Archive for January, 2015

This morning I read a piece on NPR that told about how Seattle is dealing with it’s new COMPOSTING rules.  If you don’t separate the compost from your garbage, you’ll be fined!  Here’s the article.

In our building, Horizon House, which is a Retirement Community in downtown Seattle, we are trying very hard to separate our discards into three components: compost; recycling; and trash (everything else!).

It continues to be a challenge when we are presented with three different receptacles!  Most folks just don’t know where things go.  Let’s try being VERY basic.

RECYCLING things are able to be converted into another product.  For instance, cans and bottles can be broken down again and reused for new cans and bottles, as well as all kinds of things made from glass and metal.  Plastic containers and bottles are broken down and can be used again in, among plenty of other things, those wonderful fleece jackets we all wear!    So, they can be recycled, or reused.  Why put them into the landfill where they will sit forever, being good for nothing, except to fill up space and look awful?

So, put those containers into the “RECYCLING” bin!

COMPOSTING is what you do with ANYTHING ORGANIC.  Well, what is ORGANIC in this sense of the word?   Organic, when you are talking about disposables, or garbage, trash or whatever, refers to anything that was derived from a living organism.  So, for instance, your coffee grounds come from a bean; tea comes from leaves; paper comes from trees; uneaten hamburgers come from a steer; those apple cores come from an apple; and orange peels from an orange.  They have all been alive in some sense or other.  THEY ARE COMPOSTABLE!  Unfortunately, many (maybe I should say ALL) grocery store chains seem to put little plastic stickers on their fruit, and some vegetables.  If you can, try to remove them and stick them in the trash instead.  Fortunately, if a few escape you will probably be alright, because they won’t add up to the 10% allowed in the compost.

Compost is WONDERFUL to return to the soil.  Compost is called BLACK GOLD by gardeners and farmers because it is so very beneficial for growing things. Remember that old biblical saying, “From dust you came, to dust you shall return”.  It’s true, and it applies to all living things!

Nowadays, many food “carrying” products (like boxes, plates and cups) are made of corn making them compostable.  Actually, paper plates would break down nicely as well, so long as they are not coated with plastic.  The plastic destroys them for being considered compostable.

Which beings us to the next category: TRASH.  Trash is anything that does not fit in the other two categories.  So, there are the little catchup packets, for instance.  They are just junk!  Some of the plastics fall into this category since they can be too small to  be considered “recyclable” (like straws).  I always say, “If in doubt, throw them out”.  (Or put in the trash.)

Do try to be careful.  If you are not sure, use the trash.  Use the compost and the recycling bins carefully.  One plastic product can ruin the compost and the whole thing has to be tossed in the trash. 

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This morning I was delighted to read an article on NPR concerning various types of water conservation.

I have been advocating the use of Rain Gardens for YEARS!  I LOVE that the idea is catching on everywhere.  It’s about time!

At any rate, aside from MY words, here is a web site that tells about ALL kinds of Green Infrastructure.

Here at Horizon House, we should be proud that our building is home to a Green Roof!IMG_2856  In fact, our apartment looks right down on that green roof.  At the moment it is enduring some repair.  Somehow it “sprung a leak” which is definitely NOT good, and not something you like to see, but even with that setback, being in the final stages of repair, it will soon be doing it’s job of keeping the rain, over our little corner of Seattle, from flowing into the drainage sewers!

Our garden beds, on three separate levels, are also definite “rain catchers” as you can see in this photo. IMG_2884

Ours is in an urban area, however raingardens can be utilized ANYWHERE!  Those of you who live at Horizon House, be proud of your green roof, and be aware that we are on the cusp of something very good!  Those of you who do NOT live here, maybe you should encourage your building administrators to see if this wouldn’t be something you could do to help our environment!

If you live outside of the city, you have even a better opportunity to build something into your surrounding area.  Instead of laying down asphalt the next time you need a new driveway, think of a permeable driveway!

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-7Hey all you gardeners out there in the Seattle area, and especially at Horizon House!  Check out this website about “Small Space Solutions & Container Gardens”.

So many of us may have small beds, or Juliette balconies.  These seminars might hold some wonderful clues to help us in our gardening.  That link will take you to  the schedule for those free talks at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.  Do check it out!

The show starts on February 11th and goes until the 15th.  Try visiting the website for Northwest Flower & Garden Show to get all the information you’ll need prior to attending.

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Here you can see some mahonia thriving (in February) right outside the front entrance to the Lobby at Horizon House.  HH MahoniaIt is quite pretty.  The yellow flowers produce little, blue berries which the birds love.  (After consuming the seed, those birds are pretty good at moving that mahonia seed around!  It’s likely to pop up just about anywhere.)

I have to say that Mahonia can sometimes be a problem.  This is especially true in raised beds, as we have found here at Horizon House. Within our garden beds down on the D level, there is one bed filled with mahonia that has been allowed to just “run free”.  Since no one has gardened this particular bed, it has just spread, and spread, and spread.  The bed is needing to be dug up, to get rid of all the overgrown mahonia, and it’s roots.

At this point,  the roots (and seed we hope), will be dug up and disposed of, so it doesn’t become a problem again.  I’m sure now that there will be a gardener tending it, that will not happen again, and the bed should be a happy sight!

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I’ve done it!  I’ve ‘pulled the trigger’, as the saying goes!

For quite a few years, I’ve been adding, correcting, changing, getting discouraged, and encouraged.  Mostly, I’ve procrastinated!  But, all that is changing now.  I’ve got the manuscript pretty much all done.  I’ve submitted it to Create Space, the self publishing arm of Amazon, and now it’s a matter of just cleaning up the last messy details.  When that’s done, there will be a book for purchase!

It will more than likely be called, “A YEAR IN MY NEW ENGLAND GARDEN”.  It is a collection of gardening vignettes, along with a monthly calendar of chores for the gardener.  It tells you what to do and when.  I share successes and failures, joys and disappointments, tips for success, as well as tips that will (hopefully) keep you from struggling in your New England Garden.  At the end, it will also contain a section on simple gardening terms for the beginning gardener.

Many of you, my blog readers, are from the Pacific Northwest, where I now live.  However, you probably have family and friends in gardening zones 3-7.  Those zone numbers are what really matter, and is the general area of all of New England, but it really encompasses a huge area of the United States, so the book definitely does apply to gardens outside of New England! I just need to be sure that folks do not buy the book expecting gardening help for their Florida garden!  (Try clicking on that link about gardening zones and see who might qualify!!!)

I will keep the cost of the book below $10.00, so it’s affordable.  I’d love to have it be something folks might include in a Christmas stocking, as a hostess gift or just to present to a gardener in their lives.

I will let you know when the date for actual publication occurs.  I hope to set it up so perhaps the price will be greatly reduced for a week or so.

I also hope to produce it as an eBook.  An eBook will not be too practical for hauling into the garden, but might be an inexpensive way for you to decide whether it’s something in which you are interested.

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