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May 202009
 

Pot_w_grasses_250 I want to continue exploring gardening ideas that will address climate disruption and help each of us in our local environments.  I certainly have noticed drastic changes in our state that can only be attributed to either increased warming, or, conversely, increased rainfall and ice/snow.

As an example, trees in old growth forests are dying in increasing numbers and most scientists conclude that longer, hotter summers are the primary cause.  This trend is affecting both young and old trees, in crowded and sparse stands and at different elevations.  The reason is warmer average temperatures across the West, says Nathan Stephenson of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center, which creates greater stress on trees from lack of water, leaving them vulnerable to disease and insects.   The rising death rate could produce a cascading decline that leads to less habitat for fish and wildlife, an increased risk of wildfires and vulnerability to sudden forest die-offs.  The study examined data between 1955 and 2007 in 76 research plots in BC, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho and Arizona, and has no predictable conclusions and is challenged by some who resist the idea of climate change or disruption altogether.

In my own garden, I have seen a couple of plants mysteriously die, some well established trees (native and non-native) just giving up the ghost abruptly.   For the past several years, I notice that cool weather crops (lettuce, leaf vegetables) simply cannot sustain into late summer and bolt even with good mulch and shade cloth.   Here are some thoughts that might help you avoid frustration in the garden while learning more about the changing climate in your area.  Investing in a little research with your county extension agent might also save you cash otherwise invested into a disappointing garden that’s not designed to stand up to a changing climate.

Plant Selection  I’ve finally outgrown the habit of choosing non-native, non-local and hybridized species which sometimes don’t do well under the best conditions and are certain to fail to thrive with the challenges that come with global warming.  Look for heritage varieties that you can save seeds or take cuttings from.  When purchasing plant starts, make sure you ascertain that they are from a local greenhouse and are grown specifically for your area.  If you live in an area where rainfall is predicted to drop, check out regions close by with less rainfall and choose native plantings (especially large trees and shrubs) that thrive in a more arid climate.  Here in Puget Sound, we are trending to more rainfall, more snow, longer and colder winters, so I will adjust accordingly.

Lawns   I have never been a fan of mowing grass (and I doubt you are, either) so I’m slowly turning the golf-course sized lawn the previous owner put in into other planting areas that more suit my lifestyle.   In one part, I am letting the grass give way to the native moss and turning it back to a natural forested area.  This will serve as a privacy barrier as well as eventually reverting back to a self-sustaining ecosystem.  I covered good ideas for maintaining healthy lawns with the help of equipment I found over at this website, in the blog on May 5.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch  Adding layers of biodegradable organic matter to the soil surface of your vegetable and flower beds serves as both a protective barrier and nutrient source.  This will make a huge difference to water retention and help with weed control.   An investment into a good composting system and worm bed will pay you back in spades.   I’ve learned over the years that maintaining good soil is the primary chore for a healthy garden.

Animals and Insects  Beneficial critters will need to adapt to the inevitable changes in the plants they rely on, either directly or indirectly.  The timing of natural events in relation to breeding that has been fine tuned over millennia is being thrown into disarray.  We can help by planting species that are beneficial and provide food sources for insects, birds and other animals that help our gardening efforts.  The recent concern in the decline of butterflies and bees is a concern and providing habitats such as Mason bee blocks and planting butterfly attractors will be a great boon to your success.    

This will give you some ideas to start with and we’ll revisit this in later blogs.

image Special (through Tuesday, May 26):  In addition to your 5% online discount ,take an extra 10% off all hydrosols.   Good time to stock up on lavender,  helichrysum and Healthy Skin blend for the harsh effects of summer sun, wind and being outdoors.  Many others to choose from.  Orders over $35 will also receive a free decorative tea light holder (pictured at left).    Enter “Earth Day #4” (no quotes) in promotional code on checkout page.
http://www.wingedseed.com

 Posted by at 5:16 pm
May 132009
 

There are no known cures for colds and flu, so being prepared by building your own immune system is your best approach if you cherry_2008_300 don’t want to depend on a flu vaccination.   Here’s twelve great tips from the American Lung Association, People’s Medical Society, Family Doctor and Medscape that will reduce your chance for any cold or flu infection.  Don’t forget to check out the many wellness products and ingredients on our website to help keep your family ahead of the game when it comes to warding off cold and flu viruses.

(1)  Wash your hands!  Flu and cold viruses are spread by direct contact.  Germs can live for hours – sometimes weeks – on telephones , keyboards, doorknobs.  You can make your own hand sanitizer by suspending antiviral essential oils in aloe vera gel and saturating paper towels.  Cut them into smaller sizes and carry in a ziploc for quick use on the go.

(2)   Make sure you sneeze into a Kleenex, or handkerchief because virus germs will cling to your bare hands.  Use a tissue and throw it immediately away.  If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the air, turning away from people. 

(3)   Colds and flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose or mouth.  Don’t touch your face!  Touching their faces is the most likely way that children catch colds and pass it on to parents and siblings.

(4)   Drink plenty of water!  Water flushes your system, washing out poisons as it rehydrates.  Minimum daily requirement:  36 oz.  You can tell if you are getting enough water if your urine runs close to clear; if deep yellow, you need more fluid intake.  Don’t mistake coffee, tea or soft drinks for plain old water  . . . they don’t count.

(5)   Take a sauna.  A German research study found that people who steamed twice a week got half as many colds as those who don’t.  One theory is that the air you breathe  in a sauna is over 80 degrees, a temperature too hot for cold and flu viruses to survive.

(6)   Get fresh air, especially in the winter months.  Staying indoors puts you in an environment with more germs are circulating, especially in crowds.  Sleep with a window open.

(7)   Get regular aerobic exercise.  Speed up your heart and pump larger quantities of blood throughout your system.  This will transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood and increase your body’s natural virus-killing cells.

(8)   Eat foods containing phytochemicals.  Natural chemicals in plants give the vitamins in food a supercharged burst.   Eat copious amounts of dark, green, red and yellow vegetables and fruit.

(9)   Eat yogurt.  Some studies show that eating a daily cup of low-fat yogurt can reduce your susceptibility to colds and flu by as much as 25 percent.  It is assumed that the beneficial bacteria in yogurt may stimulate production of  the immune system to help fight disease.

(10)   Don’t smoke.  Heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones.  Even being around second-hand smoke profoundly zaps your immune system, dries out nasal passages and paralyzes cilia, the delicate hairs that sweep viruses out of your nasal passages.  Experts contend that one cigarette can paralyze cilia for as long as 30 to 40 minutes.

(11)   Cut alcohol consumption.  Heavy alcohol use also suppresses the immune system. and dehydrates your body . . . it actually takes more fluids from your system than it puts in.  This makes you prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications.

(12)   Finally . . . Relax!  Teaching yourself to relax can activate your immune system on demand.  Evidence shows that interleukins (the leaders in an immune system response against cold and flu viruses) increase in the bloodstream during relaxing meditation.  Train yourself to relax in a positive state by visualization (holding a pleasant picture or image in your mind).   Soothing music can aid this process.  Remember that relaxation is a learnable skill to create a state of mind; it is not simply doing nothing.

These tips provide a proactive approach to warding off colds and flu and make your whole life healthier.   We’ll be back next week to continue our Earth Day Every Day series.

Tealight_Candle_Blue_200  Special continued for another week (through Sunday, May 16):  Take an extra 10% off all Samara Synergies.   Good time to stock up on First Defense  for the family’s flu artillery or Calma for aiding sleep.  Many others to choose from.  Orders over $35 will also receive a free decorative tea light holder (pictured at left).    Enter “Colds & Flu #1” (no quotes) in promotional code on checkout page.
http://www.wingedseed.com

 Posted by at 4:42 pm
May 052009
 

Today is wet, cold and blustery here in the Cascade foothills, but we are braving it and continuing to get the garden ready to plant Poppies_Parking_Strip_300 this week in the hopes that we don’t have another freeze.  The picture at left is meant to give you one of many creative ideas if you are bored with grass in your parking strip in the city.  This is across the entire 60’ double lot in front of our Seattle (Queen Anne hill) house in the mid 90’s, a veritable field of Flanders’ poppies.  As one neighbor commented back then, “It appears we aren’t in Kansas anymore, Marcia!”  Annual wildflower mixes are inexpensive and can be directly sowed in spring for easy-care color and scent and will last well into late summer.  The key is to prepare good soil by tilling peat moss, leaf mold and additives (and hand turn to aerate well), smoothing surface before sowing the seed.  We made extra concrete walkways to allow crossing through without walking in the bed itself, although we did have the occasional “urban deer” as I called those moving too fast (joggers, kids on skateboards) to avoid tromping through. As you can see, little damage occurred and most walkers in our neighborhood went out of their way to pass by and enjoy the display.

TOO MUCH RAIN TO MOW?  If the lawn is wet because you’re getting more rain than you are used to, try spraying your mower blades with vegetable oil to help keep cut grass from sticking.  This will allow you to cut when grass is still slightly wet.  Keeping your grass at least 3”-4” tall will keep most weeds at bay by preventing them from getting sunlight to sprout.  Use a mulching mower and leave grass clippings to break down and provide healthy nitrogen (this provides about half what your lawn needs) as it breaks down.  Healthy grass should be aerated and fed (composted lightly) twice a year; not doing this will promote more weeds.  Remember: healthy soil/healthy plants/fewer weeds.   Talk to an expert to find the best grass seed combination for your climate and soil.  Reseeding should be done in the fall when you expect at least six weeks of 50-70 degree weather, the optimum temperature for grass seeds to sprout.

YOUNG FRONDS OF FIDDLEHEAD FERNS (also known as ostrich ferns) can be a delicious food.  The new fronds will be lighter in color than the rest of the plant, about 2” long and 1 1/2” in diameter.  Fiddleheads are safe to eat if cooked, they taste like a cross between asparagus and green beans.  They can be stir-fried or steamed, but they should never be eaten raw.  Cook no longer than 5 minutes for best flavor and texture.

THE MOST NUTRITIOUS GREENS to grow in your garden (or choose from your organic green grocer) are:
Arugula has a slightly peppery flavor; used in salads.
Beet – young leaves are best. Delicious lightly steamed.  When
     cooking the beet itself, add the leaves to the pot for extra taste
     and nutrition.
Dandelion – young leaves not exposed to pesticides are best.       
     Their bitter taste is excellent for digestive health.
Endive – a type of chicory that grows in a small, cone-shaped     
     head.  Has pale leaves and is slightly bitter for salads. 
Kale – My favorite garden green; choose thin stems/frilly leaves.
     Stir fry, steam, add to soups and pastas . . . many uses in
     cooking.
Romaine lettuce – full of vitamins and minerals.
Spinach – Very high in nutrition; can be eaten raw or cooked.

Tealight_Candle_Blue_150 Special this week only (through Sunday, May 9):  Take an extra 10% off all Samara Synergies.   Good time to stock up on First Defense  for the family’s flu artillery or Calma for aiding sleep.  Many others to choose from.  Orders over $35 will also receive a free decorative tea light holder (pictured at left).    Enter “Earth Day#4” (no quotes) in promotional code on checkout page.
http://www.wingedseed.com

 Posted by at 6:48 pm