On Saturday, April 22, 2017, we will be celebrating Earth Day. I’d like to suggest that we celebrate Earth Day every day.
What do Richard Nixon, Teddy Roosevelt and Rachel Carson have in common? No, not all presidents. We haven’t gotten that yet … a woman in the White House. So, think again. All vital participants in promoting an environmental consciousness in the US. Yes, the much maligned RMN can be credited with the creation of the EPA, as well as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Teddy spearheaded the conservation movement in the early 1900’s and Ms. Carson is responsible for ridding us of DDT.
Keep America Beautiful
By 1970, the world had reached about 3.7 billion people (sounds almost empty, right?) and there were some very big issues: water pollution, air pollution, solid waste contamination. I can remember riding down the highway seeing folks toss their McDonald’s bags out of the window of their speeding wood paneled station wagons. The ‘Keep America Beautiful’ folks, mostly beverage and packing industries who wanted to keep their industries free of government regulation, began promoting anti litter campaigns to encourage folks to clean up. It worked. Who can forget this image & PSA? (more…)
If you asked most people what role they thought that parsley plays in cooking, health and nutrition, they would most likely say that it is used as a garnish or decoration for other foods. It is that often ignored tuft of green bits on your plate that you have, for many years, pushed to the side in lieu of devouring everything else. This is done without a thought or care and those who make it a habit almost assuredly aren’t aware of what they are missing.
Parsley originated in southern Europe along the Mediterranean and prior to ever being thought of as food, parsley was consumed as medicine. Parsley is an extremely nutritious herb that can be easily grown in your own culinary or healing herb garden. Unbeknownst to most folks, parsley is the most popular and widely used herb in the world.
The biennial plant gets its name from the Greek word for “rock celery” and contains high levels of vitamins K, C & A as well as respectable amounts of iron and potassium. If you were ever curious about what parsley can do for you keep reading to find out the benefits you’ve been forgoing by pushing aside this little green herbal dynamo. (more…)
My guilty secret? Binge watching bad TV on Sunday afternoons after I’ve put the greenhouses ‘to bed’. I get the biggest kick out of the commercials, especially the one for a well-known heartburn medication. Basically, the message is this: stuff your face until your body produces so much acid to deal with so much food and take this pill so you can ignore the warning signs your body is giving you and keep stuffing your face.
We’ve lost the art of looking after ourselves. I know people who treat their cars better than they treat their own bodies. They know more about the intricacies of a football play than they do about their own emotional well being. We’ve become really dependent on other people and other properties to take care of what is ours; we are reliant on those ‘purple pills’ to feel good. We have started to treat the symptoms (acid reflux) but not the root causes (glutony).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m am both thrilled and lucky to have access to exceptional care in this age of ‘modern medicine’. And, we never, ever advocate the use of herbal remedies without the advice of health professionals. However, it is important to remember that for most of mankind’s history, natural medicine has been used as a preventative measure. I’m only pointing to the fact that there is an important role for medicinal herbs in the management of common health issues and in the maintenance of general health. (more…)
Humans are a fickle bunch, and try as I might, they are hard to figure. Say one thing, mean another. Say one thing, find out it wasn’t true. Commit to one thing, then change courses. Not saying I’m any different, but the dependability of nature (well maybe not weather) is something that brings me a lot of comfort. Cycles that repeat; you sort of come to depend on them. Geese come south, geese go north. Jenny wrens nesting in the same clay pots they used the year before. My mother in law’s daffodils emerging in late February, as they have been since she planted 30+ years ago. Even the sturgeon have decided the river is clean enough to make a comeback. We brought them to the brink of extinction, then we decided to bring them back. See what I mean? Fickle.
Well there is one cycle that is truly a wonder: the migration of the monarch. Their life cycle is equally awe inspiring but let’s focus on this trip! There are so many wondrous aspects of this flight, described as ‘epic’, so let’s start with this:
The monarch migration is the longest known insect migration on earth.
Chew on this: a monarch can leave Nova Scotia, Canada and travel to the mountains west of Mexico City, which works out to somewhere around 3,000 miles. A butterfly, mind you. Miracle? (more…)
“Nature is not a luxury, it is an investment”
~ Mark Tercek
CEO, The Nature Conservancy
The time is running out for many native habitats, but there is so much you can do. I have been working my land for the past 35 years, and I can now look over my conservation efforts and see that they have ‘borne fruit’. From the reclaimed crop fields to thriving natural habitats filled with butterflies, pollinator bees, quail, deer; everything that lives in our area makes their way into these ‘safe zones’. They are vital as their world is shrinking thanks to plows, mowers and not to mention other encroachments. This wasn’t a hard task; marginal crop land taken out of production and planted as early succession natural habitat. This effort was supported by state and federal programs available to landowners ~ it wasn’t a ‘break the bank’ effort, and we were also flooded with great information as well as direct payments from these programs.
You don’t have to own a farm to make a difference. A yard will work. But, you do have to have a commitment to leaving your land in better shape than you found it. We call it stewardship, and firmly believe that each of us has both a right and responsibility. (more…)
Ever since humans discovered the many, powerful uses of herbs and spices, they’ve been fascinated by their smells, their tastes and their medicinal purposes. What many people fail to realize, is that the simple herbs and spices that are growing in their gardens and sitting in their kitchen cabinets have had important roles in the history of human civilization. Before modern refrigeration, spices were one of the only ways that people could keep their food from spoiling or enhance its flavor.
Herbs were around before the advent of contemporary medicine, so mixing plant ingredients together in a homeopathic remedy was the only option for relief from some illnesses. From the opening up of the spice trade in Asia in the Middle Ages to the misdirected spice seeking voyage that led to America, spices and herbs have played a powerful part in our legacy as a people. Here are some of the most storied tales of the most popular herbs and spices used today. (more…)
As a grower, I tend to focus on the more garden-worthy properties of herbs. What attributes it brings to my many garden beds. The impact of those big white blooms of Angelica, the steadfastness of a reliable rosemary hedge, the mystery of Passion Flower, or the stark drama of my Artichoke.
But, as the years go by, my interest in the herbs I grow has extended beyond the garden and into the kitchen or the medicine chest or even my fledgling attempts at DIY. Yes, I’ve even made lip balm! So, in my research, I’m constantly reading about the health benefits of these plants. Look at my bookshelves and you will see that my lifelong interest has been the interplay between the natural world and man.
“Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food” – Hippocrates
A well-known quote and much used, especially as we become more and more interest in the dynamic relationship between our health, and the nutrients found in our foods. Additionally, a very concerning relationship as we are moving further away from our foraging past towards sophisticated hybridization of food crops to the point where we are ‘watering down’ the physiological punch of plant food. (more…)
“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself However, I’d say it a bit differently:
“If I knew then what I know now, I may not have ever tried”
Which is just another way of saying that I was didn’t realize how much I didn’t know, but I had the confidence (and stupidity) to just keep going.
The easy part was the first 20 years; gave up a promising career in my mid twenties, but at that point, I had nothing to lose and I didn’t really like my job anyway. No kids, no mortgage and some crazy ideas about making making a living by doing what I loved. That pretty much worked for 2 decades. I had a thriving store, great employees, wonderful customers and greenhouses that pumped out plants that people wanted to buy. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard work, but it was a helluva ride. Spring and fall, we worked like mad. Summer and winter, we sat back and occupy ourselves with travel, vegetable gardens, a bit of hunting and raising a bunch of kids. (more…)
Truth be told: I’m a huge fan of apocalyptic or dystopian fiction. Or, a fancier term, ‘speculative fiction’. Meaning the ‘what ifs’ in life; what if there was a pandemic, a nuclear explosion, or some cataclysmic event that creates a VERY challenging world for those left behind.
I’m no writer, but if I was, I think an interesting topic that could jump start one of these novels would be the elimination of pollinators from our natural world. Oh, wait. That is already happening. Let’s consider the bees. We, and I’m including myself in this collection, are terrible for bees. We’ve caused pollution, we’ve destroyed a lot of their habitat and the use of certain pesticides have threatened their existence. There is also the issue of a parasitic mite that is a huge contributor to their decline.
Bees. Did I mention that we can’t live without them?
And The Winner Is….
Congratulations to the winner: Solidago has been named the 2017 Notable Native Herb by the Herb Society of America. We won’t be hearing any impressive acceptance speeches from the winner, so let me do the honors:
‘I would just like to thank the academy, well actually, the Herb Society of America, for this incredible honor. I am truly speechless’
Or, if John Muir were still among us (and boy, do I wish he was) we’d use his own words:
The fragrance, color, and form of the whole spiritual expression of Goldenrod are hopeful and strength giving beyond any others I know. A single spike is sufficient to heal unbelief and melancholy