Sunday, July 12, 2020

Charters

I don't support Betsy DeVos threatening to withhold funding for schools that don't open and opt for distance learning in stead...but this line from this article made me so angry...

"But make no mistake, if schools don’t reopen, DeVos is going to hand over public school tax dollars to parents to educate children any way they want. What options will they have? Lousy charters? Online programs that have a known failure rate?"

While there are some "lousy charters" just like there aresome "lousy public schools," there are also many excellent charters who are doing a great job with kids. And that "known failure rate" of online programs is compared to regular in person schooling...we have no idea how the distance learning programs brick and mortar schools are cooking up during the summer will compare to what the charters have previously done, and have no reason to assume they will do better.

And when many schools went to distance learning this year who did they go to for advice about how to do it? Charter schools that had already been doing it! And yeah, those hastily planned models schools quickly moved to weren't great, but that's because they were formed without much time to set them up correctly (crisis schooling, not real distance learning, right?). But they wouldn't have been better trying to "invent the wheel" from scratch, I'm certain of that.

It would make so much sense to let as many students as possible transfer to distance learning charters that have experience. But in our state, our state just passed a funding plan that would base all school funding on last year's enrollment, therefor cutting off all chances for charters to expand to meet demand. And the demand is high. Parents, understandably, were flocking to distance learning charters and independent learning charters. Even before this charters were putting some families on a waiting list (cause they had some limits on how much they can expand). But now new families who had already been accepted to these charters were sent letters saying...sorry, we can't take you because the funding we expected to be there was pulled.

Meanwhile in LA teachers unions actually made a moratorium on charters one of their demands they are threatening to strike over. I support them striking due to covid safety issues and paid sick leave, but demanding a moratorium on charters is just a slap to the face to their fellow educators in charter schools (oh, and we ALREADY had a moratorium on new non-classroom charters schools until 2022...LOVELY. That's working out SO WELL, isn't it).

Not as bad as Texas educational organizations threatening to deny funding to their own schools if they choose to do distance learning, but it's still a poor choice.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How to Save Money on Spices

I have a secret to save 50% or more on spices!      Some stores, such as HEB and whole foods, have a section where where you can buy loose herbs and spices.   In stead of buying spices each in their own little bottle, you fill up a baggie from a large canister and pay by how much it weighs, and then you can refill your spice bottles at home.   Generally, the cost is much, much less to buy spices this way. 

The bulk herb section of the HEB in Hewitt, TX

Below is some cumin I purchased--two small scoops.  Notice the price, 69 cents!   The bag doesn't look big, but it filled up the whole spice jar shown in the next picture down.





And yes, that jar was EMPTY.   So $0.69 filled up a whole jar which usually costs around $6.  Now, that jar was organic*, and so might have been a little pricier than most.  But even compared to of the LOWEST priced jar I could find of bottled cumin ($1.99 for 1.7 oz of HEB generic cumin), my bag of cumin was 1/3 the cost!   Guess you pay a lot for that jar!

And yes, I've tried similar comparisons with other spices.   Even at a pricier store like Whole Foods, the bulk spices were much less than the regular spices at other grocery stores.  

Herbs that aren't ground give you an even better savings, usually (since they take up more space but are very light).  Bulky herbs, like bay leaves or cinnamon sticks tend to cost A LOT less loose than in jars (typically a savings of 75% or more). 


*(SIDE NOTE:  If you are concerned about GMO, you should know that very few herbs have ever been genetically modified, probably because they tend to be naturally critter resistant.   The only ones I'm aware of are sugar cane, alfalfa, chicory, flax, eucalyptus, rose and chrysanthemum [edible flowers], and tobacco if you count that (and except for sugar, you would not find any of those on most spice aisles anyways).  Of course these lists change so you can always check the GMO crops list on wikipedia or this list at the International Service for the Aquisition of Bio-Tech Applications.)








Monday, May 04, 2020

Quarentine Lawn Decor


Found this walking around our San Diego neighborhood last month...







Saturday, May 02, 2020

Garden Tip: Use Faux Plants to Protect Real Ones


This is an easy garden tip I learned by accident.   I had tried and tried to grow plants from seeds on my back porch when I was living in an apartment, but time and again the hot Texas sun fried the seedlings before they could grow.   So, in frustration one day I just stuck a bunch of fake flowers in the pot, strait down into the soil I had planned for real flowers.

And then, two weeks later, I noticed some new leaves pushing up through the faux plants.   REAL petunia seeds had sprouted under the shade of the fake flowers and were now inching their way past them to the sunlight.

Even when we moved to a house with a real yard, I used this technique.   I'd buy dollar store fake flowers, and stick them in the ground over my rows of carrots, beans, peppers, ect. until the plants were strong and hardy enough to do without the shade. 

Yes, you can, also, start seedlings inside and transfer them...but that doesn't work with all types of plants, and it's an extra step you can skip if you use fake flowers or something else to shade them.   And the fake flowers are easy to use and look pretty in the meantime. 

Thursday, April 02, 2020

What To Plant In Texas In April


1. Cantaloupes, 2. Collards, 3. Corn, 4. Cucumber, 5. Cushaw (and Pumpkins) 6. Eggplant, 7. Melons (honeydew), 8. Lima Beans, 9. Luffa, 10. Malabar Spinach, 11. Okra, 12. Peppers, 13. Pumpkin., 14. Snapbeans (19), 15. Southern Peas, 16. Summer Squash, 17. Sweet Potatoes, 18. Swiss Chard, 19. Tomato* 20. Watermelon

*On tomatoes plant transplants (too late to plant from seed)

Month by Month Gardening in Texas: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All YearThese are all plants which are great for planting in April here in Texas.  I've been learning all about the best time to plant different plants from a book called Month-to-Month Gardening in Texas.  I wish I had gotten this book years ago...it's teaching me so much about Texas gardening that I really was absolutely clueless on!  I knew Texas had two growing seasons but I really didn't understand when the seasons started or ended.  It turns out I trying to grow nearly everything at the wrong time!  I'm going to try to share tips from the book each month (but there's so much info, I couldn't even begin to share it all).   They also share what else you need to do each month (when to fertilize, aerate your soil, tackle weeds, etc.). 

But, if you just want info on what veggies and herbs to plant each month, you can also get that information online here.  That's a good resource for  other states too.



I found the photos for my mosaic on Flickr, and the photographers were nice enough to offer up for use through Creative Commons (click on the links to see the photos larger).  Yes, the Sountern Peas (ie cowpeas) in that picture are blighted (that was just a hard one to find, so I took what I could get.)

I'm linking up at the gardening linkies at Living More, Spending Less and Ramblings of a Christian Mom.  Also linking up at Mosaic Monday.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

A Decade of Blogging



Wow, it's been an amazing decade.   It's hard to believe I've been blogging this long...but Texifornia was already 5 years old in 2010!

So much happened in my life during this time.   I survived the hottest summer in Texas history,  learned how to garden in Texas, discovered wildflowers and wildlife, had my back yard catch fire,  lost my dad to Parkinsons and my mom to COPD, saw my kids grow from elementary through high school, spent four years homeschooling my youngest, and, in 2017, moved back to my home state of California after 20 years in Texas.  What a decade!

I thought I'd go back and see what posts through the years resonated...in stead of just doing a top ten, I thought I'd do the top post from each year.   Here there are, in chronological order....

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Things that make a gardener go hmmm.....


That is a tomato plant.

That's right...that's a tomato plant growing on a sign out of what looks like pure concrete on the side of the road!  There were actually little green tomatoes starting to grow on it.   Just one of many "we're not in Texas anymore" moments I've had since coming back to California.




After how much I've struggled to keep plants alive stuff like this blows my mind.