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7 Gardener-Approved Must-Haves to Grow Your Own Food
By Novella Carpenter
In uncertain times, a garden can feel like a sanctuary.
It doesn't matter if you have a windowsill planter, a plot in a community garden or a backyard orchard—growing your own organic fruits and vegetables is a small but tangible way to bypass Big Ag and create habitat for butterflies, bees and birds. Gardening also nurtures the gardener: Studies show that inhaling Mycobacterium vaccae, a common soil microbe, can ease depression.
Here are some tried-and-true tools to aid your earthly endeavors.
Made from naturally fallen coconut-palm branches, ULTIMATE INNOVATIONS' rustic-looking Ultimate Garden Broom is great for clearing leaves or straw off vegetable beds without disturbing your crops. It also works better than a rake for tidying up lawns. Made in Sri Lanka, this broom is FSC approved and compostable. $30, shopdepalma.com
All gardens have weeds. The quickest way to rid your beds of these nutrient stealers is to use a push-pull hoe. Its circular blades don't require the chopping motion of most hoes—you simply run this one in a back-and-forth motion, effectively weeding at the root level with each pass. $55, lehmans.com
The sturdy Worm Factory 360 is a marvelous home for soil's best friends: red wiggler worms. Add food scraps and newspaper to the first tray of worms; once that's full, add another tray. The worms migrate up through the trays' slats to eat new food, leaving behind castings, which, by any garden-soil standard, amount to pure gold. The "worm tea" this factory exudes is the best organic liquid fertilizer in the land. $109, groworganic.com
As wide as a standard garden bed, the broadfork from MEADOW CREATURE can turn prepping a bed for planting into an ergonomic workout. Simply stand on the bar, hold the handles on each side, and rock back and forth. This motion renders hard-packed soil loose and plantable, uproots weeds and—most critical—leaves the microbial community largely undisturbed. $185 to $215, meadowcreature.com
Bury a TERRITORIAL SEED COMPANY Olla—essentially an unglazed pot—in a garden bed to provide a slow underground source of water for plants. The rim stays exposed, so you can refill the pot with your garden hose as needed. Weeds need water at the surface of the soil to germinate—but with an olla, water slowly evaporates into the soil, next to your plants' roots. $22 and $43, territorialseed.com
A cross between a trowel and a knife, the stainless steel hori hori is a mighty hand tool. You can stab its serrated edge into the gnarliest of weed patches and emerge triumphant. Thanks to etched-on inch markings, you can even measure how deep you're digging. The Japanese-inspired model from BAREBONES LIVING comes with walnut and copper accents and a sheath. $28, barebonesliving.com
Starting your own seeds inside or on a window ledge is more cost-effective and ecofriendly than buying six-packs. Developed by organic farmer Eliot Coleman, JOHNNY'S SELECTED SEEDS' Hand-Held 4 Soil Blocker compacts potting soil into two-inch blocks, in which you can directly plant seeds. The air naturally prunes roots, meaning that once seeds have germinated, you can move them into the ground sans "transplant shock." $30, johnnyseeds.com
With their red handles and jaunty leather holsters, FELCO hand pruners are like the gardener's version of a banker's silk suit and tie. Swiss-made Felcos are durable, mostly because all the parts are replaceable and the blades can be removed and sharpened. They're also excellently calibrated and offer quick action—crucial for all manner of pruning. $18 to $170+, felco.com
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.