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Renegade Gardener
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As I travel around the country, I always check, and can say that more often than not the city I'm in offers this type of service--free compost, sometimes free shredded wood mulch. Most don't deliver, but that's what owning a pickup or cheap box trailer is for. More and more cities, suburbs and towns are becoming aware that it is leaf and lawn clipping debris being swept down storm sewers into ponds, lakes and streams that are the chief cause of excess algae growth in our fresh water systems. Phosphorus from fertilizers is a very minor, secondary cause (University of Minnesota study). The compost quality varies, but anything is better than nothing. Where I live in Minnesota, the city of Minnetonka has a huge free mulch supply, and handles the chore for several nearby suburbs. It's pretty good stuff. You live with a bit of shredded black or orange plastic from the leaf bags, but that's a small price to pay. Good post to point out that there is no reason this type of effort isn't taking place in absolutely every city, suburb, and small town in America. All it takes is a quarter-acre of land, a Bobcat and a few employees, and every municipality in America has that.
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Very interested in seeing "Chemical Reaction," Susan, just hope I don't walk out in a huff after seeing something that confuses more than it enlightens. I'm not so sure being called "The Al Gore of lawn care" is much of a kudo. What you linked to already concerns me--nothing there explains that every fertilizer, insecticide, herbicide and fungicide used in gardening and farming is a chemical. As the new post on my site, tips for successful vegetable gardening, points out in detail, the choice is not between chemical products and organic products, the choice is between synthetic chemical products and organic chemical products. Either way, you are always using a chemical. Some synthetic chemicals have less impact on the environment than their organic chemical counterparts, and vice-versa. Pesticides and fungicides are two areas where the organic chemicals approved for use (and being used) by organic farmers across America and the world are sometimes more harmful than synthetic chemical alternatives, as can be learned by anyone who checks out the EIQ (Environmental Impact Quotient) numbers for things like copper hydroxide (organic), horticultural oil (organic) and Rotenone (organic, except oops, Rotenone was banned for use by the EPA in 2005 because it was so nasty. Too bad. The organic farmers used it a lot. The stuff worked). So I'm curious what chemicals used in pesticides were banned by Canada. And of course, curious what would happen to the world's food supply if pesticides were banned across the board. (Oh wait, we'd all starve.) Or is the ban movement only after synthetic pesticides? That would be a pity. Several common synthetic chemicals used by gardeners and conventional farmers have lower EIQs than some of the organic chemicals used by organic gardeners and farmers. Many insecticidal oils (in the trade they are more politely called, "horticultural oils") have far higher EIQs than synthetic chemical products that work more efficiently. Many "organic only" produce buyers I speak to are stunned to learn that a very large majority of the organic produce they purchase is sprayed with chemicals. The organic farmers have to spray. If they didn't, they'd lose their crops and go out of business. Not only are some of these organic treatments more toxic than synthetics, they usually cost more, a big reason why organic produce costs more than conventionally grown produce. But now I'm rambling. My point is, I hope this film isn't more smoke and mirrors. People already don't understand the facts. I'll wait and see. RENEGADE GARDENER
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From a Minnesotan, a few more tips: • Go outside. Hat, gloves, three layers under a warm coat, wool socks, boots. • Build a snowman. Pick a theme--Traditional, Marvel Comics, The Bachelor, Rock Stars, Olympian, etc. • Get into a snowball fight. • Go for a walk and look at the snow on trees, shrubs, boulders, walls, fountains, statuary. • Take a hard look at your landscape and see why small trees and shrubs are more important than perennials. • Go sledding. If snow and its related sport items are not the norm, a big hunk of cardboard works just fine, once the snow on the hill is packed down a bit. • Learn what it feels like to be out in the cold (or whatever you consider cold), and find yourself perfectly warm with a wee bit of sweat on your back. • Go out and drive around. Driving on snow and ice is easy, you do everything in slow motion--accelerate slowly, turn mildly, brake gently, leave a ton of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. You stay completely focused on never losing controlled contact between your tires and the road. Texting only advised for Minnesota teenagers. RENEGADE GARDENER
Toggle Commented Feb 13, 2010 on Oh right, blizzards at Garden Rant
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Utterly astonishing that they would transplant trees that size, regardless of where they came from. They appear to be red pines, probably from an area with much denser growth of pines--note how much bare trunk is evident before the branches start, about half or more. That's what red pines do in a pine forest, only the upper branches stay alive due to lack of sun on lower half of the tree. Each tree develops a massive root system to compensate for the lack of sunlight that leads to the dying off of middle and base branches. I don't care how much they water, these trees are now in decline. Poster or postee above is correct, the best tree to plant is the smallest and youngest tree you can abide by. Which dog would rather take home from the pound, a puppy or a five-year-old mutt named Sid? They TV designer planted these behemoths because of scale--tall house, they wanted big, mature trees. Too bad. Some nice, fresh 8' B&B pines would grow a foot a year, in that full sun (a white pine will give you 14"-16" per year) and six years from now would be absolutely glorious. Not to mention looking cute as hell from the moment they were planted. Six years from now, with the root loss incurred from the transplanting, the trees planted will be even more straggly, in ten years, dead. Very bizarre story, thanks for the post. RENEGADE GARDENER
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"Disconcerting?" You wanna know why California is up to their windmills in debt, and losing businesses and population faster than anywhere in the country, it's because of governmental attitudes and legislation like this, times the one million nanny-state laws already on their books. And I'm a guy who hates lawns. RENEGADE GARDENER
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Been growing Baptisia australis for 20 years, then in the last few have added some of the more recent intros. Concur that even a small potted newbie from a nursery looks good the second season and will start looking quite shrub-like in three or four. Get 'em in the ground, Susan, since when do we more, um, mature gardeners think that three or four years is any length of time for a garden to develop? Plant in front of the bed, also, to break up the lower front rows. Doesn't need to be in bloom to be gorgeous. One of its great attributes is foliage that looks splendid spring to fall. After four years the taproot is so long and strong you could tether a dirigible to it. If you do have to move one, dig as deep down around the taproot as possible in earliest spring or mid-fall, finally cutting the root with a bypass pruner as long as possible. If fall, cut the plant down two-thirds. I've moved them, they'll be fine. One other thing not mentioned in the posts, Baptisia is one perennial that does best in neutral to alkaline soil. Mike Heger of Ambergate Gardens told me this. I was disappointed with my plant the first few seasons. All my soil is pH around 6.4. Then I scratched some lime around the plant, it took off. Now I add a little lime every few seasons, how much, I never know. Great new varieties of Baptisia from the Chicago Botanic Gardens include 'Twilite Prairieblues' (deep violet blooms, smaller stature), 'Solar Flare Prairieblues' (lemon-yellow blooms mature to an orange blush, big plant) and the coolest one, 'Starlight Prairieblues' periwinkle blooms with cream at the heels. I have articles and pics on my site, click on Plant Spotlight from the home page. Baptisia is often listed as full sun, but part sun where it receives a few hours of midday sun, it does fine. Supremely hardy to Zone 4. Member of the pea family. RENEGADE GARDENER
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Just a few comments to the comments above... Roundup is in no way a "sponsor" of my website. I do not accept advertising on my site—in fact, I've turned down dozens of inquiries over the years. I also do not link to any commercial/for-profit sites. Linda, you may be confused because if you click on the "Myth" button, a picture of a bottle of Roundup appears. I'm going to change that, I can see how it might convey endorsement and/or sponsorship. Second, as a landscaper, yes, I have a preferred plant pallet, but would not categorize it as, "the same few plants," unless that means the 50 (or so) deciduous shrubs, 35 evergreens, and 100+ perennials I use consistently in my designs. I don't know a landscape designer with a broader pallet than mine—in Zone 4, no less. But to be fair to Linda, in articles on my site, I do refer to some of my favorites much more often than others, and call them "the usual suspects." Thanks to all for the good feedback, and to Susan for featuring the 2009 Awards in her post. RENEGADE GARDENER
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