Friday, August 29, 2008

Don't Dance Around Fire Ant Control

When it comes to killing fire ants, one University of Georgia expert dances around the problem.

UGA Cooperative Extension entomologist Dan Suiter recommends the Texas two-step approach to controlling fire ants. The fire ant death dance works like this:

Step one1. Wait until the evening when it’s cooler. Ants don’t forage when it’s hot, or when the dew is out. Use a hand-held fertilizer spreader to broadcast bait granules, such as Once and Done or Amdro. This can be done either around a yard or in a 4-foot circle around each mound. Make sure not to disturb the mound.

“Wear gloves, and spread the bait around,” Suiter said. “If you smoke and get smoke smell on the bait, the ants won’t touch it. Or if you have gasoline on your hands, the ants won’t touch it.”
Step two2. Give the bait a week to 10 days to work. Then, kick the ant mounds – or poke them with a stick – and step back quickly. If there is any ant activity, use a contact insecticide to target the mounds. To do this, mix the powdered insecticide with water following the package’s directions.

“Get a long stick and run it down through the center of the mound,” Suiter said. “It should push like a hot knife through butter. Pull the stick out quickly and pour in the premixed insecticide.”
The insecticide must be poured quickly because the ants will start running away once the mound is disturbed. A premixed gallon or two of insecticide should fill the mound from the bottom up.
When the insecticide has been applied, the Texas two-step is done, until next year.

Read lables and use pesticides properly“When working with fire ant baits or other insecticides, always read the product’s label,” Suiter said.

Misuse of pesticides, like fire ant control products, is a violation of federal law. A lot of misuse comes from homeowners who think that what they put out isn’t strong enough to kill the ants, he said.

“The chemicals are pretty much the same as professional chemicals,” Suiter said. “The professional products are usually better formulated, but in general, the active ingredients are similar.”

Homeowner misuse of insecticides has resulted in some active ingredients, like bifenthrin, showing up at unacceptable levels in lakes and streams.

“It’s a granular insecticide put on people’s yards,” Suiter said. “With overuse, it’s winding up in lakes and streams.”

Make them sick, bring in their enemiesResearchers with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences are exploring the use of natural enemies and viruses to control the stinging pests. Viruses are showing good promise but are still in the research stage, Suiter said.
UGA scientists have released phorid flies, a natural enemy of the fire ant, in various locations across Georgia. Discovered in South America by a USDA-ARS team from Gainesville, Fla., the fly lays its eggs in the fire ant. When the larva emerges, it decapitates the ant.

Scientists think fire ants first entered the U.S. from Argentina on cargo ships docked in Alabama in the 1930s.

Every spring, fire ants fly hundreds of feet into the air to mate. They can land several feet, or even miles, from their original location.

Fire ants were first reported in Georgia in the 1950s. Their mating-flights have taken them as far east as North Carolina and as far west to Texas. The ants have also spread through nursery plants to states like Arizona and California.
By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia
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Georgia Invasive Plant Workshop Sept. 19-20 in Gainesville

Are invasive plants terrorizing your yard or business? Learn more about how to control them at a Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council workshop Sept. 19-20 at the Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville, Ga.

Friday, participants will learn about invasive plants in Georgia, management efforts, policy issues, new infestations, reporting and a mapping initiative. Saturday, the council will present the “Invasive, Non-native Plant Identification and Control” workshop.

Registration for Friday is $50 for nonmembers and $35 for GA-EPPC members and includes lunch, breaks and handouts. It’s $25 for Saturday. Attending both days costs $65 for nonmembers or $50 members.

Pesticide applicator, certified arborist and Continuing Forestry Education credits will be available. For more information call (770) 535-1976, or visit www.gaeppc.org.
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Callaway Gardens: Smaller Gardens: Real Solutions: A Horticulture Magazine Symposium with Nan Sinton

Sunday, October 26, 2008
Learn how to design and plant in limited space with a host of experts presenting “Successful Planting in Shade & Sun,” brought to you by Horticulture magazine and Callaway Gardens.

Speakers include Helen Dillon “Down to Earth Gardening Working with the Reality of Your Site;” John Elsley “Hostas, Hellebores & Hydrangeas;” C. Colston Burrell “Natural Design for the Shaded Garden;” and Stephanie Cohen “Light Fantastic – Transitioning from Sun to the Edge of Shade.” For details and to register, visit hortprograms.com or request a brochure by calling toll-free at 877-GDN-PROG (877-436-7764). The symposium is Callaway Gardens is offering special overnight packages for participants that include a Saturday Behind-the-Scenes tour of Callaway Gardens. Simply call 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292) for reservations.

Enrollment is limited and preregistration is required for all programs. Programs fill quickly, so register soon. Workshop fees include admission to Callaway Gardens. To register call the Education Department at 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292) ext. 5153, 706-663-5153 or email education@callawaygardens.org or check out education event listings at www.callawaygardens.org and click on “Education.”

For overnight accommodations for any of these workshops or hikes, ask for the special workshop rate starting at $109 in the Mountain Creek® Inn at 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292).
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tomato Splits


Mmmm.... doesn't that sound yummy? Bet you've never had a tomato split, have you?

Are you envisioning this yukky red concoction of tomatoes and ice cream? Yeah, yuk. And double yuk.

It really is yucky, even though I'm not talking about a real tomato split with ice cream. My tomatoes are all splitting, and it's due to all the rain we've been getting. This is the first time I've ever encountered a tomato split. At first I thought I had some sort of exotic disease and, since I'm growing organically, was panicking that I was getting ready to lose all my tomatoes.

An Internet search (ain't technology jest wunderful?) enlightened me on the cause. It's an overabundance of rain. There are some ways to mitigate the amount of rain, but all are a bit too involved for my small plot so I'm just going to suffer through losing a ton of tomatoes.

I did learn a few things during my search. Turns out I've been watering at the wrong time. I usually water at dusk. I didn't want to water during the day because someone told me or I read somewhere many years back that watering during the heat of the day can cause leaf burn.

I learned that watering at night can cause problems. Mold, fungus, other yucky things (today's word is: Yucky ;-) Tomatoes like being watered during the heat of the day as they need consistent drenching. None of the places I visited even mentioned leaf burn in conjunction with watering during peak sun times. I usually water at the base anyway, so logically I've been rather silly about my watering habits.

I really hate tossing so many of my tomatoes. Even my green tomatoes are splitting, so picking early and allowing them to ripen in the window isn't a good solution.

I still have a lot of blooms so I hope to have tomatoes for quite a bit longer. I am seeing some browning of the lower leaves on the plant which tells me that it's getting closer and closer to the time when my tomatoes will stop producing. I could be reading the brown leaves incorrectly, could be the water is causing problems there, too.

Any which way you look at a tomato split, whether it's tomatoes smushed in ice cream or on the vine, it's not a happy situation. Yuck. Yuk. (Just as an FYI lesson of the day, my spell checker didn't highlight yuck, yuk, yucky or yukky. How both them yuckles?)
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Opinion: Land Preservation Funding: When Spending Is Saving

By Jeffrey Dorfman
University of Georgia

Georgia is experiencing a budget shortfall that will force cuts of between 5 percent and 10 percent of the state budget. The governor and the General Assembly must consider any opportunity to reduce spending. Cuts of that magnitude won't be easy to make. Hopefully, the Georgia Land Conservation Program won't be among the cuts.

Most federal and state government programs today are transfer programs. That means they take money from one group and give it to another. Examples include Medicare, Medicaid, economic development subsidies and Social Security. Land preservation is a transfer program because the money comes from sources that may not directly benefit from the preserved land.
For example, if Joe Georgian's tax money is used to preserve privately-owned farmland or a park in an area he'll likely never visit, Joe may not see a direct benefit. Transfer programs can be unpopular with those on the taking end of the deal.

Give and get

Some transfer programs are still a good financial deal for taxpayers. For example, health and nutrition programs for pregnant women save taxpayers money because it's cheaper to provide prenatal care than bear the higher costs associated with low-weight or premature births.

In many cases, land preservation programs fall in this category. When farmland is preserved and kept in agricultural or timber production, taxpayers may have a lower total tax bill.
If the land is sold to a developer and houses are built on the land, it's likely that the taxes paid by the new homeowners will be less than the cost of providing services to the new residents. Research strongly supports this.

Unless the houses are expensive, between $200,000 and $300,000 in most parts of the state, or the residents have few kids who attend public school, taxpayers probably pay less to preserve the land in one time costs and in annual property tax breaks than they would pay to make up the budget shortfall caused by their new neighbors.

When parkland or natural lands are preserved, similar economic scenarios play out. Even better, if the parkland or nature areas are surrounded by development, the surrounding property values rise. Thus, those nearest to the preserved land pay more property taxes, potentially helping to offset some of the cost of the land preservation.

Under the Georgia Land Conservation Program local governments must put up some of the money, so these increased property taxes reduce the transfer program nature of the land preservation program even further.

Environmental benefitsPreserved land (whether farm, park, timber or just natural) provides environmental amenities. We get cleaner water, cleaner air and stormwater management. While a cleaner environment is likely something most of us value, these environmental benefits are also attractive to our wallets. Rather than having to build government facilities to accomplish these tasks, we get them for free from the preserved land, its soil and plant life.

In suburban settings, an acre of trees (such as a wooded, pocket park) can save the local government $1,000 per year in avoided costs. That is, taxpayers don't have to pay to build stormwater collection or water treatment facilities. These costs are easily overlooked since they're saved by not appearing in the budget, but taxpayers still should be happy about them.
Land preservation programs cost money, both in one time payments such as through the Georgia Land Conservation Program and in annual tax breaks such as the Conservation Use Assessment. In exchange, most Georgians realize they receive the non-monetary benefits of saving these lands, enjoying them and gaining environmental benefits.

Few people realize that we usually get some or all of the money spent on land preservation back through lower future taxes due to the land remaining undeveloped.

With both the environmental and economic upsides in mind, I hope we preserve and even expand funding for the Georgia Land Conservation Program during these tough budget times.
My work on this in Georgia and other programs can be found at the Web site http://landuse.uga.edu.

(Jeffrey Dorfman is an economist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
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Friday, August 22, 2008

UGA Odum School of Ecology Hosts Aquatic Conservation Science Symposium

NF Note: Looks like they have found their niche!

The University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology will host “Aquatic Conservation Science: Merging Theory and Application” on Oct. 3-4. The symposium is being held in honor of the careers of emeritus faculty members Judith L. Meyer and Gene Helfman.

The one-day symposium will feature individual talks and a panel discussion and includes internationally renowned speakers on aquatic conservation science. Speakers will represent areas of expertise including ecosystem and fisheries science, aquatic conservation policy and water resource management.

“The professional legacies of Gene and Judy are wide and deep,” said Laurie Fowler, co-director of the Odum School’s River Basin Center. “Gene has written the world's leading textbook on the conservation of fishes. His involvement in endangered species has resulted in both the advancement of science and much greater protection. And besides being an internationally recognized aquatic scientist, Judy has applied her expertise to the better development of federal, state and local policies through leadership on boards ranging from those established by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. EPA and much more.”

A poster session and opening reception will kick off the event at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3 in the Odum School lobby. The formal sessions will begin Saturday, Oct.4 at 8 a.m. in the Odum School auditorium. Speaker presentations will occur throughout the day and the event will culminate with a banquet.

There is a registration fee of $100 for non-students and $55 for students. Registration forms must be completed by Monday, Sept. 8. To register or for more information, please see: http://www.rivercenter.uga.edu/helfmeyer.htm.

With roots that date back to the 1950s, the UGA Odum School of Ecology offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as a certification program. Namesake Eugene P. Odum is recognized internationally as a pioneer of ecosystem ecology. The school is ranked tenth by U.S. News and World Report for its graduate program. The Odum School is the first standalone school of ecology in the world.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

How To Create Inspiring Spaces Using Flowers At Home


NF Note: Flowers are such a part of our daily lives in Fayette County. Whether they evoke memories of fresh love or comfort during the hardest of times of life, they can make us smile.

Photo: ©2008 AS Eldredge. Used with permission.

(StatePoint) Your home should be more than a collection of rooms used for different purposes. It should be a place that restores your soul, refocuses your energy and creates the proper atmosphere.

While redecorating can be expensive, beautifying your home with flowers can be a powerful yet economical way to create the desired atmosphere.

Decorating your home with flowers can be more than just a cost-effective way to make your personal space reflect your taste. Research indicates flowers hold an intrinsic, natural energy that, when used throughout the home, can create positive shifts in emotions.

In fact, a Harvard University study introduced small bouquets of flowers into people's morning routines and discovered that respondents immediately perked up, feeling happier and more energetic.

"We need and deserve simple ways of creating homes where we feel happy and harmonious by disconnecting from the hectic pace of the world outside," says personal fulfillment expert and best-selling author Jayme Barrett. "Flowers are a wonderful way to ease the stress of everyday life and refocus our emotions."

Anyone can introduce a range of positive energies in the home, stresses Barrett, who applies the principles of Zen and feng shui to floral design. Here are some easy ways to create different soul-stimulating atmospheres in your home, simply by decorating with different flower varieties, color combinations and vase styles:

* Serenity: Allow your mind to unwind and release tension. Loosely arranged hues of blue, violet and lavender can evoke serenity and help clear the mind of stress. Flowers to achieve this include hydrangea, delphinium, lisianthus and stock. Consider placing the flowers in a cobalt blue glass vase in your entryway to set the tone for tranquility as you step inside your home from the chaotic world outside.

* Love and Romance: The right floral decorations can spark intimate connections and blossoming love. A tight bunch of flowers flush with burgundy and red embodies feelings of passion and romance. Incorporating lush pinks and peaches will help invite love and inspire kindness. Place a circular vase (the perfect shape for never-ending love) containing such flowers as stock, roses or alstroemeria in your kitchen or dining room, to help instill love while you nourish your body at mealtimes. These can be a great addition to the bedroom, too.

* Wellness: The proper arrangements can evoke balanced feelings of mind, body and spirit. Yellow is the primary color for this emotional energy, as it represents the sun, life force and health. Supplement a big burst of blooms with greens, which induce nature's healing energy, and white, which reflects serenity. Locate this energy in the living room or family room to enhance the space of relaxation, meditation and family connection. Choose an oval or round terra-cotta, wood or bamboo container to provide grounding and balance. Suggested flower options include gerbera, carnations, solidago, hydrangea, callas, pompons and chrysanthemums.

* Inspiration and Motivation: Infuse your soul with rejuvenating energy! Use red flowers to epitomize motivation, fame, courage and power. Design an up-shooting spray that also includes sensuous, rich orange and fuchsia, which suggest enthusiasm and exuberance. Try roses, callas, Asiatic lilies, snapdragons or hypericum. A tall mirrored or shiny metal container of any kind will stoke inspiration. Mirrors boost positive energies which will circulate through all endeavors. The home office is an ideal place to inject this motivational energy.

For more information on decorating with flowers, visit www.flowerpossibilities.com or www.aboutflowers.com.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Plant Now and Save Water

NF Note: April R. Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Her informative articles are regularly included on the Fayette Front Page.

Most Georgians are aware of the importance of conserving water, both inside and outside the home. In the landscape, a great way to save water is by planting during the cooler fall season, says a University of Georgia horticulturist.

Spring = short establishment time

"Trees and shrubs planted in the spring often don't have time to get established before they’re exposed to the sizzling summer heat," said Gary Wade, a horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

"As temperatures rise, developing leaves, fruit and flowers demand more water and the root system may not be able to satisfy the demand," he said. "If watering schedules are limited due to drought conditions, plants may die of thirst."

When a plant's top demands more supplies than the roots can provide, it starts abandoning branches or dropping leaves in a fight for survival.

Fall is less stressful, more successful

"Planting in the fall is much less stressful for the plant than springtime planting," Wade said.
"Trees and shrubs grown in containers can be planted anytime, he said. But if you plant in the fall, as the weather cools down, the plant has a much better chance for survival."

"Roots don't go dormant," he said. "They keep growing all winter. Even though the tops of deciduous plants go dormant for the winter and the tops of evergreen plants slow down, roots continue to grow. Since the tops demand little from the roots, the plant’s energy can be funneled to the roots for growth and establishment."

Fall-planted ornamentals also have a supply of carbohydrates and other food substances stored in their roots from the previous growing season. This stored energy helps roots establish while the rest of the plant rests.

"When spring arrives, the plant will be able to pop with growth," Wade said.

Other advantages of fall planting are less water loss due to evaporation from the soil and from foliage as temperatures cool down. For these reasons, the plant requires less water while establishing.

Follow these tips

Planting in the fall is very similar to spring planting. "The only big difference is that you don't want to fertilize when you plant in the fall," he said. "Wait until next February." Wade offers some basic fall planting tips:

• Plant groupings of shrubs in beds thoroughly cultivated eight to 12 inches deep.
• For a single shrub, dig a planting hole at least twice as wide and as deep as the plant's root ball.
• Make sure the planting site drains well.
• When planting balled-and-burlapped plants, cut the cord or wire from around the stem and remove it. Then remove the top third or half of any burlap or fabric from around the root ball.
• Place the plant at the same depth it was grown in the nursery. Make sure the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
• Fill the hole with the soil you removed. Lightly pack it with your hands, water when it's half filled and again when completely filled to remove air pockets around the roots.
• Cover the planting surface with three to five inches of mulch, such as pine straw, pine bark or even fall leaves. This is always important, but even more critical during a drought. Mulch conserves water.
• Water. Plants need water anytime it's dry no matter which season. However, in the fall, they're much more forgiving if you're a day late watering them.

Use care around trees and shrubs

When adding new plants, minimize soil disturbance around existing trees and shrubs. When planting around established trees and shrubs, it’s best to plant in individual holes instead of cultivating an area and cutting roots of adjacent plants.

“Most roots are within the top 12 inches of soil and the roots of established trees and shrubs can extend two to three times farther than their canopy spread,” Wade said. “When you dig and cut roots, you’re affecting the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients.”

By April Sorrow
University of Georgia

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Five Easy Ways to Drive Green

(ARA) - It only takes a single car to substantially impact the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average car emits as much as 575 pounds of carbon monoxide into the air each year. Until automakers develop a more environmentally friendly automobile, it’s up to each driver to help reduce their car’s footprint on the planet.

Here are five easy ways to drive green without buying a new car or drastically changing your driving habits:

1. Simply follow the maintenance recommendations in your owner’s manual.
An out-of-tune engine can increase emissions and fuel consumption by as much as 15 percent. Always follow your car manufacturer’s suggested tune-up schedule to ensure your vehicle is performing at its best.

2. Upgrade your motor oil.
Some of the newer high-performance synthetic motor oils have been proven to significantly reduce emissions. For instance, according to independent tests, Royal Purple motor oil has been shown to reduce carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 62 percent when compared to conventional petroleum-based oils. It also improves fuel economy by as much as 5 percent and produces notable horsepower and torque increases. So you can switch to an environmentally friendly product without giving up performance. More information is available at www.royalpurple.com.

3. Regularly replace your air filter. A clogged air filter can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent. Air filters keep impurities from damaging the interior of the engine, so replacing dirty filters will save gas and protect your engine.

4. Keep the tires of your vehicle properly inflated.
The U.S. Energy Department reports that under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 6 percent. One study estimates that 50 to 80 percent of the tires rolling on U.S. roads are under inflated. Astonishingly, we could save up to 2 billion gallons of gas each year simply by properly inflating our tires.

5. Avoid topping off your gas tank.
Topping off releases gas fumes into the air and cancels the benefits of the pump’s anti-pollution devices. Capping your tank once the pump automatically shuts off is safer and reduces pollution.

To learn more about fuel efficiency and protecting the environment, the following have Web sites worth visiting:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site (www.epa.gov)

The U.S. Departments of Energy’s Web site dedicated to issues related to fuel economy
(www.fueleconomy.gov)

Royal Purple’s Web site (www.royalpurple.com)

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Distinctive 'Lady' Turns Heads in Fall Garden

PRNewsFoto/McCorkle Nurseries, Michael A. Dirr

PRNewswire/ -- Moody is a good thing when it comes to one beautiful lady. And this little lady's moods change with the season.

The lady -- Lady in Red Hydrangea -- is the ideal plant for any garden, where she'll surely add drama from spring to fall. In fall, this lady dons rich reddish-purple foliage as cooler temperatures arrive. By spring, count on her distinctive red stems and veins against dark green leaves. Come summer, the plant blooms with remarkable pinkish-white/bluish-white lacecaps (depending on soil pH) that mature to lush burgundy rose.

Truly the many "moods" of this lady are lovely to behold. And the enchanting plant is perfect for borders, groupings and mass plantings.

For those who do not yet have Lady in Red as part of their garden, here are some reasons why fall is an ideal season for adding this attractive plant.

Five Reasons to Plant in Fall

1) Stress Less - Air temperatures are cooler, reducing stress on plants... and gardeners. Cooler temperatures mean less transplant shock.

2) Happy Roots - Soil temperatures are still warm, promoting strong root growth. Root growth will continue through most of the winter, establishing the plant without competition from leaves, flowers or fruit and before the stress of the following summer.

3) Conserve Away - Rainfall is usually more abundant in fall and winter. Rain makes the soil easier to work, encourages root growth and lessens the amount of watering gardeners would have to do if planting in the summer. Always remember to mulch new plantings.

4) Bug Off - Generally, there are fewer insects / disease problems in the fall.

5) Move On Over - Fall is an ideal time to plant new perennials, as well as divide and transplant those that are overgrown or need to be moved. Also, container grown perennials and shrubs can be moved to permanent spots in the garden.

To find where the Lady in Red Hydrangea is available, go to www.ladyinredhydrangea.com , click on "where to buy" and enter a zip code.

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Fayette Front Page: Trained Hummingbirds

After writing a bit yesterday about "my" hummingbirds, I have a short update on their habits. Actually, I have an update on the habits of one particular hummingbird.

I think she's fallen in like with me.

As I type, she's hanging around outside my windows, seemingly watching me. New habit that started yesterday and I don't know if there's something of interest to her outside that I can't see, or if she's keeping tabs on me.

My office is a converted sun room so I'm lucky to have three sides of windows and also lucky to have the windows start at desk level and go almost to the ceiling. That allowed us to build in a horseshoe shaped desk that wraps around the three sides with the windows, without having anyone on the outside able to see the desk. I have computers set up in each corner and a view of woods, deer, rabbits and of course, my hummingbirds no matter where I look.

Hard to work at times!

Yesterday I went out to water a butterfly bush that is just barely limping along. Some nasty ants built a huge home around the base year before last and managed to kill off a large chunk of it before I noticed. I killed the ants, cut back the dead part and have been trying to keep the remainder happy ever since.

As I was watering I caught motion out of the corner of my eye and cut my eyes (rather than making a sudden movement) to see "my" hummingbird. She buzzed around the entire time I was watering, even when I moved. She'd go sit in the closest tree for a few seconds, then come back and watch the water. I've heard that hummingbirds love to fly through sprinkling water so maybe if I do this each day for a while I'll be able to see her take a shower.

Not sure if anyone is interested in what my hummingbird is doing. The rest of them aren't quite as friendly but as I said in a previous post, they aren't as skittish as any of my earlier hummingbirds. I'm thinking these little ones have been somewhere with people around and they have grown accustomed to human habits.

Tomorrow or the next day I'll post some photos of my mom's hummingbirds. She had a Rufus that was banded and I have photos of her holding the hummingbird. Very cool. I want a Rufus but I don't know that they winter in this area. Has anyone ever had one in Fayette County? Anywhere near?

editor@fayettefrontpage.com if you'd like to send your experience with "your" hummingbirds.
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Recyled toilet paper...

Recycled toilet paper is a great way to help conserve our resources. Before you say "ewwww" we're not talking about re-using toilet paper (which I'm sure you understand is pretty much impossible to do!), we're talking about using post-consumer paper products to make toilet paper. While wandering around reading information about recycling toilet paper we did find a reference to one made from recycled plastic but it didn't get many favorable reviews (OK, it received none at all) so we didn't go any further on that one.

Believe it or not, this is a big topic with so much information available that it will be impossible to begin to touch on all the value in buying recycled toilet paper. We're just going to touch lightly on the topic.

A lot of main-stream companies are now jumping on the conservation bandwagon and offering recycled toilet paper choices. For those of us who've been willing to look a bit harder, there have been not-quite-mainstream choices for many, many years.

Some of the recycled choices are a bit more expensive than the regular tissues we're used to buying, others are less expensive. One difficulty we've found over the years is that most stores only offer smaller packages of recycled toilet paper.

If you're truly trying to help the environment, look for brands that unbleached or use a non-chlorine whitener. The color isn't quite as crisp and white in the unbleached as those that are bleached, but they're much better for our environment and probably less harmful to our bodies, too. If you want white, go with the one that uses a non-chlorine whitener. Chlorine (bleach) is a by-product of a toxic family of chemicals known as dioxins.

If you don't want to use recycled toilet paper, consider buying one-ply instead of two-ply. There's not really that much difference in the thickness as 1-ply is 13# thick while the 2-ply is made up of two 10# thick sheets. The cost for a roll of 1-ply is a bit more usually, but it lasts longer as most people use the same number of sheets whether it's one or two-ply.

Here's a few "fun" facts about toilet paper:

  • In 1996 President Clinton imposed a toilet paper tax of 6 cents per roll.
  • A standard sheet of toilet paper measures 4.5 inches x 4.5 inches
  • According to Charmin, the average person uses 57 sheets a day
  • From www.toiletpaperworld.com:
    How many consumer products will one cord of wood yield?
    *1,000 pounds of toilet paper, or…
    *30 Boston Rockers, or
    *12 dining room tables (each table seats eight), or
    *7,500,000 toothpicks, or
    *460,000 personal checks, or
    *89,870 sheets of letter head bond paper (size 8 ½" s 11"), or
    *61,370 standard #10 envelopes, or
    *14,384,000 commemorative-size postage stamps, or
    *1,200 copies of the National Geographic, or *
    2,700 copies of the average daily paper (35 pages), or
    *250 copies of the Sunday New York Times, or
    *942 one-pound books, or
    *the heating value of one ton of coal, or
    *the heating value of 200 gallons of fuel oil
Want to find out more? Here are some sources we found helpful:

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Hummingbirds in Fayette

Each year we see what appears to be three separate "batches" (for lack of a better term coming to mind) of hummingbirds. Each has distinct habits and it's easy to tell when they've moved on and changed regimes!

The first group is usually a bit more skittish and they don't hang out in visible areas quite as much as others. They zoom in for the food and zoom out. They grab "their" territory and defend it heartily.

The second group is a bit more open to visitors and they'll stick around longer. At our house, there are usually fewer in the second group that stays through mid-summer.

I'm not entirely sure, but possibly the mid-group is joined by others later in the year. They may move on, it's hard to tell. I just know that our largest grouping of hummingbirds is always the last.

The last batch is more easy-going and there are more of them. There's always one that finds a perch on the plant holder on the porch and seems to stay the majority of the day.

A friend asked the other day if hummingbirds ever sit still. The answer is an unequivocal yes!

They seem to love the planter (again for lack of a better word... it's early in the morning and I'm racing the clock to write this article!) I put together a few years back. I bought one of those plant hangers from Wild Birds Unlimited in Peachtree City that has metal branches with limbs and leaves to hang plants. Rather than put it in the ground, I bought the round metal stand so it will sit on the porch. I bought a huge pot from Walmart or Home Depot that's made of a strong Styrofoam type material (but it looks like it's made of concrete). I drilled a hole in the bottom, put the round metal stand under the pot with the pole coming up the middle.

I then put dirt in the pot, added a nice hummingbird attracting vine and voila, I had a planter that I could hang hummingbird feeders and plants on.

My dad made a wooden platform with wheels and a rope-pull with wooden handle for the planter so I could easily move it around and now I have what has become my hummingbirds favorite hangout each year.

I keep it right outside my office window so I can watch "my" hummingbird's antics.

Each year one claims the plant stand and it will fight mightily to defend their territory. These little things can be mean! You can hear the "swock" as they bang into each other when they really get mad!

By the end of the year I usually have at least six feeders around the yard in different places. Not sure why, but they share better at the other feeders. The one I have in my vegetable garden will have two or three feeding at the same time. Sometimes they'll fight and sometimes they take turns.

This year the end-of-year vegetable garden group could care less whether I'm there picking tomatoes or not. It's been a lot of fun being inches from the little birds as they feed. They look up, cock their head at me and watch for a minute, then must figure that I'm harmless because they go back to feeding.

I could go on for many more paragraphs talking about "my" hummingbirds. They bring a lot of joy and peace. Sometimes when I'm feeling stressed I'll stop and watch them for a minute or two. They always make me smile and allow me to "chill out" long enough mentally that I am able to get back to work in a better frame of mind. Not sure what it is about them that has that affect, but I know I'm not alone in my sentiments!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

T. Boone Pickens' Plan on Wind Energy

Lately many have been seeing and hearing T. Boone Pickens on the radio and television promoting his plan promoting wind power. He states that 20% of our power could come from this source in the ads.

The staff at the Fayette Front Page and friends were talking about the commercials recently and we decided to do a short blog on the subject.

The Wikepedia info was particularly interesting. Pickens is certainly the American Dream in action! He is ranked, per Wik, as the 117th wealthiest person in the states with a net worth of over 3 billion. An amazing number to try and comprehend!

He is using his own money to promote the plan. Even knowing how much money he has at his disposal, spending the amount of money he must be spending to do the advertising on major networks and radio stations (and possibly newspapers) shows a strong commitment to his idea.

To do so also says he must have the research and data to substantiate his claims.

20% doesn't sound like a huge number in the scheme of things. However, if you start looking at where we are getting our energy now that percentage is substantial and would have a huge impact on our economy. A positive impact if true.

Here's a few bits of info from his site (www.PickensPlan.com) and others:

  • In 1970, we imported 24% of our oil. Today it's nearly 70% and growing.
  • A 2005 Stanford University study found that there is enough wind power worldwide to satisfy global demand 7 times over — even if only 20% of wind power could be captured.
  • The Department of Energy reports that 20% of America's electricity can come from wind.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy released a report confirming the feasibility of wind power generating 20% of the country’s electricity needs by 2030 – which would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation by an amount equivalent to taking 140 million vehicles off the roads.
We invite you to decide for yourself. Here are some links to help start your own research:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._Boone_Pickens

http://www.boonepickens.com/

http://www.pickensplan.com/

http://www.awea.org/ (American Wind Energy Association)

T. Boone Pickens Wind Vision Can Rapidly Become a Reality
July 8 - The American Wind Energy Association today welcomed the campaign launched by T. Boone Pickens to strengthen U.S. economic and energy security by boosting wind power production and confirmed that ramping up wind power quickly on a large scale is feasible if the government enacts the correct policies, starting with renewal of the production tax credit. More

http://www.powerofwind.com/

http://www.windenergyworks.org/

Wind Energy
Explains how moving air can be used to produce energy.

US Department of Energy Wind and Hydropower Technologies
Information on the DOE wind and hydro energy program, wind power projects, wind turbine technology and research, and wind energy basics.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

A Grandparents Day Tradition

NF Note: How many of you know the county in which the movement began for "Grandparents Day" If you said Fayette, then you were correct. What? Oh-- Fayette County, West Virginia--- not our Fayette County, Georgia! This year the celebration is on September 7th.

BUSINESS WIRE --Grandparents Day has traditionally been a day honoring grandparents, celebrating family traditions, and reminiscing about “the old days.”

Interestingly, one of the most popular and appropriate gifts this year for Grandparents Day is something that shares the holiday’s roots in family heritage and the breadth of generational differences--the African violet.

Providing a recognizable link for many generations itself, the African violet, described as “the house pet of houseplants,” elicits memories of our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. The violet lends a personal touch to homes where many of us remember the flower on our parents’ or grandparents’ windowsill. And it has a diverse and rich family heritage all its own, with names and flowers that evoke its own ancestors.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first National Grandparents Day, traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day. Its history and the efforts to establish the holiday are almost as old as the modern cultivation of the African violet.

The idea for Grandparents Day originated from an annual celebration exclusive to those 80 years and older. Grandparents Day founder, Marian McQuade, has spent decades honoring the heritage of the elderly and uniting generations. Throughout her life, she has been recognized for her humanitarian efforts, with the elderly. Her efforts were finally rewarded and in 1978, President Carter signed a law to establish the first National Grandparents Day.

Although the popularity of the African violet continues to grow, this is not just your grandmother’s violet. Since its discovery by a German colonial governor during the late 19th century, the flower has been cultivated into a multitude of colors and sizes. Scientists and violet enthusiasts alike have spent years crossbreeding to produce a diverse and vigorous breed of African violets, including bi-colored flowers.

African violet expert, Reinhold Holtkamp, comments on the therapeutic value of the plant: “It’s like the starter plant for budding green thumbs, one that emboldens people for more technically challenging garden therapy.” Holtkamp is president of Holtkamp Greenhouses in Nashville, Tennessee. The company is now 104-years old and has become the largest grower of African violets in the world.

The Holtkamp family has perfected their brand of Optimara African violets, a more stable and enhanced version to those years ago. Optimara offers pre-packaged plants, allowing for minimal set-up and maintenance.

Grandparents Day…a day to celebrate all things beautiful. Our family’s heritage, the commitment and devotion of Marian McQuade and the joy that comes from a simple gift, like an African violet.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gators and Snakes, and Oh My!


NF Note: On our last visit two years ago to the Serpentarium, we ran across a Fayette County connection. The parents of one employee lived in Fayetteville. So it is with our regret we didn't get to see Maria this year on our adventure. She has moved on.

It's been a few years since we had stopped to tour the Edisto Island Serpentarium on Edisto Island, South Carolina. So, on this trip, we came back for an encore visit. What a treat this place is. That is, if you are interested in learning about snakes and reptiles!

While I am not a personal fan of these slithery creatures or the prehistoric looking reptiles, I can appreciate their beauty and niche in the world.

The Edisto Island Serpentarium is a family owned operation and worth a stop. The owners truly care about the animals and teaching others about conservation in the ACE basin. If I remember correctly, their collection of alligators all have local roots. These guys are not afraid to go and catch them, or to teach others. Feeding time is interesting as the alligators see the owner with the bucket of treats and literally all line up for feeding. It's truly amazing to see how fast these guys can move when there is food involved. I do have to admit the close proximity of these guys to my family did make my tummy get a little queasy.

In addition to the alligators, there are plenty of snakes to view. Some are in some really big pits just kind of lying around. That is, I hope they are! It was surprising to realize that their snakes can also get dirty and have to have their open pits cleaned. One of the pits was closed on this particular visit until they could finish cleaning it out. No matter as there are plenty of others to see.

There is also the snake show which teaches the visitors about these creatures. Once again, I have to sit on the back row, but I always see it. As much as I am not a fan of the snakes, I do understand the need to be able to distinguish between the good and the bad boys.

The guys at the Serpentarium not only care for the animals, they also collect the venom so anti-venom can be made. Good job, mates!


There are also plenty of iguanas on display. These overgrown lizards don't hurt anyone (that I know of) and are rather prehistoric looking in their own right.

When you are in the area, take a break from the beach and spend a few hours at the Serpentarium. You'll come out knowing a little more about these animals. Perhaps, you'll even appreciate their watchful beady, oh I mean beautiful, eyes.

I'm proud to say that we came out with all of our fingers and toes intact!

Until next time,
Sandy Toes
While on Edisto

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Satellite Photo Gallery - Images of Earth - Our Changing Planet

NF Note: We took a quick look at some of the photos on the site. Pretty cool. You may want to check it out as well.

24-7 - The Earth, our home in space, is a varied and dynamic place. Since the beginning of human history we have sought a better understanding of the world around us. With the new technology of the aerospace age and satellite image technology, we can look back and appreciate the diversity and the beauty of the Earth in a way not possible until the 20th century

To view Satellite Photo of Glaciers go to:
http://www.impressionsofearth.com/glaciers.html

Copyright 2008 Monique Romeijn/Impressions of Earth. All Rights Reserved.

Since 1990's a new generation of satellite sensors with powerful capabilities have been launched to collect massive amounts of data about our planet and the many changes it has experienced.

Satellite images have been collected for scientific and technical purposes as well as just appreciating its simple beauty. These satellites collect information that our eyes cannot. There are dozens of remote sensing satellites orbiting the Earth collecting invaluable information about the Earth's surface, oceans and the atmosphere and how they interact.

Satellite images provide important land coverage information for mapping and classification of land cover features, such as vegetation, soil, water and forests for monitoring and managing Earth's vital natural resources and the current global climate changes.

Impressions of Earth - Satellite Photo Art Gallery

To View Gallery Click go to: http://www.impressionsofearth.com/home.html


Global Climate Change

The Earth's climate has changed throughout history. From glacial periods (or "ice ages") where ice covered significant portions of the Earth to interglacial periods where ice retreated to the poles or melted entirely - the climate has continuously changed.

To view a 3D view of Malaspina Glacier, Alaska go to: http://impressionsofearthblog.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/malaspina-3d1.jpg

To view a 2D view of Malaspina Glacier, Alaska go to: http://www.impressionsofearth.com/albums/album_image/6269442/3574415.htm

The shallow end of this Glacier is melting swiftly. Glaciologists have determined that areas of the glacial lobe were 98 feet lower in 2004 than they were in 2000. That's double the rate of pre-1999 thinning.

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.

Scientists have been able to piece together a picture of the Earth's climate dating back decades to millions of years ago by analyzing a number of surrogate, or "proxy," measures of climate such as ice cores, boreholes, tree rings, glacier lengths, pollen remains, and ocean sediments, and by studying changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun.

Since the Industrial Revolution (around 1750), human activities have substantially added to the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels and biomass (living matter such as vegetation) has also resulted in emissions of aerosols that absorb and emit heat, and reflect light.

The addition of greenhouse gases and aerosols has changed the composition of the atmosphere. The changes in the atmosphere have likely influenced temperature, precipitation, storms and sea level. However, these features of the climate also vary naturally, so determining what fraction of climate changes are due to natural variability versus human activities is challenging.

Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. Studying this data collected over many years reveal the signals of a changing climate.

Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will increase during the next century unless greenhouse gas emissions decrease substantially from present levels. Increased greenhouse gas concentrations are very likely to raise the Earth's average temperature, influence precipitation and some storm patterns as well as raise sea levels. The magnitude of these changes, however, is uncertain.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

UGA Gets $2.5 Million in Grants to Study Plants to Make Biofuels

University of Georgia researchers were recently awarded two grants totaling $2.5 million to help find better ways to produce biofuels from switchgrass and sunflowers.

UGA was one of eight universities to receive grants from a program jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy. The program aims to accelerate research in biomass genomics and further the use of cellulosic plant material for bioenergy and biofuels.

“Developing cost-effective means of producing cellulosic biofuels on a national scale poses major scientific challenges,” said Raymond Orbach, a DOE undersecretary. “These grants will help in developing the type of transformational breakthroughs needed in basic science to make this happen.

“The USDA is committed to fostering a sustainable domestic biofuels industry at home in rural America,” said Gale Buchanan, a USDA undersecretary. “These grants will broaden the sources of energy from many crops as well as improve the efficiency and options among renewable fuels.”

The UGA grants were awarded to scientists in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Steven Knapp, CAES professor and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, Jeff Dean and Joe Nairn, UGA researchers, Mark Davis, DOE researcher, and Laura Marek, USDA researcher, received $1.2 million to study the genomics of sunflower.

“Certain wild species of sunflower produce woody stems and high biomass yields, often reaching heights of 18 to 21 feet,” Knapp said. “Our grant focuses on understanding genetic mechanisms underlying wood production and biomass accumulation in sunflower.”

In addition, Knapp is working with Mark Davis at the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado to study the biofuel properties of sunflower.

“They will be providing us with state-of-the-art chemical measurements which are needed to identify genetic factors affecting wood formation and cellulosic biomass accumulation,” Knapp said.

Jeffrey Bennetzen, the Norman and Doris Giles/Georgia Research Alliance professor of molecular genetics in Franklin College, received the second grant for $1.295 million. It will fund a cooperative project with Katrien Devos, a CAES professor of crop and soil science and plant biology. They hope to develop genetic and genomic tools to study foxtail millet, a close relative of switchgrass.

Switchgrass is an excellent source of biomass for producing ethanol. Unlike corn, which is used now to make most U.S. ethanol, switchgrass is a perennial that grows on poor soil with little water, fertilizer or pesticides.

“Ethanol from switchgrass is a very different story from ethanol from maize grain,” Bennetzen said. “Ethanol from maize grain requires large inputs and produces no net carbon capture to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Switchgrass captures carbon dioxide very effectively and will not lead to increased food costs because it does not take acreage away from food production.”

But switchgrass has limitations, he said. Researchers need to find more efficient ways to convert lignocellulose—the material that makes up wood, leaves, stems—into ethanol.

Learning more about foxtail millet, he said, will help. It’s easier to study than switchgrass.

“Once the foxtail millet genome is sequenced, we will be able to quickly find the genes involved in making lignocellulose in foxtail millet, and this will make them easy to find in switchgrass as well,” Bennetzen said.“We can then study these genes and find ways to improve this performance so that switchgrass is easier to convert to ethanol.”

Improving this process is part of another project at UGA called the BioEnergy Science Center.

“For the average Georgian, the outcome of the research in this project will be less expensive liquid fuels, less dependence on foreign oil, lower food costs and less release of carbon dioxide into the environment,” Bennetzen said. “We won’t see these outcomes in the next year or two, but there is every reason to believe that they will come into effect over the next five to 10 years.”

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

UGA Turfgrass Field Day set for Aug. 20 in Griffin

If caring for turfgrass is your job, there is an event planned just for you Aug. 20 at the University of Georgia campus in Griffin, Ga.

Rain or shine, registration starts at 8 a.m. for the UGA Turfgrass Field Day, a day filled with everything you ever wanted to know about turfgrass and much more.

UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences scientists will share the latest research-based information on turfgrass varieties grown in Georgia and how to control diseases, insects and weeds.

Newly released UGA Bermuda grass, seashore paspalum and tall fescue varieties will also be discussed and seen. The latest industry equipment will be demonstrated, too.

For Hispanic workers, the morning session from 9 a.m. until noon will be offered in Spanish.
The field day is certified for Georgia Pesticide License Credit hours. Certified Crop Advisor credit will also be available as will credit in pesticide management and crop production.

The fee is $65 and covers the day’s program and lunch. To register, call (770) 229-3477 or go to the Web site www.georgiaturf.com.

The field day is sponsored by the UGA CAES, the Georgia Turfgrass Association, the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association, the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association and the Georgia Sod Producers Association.

'Dish' Garden is Functional, Recycled Art

On their own, container gardens or recycling are not new concepts. But Tony Johnson combined the two and made a unique, eye-catching, floral conversation piece.
The 8-foot diameter satellite dish once helped a homeowner tune into the latest movies and broadcasts. But today, it receives curious looks and smiles as a “dish garden” at the University of Georgia Research and Education Garden in Griffin, Ga.
As horticulturist for the garden, Johnson is known for his creativity and ingenuity. “I have a limited budget and very limited manpower, so I rely heavily on volunteers and donations,” he said. “So, when one of our Master Gardener volunteers asked me if I wanted his old satellite dish, I said, ‘Sure.’”

No matter what size or form, containers are perfect for planting under tree canopies, he said. Johnson places his first dish garden under a Chinese Evergreen Oak tree. The almost complete shade was perfect for growing hostas. But the dish could’ve been filled with any number of annual or perennial plants.

The satellite dish Johnson used is made of metal mesh. Excess water drains through the soil and waters the tree roots beneath.

“When you plant in the ground under trees, you risk destroying the tree’s root system,” Johnson said. “The satellite dish is perfect because it’s large, but the base is very small so it leaves a small footprint and doesn’t interfere with the tree’s roots.”

Johnson is now searching for more dish donations to plant around the 65-acre UGA garden.
“I know you can donate old dishes to a scrap metal recycler, but I view my idea as recycling, too,” he said.

Don't be too quick to toss away your old items. They could make for quirky outdoor garden features, too.

Heirloom gardens are typically full of plants reminiscent of gardens from the Old South. What better, more creative way to label your selections than with china plate name markers?
Other yard art ideas include using an old wheelbarrow or wooden chest as a planter. A brass headboard from an old bed may seem useless, but in a flower garden it becomes an attractive minifence.
At the UGA garden in Griffin, Johnson’s other recycled creations include an antique iron bed he turned into a flower “bed” and old scrap metal welded into garden art that resembles cat tails, birds and butterflies.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Southern Forest Industry Braces for Bioenergy

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Emerging biomass markets will significantly strengthen demand for wood fiber in the South, driving prices higher for forest products as the United States turns to alternative fuels for energy, according to a study released Monday by Forest2Market.

The new demand will be fueled by wood-burning power companies that produce and sell electricity to public utilities, as well as an increasing amount of wood pellets that are exported to European energy markets. The development of new facilities that turn biomass into cellulosic ethanol for transportation fuel will also impact the forest products industry.

As a result, demand for wood fiber from these emerging markets is expected to climb from 2 million tons in 2008 to at least 13.5 million tons in 2020, according to Forest2Market, a provider of pricing information and analysis for forest products. However, the estimate is conservative, and it could be adjusted higher as more companies announce plans to build biomass facilities.

The new study, Quantifying Forest Biomass Resources in the U.S. South, is the first to analyze the impact of bioenergy markets on the forest products industry. The report quantifies the industrys changing landscape, looking specifically at the effects of forest biomass on wood fiber supplies, demand and prices.

The pace of the development of bioenergy markets and the resource requirements to feed them will disrupt the entire southern wood fiber market, said Pete Stewart, president and founder of Forest2Market. It will be much steeper and more disruptive than that of the OSB market over the last 15 years. We recommend that forest products companies begin planning for the future by establishing stronger relationships with their suppliers and creating more efficient transportation lines.

Faced with rising oil prices, an international push for clean energy projects and a continued focus on reducing carbon emissions, federal and state governments have spent millions on biomass research and development. As a result, new energy markets are emerging that rely on southern forests for resources.

The primary supply for the growing demand is pulpwood and wood chips, and prices for pulpwood and chips are expected to rise. Secondary sources include construction and demolition debris, as well as leftover woody biomass from harvesting operations, such as tree limbs.

We were beginning to see the effects of new energy markets in the delivered prices for pulpwood, chips and wood fuel in some areas in the South, Stewart said. We thought it was time to take a closer look, using the breadth and depth of our data, to determine what the competitive landscape for wood fiber might look like in 10 or 15 years.

The study is based on Forest2Markets unique database of transaction-level information gathered from millions of shipments to mills throughout the South. The study will help lay the groundwork for strategic decision making that traditional forest products and new bioenergy companies will need to survive in the future.

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Forest2Market has developed sophisticated analytical tools to accurately forecast timber prices in the U.S. South and Pacific Northwest. The companys delivered price benchmark product is used by industry professionals to set timber prices for contracts, supply agreements and bids. The price information is more accurate because it is based on transaction-level data not surveys. For more information, visit www.forest2market.com.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Secrets of Season-long Stunning Color in Your Garden

NF Note: Hey, it's another photo contest! We know our readers avid photographers so get ready and get snapping!

(ARA) - In summer, there’s drought; in winter, snow and cold. Does it seem like Mother Nature is determined to leach the color from your garden? It is possible to keep your garden colorful much of the year. All you need is the right combination of plants and a little green thumb savvy.

“One of the top tricks of great gardeners is to plant in the fall,” says Stephanie Cohen, author of many gardening books.

“Establishing most plants in the fall is easy and an excellent way to ensure they’ll be successful in the spring. Adds Cohen, “The weather and soil conditions are better in the fall, as opposed to spring when it tends to be cold, muddy and wet.”

Cohen recommends first, when planning your color-filled garden, to choose easy to grow and drought-resistant plants. Check with your local agricultural extension if you’re unsure what plants will do well in your region and climate. Some particularly hardy flowers – like impatiens, petunias and pansies – can bloom year-round in moderate climates. Be sure to plant a variety that will bloom at different times in the year and within the season.

Next, incorporate some stunners into your garden planning. Roses may well be the essence of floral elegance, but traditional varieties tend to be fragile and labor intensive. Cohen recommends one of the new landscape shrub varieties, like The Knock Out Roses, that require far less care yet bloom spectacularly year round.

These roses grow well anywhere in the country – from the wintry landscape of Minnesota to the sultry shores of Florida – and come in seven colors and bloom styles to suit every garden and landscaping need. From upright shrubs in containers that cover a hard to reach hillside forming a colorful hedge, to adding a focal point in your garden, these beauties will perform every time.

Moving out of the planning phase, be sure to put your plants in the ground at the time of year that’s best for each. For example, some drought-resistant plants can stand up to summer’s heat and go in the ground anytime, even July or August. Flowers, no matter how hardy, generally have an optimum planting time.

“Fall is an excellent time for planting, and roses are no exception,” says Steve Hutton, plantsman and president of The Conard-Pyle Co.

For fall color, Hutton recommends planting Knock Out shrub roses during the closing months of summer. The flowers will bloom well through the end of September in most hardiness zones. Just remember to give them plenty of water and lots of sun.

When planting, always use fertilizer and consider installing drip lines for irrigation with maximum efficiency and minimum waste. Be sure you know a plant’s preferred sun exposure before you slip it into a bed. Many drought-resistant plants can easily handle full sun, but many flowers crave a mix of sun and shade.

“The right plant in the right spot means longer life with less care and use of natural resources,” reminds Hutton.

Once you’ve established your garden, regular maintenance – like removing dead blooms, pruning roses, etc. – and watering should be all you need to ensure your garden is gorgeous and colorful year round.

Enter the "Knock (Us) Out" Photo Contest

If you’d like some recognition for your hard work and brilliant planting strategies Conard-Pyle is sponsoring the “Knock (Us) Out” photo contest. Enter your photographs online now until Oct. 31, 2008. Competitors should take pictures of their creative use of Knock Out roses in one of three categories – home garden, commercial landscape and most creative use. Grand prize is $350 plus five Knock Out roses and 10 companion plants. Runners-up in each category will win $150 and five Knock Out roses.

Visit www.theknockoutrose.com for contest details.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Keep Georgia Beautiful Celebrates 30th Anniversary; Unveils New License Plate, Logo and Branding Initiative

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Keep Georgia Beautiful unveiled a special recycling-themed license plate, new logo and identity/branding initiative yesterday in celebration of its 30th anniversary. The ceremony was held at the New World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta during Keep America Beautiful's Midyear Affiliates Forum.

More than 200 leaders of environmental and community improvement organizations from Keep America Beautiful's national network of affiliates joined in the celebration, which was hosted by Coca-Cola Recycling and its President & CEO John Burgess, a Keep America Beautiful board member, as well as Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola Enterprises.

"We would not be celebrating Keep Georgia Beautiful's 30th anniversary if Keep America Beautiful had not approached Governor George Busbee back in 1978 and suggested the establishment of the first Keep America Beautiful state affiliate," Phil Foil, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, stated during the anniversary reception.

Keep Georgia Beautiful (KGB), housed in the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), is a public-private partnership, allowing it to benefit from the resources of citizens in government, the corporate world, and community organizations. These connections aid in its mission to build and sustain community environmental activities and behaviors resulting in a more beautiful Georgia. Keep Georgia Beautiful became the first Keep America Beautiful statewide affiliate as Georgia Clean & Beautiful in 1978. Keep America Beautiful has since expanded its "Clean Community System" into a national network of nearly 1,000 affiliates and participating organizations.

The Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation, which supports the mission of KGB and promotes private sector financial funding for environmental education, unveiled a special license plate in support of DCA's Away-from-Home recycling initiative. The new license plate will raise awareness of recycling and support the Foundation's education programs.

"We need 1,000 pre-orders by the end of the year, so all of you Georgia folks help us out," said Lisa White, materials manager of Atlanta-based SP Recycling and treasurer of the Foundation. "Let's make it happen!"

The Recycle 4 Georgia License Plate order form can be downloaded from www.keepgeorgiabeautiful.org.

In addition, in celebration of KGB's 30th anniversary, a new logo was created by GOTCHA Design, an Atlanta-based "green" design firm. Since receiving Master Vendor Status with the State of Georgia, GOTCHA has successfully worked on brand development for a wide variety of clients including the City of Snellville, Ga., the City of Kennesaw, Ga., the Georgia Urban Forest Council (GUFC), and other businesses and nonprofits.

The Midyear Affiliates Forum, which took place from July 30-August 1 at the Marriott Downtown Atlanta, was keynoted by the Honorable Shirley Franklin, mayor of Atlanta, who shared her vision for the long-term economic viability of Atlanta as a "best in class" sustainable city. In addition, the 2008 conference focused on an array of topics including how to conduct a waste audit in the workplace, building and implementing Keep America Beautiful's Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, rejuvenating the passion of public service, and the benefits of green building.