October 2, 2019 National Pumpkin Seed Day, Julius von Sachs, the HMS Beagle Returns Home, Patrick Geddes, Martha Brooks Hutcheson, Wallace Stevens, Heirloom Vegetable Gardening by William Woys Weaver, Rhubarb, and Old Garden Stories

Today is National Pumpkin Seed Day.

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are native to the Americas. Archaeologists discovered them in Mexico in caves that date back to 7,000 B.C.

Today, China produces more pumpkins and pumpkin seeds than any other country. 

Pumpkin seeds are loaded with protein; a single cup provides 8-10 grams of protein. They are packed with nutrients, and they are overall very good for your health. 

Next time you're whipping up a batch of protein bites, don't forget pumpkin seeds.

Just mix updates, whole nuts, chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, almonds, pumpkin seeds, 1tsp cacao bio powder, 1tsp peanut butter, a handful of raisins and dried cranberries. Then press the mixture into a pan and slice into bars. It couldn't be simpler.





#OTD  Today is the birthday of the German botanist known as the Father of Plant Physiology, Julius von Sachs, who was born on this day in 1832.  

In the 1860s, Sachs tested adding a variety of nutrients to plants growing in water. He was trying to determine what plants need to live. It was early, early efforts on modern-day hydroponics.

In 1864, Sachs determined that blue light is the most important color for inducing phototropism in plants. Plants are generally blind to other colors; which is why you don't see plants bending toward the lamps inside your house; unless you are using grow-lights!

In 1868, Sachs became Head of the botanical institute at Würzburg University.  Sachs was a good friend of Frank Darwin. When Darwin needed a lab to conduct his experiments plants of growing toward the light, he naturally used the world-class lab of his friend, Julius von Sachs, at Würzburg U.

Sachs himself was studying how plants process light. He correctly identified that starch was a product of the sunlight process known as photosynthesis. He proved that chlorophyll in the chloroplast is involved in photosynthesis. Sachs is responsible for identifying structures like the organelle and chloroplasts. 

Sachs used some ingenuity helped him come up with things like planter boxes with one glass side so that he could better understand the formation of roots. Using a magnifying glass, he could discern the development of root hairs and cellular protrusions.





#OTD  On this day in 1836, the HMS Beagle returned to England after a five-year voyage around the world. 

It was a revelatory trip for ship’s naturalist, Charles Darwin, who found the building blocks to his evolutionary theory in the many fossils and diverse species he discovered on his excursions. It would be another 23 years before he published the Origin of Species. Often, Darwin is depicted on the Beagle as an old man; but he was just 22 when he sailed away and still a young 27 when he returned with boxes full of specimens and a brain swirling with new ideas.




#OTD  Today is the 165th birthday of the Father of Town Planning and a botanist, Patrick Geddes, who was born on this day in 1854.

Geddes accomplished much during his lifetime, despite being notoriously disorganized and easily distracted. In addition to his work in planning, Geddes was an ardent botanist and an environmentalist.

People often forget that Geddes was trained mostly in the subjects of biology and botany; it was through that living scientific lens that he was first inclined to view the world. Geddes always conceded an undeniable truth in his work; nature is ever-changing, and humans need to be in nature. Geddes had a profound appreciation and reverence for life. Like any gardener, he saw value in beauty.

Geddes wrote:

"No one who studies animate nature can get past the fact of beauty. It is as real in its own way as the force of gravity."

When it came to planning towns, Geddes dismissed modernist plans for creating what he called "soulless suburbs and concrete slums." Instead, the ever-practical Geddes bought land in Edinburgh and created communities interwoven into the landscape. Bare spots on plans were turned into spaces for gardens.

In 1918, Geddes delivered a farewell lecture to his students at Dundee. Here's is a little excerpt from this powerful speech:

"How many people think twice about a leaf? Yet the leaf is the chief product and phenomenon of life. This is a green world.... and all dependent upon the leaves... The world is mainly a vast leaf-colony, growing on and forming a leafy soil, ... and we live not by the jingling of our coins, but by the fullness of our harvests.

...Growth seems slow... and people are all out for immediate results...  A garden takes years and years to grow – ideas also take time to grow, and while a sower knows when his corn will ripen, the sowing of ideas is, as yet, a far less certain affair.

Star-wonder, stone and spark wonder, life-wonder, folk-wonder, .... To appreciate sunset and sunrise, moon and stars, the wonders of the winds, clouds and rain, the beauty of woods and fields – here are the beginnings of natural sciences.

...[And] we must cease to think merely in terms of separated departments and faculties... So - with art inspiring industry, .... the Tree of Life thus comes into view.





#OTD   Today is the birthday of Martha Brookes Hutcheson, who was born on this day in 1871.

When she was born, Landscape Architecture was a babe as well; being a newly established professional field.

Two decades later, in 1902, when Martha Brooks Hutcheson joined the ranks of the profession after graduating from MIT, she became one of America’s first professional female landscape architects.

Hutcheson wrote a book called "The Spirit of the Garden" (a complete copy is available online for free here).

In the book, Hutcheson poured all of her cultivated expertise; it became an instant garden classic. Hutcheson wanted Landscape Architecture concepts to be available to everyone, not just the wealthy. And, she wanted plants and trees to grace every living space; in rural areas, cities, and especially the areas surrounding schools. 

For half a century - until 1959, Hutcheson and her husband, William, lived at Merchiston farm. There are many native plants, and water is a vital landscape element. 

It was Martha Brookes Hutcheson, who said:

“An insight into ecology enables us to recognize plants as living things - with laws governing their needs in their associations. Without this, we recognize plants only as a florist might who fills his windows with lavish displays.”

Hutcheson's personal interest in ecological systems led her to dam a small stream on her farm to create a cow pond, which later became around the swimming pond in the center of her garden. She and her visitors swam in the pond and shared it with wildlife.

Despite her struggles to break down barriers for her profession and for women, Hutcheson found comfort, "tranquility and intense personal calm" in her gardens. She wrote:

"So, let us all have gardens, for we shall be but following in the footsteps of those past ages, and expressing the love of gardens that have been in our hearts for generations."




Unearthed Words

Today is the birthday of the American poet, Wallace Stevens, who was born on this day on this day in 1879. 

Stevens grew up to be an insurance agent in Hartford, Connecticut, and he lived across the street from Elizabeth Park, which contains one of the three largest rose gardens in the country on 102 acres of incredible beauty.

You can tell from much of his poetry that Stevens was a lover of nature and gardens.

Thus, an insurance man by day and a poet by night, Wallace Stevens wrote all of the following:

“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.”
“Death is the mother of beauty. Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers.”
"Moisture and heat have swollen the garden into a slum of bloom."
“I certainly do not exist from nine to six, when I am at the office.”




Today's book recommendation: Heirloom Vegetable Gardening by William Woys Weaver

This is an updated edition of the classic that has been improved throughout with growing zones, advice, and new plant entries. Now, instead of line art, there is lush, full-color photography. 
At the heart of this book are the heirlooms, the living history of gardens and kitchens of our past. For many people, heirlooms are stories. They are gifts, something special to pass down through the generations.

For instance, one of the heirlooms I have fallen head over heels for is the Nanticoke Winter Pumpkin. Imagine a pumpkin almost the color of a robin's egg with crêpey looking blisters over the skin, and you have something extra special from your garden for Autumn. And, that's only a taste of the marvelous plants and products featured in this wonderful new edition. It's an heirloom encyclopedia, and it's a keeper.





Today's Garden Chore

Check your rhubarb to see if you want to make a quick last-minute division.

I just did this after another visit to the cabin. I decided it would be lovely to walk out back by the lake in the early morning and cut some stalks for strawberry rhubarb muffins for a weekend brunch or for some rhubarb bars to enjoy with a cup of coffee. The point is, rhubarb can handle a division even though it's early October. Welcome to lake life rhubarb! 




Something Sweet 
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

I ran across two old gems for you today.

The first one is a saying that was published on this day in 1940 in The Phoenix Star at the beginning of a little bedtime story called "What the Old Naturalist Told." I thought it was so lovely and I couldn't find it anywhere online - so here it is (short and sweet): 

A story's writ on every stone, In every stick and leaf and bone. ~ Old Mother Nature 

The second one is from the Chicago Tribune on this day in 1875. It was a little article, fittingly called "Sparks of Science."

"Plants are tender as little children, and suffer quickly from any irregularity of diet and habit. Above all, they must not be kept awake late at night by bright gaslights burning around them. They, like human beings, need rest and sleep, and, when Nature puts out her great light with the dotting of the sun, it is time for them close their eyes and fold their leaves; or, if they do not all actually do this, they must, at least, enjoy the opportunity darkness affords ...

How often the question is asked of the lady who has flourishing plants in her window: "How do you manage to make them look so well ?" "I don't know.’’ is the reply; "I only do what others do,” and yet she is inwardly conscious that it is the love animating her care of them that inspires their thrifty growth." 




Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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