Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sustainable Agriculture in the Lowcountry

Last week, I had the privilege to teach a class of up-and-coming sustainable agriculture farmers and activists through the Lowcountry Local First/Trident Tech continuing education class. It was a treat for me- and made me feel like I was making a contribution to the community. So good.

Growing New Farmers in the Lowcountry of SC from OPP on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pods and seeds

Even though Rattlebox (Crotalaria spectabilis) is a weed in our part of the world, I can't help but have some appreciation for it.

Native to India, this yell0w-flowering plant becomes covered with intriging, bladder-like pods this time of year. It grows along the side of the road or in areas that have been disturbed. It is important to note that Rattlebox is very poisonous to livestock and should be removed from grazing pastures.
Each young seed is attached to the pod by its own little umbilical cord.

Once the seeds mature, they harden and release from the inflated outer pod. These seeds shake around in the dried pod, hence the name Rattlebox.

Aren't the seeds unbelievable? To think that for years, I have walked by this plant without looking inside these pods. These seeds are beautiful enough to be made into jewelry. Spectabilis, indeed.
I finished the day with another podded plant, Okra. My friend Cindy (from Las Vegas!) introduced me to roasted Okra. As with any other vegetable, just toss them in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and cook under the broiler. When the pods begin to brown and split (exposing the seeds), they are ready. I crave this.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A sound only a mother could love....or maybe not

I ran across this video I made of Baby eating crickets the other day. I had forgotten that she was totally demanding and voracious. And young Blue Jays are not what you would call "songbirds."

More like miniature Velociraptors.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Butterfly Wing Magnified (a.k.a. Procrastination)

Wow, right? I was thinking that if I was a textile designer, I'd just take objects from nature, magnify them and pass them off as my own brilliant designs.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Update: Baby Jay

Although she doesn't come when I call her anymore, I still see Baby fairly often in a nearby pine tree or at the feeder by my porch. I'm so glad that she has that distinctive habit of rubbing her beak on small branches because it makes it easy for me to spot her.

Saturday morning, while eating a sinfully lazy breakfast on the screened porch, she came to the feeder to get some seeds and flew to the closest pine tree. We watched her give the seed to another Blue Jay! It was so tender and sweet that I instinctively put my hand over my heart like a proud mother.
I still call for her sometimes when I see her in hopes that she will snap out of her rebellion and fly to my finger. So silly, I know.

P.S. Here are the biscuits I made. I know, right?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Beach Sunflower

I was at Waterfront Park last week (to watch my friend Nathalie Dupree announce her write-in campaign for U.S. Senate!). While waiting for her to arrive and give her stump speech, I noticed that they have used at really great native plant, Helianthus debilis, in the landscape. And it works. Here it is in the background:
Photo Credit: Andy Brack

In fact, Ive noticed that this species has been used in several municipal landscapes around Charleston and it has been a workhorse through the epic summer heat. It's good to see a bedding plant other than Petunias and Impatiens being planted. This spreading perennial is drought and salt tolerant, perfect for non-irrigated or beach locations. The continuous carpet of flowers will draw in the butterflies, too.

In Charleston, you'll find it at the garden centers like Hyam's and Abide-A-While. And if they don't have it, ask for it. They can buy it from the wholesale perennial nursery Church Creek Nursery on John's Island.

It's been too long since I've posted any new information! It's been a hot summer and I had to take a little break from the southern heat.


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