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    Grow For It! The benefits of cover crops – Mountain Democrat - November 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Elissa BunnMaster Gardener of El Dorado County

    Cover crops are a great resource for home gardeners. They are essentially a ground cover for an area in the garden that might otherwise be bare for a season. They can be used in both cool and warm seasons. Gardeners plant cool-season cover crops ranging from legumes (peas, beans, clover, vetch, etc.) to grasses (rye, barley, triticale, etc.) for a variety of purposes.

    All cover crops should be sown, sprouted and cut down before any flowering or seeding begins. You want to get maximum greenery instead of letting the plants put their energy into flowering and seeding. The cut-down plants can be tilled into the soil as food for decomposer organisms, which break down and release the plants nutrients into the soil, or they can be shredded and left on the top of soil if you prefer the no-till approach. Either way, you are helping improve the health of your soil and health of microorganisms in that soil.

    Now for more specifics on different kinds of cover crops.

    Legumes help fix nitrogen in soil through a symbiotic relationship with a bacterium. When the bacteria attach to the legume roots, the contact creates small bubble-like nodules that make a ready-to-use form of nitrogen. In a garden bed that has had heavy nitrogen feeder crops like tomatoes, squash, broccoli or lettuce, a legume cover crop could be seeded and cut down to help restore nitrogen for the next growing season.

    Grasses help aerate and perforate dense, poorly draining soils. Grasses have deep, finger-like roots that reach into the soil and break up hard soils like the clay found in El Dorado County. These root systems can improve drainage, especially after the surface grasses are cut and tilled in.

    Warm-season cover crops are used less in our climate because we love our tomatoes and peppers and want plenty of garden space for them. Nonetheless, some warm-season cover crops include the legume cow peas and the not-a-grass buckwheat. Both have deep roots and great green foliage. The same rule of cutting them down before flowering applies to warm-season cover crops.

    Less common cover crops to break up hard soil are daikon radishes, mustard and other tap root plants. These plants can usually be seeded for cool or warm season; just make sure to read your seed information.

    When planting your cover crop seed, warm or cool season, make sure you protect it from bird predation using mulch, a floating row cover or anything in between. Birds just love succulent sprouts when the seasons are changing. Another thing to consider is timing wait too long to plant in the fall and your cover crop will be fighting cold temps while germinating; plant too early and lack of rainfall might create the need to irrigate.

    Which cover crop will be best for your situation? Use the information above, do some research and try it out. Mix and match or buy a pre-mixed seed; there are many options. We often get discouraged and quit after one try but, remember, this is gardening. There are so many variables. Dont give up after a disappointing result. After three years I have finally figured out the right cover crop for my home garden. Keep experimenting and you will find the best cover crop for your garden too.

    Due to the pandemic, Master Gardener events will for the foreseeable future continue to be limited. Master Gardeners currently have no classes scheduled until next year. Keep checking the calendar of events for classes at mgeldorado.ucanr.edu/Public_Education_Classes/?calendar=yes&g=56698 to see what will be offered in the future. Find recorded classes on many gardening topics at ucanr.edu/sites/EDC_Master_Gardeners/Public_Education_Classes/Handouts_-_Presentations/.

    Have a gardening question? Master Gardeners are working hard remotely and can still answer questions. Leave a message on the office telephone (530) 621-5512 or use the Ask a Master Gardener option at mgeldorado.ucanr.edu. Master Gardeners are also on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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    Grow For It! The benefits of cover crops - Mountain Democrat

    RANCH MUSINGS: Perennial cereals and their potential to heal – BCLocalNews - November 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    I was excited to read that intermediate wheatgrass is now approved for human use in the U.S.

    This report is featured in the New Seed Variety Guide for 2021 put out by the Western Producer, Canadas preeminent farm newspaper.

    Now if you are a cattle producer you might know about this crop as a cattle feed, mostly as a grazing plant.

    If you have had an eye on innovation in agriculture then you might know about the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, or the more recent Minnesota Land Institute that launched a commercial variety which has been under development for 20 years.

    The variety recently released for sale is a human food grade called MN Clearwater. It is promoted as superfood with environmental and health benefits.

    As ranchers and farmers, we are always looking for better nutrition for our animals and as consumers we are all looking for nutrient dense foods since the industrial system of food productions often reduces the nutrient content, especially the micronutrient (essential for health) content.

    READ MORE: Impacts of COVID-19 on food systems

    I have written before about the Land Institute in Kansas and its leadership in developing crops that dont need to be seeded every year (annuals) with all the attendant costs of farming the land: plowing, disking, harrowing, seeding etc.

    In a nutshell what the Land Institute in Kansas and their Minnesota partners aim to do is to advance perennial (lasting many years without reseeding) grains and polycultures (many crops all sewn together).

    The Minnesota Land Institute has developed the first new grain crop in 4,200 years. The founding Kansas Institute set about developing the first perennial grains and figured it would take 50 to 100 years to commercialize such crops.

    It was 1976 that Wes and Dana Jackson founded the Land Institute when his research science jobs at universities were taking a different tact: inventing destructive crop practices that used up soil and polluted land and water.

    That was 45 years ago. Some beneficial innovations take decades.

    Now to feed the world without depreciating the sustainability of farming practices and the land, this innovation is welcomed.

    The scientists and farmers behind this new (old) crop are hopeful intermediate wheat grass grain can be mixed with traditional wheats for cooking and baking.

    Beer fans will be interested that one of the first food products from the MN Clearwater variety is Kernza Ale or Long Root Ale. Yes, beer is food.

    READ MORE: Flooding fun enjoyed by Cariboo family

    The ecological benefits of this perennial plant, is that it can use nutrients that might otherwise be lost to the soil and the long vigorous roots systems can build healthy soil.

    Intermediate wheatgrass is native to Europe and Western Asia. I see the potential to plant this crop as a part of a rotation designed to help grow and finish beef locally, since we are not a big grain growing region.

    If the animals can graze, it may be cost effective. Plus, it is a grass and grassing beef programs can use it.

    Check this crop out with Peace Forage Tools, from a neighbouring crop trial region.

    David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemens Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

    Do you have a comment about this story? email: editor@wltribune.comLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

    Williams Lake Tribune

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    RANCH MUSINGS: Perennial cereals and their potential to heal - BCLocalNews

    Big River Resources uses extra acreage at the West Burlington facility for a butterfly habitat – Burlington Hawk Eye - November 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    John Gaines|The Hawk Eye

    There is more fuel than just ethanol fuel being made at Big River Resources in West Burlington.

    In 2018, the company began a project to create acreage by the facility at 15210 103rd St. into a Monarch Fueling Station. The work has been completed and this fall butterflies were beginning to stop at the open space.

    Its a reflection on what ethanol companies are all about, Big River Resources environmental compliance coordinator Ryan Janson told The Hawk Eye in May of 2018. Were taking care of our environment.

    The project initiallywas proposed as a 1.8 acre site but was expanded to 5 acres. The area has been planted with a mix of flowers, prairie plants and milkweed. Its a pollinationmix called 10-40.

    Its got a mixture of flowers for butterflies and bees and milkweed for the monarch butterflies, Janson said. "We had Des Moines County Conservation come out and help seed the land."

    Janson said Iowa Iowa Renewable Fuels Association came up with idea and pitched the project across Iowa. Big River Resourcesalso has created a monarch station at the plant in Dyersville.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service played a role in the project helping fund the spraying and seeding. The group also is in the final stages to have monarch butterflies listed as endangered species. Plans are in place to complete this work in December.

    Due to wet conditions in 2018 the project was delayed. It wasnt until the spring and summer of 2019 the plot wasplanted.

    The property was first sprayed to kill offovergrowth and provide a clean slate for planting of the proper species of flora.

    The plot was just short grass and we kept it mowed, Janson said. We had to spray and knock down what was there in 2019.

    The work on preparing the land was done with the help of Land and Water Vegetation Control out of Wever.

    This is the first year (2020) that it came up, said Janson.We are letting it do its thing now.

    And as shown in the photos the butterflies are beginning to use this resource as fuel to perpetuate their species.

    Continued here:
    Big River Resources uses extra acreage at the West Burlington facility for a butterfly habitat - Burlington Hawk Eye

    Bring back the horses: Public lands bear the ecological brunt of livestock grazing – Horsetalk - November 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Wild horses reducing prodigious grass and brush fuel loading in a wildfire-prone wilderness area. William E Simpson

    Naturalist and rancher William E. Simpson outlines why he thinks replacing wild horses with cattle in wilderness areas is costly to taxpayers and to the landscape.

    The financial impacts of poorly managed public lands, especially wilderness, are very costly, far-reaching and significantly affect taxpayer pocketbooks and lifestyles, with direct and tertiary impacts.

    Growing livestock management issues on public lands, especially in wilderness areas, is a major concern given that cattle and sheep are invasive animal species in North America that interrupt the naturally evolved evolutionary processes and trophic cascades, which results in undeniable damage to entire ecosystems. The unraveling of natures intricate evolutionary complexities yields losses to the forestry industry, recreational interests, watersheds and related fisheries, among others.

    Both cattle and sheep have complex (multiple) stomachs and digest virtually all the seeds they consume from flowering plants and grasses, thus interrupting the natural reseeding of the flora in any given ecosystem where they graze.

    Over time, via the disintermediation of natural reseeding processes, cattle and sheep grazing will strip the landscape of any ecosystem of much of its native flora, which is depended upon by numerous native species.

    In wilderness areas where there are threatened and endangered species of flora, and native fauna that depend upon the native flora for their existence, livestock grazing can wipe out the native flora, thus adversely affecting native fauna as well.

    Science shows that horses, having single stomachs, virtually pass all of the seeds they consume intact and able to germinate in their droppings, which in fact reseeds the landscapes where they graze on native flora.

    When the soils of the landscape are depleted of native flora via cattle and sheep grazing, soils lose the stability that was provided by root systems and are then subject to catastrophic erosion during seasonal rains.

    This abnormal erosion process also occurs when catastrophic wildfire (abnormally hot wildfire) defoliates a landscape and pasteurizes soils, killing root systems that stabilized the soils.

    The recent evolution of catastrophic wildfire in western American states is also a result of less than adequate natural resource management, which has led to the collapse of large native species herbivores that had been consuming and maintaining fuel loads of grass and brush across the landscape to nominal levels annually.

    Wild horses, with past populations in the tens of millions in the 17th century and numbering about two million in the early 19th century, were an important species in North America in regard to maintaining grass and brush fuels to nominal levels, while concurrently maintaining an evolved natural reseeding process across the landscapes where they grazed. In this regard, wild horses are unique, and their symbiosis is critically important in the American landscape.

    Mankind and all of our technology (including modern livestock grazing) cannot duplicate the symbiotic value (in dollars it is worth tens of millions of dollars annually) that wild horses provide to plants and grasses on remote wildfire-prone wilderness landscapes.

    The stripping of the flora from the landscape via invasive species grazing or by catastrophic wildfire, in turn, leads to catastrophic runoff and abnormal erosion. This abnormal runoff and erosion results in the silting-in of the gravel beds of the streams and rivers used by spawning salmon and trout. The silting covers fish eggs that may already be present, which are suffocated by the mud. And gravel beds that become silted-in no longer provide space within the gravels (also known as redds) for any fish eggs. The consequences are failed trout and salmon runs, among other issues.

    There are tens of millions of acres of rugged and remote American wilderness landscape which are targeted for livestock grazing. These rugged and remote landscapes cannot be cultivated and managed using mechanized grass farming (re-seeding) methods, which are required to renew grasses on private tillable ranch land areas grazed by cattle and sheep. And therein is the problem. In the wilderness, which is mostly untillable because of steep and rough terrain, once the land is defoliated it cannot be reseeded by existing mechanized methods.

    The end result is landscapes that are stripped of native flora by cattle and sheep become erosion-prone lands because they are defoliated and not reseeded. A further effect of this process is the depletion of aquifers in such areas with reduced ground-cover, leading to the ultimate failure of riparian areas.

    Wild horses evolved in North America 55 million years ago and, as science shows, they have for millennia been natures reseeding experts in remote wilderness areas. It is my view that wild horses never went extinct in North America, as some people and agencies suggest. In fact, the most recent and best (unbiased) science proves that wild horses were present in North America before the arrival of any European explorers on the continent.

    European explorers of the 16th century reintroduced additional horses to North America, horses that were descended from the North American wild horses that had migrated across the Aleutian land bridge about 17,000 years ago. The latest cultural and archaeo-zoology research presents a very strong case for these facts.

    Public lands are arguably no longer managed sensibly, nor in the very highest standard of the public interest. And for that, American taxpayers pay the price. Instead, its becoming clear that our public lands are for sale to the highest bidder for exploitation by the livestock and mineral extraction industries, with livestock production being as ecologically egregious as the extraction industries.

    The financial impacts related to livestock grazing on wilderness area lands is much greater than it may seem at first blush, and is largely based on the virtually irreversible adverse impacts that livestock grazing has on wilderness areas.

    The unreasonable reduction of wild horses is supported heavily by the cattle and beef industries, and by those who lobby heavily for the livestock production industry to government agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Department of Interior (DOI) and US Fish and Wildlife (USFW).

    Wild horses are arguably being exterminated from Americas public lands to create more livestock grazing; and because the additional funding to the BLM for wild horse roundups are a source of incremental revenue likely derived from related administrative fees levied for program oversight.

    I intentionally use the term exterminated because of the method that has been crafted to manage wild horses into extinction and remove any impediments to expanded livestock grazing programs on BLM managed public lands, especially wilderness lands.

    In short, the plan that has been adopted by the BLM that will arguably exterminate wild horses by motived people was carefully constructed to accomplish several key psychological milestones to limit public pushback.

    The plan is accomplished in part by the use of studies funded by biased parties that misinform and confuse the American public (taxpayers) and their elected officials into believing these falsehoods:

    All of the foregoing statements can be proven false in the light of facts.

    The planned wild horse extermination process currently involves reducing population levels in herd areas below the numbers of breeding animals required to maintain genetic diversity and vigor of the species; and secondly, concurrently treating remaining female wild horses with chemicals (PZP and GonaCon) that cause sterility in mares as well as social disruption in family bands. The social disruption alone in any species of wildlife, including wild horses, is very detrimental, as science shows.

    There is also a program on the table to spay wild horse mares using an archaic, cruel, and dangerous surgery ovariectomy via colpotomy.

    In order to properly manage Americas natural resources, especially the remaining wilderness areas, we must take care in engaging the correct choice of large herbivores on such lands. And there is no doubt the wild horses are the correct herbivores for wilderness lands where threatened and endangered flora exist, and where catastrophic wildfires threaten both the flora and fauna of such precious lands.

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    Bring back the horses: Public lands bear the ecological brunt of livestock grazing - Horsetalk

    Revealed the secrets of super silage at west Wales farm – Wales Farmer - November 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    By Debbie James

    High quality big bale silage is helping a Pembrokeshire grassland farmer maximise returns from his heifer rearing contract by achieving winter growth rates on forage only.

    Keith Williams reseeds all fields approximately every eight years and that, together with cutting grass when it is young, are key to producing silage that can supply all the energy and protein requirements of growing animals.

    It is not rocket science, you have to plant good quality seed, you must be prepared to cut grass young and it must have a high D (digestibility) value I dont want to cut old grass that has been there for donkey's years, says Mr Williams, who farms at Haverhill Farm, Spittal, with his wife, Helen.

    The couple sold their milking herd nine years ago and now rear pedigree Holstein heifer replacements for a local dairy farmer.

    They sell two crops of standing silage to a neighbour and make around 950 big bales of silage a year as winter fodder for the 160 heifers which range in age from 12-23 months.

    Barley is grown on contract annually to provide an opportunity for reseeding with intermediate and late heading ryegrasses with a high D value.

    These varieties will wait for you for a while, but if you have grasses that head too early you are in trouble, especially when the weather is changeable, says Mr Williams.

    As an experiment, a short-term ley was planted in 2018. We decided late in the year to reseed and I dont like direct re-seeding so we used a short-term seed mix, Keith explains.

    That ley is performing well but to capture the quality it must be cut every four to five weeks.

    Prior to first cut, 112kgs/ha of nitrogen and slurry is applied. This is followed immediately after harvesting with 90kgs/ha of N via an after-cut fertiliser product.

    For the third cut, 75kg N, 25kg phosphate and 56kg potash are applied the third cut provides the bulk of the winter feed, says Mr Williams.

    The first cut of big bales in 2020 was taken on April 20 cutting dates depend on the year, he doesnt have a set calendar date.

    I dont look at the calendar, I look at the grass, the weather forecast and the rotation do I need to take a field out to have it fit to graze by a certain date.

    Mr Williams has used the same contractor, Geoff Thomas, for 30 years.

    Mowing is done at midday with a mower conditioner, when the grass sugars are at their highest, followed quickly by tedding.

    The number of times a crop is tedded depends on the weather if it is warm and sunny it will only be done once but if there is more moisture it will be spread a second time.

    The grass isnt chopped before it is formed into bales because cutting it unchopped has never caused a problem with fermentation and conservation.

    The crop is baled within 48 hours with a Fusion baler, with six layers of wrap.

    Although it costs more than wrapping with the standard four layers, Mr Williams says it results in less waste and he doesnt use an additive so this offsets the cost.

    Bales are stacked on their side, because his bale handler is designed for that rather than a preference over upright stacking; the bales are stacked within hours of baling.

    All bales are marked to identify which field they have been harvested from.

    It gives you some interest in the winter, to see how the silage feeds out according to the conditions it was harvested in and the ley it was grown from, says Mr Williams.

    Producing good quality silage results from good farming practice, including controlling moles and liming.

    Mr Williams approach to growing good quality leys coupled with attention to detail at harvesting produced the winning entry in the 2020 All Wales Big Bale Silage competition, 30 years after he won the equivalent award for clamp silage.

    His winning entry analysed at 33.3 per cent dry matter (DM), a D-value of 69 per cent, ME of 11 MJ/kg DM, and 16.9 per cent crude protein.

    He says he has learned a great deal through his membership of the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies (FWGS).

    I have always used the same principles for making good silage and have learned all of those things through being a member of the North Pembrokeshire Grassland Society.

    Continued here:
    Revealed the secrets of super silage at west Wales farm - Wales Farmer

    Lean in and shift with life.How an urban ranch combines yoga and plant cultivation to heal Houstonians – Houston Chronicle - November 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    One year ago, Tamika Caston-Miller was on a trip to the Andes, when she started seriously reevaluating her life in Houston.

    Why do people need to get away? Why do people travel? she wondered.

    For Caston-Miller, it was all about finding an escape into nature. She asked herself: Is this something I could create in Houston?

    She also thought about the lifestyle of the city, the hustle and bustle and how so many Houstonians are separated from nature, often without community or even knowing their neighbors.

    Were not meant to be alone, she said.

    Then, Caston-Miller began imagining a solution. She dreamed of a garden space, where adults could dig into the dirt and watch plants grow; where school children could go on field trips and learn about nature firsthand.

    As founder of Houstons Ash Yoga, Caston-Miller also imagined restorative yoga near the garden. Since her wife Lenie Caston-Miller is a sculptor, there would also be a place for art.

    It would be a whole space for a healthy community, Caston-Miller said.

    She and Lenie were still in Peru when they began hunting for a property where this vision could take root.

    At the time, they lived a couple miles north of downtown. Lets put our house on the market and see whats out there, Caston-Miller thought. We need a place where we can live and create this space.

    The couple mapped it out and decided they needed at least 2 acres.

    If we find a property that matches what were looking for, then well take it as a sign that we should move forward, thought Caston-Miller, who has worked as a school teacher and a yoga instructor for about a decade. She started her own yoga practice a year ago.

    Even though she felt a pull to do more in her yoga business, leaving the security of a day job behind was daunting. But, after the trip to the Andes, Caston-Miller took a leap of faith.

    When the school year ended, her new life as a solopreneur began.

    First, Caston-Miller had to find the space inside the Beltway. After a few failed attempts, she discovered an ideal location, just south of Sunnyside, 10 minutes from the University of Houston.

    On RenewHouston.com: How yoga helped me build my inner strength during the pandemic

    It was exactly what we were looking for, and I was so surprised, she said. I didnt think there was something like this in the city.

    Caston-Miller closed on the property last January - and named it The Ranch Houston.

    Its old ranch land, she explained. Everyone has horses. There was livestock on the property. At its core, it looked like a ranch.

    The couple planned to renovate the home into a livable space and urban homestead, but then COVID-19 hit two weeks after they began remodeling.

    We shifted from what we couldnt do to what is possible right now, Caston-Miller said. And what was possible was seeding the garden, tilling the land.

    Another possibility was teaching yoga outside. So she began extending invitations for private lessons. By June, she started offering yoga classes. First, the sessions were on the front lawn. Then, she built a 1,000-square-foot covered pavilion.

    Caston-Miller found that students were grateful to have this option. For some people, returning to a yoga studio wasnt appealing.But what was comfortable was practicing outdoors, socially distanced, Caston-Miller said.

    Since The Ranch Houston was built during the coronavirus, putting safety protocols in place was part of the blueprint.

    Because of COVID-19, we had to slow down and think everything through, Caston-Miller said. We had to consider all the risks. Everything had to be intentionally done.

    She believes that attention to detail will pave the way to success in the long-run. This isnt the only time that disease is going to happen; we can build safety into our design, she said.

    The pandemic also reinforced what Caston-Miller realized in the Andes - the need for health and wellness, the importance of de-stressing and being outdoors.

    I want people to see this as a home not just for yoga but for complete wellness, Caston-Miller said.

    Clients can wander through the garden, watch a plant they started as a seed grow, before settling into a yoga class on the lawn.

    Caston-Miller said being close to nature is therapeutic especially in the midst of an uncertain time and increased anxiety.

    On HoustonChronicle.com: Can yoga fix a community wrecked by persistent flooding? Wharton aims to find out.

    No matter how difficult life is, growth is still happening, she said. Life is still happening. We just lean in and shift with life.

    Caston-Millers yoga community was made-up of Heights and Uptown residents before COVID-19. Now, they trek a little further south to The Ranch.

    Its right inside the Beltway, but when you get there its like, am I in Houston? Its acres of land, said Heights resident Crystal Sellers, who was one of the first to visit the property. Its been really great to have this experience.

    Sellers has been practicing yoga with Caston-Miller for years and was drawn to the instructor for her approach, which was more focused on the philosophy of the practice.

    When Caston-Miller moved online during the lockdown, Sellers enrolled. Still, she missed being in community. So when Caston-Miller mentioned The Ranch, Sellers jumped at the option.

    It literally provided me with a moment of escape, Sellers said. You drive 20 minutes, and it feels like youre in a different world. Its amazing.

    She remembers, on that first trip, kicking off her shoes and running into the grass. It was so grounding, she said. The Ranch just offers this comfortable repose.

    Caston-Miller has also been a source of solace, Sellers added.

    Its a combination of who she is, how welcoming and caring she is, being able to connect with her, be outside and continue this practice, Sellers said. The icing on the whole experience is Tamika and her wife, how theyve chosen to show up for everyone who shows up here.

    As the weather gets cooler, she plans to continue classes outside, only with heaters. She continues to offer courses online, too. Eventually, Caston-Miller plans to host retreats at The Ranch, as well as events, like yoga and arts festivals, workshops and teacher training.

    Already, she has offered virtual field trips for children and hopes that after the pandemic, students can come in person to learn about sustainability, gardening and nutrition.

    Looking back at the past year Caston-Miller reflects on her original vision, the strides she has made and how now she is offering an oasis in the midst of the pandemic.

    I think I did a pretty good job, she said with a laugh. You dont need to catch a flight to get away from it all. Just come on over.

    Lindsay Peyton is a Houston-based freelance writer.

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    Lean in and shift with life.How an urban ranch combines yoga and plant cultivation to heal Houstonians - Houston Chronicle

    Country diary: a waterlogged world reverting to the wild – The Guardian - November 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    On the parishs edge, adjoining Viverdon Down and overlooked by Kit Hill, a 10-acre enclosure of wet ground is reverting to a wilder state, steered by new owners. The 1840 tithe map shows six small plots here, all called moor, although two of the three tiny fields then used for crops were named as Brick Moor perhaps a reference to the rich brown earth or the clayey subsoil. A concrete culvert, draining water from the nearby main road, has damaged much older field drains lined with slabs of indigenous chert; use of heavy machinery for silage making has also caused collapses, so the land is prone to seasonal waterlogging and surface runoff.

    Just after last Christmas, swathes of saplings were planted, staked and guarded against browsing deer and rabbits. Rutted ways from adjoining arable fields have been blocked off, and previously flailed bushy growth on hedgebanks will now be left to thicken up to provide some shelter from wind and occasional spray drift. Gnarled thorns, ash, holly and oak line the stream on the eastern side; the lowest, rough and boggy ground, difficult to access, is overhung by sturdy branches of willow, and brambles creep out, fostering regenerating scrub.

    Central to the whole enclave, a mature, lopsided oak leans away from prevailing westerlies; it used to shade the dairy herd when it was turned out for summer grazing. This autumn, red admiral butterflies and hornets bask in late warmth on the sunny side of the furrowed trunk; a barn owl hunts regularly across surrounding tussocky grass and has prospected the new owl box. Seeding knapweed, plantain, dock, rush and thistle attract charms of foraging goldfinches. Recently dug ponds now retain spring water and slow runoff, and, as soon as the largest filled, it became a focus for gathering swallows; mallards and a heron have already dabbled and waded in the open water.

    A new, rudimentary shelter has been named Larkrise Halt in the hope that skylarks will come here; it also reminds that this land had been on the proposed route of the Callington light railway towards Saltash. That venture was abandoned; if it had gone ahead, the area might have been built over by now and become a suburb for commuters travelling towards Plymouth.

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    Country diary: a waterlogged world reverting to the wild - The Guardian

    Field hockey: Predicting the Section 1 playoffs – The Journal News - November 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The Section 1 field hockey playoffs start Monday.

    There are always playoff upsets.

    But this season, maybe the biggest upset is that Section 1 has made it this far -- or at least most of Section 1 has.

    Lakeland field hockey players jump onto goalie Celeste Pagliaroli after the final buzzer in Lakeland's 2-1 victory over Greeley at Lakeland High School Nov. 5, 2020. (Photo: Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News)

    In a switch from past practicein which the Section 1 field hockey championships were really full-fledged championships in classes A, B and C, every team, regardless of record, has qualified to play for these regionalized titles.

    Qualified doesn't mean will play, however.

    The exception are those teamsfrom schools that haveshut down all or parts of their sport programs due to COVID cases/potential exposure.

    That means for the field hockey playoffs, no Brewster, no Rye, no Ursuline and no Harrison. The list, unfortunately, could expand before the scheduled finals (Dutchess and large southern Westchester schools on Wednesday and everyone else on Friday).

    And Section 1 officials are also aware Albany could cancelall interscholastic sports at any time, given the surge in statewide COVID rates.

    But, for now, the games are on.

    Below is a listing of today's games with some brief notes about the brackets.

    Note: As of this early Monday morning posting, Section 1had not assigned times to the games. Also, its fan policy will continue through playoffs: No visiting fans allowed and two fans allowed per each home player.

    If any region has reason to grouse about these playoffs it's Dutchess. Yes, it's great that anyone is playing this fall, no less this late in the season. But it would have been nice if it these four teams could have been included in with Northern Westchester/Putnam, since Dutchess squads played those teams during the regular season.

    As it is, the final will likely be No. 1 Ketcham vs. No. 2 John Jay-East Fishkill.John Jay-EF won their first of two regular-season encounters 2-1. Recently, Ketcham won 3-1. Translation: Flip a coin.

    Monday's games

    No. 4 Lourdes at No. 1 Ketcham: Lourdes hasn't won a game. This won't change Monday. Ketcham should romp.

    No. 3 Arlington at No. 2 John Jay-East Fishkill: Arlington has a shot but JJ-EF should win this.

    Large division

    Greeley's Grace Arrese (4) during game against Lakeland in field hockey action at Lakeland High School Nov. 5, 2020.(Photo: Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News)

    Greeley at 10-1 (its lone loss coming 2-1 toLakeland in a game it at times dominated) is the odds on favorite here, although JJ-CR should give it a decent game.The absolute shame of this season is there was no Greeley-Mamaroneck game. Greeley is currently No. 3 in the rankings and Mamaroneck No. 1. In normal times, these teams would no doubt have met for the Section 1 Class A championship. Monday, Greeley has a bye. All other teams in this division are in action.

    Monday's games

    No. 5 Somers at No. 4 Mahopac: Could be the game of the day. Somers had a tougher schedule. If it wins, it won't be much of an upset. But Mahopac is enjoying a big resurgence in its field hockey program and won't want to see the season end this soon and on home turf. Making Somers a slight favorite.

    No. 6 Fox Lane at No. 3 Carmel: All Carmel here. The Rams are toofast andtoo skilled for the reguilding Foxes.

    No. 7 Yorktown at No. 2 John Jay-Cross River: The Wolves aretoo deep for Yorktown. JJ-CR, one of the section's better teams, will win and it could be a blowout.

    Small schools

    Lakeland's Keirra Ettere (7) during game against Greeley in field hockey action at Lakeland High School Nov. 5, 2020.(Photo: Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News)

    Speaking of grousing, North Salem would have been the favorite this year to win the Section 1 Class C crown and, in all likelihood, go to the state championships.

    Now, it's lumped into a division for these makeshift playoffs with Class B Lakeland, a team that just won its 24th consecutive league title, only recently saw its more than 200-game unbeaten streak in Section 1 play snapped by Mamaroneck and has won 10 state titles in the last 11 years.

    Forget that Lakeland, which has a quarterfinal bye Monday,isn't quite as good as some of those (or maybe all of those) state championship squads it had. This is still a superb field hockey team that can beat anyone on any day.

    So, this is the Hornets' division to lose and don't bankon that happening.

    Monday's games

    No. 5 Panas at No. 4 Hen Hud: Panas beat Hen Hud by one last month. But Hen Hud has played well lately. Figure Hen Hud in a tight one.

    No. 6 Putnam Valley at No. 3 Croton: Seedings are meaningless here. Yes, Croton beat Put Valley during the regular-season. In fact, that was just Friday. But Putnam Valley outshot Croton, despite Croton getting the 1-0 win. Croton is a favorite here but a very slight one. This is one of those games that could go to OT.

    No. 7 Byram Hills at No. 2 North Salem: All Tigers on this one. Very good team that is especially impressive, since it's one of the few that practices and plays at home on grass and then somehow still wins on artificial turf.

    Large division

    With COVID taking programs out of the playoffs, this division has only four schools. There's a lot of talent here. But Mamaroneck should own this title. No teamfrom Section 1 had defeated Lakeland in 12 years until the Tigers did so earlier this month. As noted above, it's a shame it didn't get to play Greeley, the team that beat it by a goal for the Section 1 title last year after years of trying. Mamaroneck wanted redemption. COVID prevented its shot at that. But unless COVID shuts down sports beforeWednesday evening, figure the Tigers willwin with this consolation prize.

    Monday's games

    No. 4 White Plains at No. 1 Mamaroneck: Yes, White Plains is very good. It's having its best season in recent memory and defeatedboth Bronxville and Scarsdale. It also lost just 2-0 to Mamaronecklast week, despite White Plains' leading scorer, Alexa Donahoe, sitting that game out with injury. That was a huge turnaround from its opening-day 10-0 loss to Mamaroneck. Could White Plains win this game? Despite its seeding, it probably would have the best shot of any team in this division of beating Mamaroneck. But figure Mamaroneck will double-team Donahoe and White Plains' other star, Julia Hricay, just as it did in their first match-up. Deny them the ball and you pretty much deny White Plainsthe game. Simply, as good as White Plains is -- and it does have good talent beyond its two stars--it doesn't have Mamaroneck's depth. Mamaroneck is strong at every position and it has something no team in Section 1 has: Samantha Maresca in net. She has recorded 49 shutouts over her careerfor Mamaroneck and will play for Division I Sacred Heart next year. To beat Mamaroneck, you have to beat Maresca. That's asking a lot -- probably the impossible. Mamaroneck is ranked No. 1 overall. Figure that won't change this season.

    No. 3 Scarsdale at No. 2 Pelham: This is a very tough one to call. Scarsdale had a rough season with COVID putting it on ice early for a prolonged period. When it returned, it lost to teams it didn't normally lose to. But it also showed flashes of its old self. It recently rebounded with a one-goal win over White Plains after losing to the Tigers by a goal earlier. Pelham isone spot above the Raiders in the overall Journal News/lohud rankings and recently destroyed small-school top seed Rye Neck 9-1. It has been solid throughout the season. But we're going with a small upset here: Scarsdale

    Small schools

    Bronxville, last year's state Class C champion, did a nosedive at the end of the season. Once a top-five team overall, it's now not ranked at all in The Journal News/lohud Section 1 top 10.

    The Broncos havethe second spot in this division behindRye Neck. Both teams have byes on Monday and won't play until Wednesday's semifinals.

    But forget Section 1's seedings here. And forget the Broncos' skid. Anything less than Bronxville winning this division will be an upset. It fell just 1-0 to No. 5-ranked Rye last week. Yes, it has had trouble scoring and, of late, winning. But the Broncos are still tops in this grouping.

    Monday's games

    No. 5 Pleasantville at No. 4 Hastings: These teams didn't play this season. Both did play No. 2 Putnam/Northern Westchester-seed North Salem, however, Pleasantville falling 2-0 and Hastings falling 4-0. Give Pleasantville a slight edge here in this quarterfinal match.

    No. 6 Valhalla at No. 3 Irvington: Once a doormat, Irvington is moving northward at a pretty quick pace. It's 4-5-3 this season and is probably better than its record. It should beat the Vikings but will have a tough time getting past Bronxville in the semis.

    Everyone is one in Rockland. No big and small divisions. This championship will be a true Rockland County championship, which, in a way, is pretty cool.

    This division isn't as black and white as others.

    The top seed is Clarkstown South at 8-1-1 and should win it all. But the emphasis is on should. Pearl River tied the Vikings 3-3 Nov. 9. And second-seeded Suffern split a two-game series with South during the regular season.

    How close these teams are is also clear from No. 3-seed Pearl edging No. 2-seed Suffern by a goal during the regular season.

    Chances are good several of the Rockland games, beginning with Monday's quarterfinals, will be decided by a single goal.

    Monday's games

    No. 8 Albertus Magnus at No. 1 Clarkstown South: Vikings all the way on this one.

    No. 5 Nanuet at No. 4 Clarkstown North: Want to talk close? These teams tied 2-2 last month. Going with North here but a Nanuet win would not be a shocker.

    No. 6 North Rockland at No. 3 Pearl River: North Rockland has had a down year but fell by only a goal to Pearl River Saturday. Still, Pearl is the better team and should win this one.

    No. 7 Nyack at No. 2 Suffern: Down year for Nyack, solid for Suffern. Mounties should be the easy winner here.

    PLAYOFFS ARE HERE: Field hockey: Here are the seedings for the Section 1 tournament

    REMARKABLE RUN ENDS: Field hockey: Mamaroneck ends Lakeland's historic 12-year Section 1 unbeaten streak

    HORNETS SURVIVE: Field hockey: Lakeland scores early and hangs on to extend 12-year Section 1 unbeaten streak

    Nancy Haggerty covers cross-country, track &field, field hockey, skiing, ice hockey, girls lacrosse and other sporting events for The Journal News/lohud. Follow her on Twitter at both @HaggertyNancy and at @LoHudHockey.

    The rest is here:
    Field hockey: Predicting the Section 1 playoffs - The Journal News

    You can plant turfgrass in the fall – The Dallas Morning News - October 10, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    There seems to be some confusion about whether its too late in the season to plant turfgrass. Fear of freeze damage is the main concern.

    Well, if planting sod in the fall were a problem, the golf course superintendents and landscape contractors would be in real trouble since they plant and transplant solid sod year-round, including through the winter as long as the ground isnt frozen.

    So yes, planting solid sod can be done any time of the year, but fall is the very best time to plant warm-season grasses like St. Augustine, Bermuda and Zoysia, as well as cool-season grasses such as rye, fescue and bluegrass. It is too late in the season to plant Bermudagrass seed, and St. Augustine and Zoysia arent planted by seed.

    Now that we have that straight, lets talk about how to best do the planting.

    Remove existing grasses, weeds, debris and surface rocks. Rocks down in the soil are no problem and actually aid positive drainage. Till to a depth of 1 inch and rake into a smooth grade. Deep rotor-tilling is unnecessary and a waste of money unless the soil is heavily compacted.

    Adding a thin layer of compost 1/4 to 1/2 an inch thick is OK to do, but its really better to wait and apply the compost and other amendments (lava sand, Azomite and whole ground cornmeal) on top of the sod after planting. The addition of topsoil or sand isnt needed.

    Its a little late in October, but ryegrass seed can be planted as a winter over-seeding crop now. But I dont do it; its too much trouble. If you decide to, scalp the turf area and catch the clippings. After spreading the seed at about 3 to 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet, thoroughly soak the ground, then lightly water the seeded area at least twice a day. Fertilize with organic fertilizer sometime around the first mowing. Continue light watering until the grass has solidly covered.

    Spot sodding is not my favorite way to go because it is too slow to establish, but it can be done by planting 4-inch-by-4-inch (or larger) squares countersunk to be flush with the existing grade.

    For solid sod or spot sod planting, organic fertilizer should be applied immediately after planting at the rate of 10 to 15 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Solid sod blocks should be laid joint to joint after thoroughly wetting the top and bottom of each sod piece. After planting, the sod should be tamped down by using a roller full of water. This helps smooth out and level the sod. But more important, it removes air pockets that result in yellow spots. Small areas can be tamped by foot.

    Mow your new sod whenever it needs it.

    Read this article:
    You can plant turfgrass in the fall - The Dallas Morning News

    Plans to ‘grass over’ Muslim graves paused as some families ‘unaware and upset’ – Reading Chronicle - October 10, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Plans to grass over graves at a cemetery in Reading have been paused as some families were not aware of the maintenance works, the council has announced.

    Reading Borough Council (RBC) had planned to begin seeding work on the graves in Henley Road Cemetery so that they fit in with the other graves in this part of the cemetery.

    Some members of the Muslim community prefer earth graves, where they can plant flowers, but the graves are located in lawned areas.

    READ MORE: Development plans at 'stunning' Edwardian house refused for SIXTH time in THREE years

    In 2018, the council identified that it was necessary to find an additional area for Muslim burials within the Henley Road Cemetery.

    At that time, the only available location was in an area where graves are laid to lawn.

    A meeting was held, and this was agreed by the Imam at the time, but when notice was given of the plans to grass over the graves, families informed the council they were unaware this would happen.

    A RBC spokesman said: When a burial is being arranged, a burial notice must be completed and within this notice, the grave type is specified.

    Unfortunately, as the vast majority of burial notice forms in the Muslim community are completed by either the funeral director or more often by the mosque on behalf of the family, it is possible the families have not explicitly been made aware of the grave type.

    Therefore, when the recent signs were displayed on site giving notice of planned seeding work in the area, this was the first time some families have been made aware of the situation.

    READ MORE: Half of rough sleepers now in longer-term accommodation - Reading update

    Obviously if families have not been informed of this situation prior to the burial, we fully understand why they would be upset on discovering it, particularly where a community has strong beliefs regarding burial sites.

    We will be discussing this further with those who have loved ones buried, as well as representatives of the Muslim community. In the meantime, we have paused the planned work for the time being.

    See the original post here:
    Plans to 'grass over' Muslim graves paused as some families 'unaware and upset' - Reading Chronicle

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