Education & Science
The most luscious watermelon the Deep South has ever produced was once so coveted, 19th-century growers used poison or electrocuting wires to thwart potential thieves, or simply stood guard with guns in the thick of night. The legendary Bradford was delectable - but the melon didn't ship well, and it all but disappeared by the 1920s.
So, it's the time of year out here in the Maritime Northwest where periodic nice days start to happen. A few legitimately sunny Spring days in Seattle send thoughts to the veggie patch, and gardeners everywhere start running to buy plant starts.
The display at the Weiser Family Farms' stand at the Santa Monica farmers market last weekend was sparse, even by early spring standards - potatoes, some green shallots and garlic, a little sprouting broccoli. The lilacs that signal the start of spring for many Southern Californians came and went weeks ago.
Matt Smiley feels at home when he's engaged in physical work. The veins on his arms swell as he digs up a green irrigation hose. The former combat vet says farming is good for his body and his mind. "I think first and foremost it's the connection to nature," says Smiley.
"I am never going to raise chickens!" Guess who said that. Me! Circa 1978 after my second or third time being dragged through a large commercial poultry operation as part of my quest for a degree in Animal Science. The smell was horrible, the chicken clucking was deafening, and the downy feathers were flying everywhere and made my nose itch.
Many of the largest U.S. sellers of organic eggs boast that their hens are vegetarian, and for an increasingly food-curious public, this may be great advertising. A carton of Eggland's Best advertises that the company uses "vegetarian fed hens." Horizon promises that their eggs "come from hens that are fed a 100% organic, vegetarian diet."
As we all become more aware of what we eat and the origin of our food, vegetable gardening is booming. Leading the way is LaManda Joy, founder of the Peterson Garden Project, an award-winning not-for-profit, that has brought community, urban gardening to Chicago in a big way.
The case for garden-based learning in schools seems simple, even obvious, at first: What harm could there be in encouraging young children to connect with nature and learn more about the ecology around them, including where the food they eat comes from?
Want to address world hunger - not to mention climate change, poverty and pollution? Here's how taking a more natural approach to agriculture can benefit everyone and everything from the soil up.
Can a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription service help more small farms survive in today's consolidated food landscape? In 2014, economic researcher Mark Paul conducted in-person interviews with 16 Massachusetts farmers for Ecotrust and E3 Network's Future Economy Initiative. The area where Paul did the research, called the Pioneer Valley, was home to one of the first...
As Michelle Cannon slowly transitioned into becoming a full-time vegetable farmer in Burlington, Wisconsin, she felt like an outcast in a region blanketed with male-dominated agriculture. In need of guidance about vegetable varieties, growing, and even equipment, the 52-year-old feared farming on her own would be impossible.
BECOMING a confident seed starter unlocks a garden of possibilities; you can try your hand at anything offered in any catalog, no longer limited by the local garden center's palette. As daunting as it may seem, remember this: In nature, seeds sow themselves successfully-usually emerging when the soil's moist and starting to warm up, then enjoying fresh air and plenty of sunshine, with hopefully just enough rain.
In the 1970s, when I was a budding landscape designer newly exciting about strategizing the best flowers to plant with vegetables, I attended the garden opening of one of my clients. As I walked around anonymously, wine glass in hand, I overheard many guests exclaiming, "Do you see that?
Gardeners do all they can to keep their plants happy and healthy, but sometimes, no matter what you do, certain plants just don't go together. Plants that don't like each other may be responding to different environmental needs, could be in direct competition with one another for major resources or one may attract insects that severely harm the other.
Back in 1905, a book called "The Apples of New York" was published by the New York State Department of Agriculture. It featured hundreds of apple varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes, including Thomas Jefferson's personal favorite, the Esopus Spitzenburg. Whoaaaa. The book is full of invaluable information and amazing drawings.
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