Via Lloyd’s blog an inspiring story from Paraguay about a children’s orchestra that uses instruments made from trash.
We’ve been going to Sunset Nursery since we bought our house fifteen years ago. The staff has always been polite and helpful and they have a diverse selection of plants. On a whim, Kelly took a look at their overwhelmingly positive Yelp reviews. But some of the Yelpers prove how hard it must be to work in a nursery and deal with a public that can charitably be described as disconnected with the natural world. Take this Yelper:
I’ve driven by this place soooo many times and really needed some advice on a dear plant of ours. We’ve had it for 5 years and it suffered trauma from our kitty pushing it off the ledge and it’s been stuck at 1 inch tall for years now.
When I arrived with The Gringo (we got the clipping from Dos Gringos in DC) a woman laughed at it and said I should just get a new plant.
What a meanie.
I told her no, I want this plant to grow and she asked if I had been giving it nutrients. D’OH! I didn’t know that was something I was supposed to do. Well, it’s been maybe a month and a half now and The Gringo has grown to about 3.5 inches and is sprouting out.
YAY! It’s alive!
The man behind the counter was much nicer and saw the potential…but The Gringo still needs some therapy because of the mean woman. We’ll work on that though.
Speaking of nutrients, this next comment proves just how good that staff is at Sunset Nursery–they suggest getting a soil test. A bad nursery would never pass up the chance to sell fertilizer. This Yelp commenter doesn’t appreciate this:
Upon entering the office area and asking for some help (I was the only person in the nursery), a large man sitting behind the desk pointed me to a old Asian woman who proceeded to laugh me and my wife off. She let us know how little we knew, suggested that before we even CONSIDER landscaping that we spend a month paying professors to analyze our soil, and over the course of a 20 minute rambling conversation scared us away from ever wanting to do any landscaping at all. I am struggling to remember if she was even slightly encouraging about a single topic, but honestly, I don’t think she was. From a business perspective, I could not have imagined a worse sell.
I am kicking myself, because I tried them once before a year prior (without my wife), and had the EXACT same result. I even had the same two workers providing the (non)advice. Apparantly, I blocked out it – that one is on me.. . . If you don’t think you can grow plants in Los Angeles, check out the neighbors in your hood. EVERYONE grows a garden, all it takes is time. And in the end, I was able to achieve great results!
I’ve always wanted my own staff of academics so, personally, I’m looking forward to spending a month “paying professors to analyze our soil.” As to “EVERYONE” growing a garden in Los Angeles, I suspect this Yelper is referring to the mowed weeds and Home Depot topiary that accounts for most of the residential landscaping in this city?
I haven’t seen a print copy of this magazine, but they sure have a great blog going. The blog has an interesting article on citrus greening as well as evidence that modern farmer’s writers have a sense of humor. And it’s nice to see farming connected with good graphic design.
I was on KPFK this week along with Rob McFarland from HoneyLove (a great organization that is helping legalize beekeeping in Los Angeles among many other projects). We were on to talk about why bees are dying off in the Central Valley and about keeping chickens in the city. You can listen to the interview here. I really enjoyed being on this show–we all sat around talking for an hour after the taping.
I was also on an internet news show called The Point chatting about eating road kill (something I know nothing about) and Ed Begley Jr’s reality TV show (guess I burned that bridge). You can watch this show here.
Being momentarily or, perhaps, permanently carless has given me the opportunity to reflect on the long term future of oil. As coincidence would have it I stumbled on CNN commentator David Frum’s delusional editorial, “Peak Oil Doomsayers Proved Wrong,” at the same time as I discovered Renaissance physician, alchemist and philosopher Paracelsus’ treatise, On Nymphs, Sylphs, Pygmies and Salamanders. They have a few things in common. First, Frum’s notion that oil has no limits:
Predictions that the world would imminently “run out of oil” have been worrying oil consumers since at least the 1920s. They always prove wrong, for reasons explained by the great oil economist M.A. Adelman after the last “oil shortage” in the 1970s:
Oil reserves, Adelman writes, “…are no gift of nature. They (are) a growth of knowledge, paid for by heavy investment.”
For all practical purposes, the world’s supply of oil is not finite. It is more like a supermarket’s supply of canned tomatoes. At any given moment, there may be a dozen cases in the store, but that inventory is constantly being replenished with the money the customers pay for the cans they remove, and the more tomatoes that customers buy, the bigger an inventory the store will carry.
Paracelsus uses a more poetic metaphor. Instead of ordering shipments of tomatoes, it’s our task to command gnomes,
The earth is filled by gnomes even to its center, creatures of diminutive size, guardians of mines, treasures and precious stones. They furnish the Children of the Sages with all the money they desire, and ask little for their services but the distinction of being commanded. [Source: Arthur Edward Waite, Real History of the Rosicrucians]
Apologies to Paracelsus for the comparison–he is a much better read than Frum. And, just so you know, the wives of gnomes are, “tiny, but very pleasing, and their apparel is exceedingly curious.”
Just to be clear I don’t think we’re on the verge of a Beyond Thunderdome/Tina Turner future. But I don’t believe that we can order up oil like canned tomatoes anymore. And it’s possible to piss off the gnomes.
For more on this debate I can’t do better than to direct you to Archdruid John Michael Greer who is on a roll right now on his blog The Archdruid Report. Check out his most recent posts. And we’re going to go hear him speak at the Age of Limits Conference. Perhaps we’ll see some of you there . . .