Gardening

irrigation_s

Tremendous quantities of food are wasted after production – discarded in processing, transport, supermarkets and kitchens – and this wasted food is also wasted water, finds a policy brief released Thursday at World Water Week in Stockholm.

Source: Environmental News Service. Read more…

 

In Michigan we don’t think about fresh water as a ration. Not until other States discuss siphoning off water from the Great Lakes. Reservoirs, dams and levies are not concerns here. Which is not to say we don’t care about our water, we do –now.

Michiganians have a shameful history of pollution. I explain it to my kids this way; “industry and people put things in the water that they didn’t want around. The water carried the bad stuff away. No one thought about where the bad stuff went.”

It seems that along with eliminating pollution in the water, we need to stop wasting precious water. We waste water in obvious ways; on our green lawns, during a long shower, and when we leave the tap open needlessly. But we waste water in less visible ways too.

Growing crops requires an enormous amount of water.  No one here is suggesting that you stop eating foods grown in soil. I’m suggesting only that we eat all we produce. When we throw away the food we buy, we toss out all the resources used to grow, ship and produce the food along with it.

Toast_webnew
Our British friends have created a web resource that addresses the need to reduce, or heck, lets set the bar high and say, eliminate food waste.
If like me, you are not British, some suggestions from Love Food, Hate Waste can be puzzling. Example; I have never had leftover bangers to deal with. And I think to “blitz”, means puree in a blender. Really, I like the site’s local lingo, it helps me feel part of a larger community. While written for the UK, the suggestions and recipes are completely doable here in midwest USA.

 

Why does water use matter?

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April 2012

[update] June 2012

Marigolds, Impatiens, Petunias, and a host of other annuals are relatively inexpensive when compared to geraniums. But if you’re willing to overwinter geranium plants, they are a terrific bargain.

In the past I’ve tried to pot geranium plants, bring them indoors, and keep them in a window – which works, but the resulting plants are tall and frail.

Last October I read about saving the roots in a dormant state. I decided to try it. If this didn’t work and the plants died, at least I didn’t kill them. Luckily my lack of faith in the method had no effect on it. I’m pleased to announce that 12 of the 14 plants are thriving. I was able to plant my front porch planter boxes entirely with recycled geraniums. I’m still waiting for blooms; but when they bloom, my boxes should look like, kinda sort of like, Mackinac Island’s planter boxes; brimming with red geraniums.

Red geraniums are the feature annual of the island. The Grand Hotel began the tradition and much of the island has followed the theme. Maybe because geraniums are dramatic, prolific bloomers and so darn easy to save from one summer to the next.

To overwinter (bare root) my plants I followed instructions on an Iowa State University site. Only instead of placing the plants in large paper bags, I used old pillowcases. I hung them from nails in the garage. Instead of following a strict soaking schedule of once a month. I soaked them at the end of November when I was in the garage to fetch Christmas decorations. I soaked them again early in January when I put the decorations back in the garage. By mid March I soaked them once more and potted them in ordinary potting soil. The method was almost too simple – “to good to be true” simple.

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I used to own a variety of garden reference books. I’m sure they are still here, somewhere. I just don’t bother to look in them anymore.


Something is attacking my plants; there isn’t a moment to spare! In a situation such as this, I’ve found the quickest way to identify a specific garden pest is:
Google>(plant name) +pest>images; look through the images for one that matches problem you’re seeing in your garden.
Another, more perfect but not as quick, identification method is, “catch them in the act”. Most crawling pest feast when we’re not around, at night or early in the morning. Since their brains are so tiny, I’ll assume that they are not cleverly sneaky, just avoiding the mid-day heat. If you inspect your plants at sunrise or dusk, you’re likely to spot the criminal.

 

Once identified, you could check the home page or site map of my favorite garden doctors. Okay, full disclosure, the site displays ads from pesticide corporations, like Terminex. But the authors of the content offer imaginative solutions along with time-tested methods for eliminated pests and diseases. There is nothing humorous about losing ownership of your garden to pests; but I like how these guys think…and appreciate their sense of humor. Eric D. Ronning wrote about dealing with Yellow Jackets; “Don’t be all that and a bag of chips. If you tart yourself up with brightly patterned clothing and use perfume, cologne, lotion, hairspray, or hair gel, you’re asking yellow jackets to be interested in you.”

Along with helping to lower the stress, the site offers a variety of non-chemical solutions: “Pyrethrin dust. Pyrethrins are an extremely effective natural insecticide made from chrysanthemums.”  Yes, “chrysanthemums”- flowers. That must be environmentally safe, right?

The Doctors suggest, Diatomaceous Earth (DE) may save my spinach. DE made from ground-up, fossilized remains of diatoms (microscopic ocean critters) and kills insects by inflicting little lacerations on their bodies when they crawl over or through it. (I wonder how they harvest this?)

If it turns out to be too late to save the last of my spinach,  it’s important to remember; spinach is a Spring crop, and mine has had a good run.

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