Tuesday, May 2, 2023

What You Should Know about Sustainable Gardening

 Sustainable gardening involves farm practices focused on conserving the soil, water, and nutrients for present and future use. This approach is a safe and eco-friendly alternative to modern farming, which is degrading the earth’s natural resources and threatening their viability for future generations. As the global population grows exponentially, food demand has encouraged commercial farming practices that harm the environment, especially soil.

Soil is an important resource since it holds water and nutrients necessary to sustain life. For instance, trees depend on soil for anchorage and nutrition, and in return, they clean atmospheric air of toxic carbon and pollutants. Additionally, soil filters rainwater and provides shelter to insects, microbes, and animals.

Healthy soil also averts drought, has high resistance to flooding, and has an optimized ability to sustain food crops. Gardeners can conserve this important natural resource through various sustainable gardening practices, such as eliminating the use of chemicals, compost piling, and mulching.

Modern farming relies on chemicals for pest and disease control. Commercial suppliers have made these provisions available to farmers, but they provide little to no education on how the chemicals harm the soil and affect consumers. Fertilizers and pesticides can leach into water sources and poison them for local communities and wildlife.

Pesticides and insecticides may control infestations, but they are not selective when killing insects. Some insects, such as bees and butterflies, are killed by these chemicals. These organisms benefit the ecosystem by pollinating flowers and helping in plant reproduction. Killing them threatens the future of crops and flowers.

Modern farming also utilizes poison to eliminate mice, voles, and other destructive rodents. This strategy has far-reaching consequences since the hawks, eagles, and owls that feed on these poisoned animals also die. Instead of adopting this harmful approach, sustainable gardeners can invite these raptors onto their farms to control rodents.

In addition, the frequent and excessive use of chemicals can cause the target pests and organisms to develop resistance, meaning farmers have to gradually increase the quantity over time. Spraying more chemicals will further degrade the environment, jeopardize food safety, and pollute natural resources, making them unfit for use by future generations.

Compost piles, on the other hand, recycle kitchen and garden waste, landscaping debris, and organic matter to create a beneficial growing environment for plants. They create valuable nutrient-rich materials that can effectively mitigate the risk of planting a single crop species repeatedly in the same garden.

Continuing to grow certain plants will continually deplete specific resources. Compost replenishes these resources while giving gardeners an easy option to manage their household and farm waste. It is a form of natural fertilizer that can help break the overreliance on chemical provisions.

Lastly, mulching involves covering the soil surface directly above plant roots to preserve moisture and eliminate weeds. This approach can use organic matter, such as dry grass and leaves, or inorganic materials, such as plastic sheets. Organic mulch is preferable to inorganic since the materials can decompose and add nutrients to the soil.

Mulching can improve soil fertility, control soil temperature, and deter pests from attacking crops. Moreover, this approach prevents soil erosion since it protects the soil surface from the direct impact of rainfall and improves the soil structure. The mulch produces slime and gums on the soil surface, improving the soil form and consequently stabilizing its structure.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Advocacy Efforts of the South Mountain Conversancy


Working at PWC for 18 years, Richard Inserro created large-scale consulting and data strategy structures. Outside work, Richard Inserro supports environmental conservation efforts by donating to local nonprofits like the South Mountain Conservancy (SMC).

Founded in 2000 and located in Essex County, New Jersey, the SMC does more than educate the public on the local ecosystems. Its volunteers actively preserve it by removing trash and participating in wildlife management. The organization's efforts protect the various regeneration sites from invasive species and ensure those sites can recover from damage incurred over time. The sites range in size - some are open to public viewing while others are enclosed.

The SMC collaborates with local government agencies to preserve the reservation’s condition. When a landowner seeks to claim part of the reserve or volunteers find trash dumped on the reserve’s grounds, the SMC works with the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs to remedy the problem.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Some Annual Garden Weeds

There are about 250,000 species of plants around the world, and about 3 percent act like weeds. Though weeds may have some benefits, one has to be careful as they can reduce soil moisture, harm animals, add to your maintenance cost, and reduce your garden value, to mention a few. Several weed types exist, and one can classify them by their morphology, habitat, or life cycle.

Crabgrass, also known as Digitaria spp, is a low-growing weed that spreads through seeds and node roots that rests on the soil. It grows well in dry and hot environments, expanding to 2 feet long. Under warm grounds, Crabgrasses appear from mid-spring through summer. As annual weeds, they wither at the end of the growing season, mainly during the fall’s first frost. Every year, Crabgrasses produce new seeds that can be viable in the soil for three years. So, you should control the weed before it generates seeds. To control the weed, mow your lawn as it prevents crabgrass from producing flowers and seeds. Many experts advise mowing your lawn to about 2 to 4 inches long.

Another weed is Purslane, and its botanical name is Portulaca oleracea. It can produce 2 million seeds for each plant. Growing up to 30cm high, these plants can reproduce through minute black seeds and stem particles in late spring.

Purslane can also regenerate vegetatively through its leaves, rendering it tough to eliminate. These weeds grow properly in crop fields, gardens, landscaped sites, and other disturbed areas. You can remove the plant with your hand or use a mulch to control it. Your organic mulches should be 3 inches thick and more. Synthetic mulches that prevent light while providing a physical fence to seedling environments help control the weed too.

Also among annual weeds is Lambsquarters, with chenopodium album as its botanical name. As fast-growing weeds, they have small and light seeds which the wind can blow over short distances. Under favorable circumstances, the seeds may survive for long periods in the soil, spreading quickly. Since these weeds remove moisture from the soil, use a sharp hoe to remove them from your garden.

Amaranthus spp or pigweed is a resilient annual weed that reproduces through seeds. Having fleshy red taproot, it becomes visible in late spring. Pigweeds like warm weather, and they have oval-shaped leaves with conical tips. It is best to extract them before they flower, and you can protect your garden with a winter mulch to control pigweeds.

Chickweed, also called Stellaria media, is a weed that develops well in watered sites, providing water for insect pests and plant viruses. Producing about 800 seeds, these weeds take eight years to wither in favorable conditions.

Further, the weeds bloom in cool areas and start growing before spring crops get competitive, limiting vegetable harvest. They also create dense mats and seldom grow over 2 inches. Possessing tiny flowers with five white petals, the chickweeds do not thrive in neutral pH soils with excessive nitrogen. It’s best to monitor the soil surface for chickweed seedlings throughout winter to remove them. You can use an organic mulch that is two-inch deep to reduce the seed germination.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Tips to Prevent Tick Bites When Hiking

There are a number of harmful pests in the woods that can make your hike a little less enjoyable. Ticks in particular are a frustrating annoyance for hikers in some area. Ticks rarely cause severe illnesses, but the diseases they spread can occasionally be devastating to a hiker's health. For example, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Ehrlichiosis are some of the more serious infections you can get from a tick bite. Fortunately, by following a handful of tips you can go a long way toward preventing tick bites and removing ticks.

First, educate yourself about the types of ticks in the area you're hiking in. Refer to the experiences of previous hikers in the area and educate yourself about the dangers you may face and how you can avoid them.

When hiking, it is wise to use insect repellent, which will help keep ticks and other harmful insects away from you. Insect repellent is inexpensive and widely available. Active ingredients that keep pests at bay include picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), and Deet.

While on your hike, it may also be helpful to have an insecticide at hand. A popular insecticide for hiking is Permethrin, which kills mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks without harming humans or dogs. You can also wash and cover your clothing and gear with Permethrin.

When you avoid brushy areas, thick grass, and densely wooded areas, your chances of encountering ticks are reduced. Also try to avoid sitting or camping in areas that may be tick-infested.

Another good idea is to wear light-colored clothing and thick, tucked clothes so you can spot ticks before they access your skin. It is also wise to wear long pants while hiking, as ticks will have trouble getting to your legs if you're wearing long pants tucked into your socks. Ticks may also find their way into your clothes through the waistline area. To prevent this, tuck your shirt into your pants.

When you get to your camp or home, you should check your body, gear, and pets thoroughly to remove attached ticks. Before washing your clothes, put them in a hot dryer for 10 minutes to get rid of any unseen ticks. Ticks can survive a journey through a washer but will not survive in a hot dryer. Tick-borne infections can also be minimized by taking a shower as soon as you return home.

If you discover a tick bite on your body, it is important to remove the tick correctly. Use a pair of tweezers and grip the tick as near to the skin as possible. Maintain a constant, even pressure as you remove it. Make sure you don't jolt the tick or twist it in any way, as you don’t want to let the head remain in your body. After removing the tick, use rubbing alcohol or soap and water to thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands. Also make sure to kill the tick and dispose of it properly.

You should not use your fingers to smash a tick that has bitten you, as this may worsen the infection. You also should not use nail polish or petroleum jelly to "paint" the tick or heat to loosen it from your skin. You should also not wait for the tick to detach itself. Instead, remove it as soon as you see it. It is also imperative that you get immediate medical attention if you see any signs of an allergic reaction after removing the tick.

What You Should Know about Sustainable Gardening

 Sustainable gardening involves farm practices focused on conserving the soil, water, and nutrients for present and future use. This approac...