Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tiny Tim Tomato Transplant (Christel)

So the instructions say that when the seedling reach 5" they need to be transplanted to a larger pot. Well yesterday I attempted to transplant them. It was a huge mess and I wonder when it will become a disaster! Im waiting- with fingers crossed-to see if they will survive.

Another thing-that I have yet to find out if it is an issue- is that I planted the tomatoes in the a pot-some distance from my aloe vera that I had to replant when the pot it inhabited broke. I have sorta skimmed articles about how you can plant many different plants together in one pot or space-but I figure the plants must be compatible. Well I guess I should look it up and find out-but my instinct tells me that I will have to seperate them.

Anyway I will update on any gardening progress I make.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"mite" have been (Anne)

A couple of weeks ago, all of my plants were doing really well: they all had new growth, and I had used each of the herbs at least once in a recipe. Then I started to notice small brownish spots on the cilantro and within a couple of days it had wilted, and the roots molded. I did a little research on cilantro and discovered that it has a very short life span (some sources said only 3 weeks) and so I figured it must have just died from old age. However, soon after this I started seeing the same brownish spots on my basil and lettuce. Then I got a bit worried and did a little investigation. I found some silky strands that looked like spider webbing and some tiny bugs that look like orange chiggers on a few of the leaves. I did a little more research and found out that spider mites were eating my plants. They were too small for me to get a good picture of them but here's Wikipedia's photo:

They lay their eggs on the underside of leaves so that when they hatch, the babies can eat the leaves. The best solution I could find (besides predatory mites that can cause problems of their own) was humidity: evidently spider mites can't stand humidity. So I've been misting the plants at least three times a day but the lettuce has died and the basil and thyme are in really bad shape. The rosemary doesn't look great but I've still been using it and the chives and parsley look like they'll pull through. I've decided to order some worm castings to try and keep the mites away and add some nutrients for the plants. Here is the websites I'm ordering them from:
I also bought a "guaranteed to grow" kit with basil, rosemary and thyme in it. The basil and chives have sprouted but no sign of the rosemary. I'm going to get a strawberry and a sage plant to replace the cilantro and lettuce in the 20gal terrarium.
Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The TEK of Hayao Miyazaki's films (Christel)

Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese artist and film director the movies Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Ponyo just to name a few. These are some of my most favorite films because they are beautifully animated, tell fantastic stories and feature the most delightful characters. Anyway I was watching My Neighbor Totoro the other evening and it dawned on me that Miyazaki's films not only have strong environmental messages-but that these movies can teach children a traditional ecological knowledge that melds play, magic and apreciation of the environment.
In Miyazaki's films the environment is alive with spirits and creatures of magic that protect the trees, lakes, forrests and oceans. The characters in all of the films play with nature and in doing so realize that they are a part of it, no different from the mystical beings that dwell in the trees.
Ultimately the characters learn that the power and magic of the spirits of nature are not without their limits and that it is human care and protection that gives the spirits the powers they have to protect, heal and repair the world. Therefore the characters learn that humans are stewards of the earth alongside the magical elements and that everyone plays a part and must work together to keep the world the beautiful and mystical place that it is!

So to sum up, Miyazaki's movies teach children that the environment-trees, rocks and animals-are things of beauty and magic. Children learn that they can play with nature and take enjoyment from it. This helps foster the idea that nature is important to respect and protect.
Anyway perhaps I have gone out on a limb here-but at least this is how I feel about Miyazaki's movies. What other forms of media are there that provide this level of learning and emotional connection to the world?
This is a picture from My Neighbor Totoro where two girls are learning how the forrest spirits can make their garden grow by dancing around it and believing in the magic of nature.

Monday, November 15, 2010

An update (Courtney)

Well, I went out of town this weekend, and I didn't make arrangements for anyone to give my plants some lovin' while I was gone.  They looked pretty sad and neglected when I got home yesterday, but I think most of them are getting healthier now that I've given them some water.  I'm still a little worried about the oregano. 

Otherwise, however, things have been going well. I use at least one or two herbs every time I cook - which saves money and produces less waste (cause they go bad so fast when not rooted).  The jury is still out on my tomatoes and strawberries, but I guess I am doing everything right.  

I found this article in the New York Times - Hard to Kill: Houseplants for the Inept - and it is right up my alley.  Thought it might be helpful to some of you who want to surround yourself with living greenness but have a hard time keeping things alive. 


Monday, November 8, 2010

Spending Money (Anne)

Here is a list of what I have bought for this project with each item's approximate cost:
  • 10 gallon aquarium: free, courtesy of Mallory who is also in our Historical Ecology class
  • top to aquarium with fluorescent light in it: $20 at the pet store
  • 20 gal. aquarium with lid/light: $30 from craigslist.org
  • Chives, Rosemary, Thyme, Cilantro, Basil, Parsley and Romaine lettuce: between $2-$4 each for a total of $20 at a local garden shop
  • 22L bag of sterile dirt: $7 at a local garden shop
  • 25lbs non-colored pebbles: $13 at the pet store
  • 10 handfuls of Spanish moss: free, courtesy of my grandmother's backyard (local garden shop sold it for $1 per handful
  • 22oz activated charcoal: $19 at the pet store 
  • spray bottle: $1 at Family Dollar
~For a grand total of $110 which is a pretty big investment for a college student but hopefully I'll save money in the long run by not continually buying expensive and highly perishable fresh herbs (usually about $4-$5 for one use) at the grocery store.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More pictures (Christel)

So here are some pictures of my plants in the daytime. The strawberries seem to be doing much better since I've moved them into the front yard near the mailbox-this spot seems to recieve the most sunlight in my yard.

The other picture shows the amount of morning light I get through my kithcen windows which face northwest. This is probably not the most ideal placement for these plants-I don't think they are recieving enough sunlight here-so I plan to move them in the spring to the front yard. I have noticed that a few of my neighbors have various garden projects all of which seem to be in their front yards. I assume they have placed the small gardens there because of the amount of sun and because most of our backyards face north and are bordered by a small wood-which shades our backyards until midday when the sun is high.

I was also considering looking into some kind of light to put in the kitchen for these plants. I have not checked into the details yet but I wonder if it would be helpful or if it would be more beneficial to simply move them in the spring and try a raised garden bed with natural sunlight. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

On another note-I have begun purchasing apples and tomatoes at this local produce stand. The owner there said that everything he sells is either locally grown or purchased from the farmers market (I dont know which one). I plan to go back and ask him more questions. I have noticed that the healthiness of the fruits from this stand rival that of Walmart's fruits and vegetables. I have also noticed that the prices also rival Walmart's!
Well that about raps it up for today! I think that my next blog will try to include a small interview and analysis from the gentleman who owns the produce stand near my home. I would like to know perhaps how he feels about, interacts with and talks about food. Is there a local ecological knowledge or terminology distict from other states or regions in the U.S.?
Well I guess we will find out!

Friday, November 5, 2010


I lived in Botswana for a little while a few years ago, and I had the pleasure of getting to know two Bushmen, both named Dabe (Da-bee).  They guided me through the bush on nature walks, astounded me with their knowledge of every kind of plant and its uses, taught me how to shoot a bow and arrow, and entertained me with the clicks and clacks of their native tongue. 

The Botswana government does little to protect the land and culture of the Bushmen, and it has outlawed many of their subsistence strategies.  They have been marginalized as outsiders yet forced to turn to the surrounding political economy for sustenance.  As a result, they have been exposed to Western culture, and this is changing them in fundamental ways.  I can remember having teary discussions with the Dabes about feeling displaced, having no roots, and losing their cultural identity.

I came upon this article this morning in the New York Times, and I wanted to share with the you the danger and injustice of uprooting people, displacing them, and forcing them to adapt to non-sustainable lifestyles whereby they are dependent on the state.


 It is devastating what is happening to these people.  I think one man sums it up well when he says, "The government says we are bad for the animals, but I was born here, and the animals were born here, and we have lived together very well." 
Dabe's son, playing with the water tap. 


Thursday, November 4, 2010

My indoor plants....!!! (Christel)

Well it is night so the picture does not show the amount of light that comes in through my kitchen windows during the day. I have places on my kitchen table the tiny tom tomatoes, aloe vera, catnip and rosemary. I plan to put the rosemary outside sometime soon-I just have not decided where I would like to keep it.

I will post a picture of my strawberries in the morning-I think they look like they are doing well! They have more leaves and are bigger-I take that as a sign of some kind of success!