Thanksgiving Greetings 2010

         At this time of Thanksgiving, we truly want to thank all of you for a good year, for your purchases and for your trust and continued support. Without you, we could not do this work that we love.  We hope this Thanksgiving celebration is a joyful and meaningful one for you.

         The weather guessers are predicting temperatures around zero degrees for tonight, so if you still have root crops like beets, carrots, and parsnips in the ground, grab those bagged leaves from the curb and lay them over the vegetable beds (don’t unpack the bags!).  You should be able to lift the bags and dig any time you want to harvest the roots throughout the winter. 

         Now that the nursery is closed for the season, we are busy using those leaves to pack around our containerized plants in to give them some insulation until next spring.  When our over-wintered plants are brought out for sale next year, the packing leaves will be shoveled under the plant tables so that when the plants are watered, so are the leaves, the worms and the bacteria and fungi which compost the leaves. We use this rich worm compost in our potting soil mixes.  We also used some in amending the soil of a new 32” x 72” solar-vented coldframe that we installed in late September, and Eve top-dressed the salad greens seed with the same rich compost. In only 2 days, about 120% of the seeds had sprouted and in no time at all the greens were ready to harvest and we have been eating delicious, fresh salad from that coldframe for almost six weeks now.  We built and sold several of these coldframes this year, and expect to have more available for 2011.  Let us know if you are interested in reserving one.

          If any of you are having problems with voles eating the bark off the lower branches of junipers and undermining and pulling plants down into the ground, now is a good time to mow your lawn short (under 4”) so there won’t be any bent-over grass to provide tunnels for the voles to hide in from owls and other predators.

          Don’t forget winter watering for all evergreens and roses, and most any plant that was planted in September or October. Evergreens continue to transpire (give off water) during the winter, because they have leaves or needles. If these plants cannot take up water, they will dehydrate and suffer, not showing injury until it’s too late. And roses, with their green-skinned canes, are far more likely to perish in winter from dehydration than from cold temperatures. Water once or twice a month, in late morning or early afternoon so that the water has time to sink in before it freezes.  Aside from conifers, some other evergreen plants that will benefit from some winter watering are Manzanita, Kinnickinnick, Scotch Broom, Spanish Broom, Hardy Jasmine, Oregon Grape Holly, and the evergreen Euonymus selections.  Sagebrush, Curl-leaf and Littleleaf Mountain Mahogany, and Ephedra are probably fine without supplemental winter water.

         We thought we knew everything we needed to know about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), but we have recently learned much more. The Food and Drug Administration allows the release of GMO crops without requiring adequate safety tests; but in independent research, scientists have found that GMO foods in which the inserted genes are from bacteria and viruses (such as Round-up Ready crops and BT crops) create new and unpredictable proteins, cause toxic and allergic reactions in humans, and cause sickness, sterility and death in livestock. In addition, GMO foods contain higher herbicide residues. The main GMO foods on the market are soy, corn, canola, cotton, all of which are components of ‘vegetable oil’, which we unknowingly consume in massive amounts if we eat processed food, fast food, or eat out at ordinary restaurants.  GMO sugar beets are set to be the next threat, along with GMO salmon.  In order to avoid these foods, eat organic – organic certification does not permit inclusion of any GMO ingredients. And some foods have “non-GMO” labels. Read labels of processed foods very carefully, and avoid those which contain the 5 GMO foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables are safe (to date, the only ones that may be genetically modified are papaya, zucchini and crookneck squash). But most meats are from animals fed GMO corn and soybeans. To make it easier to avoid these GMO foods, you can download a free Non-GMO Shopping Guide at http://www.responsibletechnology.org/. Also, to comment on the plan to release genetically modified salmon, go to www.foodandwaterwatch.org. Besides protecting your own health and the health of our children, if just 5% of Americans refuse to buy GMO foods, we could kick them off the market.  This is not far-fetched – Americans have rejected Bovine Growth Hormone in milk, and most of the big retailers have followed suit.

          Wendell Berry said that “Eating is a political act”. Let’s vote with our dollars and our food choices.

Here’s to eating well, loving well, and living well!  Happy Holidays!

Mikl & Eve Brawner, and the staff at Harlequin’s Gardens