Tuesday, February 14, 2012

local seed swap

This Saturday, local gardeners can come on out to Ester and trade locally-grown seeds. Growing Ester's Biodiversity, the John Trigg Ester Library's seed-sharing program, is hosting its first-ever seed swap between 3 and 5 pm at Hartung Hall. If you would like to participate, please come to the hall by 3 pm to set up; seed trading begins at 3:30 pm. (See guidelines for more information.)

No seeds? No problem! Come on by anyway! This is all about sharing information, seeds, and a good time! There will plenty of extras, so if you don't have any seeds yet, you will after this event!

Seed swaps are a time-honored way for gardeners and farmers to share the natural bounty of their local garden plants. The last Saturday in January is National Seed Swap Day (this year it was January 28), but Alaskans generally have to wait a little longer than the rest of the country to start thinking about planting! AWaytoGarden.com has a nice seed viability chart along with some useful links on seed storage. I've personally had very good luck with keeping my seed viable, although the germination rate does slowly go down over the years. Our cold, dry winters help to keep seed dormant and to stay fresh—although too cold and too dry can be a problem, too!

Seed Savers Exchange is offering a webinar series on seed saving and planning your garden for seed saving. These will be released each month:
  • January: Introduction to Seed Savers Exchange (available now on YouTube)
  • February: Using the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook (now registering!)
  • March: Planning Your Garden for Seed Saving
  • April: Apple Grafting
  • May: Heirlooms, OPs [Open-Pollinated Plants] and F1s
  • June: Basic Seed Saving for Beginners
  • July: Corn Hand-Pollination
  • August: Squash Hand-Pollination
  • September: Tomato Seed Saving
  • October: Dry Seed Processing
  • November: Listing Seeds in the Yearbook
  • December: Seed Storage
The Organic Seed Alliance has several publications that you can download, including a handy seed saving guide.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Animal navigation

Above: Interpolated geolocation tracks of 11 Arctic terns tracked from breeding colonies in Greenland (10 birds) and Iceland (1 bird). Green = autumn (postbreeding) migration (August–November), red = winter range (December–March), and yellow = spring (return) migration (April–May). Dotted lines link locations during the equinoxes. Map from the Arctic Tern Migration Project of the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.

The February installment of the 2012 Ester Library Lecture Series features UAF geophysicist David Stone, who will discuss the secrets of animal navigation. Stone, an emeritus professor at UAF and longtime resident of Ester, has devoted years of work towards understanding how animals navigate over long distances. He will be sharing that knowledge with us Wednesday evening, February 15, at 7 p.m. in Hartung Hall in Ester. Dr. Stone’s presentation, “Long Distance Navigators: How Do Insects, Birds and Fish Do It?” will delve into the mysteries of how birds, fish, and even insects are able to find their way to breeding and overwintering areas across thousands of miles. If you’ve ever wondered how salmon find their way back to spawn, or how arctic terns are able to travel from Alaska to Antarctica and back without getting lost, you won’t want to miss this.

The Ester Library Lecture Series focuses on writers, artists, adventurers, scholars, entrepreneurs, musicians, craftspeople, and other colorful characters from, visiting, or of interest to Ester. Admission is free, although donations are encouraged—and very much appreciated. Lectures are held in Hartung Hall, Main Street & Ester Loop, Ester, at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. Parking and beverages are available at the nearby Golden Eagle Saloon. Upcoming speakers include marine ecologist Peter McRoy, Alaska historian Ross Coen, Tom Zimmer and Susan Willsrud from Calypso Farm, ecologist and invasive plant expert Trish Wurtz, and glaciologist Matt Nolan.

The John Trigg Ester Library is a home-grown community library that provides a welcoming and intellectually stimulating environment where community members can meet and share ideas and information. The Library strives to instill a love of reading and learning, to showcase Ester-area history and culture, and to provide resources that will enrich the whole community. The Library is raising funds to construct a new library building in downtown Ester. When completed, it will be the first public building in Alaska constructed to meet strict Passiv Haus, nearly net-zero, energy efficiency standards.