Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dirt Diva's "TALKING DIRT" is GOOD Dirt

Annie Spiegelman, Novato-based "Dirt Diva" gardening columnist and environmental activist extraordinaire, has really improved the crop of organic gardening books this spring.  I'm telling you, this is not only an excellent growing advice is also great read.  Annie is simultaneously so funny and so practical.  You feel like you're talking over the neighbor's fence, and that neighbor just happens to be the person who knows what is really going on in the hood.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who feels overwhelmed by Organic Gardening Information.  And if you're already a seasoned gardener, this book will remind you about what is most  important.  I've read a lot of gardening books, and this one stands out.

I picked up my copies at Book Passage.  Here is the link to Annie's site, which will give you all purchasing options and upcoming book signings.

The Dirt Diva's Talking Dirt

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fields a poem by Faith Shearin

            For Henry and Irene Spruill

My great grandfather had some fields in North Carolina
and he willed those fields to his sons and his sons
willed them to their sons so there is a two-hundred-year-old
farm house on that land where several generations
of my family fried chicken and laughed and hung

their laundry beneath the trees. There are things you
know when your family has lived close to the earth:
things that make magic seem likely. Dig a hole on the new
of the moon and you will have dirt to throw away
but dig one on the old of the moon and you won't have

enough to fill it back up again: I learned this trick
in the backyard of childhood with my hands. If you know
the way the moon pulls at everything then you can feel
it on the streets of a city where you cannot see the sky.
My mother says the moon is like a man: it changes

its mind every eight days and you plant nothing
until its risen full and high. If you plant corn when
the signs are in the heart you will get black spots
in your grain and if you meet a lover when the
signs are in the feet he will never take you dancing.

When the signs are in the bowels you must not plant
or your seed will rot and if you want to make a baby
you must undress under earth or water. I am the one
in the post office who buys stamps when the signs
are in the air so my mail will learn to fly. I stand in my

front yard, in the suburbs, and wish for luck and
money on the new of the moon when there
are many black nights. I may walk the streets
of this century and make my living in an office
but my blood is old farming blood and my true

self is underground like a potato. At the opera
I will think of rainfall and vines. In my dreams
all my corn may grow short but the ears will be
full. If you kiss my forehead on a dark moon
in March I may disappear—but do not be afraid—
I have taken root in my grandfather's
fields: I am hanging my laundry beneath his trees.

by Faith Shearin, from The Owl Question. © Utah State University Press, 2002.

(I first read this poem online at The Writer's Almanac )

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kids In the Garden Workshop - Monday, April 5

On Monday April 5th from 3-5pm I will teach a workshop entitled "Kids In The Garden" in the Novato Charter School garden.  This workshop is sponsored by the Novato Live Well Network and will cover the basics of working with starting and maintaining a school garden, integrating academic curriculum, and working with K-8 students on various garden projects.  For more information, follow this link below:

Kid In The Garden Workshop

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Haitian Quake an Opportunity to Restore Rural Ecology

The World ran an excellent piece about ecological restoration in Haiti...Environmental aid is perhaps the most important long-term contribution we can make.

Haitian Quake an Opportunity to Restore Rural Ecology

A New York Times Tribute to the Evolution of Grass

Biologist Olivia Judson writes of the interconnectedness of human evolution an grasses.

Evolution By The Grassroots

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Proud of Novato Schools

Here is some great news.  Novato schools and the Novato Sanitary District have teamed up to compost food waste and save the school district hundreds of thousands of dollars in the coming years.  Congratulations Novato!

Novato Schools Cut Costs By Composting

Frogs Changing Sex....Are We In Wonderland?


Anyone else feel like Alice, bumping around in Wonderland?  We are trying to go about our business, trusting that we are safe on this planet amongst our own kind, when, all of a sudden, things are not as they appear.  They are distorted and mad.  Oh yes, the EPA did "re-approve" Atrazine in 2006, assuring us there was no problem and allowing us to continue use on everything from lawns to corn fields, to the point where it is the primary chemical found in our waterways.  The Swiss Agri-giant Sygentra promised us its safe and fine.  Why would we not believe them, just because they manufacture the stuff?  But now it is 2010 and well, unfortunately, it looks like the stuff makes male frogs lay eggs.

Turns out the Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland may have been based on the London hatters who were exposed to mercury in the pelt curing process used at that time.  It seems things are the same as ever:  a little insanity (and/or rearranging of  reproductive organs) is apparently worth the buck. 

Here is a link to the Washington Post  Weedkiller In Waterways Leads to Change in Frogs Sex Traits