Kena Landry

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since May 17, 2018
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Recent posts by Kena Landry

Have you considered adding greens as off-season crops? I get the principle of using the most effort and space for calories, but if you can extend the growing season, it's all for the win. (And in general, for all but the most remote gardener, carbs are easy to stockpile in the form of rice/oats. It's the fats/vitamins/minerals that are expensive and harder to get.) Brassica, in general, are nutritional powerhouses and pack a lot of flavor.

With minimal effort, I'm still harvesting kale and mizuna from my garden, despite the fact that all calorie-dense foods have been harvested weeks ago. I'm exploring how far in the season we can go, but we've had first frost more than a month ago, here, and there's snow on the ground. And I've invested in nothing more complicated than floating row covers (in one case) and a totally ghetto plastic sheeting system (I'm reusing clear plastic bags that our cedar mulch came in as cover for our container garden. ). Greens are also the first things I can harvest in the season, and the only thing I manage to grow indoors with reasonable additional lighting.
A bit late to the game, but painter's tape works really well for assembling printed patterns. You can readjust without tearing the paper, and it's paper - not plastic.
3 months ago
How about lovage? I use the stems as a replacement for celery, and the leaves are strong but very tasty (think more parsley than salad).

And it peeks first in my garden, and produces very generously for a long season (it's best in the spring, but keeps producing younger stems through the summer).

I also eat a lot of violet leaves in salads. Very mild taste, but it bulks up stronger-tasting greens in early spring.
3 months ago
Totally different setting here (I am in a neighbourhood of Montreal), but our community has been living through that transition.

My neighbourhood was developed right after WW2, so a lot of the original owners have died or gone in assisted living communities in the last decades. In their wake came young professionals eager to build a family (myself included), either in single-unit houses (there are very few of those in Montreal), in the ground floor of triplexes and five-plexes (often joining two small units into one), or in newly built condos. That, of course, brought gentrification, price increases, rent increases, and some social tension. There's been also a lot of renovation going on  - one summer, on my street alone, about a third of the wartime houses were having some foundation work done. It's not uncommon to have buildings in such a state of disrepair that they have to be demolished and sold just for the price of the terrain. This has been the sake of many wartime houses where the owners were not in a position to take care of structural problems over time (roof leaks, etc.).

On the positive side, it made our community very vibrant, with lots of children, community organizations, a farmer's market and several CSAs. Main street, which had decayed into a collection of pawn shops and closed down fronts over the years is now very much alive, with a mixture of old standbys which got new customers and new trendy places. And our current municipal administration is investing a lot in active transportation (adding bike lanes and pedestrian zones) and gardening (supporting the greening of back alleys, supporting urban gardening initiatives, giving away trees...). Public schools are good and fairly mixed in terms of economical and cultural backgrounds.

It's not perfect, but I think we've survived the transition better than many other neighbourhoods.
3 months ago
I learned a lot about bodice construction and adaptations in this book: Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time: The Ultimate Dressmaking Guide.

It comes with several basic patterns for bodices and skirts, and while I haven't actually made any of their dresses (still on my TODO list), it helped me understand how to adapt existing patterns to my body. Lowering a dart point for instance, or adding gore to a skirt. There's still a lot of trial and error involved for me (I've learned the hard way to make a muslin of all my bodices/tops), but I'm getting to the point where I understand where the changes need to happen for something to skim my body right.

I'd think that once you've done a good muslin of their basic bodice and translated the changes back to a flat pattern, you'll essentially have your sewing sloper.
3 months ago

bruce Fine wrote:you know rather than taking advice from a hack like me it might be worth your while to hire a local electrician for an hour to figure out exactly what you need. all I know is what I've done in the past and what I'm able to learn as I go through this life.

In any case, I'd recommend getting an electrician to validate your installation (even if you're doing the grunt work), because not doing so might compromise your friend's house insurance in case of fire. (Happened to my inlaws and it took years of court procedures and insurance hell to demonstrate that their electric installation was not at fault.)
3 months ago
My current favorite everyday skirt.

It's a simple wrap skirt made of Latvian linen (bought in actual Latvia on a trip).

French seams inside, so I can actually wear it inside out if it's stained. Or I can swap which panel is in front (since it's mostly the front that gets spilled on). Which makes for four wears before it really needs to be cleaned. And yes, I've been wearing it every other day all summer so far.

It's insanely comfy even in very hot weather, getting softer with every wash,  can accommodate bloating, and the natural ecru hides dust very well (dirt brushes right off).

3 months ago

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

Kena Landry wrote:One silly thing I've done to build sustainability in my community is to use active transportation for gardening.

I wouldn't call that 'silly'. Riding a bicycle is very 'normal' here.

I meant silly in the sense that it's not a big gesture, a big community program, something that strikes me as a "save the world" big move. But it's part of the little gestures that normalize a more sustainable lifestyle.
3 months ago
One silly thing I've done to build sustainability in my community is to use active transportation for gardening.

Whether that's using a bike trailer to pick up supplies at the garden center, carting old bricks in a wheelbarrow along a busy avenue, or walking  to the school garden with my gardening tools on one shoulder and a pitchfork in hand, it makes urban gardening extremely visible and shows the community it can be done, and without fossil fuel to boot.

We are so unused to those "rural" sights in an urban setting that it's sure to attract attention and curiosity, and often spark interesting conversations.
3 months ago
In my neighbourhood, we have a program called "Un plant de tomates à la fois" (One Tomato Plant at the time) which manages collective gardens. It's not a community garden - people sign up to a garden, go there at planned hours, and there's an instructor/leader teaching basic gardening techniques and dispatching jobs. There is also a rota for watering. And all attendees leave with their share of the weekly harvest. They also manage a community kitchen where people can cook together and bring home a portion of the meal, and organize nature/gardening activities for school age kids.

One of their gardens is on a community center rooftop, and it really reminds me of the Eden garden in The Year of the Flood: you get up there on a dreary escape stair and end up in a green lush garden brimming with produce. The others are in church yards, mostly.

It does require some funding (mostly to pay the instructor and some supplies. They also get donations from home hardware stores and such), but it's been running for several years now and it makes a huge impact in the community. I'm sure lots of gardeners, like myself, have "graduated" from there and gained the confidence to garden at home or in a private patch in a community garden afterwards.
3 months ago