Welcome to my "all things plants" blog. These are my own personal observations, thoughts, and things I've found beneficial to me. Please comment and contribute.

“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” -Gandhi

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Prickly Pear used to filter water

I read this article and thought "WOW" but one must realize that while it seems to work on sediment and Bacillus cereus, that is only one bacteria AND the study does not state whether it works with Gardia. However, you do still need to boil the water....so.....

Cactus Gum Purifies Water Cheaply and Effectively

Counterintuitive as it may seem, cacti might be the key to cheap and easy water purification. Assistant Professor Norma Alcantar at the University of South Florida in Tampa has discovered that when mucilage (a type of gum used to store water) from the prickly pear cactus is mixed with water that contains high levels of sediment or the bacterium Bacillus cereus, both the bacteria and the sediment sink to the bottom. The mucilage, in other words, acts as a cheap and effective natural filter, which could be employed by millions of people in developing nations to produce clean water.

The discovery means that residents of the developing world could potentially boil cactus and add it to water that needs to be purified. Of course, it will be difficult for cactus users to gauge how much bacteria and sediment has been filtered. And its hard to say how much water and land would be necessary to grow cacti for widespread water purification. But we love the idea of being able to swap out the Brita for a cactus.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

helping with plant course at the university

Ok, I am SO excited!!! the University where I work/play is going to see about adding an ethnobotany BS degree AND they want ME to help put it all together!!!!! As a grad student, that means I get to do all the work!!!! YAY!! that means my …yes MY… input is going to be tremendous! (doesn't mean they will accept it all though, lol! sorry had to deflate my head a bit).

This means I will be working on figuring out all the courses necessary and what new courses we need here and how they may be structured. Just everything! Even recommending text books and maybe putting together a lab manual or two.

This is such good news! We have a major in Botany, I was the last person to get a minor in botany. And we only currently have ONE class that even touches on this subject (ethnobotany) and it is only offered 'on demand' which means once every ten or so years. The university has been 'trimming' all the botany courses, they even got rid of the botany dept, merging it with biology. We have one of the best Herbariums in the country and it is just sitting there. So this will help utilize it more and even ADD to it. It will also help push it online!

But the best part is that I'm hoping it will draw MORE STUDENTS to love plants!!!!

can you tell I'm excited? There are only two universities in the country currently offering this degree.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hopefully the tables are turning for Monsanto

I always pronounce this icky name "Mon-ah-sat-n-toe"; I was wrong, it is "Mon-san-toe" or so 'they' say....

Well if you've been in the world of gardening for very long at all, you've heard about these gene-splicing, greedy patent defending, sue the organic farmer for 'stealing' your genes (despite the fact that organic gardeners/farmers cannot BE organic with it), money grubbing, powerful: Monsanto company.

Well there is now a law suit AGAINST them. Let me repeat: the lawsuit is AGAINST Monsanto. And to break it all down so we little people can understand it, is THIS GREAT WEBSITE.

It is brief and to the point (or rather FOUR points). I SO hope they win. :)


And if ya don't, well at least do not try to ruin organic!

One interesting side note. Each semester, in botany lab, I challenge the students to actually THINK about genetic modification. They haven't a clue usually. I give them about ONE WEEK to do research and form an opinion; no right or wrong answer; they just have to give their opinion and explain why. Usually only two or three even make the effort. The rest type up what they heard me say. sigh!

Our university is divided into numerous colleges. I am mostly in the College of Mathematics and Science and occasionally will wander over to the College of Agriculture to take a class or two on soils.

However, THEIR philosophy on GMO's are VERY different from us environmentalists over in the Sciences!! Let me tell you! They are ALL for it, except for a few brave souls that are for organic. In a class of about 20, there were only THREE of us!!!!

So I think (or shall I say "hope"?) things are changing. I know that at least one professor over there (agri) knows that we cannot keep doing all these monoculture crops because we are killing our soils. There are SO many great things a farm can do, to not only be organic, but be profitable. However, this rather crappy economy is really hurting our smaller farmers.....then again, people are buying more at farmers markets!

So yes, I will dare to say that I HOPE and THINK things are changing for the better! Ok, enough rambling! :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A funny

One day, GOD asked St. Francis.....

GOD: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature, what in the world
is going on down there in the U.S.? What in the world happened to the
dandelions, violets, thistles and the stuff I started eons ago? I had
a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of
soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the
long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of
songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of color by now. All I see
are patches of green.

ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. They are called
Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to
great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it is so boring, it's not colorful. It doesn't attract
birds butterflies or bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's
temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want
grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it
and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing it and
poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make the grass grow
really fast. That must make the Suburbanites very happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it has grown a little,
they cut it-sometimes two times a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now let me get this straight: They fertilize it to make it grow
and when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut
back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth
and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS! : You aren't going to believe this Lord. When the grass
stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water
it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a
sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves
in the spring to provide beauty and shade in summer. In the autumn
they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep the
moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they
rot, the leaves become compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural
circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You'd better sit down, Lord. Instead, the Suburbanites
rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No way!! What do they do to protect the shrubs and tree roots in
the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing the leaves away they buy something called
mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down the trees and grind them up to make mulch.

GOD: Enough!! I don't want to think about this anymore. Saint
Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie is scheduled for
us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: "Dumb and Dumber". It's a real stupid movie about...

GOD: Never mind playing it --- I think I just heard the whole story
from Saint Francis!

the good and bad news!

So the lady in MI who WAS being charged for growing veggies, has an update:


It seems the city semi dropped the charges but can reinstate them and they are NOW pursuing charges about their DOGS!!!

the poor lady has had a migraine for days now over it all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

very good article

This article is about Julie Bass, you know the woman who is being harassed and having to go to court for growing veggies in her front yard; and about sustainable living in this day. It is a kinda long article but it has some very good points, the least of which is how the city which is taking Ms. Bass to court, the policy actually EXEMPTS veggie gardens...

ENJOY! I am only going to post SOME of it, so go to the site to read it all.

Sustainable Living as Civil Disobedience

The Rosa Parks of Sustainable Gardening?

Everyone knows the story of Rosa Parks, the African-American civil rights activist who on December 1, 1955, refused to give up her bus seat to accommodate a white passenger. That act of civil disobedience resulted in her arrest, and quickly became one of the defining and most memorable acts of resistance in the Civil Rights Movement.

It might be a stretch to describe Julie Bass as “the Rosa Parks of sustainable gardening”… but not by much. Bass is no activist. She’s just a homeowner living in Oak Park, Michigan, who planted a vegetable garden in her front yard — like the one Michelle Obama planted on the front lawn of the White House, she notes — and who now faces arrest and jail time if she refuses to tear it down.

Why? Because of a city ordinance which reads, “All unpaved portions of the [screening and landscaping] site shall be planted with grass ground cover, shrubbery, or other suitable live plant material.” And a complaint from a neighbor to a city councilman that the front-yard garden looked like a “New Orleans cemetery.”

(really? a "New Orleans cemetery"???? this neighbor must NEVER have seen one! lol!)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Here is my letter

I sent a letter to all the idiots in Oak Parks, Michigan for their persecution of the lady who is trying (and succeeding very well) to grow a garden in her front yard. Seems these idiots actually think that veggies plants are UNCOMMON.


And here is my letter (subject line is "Your disregard for the Constitution of the USA"):

Dear Sirs and/or Madams:

I'm writing you today with a sad, heavy, and ticked off heart. See I am a "Michigander"; was born and raised in Flint, MI. And it breaks my heart to see a city that acts in such a way that brings reproach on the great state of Michigan.

Yes, I'm talking about the MUCH talked about Oak Parks situation where it seems the city is going after a woman who is not only trying to FEED her family but doing so in a GREAT and INSPIRING way.

I've seen the pictures of her yard, there is NOT ONE plant in there that is "uncommon". There are NO weeds.

SERIOUSLY, you as leaders of the community should be ENCOURAGING the people YOU SERVE to grow their own food in these hard economical times. Michigan always seems to get HIT HARDER when the economy tanks and it would not only benefit the citizens you SERVE to encourage them to grow their own food; but it would make Oak Parks a LEADER in "green" forward thinking.

The way you are acting; persecuting this woman simply for having VERY NICE raised garden beds and FOOD growing in her front yard is not only STUPID but EVERYONE WHO READS about this story looks at YOU, yes YOU the 'so called' LEADERS WHO ARE TO SERVE the community -with disdain. And frankly, YOU are looking very bad and worse each day.

So how many people complained?? One that we know of. ONE. And so what? it's NOT THEIR YARD!

So you've stated you will be "pursuing this ALL the way" now. And what will you accomplish if you "win"? Will it be a real win? No it won't. Hopefully your city is NOT completely FULL of idiots who have nothing better to do than make life harder for a person who is simply trying to do the best she can to SURVIVE.

I'm sure that there will be even MORE letters to the judge who hears this case and demands to follow the LAW of the land which by the way in case you FORGOT is the Constitution of the United States of America. Your little "city policies" are trumped by the constitution. And CONSTITUTIONALLY she has THE RIGHT to GROW HER OWN FOOD!!!!! And by the way, your very own policy of "only common plants" in the front yard actually UPHOLDS her being able to plant a garden since VEGETABLE plants are VERY common.

I sincerely hope that this DOES go to court and she asks the jury to nullify your stupid policy. And I hope she counter sues you and asks for compensation for all the mental stress AND all legal fees AND extra money for get an organization going that encourages ALL residents of Oak Parks to put in gardens!!! And I HOPE YOU ALL get replaced if you stand against her.

YOU people are a disgrace to your city, your state, your country and YOURSELVES. You forget you are SERVANTS of the city and are to work FOR the community's benefit. Someone planting FOOD for themselves BENEFITS a community. SO WHAT IF IT'S IN THE FRONT YARD!!!!!????? It's neat and orderly and BENEFICIAL!!

I won't be surprised if people who find your actions disgusting and unfair and ILLEGAL; start throwing rotten vegetables at you. I hope you get GOBS of it in the mail! And if they do, just think -they COULD have been giving you fresh wonderful tasting veggies to EAT.

Take a good look in the mirror today and ask yourself: what REALLY would benefit my city? Encouraging people to help themselves and make it through these hard economic times? (your answer should be YES) or persecuting a woman for growing veggies in her front yard? (your answer should be NO for this one)

and if you are an honest, humble person who wants to SERVE your community, you'll get off your high horse and power trip; go to that woman and LEARN something!!! Like how to grow tomatoes. And you'll learn about how she has been lifting peoples spirits and giving them HOPE and how she have been doing a GOOD thing for herself and her neighbors. THEN you need to get together and figure out how to encourage EVERYONE in your city to do this!

Remember: YOU are the ones making her into a martyr. If you for some ungodly reason succeed in your persecution; you will be the ones granting her even MORE power and you will STILL look FOOLISH!

As for the person who complained, tell them to 'GET A LIFE' and grow a garden -it soothes the soul.

I would sign this "Respectfully" but I have NO respect for you if you continue in this foolish nonsense.
So I will simply sign it:

Kellie Nelson
-she who is disgusted by the so called leaders of Oak Parks MICHIGAN and thinks they should should BE SMART and encourage MORE citizens to grow their own food!!

"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." -Gandhi

what do ya think? I think I was too soft on them. Anyways, I hope you go to her site and get the information to write these idiots. They all have emails.