Compost Can Change Your Life

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Your garden will grow better, your grass will be greener, your plants prettier with certified City of Ann Arbor compost. Need a lot? Then the bulk sale is for you. Bring your truck to the Platt Road Compost Center. Need just a bushel or two? Then head to the Recycle Ann Arbor Drop-off Station. Pick up a copy of A Little Piece of Earth: How to Grow Your Own Food in Small Spaces at AADL and your table will be plentiful next year.

This Saturday is the Homegrown Festival

HomegrownHomegrownThat’s right! Are you ready for local food, local beverage, local live music, and good times? You’ll find it at the 3rd annual Homegrown Festival this Saturday, from 6pm – 11pm in the Kerrytown market area. The festival aims to promote awareness of local foods, farmers, resources, food security, and community support. There will be heirloom tomato tasting, kids activities, chef demos, non-profit booths, a silent auction, games, and more. Check out the website for full schedule, including a list of the fabulous food vendors. For more local food love keep an eye on 2011’s Local Food Summit, and keep in mind that September is Local Food Month!

Check Out a Museum Adventure Pass!

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Looking for something fun and free to do now that the kids are out of school? Come to any of our branches and check out a Museum Adventure Pass! There are over 30 museums you can visit, and the passes admit 2 or 4 depending on where you're headed. A new participant this year is the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens, where you can participate in a wealth of activities and resources for families, gardening enthusiasts, hikers, birders, scientists, volunteers and students - or to those simply seeking an escape into nature.

The Urban Homestead

The urban homestead: your guide to self-sufficient living in the heart of the city, by Kelly Coyne & Erik Knutzen, features a wealth of information for eco-conscious city dwellers looking to do their own food harvesting and preserving and get involved in urban homesteading. Recently released is also a revised and expanded edition of the book that features new projects. For further information, the authors also maintain an excellent blog (The Homegrown Evolution) for those interested in this topic.

The Urban Homestead focuses on how to depend less on big box living and features ways of living a more self-sufficient life by growing your own food, saving energy or producing your own, preserving food, all while living in an urban area with limited land.

Dig these historical gardens

Botanical GardensBotanical Gardens

Over the years local historian Grace Shackman has written about the history of gardens and gardening in Ann Arbor. In May 2001, she covered the history of UM's botanical gardens. She also wrote about the history of garden shows in Ann Arbor from 1926-1941; antique plant specialist, Scott Kunst; and Carl Weinberg's famous Peony Garden.

This weekend Matthaei Botanical Gardens holds their 30th Annual Spring Plant Sale and Fundraiser and next weekend, the Dexter Garden Club will offer plants for sale at the gazebo in Dexter's Monument Park.

Jeffersonian agriculture

Thomas Jefferson born on April 13, in 1743, was not only President, writer of the Declaration of Independence, an inventor, musician and philosopher but also a farmer and naturalist. As the days grow longer and warmer (we hope!), it's good to remember Jefferson's words, "Determine never to be idle." He certainly never was. On his Monticello farm, Jefferson grew 170 varieties of vegetables, plants and flowers. He imported broccoli from Italy, grew Mexican peppers and English peas. In his Garden Book, he kept meticulous notes on when each variety was planted, when the first leaves appeared and which were the most flavorful. Jefferson said that he ate meat as "a condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my principle diet." Perhaps we should follow Jefferson's advice as well as that of a modern proponent of his philosophy, Michael Pollan whose now famous credo, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants," is part of every foodie's vocabulary.

Herbs in the Kitchen

In the dead of winter, you might not be thinking about herbs for your salad, but the cold season can be the perfect time to start a kitchen herb garden. You can give your winter cooking recipes some real flavor with fresh herbs, and keep some greenery in your home at the same time! AADL has plenty of books that can help you get started. How about one of these titles?

The Kitchen Garden: Month by Month (2010)
Kitchen Garden (2004)
The Kitchen Garden : Fresh Ideas for Luscious Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers, and Fruit (2000)
A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Kitchen Garden (1996)
The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden (1992)

Of course, herbs have a variety of other uses in addition to cooking-related. Herbs can be used for therapeutic and medicinal use, delicious teas, or even gift-related uses – (learn how to dry your herbs at home – even with a microwave!) Another really nice resource I’d also like to mention is the bimonthly magazine, The Herb Companion. It has great articles, recipes, and crafts as well. Happy planting!

Poinsettias : the December flower--myth & legend, history & botanical fact

PoinsettiasPoinsettias

Poinsettias:the December flower--myth & legend, history & botanical fact written by Christine Anderson & Terry Tischer, is a beautiful book to read this time of year. Did you know that every year 150 million poinsettias are purchased in more than 50 countries? This book takes a look into the history of this amazing plant, and gives us a glimpse into how it was transformed into an international holiday symbol. This book is full of beautiful color photographs of the Christmas Star. lt is also full of little known facts, myths, and gardening advice for the poinsettia.

Set this book on the coffee table over the holidays, and watch everyone who picks it up instantly smile!

Autumn Gardening

Autumn GardeningAutumn Gardening

The Garden in Autumn by Allen Lacy is a book for those who believe that autumn brings merely clean-up tasks and potted mums. After reading this book gardeners will think differently about the autumn garden. Lacy, a gardening writer for the New York Times, has a vested interest: "to encourage fellow gardeners to pay attention to the neglected but glorious possibilities of the fall garden."
Lacy introduces new plants and plant combinations to try that will be stunning in a garden throughout the waning of the year. Lacy devotes a chapter each to lingering summer perennials, fall-flowering perennials, bulbs, grasses, annuals and woody plants. He even includes a chapter on blooms in December!

The HomeGrown Festival is this Saturday!

HomeGrownHomeGrown

Ann Arbor’s Homegrown Festival is headed to the Kerrytown market on Saturday, September 12, from 5-10pm. The festival’s website boasts, “The HomeGrown Festival celebrates local food and community and seeks to focus broad mainstream attention on the community-wide benefits (and pleasure!) of eating from our own foodshed.”

In addition to the wonderful food vendors who will be there, there will also be a number of other activities to partake in, including tomato tasting, a beer garden, chef demos, kids’ activities, non-profit booths, and live music. Sounds like good times! Admission is free, food is available for purchase.

Ann Arbor has such a wonderful community with great support in local food efforts. (Think Slow Food Huron Valley.) Celebrate wonderful food and wonderful Michigan farms at this event!

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