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Wow, mushrooms are magical — and not in the ‘make the walls start undulating’ way….but really magical….like in the save the world sort of way.

I’ve recently become obsessed with soil (you’d think as a gardener this might have happened a long time ago) but I mean really, really obsessed.  I read Dan Barber’s  The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food* while on vacation and now I want to get a spectrometer to measure the sugars in my carrots and graph that against the levels of trace elements in my soil.

*You must read it. It is excellent.

Between contemplating every aspect of my own soil, and all the things I have learned while gathering of information for a story I am working on (for Issue #1 of PITH + VIGOR) about designing a mushroom garden; without ingesting anything illegal my mind has been completely blown.

The networks that mycorrhizal fungi create in soil are amazing (I had no idea) and this Ted Talk by Paul Stamets lays out some of the most interesting potential uses.  It is worth the time to watch.

-Rochelle

Sesame dregs fertilizer www.studiogblog.com

I’m filling this vacation week with activities that I can simultaneously call productive (for me) and entertaining for my little people (it is spring break, we are home, and I’m doing the working mom juggle).  A visit to H-mart on a Wednesday afternoon with the specific purpose buying dog bones is a stretch, I know — but I was optimistic that Wednesday at H-mart, might be like Saturday at H-mart – a wonderland of exotic asian grocery store samples of things we would never dream of trying – mostly because the labels on the package are in utterly foreign logograms and we have nowhere to begin on the journey of preparing this stuff or the foggiest idea what is inside.  But the samples, they let you know what is not only good, but you can also watch how they make it.  If you have an H-Mart nearby, go there on a Saturday if you can – it will be crowded and insane – but it is an excellent adventure.

I wish they had some sort of sample demo thing going on for the bag of Sesame Dregs that I bought on impulse (yes, I am the type of person that will buy something foreign because it combines the words ‘dregs’ and ‘fertilizer’ together and I just can’t ignore my curiousity. – plus it was something like $2.50 for a 5 lb bag).   There aren’t a lot of words in English on this bag – ‘Sesame Dregs Fertilizer’, and ‘Nitrogen Rich’ round out the selection.   I thought for sure google would hold a wealth of answers when I returned home with my prize.  But no.

I have found precisely two references to this product –

There is apparently a place called Winterdoon in Tasmania who uses it to organically build up their Tasmainian soil for vegetable growing. They list some impressive NPK #’s (by comparison to other organic materials).

And then there is this post about Korean Natural Farming Methods which uses them in a version of Compost Tea.

So there it is — the sum total of information about my treasure.  It is exotic and remote and I am a little unsure what to do with this bag here in Massachusetts.  I see experiments in my future….

But surely there must be more — who knows anything about Sesame Dregs?

landscape alphabet at the British museum by Charles Joeseph HullmandelYes! – I’d frame that.  I find the ‘G’ particularly nice and it reminds me of Colorado history and some of my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder stories.  I’m also partial to the H – (I love a good bridge) and the W (maybe my parents would like that — it is the first letter of my maiden name) seems so pleasingly garden-y.

landscape alphabet at the British museum by Charles Joeseph Hullmandel

The full set can be seen at the British Museums website.  This illustrated alphabet was create between 1818 and 1860 by Charles Joseph Hullmandel  and includes a full set of 26 contoured landscapes.

landscape alphabet at the British museum by Charles Joeseph Hullmandel

These are my favorites — which do you love?

-Rochelle

This little video just knocked my socks off. It is beautifully illustrated and oh so clear….it is based on this poem:

TANT DE FORÊTS…

Tant de forêts arrachées à la terre
Et massacrées
Achevées
Rotativées

Tant de forêts sacrifiées pour la pâte à papier
Des milliards de journaux
attirant annuellement l´attention des lecteurs
sur les dangers du déboisement des bois et des forêts

Jacques PRÉVERT “La pluie et le beau temps”
Éd. Gallimard, 1955

Here is the english (as translated by google translate — and decidedly a little rough…poetry and google translate I suspect are not good friends – if you can do a better translation, by all means, speak up!)

AS FOREST …
So torn earth forests
And massacred
Completed
Rotativées

So sacrificed for pulp forests
Billions of newspapers
attracting the attention of readers annually
the dangers of deforestation woods and forests

I think you get the idea though…a trailer of a short film that is based on a French poem written in 1955 that speaks to the irony of the fact that newspapers warn us about deforestation although they are made of paper themselves…I’d love to see the film.
Tant de Forêts – trailer from Burcu & Geoffrey on Vimeo.

"In an English country garden" by darkcompany via www.studiogblog.comComing off last week’s intense book editing jag, I am finding it really hard to get back into my rhythm – plus I always feel profoundly exhausted after throwing myself wholeheartedly into something….the end of an intense period of work never feels as good as it seems it should and always comes with a little bit of a let down feeling – bottom line is that I need a good kick in the pants and some inspiration!

What do you do when you need a creative jolt?

I’ve got various strategies – I checked out a few interesting books from the library.  The Ecology of Eden by Evan Eisenberg (have you read it?)  promises to be an interesting discussion of humankind’s role in nature.  I also grabbed Phenology: An Integrative Environmental Science and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) (because you have to counter the heavy with the light).  And there is nothing like a little variety to get your creative juices flowing right?

❘❘❘ always attracted to threes. by sarah siroky  via www.studiogblog.comBetween pondering if humans were ever in harmony with nature and being totally shocked that I was not the only kid who briefly had a pet raccoon (yes this is true not just of Jenny Lawson, but me too) I’m hopeful to find my mojo.

I’m also stalking people on instagram.  These images by DarkCompany (top), sarahsiroky (middle) and mckenzie_powell (below) are so appealing but I think my slightly dark mood is showing up in my preferences.

giant tulip magnolias by mckenzie powell via www.studiogblog.com

If that doesn’t work, Zippy and I will extend the frequency and duration of our walks. Maybe some (still bitingly cold) fresh air with help me stir things up?

Do you ever hit a creative walls? How do you peel yourself away from them and start running in a new direction? 

-Rochelle

sarah raven in her cutting garden

Last week, in reaction to a recent article on LandArchs Network , a discussion broke out on a friend’s facebook page (article here, discussion here).  The story was about 10 planting designers to know, and as remarkable as all the people on the list are, the reality of there only being one woman (Beth Chatto) on the list struck a nerve (not just with me but with many other women in this industry).   The resulting discussion revealed so many names of women that could also have been on the list. Since I knew so few them, I simply had to write them down for future reference.

Read the full post

Nine days ago we got side tracked on the way down the driveway. An afternoon of errand running got waylaid by a small bird hopping and trying to quickly flap her way off the road in front of the car.

fledgling bluebird by rochelle greayer on instagram www.studiogblog.comWe stopped, we gathered her up and detoured to the local antique shop where days before I was coveting a pretty birdcage (I just needed a good excuse….).

All errands cancelled…bird in new birdcage, we realized that our plan to singlehandedly help her back to health was probably a bad one since she kept trying to fly, but instead would land on her back and have a hard time flipping over.    If I was going to prevent her from dying in the night, flat on her back…I was going to get no sleep….and then what?

blue bird from National geographic images via www.studiogblog.comSo after some quick recon with friends and vets, we headed to Tufts Wildlife Clinic where we dropped her off.  She is making progress after spending a couple days in wing wraps but they report that she still has a shoulder droop that they are watching. We are waiting to hear about her progress….fingers crossed.  But we did find out that she is a fledgling bluebird and that ‘she’ is actually a ‘he’.  So we have a boy named Betsy.

learn to draw bluebirds via www.studiogblog.comDid you know that bluebirds are one of the best bird friends a gardener can ask for?   She (err, I mean he) and his little family can keep my garden seriously pest free.  Until I found him, I didn’t realize I had bluebirds and given their status as a ‘declining species’  (but coming back) I am desperate to get him back and help him to thrive.

Do you have bluebirds where you live?

bluebird by valentina ramos via www.studiogblog.comI’ve noticed something about blue colored birds.  They really like to eat off my blueberry bush. In fact when I chase birds off my berries….it is almost exclusively a flutter of blue wings.  Concidence? Or some sort of wild kingdom Veruca Salt sort of story. Hmmm…

lego bluebirds via www.studiogblog.comWhen these things happen, I figure it is summer’s way of teaching. While wait to hear about how Betsy is progressing, and hoping that we will get to release him back into our garden soon, we’ve got our eye on all things bluebirds.  I thought you might enjoy some of our inspiration too.

bluebird coloring sheet via www.studiogblog.comImages:

Top – Our Besty – by rochelle greayer on instagram.

Full grown male Blue bird from National Geographic.

Learn to drawn Blue birds.

Blue bird art by Valentina Ramos

Lego Birds

Coloring sheets from 50 Birds  (download uncolored here)