Making composting look and sound glamorous: “El Compostadores”

If you know anything about composting, you’re not likely to learn anything new from the following video … however, you’ve got to appreciate the background music (the sort more often associated with perfume videos) and the good-looking models doing the composting. They are el compostadores, which sounds so stylish that I think I will hereafter refer to myself as one.

COMpostadores | September 1, 2010 | Vídeo explicativo sobre cómo autocompostar. ¡Obtén compost (abono natural) con tu combox! Configura tu Combox en http://www.compostadores.com.
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Go behind the scenes at Milwaukee’s new aquaponics farm and market

A few days ago I had the privilege of touring Sweet Water Organics to observe a closed-loop system whereby fish are farmed and their water is filtered by growing vegetables which take up the nutrients from the fish waste. All this goes on within an industrial building which, only 18 months ago, could have best been described as abandoned space. Many thanks to the Ciancimino family for providing me access to this burgeoning facility. ~ JB

Learn the details behind this three-tiered, bio-intensive, simulated wetland
and CSA farm from SWO’s website and blog.
Below is a new slide show illustrating this summer’s outside expansion.

SWOfarm | August 31, 2010  | Sweet Water Organics is an urban fish and vegetable farm in Milwaukee, Wis. This slide show documents the development of Sweet Water Organics’ first outdoor expansion project. We have nine 5,000-gallon tanks where we will be raising perch and blue gills. These tank systems will be connected to several vegetable greenhouses. Fish and vegetables will be grown all year round.

A better hoop house: Video series offers creative options

RemoteGardener | August 16, 2010  | Your friend Greg shows you how durable Solexx 5mm greenhouse covering is and provides you with information about the material. Solexx durability is demonstrated through the use of the BFT (ballistic fist test). The BFT gives you an example of Solexx’s strength and greenhouse glazing potential.
RemoteGardener | August 20, 2010  |  The 5 mm Solexx is shown with an 8’6″ Conley greenhouse cold frame which was extended to 12′ in height. Coldframe modification is used to gain more growing space while staying within a budget.
RemoteGardener | August 27, 2010  | Your friend Greg shows you how a hoop house coldframe can be modified to gain height and allow additional room to grow your vegetables. Additional growing space is achieved by pushing the frame up from the ground and using fence posts for support.

This greenhouse is built on unlevel ground with a difference of 8 feet from one end to the other. By raising the coldframe, we were able to level the structure and add additional height for growing plants.

Read more here: remotegardener.com.

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New and free: A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests

FieldGuide AR Stamp2.jpg

Available as printed material or downloadable as a PDF from the web, this newly revised invasive plant guide is offered courtesy of the USDA Forest Service. The book provides information on accurate identification of the 56 nonnative plants and groups that are currently invading the forests of the 13 Southern states and lists additional nonnative plants of increasing concern. Read more here or download by clicking here.

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Buildings and gardens: Seeing them for what they do

Two quotations that resonate with us, living as we do in a 142-year-old school surrounded by a vegetative wilderness of our own making, are presented here for your consideration. Like two sturdy bookends, these few words manage to encompass and support our perspectives on architecture and landscape. ~ JB

For the last three years I motored many miles … It was always a piece of architecture that suddenly dissipated the obscurity of time and brought the living presence back of all ages. It is in the stones and wood that the personal record of man comes down to us. We call it atmosphere, this indescribable something that still haunts old monuments. You can read history, you can visit a hundred museums containing their handiwork, but nothing can reincarnate their spirit except to walk through rooms in which they have lived and through the scenes that were the background of their lives. It is a marvelous thing, this expression of human ideals in walls and windows.
~ John Hays Hammond Jr. (1888-1965)

The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition

I went to stay at a very grand and beautiful place in the country where the grounds are said to be laid out with consummate taste. For the first three or four days I was enchanted. It seemed so much better than Nature, that I began to wish the earth had been laid out according to the latest principles of improvement. In three days’ time I was tired to death: a Thistle, a heap of dead bushes, anything that wore the appearance of accident and want of intention was quite a relief. I used to escape from the made grounds and walk upon the adjacent goose common, where the cart ruts, gravel pits, bumps, coarse ungentlemanlike Grass, and all the varieties produced by neglect were a thousand times more gratifying.
~ Sydney Smith (1771-1845), quoted in the introduction of William Robinson’s original The Wild Garden (published 1870) and reproduced by Rick Darke and Timber Press in 2009.


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Chelsea Green shines a light on solar clothes drying and Hrens’ advice book

The Homemade Wilderness laundry line — strung from an iron bar outside a window to a section of split-rail fence embedded in a prairie hillside.

I love laundry day by Capt Kodak.Quoting The Carbon-Free Home:

Electric clothes dryers are a colossal waste of energy. They often draw around 6,000 watts. Six thousand! This is more than a typical heat pump or electric water heater, usually thought of as the hogs of the household. Simply put, you should not use this appliance. Gas dryers are more efficient because they use no electric-resistant heat, but they can still draw around 720 watts. That’s a lot, equivalent to about 60 compact fluorescents (not to mention the energy of the gas). You should plan on getting rid of electric heat dryers and hopefully gas-fired dryers as well if your climate allows.

Solar clothes drying shows this energy source at its finest. It’s a great example of simplicity combined with effectiveness. Hang up something wet in the sun, come back in a few hours, and voilà, it’s dry, clean, and fresh smelling. Like everything, having the proper tools to access this resource goes a very long way in making sure it’s effective and easy to do. Some of this depends on your climate and your own personal habits. We realize some parts of the country have very little sun in the winter, but if you set aside a bit of room, even in a closet or a spare bedroom, clothes hung on racks will dry fairly quickly in a heated house.

Read more here.

flickr/Capt Kodak

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publishes online journal for general public

Volume 1, issue 1 of the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management premieres online with articles about watersheds and Atlantic Salmon, flooding influences on bottomland hardwood trees, planning responses to invasive species, hawk habitat, delineating grassland bird conservation areas, seed loss in flooded fields, and more. The journal will be published twice a year. Read more here.

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Mother Earth News: 30% of all new titles for one week only

Twenty new books are being offered at special introductory prices through June 19, 2010, by publisher Mother Earth News. Read more here.

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Timber Press keeps churning out interesting reads

Timber Press has just announced its new fall lineup of books. At least one of the twenty-one upcoming publications should be of interest to anyone who eats or gardens. Read more here.

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Dirty babies and children

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The new film “Babies” has caused journalists (Melinda Beck, “Can Dirt Do a Little Good?”/Wall Street Journal, and Umbra Fisk, “Are We Too Clean?”/Grist) to question how exposure to soil affects the children’s health. (Click on links to read those articles.)

Coincidentally, the following product video was recently posted. Researchers can perform the microbial analysis. You can judge the mental health impact of playing in the dirt for yourself. ~ JB

To view this video at best resolution, switch up the 360p default to 480p.

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