Friday, May 30, 2008

Fascinating Thoughts on Fruit and Sunburn

NF Note: This is a story we can really sink our teeth in. Thought you might find it of interest. Look for us out and about this summer at all of our area's great events-- we'll be ones eating those veggies!!

Fruits & Vegetables Protect Against Sunburn

If you're planning to spend time in the sun this summer, it may be a good idea to add lots of salads to your diet..........

Read the story-

Insect Scouting Reveals Pests

If you want to control insects in your landscape, a University of Georgia expert says you have to be a good scout. But remember, a little damage won’t hurt.

Like a good Boy Scout or Girl Scout, an insect scout must be prepared and armed with the proper tools like a notebook, sticky tape, a magnifying lens and tweezers. Inspect your landscape and record insect-damaged plants in your notebook and use the lens to inspect more closely. Inventory the insects you see.

To check for scale insects, Kris Braman, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, offers this tip. Place a piece of sticky tape on the plant, remove and look for hatching crawlers.

“The crawlers are the only mobile stage of these otherwise sessile pests. If you find crawlers on the sticky tape, it’s time to control the scale infestation,” she said.

If you see a bug that you know has been munching on your plants, you can just pull it off and get rid of it. Or, you can just live with a little damage.

“Insect pests can damage plants, but if only 10 percent of the plant is affected, you need to learn to live with a little imperfection,” she said.

If the number of insects and damage is too much, a pesticide may need to be used, she said. For help selecting the right one, call the local UGA Cooperative Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

by Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Organic Ag Program Benefits Students, Community

Students' interests in the organic agriculture certificate program at the University of Georgia aren't limited to growing peppers, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Some students are hoping to start businesses with the knowledge they acquire.

One student, Lizabeth Simmons, is hoping to open a "florist shop featuring organic cut flowers while another student, Wesley Belcher, wants to open an organic Christmas tree farm," said Marc van Iersel, a UGA horticulture professor involved with the program.

Belcher is a UGA student and Christmas tree farmer. After getting into the program, he'd like to incorporate organic trees into his business because "some people feel that chemical residues are harmful to their health and the surrounding environment," he said.

"People handle Christmas trees a lot with their hands," Belcher said. So he'd like to offer them trees they can decorate without coming into contact with chemical residues.

"People will feel warm and fuzzy when they see that they're getting an organically grown Christmas tree," he said.

Benefits

The UGA certificate program provides hands-on learning opportunities for students. It benefits Georgia farmers by increasing awareness of organic agriculture as an alternative method of growing crops.

Van Iersel said farmers around Athens support the university's program. Students study local farmers' problems and try to solve them as part of the class research. Then they pass this knowledge back to the farmers.

"The horticulture farm doesn't compete with local farmers," van Iersel said. "It serves more to educate the community and students about different ways to grow crops and the different, nontraditional options growers have."

"Our purpose is not to promote organic agriculture over traditional methods but to promote awareness of using alternative methods," he said.

Differences

Robert Tate, the primary caretaker and project coordinator for the UGA horticulture farm, has more than 10 years of experience with organic agriculture. He said, "The techniques are more labor-intensive than in traditional methods. However, methods such as crop rotation and drip tape, a form of irrigation, prove more efficient and ecologically friendly."

"Water conservation and soil rejuvenation are among the main concerns," Tate said. "Their objective in organic production is to grow quality produce and continually maintain good soil conditions."

The program has benefits throughout Athens. Anish Malladi, a horticulture assistant professor, said the program donates half of the certified organic produce grown at the horticulture farm to the Northeast Georgia Food Bank in Athens. The rest is sold as a club fundraiser.

"Many departments work together in the certificate program," van Iersel said. "Entomologists suggest using certain insects to protect the crops from harmful insect species. Plant pathologists teach ways to prevent pathogens from invading the crops."

To learn more about the UGA organic agriculture certificate program, visit the Web site at www.uga.edu/organic.

By Katie Jaeger
University of Georgia

Katie Jaeger is a student writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Right Variety, Timing Key to Backyard Pecans

Many people fail to realize the potential problems facing the successful production of pecans in home or backyard orchards. They think that all pecan trees are alike.

The backbone of any backyard orchard should be the selection of varieties. All of them have good and bad qualities. For a low-input producer, like most home pecan growers, in the Southeast, disease resistance should be top priority. Our climate is favorable for the development of a disease called pecan scab, which can annihilate a crop, especially during wet summer weather.

There are no controls available to fight scab for the backyard pecan grower. Resistant varieties such as Excel, Elliott, Sumner, Gloria Grande, Gafford, Jenkins and Amling should be planted to escape this devastating disease. Pecan scab is minimized by dry weather, which can benefit scab-susceptible varieties.

Fertilizing pecans can be a complicated matter. Because pecan trees are a perennial crop, which means they produce a heavy crop every other year, there is often considerable carry-over of nutrients from a year with a light crop into one with a heavy crop. Trees that are well managed can actually go for several years without fertilizer before any reduction in yield or tree health is noticed.

When bearing a light crop, the trees don’t use a lot of energy. If adequate fertility is provided, the excess energy from these nutrients is stored. This helps produce a larger crop the following year. For this reason, pecan trees require less fertilizer in “off” years, or years with a light crop.

For a backyard tree, apply 4 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every inch of trunk diameter up to a maximum of 25 pounds in years when a heavy crop is expected. When a light crop is expected, this rate can be cut in half.

Apply the fertilizer in March or April by broadcasting over the area beneath the tips of the branches. The roots often extend out to twice the width of the canopy. Avoid applying fertilizer near the base of the trunk. An excessive concentration there can damage feeder roots.

Pecan trees can use a lot of water, particularly in late summer. Water mature trees during the first two weeks of September. Too much water from May to mid-August can lead to large nuts, which will make it difficult to develop high quality kernels for harvest in fall. If the tree bears a light crop, the water requirements for that tree will be less.

The pecans on a tree that is bearing a heavy crop can develop problems, too, such as undeveloped or fuzzy kernels or shuck deterioration late in the season. This results from the lack of access to adequate water and nutrients for the large crop the tree is bearing. Aside from proper water management, little can be done to correct this problem.

A variety of insects can attack pecan trees. The most problematic for the home grower is the pecan weevil. It chews through the shuck to lay its eggs inside the pecan nut. The larvae eat the nut.

When the nut falls to the ground, the immature insect emerges and burrows into the ground where it develops into an adult. The adult weevils emerge from the soil with late summer rains and crawl up trees in search of more nuts. Spray Sevin on the ground and at the base of the trunk to control them.

Backyard pecan production requires the producer to be wise and efficient with when, where and how they provide inputs for their trees. This can be of economic and environmental benefit.

By Lenny Wells
University of Georgia

Lenny Wells is the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension state pecan specialist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Coweta County Master Gardeners Present Spring Garden Gate Tour May 31

It’s warm, the garden centers and nurseries are bursting with color, and it’s that time of the year again when Coweta County’s Master Gardeners open their own gardens to the public. The Spring Garden Gate Tour will be held Saturday, May 31 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a catered lunch from noon until 2 p.m. Bring along your camera, a notepad, and ask questions. Master Gardeners will be available at each site to share their experience and gardening knowledge.

Three exceptional, mature gardens are on display this year in Newnan. They are outstanding after many years of transition and hard work. Each garden is a delightful journey with colors and textures that pull you along walkways and entertainment areas. Two of the gardens are across the road from each other, each an example of gardening on large properties. In historic Newnan, a city garden, tended by one of the most experienced master gardeners in this area, is filled with colorful blooms, textures and foliage.

Ticket prices are $20 with lunch included or single garden tours can be purchased at the individual gardens for $5 each. Lunch will be served in the Shade Garden at Country Gardens Farms and Nursery, 3728 Lower Fayetteville Rd. It will be catered by Making Memories.

Owners of Country Gardens, Mike and Judy Cunningham, are sponsoring the tour. You can call the garden center at 770-251-2673 or the Coweta County Extension Office at 770-254-2620
for ticket information. On the web, visit www.ugaextension.com/coweta or www.countrygardensfarm.com. Tickets are on sale at Country Gardens or the Extension Office, 275 Pine Rd., Newnan.

The proceeds from the tour help support the Coweta County Master Gardener Association and local University of Georgia Extension program projects such as 4-H, Junior Master Gardener, and the operation of an educational greenhouse.

The Association is a volunteer organization that promotes the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension programs. Master Gardeners provide horticultural information to the community in educational and beautification projects by using the research and resources of the University of Georgia.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hostas: Easy To Grow And Made For The Shade

NAPSI-Adding grace and beauty to the shady side of your lawn may be easier than you think. Because hostas are easy to grow and to plant and do best in nonsunny areas of the yard, even the most inexperienced gardeners may use them to add beauty to their landscaping.

Any good garden soil is appropriate for growing hostas, which remain the most popular and best perennial in existence today for shady areas. The gardening experts at Gilbert H. Wild and Son, who just received the Mastergardening.com Seal of Approval, offer these tips to get your hostas off to a good start:

Where to Plant

Most hostas do best in shade or partial shade and will tolerate morning sun, but not hot afternoon sun. Hostas should be planted in well-drained soil. One method of achieving adequate drainage in problem areas is to prepare a raised bed three to six inches above ground level. They grow well at the base of most trees, but do not mix well with nut trees.

When to Plant

The plants should be planted in the spring before the soil temperature reaches 65 degrees. In the fall, you need to plant four weeks prior to the ground freezing for best results.

How to Plant

If you cannot plant immediately after receiving these plants, place them in a cool location; your refrigerator vegetable drawer is best. Keep the roots moist and soak them in water four to six hours prior to planting.

Experts suggest that you work the soil eight to 10 inches deep into a good, loose condition. Incorporate a mixture of good garden soil and compost into the hole. Make a mound in the center of the hole and place the plant on top of the mound, spreading the roots around the mound.

Hostas work great along that shady driveway or underneath a clump of trees that you’re tired of mowing around. For best results, plant them 12 to 18 inches apart. For hosta fans, there’s a Hosta By The Handful program that offers a wide mix of at least five different varieties at a reduced price. Additional plants will be included in orders if purchasers mention “add 10% more plants” to the subject line of the order form.

To learn more, visit www.gilberthwild.com.

Low Maintenance--Most hostas do well in shade or partial shade, are easy to grow and add grace to your landscape.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Spring Yard & Garden Show, Peachtree City

Mock 'jellyfish' sign of healthy pond

If you see what look like jellyfish floating in Georgia ponds, don’t be alarmed. These are actually harmless moss animals called bryozoa.

“I get a lot of calls from pond owners who want me to come out and look at the ‘thing,’ ‘glob’ or ‘weird creature’ that’s under the surface of their ponds,” said Jim Crawford, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator in Jefferson County.

Bryozoa are colonies of aquatic animals belonging to the phylum Ectoprocta, a group with fossil records dating back to the upper Cambrian period. Most live in saltwater, but one class, Phylactolaemata, lives exclusively in fresh water.

“Pectinatella magnifica is the type seen most often in our county ponds, and it consists of a mass of animals living on the surface of a gelatinous mass that is 99 percent water,” Crawford said. “There could easily be millions of interconnected animals forming this one colony.”
These colonies are firm and slimy to the touch and are most often attached to underwater limbs, pipes, logs, posts or even boat docks, he said.

UGA aquaculture specialist Gary Burtle has seen bryoza as large as baseballs, footballs and even basketballs.

“They are a food source for panfish such as bream and crappie,” he said. “They’re microscopic animals, and they form colonies for protection. When they’re football size, the bream can’t eat them.”

There are three ways to control bryoza populations, he said: physical removal, chemical control and fish control.

“If they’re large enough, you can scoop them out and take them to shore,” he said. “You can also add more panfish.”

Treating algae with herbicides containing copper sulfate will subsequently control bryoza, Burtle said.

“These bryoza have actually been in ponds for a while,” Crawford said. “But as the weather cools and the algae population recedes, the water becomes clear and they become highly visible. One pond had so many (bryozoa) they had attached themselves to the inside of the drainpipe. It actually became stopped up, and the water flow was down to a trickle.”

Saltwater species are known to grow on the bottoms of ships, causing drag and reducing the efficiency and maneuverability of the fouled ships.

“To me, they resemble a human brain. And that’s how I describe them to people on the phone,” he said. “If you take them out of the water and put them in the sun, the animals will dry out and die, leaving just the gelatinous material that looks like clear jelly.”

Bryozoa are a sign of a healthy pond. “Pond owners should be fascinated that their pond is clean enough to support these prehistoric animal colonies,” he said. Burtle agrees.

“They’re one of those anomalies that people just don’t understand,” Burtle said. “They’re on the same evolutionary scale as jellyfish, and they can’t hurt you.”

“These freshwater bryozoa are completely harmless in and of themselves, except when they occasionally clog water pipes,” Crawford said. “If you have some close to your boat dock, they probably make interesting conversation pieces.”

By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Visit to Turnipseed Nursery in Fayetteville, GA

Turnipseed Nursery sits is surrounded by traffic, restaurants and a growing city. However, once you travel through the bush flanked driveway, it's hard to believe you're not out in the country, miles from civilization. Owner Steven Stinchcomb has created an oasis on the edge of Fayetteville that is well worth a visit, whether you like plants or not!

A well-known and talented artist, Stinchcomb opens his studio to the public during the few months the nursery is open. Walking around visitors and shoppers will find eye-catching sculpture sitting in the midst of gorgeous plants of all types.

Swans glide across the two ponds and waddle around the shores completely ignoring the visitors intruding in their world. On one shore a pair of swans guard a nest, taking turns sitting on the eggs that may have hatched by now. The numerous roosters haven't learned they're only supposed to crow in the mornings. They call for attention continually, only stopping when Stinchcomb fills their water dishes.

Bird houses are scattered among the vines and bushes, vines wind around older art pieces and interesting pieces of wood are artistically stacked making the entire nursery a work of art. The eye travels from one picture to the next, wanting to capture it all!

Plants. Yes, there are plants. There's so much to see the plants are almost an afterthought, even though they're plentiful. Take a break and visit Turnipseed Nursery. It's the perfect place to visit when you've had a stressful day. Take home a few plants, a birdbath, a painting or piece of sculpture and begin to create your own oasis.

Click this link to see some photos of Turnipseed Nursery.

Turnipseed Nursery Farms: 685 Glynn St S Fayetteville, GA 770-460-8534

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Well owners responsible for their water safety

When Frank Hancock was called to the house of a mother with two children sickened by E. coli bacteria, he discovered that the water from their well was the source. He found other wells in the county with problems, too.

“I don’t think our experience is different than any other county,” said Hancock, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent in Henry County. “People are not maintaining their wells. They don’t think about where their water is coming from.”

Most people don’t know that they must maintain their wells, he said.

“If the county water supply has a problem, there are probably 100 people working on it,” he said. “If your well has a problem and you aren’t working on it, no one is.”

To get the word out in his county, Hancock organized a well water maintenance seminar.

“We wanted to let people know the risks of not taking care of their well,” he said, “and tell them, 'this is your responsibility.'”

“You will find low levels of bacteria in most wells,” said Parshall Bush, a residue chemist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “There are different levels of contamination.”

Since 2003, 10 percent of bored wells tested at the UGA Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratory contain E. coli. More than half failed to meet Environmental Protection Agency municipal drinking water standards. One out of three showed bacteria levels high enough to cause illness. Most water samples sent to the lab come from north Georgia.

Drilled wells, typically deeper than 100 feet, are less likely to be contaminated by bacteria. Wells less than 60 feet deep are more likely than deeper wells to be contaminated. Soil above the water table doesn’t filter enough bacteria from shallow groundwater.

If a septic system is too close to the well or not working properly, Bush said, it can be the bacteria source.

“Contamination can occur if the well was improperly constructed or if the well is located in a depression that collects surface runoff,” Bush said.

The UGA well-cam was used to checkout problem wells in Henry County.

“We saw cracks in well liners, tree roots so numerous in wells that the camera couldn’t pass by, wells with spider webs down to the 14-foot level,” Hancock said. “We also saw well houses totally contaminated with gas, pesticides, fertilizer and rats.”

Nitrate, lead and copper are the primary contaminates found in Georgia well water, said Bush.

“Nitrate contamination is the result of fertilizer application or animal operations and copper and lead can be attributed to corrosive pipes.”

All pesticides and herbicides should be kept away from wells and other sources of drinking water, he said.

“We always say, ‘If you don’t want to drink it, keep it away from the well,’” Bush said.

Abandoned wells should be filled in.

Well testing can be done through local UGA Extension offices. A bacterial test is available for $35. An expanded water test, which tests for minerals, soluble salts and alkalinity, is $45. Call 1-800-ASK-UGA1 for more information.

Once a water sample is tested, the well owner will get a report showing results that are above EPA's primary and secondary maximum levels. If a water sample tests positive for bacteria, a chlorination treatment is recommended.

by April Sorrow
University of Georgia

April Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Grant Establishes Pilot Landscape Program at Fayette County High

An $8,000 SkillsUSA Lowe’s Education/Chapter Improvement Grant will help fund the school system’s first-ever landscape management program for students with mild cognitive disabilities.

The grant was awarded to Fayette County High teacher Tina DeCotis who submitted a proposal for the program earlier this year. The school will use the funds to purchase mowers, blowers and trimmers, as well as provide integrated safety training, to special needs students who are interested in pursuing careers in landscape maintenance.

The program will begin in the fall and will be the first of its kind for the school system. DeCotis says she hopes that once the program gets underway, it can be implemented at other schools in the county.

“Once initiated, local and state education representatives will be invited to observe the program in the hope of expanding it to other schools and offering similar opportunities to intellectually disabled students,” she says.

The new program will complement the school’s community based vocational instruction program where students are placed at job sites around the county to gain real world working experience and skills. Students mainly work in restaurants and grocery stores where maintenance and stocking shelves are the primary duties. Now, students will have an additional opportunity to further expand their skill sets to a field where jobs are growing.

“My ultimate goal is to give these students the opportunity to become independent contributing members of society without any need for public assistance after they transition into the workforce after graduation,” DeCotis says.

The program will be open to interested students whose ability levels enable them to perform essential duties associated with landscape maintenance and whose parents give permission for them to participate.

Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation awards grants of up to $10,000 each to SkillsUSA chapters for innovative projects or program enhancements at their schools. The grants are designed to further the SkillsUSA program at local schools, provide awareness of technical careers and training opportunities and highlight the good work that SkillsUSA is doing.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization of students, teachers and industry, working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. SkillsUSA helps high school and college students enrolled in career and technical education programs to excel by teaching employability skills such as communication, problem solving and leadership in conjunction with their trade, technical and service occupations skills.

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UGA institute focuses on better plants

Creating new and improved plant varieties that are higher yielding, more disease resistant, nutritious or simply look better in landscapes is the focus of a new University of Georgia institute.

The UGA Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics has researchers who use both traditional and modern genetic technologies to develop plants, said Charles Brummer, the institute’s director.

“We are pulling research together from across the state under a single umbrella so we can create better products,” said Brummer, a forage and biomass crop researcher with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

According to Brummer, agronomic and horticultural crops must constantly be improved to adjust to climate change, ensure farm profits, create crop diversity and meet consumer demands for prettier plants. The institute aims to bring together many academic disciplines to become a world leader in the introduction of new cultivars from a range of species.

“Overall, the institute focuses on applying the science of plant breeding to the development of products that will provide consumers with superior plants for use on farms, athletic fields and home and business landscapes,” Brummer said.

The majority of the institute’s researchers are with the CAES. Institute scientists also work with industry plant breeders and other scientists, Brummer said.

“We have more plant breeders on the faculty than any other state university,” he said. “And (we have) a huge diversity of experts focusing on cotton, soybeans, pecans, forages, ornamentals, peanut, turfgrass, blueberries, sunflower and other crops.”

Beginning with the release of Coastal Bermudagrass in the 1950’s, CAES has established a reputation for breeding successful forage and turfgrass cultivars. Peanut cultivars recently developed on the UGA Tifton campus have dominated the peanut market in the Southeast. Roundup Ready® soybean cultivars developed by an institute member enabled the recent doubling of soybean acreage in the lower Southeast.

Royalties from plant cultivars developed at UGA and currently licensed by the UGA Research Foundation represent up to two-thirds of the intellectual property income generated annually by UGA.

In addition to its research component, the institute offers UGA graduate degrees in plant breeding, genetics and genomics and undergraduate research opportunities.

by April Sorrow
University of Georgia


April Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Locally grown food better tasting, better for you

With increasing worries about the safety of imported foods, there is an alternative, says a University of Georgia expert. Buy food grown locally.

“These foods are fresher. So, they usually have more nutrients than foods that have been transported farther and stored for several days,” said Connie Crawley, a nutrition and health specialist with the UGA Cooperative Extension.

Riper is tastier

Produce from local farmers has a chance to get more nutrients because it is often fully ripened before being harvested. This affects the flavor of the produce, too, says Julia Gaskin, a land application specialist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“Locally grown foods are closer to you, so they taste better,” Gaskin said. “They are picked when they are ripe, not when they’re green.”

Georgia farmers feel that their produce is better, Gaskin said, and that people need to know they abide by much stricter safety regulations than many overseas operations.

More variety

The shipping process doesn’t allow imported foods to have much variety, she said. Local farmers grow varieties of crops that taste good, but don’t necessarily ship well.

“There is a movement to support local farmers so they can keep their land and keep growing their crops,” Gaskin said. “People have a desire to feel a connection back to the farmer. If they know who is growing their food, there is a trust level about how it is handled.”

The United States currently has 3,700 local farmers’ markets, more than double what it had a decade ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

From the grocer or the farmer

Locally grown food is showing up in grocery stores, too. Stores are now beginning to provide sections for regionally-grown produce grown.

Community-supported agriculture is also growing in popularity. CSA farmers provide locally grown produce to consumers who buy subscriptions from them.

“We as consumers can really help farmers by asking for and choosing Georgia produce,” Gaskin said, “and put money back into our communities.

By Allie Byrd
University of Georgia

Allie Byrd is a student writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Planting Rain Gardens Can Cut Neighborhood Pollution

SPM Wire Homeowners can help eliminate neighborhood pollution simply by planting an easy-to-construct garden on their property.

According to new research, properly designed "rain gardens" can effectively trap and retain up to 99 percent of common pollutants in storm runoff, potentially improving water quality and promoting the conversion of some pollutants into less harmful compounds.

The affordable, easy-to-design gardens could help solve one of the nation's most pressing pollution problems, say University of Connecticut researchers who have been studying the issue.

More than half of the rainwater that falls on a typical city block, one with 75 percent or more impervious cover - such as roads or parking lots - will leave as runoff, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This runoff includes metals, oils, fertilizers and other matter.

Easy-to-construct rain gardens - shallow depressions in the earth landscaped with hardy shrubs and plants such as chokeberry or winterberry surrounded by bark mulch - offer a simple remedy to this problem.

The gardens are designed to replicate the natural water cycle that existed before roads and other impervious surfaces were built, say Michael Dietz and John Clausen, the two researchers who conducted the new study.

"Rain gardens are pleasing to look at, while they are performing an important function," Dietz says.

As the water collects and soaks into the rain garden, it infiltrates into the ground rather than draining directly into sewers or waterways. The gardens work well year-round.

Information about designing and constructing rain gardens can be found on the Internet on such Web sites as http://clean-water.uwex.edu/pubs.

In their two-year study of roof-water runoff, the researchers found that rain gardens significantly reduced concentrations of nitrates, ammonias, phosphorous and other pollutants reaching storm drains. In addition, design tweaks that allowed polluted rainwater to pool at the bottom of the gardens permitted bacteria in the soil to convert harmful nitrates into nitrogen gas, preventing them from entering the groundwater.

Dietz and Clausen hope their results will encourage developers and homeowners to create these low-tech rain water collectors. Their research is being published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society and a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress.

Michael Dietz, University of Connecticut

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Drought lingers across north Georgia

Winter and early spring rains have helped, but north Georgia remains in severe to extreme drought. The northern coastal plain is abnormally dry. Moisture conditions for the southern coastal plain along the Florida border are near normal for now.

From Oct. 1 through the middle of April is considered Georgia’s moisture recharge period, when the state typically gets more rain than moisture loses due to evaporation and plant use.

North Georgia didn’t receive enough rain to fully recharge soil moisture, groundwater, streams or reservoirs. Since Oct. 1, north Georgia has received only 70 percent to 80 percent of normal rainfall.

Most north Geogia streams are at or near record low flows for late April. At many locations, only 1986 and 2007 stream flows were lower than they are now.

Both Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell are well below desired levels for late April. Smaller reservoirs are near full, though. However, with the extremely low stream flows across north Georgia, these smaller reservoirs must be managed well because drought conditions are expected to continue.

From the northern coastal plain to the North Carolina and Tennessee borders, soil moisture is abnormally low. It is especially low across the northern piedmont and into the mountains. In northwest Georgia, soil moisture is extremely low.

Soil moisture in south-central and southeast Georgia is near normal for late April. But levels are already decreasing. In southwest Georgia, most flows are low for late April and decreasing. The development of drought conditions over the next month is possible.

Late April through October, moisture loss from soils is usually greater than rainfall. If Georgia has normal weather this summer, we can expect the soils to continue to dry out and groundwater levels, stream flows and reservoir levels to drop across the entire state.

Updated drought information is available at www.georgiadrought.org. The state drought Web site includes information on how to deal with the drought.

The University of Georgia statewide network of automated weather stations can be found at www.georgiaweather.net.

By David Emory Stooksbury
University of Georgia

David Stooksbury is the state climatologist, a professor of engineering and graduate coordinator for atmospheric sciences in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Governor Perdue Launches Conservation Campaign

Governor Sonny Perdue today (April 24, 2008) launched a new conservation campaign aimed at creating a culture of conservation among Georgia residents, businesses, organizations, local governments and schools. Conserve Georgia is a statewide multi-agency marketing and public education effort aimed at promoting the conservation of energy, land and water; the prevention of litter; and the promotion of recycling.

“If there is one benefit of Georgia’s record drought, it is the renewed emphasis on the importance of conservation in the daily lives of all Georgians,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “Our state is blessed with a wealth of natural resources, but the drought has shown us that they are not unlimited. The stewardship of energy, land and water resources is vital to the lives of our state’s citizens. Most importantly, conservation is the right thing to do, in times of scarcity or abundance.”

Conserve Georgia’s website – conservegeorgia.org – is a one-stop-shop portal to the state’s conservation programs. Any Georgian or organization seeking more information on how to conserve the state’s natural resources, can visit conservegeorgia.org and easily access all of the state’s conservation programs and information.

The state’s current conservation efforts are organized among as many as nine different agencies, including the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Community Affairs, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, Department of Education, Department of Transportation and the Department of Agriculture.

Creating a unified marketing campaign for the state’s conservation programs will help the state of Georgia achieve greater results through coordination, common goals, and shared branding. The leadership of the ten state agencies and divisions will form the Conserve Georgia Council and will serve as the decision making body for Conserve Georgia.

The Conserve Georgia Council will identify and partner with public and private sector organizations and entities to further the mission of Conserve Georgia. The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) will coordinate the effort. GEFA Executive Director Chris Clark will serve as chairman of the Conserve Georgia Council.

Governor Perdue signed the Executive Order forming Conserve Georgia at Pratt Industries’ recycling facility in East Point. The facility receives and processes material from homes and businesses throughout Georgia and the Southeast, offering a convenient manner for citizens to recycle and divert material from the landfill. Pratt Industries, which is based in Conyers, recently committed $1 billion to construct and operate at least three new 100 percent recycled paper mills, four waste-to-energy plants, and 30 recycling facilities.

The text of the Governor’s Conserve Georgia Executive Order is below:

BY THE GOVERNOR:

WHEREAS: Georgians enjoy a high quality of life bolstered by the state’s rich natural resources; and

WHEREAS: It is of paramount importance for Georgia’s continued prosperity to conserve Georgia’s natural resources and to instill in all Georgians an ethic of stewardship and conservation; and

WHEREAS: The government of the State of Georgia should lead by example in adopting, implementing and promoting conservation practices; and

WHEREAS: The State of Georgia is a large business enterprise and a substantial consumer of energy and water and manages more than one million acres of land; and

WHEREAS: The State of Georgia experienced a severe drought in 2007 and continues to experience record low rainfall and it is expected that the low rainfall will continue into the immediate future; and

WHEREAS: The State of Georgia recognizes that energy and land uses contribute to the state’s water supply and availability; and

WHEREAS: The state’s current conservation efforts are organized among many different agencies and can achieve greater outcomes through coordination, common goals, and shared marketing; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BY VIRTUE OF THE POWER VESTED IN ME AS THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, IT IS HEREBY

ORDERED: The creation of Conserve Georgia, a statewide, multi-agency marketing and public education effort aimed at promoting the conservation of energy, land and water; the prevention of litter; and the promotion of recycling in order to develop a “culture of conservation” among Georgia businesses, governments, organizations, educators, residents, and landowners; and

IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED: That www.ConserveGeorgia.org will serve as the “one stop shop” portal website for conservation resources in Georgia; and

IT IS FURTHER

ORDERED: A Conserve Georgia Council consisting of the leadership of participating state agencies and divisions will serve as the decision making body for Conserve Georgia. Conserve Georgia Council shall include, but is not limited to, the following state agencies and divisions:

Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority
Department of Natural Resources
Environmental Protection Division
Department of Community Affairs
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
Georgia Forestry Commission
Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission
Department of Education
Department of Transportation
Department of Agriculture

IT IS FURTHER

ORDERED: The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) will serve as the coordinating agency of Conserve Georgia; and

IT IS FURTHER

ORDERED: The Conserve Georgia Council will identify and partner with public and private sector organizations and entities to further the mission of Conserve Georgia; and

IT IS FURTHER

ORDERED: The Conserve Georgia Council will develop a strategic marketing plan, which will be updated annually, for state-sponsored conservation activities that includes:

· A unified vision for state-sponsored energy, land and water conservation initiatives, including litter and recycling programs;
· A marketing strategy to maximize the impact of state-sponsored conservation initiatives through shared resources; shared branding; and cooperative marketing, advertising, and education;
· A marketing budget for state-sponsored energy, land and water conservation initiatives, including litter and recycling programs;
· A comprehensive set of outcome-oriented metrics to evaluate the success of Conserve Georgia; and

IT IS FURTHER

ORDERED: The Conserve Georgia Council will advise the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget on the funding needs and allocations for Conserve Georgia marketing and public education; and

IT IS FURTHER

ORDERED: The Conserve Georgia Council will publish an annual performance assessment of the state’s coordinated energy, land, litter, recycling and water conservation programs.

This 24th Day of April, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Water Experts from across United States Converge in Atlanta for a First-of-Its-Kind Water Summit – May 21 and 22 -

BUSINESS WIRE--The state of Georgia is not alone in dealing with water issues. As more communities across the country are experiencing record drought, 2008 will bring a renewed discussion of the importance of water conservation and how communities can plan now to avoid water shortages later. Now Georgia is hosting a first-of-its-kind water conservation summit on May 21-22 at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta.

"Can Water Conservation Really Work for a Water System's Bottom Line?" will bring together conservation, utility, and financial experts from across the United States in Atlanta to discuss long-term ways to promote water efficiency while also helping communities, water utilities, and businesses.

The conference is being organized by Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Association on Water Professionals, Georgia Water Wise Council, the Alliance for Water Efficiency, and San Antonio Water System. San Antonio Water System's participation is being provided with seed money from Harvard University's Ash Institute.

Drought conditions are expected to continue and even intensify across much of the United States. This month, Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced that because of current conditions and the 90-day weather forecast, the current level four drought response would remain in place for the northern third of Georgia (55 counties.)

For more information on the two-day summit and a copy of the agenda, visit www.gwwc.org.

Showstopping Flowers Blooming Beautifully On Patios And Decks

NAPSI-Gardeners have long enjoyed the beauty of hydrangeas, but until recently these showstopping flowers were not usually potted for display on a patio or deck.

Fortunately, many varieties of these gorgeous garden dwellers can now be planted in large containers and thrive all summer long. Here’s how you can enjoy these blooming beauties potted right on your patio:

Select A Well-Suited Variety

There are several new varieties of hydrangeas that have been introduced in the past few years that perform wonderfully in containers. The Forever & Ever Series and Endless Summer Hydrangeas are quite successful as potted plants, with compact growth and long-lasting blooms.

Forever & Ever Peppermint features gorgeous mop-headed blooms and one-of-a-kind bicolor petals. Depending on your soil, the petals will display a brushstroke of either pink or blue in the center. Growing to approximately 24 inches tall and 36 inches wide, its compact stature makes it ideal for patio containers.

Forever & Ever Together is yet another attractive variety sure to bring attention to your patio. Its blooms span 8 inches across and are made up of unique double florets that actually change color throughout the season. Starting the summer off by opening with a light-green color, the blooms change to pink or blue by mid-summer (depending on your soil pH), and end the season with a rich violet or red color as temperatures begin to cool.

Choose The Correct Container

As a general rule, the patio container you select should be a good 2 to 4 inches wider and deeper than the nursery pot in which your hydrangea came. This will give the roots adequate room to grow. Choose light-colored containers to reflect heat away. Most importantly, the container should have adequate drainage holes.

Start With A Specific Soil

When planting hydrangeas in containers, always use a commercial potting mix that is sterilized and disease-free. Remember, your plants will thrive in a humus-rich soil. Some mixes even contain polymers to retain water, as well as slow-release fertilizers, both of which are excellent for containers.

Plant A Particular Way

When planting hydrangeas, place several inches of soil in the bottom of your container first. Remove your hydrangea from its previous pot and center it on top of this base soil. Fill in the sides with soil so there are no air pockets, then press gently with your hands, adding more soil if needed. If your soil mix did not contain fertilizer, apply a blend made for flowering shrubs according to package directions. Top it off with a thin layer of bark to help keep the plant from drying out. Water thoroughly right after planting, making sure the soil is very moist.

Look After It Lovingly

Hydrangeas prefer full sun to partial shade, but potted hydrangeas should not be placed in full sun for the entire day. Find a place on your patio with morning sun and afternoon shade for your hydrangea to be happiest and perform its best. It’s also a good idea for the location to be protected from the wind.

Hydrangeas tend to be thirsty plants, even more so in containers. Daily watering will keep your plants looking their best, but be careful not to overwater either--just keep the soil nice and moist. Using a water-soluble fertilizer every few weeks will help with new growth for continuous beauty.

Keep a watchful eye out for signs of pests or diseases. Pests such as red spider mites and aphids, as well as diseases like powdery mildew, can be common. If you suspect problems, contact a garden center to help keep your blooming beauties healthy and strong.

Cold winter temperatures are hard on container plants since their roots are above ground. Bring your hydrangea inside an unheated garage or storage building over the winter, watering regularly. Then in the spring, bring your plant back out onto the patio.

Hydrangeas might require a little extra TLC, but the summer—long blooms are worth every minute of it.

Beautiful new varieties of hydrangeas have been introduced that perform wonderfully in containers.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fun Ways To Get Kids To 'Act Green' At Home

NF note: Since the school year is winding down, we thought this article could inspire some of our children to learn more about ways to preserve our resources. Those who live in Peachtree City have an added advantage with golf carts. Why not challenge your tweenie to determine how much gasoline is saved when you use the golf cart for a week?

StatePoint- Whether it's through their parents, teachers, Al Gore or Leonardo DiCaprio, kids are hearing a lot about climate change and many want to know what they can do to help protect the environment.

In fact, kids ranked the environment as one of their top issues in a recent online poll by Scholastic News.

"One child's actions are just a blip in the global carbon budget, but one thousand kids riding their bikes or one million families lowering their thermostat are actions that register," said Mark Spencer, an environmental scientist from the University of California at Berkeley.

Getting kids to "Act Green" can be a fun family affair that everyone from the youngest family members to the oldest can enjoy together. Here are some tips and fun environmentally-friendly activities from Scholastic's new, free "Act Green" Web site for kids, available online at www.scholastic.com/actgreen:

* Green Yourself! Let kids have a no-bath week to learn about water conservation. Of course, the goal shouldn't be "act smelly," so have kids take showers instead, since they use about half as much water as baths. Consider having a week where you and your kids take nothing but five-minute showers. Tweens will love this exercise!

* Track household electricity use for a week. Teach kids how to read the electricity meter and have them make a chart tracking a week's worth of kilowatt hours used by your family. After kids see how much electricity you use, it's easier to get them to turn off lights when they leave a room or power down computers, TV sets, video games and other electronics when not in use!

* Replace all your batteries with rechargeable ones. Make this a fun game to track down all batteries used in your home.

* Start a vegetable garden or compost heap at home or at school.

* Carpool for a week. Talk about the places to which you drive your child every week. Figure out if there are any other kids or parents in your area who go to the same places. See if they would like to share a ride to save gas. Have a week where you and your kids carpool at least three times.

* Hold a "green party." Have your child plan a "no-waste" party and invite his or her friends. They can make posters, share green journals and come up with ways to help the environment in their homes and at school. Kids can then visit the "Act Green" Web site at www.scholastic.com/actgreen to share their green ideas with other children in their community and around the country.

* Recycle unwanted wire coat hangers. Go through all the closets in your house, collecting unused wire hangers. Then, do one of the following: bring them to your dry cleaner (who may be able to re-use them), add them to your curbside metal recycling or bring them to your local recycling center. Explain to kids that hangers contribute to bigger landfills, and we want to keep landfills small because they emit carbon gases, use up oil (with all those garbage trucks) and stink up the environment! This encourages them to think about ways to re-use and recycle other items they usually throw away.

"By educating and engaging kids early on about how to help our planet's future, they are more likely to grow up to be better informed citizens and more willing to get involved and make a difference," said Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic.

For 100 fun, free environmentally-friendly activities for kids, visit www.scholastic.com/actgreen. Parents and kids can also get customized "Green Plans" on the site and for every green activity they complete, they can earn points to power up the "Greenerator," an online machine that tracks kids' green activities throughout the country.

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www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Governor Perdue Announces Additional Sites for Go Fish Georgia Facilities

Today Governor Sonny Perdue announced the selection of eight additional facilities for the Go Fish Georgia Program. The additional mega-ramps sites announced today will bring the total up to 18 ramps funded by the program.

“I am very pleased to be able to announce the additional Go Fish sites today,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “All of the communities involved have committed to a 100% match for construction, there are good fisheries resources at each location, and there is adequate state Go Fish funding to complete all eight sites. This is a win-win situation for everybody involved.”

Additional sites announced today include:

Lock and Dam Park, Coosa River/Lake Weiss- Floyd County
Tuckasee King, Savannah River, - Effingham County
Altamaha Park, Altamaha River - Glynn County
Houlahan Bridge Boat Ramp, Savannah River - City of Port Wentworth
George Bagby State Park, Lake Walter F. George - Clay County
Burton’s Ferry Boat Landing, Savannah River - Screven County
Reynolds Landing, Lake Seminole - Seminole County
Buckeye Landing, Oconee River - Laurens County

The Go Fish Georgia program is designed to promote and enhance boating and fishing tourism in Georgia and to boost economic development in communities across the state. This initiative will result in quality fisheries resources statewide, including family friendly fishing and recreation access points that will increase fishing participation in Georgia.

“As Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, I am very excited about Laurens County being part of the Go Fish Initiative,” said Sen. Ross Tolleson. “I want to thank Governor Perdue and DNR Commissioner Noel Holcomb for working with me to bring this boat ramp to Laurens County.”

The program also consists of a Go Fish Georgia Center that will be built on 120 acres located on the south side of the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter. This facility will include a visitor’s center that will market and promote fishing opportunities throughout the state, an on-site public fishing lake and a fully functioning warm water hatchery.

“The building of these new mega ramps in Effingham and Screven counties as part of Governor Perdue’s Go Fish Initiative is great news for fisherman and our local economy,” said Rep. Jon Burns. “I want to thank our state and local partners for working together to make this a reality.”

Fishing contributes approximately $1.5 billion to Georgia’s economy each year. DNR estimates more than 10,000 jobs in Georgia are related to sport fishing, which generates $15 million in state income taxes, and $19 million in state sales taxes. A major bass fishing tournament can have as much as a $5 million economic impact on a local community. A championship event can have a $27 million economic impact.

For more information on fishing in Georgia or the Go Fish Georgia initiative, please go to www.gofishgeorgia.com.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Plants with a Purpose

ARA - Thank a plant today. Silent and always “working,” these green heroes toil tirelessly to purify our environment and improve our lives, naturally cleansing the very air we breathe.

And since most of us spend 90 percent of our lives inside, pay special attention to your indoor plants. They provide truly amazing health benefits. Working 24/7, they filter the very air we breathe from common pollutants and continuously release oxygen and moisture in our homes and offices.

Former NASA research scientist Dr. Bill Wolverton, author of “How to Grow Fresh Air” says, “Houseplants perform these essential functions with the same efficiency as the rainforest in our biosphere.” To maximize the health benefits and freshen the air in your home or office, he recommends at least one houseplant for every 100 square feet.

When selecting the perfect indoor plant for that perfect spot, consider the plant’s “job.” Does it work the day or night shift? Is it for the home or office? Read on for expert tips on which ‘green heroes’ will work best for you.

* Green Is in the Air!
Our modern lives depend on technology, but ordinary products like paints, tobacco smoke, printer inks and even carpets hold hidden dangers that plants can help reduce.

According Dr. Wolverton, plants improve air quality through their natural “filtering” ability. He discovered houseplants absorb up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), like ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene, found in many homes and offices.

And certain indoor plants “clean” the air every 24 hrs! How? They absorb toxins into the root zone where they’re turned into nutrients. Some tropical plants actually suppress airborne mold. These green heroes just keep doing what comes naturally.

Some of the hardest working plants are peace lilies, ferns, palms, and spider plants.

* Heavy Night Breathers
Did you know some plants actually work at night? Certain green friends “breathe out” oxygen (O2) and absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) at night, rather than in the daytime, when the majority of plants do their “breathing.”

Mike Rimland, research director for Costa Farms (www.costafarms.com), the largest indoor houseplant producer in North America, recommends Epiphytic Bromeliads and orchids, particularly in your bedroom. These natural botanical air purifiers make perfect bedroom buddies to refresh and beautify your room for a truly healthy, restful night’s sleep.

Rimland’s favorites are anthuriums. “They come in an array of colors with stunning blooms that last up to 13 weeks, are easy to grow, refresh the air, and add exotic beauty to your bedroom.”

* Bring a Plant to Work
Put a plant on your desk and feel happier, enjoy better health and be more productive. The NASA study recommends office workers should have at least one plant in their “personal breathing space” where most of the work is done to effectively remove indoor pollutants.

Another test conducted in Norway reports 25 percent fewer health problems, in particular respiratory ailments, headache, and fatigue, when plants were introduced to the workspace.

Snake plants, broad sword ferns and rubber plants are among the top ten air purifiers recommended by experts. They’re easy to grow, are natural humidifiers and remove airborne chemicals. Other green heroes are chrysanthemums, Gerbera daisies and spider plants.

* Location, Location, Location!
"Which plant you choose, and where you place your plants is important to reap optimum benefits,” says Rimland.

Consider the light, humidity, and temperature of your indoor spaces to determine the best choices for your home. Put a Majesty Palm in your living room, fern in the family room and a spathiphyllum plant in the kitchen. Add golden pothos or heart leaf philodendron for beauty and maximum air cleansing benefits.

Look for all of these environmentally-friendly plants at the ‘From the Earth for the Earth’ display at most local Home Depot stores.

For more information on the benefits of houseplants, and help finding the perfect indoor plant for your home or office, visit www.costafarms.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Georgia volunteers needed for rain gauge network

Georgia weather experts need precise, timely information on the amount of rain and when it falls across the state. With good access to the Web and rain gauges in hand, citizens can help.
The non-profit organization Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, known as CoCoRaHS, is looking for volunteers to collect rainfall data in Georgia, said Pam Knox, the state’s assistant state climatologist and researcher with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“This is a great chance for weather enthusiasts and average citizens to be part of a project that collects vital rainfall data,” said Knox. “The data is readily available to the general public and other organizations. It is also critically important to understanding how rainfall varies around the state in times of limited water supply, such as the current drought in Georgia.”

So far, 150 Georgians from 58 counties have signed up this spring, she said. But more volunteers are needed, particularly in south Georgia.

Volunteers must purchase and use a rain gauge able to measure to the one-hundredth of an inch. A good one costs $22 plus shipping and handling, she said. They will be trained to use an interactive Web site to post data.

Information the volunteers collect will be used by climatologists, hydrologists, water resource managers, UGA Cooperative Extension agents and experts with the National Weather Service, she said.

“Official measuring stations across the state are sparse, and rainfall can vary quite a bit over short distances,” Knox said. “With trained volunteers, CoCoRaHS helps fill these gaps and supply users with a better picture of rainfall patterns.”

An introductory meeting and training session will be held on the UGA campus in Athens on May 22 at 7:30 pm in the Driftmier Engineering Center auditorium on Agriculture Drive. The guest speaker will be Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken, the founder of the CoCoRaHS network.

The CoCoRaHS program started in Colorado in 1998. The network now includes 31 states and more than 9,000 observers who take daily measurements of rain, hail or snow. It is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation.

To volunteer or to learn more, visit the Web site www.cocorahs.org or, send an e-mail to pknox@uga.edu.

By Brad Haire
University of Georgia

Big Reasons to Grow Your Own Garden

(ARA) – More homeowners are focusing on health by planting their own vegetable gardens this year, rejecting the rising cost of food and fuel, and pesticide-laden produce most often found in supermarkets.

Just about every environmental group in the United States, Canada and in
Europe warns that store-bought produce is loaded with petro-chemical pesticides that build up in the human body. These chemicals are being blamed for many illnesses, from autism in children to cancer at all ages. Consider the following:

* Potatoes, lettuce and cucumbers have the highest concentration of pesticides, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’sits annual crop report.

* A major study by the New York State Department of Health directly links pesticides to diabetes, now one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the United States.

* The environmental group Global Pesticide Campaign warns that glyphosate used in Roundup causes auto-immune deficiencies in children and the elderly.

* Cornell University says carbyl, an ingredient in Sevin insect dust and liquid, has been linked to Parkinson's disease.

* Purdue University warns “weed and feed” type lawn chemicals have caused bladder cancer in dogs. An Ohio K-9 corps reports several of their dogs developed cancer by coming in contact with chemical fertilizers around their dog pens. Consequently, the federal government is urging veterinarians to report all cancer in animals as an early warning sign for man.

Growing your own pesticide-free food is easy and there’s nothing healthier and as good tasting as produce picked at maturity right in your back yard. Using organic methods, follow these few simple steps.

1. Prepare your garden the old fashioned way. Rent a roto-tiller and turn over the earth in a given plot exposing the earth to the sun and the rain. In early spring, hard rake the earth and break up the clumps. Dig a 5-inch deep trench around the plot and fill with sharp stones. This stops voles from burrowing into the garden. Sprinkle the earth with Milky Spore powder to do away with white grubs that eat away at the roots of garden plants. Milky Spore was developed by the USDA, is nontoxic and approved for organic
farming by the manufacturer.

2. Begin by planting early “cool season” crops like spring onions, lettuce, radishes, green peas, Chinese cabbage, broccoli and turnips. A trip to your local garden center will provide you with lots of growing ideas. Don’t pick seeds that have been genetically altered like GM corn, soy or wheat. These seeds contain the DNA of pesticides. Buy old fashioned “heirloom” seeds that grandfather planted. Use organic fertilizer, not the chemical kind.

3. As the season warms up and the bugs arrive, control them with “organic
insecticides.” A simple dusting of plants with diatomaceous earth stops almost all bugs. Organic liquid sprays knock down flying bugs without contaminating the crops. Organic repellents keep away deer, hedge hogs, rabbits and other animals.

4. Put in companion plants such as mint and other herbs that repel insects and bugs. Plant watermelon, tomatoes and other great garden crops. Plant blackberries and raspberries as these keep coming back year after year and require little attention. Just a few blackberries contain more vitamin C than an orange.

5. When weeds arrive, pull them out by hand, or, selectively spray them with
an organic weed killer.

If you do buy produce at the supermarket, be sure to wash it with warm water, then spray with white vinegar. Mix one part white vinegar to one part water. This helps dissolve the pesticide residue. Let sit for 30 minutes, then wash again but with cold water.

You will be surprised at how bountiful a home garden can be and by the second year you might be planning to enlarge the original plot to include a bigger variety than the first time around.

Organic bug sprays, weed killers and other natural controls and products can be found at www.milkyspore.com, or by calling (800) 801-0061 for a free brochure from St. Gabriel Organics.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This Spring Take a Walk on the ‘Wildflower’ Side

(ARA) - Springtime. Time to start thinking about your flower beds and curb appeal. If you’re tired of the same old annuals, or too many choices leave you bewildered where to begin, this spring consider thinking outside the planting box. Plant wildflowers. Lots of them.

In a world dominated by red geraniums, pink begonias and yellow marigolds, wildflowers possess a simple grace and elegance that will enhance any garden or landscape. Wildflowers can magically transform a bare patch of soil into a glorious garden. They constantly color your landscape all season long. No matter your soil or sunshine, wildflowers are the answer to beautiful, bountiful blooms that keep the garden alive with a continual dazzling display of color.

Wildflower gardens are gaining popularity for a variety of reasons:

* They require little maintenance. Native plants are already well suited to your location.

* Wildflowers offer a diversity of unusual foliage shapes and sizes and colorful blooms.

* They can be grown in hard-to-maintain areas -- corners, along fences, slopes that are difficult to mow or water.

* Wildflowers attract a number of garden-friendly visitors, such as birds and butterflies.

Wherever you live, choose a location that gets six to eight hours of full sun and has good drainage. Most wildflowers can grow in heavy clay or less than fertile soils. The key to growing a hearty wildflower patch is to start with a good seedbed.

* Remove any existing weeds or grasses.

* Till the top 1 to 2 inches of soil. Tilling deeper than that will stir up thousands of dormant weed seeds and the wildflowers will struggle to get established.

* When planting wildflower seeds in a new garden area, don't fertilize unless your soil is extremely sandy; wildflowers don't need fertilizer. They are used to growing in average soils.

If you'd like to try your hand at growing wildflowers, you need to start with good seeds and the right mix for your geographical location. Outsidepride.com has done all the work for you offering a wide variety of wildflower seed mixes created specifically for your geographical region: Remember, a good wildflower mix contains both annuals and perennials. This gives the garden a wider variety of colors, heights and season-long blooms.

The Gulf Coast areas have special environmental conditions that makes this blend especially well suited for its conditions. This mix consists of perennials and annuals that adapt to moist conditions and tolerate rainfall as well as sunny conditions and extreme temperatures.

Midwestern Wildflower Mix is made up of 26 species chosen for their lasting blooms as well as their rugged ability to withstand the extreme temperatures of the Midwestern climates. The mix is approximately 50 percent annual and 50 percent perennial wildflowers.

Northeastern Wildflower Mix is designed specifically for the special needs of the Northeast. This attractive wildflower mix is made up of 19 species of which one third are annuals and the remaining are biennials or perennials.

Southwest Wildflower Mix is specifically designed for areas which have special needs, such as long, hot, dry summers or other similar conditions. This mix will do very well if planted in early to late spring, or as a dormant seeding in fall. The mix consists of annual and perennials.

Most people know a gardening guru-type, but the majority of gardeners are admittedly shy to try new plants, or blame themselves for less than stellar results. Wildflowers will change that and give gardeners fabulous flowers that get great results with minimum maintenance or fuss. This spring is the time to go “wild” right in your own back yard.

For additional information on OutsidePride’s unique wild flower mixtures that are specially formulated on the basis of climatic conditions (rainfall, temperature range, humidity) and elevation; blended to give the widest possible range of colors and periods of bloom, visit www.OutsidePride.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Artificial Turf Installer Association Encouraged By Demands for CPSC & EPA to Study Lead Concerns

"ASGi is embracing the opportunity our industry has been given to work closely with US agencies as they fill the gap of missing science, outside of the boundaries of our own industry's influence, to validate the safety and value of our existing solutions, " states Annie Costa., Executive Director of ASGi. "It's encouraging to have the support, driven by market demand."

To spite the recent flurry of negative press and announcements of CPSC & the EPA to begin studies of the claims there might be hazards associated with using artificial turf, market demand grows. ASGi members report that they continue to secure new business and installations are moving forward on existing contracts. [20% p.a. - AMI Research]

"In California, over 20 million square feet of artificial turf was installed in 2007. Having a beautiful lawn is an American dream and people want the option to use artificial grass because is solves so many issues. Isn't that reason enough to validate its safety and efficiency to the public?" states Costa. "The artificial turf market is looking forward to a very bright future."

Artificial turf has helped to reduce the use of irrigation water, hazardous lawn care chemicals, emissions from lawn equipment, dust, erosion, pests and beautify the sites that it also helps to stabilize. It fills the need of property owners that want to use natural grass and can't due to a host of valid reasons including extreme sun, shade or soil conditions, water pressure, cost or shortages, extreme slopes, environmentally sensitive areas (lakes, streams) and personal issues, such as allergies or access restrictions;. Artificial turf projects can be engineered to be ADA compliant and fall-zone safe and of value to both public and private schools and daycare.

"Artificial turf was introduced in the mid-1960s and has a safe and effective health and environmental record. Every decade since, evolving health and environmental sciences have published revised standards of safe practices or enacted amended legislation to keep up with new findings." stated Costa.

"Our materials suppliers keep step with those developments and we are confident that the safety and effectiveness of our market's existing solutions meet or exceed published standards."

ASGi, the Association of Synthetic Grass Installers, founded by installation professionals in 2007, is committed to promoting the use of and providing safe and effective guidelines for the installation of artificial turf landscape and leisure sports solutions for residential and commercial projects. Content-rich public pages, complete with free guides, updated studies, current news and reports at http://www.asgi.us


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Five Ways to Keep Your Family Green

ARA- It seems everything is going “green” these days. The good news is that it’s also easier than ever before for your family to reduce its eco-footprint to help the environment both inside and outside of your home.

Let “earth friendly” be your family’s new mantra by adopting a few simple, yet effective tips from Hannah Keeley, founder of TotalMom.com.

Watch Your Waste
The supermarket checkout line is one place where the battle for the environment is often lost. Next time you’re at the grocery store, keep a close eye on the amount of wasteful packaging that’s going into your shopping cart and try to choose eco-friendlier options. For example, instead of individually-packaged single servings, look for larger quantities that can be divided into smaller, reusable containers once you get home. Make your own lunch instead of purchasing packaged meals. Bring a reusable bag to carry your purchases. A good rule of thumb: the less packaging, the better.

Save Your Energy
Conventional energy use goes hand-in-hand with carbon emissions, so do the earth and your wallet a favor by cutting the amount of energy consumed at your home. Simply turning the thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer can save energy. You can cut cooling costs up to six percent for every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer. Another option is installing a programmable thermostat like the American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning Comfort Control that will automatically adjust temperatures throughout the day, ensuring greater energy efficiency in your home, even when you’re not there.

Go Easy on the Gas
Consider setting up a carpool for school or work to save on gas. Consolidate your errands to one day during the week and map out a route that is as fuel efficient as possible. If you feel like you are constantly on the road, you may want to think about dropping a few activities and cultivating the fine art of hanging out at home. Be sure to check out public transportation -- a more fuel efficient and inexpensive ride may be right around the corner.

Clean Smart
Chemicals are used all over your home -- they make the sink shine, the air smell fresh and the floor practically glow. The majority of these chemicals are not only dangerous to your health but also harmful to the environment. Reduce the amount of chemicals entering in to the water supply by making your own cleaners: simple baking soda is a great scouring powder; vinegar works wonders on glass and mirrors; and plain old Castile soap cleans practically everything.

Don’t Overlook the Little Things
No matter how small you may think it is, any action to help the earth is a big step on the road to being greener. Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent blubs. Cut your showers by a few minutes. Wash your clothes in cold water. Cut down on trash by composting your vegetable scraps.

Most importantly, make it a family affair. Teach your children how to care for the earth while they are still young. There are many simple things you can do to go green (not to mention save money), so make it a family adventure and start today.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Friday, May 09, 2008

Protecting Your Landscape From Drought

NAPSI-According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2007 was one of the warmest years on record and one of the driest.

Severe to exceptional drought hit the Southeast and Western U.S. Water conservation measures and drought disasters were declared in at least five Southeastern states, as well as California, Oregon, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware.

Fortunately, if 2008 shapes up to be another dry year, there are steps you can take now to protect your valuable landscape.

"Caring for your landscape in the spring makes it stronger if a drought hits your area this summer," says Bayer Advanced™ Garden Expert Lance Walheim, author of more than 30 garden books, including "Landscaping for Dummies." "Once dry weather sets in, it's everyone's responsibility to conserve water."

• Check your local water department for watering guidelines. When you do water, wet the entire root zone. Lawns should be watered so that 6 to 8 inches of the soil below is moist. Most shrubs should be watered to depths of 1 to 2 feet. Trees should be watered at depths of 2 to 3 feet. (Insert a stiff wire in the soil. It'll stop moving when it reaches dry soil.) Water again only when the soil has partially dried, letting the weather and water laws be your best guide.

• Mulch. A 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch (compost or wood chips) around plants and trees reduces evaporation and weeds.

• Check sprinklers. A little work now will prevent stressed plants and dead spots in the lawn later this summer. Fix clogged or broken sprinklers and redirect them so they don't water sidewalks, driveways or fences. Make sure you have enough sprinkler heads to cover the entire lawn. Set automatic timers for the watering schedule and check drip systems for clogged emitters.

• Protect trees and shrubs from insects. Many insects are attracted to drought-stressed plants and trees. Insect damage in lawns can also look like drought damage. Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub products protect against insects for up to 12 months without spraying. To control lawn pests, use Complete Insect Killer for Soil & Turf.

You can learn more by visiting www.bayeradvanced.com or by calling 1-877-BAYERAG. Always read and follow label instructions.

When it comes to protecting your landscape, a little work now will prevent stressed plants and dead spots during the summer.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Governor Perdue Signs Forest Land Conservation Legislation

Today Governor Sonny Perdue signed The Georgia Forest Land Protection Act of 2008, HB 1211, at the Swainsboro Pine Tree Festival and Timber Expo.

“I am pleased to sign this legislation that promotes forest land conservation throughout the state and coincides with the Conserve Georgia campaign that we kicked off two weeks ago,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “These bills would not have made it to my desk without the hard of the many legislators joining us here today.”

HB 1211, sponsored by Rep. Richard Royal, creates a property valuation classification of forest land, which has no acreage cap and allows all property owners including businesses to put their property into covenant and receive the tax benefits. This legislation becomes effective upon the passage of a related constitutional amendment on the ballot in November 2008 (HR 1276).

“The Georgia Forest Land Protection Act of 2008 will protect the state’s environment for years to come and will allow our forest land owners to continue their ownership of these valuable resources by reducing the terrible burden of unfair property taxes,” said Rep. Richard Royal. “In addition to maintaining the state’s forest land, it will also help ensure clean air and water.”
By entering into a covenant to utilize the forest land for conservation purposes for at least 15 years, Georgia’s private property owners will have the advantage of a lower tax burden on qualifying land for as long as the land is kept in its natural state.

Governor Perdue and Rep. Royal were joined at the bill signing event today by Rep. Jim Cole, Rep. Jay Shaw, Rep. Butch Parrish, Rep. Jimmy Pruett, Sen. Ross Tolleson, Sen. John Bulloch and Sen. Jack Hill.

Tips for Green Summer Pest Control

ARA – Living green doesn’t mean yielding your yard to birds, bugs and critters that can be both a nuisance and a health hazard. It’s possible to keep unwanted animal guests away from your gardens, landscaping, lawn and outdoor living areas without contributing to the groundwater contamination associated with many chemical pesticides.

With drought conditions expected to persist in many areas of the country, the issue of groundwater contamination is drawing plenty of attention. Many communities are moving to curb products – including pesticides and fertilizers – known to cause groundwater contamination. When it comes to protecting your property from common summer pests, non-lethal, all-natural methods that rely on sound, sight, taste deterrents and roost inhibitors not only protect the environment, they’re more effective as well.

“Green pest-control measures actually work better than lethal alternatives,” says Mona Zemsky, a technician and pest control expert with Bird-X, a company that specializes in products that help convince critters to take up residence elsewhere. “Killing birds and other nuisance animals is a losing proposition; you just create a vacuum that other animals will move into.”

So what green methods are most effective in ridding your landscape of unwelcome birds and animals? Here are some top options:

Scent/Taste

Another way to thwart pests is to convince them that an area is no longer safe or a good food source. For geese and birds, GooseChase and BirdShield use a food-grade derivative of concord grapes. Sprayed on grass and feeding areas, they safely and humanely make the spots unpalatable to birds and animals. The line of organic Scoot products use taste aversion – in the form of hot sauce and castor oil – to drive off pests like deer, squirrels and ground moles

Sound

Sonic and ultrasonic devices can drive off small rodents like mice, squirrels and raccoons, and common nuisance birds such as sparrows, crows and pigeons. Since ultrasonic devices are inaudible to humans, they don’t contribute to noise pollution. Sonic machines that project actual predator calls can also be effectiveA variety of devices are available that target specific pests. For example, Transonic PROtargets small animals and insects, and the Yard Gard can dissuade even deer. Effective bird-specific devices include the BirdXPeller PRO and the Ultrason X.

Sight

Farmers have used scarecrows for hundreds of years. Visual deterrents can be very effective in convincing many pests, birds especially, that an area is unsafe. The concept of the scarecrow has evolved, with devices – both low- and high-tech - that incorporate motion into the visual deterrent. On the low-tech end is an iridescent tape, easily hung outdoors, that unsettles birds with its fluttering motion and flashing colors. From a distance, the tape’s sheen mimics snake skin, further frightening bird invaders. On the high tech end, new devices use lasers to ward off birds. The Bird BLazer zaps harmless green lasers into birds’ roosting areas, creating a light show that most birds find unpleasant.

Roost Inhibitors

Birds will roost, nest, eat and defecate wherever they find an appealing spot, creating a nuisance and a health hazard. Convincing birds that a spot is no longer desirable is the optimum way to get rid of them – and prevent any more from moving in. Roost inhibitors accomplish this in a variety of ways. Some, like Bird-X’s spike strips (made of recycled materials) and a special netting, make it difficult for birds to land. Others, such as gels and liquids, make surfaces feel tacky and unappealing to birds, but cause no damage to the structures they’re applied to.

“These methods are not only green for the environment and human for the animals, they’re benign for humans as well,” Zemsky points out. “You won’t need rubber gloves to use them, they have no warning labels, you don’t need to store them in child-proof places or wonder what they might do to you after decades of exposure.”

To learn more about effective, environmentally safe, non-lethal bird control methods, visit www.Bird-X.com or call (800) 662-5021.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Water-saving Secrets for Gardeners and Lawn Lovers

ARA – “Think green; save blue” will likely be the motto of environmentally aware gardeners and lawn lovers across the country this summer as drought conditions are expected to persist in many regions.

“Nothing shouts ‘green’ quite like a thriving garden or a lush landscape,” says Susan Thayer, an irrigation and water conservation expert, “. . . except, perhaps, a beautiful yard or garden that’s been nurtured with green practices that conserve precious blue water.”

It is possible to grow a thriving garden and nurture a lovely landscape while minimizing water consumption. A combination of native-friendly plants, smart agricultural practices, alternative water sources and efficient irrigation can help keep gardens and lawns growing healthy throughout dry summer months.

Here are some tips for conserving water in your corner of the great outdoors:

* Choose drought-resistant native plants for your landscaping needs. Your options won’t be limited to cactus, either. From ornamental grasses to shrub roses, many drought-tolerant native species also offer bright color and visual appeal. Look for plants that do well in the driest conditions found in your geographic region. Your local Cooperative Extension office can help you identify plants that are right for your area. You’ll also find plenty of ideas online at sites like www.gardeners.com.

* Groom soil for optimum water absorption and retention. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recommends adding water-retaining organic material to your soil. You can also reduce evaporation by using mulch in landscaping beds.

* Look for alternative water sources other than the outdoor tap – such as recycling clean water used inside the house for cooking and other activities. Consider collecting roof runoff in a rain barrel for use in flower beds and vegetable gardens.

* Irrigate efficiently with low-volume irrigation systems and smart watering practices. In summer 2007, restrictions on lawn watering were widespread throughout the country. Many communities now require all new built homes to use low-volume irrigation in the landscapes. On average, micro sprinklers and drip irrigation uses 80 to 90 percent less water than traditional irrigation systems.

Irrigation manufacturers like Mister Landscaper are responding to increased consumer demand for low-volume systems by offering micro sprinkler and drip products that homeowners can easily install on their own. Mister Landscaper’s Micro Sprinkler Starter Kits efficiently and slowly irrigate flower and vegetable gardens, as well as areas where trees and shrubs grow. They are available in the plumbing department at Lowe’s Home Improvement stores or online at www.misterlandscaper.com. The system also offers a variety of retrofit products that allow you to replace or add on to an existing underground pvc sprinkler system so you can convert 120 gallons per hour (gph) heads to a 10 gph micro spray or 1-2gph dripper.

“The key is to apply water only exactly when and where it is needed,” Thayer says. Drip and micro spray irrigation provide optimum efficiency with minimum waste and over spray.

* Design your landscaping to minimize evaporation. Windbreaks and fences slow the movement of the wind over the ground and the evaporation it causes, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

To learn more about low-volume irrigation, visit www.misterlandscaper.com. For more information on water conservation, go to www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Courtesy of ARAcontent
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Monday, May 05, 2008

Isakson, Chambliss Co-Sponsor Legislation to Address Challenges of Energy Supply

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today announced that they are co-sponsoring legislation that aims to lower the cost of energy and enhance U.S. energy security by increasing domestic supply. Their co-sponsorship today follows on the heels of a letter Isakson and Chambliss sent earlier this week urging the President to help stabilize gas prices by halting deposits of oil into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“Given our dependence on foreign energy in this country, it is critical for us to consider the development of our untapped domestic energy supplies,” Isakson said. “With skyrocketing gas prices, we must seek every way possible to increase the domestic production of energy.”

“In light of the ever-increasing gas prices, it only makes sense that we would take advantage of domestic sources of fuel that we know exist today,” said Chambliss. “Increasing domestic production is a critical component of a comprehensive energy policy that eliminates our dependence on foreign sources of oil.”

Specifically, the Domestic Energy Production Act of 2008 would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to establish projected state lines by extending boundaries seaward to the outer margin of the Outer Continental Shelf for the purpose of pre-leasing and leasing activities in new producing areas. It also would allow the governors of Atlantic and Pacific coastal states to submit to the Secretary of the Interior a petition requesting that the area, within State boundaries, be made available for oil and gas leasing. The Secretary must approve or deny such petitions as soon as is practicable.

The legislation would establish a competitive oil and gas leasing program for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain under the Mineral Leasing Act. It also would limit production and support facilities to no more than 2,000 acres on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain and provide for a 50/50 share of revenues between the federal government and the state of Alaska. The bill would direct that $35 million of state’s share be deposited annually into a “Coastal Plain Local Government Impact Aid Assistance Fund” for Alaska communities.

The legislation also would:

· Repeal a section of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008”, which created a $4,000 fee for new applications for permits to drill;
· Grant the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency authority to accept consolidated applications for all permits required to construct and operate a refinery;
· Establish a 360-day deadline for the approval or disapproval of a consolidated permit application for new refineries and a 120 day deadline for consolidated permit applications to expand an existing refinery;
· Suspend the filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for 180 days beginning from the date of enactment;
· Amend the “Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007” to strike the definition of renewable biomass and replace it with Senate-passed definition. This is critically important to ensuring that the emerging cellulosic ethanol industry is able to take advantage of all sources of cellulosic biomass;
· Establish a research program to determine new material science needed for pipelines, pumps, tanks and other infrastructure for transport of renewable fuel blends, either though dedicated renewable fuel pipeline networks or as blends with petroleum products; and
· Repeal a section of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008,” which prohibits the use of Department of the Interior funds to complete final regulations for the commercial leasing of oil shale as statutorily required under the “Energy Policy Act of 2005.”

On April 29, Isakson and Chambliss, along with 15 other Republican senators, sent a letter to President Bush requesting that the U.S. Department of Energy immediately halt deposits of domestic crude oil into the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Isakson and Chambliss voiced disappointment that Bush so far is rejecting the idea.

Composting can conserve water in gardens, landscape

Composting not only saves water in landscapes and gardens, it creates plant food from trash, says a University of Georgia expert.

“Incorporating finished compost mulch into vegetable garden beds or plant beds amends the soil and allows water and air to filter through the soil better,” said Bob Westerfield, UGA Cooperative Extension horticulturist. “There is not as much run off and the nutrients infiltrate better.”

Using nearly-finished compost as mulch helps plants retain moisture and prevent weeds.

“Organic fertilizers make the plants healthier,” Westerfield said. “And, when they are healthier they require less water.”

Compost is decomposed organic matter used as a soil conditioner and fertilizer. In heavy clay soils, compost reduces compaction, helps increase aeration and helps water better infiltrate the soil. In sandy soils, it helps the soil retain both water and nutrients.

Compost is made from a mix of brown and green organic materials. Brown compost materials may include dry, dead plant materials, autumn leaves, dried grass clippings, shredded paper and wood chips. These provide carbon.

Green compost materials, such as fresh plant products, kitchen fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds and tea bags, provide nitrogen.

Westerfield says to include more brown items than green. The ratio should be 3 to 1. Don’t add meats, bones, grease or other animal-based food waste. They can smell bad and attract rodents.

Materials should be added in layers, alternating brown and green. A pile of compost can take three weeks to six months to process, depending on the care. Adding fresh material to a pile can cause the process to take longer.

The key to composting is to keep the pile moist and to allow for air flow. “The composting cycle will work faster if the pile is kept moist and turned frequently,” he said. “The more you agitate the pile the faster it will compost.”

Rain water and turning the pile a few times a month should maintain moisture. Water should be added only to keep the pile moist, not wet.

“It is nice to have two or three bins so you can have several stages of compost,” he said. Westerfield suggests removing finished compost from a pile and keeping it contained in a separate bin for use.

“Some people are disappointed because they fill the bin up and when it becomes compost, they end up with 10 to 20 percent of what they put in,” he said. “As it biodegrades, its volume drastically reduces.”

Fertilizer can be added to the pile. A little 10-10-10, as well as a few scoops of garden soil, are suggested. Don’t add lime to the mixture.

Another option in composting is vermicomposting, which uses worms to help break down the organic waste.

While composting provides organic material valuable to plants, most people view composting as a form of recycling. In many counties, landfills no longer accept green materials.

“It’s a way to recycle waste and save money by producing a product from trash you would otherwise have to buy,” Westerfield said.

By April Sorrow
University of Georgia

(April Sorrow is a news editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)