Tag Archives: microbes

Five Trees in the Ground

My goal for the year was to plant an additional five trees in my yard.  Before spring the yard contained thirteen trees (1 elm, 1 sycamore, 1 maple, 3 yellow poplars, 3 Norway spruce, and 4 red oaks).  Over the years I have drawn out several plans to add to my trees.

However, the nursery stock this year was harsh.  I rarely saw a shade tree worth a second look and the conifers were wicked expensive.  Early in the season I was able to find a pair of Norway spruce for about $65 each.  This was an easy choice since I had a spot picked out:

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Both trees really took to being planted and put on a thrush of new growth within weeks.  The weather this summer has been amenable to trees as well with well-spaced moisture and not too many blistering hot days.  Even the days that were hot lacked the combination of heat and sun that really seems to knock the stuffing out of plants.

Hopefully before the end of fall I can trim around the trees like the maple in the foreground of the picture above.  The surrounding mulched bed will not be planted with perennials like the maple.  Over the years the branches will spread to encompass the entirety of the mulched bed.  Also, this is just the start of what I have planned for this side of my yard.  See the disastrous “sport” court in the neighbors’ back yard?  Yeah, I do not want to see it either.  Next year is going to be a heavy year for trees.

Just this weekend I ran across a store doing a fall sale of container grown conifers for just $15 each.  Normally, I am not a fan of Colorado blue spruce as the species is over planted in eastern Iowa.  I could not turn down relatively good looking trees at a low, low price.  I picked up three and got to work finishing another planting bed where I am trying to take out all of the turf grass:

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This part of my lawn is almost entirely sand.  The only soil, so to speak, is what came on the rolls of sod that were laid down and what I have added when planting trees.  The area has little soil fertility and retains very little moisture.  It is like a thin layer of soil, compacted, and sitting on a jelly roll pan.  If you pour out a bucket of water you can watch it flow downhill without really penetrating the soil.  While the rest of the yard can handle a period of drought—mowing the grass extra high and allowing clover to spread helps—this little corner dries out and dies.  I had considered top dressing the lawn in this area, but felt that it was a better use of space to plant trees and perennials, edge the area, amend the soil, and deeply mulch.  I will get to the edging, amending, and mulching next year.  I promise.

The only downside of all of this planting is that I have used up the contents of one of my compost bins.  There is some compost left and a few things that did not break down over the years, like the muslin bags used to steep grains during my homebrewing days, which will go into a mixture to improve soil health in the areas where I remove turf.  The other bin is fairly full, so in a year or so I should have a lot of nutrient dense compost to amend my sandy soil.

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Friday Linkage 12/23/2016

This is it for 2016.  I would like to wish this year a gigantic f*ck you as it seemed like a real downer and I hold out hope that something in 2017 may redeem my faith in the United States.  Granted, this year was the moment when I saw the Chicago Cubs win the World Series which was something my father and grandfather never got to see.  Damn.

I sincerely hope that everyone enjoys the holiday season with their families.  Turn off the television, put down the phones, and spend a few minutes with the ones you love in pure analog bliss.

On to the links…

Skiing Is Not Important—Why don’t we lead off with a little philosophy.  It is totally true.  Skiing is not important in the “will I survive through the night” kind of way, but everyone should do it.  Or no one should do it.  I loved the following part of the article:

Mountain air, the smell of hot wax, the sound of cables on lift towers, laughing with friends, laughing at friends, testing your limits or just cruising and not testing anything at all, caring more about weather than you ever thought possible, sacrificing comfort, security, and relationships just to furrow fields of snowfall for no practical reason whatsoever.

Pretty much sums up the dream.

Winter Park Express Ski Train Adds Another Car to Meet Demand from Denver Union Station—You mean to say that people actually like and use mass transit when it goes to places people actually want to go?  Wow.

Trump, Putin and the Pipelines to Nowhere—I hope the carbon bubble becomes a thing in 2017.  Like investors fleeing coal, the same thing could happen to other fossil fuels if demand falls just enough to begin initiating the death spiral.  In a world that demands constant growth from investments this is a most powerful market force.

There is No Reason to Ever Build Another Coal Plant in the United States—Granted, there are a lot of coal plants in operation now.  Those plants, however, will get more expensive to fuel as coal demand drops and harder to maintain as the industrial base surrounding them erodes.

Coal’s Big US Stronghold is Losing Steam, Even as Trump Aims for a Revival—I cannot wait to see if Trump spends what little political capital he has—losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes and entering office with the lowest favorability ratings in history do not make for a mandate—trying to revive coal as he promised on the campaign trail.  Now, he is a charlatan and a liar so he was probably just doing that to rile up people.

Solar is Top Source of New Capacity on the US Grid in 2016—This is demand destruction in process. Each solar panel or solar thermal facility represents another kilowatt of electricity that does not require a single gram of coal.

World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind—Solar, with no moving parts and silent panels sucking up the sun, is actually cheaper than wind in some places.  Think about that for a minute.

All the State Energy Legislation from 2016, in One Place—Over the coming years the states and, to a lesser degree, cities are going to be where the action takes place on renewable energy.

Make Your Life Less Oily in 2017—Since the federal government is in the hands of fossil fuel crony capitalists, we have to take the initiative to reduce our use of fossil fuels.  This article serves as a nice starting point to figure out where the low hanging fruit might be.  Suggestion: get out your bicycle and pedal.

On Isle Royale, Park Service Intervenes to Save Nature—I am fairly conflicted about this intervention.  After reading The New Wild I wonder if our conception of nature has an ecosystem in harmony is relevant anymore.

Newly discovered soil microbes may have helped eat methane after Porter Ranch natural gas leak—The gas leak near Porter Ranch in southern California was a freaking ecological disaster of some truly epic proportions.  However, it looks like nature may have found a way to ameliorate some of the damage.  Nature always finds a way.

USDA says Use-By Labels aren’t Really Needed on Foods—Now I do not feel so guilty about using hot sauce that was past its “expiration” date.