Sunday, March 22, 2009

cleaning supplies, garden plan!

Last week I got a coupon book in the mail from Target. I flipped through it out of curiosity- and discovered that there wasn't a single item in there that I buy. Some of it was paper products (I use cloth everything), other things were processed foods (which I don't eat) and still others were cleaning products. I was most surprised by my non-use of cleaning products. It's not that I don't clean, I do. In fact I spent yesterday afternoon giving the apartment a thorough cleaning. But, in the process of cleaning I only used water and microfiber cloths on the bathroom mirrors and counters, Dr. Bronner's for the toilet and a broom for the floor. In the kitchen I use a sponge or cloth (or more recently my new biodegradable sponge cloth) with the minimum amount of soap and a broom. The rest of the apartment gets vacuumed (with my bagless vacuum) and dusted with another microfiber cloth. My surfaces all look clean and shiny. There's no mold growing or weird sticky spots. There must not be tons of hazardous bacteria lingering since I get sick far, far less than I ever have (which I acknowledge is due to my living alone, not my superior cleaning skills). So why do people have kitchen and bathroom cabinets stocked with toxic chemicals?

Perhaps some of the bottles are for occasional use, rather than every day, but even for hard to remove rust or hard water I just found out about "Bar Keepers Friend" which is an all purpose cleanser/polish. It was recommended for stains on my pots/pans (which it worked wonders on) and the website says it works for "stainless steel, porcelain, ceramic tile, plastic, copper, china, fiberglass, imitation marble, tile, grout, chrome, and composition sinks." It's derived from rhubarb and biodegradable. Some people even use it in their laundry as bleach. Especially now, when people are looking for ways to trim their budgets, it makes so much more sense to buy one thing that can serve multiple purposes than finding a separate tool for each and every mutation of the same basic problem (in this case- something needs to be cleaned).

On another note- it's spring! Instead of grading and planning this afternoon, I plotted out my balcony garden. The biggest difficulty at this point is figuring out if I really have space to leave the hammock set up all the time. I drew it to nearly to scale, but I haven't measured the hammock, so I'm not sure if I'll have room to tend to everything with it up.

(The yucca is a decorative palm, and since it's been with me for 4 years and is nearly as tall as I am it is definitely not available for eating!)

I have full sun all day since my apartment is South facing. I tried to grow all of these things last year to varying amounts of success, except the strawberries, which are new. A school fundraiser was selling hanging strawberry kits, so I decided to try them out. Last year that spot was used for swedish ivy (another decorative) which will survive just fine in its indoor location. Now I just have to retrieve the soil from school (we're running an experiment growing peas in various conditions) and start the seeds. Except the carrots. I realize now that repotting carrots is highly unintelligent, so they will wait, and hopefully will be much less twisted this year.

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