Episode 45: Spring Foraging and Urban Composting

Listen to Episode 45 HERE...

Desert Rhubarb (photo by Ron Wolf)
Our resident Plateau forager, nutritionist and culinary artist Ashley Doyle once again takes us on a walk through the Plateau, foraging for a few of the hundreds of edible and medicinal plants that pop up in the springtime. And this spring has been plentiful in our region with a much needed heavy snowpack this winter and many rainstorms during the solstice transition period.

Ashley talks about the tasty and elusive morel mushroom, the spicy and plentiful wild mustard and the interesting plant known as desert rhubarb. Desert rhubarb is one of those plants where a portion of it is edible, a portion of it can be used topically, and a portion of it is dangerous.

Also Ashley takes a trip to interview an expert in urban composting, Ryan Gordon and they discuss everything from simple ways to set up your own composting area at your home, the do's and don'ts of composting, the dangers of many chemical based gardening products, and some great resources for urban composting too.

Also, Ryan is offering up his services to folks in northern Arizona, free of charge, so if you have ever wanted to start composting and want the great advice from expert, you can contact him at gordongardenconsulting@gmail.com anytime.

Ashley Doyle, Ryan Gordon and some healthy compost.
Links of Note:

Morel Mushroom (Identification Guide)

Wild Mustard - Sinapsus arvensis (NRCS Resource page)

Desert Rhubarb - Rumex hymenosepalus (The Foragers Path Resource page)

Jeff Lowenfels (Author's webpage, as mentioned by Ryan Gordon)

Probiotic Farmers Alliance (Facebook group page, as mentioned by Ryan Gordon)

Episode 44: Endangered and Threatened Species Conservation

Listen to Episode 44 HERE...

Tune in today for a special show all about a successful technique utilized for the conservation of endangered and threatened species known as captive breeding.

Narrow-headed Gartersnake, photo by George Andrejko.

From California Condors to the Kanab Ambersnail to the Narrow-headed Gartersnake, captive breeding is not only helping to increase these imperiled populations but also ensuring their genetic diversity.

The main enclosure at the Vivarium.
We also take a trip down to the Narrow-headed Gartersnake Vivarium, led by herpetologist Erika Nowak, that is a one of a kind captive breeding facility here in northern Arizona that is helping to rescue snakes out of wildfire areas, as well as helping to increase the population of this imperiled snake. I was so fortunate to sit down and interview three of the amazing student researchers involved with the Narrow-headed Gartersnake Vivarium captive breeding program, and get their unique perspectives on the important work they are doing, on their path to becoming a scientist and how snakes are so often misunderstood.

One of the great things with the Vivarium is that you can check out a livestream of one of the enclosures. 

And if you would like to help contribute to the efforts of the Gartersnake Research Project and the Vivarium, you can always donate to them right here (Just look for the 'Donate Today' button on the right.).

Also if you would like to join in the effort as a citizen scientists you can turn in your sightings of Narrow-headed Gartersnakes ( as well as any gartersnake) right here.

Links of Note:

Gartersnake Research Project

Narrow-headed Gartersnake (Identification Page)

California Condor (Information Page)

Kanab Ambersnail (Information Page)

Why are there missing episodes?

Warm Greetings friends, just wanted to make a quick post here to explain why there are some missing episodes in this ongoing saga of science radio right here.

I have gotten quite a few emails wondering where Episode 1, Episode 36 and now Episode 43 are, and am now willing to reveal the secret behind these lost episodes...and the secret is...I am not very good with this whole technology thing...sigh...

So the very first Episode was all about the origins of the show, and the Colorado Plateau in general, and then I had on my very first guest who was none other than the legendary Ed Kabotie, an
Ed Kabotie, Hopi/Tewa artist and musician.
extraordinary artist and musician (front-man of Tha Yoties) who spoke about his life growing up on the Plateau and on Hopi, about the importance of water and of community, about the Rumble on the Mountain event that year, and he did a spectacular rendition of his song The River live in the studio (I even had to sit on the ground holding a microphone to his guitar). Anyway, I was so excited to do my first live show, and to be talking with Ed, that I completely forgot to record it. So it was lost forever, into the airwaves and into space, and I began bringing a little placard into the studio with me after that that simply said 'Hit Record You Idiot!'. Ed and I finally did another episode together (Episode 34) and we have one planned for the fall titled 'The Alternative History of the Americas' so stay tuned for that one!

 And that little placard helped me have a great run...until Episode 36.

Members of one of the epic Grand Canyon Youth trips.
Episode 36 was all about the Colorado River and I was trying to take listeners on a journey from the headwaters of the Colorado River beginning at La Poudre Pass in the Southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, at just under 2 miles above sea level, and eventually hitting the sea at the Gulf of California 1, 450 miles later. I encouraged listeners to get out a map and follow along and talked about places like Blackrocks where the river is nearly 100 feet deep, and the Kawuneeche Valley and Ruby Canyon and of course Cataract and the Grand Canyon. And the guest was none other than Tory Syracuse the Development and Communications Director for Grand Canyon Youth, a Flagstaff nonprofit that provides expeditions on the rivers of the Southwest to youth from all backgrounds. It was an amazing interview and very emotional as well, and even though I did hit record, the thumb-drive I was recording to failed and once again a beautiful episode was lost to all but those who tuned in live. But not to worry! Tory and I devised another show for the future where I will interview some of the kids who learned so much from the river and through the tireless efforts of Grand Canyon Youth.

Finally we get to the lost Episode 43...an episode devoted to bird watching on the Plateau. There was no guest this time around, just a fun journey on interesting bird species of the Plateau, riparian habitat and special place of note, as well as the joys and amazing benefits that one gets from bird watching. It was a simple show, a happy show, and a doomed show. I deleted the only file of the recording during a computer cleanup, and that show is lost forever.

Your humble host, Christopher Calvo (bottom left) with dear
friends from a Birding Club outing in FLagstaff, AZ.
So here is to that never happening again, and to another long run of no technical difficulties (I hope). Thanks so much for all the emails and for continuing to tune into this homemade science show, friends.

- Christopher Calvo