Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Word on 875 from the OCA

I've read a lot of scare mail from people who are upset about a proposed Ag bill, reminiscent of the way the internet rumor mill was abuzz with het-up herbalists back in the mid-90s when the DSHEA bill was in Congress.
Does anybody beside me remember the tempest in a teapot that DSHEA was, and what was the result of that ginned up "populist" anger?
Back then the fear (much of it was being fed by Anti-Clinton fever) was that the government was going to raid your garage if you were hanging your homegrown sage to dry and arrest you if you received basil seeds in the mail.
I am not kidding.

The result of that hysteria was a weakening of the FDA (read this link)... and now we have adulterated peanut butter and wonder why.
But that's the free market for you.

I confess I haven't read this bill. (Don't get me started on that... most bills don't get read even by our Representatives, under any president, yours or mine.)

My opinion? I think the current fear mongering is another case of manipulation by a certain political mindset who are masters of the art of suggestion, and who repeatedly have convinced average citizens to work and vote against their own best interests. There is a great book about this by Thomas Frank titled "What's the Matter With Kansas", a phrase that emerges in my mind whenever I read some of these email FWDs that I get in the old inbox.

I have read a lot of chatter about this bill, and since I trust the Organic Consumers Association, I thought I'd post their thoughts on the issue.
The OCA sends a free email newsletter that you can sign up for, if such things are important to you.

One more thought. Most people don't know their farmer. Most people can't afford to know their farmer.
You should know, though, that good certified organic farmers already do "keep records" for purposes of their certification.

There is always a way to do things dirtier and cheaper. We need to think in terms of the health of our nation in our rule making. The "free market" is not going to protect our food supply.

HR 875 Update: The Biotech Companies are Destroying Traditional Farming (Just Not in this Bill)

* By Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq.
Organic Consumers Association, March 25, 2009

The following note is typical of the calls and e-mails Organic Consumers Association has been receiving this week:
"Do you know anything about HR 875, a 'food safety' bill that was written by Monsanto, Cargill and ADM? I've heard a few individual activists scream about this as the death of farmers markets, CSAs and local organic food, yet have seen no alerts from any of the reliable groups, including OCA. Any idea what's up with this?"

HR 875 is a food safety bill that, as it is currently drafted, could be applied to all farms, including certified organic and farm-to-consumer operations. The bill would require farms to have a food safety plan, allow their records to be inspected, and comply with food safety regulations.

For the record, Organic Consumers Association does have an alert on HR875. As OCA points out in our Action Alert, we cannot support a "food safety" bill unless it provides protection or exemptions for organic and farm-to-consumer producers and cracks down on the real corporate criminals who are tampering with and polluting our nation's food supply.

Having said that, OCA supports aspects of HR875 that call for mandatory recalls of tainted food, increased scrutiny of large slaughterhouses and food manufacturers, and hefty fines against companies that send poisonous food to market.

The now discredited ultra-libertarian notion that companies or the "market" will regulate themselves is not only ludicrous, but dangerous, whether we are talking about the banking system or the food and farming sector.

When researching this issue, Organic Consumers Association turned to trusted sources within the organic farming community. We suggest the following resource for further reading:

An Integrated Approach to Food Safety
Russell Libby, Executive Director
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Letter from the Farmers Market Coalition on HR 875

Organic food healthier and more intensively inspected—but not magically protected from humans or pathogens
Rodale Institute

To get a sense of the food safety issues that Congress is trying to deal with, read Jill Richardson's (La Vida Locovore) write-up of a March 19, 2009, hearing in the House Energy & Commerce subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations on the salmonella peanut butter outbreak :

Of course, Monsanto and large corporate agribusiness are out to destroy traditional farming. Unfortunately, while many people have been distracted by HR 875, the biotech companies have been hard at work pushing their agenda (see below). We need to keep working together to work towards positive alternatives, such as organic agriculture and the green economy.

A ban on rBGH-free labeling from Monsanto's successor Eli Lilly
A bill that is working its way through the Kansas legislature would prevent farmers from labeling any dairy products sold in Kansas as being "free" of genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rbST or rBGH). Farmers could say that the product comes from cows that haven't received injections of the artificial bovine growth hormone, which stimulates milk production (and increases the use of antibiotics and the presence of pus in milk). However, such products would also be forced to include disclaimers saying that the federal government has found no significant difference between milk from cows injected with rbST and milk from those that have not received the hormone. While there is an exemption for certified organic milk, OCA opposes this law. It has Monsanto's fingerprints all over it. The revolving door that brought Monsanto executives through the FDA is the reason the federal government took the position that there's no difference between milk produced with or without rbST. Monsanto sold rbST to Eli Lilly in August 2008, but the pro-rbST strategy hasn't changed much.

Monsanto uses closed-door lobbying to block Montana bill that would protect farmers
Montana Senators sidelined a seed bill that sought standards for how biotech companies test crops for patent infringement, burying the bill after getting a private dinner with Monsanto representatives.

Epitopix's E. coli vaccine
A vaccine for E. coli has been conditionally approved by the USDA. Now the USDA can force this new animal drug on all beef and dairy producers rather than focus on the cause of E. coli and its spread, feeding cows grain instead of grass, confining cows in pens where they wade in manure their whole lives right up to slaughter, and the manure lagoons that leak into the water and onto nearby vegetable farms.

Monsanto's gene-altered drought-resistant corn
The chemical companies have yoked farmers with increasingly expensive and ineffective fossil-fuel-based inputs that contribute to global warming. Now they propose another techno-fix: gene-altered drought-tolerant crops. Trouble is, the crops don't do well under non-drought conditions. Monsanto invests $2.6 million daily in its research. Think how many people could be eat healthy food on long-term, sustainable basis if Monsanto and its partner the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested $2.6 each day in organic agriculture!

Indian farmers protest Monsanto seed experiments that threaten their farms
One farmer said, "Monsanto is a criminal corporation known to have sued or sent to jail scores of farmers elsewhere for doing what farmers around the world have done for millennia -- saving their seeds."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Faith in a seed

I dream gardening by habit.
Not in my genes, or from childhood training, but cultivated through an adult lifetime of passionate, if self taught, interest in the subject of green and growing things.

Confession: my enthusiasm for most of life has been on auto-pilot lately.
This has been an exceedingly long Michigan winter, but, unlike my usual practice I've only closely read maybe two of the cascade of garden catalogs that found my mailbox this year... and only ordered from one.

But with Spring comes Hope, and sometimes just following through the patterns that have been imprinted is the solution to getting through the foggy times.

Snow is in the forecast, and it's too cold outdoors to enjoy pruning the shrubs, so today I sat down at the computer and listed my plans for the growing season - if only revealed by the signs and hints found in seed and plant lists which I'll share with you now:

Seeds From Richters (Canada)

Ambrosia Seeds 1.60/pkt 1.60
Chia SowNatural(tm)Seeds 2.30/pkt 2.30
Cumin, Black Seeds 1.20/pkt 1.20
Honesty Seeds 1.20/pkt 1.20
Marigold, Lemon Gem Seeds 1.60/pkt 1.60
Marigold, Orange Gem Seeds 1.60/pkt 1.60
Scullcap, Baikal Seeds 1.40/pkt 1.40
Thyme, French Seeds 1.60/pkt 1.60
Wolfberry, Chinese Seeds 2.30/pkt 2.30

Herb Plants From Companion Plants (Ohio)

3 x Acorus calamus (SWEET FLAG (bareroot)) = $9.00
Longevity: HP (in USDA Zones 4 to 11)
Lighting Conditions: PS-FS
Average Height: 5 feet

1 x Santolina rosmarinifolia (Santolina rosmarinifolia) = $4.50
Longevity: HP (zones 6 to 9)
Lighting Conditions: FS
Average Height: 2 feet

2 x Salvia scleria (CLARY SAGE) = $9.00
Longevity: B (zones 4 to 9)
Lighting Conditions: FS
Average Height: 2 feet

2 x Marrubium vulgare (HOREHOUND) = $9.00
Longevity: HP (zones 3 to 8)
Lighting Conditions: PS-FS
Average Height: 18 inches

3 x Salvia clevelandii (BLUE SAGE (Cleveland sage) = $13.50
Longevity: TP-HP (zones 8 to 10)
Lighting Conditions: FS
Average Height: 3 feet

Woodie Plants From Genesee County (Michigan) Soil Conservation District

1 Tamarack (Am. Larch) $2.00 ea
Native. Full sun, moist to boggy soil, fast growth 40-80'.

4 Elderberries $3.00 ea
Full sun to shade. Moist, rich soil. Variable growth to 8'.

2 Serviceberries $3.00 ea
Native. Full to part sun, average soil. Moderate growth to 15'.

1 Hazelnut $3.00 ea
Full sun, average soil. Medium fast growth to 10-15'.

Vegetable plants requested from Pat Whetham's Organic Farm CSA

3 okras
3 eggplants
6 cabbages
1 tomatillo

Seeds from 'Rack Packs' / a.k.a. 'impulse purchases'

Borage (Cook's Garden)
Sunflower 'Sunspot' (Thompson & Morgan)
Thyme, Old English (T&M)
Banana (T&M)
Olive (T&M)

And finally, seeds that found me by chance:

Lemon seeds - from a Meyer lemon.
Basil 'Serata' - from MHA conference.
Parsley Italian Dark Green - from MHA Conference.
Fenugreek seeds - from Sharon Paulsen, GCHS Herb Study for January, 2009.

Monday, March 23, 2009

exploring the disconnect

This is part one of three. I've subscribed to Cooking Up A Story who posted this interview. Here's how:
Click on the video to go to the video on YouTube, then hit the subscribe button. YouTube will send you updates in your e-mailbox weekly or however you decide. A great way to keep up with the things you care about.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I love free samples

Have you read Tina Sams' The Essential Herbal magazine? or followed her blog or visited the Yahoo group she organized? You should check it out - Tina, and by extension her family, are manifesting a herbal life - and she shares the fun (and education) with a journalist's flare for 'writing the life'. The following was in my Google Reader this morning - a free sample of The Essential Herbal Victory Garden edition to download (from a year ago). I suggest Tina send a copy to the Obamas!

Tina wrote:
Free Issue of The Essential Herbal to Download
from The Essential Herbal Blog by Tina Sams

Last year at this time we did an issue that was devoted to the need to scale back, plant a garden, reduce, reuse, and recycle. The cover is a collage of posters from the Victory Garden campaigns of the 1940's. The issue is sold out, and now these topics are getting huge coverage. We were just a little too early.

So - we'd like you to download it and enjoy it. The link is:

Share it. Forward the link. Send it to your friends, and post it on the lists and forums you participate in. Post it to your own blog and share it with your readers. Help us spread this issue far and wide!

Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I do wonder if you think (as I do) that this talking head (interviewer) is completely clueless? Wah! Would the Obama's actually eat food that they actually grew? Oh My! (Oy vey!)

Don't those kids look like they're having fun? I can't wait to get out in the yard and tromp around a bit. Soon.

I do have some garden-y questions, though. I wonder if they had a soil test done? I wonder if they know the number of their local Cooperative Extension Service for advice? And how does Michelle Obama manage to look so gosh darn elegant, even while digging a garden with a bunch of schoolchildren!

It looks like a lot of work - all of that sod removal is kind of old fashioned labor-intensive thinking. The really cool latest and greatest thing would have been to lay down some cardboard or newspapers and layered with some good compost. The "lasagna" method. The article does mention raised beds - no need to dig sod, if that's the case.

But no beets! I wonder if Mr. Obama has ever had a nice piece of chocolate beet cake, or beet greens wilted in a pan with a little olive oil and garlic? He is said to have an open mind!

This will be a positive and fun story to follow as it progresses. Hope they don't neglect to reign in that mint! Is there a compost pile? Will they be canning and sharing recipes?
How about baby beets cooked with honey, orange juice and orange peel?

The New York Times Dining section has a nice article about the Obama family's new White House veggie garden, and a garden layout (here's a link).

Here (link) is an interesting discussion of the Obama White House vegetable garden.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

MHA Conference - Educational Displays

The herb and garden vendor rooms are crowded with shoppers, but I like to check out the display tables in the education room. My friend Lois has done a great job organizing the project, and for the past few years she has encouraged a better participation with fine results.
Herb groups from all over the state bring in educational displays - focused on a single topic, the herb of the year, or whatever their local group is doing to promote the use and enjoyment of herbs.
A nice time can be spent reading the displays and learning from other groups.
I took a few photos to share.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday Report: Michigan Herb Associates Conference

Just a taste - make a plan to go next March!

Why "Bay" on the sign? That's the Herb of the Year for 2009. Most of the beautiful herb plants in this display were auctioned to raise funds for the terrific 4-H Children's Garden on the campus of Michigan State University. But during the conference they fill the auditorium at Wells Hall with a hint of Spring.

My apologies to John Forti - I must have erased my photo of him at the podium and just got his back here. The conference theme this year (the 22nd year of annual conferences for this great group) was "The Joy of Herbs - Then and Now", and Mr. Forti, who is a garden historian and museum curator of the historic landscapes at Strawbery Banke, (previously at Plimoth Plantation) came through with a very informative talk outlining the history of herbs, "Heirloom and Herb Plants - Living History".

Author Felder Rushing makes any conference a party with his enthusiasm and wit. I missed his turn as banquet speaker the evening before, but my friend Lois told me she hasn't laughed so hard in years.
Mr. Rushing does a terrific job of softening the edges of his very sharp commentary. He makes a point with a smile and a nudge - real gardeners spend time working in their gardens, they have innate taste for beauty, and they can find it in "dirt", and in the slow lane, and with very little cash. They pay attention. They experiment. They share.
They don't follow a garden plan as much as live a gardening life. But he puts his ideas out there in such a way as to make everyone happy. Like all good speakers, he brought more to share than we could get through in one hour - but to watch about a quarter of his slides go past without commentary - thinking of the great stories we'd miss, almost hurt. Nothing like keeping 'em wanting more!
He ended his talk with a reference to the classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" - I hope while all of my friends were laughing out loud, that they took home his message of leaving a garden heritage for our children, as was done for us.

Is this a great photo, or what!
My prize photo. Notice what's under Felder Rushing's arm? An issue of Tina Sam's Essential Herbal magazine (link). Tina asked members of her Essential Herbal Yahoo group to send in photos of themselves reading the magazine. I though this garden celebrity photo would be a real treat for her and a small thank you. I never would have the chutzpah to ask a speaker for a photo, but last week Tina made a generous donation of magazines that I passed out to all of the herb groups who participated in the educational displays and a whole year's worth of issues to auction in the silent auction fundraiser. Generosity deserves a thank you.
I won't break your computer with another photo of Felder and me, but I'll sure treasure it.

The very same Peppermint Jim that gave a much-praised and peppy talk to the Herb Society's Tea last year.
On a serious note - Peppermint Jim Crosby from the Crosby Mint Farm (link) near St. Johns, Michigan - who is the bounciest character around - spoke on Wednesday, but Thursday after the plant auction he gave away some minty prize packages and I heard for the first time the story of the trials of his fourth generation heritage farm. Small farmers just don't get a break in our dog-eat-dog world, and the Crosby mint farm was going into foreclosure. The banker actually told the family that foreclosing on their farm would be a "victory." Can you stand it!
If you'd like to help save the family farm, go to the website and order some of Peppermint Jim's pure mint essential oil.

Coleen French from French Garden Creations subbed for Jean Riggs who was sick. I really wanted to hear Jean talk on Bay, the herb of the year, but Coleen is a fine speaker, very informative with a lot of visual aids, and her topic was using Lavender. BTW, Coleen sends out a great e-newsletter where she sells her wonderful soap. I must say, Coleen's soap is the reason why I never got into making my own herbal soaps. Why try to top the best?

Appetizers (delicious) Using Herbs, by Sheila Rae - talk about enthusiastic!

The tasty end to another flavorful herb conference. Tomorrow I'll post photos of one of my favorite features of the conference - the educational exhibits.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Stand up for the honey bees

I get email from NRDC. I happen to believe we are part of the ecology of the earth, not standing outside of nature and observing it. (I guess that makes me a dirty hippie liberal, and I'm proud to be one.) If you have an open mind and think there is something we can do to correct the wrongs we have wreaked on the natural world, the NDRC is a place to start.

Here is an NDRC e-mail action alert: you can help the honey bees from the comfort of your keyboard. As a nation, we'll have a hard time feeding ourselves without our pollinators. I know, honey bees are not native to North America. They are European imports, but so are many of us. We brought them here for agricultural purposes, and much of our fruit, nuts and vegetables depend on their health. We can't backtrack on the fact that we are here and honey bees are here. But we can be more responsible about how we grow our food supply.
I know as a backsliding Advanced Master Gardener and past state certified pesticide applicator (for educational, not personal, purposes) that a lot of home gardeners use Imidicloprid for various reasons, many not valid reasons. People want easy, immediate cures for whatever problems arise from (many times) inappropriate choices we make in our gardening. But I don't want to get bogged down discussing that here. Let me just say, there are thought processes that should accompany much of gardening that just aren't widely taught or subscribed to, as a function of the gardening-horticulture-agricultural industry. (Who do you think pays for pesticide research? Not any hedge fund managers or dot com millionaires that I know of.)

Commercial use of both honey bees and pesticides is an ancillary issue, but the thought processes on these issues start at home, in our gardens, and in how we talk to other gardeners and widen in in concentric rings to the decision makers.

Now that we have voted for change (was it the wars? the economy? or just the pendulum resetting? I don't know) we have a chance to stop the downward spiral or deregulation and underfunding of key agencies (the David Stockman-Grover Norquist plan to undermine the commons in favor of privatization and a return to a lawless Wild Wild West.)
Perhaps with scientists back in their rightful place in government, we could become responsible for our actions once more, thinking of our legacy. I'm just sayin'...

1. Read that bag of pesticide you are tempted to buy this spring.
and 2. Buy organic. Especially the fruits and vegetables listed below. The people who are changing their business model to offer certified organic produce deserve us to put our money where our mouths are.

Now, back to the honey bees issue...

Tell the EPA to protect honey bees from a toxic pesticide (link)

Bee pollination is responsible for about one-third of the food we eat, helping to produce about $15 billion worth of crops in the United States every year. But honey bee populations are in serious decline, with devastating losses caused by factors such as colony collapse disorder, parasites and pesticide exposure.

Even though the EPA classifies the pesticide imidacloprid as highly toxic to honey bees, it nevertheless approved its use in 1994. France banned several uses of imidacloprid in 1999 over concerns about its effects on bees, but here in the United States imidacloprid is still used heavily on many crops pollinated by honey bees, including broccoli, blueberries, carrots, grapefruit, cucumbers and avocados.

Although the EPA is currently reviewing its approval of imidacloprid as required by the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, the agency's work plan lacks many important details on how it will assess risks to bees. In addition, the EPA has put the review on an unreasonably slow timetable, with a final decision not expected until 2014. In the meantime, high-risk uses of imidacloprid will continue, threatening honey bees as well as other important pollinators.

The EPA is accepting public comments on this phase of the project through March 17th.

What to do
Send a message (link), before the March 17th comment deadline, telling the EPA to protect honey bees and other pollinators from high-risk uses of imidacloprid by strengthening its plans for risk, toxicity and exposure assessments.

Use our sample text or write your own
March 8, 2009
Docket # EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0844, Office of Pesticide Programs

Dear Office of Pesticide Programs staff,

I urge the EPA to conduct a thorough registration review of the pesticide imidacloprid that properly assesses risks to honey bees and other pollinators.

The EPA must require the manufacturer to submit multi-generational studies of chronic toxicity looking not only at the impact of imidacloprid exposure on adult bees, but also at its effects on bee brood development and survival. Your agency also must incorporate into its risk assessment information concerning imidacloprid levels in the pollen and nectar of plants that receive systemic imidacloprid treatment as well as in hive materials. This information is needed to determine the extent of bees' exposure to this pesticide.

Finally, I urge the EPA to speed up its schedule for the registration review and cancel any uses of imidacloprid that are found to pose high risks to bees and other pollinators. Our food security depends greatly on pollinators such as honey bees. The EPA therefore should ensure that these beneficial insects are protected from high-risk uses of toxic pesticides.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a nonprofit environmental organization with 1.2 million members and online activists, and a staff of scientists, attorneys and environmental experts. Our mission is to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.
For more information about NRDC or how to become a member of NRDC, please contact us at:
Natural Resources Defense Council
40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011
212-727-4511 (voice) / 212-727-1773 (fax)
Email: nrdcaction@nrdc.org

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Preserving last season's garlic harvest

I harvested too much garlic last year.
Gave it away to good cooks in the family, planted cloves from the best heads (last September), used (still using) plenty of fresh in cooking, and I even did that little whey fermentation experiment with a quart of those cloves.
But I still have garlic in my garage.
And spring is coming.

So yesterday I dragged out the trusty dehydrator.
I cleaned, peeled and chopped about three layers of garlic cloves and dried them for about 6 hours. With a little cheapo dehydrator like this one, as the food dries you need to watch it occasionally to make sure it stays nice - move it around a bit to distribute the hot spots. I consolidated the 3 layers into one for a final round.
It dried down to about a third of it's size.

Today I ground it into a powder.
Use a coffee grinder - I have three - one for coffee beans, one for dried green herbs, and the third for spicy things like spices, peppers and now, garlic. I ground a little kosher salt in the first batch thinking it would aid the grinder by adding a little tooth... but saw I didn't need to do that - just add the salt (if you want garlic salt) at bottling. Very little salt is in this product, but I thought it might keep the powder from clumping later on.

This Stuff is Good.
I Know How It Was Grown and Processed.
And It is a Thrifty Use for those smaller cloves of fresh garlic that won't keep their quality for much longer.
If I can do it, you can do it!

Mead Update 2

The bubbling slowed down considerably. It is interesting to shine a flashlight beam through the side of the bottle and watch the movement in the liquid as it ferments. It's alive! she said in her best mad scientist imitation.
But the time comes when most of the sugars have been converted to alcohol, and it is time to decant into a clean bottle for mellowing or aging.

Here's a shot of the thingie that Herb uses to measure the specific gravity in his winemaking. Hey, did I tell you he won another medal - a silver - in the 2008 Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition, Non-Commercial "Other Specialty" class 28-C, with his spiced apple wine made with apples grown by our favorite local orchard, Porters!

two living American heroes

...for the reality based community, that is.
Here Bill McKibben introduces Wendell Berry at the (CCAN) Chesapeake Climate Action Network's Artists for the Climate conference.
Go to Organic Consumer's Association website (link) to get inspired.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

cute fun

Not Hannah (link) pointed out this fun site ... make your own superhero. The Strange Masked Philanthropist? s'okay!
I wish!
So, Who are you? Hey, it was 17 degrees this morning (and 29 right now). The only gardening I can do is indoors!

Hey Not Hannah, we have the same taste in wings!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

hmmmm - where does the Google trail lead today...

I was Googling around looking for a website with a volume to weight converter for calculating how much dried herb to buy for our dried seasonings class in June. I make my own dried herbal seasonings blends for the family, but to volunteer to give away my own stash of herbs to a dried herb class, in June, no less - and to have extra packaged herbal seasoning blends to sell for the Herb Society's fundraisers, we need to buy packaged herbs. Not as good as homegrown, but the students will need material to work with.
We have a group account with Frontier, and I recommend their products.
Anyway, to make a short story long, I was Googling along and on the Blotanical dot com website ran across this video ... on another topic, but worth watching. Not that I watch FOX television, but this video confirms my aversion to Faux news, and my distrust of corporate milk. What was that I was saying about Monsanto?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Mead update

It's bubbling. Herb wrapped a jury-rigged 'blanket' around the jug to retain the warmth. Not in the instructions, but it seems to be working.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Another Stepping Stone

Blue flowered and patterned teacups this time (along with color coordinated, scavenged stained glass and store-bought glass tiles).
Just needs three coats of sealer, but I wanted to post the photo today to brighten up the scene.
Doing these small projects does give some focus during the long winter.

I don't know how well these broken china steppers will hold up to foot traffic out in the yard; I'd like to learn more about other people's experience. For one thing, I'm guessing they will need to be coated with a sealer every year as insurance. The other china decorated stone that I put outdoors seem to be holding up for now but it hasn't been walked on. Maybe I'll put them in a spot where traffic is light and thoughtful, like in my herb garden.

I thought about taking them to place around the demo herb garden at the Extension for a point of interest during the garden tour. That could still happen, but I just found out the "Gardens in Thyme" weekend at Crossroads Village, where I promised to teach some classes about making homegrown herbal seasonings, was scheduled for the same weekend as the Master Gardener garden tour, where I usually hang out at the demo garden to answer questions, so I'm torn in two directions.
Why do they do that?

Wear A Leek for Saint Dave Today

Or a daffodil! Here's a photo of the first garden stepping stone I ever made - it's seen the passing of many winters and I keep it in a spot where the snow melts earlier. Signs of spring are beginning to occur - the snowdrops and some early winter aconites are forming flowers, though they haven't opened yet, and the primroses and seed packets have arrived at Meijers, to bring home with the groceries.

March 1, Wear a Daffodil or Leek for St. David of Wales
From Wikipedia.com:
"Saint David's Day . . . is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on March 1 each year. The date . . . was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David on that day in 589, and has been celebrated . . . since then. The date was declared a national day of celebration . . . in the 18th century.
"On this day many Welsh people wear one or both of the national emblems of Wales on their lapel to celebrate: the daffodil (a generic Welsh symbol . . .) or the leek (Saint David's personal symbol). The association between leeks and daffodils is strengthened by the fact that they have similar names in Welsh, cenin (leek) and cenin Bedr (daffodil, literally "Peter's leek").
"In south Wales males usually wear leeks while young girls wear daffodils; in the north the daffodil predominates."