But long before the phrase was coined, necessity required people to be resourceful and thrifty. Those who lived off the land, whether farmers or native peoples, became ingenious at seeing nature as a resource and manufactured goods as worthy of many uses and reincarnations.
|Manure - nature's way of restoring fertility to the soil|
|Straw, a byproduct of cereal products, remains after the grain and chaff have been removed. It adds carbon and organic material to the soil|
Because of the low profit margins in market gardening and farming (especially if you factor in paying yourself a wage) and also through the influence of my American depression-era mother, who has always been about good old "Yankee ingenuity", looking for ways to use what is "at hand" has been a life long habit.
|Here raked grass clippings are used to mulch a new bed of salad greens. The mulch conserves moisture, maintains an even temperature and adds organic material to the soil.|
|Twigs from pruning the crabapples find new life as supports for the shorter peas|
|Each year strips torn from threadbare bedsheets are used to tie in the heirloom indeterminate (vining) tomato plants|
|Old cans can be used to guard tender vegetables from the voracious cutworm|
|An old iron bed head and foot board are this year's cucumber support. The string is binder twine originally used for the straw bales and the wooden wedges are waste from when Josh finished the base of the tomato frames into points|
Sometimes we have have used "waste" from other sources.
|Hot boxes Alex and I made from used construction palettes|
|A mosaic wall in the bathroom Robert Dafoe created from old china|
Recently I was inspired to "edit" our back yard garden in the city. I wanted to divide some existing perennials and buy some new plants with interesting foliage. And recently the crown of one of our cedar trees broke off. So there was also that to deal with. I managed to divide some hostas and heuchera and create two new beds with the divisions. They were planted with compost and mulched with the leaves I had removed from the downed cedar. To some people's eyes this may look "messy" but I am trying to create a woodland feeling. Who ever goes for a walk in the woods and thinks "How trashy the ground is"? Instead we relish the earthy smell of the humus earth, spongy and bursting with microbial life.
|The fallen cedar after I've removed the lowest side branches|
|The side branches collected in one location. Now they're ready to have the leaves removed to use as mulch for the new plantings|
|The new hosta divisions with their mulch of fresh cedar trimmings|
|The wine red heuchera yielded 7 new fledgling plants|
The branches left after I trimmed the leaves for mulch were broken up for cedar kindling - if nothing else a change from splitting kindling.
|A modest pile of cedar kindling|
|A variegated knautia on the left and lavender on the right. The soil bare without a mulch yet|