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It’s Earth Day!

Give the Earth a hug on Earth Day (credit: SoulPancake)

How do you love the Earth through gardening?

Soul Pancake’s video Props to the Planet is my go-to inspiration for Earth Day. It asks people to pause a moment to reflect on how, why, and what they love about our planet. It brings a complex subject down to earth. It shows, in a spontaneous way, how loving the Earth is fun and makes both people and the planet happy.

On Earth Day, it seems appropriate for those of us who enjoy gardening, or simply experiencing gardens, to pause and think about how we can love the Earth through our favorite pastime. I’ll kick us off:

How do you love the Earth through gardening?
I act as a steward of my small corner of the world and am mindful of protecting its natural ecosystems and providing wildlife habitat. I enjoy the beauty of exotic and ornamental flowers as much as anyone, but have learned over time that some of them are not very well-behaved in our region, so I respect the “genius of place” by designing my garden and selecting plants so that I make the lightest impact on nature that I can.

Why do you choose to love the Earth through gardening?
I feel a personal responsibility to repair some of the damage that’s been done. I live in an area that has very specialized and unusual habitats (some unique in the world), so I’m extremely conscious of how important it is to provide for the non-human residents, for example by protecting natural corridors through developments that separate wild spaces. But I also love beautiful flowers, shrubs, flowering trees, garden art and sculpture, and I collect flower pots, so there has to be a place for those things, too.

What do you love about the Earth when you garden?
I take great pleasure in planting things, watching them grow, observing the change of seasons through the changes in plants and animal activity. It’s a form of play for me, an excuse to sit on the ground and watch what the smaller life forms are doing, to walk around and see what’s blooming, or needs attention. It’s exciting to watch the great variety of birds feeding their young, see the nestlings fledge, chase butterflies around with a camera, listen to the spring peepers, wait for the lightning bugs to show up ….. I could go on and on. The root of it is feeling the sense of my place in the web of life, enjoying and appreciating the rich variety of planet Earth.

So, how do you love the Earth through gardening? Leave a comment.

Happy Earth Day! You can view the Soul Pancake video at

Easter Chicks: Bald Eagle Babies Hatch at Duke Farms

Feeding time at the Duke Farms Eagles' Nest
Over the Easter weekend, two Bald Eagle chicks hatched at Duke Farms. Their heritage is a long and complex one that includes many unsung heroes – folks who dedicated their lives to ensuring that the single mating pair that remained in New Jersey in 1976 was not the last.

In New Jersey, Bald Eagles are still considered state-endangered for the breeding season and state-threatened for the non-breeding season. State regulatory protection remains unchanged even though they have been removed from the federal Endangered Species list.

The story of the near-extinction of these majestic birds throughout the lower 48 states is just one example of why sustainable farming practices are so important. Bald Eagle population decline is directly tied to the pesticide DDT, which caused severe thinning of the eggs’ shells and resulting nest failures. DDT was widely used in U.S. agriculture from 1945 through the 1950s. The alarm sounded by Rachel Carson in her seminal book, Silent Spring, brought DDT under closer scrutiny, but the chemical wasn’t banned here until 1972. It can still be used in some very limited public health emergencies and in countries where insect-borne diseases such as malaria are prevalent.

You can watch the Duke Farms eagle chicks grow and fledge via their EagleCam at or at Conserve Wildlife NJ’s feed .

Author Jim Wright’s real life adventure tale of wildlife biologists Pete McLain and Jo Ann Frier‘s search to find the last breeding pair of bald eagles in New Jersey, The Last Nest, appeared in the January 2016 issue of NJ Monthly .

Duke Farms has published Duke Farms’ Bald Eagles, also penned by Wright, as an e-book

Teachers can find lesson plans and other resources at

A series of reports from 1997 – 2015 on the Bald Eagle’s status, as well as publications on other NJ endangered species, including Peregrine Falcons, American Kestrels, and Ospreys, are on NJ Fish & Wildlife’s raptor webpage

EZ Stow Hauler™ Garden Cart Review

This cart does a great job of hauling firewood. Load capacity: 800lbs.

A tractor cart that converts to a wheelbarrow
The EZ-Stow Hauler™ is a big hit at our house. The Undergardener says: “This is really well-made and sturdy.” I use it to move leaves around the yard, to mulch my roses and perennials, to haul away pruned branches and trimmings from perennials and shrubs, and to move tools and containers around our property. But it can also handle heavy loads. Whether you’re using it as a wheelbarrow or pulling it behind a tractor, the cart is easy to maneuver and the center of gravity keeps it well-balanced.

Ease of Use
Once you’ve decided whether you want to use the EZ-Stow Hauler™ as a wheelbarrow or tractor cart, there isn’t much to do. Just assemble it, and off you go.

You can check out the full review of the EZ-Stow Hauler™ at and see why I gave it a 5-shovel rating.

Can’t Get The Word Out About Your Sustainable Gardening Resources?

We’ve got a simple solution – let us host your content in SGI’s Sustainable Gardening Library
  • 50 key organized and curated topics
  • Science-based, authoritative information
  • Everything in one place
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Cross-disciplinary approach
  • Uses multiple expert sources
  • Incorporates GIS-mapping
  • Enables social sharing

The Sustainable Gardening Library is the single, centralized, easy-to-use, authoritative repository for information on sustainable gardening and farming practices. It’s accessed via a state-of-the-art, web-based mapping portal and supports Word, pdf, jpg, files and video links.

Currently, we’re recruiting organizations that want to provide accurate, vetted, science-based information to journalists, students, scholars, researchers, educators, and the general public on how to become active caretakers of Earth’s resources beginning right in our own back yards. If you’d like to join us, just let us know .

If you’d like to support The Sustainable Gardening Library by making a donation, contact us here.

We are a New Jersey 501 (c)(3) Corporation – all donations are tax-deductible.

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Call for Sustainable Gardening and Farming Resources

Human survival depends on the health of our planet. Public gardens and arboreta, colleges and universities, and government agencies are doing impressive, far-sighted research, demonstration gardens and projects, and educational programs that show how we can do a better job of stewardship via small- and large-scale gardening and farming. It’s one of the best-kept secrets in America.

But the word isn’t getting out. Not the way it could be. There are many reasons why that information isn’t reaching the people who want, need, and would use it.

We all have the same four problems in distributing sustainable gardening information:

•    Tight budgets,
•    Marketing staff stretched too thin,
•    Inability to reach across professional or organizational silos,
•    Irregular website update or newsletter posting schedule,
•    Lack of organized, searchable, curated sources of science-based information.

The Sustainable Gardening Library solves those problems at no cost to you. If your organization has top-notch content you’d like to post in our library, just let us know . We’ll arrange a demonstration and give you the details of how to submit it.

SGI’s founders care deeply about the future of our planet, the other species with whom we share it, wise and respectful use of the land, and how our food is produced.

If you’d like to support The Sustainable Gardening Library by making a donation, contact us here.

We are a New Jersey 501 (c)(3) Corporation – all donations are tax-deductible

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Share Your Content On The Sustainable Gardening Library Website

Bioswale at American University
What if there were one place people could go to find advice about sustainable gardening and farming best management practices? What if there were one go-to resource where students could find reliable information on sustainable gardening topics for their research papers? What if journalists and media mavens could quickly locate experts to interview about environmentally sound approaches to growing ornamental and food plants?

There is: The Sustainable Gardening Library. Join us in sharing your content on our platform. To learn more about us, arrange a demo, or sign up your college, public garden, or government agency, send me an email.

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Sustainable Gardening Library Welcomes UCSC Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

Touring UCSC CASFS farm with Trish Hildinger

The Sustainable Gardening Library’s newest collaborator is the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at the University of California, Santa Cruz. More than 1,500 students have completed CASFS’s internationally-renowned immersion apprenticeship program, living and working on the Center’s 30 acre farm, attending 300 hours of classroom instruction, and putting in 700 hours of hands-on training in the greenhouses, gardens, orchards, and fields.

 In addition to the organically-certified farm, CASFS oversees the work of an on-campus CSA garden, and supports research, education, and community outreach. Their agroecosystem approach, based on ecological principles, is an ongoing quest to develop agricultural practices that can be maintained into the future without damaging surrounding natural landscapes.

Why We're Adding CASFS to The Sustainable Gardening Library
Over the years since its founding in 1971, the farm has influenced UCSC’s student food culture to the point that food harvested there is fully-integrated into the campus dining halls. It is believed to be the oldest organic farm on any University campus in the United States. “It’s really great work,” says noted NY Times food columnist Mark Bittman in this video of his visit to CASFS.

Look for the Sustainable Gardening Library’s CASFS content in the coming months.

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