Sunday, June 28, 2009

Advice to a gardener newbie

Check out this site and find something similar for your location. The "right plant/right place" concept will minimize your maintenance requirements. Using natives helps keep the need for fertilizers and pesticides down. And plant the more water hungry plants closer to your hose with the more drought tolerant farther from the water sources. I am against auto sprinklers only because most people don't monitor them and they wind up wasting a lot of water. Consider habitat gardens too. Butterfly gardens are the most popular.

Familiarize yourself with the IMP (Integrated Pest Management) and BMP (Best Management Practices)in your area.

I recommend the Master Gardening program to all homeowners. There is one in every state, look up yours and consider taking the course.

Remember that exotic invasive plants are a huge and expensive problem in all of N. America. And to this day places like Lowe's and Home Depot continue to sell these plants. They are destroying the native habitats and directly responsible for nearly half of all the species on the endangered list!

Most of all, take your time, nature does. Enjoy it!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Some fellow pool2pond folks!

I am not unique in turning a backyard pool into a pond. MarshLand is different in that I did nothing to the pool first except to turn off the filters, pumps, skimmers and vacuums. I did not tear up the decking or backhoe a bog. My method is simply to let nature do what nature does best, balance itself. With the right proportions of vegetative and animal life, the water is crystal clean. Some of these other ways use a lot more muscle and money than I had. But the result is still a wonderful pond with all the benefits such a habitat provides! My slow, cheap way is not for everyone, so if this works for you, great! Any pond beats any chlorinated pool any day - in my humble opinion! Enjoy!

Another Pool2Pond page!

Erik's Swimming pond

The "Pond Doctor" Dave's how-to and info on Pool2Pond conversions

Awesome site on swimming ponds!

When I started looking into turning my pool into a pond (in 2002) I found that in Europe swimming ponds were the norm. One quote that stuck with me was, "We don't have the disposable income that our American friends across the pond have for pool maintenance." They actually were building their pools with plant shelves from the start. The over use of chemicals here in the US is frightening. I hope we start to "get it" soon too!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Quick and easy Eco-Tip: Save electricity

A really easy way to save some electrical costs is to use surge protectors/power strips on groups of things used at the same time. I'll explain. I have my TV, DVD player and cable box all on one surge protector. When I finish watching TV at night I turn off the TV of course, but I also turn off the power strip. It's on the floor, so I just hit it with my foot. No trouble and it doesn't go on again until the next night. I do the same with my chargers: phone, camera, iPod and netbook, all on one strip. The charges stay plugged in all the time, but each morning I just turn off the power strip. I also have this computer, monitor, speakers, external drives on one UPS. After shutting down, I just turn it off.

I have certain lights on timers so the are on automatically (so I don't have to stumble into a dark room) and they are off automatically, so they aren't forgotten and left going all night. Most of us are creatures of habit enough to do this with a few well placed lamps. I cannot over state how useful this is.

On some power company sites it's estimated that these few things can save as much as 10% off an electric bill! And here in FL I go even farther during the bad storms and unplug everything I value. I know it sounds drastic, but there is no other way to insure important electrical items are safe from the super spikes we get here in the lightening capital! I know there are other high-tech, expensive ways to protect these things, but I say the easiest and cheapest is best - so just unplug it during a storm and turn off the surge protectors and UPS outlets when not in use.

Mosquitos, not all bad, since they are food for many!

Most fish eat mosquito larva. I use the goldfish in my ponds for this since a) they are very hardy and b) they don't cause any trouble with the other critters.

There is a fish called the mosquito fish -

Apparently in CA they are given away for mosquito control. Here in FL they are not used as much mostly because they seem to interfere with native species.

Tadpoles, goldfish and even some meat-eating bugs (like dragonfly larva) all eat mosquito larva. I don't have a mosquito issue here at all. Dragonflies also eat the adult mosquitoes, as do frogs/toads, bats, spiders and birds. For that reason I stopped using my "Mosquito Magnet".

A Mosquito Magnet totally collapses the population of mosquitoes in 3/4 to 1 acre within 6 weeks - and it works!

So if you have a serious issue, like a potential disease issue, I'd get the Mosquito Magnet going (you can get them at Home Depot). After 6 weeks all your mosquitoes will be gone. Then just keep normal fish and wildlife in your pond and you should be fine.

In general, we need to consider NOT just killing off everything, since other critters that we like and need depend on these pests for food. And it seems all our chemicals are just creating super bugs that nothing can kill. Seems like that is a much more serious issue. Just MHO, but I'm sticking to it!

Basic Hummus Recipe and Variations

The main reason I'm posting this here, in my pond blog, is because foods like hummus are part of a sustainable living solution. Less of the pork/chicken and beef meals that use more resources than the amount of food they supply means more sustainable. Don't get me wrong, I like a good steak every now and then. But I rarely buy it to make at home. At home I try to eat more earth-friendly. Smoothies, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, whole grains and hummus all contribute to my personal meal planning. I hope you try it! Enjoy!

I've put a link at the bottom. It's to a site that has lot's of recipes of hummus as well as some history. It's where I got my courage! Once you've made it, you'll be making it all the time! Shoot, a 4 oz container from a health food store costs about $4! This makes about 8x that for less! Enjoy!

2 cans Garbanzo beans (or Chick peas - same thing)
2 Tbs of the following:
Lemon Juice
Olive Oil

Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. That's it. Fresh, fast, inexpensive and really healthy.

You can add almost anything you like to make it special, I do the following combos:

3-4 Tbs of Sun dried tomatoes

1/2 Jar of roasted red peppers and 1/2 can black olives or do each as a separate flavor.

Or use different beans! It is standard to use the chick peas, but try some black beans or lentils. Different flavors but all good fiber and protein.