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January 25, 2024 45 mins

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What's up, Plant People! After a much longer-than-expected hiatus, I'm finally back with Episode 100! It's been a wonderful 4(ish) years, and I thought the perfect way to celebrate the past and look forward to the future was to talk about a project that's so close to my heart and that I haven't really had a chance to discuss much on the show. My first book, Plants to the Rescue, came out in July of 2023 and is something that means so much to me. Join me as I walk through the process of writing a book like this, from the basic ideas to publishing, and read a few excerpts of text with me! I also talk a bit about what's coming down the line for Planthropology in 2024, from interviews with a climatologist to a video game producer, and so much more! It's going to be an exciting year, as the show gets going again, and I can't tell y'all how much it means to me that you hung in with me through such a long break. I love all of you Plant People out there, and can't wait to spend more time with you this year! 

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As always, thanks so much for listening! Subscribe, rate, and review Planthropology on your favorite podcast app. It helps the show keep growing and reaching more people! As a bonus, if you review Planthropology on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser and send me a screenshot of it, I'll send you an awesome sticker pack!

Planthropology is written, hosted, and produced by Vikram Baliga. Our theme song is "If You Want to Love Me, Babe, by the talented and award-winning composer, Nick Scout.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
What is up?
Plant people it's time oncemore for the Plant Propology
podcast, the show where we diveinto the lives and careers of
some very cool plant people tofigure out why they do what they
do and what keeps them comingback for more.
I'm Vikram Maliga, your hostand your humble guide in this
journey through the greensciences and, as always, my
dearest friends.
I am so excited, so veryexcited, to be with you today.

(00:20):
Y'all has been far too longsince I've gotten to say that,
like six months, maybe more, Idon't know.
It's been quite a while and Ido owe you an explanation for
that.
If you're a long-term listener,if you're new, this is as good
a place to start as any.
In as far as you know, I hadnever took a break at all, so
welcome back from last week ortoday or whenever you're

(00:42):
listening.
Y'all, this one's going to be alittle bit different.
I'm trying some new things withthe podcast as we sort of get
back into it and get it rollingagain, and this officially,
officially is episode 100.
Episode 100.
Y'all, I started the show in2019 in what?
November of 2019.

(01:03):
I think the first real episodecame out 2019, in November, and
so it's been over four years,like four years in change, and
it's just incredible how manycool people I have gotten to
meet and how much I've gotten todo as a result of this show,
and I'm just so excited that weget to do it again and that

(01:26):
we're trying new stuff.
If you are listening on yournormal favorite podcast device,
welcome back.
I'm glad to be in your earphonesor in your car speakers once
more, but now we're going to adda video element to this podcast
, so you may be watching this onYouTube.
You may be watching clips onsocial media of the show.

(01:47):
I don't know, I'm just tryingsome new stuff.
We're going to see how it goes.
The reason I'm doing video nowis we've got some really, really
, really, really very excitingguests coming up.
I'm probably not going to videoevery episode.
I'll do quite a few of them,but I don't know.
I just wanted to try somethingnew and I hope that you will
bear with me as I figure it out.
I don't really know how to lookat the camera for this.

(02:09):
I do tons of social media andstare at my phone all the time,
but this is a very differentordeal.
So if you're watching online,if you're seeing my mouth move.
I'll get better at this.
If you're listening, feel freeto disregard the last 30 or 40
seconds, but I was trying todecide what to do for episode
100.
And I've got some great guestscoming up.

(02:30):
I've got, I think, fiverecordings scheduled in the next
three or four weeks, andactually more than that.
I'm really excited.
But one thing I've never gottento do a full episode about,
because I took a hiatus as itwas sort of all happening and
coming out, is I want to discussmy book, plants of the Rescue.
That came out in July of 2023.

(02:52):
So, as you listen to this, it'sbeen out actually about six
months, and I just wanted toreflect on the experience of
writing this book and what theprocess looked like, how I came
up with the ideas and just whatthat looks like and what it
means, I think, for the way thatI'm approaching science,
communication in my life andapproaching even parts of my

(03:15):
career, because it'sfundamentally changed the way I
think about some things, andalso I'm very proud of this book
.
I'm very proud of this book andI want you to maybe be excited
about it too.
I wanted you to hear a littlebit more about it, so we're
going to talk about Plants ofthe Rescue today and I'm going
to play some music at you.
We're going to come back andtalk about publishing and talk

(03:38):
about talking to kids aboutplants.
I love you, I'm glad you'rehere.
Let's talk some more.
All right, we're back.

(03:59):
So, first off, I do owe you anexplanation, I think, especially
if you've been someone who hasbeen with me since the beginning
and there are kind of a lot ofyou.
I posted on social media acouple of days ago that I was
about to start recording doingthis again.
I posted a picture of my newsetup in here which you can kind
of see.
I'm in a new office.
I've had some career and lifechanges recently which I'll talk

(04:21):
about in a minute, but peoplewere excited, like, what's that
about?
I'm glad you like listening.
I'm glad that you've stuck withme through all of this.
If you're keeping score, it'sbeen about seven months or six
and a half months since I putout an episode.
I released a great interviewwith Sarah Sutherland, who is

(04:42):
the absolute genius behind theOklahoma Department of Wildlife
Social Media, and if you haven'tlistened to that, go back and
listen to it.
It was episode 99.
It's so good, it's so good, andI was like I'm going to take
this is a great point to kind oflike put a pin in it for a
minute.
I was going to take the summeroff and like get through July
and August because I was doingsome travel from work and some

(05:04):
other things.
So I'm going to start right atthe beginning of the semester,
and about three days before thesemester started we had some
staffing changes at myuniversity.
I ended up with two extraclasses that I had not planned
on, as well as some other stuffthat I ended up having to do
sort of last minute and becauseof that I just did not have the
time or the band with to recordthis show and I really in some

(05:28):
ways regret that, like I wish Ihad had the time to do it.
But it was a good opportunityfor me to reset a little bit.
I've been doing this every weekor every other week more or
less for four years, and it getsto be a lot.
So I've kind of stepped backand re-evaluated how I want to
approach the show.
We'll talk at the end of theepisode about what the future of
plantarology looks like, butit's coming back probably every

(05:50):
other week-ish and I'm justreally excited about where it's
going.
But again, as I was thinkingabout what to discuss for
today's episode, maybe it's ashameless plug, maybe it is
shameless self-promotion and ifyou know me, that's my only
skill is shamelessself-promotion I wanted to talk

(06:11):
about plants to the rescue.
This has been such a labor oflove for me over the past couple
of years in terms of thewriting of the book, the
promotion of the book,everything else, and it's
something that I'm genuinelyproud of.
And also, if you know me, youknow that's not something I say
lightly or lightly.
You know that's not something Isay lightly Because I am rarely

(06:33):
, if we're being very honest,proud of myself, and this is
something that means a lot to me.
So, if you don't know, plants tothe Rescue is a nonfiction kids
book that I wrote and it'stitled the Plant's Trees in
Fungi.
Yes, I cheated a little bit.
They're solving some of theworld's biggest problems and
it's about things like theclimate crisis, about pollution

(06:56):
in our environment, about hungerand food supply.
But it's also a hopeful take, Ithink.
I hope I want it to be, on whatthe future of plant science and
natural science look like.
We discuss a lot of maybepartially speculative science
things I don't think most ofthem are, because there are data

(07:16):
and there are articles aboutwhat's happening in all these
different fields but we talkabout current technology and how
it's helping us face our issues, as well as future technology
and what future technology maylook like and how us,
integrating plants more and moreinto our lives again, can help
with climate change and helpwith a lot of the things that we

(07:37):
struggle with as a globalsociety, as a species.
So I was approached about thisbook.
Actually, thanks to you folks,in some ways, an editor, sam,
who is just the best guy he'sbeen so good to work with From

(07:58):
NeonSquid, reached out to me inMarch I want to say February,
march of 2022.
So a couple of years ago,almost two years ago now.
Wow, that's a little upsetting,it's been almost two years
already but he reached out andsaid hey, we found the podcast,
we listened to Plant Apology, wefound some of your social media

(08:20):
stuff which, again, you allhave promoted and you all have
been out there telling the goodword of Plant Apology and said
we've got an idea for a book andwe're looking for an author to
contract with which you'd beinterested in doing it, and I
missed the first email becauseof course I did.
That's how my life goes.
And thank goodness, sam had thegrace to follow up a couple of

(08:43):
weeks later and say hey, youknow, I hope that you saw it.
I, you know, I hope that you'reinterested.
And I was like, oh my goodness,yes, absolutely I am.
I've wanted to write a booksince I was probably I don't
know a junior high.
I grew up reading voraciouslyas a kid, as a teenager, even
through college.
It wasn't really till gradschool that I shifted the things

(09:05):
I read from fun stuff tojournal articles and textbooks
and stuff and my brain decidedto start dissolving, as a grad
school will do if you have beento grad school.
But this opportunity was notnecessarily something I was
looking for and it's not how Isaw myself or anticipated
writing a book.
I think I always wanted to be afiction or science fiction

(09:26):
author.
But my son, bradley who, if yougo back and if you've been a
long time friend of the show,you have heard his little voice
on this show more than once andwe're going to do that again
this year.
I can't wait to get Bradleyback on the microphone because
he's hilarious and my favoritelittle chaos Gremlin.
But he was six when I startedthe process of writing this book

(09:46):
and as we were going throughthe process of trying to figure
out who, what age group it wasfor it was really for like eight
to 10, eight to 12 year olds,so sort of what third through
fifth grade, third through sixthgrade, somewhere in there these
middle readers, olderelementary students and I was
thinking about it I was like,well, you know, he's going to be

(10:06):
in this target market Really bythe time the book comes out.
He's eight now.
He just turned eight and he'salways been a good reader and
he's a great reader now and Iwas like how cool would it be
for, at the age that he is, if Iget to write a book for him and
I'm going to, I might getemotional during this.
I'm going to try not to.
He's such a smart kid and he'sso curious and he loves plants

(10:28):
and he loves animals and heloves nature and I thought what
a cool opportunity for mepersonally, just as a father and
a scientist and a sciencecommunicator, to get to talk
directly to my own kid throughthe process or in the process of
writing a book for otherpeople's kids, for kids that
literally around the world now,and I said, yeah, let's do it,

(10:52):
let's do it.
So we went through this process.
They had a few of the sort oftopics picked for the book
already because they had to sellthe book and they were looking
again to contract with me as anauthor and then a separate
illustrator, which, by the way,brian Lambert fantastic Our
illustrator was so good for this.
I cannot say enough about Brianand if you're watching online,
you'll get to see some picturesfrom the book and hopefully, if

(11:14):
you have the book if you don'thave the book, you can get the
book.
We'll talk about that later.
And so the way it kind ofworked is this was not a chapter
based book.
It didn't have like setsections.
We wanted to talk about cooladvancements in science, things

(11:37):
that are happening now, thingsthat have happened in the past
with the planet, with scientificadvancement, but also where we
were headed in the future withplant science.
So we picked about 30 differenttopics.
This book's about 80 pages long.
I picked like 30 topics andeach of those topics gets like
two pages, so it's a little bitmore than that.
There's some early material andend material maybe 33 topics

(12:00):
and each one of them is fairlyshort.
But they're intended to getkids interested in science, get
kids interested in plant scienceand things like.
Can spinach send emails?
And if you hear these sounds inthe mic, I'm sort of flipping
through the book a little bit.

(12:21):
But just a few of the topics wecovered.
We talked about some of thechallenges that we're facing as
a species.
We talked about what it meansto grow plants and for plants to
grow in a hotter climate.
We talked about what we calledsuper plants and picked a few
super plants like bananas andaloe vera and a few others.
We talked about plants that canglow in the dark and plants

(12:42):
that can produce electricity forour cities.
We talked about living bridgesin greener cities and what
growing plants for pollinatorsmight look like and the value of
prairies and all thesedifferent things.
And they're all just short,little bites that are not
extensive and they're by designnot extensive because we didn't

(13:05):
want this to be a textbook.
I did not want this to be atextbook.
I'd give enough textbooks in mylife.
I wanted it to be somethingthat gets kids and readers
excited about some of the topicsso they can go do their own
inquiry, so they can look intoit more, so they can go to the
library and check out a bookabout ficus trees and living

(13:26):
bridges or go find articles onit or talk about how plants can
clean the air.
It's just supposed to be ajumping point in an overview of
some of the things that arehappening in the world of plants
.
My wife, alana, for a long timewas an education director at our
local science museum and sheactually retired we're going to

(13:49):
say retired this summer to beable to spend more time with
Bradley and pursue somedifferent things and that's been
awesome.
But one of my favorite storiesshe tells is about this dad who
would come in with his daughterto the museum and every time
they would come in they would besort of sort after something
else.
I don't know if that's theright way to say it, but this

(14:10):
little girl would be pursuing anew area of interest and Alana
got to talking to this dad andhe said, yes, she gets excited
about, say, physics or astronomyand they'll go to the library
and check out a book or a coupleof books about physics and
astronomy and they will deepdive into it for a while.

(14:31):
Right, they will learn whatthere is to learn about it.
And then, when she's interestedin something new, they go find
that new thing to dive into.
And I think about that a lot, inthe way that we chase our
interests as people, withscientists, as people who want
to learn about the world aroundus, because I think we silo
ourselves a lot and it's likethis is the thing I have to do

(14:54):
and I have to learn about.
This is the only thing I canlearn about forever and I'm
going to spend 30 years inschool.
These are, you know where myscars live, you can tell,
studying them and figuring themout, when really it's like, oh,
this thing is cool this week.
What if I spend a week learningabout this and the next week,
this thing is cool?
And then eventually we drilldown into what our interests are

(15:16):
and where we're passionate andwhat we want to chase after in
our lives.
So as I wrote this book, I wasthinking about this little girl
who I've never met, this dad whoI've never met but who threw a
lot of me, such a big impact onmy life, because I want that kid
to be able to be like.
You know what?
I think it's so cool that wecan build buildings out of wood.

(15:37):
I'm going to go study that forweeks.
I think it's amazing that wecan propagate plants by taking
cuttings of them.
I'm going to go take somecuttings from my yard and
propagate plants for a week ortwo.
I want that kid to have somenew ideas and I want them to
find things to dive into andlearn more about.
So if this one book is all theyever read about plants, that's

(16:00):
cool too.
I hope that they get a lot outof it.
But I hope that this book isthe first of dozens or hundreds
of books and articles and piecesof information and classes and
a lifetime of learning in theplant sciences that that a lot
of kids get.
That's my goal.
That's why I wrote this.
That's why I said yes to thisand it's been so much fun.

(16:21):
It's been so much fun.
This was like a year longprocess.
I thought I'd talk a little bitmore about the publishing side
of it, kind of what we did andwhat that looks like, where some
of the ideas came from, andthen I actually, after the break
, want to read a couple ofexcerpts of this to you in case
you're interested, okay, and sowe'll talk now, I think, about

(16:47):
the publication process and theideas for this book.
So, like I mentioned, theycontacted me and this was not a
traditional, maybe publishingrelationship.
This was more of a freelance,like contract style Publishing
relationship, which I was coolwith.
I think that that's not a badway to approach it.
I was a first time author.
I didn't really know what I wasdoing in.
It kind of takes some of thepressure out that if it does

(17:10):
really well, great, that'sawesome, it's good for everyone.
If it Flops, then I still kindof get a lot out of it and get
the experience.
You paid something for it andthat was cool.
And so we went through the theyear of sort of the writing
process.
I think I started writing InMarch of 2022 and the final
draft was due in like November,so not quite a year, but I think

(17:31):
before like a final product wasdone.
It took about a year and itcame out July 11, 2023, a Week
or so after my birthday, whichwas kind of a cool birthday
present.
I got to do a book signingY'all.
I got to do a book launch.
Who gets to do that and whoselife is this.
I think that was so cool.
So a local bookstore hosted usfor a book signing when the book

(17:52):
came out and that was just oneof the coolest experiences, one
of the coolest things.
But we went through this process.
We it was interesting becausethey had the idea for the book,
they had the title for the bookPlants to the Rescue and the
general concept of we want to dolittle bites of scientific
things that will kind of makethis larger story about plant

(18:14):
science.
And they, like I said, writtenthe first couple or come up with
the first couple topics.
But beyond that they were like,okay, go, we need this many
pages, we need this manyadditional topics, let's figure
it out.
And so I came up with a listand I got the topics for one by
talking to Bradley about maybethings he thought was

(18:35):
interesting.
I went through popular sciencemagazines and like current news
and plant science and I evenread some interesting
publications on like speculativeplant science.
But I also started thinkingabout, as someone who teaches
college students introhorticulture students, what
questions do they ask at 18, 19,whatever years old?

(18:56):
What do they think isinteresting?
What questions do they haveabout plant science?
What are the little likefactoids that stick with them.
I was like, oh, I've gotlimitless content, limitless
content, and so not everythingworked.
Obviously there were some thingsthat didn't quite fit the brief
well enough and maybe we had topivot on some things.

(19:18):
But so many of the ideas forthis book and a lot of the
discussion points came directlyfrom one talking to Bradley,
doing research on my own online,but just questions that I was
asked by my students.
And okay, if these 18, 19 yearolds had seen this for the first
time in the third grade, atnine, 10 years old, what would

(19:40):
that have meant for the courseof their studies in their life,
what they have like grabbed ontoone of these things as a kid
and been more of a sort of plantand nature conscious young
adult.
And those were my thoughts aswe formed some of these topics
and you know again, going backand forth all of that, we
figured out okay, these are ourtopics.

(20:01):
We organized and reorganizedand reorganized them over and
over and I saw a review of thebook, which I don't know.
The reception has been reallygood.
People have been very, verykind about plates to the rescue,
online and everywhere else, butI saw a review from a so I
guess, professional or sort ofbigger name book reviewer that

(20:22):
said, like the content's good,it's very hopeful, all that, but
it's sort of like scattershot.
It jumps around a lot, it doesand again, sort of by design, we
didn't format this in chaptersor anything, it's just all these
different topics we're talkingabout and this is, if you
actually look at this book, it'sjust kind of a good or scary or

(20:44):
something picture of how mybrain works, or better or worse,
and so that's sort of how itwas formed.
And you know, with the process,I turned in my final draft, I
think, november of 2022.
Oh, one thing I was going tosay, too, is that in the process
, all the artwork that you'llsee in the book, all the

(21:06):
illustrations and I'll hold thisup for the online folks and
I'll hopefully have some somethings that you can see on
social media as well and find agood one.
Where's a really good one?
I mean, they're all good.
This is cool.
And so this, this chapter orthis spread, is called cactus
bags and it talks about how somescientists have found ways that

(21:26):
we can make like bio plasticsout of prickly pear and other
types of cactus, and theseillustrations are honestly just
gorgeous.
Just just beautiful.
And the way it sort of workedis that our illustrator, brian,
I gave sort of text based like Iwrote out my ideas for what I
thought the spread should looklike, the artwork on the spread

(21:47):
should look like, and maybeincluded some reference pictures
, and then he came up with justthe most amazing product.
Just incredible, honestly, likeI envisioned how they would
look in my brain and Brian justtook it like 1020 leaps and
bounds past that.
I don't.
I'm not creative in that way.
So thinking about how to takelike words on a page to the

(22:10):
gorgeous illustrations is soforeign to me and I'm so
impressed.
And one thing you'll notice asyou read through this book and
look at the illustrations is howdiverse it is.
It represents a ton of culturesand peoples and it shows the
folks with disabilities, thatshows mixed and blended families

(22:31):
, that shows all kinds of thingsthat are such cool
representations of how our worldis.
And I think there are so manykids that could see themselves
in this book because they'll seea piece of our work in here.
But that looks like me and myfamily and I love that, that I
am as proud of that in thisfinal product, as I am probably
in my own writing and Brian'sincredible work of turning this

(22:56):
into something beautiful and funand accessible is just.
I cannot say enough about that.
Cannot say enough about that.
It's just just incredible.
And then we went back and forth.
I started to be able to promotethe book, I believe in March of
2023.
So I started talking about thebook on social media.
We did pre-order, we did allthat.
It finally launched on July11th and, like I said, I got to

(23:20):
do a book signing and then I gotto do like a virtual book
signing and seminar through abookstore in New York City as
well, called Books of Wonder,and the bookstore here locally
that I worked with was calledBooks of Second Chance Books and
both of them were just sowonderful, it was so wonderful
and it's just so wonderful andit's.
I've had some coolopportunities to talk about the

(23:42):
books on on the book, onpodcasts and on social media and
different things.
But I realized that again, Ihave not done an episode of the
show since this book came out.
I know I talked about it alittle bit before the break, or
my big long break, hiatus,whatever we want to call it
hibernation, um, but neverreally in a lot of detail.
So, again, I wanted to do awhole episode on this and I will

(24:04):
say that working with neonsquid was an absolute dream come
true for a first time author.
They were kind and flexible andgenerous with feedback and
ideas and, um, they have beenrock stars in terms of the whole
publication process, thepromotion of the book, just
supporting me as an author andas a first time author, and the

(24:28):
scientists and everything else.
Just just really wonderful,really really genuinely so
wonderful.
I can't say enough about them.
And um, also, neon squids is animprint or a subsidiary of
mcmillan kids international.
Mcmillan books are the biggestpublishers in the world and and
the publication team frommcmillan as well that worked

(24:50):
with us to promote the book andset up the book signings and
things like that.
Just again, I'm new topublishing.
I've got maybe some more thingscoming out in the future.
Stay tuned.
I've got some ideas and somefeelers out for stuff, but I
don't know what the publicationprocess is normally like.
I I hear mixed things and somehorror stories and some really

(25:12):
good stories, but I have to saythat my experience, start to
finish, was fabulous.
Couldn't have been better.
I I'm so happy to have been apart of it, so happy to be been
a part of it.
Um, let's take a quick break.
We'll go to a midroll.
I'll say some different wordsthat you.
It's still just me.
There's no guests this week,and then I want to read a couple

(25:34):
of excerpts from the book, acouple of different spreads, and
I want to talk about the futureof plant apology, just a little
bit before we wrap up, and I'lltell you about some of the
upcoming guests.
I want to keep some of it sortof a secret, but I'm really
excited about some of theinterviews I've got lined up and
and then we'll go from there.
So let's take a break and I'llbe right back.
Well, hey there, welcome to themidroll.

(25:58):
My friends, I haven't gotten todo that creepy voice in a while
and it brought me a little bitof joy.
I'm not going to lie to you.
Um, not too much to cover todayat the midroll.
Find me on social media.
I am plant apology pod oninstagram.
Plant apology underscore onwhatever it is.
The twitter is now x.
I guess I'm not on there verymuch anymore.

(26:19):
Plant apology on facebook um, Iam also the plant prof and I've
done started doing since thelast time we met uh or spoke a
lot more with my plant profoutlet.
So instagram, youtube, hit,talk, others, I you can find me
as well as of the plant prof ifyou want to send me an email.

(26:42):
You've got tips for the show,ideas for topics or guests or
whatever else.
You can reach out to me atplant apology pod at gmailcom.
I was going to tell you that youcould go to plant apology
podcom and find all things plantapology, including old episodes
and merch and everything else.
But in the six months of out ofsight, out of mind I had with

(27:05):
the podcast, I apparently forgotto change my billing info with
my website host and so now ifyou go to plant through policy
podcom, it is an indonesiangambling website which is less
than ideal, right?
Yeah, not great.

(27:25):
So I'm thinking about ways toapproach that.
I don't want to have to go payan indonesian gambling website
to get my domain back.
So probably what I'm going todo is I'm working on my uh
personal professional website,vicrambeligacom, and it'll
probably be a slash plantapology where you can find all
of those things and merch andstuff like that.

(27:46):
Stay tuned.
For now, just go hit me up onsocial media or send me an email
.
You can subscribe to plantapology anywhere you like to get
your podcasts now, I guessincluding youtube, assuming that
this video thing works.
I'm trying very hard and I'mbeing very awkward and you
probably can't hear it in myvoice, but you can see it in my
face.
So yay for that.

(28:06):
Thanks so much to the texas techdepartment of plant and soil
science for continuing tosupport the show.
Thanks to the davis college ofagricultural science and natural
resources for also doinglikewise.
I've got some great guests frommy college and from my
department coming on the showover the spring and summer.
And thanks to you most of allfor listening and for sticking

(28:26):
with me and for being my friendsand for the great engagement
and conversation and all thelove you've shown me over the
past four years and change umy'all.
It has meant the world to meand I mean that more than I can
tell you.
And, uh, just thanks for beinga part of it.

(28:46):
So, uh, I'll start ramblingabout that.
We will listen to some moremusic for just a second and then
we'll be back with a couple ofreadings from the book.
Okie dokie, we are back.
So I picked three spreads fromthe book, or three topics from

(29:07):
the book to read, and I'll tellyou why I picked them, as as I
do and I don't know exactly howto facilitate this, because the
way that this is is format isit's not just like a block of
text, there's little text blocksand, again, if you're watching
this clip somewhere, if you'rewatching online, you can kind of
see that there's just areas oftext, but I think it'll still
read, ok in this venue.

(29:27):
And, um, if you want to seesome of the images, all it'll
probably do is in the show notesor in the blog post that goes
with this episode.
I'll just take pictures of thespreads so you can look at them
and sort of follow along.
If you'd like, I will give youa second.
Okay, good enough.

(29:48):
So the first one that I'm goingto read is called spinach emails
.
Spinach emails, and the reasonI wanted to read this one is
because when neon squid reachedout to me about writing for them
, they wanted a writing sample,and so I don't know how to do
that.
So they asked for like 250words or something on a topic
that would be fun for kids and Ihad just read an article on

(30:09):
this, and so what you read hereit's changed a little bit from
the original form, but this isthe actual pitch, or a writing
sample.
I sent into neon squid to getapproved to write this book, so
that was kind of cool.
So spinach emails and, if youcan see this, there's a picture
of spinach, the spinach emails,and there's little envelopes

(30:32):
like they're sending emails.
So scientists at themassachusetts institute of
technology or mit have createdspinach the consent emails.
You read that right?
This, of course, leads us totwo important questions how and
why?
The answers are all to do withthe spinach plants.
Roots and the spinach roots arevery sensitive to their

(30:53):
environment.
It shows roots from a spinachplant establishing out through
the soil the root of the problem.
Spinach plants grow big rootsystems.
These roots suspend their timeexploring the soil, looking for
water and nutrients to help themgrow.
Turns out they can find manyother things than that as well,
things that can teach us moreabout their environment too.

(31:14):
From microorganisms to harmfulchemicals, spinach roots can
provide us with lots ofinformation.
Nanotechnology, by the way, isdefined as the science of really
tiny things, so nanotubes areused to make most of the
information spinach roots canprovide.
Scientists had to figure out away of getting inside spinach

(31:35):
plants with their technology,and the way they did it was by
implanting tiny carbonnanotubules inside the leaves
and it's kind of it's hard tosee, but there's a very happy
little spinach right thereSeeing very happy little spinach
.
There's a message from spinachthat says spinach, something
here you should see, guys andinside to say nice work agent

(31:58):
spinach.
And there's a bunch of emailsfrom spinach to say from spinach
, pollution detected fromspinach all clear today from
spinach worm problems.
From cabbage we need to talk.
If you ever get an email fromyour cabbage that says we need
to talk, you should be concerned.
Those conversations never gowell, especially with cabbage.
They're infamous for reallyhard conversations.

(32:20):
And then another section saysyou've got mail.
When the spinach plants pull upwater with toxins or other
harmful chemicals dissolved init, the tube sends signals back
to a monitor that emails theinformation back to scientists.
This technology could be usedto record changes in soil,
warning us about pollution,climate change and other
problems.
At this moment in time thetechnology isn't being in the

(32:42):
used in the real world, only inresearch settings.
But give it time.
And then these scientists arehigh fiving and everyone's very
happy.
I would be very happy to if myspinach sent me an email.
Again.
I would be concerned if I got acryptically worded.
We need to talk email from mycabbage, okay, another one that

(33:03):
I was very excited about.
That I really like.
This is some of my favoriteartwork in the book actually is
glow in the dark plants.
So again, glow in the darkplants.
And it shows a variety ofdifferent house plants and some
other things basil andwatercress and a few other
things that are glowy, andthere's a squid that is also

(33:24):
glowy and a firefly who youguessed?
It glowy.
And in the top right cornerthere's a woman reading a book
by plant light.
So, glow in the dark plants.
We've all used bedside lampsand nightlights, but what if you
could be reading this book byplant light?
Scientists have discovered theycan make plants glow in the dark

(33:45):
.
How it works to make a plantgrow scientists inject its
leaves with nanoparticles thatcan absorb light energy and
release it slowly at night.
In the future, genes fromglowing animals can be added to
plants so they would be able tonaturally grow.
Bioluminescence is lots of fun.
There's a whole nature cat songabout it.
You should look it up.
It's very good.
What a bright idea.

(34:06):
Scientists have managed to makewater crest glow as well as
basil.
So what's the point?
Glowing plants may sound silly,but they can have a huge impact
.
Electric lights use a lot ofenergy and they can mess with
animals that navigate bystarlight or the dark to hunt.
Imagine roads lined withglowing trees, bright enough to

(34:27):
see where you're going, but softenough to be wildlife friendly.
Also, how cool would it be ifyour favorite houseplant was
also your lamp?
I think that would be very cool.
I might take better care of myfavorite houseplants.
I'm not a good houseplantcaretaker.
I don't know if I should admitthat to y'all, but it's the
truth.
I kill a lot of houseplants.
I'm not.
I'm not good at glowing innature.

(34:49):
Plenty of things in naturealready glow.
This is called bioluminescenceand it's caused by chemical
reactions.
Deep sea squid and anglerfishuse their ability to glow to
hunt in the dark, whilefireflies light themselves up to
attract mates.
By studying these animals,scientists have a better idea of
how to make plants grow.

(35:09):
This is scientists from MITmade plants that glow for more
than an hour.
That's pretty cool If you lookthis up and read into it a
little bit more, you'll see thatthey didn't glow very brightly
for an hour.
But the fact that we can make aplant glow for a full hour,
that's incredible to me.
That's so cool.
They don't normally do that.

(35:30):
If you didn't know, if youweren't aware, if you don't
spend a lot of time aroundplants at night, they typically
don't glow.
The last spread I want to readto you is called Save the
Prairies.
I like this one because I liveon a prairie.
West Texas where I live isnative short grass prairie.
So yes, if you walked aroundwhere I live today, it's a lot
of agricultural land and cottonfields and pastures and things

(35:53):
like that.
But if you were to go back,even a couple of hundred years,
this was all short to mediumgrass prairie, one to three to
five foot tall grass, about asfar as you can see, really an
endless sea of foliage, andthere were natural springs and
there were large animals.
Prairies are so important to mepersonally because I think it's
just one of the coolestecosystems out there, but on a

(36:16):
grander scale.
To us as a global ecosystem, asa planet, we really need
prairies, and so this spread iscalled Save the Prairies and I
love this artwork too.
It shows a prairie with bisonand a number of wildflowers and
bumblebees and all kinds ofother things, and it's really
cool.
And, by the way, if you're in avery national park, don't pet

(36:39):
the fluffy cows.
A bison however big you think abison is, you're wrong.
I promise they're twice thesize that you think they are if
you've never seen one in person.
An unimaginably large beefright Big animal.
Okay, anyway, I digress Savethe prairies.
Prairies are unique ecosystemsmade up mostly of grasses.

(37:02):
They also contain a huge mix offlour shrubs, herbs and other
plants that you normally won'tsee many trees.
When we talk about ways tofight climate change, prairies
often don't come into theconversation, but they're
incredibly important.
As prairie plants grow, die anddecompose year after year.
They feed and shelter wildlife,take CO2 out of the atmosphere

(37:22):
and add nutrients back into theground.
If we take care of them, theseamazing ecosystems can help us
save the world Globally.
Prairies trap about as muchcarbon and produce as much
oxygen as all the trees.
And then it shows a picture ofa non-native prairie grass, or
like a landscape grass with ashort little root system, and

(37:43):
then a picture of a nativeprairie grass that has a deep,
powerful, far-reaching rootsystem, which, by the way this
is an aside, but that's reallyimportant you want.
It creates root channels forwater to get down into and adds
nitrogen to the soil all kindsof things, anyway, home on the
Prairie.
Prairies are homes to manydifferent animals.

(38:03):
It's common to find hundreds ofdifferent insects, rodents,
birds, lizards and even bigmammals such as bison and
antelope.
The rich diversity of plantsprovide food for the big animals
and plenty of places to live,hide and hunt for the small ones
.
Medicinal plants Many medicineswe use today come from plants
that live in the world'sprairies.
The grasses, flowers and shrubsof these incredible places are

(38:26):
extremely valuable to our health, from echinacea that boosts our
immune systems and helps uskeep from getting sick, to
yarrow that can help to treatwounds.
Native plants are those thatnaturally live in an area or
country.
They tend to be well suited tothe environment and can grow and
thrive with very little care,often sending roots farther down

(38:46):
into the ground and producingbigger plants than non-native
species.
And then, finally, there's atiny little section on prairie
style gardening.
Although city landscapes arenot natural, there are many
things we can do to make themmore environmentally friendly.
Picking prairie plants that arewell-adapt to deer climate
means they require less wateringand fertilizer.
Plus, you don't need to usepesticides, because the plants

(39:07):
will attract bugs and birds thatwill take care of the pests for
you.
So this is an appeal, alongwith a couple of future sections
in the book, to use nativeplants and pollinator friendly
plants.
But those are just a couple ofsections I thought that it'd be
fun to talk about on thispodcast and read to you.
And again, if you look at thecover of this book, like it's

(39:28):
just, it's just so pretty, it'sso pretty and I know I'm biased,
but it's so pretty.
And as I was trying to decidewhich spreads to read to you
today, it was a little bit liketrying to pick a favorite child.
For me that's easy because Ionly have the one, but I imagine
if you had multiple childrenyou're not really supposed to
have a favorite.
But the three I read, I think,mean a lot to me for a variety

(39:49):
of reasons that I explained alittle bit, but all of them, I
think, were such goodinformation.
It was a lot of fun to writeand I hope it's something that
if you have bought it, that youand your family are enjoying.
I've had some wonderfully kindfeedback from friends and even
people I've never met internetacquaintances, people I'm not
connected to directly in any way, that have said just the most
wonderful things about the book.

(40:09):
A couple of things about it.
If you'd like to pick up a copyof the book, it's available on
Barnes, noble and Books ofWonder and Amazon and pretty
much everywhere online, andyou're welcome to go pick it up
there.
I'm working on getting set upso that I can directly sell
signed copies of the book if youwould like that, along with

(40:30):
maybe some anthropology stickersand some other swag to go along
with it.
I'm not quite done with that.
I'm hoping to get that set upover the next two or three weeks
and I'll let y'all know how andwhere you can purchase a signed
copy directly from me when thatgets sorted out.
But if you want to buy it beforethat, by all means please go to
a local bookstore and requestit or check out an online book

(40:52):
seller Amazon or anything elsethat's available.
I believe right now it's onsale for about $14, something
like that, and again, I hopethat it's something that if you
do buy it, and no pressure tobuy it.
Please don't misunderstand me.
I would love for this to be onyour bookshelf at home, but I
just also am so appreciativethat you listened to me talk

(41:14):
about it for the last I don'tknow 30 minutes or so, 40
minutes or so.
So, again, plants of the Rescueout for the past six months.
It's available everywhere and Ihope that it's something that
you will add to your bookshelf.
If you think that it'ssomething that you and your
family would enjoy, and do gopick it up one of these days.
Let me know what you think,send me some feedback, email it

(41:35):
to me or review it onlinesomewhere or post a picture on
social media.
It would mean a lot just forhelping promote the book and
just letting me know that maybeI hit the mark, or even if I
missed the mark in some places.
I would love to know yourthoughts.
Finally, as we wrap up here inthe last couple of minutes, I
just want to talk about thefuture of plant apology, because

(41:56):
this is again something that'svery important to me and, as far
as I'm concerned, we're back atit.
It is likely never going to be aweekly podcast again.
That just really got to be alot for me and with all my other
teaching responsibilities andthings in my role here at Texas
Tech has changed a little bit.
You'll know, if you're alongtime supporter of the show

(42:18):
or friend of the show, that Ihave for many years ran the
greenhouse and horticulturalgardens on campus as well as
teaching, and I've actuallyhired a new greenhouse manager
to take over the day to day atthe greenhouse and gardens.
I am still overseeing there,I'm still very involved there,
but I've sort of stepped out ofthat role and I've turned it
over and I'm into full time moreor less teaching now.

(42:40):
So I'm still teaching introhorticulture but also be
teaching sustainable vegetableproduction, starting in the fall
, as well as some other stuff.
So there's some other contentthat will come from that as well
.
But as part of this I'm probablygoing to try to release an
episode every other week.
So you know 25 episodes a year,something like that.
26 episodes a year.
There may be times when there'sextra content that I put out,

(43:02):
so it may be closer to 30.
But through 2024, I'm going tocommit to doing at least every
other week and I've got somereally cool interviews lined up
from faculty that I work with inviticulture and analogy, in
weed management, incommunications and other things
in the green sciences.
I have a super excitinginterview with a guest.

(43:25):
I've been trying to get on theshow for like two years and I
don't want to ruin the surprise,but she is a top notch climate
scientist, communicator and oneof just the nicest people I
think out there.
I'm talking to someone laterthis week who has been working
to produce a gardening videogame and all kinds of stuff.
Award winning florists and someof the other folks from sort of

(43:52):
the podcast, the nature podcastuniverse, will be popping up
throughout the next few monthsof plantarology, so really good
stuff coming up.
If you've been enjoying the show, if you're just discovering the
show and you think you likewhat you hear, go, drop me a
rating and review wherever youcan, whether that is on pod
chaser or Apple podcasts,anywhere in between.

(44:14):
Let me know what you think.
Again, send me an email atplantarologypod at gmailcom,
connect via plantarology or theplant prof online and just just
be involved.
I am so grateful to you foragain engaging with the show,
for listening to the show andjust being a part of what we're
doing here at plantarology, soit's good to be with you again.

(44:37):
It's good to be back at it.
You know I love you.
Keep being kind.
If you have not been kind todate, maybe give that a shot.
It's pretty cool.
Keep being the coolest plantpeople I know and I will talk to
you very, very soon.
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