Archive for April, 2012
If you have ever purchased a bag of chemical fertilizer for your lawn or garden, you will probably have notice the package displays three numbers like 12-12-12 or some other combination. The three numbers refer to the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium contained in the fertilizer. While these three are essential to plant growth and development, they are not the only nutrients required for plant health. In fact, plants need seventeen nutrients for growth and reproduction. Fourteen come from the soil, and three come from the air and water.
LIST OF ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS
From the air and water:
- Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen
From the soil:
- Phosphorus, Potassium, Nitrogen, Sulfur, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Boron, Manganese, Nickel, Copper, Zinc, Molybedum, Chlorine
The first seven soil nutrients are used in larger amounts and are called the macronutrients. The latter seven are the micronutrients. These are rarely limiting in plant development and may not even be available to the plant unless the pH is below 6.0 (more acidic) but they can be readily identified in healthy plants.
The problem we face as we consume produce that has been feed a meager diet of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is that our bodies are denied there same essential nutrients and others that can only be absorbed by the plant first, and then our bodies ensuring proper health.
SO WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
The solution is in composting. Good nutrition for both plant and human organisms begins in the soil.
In my next blog, I’ll talk more about composting, building a compost bin and how it improves the quality of your soil.
I have a great little camp stove to use when I’m canoeing or just getting out into the wilderness. However, it is dependent on those little canisters of gas that don’t seem to have any value once emptied but to occupy space in a landfill. No one seems to recycle them in any way.
- Two 6 oz. tin cans of the same size
- Magic marker
- Metal clippers
- Push pin, thumb tack or small nail
- Soda can
Some weeks ago I attended a class on Forest Ecology with Dr. Jim Tobolski of Indiana Purdue University. It’s always astounding to to imagine what the landscape must have been like before the Europeans arrived in North America. Here is just a little of what Indiana looked like at that time.
Indiana forests at the time of settlement consisted of 20 million acres of forests, or 87% of the state. 1.5 million acres of were wetland, primarily in the northeast and northwest, and 2 million acres were made up of prairie grasslands. Another 1 million acres of the state were made up of barrens and glades, where forest fires had naturally occurred.
Some early historical accounts of the virgin forest indicate that the forest was dense with over 40 tree species at a height of over 100 feet and that the shade was so dense little or no sunlight reached the forest floor. It was dark and this produced a feeling of confinement, deep silence and depression for many pioneers.
Black walnuts from 4-6 feet in diameter and over 100 feet tall. Tulip poplars measuring 8-10 feet in diameter and 160-200 feet tall were common and the first branches were often 90 feet from the ground. Bald cypresses were 9-10 feet in diameter and one sycamore near Kokomo was 19 feet. in diameter. In fact, one hollow sycamore on the banks of the Ohio River averaged over 24 feet in diameter and provided room for 14 men on horseback!
About 2/3 of the forest was cut down by 1870. Between 1800-1870 cutting and clearing averaged 7,000 acres a day. And most of this was before the crosscut saw was available!
We asked Jim if he thought we might ever see trees of this magnitude develop on some of the state’s nature preserves. We were told that time alone is not the only factor. Atmospheric and soil conditions are simply not what they once were. We were told that while rain has always been somewhat acidic, rainfall today is 10 times as acidic as it was when Indiana was occupied by the first wave of pioneers.
Remember that Arbor Day takes place the last Friday in April for most of the Midwest. So get out there and plant a tree.
It’s that time of year again when I pick up a fresh packet of parsnip seeds and get them in the ground. I mention “fresh” because parsnip seeds don’t seem to do well if you’ve had them for more than a year. You may be thinking it’s a little too early to sow seeds, but in fact parsnips need a long growing season and so getting them in the ground early is important. Remember that they endure the entire winter without a problem so a little frost won’t be a problem.
Actually, I just harvested last year’s crop a few weeks ago and had some for lunch yesterday. Leaving them in the ground right through winter is not an issue. In fact, they taste better if you do. Once the ground is workable, I loosen the soil around them with a garden fork and pull them up.
Now, I read recently that parsnips is the least favorite of all vegetables in the United States. I find that hard to believe. Folks must not be preparing them properly. Some think they ought to be boiled, and if that’s the case I can understand why they are not their favorites. We always roast them in the oven as we do beets, turnips, brussel sprouts and a host of other vegetables. For one, they’re more nutritious if you roast them and the natural sugars work their way to the surface giving them an nearly “glazed” appearance and flavor. We simply chop them up, mix them in a large bowl along with olive oil and some of our favorite Mediterranean seasonings and then bake them in the oven for about 30 – 40 minutes at 350 degrees. You can even mix root vegetables like onion, beets and turnip along with your parsnips for a root vegetable medley. Yum!!!