Sunday, June 29, 2008

What's new with team member: Shell!

This week we have Shell, who is Shellberry on Etsy. Her shop items are displayed on the sidebar this week, her blog can be found here, and some recent happenings in her world are below.

Photo by foampeanut87

What's new with Shell? We won SECOND PLACE at in their Green Science Fair for our abridged take on the square foot garden. (I won an mp3 player so I can listen to my books on tape via and learn a few new languages while working in our "graden". I almost peed I was so excited! YAY!

About my garden: Our backyard is an urban cement jungle. Pavement as far as you can see...which is only about 22'x16'. My daughters (2 and 8 months) help me in the morning with all sorts of tasks. Solaris (2) loves to water...the plants and her sister, IsaLuna. We collect rain water from the daily squall lines that hit our East Coast Florida town everyday around 4 p.m. in two rubbermaid buckets. The girls get to play in one and I use the other for my eternal clippings. Photo by foampeanut87

Photo by shellgreenier
I love to focus on edible plants, especially those used for holistic purposes and teas. We are organic :) and love watching what new life our garden brings to an otherwise barren yard. Caterpillars, lizards (we've even found an egg once), frogs, bugs, squirrels and our newest guest...snails! I love recycling in order to cut down on our garbage output and use our soy milk containers for self watering pots, our apple juice containers as inverted planters for our vines (zuchinni and cantalope) and even strofoam egg cartons from friends and family as clipping starter boats. I'm working on an instructables for that as well.

Everyday I find new growth, a new bloom or a new creature. I'm amazed...I remember just a few years ago when I couldn't even keep a spider plant alive. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What's new with team member: Julie!

This week we will be reprinting a great educational article about invasive species from Julie, who is Greenthing on Etsy. Her shop items are displayed on the sidebar this week. But first we'll start with a little intro about her gardening passions.

What kind of gardener is Julie?
My goal is to turn my entire yard into gardens that will provide habitat for wildlife. I grow a lot of things from seed and try to use native plants as much as possible. For myself, I love old species roses, lilies and heirloom flowers. I love to smell my garden as well as look at it! This year I'm growing more herbs and vegetables and hope to have a much wider selection for sale in the Fall.

And now on to the article:

Invasive Plants

Everyone has heard that you shouldn't plant invasive species. However, many people don't realize what plants are invasive or what impact they have. Invasive plants are often attractive and convenient, and are sold at nurseries without any warnings. As more people become aware of the problem, native plant sales are increasing, but you as a customer have to let the retailer know you will not buy invasives.

Not all non-natives are invasive, and if you keep them contained it's not a problem. However, if left to grow unchecked, they grow out of control. In their natural environment, predators and controls exist that don't exist elsewhere. As invasive plants spread, they kill off our local species and replace plants that our wildlife depend on with something that is damaging to the ecology.

Different areas have different infestations, so look up your local invasives online. A few of the worst offenders are the orange daylily, purple loosestrife, kudzu, english ivy and vinca vine. All of these plants are attractive, but they multiply quickly and replace a diverse biosystem with a monoculture that no longer provides food for wildlife.

There is a local wooded area I visit that has been invaded by vinca vine, or periwinkle. A house is at the edge of the woods and the plant has spread from there. Here are a couple of photos of the woods.

Many people use vinca and english ivy as a ground cover, but this is what happens if its growth is not checked. Some may think all those little blue flowers are lovely, but they serve no purpose to our wildlife. Every year, the vinca advances further into these woods, smothering out what would normally live there. What lives in the part of the woods that the vinca has not reached is a variety of wildflowers, bushes and herbs such as Spring Beauty, Dogtooth Violet, Ginseng, Bloodroot, Jack-in-the-pulpit, ferns, mosses, Elderberry and other viburnums, to name a few. All of these provide food and shelter for our native insects and animals, and they provide us with beauty and possible sources of medicines. However, as the vinca spreads, it smothers everything else that might grow on the forest floor.

Instead of planting invasives, plant native species. Our native species naturally grow better in the climate to which they are suited, and they provide needed food for our wildlife. Most states have a department that offers suggestions for native plants to grow in place of invasives. You can research it online, and when you go to the nursery, ask for native species. Native species require less maintenance, use less water, and don't need fertilizers, which helps to keep chemicals out of our water.

By planting natives, you will have a lovely garden that doesn't require as much upkeep, and your local birds and animals will visit it often.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Successful team promotion

Anyone who's studied or actually runs a business knows how important advertising and marketing can be to your success. If you ever drop by the Etsy forums, people are constantly responding to the 'why aren't I selling?' questions with 'promote! advertise! get your name out there!'

Well, suggestions on the EtsyPHAT mailing list lead to the idea of promoting the concept of guerrilla gardening and the team using seed packs put together using the extra seeds from EtsyPHAT team members. Those of us who chose to participate sent in our seeds and got back the finished product. They look great and I've already strategically 'planted' many packs!

These seed packs (mentioned in this blog entry) recently showed up in this article in the Storque, the Etsy family blog, and are being showcased for their creativity and interest. Better than a business card any day!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What's new with team member: Stacy!

This week we have Stacy, who is fluffnflowers on Etsy. Her shop items are displayed on the sidebar this week, and some recent happenings in her world are below.

What Stacy does at parties - At my gardenin' grannies 80th birthday party, I hung out with the plants. (photo)

What's new with Stacy...
Not much! I've been rooting plants like crazy, starting late crop seeds, and visiting my gardenin' granny.

How did you get started in gardening?
I've always had a big plant influence in my life — my grandmother — but I didn't really start gardening until I got ill and my medical issues kept me housebound. It's been downhill ever since, and I now have plants out of my ears!

Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas are usually born of my limitations and laziness. I love to try new things and love new plants, so I drop and run. A year later, they either stay or end up part of my 'mobile garden'. I love to look at books, but I truly lack any creative vision for planning. At least I seem to have pretty good instincts.

What are you currently working on?
I'm currently working on a massive new bed that I've recently dug out. It's coming along, but it won't be in it's full glory until next year. I'm also working on moving plants from my foundation beds in preparation for house renovations.

Is your Etsy your full time job? I wish! I'm currently bumming out, waiting for tests
to come in and for my health to magically reappear, with the occasional copy writing gig.

What do you do when you are not gardening?
I read, play with my pooch, clean, the usual. Recently, I've spent a lot of time getting estimates for siding, roofing, and flooring. It's almost too hot to garden, at the moment, so I settle for my daily walk-abouts and hour or two of outside time.

Recommend a book?
I just finished Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie. A short, sweet story.

Favorite from-the-garden recipe?
Fresh tomatoes! I like to slice them and layer the slices with salt and balsamic vinegar. Fresh, light, and a great summer snack. Yum!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What's new with team member: Amber!

We're adding a new feature here on the EtsyPHAT team blog to help you get to know our team members a little better, and learn what they've been up to lately. First up, we have Amber, who is Plantgirl on Etsy. Her shop items are displayed on the sidebar this week, and some recent happenings in her world are below. One of her favorite recipes is included!

What’s new with Amber…

Here is Amber participating in some competitive gardening (top)… She won the silver glove! (bottom)

How did you get started in gardening?
My mom bought me a Barbie greenhouse………

Why did you join the EtsyPHAT Team?
Julia invited me and I thought it was a great way to communicate with other plant sellers! It’s been super beneficial and great to me like minded peeps!

Where do you get your ideas?
Lately I’ve really been into keeping up with blogs on the Google Reader it has actually somewhat replaced my magazine fetish. See what I’ve been reading here.

What are you currently working on?
I need to move, and the hard part is I’m trying to find a place in my budget with room to garden which isn’t easy in Santa Cruz. Oh I have a boyfriend too, and he’s hard to move ☺

Is your Etsy your full time job?
No I have a full time job and a part-time job too! Full time I certify organic farms and livestock operations such as dairies!

Here is Amber with her very dangerous sheep shears!

What do you do when you are not gardening?
I force myself to go to the gym. Actually I talk myself into it by promising myself some relax time in the dry sauna if I hit the treadmill!

Recommend a book?
I just finished reading The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements

Favorite from the garden recipe?

Here is an easy one I love:

Chamomile Cooler

Hand full of fresh chamomile
Small hand full of fresh lemon verbena
1 quart fresh apple juice

Bring one quart of water to boil. Remove from heat. Steep the fresh chamomile and lemon verbena for 10-15 minutes. Strain the herbs out. Mix the one quart herbal infusion with the one quart of apple juice and service in glasses over ice. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Foliage in the News: Fighting off a 'Case of the Mondays'

A study published in Feb 2008 cites keeping plants at your desk may result in more satisfaction with your job. Based on surveys, the study finds that employees with live plants or windows in their offices had more positive and mellow responses to a range of questions vs. those who lived in a basic cube. Basically, they tended to feel more like people with good jobs rather than rats in a maze with bad food.

This makes me wonder if the move Office Space would have gone differently if the plant on Milton's desk wasn't dead. (check out this clip on YouTube, upper right hand corner)

Moral of the day: fix up your desk with a snazzy new plant and have a better day!

Read more about it:

The original journal article:
Dravigne, Andrea, Waliczek, Tina Marie, Lineberger, R.D., Zajicek, J.M. The Effect of Live Plants and Window Views of Green Spaces on Employee Perceptions of Job Satisfaction HortScience 2008 43: 183-187 [link]

Science Daily Report

LA Times Article