Mad Gardeners

Sustainable Gardening


Queens Botanical Garden Sustainable Landscapes and Buildings Project

Queens Botanical Garden logoThe Queens Botanical Garden’s Master Plan of 2001 launched the Sustainable Landscapes and Buildings Project. It includes: new plants, many of which are native species; bioswales to collect storm water and reduce wear-and-tear on New York City’s sewer system; water recycling systems; the new Horticulture/Maintenance Building; the revolutionary Visitor & Administration Center; and the transformation of a parking lot into a 125-space parking garden. The Garden’s Visitor & Administration Center is the most advanced green building in New York City. Since its 2007 opening, the Center has received much attention from the press, such as Fred Bernstein’s review in the February 2008 issue of Metropolis. It has also received a number of awards. For more information about this excellent example of sustainable landscape and building design please see:

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Cary Institute and WAMC Radio Show “Earth Wise”

Earthwise logoWAMC Northeast Public Radio and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies host a radio show called “Earth Wise: A look at our changing environment.” The 2-minute segments which air Monday through Friday at 11:10 am and 4:04 pm cover climate change, energy, sustainable living and agriculture as well as threats to air, water, and wildlife, and highlight how individuals can make a difference. Earth Wise can be heard on WAMC and on WRFA radio. You can visit their blog at https://wamcradio.org/EarthWise/ or listen to the latest podcast (free).

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Bill Duesing’s Radio Show “Politics of Food” 1997-1998

A pioneer in organic agriculture in New England, Bill Duesing has been as an environmental educator, writer, artist and lecturer over for 4 decades, and is currently the Executive Director of CT NOFA. During the 1990s Duesing produced a radio show called “The Politics of Food” (WPKN). Each half hour segment included news, a 15 minute interview, recipes and tips, with interviewees including Mel Bristol, Jac Smit, Vincent Kay, John Wargo, Hugh Joseph, Joseph Kiefer, Julie Rawson, Michael Sligh, Kathy Lawrence, Lee Warren, and Elizabeth Henderson. UMass has posted free podcasts of this radio show.

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One Beautiful Thing You Can Do to Help Monarch Butterflies

It’s been a dismal year for North America’s favorite migratory species, the monarch butterfly, beginning with the report that populations at overwintering sites in Mexico were down 59 percent from the previous winter. When researchers there measured the total area of trees occupied by monarchs—the stock for most of the continent—it added up to less three acres, an all-time low. Nothing about the spring migration, which recently ended, gave new cause for hope. Monarch numbers are now so low that any catastrophic event could “send the population spinning downward even more,” says University of Kansas insect ecologist Chip Taylor, whose advocacy group Monarch Watch works to protect and rebuild monarch butterfly populations. . . . A far larger problem, though, is the increasing intensity and efficiency of agriculture in the United States. To read the entire article by Richard Conniff, from takepart.com, click HERE.

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Bees / Planting Chart—reference chart by Dr. Tristram Seidler

When planting your garden, refer to this chart to ensure a steady flow of pollinating bees into your garden during the year. Dr. Tristram Seidler presented this year-round feeding chart during his presentation on bees at New England Wild Flower Society’s 2011 Annual Meeting: https://www.newenglandwild.org/grow/tips/plants-for-feeding-bees.html

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New Guide: “Wild Pollinators of Eastern Apple Orchards and How to Conserve Them” from Northeastern IPM Center

Wild-Pollinators-CoverThis 12-page, full-color guide helps readers identify wild pollinators, provide them with food and habitat, and avoid pesticides that are toxic to them. By encouraging wild bee abundance and diversity, agricultural growers may be able to buffer rising honey bee rental costs while creating an environment that better supports both wild and commercial bees. You can learn more about the IPM Center and download the guide HERE.

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Selecting Plants for Pollinators—Regional Guide

This regional guide supporting the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), is “designed to provide information on how individuals can influence pollinator populations through choices they make when they farm a plot of ground, manage large tracts of public land, or plant a garden. Each of us can have a positive impact by providing the essential habitat requirements for pollinators including food, water, shelter, and enough space to allow pollinators to raise their young.” Funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the C.S. Fund, the Plant Conservation Alliance, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management with oversight by the Pollinator Partnership™. Learn more and download the guide HERE.

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Ask a Sustainable Agriculture Expert

How to get an answer to your sustainable agriculture question? You may start by using the search function on ATTRA’s (The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service’s) website. You may also check ATTRA’s list of sustainable agriculture publications available (they have more than 200 free sustainable agriculture titles). Or you might check the ATTRA Question of the Week Archives to find out if your question has already been asked. ATTRA also provides tailored assistance to U.S. farmers and ranchers currently raising and selling agricultural products commercially, agricultural educators, and organizations who work directly with farmers. Visit their website at https://attra.ncat.org/index.php

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Community Trees, a living investment—free software

Gain a better understanding of the benefits and contributions of the trees in your community with free software from the USDA Forest Service that provides urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools. The i-Tree Tools help communities to strengthen their urban forest management and advocacy efforts by quantifying the structure of community trees and the environmental services that trees provide. For more info visit https://www.itreetools.org/

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Sustainable Living—a new website from UConn

Visit this website for information and suggestions on making more sustainable choices in our daily lives: www.sustainableliving.uconn.edu

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Pesticide-Free New Canaan

Pesticide-Free New Canaan (PFNC) is a nonprofit initiative that raises awareness about the dangers of lawn pesticides and promotes safer land care practices. Partnered with the New Canaan Nature Center and the town’s Conservation Commission, PFNC is a growing group of ordinary residents committed to a different, healthier kind of green for our town and families. For more information visit https://www.pesticidefreenc.org/

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Harvard Forest

Harvard Forest’s mission is to develop and implement interdisciplinary research and education programs investigating the ways in which physical, biological and human systems interact to change our earth: harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu

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The Ecology of Disease

From The New York Times, by Jim Robbins, published 7.14.12—There’s a term biologists and economists use these days — ecosystem services — which refers to the many ways nature supports the human endeavor. Forests filter the water we drink, for example, and birds and bees pollinate crops, both of which have substantial economic as well as biological value. If we fail to understand and take care of the natural world, it can cause a breakdown of these systems and come back to haunt us in ways we know little about. To continue reading this NYT article click HERE.

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Earthworms Increase Soils’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions

From Climate Central, by Lauren Morello, published 2.3.13—Most earthworms may be tiny, but a new study suggests their impact on the climate could be mighty. Researchers had long assumed the creepy crawlers help store carbon in soils by consuming fallen leaves and other decaying plant matter, which they deposit in soil in their cast, or droppings. But newer studies suggest the worms may actually increase soils’ output of two key greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. A new meta-analysis, published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that the presence of earthworms appears to increase soils’ output of CO2 by 33 percent and of nitrous oxide by 42 percent. To continue reading this article click HERE.

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Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP)

DEEP “is charged with conserving, improving and protecting the natural resources and the environment of the state of Connecticut as well as making cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy available for the people and businesses of the state.” For more information visit DEEP’s website HERE.

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