Friday, April 30, 2010

Poisonvine and Peonies on "Your Southern Garden" May 8

Propagating plants from seed, identifying invasive vines and growing pretty peonies in the South will all be covered on "Your Southern Garden" with Walter Reeves May 8 at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

University of Florida horticulturist Tom Wichman will reveal the secret to successfully propagating plants from seed. Then, host Walter Reeves will show a simple tip for picking up tiny seed.
 
When two similar invasive vines show up in Reeves' landscape, he goes on a mission to identify creeping cucumber and golden passionvine.
 
And, if you think peonies can only be grown up North, Reeves has some tips for Southern success. Finally, Nancy McDonald, a greenhouse owner who specializes in houseplants, shows how to choose houseplants that will thrive in different conditions.

"Your Southern Garden," produced by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UF IFAS Extension, is a one-of-a-kind program specifically for the Southeast. The program is made possible by underwriter support from Scotts Miracle-Gro and sponsorship from McCorkle Nurseries.
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UWG Scientist Discusses Impact of Louisiana Oil Spill

An oil spill off the coast of Louisiana caused by a blown-out well could turn into one of the most severe environmental catastrophes in the nation’s history, experts say, and it occurred at an especially bad time given the offshore activity of the spring season, according to David Bush, a coastal geologist at the University of West Georgia.

Bush said the spill coinciding with the spring shrimping season and the migratory season of birds could aggravate damage to the gulf’s industry and animals.

“It could affect not only wildlife but also tourism if it continues to spread east,” he said.

As the huge spill began to seep ashore, it became increasingly likely that birds such as skimmers, gulls and pelicans and mammals such as minks and otters would be endangered.

Reports said more than 200,000 gallons of oil a day were flowing from the Gulf of Mexico well, which was drilled by a rig operated by British Petroleum. It caught fire April 20, forcing authorities to try to contain the spill.
Bush said better preparedness for such emergencies is needed.

“The lesson here is that there has to be better emergency response,” he said. “When severe storms strike, [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] is ready with rapid-response operations that are able to immediately limit the impact of the disaster.”

Bush said that oil companies have been resistant to setting up an emergency-response system because of the costs.

He also faulted British Petroleum for not being forthright when the accident first happened.
“They downplayed the amount of oil leaking,” he said.

Despite this incident, Bush said he still supports drilling efforts.

“It doesn’t make me feel like we should shut down offshore drilling. Most coastal geologists are against it, but I’m different,” he said. “If it’s done safely, usually there will not be problems like this.”

Bush said recovery efforts would have to be massive in order to stave off damage to the ecosystem.
“There have to be volunteers cleaning up, bird by bird,” he said.

The entire food chain in the area could be severely affected, especially as the oil reaches new depths in the gulf.
“There are lots of small critters deeper in the water that have important roles in the food chain, and as the oil begins to reach them, they will be threatened, and the predators that feed on them will also be affected,” he said.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Turtle Season Begins May 1

May 1 marks the beginning of loggerhead sea turtle nesting season on St. George Island. It is the season when local volunteer turtlers begin walking the beach in order to find, mark and protect turtle nests and when homeowners and visitors are educated about turtle friendly house lighting. Visitors interested in learning about sea turtle nesting can visit the St. George Island Visitor's Center (at the St. George Island Lighthouse Park) to see a turtle display and pick up a free turtle cover for your flaslight. Click here to watch a turtle video.

Presentation about Sea Turtles Begin in June - Franklin County's Oldest Visitors at the firehouse (324.E. Pine Ave.) at 2:00 by Sea Turtles at Risk, Inc. and the SGI Volunteer Turtlers. www.seestgeorgeisland.com for details.

A wonderful view...

I can't help but stop and look out my windows at times. A couple of days ago I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and ended up watching a couple of fat rabbits nibbling my soon-to-be-mowed grass. Today I again caught some movement and expected to see the rabbits. Nope, a fat opossum. Hmmm... I think they're not good for baby birds, so I'm going to have to do a bit of reading on them.

I have a fox or two also. Sometimes if I head out to the studio at the right time I'll catch them streaking across the yard.

I love watching the little chipmunks scurry on the edge of the woods. I'm not so thrilled when they dig up my plants during the dry season to get at the water I suppose, or maybe to eat the bugs or roots?

I do need to find the time to learn about all the creatures that wander around my own private backyard nature preserve.

I'm fairly familiar with all the deer... and the deer ticks. It's the time of year when I make sure to keep a can of bug repellent by the door. I've had my share of ticks thank you very much!

This is also the time of year when my bird houses are all occupied with moms watching their eggs. And the time when I fill up my hummingbird feeders frequently.

Have I missed any of my regulars? Ah, I don't think I've mentioned my favorites, the wild turkeys. I've watched them grow up! Now they're pairing off and the last group of nine is dwindling.

I do keep my bird book handy as I'm always finding some new bird out in the back that I've never seen before. One day I looked out my window and had a hawk sitting on the porch railing! It (because I have no idea of the sex) stayed there forever watching for its next meal to come skittering across the wide expanse in the back.

Sometimes I think about moving. We've talked about moving to a low maintenance area, a neighborhood. I can't imagine giving all of this up. I'd guess that sooner or later civilization, if that's what you want to call it, will encroach more and more and we'll lose much of the surrounding large tracts of land. We back up to wetlands, which is good, and we're surrounded by minimum 5-acre lots. Most are tree-filled with small grassed areas around the houses. Perfect!

I would like to think that in twenty years the area will look somewhat the same. I'm doing my part in our county to try and preserve as much as possible. Unfortunately, we have a group in "power" who will soon open the floodgates to developers. Once the economy turns around I'm concerned that we'll see growth like we've never experienced before. People will make their money, the county will change, the money-makers will move on to another area to make more money. Those of us who love the pristine beauty and slow growth will either be stuck in old age watching the county go through a cycle of destruction or will move to other areas.

Gee, what started as a positive, uplifting look at nature has turned sour. Hmph. Time to fix another cup of tea and go sit on the back porch and enjoy what I have and turn my mind back to all that's good in this world.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Propagating Properly on "Your Southern Garden" May 1

Gardeners can learn to reproduce prized plants through propagation, identify irises and master mulch on "Your Southern Garden with Walter Reeves" May 1 at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Georgia Public Broadcasting.
 
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist Paul Thomas, a propagation pro, will demonstrate a technique every gardener can use to create new plants from their favorite ones.
 
Irises propagate themselves easily, but horticulturist Hank Bruno will bring Reeves a bucketful of irises that have different characteristics in the landscape.
 
And, University of Florida Extension horticulturist Erin Alvarez will lead viewers through all the options for choosing landscape mulches.
 
"Your Southern Garden," produced by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and University of Florida IFAS Extension, is a one-of-a-kind program specifically for the Southeast. The program is made possible by underwriter support from Scotts Miracle-Gro and sponsorship from McCorkle Nurseries.
For more information or to view multimedia associated with this story, click here: http://georgiafaces.caes.uga.edu/?public=viewStory&pk_id=3791---
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Georgia Natural Gas(R) to Give Away Free Saplings in Celebration of Earth Day at Atlantic Station

/PRNewswire/ -- The first 200 visitors to the Georgia Natural Gas (GNG) venue at Atlantic Station's Earth Day Fair will receive a free sapling (one per household) to celebrate the event. Provided to GNG by the Georgia Forestry Commission, the young trees are native to Georgia and ideal for planting and cultivating immediately. The trees will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

GNG representatives will be available at the Earth Day Fair to share weatherization tips with the public and to provide copies of It's a Natural -- the company's guide to free or low-cost energy-efficient solutions for the home. The company's representatives also will share the internal sustainability efforts under way at GNG's Atlanta headquarters. In 2009 GNG received the Clean Air Campaign's Pace Award and, for the second year in a row, the Metro Atlanta Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for Community Service.

Georgia Natural Gas is Georgia's first and only natural gas marketer to obtain recycled natural gas from a landfill. GNG is using a waste material as a clean-burning resource for Georgia. Thanks to new technology, methane gas at Georgia's Live Oak Landfill is collected and made ready for consumer use. It becomes recycled natural gas when it is processed and injected into the existing natural gas distribution system for delivery to homes and businesses.

Georgia Natural Gas serves more than half a million residential, commercial and industrial customers throughout Georgia. GNG is part of SouthStar Energy Services, a Georgia-based joint venture between AGL Resources (NYSE:AGL) and Piedmont Natural Gas Co. (NYSE:PNY) . SouthStar also operates in Ohio as Ohio Natural Gas, in Florida as Florida Natural Gas, in the Carolinas as Piedmont Energy, and in other parts of the Southeast as SouthStar Energy Services. For more information, visit www.onlygng.com.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Callaway Gardens: Azaleas are in Bloom NOW!‏

 Finally, the blooming of azaleas has arrived. Don't miss this amazing display of color that happens only a brief time each year. The Overlook Garden is quickly progressing toward peak bloom for this weekend and into next week! The Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl is quickly progressing toward its peak for next weekend. In addition, native azaleas, dogwoods, redbuds, red buckeye, spring wildflowers and more are in bloom, too.

For a glance at what they look like today, visit the Azalea Watch section of www.callawaygardens.com or visit the Callaway Gardens Facebook Fan Page.

For more information, contact Callaway Gardens at 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292) or www.callawaygardens.com.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Get a jump start on growing food and flowers this spring with raised garden beds

(ARA) - The popularity of urban gardening has exploded over the past couple of years, due in part to increased awareness about food safety, the financial stresses of the economy and a growing desire to be eco-friendly.

Some of the most enjoyable, user-friendly gardens, like vegetable and herb gardens or cut-flower gardens, perform exceptionally well in raised beds. Plants tend to perform better in raised beds than in regular beds because there is less soil compaction (since you're not treading between the plants) and they allow for excellent drainage.

"I've been gardening in raised beds for over 30 years, and I'm convinced they're the best way to grow," says Paul James, HGTV's Gardener Guy. "One of the things I like most about raised beds is that they warm up faster in spring and stay warmer longer in the fall, which means a longer growing season and an extended harvest."

While raised beds are extremely functional, they can also add style to your yard or garden. The organized appearance of the beds lends a handsome structural element.

Quality, durable materials last longer and look better. Western Red Cedar is a strong choice for building garden beds because it is easy to work with, rot-resistant and ages beautifully, maintaining its shape and strength over the years, even when exposed to extreme weather. If you're concerned about the environment, you can take comfort in the fact that it is an authentically sustainable, renewable green building material.

Making your own raised garden beds is an easy and fun project - having a helper will make the job easier. Follow these tips and get growing.

* Plan ahead to keep the bed size manageable. A bed measuring about 3 feet by 6 feet is a good size. You'll want the bed to be at least a foot high - if you want it higher, just add another board, but keep in mind that you'll need to add extra soil.

* Buy the materials you'll need: Western Red Cedar boards (2 x 6 work well) - four 3-foot lengths and four 6-foot lengths; Western Red Cedar posts (4 x 4), for corner supports, cut to 18 inches each; 3-inch galvanized screws, about 35 to 40.

* Cut the ends of the 18-inch post lengths to a sharp point with a saw - these pointed ends will go into the soil to support the bed.

* Lay two post lengths down and place two 3-foot planks on top of them (to equal 12 inches in height) and line up the edges along the sides and to the top of the posts (the unsharpened end). Pre-drill holes using a bit that is smaller than the screws, then put in the screws. Repeat with the other 3-foot boards and 18-inch posts to form the other short end of the bed.

* Now you're ready to add the long sides of the bed. Place one of the short sections you just made on a level surface, with the pointed ends up. Line one of the 6-foot boards up so that it is flush with the face of the short end, pre-drill holes and then add the screws to secure it. Repeat with a second 6-foot board to equal 12 inches in height.

* Align the second short (3-foot) side of the box with the 6-foot board so that the face is flush with the end of the boards. Pre-drill holes and then drill in screws to secure. Finally, add the other two 6-foot boards on the opposite side to complete the final side of the bed.

* Flip the box over - it's now ready to install. Before you put it in, prep the area you'll be using by turning over the soil and then leveling it out as best you can. After you've installed the box, fill it with a blend of soil and compost that is best for the type of plants you'll be growing.

This is just one way to build a raised bed garden. You can add more boards to give the bed extra height or length, or put a cap on top of the boards to provide a place to sit as you garden. For more information about Western Red Cedar and ideas for more do-it-yourself projects, visit Western Red Cedar Lumber Association online at www.wrcla.org or call (866) 778-9096.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Extra Caution Needed During Georgia's Fire Season

Breezy, warm spring days are perfect for enjoying the outdoors, but they're perfect, too, for wildfires. To prevent the spread of wildfire, the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) is urging residents to take extra precautions when burning yard debris, using an outdoor grill or enjoying campfires.

"Half of all the wildfires in Georgia every year happen between January and April," said Greg Strenkowski, GFC Staff Forester. "The number one cause of wildfire is escaped debris burning, so we want to make sure everybody remembers what's necessary to burn safely."

Evaluating the weather is an important first step before lighting a match outdoors, according to Strenkowski. Wind carries sparks, and Georgia's largest and most damaging wildfires have been recorded on windy April days. In April of 2007, Georgia experienced its largest wildfire in history, burning some 560,000 acres and causing millions of dollars in damage.

"Always get a burn permit before you burn," said Strenkowski. "They're really easy to obtain. Just call 1-877-OK2-BURN, or log onto GaTrees.org. If weather conditions are good, your permit will be given within minutes." While permits aren't needed for grills or campfires in designated areas, extra caution should always be exercised around their use.

Strenkowski said mid-morning to early afternoon are the best times to burn, and he recommends a little preparatory work before fires are started. Neighbors should be notified in advance about the fire's possible smoke. Be sure to wear proper work clothes, including long pants, long sleeves, work gloves and boots while preparing your burn pile. A 25-foot barrier should be raked around the pile, and emergency equipment such as a water hose and hand tools should be close by. Avoid having dirt or moist debris in the pile; both hold in moisture and cause excess smoke.

Strenkowski went on to advise that dead grass, leaves and straw should be cleared from nearby decks and roof tops, as buildings and vehicles can easily ignite if flames spread onto them. In addition, if utility poles are located on your property, their bases should always be cleared of flammable debris to prevent fire damage and possible injury.

"Don't be tempted to use gasoline or lighter fluid on your outdoor fire because they can be dangerous," advised Strenkowski. "And make sure the fire is completely out before you leave it unattended. The burn area should be cool to the touch before a fire is considered finished."

For more information on safe burning practices and Georgia's forest industry, visit GaTrees.org.

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