MLK Quote

MLK Quote

Nature's Inspiration Movie -- Nature's Inspiration Movie: The photographs in this short video are from award-winning photographer, Ken Jenkins, and they are breathtaking. However, this video is much more than beautiful photographs! Peggy Anderson has compiled beautiful quotations from the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, and many others that truly capture the beauty of nature and solitude. Absolute must watch for nature lovers.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bad News for the Bees and Humans

It has been reported that this year (2013) has seen the worst bee die-off in 40 years, the beekeepers have seen that they have lost more than 50% of their bees in 2012--2013 winter. Honey bees contribute to more than $15 billion dollar in the US economy, and are responsible for producing one out of every three bites of food that we eat. Without them -- nuts, squashes, berries, most fruits, cucumbers -- almost most of the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy will become obsolete.

Scientists are predicting that such huge number of bees are dying due to the use of a very common neurotoxic pesticide known as neonicotinoids, or neonics. American Bird Conservancy reports that they are also harming birds. European Food Safety Authority has labelled neonics as harming bees. Neonics is produced by Bayers and is the fastest growing and widely-used insecticide in the world. They are used to pre-treat almost all the seeds and trees that are sold in the US (unless they are organic); they are used in flea-medicines of dogs and cats, lawns, fertilizers and agriculture. The neurotoxic gets into the system of the seed and plants and spread through the system to every root, stem, leaves, tubers, every nook and crany of the plants. They do not go away by washing the plant or the fruits and vegetables produced by such plants because the toxic is in the system. Many European countries are imposing a ban on this insecticide, and they are soon seeing a bee recovery.

The above picture is taken by me, the bees visiting my sunflowers in 2012. I hope those bees are alive. With all the development in science and technology, life is seriously becoming a hassle in this century. We are already becoming solitary creatures busy with our facebook, laptop, cell-phone and all the gadgets. We are working longer, suffering from stress and trauma much more, eating and drinking bad, inhaling polluted air. On top of all these, no longer I can walk into a nursery and buy my plants and seeds unless they are organic (and it is not easy to get organically grown seeds and plants at least in the nurseries around here). I always need to have my antennae up, thinking constantly will the seeds have some kind of toxic treatment, will the plants be healthy?

More information and details can be found here:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Just Imagine Them in Your Garden

To have them in personal garden, the gardener needs to have at least some couple of acres of lands. But, they will be such magical features to visit and sit under its canopy, read and imagine. Children will enjoy them most, and perhaps will develop a strong sense of imagination as it is everything in words of Albert Einstein, "Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge."

This first picture and the information is obtained from SAVE TREES SAVE EARTH, a facebook page about which more information can be obtained HERE; or click on this link,

This mind-blowing tree is located in Washington’s Olympic National Forest about five miles north of Kaloloch lodge just off highway 101.
Don’t let the understated "Big Cedar Tree" moniker lead you to bypass this treasure. There are lots of "big" redcedars in the park, but this one has enough gnarly character to be the oldest Ent (Treebeard) in Lord of the Rings the Two Towers. The tree is also called the Kalaloch Cedar. Latitude/Longitude 48° 05.83' N 123° 24.36' W. It is among the most widespread trees in the Pacific Northwest, and is associated with Douglas-fir and western hemlock in most places where it grows. In addition to growing in lush forests, western redcedar is also a riparian tree, and grows in many forested swamps and streambanks in its range. The tree is shade-tolerant, and able to reproduce under dense shade. Western redcedar is also known (mainly in the American horticultural trade) as Giant Arborvitae. The name western redcedar is also sometimes split into three words as 'Western Red Cedar', though this can cause confusion, as it is not a cedar.

By the way, the girl in the above picture is not me. The second picture comes from Knowledge of Today. There website is located HERE; or click on the link
The Dragon Blood Tree, is a Dragon Tree native to the Socotra archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It is so called due to the red sap that the trees produce.
I am sharing all these information about trees because I am fascinated with trees. So, I hope to visit and see each of these unique trees in my lifetime. Do you know about other unique trees? Please let me know. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

This World Has No Hope

Okay, I know this is a garden blog. But, why am I into gardening, spending long hours in the sun which is turning my soft fair skin into rough, wrinkled skins? Why am I on my knees and hands weeding out the weeds, digging and tilling soils, playing with earthworms and doing all the housekeeping in my garden? It's not because I want to become healthy as gardening is one of the best exercise; I can join one of the infinite exercise, gym, clubs and yoga places around my house; we also have a treadmill in the house. I am not gardening myself because I can't afford all those landscape companies. I am not trying to show off but we are very well-established with highest degrees of education one can get. If we want, we can ask those landscaping and other such companies to come to our house everyday and fix everything in the garden.

I am into gardening because I care about our beautiful world and the awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping natural beauty she provides to us. So, taking care of my garden, by composting, planting, I feel like I am taking care of my mother world who just provides for us but does not demand anything back from us. It is the only and little thing that I can do for.

I am into gardening because I am extremely concerned about the natural world, climate and environment. Everything is messed up there. Weather patterns are becoming erratic; some places are becoming very dry and hot; some are becoming extremely cold; some are becoming mild; drought, flood, violent storms are becoming common; species are vanishing at an alarming rate. Deforestation is rampant (only 20% of Madagascar's original forest is left. ONLY 20%. Madagascar, like any islands, have a unique ecosystem which is not found anywhere in the world. Out of that ecosystem, only 20% left!!). Craze about exotic animals are on the rise; the exotic animals are then let out in the nature; result -- they become invasive species and kill the native animals (think about the impact of Burmese python in Florida). Animals are slaughtered left and right because of their meat, Chinese medicine and to satisfy the human greed (example: huge tracts of primeval forests in Indonesia are cut down to grow palm for palm oil production; huge tracts of Amazonian rain-forest cleared to supply us with lumber and to grow soybean). Concern about climate and weather should become a topic of NATIONAL SECURITY because they are affecting the gulf-stream. If the gulf-stream shuts down, the whole of the USA will turn into Arctic; NYC will get covered with glaciers; NO, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT FANTASY HOLLYWOOD MOVIES. I am into mathematics research, and many of my colleagues predict that using scientific, mathematical models. If temperature keep on rising, the glaciers will start melting fast. All the places located by oceans will go under-water; the geography of the world will change. About 500 million people in the Indian sub-continent will get affected if the glaciers of the Himalayas melt.

I hear people saying that all these climate/weather changes have happened before also. True, they have happened. But, never at such a fast, unprecedented rate. So, out of all these concerns, I do gardening. I plant trees, plant native trees and flowers; think about what to feed the birds; think about what to plant and do so that bees and butterflies and other insects have a chance to survive at least in my garden. I try to grow vegetables to minimize carbon foot-print. Again, I hope that my doing all these, I am respecting nature, becoming part of her and doing something for our Earth.

But, then these BLOODY people appear on the scene. What the F***?? Meet tea-party, southern congressman Paul Broun.

Georgia 10th Congressional District Republican Rep. Paul Broun said he killed and ate a lion during a 2010 safari in Zimbabwe

He is a DOCTOR. He can eventually become a SENATOR!!! Read about him here . "He began his political career as a volunteer lobbyist for Safari Club International, working on the big game hunting group's efforts to oppose gun-control measures.

HE SHOT A LION IN AFRICAN SAFARI AND ATE THE MEAT OF THE LION!! "Broun, a medical doctor, told the political newspaper Roll Call in 2010 that his big kill came in Zimbabwe.'After eating this animal, the natives called me Boss Shumba, which means Boss Lion,' he boasted.'They’d never seen a guy come and actually eat a lion.'But the lawmaker said he preferred the warthog he once hunted, saying, 'it’s actually pork.'"

"In September 2012 he spoke at the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman's Banquet in Hartwell, Georgia, insisting that 'all that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.''You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I've found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth,' Broun continued, speaking in front of a wall covered with finished taxidermy projects 'I don't believe that the Earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That's what the Bible says.'"

All the above italicized statements are from that DailyMail link. 

Now, I don't care about him or whatever he says or whatever he does. There are all sorts of people like him in this world. But, I am aghast that such people can GET ELECTED, BECOME CONGRESSMAN AND THEN EVENTUALLY A SENATOR. They are then going to sit in D. C. and make rules!!!! 

WHAT'S WRONG WITH US HUMAN SPECIES????? Shall I faint, ignore or just become a sage, go to Himalaya, meditate and forget about the human race?? Well, I told you in the beginning that this is a garden blog and not a place for political rhetoric. But, I cannot help myself as these topics are deep in my heart. How can one kill such a majestic looking creature like lion? Lions are also endangered. Anytime they can get into the extinct species list. And, how can a doctor say that evolution is rubbish; earth is 9,000 years old? What sort of people to go to these types of doctors?? A village witch-doctor is much better than this Paul Broun; after all they are not pretentious as he is!! He is enjoying all the benefits of modern life which are products of science and technology, and then he is going against science. If he is so much against science, then why didn't he go to Africa on a simple boat, walked all the way to the safari and used bows and arrows to kill the lion? Of course, he didn't do that as he killed the lion sitting in the safari-jeep and using a gun. WHAT A BLOODY, BASTARD JERK HE IS!! No, I am not going to apologize for my offensive language. I want to use more bad words to describe him, but unfortunately I don't know about them. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Equinox of 2013 and Birds in My Bird-Feeder -- Part 1

Today is Spring Equinox for those of us in the northern hemisphere, the day from when the sun will continue to follow higher and higher path through the sky until it reaches the highest point in the sky on the summer solstice; the days will get longer, heralding the arrival of new growth, warmer days, frenzy activities in gardens and farms, and birth of newer generations in animal worlds.

Okay, that's supposedly should be happening theoretically, but not yet happening, in reality, here in the North-East USA. It's frigid cold with frozen solid grounds and forecast of more snow coming in. The only sign of spring is the loud cacophony created by birds, and the presence of American Robin and mourning dove hopping along the lawns and backyards. There are also more eating-activities in the bird-feeders. So, I take this opportunity to present some birds in our backyard. More will be presented later on.

I am not very good in recognizing birds. So, others please help. I think these are downy woodpecker, mourning dove and sparrow. There are so many sparrows. Which one is this?
A nuthatch; a chickadee; a junco. Juncos are still here; thus, winter is not yet away. These birds migrate here in NJ during winter and leave with the arrival of Spring. Sorry about the poor image quality. I have to take them with the windows down, otherwise the birds were going to fly away. These bird feeders are very close to the window. Any slight noise or movement near the window, and away they will go.
A red-headed woodpecker. Who Is This? I don't know the second bird. Is this a sterling? The third bird, one of my favorite, is the red-bellied woodpecker

Now, I have a question. Perhaps Jason of Gardencity can answer as he reads many books on birds. I feed all these birds the typical bird mix (peanuts, sunflower, corn and berries) and suet.

Are these foods with lots of corn good for birds? Most of the corn in the world are not GMO-types. We are constantly reading about how GMO-types affect mammals, especially in reproduction. Do any of you know about any studies that are being done to see the effect of all these food on bird-population? If they are bad, what do I feed the birds?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Who Is This?

Anybody has any idea? I know it is a woodpecker because it is trying to make holes in the tree in our backyard. It does not look like the red-bellied woodpecker as it has a black back; red-bellied's back is like black and white stripes. It also does not have any red belly. I have contacted the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I know woodpeckers are bad for trees but I simply don't have the heart to chase it away.

I also took a video but will post the link later on. It is a HD video and blogger is refusing to upload it..grrrr.....I think I have to compress it.

Okay, while I was writing this up, Cornell told me that it is a Pileated woodpecker. Here is more information about them (click on them or this link:  It is also the largest woodpecker in the United States, except the possibly extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker :-).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

What's Happening? Nothing...but hide and seek

Spring is honestly playing hide and seek with us here in north NJ. Since Thursday morning (March 7) to Friday (March 8), it snowed heavily, about 8 inches, along with strong wind. Before Thursday, the weather was a balmy spring weather with temperature around 52 degree.
                                         This was the scene on Friday, behind our house .

Since Friday, the weather has been spectacular, azure blue sky with white floating clouds, bright sun, cool breeze with temperature hovering above 50 (though it is dropping to below freezing in night). Crocuses are the only flowers that are blooming in our backyard now.

Wild crocuses, if any such thing exists, growing in our backyard. We do not know where they have come from.

Spring is not here yet though; as I told you, it is playing hide and seek, and we are expecting another snow front this coming Friday!

However, in anticipation of spring, we have started getting ready. We attended the annual meeting of NJ Native Plant Society.

Every year they have a huge native plant sale at the end of the meeting. I ended up buying a big beach palm (prunus maritima), Eupatorium Hyssopifolium (some kind of native flowering plant), Lupine Lupinus (again a flowering plant that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies) and two large spice-bushes. The sale take place in order to raise money for the foundation, and all the trees are donated by NJ nurseries which specializes in native plants. That's why everything is cheap. I got all those huge plants and bushes under less than fifty-bucks. If I were going to buy them in any nursery, they were going to cost me quite a fortune.  Ah! I wish we had a big car to buy more plants.

Whoever stayed in our house before we bought it planted both native and non-native plants around the property. I am not a purist who advocates only native plants, but I myself going to plant native plants only for various reasons:
1. They will get easily established in the garden because these plants have evolved through millennia to survive in the climate and soil of northern NJ. I do not have spend money on watering them or fertilizing them.
2. The native population of mammals, birds and insects have evolved, along with these plants, to survive on these plants. These plants provide food (nuts, berries, seeds, leaves), shade and nectar to these native animals. In the harshest of winter with freezing temperature and everything covered in snow, I have seen the cardinals, bluejays, nuthatches, chickadees and other birds eating on the seed-pods and leaves of native plants. They are very important for the survival of many of the native butterflies and bees.
3. I sometimes go around, volunteering with some organization in removing invasive species. I have seen what invasive species can do. Once I volunteered to remove this invasive species of rose (I am forgetting the name but they form huge dense forest of climbing plants with big thorns) that were brought to the US from China to create some kind of natural hedges/fences. They have escaped from their confinement and now spreading throughout NJ. They form such dense mass that they not only become difficult to remove but they kill all the other plants around them; these other plants simply cannot compete with the roses for light and nutrients. They are almost literally strangled to death by these climbing rose bushes. In my own backyard, I have the problem of invasion of Persian Lilac trees and day-lilies. I don't know who planted those for what reasons as the flowers are not long lasting. So, I have left them in their original confinement and have to constantly weed out any new ones trying to rise. I don't think they also have any values for pollinators or birds as I have hardly seen any bees flying to their flowers or birds eating the seed pods on the tree.
4. More than 99% of all grassland, meadow, prairie or savannah wildflowers of NJ are gone. Native plants are disappearing at an alarming rate. Already all the big mammals of NJ (except common deer, black beer, squirrels, groundhogs and some other smaller mammals) are extinct. Once American Bisons used to roam around in NJ!! Even if we do not care about survival of animals during winter, still we need to make sure that plants do not become extinct for our own good only. Every day scientists are discovering one thing or another that can only be obtained from plants and that cure cancer, AIDS or any other diseases or disabilities that affect human species. For example, scientists have found that Madagascar Primrose flowers have a chemical that can completely cure blood cancer (even when the cancer is at very late stage). So, who knows what sorts of chemicals can be obtained from the native plants of NJ that will beneficial to human beings? So, we have to make sure that these plants do not become extinct.
5. Many parts (like bark, flowers, leaves, seeds, roots) of these native plants can also be eaten. For example, one can eat the flowers and leaves of violet, seedpods, leaves and stems of yellow wood sorrel, every parts of a trout-lily plant, young blossoms and seed pods of common milkweed, leaves of stinging nettle or every parts of a common cattail.
6. Many of the native plants can also become invasive. But, even if they spread, I will know that they will be providing something for the native animals. The native NJ violet can become invasive and spread throughout the yard, but eight different species of fritillary butterflies completely survive on these violets. Once the caterpillar hatches, it has to find the violet plants to feed on and survive!!

Thus, my goal is to have as many native plants and flowers in the yard as possible. At the same time, I will also have some non-native species but only those that will not become invasive and mostly annuals. My vegetable garden is of course non-native, but they are not invasive (ah! how I wish they were and I would have fresh veggies throughout the year); and, hey, I am yet to eat any of the cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli or pears that I grow. So far they have become the food for groundhogs, rabbits, deer, squirrels and who knows what. Alas!! For vegetables also, there is the controversy between heirloom and hybrid. I need to do more research before I jump into the heirloom bandwagon. After all, what is hybrid (plants created by mixing the genes (seeds)/cuttings of two or more plants) can become the heirloom of tomorrow. All the heirlooms also originated in the same way -- farmers of past selecting and breeding good quality plants and in the process creating a plant with unique quality. Anyone knows about all these heirloom and hybrid controversies and why heirlooms should be chosen? 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why We Need to Grow Edible Gardens?

A good video to watch to have some answers to the above question. It's a TED talk by Roger Doiron, the founding director of Kitchens Garden International. If the link to the video is not working, here is the link:

Here are some quick reasons:
1. It saves you, over time, lots of money. The saved money can be used to pay up mortgage quickly or take an early retirement.
2. It creates a sense of community and fosters friendship.
3. It helps the environment, reduces one's carbon foot-print, helps in recycling as many of the plastic containers, bags, shoes, sheets and other household items that were going to be thrown away in land-fills can be used in variety of ways in gardens.
4. It fosters health as gardening is a good exercise, and one get to eat fresh organic food picked right out of garden. An obesity epidemic is spreading across the world. As per the above video, an average American household spends only 31 minutes every day to cook food, eat and then wash away the dishes!! It is impossible to do all those in 31 minutes, and thus proves that the food are not cooked but brought store-made. Having an edible garden will force one to cook. Cooking is not only creative, but it also makes one move around (and thus have some exercise) and become healthy through eating healthy cooked home-made food. Thus, gardening and cooking also fosters strong family relation as more and more family members start participating.

The above picture is taken from the above-mentioned video. It shows the history of gastronomy

5. Hunger is on the rise and more than 900 million people are hungry in the world. If each of us start growing some of our food, then we will have much better appreciation for food. Food will not be wasted. Thus, all those extra food can go into feeding hungry people.
6. World food prices are rising. Ten years back we could buy so much food with $20 that it would have nourished us for at least two or three weeks. Nowadays,with $20 we can hardly buy much good food. The exotic foods like Jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes, asparagus, winter and summer squashes, rutabagas, turnips, radishes and beet are not easily available and they are expensive. However, Jerusalem Artichokes, globe artichokes and asparagus are perennial and can be grown even in frigid snowy winters. Chives is another perennial. Leeks, onions and garlic are very easy to grow. Rutabagas, turnips, radishes, parsnips, carrots and beet can be grown throughout the year, even in snowy winters, under some fleece protection. So, again the solution to rising food cost is producing one's own food as much as possible.
7. 10 calories of fossil fuel energy is needed to produce only 1 calorie of food in any industrialized food system. Globally we have reached the peak oil production. So, how will we produce food when the oil sources are depleted? That depletion is happening at a much faster rate as the world population is increasing, our need on fossil fuel is increasing. At the same time, urban population is rising; more people are moving away from farming and rural communities and thus dependence on food produced using fossil fuel is rising. As per the video, the world needs to produce more food in the next 50 years than it has produced in the last 10,000 years combined.

There are many other reasons like sense of accomplishments or help in reducing depressions but the above are enough to start growing even a small patch of edible garden.