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Box , Blairsville, GA Readers interested in planting milkweed seeds are reminded that fall planting is ideal, and that milkweed also propagate through rhizomes. For spring planting, cold stratification improves seed germination. When hand-scattering seeds, consider scattering seeds in an existing area so that new colonies may emerge, as milkweed pollinated from within its own colony does not normally result in seed development.

In late winter, expectant gardeners look to the canopy of their trees for signs of spring. At first glance, they may see only an unremarkable collection of bare branches. Closer examination reveals a miniature forest of lichens growing on branches and the trunks of their trees. Once aware of the presence of lichens, gardeners may exhibit a wide range of responses, from disinterest to active fear.

An urban garden which produces 17kg of fruits and vegetables per day

This lopsided partnership more closely resembles controlled parasitism. Depending upon the particular mycobiont, lichen may assume one of three common forms: crustose, very small bodies appearing to have been spray painted onto a surface substrate ; foliose, a small leaf-like structure pressed against the substrate; or fruticose, thallus is rolled-up into a three-dimensional form.

Lichenologists have been perplexed how to classify and determine the evolutionary origins of lichens because a lichen is a partnership between two and three organisms. Although lichens are named with respect to the mycobioint, the fungi in its lichenized form is significantly different in appearance and function than its non-lichenized form. For example, one species of fungus existing in a lichenized form above ground may be named by lichenologists.

Up to 30, species of lichens grow just about everywhere on Earth — from the top of the tallest mountains to bare rocks in the desert.

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Although lichens have survived, unprotected, for 15 days in the vacuum of space, they have proven to be very difficult to transplant to different locations and even harder to culture in laboratory settings. Lichens are grouped based upon the substrates upon which they grow, the three most common: terricolous bare soil , saxicolous rock , and corticolous tree bark.

Corticolous lichen species typically sort themselves out in different areas of the tree based upon their desired habitat. The characteristics of tree bark further influences lichen distribution within a single tree and among tree species. By now, it should be apparent to the reader, corticolous lichens do not harm trees by their superficial existence on the surface of bark, as lichens obtain the majority of their moisture and mineral nutrients directly from the air by absorption.

The presence and health of lichens in an area serve as an indicator of air quality because the absorptive tissues of the lichen are laid bare to the environment. Lichen metabolism is dependent upon available moisture. When dormant, lichens appear dull in color and their tissues, dry and brittle. When actively photosynthesizing, lichens appear more vibrant in color and feel soft.

For our area, the best times to observe lichens actively growing are in the fall, spring, rainy periods in the summer, and warm periods in the winter. Soon after the appearance of lichens million years ago, they set about the task of soil formation, breaking down rock 25 — times faster than physical and chemical weathering. Terricolous lichens nurture soil by adding organic matter and protecting the soil from erosion, compaction, drying, and temperature extremes. With other photosynthetic organisms, lichens helped influence the atmosphere through photosynthesis sequestering carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.

Lichens are intimately linked with other organisms in their ecosystems. Lichens provide food, shelter, nesting material and camouflage for many organisms. A recent study into declining populations of migratory birds established a link between declining populations of arthropods and short-sighted forestry practices negatively impacting the establishment of lichen.

Sensitivity to air pollutants enable lichens to serve as bio-monitors for air quality, an inexpensive alternative to high-tech pollution monitoring equipment used by the US Forest Service and the National Park Service. Lichen samples can also be harvested in areas of concern and submitted to laboratories for identification and analyses of specific air pollutants like metals, PCBs, ozone, fluorides, sulphuric and nitric acids and even radioactivity. Lichens, like many other organisms, are closely associated with trees. Lichens with cyanobacteria photobionts, like Lobaria pulmonaria , perform nitrogen-fixation convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form that plants can use.

Nitrogen-fixing lichens, like L. Species like L. When primarily managed for production, forests are prevented from advancing beyond the earliest stages of succession, thus preventing the establishment of lichen species like Lobaria pulmonaria from developing. The next time you gaze up to your trees in hope of seeing signs of spring, take a moment to enjoy the lichens. Let their presence remind you of the interconnectedness lichens bring to your landscape ecosystem.

Acknowledge their free spirit by allowing wildness to return to your landscape. Strive to increase your plant diversity on your property. Leave branches and leaves under the tree to promote a habitat to support the diversity of microorganisms, above and below ground. The lichens may be the most undomesticated life form in your landscape. Tigers can be tamed and taught to perform tricks, but not lichens. Upon seeing our United Plant Savers sign, visitors inquire about the purpose of a botanical sanctuary. These conversations often drift to a discussion of who should regulate the growing, harvesting, preparation and dispensing of herbal medicine.

Taking advantage of the significant slope of our land, we installed a series of swales, each with a themed plant medicinal herbs, berries, and nuts. In the nut swale, hazelnuts and chinquapins should be of sufficient size in a couple years to provide enough shade and protection for the incorporation of at-risk medicinal plants.

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Our task this year is to identify and grow plants associated with at-risk medicinal plants in nature. Between our swales, we allow just enough space for walking paths and let the rest of the land to go wild with native grasses and wildflowers. Last year, we built an electric deer fence image to protect approximately 2 acres of cultivated land. During the planning phase, we thought it prudent to extend the perimeter of the fenced-in area to include a portion of the forest to separate deer from future plantings of ginseng and goldenseal.

In , we gave nine presentations on sustainable land care practice, highlighting our botanical sanctuary. These presentations addressed diverse audiences ranging from local garden clubs, native plant societies, patrons at public libraries and even one at a the Biodynamic Farming conference in Portland, Oregon. Joe taught a day-long workshop on woody plants at the Allegheny Mountain Institute, a permaculturally-inspired educational non-profit organization training young adults in creative food growing systems and public outreach. Anne was a featured herbalist at our local farmers market.

We appreciate the support and information made available by UpS on their website, Facebook posts, and in the Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation. Reading about the great things happening at the UpS Botanical Sanctuary and the other sanctuaries in the network, renews our sense of purpose and realization that our sacred 7 acres is part of a much greater whole. Now, a farm comes closest to its own essence when it can be conceived of as a kind of independent individuality, a self-contained entity.

Rudolf Steiner. Believing they lack the necessary knowledge to improve their landscapes, many homeowners turn to experts in the traditional landscape management industry to fix perceived problems. Yet the following year little has changed, or worse, the health of their land further degraded and their plants dependent on fertilizers and pesticides. In one year, a homeowner may hire a landscape designer followed by a tree expert, turf expert and a horticulturist or gardener.

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Experts often operate in their own bubble and fail to appreciate that their actions impact everything in the landscape. The experts and the homeowner may view their actions apart from, rather than a part of, nature. In response to repeated requests from farmers for Rudolf Steiner to provide guidance on how they could reverse the trend of soil degradation and reduced yields, Steiner gave an eight-part lecture series on agriculture in These lectures outlined principles to improve soil and plant health; afterwards they became the basis of Biodynamic Agriculture.

Horticultural practices used in traditional landscape management have been influenced by the industrial agricultural model and, not surprisingly, produce similar problems on residential landscapes. Just as farms can be transformed by Biodynamic principles, I believe residential landscapes are capable of similar transformations. Early in his lectures Steiner introduced his concept of a farm as an organism or individuality.

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Furthermore, Steiner said that there are non-material properties associated with the flow of energy and substances between the components of the farm that are not apparent to farmers only considering the outer material realm. In other words, over time, the landscape individuality will be able to detect excesses and deficiencies and make modifications to achieve balance. George Washington Carver, a contemporary of Rudolf Steiner and also a spiritually minded scholar, shared this idea of the farm as a self-contained entity.

With a few modifications, the same Biodynamic principles used for the farm can be used for the landscape, the obvious exceptions being practices involving animals manure and materials for making the preparations. With this new focus on the landscape individuality, previously perceived weed and pest problems should they occur become valuable indicators to help the homeowner make small and slow adjustments to return balance back to the landscape. Steiner also called for a diversity of mini-ecosystems on the farm to include forest, orchard, woody shrubs, habitat for fungi, wetlands and meadows.

Although a very large landscape may be able to incorporate these components, a typical residential landscape will not. Yet if homeowners reach out to neighbors to suggest that the topography on their land may lend itself to a meadow of wildflowers, a wetland, orchard or other component, then by connecting neighboring landscapes — each specializing in their mini-ecosystems — the parts may interact.

In addition to partnering properties to develop a larger individuality, the opportunity exists to share perspectives on landcare with neighbors, family and friends. I have been maintaining a Biodynamic landscape around our home for five years and have experienced a deeper relationship with nature than I ever have in my previous 30 plus years as a professional in the landscape industry. These moments of surprise serve as a mirror in which I can choose to see myself or to see the whole; to either be apart from, or a part of, nature and the landscape individuality.

About eight years ago, our utility right-of-way corridor was, like neighboring utility corridors, overrun with brambles and invasive plant species growing on degraded soil, a result of aggressive trimming and spraying of herbicides by utility contractors. To encourage pollinator insects and discourage trees from taking root and growing into overhead electric lines, I set about the Sisyphean task of replacing the undesirable plants with what I believed to be more appropriate native species.

An urban garden which produces 17kg of fruits and vegetables per day

I felt as if the land was attempting to do something. I observed an increase in native wildflowers and grasses which I did not plant as the land rapidly transformed the utility corridor into a goldenrod corridor, providing wonderful habitat for pollinators and many other insects. An added benefit further satisfied my initial goal: goldenrod releases a chemical inhibiting the germination and establishment of tree seedlings.

Perhaps what is happening at this moment is a new phenomenon not covered in my ecology textbooks. About five years ago I abandoned weeding our blueberry patch, again out of frustration, and admitted defeat in the war I declared on dandelions. Unfamiliar with growing blueberry shrubs, I assumed my bed should look like the pictures in books and magazines, weed free and mulched.

In awe, I observed how fast dandelions completely enveloped the entire bed.

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Seedling (Relinquish & Reap, #1) by April Alisa Marquette

As the bed was located in a prominent location, friends lowered their gaze to express sympathy that I had lost control and had obviously given up on gardening. They were confused by my enthusiasm for the blueberry patch and my reports that yields had increased, with fewer pest and disease problems. Turns out the dandelion blanket is just what was needed for blueberry shrubs and our soil.

With its continual eruption of new leaves, the dandelion foliage serves as an effective green mulch throughout the year. The dandelion roots break up compacted soil and, with the aid of soil organisms, transform the soil into such a wonderful friable growing medium that we are reluctant to walk into the bed because our feet sink into the soil.

The dandelions bloom all season to provide valuable support to pollinators otherwise dependent on more restricted blooming periods of other plants in the garden.

We harvested dandelion roots and added them to yarrow to make a splendid bitter tonic used before meals to aid digestion. Plus, the greens are a tasty addition to salads!

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If I had continued headlong into imprinting my control over my land, as many do, I might have escalated my tactics by carpet-bombing the land with fertilizers and strafing weeds and pests with pesticides. However, upon realizing the futility of my actions attempting to control nature, I slowly realized that his message has a broader appeal to anyone open to a relationship with nature.

Steiner, R. Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture.