Here’s some winter interest for ya – catching up with gardening podcasts! Which I don’t believe we’ve mentioned here on the Rant since 2010, so it’s high time, with this being called the Golden Age of Podcasts and all. And did iPhone users notice that the newest version of the iOS includes an automatic podcast icon that syncs to your iTunes podcast subscriptions for easy listening? Or you can listen by searching and hitting play, with no need to fiddle with the ever-clunky iTunes itself.
One of my regular podcasts for years has been Margaret Roach’s “A Way to Garden,” all accessible here for download or instant listening. Honestly, I skip the episodes about seed-starting, cooking, and growing vegetables, and that’s a lot of them, but when Margaret covers a topic of interest to me, there’s always a take-away. And lately two episodes had tons of take-away, so here ya go.
Debra Prinzing, author of The 50 Mile Bouquet and Slow Flowers wow’d me with her passionate telling of why buying locally grown cut flowers matters. Click to listen. Full transcript here, with some highlights below.
So the slow flowers challenge is to take that process—really a meditative process—of observing nature and considering yourself a student of nature. Take a walk around your garden, or in your neighborhood (where of course you should only gather what a storm has knocked down, unless you have neighbors as I do who invite me to come clip).
What about in the winter?
In general, evergreen needled material or broadleaf material and twigs will be the base of your arrangement—colorful twig dogwoods, for instance, or branches with buds.” Plus you can “cheat” with orchids like we mentioned, cut or potted. I have a half-dozen Rex begonias, such as ‘Escargot,’ and their leaves are so dramatic in a floral arrangement.”
Margaret mentioned a flower farmer near her in New York contributing to a CSA and Debra responds:
For a lot of CSA farmers, they might have an unplanted row alongside the vegetables and they plant some sunflowers or zinnias, and they take those to the market or put them in their CSA boxes, and the response is so positive that it’s like the gateway drug: “Oh, we’ve got to grow more.” And actually flowers do have a higher per-acre revenue potential than a commodity food crop, so that’s another appeal to people like the farm in your community.
I had no idea Debra had created such a cool resource:
The SlowFlowers dot com website is free for anyone to use, and is basically a directory of American-grown flowers, and the farmers and florists who bring them to the marketplace. Right now there are 425 farmers, designers, studios and shops listed in 47 states.
Jeff Gillman may be the best known hort professor in the U.S., with his popular books for nonscientists and, with Linda Chalker-Scott, the Garden Professors Blog and Facebook group (now with close to 2,000 members). Go to this page to listen or read the transcript here. Highlights below.
A lot of our organic pesticides can be more dangerous than synthetic ones, and it bothers me that people don’t understand that. You look at natural things, and you say, “How could these be as dangerous as synthetic,” and I say: Let’s look at a rattlesnake bite.
“Everyone is against Roundup, and I am not a tremendous fan of it. But if you think vinegar is a safe alternative you are fooling yourself.” and relates his experience spraying vinegar on a weed and accidentally killing a frog. Concluding with: “Get yourself some exercise by kneeling down and actually—wait for it!—pulling weeds.”
This next issue wasn’t on my radar screen at all.
Unfortunately, there are also a lot [of organic fertilizers] out there that come from non-renewable sources. The big one is actually rock phosphate. Rock phosphate is the source of Phosphorus in most of your organic fertilizers, and rock phosphate is actually a really bad product.
Thanks to Debra, Jeff, and especially Margaret, whose interviews of Thomas Rainer, Doug Tallamy, Larry Weaner and Linda Chalker-Scott I also enjoyed recently.