Worms and Flowers

Earth Day

Posted in Environment, History by Lzyjo on April 22, 2009

A friend’s mom once told me Earth Day was her favorite holiday. I couldn’t agree more. Earth Day is the most universal global holiday we have. A day to unite for our one and only, Mother Earth.

The first Earth Day was organized by peace activist John McConnell, to coincide with the 1969 UNESCO conference held in San Francisco around the Spring Equinox on March 20th.

John McConnell was a Midwesterner who moved to San Francisco to continue his interest in activism. McConnell was a prolific activist. He organized campaigns for many causes, including peace, hunger, and environmental issues. McConnell was inspired by the pollution he saw while working at a plastic factory. McConnell was so appalled by the pollution resulting from plastic manufacture that he made it his life’s work to promote environmental activism and stewardship.

The Earth Day holiday was founded in 1970 with the help of Wisconsin-senator Gaylord Nelson. Since 1970, Earth Day’s are held on April 22nd of every year. Even Senator Nelson couldn’t predict the success of his ambitious idea, saying of the project, “it was a gamble, but it worked.”

The 1970’s were a very important time for environmental legislation. There was momentum built up by the growing awareness of social issues, pollution, and our impact on wildlife and wilderness.

Today many of the same issues exist, threatened and endangered species, pollution from nuclear waste, coal, munitions, boats, pharmaceutical waste, untreated sewage, mining waste, brewing waste, and so on. The Earth is not our garbage can, but we often treat it that way.

Since the new millennium, Earth Day has added Global Warming as another key issue. The good news is, 2007 was the most successful Earth Day, with an estimated one billion people participating in close to two hundred countries.

Happy Earth Day!

For Addition information:

Earth Day Network, a website organized by the founders of Earth Day.

Wikipedia Earth Day

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Tumbleweed–Icon or Invasive Species?

Posted in History by Lzyjo on April 9, 2009

I was reading this CNN article, by bestselling-author Bob Greene, about the Terrifying Tumbleweed and the menace it poses to Westerners trapped in their homes behind walls of tumbleweeds. The enlightening article prompted me to do some research into tumbleweed. What I found was even more surprising.

Tumbleweeds are generally classified as members of the species of Salsola. Salsola is a genus in the family Amaranthaceae. Salsola’s include tumbleweeds, Tartar thistle, and Russian Thistle.

Certain species of amaranth, baby’s breath flowers, and others, do also tumble.

Tumbleweeds are annuals that dry out at the end of the season, until they break away from their stem, free to spread their seed as they tumble across the country. Tumbleweeds are unstoppable, capable of rolling over chain-link fences, highway barriers, and escarpments.

Stirring up all these images of tumbleweed, you may be picturing one rambling across a dusty road, running through a western outpost. This probably wasn’t the case, at least until after 1870 when the suspect shipment of agricultural flax seed arrived in South Dakota, imported from Russia or the Ukraine, where the Eurasian tumbleweed grows.

The irony of this story is, the South Dakota climate was too harsh to grow flax, but the tumbleweed did more than survive.  It has reached a level of iconic status reserved for saguaros, not state flowers, and certainly not invasive species.

Another interesting problem associated with the roving tumbleweed is radioactive plant material being carried out of Washington State’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The tumbleweed very efficiently extracts radioactive material from the soil via their taproots that is later stored in the plant material.  A 2001 article in the Seattle Times reported that search and destory crews were deployed to test and destroy all tumbleweeds for radioactivity.

To Learn More about Tumbleweeds Check

Wikipedia Tumbleweeds

YouTube Video of Tumbleweeds (Incredible if you’ve never seen them before like me.)

Darwin: The Father of Vermicompost

Posted in History, Worms by Lzyjo on December 24, 2008

Charles Darwin, 1809-1882, the father of modern modern science and also the father vermicomposting. As early as 1837 Darwin was studying worms and read a paper on the subject before the Geological Society of London. Darwin’s last book, published in 1881, The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms, with Observations on their Habits, thoroughly details the biology of the worm and his experiments keeping worms in pots. Darwin hypothesized that the entire layer of topsoil had been ingested and excreted by earthworms. As with most new ideas, this hypothesis was challenged.

“In the year 1869, Mr. Fish rejected my conclusions with respect to the part which worms have played in the formation of vegetable mould, merely on account of their assumed incapacity to do so much work. He remarks that ‘considering their weakness and their size, the work they are represented to have accomplished is stupendous.’  Here we have an instance of that inability to sum up the effects of
a continually recurrent cause, which has often retarded the
progress of science, as formerly in the case of geology, and more
recently in that of the principle of evolution.”

This criticism didn’t deter Darwin, rather pushed him to conduct further studies to obtain better evidence. And indeed he did, testing the worms’ sense of smell and feeling, by holding tobacco juice and perfume saturated cotton balls near the worms burrows and using hot pokers and candles to determine whether worms were more sensitive to heat or light.

Darwin fed his potted worms rotted leaves, cabbage, onions, even meat and fat, checking to see how quickly the food was pulled back into the burrow.

Worm Facts from Darwin’s book:

Worms can break down rocks to use in their gizzards.
A Worm can consume 10 tons of material annually.
Worms can undermine building foundations and stonework not deeply anchored in the earth.
Ancient artifacts have been preserved under think layers of worm castings.

The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms, with Observations on their Habits and other books by Charles Darwin are available by public domain on Project Gutenberg.

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Hyacinth Bean Lablab

Posted in History, Seeds by Lzyjo on December 24, 2008

This has got to be the coolest plant. And I’m not the only one who thinks so, Thomas Jefferson grow this ornamental and edible vine on a black locust arbor, next to his 1,000′ vegetable garden, in the early 1800s.

Photobucket

I purchased the seeds from Onalee Seeds. I’m really happy with the stuff I got from her. She may charge more than other people, but they are fresh and she stands behind the products. It says all over that she will replace the seeds if they do not germinate. I don’t know of any other seller who guarantees germination. I got a mixture of Lablab purpureus and Lablab purpurpeus Alba. I am assuming that the darker seeds are purple and the lighter ones are white. They’re really cute looking, like tiny clams with the foot sticking out. The seeds packet states it can bloom in just 50-80 days, that’s fast. I think this plant and I have a great future. I have a feeling they will love the hot and humid weather. The beans seem to be more popular as an ornamental, here in the U.S., although both the foliage and beans are eaten in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Tropics. The seeds pod can be poisonous if eaten raw and in large quantities, due to the presence of cyanogenic glocosides. I have seen the flavor described as something between a bean and mushroom. The seeds had a peculiar smell after soaking, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I planted the seeds yesterday, after soaking. I can’t wait to see these wonderful exotic vines covering the front porch.

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