Friday, December 26, 2008

Bill Moyers Talks Agriculture

For those unfamiliar with Michael Pollan and his progressive views on our agriculture system, this interview is an amazing way to update your "food" knowledge to current status. Pollan does a great job at addressing an outdated agricultural system which is based off of government subsidies and cheap fossil fuels. The result is a gluttony of unsustainable growing practices, billions in farm subsidies, lowering of food's nutritional value, and cheap processed foods.
He's very clear with his belief that certain adjustments in our food system can help in our fight to reduce foreign oil dependancy, boost our nation's health care, and reduce unemployment. I believe advocates like Pollan will continue to spread the word and alter how the American people understand food production and purchasing. Locally grown produce is becoming incredibly popular through CSA programs and farmers markets. And for good reason. It's time to get back to a point in our history where we knew how and where our food is grown. Supporting local farms are a great way to keep more money in our local economy while at the same time reducing your carbon footprint. Its a win-win which I know will continue to spread like wildfire across our country.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oak Log/Shitake mushroom growing

Deciding to grow my own Shitake mushrooms turned out to be a little bit trickier than anticipated. I  had the chance to take a class offered at "The Farm" in Summertown this past fall to try and grow Shitake mushrooms for my miso soups or to sell to local consumers.  Heck, just finding the place was challenging.  After a day's class with instructor Frank Michael, an inexpensive purchase of Shitake spawn pegs, cheese wax and a few daubers, I was ready to start innoculating.  Finding the right, freshly felled oak logs was my next challenge.  
After contacting a few local arborists, to find just the right size and diameter I will be ready to start drilling and plugging.  Whoopee, I can hardly wait!  Check back for the next step.

Safe Lawns

Sustainable lawn care is a sound choice. It’s safe for your family and your pets. It’s safe for water quality in your community, preventing runoff of dangerous chemicals contained in petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides. And it improves the quality of your soil, allowing it to absorb water and nutrients and become a home for healthy grass and plants. A healthier lawn will require less maintenance and amendments, saving you money.

Weeds and pests thrive in a “sick” lawn, which only manages with numerous chemical fertilizer and pesticide applications. A natural lawn is strong and resilient because its soil is constantly improving and becoming more complex. It becomes an ecosystem supporting beautiful and healthy plants. And, it eliminates problems caused by synthetic chemical usage.

For 10 benefits of natural lawn click here.  Safe

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Creating Lush Streetscapes

After a trip to Portland, I fell in love with their streets. Flowers overflowing baskets and containers everywhere. It's really amazing what can be done with beautiful plants. If only Nashville's streets could look this good! For a better photo album click here.

Kingfisher Creek

Kingfisher Creek is nestled in the West End Area of Nashville, This rain garden helps to protect Kingfisher Creek from the run-off on a quarter mile of road sloping into it. It fills in during the rains and slowly filters water back into the ground.  The plants in the garden also help to breakdown automotive chemicals the rinse into the water way.

Two in One Day

We'll, it's a first in Gardens of Babylon history. We made the Tennessean twice in one day, both times on a sections cover page. This article was posted yesterday in Life. 2nd Tennessean Article Matt has a interestingly concerned look on his face in the picture. Tygard has a great strategy for creating more dense tree canopies in Nashville.

It looks as though our attempts at more media attention are working. Stay tuned for more articles this spring.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter offerings

If you haven't already seen the Tennessean article in todays paper, I would recommend getting a glimpse. Tennessean Article Of all things, painted poinsettias made the picture. When I think of Christmas, an orange poinsettia is not the first plant that comes to mind.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Being Green in the middle of winter

People always ask.  What kinds of green "things" can we do in the winter? 
  • Compost your veggies - Not as warm in the winter, and a little slower to breakdown
  • Plant pansies and violas  - If you can obtain organic seeds, go all out and use the flowers on your salad, these are two of the many great edible flowers
  • Get a local CSA - Find a great local farmer and see if he's growing in the dead of winter, if not two words Elliot Coleman
  • Look for local Christmas Tree and poinsettia growers
  • Shop local stores instead of big "eject money out of your community" stores

The Greener Side

As we've advanced over the years in slowly transitioning Nashville, one thing has remained the same. Our dedication to back to the earth landscaping and gardening has continued. In 2009, we will be phasing out of all garden chemicals, substituting them with only the cleanest solutions.
As spring 2009 nears, we're going to have many more green garden tips each week!

A little bit greener Christmas Tree

Gardens of Babylon at the Nashville Downtown Farmers’ Market has partnered with a local tree grower to provide a wide selection of Tennessee Frasier Firs grown using sustainable growing practices.

Wintergreen Farms, run by Simon and Vonnie Smith in Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee, was recently recognized by the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association for sustainable growing practices such as using natural fertilizer and cover crops to prevent soil erosion. They also practice a reduced mowing program on the tree farm to reduce carbon emissions.

Frasier Firs range from 4' -9' in height and from $29 to $99.  

Curbside tree pickup and recycling after the holidays is $10 with 100% of profits being donated to the Cumberland River Compact to support water conservation awareness.

Gardens of Babylon also has gifts by local artists such as birdhouses, dog soap, tree swings, cutting boards, as well as fair trade holiday ornaments, garden antiques, and eight varieties of poinsettias. They offer cider for shoppers Friday-Sunday during the holiday season. Customers can support the local economy, get a tree they feel good about, and find unique gifts all in one trip.

Back in Action!

After taking a hiatus in the blogging effort. We're coming back on better that ever and in full effect.  Our team will be posting their experiences in the world of green and sustainable living.    We're more dedicated than ever in prompting a local sustainable and empower community.  Stay tuned for the latest news from the Gardens of Babylon located in the heart of the Nashville.

Also, stay tuned to the website Were about to be unveiling a completely revitalized and informative site around the middle of Jan. 09!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Enter the Backyard Farmer!

This evening as I was weed-eating my minuscule patches of grass in the backyard, at 7:30pm I might add, I was struck by agricultural epiphany-let's call it an agriphany. I am a self proclaimed backyard farmer. To make myself a little more clear, the patches of grass I was destroying with one of the pieces of my farm equipment, my electric weed eater, surround my meager 10 x 8 piece of farmland. Can't say its much, but my pride can still match that of any 70 year old farm pro.
Last fall, my girlfriend and I decided to make something of our humble 30 x 30 postage stamp of a backyard. We wanted to combine function with beauty and so agreed to create a garden surrounded by flowers. Living in a new townhouse development in Brentwood, I knew the soil was gonna be a challenge. Weeds tend to be the only creatures which inhabit an untreated patch of ground around here. After being in the landscape and garden center business for almost 6 years now, I now know this is all too common for new homeowners. For those unaware, before foundations are poured, the housing contractors will scrape off all of the natural topsoil. This most likely was previously the result of thousands of years of forest decay, full of rich loamy soil. Although great for growing things, not great for building thousand pound homes on. The contractor needs firm ground to build on, hence scraping until bedrock or churt, packed clay, is reached. Other than the standard landscaping, which often struggles to live, homeowners are left to fend for themselves when it comes to gardening and landscaping. They soon find that digging in clay and rock is no picnic, neither on their back nor on their tomato plants. Whether a home was built within the last year or within the last 10 years, the soil result remains the same, since soil structure and biology can take years to improve. That's where the backyard farmer comes in.
I will now periodically update my progress, beginning from last fall, of transforming crap for soil and space into an organic flower and produce garden. I hope to cover a broad range of topics from composting to cover cropping. Once we find the memory card for my girlfriend's camera, I will be photo equipped. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Local Food and Farmers

Nowadays you can't escape it. Sustainability has become a hot topic. Local foods and farms are the foundation of this green movement. If people eat less food that is raised by the life of the soil, the are less willing to have compassion for the earth that nourishes then. Just today the Tennessean published a great article ex planing local food and CSA's. Community Supported Agriculture programs
Check out the link below. If only the farmers could produce enough. With demand ever increasing, it'll be a couple years before they're able to produce enough. This is a good thing!

Tennessean on CSA's.

Enclave: Downtown and Greenway Snow

Lovely having a blanket of snow in March. We we're blessed to get one last hurrah from the snow gods! For some great pictures of downtown Nashville covered in sheet of white stuff, check out S-Town Mikes' Enclave.

Enclave: Downtown and Greenway Snow

Soil, the foundation of all life!

To many it's only dirt. Black and muddy, gooey and brown smearing on your skin and lodging itself under your nails.
Many overlook its capacity to give life. We all are given life by the soil. Everything we eat comes from the soil, but often we don't realize it. Because most of the time its flavored in the form of vegetables, grains, and even more so, burgers and fries. Think of the plant kingdom as a sweetener. The sugars produced from photosynthesis allow for a tastier flavor. Without the sun the soil is not able to come alive.
Stop for a moment and think what goes through your body during the day. It has all been cultivated by the brown crumblies most call dirt. There is a symphony of life below our feet that is so often overlooked. Billions of life forms that form an enormously complex, dynamically synergistic organism. Our fast paced lives have helped us forget this.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Bring on the Rain!

Being in the horticultural industry, part of our livelihood depends on the ebb and flow of mother nature. Last year was a rough one for many in the green industry, from growers ( food or flower ), to retailers, to landscapers, and even your home gardener. Despite the freak spring freeze followed by a severe drought across the Southeast, I believe there still remains a few patches of bright side growing somewhere around us. Those patches, which I will appropriately name "appreciation for our resources", are sprouting up more and more it seems. Whether locally or nationally, our weather patterns along with other environmental occurrences have begun to promote a greater sense of appreciation for our resources. This, I believe, cannot help but bring a greater sense of responsibility and attention, which in the long run may just be little dose of some good medicine. However, these troubles which are being experienced by workers in the green industry can be extremely tough to stomach. From scorched crops to dead Japanese Maples, anyone whose livelihood and/ or hobby depends on natural elements has been distraught given the recent weather patterns. Despite these hard times, however, I remain one of those optimists which notices the bright ray of sunshine further down our path. These little wake up calls will inadvertently help to promote a greater desire for change. New products and techniques will emerge and become embraced as we as a people become a little bit more appreciative of the corn that continues to grow or the water to flow.
Although the details of change can often be slow and arduous, I will currently forgo any personal opinions and will end simply with a formal thank you to the rain which falls outside my kitchen window.