Is the Self-Healing House the Garden of the Future?

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Image via Edwin Indira Waskita

There’s a fascinating image that has stuck with me ever since, years ago, I read the sci-fi novel Goodbye and Thanks For All the Fish (the fourth installation in the series the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.) In the novel, author Douglas Adams describes a four-walled house turned inside out. If you entered the house, you found yourself ‘outside’ in a green space, complete with lawn, benches and walking paths. If you exited the house, you found yourself ‘inside’ in a far less desirable place Adams termed the Asylum. Continue reading

Bee ID: How To Make Sense Of The Buzz In Your Garden

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Aren’t they cute?

One of the many things I love about gardening is working alongside my many fuzzy, buzzing friends. Faithfully arriving on the job each morning, they give way in a single mass to hover just next to my hands as I carefully reach down into the garden. Sometimes, I’ve been brave (or stupid) enough to pet one of the downy creatures, and they’ve allowed me to stroke their velvety fur. Feeling the tiny vibrations of all that industrious activity never ceases to amaze me. Continue reading

Ruderal Plants: Challenging Our Notion of Control Over Nature

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“Sometimes the best thing you can do is…. nothing. –Oliver Kellhammer, Ecological Artist 

There’s a lesser-known field of botany called the study of ruderal plants, or plants that grow on waste ground, ruins or rubble. Borne by birds, wind or other animals, the weed-like species are the first plants to colonize lands disturbed by wildfires, avalanches, construction and other ecological disasters. Self-sowing in abandoned areas, the hardy plants take root, demonstrating what Mother Nature can create when left to her own devices. Continue reading

How NASA Grew the World’s First Flower in Space

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Photo tweeted by Astronaut Scott Kelly 1/16/16

Anyone who has seen The Martian will remember the scene where astronaut Mark Watney succeeds in growing potatoes and the joy he experiences in knowing he has learned to cultivate plants to survive. Well, it turns out that crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have been growing plants, too, in an actual ‘space garden’. Now, with its debut of the first-ever flower grown in space, NASA takes a giant leap forward in developing methods that will provide astronauts with a sustainable source of safe food, making the possibility of missions to Mars no longer a dream of the future. Continue reading

National Building Museum Retraces the Works of Oehme, van Sweden

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Slifka Beach House/tlcf.org.

There’s a small but beautiful photographic exhibit currently on view at Washington, D.C.’s National Building Museum entitled The New American Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Oehme, van Sweden. It’s a fascinating look back at the careers and influence of revolutionary landscape architects Wolfgang Oehme (1930-2011) and James van Sweden (1935-2013), whose collaborative work challenged the American concept of the structured, well-manicured lawn. Continue reading

Imperfect Produce Finds A Home On Savvy Consumers’ Tables

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Over the past few decades, we’ve come to expect perfection from our fruits and vegetables while patronizing grocery stores and markets that sell only the most beautiful of produce. But have you every wondered what happens to perfectly edible fruits and vegetables that are misshapen, blemished or discolored? It turns out these less desirable items are rejected from the very start, plowed under by farmers before they can ever reach the market. Continue reading

Scientists Create Cyborg Rose; the World’s First Electronic Flower

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Image credit: Linköping-University

In a jolt to rose lovers and plant enthusiasts worldwide, scientists have created the first ‘cyborg’ rose. A living flower, it is powered entirely by electronics. This marks the first time a plant’s biological circuitry has been successfully merged with an electrical circuit, opening the door to a future where plants may be optimized by electronics instead of by genetic engineering. Continue reading

The Seed Vault That May One Day Save the World

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If our planet ever goes to ruin, it’s good to know there’s a place squirreling away the world’s seeds. Known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, it lies enveloped in a thick coat of permafrost just north of the Arctic Circle. Here in an icy vault just a few hundred miles from the North Pole, duplicates of over 1.5 million of the world’s seeds are being stored in the largest secure seed storage facility of its kind. Continue reading

World’s Largest Vertical Farm to Open in Newark, NJ Steel Mill

 

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It turns out that steel mills can be farms, too. And this fall, the world’s largest indoor vertical farm for leafy greens and herbs is slated to open in just such a place in Newark, New Jersey. Measuring 69,000 square feet, the project is the brainchild of AeroFarms, an aeroponics company whose mission is to grow locally flavorful, safe and healthy food in a sustainable and socially responsible way. Continue reading