Posts tagged homegrown

New Site

It’s great to see people are still reading these blog posts, but to view the most current Homegrown information, go to our new site: http://gazetteonline.com/category/blogs/homegrown

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See you at the Farmers Market

Remember to stop by the Gazette/KCRG tent between 9-10 a.m. at the Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday (June 6, 2009) in Cedar Rapids.

We’ll be on the 4th Avenue side near the railroad tracks. Sign up for a drawing of cool items from Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods and let me know what you’d like to see on the Homegrown blog and in the Gazette!

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Meet me at the market

   The first Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market of this season will be Saturday, June 6, from 7:30 a.m. to noon and I plan to be there. Stop by the KCRG/Gazette table in Greene Square Park sometime between 9-10 a.m. and say hi! I’d like to hear what you’re interested in reading about on this blog and in The Gazette.

  As reporters, we occasionally receive products from companies that we cannot keep. Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods recently sent several items that the eco-conscious readers of this blog might enjoy, so I thought it would be fun to have a drawing. If you stop by our table – remember, just between 9 and 10 a.m. or so – sign up and you could win some of these cute Earth-friendly products. 

   Here is some information that Dandelion sent:

Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods

Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods

At a time when “organic,” “green,” environmentally-friendly,” “renewable” and “sustainable” is a part of our everyday culture, consumers are sincerely moved to help preserve the planet and the health and well-being of their families. With the desire to champion an emerging “green” awareness, Re-Think It, Inc., is launching its collection of Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods that turns living green into easy living.
   Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods are made entirely using eco-friendly materials and processes, from organic cotton grown without pesticides and chemicals, coloring process and right down to the plant-based fibers used in filling the plush toys. The ReUsables – the divided plates, bowls and utensils – are made from corn, rather than conventional plastics comprised mostly of petroleum.
 
Stop by the table on June 6 to see these items and let us know what’s on your mind. For more on Dandelion, go to: www.dandelionforbaby.com
 

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Going green – not just for St. Paddy’s Day anymore – and inside Clipper wind

   Going green used to be reserved for St. Patrick’s Day.

Not anymore.

   In the past few years, “green” has taken on a different meaning – a movement that embraces an environmentally friendly way of living. The Homegrown blog has always shared in that philosophy and now it’s expanding. Gardening will remain an integral part of the blog, but it will also include the “home” side of Homegrown, as well, with tips and ideas for maintaining an eco-friendly lifestyle, both indoors and out.

 

   With the state’s Environmental Protection Commission in Cedar Rapids for a meeting and tour of Clipper Turbine Works,  I thought this would be a good time to launch the Homegrown eco-blog.

 

   The Environmental Protection Commission is a panel of nine Iowans who provide policy oversight for Iowa’s environmental protection efforts. Members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by a vote of the senate for  four-year terms. Air and water quality surrounding Iowa’s confined animal feeding operations, requirements regarding underground storage tanks and climate change are some of the issues the commission addresses. 

 Two local members are Marty Stimson, a top manager at Clipper Turbine Works in Cedar Rapids, and Shearon Elderkin of Cedar Rapids.

Shearon has served on the Friends of the Linn County Conservation Board, Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Cedar Rapids Garden Club, and the 1000 Friends of Iowa Board. She also has served on the Linn County Conservation Board and the Linn County Integrated Roadside Management Committee.

 

   On Monday, March 16, the commission toured Clipper Turbine Works’ plant at 4601 Bowling St. SW. I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside, but Marty let me take a shot of him outdoors, next to the 150-foot-long blade in front of the plant. The blades aren’t actually manufactured in Cedar Rapids. The Liberty turbines that are made here include the machine base, gearbox and huge hubs, which look like a deep-sea diving helmet out of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

 

   Commission member Suzanne Morrow of Storm Lake said the group takes tours a few times a year to get a better understanding of some of the issues they consider. Marty offered background on Clipper and led the commission members through the plant, along with visitors, two members of the Department of Natural Resources and Rich Leopold, director of the DNR.

 

   The plant itself is “recycled,” formerly serving as FMC Corp. and the former Goss plant. It has 330,000-square-feet for manufacturing and 30,000 for office space. Earlier this year, Clipper laid off about 80 employees, going from a workforce of 350 to 270 in Cedar Rapids. Marty said no orders had been cancelled, but some had been deferred until the economy recovers.  In fact, the plant has been increasing the number of turbines produced from eight in 2006, to 137 in 2007 to 300 last year. It will eventually reach a maximum productivity of 500 to 550 turbines produced per year, Marty predicted.

 

   Each 2.5-megawatt Liberty wind turbine costs about $3 million, or just over $3.5 million with installation. Iowa has risen to second in the nation in wind power, with 2,790 megawatts installed, surpassing California, which has 2,517 mw, in third. Texas is the leader in wind power.

   Every 1,000 megawatts provides enough electricity to power 300,000 homes and enough to offset 3.4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.

   One impediment in providing a steady supply is the nation’s power grid, but Rich Leopold sees hope in President Obama’s stimulus package, which is directing $50 to $60 million to Iowa for energy efficiency, with an additional amount attached to the development of a “smart grid” that can allow wind farms to connect into the grid, a need especially in rural areas.

 

 

Marty Stimson at Clipper Turbine Works

Marty Stimson at Clipper Turbine Works

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New feature: Your Questions

Every so often, I see comments posted that ask gardening questions that I’m sure many of our readers would be able to help answer. With that in mind, a new category, “Your questions” has been added, so readers can ask and answer gardening questions. I’ll also try to find expert answers if no one else can help.

 

Click on the arrow next to the categories box, at the right, to find this feature.

 

 The first questions come from Pam who asks the following:

 

 I have started a flower garden in the front of my home which is facing east but does get some south sun on part of the garden area. I love flowering plants but I have not done a good job with finding appropriate plants. Does anyone have ideas of various plants that are perennials to put here?

 

Pam (who lives in Marion, Iowa) also asked:

How soon should you start trimming the fruit trees: apple and pear? What other tips should I know to get the trees ready for spring? I have heard a lot about spraying the trees so what should I use?

Leora left the following question:

 We have heard of growing potatoes in tires, but need to know the procedure. We have two big tractor tires to work with. Please help us.

Does anyone have advice for Pam or Leora? Please add your suggestions in a comment below.

 

If you have any questions of your own, you can post it in a comment here, or send an email to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com

Please include your location – Northern Iowa, Central Iowa, etc., – as that will help tailor the responses.

 

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Potmaking – reprise

This was first posted last March, but because it’s that season, once again, to start seedlings indoors, I thought it was timely.

 The white outside is nearly gone and we’re thinking green: green gardens, saving some green and being environmentally friendly. With help from my production assistants, Brennan and Schyler, we have a project to show that combines all three.

Click the link below to watch a short how-to video.

 

http://www.youtube.com/v/Yh_Szm79VQw

 

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Happy Anniversary!!

    How could I forget our anniversary? It was Jan. 17, 2008, when the online version of Homegrown started, so this blog has already passed its one-year mark.

 

    With that in mind, I wanted to point out some new features that have been added since then.  First, searches are now easier with the addition of a search button.  If you want to know more about lawns or corn or lady bugs or something else,  just put the word or phrase into that space and click to find more on the topic. The “Your Photos” feature was added last year. Even though I asked for garden or plant photos, since it’s winter in Iowa, feel free to submit your cold weather photos – the ice on your tree branches, birds at the feeder or your child’s tongue stuck to a metal pole. OK, maybe not the last one, but photos you want to share can be emailed to me at: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com and I’ll post them to Your Photos for the world to admire.

 

    The gardening events category is a popular one, but remember to look for the posted dates. Many of those items are from 2008. I’ll try to remember to put 2009 on all the new events to avoid confusion. The farmers markets list is from last year, but I will update the list this spring.

 

    If there are any other additions or changes you’d like to see on Homegrown, please let me know by email (same as above) or by posting a comment below.

 

    Finally, here is the message that kicked off Homegrown just over a year ago. I think it’s still appropriate today.

 

Welcome! I am so excited to be doing this!! Homegrown is the blog version of a gardening column I wrote for The Gazette a few years ago, a reference to locally grown vegetables, fruits and flowers. First off, although I was born in the 1960s, I don’t consider myself a product of the ’60s, so if you’re looking for a less than legal “homegrown” substance, you’ve come to the wrong blog, dude. Everyone else, feel free to come back often – more will be added as we move into growing season – and please, offer your comments. I want to know what your interests are. I’m also thrilled to provide a forum for our Master Gardeners, who will be sharing their expertise, as well. Thanks for checking in. I look forward to hearing from you!

  

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Classroom experiment

 

 

     Several weeks ago, my sons both brought home their classroom projects: corn and bean plants they sprouted in plastic cups. The boys envisioned eating fresh corn and beans in the cold of Iowa’s winter. So, more to make them happy than thinking they would continue growing, I agreed to transplant them into a larger container.

 

Just two weeks ago, pretty pinkish blossoms appeared on the bean plants and in the last several days the beans started emerging. Even though it won’t make a hearty meal, the plants have been fun to watch and they’ll provide a little taste of summer in January.

 

 

bean sprouts

bean sprouts

homegrown beans

homegrown beans

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Worm poop challenge

It’s December and I still have a few homegrown tomatoes, picked just before the first frost when they were still green.

Tomato challenge

Tomato challenge

  

 

 

  Some of them came from test plants I grew with vermicompost from TerraCycle.  Last spring, the company’s James Artis had sent samples of TerraCycle products, including a liquid form of vermicompost, also known as worm poop.

   Worms create a rich fertilizer and I wanted to test out TerraCycle’s on my tomatoes.

   I planted containers with Snoberry, cherry and Tomatoberry varieties – two of each kind. On one of each variety I used Terracycle weekly, along with regular watering. On the other, just regular watering, but no fertilizer of any kind.

   It wasn’t the most scientific experiment, but worked well until the containers, on my back porch, were beset with problems. Two were taken out when a screen fell during a windstorm. The others survived, but were neglected to an extent after Iowa’s catastrophic floods in June. The floods didn’t reach my house, but kept my attention diverted elsewhere.

   So I was surprised when doing fall cleanup to find some of the plants had actually produced tomatoes. I believe they were the Terracycle plants, but didn’t have much to compare them with at that point in time.

   Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to conduct a more thorough test, or maybe some of you have used TerraCycle or other vermicompost and could describe your results.

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“Compostales” part deux

More “compostales” from entries to our composting contest:

 

Gloria Overton of Cedar Rapids

 

My family loves to compost! We got started about 10 years ago when the previous homeowner left boards with notches cut in the ends. We decided it was a compost bin and assembled it. We have used that bin ever since. We compost our fruit and vegetable scraps like apple cores, banana peels, cornhusks, and our shredded paper. Our biggest surprise was diced melon rinds decompose in less than one week. We also add coffee grounds, tea bags and yard debris. Now it is filled to the top with tree leaves.

 

We love to compost because it makes wonderful dirt and is so relaxing. You can always move the compost around to make it break down more quickly. We are also very pleased with the quality compost it makes. Wow does grass seed ever germinate when they are planted in compost! My container garden is entirely planted in compost. The remaining compost goes into the garden or lawn. When you plant something in compost, it is like planting it in dirt on steroids!

 

 

Pam Kautz
and Eliza and Henry and Greta and Ben of Marion

We love compost!  We are beginner gardeners and compost is saving our sorry vegetable garden.  This year we started adding egg shells and this year is the first that we haven’t had a problem with blossom end rot on our tomatoes.  Compost is our friend that seems to cover our inexperienced missteps and is turning our sad, hard clay into a fruitful, lush source of organic produce for our family.  And digging the compost into the soil is a great job for little diggers.  Kids love it and really love the worms that love it too!  We only wish we had more (oh yeah, and some horse manure too).  Yeah for compost! 
 

Lauren Overton of Cedar Rapids

 

     When I compost I feel like I’m in a fun contest. I judge myself on how much I’m putting into the compost pile, how well I’m turning it, how often I’m turning it, and evaluate how good the soil is as a whole. The more variety of ingredients I put into the compost pile, the better the compost. I like that I have a ready supply of rich compost full of nutrients, rather than needing to buy packaged soil.

     Our “green” ingredients are: coffee grounds and filters, vegetable scraps, grass clippings, banana peels, apple cores, and the like. Our “brown” ingredients are shredded paper and fallen leaves.  I use my turning fork to mix the green and brown ingredients.

     We have one compost bin made of wood. My family has been composting for ten years. Now I am 15 years old and I do a lot of the composting for my family.  I love the process of making compost. I love the feel of the soil and being able to use it in my garden.

 

 

Jackie Meier of Robins

 

My family has been composting for many years. I learned from my mother that the outdoors is self contained if we just keep recycling.   She has her compost right next to her garden and keeps it full.

 It is such a reward to know you can create your own soil for growing plants.

 

Our backyard is full of many kinds of perinials and annual plants that go through the seasons along with clippings from mowing the grass, to leaves falling from the trees.  

 

We keep a bucket just outside our patio door for all our vegetable and fruit peelings.      It’s always fun to see how the seeds will sprout in the spring in the compost pile to produce a cucumber or tomato plant.  

 

We have filled many of our landscaping projects with the compost we create.  It is such a reward to be able to keep all the environment in it’s correct place,  WHERE IT ORIGINATED FROM!!! 

 

We not only keep compost processing but also all recyclable items. 

We do allot of traveling and will keep all recyclables with us until we return to process them correctly.

 

God gave us one earth and it is up to each of us to nurture it and keep it alive and healthy,  just like we do raising our children,  we need to care for our special planet.  

 

 

Thanks to all who enteredJ 

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