Blog: Beauty and Magic of Pollinators.

I couldn’t resist this video. The photographer shares his lifetime of work capturing pollinators on film. He reminds us that when we see something that is beautiful and touches our heart we are more apt to care for it. My podcasts seek to remind us that we are nature and what we see in nature is in us, whether looking for a medical cure, protecting pollinators, looking for solutions to climate changes, or social changes. It’s all there if we look more deeply and let nature guide us more. Let’s “get out of our cleverness”, says Janine Benyus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute and open our hearts to more compassion for nature’s intelligence. This short film is spectacular and inspiring. Please share and comment. It’s always appreciated.

My podcast guest this week, Vicki Wojcik, program director at the pollinator partnership reminds me that pollinators are losing their habitat. It doesn’t take much to bring them back. “If you plant it they will come.” Pollinators are diverse species that are often specialists and need specific plants to thrive. What new plants are you adding this spring? Do they favor pollinators? Don’t forget to check their regional guide too. I recommend you visit their site for more detailed information.

Enjoy spring. Judith

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Vicki Wojcik, Pollinator Partnership

Description: Pollinators are ecosystems service providers. We know they are hurting from the loss of habitat. When they disappear, become extinct they are gone for good. So many of them are endangered today of becoming extinct. So what can we do?  “Build it and they will come!” Vicki reminds us that every garden plot contributes to habitat, food, water, and shelter. Everything basic they need we need too. So, can you help our pollinators and add more flowers, shrubs, trees? I hope so. Check out Pollinator.org for regional planting guides for suggestions.

About My Guest: Vicki’s interest in pollinators was sparked during her undergraduate days with the opportunity to travel to Brazil to participate in a field course in pollinator ecology field research course in Brazil and has continued ever since. Her graduate research focused on understanding how native bees use habitats in cities. This focus on pollinators in human-dominated landscapes has continued throughout her career and has grown to include agricultural lands, industrial lands, and the impacts of climate change. Vicki is currently the Research Director at Pollinator Partnership she oversees the research program, keeping on top of new and emerging pollinator issues.

Transcript: Vicki Wojcik 

Earth Day: We make a difference with every choice we make.

 

 

 

Earth Day is upon us, April 22nd is the official date. We have many reminders, events, that highlight ways we can do more to reduce, recycle, repurpose stuff. My recent podcast guests, students from the University of CT and others, changed the motto to REFUSE, reuse, recycle. They had suggestions to go along with this reframed motto:

 

  1. When shopping in a supermarket and veggies come wrapped, remove the wrapping and leave it there. Eventually, supermarkets will stop offering styrofoam packed items with plastic wrap.
  2. Reverse bag: forgot your bags in the car? I do this all the time. So? Have checkout baggers place items in your cart and you can bag it when you get back to your car.
  3. “If you plant it, they will come.” Buy a native plant from your plant nursery/garden center. Plant something different to increase your backyard diversity. Better yet try removing a portion of lawn and plant wildflowers or a butterfly garden/pollinator garden. Have you considered planting another tree? One oak can support so much wildlife and they need our help right now.
  4. Make kablooms for Easter gifts, table favors. Buy heirloom seeds, mix with clay and soil, form into balls. They can be tossed onto vacant lots, placed in pots, left in a side bed. Great gifts for the gardeners in your family, but cheap seeds will not yield good results. Buy from reputable sources.
  5. If you are drawn to native American culture, listen to the Algonquin water song: our water needs us today to stop pollution. Everything you plant, including trees help absorb water runoff and that means less water gets washed down our storm drains.
  6. Everything we do affects the next seven generations, every thought, word, and action. Weed your mind of negative thoughts, water and grow gratitude every day, feed your mind and heart with love and kindness.

This earth is an amazing place. We live here and so do countless other species. So many of my podcast guests remind me that she is intelligent and we are surrounded by genius. Many of our fellow species are hurting from the loss of habitat and pollution. Now is the time for practical action and profound inner change so we value her once again. If you haven’t done so, check out my podcasts where I interview a variety of folks with great suggestions for holistic living here on the planet we call home.

What one action can you do today, and make it a part of your daily habits that is sustainable? Share your ideas with us. We appreciate all your comments. Remember we make a difference with every choice we make.  Enjoy. Judith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog: Add More Fruit Trees to Your Landscape

 

My podcast guest this week, Mark Shepard, talks about forest restoration. What is a forest? What is the ecosystem naturally present in a given ecoregion and how can we support that by planting trees? He also recommends fruit-bearing trees for several reasons: find the ones native to your ecosystem region. They produce fruit/nuts, fruits and nuts contribute food source for us and critters, increase diversity in our landscapes and contribute to the overall ecosystem.

Curious? I was too. We would like to increase fruit trees in our backyard, but here in NE, they can be a lot of work with poor returns. As I researched the topic, I came across this video that shows us how to add fruit trees to our yards. However, I had no idea we can keep them short, manageable and add variety. Pretty cool, right? With the right soil conditions, proper fertilizing we can take a relatively small space and put ten fruit trees in the space needed for one fully mature non-dwarf variety. The secret is picking fruit trees from the same family. For example, choose the pome fruits, such as varieties of apple and pears or choose stone fruits, prunus, such as peaches, plums. He suggests great results by not mixing the 2 groups in one plot.

Spring is here. The video and Mark’s discussion give us “food ” for thought (pun intended). We can see our yards with fresh eyes after winter’s barrenness and with itchy feet and fingers think about using our space differently. At the very least adding more plants increases diversity.

What new plans do you have for your yards? What inspires you to add more diversity? All comments are appreciated.

Enjoy. Judith

 

Blog: Restoring Our Relationship with Microbes for Optimal Health

There’s a buzz going around in soil science and health about our “microbiome”. Both are equally important for different reasons yet for the same result. Healthy soil teeming with microbes and bacteria, supporting a fungal network thus creating a vital microbiome grows nutritious foods. Nutritious foods, freshly picked or organically grown or purchased retains a bit of the soil biome and contributes to keeping our gut in better shape microbe wise. Researchers like the presenter above are connecting the dots about how our relationship to soil, microbes, and health are interconnected. It’s like another version of the web. And, It’s a win-win for us and the planet.

My podcast guest this week, Kimberly Kresevic, founder of InSoil Health seeks to do just that. She can show farmers in real time the health status of their soil. Where there are deficiencies, she can advise farmers on the correct amendments to positively build soil health, all of which grows healthier foods. We take care of the soil and the soil takes care of us. A relationship we have forgotten about. We may not have had the science to understand our relationship in the past but now we do. And, It’s a bit scary when we look at the scope of the problems facing us today. And, It’s fascinating, too and what folks are doing one talk, one garden, one business at a time.

Yes, we can make a difference.

  • Grow your own food.
  • If you can’t, join in a community garden venture.
  • If you can’t, buy from a CSA.
  • If you can’t, buy organic and from local organic farmers.
  • Remember: every purchase is a vote.

I hope you enjoyed the TED Talk above. He defines microbiome, shows colorful slides so we can envision how this microscopic system works within us. And, the best news is that with a few lifestyle changes, we can experience a more positive health response, enabling us to live healthy lives while improving our partnership with the earth.

Did you enjoy his review? Let us know what you can do to make a positive change in your life today. Thanks.

Enjoy. Judith

 

Blog: Let’s Talk Tomatoes

 

 

 

What’s your favorite Italian dish? Eggplant parmesan is one of my favorites, especially with a flavorful tomato sauce. It’s funny though that we think of Italian cuisine with tomatoes when they are thought to originate in the Americas. Settlers, not sure who brought this flavorful plant back to Europe in the 16th century. There are some plants still in the wild of Peru and Ecuador. Thomas Jefferson grew them but it took till the 1800s for tomatoes to find a place back here in the Americas. Today we grow hundreds of thousands of acres of tomatoes. Most of our tomatoes are cultivated and often have trouble resisting pests and diseases.

Tomato is a member of the nightshade family, which may be why early conquerors in central and south America thought it was poisonous as many nightshade plants are poisonous. My podcast guest this week, Craig Floyd, manager at Coogan Farm in Mystic Ct., devoted his interview to growing healthy, vibrant tomato plants with high yield. How? Here’s a recap of his fabulous tips.

    1. Soil: A soil test is a must: tomatoes need four minerals in particular: Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, and Nitrogen. We recommend Logan Labs in Ohio who offer a more comprehensive analysis.
    2. Seed: Choose heirloom or organic seeds. Add an innoculant to your seed bag which can help germination time.
    3. When planting choose the biggest, fattest seed from the lot.
    4. Don’t plant too early. Do transplant when seedlings are 4″ high. Any taller they may not fulfill their potential.
    5. Plant 60″ apart. Place four basil plants around them or another companion plant like carrots.
    6. Drench seedlings with compost tea before transplanting. Then, water every day.
    7. Microbiology is so important. Add mulch material around plants every week. They need a good dose of worm castings, seaweed. Seaweed unlocks nutrients and keeps some bugs away.
    8. Craig keeps three main leaders and removes suckers.

What is the tomato’s potential: try 22′ long yielding 300 lbs of fruit. That’s a wow in my book. When I visited Craig in his Giving Garden recently, he showed us his hoop house with poles high up to capture the growing vines. Can’t wait to visit in the spring and summer and watch their progress from seedling to fruit producing. The best part is that the food banks in New London reap the benefits. Healthy sustainable food is given to feed the food insecure: inspiring and motivating, I highly recommend you make the Coogan Farm and nearby nature trails a place to visit this summer.

If you go, share a pic, tell us about your experience. We’d love to hear from you.

Please share. Thanks. Enjoy. Judith

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