Browsing Tag

school gardens

Blog

The Glorious Sunflower – The Fourth Sister

September 8, 2016

I have written about the Native Americans’ Three Sisters Garden (corn, beans and squash ) but I neglected to tell you of the Fourth Sister…

a very important member of this family!

web-sunflower-jan-johnsen

This is from Hubpages:

“Fourth Sister, didn’t look anything like her other sisters, although she was as tall and as slender as First Sister (corn) . That seemed fair to all, because Third Sister and Second Sister shared similar but different features. They could climb and run, while their other two sisters were forced to stand tall and proud.”

Mother Sun explained that each sister had her job and each had to benefit from and protect one another. But Fourth Sister’s job was most important of all — for she was the guardian of the North, planted firmly, to protect others from the robbers who soon would come.

web-jan-johnsen-sunflowers-2010

The fourth sister was the elegant sunflower.

van-gogh

The Sisters are known to the Native Americans as the “mothers of life” but they all need each other to survive.

  • Corn uses the nitrogen supplied by the nitrogen fixing roots of the beans and provides a place for the beans to climb.
  • The squash suppresses weeds and keeps the soil shaded and moist.
  • The prickly leaves of the squash provide a deterrent from four legged raiders of corn.
  • sunflowerisraeli082401

    So what does the Sunflower do?

    Taiyo Sunflower (click here)

    Taiyo Sunflower (click here)

    The sunflowers keep the birds from devouring the corn.

    How? Well, true sunflowers exhibit the heliotropic habit of following the sun through the day but when they are full of sunflower seeds they stay facing the east.

    Thus when sunflowers are planted to the north of the garden patch, the birds see the sunflowers first thing in the morning sun and dine on the sunflower seeds rather than the corn kernels….

    from Rainy Side Gardens

    from Rainy Side Gardens

    The FOUR SISTERS celebrate the harmony of nature and bring abundance to farmers and happiness to the well fed home.

    By the way, the true giant sunflower is used as an emblem of the philosophy of Spiritualism.

    They see the sunflower as forever looking to the light and applaud its unique arithmetic: supposedly each sunflower has

    • 12 sets of leaves ( months in a year) ,
    • 52 yellow petals (52 weeks in a year)
    • 365 seeds (365 days in a year).
    • I cannot verify this but that is the story….. I hope it is true.

Blog, Garden Tips

The Sky and Earth – a Union We Overlook at Our Peril

September 3, 2016

I often write about creating beautiful outdoor environments to lift our spirits and enhance our wellbeing but we cannot be comfortable if the health of our planet is deteriorating.

We talk about restoring balance to the earth. This starts with the soil. Once the soil is revitalized the atmosphere and weather will correct itself.

Here is why: the sky and earth interact.

In other words, droughts come from poor soils, pollution and other inharmonious activities on the ground. Fix the soil and the droughts and storms will subside.

soil

So start with fertilizing the soil – this does not mean applying more soluble nitrogen fertilizers loaded with anhydrous ammonia or nitrates. Doing this to plants is like feeding them amphetamines. Reliance on poisons to grow our food is one of our major problems right now.

Changing this practice will help our atmosphere greatly. But it is not a quick process so we better start now.

At this point you may be skeptical but think of it this way- ammonium and urea-based fertilizers that we use to grow our food crops are susceptible to loss as ammonia (NH3 ) gas, especially when left on the soil surface. Ammonia gas from fertilizer has a negative effect on air quality and human health. Where are many of our crops grown? In the San Joaquin valley of California. Here is a photo of atmospheric NH3 over the San Joaquin Valley in 2008 (measured by the IASI satellite). It shows the most concentrated area of NH3 in the air in red. That was many years ago…guess what happened to California since then?

San Joaquin Valley, California - Harmful Gas emissions from Nitrogen fertilizers

San Joaquin Valley, California – Harmful Gas emissions from Nitrogen fertilizers

If you want to know more about this – click here.

Healthy soil is a teeming world that contains a symbiosis of fungi, minerals, organisms and more. Root structures interact with these ingredients to elevate levels of certain nutrients. It is an interacting and amazing network.

For example, legumes such as beans, alfalfa and peas bring oxygen to the root tips and release oxalic acid. They affect lime levels, nitrogen and more in the soil (cation exchange, etc. its complicated). Legume’s beneficial activity is augmented in the presence of certain crop roots that exude carbohydrates, like corn or sugar cane.

legume-roots

You can see this in full force in the Four sisters method of crop planting used by the Native Americans: corn, beans, squash and sunflower.

  • The corn is deep rooted, mining the soil for minerals and exuding carbs to the soil,
  • Beans ‘fix’ nitrogen and elevate the lime
  • Squash covers the soil to prevent weeds,
  • The sunflower’s stems, leaves and pollen contain phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. They can be composted in the soil to help keep it nourished.
  • Buy from Renees Garden

    Buy from Renees Garden

    Add to this, composts, compost tea, rock dusts or pulverized quartz and seaweed or kelp and the soil will start to sing.

    This is vastly different from using soluble fertilizer that releases harmful gas to the sky –

    we should be building a matrix in the soil that is alive and healthy.

    So Governor Brown, please address the state of agriculture in California asap

    and the skies will rain upon the earth once again.

Blog, Teachers/Designers/Writers

Muhammad Ali’s Peace Garden Initiative

June 4, 2016
 photo courtesy of business wire

photo courtesy of business wire

The Muhammad Ali Center of Lexington, Ky and Yum! Brands Foundation launched the global Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardens project on September 21, 2010.

This coincided with the United Nations International Day of Peace.

Muhammad_Ali

Peace gardens focus on using edible plants from different cultures to teach youth about the world through culinary delights.

They also teach children how to “nurture and care for other living things” and remind them about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diets.

20100920yum-photo-inset

Through the process of growing food students learn about nature’s processes and increase their access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

What better way to create awareness about hunger than to have them actively involved in growing a garden, taking food home to their families, and giving to the community?

bigstock_Two_Girls_Gardening_3207764

The model for this idea came from the John F. Kennedy Montessori school. Children participated in all aspects of the garden including planting, nurturing, harvesting, cooking and donating food to the hungry.

The model garden consisted of different vegetable beds representing the different countries and the diverse cultures of the school.

smell_rose-sm

  • Squash and beans were grown in the United States/Native American garden and were used to make “3 Sisters Harvest Soup”.
  • Tomatoes, peppers and onions were grown in a Salsa Garden representing Mexico.
  • Sweet potatoes and black beans were grown in the Cuban garden bed
  • Edamame was grown in the Asian bed
  • Potatoes and cucumbers represented Russia.

resp3

“The ‘Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardens’ program will sow the seeds of cultural respect by teaching children how to build gardens with plants from different countries,” said Greg Roberts, President of the Muhammad Ali Center.

muhammed ali