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    Every morning during the span of this post, it is worth the effort to be at a location with a west-southwest view an hour before sunrise to see the pairing of Jupiter with Virgo’s brightest star, bluish Spica.

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    When we grow our own roots, greens, herbs, flowers and fruits – plying mostly with human-powered tools and ingenuity – we build body and spirit and contribute to the health of our world.

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    During the months on either side of the spring and autumn equinoxes, there’s an elusive phenomenon, the zodiacal light, a glowing cone of light that is visible only in very clear and very dark skies.

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    As winter turns toward spring, I’m inspired to dig deep into my pantry and pull out dried seeds that may have been there for many seasons; to look them over and turn them into the fresh food I crave – by sprouting.

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    When clock time springs ahead an hour, not-so-early risers may look out a southwest-facing window at dawn to find star-like Jupiter rather low to the horizon.

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    When I posited that harvesting rainwater and conserving water use is in order, Brian Fuchs of the National Drought Mitigation Center countered, “Conservation should be practiced all the time. We don’t know when a drought might be on the horizon.”

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    On this, the vernal equinox, let’s pause together to notice sunrise due east on the horizon and the higher arc our star draws as it climbs and then descends to its due west position on the skyline.

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    The summer of 2016 was the first time in my 25 years of making my home on the Taconic Plateau that I witnessed dry streambeds, shrunken ponds and even the rich top layer of my deep garden beds become dust.

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    You’ll know Arcturus by remembering to “arc to Arcturus” – simply follow the curve of the Dipper’s handle until you arrive at a big, orange star, the second brightest star in northern skies, second only to Sirius the Dog Star.

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    In the wild and in the garden, the season is about a month later than last year, when I noted that spring arrived a month earlier than the year before.

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    I looked up toward the sun in the clear sky and was baffled for a moment. I thought, “How can we see Venus in broad daylight?”

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    While cool weather prevails, make it a priority to plant onion sets or plantlets, shell and snap peas, lettuce, arugula, spinach and radish, all direct seeded.

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    The upcoming eclipse will be the first to span the United States from coast to coast in 99 years.

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    With warm weather, dandelion leaves become bitter, but the plant’s next edible part, its flower buds, grow in the center of the rosette.

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    As described on the Astronomical Magnitude Scale, celestial objects with a negative number through 0m are visible with the naked eye even in large cities.

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    Once root-bound specimens are out of their pots or dug from the garden, divide them by cutting with a knife, hatchet or saw, whatever is most appropriate for the particular situation and most safely done.

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  • 05/28/17--21:01: EYES TO THE SKY: The Sun
  • This glorious image, a tour-de-force of 21st-century science, reveals solar dynamics crucial to our awareness of our planet in space as well as teaching us about the universe of stars beyond Earth.

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    Solarizing kills the grass without having to pull it out; the soil structure is not disturbed and all the organic matter is left in the ground.

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    The next best part of welcoming Saturn into the evening sky is seeing the planet in the company of its celestial neighbors.

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    The very effective ingredients in my favorite, readily available bug repellents include many easy-to-grow herbs: lemon grass, catnip, thyme, rosemary and sacred basil.

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