April 2014 Almanac
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 5 years since I started writing my monthly Almanac blog!
Fifty-nine issues later, I’m more passionate than ever about introducing you to all the inspiring people who are contributing in different ways to bettering our environment as well as providing the resources to empower each of us to get involved. I realized years ago that I can’t make changes in my life unless I know what the options are and I’m thrilled to provide as many possible healthy options as I can. Thank you for joining me on this journey or welcome if you are reading this almanac for the first time.
The OUT & ABOUT feature I introduced last month has a new post by Farmer Kevin from Maine. I’m also introducing a new contributor, Caroline Gladstone from England, who writes about foraging in the countryside.
April 3rd, Dame Jane Morris Goodall will be turning 80! I’m seeing her on April 1st at a lecture she is giving in southern California. So looking forward to it!
Last month, I saw a truly inspiring film called Girl Rising that journeys around the globe to witness the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change a girl and the world.
If you are feeling broody for chickens and are ready to raise them but you’re not sure which kind to get, check out Jen Boulden’s video about how to choose the right laying chicken: Jen BTV chicken info here.
April 13th, Eco conscious celebs like Matt Damon and Jessica Alba report on global warming in a series on Showtime docu-series Years of Living Dangerously.
I made a Pinterest Board of some of the fabulous new products I have added to my store over this past month from organic locally made olive oils to chemical-free nourishing face serums, organic herb-dyed soft towels and several other wonderful items. Please stop by for a visit here.
April 22nd, over a billion people in 190 countries take action for Earth Day. Earth Day Network creates tools and resources for you to get involved with Earth Day in your community. Learn how you can participate here.
National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, which is 26th, but many states observe Arbor Day on different dates according to their best tree-planting times. To find out when that is here.
Last month, I went to my first Slow Money event, held in Los Angeles. “Slow Money is a movement and national nonprofit organization that catalyzes investments in local food systems.” It’s clear, that a new generation of entrepreneurs is rebuilding local food systems and Slow Money is helping provide the capital they need to grow their businesses. To get involved at slowmoney.org
We experienced several small earthquakes recently in southern California, reminding me to be ready in the event of an emergency. To learn how you too can be ready from my blog.
I love researching and writing the Almanac every month but it takes hours and dollars to sustain. Keeping it a clean, ad-free reading experience - which is important to me, and I hope to you - means it’s subsidized by the generous support of readers like you: directly, through donations, and indirectly, whenever you buy something from my store. So, if you enjoy and get inspired by the Almanac, please consider a donation.
Wishing you a wonderful month
Inflatable Wind Turbine
Double the power at half the cost: could a BAT (Buoyant Airborne Turbine) provide low cost energy and remote power for isolated areas and island communities? According to a piece I read in Treehugger by Derek Markham, the BAT can be “easily transported and setup without requiring the use of large cranes or towers, or the construction of an underground foundation, and could be a great cost-effective candidate for meeting the power needs of remote communities or for use as a way to generate electricity for disaster relief efforts.
Ground-based wind turbines remain a practical system for generating clean electricity for densely populated areas.” BAT uses a helium-filled, inflatable shell to lift to high altitudes where winds are stronger and more consistent than those reached by traditional tower-mounted turbines. High strength tethers hold the BAT steady and send electricity down to the ground, as explained by the BAT designer Altaeros.
I’ll be following the evolution of BAT, so stay tuned for updates.
Have you got a spare afternoon?
Have you got a spare afternoon? is a 5 min film filmed in Tromso area in northern Norway, which shows some of the aspects of the global environmental challenge of marine litter and plastics in the oceans and along our coastlines, and that this now affects even the smallest creatures in the sea.
This could be anywhere in the world, and there is a very simple way that most of us can help to solve at least part of the problem. Don’t litter, go clean a beach and tell the world about it.
There are 460 beach clean up volunteer opportunities in the USA. To find out where, click here.
The D.A.ST. Arteam
The D.A.ST. Arteam (artist Danae Stratou, industrial designer Alexandra Stratou, and architect Stella Constantinides) created this breathtaking work of Land Art back in 1997. I first read about this artwork titled Desert Breath in a piece in Treehugger.The art work, located near the Red Sea in el Gouna, Egypt, was an interdisciplinary collaboration that took over two years to complete, covering an approximate area of one million square feet and involved the shifting of 280,000 cubic feet of sand. A 98-foot artificial pool of water sits in the very center of the work, surrounded by double spirals of 178 sand mounds and depressions that mirror each other in volume.
The artists have stated “that the project was meant to suggest an experience of infinity with the desert as a landscape of the mind. Even though it is in a state of slow disintegration, Desert Breath is still viewable almost two decades after its creation. Through its slow disintegration, the installation has been seen as an instrument to measure the passage of time.”
To read more about it: danaestratou.com.
Previously featured artists in the news:
Maya Lin, in a conversation about how can art help us be heard and have an impact on issues facing our environment: marfadialogues.org
Andy Goldsworthy, to be featured in a group show at the Folkestone Triennial, from 30th August - 2nd November 2014.
Sheila Hicks is in the current Whitney Biennial, till May 25th.
Dame Jane Morris Goodall is a British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and a UN Messenger of Peace. Considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, she has evolved from steadfast scientist to passionate conservationist and humanitarian, and devotes all her time to advocacy on behalf of chimpanzees and the environment, travelling nearly 300 days a year. Jane’s understanding of nature - the gift of the forest - and her resulting reverence for life has led her to campaign for compassion.
Through her Roots and Shoots program, she’s empowering new generations by building a worldwide network of young people who have learned to care deeply for their human community, for all animals and for their environment, and who will take responsible action to care for them.
Her central message is the unity of life: “ It is not one thing to save man and another to save the animals. Together, we can make the world a better place for all living things.”
Eco Garden - April 2014
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.
April MOON PHASE SCHEDULE:
April 1st - 14th: Waxing Moon
Garden Chores to be done in April:
The month of April is a great time to plant flowers and vegetables!
Dig organic matter into beds and mulch as well, to suppress weeds and conserve water.
Start cosmos, sunflowers, and zinnias from seed. They are super-easy to grow, make nice cut flowers, and attract beneficial insects to your garden.
Be careful not to cover your plants or freshly sown seeds with too much mulch; best to mulch around them.
Thin seedlings: carrots, beets, green onions and lettuce.
Plant bare root roses, cane berries, grapes, artichoke, asparagus, rhubarb and strawberry.
If your tender perennials have frost damage, wait until all risk of frost has passed, because deadwood insulates healthy plant parts against late freezes. When it’s safe, prune damaged parts down to new growth buds.
Feed citrus trees with an organic fertilizer specified for citrus
Feed actively growing plants with fish emulsion or compost.
Wash aphids off tender new growth by filling a spray bottle with water and add 1 tsp. environmentally safe dish-wash soap and spray the aphids right off the plant. Works every time!
To get rid of sow-bugs/pill bugs from your seedlings, set traps made with rolled-up newspaper taped at one end.
Treat plants with chlorosis, a sign of iron deficiency (yellowing leaves) with organic chelated iron.
Plant calendula, carnation, chrysanthemum, columbine, coneflower, cosmos, cockscomb, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, foxglove, fuschias, geranium, heliopsis, hollyhock, impatiens, larkspur, lavender, lupine, morning glory, marigold, nasturtium, nigella, penstemon, poppy, rudbeckia, salvia, statice, yarrow, zinnia.
For the bees especially plant lavender, rosemary, sage, angelica, yarrow, dill, fennel, sweet alyssum, Shasta daisies, sunflowers, coreopsis, black-eyed Susan, Goldenrod, lupine, and wallflower
Plant roses, cane berries, grapes, artichoke, asparagus, rhubarb and strawberry.
Good drought tolerant choices are sundrops, damianita, angelita daisy, yarrow, California fuschia, lavender, penstemon and salvias.
Add to your herb garden: basil, chives, parsley, lemongrass, lemon verbena, mint and tarragon.
* Genovese basil is the best
In your vegetable garden, plant lettuce, tomato, pepper, eggplant, squash, cucumber, corn, okra, pumpkin, melon, onions, peas, lettuce, spinach, chard, celery, turnips, carrots, beets, parsnip, potatoes, radish, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, luffa and lettuce.
If you started your carrots, beets, green onions and lettuces last month, thin the seedlings now.
Following is a Moon Gardening calendar for March and which days are best for specific chores:
April 1st - 14th: 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:
April 1st and 2nd: 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 April 16th - 27th, 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:
April 18th and 19th: Harvest and cultivate; plant tubers and fruit trees
Get ready for May 2014 Gardening according to the phases of the Moon!
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Garden product of the month:
In case you are planting new trees, save them from transplant shock with a Treegator, a slow release watering bag:
Eco Books - April 2014
Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants
by Dr. Jane Goodall
Renowned naturalist and bestselling author Jane Goodall examines the critical role that trees and plants play in our world. In her wise and elegant new book, Jane Goodall blends her experience in nature with her enthusiasm for botany to give readers a deep understanding of the world around us.
Good Bug Bad Bug by Jessica Walliser is an indispensable field guide for quickly and easily identifying the most common invasive and beneficial insects in the garden; plus the best organic advice on how to attract the good guys and manage the bad guys-without reaching for the toxic chemicals.
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry
The author and artist Lynne Cherry journeyed deep into the rain forests of Brazil to write and illustrate this gorgeous picture book. One day, a man exhausts himself trying to chop down a giant kapok tree. While he sleeps, the forest’s residents, including a child from the Yanomamo tribe, whisper in his ear about the importance of trees and how “all living things depend on one another”…
Farga Organic extra virgin olive oil
I'm thrilled to carry Global Gardens in my store, one of the three growers of this Andalusian varietal in California: Farga Organic extra virgin olive oil is super lush and fruity, complex in layering of rosemary and juniper. It's also a multi-award-winner at the Los Angeles EVOO competition:
Kale with Legumes
Adapted from a recipe by Taided Betancourt
This dish is not only filling and comforting, but it’s full of vitamins and really cleansing. I found it very easy to make and I really enjoyed eating this pure, whole food. So healthy! Next time I make this, I’m going to make double, so I can enjoy it more than once. Great for lunch or dinner, or as a meal to take to work.
1/2 cup of French (puy) lentils
2 sprigs of Thyme
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 onion, peeled
1 cup of quinoa
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of lacinto kale, washed and stems removed
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
Salt & fresh ground pepper
- Place the lentils, thyme, 2 whole garlic cloves and onion in a pot and cover with water, by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15-20 mins and add a ½ tsp. salt. Add more water as needed, as you don’t want the lentils drying out. When the lentils are done, strain and set aside, removing the onion, garlic and thyme.
- While the lentils are cooking, rinse the quinoa in a strainer and place it in small pot with 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bring the quinoa to a boil and reduce heat, letting it cook for 15 mins. Strain and set aside.
- Heat a pan/cast iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the sliced shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the kale. Cook for 10 mins, while occasionally stirring, to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the lentils and quinoa to the pan and stir it all up for 1 minute.
Serve with a dash of balsamic vinegar.
World Land Trust
Have you seen the Twitter-enabled vending machines that give out free seeds for tweets? Created by Seeds of Change, it empowers people to grow a garden this year, including community and school gardens. Enter their Grant Program if you are interested in establishing a sustainable garden program in your community.