Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Mystery No More…


On Saturday, what they contained was a mystery.




Now we know.


On Monday morning, a team of experts, guided by high-tech imaging devices, successfully opened the Lincoln Oak’s twin time capsules. Some of the treasures they contained were on display at an afternoon press conference in City Hall. Connecticut State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni gave a detailed listing of the capsules’ contents. Quinnipiac University Professor Jerry Conlogue and his student assistants Katelyn Dallova and Nini Shingleton were on hand to explain the technology they used to ensure that none of the items were damaged as the capsules were opened. The procedure was no easy feat and took four hours of painstaking work to complete. The cement contained bluestone, and was particularly durable. 



It took a bit of work to pry the capsules open.
Bellantoni was clearly overjoyed with the results. He explained that he had been sent on many “wild goose chases” in his 26 years as an archaeologist, none of which had yielded a time capsule — until this one.


CT State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni 
The copper capsules were 10” long and 4” in diameter.

Capsule One contained articles relating to February 12 and 13, 1909, the actual 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. These items included a program from a centennial observance at Center Church; a copy of a speech delivered on that occasion; six different newspapers published in New Haven on those dates; some papers tied in a string that were a gift of ex-mayor Hendrick; two Lincoln commemorative coins, 1” and 2” in size; and a small cannon ball and a deformed musket ball, both of which came from the battlefield at Gettysburg.






The deformed musket ball and the small cannon ball


Capsule Two contained items relating to New Haven in 1909 including: an elaborate medal with an eagle, flag and star from the Grand Army of the Republic; military rosters pertaining to Admiral Foote; a 1907 Lady Liberty quarter, a dime, and an Indian head penny; and business cards of the makers of the plaque and the capsules. [Note: There was no Lincoln penny; that coin was first minted in August, 1909.]


Too early for a  Lincoln penny
It would have been too cold to plant the tree on the actual anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. Bellantoni stated that the date of April 9, 1909 was chosen because it commemorated the 44th anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox.

Drew Days, one of the Proprietors of the New Haven Green, thanked a number of people for their roles in this fine adventure. Foremost among them was Robert Greenberg, the one who first suspected that time capsules might be embedded in the concrete at the base of the tree’s plaque. It was largely due to his persistence that the footing was first examined by the New Haven bomb squad.

Eventually these items will all be on display at the New Haven Museum on Whitney Avenue.

It is interesting to reflect that had the Lincoln Oak not been upended by Hurricane Sandy, we would be unaware of the existence of these treasures from the past.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New Haven Celebrates 375 Years…


And plants a tree.

The historic New Haven Green was abuzz with activity on this impossibly gorgeous spring afternoon, all to commemorate the City’s 375th birthday.

What brought us out was the opportunity to participate in a bit of history — the planting of a Pin Oak tree in the exact spot on the Upper Green where the Lincoln Oak had stood. 

The Lincoln Oak was planted by the City of New Haven in 1909 to commemorate the birth of Abraham Lincoln 100 years before. It was uprooted last October during Hurricane Sandy.



Many people helped to plant the new Pin Oak Quercus palustris 

The tree was standing upright in the ground, well in advance of the 1:30 ceremony. URI and its newest GreenSkills workers did much of the heavy work.



Note the donut hole, required for proper planting.

Associate Director Chris Ozyck shared his wisdom 
with the workers and curious bystanders.


After the lesson, everyone jumped into action.



The public was invited to take part in this historic event.






The dignitaries arrived.
They threw their dirt into the donut hole, having missed the lesson.


All’s well that ends well.


Planted to just the right depth, and properly mulched and watered, the 
New Haven Green’s newest resident looks stately in its new home.

For those of you interested in history, here is some more about the 1909 Lincoln Oak.

This tree and the City made the news when human skeletal remains were discovered entangled in the trees upended roots. 

Those who know the Green and its history were only mildly surprised by the discovery. The New Haven Green was once the City’s burying ground. Historian and artist Rob Greenberg reminded us of that fact today with his display of rubbings from gravestones that stood on the Upper Green until they were moved to the Grove Street Cemetery, established in 1797, after the burial ground on the Green became too crowded. 




The skeletons are still being studied. Drew Days, one of the Proprietors of the New Haven Green, announced today that there will be a re-internment of the remains on the Green once the investigation is over. He speculates that there is still much to be learned from the bones.

Rob Greenberg has been doing research on the tree every since last October. He recently discovered a newspaper article indicating that this same tree had suffered a close call in 1961 during Hurricane Esther. The newspaper headline read: “Bones of Man, Child Unicoverd On Green By Surprised Workers.” On that occasion, the tree was only partially uprooted, and workers were able to get it back into the ground where it survived for 5 more decades.

The Lincoln Oak was marked with a plaque, anchored into the ground by a cement footing.


Partly due to Greenberg’s persistence, the footing was examined and x-rayed by the New Haven bomb squad, studied by the State Archaeologist and several Quinnipiac University  (QU) professors, and then taken to the digital imaging lab at QU. The scans revealed two time capsules. On the Green today the Parks Department was soliciting guesses about what mystery items they contain.





No time capsule was buried during the tree planting ceremony today. That, too, may come later. 

For now, that’s all I’ve got.

Happy Birthday, New Haven!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.22.13


Earth Day is here!

Welcome to Day 13 of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 challenge. 

Today’s Tip: CELEBRATE THE EARTH TODAY 

You might start with Google’s interactive Earth Day doodle. This year Google published a “sightseeing checklist” so you don’t miss any of the doodle’s features. Once you are done controlling the weather and the seasons, be sure to click on the magnifying glass. Doing this will take you to the latest news for Earth Day 2013.

There are some fun things,
like this celebration of “Nature’s Engineers,” also from Google. 

And some beautiful things

Unfortunately, all the news is not good. 
The focus piece in today’s Christian Science Monitor reminds us that “planetary carbon dioxide concentrations are the highest they’ve been in the past 800,000 years.” On the plus side, this piece also points out how much progress has been made since the first Earth Day in 1970, the year Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire. 

Today is the last day to comment 
on the KXL Tar Sands Pipeline Project.
Natural Resources Defense Council president Frances Beinecke has a special Earth Day message on the subject. If you are inspired to take action, you can send a comment to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry here

Don’t spend all of Earth Day on the computer.

Get outside if you can.

Perhaps it’s is a good day for a picnic

Or at least for a walk or bike ride

And for noticing the beauty all around you — the tiny spring flowers, the sweet bird songs, and the lush green colors bursting forth all over…

Tiny, vibrant “windflowers” come up each year in my backyard.
The Nature Conservancy has prepared a great Nature Treasure Hunt activity sheet for kids of all ages. 

When you are back inside, take a moment to reflect on how fragile our planet is, and on how much work there is to do to if we are to preserve it for future generations.

Make a promise to love your mother (Earth) today and every day.

The Earth Day Network site has many suggestions for ways to make a difference. You might want to add your image to their Face of Climate Change Photo Mosaic

Every day is Earth Day. Pass it on. 

Thanks for joining me on my countdown to Earth Day. I hope you will visit often as I continue on my “road to greenness.”

Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.21.13


Welcome to Day 12 of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 challenge. 

Today’s Tip: BECOME A CITIZEN SCIENTIST

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s OK.

There is currently no official definition of “citizen scientist.” Most would agree that “citizen science” involves a collaboration between scientists and volunteers, often involving data collection. I like this working definition of citizen science I found on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website: “Projects in which volunteers partner with scientists to answer real-world questions.” 

Perhaps the most well-known citizen science project to date is SETI@home in which volunteers help scientists search for extraterrestrial life by downloading a special program that analyzes radio telescope data which runs on a home computer when it is not otherwise in use.

The National Wildlife Federation has compiled a lengthy list of projects suitable for a broad range of ages and interests, with alliterative names such as: Fun with Frogs, Fabulous Firefly Festivities, and Monarch Mayhem

Cornell University offers several different projects involving birds, one of which is tailored for urban dwellers. This is a great resource for teachers. There are even opportunities to apply for mini-grants for community events.

While many of the opportunities involve outdoor activities, there are a number of projects for those who like being indoors or have impaired mobility. One of these is Old Weather, a project in which volunteers transcribe weather data found in logbooks from ships sailing with the East India Company from the 1780s to the 1830s in order to “improve understanding of all forms of weather variability in the past and so improve our ability to predict weather and climate in the future.”

Here is one for all you gardeners out there — Become a First Detector through training offered through the National Plant Diagnostic Network. The question posed on this website is: “Are you interested in protecting U.S. agricultural and natural areas for exotic, invasive species?” If your answer is “yes,” you are invited to enroll in an online training course, with a number of short instructional modules on monitoring for high risk pests and diagnosing and reporting plant problems. If you pass all the units successfully, you will receive a certificate and an invitation to sign up for periodic updates in order to stay current on all the latest news on alien invaders. “First Detectors” are often just that, the first ones to detect that an alien species has arrived in a new area. It was a master gardener in the wasp watcher program who first detected the presence of the Emerald Ash Borer in CT last summer.

I have only just scratched the surface. There are all sorts of projects that could use your help. Check some more out here and here.

On Earth Day last year the National Science Foundation sang the praises of citizen scientists:Earth Day invariably triggers discussions about the enormously complex state of the planet and begs the equally daunting question, ‘How can one person make a difference?’… But just one person can indeed chip in as a citizen scientist, who helps the scientific community unravel the mysteries of where Mother Nature is today and where she is headed. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds groups of these concerned volunteers who collect data and share their observations and insights on a scale that full-time scientists simply cannot accomplish.” 

See, one person really can help to change the world.

Come back tomorrow for a new tip in celebration of Earth Day!

Love Your Mother (Earth). Pass it on. Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.20.13


Welcome to Day 11 of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 challenge. I hope you didn’t give up on me. I’ve been very busy. We rode in New Haven’s 5th Annual Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride. The weather cooperated, and nearly 1000 riders raised over $135,000 in donations for environmental groups in New Haven. And then one of my brothers and his wife showed up in town on a whirlwind art gallery tour and asked us to join them for pizza. Quite a day! Now — finally — tip number #11! 

Today’s Tip: CHECK OUT THE OLD BEFORE BUYING SOMETHING NEW

I can't recall why exactly these items were ever stashed away. Now they are out of the box in the attic, and off the top closet shelf, and out is where they will stay. 

Two fine purses, one denim jacket,
one flannel nightshirt, and a pair of very warm sox

Sometimes old is better than new.

As I examined these re-discovered blasts from the past, I admired their quality — the tiny stitches, the minute buttons and bits of lace on the nightgown, the hidden pockets and the details on the leather purse. Originally purchased as moderately-priced items, they are extraordinarily well made.

30 years ago the rules of fashion were less forgiving than they are today. There were strict dress codes for business and pleasure, even for going to the corner store. Styles changed drastically from season to season and it was a faux pas not to stay current, particularly for females. Vintage? Unheard of unless it was Halloween.

Vintage is cool now. With tights and leggings a person of a certain age can even transform a found mini into a tunic suitable for some settings.

Will everything work? Can all found objects be worn everywhere? Of course not!

Just recruit a trusted advisor so you never cross the fashion no-no line.

Happy hunting!

Come back tomorrow for a new tip as we count down to Earth Day on April 22.

Love Your Mother (Earth). Pass it on. Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.19.13


Welcome to Day 10 of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 challenge.

Today’s Tip: CONSIDER THE FISH

The menhaden is not a fish most people would eat,
but it is an important part  of the food chain.

The distance fish travels to get to your plate is not as important as other factors including:
  • How was it caught?
  • Is it a fish whose population is endangered?
  • If it is a farmed fish, what are the conditions under which it was raised?

The Monterey Bay Aquarium believes that “through better practices, we can create healthy, abundant oceans for everyone.” Through its Seafood WATCH® program the Aquarium has been working since 1999 to make this vision a reality. Consumers play an important role in the conservation of ocean resources when they choose to purchase ocean-friendly seafood. 

The Seafood WATCH® program provides consumers with tools to make the right choices — national and regional guides in which seafood is rated as “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives,” and “Avoid.” The 2013 Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood WATCH® guides are available for download here and are also available for mobile devices. 

The guides are updated periodically. As farming techniques improve, ratings can go up. This happened recently when tilapia from Ecuador moved from "Good Alternative" to “Best Choice.” You can learn about the process Seafood WATCH® uses to make recommendations here.


Is it a GMO fish?
Yes, soon you may have to ask this question as well. “Frankenfish” could appear on the market in the very near future. The US Food and Drug Administration may soon approve the sale of AquaBounty Technologies’ Salmon, genetically engineered to reach market size more rapidly than other farmed salmon. 

If approved, AquaBounty salmon would become the first genetically engineered animal to enter the food supply. More than 33,000 people have submitted comments to the FDA. The commenting period ends April 26. PCC Natural Markets, Trader Joe’s, Aldi’s and Whole Foods that they will not carry the salmon if it is approved for sale.

Gone are the days when local seafood was in plentiful supply in every coastal town and the only questions the consumer might ask were: How fresh is it? or How much does it cost per pound?

Come back tomorrow for a new tip as we count down to Earth Day on April 22.

Love Your Mother (Earth). Pass it on. Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.18.13


Welcome to Day 9 of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 challenge.

Today’s Tip: LEAVE YOUR CAR HOME ONE DAY A WEEK (or more)
WHY?
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Transportation is the largest single source of air pollution in the United States. It caused over half of the carbon monoxide, over a third of the nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons in our atmosphere in 2006.”

This does not mean you have to stay home.

If I don’t drive, how do I get there?
  • Did you know that Google Maps allows you to get directions for walking, biking, and public transportation as well as driving? 
  • Many cities, Chicago, for example, have tools for planning a trip using their public transportation system
  • Let this page, composed for the City of New Haven as part of the New Haven/Léon Sister City Project’s WalkBikeTransit Campaignserve as inspiration, wherever you happen to live.
  • The City of New Haven's Smart Cycling Handbook spells out the bicyclist's rules of the road, tips for bike safety, and some of the many reasons why cycling is good for you and the planet. The information is pretty universal.  
  • Finally, if you are lucky enough to be a relatively short distance from where you need to go, discover the many benefits of walking, from bone strengthening to mood lifting. 

Come back tomorrow for a new tip as we count down to Earth Day on April 22.

Love Your Mother (Earth). Pass it on. Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.17.13


Welcome to Day 8 of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 challenge.

Today’s Tip: GET YOUR OLD READING MATTER BACK IN CIRCULATION

Your unwanted books or magazines could become someone else’s treasure.


Take your old magazines (a few at a time)… 
  • to the gym and put them out on the reading table. Be sensible about this. If you go to a university gym, the alumni magazine won’t be too popular. Ditto for anything too nerdy. People, on the other hand, will be most appreciated.
  • or to a nursery school. Primary school teachers appreciate magazines and catalogues with colorful photos (think travel and gardening magazines) that they can use in art projects. 

Donate your gently use books to a community book bank. 
The Book Bank at New Haven Reads gladly accepts all donations EXCEPT encyclopedias and magazines. The Book Bank is in particular need of children’s picture books.

Find a home for your National Geographic magazine collection. 
This is a tough one. I consulted a dealer who told me that no matter how good the condition, unless they are VERY old, these  magazines are very hard to sell. We couldn’t bear the thought of our beloved collection being cut into little pieces. We looked far and wide for someone to appreciate them as we had over the years. We settled on donating a full car trunk load to the Traveler Restaurant in Union, CT near the Massachusetts border. The restaurant’s claim to fame is that each diner gets to select 3 free books to take home. Approximately 100,000 books are given away each year! The restaurant was happy to accept our magazines — as a donation. I expect they were bundled by year and sold in the retail shop, where the best books are available for sale. It was a nice drive. on a gorgeous spring day We enjoyed a tasty lunch. We restrained ourselves and picked out just one free book each. We ended up a few bucks in the hole, and we made a bit of a carbon footprint, but we had found our National Geographics a good home.

Come back tomorrow for a new tip as we count down to Earth Day on April 22.

Love Your Mother (Earth). Pass it on. Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.16.13

Welcome to Day 7 of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 challenge.

Today’s Tip: SWAP OUT YOUR INCANDESCENT BULBS

Thomas Edison’s light bulb is on its way out. The Energy Independence and Security Act  (ERISA) of 2007 set its demise in motion—for good reason. The 134-year-old incandescent light bulb converts only 5 -10% of the electricity it uses into light; the rest is given off as heat. An excellent article in Popular Mechanics explains the details of ERISA, sometimes called the “Lightbulb Law.” The act did not ban any specific type of lightbulb. Rather, it mandated that by the end of 2012 most household bulbs (with some exceptions) NEWLY STOCKED IN STORES must use 30% less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs. Big government is not going to check out your light fixtures to see if you have made the switch. 

Once you realize how much energy (and money) you can save by swapping out your old- school bulbs, my guess is that you will want to make the switch NOW.

There are a number of alternatives to the incandescent lightbulb, each of which offers significant energy savings. Each choice has pros and cons. How is a consumer to decide? It can all seem a little daunting.

  • Halogens (Energy-Saving Incandescents) estimated to have a 25% savings
  • CFLs (Compact Fluorescents) estimated to have 75% energy savings
  • LEDs (Light Emitting Diode) estimated to have 75-80% savings 

Not all bulbs in each category are created equal. And different categories of bulbs are pricier than others. Consumer Reports has an online guide to help you decide which bulb is best for each application in and around your home.

One easy tip is to purchase bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR rating, particularly in the case of LEDs, with their higher price tag.

LEDs offer the highest energy savings, but also have the highest price tag. However, their price has begun to fall dramatically, and thus, so has their payback time. One recently introduced product, Cree’s new home LED bulb, sold at Home Depot, has broken the $10 per bulb price barrier AND received rave reviews from both The Verge and David Pogue of the New York Times

Don’t wait to change your way of light. It’s good for the planet AND your wallet.

Come back tomorrow for a new tip as we count down to Earth Day on April 22.

Love Your Mother (Earth). Pass it on. Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Meatless Monday: Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.15.13


Welcome to Day 6 of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 challenge. 

Today’s Tip: CUT DOWN ON YOUR FOOD WASTE

In his book American Wasteland, author Jonathan Bloom states that America wastes nearly half of its food. The problem begins in the fields where some crops are left to rot because their appearance does not meet the standards for sale. More food is lost in transport, when it does not sell at the market, or when uneaten food is discarded at a restaurant. Food scraps make up about 19 percent of the waste dumped in landfills, where it ends up rotting and producing methane, a greenhouse gas. 

Here is where we come into the picture. Bloom also estimates that Americans waste an astounding 25% of the food they bring home

What can the consumer do?

Here are some easy steps you can take to help both the planet and your wallet:
  • MAKE A GROCERY LIST and try to stick to it. This will work best if you remember my time-tested rule: Never go to the store hungry.
  • PUT YOUR FREEZER TO GOOD USE. Yes, I’ve also blogged about this beforePromptly freeze leftovers from your dinner out if you know you won’t get to them in the next day or two. Freeze some of the delicious soup you made over the weekend, or a dozen cookies from that large batch you baked. You don’t need a fancy container; zip-lock freezer bags work well. Just be sure to label the package with the contents and the date before stashing it away. Did you know that you can freeze a partially used carton of milk or juice? Remember that when you are heading out of town. 
  • KNOW WHAT YOU OWN. Check out the contents of your refrigerator and freezer BEFORE going to the store. You never know what treasures you might find there. Maybe you can take a night off from cooking…

Come back tomorrow for a new tip as we count down to Earth Day on April 22.

Love Your Mother (Earth). Pass it on. Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!  

Have a great week.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.14.13

 
Welcome to Day 5 of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 challenge in which I continue the theme of growing things, with a suggestion for anyone with a backyard, or with planting privileges in a garden or community green space.

Today’s Tip: When you plant, GO NATIVE!

It was in Master Gardening Class that I first encountered Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, by Douglas W. Tallamy. I am not exaggerating when I say it’s one of the most important books I have ever read.

[Sidebar: What is a Native Plant? A native (or indigenous) plant occurs naturally in a particular region, state, ecosystem, and habitat without direct or indirect human actions.] 

Tallamy, a scientist and gardener, introduces the premise that “all plants are not created equal, particularly in their ability to support wildlife. Most of our native plant-eaters are not able to eat alien plants, and we are replacing native plants with alien species at an alarming rate…” The central message of Tallamy’s book is that we must restore native plants in order to maintain the ecosystems on which we ourselves depend. Read this book. 

Even better, use it as an inspiration for your next landscaping project. Appendix One is a regional guide of native trees, herbaceous perennials, grasses, ferns and vines and their attributes. Appendix B addresses the decline in the Lepidoptera population, listing the host plants for scores of butterflies and moths.

A more recent guide for plants that will repopulate your yard with pollinators is The Non-Stop Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide to Smart Plant Choices and Four-Season Designs, by Stephanie Cohen and Jennifer Benner. I had an opportunity to hear Jennifer speak at the recent CT Master Gardeners’ Symposium. Her book is on my wish list, but I confess I have not read it yet. 


There is an added bonus for the gardener who decides to Go Native. As Tallamy states in his book, “Native plants are well adapted to their particular ecological niche and are often far less difficult to grow than species from other altitudes, latitudes, and habitats.”

Come back tomorrow for a new tip as we count down to Earth Day on April 22.

Love Your Mother (Earth). Pass it on. Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.13.13


This is the fourth day of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 challenge. Yes, I realize that it's late in the day, but it’s still April 13!

As I continue with the theme of growing things, my fourth tip is a little more specific.

Today’s Tip: PLANT A TREE


Trees are valuable for many reasons.

The Arbor Foundation, founded in 1972, the centennial of the first observance of Arbor Day, is a nonprofit dedicated to the planting of trees. The Foundation has compiled statistics from all kinds of sources about why trees are good for the planet, wildlife, and real estate values!

Here are just a few:
  • “The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.” —U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • “Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value.” —USDA Forest Service
  • “The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the ground water supply. Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams.” —USDA Forest Service
  • “In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.” —Dr. Roger S. Ulrich Texas A&M University
  • “There are about 60– to 200-million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year, and saving $4 billion in energy costs.” —National Wildlife Federation

New Haven, Connecticut, where I live, appreciates the importance of trees. The City has undertaken an ambitious program — TreeHaven | 10 K — with the goal of planting 10,000 trees in 5 years. The trees are being planted by Urban Resources Institute (URI), the group I am supporting in next Saturday’s Rock to Rock Ride

If you  live in New Haven, you can request a tree, to be planted by URI, at no cost to you. But first you must sign a pledge that you will care for your new tree. Newly planted trees require 25 gallons of water per week during the growing seasons (from bud-break to leaf-drop) for the first three years.

If you decide to plant a tree, please think carefully before you buy one. Think of your site. How much sun do you have? What is your zone? What is your soil like? How much space do you have? Talk to an arborist or a reputable nursery before making your final decision.

To start you off, here is a slideshow of trees you should NEVER plant

Come back tomorrow for a new tip as we count down to Earth Day on April 22.

Love Your Mother (Earth). Pass it on. Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Counting Down to Earth Day 2013: 4.12.13

This is the third day of my Counting Down to Earth Day 2013 Series.

Today’s Tip: GROW SOMETHING

Any gardener will tell you that there are few things in life more rewarding than harvesting something you grew yourself.

My friend Pam's garlic scapes in a photo taken by her husband John.

You don’t have to start with seeds.

You can transplant a plant,

or two.

Don’t worry if things don’t turn out exactly as they appear in the seed packet photo.

If you have plenty of sun [All vegetables need quite a bit of sunlight — ideally 8-10 hours of direct sunlight a day.  Some leafy vegetables will tolerate partial shade, but even they will not thrive in less than six hours of direct sunlight.]…   

adequate space [even a large container or two]…

and the time, patience, and commitment to water and nurture your plants…

you have all you need.

If you are planting directly into the ground, test your soil before you start, especially if you live in the city, or if your lot was once an orchard. You could have high levels of lead.


Rachel was my master gardening mentor. For weeks she has been busy. Inside she has been planting seeds, growing the plants under lights, and experimenting with grafting, explaining all she’s been doing along the way. She began sowing outside in late March.  The air temperature was in the 40°s, but the temperature in the soil was 50° the day she started. How did she know it was time to plant her seeds? You will have to read her blog to find out. 

Rachel used a soil thermometer.

My advice? Start small. You can always do more later in the season. Have fun getting dirty!

Come back tomorrow for a new tip as we count down to Earth Day on April 22.

Love Your Mother (Earth). Pass it on. Together we can make a difference. Yes, we can!