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Green Living

Compost works for us at construction sites, landfills and wastewater treatment plants

Silt-laden water from construction sites and poorly managed farm fields are notorious for contaminating our streams, rivers, lakes and bays. Silt fences are mandatory at construction sites, but even when properly installed they do not hold back clay. Adding wood chips or straw bales won’t help.

My model is good enough for the National Botanical Garden

The purpose of rain gardens is to reduce surface runoff by capturing water in ponds where it can infiltrate the soil. Many rain gardens begin with dug ponds lined with sand and gravel. Water-tolerant plants added in and around the ponds absorb more water.     This design can absorb only a limited amount of water based on the soil porosity, a measure of texture and compaction. After a heavy rain, water can stand for days and weeks, so the gardens become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Even tolerant plant species have problems surviving standing water.

Unity Gardens grants up for grabs

Plants and flowers aren’t all that grow in gardens. Leadership and civic involvement can also bloom. That’s a motivating idea behind Unity Gardens, a nonprofit that backs its philosophy with dollars.     So twice each year when Unity Gardens gives away seed money, in the spring and fall, human growth potential is a top giving criteria.

Little Coconut, Pineapple and Twix taught these middle-schoolers a big lesson

With their feet gingerly navigating mud and grasses at the water’s edge as they prepare to release three baby northern diamondback terrapins into the wild, these Severn River Middle School students could be almost anywhere along Chesapeake Bay.     Poplar Island, however, is no ordinary locale. The island, like the careful return of the terrapins to their birthplace, is a unique and successful example of environmental stewardship. Visiting there, students are in position to understand our human impact, both positive and negative, on the world around us.

Southern Maryland’s Heinz Thomet is making whole wheat loveable

The delectable, slightly tart and yeasty smell of baking bread wafts through the open door of Heinz Thomet and Gabrielle Lajoie’s farmhouse in rural Charles County. The aroma is fitting: The grains in the family’s bread are their farm’s staff of life.     The couple’s 86-acre Next Step Produce farm is one of only two ­organic farms in Maryland growing grains specifically for bread and food production (the other is Land’s End in Chestertown).

League of Conservation Voters wants your photos

“It’s a great feeling to see my neighbors and fellow Marylanders enjoying our state — from the mountains in western Maryland to the wetlands in Southern Maryland to the beaches on the Eastern Shore,” says Danielle Lipinski of Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “We truly have a little bit of everything here in Maryland, and I’m grateful to raise my family here.”

Even with compost you can overdo it

Recently a Bay Weekly reader complained she could not grow cauliflower or broccoli. The plants grew big and lush but never produced edible heads — all this despite the large amount of compost she added to her garden soil each year.

Biosolids are safe for food ­production; here’s why

Since I became involved in composting biosolids in the early 1970s, technology for processing wastewater has undergone major changes. Back then, most wastewater treatment facilities had only primary or secondary treatment technology. At the same time, industries were dumping all kinds of waste into sewer systems.

Death by herbicide is the first step toward no-till farming

This spring, Chesapeake Country meadows turned from green to the color of straw. It’s been a strange sight and one you’ll see more of in coming years. No, it’s not a symptom of climate change. It’s a step in no-till farming.     No-till farming offers many advantages over conventional farming.

Silt does not happen by itself

Farmers, homeowners and contractors are all responsible for making silt that clogs our streams, rivers and lakes and pollutes the Bay. Farmers who after harvesting their crops allow the soils to be fully exposed to the weather all fall, winter and spring are guilty. Homeowners who wash down their driveways and sidewalks in place of sweeping them are guilty. Contractors who bulldoze the earth to clear land for roads, homes, shopping centers and more are also guilty.