Friday, February 27, 2015

Ways to Clean Trash/waste landfills

It's so easy to throw away trash and have it hauled off every week to be taken to a dump. I imagine a festering mountain of trash that could be transformed into a green mountainous landscape, like the Israel Hiriya garbage dump that was once "Shit Mountain" with 25 million tons of trash.  After the government closed the landfill, the dump was contained within the slopes and walls of the mountain stabilized and reinforced "using salvaged concrete debris from construction projects. Then the landfill was capped and covered, which allows Ayalon Biogas to collect methane produced by the still rotting garbage, which is used to power a textile factory" according to Treehugger. Six years later in 2004,  landscape architect Peter Latz designed a way to rehabilitate the area, while avoiding to flatten the mountain. The west tip of the mountain features a pergola and scenic vista.
Hiriya landfill turned into a park
The mountain represents a vision of the future, using Human's ability to transform our mistakes into solutions that will enhance symbiotic relationships between the land, humans, and other beings.
Nine other landfills were turned into Nature Preserves, such as Pulau Semakau, Tifft, Buffalo, Mount Trashmore, Virginia Beach, Bukit Tagar, Malaysia, Millennium Park, Massachusetts, Chambers Gully, Australia, Sai Tso Wan, Hong Kong,
Freshkills Park, New York, and Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley.

The propagation of mushrooms all across waste sites and disaster zones have been known to clean oil spills and nuclear meltdowns.  Eric Rasmussen, a former Defense Department scientist and disaster expert, is collaborating with Paul Stamets to decontaminate the zone around Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor with mushrooms. Although methods for cleaning disaster and waste zones may take decade, Paul Stamets suggests several precautions and steps to cleaning the site, for example:
"1. Evacuate the region around the reactors.
2. Establish a high-level, diversified remediation team including foresters, mycologists, nuclear and radiation experts, government officials, and citizens.
3. Establish a fenced off Nuclear Forest Recovery Zone.
4. Chip the wood debris from the destroyed buildings and trees and spread throughout areas suffering from high levels of radioactive contamination.
5. Mulch the landscape with the chipped wood debris to a minimum depth of 12-24 inches.
6. Plant native deciduous and conifer trees, along with hyper-accumulating mycorrhizal mushrooms, particularly Gomphidius glutinosus, Craterellus tubaeformis, and Laccaria amethystina (all native to pines). G. glutinosus has been reported to absorb – via the mycelium – and concentrate radioactive Cesium 137 more than 10,000-fold over ambient background levels. Many other mycorrhizal mushroom species also hyper-accumulate.
7. Wait until mushrooms form and then harvest them under Radioactive HAZMAT protocols.
8. Continuously remove the mushrooms, which have now concentrated the radioactivity, particularly Cesium 137, to an incinerator. Burning the mushroom will result in radioactive ash. This ash can be further refined and the resulting concentrates vitrified (placed into glass) or stored using other state-of-the-art storage technologies.
By sampling other mushroom-forming fungi for their selective ability to hyper-accumulate radioactivity, we can learn a great deal while helping the ecosystem recover. Not only will some mushroom species hyper-accumulate radioactive compounds, but research has also shown that some mycorrhizal fungi bind and sequester radioactive elements so they remain immobilized for extended periods of time. Surprisingly, we learned from the Chernobyl disaster that many species of melanin-producing fungi have their growth stimulated by radiation" (Permaculture: Practical solutions for self-reliance).

I have mentioned many times how to use Trash, waste, and other recyclable materials in the garden and when constructing the home, which you can see in some of my posts: Construct a Greenhouse using Free supplies, Recycled Cardboard box garden, Recycled (car/truck) Tire Gardens, and Cloches plant protection (early planting & extend growing season). I did mention that using car/truck tires for growing vegetables is not recommended, but many gardeners do this. In other words, if you don't feel comfortable using plastic, pallets, tires, or cardboard in your garden, don't use them.

Specifically on this topic, I wanted to present how I have been handling Trash/waste that I cannot use in the garden or home. There are simply materials that are dangerously laden with chemicals that you cannot use for the vegetable garden. For example, in the last couple of years, James and I have remodeled my mother's home; and in doing so, we have accumulated trash such as drywall, bits of wood, and roof materials we had to pile up in the yard. Instead of taking these things to a landfill (which you have to pay to discard), I spread the waste out to be covered with sticks, then straw, dirt, and mulch. At first I will use the bed for growing non edible plants.
You can see from the photo below the drywall is scattered level, then I have layered twigs/sticks on top.  After that I will add layers of straw or grass, then dirt from around the yard, then add mulch to plant flowers. This took about an hour or two to assemble and gather the materials myself. I think if I have another couple of hours I will be able to finish the bed for planting.
Considering this spot is on the West side of the home, it doesn't get much sun, so I will plant flowers/plants that do not require much sunlight like Hostas and Ferns. Actually I have a post on flowers that shade tolerant: List of Shade & Cold tolerant plants (vegetables, herbs, flowers).

"As of 2010, Total MSW generation was 250 million tons. Organic materials continue to be the largest component of MSW. Paper and paperboard account for 29% and yard trimmings and food scraps account for another 27%; plastics 12%; metals 9%, rubber, leather and textiles 8%; wood is approximately 6.4% and glass 5%. Other miscellaneous wastes make up approximately 3.4%" (EPA).
With many of the landfills that exist and radioactive places of the world, we can cover with wood material and grow mushrooms that will clean and absorb radioactivity. You could cover dumps in dirt and mulch then grow trees on top. Of course they do not have to edible fruit or nut trees, but you could grow any types of Trees, and actually grow only fruit/nut bearing trees for the wildlife to create an environment promoting life.

The reason I advocate for using recycled materials is to keep trash OUT of the landfills, however I am not advocating for MORE trash like plastics, cardboard, paper, and glass to be manufactured at all! In fact, I see the use in technology of computers and books, but we do not need to create so much waste per person.
Any foods made in a factory, any clothes, and other useless junk do not contribute to Human evolution and potential. With all of the clothes that already exist, we can cloth every person. There is no need to make anymore clothes when we can all shop at goodwill; with all the food produced in the world, we can feed every person. The reason not every child is fed because of consequential actions of the rich vs poor and livestock industry that grow grains for animals. With all the plates, cups, jars, and silly trinkets that exist we can furnish every home.
Where necessity is concerned, we don't need frying pans, blenders, food processors, bowls, plates, and cups to eat when Fruit harvested from trees are perfectly designed for immediate satisfaction. It's no coincidence that all other animals eat raw-- that's how we were designed to eat.
We can grow our own food by propagating from fruit and nut trees; make our own homes out of clay dirt, straw, and sand for free (see here), we can make our own pottery by firing clay soil with sand. What we produce such as computers and technologies can be made in factories that harness Sun energy for power, and re-route pipes that release carbon emissions into the ground which the plants will use and clean the air (known as Carbon sequestration).

carbon sequestration
These solutions are already implemented, however this generation is in a transition period of using COAL, Petroleum oil, burning fossil fuels, creating trash, polluting air and water, eating animals. I see a small light at the end of the tunnel for centuries to come...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

EARLY blooming Spring Flowers (February-April)

Hyacinths growing in the snow
In my area, the Daffodils pop up as early as January and February. Of course they do not bloom until early March.
I live in Northern Kentucky, where the Dogwoods and Locusts trees bloom through March and April. The Hyacinths are in full bloom, as well.
Sometimes they bloom so early I feel the need to mulch and cover early blooming flowers with cloches. For my post on Cloches and making your own plant protection, read here: Cloches plant protection (early planting & extend growing season). I remember one year when the Daffodils were growing through the a Winter storm, and I made sure to protect them with plastic bottles and other plastic containers to keep them warm and protected from the snow.

Daffodils withstanding snow and cold
 It's nice to see flowers pushing through the snow and begging for Spring weather.  Growing early blooming flowers sets the pretext for a beautiful summer. Design your Perennial garden to bloom from Early Spring and transition into different times of the year.

Below is a list of the following Flowers which bloom early in the Spring.

Lenten Rose
Bleeding heart
Marsh Marigold

Creeping Phlox
Crested Iris
Star Magnolia
Sweet violet
Flowering Quince

Vernal Witch hazel
Giant Snowflake
Grecian Windflower
Virginia Bluebells
Heartleaf Brunnera
Winter Aconite
Japanese Pussy Willow


Feel free to look through my Floral photographs of many of the Early blooming flowers, here: Collection of Floral Photography 2014. One of the photographs from last year's collection was of the Hyacinths that grew at the end of March and early April, seen below.

Hyacinths from the yard

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cloches plant protection (early planting & extend growing season)

Recycle plastics, glass, and other materials for creating cloches. Cloches are any type of covering that protects plants from snow, cold temperatures, and "pests". This method ensures to protect your plant from dying when growing fruits and vegetables early in Spring, or when extending the growing season into Fall and Winter. Cloches that are bell or tent shaped allow room for individual plants, while Polytunnels or elongated plastic coverings are good for long rows of plants.

Instead of buying cloches, make your own using jugs. Cut the bottoms of the jugs to go over the top of plants, and remove lids to allow air flow.

photo link

Maybe you have items around your home that you're not using, for example wicker baskets.
It would be interesting to use old clothes baskets as well.

Cloches may only be necessary when the plants are young. As soon as they outgrow the cloches you have provided as their covering, it may already be warm enough without the need for protection. If it is necessary to protect large plants say to extend their growing season, you will need larger coverings, for example cold frames.

Mother Earth News
As long as your days are warm, you do not need to cover your plants; but if the nights are too cold, cover your plants with anything you have on hand like a thin blanket, canvas, terracotta pot, plastic flower pot, storage tub, or any containers. My grandmother uses thin blankets to cover her rose bushes. It is not totally necessary to have transparent plastic or glass to cover plants. Plants can be completing shaded by the container at night; as long as you uncover the plant in the morning for sunlight.
If the plant is large and well established, you could even use a trash bag to cover at night.

photo link

from It's About Time

Store bought cloches can cost up to $40 at stores like Lowes. In the photo below, this gardener is very resourceful as they have saved or collected items that would have otherwise been thrown in a landfill, and they are using free materials.
Most gardeners prefer bottle shaped cloches because they're elongated, perfect for young plants. You could also save your plastic container boxes when you buy strawberries, blueberries, spinach, greens, and dates from the store.
Renaissance Little Green Book
by Vertical gardener
Be creative, as you may have materials that you would consider junk or trash that could be used to protect plants. Perhaps an old window, door, or old refrigerator shelves.

Of course Greenhouses and polytunnels are ideal for early planting and extending the growing season. These options may cost you, but again you can always make your own greenhouse or polytunnel out of free materials. Many people have constructed greenhouses using recycled (free) materials, which I have show you, here: Construct a greenhouse using Free Supplies.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Transform your home into a Rainforest Jungle (& list of tropical plants to grow indoors)

Maybe you have a sunny room you can dedicate to growing food. If not, some corners of your home that get a little extra sun can be dedicated to shelves that will house trays or pots of vegetables and greens.

Parts of my living room, utility room, and bedroom that receive the most light are growing my house plants (Aloe Vera, Snake plant, Peace Lily, Christmas cactus). And I have a small greenhouse next to a window that is currently growing over 100 cabbage starters, which you can see in the post here: What I'm growing Indoors during February Winter.

I fantasize about living in a Rainforest, because of the fresh, live, green scenery and abundance of food, but I can just as easily surround myself with dangling and potted plants, and food in my home.

The three main household toxins of concern are benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, which can be removed by adding an abundance of house plants. Imagine creating your own Rainforest Jungle in your home, which would create fresh air as the plants absorb CO2, remove toxins, naturally humidifies air, and the greenery creates an uplifting mood/atmosphere during the dead or dreary Fall and Winter months.

Here are some ideas that others have created...

from Garden Ally
In a previous post I made a chart of the plants that are shade tolerant that would also grow well indoors:  List of shade & cold tolerant plants (vegetables, herbs, & flowers). In my post I failed to mention what plants that can be grown indoors, for example tropical plants like:

Peace Lily, Aloe Vera, Snake Plant, and Christmas cactus which I grow at my house. Other plants that grow well indoors are:
Ficus Alii,
English Ivy,
Janet Craig,
Rubber plant,
Bamboo palm,
Raphis Palm,
Areca Palm,
Snake Plant,
Spider Plant,
Mother-in-law's Tongue,
Chinese Evergreen,
Gerbera Daisy,
African violet, and
Orchid plant.
Photo: Natuur Puebla
Grow plants by a South facing Window or Room that receives over four hours of sunlight. Water each plant thoroughly once every week or two. If I have leftover water for whatever reason, I dump the water onto a potted plant.
Save space by placing potted plants on shelves or hang them vertically. Utilizing vertical space will allow you to grow more plants in one area than utilizing floor space.

the rainforest garden
photo source
photo source
Todo Manualidades

photo link

lunar harvest
photo link
Instead of growing only Tropical house plants, try growing Trees that will produce Fruit. For instance, dwarf Orange trees, lemon and limes are small enough trees that can be grown indoors.

photo link

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What I'm growing indoors during February Winter

As mentioned in a post this week (here), James bought seeds and bulbs for my birthday/Valentine's Day; and again he surprised me today with Raspberry bushes. I woke up with him handing me a banana/pineapple smoothie and a lovely card, then showing me two pots with two Raspberry plants and Tulips.
Raspberry plants, asparagus & rhubarb in pots covered

We started over one hundred Cabbage seeds indoors in the Greenhouse, and within three days they have made their first sets of leaves.

Golden acre cabbage

I showed you in January's post what I was growing indoors (here); and I wanted to show you an update on the Pear tree. As you can see in the pictures below, it putting off leaves all over the plant.

The Rhubarb is also growing quickly--sprouting over an inch in the last three days.

Victoria Rhubarb (3 plants)
Outside the home, the daffodils are poking through because they have been tricked into thinking it's Spring. Little did they know today of Valentine's day was the worst and only snow day we have had this year in Kentucky. I hope they survive this weather.