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Arcosanti

One night in the spring of 2018, a friend of a friend told me about a place called Arcosanti. Her husband at the time was an architect and they had visited a few years before. I don’t remember how it came up in conversation, but I may have told her that I love visiting interesting places that are trying to do something completely new. I’m not surprised the conversation landed us in the desert of Arizona.

American migration being what it is, my grandparents moved to Northern Arizona years ago and I got the chance to visit Arcosanti not long after this conversation. It’s right off the highway so I stopped with Nina and my brother on the way to the airport in Phoenix.

My experience of the visit was overall positive and inspiring. Arcosanti is a place completely of its own invention. It is a monolithic, Tatooine-like, concrete village on a ridge overlooking a valley just minutes off the highway. The walls of the room where we ate are enormous, with massive round circular windows and expansive high ceilings to provide space for hot air to rise. The photo below is from the patio off of that room.

The closest thing I can compare the buildings to is the Bangladeshi National Parliament House by Louis Khan. Construction on that complex began just nine years earlier in 1961. As the photos below show, they are both monolithic Brutalist structures, but unlike other brutalist buildings they also have these large round windows give the structures a lightness. Rather than looking like fortresses, they are open to the outside world, draw eyes upward like temples, and let in diffused light while protecting from harsh, hot climates.

Wikipedia image of the Arcosanti cafe
Wikipedia image of the much larger Bangladesh National Parliament House

When we walked in, we stopped by the bookstore first. It was full of books and booklets written by Soleri to promote his vision of the city in the future. His main theory is called “arcology,” merging architecture and ecology to create cities with minimal impact, in close proximity to nature, and in a style that mimics and compliments nature.

I bought one of the recent editions of his Quaderno series titled Lean Linear Arterial City. I’ve added some photos below. When I bought the book, the guys behind the counter joked that the place was started by some Italian guy who planted friendship trees everywhere to make it look like Tuscany, but they have to be watered every day because they aren’t native to the desert. I think that’s a good analogy for most of Soleri’s ideas and maybe Soleri himself. He had the vision, but it would require daily work by other people to make the dreams a reality. He was also unrealistic and in the context of reality some of his dreams seem to contradict.

I love the drawings and the ideas in Lean Linear Arterial City. I love the idea that cities in flood-prone areas could be built on ridges in order to protect inhabitants as well as the areas inland. I also really appreciate the idea of a city that is self-sustaining, energy-producing, efficient, and beautiful. My main critique of this particular idea is that in order for cities to really be resilient I think they need to be more modular. When one structure in a traditional city gets too old for repair, it can be replaced. But if the entire city, miles of steel and concrete, reaches obsolescence, it would disrupt an entire society. I might compare this to The Loop at Apple Headquarters, a building that many have said cannot be split up or retrofitted for many purposes after its current use. For the city below to be constructed and inhabited, there would also need to be a mass relocation of people and abandoning of existing cities. That feels like a waste compared to retrofitting existing cities. But it’s true that eventually we may need to give up on some of our cities. At that point, we will have wished we had started construction on this lean linear city decades earlier.

That is precisely what Saudia Arabia appears to be planning to do with The Line. The comparisons are striking: a linear city built out of nothing, an idealistic vision of the future, powered by clean energy, connected by a sub-structure of futuristic mass transit. Who will live there? What will they do for work? Will there be poverty? Where will the dead be buried? Many questions may go unanswered as they develop The Line. But obviously the city of the future doesn’t have to be a line. In the nearby UAE, a much smaller development called Masdar City is already thirteen years old. Just outside Abu Dhabi. Masdar City is planned in a more traditional grid layout with similar goals of sustainability, innovation, and car-free lifestyle. Unlike The Line, Masdar City is more modular so construction has started and various aspects of the project have been completed while others are still being planned. Even with the seemingly bottomless finances of these oil rich nations, incremental growth still seems like the most realistic approach between these two competing visions of the future.

One thing that sets Arcosanti apart is that it wasn’t commissioned by a nation, aristocrat or corporation. It was the vision of one person, Paolo Soleri. Like many male visionary/architect types, Soleri seems to have had a lot of self-confidence. He doesn’t tether his theories to reality in the sense that most of them were never accomplished. You realize pretty quickly that Arcosanti is just a fraction of what he intended it to be. The writings he left behind are the legacy to another generation that he hoped might carry the torch.

These two developments appear to do just that. They are driven by grand visions and they have received all kinds of criticism, especially The Line. And, as with Arcosanti, even if they don’t accomplish everything, I am excited to see what is left and I hope that it survives in some way. We can’t go on in the way we always have, we must try new things, and it takes visionaries with deep pockets to actually give it a shot. Even if only 10% of the vision becomes reality, it will still push us to reevaluate our lives and our cities they way they are.

Making Limoncello

I’ve made limoncello three times that I can remember. The first time was with my mom when I was on break in college. We had gone to Italy for a week and tried some for the first time at a restaurant then a homemade batch at a friend’s house in Milan. That sounds a little more glamorous than it was, but it was very fun and memorable. My recipe is based on whatever I found online, but I’ve also tried variations. I wrote them down on a piece of paper with field notes so it looks authentic. I make traditional limoncello and a ginger, turmeric limoncello that packs a punch.

Since I live in Virginia, this limoncello journey started with my brother bringing a bottle of Everclear from North Carolina back in April. Step two, put the Everclear on a shelf for four months and think about how you are planning to make limoncello. Zesting the lemons into the Everclear is satisfying; the smell is incredible. The ginger and turmeric are chopped finely. I’m told these ingredients should be organic especially because of the infusion process.

After the Everclear has infused for a month, strain through a sieve. I think it’s cool that the lemon zest is white because the flavor and color have all drained away.

To avoid any sediment (a mistake I’ve made before) do another filter through a t-shirt placed on the sieve. In a former job, I wore undershirts every day. Now, I never wear them so I have a pile to use for stuff like this. They are washed I promise 🙂

The final step is just to mix the infused Everclear with simple syrup in a 1:1 ratio. I used to try and pour the ingredients to mix them but I ended up spilling way too much. I also used to mix the two ingredients into a third bowl before bottling, but that step is unnecessary. This time I used cup measures, going back and forth, pouring straight into the bottles, and it worked really well. Put back on the shelf for another couple of weeks to mellow then store in the freezer.

One time my older brother was visiting and had a terrible stomach ache. The only thing that made it feel better was homemade limoncello.

From left to right, leftover simple syrup, four small bottles of the ginger turmeric limoncello and three large bottles of the traditional limoncello. The one on the far right is a belated birthday present for my mother-in-law by special request.

Benissimo 👌🏼

First the location, then the vendor

The City of Richmond might soon have a casino. Unlike other localities in Virginia, Richmond took more time for input and competition. I generally think it was a good-faith effort, but one aspect of the process seems flawed in retrospect. Six proposals were submitted by different vendors for casinos and entertainment venues connected to different sections of the city. For example, one piece of property was near a fairly dense urban node, another on a forest/wetland in a suburban area south of the river, and a third on a brownfield near I-95.

To me, the vote between the different proposals was more a vote on land use than a real good faith comparison of the different vendor proposals. This to me seems like bad land use policy. We shouldn’t find a use (casino!) and try and plug it in somewhere. We should look at our land as a limited resource connected to infrastructure and communities and decide what it’s highest use with minimal negative impact could be. Then, developers can maximize that pre-determined potential. That should have been the first step of the process: vote on the parcel of land. Regarding the final decision, I’m pleased that it ended up being on the brownfield near I-95, but I don’t care about the vendor at all.

The real problem with this process is that it discouraged competition. It should have been realized ahead of time that neighborhoods might oppose the idea of a casino. We could have guessed that it would end up where it did. But all the other vendors lost their opportunity to have a fair chance, and we lost our opportunity to possibly have the best final outcome, because we were voting on land use and the casino was an afterthought.

Reading through “Time of our Lives”

A couple of weeks ago I finished the essay, “Time of our Lives,” by Mark Harris. The online version is titled, “A Cautionary Tale for the New Roaring Twenties,” probably because that title seemed more clickable. It’s rare that an essay can entertain me in the way that this one does, with sentences that take you much further than you could have expected, with a twist, a play or words, or sarcasm that actually works. The essay is about the poem, “The Wild Party,” written by Joseph Moncure March. The general sense of the poem appears (especially in hindsight) to expose the rotten core of a culture that seemed to only live for pleasure written at the end of the 20s just before the inevitable, harrowing morning after. Included with the essay online is a reading of the poem. At over an hour, I’m ashamed but not surprised that I tapped out a quarter of the way in. But not before the poem, like the essay, managed to make me smile. As an appreciation, some quotes from the essay below.

“There are few things more glamorous than the belief that we are living through the end of an era — and there are even fewer times in recent history when we haven’t believed it.”

“The Wild Party,” Joseph Moncure March’s book-length 1928 narrative poem about the end of an era — the end of a long, louche, bacchanalian night of bodies twining together in lust and in violence; and the end of a life — is drama in it’s coolest, coldest form.”

“In just one eight-word run:

Eyes flashed,
Glistened:
Everyone talked:
Few listened.
Crash!

March seems to summarize with uncanny precision the entire year that followed his poem’s publication.”

“‘Kindred’ may have been wishful thinking; March’s voice in ‘The Wild Party’ is that of a well-bred young man with a reporter’s eye who stood slightly off to one side with sardonic sang-froid, filing away all the excess he saw for later use.”

“March and his contemporaries were aware of the dazzling-party-being-upended-by-brutal-reality trope as narrative — the narrative of their parents and grandparents, who still mourned the demise of the Bell Époque, the age of sophisticated, elegant European culture spreading its bejeweled wings across the globe before the war ruined everything.”

“Willed optimism can be a powerful thing; the song ‘Happy Days are Here Again’ made its debut one month after the crash of ’29.”

“It would be a mistake to sentimentalize the Roaring Twenties as a time when all classes, ages, and races could converge and mingle if the party was right; it was more a moment when white cultural tourism became easier and more available than it had been.”

“As vivid and evocative as March’s language is, he is less interested in animating his characters than in showing them to us under glass. ‘The Wild Party’ is an autopsy performed under a flickering light by a wisecracking coroner. Perhaps its characters can’t be embodied, only witnessed.”

“As I write this, things are getting worse, or is it better, or is it just different, in New York and across the country. With every new whim of the .001 percent (Tired of the protocols? Consider flying into space on your own rocket ship!) the nightmarish economic inequities of our age are characterized anew with a misuse of the phrase ‘late capitalism,’ as if capitalism were reaching it’s long-scheduled death throws right on time and would then politely disappear.”

“It also doesn’t matter what March knew. His poem knew. And it still reads as a dangerous time-capsule bulletin — something that emerged from a melting ice cap yesterday, or perhaps tomorrow, and bobbed into the sea, waiting to see if, once its bleak tidings reach our shores, we will pay attention.”

A walk around my early fall garden

Just some photos and thoughts to remember early fall, 2021. The first winter we lived in our house, I terraced and seeded the side of our yard to create a wild edge. I have received so much joy from the plants that have come up now two years in a row in this section of the yard. I keep filling in gaps, but the bulk of color and life come from the seeds planted on turned soil a year and a half ago.

New England Aster has taken the place of first coreopsis then coneflower in the wild edge. Bumble bees and other insects have enjoyed this late summer bounty.

Russian Sage that struggled this summer, but I hope will thrive in the fall and come back with full strength in the spring.

I filled half a “supercan” with weeds from this dog run a week or two ago. I let it go to seed last year and paid the price. I plan to put down cardboard and mulch to turn this into a walking path around the side and down the hill to the back of the yard.

I have already seen one small, extremely fast bird feeding on these spent purple Echinacea/coneflower seed heads. I’ll leave all of this up through early spring.

Agastache has been a fun, repeat blooming, addition and now is home to a Yellow Garden Spider, building the perfect place to lay her eggs. I remember when I was six or seven we had a “zig zag” spider web like this outside the window of the kitchen of the house where I grew up and I have loved them ever since.

On a recent visit to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens I saw large sections of chives blooming and it encouraged me because I thought I had just been lazy not harvesting the herb. I plan to add more of these for next year.

The blue basil in the front of the house was inspired my dad’s pollinator garden. It has been a summer-long source of entertainment for me as a steady parade of wasps, bumblebees, and honey bees have spent hours floating from one flower to the next.

Another garden spider in between the sedum Autumn Joy. It’s devastating that the second search result for Orb-weaver spiders is a page on the Orkin website. Why anyone would fear, hate, and kill this insect is truly beyond me.

My mother has connected with her birth families over the past several years and we learned that her birth father’s last name was Fothergill. This plant is Fothergillia Gardenii (dwarf Witch Alder) and I feel like I have a special connection because of my new-found heritage. This one is looking great, filling out and nice and green, but the next one is not doing well, possibly struggling because I planted it in partial sun instead of full sun (it’s on the transplant list).

I can’t wait to see these Rosemary bloom in the spring. They were both maybe 5″ x 5″ x 12″ when I planted them in early 2020.

Achillea/yarrow that has naturalized well and continues to bloom.

This third bloom of the Verbascum (wedding candles) is not as glorious as the first and not nearly as much of a bee magnet, but still gives me joy and nice visual interest.

Liriope in full bloom has been making this circle pop for the last few weeks. The purple Irises in the middle are divided originally from my mom’s childhood home in Dallas. They were transplanted to California by her step mom, then again to Arizona, back to Texas, and finally flew on a plane to Richmond. It is a constant battle cutting back the suckers on the Crape Myrtle in the middle, but I finally feel like I have it in a good place. It shows off the evergreen shape of the Iris which is also a nice backdrop for the Liriope.

The newest flower bed has thrived for the most part. Roses and Hidcote lavender in bloom along the fieldstone path and near the peonies that I hope to see more from next year.

An impulse buy near the cleaning supplies section of Lowe’s, I have really enjoyed watching these Elephant Ear stretch out and claim their piece of territory.

I had dozens of volunteer tomato plants sprout this year to affirm me in my lazy composting methods. Here is one I left to grow along the ground. Newsflash, you don’t have to trellis your tomatoes! I watched a YouTube video once of an Italian family harvesting piles of tomatoes from their yard, none of them were staked. Of course there are benefits to staking, but this is a reminder to me to relax. Here are three perfectly good tomatoes grown near the ground near some faded Anise Hyssop.

Volunteer tomatoes on a trellis between two trees.

I had some extra sprouts so I tried out some different sections of the yard for tomatoes and will definitely be doing more up the deck next year.

Late summer bounty:

I believe this is a Praying Mantis egg case on this fig tree containing dozens or hundreds of eggs that will turn into those amazing predators of the garden.

Insects tucking themselves and their babies in for bed all over the place.

Parsley ravaged by Yellow Swallowtail caterpillars that I watched over the past week. I haven’t seen a crysalys yet, but hope to see the butterflies when they emerge.

Something, I think underground, is destroying what was for months a beautiful white-blooming salvia. I’m depressed about it, but will probably post this picture on a local NextDoor gardening group and see if anyone has suggestions.

When I planted this butterfly bush it was tiny, maybe two feet tall. It grew all winter long with shiny green leaves and bloomed for most of the summer until the main trunk wilted. I cut it and pulled the side trunk to the middle, but as you can see below, it is also dying. I think I have root rot and will have to remove the entire plant, but for now I’m leaving the branches that are still alive to bloom while I cut out the dead.

I don’t know what this is. It’s beautiful, but also invasive? TBD …

Summer to Fall

Two essays have recently been on my mind, “After a Summer Without Butterflies, I Cling to What Endures,” by Margaret Renkl, and “Why You Should Do Your Spring Planting in the Fall,” by Margaret Roach.

Margaret Renkl is a regular contributer to the NYT opinion section who has made me sigh more than once. Her observations in the garden connect with me on so many levels, from the plants and insects that we share to the sense that things are not what they once were. As someone who has lived in both extreme corners of the South (Eastern Texas and Virginia) I always appreciate her references and storytelling. She writes in a Southern lament style as she finds beauty in nature as well as the death and decay below the surface. In a more practical way, the essay by Margaret Roach shares wisdom from the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park. While Renkl mourns the loss of butterflies, Roach reminds me that while rural and suburban America are a toxic wasteland of pesticides, a new wave of natural meadow-style landscaping is turning cities into oases of natural beauty. Here are just some quotes and photos I enjoyed from each piece.

From Renkl, there is always beauty and death. She and I are living parallel lives and I’m so grateful that she writes because she helps me organize my own thoughts, she connects the ecosystem and helps me appreciate each part.

“How ragged we are now, dragging summer behind us like an old blanket we can’t set down. The homicidal heat of August has given way to the merely cruel heat of mid-September, but we are done with it even so. Everyone is cross, and not just the people.”

“And yet.

The mornings are a gift. Cool and damp, they feel like part of an entirely different ecosystem. If I’m poking around the garden early enough, I can spy all the darling bumblebee butts deep in the bells of balsam flowers where the bees have tucked themselves in for sleep.”

“The spent zinnias and coneflowers and black-eyed Susans provide plenty of seeds, and the beautyberries, arrowwood berries and pokeweed berries are ripe now, too.”

“Already the fall wildflowers are beginning to come into their own. The goldenrod throws its yellow plumes into the air; ironweed and asters purple the fields and roadsides; snakeroot blankets the forest understory; anise hyssop and elephant’s foot flowers call to the bees on the naturalized side of our yard. All of them feed the insects that feed the birds who need fuel for the migration, or for surviving the winter at home.”

“A basilica orb-weaver spider has built her cathedral outside our front door. Her web has been pummeled by rains again and again, but her pearly egg sacs, all strung together in a row, are safe. Every day I check them to be sure, and every day their mother watches me warily as I check.

She will guard them faithfully until she dies, and the last thing she will do is secure the guy wires they’ll need to guide them when they climb out of their sacs next spring.”

From Roach, practical wisdom and photos that make me dream of my next trip to New York.

“Rather than following the common practice of planting and transplanting in spring, for instance, she suggests shifting virtually all of that activity to autumn — and not cutting back most perennials as the season winds down.”

“But in just 11 years since the first section opened, the place has become a refuge and breeding ground for diverse and unexpected species. The state-threatened golden northern bumblebee (Bombus fervidus) can be seen happily collecting nectar on wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), while nearby, fluttering swarms of the common but colorful little pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos) are delighted to find so much of their host plant, smooth aster (Symphyotrichum laeve), to savor.”

“More than 180 species of birds have been sighted in the park. And not just the mallards and herring gulls that you might expect on a waterfront, but swallows, woodpeckers and rare sparrows, as well as 31 species of warblers. An extremely rare painted bunting (Passerina ciris) spent two months in the park one winter.”

“The practice she adheres to is called ecological horticulture. It’s the polar opposite of the purely ornamental version, which is driven by asserting control of plants in the name of aesthetics.”

“Spring planting “gets in the way of our work, instead of complementing it,” Ms. McMackin said. And in the past four years, her crew has gradually phased it out. Next year, there will be no spring planting at Brooklyn Bridge Park, except for some tree species that resent fall root disturbance.

“When we do plant in spring, and then summer arrives, it can be such an extreme environment — hot, dry and windy, too,” she said, and those are hard conditions for plants trying to root in. With a fall planting schedule, the winter that follows is easier on them.”

“In May and June, instead of planting, we can get weeds while they’re still small,” Ms. McMackin said. “You can hoe rather than having to hand-pull — getting rid of things that can cause massive problems later, if you don’t.”

“At Brooklyn Bridge Park, the gardeners skip most of the traditional fall cutbacks and cleanup. That leaves plenty of seed that can self-sow, or be eaten by birds, and preserves an overwintering habitat in the leaf litter for arthropods. Except where mulch or compost is needed, the approach is hands-off.”

“We just had an endangered sedge pop up. And we had a state-threatened saltmarsh aster appear that we relocated to our salt marsh,” she said. “It’s amazing what happens when ‘Leave things alone as much as possible’ is part of your maintenance strategy.”

Fieldstone path

Soon after we moved into our current home, I started doing one of my favorite things: digging up grass. One grass removal project became a cutting garden and a fieldstone path through the easement to a gate into our back yard. It was definitely worth the effort, we use it all the time. Here is what the area looked like before we started, just a standard, anonymous piece of grass:

In July, I got some help to dig out the first iteration and see how it felt. The path went from the street to the sidewalk, but I realized it would only work for the one car parked near the path. The stone in version 1.0 was just old concrete and pavers I’d found around the yard and these are still piled up in a stack at the end of the flower bed, waiting for me to have the energy and inspiration to do something with them. At this point, it was actually more dangerous to walk on because nothing was set. Then, I saw this post on NextDoor:

It was a lot of fieldstone (flagstone?) and a great price. It took my sister and I at least three trips in my smallish SUV and I was definitely worried about the suspension, but we got it to the house and started to lay out the new path. I never would have had the motivation to do this without her help.

First, we dug down into the path to start making way for the stone. We wanted the stone to be level with the curb and sidewalk. We also decided to extend the long tail of the path all the way down the side of the street so that any car parked along the way could use it. We poured paver sand down and added more wherever needed to level the stones and make the path smooth. We filled in the gaps with sand then dirt and some moss in the hope that it might take over eventually. I planted one plant at this point, a butterfly bush that was a replacement for one that had died within the return window. Here is how it looked soon after we finished:

To prep for the cutting garden, I amended the soil with compost, leaf mold from the garden pile, and peat moss. I wanted good moisture retention and good drainage. I don’t like tilling up soil and I may find another way to do this next time.

Later on last fall, I laid out peony (Shirley Temple, Sarah Bernhardt, and Karl Rosenfield), allium (giant Schuberti, Ivory Queen, and tiny caeruleum) and tulip (casa grande). I didn’t get pictures of it all, but I was glad to see the bulbs come up nicely in succession through early spring. The peony also all emerged and look great, still growing well into the summer months. Here’s a WIP photo with my peony roots laid out for planting down the right side of the bed:

In mid-spring this year, we added Roses (blushing knock out, Lichfield Angel, and coral drift), hidecote lavender, two asters, and another lavender moved from the backyard (originally from our last house). I also planted a catmint that is so far looking like it needs more sun and two Gerber daisies that I’ll want to move eventually since the colors don’t really fit in. Some more photos for now,

Always a good sign of soil health when you have mushrooms popping up in July 🍄

Flying insect hang out spot (video)

Something about the combination of these plants has made this picket a hot spot for flying insects, especially at a time in summer when many other flowers have dried up.

Finding the value in the trees of Creighton Court

As a part of my last job, I regularly drove through the neighborhood of Creighton Court to make deliveries. This is the second job that has brought me through this part of Richmond and for all these years I’ve been amazed by the huge, hardwood trees.

Looking north on Creighton from 9 mile
Looking north on 9 mile to I-64
Looking south on 29th

There are many articles already about why the redevelopment process is problematic in many ways and I support those efforts. What I want to add to the conversation now is an awareness of the existing trees and reasons to preserve them for whatever comes next. When I saw the plans for Creighton, I was disappointed to see that most of the trees on the design have been listed as uniform dots rather than left as the existing trees like you see along 9 Mile Rd. in the design below.

To be fair, the drawing doesn’t say explicitly that the trees will be torn down, but I’ve learned from experience not to trust Richmond to preserve them.

I used to live near the former Ethel Bailey Furman park in Church Hill. It was mostly an open field for dogs to run, pick-up baseball, ultimate frisbee, bike polo, and block parties. Around the perimeter of the park we’re around a dozen old, hardwood trees. When the city decided to build a school on the park property, the A&E firm they hired just erased them. I came home one day to a massive pile of roots and branches that had all been still in the ground when I left that morning. Here are some before photos:

And after:

The shade, the natural beauty, the sound break, the birds, and so much more are gone. In their place are Leland cypress and other predictable landscaping trees and shrubs. They didn’t even really need the space where the trees once grew because they were all around the perimeter of the lot. With some creativity they could have been preserved.

Now, in the 21st century, after all we’ve learned about the role that trees play in cooling our communities in a warming climate and how these trees are already rare in formerly redlined neighborhoods like Church Hill. With all of this knowledge, the city spent tax dollars to have these trees piled up and thrown away.

By the way, as insult to injury, the city said they were going to rebuild the park on another area of the lot and they never did.

So we come to Creighton Court and all the public housing communities in Richmond. If you look closely at the map on heat disparity in Richmond, these public housing communities (see arrow below) are not nearly as hot as Gilpin Court, the neighborhood most talked about, or even expensive neighborhoods like the Fan. My neighborhood elsewhere looks about the same shade of green as Creighton.

If the research is correct, much of that cooling affect is coming from the shade and transpiration of these old, beautiful trees. It would be such a shame for them to be taken away. Really, it should be a crime. If Richmond is taking climate change and equity seriously, the preservation of trees should be mandated. Planting a 10’ young tree (or several young trees) does not replace one that is 70’ tall. The trees do all the work, we just need to leave them alone.

Tomatoes will grow

Earlier this year, while I was gently coaxing tomato sprouts inside, some tomato seeds from my compost were already germinating and starting to grow right in the garden. I just harvested 12 tomatoes off of these volunteer tomato plants, recently thinned and trimmed. The plants that I sprouted and grew “on purpose” are weeks behind in their first harvest. This is a good reminder to me that this cycle of plants and seeds has been going on for millennia, mostly without human intervention. Without lamps, sprouting mix, and “hardening off” seedlings, these plants will find a way to grow.