Every Day is Earth Day!
Inspired by Earth Day and the myriad events around the globe honoring nature, our founder Tricia Clark-McDowell came up with the following list of ways each of us can remind ourselves of the importance a clean environment has on our lives, and ways we can each reconnect with nature, and even more importantly, protect her. In-joy:
1) Sit quietly somewhere out in nature for one hour or more just observing birds, insects, water, wind - whatever is around you. Breathe deeply, relax, and enjoy the beauty.
2) Write a eulogy for some aspect of nature, or a particular place that has been harmed in your area. What would it feel like to see it utterly destroyed? Now pledge to be part of the solution to restore it to health, and perhaps take one simple step this week.
3) Plant something during Earth Week - vegie seeds or starts, flowers to beautify your yard or neighborhood, plants for and elderly person who needs help. Find a way to keep them alive and thriving through this season.
4) Write a short poem or story about caring for the Earth in some way, and post it on Facebook or other social media.
5) Create or participate in some small group action (possibly with family members or a group of friends) to clean up an area near you that has been trashed - a vacant lot, section of beach, an alley, street, or neighborhood park, etc. Take before and after pictures and post them on Facebook.
6) Give a set of garden books to one or more friends - someone you know who wants to learn about gardening. Give them encouragement and perhaps a little help in getting started.
7) Read up on natural and organic fertilizers and safely dispose of any non-organic products that are sitting around.
8) Plant a tree in a special place! Keep it watered during the first season, and watch it grow. Someday soon, it will return the favor with delicious fruit!
Good morning gardeners! Today’s topic is FERTILIZER, the smelly but necessary element that acts like a multi-vitamin for your garden. Much ado has been made about the differences between organic and inorganic, and with the help of our book Home Composting Made Easy, the University of Maryland and Steve the Gardenguy, we’d like to delve a little bit into the composition of fertilizer and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Common Components of Organic Fertilizer
• Bone meal—slow release fertilizer high in phosphorus and calcium
• Bat guano—contains all three major macronutrients (proteins, fats & carbohydrates)
• Poultry humus—waste products from the chicken industry contain all three macronutrients and are used locally in Maryland
• Fish emulsion—high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace elements
• Fish meal—traditionally used as fertilizer prior to advent of synthetic sources, provides high nitrogen and phosphorus
• Cotton seed meal—high in nitrogen
• Seaweed (kelp) meal—high in micronutrients
Advantages of Organic Fertilizer
• Made from naturally occurring sources, therefore limited amounts of fossil fuels are used in production, potentially lowering the amount of greenhouse gas that is released into the atmosphere.
• Nutrients are released only when media is warm and moist, coinciding with times of greatest need in lawn care and agriculture (although this may not be an issue for greenhouse/ nursery plants, which are always kept under optimum growing conditions). The slow-release nature of most organic fertilizers may slightly decrease the runoff of nutrients into local water systems when compared to some quick-release synthetic sources that release nutrients regardless of media conditions. It is important to note that slow-release synthetic sources may offer similar benefits.
• In terms of the end product, such as the quality of plant produced by a commercial greenhouse, organic fertilizers can be quite competitive with traditional synthetic sources (see http://environmentalhorticulture.umd.edu for a detailed study comparing products of organic and inorganic fertilizers).
• When used over a long period of time during in-ground production, organic fertilizers may increase the quality of the soil, improving the soil structure, or tilth, increasing its ability to hold both water and nutrients, and increasing the efficiency of nutrient utilization, whereas inorganic fertilizers have three main disadvantages:
Disadvantages of Organic Fertilizer
- They are subject to leaching, which occurs when the fertilizers are washed by rain or irrigation water down below the level of the plant roots. Nitrogen is particularly susceptible to leaching.
- Heavy application of chemical fertilizers can "burn" seedlings and young plants. This is actually a process of drying out, or desiccation, due to the presence of chemical salts within the commercial fertilizers.
- Overly heavy applications can build up toxic concentrations of salts in the soil and create chemical imbalances.
• Generally costs significantly more than synthetic fertilizer.
• Organic certification requires documentation and regular inspections.
• Organic fertilizers, despite the advantages discussed above, still release nutrients into their surroundings; these nutrients can find their way into local streams, rivers, and estuaries just as nutrients from synthetic sources do.
Motivations for using organic fertilizer vary from user to user—businesses may want to go organic in order to sell product, and members of the general public might be interested in organic fertilizer for home use because of environmental concerns. Whatever the motivation, and whatever the fertilizer source, proper fertilization procedures will save money and benefit the environment. Soil testing prior to fertilizer application identifies nutrient needs and prevents excess fertilizer from being applied. This prevents waste of money and excess runoff into local waterways. Fertilizer should be applied at the right time; for lawn use, fertilization in early fall is generally recommended. Finally, use common sense to prevent waste; do not fertilize if a heavy rain is forecast!
Thanks to the Home Composting Made Easy, University of Maryland Extension Service, & Steve the Gardenguy.
Food security exists when all people at all times have both physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. People who have better access to water tend to have lower levels of undernourishment.
The lack of water can be a major cause of famine and undernourishment, in particular in areas where people depend on local agriculture for food and income.
Erratic rainfall and seasonal differences in water availability can cause temporary food shortages. Floods and droughts can cause some of the most intensive food emergencies.Coping with population growth and ensuring access to nutritious food to everyone call for a series of actions we can all help with:
Practice Water Stewardship in the GardenWater for food production is critical. By 2050, it is estimated that up to 70% more food will be needed to feed an increasing world population, especially in developing countries.Because water for irrigation must be fresh, even more concern should be given to its source, usability, and sustained use over time. Fruit and vegetable gardening is one of the most efficient uses of water, with the greatest yield for water used (when compared to the large amounts of water necessary to raised animal foods).
- follow a healthier, sustainable diet;
- consume less water-intensive products;
- reduce the scandalous food wastage: 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten and the water used to produce it is definitively lost!
- produce more food, of better quality, with
There are particularly good gardening strategies to save water:
World Water Day — Learn About Water StewardshipBecome a student of water. After all, we are each made up of about 80% water, and fruits and vegetables are no different! To learn about World Water Day, and to especially understand global water and food security concerns, please visit the World Water Day website, HERE
- Water early in the morning or evening
- Use controlled irrigation systems (computer, underground, drip irrigation, etc.)
- Mulch bare ground — don't let bare soil bake in the heat or drown in moisture
- Water grassy areas only with about 1-inch of water per week during the Summer
- Use water catchment systems (rain barrels, cisterns, water tanks)
- Find creative ways to capture water for later use, or to use in a specific garden area
.At the World Water Day website, you can visit their FAQ section for detailed information about water and food security. Visit the Campaign section for all types of media material, videos, flyers, etc.
The dramatic die-off of honeybees for the last several years affects a significant portion of the food stream — 1 of 3 mouthfuls of food is dependent upon pollination by honeybees!Every gardener and farmer knows the value of bees for pollination of certain fruits and vegetables. Until recently, bee die-off has baffled scientists. Theories have ranged from emission of harmful electro-magnetive waves from cell phone towers to invasive viruses, mites, and insecticides.Honeybee Deaths Linked to Corn InsecticidesFinally, researchers have determined what appears to be the primary cause of honeybee die-off. It has to do with
neonicotinoid insecticides used to coat corn seeds (and other primary crops). Specifically, when corn plants are young and flowering, the bees are attracted to them in early morning when dew is present. The bees sip the insecticide-contaminated dew and die within an hour.It would be easy to eliminate the problematic coated seeds. However, the consequence of poisoning goes beyond just seeds and plants. Neoicotinoid insecticides are the most widely used in the world. However, they have a very long half-life in the soil (dozens of years). What this means is that farm or garden soil containing these insecticides will remain toxic long after the plants are gone.Here is a recent news release about researchers' recent discoveries, as published in the American Chemical Society's Environmental Science & Technology journal.
>For a short article summarizing the plight of bees and what you can do about it, see the following article by Dr. C. Forrest McDowell from Skipping Stones magazine (May-August, 2010)
From a highly respected scientist concerned for the world he's leaving his grandkids, one of the most compelling scientific arguments we’ve ever heard on climate change and why our survival instinct needs to kick in immediately.
WHY we should listen to him, from his TED Talks bio:
"James Hansen is Adjunct Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. He was trained in physics and astronomy in the space science program of James Van Allen at the University of Iowa. His early research on the clouds of Venus helped identify their composition as sulfuric acid. Since the late 1970s, he has focused his research on Earth's climate, especially human-made climate change. Hansen is known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. Hansen is recognized for speaking truth to power, for identifying ineffectual policies as greenwash, and for outlining the actions that the public must take to protect the future of young people and the other species on the planet."
His short, courageous speech is a worthy reminder that each of us must do our best to minimize our effect on the planet, NOW..if for nothing else than for those that will inherit the world we leave them.
We must BE the change, friends.
Watch the video here: James Hansen: Why I Must Speak Out About Climate Change
What a hero for humanity!
"The biggest corporate takeover on the planet is the hijacking of the food system, the cost of which has had huge and irreversible consequences for the Earth and people everywhere,” Vandana says.
“Seeds controlled by Monsanto, agribusiness trade controlled by Cargill, processing controlled by Pepsi and Phillip Morris, retail controlled by Walmart — is a recipe for food dictatorship.”
Leaders like Vandana could not emerge at a better time, as humanity is at a turning point. Many of us are ready for the paradigm shift, but many are not. It will take all of us!
Read more about Vandana Shiva, food security champion on our Food Revolution
page, and by clicking HERE
Let’s hope this doesn’t slow the reduce/recycle/reuse movement’s momentum, but the potential for beneficial uses for this fungus is huge! Read all about it HERE