So what’s feldspar-rich clay dug from secret spots in a swamp somewhere in New Jersey doing on professional baseball?

When a wild pitch killed a batter back in 1920, baseball officials determined the need for a tacky compound to be put on balls to make them less slick. After several failures, a compound derived from the swamp mud proved good enough for regular use. So for the last 71 years two, three-pound tubs of the stuff has been sent to each professional ball team so it can be applied to new balls before use. (It is considered one of baseball’s oldest rituals.)

Being the sports fan and history trivia nut that I am, it was just a matter of time until I dug up the information on this ballpark and its accompanying dugouts: What is the oldest baseball stadium still in use in the United States? Before you rush to answer let me add that the first game played there was on June 27, 1909, and that it seats a mere 1,500 people. And yet ball clubs ranging from one of the farm teams of the New York Yankees to the local high school squad (Bisbee Pumas) have played on its open expanse. Still baffled? That ballpark is in Bisbee, Arizona, and it was originally built as a source of recreation for employees (and their families) of the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company. Nothing horticultural in this except the fact that they had to unsettle several hundred cacti to build the park!

We will switch deserts now, jumping from the Sonoran in Arizona to the Chihuahuan desert in southwest Texas. Advocates promoting buildings constructed of adobe bricks, are touting their “green” benefit of using simple materials - dirt and straw. Such homes would be nontoxic and thermally comfortable year-round. The forty-pound bricks can be put together to form quite a tight fit. I’ve been in adobe structures in the heat of summer in southwest Texas and they are surprisingly cool.

Several nurseries in the area are almost unable to keep up an adequate inventory what with people’s renewed interest in beginning or adding to their gardening, particularly with vegetable plants. Credit it to the economy or food safety. Produce from your own garden is after all the original comfort food. That is, you can take comfort in knowing its origin.

We seem to have a lot of butterflies around right now, particularly swallowtails. If you haven’t incorporated plants like monarda (Jacob Cline is a good one) for their summer feeding or asters for fall, do so soon as both are available locally at larger nurseries.