Dig Magazine 2017

Ahhh Dig Magazine where have you been…well it’s been a long time laying dormant just hibernating, waiting to be revived. Get ready it’s coming back.

What is Dig Magazine? It started years ago… early 90s… as a Free home & garden monthly guide for the Washington Metro area. We published it in print and online for about 5 years.  I’ve since started gardening in SE Florida. Gardening is different here! Thought I’d have purely sand..well, to my delight, and my plants, it’s loamy; a black rich soil with very little clay or pebbles and sand. The total opposite of my Maryland yard. The high temps and ocean breeze here can dry out the soil and plants quickly. It takes a tough plant to survive this range of wet to parched then hot and hotter with gusty wind …dry for months then biblical rain for days. It’s tropical!  Then there’s irrigation. And grass which is not normally my concern!  I like flowers, shrubs, trees, bulbs, perennials.

So Vero Beach is now my hotspot. There’s bromeliads, palms, orchids, beautiful colorful crotons, crape myrtle…fragrant Plumeria..all love this climate. Most northern annuals  and houseplants can be perennial outside here: i.e., impatiens will reseed as long as your yard person doesn’t weed kill everything before you can identify the leaf!

To my surprize orchids are quite easy to grow and the flowers last & last on the plant. You can grow them in any bright area or window or even tie to tree outside. Direct hot sun can be too much…under tree branches is perfect! The roots will eventually attach directly. At first secure with twine and maybe a bit of bark or moss. I have lost some to frisky squirrels. Typically they can be lost to over watering in pots

It’s mid June now so the beginning of summer. So what can you do in the garden as far as planting. If you keep it watered you can plant now…shrubs, trees, orchids. Don’t separate or shake off the root ball..if you do it most likely will have a harder time adapting to its new spot. Moles do eat the roots.  All sorts of vegetables can be grown now though they may have done better if you planted them back in late Jan-Feb! I have heard that a large (3’ diameter) container works great for sizable potato crop by Fall or any root vegetable…beets, turnips.

To doodle to doodle to do..next time..my favorite Florida garden tools  😉

Gardening on a Budget

Once the buzz of Christmas has passed, the task of paying off bills can leave many gardeners on a strict budget. Gardeners who need to make frugal decisions at this time of the year can take heart in a number of alternatives that will not only lower the cost of gardening, but will also enhance the pleasure! Here are five steps every budget gardener should
Plan ahead

Make a list of what you’d really like to see in your garden and stick to it. There’s no use growing winter cabbage, regardless of how lovely it looks in the frost, if no one in your family eats cabbage. A list will also keep you under control when you see the end-of-season sales and are tempted to purchase something on a whim. In addition, if you plan exactly where plants are going to go, you won’t make last minute mistakes such as placing sun loving plants in the shade.

Start a compost pile
It’s surprising to see how many gardeners haven’t constructed their own compost pile and still pay to have their grass clippings and leaves hauled away and then, in turn, purchase fertilizers every year. Compost is free food for the garden! It helps break up heavy clay soils, absorbs water in sandy soils, and encourages microbial life, thereby decreasing that chances of any one disease becoming rampant in the garden.

Compost piles don’t require anything fancy. The walls can be made of recycled 2 x 4s, chicken wire, or even hay bales. All that you need is access to the pile and enough space to turn it every now and again.

What can you put in the pile for free? Grass clippings and leaves are a great choice since you probably have your own source as well as your neighbours’. Check with local tree care companies to see if they have any wood chips to give away. Coffee grinds from the local café make excellent compost, as does shredded newspaper. Don’t forget to include your vegetable scraps and egg shells. Once you get hooked on composting, you’ll even start going after the local barber for hair, and even saving dryer lint!

If you’re an apartment gardener or are cramped for space, a great alternative to a compost pile is a worm bin. The requirements for a successful worm bin include a good size container, usually a Rubbermaid bin, about ½ lb of red wiggler worms, shredded newspaper, and then a steady supply of kitchen scraps. The resulting “worm casts” make excellent fertilizer for garden & potted plants. For more information, City Farmer has this article on worm composting: http://www.cityfarmer.org/wormcomp61.html#wormcompost

Many of the expenditures that gardeners make for containers and equipment can be cut down by re-using items you already have at home. Margarine tubs, yogurt & cottage cheese containers and egg cartons are fantastic for seed starting. Old gardening boots, wheelbarrows, and toolboxes can make whimsical substitutes for expensive outdoor containers. Window frames can be converted into cold frames and plastic milk jugs and pop bottles can be used to make a mini greenhouses or hot caps.

Start from seed when you can
One packet of tomato seed is often equivalent to the price of one tomato start yet you get the potential of at least 30-40 plants in each packet. While it may take longer and require advance planning, starting the majority of your plants from seed can be a big savings, especially if you’re using recycled containers. No need for expensive heat mats – the top of the VCR or water heater is ideal. Fluorescent tubes make a suitable substitute for expensive grow lights and can be rigged up under a table or on a shelf in the garage.

Don’t forget to try to save your own seed during the season. Not only will you save on the seed purchase the following year, but you’ll also be able to select seed from plants that you know did well in your climate. Most communities now arrange for seed swaps in the early spring where you can trade your excess seed for new varieties. Make sure that you save seed from non-hybrid plants.

Choose plants that keep on giving
In the vegetable garden, climbing peas, tomatoes, beans & squash tend to provide more produce than their bush equivalents. If you’re limited in space, growing these plants vertically can be very successful. In addition, plants like zucchini are notorious for their yields. Trade with neighbours for food you didn’t grow.

Among the flowers, try growing multi-purpose plants to get more bang for your buck. Many flowers like bachelor’s buttons, violas, calendula, pansies, & roses are edible as well as beautiful. Yarrow, alyssum, fennel, cumin, & coriander all attract beneficial insects as well.

Find a friend
Not only can you share ideas with a gardening buddy, but you can also share the costs and make it cheaper for both of you. Very few of us require a whole packet of seed for the gardening season; most packets contain 40-100 seeds. Why not split the packet with a friend or else trade seed for a variety you didn’t buy? A gardening buddy is also a great person to share tools with. If you’ve got a fantastic hoe and your friend has an excellent pitchfork, why double up?

Sharing with a gardening partner will also allow you to purchase certain inputs in bulk. If you require potting mix, why not go for the bale size instead of the small packages? Compost, if you can’t make your own, is much cheaper if purchased by the yard and shared with a friend or two.

Joining a garden club is a great way to meet gardening enthusiasts if no friends or family are willing to team up with you. Most clubs also hold plant exchanges or sales where you can get plants for a real steal.

Arzeena is an agronomist and gardenwriter for Organic Living Newsletter. Subscribe to this free e-newsletter at http://www.tvorganics.com

Integrated Pest Management

Prune your trees now before winter storms do it for you. Remove any dead or weak branches. Thin the branches of trees with dense growth such as ‘Bradford’ pear and red maple. Trees maintained with proper pruning are less likely to be damaged by snow, ice, and wind.

Develop a plan to revitalize a portion of your garden when spring comes. Choose an area particularly hard hit by drought, insects, or diseases. Research alternative plant materials that fit the soil and water conditions on the site. You can cover the site with a tarp to keep the soil dry so you can get a jump on amending the soil and planting next spring.

When looking at catalogs be sure to select disease resistant seeds and plants for next year. Resistant plants may still be damaged by insects and diseases, but they usually are not killed or permanently damaged.

It’s natural for some of your evergreens change their foliage color this winter. It’s their way of responding to the falling temperatures. Arborvitae develops a brownish-tan color and some junipers turn purple. When temperatures rise in spring the foliage will return to its normal color.

Don’t be concerned if some insects such as wood-boring beetles, carpenter ants, termites, powderpost beetles, or bark beetles make their way into your home on your firewood this winter. They’re only attracted to wood that is soft and chronically wet and should not damage structural wood or furniture in your home. Termites are social insects that dwell in the ground; when a small part of a colony is moved in a piece of firewood the termites perish. Also, it’s a good idea to restack old wood piles yearly to discourage rodents from making a home in them.

Don’t be alarmed by bulb foliage that is exposed during the winter. Daffodils and tulips begin growing as soon as soil temperatures warm to above 40°F and the foliage is remarkably cold tolerant. Some bulbs, such as grape hyacinth, naturally grow leaves in the fall and winter months.

If you are planning to start seeds inside this winter take steps to avoid ‘damping off’ disease. This disease is caused by water molds and weakens the roots and lower stem causing the seedlings to collapse shortly after germination. Sanitation is the key to preventing this disease. Be sure to use sterilized soil and clean pots. You can reuse old pots by sterilizing them with a one percent bleach solution. Use new soil every time you start seeds.

Diplodia tip blight is a fungal disease that affects Australian, mugo, Scots, and other two-needle pines. The new growth dies as the new needles are emerging from the shoots in spring. Shoots turn dry and brown and may curl up. Symptoms are prevalent during wet spring weather, but winter is a good time to take preventive action. The drought this past summer has made many pines more susceptible to disease and if this winter is followed by a wet spring new infections could be widespread. Prune out all dead and dying branches and remove all cones as well since large numbers of spores overwinter on them. The cones make wonderful fire starters for those cold winter nights. If you’re thinking about planting a new pine choose a resistant species like Japanese black pine or loblolly pine.

Integrated Pest Management

Now is the time to wrap your shrubs with twine for the winter. The branches of plants like boxwood, arborvitae, and columnar junipers are susceptible to splaying or breaking under the weight of snow and ice. Secure the twine to the bottom of the trunk and wrap it upward in a spiral form. After reaching the top of the shrub, begin wrapping downward in the same spiral motion until you reach the starting point. Finish by tying the twine securely to the trunk. Twine can be removed in the spring after snow and ice threats have passed.

Composting your green waste is a great way to help the environment, and it will provide your garden with a rich, organic soil conditioner. Compost your jack-o’-lantern after Halloween and your pumpkin rinds after holiday baking.

The cool weather of the autumn months may bring the onset of white pine aphids that feed on the eastern white pine, Pinus strobus. Small trees can be killed by large populations of this insect. Signs of heavy infestation include branch dieback, increased ant activity, sooty mold, and honeydew. White pine aphids overwinter in rows of black eggs on the needles. If the eggs are present in small numbers, the needles can be removed by hand. If present in large numbers, they can be destroyed by applying horticultural oil.

Thousands of Asian ladybird beetles may soon gather on the outside of your houses, garages, and sheds in search of a place to overwinter. This beetle, Harmonia axyridis, was introduced from Asia over ten years ago in the hopes of controlling aphids and scales in this country. This species has over 100 forms with different colors ranging from yellow to orange to red and with no spots or as many as 19. Most commonly, it is orange with black spots or black with four red spots. Like other ladybird beetles, this one is beneficial and should not be destroyed. In autumn they congregate on light colored surfaces on warm days. Asian ladybird beetles are harmless to humans. They do not bite or sting, but they can be a nuisance in large numbers. To prevent them from making their way inside, caulk your windows and doors and screen attic and exhaust vents. If they do make it inside, put a new bag in your vacuum cleaner and suck them up. You can keep the bag in your unheated garage or shed until mid-April, then release them into your yard to feast on springtime pests.

Don’t be concerned if the houseplants that you have brought in from the outside for the winter are turning yellow or dropping some of their leaves. They are adjusting to the changes in temperature and humidity. Remember to water them less frequently; with fewer leaves they do not need as much. Also, refrain from fertilizing them during this period of adjustment.

It’s not too early to start planning for next year’s garden. Make note of which plants pulled through the drought and which ones suffered. It can be survival of the fittest as seasonal weather extremes take their toll. Consider replacing plants that are stressed with ones that are more drought hardy and pest resistant, and remember to amend your soil with organic matter before planting. Wait until spring before removing any deciduous shrubs or trees that are especially valuable to you. You may suspect that these plants are dead, but failure to leaf out in the spring is the only true test.

Stretching The Gardening Season

When the days begin to shorten, do you ever wish there was a way to squeeze just a bit more out of the summer? After all, the tomatoes & peppers were just starting to produce and the summer salads never tasted so good.

A combination of biology and simple technology can keep your kitchen stocked with fresh food throughout the winter. The key is to plan in advance and provide a bit of extra protection for your plants. In addition, broadening your vegetable palate will also help to increase variety in your winter diet.

Very few gardeners realize what a difference a little bit of protection can make. Most winter garden plants either slow down or fail to produce due to a combination of cold temperatures and harsh winds. A single layer of plastic over your plants will create such a microclimate that your garden will produce as if it’s 11/2 USDA Zones to the south!

Gardens in Zones 3-6 can really benefit with the use of protection. Eliot Coleman, noted organic grower and author of The Four Season Harvest, uses this technique of “passive” protection in his Maine market garden. Instead of freezing in Zone 5, his winter veggies grow in a temperate Zone 7. Although Coleman uses large hoop houses on his farm, the technique can be adapted for the home gardener.

The trick to making this temperature jump, Coleman relates, is to use 2 layers of protection. Ideally, the first layer should be large enough that you can walk through it. However, as long as the plants underneath can be reached, a smaller cover will do. Next, the second layer of protection should be much lower to the ground. In order to trap heat radiating from the soil, the second layer of protection should be between 12-16″ above the ground. This second layer can take the shape of a cold frame, cloche, or even just another sheet of plastic, suspended above the plants using wires for support.

Another trick that Coleman relates is to place water-filled containers around plants to collect heat from the day and release it at night. This is an especially effective technique for gardens in areas that have sunny winter days. Finally, a light layer of mulch such as straw, hay, or even autumn leaves act as a layer of insulation, best suited for root crops like carrots, turnips, parsnips, and beets.

If the idea of extending your growing season has sparked some interest in winter gardening, don’t forget that there are a number of crops well suited to winter gardening. Apart from the well-known winter crops such as spinach, leeks, scallions cabbage, kale & parsley, winter gardeners should also try arugula, escarole, claytonia, kohlrabi, mizuna, radicchio, sorrel & watercress, corn salad (mache). Certain herbs will also grow well in cooler temperatures including cilantro, winter thyme, winter savory & sage. Few flowers will produce under these conditions with the exception of violets & johnny jump-ups.

A few tips:
While each layer of protection will increase temperature, each layer will also cut out about 10% of light. Two layers will not pose a problem but a third layer could cause crop failure due to inadequate light levels.

While soil temperatures are still warm, fertilize leafy greens like spinach, corn salad & sorrel so that they have enough nutrients to take them through the fall.

Harvest greens above their crowns so that growing tip isn’t damaged and you get another crop.

Arzeena Hamir is an agronomist and garden writer for Organic Living Newsletter. Subscribe to this free e-newsletter at http://www.tvorganics.com

Integrated Pest Management

Fall is a good time to prune out any dead wood on your trees and shrubs. Branches are often killed by bacterial or fungal pathogens, and should be cut back to prevent the disease from spreading into healthy tissue. To find infected branches, look for branches with dead or yellowed leaves that are prone to wilting or seem off-color. When you cut into the branch, you may see tan or brown areas in the wood that are evidence of infection. If you are removing cankered branches, be sure to make your cut below the infected area into healthy, green tissue, slightly above a healthy bud.

Remove broadleaf weeds in your lawn when soil moisture is replenished and growth resumes. Weeds such as wild garlic, white clover, knotweed, plantain, yellow wood sorrel, and common chickweed can be removed by hand or may be treated with an herbicide containing 2,4,-D.

Did you know only 10% of the insects around your home are harmful to plants? Many insects such as earwigs, pill bugs, and ground beetles are common around homes and do not harm plants, pets, or humans. Pesticides do little to control many of these insects, and the use of pesticides so close to the home may lead to unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals.

It is perfectly normal for conifers, especially pines, to shed some of their older needles in the fall, but the drought conditions this year may cause more shedding than usual. With less foliage needing water, the tree has a better chance of survival through the drought period. For more details on how to deal with the drought, check the USNA website.

It is not too early to think about spring flowering bulbs. Fall is the time to plant such bulbs as tulips, narcissus, dutch iris, and crocus. If the soil is dry, water bulbs after you plant them, and keep soil moist until the ground freezes this winter. Moisture is essential for proper root growth.

Boxelder bugs, which feed primarily on boxelder, Acer negundo, are showing up in places and on plants where they are not usually found, and may be in search of moisture. These insects are black and red and may be seen around your home when evenings begin to cool down. Boxelder bugs do no noticeable harm to plants, but if you find them in large numbers around your home, you can use a shop vacuum to collect them for disposal.

Skip fertilizing trees and shrubs this fall if weather has been dry in your area. Few nutrients have been leached from the soil with all the dry weather, and stressed plants aren’t able to use the nutrients. Excess fertilizer in the soil contaminates our ground and surface water.

Keep an eye out now for magnolia scale. These sucking insects can be found on the twigs as small bumps nearly a half inch in diameter. They may be white, yellow, or brown depending on their age. By September the eggs hatch into tiny crawlers. The crawlers look like tiny black dots about the size of a typed period, and can be easily spotted by tapping a branch over a sheet of white paper. Use horticultural oil only if you count more than 15 crawlers on the paper.

As autumn approaches, practice good sanitation in your garden. Remove spent vegetables and annual bedding plants and cut back spent flower stalks of perennials. Be sure to remove weeds before they disperse seeds. All of the resulting debris can be composted.

Non-Toxic Slug Control

The best way to combat slugs is to understand their lifecycle. Know thy enemy! Slugs themselves contain a high percentage of water and will begin feeding as soon as soil temperatures rise above 40 F (5 C), emerging from the soil or from protected areas. Slugs prefer to forage at night or on dull days when temperatures drop and the garden is damp. Their gelatinous eggs, laid in clusters of 40-100, can be found in the soil, under rocks and even in outdoor pots. Learn to recognize them!

Cultural Methods of Control
There are many simple things you can do in the garden to decrease slug damage. Because slugs are made up of so much water, they are very susceptible to drying out. In the early spring, cultivate your soil to expose their eggs to drying air & predators. Try to keep your garden as dry as you can without damaging your plants. This can be achieved by using drip irrigation or soaker hoses rather than overhead sprinklers. In addition, if you mulch your garden, keep the mulch well back from the base of susceptible plants. Better yet, consider waiting until temperatures rise above 75 F before you apply your mulch. Slugs also love warm compost piles so if you can, keep your pile separated from the rest of your garden.

Handpicking is an extremely effective way of riding your garden of hundreds of slugs. For the squeamish, chopsticks, tongs, or even hatpins can be used to catch the offending pests. The best time to hunt for slugs is 2 hours after sunset so take a flashlight. Finish the slugs off in a bucket of soapy water.

Attract or Repel?
Most gardeners choose either of these methods to prevent slug damage in their gardens. Attracting slugs into baits or to trap crops and then discarding them is a popular system. On the other hand, preventing them from getting to your prized plants is also important. Here are the basic principles:

Slugs are attracted to chemicals given off by the fermentation process. The most popular bait has been beer. However, not all beers are created equal. In 1987, a study at Colorado State University Entomology Professor Whitney found that Kingsbury Malt Beverage, Michelob, and Budweiser attracted slugs far better than other brands.

The range of slug traps is only a few feet so you need to supply a few throughout your garden. Never, sink the containers with their rims flush with the soil level or you run the risk of drowning ground beetles, important slug controllers. The rims should be 1″ above the soil’s surface.

In the last couple of years, a new product has been released into the market that is receiving rave reviews from organic gardeners. Baits made from iron phosphate have been found to decrease slug populations without harming birds, small pets or humans. Scientists are still not sure exactly how these elements affect slugs but figure that they inhibit the slug from feeding anymore. The baits are sold commercially under the name Sluggo, Es-car-go, and Safer’s Slug & Snail Bait.

Trap crops
Certain plants seem to be favored by slugs and can be used to divert slugs from your prized plants. Particularly good trap crops include: green lettuce, cabbage, calendula, marigolds, comfrey leaves, zinnias and beans.

Certain plants will also repel slugs. Ginger, garlic, mint, chives, red lettuce, red cabbage, sage, sunflower, fennel, foxglove, mint, chicory & endive seem to be less prone to slug attack. Plant them around the perimeter of your garden to keep them from infiltrating.

Aside from diverting slugs to where you want them, gardeners can also use certain barriers to keep slugs out of particular spots. A ring of abrasive material such as eggshells, sand, wood shavings, diatomaceous earth, hair or ash can be placed around susceptible plants. These materials do have to be kept dry, however, in order to work. After rains, top them up again. Cutting the tops and bottoms off of plastic containers and using them as a cylinder around young seedlings can construct a more permanent barrier.

One of the most effective barriers, however, seems to be copper tape, as it works wet or dry. When slugs and snails make contact with the copper, there is a toxic reaction, similar to an electric shock, which repels them. The minimum width for the copper barriers needs to be at least two inches; slug barriers sold in nurseries are often smaller and should be doubled or tripled when installed.

Slug Predators
Many natural predators will eat slugs. Providing a habitat for them will help build their populations so that you do less work in the long run. Slug predators include:

Ground beetles – Like to live under wooden boards during the day.

Frogs – They prefer damp sites & a quarter of their diet may comprises slugs.

Birds – blackbirds and thrushes, robins, starlings, rooks and crows, jays, ducks, seagulls and owls will eat slugs

There are a number of tools that a gardener can use to combat slugs. Handpicking, traps, barriers, baits, & predators are just a few techniques. So, rather than shrugging off slug damage as inevitable, choose from the slug control menu and you’ll be surprised by the results.

Low Cost Mushroom Production at Home

Gourmet mushrooms like Shiitake, Oyster & Enoki mushrooms are growing in popularity but the retail price for many of these delicacies can often be out of range for most people. Mushroom lovers on a budget have another option – growing mushrooms at home.

Mushroom production might seem complicated but there are many kits on the market that make growing mushrooms easy. These kits provide the substrate, pre-inoculated with mushroom mycelia and simple instructions.

When we think of mushrooms, we often think of the soft caps & stems that we see in the grocery store. Hidden underground, however, is the vast majority of the mushroom mass itself- the network of feathery mycelia. These mycelia, often seen when turning over compost, are what the mushroom uses to absorb food & moisture. The cap & stem that we commonly eat is just the fruiting body.

To grow, mycelia require an uncontaminated food source, free from other microorganisms, moisture, and temperatures between 60-80F. The food source can vary, depending on the species of mushroom, from sawdust & shavings to manure or compost. Once mycelia have colonized a food source, they begin to produce fruiting bodies, commonly referred to as pins. As the pins mature, they develop into recognizable mushrooms.

Most commercially available kits range in price from $20-$30. Most kits will start fruiting within a week and you can expect a harvest of 1-2 pounds of mushrooms per flush. Commonly, each kit will provide 2-3 flushes of mushrooms before the food supply is spent. Finished kits can then be placed on the compost pile where you can sometimes get a bonus flush of edibles.

Types of mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes), have a rich, meaty texture. The brown caps often grow up to 3-4 inches in diameter. They have been highly prized in the Orient for centuries and scientists are researching its medicinal, anti-viral properties. Indoors, the kits can be stored from 55 to 75F and will produce 2-3 pounds within 3 months.

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp) are named for the fact that their flavour & texture resembles oysters. The mushroom itself comes in different colours, depending on species, from pink, cream, white & gray. The white mushroom is the easiest to grow and will fruit over a wide temperature range from 55-75 F. These mushrooms are particularly sensitive to humidity and need to be misted 2-3 times per day.

Enoki mushrooms (Flammulina velutipes) have long delicate stems, joined at the base Both the caps and stems are edible and are best eaten raw to take advantage of this variety’s crisp texture. Toss them into salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish for soups. Enokis require a colder environment, 45 degrees compared to growing temperatures of about 60 degrees, which other varieties require.

Once a kit arrives, it should be free of any different coloured moulds. If you do see anything strange, get a replacement. An incubation period is required for the mycelia to colonize the whole substrate. The kit should be kept at the proper temperature and should be kept moist at all times. Colonization usually requires 7-10 days.

After this period, the mycelia need to be forced into fruiting, usually by placing the kit in the refrigerator. Afterward, the kit will have to be opened and exposed to some light (excluding Agaricus species). A good place to keep the kits is in a garage or a sheltered place outdoors. Keeping the kits under your sink usually results in fungus gnats. If outdoor temperatures dip, a Styrofoam cooler makes an excellent humidity chamber, insulating the kit against cold temperatures.

As the fruiting bodies appear, the humidity needs to be kept high. Most kits come equipped with a plastic tent so a regular spray of water is enough to achieve the right conditions. Using the right water, however, is critical. Spring, well or rainwater is best, as it doesn’t contain any chlorine. If none of these are available, leave a bucket of water to stand overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate.

Outdoor production
If you become hooked on mushroom production, you can move on to the next step- growing mushrooms on logs. While logs take much more time to develop edible mushrooms, they produce for up to 4 years and are even more economical than the kits.

Year of the Basil

Can you imagine a garden without basil? Impossible! Its familiar fragrance, easy care, and many uses make it indispensable in herb, ornamental, and container gardens—and, of course, in the kitchen.

A Sense of History

Basil has been known and grown since ancient times. According to Gerard in his Herbal published in England in the 1600s, the smell of basil was “good for the heart and for the head.” The seeds “cureth the infirmities of the heart and taketh away the sorrow which commeth with melancholy and maketh a man merry and glad.” Gerard also advised that the juice of the plant was good against headaches, if it were drunk with wine, and was useful in clearing up diseases of the eye.

Back in the first century AD, however, the Greek physician Dioscorides believed basil dulled the sight and produced “wind.” Others claimed it bred scorpions and that scorpions would be found beneath a pot where basil grew—a belief that arose, perhaps, from the prevalence of scorpions in some of the tropical regions of Asia and Africa, where basil originated, and their predilection for warm, dark places. Gerard wrote that those who were stung by a scorpion would feel no pain if they had eaten basil. Culpepper, a contemporary of Gerard, suggested in his Herbal that basil would draw out the poison of venomous beasts, wasps or hornets. Today, herbalists claim it helps to ease flatulence and abdominal pains if taken as an infusion.

Basil made its way to Europe by the Middle Ages and to England and America in the mid-17th century, where it was used mainly medicinally. It was not until the 19th century that basil became the ever-present component of herb gardens that it is today. Basil is also very important in Asia and Asian cuisines.

The range of basils available is the result of the variability of the species, basilicum. The species contains a natural diversity of fragrances and colors; plant breeders have selected for and improved on these different traits.

What’s In A Name?

A member of the mint family (Labiatae), as so many herbs are, basils have the familiar four-sided stems and whorled flowers of that family; they are not, however, in the least invasive, as mints can be. The genus name of sweet basil, Ocimum, is from a Greek verb that means “to be fragrant.” The species name, basilicum, comes from the Greek basileus, which means “king or prince.” Basil is often referred to as the “king of herbs,” and no wonder—it is one of the most useful, and most used, of all herbs.

In frost-free climates, sweet basil may act as a perennial, but in most areas of the country, it is an annual, dying at the first touch of frost. There are more than 30 different species of basil, but the most commonly grown are O. basilicum and its subspecies.

Holy basil, O. sanctum (also known as O. tenuiflorum) is a sacred herb in India, where it is used in religious ceremonies and planted around Hindu temples; with its pinkish purple flowers, it is most often planted as an ornamental.

The four basic types of garden basils are the familiar sweet green basil, dwarf green basil, purple-leaved basil, and scented leaf basil. Sweet basil (O. basilicum) grows about 2 feet tall. It has rather large leaves, 2-3 inches long, and produces white flower spikes. It is the most widely grown. Its “cousins” include lettuce-leaf and Genovese basils—varieties with much larger leaves—as well as the spicy Thai basil, ‘Siam Queen’ (1997 All-America Selections winner), an improved tropical basil with an intense fragrance and flavor.

Dwarf basil (O. b. ‘Minimum’) is also known as bush or fine green basil. Its compact growth reaches 10-12 inches high. The leaves are small, about 1/2 inch long, and flowers are white. ‘Spicy Globe’ and ‘Green Bouquet’ are well-known dwarf types; the former is aptly named because the plants grow naturally into rounded, globe shapes.

Purple-leaved basils (O. b. purpurescens) are very ornamental. ‘Dark Opal’ (1962 All-America Selections winner), ‘Purple Ruffles’ (1987 AAS winner) and ‘Red Rubin’ (with solid purple leaves, an improved strain of ‘Dark Opal’) are three of the most popular varieties. These basils tend to have ruffled, frilled, or deeply cut leaves, which are very pungent; they produce deep pink to lavender-purple flowers.

Scented-leaf basils bring additional aromas to the basic clove-anise of sweet basil. Lemon basil (O. americanum, O. basilicum var. citriodorum) has a very distinct lemon flavor, especially in the newest ‘Sweet Dani’ (1998 AAS winner). The leaves are grayish green, the flowers white. The leaves of cinnamon basil have a spicy cinnamon flavor; flowers are deep pink with purple bracts. Anise basil has a flavor similar to licorice; its flowers are slightly purplish.

Growing From Seed

Whether you sow seeds indoors or out, remember that basil does not like cold, or even cool, weather. Sow the seeds outdoors when day and night temperatures reach about 55 to 60 degrees. When sown or transplanted at the right time, basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow successfully.

Starting Basil Indoors
Plan to sow seeds 4 to 6 weeks before the date of your average last frost in spring. Basils do not need a long time to grow large enough to transplant to the garden.

* Fill a shallow container, or flat, or individual 2- to 21/4-inch pots with a commercial seed-starting mix. Moisten the mix and let it drain.
* Sow the seeds in rows in a flat or two to three seeds per pot. Cover the seeds with about 1/4 inch of the mix. Press the mix down lightly and spritz the surface with water to moisten it and settle the seeds.
* To keep the mix from drying out while the seeds are germinating, cover the containers with sheets of clear plastic wrap, or place each in a plastic bag and close it with a twist-tie.
* Set the containers in a warm location; the growing medium should be at about 70-75 degrees F (21-23 degrees C). Seedlings will emerge in 4 to 7 days. When they do, remove the plastic covering and place the containers in bright light or direct sun in a south-facing window or a fluorescent light garden. Give the containers a quarter turn every few days so the plants grow straight instead of leaning towards the light source.
* Keep the mix evenly moist by watering from the bottom: Set the containers in a sink filled with a couple of inches of water until beads of moisture appear on the surface. A liquid fertilizer at one half the recommended rate can be given to seedlings to promote healthy plants.
* When the seedlings are about 2 inches tall and have at least two pairs of true leaves, transplant those in flats to individual pots. Thin those started in small pots to one per pot by snipping off all but the strongest looking one with a scissors. It is not necessary to transplant purple-leaved basils, such as ‘Dark Opal’ and ‘Purple Ruffles’, if you sow them about 1/2-1 inch apart.
* If young plants become tall and spindly, the growing tip can be pinched to encourage branching and compact growth. Some of the smaller basils, such as ‘Spicy Globe’, have a naturally branching habit and do not need to be pinched.

Sowing Directly in the Garden.

Sow seeds in the garden when the soil has warmed up to about 55 to 60 degrees day and night temperatures. Sow the seeds about 1/2 inch deep in good garden soil; if you cover the seeds with less soil, they may float to the surface after a heavy rain. Basil germinates readily, therefore you do not need to sow thickly. You can sow the seeds in rows or in groups; drop two to three seeds in each hole for the latter. Keep the seedbed moist until germination occurs. When the seedlings have at least two pairs of true leaves and are 2 to 3 inches tall, thin them to stand 10 to 30 inches apart, depending on the species or cultivar. Begin pinching out the growing tips for compact growth when the seedlings are 3 to 4 inches tall.

To have an uninterrupted supply of fresh basil, most gardeners sow basil seed several times during the growing season. The National Garden Bureau recommends sowing basil seed every 3 to 4 weeks to harvest fresh leaves for culinary uses.

Selecting Bedding Plants

Basil is so popular that you can readily purchase plants at garden centers or nurseries in addition to growing it from seed. The plants may be sold in individual pots, six-packs or flats. Look for young, compact plants. Avoid tall, leggy plants—even though you can correct their growth habit somewhat by cutting them back after you have planted them at home.

The leaves of sweet basil should be a clear deep green; spots on the leaves may indicate they have been exposed to the cold. Pass up plants that have obvious pests, such as aphids, on stems or leaves.
If you can’t plant the herbs the day you bring them home, set them in a protected area away from the drying effects of direct sun and wind until you can put them in the ground or in containers.

Out In The Garden

Select a Site. Basil grows best in a location that receives full sun—at least six hours (or more) of direct sun daily. With less sun, the plants have a tendency to get “leggy.” Plants in containers require the same exposure.

Prepare the Soil. Although herbs are not very fussy, they do need a light, fertile soil with good drainage. Amend what you have by digging in about a 2-inch layer of peat moss and compost before planting. This is particularly important if your soil is mostly clay.
Transplant. Choose a cloudy, calm day or late afternoon to transplant your basils to give them a chance to settle in before they have to contend with the drying effects of sun and wind. It is very important to plant at the right time, which means not too early in the season. The slightest cold will set them back. Set the plants in the ground at the same depth they were growing in the pots. If you bought six-packs or flats of basil plants, water them first; then carefully lift each plant out of its cell or separate them from each other in the flat, keeping as much soil around the roots as possible to minimize moisture loss. If they don’t come out easily and you need to handle the plants, do so by their leaves, not their stems (plants replace leaves more readily than stems). If you started plants in peat pots, set the pots below the soil line—they have a tendency to dry out quickly when exposed to the air.

Space plants 10-12 inches apart; dwarf basils, 8-10 inches apart; larger basils, such as ‘Sweet Dani’, up to 20 inches apart.
Water the plants immediately after setting them in the ground.

Garden Uses

Basil is as ornamental as it is edible. Put it in a traditional herb garden, in the vegetable plot in the center of a bed of red- and green-leaf lettuces or edging a bed of tomatoes.

Use both the green- and purple-leaved varieties in borders; the latter are especially beautiful with perennials such as coral bells (Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’), Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’, fountain grass (Pennisetum), dusty miller, and blue Salvia farinacea. Both combine well with annuals, such as dwarf or medium-height snapdragons, nicotiana, French marigolds, and petunias.

With its natural round shape, the dwarf basil ‘Spicy Globe’ makes a wonderful edging for any type of garden: perennial, rose, or herb.
Try the old-fashioned technique of keeping flies away by planting basils around a patio or in containers on a deck.

Taking Care of Basil

Like most herbs, basils do not require much maintenance. In sandy or infertile soil, fertilize basil plants for continuous growth. If you amended the soil with organic matter, you may not need to fertilize basil. Basil plants need about an inch of water a week. Water, if rain does not provide for the plant’s needs.

Although the flower spikes are attractive, it is recommended to cut them off as they deplete the plants’ energy resulting in fewer leaves.
The leaves have the best flavor—the most essential oils—when they are harvested before the plants flower. Cut whole stems rather than individual leaves, especially if you want to use the leaves as a garnish because they bruise easily. Cutting whole stems is a tasty way of creating a bushy, compact plant: Cut just above a pair of lower leaves; the plant will produce new shoots at that point.

Growing in Containers

Basils are excellent herbs to grow in containers because they add such attractive colors and textures to the plantings. They look good in pots or window boxes in full sun. A container of basil by the back door or on a deck provides easy access for harvesting!

The container should have drainage holes in the bottom or sides. Fill it with a soilless mix, which is more lightweight than garden soil and is also free of diseases and weed seeds. It is easy to provide nutrients all season by incorporating a controlled-release fertilizer in the mix before planting.

With mixed plantings, place most basils near the center of containers or at the ends of window boxes. Use dwarf basils to edge a container planting or on their own in smaller, 8-inch pots, and place the pots around a larger planter, marching up steps, or along a walk. Basils combine well with other herbs and with annuals.

Plant basils at the same level as, or just slightly deeper than, they were growing in their original pots. Water the container well after planting. Keep the plants evenly moist through the growing season; the roots of any plants in a container cannot reach down or out in search of available moisture. Smaller containers will require more frequent watering than large ones. If you plant in a window box, remember that overhanging eaves may prevent rain from reaching the plants.

From Garden to Kitchen

Basil complements many kinds of dishes and combines well with other herbs, whether used fresh or dried. The flavor and appearance of the leaves are best fresh. Many gardeners are unable to eat their fresh, homegrown tomatoes without fresh basil and a dash of premium olive oil. Freshly harvested basil leaves added to mesclun or lettuce salads liven up the flavors. Pesto is another favorite use for basil. Create the classic pesto sauce, a combination of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Whip up basil butter. Cream together one stick of unsalted butter and 1-3 tablespoons of dried, crushed basil or 2-6 tablespoons of fresh, minced basil. Place in a covered container or roll into a cylinder-shape and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.
Make basil vinegar to use in salad dressings. Heat vinegar (any type) in an enamel pan; pour it into a bottle and add several sprigs of basil. Let set for 2 weeks before using.

If you have any basil left at the end of the growing season consider drying the leaves. To dry basil, cut the entire plant and hang on a string in a well ventilated room. When dry, just pluck the leaves from the stems and store in airtight jars out of direct light.

Windowsill Plants

It is easy to bring container-grown plants inside, but you can also pot up a few plants from the garden. Cut them back rather severely—to about 3-4 inches tall—so they will put out new growth when they become acclimated to the indoor environment.

Grow them on the sunniest windowsill you have, preferably with a southern exposure, or put them in a light-garden. Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize them once a month.

Because basils are so easy to grow from seed, however, the National Garden Bureau recommends it is just as simple to sow fresh seed indoors at the end of the outdoor growing season. Pot the seedlings into individual 4- to 6-inch containers and enjoy fresh basil all winter harvested from your windowsill.

Pests and Diseases

You may find a few aphids or Japanese beetles that like your basil as much as you do. To circumvent aphids, wash them off the plants with a strong spray of water from the garden hose. Pick or knock Japanese beetles off into a jar of soapy water and discard.

Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne fungus that causes yellowing of foliage, discoloration of the stems, reduced height and eventual wilting of the entire plant. If you plant basil in the same garden place year after year this could be a problem. Seed companies have addressed this problem by selling Fusarium free seed. Be sure to check the seed packet for Fusarium tested seed. The best cure is prevention. Because it can overwinter in the soil, don’t plant basil in the same location every year. Avoid excessive watering and provide proper drainage that will reduce the spread of Fusarium wilt. The only variety resistant to Fusarium wilt is ‘Nufar.’ Researchers are working towards breeding Fusarium resistance into many of the common basil varieties on the market.

The National garden Bureau recognizes Eleanore Lewis as the author of this fact sheet. We wish to thank the two Basil experts who reviewed our text before publication. Renee Shepherd, Renee’s Garden and James Simon, Rutgers University greatly assisted our efforts to provide accurate information. The logo drawing was created by Nola Nielsen. Johanna McCormick designed this fact sheet.

The ‘Year of the Basil’ is provided as a service from the National Garden Bureau. The use of this information is unrestricted. Please credit the National Garden Bureau as the source. We offer slides or black and white prints to journalists for illustrations. Please use the enclosed post card to inform us of your photo requests.

Slide set for libraries or lectures. The ‘Year of the Basil and Centaurea’ are available as a 14-piece slide set with scripts for lectures. Please send a check, bank or postal money order for $12.00. We will mail you the slide set and scripts upon receipt of your payment.

The National Garden Bureau is a non-profit organization and recognizes the seed company members that generously donate funds for this educational program. For 2002, it will be the ‘Year of the Vinca and Spinach.’

For more information contact:
National Garden Bureau
1311 Butterfield Rd Ste 310
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Phone: (630) 963-0770 FAX (630) 963-8864
Website: www.ngb.org

The Origin Diet

Scientific evidence reveals that in prehistoric times — before the low-carb diet, before the all-protein diet, even before calories were counted — obesity and chronic disease rates were dramatically lower. In The Origin Diet, Elizabeth Somer, one of America’s most popular and respected nutritionists, helps us get back to these beginnings. This book will give you a simple but specific daily program guaranteed to improve your health and help you lose weight-quickly and easily.

Somer does not suggest that we should live in caves, but she does advise painless changes in the way we eat — such as incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into our diet — to help align the body with its evolutionary needs. Based on the results of hundreds of scientific studies, The Origin Diet will show you how to

reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, cataracts, memory loss, and even depression
reverse the damage of atherosclerosis and bone loss
lose those extra pounds — and keep them off
use the Origin Pyramid as a guide in planning and preparing easy, nutritious meals
have more energy and enjoy life more
Adopt just a few of the suggestions in The Origin Diet and you will notice changes in your weight and risk of disease, such as the lowering of blood cholesterol levels. Take on the whole program and you’ll experience significant improvement in how you feel, think, and live.

The Origin Diet offers a tempting, healthful array of recipes and menus, including such delicious dishes as Sweet Potato Chowder, Ginger Barbecued Salmon, and Spicy Turkey Stew. You’ll also discover great tips for making exercise a part of your daily life, as well as helpful idea s for reducing stress.

The process is tried and true. People who have followed the Origin Diet have lost weight, lowered their cholesterol levels, experienced more energy, slept better, and cut back on their medications. By simply following the Five Stone Age Secrets found in this book, you too can regain the lean, fit, healthy body nature intended.

ELIZABETH SOMER, M.A., R.D., is a nationally recognized nutrition expert and award-winning writer. She is a former consultant to Good Morning America, a contributing editor to both Shape and Eating Well magazines, and the author of six books. She lives with her family in Salem, Oregon. Her Web site can be found at www.elizabethsomer.com.

“Brimming with solid research and sound advice, The Origin Diet will bring you back to your dietary roots by revealing why you must eat like your ancestors to maintain health and how you can easily and successfully do it in today’s fast-food world. All you have to do is open this book, and you’ll be opening up endless possibilities for a healthy, long, and vital life.”
–Debra Waterhouse, M.P.H., R.D., author of Outsmarting the Female Fat Cell and Outsmarting Fatigue

“Elizabeth Somer’s writing is always a treat. The Origin Diet is not a gimmick or a quick fix — it gives us many compelling reasons to seek out fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. After reading Somer’s well-researched argument for returning to the habits of our ancestors, you will be eager to incorporate her many tips, strategies, and recipes into your daily life.”
–Barbara J. Rolls, Ph.D., professor and Guthrie chair in nutrition, Penn State University

The following is an excerpt from the book The Origin Diet: How Eating Like Your Stone Age Ancestors Will Help You Live Longer, Feel Healthier, and Lose Weight
by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.
Published by Henry Holt; January 2001; $23.00US; 0805063358;
Copyright © 2001 Elizabeth Somer

You Were Born to Be Healthy, Lean, and to Live Long

Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.

Finally, it all made sense. I leaned back after reading an article on evolutionary nutrition and sighed in relief. My mind was racing with possibilities. So, before you bite into your next double cheeseburger or quench your thirst with a cola, I’d like a moment of your time. What I have to say will change your life!
I’m a research junkie. I read hundreds of studies every month and have done so for more than twenty years. As editor-in-chief of the newsletter Nutrition Alert, contributing editor to Shape magazine, and frequent correspondent for national news media, I pride myself on presenting accurate, timely nutrition information. From my thirty-two file drawers brimming with research, I can pull reams of studies that show vegetables lower cancer risk, saturated fat causes heart disease, fiber curbs appetite, calcium strengthens bones, or any other topic you desire. I have read the reports that obesity is on the rise and can describe in detail every theory to explain this epidemic. My files are jammed with research on how frailty associated with aging has more to do with sedentary living than with getting older, and that belonging to a support group can lower disease risks. I know the studies that formed the basis for the dietary guidelines and the Food Guide Pyramid. But, up until that one article, I had understood only the whats of nutrition. I was filled with a thousand whys:

Why do vegetables lower cancer risk?
Why does saturated fat accumulate in arteries, blocking blood flow, and leading to heart disease, while fish oils lower our risk?
Why do our bodies absorb only 10 percent of the iron in our diets (which places up to 80 percent of women during the childbearing years at risk for iron deficiency), but up to 95 percent of the fat?
Why does our risk for many diseases, from cancer to cataracts, increase as we age?
Why do we gain weight when our bodies are so perfectly designed to be fit?
The article on evolutionary nutrition explained the whys simply and clearly. It was an “Ah-ha” moment when decades of research fell into place. It began my quest to know more. The end result is this book.

Hello Grandpa!

Still haven’t touched that cheeseburger or cola? Good. Now stop for a moment and think back. I mean way back. Neither of these foods, or any processed food for that matter, ever graced the lips of even one of our ancient ancestors, dating back tens of thousands of generations.

For 99 percent of the time humans have been on earth, our ancestors ate and evolved on diets of plants and very lean wild game. These diets served our ancestors well. In fact, our Paleolithic grandparents lived free of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, cataracts, and other modern diseases. They also remained lean and strong throughout life. The most fit, the smartest, and the strongest lived to pass on their genes from one generation to the next like an unbroken chain. Today, that nutritional legacy lives in us.

Agriculture developed about ten thousand years ago, followed later by the Industrial Revolution. These two events brought cataclysmic changes to our dining habits, converting us from hunters and gatherers to farmers, then to drivers of cars with automatic gears and power steering. These last few thousand years are only a minute in evolutionary time, accounting for little or no change in our biological makeup.

Therein lies the problem. It takes tens of thousands of years for the body to adapt to even small changes in the environment. Our biochemistry and physiology remain fine-tuned to diets and activity levels that existed tens of thousands of years ago. Escalating obesity and disease rates are just some of the results when genetics collides with lifestyle. In essence, we remain cave dwellers dressed in designer jeans, genetically programmed to thrive on a diet of nuts, seeds, leaves, honey, and wild game, but gorging on doughnuts, cheese puffs, domesticated beef, soda pop . . . well, you get the picture.

The more I researched the anthropological and archeological data, the more my years of nutrition research fell into place. We don’t need vegetables just because they’re good for us. It’s when we don’t supply the body with the fuels and building blocks it needs that the system breaks down, just as our cars would stall if we were to pour sand or grease into their fuel tanks. Our diets today are killing us because they are as alien to our bodies as breathing in carbon monoxide! Suddenly, it all made sense. If we returned to our dietary roots (and tubers) and ate in balance with our evolutionary makeup, we’d live in harmony with our bodies, experience an extraordinary state of good health, and sidestep just about every chronic disease, as well as maintain a healthy weight and live longer!

My Six Promises

My background in nutrition gave me the edge when reading the hundreds of studies on archeology and anthropology that went into researching this book. I know how to decipher this information in light of today’s nutritional needs and lifestyles. I also knew how to glean the best research that would give the most thorough and accurate account of what our bodies need, both in light of evolution as well as in today’s modern world. What I learned was:

When we eat and move in balance with the way our bodies evolved, we do much more than just avoid disease. We achieve a level of health and vitality that many of us have never before experienced. That level of health is not only possible, it’s embedded in our cells. It’s our inherent biological right.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to live in a cave, hunt woolly mammoths, or eat only wild greens and roots to achieve these goals. You can still have your favorite recipes, eat in restaurants, and order takeout. On the other hand, the Origin Diet in this book will ask you to consider giving up (or at least cutting back on) foods like bacon, soda pop, and cream (not common items on a Stone Age plate!).

The rewards are worth it. Adopt even a few suggestions in the Origin Diet and I guarantee you’ll feel better within weeks. Practice most of the guidelines and you will see noticeable changes in your weight and disease risk, such as lowering of blood cholesterol levels. Take on the entire program and you’ll experience significant improvements in how you feel, think, and live. You might even reverse the damage already done by past poor eating habits, turning back the clock on numerous diseases, such as atherosclerosis and bone loss. All because you’ll be fueling your body with the foods on which it thrives.

This is much more than a hope. It is a promise. Live by the Five Stone Age Secrets and follow the advice in the Original Dozen discussed in this book, and I promise

you will reduce your risk for all major age-related diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, cataracts, and even depression;
you will think more clearly, including having better memory throughout life;
you will stack the deck in favor of living longer and spending those extra years healthier;
you will lose weight and keep the weight off;
you will have more energy; and
you will enjoy life more.
A Tried-and-True Plan

Those aren’t empty promises. Many people have taken me up on the challenge and found that the results are even better than they imagined. People who have adopted the Origin Diet and Workout Program in this book have lost weight (up to thirty pounds in fifteen weeks!), lowered their risks for heart disease (including dramatic reductions in blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure), increased their energy, found they slept better, had fewer cravings for sweets, experienced improvements in mood, and even reduced medications. It makes sense. Reconnect with your body’s ancient heritage, fuel your body in harmony with your evolutionary roots, and you will maximize your health, energy, and mental ability.

We influence our destinies by the foods we eat. You can sidestep disease, boost your energy, maintain your mental clarity, lose unwanted extra pounds, live longer, and enjoy life more if you return to a style of eating more closely attuned to the natural needs of your body. You’ll find out how in the following chapters. Enjoy your journey back to the future!

Copyright © 2001 Elizabeth Somer