was just about to offer some to the neighbors, but now I think they all hate me. Will donate extra veggies to the food pantry in town instead. said...

My husband and I are doing this. However, because we're concerned with the pollution from cars driving by, we've decided to go with ANIMAL food instead of human food. We're letting our lawn go and adding plants for our native bees and birds. I can tell our neighbors are already a bit pissed. It looks like crap now but soon it will be a wildflower meadow. We're using gray water (manually for now) to water it as well. And we're already seeing tons of new birds and we have quite a population of happy bees too!

Fabulous discussion. I'll be linking to this!

Anonymous said...

I agree, I was a little turned off by some of the prose, and found myself skipping whole paragraphs. (I haven't repicked up the book in a week.)

As an apartment dweller, I currently only have some pots on our balcony to grow herbs, but I know I can do better. Our apartment has a common area (about 8 by 8 feet) that I know could be made into a garden. It is absolutely weedy right now. But I don't know if I want to go into the effort :(

Anonymous said...

a book I *love* and that has the suburban aesthetic more in mind is Noah's Garden.

It's about habitat, not food, but it's a much smaller change than a front-lawn food garden, and one that will pass muster with the HOA.

Carrie and Justin said...

First off: loving the book club discussion thing here Crunchy - utterly awesome!! I've really enjoyed this book so far. So, here goes for us:
Lawns: We moved into my family's house where the yard had been a "dog-owned" yard for years. We've since planted several trees (the majority being fruit), put in a garden, and added a brick patio where there used to be a "once-upon-a-time-decorative-gravel-area-turned-dirt" and added a pond.
We started growing food up front (no HOA here!!) because of groundhogs in the back. Now, we garden wherever things will grow: pumpkins and corn growing on the side of the house; cherry trees, blueberry bushes, herbs, and various other veggies mainstays up front; the garden in the back; fruit trees in the back; fruit bushes in the back & on the other side of the house; hops along the back of the house (we homebrew too!).
We added chickens this year as well.

Neighbors & Community: We started a local green group here. Several of our members bring garden surpluses to meetings, including us, and it is WONDERFUL. However, in our own neighborhood we are the odd-balls and what you posted about clotheslines + gardens + chickens = poverty is very true. Our relationship with one neighbor (whose daughter I grew up with since I grew up here) has deteriorated to the point of non-speaking now because she HATES how we live. She has threatened to call the City on us, and has probably done it. Thanks to mindsets like this, we might lose our chickens. We actually have a petition online about this all: (SIGN IF YOU WANT!!)
So, the neighborhood thing really varies from neighborhood to neighborhood in my opinion.
Greywater & Rainwater - we try to use rainwater as much as possible, but need to rework it better. We're open to the idea of greywater, but cautious as to how to do it best. I really dig the idea of the sludge monster though, then filtering that water to a pond filled with fish for eating!

Anonymous said...

I think I'm just past the first three chapters, although I can't say for sure right now because it's been laying on my bedroom floor (where I practically threw it) for the past two weeks. Sigh. I think she has the right idea's but if she would just stop going off on her tangents that are so incredibly boring I might be able to get through it. I got the book so I could learn about how to garden better. I was not prepared for her social comments on this and that, although I do understand her position so far.

Reducing our lawns - yes, I have plans in the works on paper right now. We have a shy 1/4 acre in the burbs, under a homeowners association, so I think I will have to limit 90% of my efforts to the side and back yards. We have a decent sized veg. garden, but I love the idea of expanding more food production all over the yard. And including more fruit trees. We have too much grass. I like the idea of grass paths better. We have one more bag of Scotts turf builder (bad fertilizer) left and I'm debating weather to use it or not. I will never buy another bag of synthetic/chemical laden fertilizer again.

Sharing the harvest with neighbors - 100% yes. And donating to the local food bank interests me also. When we get our food production that high, I will share with everyone that want's some!

Saving Rainwater - yes I have 1 rain barrel in my vegetable garden with plans for 2 more in opposite ends of our garden. After we install a new gutter system, barrels will go on the house and shed also.

Contouring - I'm not sure about this or how I would go about it. We live in a burb of Seattle and everyone knows about our rainfall. I will give it more attention at a later time.

Greywater - this is a new one for me. I love this idea. It will also require more reading/learning about our local laws and potential saftey issues. I had to water our "grass" this morning and it did make me cringe inside.

Correne said...

I'm not actually reading the book, but I am actively trying to figure out how to get rid of more of my grass, especially in front of the house. We have a very typical city lot. I don't water it, I don't put any chemicals on it. I just mow it and try to pull out some of the weeds once in a while (a losing battle).

What I have never seen addressed in these discussions is what to do for children and dogs.

For instance, there is a fair chunk of grass in my back yard that is mainly there so that my dog can go out and do his business and I can see it and clean it up easily. If I turn my backyard into a wildflower meadow, the dog's paws are going to get hopelessly muddy, and how am I supposed to pick up his turds?

A lot of people around here have ripped out their front lawns and put in rock gardens, wildflower gardens, and various combinations of shrubs, rocks, and plants. They look great, but there is no place for the kids to actually play. My kids and dogs and their friends would destroy a place like that within one summer.

So, I am still trying to find the right solution. I would be happy to find some kind of low-growing hardy grass or clover or something that I could just mow once in a while and still let the kids and dogs play all over it.

Carrie and Justin said...

My dad always insisted upon the need for a yard for the kids to play in, and I admire that now. We're lucky to have playgrounds within very close walking distance, but we also want the kids to be able to use the yard, as well as the dogs.
Our solution: start around the edges with plants. We put in trees and things that need time to get big along the edges and here and there, and did the same with the veggies. This way, there is still plenty of open area for using, but area we can use as well.
Also, it allows us to work our way (albeit quite slowly) up to a full-blown no-lawn, grassy/clover-pathways only, approach. We put the trees in first so that, when we're ready, they'll be big enough that we know the full effect their going to have as far as landscaping and gardening goes.
Just our solution though, everyone has to find the one that works for them!

AP said...

I'm not reading the book (maybe in the future, when I'm no longer renting?), but I have some yard comments. I was always slightly embarrassed by our yard growing up. My mom cannot be bothered to mow the half acre of property; she lives on a dead end road in the woods. We had working mowers on occasion, but I can count maybe 10 times that the lawn has been fully mowed in 20 years. As it stands now, the neighbor trims the parts that touch his yard (has been doing this forever), and my mom does what she calls "four wheel mowing" by driving off the dirt driveway into the yard when she comes down it. I didn't know that it was almost becoming fashionable to skimp on mowing; we didn't do it because lawn mowers are expensive, and the yard is huge. It's a great thing for me to see.

For my future, I'd like to have a backyard for gardening and for kids/entertaining/running around in, but my boyfriend's sentiment of 'why bother with a front yard?' is growing on me.

The Simpleton said...

I'm still number six on the library wait list. Doesn't sound like I'm missing much.

Sharlene and others with "what will the neighbors think" woes: there are now a bunch of books on the topic of edible landscaping, with emphasis on the visual aesthetics of food growing. "The Kitchen Garden" by Richard Bird is my favorite, but there are many.

There's also a nursery catalog called Edible Landscaping out of Virginia. Lovely, edible plants!

Village Green said...

More ways neighbors can be problems -- when they use pesticides and herbicides on their lawns and the rain-run-off comes straight down a slope into your vegetable garden area.

I have been in my little urban house for 9 years now and each year there is less and less to mow -- mostly pathways now -- as I plant more perennials every year. It's small enough that a hand-mower does the job along with a battery powered weed whacker to chop back the various ground covers. Favorites are English ivy, myrtle, violets and sweet woodruff. There are so many wonderful spreading plants that can take over former lawn space -- black eyed daisies, phlox, day lillies, and so on. I have a huge bed of mints of various types that smell so delightful when my dog and I brush past them.

Unknown said...

Want to put some more useful things in my front lawn, the house is new to us, so I'm spending this growing season contemplating what to do.

I walk around and want to plant more raspberries and fruit trees in the parks.

Anonymous said...

I think the real long-term solution (aside from parks - we live in an urban area with a *lot* of parks, so I can do what I want with my yard) is to reclaim the streets.

We have places where the city blockaded a block of a street, mostly to prevent prostitution on the block, and the kids use it to play - bike, skate, soccer, basketball. It's *awesome*. If every suburban cul-de-sac and enough city side streets had only one-car-width openings (you can do this with the concrete barriers they use during highway construction) we would have plenty of places to play and still be able to use the unpaved parts for gardens.

Dogs are a different problem. Little gravel patch? The path? Then you'd be *sure* to clean up poop right away.

Anonymous said...

We have an almost 1/4 acre city yard with 6 raised beds, 3 plums trees, 2 apple trees, a pear trees, a sour cherry tree, red currents, 3 kinds of raspberries and several strawberry varieties. We also have an herb garden and grow some vegetables mixed in with flowers in pots. I've made dandelion wine with flowers from our biodiverse lawn! We're still getting rid of more grass. We only get 13 inches of precipitation per year so we're trying to minimize the amount of water we use in the summer.

I read the book quite awhile ago and there were certainly things I didn't agree with. However, there were also a lot of interesting ideas that generated good discussions at our book club. I'm kind of surprised people wouldn't read a book because they've heard mixed reviews about it. Just check it out from the library and read it for yourself, your opinion is the one that counts!

@Sharlene, I live in Fort Collins, CO and many people have vegetables in their front yards, some even on the median strips.

@Heather, Maybe the HOA would let you replace the ornamental shrubs with attractive edible shrubs such as red currents. Last fall, I made 18-24 jars of red current jam. You could also tuck in some alpine strawberry plants, they look like a ground cover. Some of the kales, Asian greens and chards would also look gorgeous mixed in among flower planting. Carrots, radishes and onions are also easy to sneak in here and there.

@Carrie&Justin, Your yard sounds awesome, I lived in B'burg for 10 years and miss gardening in VA. Our city is passing an ordinance to allow households to have up to 6chickens in their yards, maybe you could try to pass an ordinance in Salem.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to mention another book I'm reading, Edible Estates: Attack On The Front Lawn, A project by Fritz Haeg. It's really good so far. There are lots of color photos from regional prototype gardens. The back of the book has regional planting calendars for zones 3-10.


Anonymous said...

Been using gray water for three decades, I just send it over to the plants, millions of people here do, billions throughout the world. No big deal.
Sorry that the biology fails to scare me.
Mamble -- sounds like art theory or architecture speak. Hate that stuff.
Could you please give a summary of the layering thingie? Maybe I can steal that idea. That would be of help to me to know what it is.

Jenn said...

My book arrived today... I promise to go through it this weekend while I'm camping... I'll bring my little book light and read it in Tuolumne Meadows...

Stone Fence Farm said...

I tried reading this book last year. The yammering put me off. Sharon's blog is much more comprehensive;-}

kitchenmage said...

We're in the process of replacing the lawn with an herb garden (did it at our last house and it was a selling point) that will also have some vegetables. I've got azaleas underplanted with leeks, small trees with creeping thyme groundcover, and am planning on a rosemary hedge when the starts grow up. For people who have to deal with neighbors, consider mixing herbs and ornamentals in the more visible parts of the yard and slipping the veggie bed further back where people can't see it. Don't underestimate the masking that an arbor can provide and if it's got grapes instead of wisteria, well, good for you!

As for the book...I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Heather last year at the climate convergence in Skamokawa and bought a copy from her there. With the exception of grabbing it today, it has sat on my shelf. (Conflicted much?) I really like Heather and her enthusiasm for the cause - and it is a cause for her - but the book doesn't do it for me. Too scattered and tangential while glossing over some important stuff (grey/blackwater, as you note, is a great example of where things can go very wrong and yet I see a single throwaway sentence on the topic)

FWIW, I hear she's writing a new book. I thought it was a rewrite of Food Not Lawns, but I'm probably wrong.

Jenn said...

I have started on the book - and came across this New Yorker article on lawns. It has more history about lawns and a broader overview of the anti-lawn movement.

Anonymous said...

I think attitudes to greywater vary a lot depending on where you live. In Australia it's pretty common (and is encouraged by government) to shower over a bucket or divert the laundry water. Our authorities dont' recommend kitchen water because of the health risk & high concentration of dish-washing liquid. The safety of greywater depends on the type of detergents you use.