view counter

Green Living

We’re paying for it, and it’s not a bad deal

It takes a village of vessels to build an oyster reef.     Two barges do the heavy work. One, the construction barge, bears a GPS-guided crane. That barge is anchored to stay a while in Harris Creek, just beyond Knapps Narrows on the Eastern Shore. Another barge holds tons of fossilized oyster shells awaiting the crane. That barge travels back and forth to Curtis Bay, on the south side of Baltimore Harbor, where it meets a freight train of hopper cars full of more fossilized Florida oyster shells.

Transplanting seedlings

The sooner you can transplant seedlings after they germinate, the better they can survive and continue growing. Delay transplanting your seedlings after they have become crowded and have true leaves, and you’ll get stunting, resulting in slower growth.     The first green leaf-like structures you see on seedlings are called cotyledons. The cotyledons contain all the energy necessary for germination and the development of the first true leaves. To minimize transplant shock, transplant seedlings soon after the first true leaves appear.

Here’s what to sow when

It’s time to start on your garden.         Sow slow-germinating small seeds inside in late February through March. These include begonia, celery, impatient, petunia, snapdragon, etc. These small seed plants are not only slow to germinate but slow to grow.

That means you forgot to feed them

Are your azalea leaves yellowing and dropping? The loss is more than winter’s toll. You could have prevented it if you had mulched your azaleas with one or two inches of compost in early to mid-September or applied one-quarter cup of an ammonium-based fertilizer soon after the first frost.

Propagate a jungle of African violets using my foolproof method

Beyond their good looks and winter bloom, African violets have another charm. They’re so easy to propagate in the home that they raise your self-esteem. Here’s my foolproof method:

Get out and dig to be ready for spring

If you did a good job of building your compost pile last fall, now is a good time to stimulate more microbial activity.     Just before Christmas, temperatures in my compost pile dropped below 100 degrees from a high of 130 degrees measured just three weeks earlier. This falling temperature is due partially to a drop in surrounding ambient air and partially to a lower rate of microbial activity.

Here’s your recipe for making them into rich compost

Don’t bag those leaves for the county to collect. Use them in making your own compost. It takes about a bushel of leaves to make a gallon of quality compost, which contains more nutrients and fiber than peat moss and is less acetic.

The Bay — and your garden — will thank you

Never leave your garden barren. As soon as you have finished harvesting the vegetables or flowers, plant another crop to prevent the soil from eroding or losing nutrients through leaching.     Soil devoid of vegetation is easily washed away and may find its way into the Bay. Plant roots save the soil by binding particles so they will not be washed away. The tops of plants minimize the impact of water droplets that can destroy soil structure and encourage erosion.

Now’s the time to get to work, says the Bay Gardener

Feeling less than pride and joy in your lawn?     September is a great month for establishing and repairing lawns. Here’s how to get started now on growing rich, green, weed-free grass in 2014. 1. Test Your Soil     How’s your lawn doing?     There’s no way to know without soil testing. Fertilize without testing, and you’re not only throwing your money away but also polluting the Bay.

Five signs you need to insulate

A cool grand. Nearly half a home’s total energy bill — $1,000 annually — is what the average family spends each year on home heating and cooling costs, according to the U.S. government’s Energy Star program.     Improving your insulation could save you hundreds of dollars.     Insulation traps warm air inside a home’s walls — similar to how a fleece sweater does for the body — to regulate a home’s temperature.     How do you know if your home is properly insulated?