Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A GREENER 2011

Even though it's almost the end of February, I find I'm still planning my year...still setting goals and directions for 2011...very much like the way I'm making Spring marketing plans for my real estate listings.  With most of the year laid out before me I find myself wondering not only how I can make my life GREENER but also what will the GREEN trends be this year?  Seems like there is plenty of momentum and interest, but where is that going to lead?

I took a look at an article on www.proudgreenhome.com about top trends for GREEN building in 2011 hoping for some ideas & inspirations.  By the way, I think it's a pretty interesting website and worth a look if you have time.  A few things stood out to me as I read the article and one of those was that the "GREENING" of existing buildings is a growing trend.  THAT is something I can really get behind.  I love it.  Also that GREEN LEED certified schools accounted for 40% of LEED projects in the US in 2010 is pretty exciting.  I'm not surprised to read that solar power will continue to grow....as I'm writing this more chunks of the sheet of snow on my solar panels are slipping off in the warm sunlight!  (Yay!  Nice change from yesterday when we were generating a measly 0.16 kW with all that cloud cover.)  I believe my town council is discussing tonight a matter of a solar farm in town.  I think our towns need to move toward solar power as a way to cut costs just as we have here at home.  Think of how much we could save if our schools alone had solar energy.  Another one of my favorite trends was "Blue will become the New Green" which goes into water conservation.  This one hits home every year when our neighbor's well runs dry.  What will we do if we run out of water?  Are we going to run out of water?  Will there be a global water crisis like they say?  Ack, the things that keep me up at night!

In looking at 2011, I hope that clean energy grants will continue to be available to people like us, that tax credits for GREEN improvements will continue (have you made your GREEN tax deductions yet?) and that GREEN building materials will be affordable.

As far as my own GREEN plans, we're hoping to build a new garage this summer...replacing the 100 year old one that is falling down and infested with all kinds of wildlife.  Of course we'll consider what GREEN or sustainable building materials we can use, and do our best to plan it to be as efficient and environmentally-friendly as possible.  Obviously we have a lot of research to do.  I'd also like to finally put in a rain barrel for watering the flowers and my garden.  It's not a hard thing to do and it sounds like a good project for Spring.  I also dream of upping our self-sustainability quotient.  Then again, who doesn't? :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hello February!  


This is the view into my garden as of this morning...buried somewhere under those 3+ feet of snow...trees covered in a beautiful icy glaze.  It's lovely and cold, but it makes me want to get started on my garden planning!

I've been gardening this plot since 1999 and over the years I've tried so many experiments with plants that I should be the star of "Gardeners Gone Wild" if there were such a show.  This year I'm looking at my garden plans with the question, "What were the top favorites from past gardens?" It's more of a sensible-what-will-my-children-enjoy-the-most approach.  That and 3 of my favorites: shallots & garlic & arugula. With that in mind we're looking at:
2 varieties of peas, carrots, French haricots-verts and purple beans, cukes, grape tomatoes, blue & red potatoes, zucchini, spinach, and various herbs and possibly pumpkins for later.  Last year I had radish & turnip share a row, which was fine.  I do love a good turnip!  Last year's top producer was my everbearing strawberry patch - we've never had so many beautiful berries and I must have dug up and given away over a dozen plants!  Also in my perennial section of the garden are my blueberry bushes and my asparagus - I hope the asparagus makes it through the winter despite my not completely filling in the gully.

Despite the fact that it is still much to early to begin any seeds, I will do so this weekend anyway, as an activity with the munchkins.  I let them choose a variety of flower seeds to start every February.  Nasturtiums are a favorite because we'll have blooms in about 2 weeks, but they try all kinds of seeds and see what comes up.  Last year's zinnias survived long enough to be transplanted into the garden and were still blooming for us at the end of the season when we returned from Europe!  Our seed starting supplies consist of empty yogurt cups and such, clear ones are our favorites so the kids can watch the roots grow.  It's not fancy but it is fun!

It's also time to place my catalog orders!  Last year Pinetree Garden Seeds from Maine served me well with shallots & onion sets and my first asparagus roots.  (1lb of shallots runs $6.) Steve, the like-minded gardener who writes Compostings had recommended them.  This year he suggested I try The Maine Potato Lady for my organic onions, shallots and potatoes. Thanks for the advice, Steve!

Yesterday I happened to receive via priority mail, the most beautiful greenhouse catalog ever created.  Think New York Botanical Gardens or the Glasgow Botanic Gardens style greenhouses.  These are 'victorian conservatory-I'd-like-to-hide-out-in-here-all-day' greenhouses by Hartley Greenhouses - the 'finest greenhouses money can buy.'  I have visions of growing fig & lemon trees, starting my tomatoes and lettuces and just about everything else in one of these....




Aren't they divine?  Hubby said I could add a greenhouse behind the new garage when it goes up, just next to where I want to put in the small orchard!  I don't think he had seen the price sheet, but I appreciate that he's willing to consider it, and I love that he ordered the catalog for me!

Our schools have just announced they will be closed tomorrow to assess the roofs due to the excessive amounts of snow on them...looks like we'll be starting our seeds earlier than I expected!