Category Archives: Gardening

Cancer Coming To Your Backyard! Soon!

Please read and if you agree, sign the petition to ban the large scale use of 2-4-D and it’s cousin, Agent Orange in the production of corn and soy beans!  This use is being considered, despite scientific evidence that 2-4-D and cancer and reproductive problems go hand-in-hand.

As a child, my 4 siblings and I were regularly exposed to 2-4-D and 2-4-5-T – two ingredients in Agent Orange.  All of us were charged with killing weeds, every week during the summer – bare feet and bare hands.

Both of my brothers died of brain tumors in their 67th year.  My older sister almost died 2 years ago of complications brought on by a massive ovarian tumor and she is still fighting kidney cancer.  She was 65.  At the age of 65, I have just been diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma on my hip.

Poisoning weeds means poisoning the soil, the water and, ultimately, the people exposed to the chemicals.  Increasing the sheer volume of poison simply means increasing the numbers of people who will die from the slow, sure and silent intrusion of 2-4-D into their food, into their lives and into their backyards, their families, their children. 

And there is absolutely no way to describe the vast and long-term devastation that the use of this substance will do to the life of all other inhabitants (animals, birds, fish, insects) and the overall ecology of this earth – our home.

Has everyone forgotten Silent Spring ? Rachel Carson?

STOP big business; STOP the use of 2-4-D. START using common sense, common courtesy and some of the inordinate amounts of money currently being poured into chemical and genetic modification of foods to understand how to live and work WITH our fellow inhabitants and WITH the environment, not in spite of them.

Visit the Food Revolution Network blog; click on the link and register your thoughts and feelings with the Federal Government.

Please.

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Oprah’s Maui Farm – One Organic Gardener’s Take

As a gardener, an organic gardener at that, I was interested in the news that Oprah was, “…growing her own food.”

It’s the feature article in the latest issue of her magazine.  And it is a true disappointment.

If she’s gardening, I’d like to know how she keeps her manicure perfect, her make up from streaming down her face and her bright yellow (and very expensive) togs clean.

I garden.  When I garden, I get dirty.  My face ends up streaked with dirt.  My fingernails look like I’ve spent the morning digging for coal instead of digging dirt.  And my clothes have to come off before I come into the house.

And unless one has an absolute army of people to help keep the rows and plants weed free, the organic gardeners I know, including me, use lots of organic mulch — grass clippings, straw, chopped leaves — to keep the veggies happy and health.

Is her concept laudable?  Yes.  Hawaiians import far too much food and eat far too many foods that are not good for them.

Could Oprah be an organic gardener and grow her own food?  Sure, but should she  advertise that she is when about all she does is show up and hold a big butt radish now and again?

I love it when celebrities finally jump into a cause — healthy eating, green living, eco-whatever.  But I really wish celebrities would realize that the rest of us — people around the world who are and have been, “…growing their own food” are not going to be fooled by pictures of them mincing along a row with a wheelbarrow of food that someone else planted, tended and quite probably, harvested.

My organic gardening book is about to be released.  My organic gardening blog of the same name – Grow So Easy; Organic Gardening for the Rest of Us – is, literally, all about down and dirty gardening.

The blog and book are funny.  They’re a” how to” with a whole lot of stories tossed in about how I learned about organic gardening — mostly the hard way.  And I go out of my way to demystify organic gardening, making it easy, making it enjoyable and making it something that anyone can do without a lot of money, without a lot of hands on deck.

Grow So Easy author's back yard.

Anyone can grow their own food and have fun doing it.

In other words, you don’t have to be Oprah to grow your own food.  In fact, you’ll probably enjoy organic gardening more if you’re not!  Maybe Oprah should visit my back yard and see what a real organic gardener can do with two hands, seeds and dirt.

Oprah’s Maui Farm – Oprah on Growing Her Own Food – Oprah.com.

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Project 365 – Margaret Roach & Fedco Founder Talk Seeds

Of all the people whose gardening wisdom I follow, here are two that I most admire and trust.

Margaret Roach is the author of two books I proudly own – A Way to Garden: A Hands-On Primer for Every Season which I have had for years and and And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road.

Both books are about gardening — the former of plants and trees, the latter of a human being.  Both remain on my coffee table, in view and in reach.  Both steady my nerves, wipe some of the stress off my soul and help me come back to ground.

C.R. Lawn’s name is new to me but his work in organic gardening and market growing is not.  C.R. Lawn is the man behind Fedco Seeds.  If you are an organic gardener, you know this company.

Fedco Seeds has been selling organic, non-GMO seeds for more than 30 years.  As a cooperative, “profit is not our primary goal,” according to their site.  Sure, they sell seeds, but what Fedco is really in the business of doing is cooperatively finding, growing, and sharing seeds, trees and knowledge with gardeners around the globe..

Margaret Roach was generous enough to share her interview with this legend of organic gardening; I wanted to share it with you as these two are among the 365 people and organizations who, I believe, are changing the world.  Enjoy!

giveaway: vegetable-garden tips from c.r. lawn — A Way to Garden.

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Project 365 – Square Foot Gardening For Food

Anyone who has ever gardened has heard the expression, “square foot gardening.”

It’s a modified version of “raised-bed intensive,” an old technique that is supposed to create a highly controlled space where dense planting produces greater yields.

Some of us (me included) have employed some of the methods to get the greatest amount of food out of the smallest patch of dirt.  And some, like the Square Foot Gardening Foundation, have taken the concept of maximum yield from small space to the nth degree.

They’re good at it too and should be.  The founder of this organization is Mel Bartholomew — PBS host, author and gardener himself.

Bartholomew has been nominated twice for inclusion Cambridge Who’s Who for this gardening method.  He simplified this gardening technique and made it easy for total beginners and seasoned gardeners to use successfully.  And his books and videos made this method of gardening readily available to anyone, anywhere.

Bartholomew could have stopped with fame and international accolades but he didn’t.  That’s why I’m writing about him.  He took his interest in  big yields from small patches and created The Square Foot Gardening Foundation.

The foundation’s purpose?  To end world hunger.

Square foot gardening is the method this group of dedicated people use to teach families how to grow healthy food and improve their diets.  The foundation also teaches classes and supports local community gardens. And it trains certified teachers who then support NGO (non-governmental) projects overseas.

The Square Foot Gardening Foundation is teaching folks to grow their own food all around the world. That’s why they are on the list of 365 organizations and the people behind them who are helping to save the world.

My thanks to Michele McCarty for suggesting this group.  Michele, who is a member of the Linked In group, Grow Girls Grow Organic,  is also training with Square Foot Gardening Foundation to become a certified teacher and she is the owner/President of Wonder Wormin Vermicomposting Systems.

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Project 365 – Saving Animals & Saving Ourselves

Let me start this post by saying, I am not a vegetarian or vegan.   I eat beef, chicken and pork.

But I don’t buy any meat at the supermarket.  All of our meat comes from two local farmers whose animals I see grazing in the fields and lazing in the sun.  Why not just swing by the store and grab that plastic wrapped pork loin or t-bone steak?

Because I know where the meat in the store came from, how the animals were raised and I cannot enjoy my meals.  Restaurants and supermarkets rely on factory farms for their meat and poultry.

You’ve probably heard the term “factory farming” before but may not  really know what it means.  Let’s just look at chickens to help give you a glimpse inside factory farming.

Try to imagine thousands and thousands of chickens crowded into one small place, each chicken getting a 6 inch by 6 inch square to live in. Shortly after hatching, chicks have the ends of their beaks cut off.  Performed without anesthesia, large scale growers say it’s to reduce injuries that result when stressed birds are driven to fighting — for space, for food, for their very lives.

A commonly-held justification for keeping and killing chickens this way is that chickens aren’t smart.  Maybe…but what about pigs?

A baby piglet settles in with his friend. (Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary)

Recent research has shown that pigs are among the quickest  animals to learn new routines including herding sheep, opening and closing cages and playing video games with joysticks.

In fact, they are perhaps the smartest, cleanest domestic animals known – more so than cats and dogs.  And they learn as fast as chimpanzees — the animal whose genome is 98% identical to ours.

More than 100 million of these smart animals are raised in factory farms every year, confined from birth to death and subjected to intense overcrowding in every stage of their short lives, until they reach a slaughter weight of 250 pounds at 6 months old.

Animals on factory farms never get to see the sun, never graze and some, like pigs, never even get to lie down.   The “farmers” say it’s a business; people who know better say it’s abuse.  And it’s this type of abuse that Farm Sanctuary has fought against for more than 25 years.

What started in 1986 as a group of dedicated volunteers has grown to the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization but its mission has not changed.  Farm Sanctuary is committed to, “… ending cruelty to farm animals.”  This group also brings its now considerable resources to education and advocacy.

These are two tools Farm Sanctuary uses to take its message to millions of people who had no idea how cruel life for animals is on today’s industrialized farms.  Farm Sanctuary also pushes for laws and policies to prevent the unspeakable conditions these thinking, feeling animals are currently forced to endure.

How can we help?

Start by understanding the real price that cows, pigs and chickens pay on factory farms.  Stop buying meat in stores.  Find and support a local farmer, instead.  Vote with your dollars  and tell factory farmers it’s time to clean up their act.  And you’ll be helping Farm Sanctuary change the world, making it a better place for our fellow inhabitants — farm animals.

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Project 365 – How Worms Can Change The World

What do red worms have to do with changing the world?

Okay, they can’t stop nuclear waste, stupid politics or animal abuse.  They’re not going to march on Washington and demand a balanced budget or an end to the war in Afghanistan.

But like you and me, when they do their jobs, they make a difference in whatever little corner of the world they are set up in.  How?

Set these little wrigglers loose on household waste and stand back.  They turn into freight trains.  Just one bin and one pound of worms will turn everything from paper to food waste (no meat, dairy or fried/oily foods or glossy print papers, please) into some of the richest fertilizer around.

Now that may not sound like a big deal or a big job unless you know these numbers.

The waste created by the average American household is made up of 33% paper and almost 13% food waste.  With a simple worm bin and a pound of worms, you can turn most of that into a natural supplement for your garden, shrubs and houseplants.

Michelle McCarty is the owner and CEO of Wonder Wormin’ Vermicomposting Systems.  She says vermicomposting can transform almost half of a household’s waste and keep it out of landfills.

This California girl does workshops teaching Vermicomposting. She raises Red Wigglers and builds worm bins.  She sells them as kits to people who want to start their own worm farms at home.  And Michelle also sells worm castings (vermicast) and worm tea that she produces herself.

McCarty makes money by selling worms and bins but her business is really a labor of love.  She is a teacher.  She shares information, advice and articles to help people learn about going green and leaving a smaller footprint on our planet.

And that’s why I added her to my list of 365 people and businesses helping to change the world.

Know any other people in your town or city who are helping others?  Send me the name of the group and any info you want to share and I will do the rest.

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Project 365 – Growing Is Good For The Soul

As an organic gardener, it’s tough for me to separate myself from the deep emotions that working with soil, in the early morning sun brings to my small corner of this vast planet.  If I were a betting woman (never started because my Dad said if you can’t afford to lose it; don’t), I would say that every gardener feels the same way.

Gardeners know that growing plants is therapeutic whether you’re growing vegetables, flowers or herbs.  At the end of a long winter, warm soil, warm sun and the wonderful, rich aroma of earth just waiting for seeds or seedlings can lift the spirits of many.

Growing is good for the soul.

What makes growing even more fulfilling is when it’s coupled with programs that bring the joy, the peace and the satisfaction of bringing seeds to life — programs like The Growing Center in Frederick, Pennsylvania.

The Growing Center offers horticultural therapy programs that  focus on youth at risk, the physically and mentally challenged and senior citizens.  Using gardening as a healing element, the Center also helps people whose lived have been disrupted by illness or injury.

Programs are designed to improve participants’ abilities to do tasks and help them cope with the changes that have occurred sometimes unexpectedly in their lives.  The Growing Center also offers horticultural stress relief workshops once a month for people who just need a break.  And what better place to get it.

The Healing Garden at the Growing Center, a four-acre bit of heaven adjacent to the greenhouses, is a riot of color and scent from spring to fall.  The gazebo offers a peaceful spot for just closing your eyes and relaxing.  The pond, benches and shaded areas add to the pleasure and peace that people who come to the Center can enjoy.

Aside from its horticultural therapy programs and The Healing Garden, The Growing Center has also developed ten acres of its land  into community gardening plots offered to anyone in the community who would like to grow vegetables for themselves.  There is only one requirement – gardeners must give any surplus to a local food bank or others in need.

No fees are charged for the horticultural therapy sessions.  Most of the funding comes from donations and from membership fees.  And the Growing Center is a mostly volunteer organization.  It grew out of the life experience of its founder and current Executive Directory, Linda M. Boyer, and her husband David who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1992.

Surgery left him in a wheel chair, one side of his body paralyzed.  Costs for his care drained the Boyer’s bank accounts and almost led to the loss of their farm.  Neighbors helped raise funds, saving the farm from foreclosure and their generosity led the Boyers to start this non-profit organization.  Once they started, they never slowed down or looked back.

The Boyers and their neighbors are another example of people working  every single day to help change the lives of others.

 

 

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