March 2014 Almanac
Welcome to my March Almanac Blog Newsletter! This month, I’m excited to be introducing a new feature on my website: OUT & ABOUT. Every month, it will feature one or more blogs written by contributors who are passionate about the environment, gardening organically and living sustainably. This month’s introduces farmer Kev, who is an organic farmer in Maine, and is leasing my family’s former vegetable gardens, now reborn as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and I couldn’t be more thrilled!
Do you want to change the way you eat? I’ll be watching this Saturday’s TEDxManhattan’s program, in which the EWG is also participating. Just go to this link and log on, and you’ll also be able to watch "Changing the Way We Eat," and learn from some of the leading experts in food and nutrition including Myra Goodman, Chef Tom Colicchio and Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-ME.
Join the Food Growing Summit 2014 - planting community resilience, from March 3rd-7th. Sign up for this free series of conversations with Paul Stamets, Will Allen, Joel Salatin, Vandana Shiva and many other farmers, backyard food growers and urban food activists.
On March 9th, don’t forget to set your clocks forward one hour. I’m not looking forward to losing that precious 1-hour of sleep, but I’m ready to step into spring, as I’m sure many of you on the east coast are too!
Have you witnessed this incredible yearly event, which happens March 20th-23rd: the great Crane Migration in Kearney, Nebraska? I would love to hear from you if you have! One day, I hope I’ll get to witness it too.
Find out what are 100 things I love and let me know which ones are your favorites too.
If you are on the West Coast, it’s nesting season for many species of birds and so it’s a good time to put out nesting boxes or birdhouses. It’s important that the size of the nesting box, and their entrance holes conform to the species-specific dimensions and that the birdhouses are properly mounted at appropriate heights in suitable habitats. A great resource for nesting boxes and birdhouses is wildwingsla.com.
Our city leaders can learn from Copenhagen, voted the Green Capital of Europe for 2014. “Copenhagen has made substantial efforts to improve the urban environment, and to provide a healthier and more sustainable way of living,” said EU environment commissioner Janez Potocnik. Copenhagen has made considerable efforts to increase the number of cyclists, becoming carbon neutral by 2025, providing the city’s resident’s good access to green spaces, all with the goal to improving the quality of life its citizens enjoy.
Look out for the Monarch Butterflies this month, as they migrate north and east, searching for a mate, and then milkweed plants, where they can lay their eggs. To protect their dwindling populations, the EPA have recently asked for tougher rules on the use of the dreaded weed killer glyphosate, which was first marketed under the brand name Roundup, to save America’s most beloved insect from further decline. Read more at latimes.com.
Together, we can halt forest loss: be empowered by being informed and help monitor forests for illegal logging by going to Global Forest Watch an alert system set up to better manage forests. “Now, if a tree falls in the forest, everyone hears it.”
Wishing you a wonderful month
All the best
A small town in rural eastern Germany is a model in living fully off the grid on renewable energy. According to a story reported in EcoBusiness, the town of Feldheim, population 150, built their own smart grid, making it the only town in Germany with its own mini-grid. This allows the locally produced heat and electricity to be fed straight to consumers and gives them control over their electrical prices, which are set at community meetings.
By installing wind turbines on leased farming land, building a solar farm nearby in what was a former Soviet military site, as well as building a biogas factory that converts pig manure and unused corn into heat, the town was able to produce its own energy.
Feldheim has proven that a high-renewables energy future is possible today. The small town is thriving thanks to its confidence in renewable energy technologies.
Growing Cities, is a documentary film about the rise of urban farming in America and about two young men's journey across America to learn about urban agriculture and how it is revitalizing cities one animal, vegetable, and chicken at a time. Urban farming is beneficial for many reasons: it offers much-needed nutritious food to urban dwellers, it teaches American how to view vacant land in a new light, and it helps secure the national food supply.
As one Atlanta farmer explains it: “The hugest part of sustainability is having people understand the importance of caring for land, regardless of whether you think you own it or not.”
Bob Verschueren is a Belgian land artist, who has been working in and around nature since 1978. Concentrating on plant installations, he uses materials such as twigs, branches, leaves, pine needles, moss, sand, seaweed, citrus or potato peelings.
When he goes for walks, he practices a sort of “amnesia culture,” rediscovering the plants as though he had never seen them before. After collecting them, he carefully observes their shape, structure and texture, and through this process of “observance,” he then creates his work according to the chosen location.
Previously profiled artists in the news:
Paul Stamets is on a mission to show that mushrooms can save the world. He feels they should be frontline defense against toxins, bacteria and viruses, because mushrooms have the ability to build soils and clean up pollutants. In his Ted talk, Stamets talks about an experiment he was involved in cleaning up diesel-contaminated soils using oyster mushrooms, which managed to break up the hydrocarbons, and also attract bugs, birds and other wildlife, which bring the dirt back to life. It’s a process called “mycoremediation.” Apparently, specific mushrooms can be grown in a surrounding mycological landscape catering to a family’s health and habitat needs (i.e. to combat termites). I’m interested in trying this out!
MOON GARDENING BY PRISCILLA WOOLWORTH
Check out my blog: Gardening according to the phases of the Moon, and learn why and how the Moon's position affects your garden.
March MOON PHASE SCHEDULE:
February 26th till March 9th: Waning Moon
* Go to Tomatomania and buy your Tomato seedlings! http://www.tomatomania.com and find out where you can buy seedlings in your area from end of March till end of May.
* March 1-9th is the Philadelphia Flower Show: www.theflowershow.com
Garden Chores to be done in March:
Plant coreopsis, cosmos, marigolds and yarrow near your vegetable garden to lure in ladybugs, hoverflies and lacewings; they will keep away your insect pests.
Check for aphids in the new growth and get rid of them by spraying with water; repeat weekly.
Plant roses, cane berries, grapes, artichoke, rhubarb and strawberry.
Best time to plant Citrus trees
Good time to add nitrogen rich Blood Meal to your plants, fruit, ornamental trees, shrubs, lawns, container plants, houseplants, perennials, and groundcovers.
Feed azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons with acid fertilizer and prune after bloom.
Great time to start your herb garden by planting seeds of arugula, chervil, cilantro and dill as well as chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory and tarragon.
Plant in your flower garden: coreopsis, cornflower, flowering tobacco, larkspur, marigold, calendula, cosmos, geranium, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, salvia, zinnia, coneflower, dianthus, foxglove, hollyhock, penstemon, columbine, delphinium, lavender, statice, and yarrow
Plant in your vegetable garden: lettuce, spinach, tomato, pepper, eggplant, squash, cucumber, pumpkin, melon, basil, onion, peas, chard, celery, turnip, carrot, beet, parsnip, radish, potato, chives, parsley, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, leeks, mustard, and tomato
Following is a Moon Gardening calendar for March and which days are best for specific chores:
March 2nd till March 15th: the Moon is in the Waxing phase, when the lunar gravitational pull brings the water up, which makes it a good time of the month to encourage plant growth and proliferation. Plant seeds, transplant, re-pot, trim and prune for growth. Also, fruits and vegetables that are tender and should be eaten immediately are at their best when gathered at the Waxing Moon, because the water content is higher, salads are crunchier, and fruits are juicier.
Recommended days for these garden chores:
March 4th, 5th and 6th: Plant above ground annuals
The day of the Full Moon is when water is at the highest level in the month and is a really good time for planting and gathering any herbs to be used for their essential oils because oil content is more concentrated at this time. The day of the Full Moon and also 2 days after, are the best time to prune, plant seeds (they germinate faster when planted at the full moon because they absorb more water) and also fertilize plants as close to the Full Moon as possible. Cut bamboo and sow a lawn or put down sod.
From March 17th till March 28th, the Moon is Waning, and the energy of the earth is drawn down but the gravitational pull is high, creating more moisture in the soil and this energy goes into the roots making it a good time of the month to sow crops that produce their yield below ground and control plant growth by pruning, weeding, and controlling garden pests, as well as dividing perennials. This is the best time for garden maintenance because the growth cycle of plants decreases. Fruit trees do best planted at this time of the month because the position of the moon encourages development of root growth and tree bark, essential to their success. This is also the best time to cut wood, because it resists parasites and cures better. Farmers pick their apples, cabbages, potatoes and onions at the Waning Moon, when water content is lowest and so the harvest stores better and keeps longer. Best time to dry herbs, flowers and fruit and the herbs are at their most potent.
Mow your lawn to slow growth. First time Composters, start your composter during this period because the Waning Moon phase helps aid in the decomposing of plant matter.
Recommended days for these garden chores:
March 17thand 18th: Plant for root growth, especially flowers and herbs
Get ready for April 2014 Gardening according to the phases of the Moon! Subscribe to my Almanac and get your free monthly update from me.
Garden product of the month:
Diatomaceous Earth Powder is a non-toxic and highly effective ant killer. It's safe around humans and pets. It works by killing the insects by ingestion/dehydration within 48 hours indoors or outdoors. I used it recently when my Valentina Composter was invaded with ants. I sprinkled diatomaceous earth powder all around it and within a day, the ants were gone! Works for bedbugs, silverfish and cockroachs as well.
Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World by Paul Stamets is a manual for the mycological rescue of the planet. That’s right: growing more mushrooms may be the best thing we can do to save the environment, and in this groundbreaking text from mushroom expert Paul Stamets, you’ll find out how.
Merchant Mills Sewing Kit. In the spirit of learning to be more self-sufficient, mending our clothes is simple and easy, once you get the hang of it. The Merchant & Mills Sewing Book contains fifteen step-by-step projects aimed at guiding you gently but firmly through the basics of sewing. Each project you make from this book will be stylish and useful.
A Seed is Sleepy by Sylvia Long and Dianna Hutts Ashton is a gorgeous book that offers children a beautiful and informative look at the intricate, complex, and often surprising world of seeds.
It just happens that this is the Year of the Horse, in Chinese Zodiac. The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people’s ethos-making unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able. Ancient people like to designate an able person as ‘Qianli Ma’, a horse that covers a thousand li a day (one li equals 500 meters). This is all according to travelchinaguide.com
This meal is full of nutrients from the multi-vitamins in the brown rice, to the protein in the eggs and edamame, which is also a good source of fiber. Use shelled edamame, if available. I found GMO free ones in the freezer section of Whole Foods. The Shiitake mushrooms may be one of the most sustainable things you can eat, as they are forest farmed on hardwood logs in a natural forest environment. Not all of them are certified organically grown so check before you buy. Shiitake’s provide us with fantastic health benefits from being an excellent source of iron, to possessing cardiovascular properties as well as anti-cancer benefits and antioxidants.
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 tbs + 1 tsp olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 pound of Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs minced, peeled ginger
1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tbs fresh lime-juice
2 tbs soy sauce
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil; add rice. Boil until rice is al dente, 32 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water and set aside.
- While the brown rice is cooking; heat 1 tsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add eggs, season with salt and pepper and cook until set, 1 to 2 mins. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- In the same skillet, heat remaining 1 tbs of olive oil, and add mushrooms, ginger, garlic and red-pepper flakes. Stir frequently while cooking, 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice, eggs, edamame, scallions, lime-juice and soy sauce and stir.
This is also delicious the next day and works very well as a packed lunchbox for work or school.
Get the EWG’s latest shoppers guide: how to avoid buying GE (genetically engineered) food. Consumers have the right to know if their food has been genetically engineered. However, the U.S. government does not require labeling of GE foods or ingredients so that shoppers can make informed decisions.