The gardening cure

Since the day and age of Shelter in Place began some weeks ago, many folks have been turning to gardening as a tonic to the stress and strangeness of these times. In light of this trend, Voice of America just did a recent piece on some of the Americans who are honing their green thumbs and profiled some of the work I’ve been doing. The owner of Oakland’s well-known nursery The Dry Garden is also interviewed. Perhaps it will be motivation for you at home to get out and dig in the dirt a bit. Happy viewing.

-John Kamp

Our letter on bee die-offs featured in StarTribune

beehive, EPA report, StarTribune, bee die-offs, letter of the day, John Kamp, PRAIRIEFORM

The EPA recently released a report on declining bee populations and potential causes. Their conclusions were perhaps more than disappointing: multiple causes, some human-made (re: neonicotinoids and other pesticides, habitat loss), some not (mites), so there’s really not much we can do. The Minneapolis StarTribune has been doing great ongoing coverage not simply of bee population decline but also on the vanishing prairie in Minnesota, and thus they did cover this story. We wrote a letter in response, not really to what the journalist wrote (which was great), but rather in response to the EPA’s conclusion that we can’t ban any of the pesticides called out, and the problem’s basically too vast, so let’s all just plant flowers and hope for the best. In short: a ridiculous cop-out. Anyway, the letter was featured in the StarTribune as their Letter of the Day, and you can read it here.

The science of urban gardening

There is much talk surrounding urban gardens and their potential benefits to habitat, water conservation, minimizing the heat island effect, and so on. Some of these said benefits are grounded in research, while some are not. There is something to be said for not caring whether every element of one’s garden has withstood the microscope of scientific inquiry, as it is a garden after all, and it is supposed to provide space and time for relaxation and enjoyment and not always a forum for cerebral head-scratching. In any case, if we are to make claims that an urban garden can and does achieve a whole host of goals pertaining to sustainability, a bit of science to back them up would serve the cause well. Enter the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and their new endeavor to create a peer-reviewed guide to urban gardening that offers current gardeners and potential new ones advice rooted in real research and literature on what you can do and not do to ensure that your garden is a true beacon of green goodness and not simply one that has the veneer of being green. This effort to create outdoor spaces that are truly sustainable as opposed to ones that merely present a veneer of sustainability is something we strive to do in all of our work, so this report we could not be more excited about. The initial summary is available to read on their website, with the full, peer-reviewed report to come out in fall. Happy reading, everyone.

Local produce, a kitchen, and full-color results

Bitter greens steaming (Might they be surly too?)

Buying local is the new black, and it’s a trend that might actually stick, given the realities of supply and demand and finite amounts of petroleum on planet earth. Signing up with a Community-Supported Agriculture (or CSAs) establishment is an easy way to get cheap and fresh locally grown produce, sometimes delivered right to your door. The tricky part, though, is what to do with the three-weeks-worth of kale you might receive, or the six heads of cauliflower instantly sitting in your kitchen. Such is why we dig this blog, as it provides zippy recipes, and accompanying photos, for making the most out of your insta-mountain of collard greens. For example, collard green pesto: Who would have thunk? We love it. Go to Mpls Locavore to see more.

Bringing home the bees

A beehouse to attract solitary bees in search of residence

We were going to write about more serious, polemic-y matters today, but a post on the Garden Rant blog about bees and ways of inviting them into your landscape to shack up and stay a while made us switch gears. With bee populations in decline, now could not be a better time to not only add bee-friendly plants to your landscape (Perovskia atriplicifolia / Russian Sage being an easy, and tough-as-nails favorite) but also a beehouse to encourage your bees to stick around. You can not only purchase beehouses to attract solitary, stingerless, pollinating bees, but you can order your own bees too. For more on the subject, click here. We hate to use the word “cute,” but the whole thing does amount to cute goodness.