‘PLANT A CARROT, get a carrot, not a Brussels sprout,’ proclaims the song from the 1960 (and ongoing) musical “The Fantasticks.” But in 2014–no thanks to genetic engineering, gladly, but to charmingly low-tech creativity and total brilliance–you can plant a carrot and get a clarinet. I’ve been watching this over and again for weeks, and meant to share it sooner. Sorry to be distracted and selfish until now, but thankfully there’s still time to sow more clarinets. Bless you, Linsey Pollak.
I WATCHED A ZOOM lecture the other day that really put into words a lot of the ways my own deepening understanding of ecology is shaking up the way I practice horticulture—from spring cleanup, right on to the last chore of the active year. The lecturer was Rebecca McMackin, director of horticulture for Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, where she leads the team that manages 85 acres of diverse parkland with a central focus on habitat creation of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows to build soils and support birds, butterflies, and other organisms.
We talked about the dynamic tactics they use and when and why–a whole different approach to spring cleanup, where the life cycles of animals (from insects on up) dictate what happens when, garden maintenance-wise. Like why some things don’t get cut back, and others that are still seed-laden when they do have their seeds collected and set aside, then returned to the spot after whatever cleanup is needed there.