Crazy Weather

It’s February 25th today and we’re expecting a high of 62 degrees.  That’s just craziness.  Almost all of the snow we received a week or so ago has melted.  Flocks of Canadian geese were flying in overhead this morning.  I was seeing robins in January.  This is not normal.

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“PlantPure Nation”

Some disturbing facts from the documentary “PlantPure Nation:

  • Large, mono-crop agribusinesses use fuel-intensive equipment and high amount of pesticides and herbicides; trillions of dollars in subsidies are provided to these companies every year in the U.S. – at the expense of the health and wellbeing of U.S. citizens
  • The number of small farms in the U.S. have gone from 7 million in 1940 to fewer than 2 million today , and the numbers are dwindling annually
  • Americans have almost doubled their annual meat intake per capita from 100 lbs in 1930s to just under 200 lbs today; a change in diet pushed by the meat and dairy lobbies and large agribusinesses
  • 30% of U.S. land is given over to grazing animals or growing food (soybean and corn) to feed factory raised animals; animals which are not only unhealthy to consume, but the living conditions, treatment and slaughter of which is inhumane
  • 9 of 10 hottest years on record have occurred in the 21st century – horrific from a planet and human health stand-point; the emissions produced from the inputs needed to sustain this increasing demand for factory raised animals (including not only meat products, but also dairy and eggs) is a major contributor to climate change

“Numerous studies now show that a whole foods, plant-based diet comprised primarily of vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts will not only prevent many chronic diseases (Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesteral), but will also reverse many.” (PlantPure Nation”)

Personally, I think it’s unrealistic to believe that every American will become vegan any time in the near future.  But from a health perspective, if for no other reason, many could cut their intake of animal-based foods in half and benefit greatly from the change.  There is also no reason why every American, even those living in apartments with little more than a balcony for personal, outdoor space, can’t grow some of their own food.  Just a taste of fresh, green herbs or a juicy, sun-soaked tomato from your own vine will make one long for fresh, organically grown produce in favor of the tasteless, nutrient-deficient, sorry excuse for a vegetable that is “manufactured” by some agribusiness on the other side of the country or world.  And these smallest changes in habit, all the while, will benefit our planet as well.

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Pruning

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Despite wishing it were not so, winter persists.  Overnights have been in the single digits (negatives with wind chill) and the days in the teens.  We’ve had a week of snow, sleet and freezing rain with 6-10 inches of snow expected to arrive tomorrow into Monday.  The usual February weather.  So, to keep my spirits up, I continue my garden-related reading and video watching.

Since March is my month for pruning the fruit trees and any non-spring blooming shrubs, I decided to brush up on my pruning techniques.  It’s not a task at which I’ve ever felt completely adept, despite have several excellent organic orchard books.  I’ve been on the look out for a book that simplified – or dumbed down, if you will – the process for me; a process which, unfortunately, varies depending on what it is you are pruning.

Last weekend I was re-reading one of my favorite Tasha Tudor books for the umpteenth time, when I picked up on a pruning book she highly recommended by Lewis Hill.  Searching on Amazon, I found The Pruning Answer Book (2011) by Lewis Hill and Penelope O’Sullivan.

No exaggeration, this book is a god-send!  It is clearly and concisely written, answers the most basic of questions, and is illustrated in an extremely helpful manner.  The book contains chapters on right and wrong pruning practices; and pruning everything from deciduous shade trees, ornamental trees, flowering shrubs, hedges, evergreens, woody vines, fruit trees, bush fruit/brambles, nut trees and even topiary, if you’re into it (I’m not).  It’s even printed in a compact size to make carrying it around with you outside feasible.  I’m so excited to head out into the orchard and garden this March, book in hand, to tackle this season’s pruning with a greater degree of confidence!