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This is why I love autumn so much

This is a view from my front porch!

Today is a postcard perfect autumn day, the kind of day that makes you forget that most autumn days are not like this. But somehow a day like today is what represents the season rather than damp winds and gray skies. It is the kind of day I yearn for and that only happens a few times, which makes it even more precious and beautiful.

Dashwoods in what is left of the cabbage patch

Fall has thus far been quite warm but we will be taking a turn this week first cooling, then warming then cooling again with snowflakes in the forecast for Friday. Because we are finally sinking into cooler temperatures, I decided it was time to plant the garlic. The Dashwoods had to help, of course! We covered the bed with straw mulch after planting and then put row cover fabric over it to keep the Dashwoods from digging it all up. They wouldn’t eat the garlic, but digging in the straw and the loose dirt is what they love to do best.

The garlic bed this year is near the bed where the cabbages were growing so when we chased the Dashwoods away from the garlic bed they decided to go pick at the sad remains of the cabbage. First they ate the middle out of all of them and then they started nibbling at the outer leaves. Now there is hardly anything left but cabbage stalks and purple poo all over the garden.

After the garlic we planted something new, potato onions. What is a potato onion you ask? It is a perennial multiplier onion kind of like a shallot only much larger that multiplies from bulbs rather than seeds. The onions are small and reportedly flavorful. In the right spot they are prolific. And once they get going you get onions year after year without the fuss of buying seeds or sets or wondering if you need a long or short day variety. I already have walking onions and green onions and both are growing gangbusters. I just learned about potato onions earlier this year and since I have never been able to get a decent onion from seeds or sets, I thought I would give these a try.

leafy front walk

Starter sets aren’t sold many places because they are not that well known these days and so aren’t in demand. I got mine from Jung Seeds, the same place I get my garlic, and out of all the places I buy seeds and garden things, they are the only ones who had them. From my reading about potato onions they used to be a garden staple both in the U.S. and Europe. But when people stopped growing much of their own food, they fell out of favor because they are not easy for commercial growers to harvest. Plus, when we go to the grocery store or farmers market we generally want big onions because, well I’m not sure why, but I have to admit there is something satisfying in the heft of a baseball size or larger onion. From what I can tell, potato onions vary in size but golf ball-ish seems to be about the norm. I am very excited about them and hope they do well.

I have to mention a disturbing report that came out last week in case you missed it. Environmental pollution kills more people EVERY YEAR than all war and violence, smoking, hunger, natural disasters, tuberculosis and malaria combined. About 9 million people died in 2015 from environmental pollution (air, water, etc). Scientists think the number is actually higher than that because there are parts of the world that do no yet monitor things like air or soil pollution. And of course, it is in the poorer countries and the poorer areas of wealthier countries where people suffer the most.

This is not OK.

Think there is nothing you can personally do about it? Think again! Do you drive a car? Heat your home? Throw stuff in the garbage? Do you buy things made in China and India where in some cities the air is so polluted they have regular warnings telling people to not go outside unless absolutely necessary? Do you fly on airplanes a lot? Do you buy food shipped in from far away places? Are you an electronic gadget junkie or do you regularly update your gadgets when a new version comes out? These things all cause pollution from the mining of copper, coal and rare metals, the drilling for oil and natural gas, the manufacturing processes, and the end-of-life disposal. Governments might be doing their best to get rid of environmental regulations, but we as individuals have quite a lot of power to choose how we live our lives as consumers.

None of us are perfect and I am as guilty as anyone else for wanting a $10 t-shirt made in China instead of a $30 organic cotton t-shirt made in a non-polluting factory by workers paid a fair wage. I am working on changing the way I approach things — fewer, well-made belongings that last rather than lots of cheap crap that will be worn out in a year or less. If we can all manage to stop and think before we buy/drive/turn up the heat, etc. and consider the long term, consider the effect of what we are about to do, make a conscious choice instead of wanting all the things because sale! I think that mindful moment, that conscious choosing, could go a long way in making a big difference for 9 million plus people a year.

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