Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I know that may not SOUND very exciting, but everyone needs these handy shopping bags, and they are available in all sorts of sizes and styles that help take the drudgery out of dragging around your shopping. My favorites are the kind that you can fold up and carry in your purse.
Plastic shopping bags have long been a bane to the environment. The United States uses about 100 billion disposable shopping bags per year, made with 12 million barrels of oil. If disposed of improperly, these bags pollute our waterways and taxpayers end up footing the bill to clean up this polluting plastic.
Several years ago, DC enacted a 5 cent bag fee for plastic bags. The result? In the first month of its implementation, plastic bag use fell by 19 million bags! Starting in January 2012, a five-cent bag fee will go into effect in Montgomery County and discussions for similar fees are still under way for areas such as Prince George's County.
I’m excited about this news! In the Anacostia streams in Prince George's County (and likely in many other streams in the area), disposable shopping bags are the single largest type of trash.
I have to admit, I was a (reusable) “bag lady” long before it was either chic or cheap to do so. In fact, I take a little pride in carrying bags that help “advertise” some of my favorite causes and charities.
So when you are trying to come up with gift ideas for your hard-to-shop-for friends on your holiday list, think of reusable bags. In fact, why not skip the wrapping paper and DELIVER your holiday gifts in re-usable bags. You’ll be helping the environment by keeping the wrapping paper out of the landfill and providing a much needed eco-tote for your friends.
Here are some ideas for re-useable shopping bags suitable for gift giving:
1) Reusable shopping bag – folds up and fits on a key ring – 3 for $5.99
2) Reusable shopping bag – folds into a strawberry!
3) Make it personal – instructions for making a fold-up shopping bag
4) Or knit one! – I like to knit in front of the TV so this pattern works for me
5) How to wrap a gift in a reusable bag
6) Add your art, slogan or photo – Cafe Press and other sources let you design your own bag.
And if you don't understand the importance of "banning the bag", here's a great video that was created for another great Bay -San Francisco Bay - but it definitely gets the point across in a BIG way.
Monday, November 28, 2011
A NWF Community Wildlife Habitat is a region that provides habitat for wildlife and practices sustainable gardening ─ in individual backyards, on school grounds and in public areas such as parks, community gardens, places of worship and businesses. The objective of NWF’s Community Habitat program is to create partnerships and help the City of Annapolis raise citizen awareness about watershed challenges and issues, and build ownership of local waterways─ with the ultimate goal of engaging more individuals and organizations in stewardship practices. In addition to providing a positive impact on the environment, creating a friendly environment for birds and butterflies is bound to draw more kids outside AND turn them into great environmental stewards.
Receiving certification as a NWF Community Habitat is no easy task. It requires property owners, schools and businesses to join together to work towards earning the points necessary for achieving certification.
Kudos to First Lady Katie O'Malley for taking this positive step for the city of Annapolis.
“Our Bay is one of our State’s most precious natural treasures,” First Lady O’Malley said. “Martin and I have a garden at home, and we use it to demonstrate what each of us can do to improve our health and protect our environment by growing fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. I am very proud of our communities, schools and businesses for coming together to encourage environmental stewardship and realizing the importance of saving our Bay.”
The Government House garden now houses a bee hive for honey, a water fountain to attract birds and bees, three water barrels, a natural setting of trees, brush and shrubs to provide shelter for animals and insects, a food garden, and natural landscape to reduce water usage and maintenance costs.
Where do the gutters on your roof drain to?
Friday, November 25, 2011
I love the fact that Sheinwald points out that today's gardeners need to be as concerned about the environment as they are about the good looks of their gardens.
Below are some excerpts from the article: The single largest contributor to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay is chemicals applied to lawns and farms. To do our bit to combat this trend, the British Embassy adopted an organic approach to management of the Residence garden on Massachusetts Avenue in July of 2009.
It has not been an easy task -- certainly spraying weeds is faster than plucking them by hand. But the extra work makes for a more responsibly and sustainably run garden.
In order to reduce the amount of water we use, we have installed a 1,700-gallon cistern. The cistern is the central part of our grey water system, collecting rainwater that we then use in the greenhouse and elsewhere.
We're cutting down our chemical use, too. An integrated pest management approach is helping reduce our dependence on pesticides and herbicides: we check plants for bugs before they're introduced to the greenhouse, and use horticultural oil and soap to eliminate the pests that make their way in.
We now compost all weeds, branches, appropriate kitchen waste, leaves and grass clippings. Reducing what we take of public resources, and decreasing the chemicals we put into the air and water, stems from our goal of being a responsible member of the DC community.
As well as being a good neighbour, we want to be an active participant in DC's verdant gardening scene. Our new rain garden slows down water flow across the property, so more water soaks into the soil. This reduces runoff onto Massachusetts Avenue, and helps us keep Winston Churchill's feet dry where he stands at the edge of the property.
District of Columbia ordinances require properties to have some form of runoff control, and rain gardens have sprung up as a low-cost, aesthetically pleasing option. In many ways, gardening has much in common with diplomacy.
The seeds you plant take careful care and cultivation to turn out well. Nothing is the same from year to year. You learn from what works -- and what doesn't -- to know better what to do the next time. And the end goal of your work is a productive area where all things have a chance to grow and thrive.
Yes, it's a great article, but what do you think? Is the British Embassy really the GREENEST garden in DC?
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I love Thanksgiving, but my love of the holiday has very little to do with the actual meal that is the center of so many celebrations. What it does have to do with are the other sweets, treats and blessings that make up the daily feast that is my life.
I love the word itself -- Thanks-giving -- which is like a bright neon flashing light reminding me of everything that I have to be thankful for, not just on the last Thursday of November, but every day.
The people, of course, are the most scrumptious part of my life. My husband, although both a turkey and a ham, at times, is really the center of everything that is good in my life. But the rest of my family and friends are the perfect side-dishes to my life. Some are nutty. Some are mushy. Some nourish me. And some are just for pure pleasure!
But my feast doesn’t stop there. I’m thankful for my health, my home, my work, my gardens, the critters in our yard that add daily wonders to our lives, all the healthy babies that are in our extended family.
Every single day of my life, I have much to be thankful for. But there are days when I have to admit, I let the mundane and annoying aspects of my life get in the way, and I forget just how thankful I really am.
But that is why I like this season, when everywhere you look, you are being reminded, that this is a time for Thanks-Giving.
What do you have to be thankful for?
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
That was one of my favorite quotes when I was a young, romantic teenager. I’m still a romantic, although not quite as young as I used to be. And I still believe that one of the best ways to really appreciate anything is to think about how empty your life would be without it. It certainly works with age and time.
When you are young, you think that your time on earth is endless, and you waste an awful lot of it. As you get older, your time is much more valuable to you, and you really don’t want to waste any. Since you can’t do a lot about the quantity of time you have left, you start making an effort to put more Quality into your time. You start making Bucket Lists of all of the things you want to do before you die. You realize you want to squeeze everything you can out of life, and not waste a drop.
The problem with getting people to learn to appreciate and save things like natural resources…wildlife… the environment…and the planet in general, is that everyone thinks that there is an endless supply of those things. I just can’t imagine the day when there are no more lions or tigers or bears because of habitat loss or human predation, but it certainly could happen. Their numbers are dwindling because of stresses brought about by hunting, habitat destruction and introduced predators and diseases.
Water, though, is another story. The planet will probably NEVER run out of water. That's because the amount of water is always the same -- it just changes in form. Water from oceans, lakes and rivers evaporates into the atmosphere where it becomes clouds and returns to Earth as rain or snow.
However, we COULD run out of clean water. Almost all of the water on the Earth is salt water, and 77 percent of the fresh water is frozen at the Earth's poles. That leaves only a small amount for drinking, washing and growing things.
As the Earth's population increases, more people need water and the earth’s supply of clean water gets even smaller. And a further problem, of course, is that a lot of the things that human beings do pollute water which means that we have to spend lots and lots of money to have water cleaned to make it usable again.
As logical as this all is, people waste a heckuva lot of water. According to the EPA website, the average family of four can use 400 gallons of water every day. Let’s see. The current population of the United States is 312,625,280, divided by 4, times 400 gallons =……. Sorry, my calculator doesn’t go that high. But it’s a LOT. Still, I drive down the road and see people idly running sprinklers in the rain, or letting their hose run down the driveway while they are soaping their car or dog.
Its hard to get people to understand the importance of conserving water. Around our house, one of the ways that we save water is with our Bucket List. We have a whole slew of buckets and watering cans, and we keep them filled up with water from our rain barrels, leftover water from steaming veggies, graywater from when we clean the hummingbird feeders, etc. We try to restrict ourselves to using JUST that water on our plants and gardens. And like the hours and minutes of our lives, we try not to waste a drop.
I encourage you to start your own Bucket List for the planet. Put up a couple of rain barrels around your yard. They not only help collect water but are great at cutting down on stormwater runoff, which is one of the main things that pollutes clean water. And then start collecting watering cans and buckets. You can find them at garage sales and thrift stores for less than a dollar. And when you have enough of them, you rarely have to waste any clean water to keep your garden growing.
'Cause life is short. And we've got a lot more fun things to do with our time than worry about water. Betsy's Bucket List:
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
The Montgomery College campus is having their two-million gallon "Earthoid" water storage tank repainted, which can help remind all of us that water means the world to us.
The 100-foot tall tank was built for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in 1978 and was painted to resemble the world in 1980, based on a National Geographic globe.
The “Earthoid” has since won the "Steel Tank of the Year" award from the Steel Plate Fabricators Association and pictures of the tank have been exhibited in numerous magazines.
The re-painting is expected to be finished by the end of November, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission officials said in a press release Thursday.
The tank is located at 20150 Observation Drive.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
When: November 16, 7:15p.m.
Where: Chevy Chase Community Center
The next meeting of the Chevy Chase Citizens Association Garden Club is this Wednesday,Nov 16, and features Bob McDowell, a Maryland Master Gardener, talking about deer proofing methods for urban gardeners. Everyone is welcome, the meeting is at 7:15 pm; there is a plant swap afterward so bring one to share. The location is 5600 Conn Ave, NW in the Chevy Chase Community Center. The rain garden on the north side of the building and the Library garden both look great, check them out before the meeting. Questions? Email Barbara Baldwin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, November 11, 2011
Step #1 – Go outside. Take a 360 degree look around you. Consider how lucky you are to live in the United States of America. Now, go find a veteran. A veteran, of course, is someone who has served, or is serving in the military.
That step shouldn’t be hard. You may have a veteran in your family, or work with a veteran. Perhaps your mailman or the elderly worker in the local hardware store is a veteran. If you aren’t sure, all you have to do is ask.
Now, depending on your personality and temperament, the next step may be a little harder.
Step #2 – Say thank you. Don’t worry. You don’t have to get all mushy about it. Depending on how well you know the veteran, you can add a pat on the back, a hug or a handshake. Just let them know that you are thanking them for their service.
That’s it. That’s all you need to do to thank a veteran. And there really isn’t anything more organic and natural then a good, in person, heartfelt thank you.
But for a few more ideas, here is another post called “8 Ways to Say Thank You to Our Veterans.”
And here are some other great ideas I found online: Veteran’s Day: Ways to Say Thank You
Thursday, November 10, 2011
WHEN: Monday, November 21
Doors open at 7:30pm
Talk starts at 8:00pm
WHERE: Brookside Gardens Visitors Center,
1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, Maryland
The rich flora of North America boasts 17 species of native azaleas. Don Hyatt, a noted authority on these plants, will first introduce the various species showing the range of flower color and form he has observed in the wild. Don will then shift to a series of visual tours to the scenic places where these native azaleas often grow. Join him in the Southern Appalachians when rare native azaleas and wildflowers herald the arrival of spring. Experience breath-taking vistas along the Appalachian Trail near Roan Mountain in high season when the flame azaleas and rhododendrons turn entire mountaintops ablaze with color. Climb to the top of Gregory Bald in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to see one of the most impressive floral displays of them all. Share his appreciation of gorgeous scenery, native azaleas, and wildflower companions as Don “chases the bloom” from coast to coast throughout the season. As is Don’s typical presentation style, expect an entertaining and fast-paced program filled with many beautiful photographs, lots of information, occasional touches of humor, and a few digital tricks in this multi-media presentation.
Don Hyatt holds a Bachelors degree in Horticulture with a double major in Biochemistry, and a Masters degree in Computer Science. lthough professionally a mathematics and computer science teacher for 33 years, Don has maintained a life-long interest in plants of all kinds. He started gardening as a toddler, and continues to maintain his garden, now in its 60th year, at the family home where he grew up. After retiring from teaching in 2002, Don has devoted most of his time to horticultural interests, especially the study of native azaleas, rhododendrons, and wildflowers in their natural habitats. He has served on the national boards of both the Azalea Society of America and the American Rhododendron Society, and has received numerous awards. Don is an accomplished botanical illustrator and photographer, and has authored many articles on azaleas and rhododendrons. He has become a popular speaker at national and international conferences on a variety of horticultural topics.
Open to the public and free to attend.
Silver Spring Garden Club dues are just $10 a year per household.
Information provide by Kathy Jentz
Washington Gardener Magazine
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
That date, of course, changed all of us. I still can't bring myself to say that I think war is the answer to anything, but I do understand the necessity of it now. And I do have a whole new level of respect, appreciation and admiration for the men and women who serve to protect our country, as well as the families who love them.
One very positive change that has occurred in our country since my childhood is the respect that we show our military. When soldiers returned from Vietnam, they were sometimes met with icy stares, verbal abuse and even spit upon. Now, it is not unusual to see members of the military receiving applause or pats on the back as they walk through a crowded airport. I know that I always feel a tremendous rush of feelings when I see a man or woman in uniform. It's a combination of respect and admiration mixed with a gut-wrenching awareness of how I would feel if that was my son or daughter, brother or friend.
Whether it is Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, or no special day at all, here are some suggested ways to Thank a Vet:
1) Say thank you - If you know a veteran, or the family of a veteran, give them a call or send an email and tell them that you appreciate what they have done, or are doing, for our country.
2) Listen- If they want to talk about their service, let them. I don't care if you have heard your father's or grandfather's war stories before. Ask them to tell you about them again. And listen this time!
3) Send some love - Even if you don't know any veterans, personally, it is still easy to express your thanks. Get out your phone book and find the closet VA hospital or nursing home and send a big, patriotic bouquet of flowers or a colorful collection of cookies. Add a note explaining that they are for the resident veterans, with your heartfelt thanks for their service.
4) Attend a parade - If there is a parade close by, go to it. Take your kids, buy them some flags to wave, and really hoot and holler at the members of the military, young and old, who are marching in the parade.
5) Visit a Veterans Day Services to pay your respects - In you can't find a parade, there are plenty of memorials that you can visit to pay your respects.
6) Fly a flag - Flying the American Flag is a great way to show pride and respect for our country. If you don't have a flagpole, you can purchase small brackets that easily fit on the front of your home or your mailbox.
7) Give time or money to veteran's groups - It's a tough year for everyone and you may not be able to afford to make cash donations to as many charities as you would like. But many groups will benefit from your time as much as they would from your cash donations. One of our favorite organizations is Home for Our Troops (HFOT), a non-profit organization that builds specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans. HFOT is currently looking for volunteers to work on several projects in Maryland and Virginia.
8 ) Plant a tree in memory of a veteran - Planting a tree is always a great way to honor someone and will give you a permanent place to return to year after year to spend time and appreciate your freedom.
By the way, if you are wondering what the dedication and sacrifices of our veterans has to do with a gardening blog, the answer is "everything".
Gardeners might enjoy reading: A Hero and His Habitat : 20 Days in the Garden
Monday, November 7, 2011
Apparently, the second week of November is National Pursuit of Happiness Week. I found several articles about it online, none of which provided any explanation for how or why the week was designated.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
If you don't already garden for butterflies, fall and winter are the perfect times to start learning about how to attract these beautiful "flying flowers" to your gardens. Once spring arrives, you will have the knowledge AND the enthusiasm to get out there and start planting your nectar and host plants to attract butterflies.
Here are some links to butterfly information for the DC, Maryland and Virginia areas.
- Create a Butterfly Garden - Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog
- Butterflies of Virginia Butterflies of Maryland
- Butterflies of DC
- Butterflies of Maryland – Maryland Department of Natural Resources
- Backyard Butterfly Bonanza – Fairfax County
- Using Native Plants to Attract Butterflies pdf file (From Green Spring Gardens)
There are also several butterfly groups in the area that will help you get started on this great hobby.
The Washington Area Butterfly Club emphasizes education about and appreciation and conservation of butterflies in the Washington, DC, area including Maryland and Virginia. Meetings are free and open to the public, although occasional events are only for members and their guests. Members also conduct various other butterfly-related activities including butterfly gardening, butterfly counts, conservation, and field trips.
Butterfly Society of Virginia promotes butterfly and moth conservation, including conservation of habitat and host and nectar gardens.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
In blogger jargon, that mea ns that I have a huge pile of things that I would LOVE to write about, but I just don’t have time.
Here are some great articles (and photos) that are worth sharing:
Treat #1: Photo of my sweet little great-nephew (or is it grand-nephew?) Alex, in his Halloween costume. Gotta love those dimples!
Treat #2: Planting Memories of her Dad across the City - This is a beautifully written piece about what sounds like a wonderful man, and his daughter, Sandy. Since her father passed away in May, Sandy has planted over 2800 bulbs throughout DC in his memory. One of my personal mottoes is "Life is your garden. Plant something good." It sounds like both Ted and Sandy have done their part to "plant something good."
Treat #3: Here’s another great article. This one, entitled Fall Leaves are Nature’s Free Gift to Homeowners, reminds us of the value of mulching and composting our fall leaves to keep all of those great, natural nutrients in our landscapes.
Treat #4: An article from one of my favorite compost bloggers: Six Rules of Composting
Treat #5: Want to conserve more energy? There’s an app for that. New Facebook App the 'Farmville' of Energy Conservation? The app will combine the competitiveness of a game with real-world data. Facebookers can benchmark their home’s energy usage against a national average of similar homes, compare their energy use with friends, enter energy-saving competitions, and share tips on how to become more energy efficient.
Treat #6: Exciting news for Virginia – Fort Monroe becomes National Monument - Today is truly an historic day for America as President Obama is announcing the establishment of Fort Monroe National Monument -- a historic fort in Virginia’s Tidewater region that was integral role to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military -- as the 396th unit of the National Park System.
Treat #7: Alex again. This time, rooting on his favorite football team!
Treat #8: FANTASTIC November to-do list on the Behnke's Garden Blog. Hints and tips for trees, shrubs, edibles, lawns and so much more. Great job, Susan!
Treat #9: ANOTHER cute Halloween baby. My good friend Kathy's new granddaughter, Autumn, dressed like a pink shrimp. Which I'll use as a reminder that eco-friendly gardening helps protect our waterways!
I have lots more treats in store, so be sure to subscribe to the Metro DC Lawn and Garden blog.
When: November 4th, 4:00pm – 5:00 pm
Where: Common Good City Farm, V Street NW between 2nd & 4th Sts NW
Visit Common Good's rain garden and learn how to design your own as an attractive way to prevent water run-off from polluting our watersheds. Dean Hively, a scientist from the US Geological Survey, will talk about the relevance and importance of diverting water run-off, and plants that thrive in rain gardens. They will have bergamot, liatrus blazing star, blue flag iris, and calamus for sale. This workshop is free, but if you earn more than minimum wage, they are requesting a $25 suggested donation.
Register for this Free Workshop