03.07.18 | ARTICLES

Plants that grow without me

“Dad has 1,200 acres,” Mr. Grant said. “He takes forests and turns them into pastures. And I buy pastures and turn them into forest.”

Following yesterday’s post about forests in Iceland, this is a story set in Texas. This New York Times profile of Greg Grant’s homestead fits into the growing conversation about returning property to natural states: “I went to horticulture school to learn to grow things,” he said. “And now what I grow is plants that grow without me.”

NYT “Every Plant Has a Story. You Just Need to Dig”

03.06.18 | FORESTS

You expect that they grow—and then the climate changes.

“It doesn’t take many people—or very many sheep—to deforest a whole country over 1,000 years.”

That’s Þröster Eysteinsson, the director of Icelandic Forest Service, in a video selected by National Geographic’s Short Film Showcase. In the optimistic five-minute short, Eystenisson explains the efforts to restore woodlands in a country that is, in his words, “certainly among the worst examples in the world of deforestation.”

video “Iceland Is Growing New Forests for the First Time in 1,000 Years”

03.05.18 | NEWS

But how do they taste?

I spent the better part of the weekend snapping together Lego pieces. I did this before I had a kid, and now it’s a guarantee. There’s no better toy. But what does this have to do with plants? Well, as part of Lego Group’s shift to sustainable products by 2030, they announced that their first sustainably-sourced pieces will be green, literally, and arrive this year.

Production has started on a range of sustainable LEGO® elements made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane. The new sustainable LEGO ‘botanical’ elements will come in varieties including leaves, bushes and trees.

Press Release “First Sustainable Lego Bricks will be Launched in 2018”

03.02.18 | SUGGESTION

Use bamboo to remove a plant from a container.


Hold a piece of bamboo, 18–24″ in length, and push it down along the inside of the container. Pull up, and repeat several times around the inside wall of the container. With the sides of the root ball loosened, carefully tip the container on its side and stick the bamboo through the drainage holes, loosening the plant from the bottom. A couple shakes, if the container is not too heavy, and the plant should come loose. Aways be sure to avoid yanking out a plant. Gently grasp it at the base, and let it fall into your hand. If the soil is too dense or the roots are packed tightly, you may need to repeat the prodding process.


I usually use a hori hori knife to remove plants from plastic containers, and even the ground. After a good set of pruning shears, it’s the best tool you can own. But I don’t like to use the metal blade with nice containers. Bamboo won’t chip or badly scratch a metal or ceramic pot, and because the piece of bamboo can be any length, it’ll be more effective with a big container, reaching deeper than a typical 7″ Hori Hori blade.1

The giant chain fern (Woodwardia fimbriata) successfully removed.


The piece of bamboo I use is from freshly pruned bamboo. If you buy a bamboo rod, it’s often thinner than this—used for light staking—or it’s dried, painted, and prone to cracking. It may not work well. So while there are lots of reasons to never plant bamboo in your yard, it can be beneficial. Keep it under control, and harvest a piece or two every year to use as tools.

  1. According to Nisaku, the maker of the Hori Hori that I use, “The roots of this tool is a shovel made [from] bamboo….” But of course. ↩︎

The Books of February

02.28.18 A monthly reading list and recommendations