Friday, December 30, 2011

Places to go in January

Boat Tailed Grackle

Just in case you missed it.... Monica Pearson (aka Monica Kaufman) and I did a piece on foraging for WSB tv here in Atlanta a few weeks ago.  It aired just after Christmas so as to inspire all of us to get outdoors and walk around.  Here's the clip if you are so inclined to watch it.

In the meantime, things are happening all over the place.  Let's start with First Day Hikes.  There are three that I know of.  All of them are on January 1st.   Tallulah Gorge State Park has one.  It's a moderate hike of 3.5 miles.  If you want information try calling 706-754-7981.  There's also one at Reed Bingham State Park in Adel on Jan 1.  229-896-3551.  And, last but not least Laura S. Walker State Park in Waycross is also having a First Day hike along Big Creek Nature Trail.  912-790-8800.  More than likely these will also be listed at

The Atlanta Boat Show is coming up on Jan 12 -15 for those of you who are into floating on the water.  More information is at

The Great Southern Fishing Show is Jan. 21-22 at the North Atlanta Trade Center in Norcross for thoe of you who love all things fishing.  Theres more information about that at 770-279-9899.

Calloway Gardens is sponsoring the Sothern Gardening Symposium Jan 27-30.  As you might expect it will be devoted to gardening in the south.

If you happen to be in Augusta Jan 21-29 the 33rd Futurity Cutting Horse Event will be going on.  Check it out at

Not to be missed is "Garden Geology" at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens.  It goes on Jan 11, 18, 25 and Feb 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29.  All of this so you can learn about the rocks of Georgia's Eastern Blue Ridge and Inner Piedmont Provinces.  Check it out at

In case you didn't know it, Georgia is comprised of 6 geographic regions:
  • The Appalachian Plateau
  • Ridge and Valley
  • Blue Ridge
  • Piedmont
  • Upper Coastal Plain
  • Lower Coastal Plain
One of these days, we will talk about the differences in these regions because all of them have different flora and fauna for you to enjoy.

For example, the farther south you go the more snakes you find.  For the adventuresome, there's the Rattlesnake Roundup in Whigham, GA on Jan 28th.  This area of Georgia not only has all the dangerous snakes but it also has alligators.  During the roundup there are three presentations on poisonous snakes and for those who like arts, crafts and food... at least one vendor sells alligator bites.  I was hoping to hear that there was some rattlesnake stew going on down there but... not this year.  If someone out there like to cook rattlesnake however.... here's a business opportunity for one day a year. For more information on this activity, you can call the Chamber of Commerce at 229-377-3663.
Boat Tailed Grackle
Seems like this year will start off warmly.  Not too hot and not too cold just inbetween.  That means the weeds are thriving in advance of spring.  If you look around now you will find dandelions, garlic mustard, garlic onions, hairy bittercress, curly dock... just to name a few edibles.  In fact, I believe I spotted some dead nettles and some henbit as well while I was walking the woods the other day.  So....get out and walk around, breath the air and be glad we have the trees to produce the oxygen we need.

I wish each of you have a happy and healthy new year with many new adventures planned.  Ciao!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Amaranth, OH Amaranth.....

A. Palmer
 Your grandpa probably called it pigweed but today this noble weed is in the news.  By now everyone here in the south has probably heard about the Palmer Amaranth which is invading the cotton and soy fields in Georgia and the rest of the south.  Why it made the news is sort of fascinating.... it is resistant to Round Up®.  But that doesn't surprise me... plants came before we did (check out the Cretaceous period) and are quite resiliant.  Plants adapt, mutate, and evolve to meet the demands of their environment just like germs, bacteria, fungi and every other living thing.  So why shouldn't they become resistant to Round Up®

This precursor of spinach is a hearty little thing.  It grows just about anywhere the soil has been disturbed.  And, oh wow!  It is edible.  The argument of late is whether the Palmer Amaranth is edible. And the answer to that is...well.... somewhat complex.  I asked a wonderful resource, Green Dean, of what he knew about this situation and, after much asking around, he says that A. Palmer is certainly edible HOWEVER, best not to eat it from the Round Up® treated fields.  The reason is that every edible plant grown for human consumption that is treated with Round Up® has a known "poison span" ( my word) meaning that as long as the product is picked between X and Y it is safe for humans to eat.  However, if a weed has been sitting in the field for Z period of time no one knows what the uptake of the Roundup® is or what the overall effect of treatment is to the growth of the weed.  With amaranth, a known nitrate consolidator, it could be that it takes up too much of this chemical when exposed to Round Up® and thus, could be unsafe for human consumption.  Hence, eat the A. Palmer but don't eat it from fields that have been treated with Round Up® any time soon!  Actually, I think I would apply this rule to any weed you find in a field that has been chemically treated... even your lawn.

Now for the rest of the Amaranth family.  Today, I was shopping at my favorite international market in Marietta, GA.  I always mean to take a piece of paper with me to notate the names of plants which I don't recognize so I'll know whether to buy them the next time I shop.  Well, wonders never cease.  Today I selected the Red Shen Choy as my investigative plant.  And you know what?  It turns out that this is an amaranth.  So is the Callalou (A.Tricolor or A.Gangeticus) the favored vegetable plant of  Jamaica and hin choy, Chinese spinach, bush greens and Indian spinach....  In short, humans have been eating amaranth as far back as Egypt and the pharaoh because it is highly nutritious and delicious to the palate.

A. retroflexus

What's really neat about this discovery is that amaranth grows wild nearly everywhere in the world and it is practically free for the taking because it is a weed.  It is good as a green and it is good for its seeds.  Think of it as one of those wondrous gifts from the gods.  As you look at the picture on the left just think about it.  How many times have you seen this growing in an empty lot?  In the park?  Along a country road?  .  Most amaranths have red stems, the leaves are alternate and there is a lovely seed head at the top of the plant.  For more information check out